Summary: What do sheep and goats and heaven and hell have to do with my life now?
This is the sermon that nobody wants to hear. It is far easier to preach the Gospel than live the Gospel. This contains one of the most important lessons in the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What are our individual and national responsibilities towards the needy?
We will look at the judgment of the nations in Matthew 25:31-46.
Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
King James Version (KJV) Public Domain
Questions about Charity
People say we should not mix religion and politics, but isn’t Jesus’ Parable of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25) inescapably political? It is not partisan, but a serious warning to all sides? What does it say about welfare? What does it say about the homeless? What does it say about strangers near and far, born, unborn and foreign? When we look at a stranger, do we see Jesus? What does it say about looking after the sick, and health care reform? What does it say about every Christian’s responsibility in health care and prisons? What are legitimate complications and lame excuses? Is our faith alive with good deeds or dead without works?
A Gospel Story
A fellow pastor was involved in church sponsored relief after a national disaster. He noticed large crews repairing church buildings. Then they packed up and left. The pastor’s team stayed on to look after people. This is a part of the Gospel that’s easily missed. Repairing church buildings while people outside are hungry, thirsty, in need of clothing, in need of hospitality, sick, and in need of a caring visit is a woeful example of Christianity. Is it time for the Christian Church to repent? Is it time to get out of our holy places and live the Gospel on our streets by clothing and feeding Jesus Christ in the needy (Matthew 25)?
The Social Gospel is the Gospel
Some Christians criticize the so-called social gospel as liberal. But, social responsibility is a part of the full Gospel message. Matthew 25 deepens Jesus' descriptions of being the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16) in good deeds, and the need to have oil to light our lamps (Matthew 25:1-13). Good works certainly entail pious deeds like prayer and Bible study. However, good works also involve deeds of charity such as feeding and clothing the needy. The so-called “social gospel” is loving our neighbor in action. When the “social gospel” is falsely accused of being liberal it is just an excuse for disobeying Jesus Christ and not loving our neighbor.