Summary: The third in a series based on the 3 points of our church’s purpose statement: "Seek God, Share Christ, & Serve Others."
“THE SERVING CHURCH” Matt. 25:31-46
INTRO – Read “Too Full to Eat” (p. 118-121, A Call to Die, David Nasser)
“So, are you saying we’ve got to go to India if we want to serve others?” No, but I am saying that we’ve got to pay attention to and obey the Word of God if we are going to serve others.
Your church’s purpose statement says that we will “Seek God, Share Christ, and Serve Others.” Let me remind you that the only way that the church will fulfill those purposes is when the members of the church are fulfilling those purposes in their individual lives. While this is a corporate purpose statement, it hinges on each of us as Christ-followers committing to and carrying out these Scriptural purposes in our own lives.
David Nasser – “Jeremiah had one other insight about ‘eating God’s Word.’ He realized that it only made sense for him to eat it b/c he bore God’s name. We are God’s. We call ourselves, ‘Christians.’ We call Him Lord, Savior, Father, and Friend.” B/c you and I belong to God, we are to consume God’s Word and let it permeate every facet of our lives. This is our guidebook for life, the owner’s manual of our lives. And Matthew 25 contains some important stuff that is necessary for every Christian to live out in their lives.
Today, I want to share with you 2 simple points:
One thing that is not taught in Matthew 25:31-46: These paragraphs do not teach that salvation is based on doing good works. You could casually read these verses and possibly come away with the thought that helping others is sufficient to earn your salvation and go to heaven. But this is not the message of these words of Jesus. No one has ever been saved by doing good works. Eph. 2:8-9 clearly teaches us that it is “…by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (ESV)
Don’t be confused into thinking that if you’ll just do a bunch of good things that you’ll make it into heaven. Don’t be deceived into believing that good deeds are sufficient for your salvation. Look at Matt. 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to me, ’Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ’Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ’I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
In a world and society that is driven by Oprah Winfrey–style spirituality, it’s really easy to fall prey to the thinking that we are all good, decent people and all we’ve got to do is find that good within us. In an interview with New Age author Gary Zukav, Oprah stated, "I believe that life is eternal," she has said. "I believe that it takes on other forms." She told Zukav, "I am creation’s daughter. I am more than my physical self. I am more than the job I do. I am more than the external definitions that I have given myself…Those are all extensions of who I define myself to be, but ultimately I am Spirit come from the greatest Spirit. I am Spirit." (“The Church of O.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/april1/1.38.html)
While this type of talk sounds right, it is wrapped in a cloak of deceit and error that many people fall into. “Find the good within yourself…Find your inner power… Just believe in yourself…Do good to your fellow man and help him find the good within himself.” Oprah once said, “…stand still inside yourself and know the truth, and let it set you free.” All of this sound so right! But 2 Cor. 11:14 states, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Oprah also once said, “One of the biggest mistakes humans make is to believe there is only one way. Actually, there are many diverse paths leading to what you call God." (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/april1/1.38.html)
The point here is not to bash Oprah. The point is that many, many people strongly believe that doing good deeds for others is the ticket to heaven. All you’ve got to do is find that good that is down inside of you and let it come out. Matthew 25 does not teach this, nor will you find that taught anywhere else in the one, true living Word of God.
One thing that is taught in Matthew 25:31-46: By “one thing,” I do not mean the ONLY thing that is taught in these verses. But one thing that Jesus makes abundantly clear is that those who know Him, the “sheep on His right” in He refers to in verse 33, will be known by the fact that they spent their lives serving others in a variety of ways. Read verses 34-36 with me again.