Sheep and Goats
Please turn to Matthew 25:31-25:46.
This chapter is a conclusion to what they call the Olivet Discourse in which Jesus reveals the truth of His second coming, and the gathering of believers and the judgment of the wicked and the lost.
The problem for some will be the separation of the righteous (those in Christ) and the judgment of the wicked (those who have rejected Christ)
We will see in this passage reward for the sheep, and judgment for the goats.
To one group- Jesus says enter in and enjoy your inheritance.
To the other group- Depart from me.
One is offered eternal life with God and one group suffers eternal life without God.
You cannot find a different ending than that.
The central truth to keep in mind is when Christ returns (and He will return) to His glorious throne, there will be judgment based upon our response to Jesus.
Let’s read this passage with eyes and heart open to what Jesus Himself is telling us.
Think about this-
There are sheep and there are goats. They will be separated by identification. (Jesus identifies us)
All of us were born goats. Born into sin and far from God.
Some will allow God to transform them and some will not want the transformation because they like the way they are and by choice stay far from God.
We see in Scripture that the Lord Jesus is judge and Savior.
He will allow each one of us to enjoy or endure the path we have freely chosen. (repeat)
Imagine a world where a goat, presented with an opportunity to be transformed miraculously into a sheep, could do so by embracing the offer extended by the one making the offer. Supernaturally the goat would be instantaneously a baby sheep and cared for by the transformer. (Jesus Christ savior and king)
That happens by the grace and mercy of God to all those that want and will let God transform their lives.
That is a God thing!
You cannot earn it
you cannot buy it
It is a free gift and can only be received by acceptance.
When Jesus returns, with angels all around Him
He will separate those that are His from those who have rejected Him.
The sheep, those on His right, hold a position of honor, He says (34) “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
By personal choice they became sheep.
By choice they have decided to follow Jesus.
By choice they have participated in kingdom work.
We cannot earn salvation, but it is very clear from this passage that the righteous (God’s sheep) took an interest in people they were around.
VBS talked all week about neighbors- those people around us as well as a world apart, that we must be friendly, giving, welcoming, forgiving, and bold.
The early church exploded because they were willing to open their hearts and lives to others.
A quick reading of the passage suggests that salvation is the result of good works.
The sheep acted charitable, giving food, drink, and clothing.
The goats shared no charity. This seems to result in salvation for the sheep and damnation to the goats. Ephesians 2:8-10, Romans 4, Romans 7.
Jesus made it clear- “their inheritance was theirs since the creation of the world. That would have been long before they could have established any good works.
Good works are not the cause of salvation, but the effect of salvation. (Repeat)
As Christians we are to be more like Christ.
The fruit of the Spirit is to be active in our lives. (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
Good works is the direct overflow of God active in our lives.
Good works are only acceptable to God because of our relationship with Christ- not in place of Christ. (repeat)
The core message is God’s people will love others. Amen.
Good works follow believers because of Christ.
Followers of Christ treat others with kindness. (heard that this week)
Goats can indeed perform acts of kindness, but their hearts are far from God and are not right with God. Their actions do not honor God.
Believers, after always keeping our relationship with Christ first, we are called to be a part of kingdom work.
#1- Seek and save the lost
#2- Build each other up
#3- minister to others.
We cannot do that in isolation.
We cannot do that without being involved in God’s house.
Listen, everything we say and everything we do matters to God.
Kind words to others matter to God.
Small tasks of kindness to others matter to God.
Kindness matters to God and done often enough becomes a lifestyle instead of occasional work.
(37) “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty did we give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
(40) “I tell you the truth, whenever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Our response to others is an indication of where our relationship is with the Lord.
This past week during VBS, my wife was with the little kids teaching a lesson on giving. What she did was give each child several candy bars and see if they would graciously give one to someone who had none. Mike and I each went in separately to two different age groups.
First group, after stopping in, saying hello, noting that they were my favorite candy bars- one little girl gave me one but cried on my way out. Mike got rejected, but did have one child tell him where he could get one. He did not offer his, but told him where to get one. Both of us received one in the second group we went too.
For some there will be great reward waiting and we won’t even realize it because it has become a habit and we cannot remember each act of kindness we do.
We will be asking Jesus when did you see us do these things. He will remind us of each act of kindness to others.
What about the other group of people? The goats. The Day of Judgment will come; the Lord will separate and say “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not invite me in. I needed clothes and you did not clothe me. I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.
“When did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, needing clothes, or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”
Those that had no time for God.
Those that have spent their whole life centered on themselves.
They will one day find themselves out of time and out of excuses of why they have not responded to the things of God.
Most people want to serve God in their own way, without restrictions, without any discipline, without having any commitments. They want external rewards now, internal rewards later and base their rewards on good intentions and a relationship that is almost non-existent.
Rewards in the kingdom of heaven are given to those who serve without thought of reward. God gives out of grace, not debt.
Our inheritance has been laid out since the creation of the world, and it is based upon a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of our souls.
Eternal fire was prepared for the devil himself and the rebellious angels that followed him. It will also be for those that reject the free grace of God, reject what Christ did on the cross, and say no to Christ.
The religious leaders knew many 1000’s of Jewish pilgrims will come for Passover and feasts. They knew many will admire Jesus from afar, but few will follow Him.
Those that reject Jesus will not follow Jesus.
Those that have no time for Jesus will not have time for God’s people.
“Depart from me” these will be terrible words to hear from Jesus.
You have no time for me and you show no compassion for those I have put in your path.
It is like an employee that puts on a good show when the boss is present and slacks off the times he/she thinks they can get away with it.
God see all.
God knows all.
It is while we have time that we must determine and be identified with the sheep.
I really don’t like being called a sheep or a goat, but I would rather be a sheep and a follower of Christ, than a stubborn goat that rebels at all authority and does things his own way.
What about you this morning?
Some time ago, I read about an instant cake mix that was a big flop. The instructions said that all you had to do was add water and bake and you had a cake. The company couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell, until their research discovered that the buying public felt uneasy about a mix that required only water. Apparently people thought it was too easy. So the company altered the formula and changed the directions to call for adding an egg to the mix in addition to the water. The idea worked and sales jumped dramatically.
You know where I am going- some people think the plan of salvation is too simple. Some people think that they have forever. Some people think that God has no rules and anything flies.
“By Grace you have been saved through faith; it is the gift of God, not of works” that is a fact!
You cannot add anything to the mix- that is God’s recipe.
The gospel we proclaim is free of works, but works will follow those that truly are following Jesus.
We will have compassion for those that God puts in our path. What we do for others is a reflection of our relationship with Jesus. I didn’t say it, Jesus said it.