Occasionally you will see depictions in art of the scene Jesus portrays in Matthew 25. That's where He stands before a divided congregation of sheep on one side and goats on the other. Artists usually see Jesus standing alone and the two groups before Him. I think there might be something wrong with that picture. Consider:
1. Jesus is not coming back alone. He is coming with the saints.
2. The saints have already been "judged". I'm talking about bona-fide products of grace who overcame the world and were caught up to meet Jesus in the air. They are not breathlessly waiting to see whether they are a sheep or a goat.
3. The terms and conditions of the offer made to these two groups is not the same as the salvation offered now. It is works-based. Because you did such and such, namely offer friendship to a suffering Christ, you may now come to Heaven. But although works are produced by saved saints, the message to them is clear: we are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves...
4. If this is about rewards as we know it, where is the mention of the preaching of the Gospel, and the many other gifts and ministries that operate in a Spirit-filled Church? Why no reward for this?
5. Why are the saints surprised when they discover that serving others is serving Christ? (Inasmuch as you did it to the least of my brothers, etc) Babes in Christ know this.
No, I think this passage is a victim of tradition, and needs to be seen as it really is.
The prophets talked about a Kingdom, Israel in its fullness, that would be ruled by Messiah. Daniel sees a plurality of thrones, as does the Revelator. A kingdom truly is coming. And many kings will reign under King Jesus.
But Kingdoms are made up of subjects and rulers both. And those Jewish prophets saw ordinary people doing ordinary things entering into that Kingdom. In fact, at the end of that Kingdom period there will still be people on earth able and willing to rebel against Jesus the Lord over all the earth for 1000 years at that time. Surely Spirit-sealed saints do not leave the City.
No, the Kingdom of God will be a combination of saints (rulers) and non-saints (subjects) who will have the opportunity to give their heart fully to Christ or reject Him and pay the consequences. The Millennium, though incredibly peaceful and orderly, will still have room for imperfection, thus the need for rulers. Eternal bliss follows the Millennial reign.
So, do you now see three groups in Matthew 25? The saints, coming back with Jesus, stand with Him, poised and ready to rule. But they need someone to rule. That's group 2. Who will it be? Those who had a heart to help the suffering Jesus- the Body of Christ persecuted - when he was being hurt by evil men. On this basis, following the worldwide tribulation, the entire planet is separated. One group is asked to stay and enter the Kingdom.The other group, group 3, the goats, is sent to eternal perdition, the public pronouncement of which will take place 1000 years later.
Let us humbly bow before our God who calls us to be Christ crucified in this evil day. Are you a member of His Body by faith?
Look for "Bob Faulkner" on http://sermonaudio.com There you will find a combination of love for the Scriptures and a desire for North Korean believers to have their needs met. There are nearly 300 blogs, ovber 200 Bible teaching MP3's, lists of resources, NK picture albums, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together! Contact me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Would love to fellowship with believers who respond.