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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
December 30, 2018
A Sheep or a Goat?
This morning we reach the conclusion of the section of Scripture referred to as the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24-25. As Jesus had left the Temple for the last time and was ascending the Mount of Olives with His disciples, they asked Him what the signs of the end of the age would be. (See: The Beginnings of the Future Tribulation) It is still a question that is often asked and a topic that intrigues mankind, but tragically the topic is often pursued without really examining the scriptures.
Jesus gave them a very detailed account of many of the events that would precede His return to earth to set up His millennial kingdom (See: The Great Tribulation & The Sign of His Coming) as well as several parables stressing the need for everyone to be ready for His return. (See: Are Your Ready for His Return? & The Necessity of Being Prepared & The Importance of Being Faithful). You need to be prepared and remain faithful to the end of this age whether that is upon the return of Christ or your own personal end to this life which can happen at anytime and without warning. All it takes is an accident or someone else’s act of evil.
This morning we come to the end of our study of this passage. Jesus wraps up the final details by telling the disciples – and through them, us – what He will do upon His return.
The Coming Judgment – Matthew 25:31-33
Revelation 19:11-21 describes the first order of business for Jesus upon His return to Earth with His heavenly army. He will smite the nations and tread the “wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15). The rebellion of man will be put down with a terrible slaughter of man’s defiant armies. Continuing at verse 17, “17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, ‘Come, assemble for the great supper of God; 18 in order that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.’ 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse, and against His army. 20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; and these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”
It is utter foolishness to rebel against God, yet that is man’s natural state and most people will only become more defiant as God’s wrath is poured out on the Earth through the period of the great tribulation described in Matthew 24 and the earlier chapters of the book of Revelation. Armies of men will gather to battle with God in a last desperate attempt to assert their autonomy from Him. They are utterly defeated. Man’s rebellion is finally crushed.
The next event to follow that defeat will be the judgment of those who are left. Man’s defiant armies are destroyed, but Jesus will still have to deal with the men and women that were not part of those armies. This is the point at which our text in Matthew 25 picks up the narrative. Man’s rebellion against God is crushed and all people are brought before Him to be judged at the beginning of Messiah’s reign. Follow along as I read starting in verse 31.
“31 But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left.”
The Lord Jesus Christ, He who is called “faithful and true” in Revelation 19, comes in His glory with His angels. He destroys the armies of rebellious man and then brings those who remain into His court for judgment. Remember that judgment belongs to Jesus for God the Father has entrusted it to Him. Jesus specifically saying in John 5:22 “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” And we find here in this passage that it is the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, that is sitting on His glorious throne. Jesus returns as the conquering king and takes His royal position on the royal throne of David for eternity fulfilling the prophecies of 2 Samuel 7:16 and Luke 1:32 among others. Isaiah described the glory of that throne being “lofty and exalted.” Daniel said it was like a fiery flame. John said that from it came lightning and peals of thunder. However, the real glory of the throne comes from God Himself for His glory radiates from Him.
The nations are then brought before the Lord and He starts the judgment proceedings. The first step is separating the sheep from the goats. The sheep go to one side – His right. And the goats go to His other side – His left. This is part of the great Day of the Lord that takes place at the end of what is referred to as the Great Tribulation or the time of Jacob’s Troubles.
Why use the analogy of sheep and goats? Simply because they were a familiar sight in Israel and everyone knew the characteristics of each animal. Sheep are docile, gentle creatures while goats are more rambunctious, often bordering on unruly. When I was a kid, I took care of a couple of goats on the school farm and had plenty of bruises on my legs because of this aspect of their character. The two animals would often intermingle during the day while they grazed, but at night the shepherd would separate them so that the goats would not upset the sheep while they rested. The shepherd would call the sheep and they would respond as stated in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” The goats would ignore him.
When Jesus sits on His glorious throne and separates the righteous from the wicked, His sheep hear His voice and will be put on His right hand. The goats, the unrighteous, do not listen to or heed Him and they are placed on His left. Now each group will be judged.
The Judgment of the Righteous – Matthew 25:34-40
34 Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Notice that Jesus is now referenced as “King.” Jesus first came as the humble Son of Man who would die the substitute sacrifice for our sin, but He returns as King. Notice as well what the King says to those on the right. These are those that are “blessed of His Father” and they are called to inherit the kingdom that had been prepared for them since the foundation of the world. There is nothing haphazard going on in this court. Those who are on the right hand are not there by chance, luck or fate. They are there because God had already planned for them from eternity past. Paul describes this in Ephesians 1:4-5 saying, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself . . .” In Romans 8:29-30, Paul describes the various actions God has taken in bringing an individual to salvation, and it begins in eternity past, 29 “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” This passage is sometimes called the golden stairs of salvation as it describes God’s actions step by step which brings a sinner to salvation and ends in glorification. This description of God’s work in salvation is also a description of the doctrine of election, for it is God by His own choice who has taken action in each step. God predestined. God called. God justified. God glorified. The certainty of the promise is emphasized by using the past tense, “glorified,” to describe the future event when God will glorify the disciples of Jesus by completing His work of conforming them into the image of Christ.
These who are on the King’s right hand are those who are blessed of God because they have been made righteous through the Lord Jesus Christ. But now notice in verse 35-36 what Jesus the King points out to them as the evidence of their righteousness.
“35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me [something] to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.”
The kind deeds of these people is evidence of their righteous as is their surprise and humility they express at receiving such commendation in verse 37-39. 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?
They could not recall doing anything like that to the Lord, so Jesus the King explains further in verse 40, And the King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
All six acts that Jesus points out are common situations in life that would demonstrate a person’s heart. Jesus does not use miracles or mighty works as the evidence of faith, but instead, He points out simple acts of responding with godly compassion to those around us – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, housing the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and the prisoner. No great intellect required, no theology degree demanded, no great act of piety, just a simple response demonstrating God’s love to others. The fact that these acts are done even to “the least of these” stresses even more that they are acts of godly love and not something done out of selfish gain, for the “least of these” have nothing to offer in return for the kindness shown to them except gratitude.
Some have balked at what is written here claiming it smacks of works earning salvation. No. Jesus has already made it clear that salvation has its origin in eternity past, so the works are subsequent. This corresponds perfectly with what Paul points out in Ephesians 2:8-10, “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
Why then this emphasis on what these people had done? Simply because the good works are an evidence of a righteous heart. The apostle makes that clear in James 2:15-17. “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works is dead, being by itself.” The apostle John makes the same point in 1 John 3:17-18 – “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
The righteous are judged and receive their commendation. They are those “who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
The Judgment of the Wicked – Matthew 25:41-45
Jesus then continues on to describe the judgment and condemnation of the wicked. 41 Then He will say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.”
This description is the exact opposite of the righteous. They are astonished and immediately seek to justify themselves claiming the King’s judgment about them must be wrong. Verse 44, “Then they themselves also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” I am sure you can picture them bringing this argument before Jesus. “How can you condemn us for this since we never saw you in any of these conditions, and certainly we would have helped if we had seen you in any of those conditions.” I am confident that describes their attitude because that is the heart of the wicked. Even the most wicked man will extend help to someone he thinks will help him later on. Even the most selfish will help if they think there is a reward to be reaped later.
The wicked claim they had not seen the Lord in need, insinuating they would have helped if they had. The judge clarifies the reason for the condemnation in verse 45, Then He will answer them, saying, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
Their failure to do works of compassion is just as much an evidence of their unrighteousness and lack of love for God as doing such actions was evidence for the righteous of their love for God. Sins of omission – failure to do right – are just as serious as sins of commission – actions of doing wrong. That is a lesson and a serious warning all people need to heed, for while mankind tends to make a distinction between the two, God does not.
Stealing is stealing whether it is robbing the store or a failure to return excess change given to you or a wallet or purse you find. Lying is lying whether it is a fabricated story or purposely withholding information in order to deceive for your own gain. Cheating on your taxes is the same whether you exaggerate your deductions or fail to report money earned “under the table.” And according to Jesus in Matthew 5, Adultery is adultery whether it is an illicit relationship or the fantasizing about it men may do while looking at pornography or women might do while reading trash romance novels. Both sins of commission and sins of omission brings you under God’s just and righteous condemnation, and that is the point here.
God knows the heart, and the failure to do right reveals the true nature of the heart as much as actions of evil. It is even worse when there is an indication the person knew what was right and did not do it. James 4:17 states this directly, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Their excuse in verse 44 that they did not see the Lord in any of those conditions reveals that they knew it was right to be compassionate to someone in true need, but they failed to show such compassion to those they saw in such need. They were like those in the negative examples in
James 2:15-17 and 1 John 4:17-18 I cited earlier. They saw the need and they had the means to meet the need, but they closed their hearts against those in need. The Lord judges them because they knew what was right and did not do it. Such flagrant failure brings the same condemnation as acts of wickedness.
Look again at verse 41 and the sentence pronounced upon them by the King. He calls them “accursed ones” and commands them to depart from Him and “into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” We don’t like that. Even the concept of hell is disturbing and much more its reality. There are many reactions to the doctrine of hell. Some believe it and heed the Lord’s warnings because they want to avoid it. Others try to find a way to ignore it or reinterpret the various passages about it to change it into something not as horrific as what the Scriptures describe. Others react by challenging the character of God with questions such as, “How could a good God send people to hell?” Depending on how they answer that question, some will reject the doctrine of eternal punishment for the wicked while others reject the Bible’s description of God and remake Him according to their own whims. They argue that God is too loving to send people to hell. Then there are those that reject God altogether claiming that they will not believe in a God that elects some to heaven and others to hell. But that is sort of like rejecting the laws of Physics because you don’t like them. Entropy and gravity are true whether you believe them or not. Your body will decline from a state of high energy and order to one of lower energy and disorder – we call that aging. Gravity will pull you toward the earth if you fall whether from a stool, ladder or mountain cliff. God is real and His character is what it is whether you like it or not or believe it or not. Wise people search for truth and adjust to reality. Foolish people try to ignore reality in favor of their fantasies.
What Jesus says here about this future judgment is strong and disturbing, but it is also perfectly just and appropriate. The judge is neither arbitrary nor cruel. What stands out to most people when they read that verse is “eternal fire” which is why they react negatively to it. What stands out to me is the description of whom it was prepared for. The place of “eternal punishment” was prepared by God for the devil and his angels, not men. It is incorrect to assume or conclude that God elects or predestines people to hell. If that was true, Jesus could have easily made that clear here in several different ways, but instead, He adds in this phrase that the purpose of its being prepared (Perfect passive) was for the devil and his angels.
People do not go hell because God predestined them for that. People go to hell because they have failed to appropriate God’s provision for their salvation through Jesus Christ. Man is born dead in trespasses and sin and confirms his sin nature by his own transgression of God’s commands. Therefore all stand condemned because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and the soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4). God would be just to send every human to hell because that is what man deserves for his sin against His creator. However, God’s own character of mercy, grace and love resulted in His plan from eternity past to provide salvation for man. God demonstrated His love for mankind when Jesus died for man’s sins as the sacrificial substitute to redeem man and offer forgiveness of sins to all that would repent and believe in Christ (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8). Those who place their faith in the person and work of Jesus are also adopted into God’s family with heaven promised as their eternal home. If you have not done that yet, 2 Peter 3:9 makes it clear that God’s desire for you is that you repent instead of perish, and He is patient and longsuffering of you and your sins while He waits for you to turn to Him in faith.
God’s response to unrepentant sinners is righteous and just, and in a very real sense it is granting to them what they have demonstrated throughout their lives that they foolishly desire. He will judge them according to their deeds and set the appropriate punishment, and then He will send them away from His presence in accord with their rejection of Him and His provision for their salvation. God will not require them to remain in His presence for eternity. That should be considered the greatest horror of Hell, but those who reject God will not perceive it that way until it is too late.
As physical creatures, it is the descriptions of Hell that indicate physical suffering that bring the most horror. In this passage it would be the concept of an everlasting fire, of being burned but never consumed that brings fear. It is disconcerting to read in 2 Peter 2:17 and Jude 13 that it is a place of “black darkness,” for if you have ever been in such a place, it invokes the anxiety of being unable to see despite every effort you make to perceive something. It is a feeling of isolation and abandonment. Hell is dark because the light of the glory of God has been removed. The description in Mark 9:44 of it as a place where the “worm does not die” brings revulsion. Revelation 14:11 brings terror with its comment that “the smoke of their torment goes up forever.” However horrible those descriptions may be, the greatest horror of Hell is actually what is stated in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 of being “shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” Hell is a place in which God’s love, grace and mercy are absent. It is a place reserved for Satan and his demons and people who have followed the devil instead of God.
It is common among the unbelieving to say they will not mind hell because all their friends will be there. That just shows their ignorance of its realities including the fact that their enemies will also be there. We know from Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 that those experiencing just the torment in Hades before the final judgment and condemnation to Hell beg God to send someone to warn their relatives. If you have friends who are already there, they do not want you to join them, though your enemies will be glad to have you join them in their suffering.
The Son of Man commands the goats, the wicked on His left, to depart to a place of torment that had been prepared for devil and demons. People will go to hell because 1) that is the just place of punishment for all who have proven their wicked character by their sins of both commission and omission, and 2) as stated in 1 Thessalonians 1:8, it is “retribution to those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” They have failed to heed the warning and take advantage of the redemption and forgiveness offered by the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, being self-deceived, they prefer to face God in their own righteousness. Those who follow the lies of the devil in life, whether flagrant or subtle, should not be surprised to find they will spend eternity with him in eternal punishment. Each individual will be judged according to their own deeds of evil and lack of deeds of goodness.
God’s love does not hinder in any manner His righteousness or justice. In fact, His righteousness and justice magnify His love because Jesus paid the penalty of sin for us that we might receive His grace and mercy. Remember, we do not want God to be fair with us, we want Him to be merciful and gracious to us by justifying us through Jesus Christ.
The Final Destiny – Matthew 25:46
Verse 46 brings the matter to a conclusion. “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Those who argue that there will be no eternal punishment only show themselves to be foolish. They openly reject what God has revealed. They have chosen to believe what they want to believe as if reality must conform to their own desires. Those who argue that there is no hell fail because they do not pay attention to what Jesus taught on this subject, and Jesus talked much more about the coming judgment and hell than He did about heaven. In this verse, the realities of both heaven and hell are presented side by side, and the same adjective is used of both those who are commended and those who are condemned. One is sentenced to go away into eternal punishment while the other is welcomed to eternal life. To argue that the punishment is limited is to argue that the life spoken of is also limited. What is true of ajiwnioV (eternal) for one is true for the other.
This same verse also destroys the arguments of those that acknowledge hell but claim it will only be temporary with either the souls that are there eventually being annihilated (cease to exist), or that they can eventually be transferred to heaven after they had suffered for their sins long enough. That latter idea matches the doctrine of purgatory taught in Roman Catholicism. This is the idea that as long as you were baptized into the Roman Catholic church and did not commit any mortal sins, you will eventually reach heaven after you have suffered the appropriate amount to pay for any and all sins for which a priest had not already absolved you. Neither purgatory nor the concept of it appear anywhere in the Scriptures for man cannot in any way or manner make himself righteous and acceptable to God. You either come through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ or you don’t come at all. You are either a sheep or a goat. There are no goats that become sheep, and there are no sheep that are punished.
The concept of eternal punishment should not be a shock to us. God is perfectly holy and so punishment for those who reject Him is to be expected. We should not be amazed at Jesus returning as the conquering king who will quench His wrath in judgment of those who have rejected Him. We should constantly be amazed at His great love demonstrated in His first coming in which He purchased our salvation through His own blood and in His consistent warnings to those who still reject Him. We do not marvel that God will condemn and punish sinners, yet we do stand in wonder of His offering forgiveness to those same sinners. It is not remarkable that there is a place of eternal punishment, but it is astounding that there is a place of eternal reward offered to repentant sinners. That God would hate sin is perfectly understandable. That God would love the sinner so much that He would redeem the sinner by becoming a man and die in our place is astonishing. Yet He did!
The message of the Olivet Discourse is unsettling as all the signs that will occur on the earth prior to Christ’s return are considered. It will be an unprecedented time of suffering. Jesus’ teaching here is full of warnings about the consequences of not being ready including a plain description about what eternity will bring to those who are not prepared. Yet, the Olivet Discourse does not end on a negative note. It ends on a very a positive one. Yes, eternal punishment awaits those who continue to reject God, but eternal life awaits those who ask God to forgive their sins and place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Heaven is the passion and prize for the Christian.
The warnings to be prepared for eternity are a fitting conclusion upon which to end the year. The time to be ready for Jesus’ return or to enter eternity before He comes is now. Later today or tomorrow may be too late. If you are not ready, talk with one of our church leaders today so that you may find peace with God.
The message of hope of eternal life is a fitting message for the start of a new year. Those who are followers of Jesus Christ look forward to His return and pray it will be soon even while being grateful that each day of delay is the display of the Lord’s patience that allows additional people to be saved. We face the future as did the Apostle Paul without fear, because for us, to live is Christ, to die is gain.
Sermon Notes – 12/30/2018<
A Sheep or a Goat? – Matthew 25:31-46
The Olivet Discourse gives details about the sign of the end of the age and __________to be ready
The Coming Judgment – Matthew 25:31-33
Revelation 19:11-21 – upon His return, the Lord ____________the rebellious armies gathered against Him
Matthew 25:31-46 – the Lord will _______those who are still alive – separating the “sheep” from the “goats”
Judgment belongs to _________(John 5:22), and He is now seated on His throne fulfilling many prophecies
This judgment is part of the great _______________occurring at the end Daniel’s 70th week – the Tribulation
__________are docile, gentle – the righteous. Goats are rambunctious – the unrighteous
Sheep come when called by the __________(John 10:27) while goats do not so they are easy to separate
The Judgment of the Righteous – Matthew 25:34-40
Jesus came first in humility to be the substitute sacrifice for man’s sin, but He returns as conquering ______
He invites the __________to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
God planned for the sheep from eternity _________- Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 8:29-30
God’s promises are so certain a future event is described with the past tense – “__________”
The __________of their righteousness is their compassion and good deeds in daily life – Matthew 25:35-40
Salvation has its origin in eternity past, so works are ____________- Salvation is by God’s grace, not works
The good works are evidence of a ___________heart – James 2:15-17, 1 John 4:17-18
The righteous, the sheep, are judged and ____________and inherit the kingdom
The Judgment of the Wicked – Matthew 25:41-45
This description is the exact ____________of the righteous – and astonished, they seek to justify themselves
Blind to the reason for their _________________, the judge clarifies in verse 45
Sins of ___________- failure to do right – are just as serious as sins of commission – actions of doing wrong
God knows the heart, and the failure to do right ______the true nature of the heart as much as actions of evil
The sentence pronounced on the goats is ____________because even the concept of hell is disturbing
Ignoring, reinterpreting or rejecting the doctrine of hell is foolishness for ____is reality whether liked or not
_________is real and His character is what it is whether you like it or not or believe it or not
The judge is neither arbitrary nor cruel and the punishment is perfectly _______and appropriate
The place of “eternal fire” was prepared by God for the __________and his angels, not men
People go to hell for failure to appropriate God’s _________for salvation – not because they are predestined
Sin _________everyone (Romans 3:23; 6:23), but God provides redemption and forgiveness in Jesus Christ
God’s desire is for you to __________and not perish – 2 Peter 3:9
God’s response to the unrepentant includes granting them their desire to_____________from His presence
As ______________creatures, we react with horror to the descriptions of hell – eternal fire, darkness, worms
In reality, the worst aspect of hell is being shut out from the ___________of the Lord – 2 Thessalonians 1:9
Hell is a place of _____________for all the wicked, and friends do not want friends to go there – Luke 16
Those who follow the lies of the _________should not be surprised to find they will spend eternity with him
God’s righteousness and justice magnify His _______that satisfied both to provide salvation in Jesus Christ
The Final Destiny – Matthew 25:46
Jesus presents the reality of both eternal life and ___________punishment side by side in this passage
This passage is also destroys the concepts of a ___________hell – either annihilation or a purgatory
You are either a sheep that inherits eternal life or a goat sent away to eternal punishment – ______________
God’s _________to redeem sinners should amaze us, not His wrath against the unrepentant
The Olivet Discourse is unsettling, yet ends on a ____________note
The ___________to be prepared are a fitting conclusion for the year – if you are not ready, get ready today
The message of Jesus’ return and eternal life is the _________of the Christian – may it be soon
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the words “judge” or “judgment” is used in the sermon. Talk with your parents about how to be a sheep who inherits eternal life.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the context for the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25)? What will be the first thing that Jesus does when He returns to earth with the armies of heaven? Who is left on the earth after that? Who will judge them? What titles are given to Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46? Upon whose throne will Jesus sit? Why is the analogy of sheep and goats used to describe the righteous and unrighteous respectively? What characteristics made sheep and goats easy to separate? Why are the “sheep” called “blessed of My Father”? What do they inherit? What is the timing of the preparation of it? Why is that significant? Examine Ephesians 1:4-5 and Romans 8:29-30. When does God choose the righteous? What are the steps God takes that culminate in the glorification of those who are saved? How does the compassion and good works of the righteous demonstrate their love for God? What would be the motivation to do such acts of compassion to the “least of these”? Can man earn salvation through good works? Explain. What is the purpose of good works? Why are the goats astonished at the king’s justification for their condemnation? How did they try to justify themselves? Why does a sin of omission – failure to do right, bring the same condemnation as a sin of commission – doing wrong? Look up James 2:15-17; 4:17 and 1 John 3:17-18 and explain their application to this same principle? Why are the goats accursed? Why do people in general have such a negative reaction to hell? Why is it foolish to ignore, reinterpret or deny the Biblical doctrine of eternal punishment in hell? How does this passage prove that hell does exist and that ideas such as annihilation and purgatory are wrong? For whom did God prepare the eternal fire? Why do humans go there? How can a human escape eternal punishment and inherit eternal life? Explain. Is God just in punishing the unrepentant for eternity? Explain. What are the horrors of hell? What will be the worst part of it and why? Do those in hell want their friends to join them? Why or why not? How do you think the unrepentant would react if they realized that they will be spending eternity with their enemies, those they hate, demons and the devil? Are you prepared for being judged by God? Will you spend eternity with the sheep or the goats?
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