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Continuing Following Jesus
Jesus does preach hell to those outside the kingdom – he teaches it to those inside as a motivation to draw others in. – Brought up with fear of hell rather than the motivator being love of Jesus.
Jesus does preach hell to those outside the kingdom – he teaches it to those inside as a motivation to draw others in. – Brought up with fear of hell rather than the motivator being love of Jesus.
Jesus does preach hell to those outside the kingdom – he teaches it to those inside as a motivation to draw others in. – Brought up with fear of hell rather than the motivator being love of Jesus.
All right. Everybody buckled up? Good. We may get jostled about a bit this morning, but our destination will be worth the drive.
All right. Everybody buckled up? Good. We may get jostled about a bit this morning, but our destination will be worth the drive.
All right. Everybody buckled up? Good. We may get jostled about a bit this morning, but our destination will be worth the drive.
Let’s start with a question. It’s an important question, one of the most important questions that we are confronted with. What I’m going to do this morning is ask you to think more broadly and deeply about your answer, so that the choices you make will be consistent with what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus.
Let’s start with a question. It’s an important question, one of the most important questions that we are confronted with. What I’m going to do this morning is ask you to think more broadly and deeply about your answer, so that the choices you make will be consistent with what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus.
Let’s start with a question. It’s an important question, one of the most important questions that we are confronted with. What I’m going to do this morning is ask you to think more broadly and deeply about your answer, so that the choices you make will be consistent with what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus.
So here’s the question:
So here’s the question:
So here’s the question:
What do you have to do to get to heaven? What do you have to do so that, once your life on earth is concluded, you will be admitted to the good place, instead of the bad place.
What do you have to do to get to heaven? What do you have to do so that, once your life on earth is concluded, you will be admitted to the good place, instead of the bad place.
What do you have to do to get to heaven? What do you have to do so that, once your life on earth is concluded, you will be admitted to the good place, instead of the bad place.
Anyone seen the TV show, “The Good Place”? It’s on Channel 4 and Netflix.
Anyone seen the TV show, “The Good Place”? It’s on Channel 4 and Netflix.
Anyone seen the TV show, “The Good Place”? It’s on Channel 4 and Netflix.
A woman named Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell, wakes up after a freak accident that has caused her demise, and she finds herself in an office with Ted Danson, who informs her that she is in the “good place”. I won’t give away too much of the plot, but after a series of mishaps Eleanor comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t really belong in the good place. But she doesn’t think she belongs in the bad place either. Making her case to Chidi, the moral philosopher who is trying to instruct her, she says, “I was a medium person! I should get to spend eternity in a medium place, like Cincinnati!”
A woman named Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell, wakes up after a freak accident that has caused her demise, and she finds herself in an office with Ted Danson, who informs her that she is in the “good place”. I won’t give away too much of the plot, but after a series of mishaps Eleanor comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t really belong in the good place. But she doesn’t think she belongs in the bad place either. Making her case to Chidi, the moral philosopher who is trying to instruct her, she says, “I was a medium person! I should get to spend eternity in a medium place, like Cincinnati!”
A woman named Eleanor Shellstrop, played by Kristen Bell, wakes up after a freak accident that has caused her death, and she finds herself in an office with Ted Danson, who informs her that she is in the “good place”. I won’t give away too much of the plot, but after a series of mishaps Eleanor comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t really belong in the good place. But she doesn’t think she belongs in the bad place either. Making her case to the moral philosopher who is trying to instruct her, she says, “I was a medium person! I should get to spend eternity in a medium place, like Cincinnati!
Now let me quickly say that I don’t suggest you construct your theology of the afterlife by watching a television show.
Now let me quickly say that I don’t suggest you construct your theology of the afterlife by watching a television show.
Now let me quickly say that I don’t suggest you construct your theology of the afterlife by watching a television show.
Especially in this case, because if you did, you would have some seriously messed-up views on personal eschatology that would involve giant flying shrimp.
Especially in this case, because if you did, you would have some seriously messed-up views on personal eschatology that would involve giant flying shrimp.
Especially in this case, because if you did, you would have some seriously messed-up views on personal eschatology that would involve giant flying shrimp.
But even though it’s just a silly show — one which is NOT, I repeat, NOT to be confused with actual Christian teaching — it does bring up some interesting questions.
But even though it’s just a silly show — one which is NOT, I repeat, NOT to be confused with actual Christian teaching — it does bring up some interesting questions.
But even though it’s just a silly show — one which is NOT, I repeat, NOT to be confused with actual Christian teaching — it does bring up some interesting questions.
Is there a medium place? - the Bible says no. The Bible talks about a very good place; heaven, and a very bad place, which is referred to as hell, or hades, or Gehenna.
Is there a medium place? - the Bible says no. The Bible talks about a very good place; heaven, and a very bad place, which is referred to as hell, or hades, or Gehenna.
Is there a medium place? - the Bible says no. The Bible talks about a very good place; heaven, and a very bad place, which is referred to as hell, or hades, or Gehenna.
And so, although a lot of people would think, along with Kristen Bell’s character, that they should end up in a medium place, maybe not paradise, but not all that bad either, in the Bible there’s no such thing. There’s only a good place and a bad place.
And so, although a lot of people would think, along with Kristen Bell’s character, that they should end up in a medium place, maybe not paradise, but not all that bad either, in the Bible there’s no such thing. There’s only a good place and a bad place.
And so, although a lot of people would think, along with Kristen Bell’s character, that they should end up in a medium place, maybe not paradise, but not all that bad either, in the Bible there’s no such thing. There’s only a good place and a bad place.
Another obvious question which the show brings up is, if there really is a good place, how do I get there?
Another obvious question which the show brings up is, if there really is a good place, not the pretend good place in the TV show, one with a frozen yogurt store on every corner, but a real good place, a place the Bible calls heaven, a place of inexpressible joy, and beauty, and love, and gladness, and peace — if there really is a place like that, how do I get there?
Another obvious question which the show brings up is, if there really is a good place, not the pretend good place in the TV show, one with a frozen yogurt store on every corner, but a real good place, a place the Bible calls heaven, a place of inexpressible joy, and beauty, and love, and gladness, and peace — if there really is a place like that, how do I get there?
In the TV show, you get there by being a really, really good person. And that’s what most people assume. You get to heaven, the good place, by being a good person. Seems reasonable.
In the TV show, you get there by being a really, really good person. And that’s what most people assume. You get to heaven, the good place, by being a good person. Seems reasonable.
In the TV show, you get there by being a really, really good person. And that’s what most people assume. You get to heaven, the good place, by being a good person. Seems reasonable.
But this is where anyone who has been paying attention here at Church, will say to themselves, but that’s not true.
But this is where anyone who has been paying attention here at Church, will understand that’s not true.
But this is where anyone who has been paying attention here at Church, will say to themselves, but that’s not true.
You can’t earn your way to heaven. None of us is good enough, none of us meets God’s standard, because he is a pure and a holy God and his requirement is holiness; that is, moral perfection. And none of us meets that standard. As Paul writes in his letter to the church at Rome,
You can’t earn your way to heaven. None of us is good enough, none of us meets God’s standard, because he is a pure and a holy God and his requirement is holiness; that is, moral perfection. None of us meets that standard. As Paul writes in his letter to the church at Rome,
You can’t earn your way to heaven. None of us is good enough, none of us meets God’s standard, because he is a pure and a holy God and his requirement is holiness; that is, moral perfection. And none of us meets that standard. As Paul writes in his letter to the church at Rome,
“No one is righteous—
“No one is righteous—
“No one is righteous—
not even one.[1]” ()
not even one.[1]” ()
not even one.[1]” ()
And further on,
And further on,
And further on,
“20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. [2] ()
“20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. [2] ()
“20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. [2] ()
And a few verses later,
And a few verses later,
And a few verses later,
“23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.[3]” ()
“23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.[3]” ()
“23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.[3]” ()
As the Psalmist wrote, considering his own spiritual condition,
As the Psalmist wrote, considering his own spiritual condition,
As the Psalmist wrote, considering his own spiritual condition,
“3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
“3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
“3 Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive? [4] ()
who, O Lord, could ever survive? [4] ()
who, O Lord, could ever survive? [4] ()
What’s the answer to that question? No one. No one, in light of our universal propensity to do wrong – what the Bible calls ‘sinfulness’, can stand before a holy God. And therefore, unless some other provision is made, no one can enter into the place where God dwells, which is heaven. We are all doomed.
What’s the answer to that question? No one. No one, in light of our universal propensity to do wrong – what the Bible calls ‘sinfulness’, can stand before a holy God. And therefore, unless some other provision is made, no one can enter into the place where God dwells, which is heaven. We are all doomed.
No one. No one, in light of our universal propensity to do wrong – what the Bible calls ‘sinfulness’, can stand before a holy God. And therefore, unless some other provision is made, no one can enter into the place where God dwells; heaven. We are all doomed.
That’s the bad news. And it is bad news. You are not an exception to the rule. I am not an exception to the rule. No one in this room is an exception to the rule. According to God’s holy standard, “There is no one righteous, not even one”. We all fall short.
That’s the bad news. And it is bad news. You are not an exception to the rule. I am not an exception to the rule. No one in this room is an exception to the rule. According to God’s holy standard, “There is no one righteous, not even one”. We all fall short.
That’s the bad news. And it is bad news. You are not an exception to the rule. I am not an exception to the rule. No one in this room is an exception to the rule. According to God’s holy standard, “There is no one righteous, not even one”. We all fall short.
HOWEVER there is good news. And that good news is that, although you cannot merit heaven, you don’t have to. Jesus Christ has done it on our behalf. Through faith, his merit and holiness are assigned to us, credited to our account.
HOWEVER there is good news. And that good news is that, although you cannot merit heaven, you don’t have to. Jesus Christ has done it on our behalf. Through faith, his merit and holiness are assigned to us, credited to our account.
HOWEVER there is good news. And that good news is that, although you cannot merit heaven, you don’t have to. Jesus Christ has done it on our behalf. Through faith, his merit, his holiness are assigned to us, credited to our account.
His perfect obedience to God is viewed as if it were ours.
His perfect obedience to God is viewed as if it were ours.
His perfect obedience to God is viewed as if it were ours.
And our wrongdoing, our sin, likewise, is transferred to him.
And our wrongdoing, our sin, likewise, is transferred to him.
And our wrongdoing, our sin, likewise, is transferred to him.
That’s why Jesus had to die. To pay the penalty, not for his own sin, but for ours. This is what Martin Luther called,
That’s why Jesus had to die. To pay the penalty, not for his own sin, but for ours. This is what Martin Luther called,
That’s why Jesus had to die. To pay the penalty, not for his own sin, but for ours. This is what Martin Luther called,
“A Wonderful Exchange”: Christ’s righteousness for our sin. Luther wrote:
“A Wonderful Exchange”: Christ’s righteousness for our sin. Luther wrote:
“A Wonderful Exchange”: Christ’s righteousness for our sin. Luther wrote:
“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours.”
“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours.”
“That is the mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours.”
The apostle Paul writes of it in this way:
The apostle Paul writes of it in this way:
The apostle Paul writes of it in this way:
message: In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.[5] ()
“21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.[5] – message: In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.[6] ()
“21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.[5] – message: In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.[6] ()
And the means by which we claim, this righteousness of Jesus, this holiness, this merit, is not our works, not anything we have done, but only our faith:
And the means by which we claim, this righteousness of Jesus, this holiness, this merit, is not our works, not anything we have done, but only our faith:
And the means by which we claim, this righteousness of Jesus, this holiness, this merit, is not our works, not anything we have done, but only our faith:
“16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” [7] ()
“16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” [7] ()
“16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” [6] ()
And again Paul writes, in his letter to the Romans, chapter three, verses 21-25:
And again Paul writes, in his letter to the Romans, chapter three, verses 21-25:
And again Paul writes, in his letter to the Romans, chapter three, verses 21-25:
()
()
()
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.[8]
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.[7]
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.[8]
That’s a GREAT promise. That’s the essence of the gospel. And so let me pause for a moment. If you are here this morning, and you have never placed your trust in Jesus, so that you might be forgiven of your sins and be assured of heaven, then I urge you to do that, even today.
That’s a GREAT promise. That’s the essence of the gospel. And so let me pause for a moment. If you are here this morning, and you have never placed your trust in Christ,
That’s a GREAT promise. That’s the essence of the gospel. And so let me pause for a moment. If you are here this morning, and you have never placed your trust in Christ,
so that you might be forgiven of your sins and be assured of heaven, then I urge you to do that, even today. This is THE core message of the Christian faith. You can be forgiven, you can be reconcile to God, you can go to the “good place”. Not by trying harder to be a good person, not by giving money to the church, not by praying more; not by doing, or not doing, anything. But simply by trusting in Christ for salvation. That’s all.
so that you might be forgiven of your sins and be assured of heaven, then I urge you to do that, even today. This is THE core message of the Christian faith. You can be forgiven, you can be reconcile to God, you can go to the “good place”. Not by trying harder to be a good person, not by giving money to the church, not by praying more; not by doing, or not doing, anything. But simply by trusting in Christ for salvation. That’s all.
This is THE core message of the Christian faith. You can be forgiven, you can be reconciled to God, you can go to the “good place”. Not by trying harder to be a good person, not by giving money to the church, not by praying more; not by doing, or not doing, anything. But simply by trusting in Christ for salvation. That’s all.
In the Reformation, these key gospel truths were called the “solas”; “sola” meaning “only”: Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus.
In the Reformation, these key gospel truths were called the “solas”; “sola” meaning “only”: Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus.
In the Reformation, these key gospel truths were called the “solas”; “sola” meaning “only”: Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus.
• Sola gratia, “only grace”: We are saved by grace alone, that is, solely as a gift from God, rather than because of any merit on our part.
• Sola gratia, “only grace”: We are saved by grace alone, that is, solely as a gift from God, rather than because of any merit on our part.
• Sola gratia, “only grace”: We are saved by grace alone, that is, solely as a gift from God, rather than because of any merit on our part.
• Sola fide, “only faith”: We are saved solely through faith, and not as a result of anything we have done or not done.
• Sola fide, “only faith”: We are saved solely through faith, and not as a result of anything we have done or not done.
• Sola fide, “only faith”: We are saved solely through faith, and not as a result of anything we have done or not done.
• Solus Christus, “only Christ”: We are saved solely on the basis of the work of Christ; that is, by his holy life, his substitutionary death, and his victorious resurrection.
• Solus Christus, “only Christ”: We are saved solely on the basis of the work of Christ; that is, by his holy life, his substitutionary death, and his victorious resurrection.
• Solus Christus, “only Christ”: We are saved solely on the basis of the work of Christ; that is, by his holy life, his substitutionary death, and his victorious resurrection.
This church affirms and teach these doctrines. I gladly affirm and teach these doctrines, without the slightest hesitation or reservation. Please keep that in mind as we consider some additional passages, because in order to be mature in our thinking, we need to build a theology that encompasses all of the Bible. And Jesus had much more to say on the topic of what we must do in order to enter heaven. As we read in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, verses 31-46, we find him teaching this:
This church affirms and teach these doctrines. I gladly affirm and teach these doctrines, without the slightest hesitation or reservation. Please keep that in mind as we consider some additional passages, because in order to be mature in our thinking, we need to build a theology that encompasses all of the Bible. And Jesus had much more to say on the topic of what we must do in order to enter heaven. As we read in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, verses 31-46, we find him teaching this:
This church affirms and teach these doctrines. I gladly affirm and teach these doctrines, without the slightest hesitation or reservation. Please keep that in mind as we consider some additional passages, because in order to be mature in our thinking, we need to build a theology that encompasses all of the Bible. And Jesus had much more to say on the topic of what we must do in order to enter heaven. As we read in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, verses 31-46, we find him teaching this:
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” [9]
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” [8]
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” [9]
This is a problem. Why? Why is this a problem? Because we just stated that salvation is “sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus”. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Those aren’t just some fancy Latin phrases dreamed up by sixteenth-century theologians, those are the teachings of Scripture. We just read those verses. And there are more. They are clear and undeniable. This is what the Bible teaches, that we are saved by faith, and not by works. I’ll give you another one, just so you can be sure of my point:
This is a problem. Why? Why is this a problem? Because we just stated that salvation is “sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus”. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Those aren’t just some fancy Latin phrases dreamed up by sixteenth-century theologians, those are the teachings of Scripture. We just read those verses. And there are more. They are clear and undeniable. This is what the Bible teaches, that we are saved by faith, and not by works. I’ll give you another one, just so you can be sure of my point:
This is a problem. Why? Why is this a problem? Because we just stated that salvation is “sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus”. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Those aren’t just some fancy Latin phrases dreamed up by sixteenth-century theologians, those are the teachings of Scripture. We just read those verses. And there are more. They are clear and undeniable. This is what the Bible teaches, that we are saved by faith, and not by works. I’ll give you another one, just so you can be sure of my point:
“4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.[10] ()
“4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.[10] ()
“4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.[9] ()
But what does Jesus say in this passage? Why does he say to the one group of people, the sheep, “take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world,” while to the goats he utters the dreadful words, words I hope none of us ever hear, “‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” What distinguishes the members of those two groups? What determines if they, or if you or I, will be among the sheep on his right hand, or among the goats on his left, whether we will receive his blessing or his curse?
But what does Jesus say in this passage? Why does he say to the one group of people, the sheep, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom while to the goats he utters the dreadful words, words I hope none of us ever hear, “‘Away with you, you cursed ones,.” What distinguishes the members of those two groups? What determines if they, or if you or I, will be among the sheep on his right hand, or among the goats on his left, whether we will receive his blessing or his curse?
But what does Jesus say in this passage? Why does he say to the one group of people, the sheep, “take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world,” while to the goats he utters the dreadful words, words I hope none of us ever hear, “‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” What distinguishes the members of those two groups? What determines if they, or if you or I, will be among the sheep on his right hand, or among the goats on his left, whether we will receive his blessing or his curse?
And the answer, from this passage of Scripture, is that what clearly distinguishes them is what they have done, or not done. To those on his right, Jesus will say (vv. 35-36),
And the answer, from this passage of Scripture, is that what clearly distinguishes them is what they have done, or not done. To those on his right, Jesus will say (vv. 35-36),
And the answer, from this passage of Scripture, is that what clearly distinguishes them is what they have done, or not done. To those on his right, Jesus will say (vv. 35-36),
35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“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.’”
35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
While to those on his left, he will say this (vv. 42-43),
While to those on his left, he will say this (vv. 42-43),
While to those on his left, he will say this (vv. 42-43),
42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“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.’”
42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
Let me ask you: Does Jesus say anything about faith in this passage? In his teaching here, on heaven and hell, does Jesus have anything to say about faith? [pause] Yes, he does.
Let me ask you: Does Jesus say anything about faith in this passage? In his teaching here, on heaven and hell, does Jesus have anything to say about faith? [pause] Yes, he does.
Let me ask you: Does Jesus say anything about faith in this passage? In his teaching here, on heaven and hell, does Jesus have anything to say about faith? [pause] Yes, he does.
It’s a trick question. And the answer will help us to untangle this theological conundrum, will help us to reconcile these two seemingly opposed sets of Scriptures. Yes, Jesus is speaking about faith in this passage. No, he doesn’t use the word, “faith”. He doesn’t have to. Because the actions he does refer to are all the evidences of faith, or of the lack of it.
It’s a trick question. And the answer will help us to untangle this theological conundrum, will help us to reconcile these two seemingly opposed sets of Scriptures. Yes, Jesus is speaking about faith in this passage. No, he doesn’t use the word, “faith”. He doesn’t have to. Because the actions he does refer to are all the evidences of faith, or of the lack of it.
It’s a trick question. And the answer will help us to untangle this theological conundrum, will help us to reconcile these two seemingly opposed sets of Scriptures. Yes, Jesus is speaking about faith in this passage. No, he doesn’t use the word, “faith”. He doesn’t have to. Because the actions he does refer to are all the evidences of faith, or of the lack of it.
Let me explain. The “sheep” don’t get into heaven because of what they did. They don’t earn their place in heaven. They get into heaven because of who they are. They are sheep. They are people who have trusted in Christ, who have been forgiven, who have experienced the new birth. And the way they live their lives, the things they characteristically do — that is, feeding the hungry, refreshing the thirsty, clothing the needy, caring for the stranger, remembering those who are ill or in prison — those things are the outward expression of that inner reality, their inner “sheep-ness”.
Let me explain. The “sheep” don’t get into heaven because of what they did. They don’t earn their place in heaven. They get into heaven because of who they are. They are sheep. They are people who have trusted in Christ, who have been forgiven, who have experienced the new birth. And the way they live their lives, the things they characteristically do — that is, feeding the hungry, refreshing the thirsty, clothing the needy, caring for the stranger, remembering those who are ill or in prison — those things are the outward expression of that inner reality, their inner “sheep-ness”.
Let me explain. The “sheep” don’t get into heaven because of what they did. They don’t earn their place in heaven. They get into heaven because of who they are. They are sheep. They are people who have trusted in Jesus, who have been forgiven, who have experienced the new birth. And the way they live their lives, the things they characteristically do — that is, feeding the hungry, refreshing the thirsty, clothing the needy, caring for the stranger, remembering those who are ill or in prison — those things are the outward expression of that inner reality, their inner “sheep-ness”.
Conversely, to ignore the needs of those who are hungry, or thirsty, or in need; to close one’s eyes to the needs of those who are far from home, or ill, or in prison — ignoring those needs is evidence of another kind of inner spiritual reality, and that is one’s identity as a “goat”; as someone who has never experienced the spiritual transformation that comes through faith in Christ.
Conversely, to ignore the needs of those who are hungry, or thirsty, or in need; to close one’s eyes to the needs of those who are far from home, or ill, or in prison — ignoring those needs is evidence of another kind of inner spiritual reality, and that is one’s identity as a “goat”; as someone who has never experienced the spiritual transformation that comes through faith in Christ.
Conversely, to ignore the needs of those who are hungry, or thirsty, or in need; to close one’s eyes to the needs of those who are far from home, or ill, or in prison — ignoring those needs is evidence of another kind of inner spiritual reality, and that is one’s identity as a “goat”; as someone who has never experienced the spiritual transformation that comes through faith in Christ.
Let me put it another way. You don’t get into heaven because of what you do. You don’t. Salvation is by grace, through faith. You get into heaven because of what the things that you do reveal about who you are. It’s a subtle distinction, but a critical one. Here’s how James expresses it:
Let me put it another way. You don’t get into heaven because of what you do. You don’t. Salvation is by grace, through faith. BUT the things that you do reveal who you are. It’s a subtle distinction, but a critical one. Here’s how James expresses it:
Let me put it another way. You don’t get into heaven because of what you do. You don’t. Salvation is by grace, through faith. You get into heaven because of what the things that you do reveal about who you are. It’s a subtle distinction, but a critical one. Here’s how James expresses it:
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” ()
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” ()
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” ()
In other words, a genuine faith, a living faith, produces caring for those who are ill, or hungry, or thirsty, or alone. That’s how our faith is demonstrated; that’s how it reveals itself.
In other words, a genuine faith, a living faith, produces deeds. Such as caring for those who are ill, or hungry, or thirsty, or alone. That’s how our faith is demonstrated; that’s how it reveals itself.
In other words, a genuine faith, a living faith, produces deeds. Such as caring for those who are ill, or hungry, or thirsty, or alone. That’s how our faith is demonstrated; that’s how it reveals itself.
Sheep will do ‘sheepish’ things and goats will do ‘goatish’ things. The critical point; the same point being made by Jesus and by James, is that faith produces deeds. If there are no deeds, it doesn’t mean that you have a lazy faith, or an underachieving faith, or an intellectual, rather than an active, faith. It means that you have a “dead” faith, which is to say, no saving faith at all.
Sheep will do sheepy things and goats will do goaty things. The critical point; the same point being made by Jesus and by James, is that faith produces deeds. If there are no deeds, it doesn’t mean that you have a lazy faith, or an underachieving faith, or an intellectual, rather than an active, faith. It means that you have a “dead” faith, which is to say, no saving faith at all.
Sheep will do ‘sheepish’ things and goats will do ‘goatish’ things. The critical point; the same point being made by Jesus and by James, is that faith produces deeds. If there are no deeds, it doesn’t mean that you have a lazy faith, or an underachieving faith, or an intellectual, rather than an active, faith. It means that you have a “dead” faith, which is to say, no saving faith at all.
And that’s how we reconcile the tension of Jesus’ teaching concerning the sheep and the goats with the truth that salvation is by faith alone. It isn’t the deeds that save us; we don’t earn our salvation. We aren’t saved by feeding the hungry, or befriending the lonely, or caring for the sick. Those things are the evidence of what does save us, which is our faith in Christ. And so when Jesus refers to these people’s deeds or the lack of them, he’s referring to those things as the evidence of who they are; that is, sheep or goats. If you’re a sheep, you do these things; if you’re a goat, you don’t. Are you with me so far?
And that’s how we reconcile Jesus’ teaching concerning the sheep and the goats with
And that’s how we reconcile Jesus’ teaching concerning the sheep and the goats with the glorious truth that salvation is by faith alone. It isn’t the deeds that save us; we don’t earn our salvation. We aren’t saved by feeding the hungry, or befriending the lonely, or caring for the sick. Those things are the evidence of what does save us, which is our faith in Christ. And so when Jesus refers to these people’s deeds or the lack of them, he’s referring to those things as the evidence of who they are; that is, sheep or goats. If you’re a sheep, you do these things; if you’re a goat, you don’t. Are you with me so far?
Now, this may be a bit unsettling - The idea that our deeds have any place in the equation at all - But we can’t escape it as we read through the gospels. What we do reveals what we are.
the glorious truth that salvation is by faith alone. It isn’t the deeds that save us; we don’t earn our salvation. We aren’t saved by feeding the hungry, or befriending the lonely, or caring for the sick. Those things are the evidence of what does save us, which is our faith in Christ. And so when Jesus refers to these people’s deeds or the lack of them, he’s referring to those things as the evidence of who they are; that is, sheep or goats. If you’re a sheep, you do these things; if you’re a goat, you don’t. Are you with me so far?
Now, this may be a bit unsettling - The idea that our deeds have any place in the equation at all - But we can’t escape it as we read through the gospels. What we do reveals what we are.
As Jesus teaches in another place, the type of fruit we produce reveals the kind of tree we are:
Now, this may be a bit unsettling to those of us who have embraced the gospel of salvation through faith alone. The idea that our deeds have any place in the equation at all, even as evidence of faith after the fact, may be new to you, may even be offensive to you. But you can’t escape it as you read through the gospels. What we do reveals what we are. As Jesus teaches in another place, the type of fruit we produce reveals the kind of tree we are:
As Jesus teaches in another place, the type of fruit we produce reveals the kind of tree we are:
()
“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” ()
()
16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. [10]
16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. [11]
At this point, you may be objecting that some people look good on the surface, but when no one is looking, they behave very differently. And my response is that the “fruit” Jesus is talking about here, the fruit which is the evidence of what kind of tree you are, includes both what is observable to us, and also what is hidden from other people, but seen by God. As the author of Hebrews tells us:
The “fruit” Jesus is talking about here, the fruit which is the evidence of what kind of tree you are, includes both what is observable to us, and also what is hidden from other people, but seen by God. As the author of Hebrews tells us:
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” ()
The “fruit” Jesus is talking about here, the fruit which is the evidence of what kind of tree you are, includes both what is observable to us, and also what is hidden from other people, but seen by God. As the author of Hebrews tells us:
() 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. [12]
() 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. [11]
So now let’s go back to Matthew chapter 25. I’ve emphasized this point because I want us to understand that the actions Jesus mentions here are not optional. These are not just good ideas. These are not just some suggested ways in which Christians can go about doing good, if we happen to have the time and the inclination. These things are how the genuineness of our faith will be assessed by God. And so, these things are likewise how we should assess the genuineness of our own faith. Let me be blunt: if you are ignoring those around you who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who have need of clothing, those who are lonely or who are far from friends and family, those who are ill or who are in prison and who are in need of care, even when you witness those needs with your own eyes — if you are routinely ignoring the needs of those around you, focusing only on your own little concerns in your own little world — then you have good reason to be worried about the state of your soul. Because ignoring the needs of those around you isn’t what sheep do. That’s what goats do.
Returning to Matthew chapter 25. I’ve emphasized this point because I want us to understand that the actions Jesus mentions here are not optional.
Returning to Matthew chapter 25. I’ve emphasized this point because I want us to understand that the actions Jesus mentions here are not optional.
Now, you might ask, why are these things so important anyway? Because they represent a transformation that takes place within us when we trust in Christ, when we experience the new birth. We are changed from people who are fundamentally self-centered, focused on what we want and on how we feel, people who habitually put our needs and our desires front and centre.
These are not just good ideas.
These are not just good ideas.
And we are changed into people who are like Christ. Jesus Christ, our Savior, who out of love gave up everything, even his own life, in order that he might give us eternal life. We become like the one who said, and did, this:
These are not just some suggested ways in which Christians can go about doing good, if we happen to have the time and the inclination.
“Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ()
These are not just some suggested ways in which Christians can go about doing good, if we happen to have the time and the inclination.
These things are how the genuineness of our faith will be assessed by God.
The apostle Paul describes Jesus in this way:
These things are how the genuineness of our faith will be assessed by God.
And so, these things are likewise how we should assess the genuineness of our own faith.
And so, these things are likewise how we should assess the genuineness of our own faith.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” ()
Let me be blunt: if you are ignoring those around you who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who have need of clothing, those who are lonely or who are far from friends and family, those who are ill or who are in prison and who are in need of care, even when you witness those needs with your own eyes — if you are routinely ignoring the needs of those around you, focusing only on your own little concerns in your own little world — then you have good reason to be worried about the state of your soul. Because ignoring the needs of those around you isn’t what sheep do. That’s what goats do.
And Paul writes elsewhere ()
Let me be blunt: if you are ignoring those around you who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who have need of clothing, those who are lonely or who are far from friends and family, those who are ill or who are in prison and who are in need of care, even when you witness those needs with your own eyes — if you are routinely ignoring the needs of those around you, focusing only on your own little concerns in your own little world — then you have good reason to be worried about the state of your soul. Because ignoring the needs of those around you isn’t what sheep do. That’s what goats do.
Why are these things so important anyway? Because they represent a transformation that takes place within us when we trust in Christ, when we experience the new birth. We are changed from people who are fundamentally self-centered, focused on what we want and on how we feel, people who habitually put our needs and our desires front and centre.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Why are these things so important anyway? Because they represent a transformation that takes place within us when we trust in Jesus, when we experience the new birth. We are changed from people who are fundamentally self-centered, focused on what we want and on how we feel, people who habitually put our needs and our desires front and centre.
Who, being in very nature God,
And we are changed into people who are like Jesus, our Savior, who out of love gave up everything, even his own life, in order that he might give us eternal life. Paul described Jesus in this way:
And we are changed into people who are like Jesus, our Savior, who out of love gave up everything, even his own life, in order that he might give us eternal life. Paul described Jesus in this way:
() 9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.[13]
() 9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.[12]
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
And Paul writes elsewhere ()
rather, he made himself nothing
And Paul writes elsewhere ()
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
by taking the very nature of a servant,
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
being made in human likeness.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God,
And being found in appearance as a man,
6 Though he was God,
he humbled himself
he did not think of equality with God
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
as something to cling to.
by becoming obedient to death—
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
even death on a cross!”
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
When Jesus talks about the “sheep” and the “goats”, and the things the sheep do which the goats don’t do, he’s talking about the changes which take place within those who know him, so that over time they become more and more like him. And this is what Jesus is like. He doesn’t ignore our loneliness, our sorrow, our hunger or our thirst. He doesn’t pass by when he sees that we lack food, or clothing. He doesn’t try to find excuses why he can’t help those who are ill, or separated from friends and family. He cares for us. And if we belong to him, we will do what he does. We won’t turn a blind eye to one another’s needs. We will care for one another.
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
and was born as a human being.
Let me give you another reason why these things matter. Let’s read over part of this passage again ():
When he appeared in human form,
35 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, 36 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.’
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.[13]
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.[14]
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
When Jesus talks about the “sheep” and the “goats”, and the things the sheep do which the goats don’t do, he’s talking about the changes which take place within those who know him, so that over time they become more and more like him.
When Jesus talks about the “sheep” and the “goats”, and the things the sheep do which the goats don’t do, he’s talking about the changes which take place within those who know him, so that over time they become more and more like him.
What does he say? Not, “those people were hungry”, but “I was hungry”. I, Jesus, was hungry. I, Jesus was thirsty. I was a stranger. I needed clothes. I was sick. I was in prison. And you cared for me. What does he mean by that?
And this is what Jesus is like. He doesn’t ignore our loneliness, our sorrow, our hunger or our thirst. He doesn’t pass by when he sees that we lack food, or clothing. He doesn’t try to find excuses why he can’t help those who are ill, or separated from friends and family. He cares for us. And if we belong to him, we will do what he does. We won’t turn a blind eye to one another’s needs. We will care for one another.
And this is what Jesus is like. He doesn’t ignore our loneliness, our sorrow, our hunger or our thirst. He doesn’t pass by when he sees that we lack food, or clothing. He doesn’t try to find excuses why he can’t help those who are ill, or separated from friends and family. He cares for us. And if we belong to him, we will do what he does. We won’t turn a blind eye to one another’s needs. We will care for one another.
Here’s what he means. When someone trusts in Christ, not only are they spiritually transformed, but another change takes place as well. They are united with Christ; they are brought into a spiritual union with Christ. As Paul writes,
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? . . . But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit”. (, )
Let me give you another reason why these things matter. Let’s bring up part of this passage again ():
Let me give you another reason why these things matter. Let’s bring up part of this passage again ():
And also,
35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” ()
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ [14]
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ [15]
Those who have trusted in Christ are a part of him, and he is a part of them. And so, when you reach out to serve others in the body, you are actually serving Christ. Not metaphorically, but actually. When you feed a hungry brother or sister, you are feeding Christ. When you comfort a brother or sister who is ill, or lonely, or in need of a friend, you are serving Christ. What a fantastic opportunity! Have you every wished you could somehow repay Christ for all that he has done for you? Somehow give back to him in some way? The opportunities to do that are sitting all around you. As you serve these people, you are serving Christ.
What does he say? Not, “those people were hungry”, but “I was hungry”. I, Jesus, was hungry. I, Jesus was thirsty. I was a stranger. I needed clothes. I was sick. I was in prison. And you cared for me. What does he mean by that?
I can guarantee you that there are those here this morning who are in need. There are those sitting just a few feet from you who are in need of comfort. In need of companionship. In need of friendship. In need of just someone to talk to. There are those here who have financial needs. Yes, even in affluent Avon, there are people in this room who aren’t sure how they are going to pay for the food, and clothing, and medical care that they need. There are others who are a part of this body but who are not able to be with us this morning, due to illness, or incapacity, or some other reason. There are those who are in nursing homes, and prisons, and hospitals. And you have an opportunity to serve Christ through serving them. Moreover, the Scripture says that’s what you will do — if you’re a sheep. If you’re a goat, all of this will probably go in one ear and out the other.
What does he say? Not, “those people were hungry”, but “I was hungry”. I, Jesus, was hungry. I, Jesus was thirsty. I was a stranger. I needed clothes. I was sick. I was in prison. And you cared for me. What does he mean by that?
Here’s what he means. When someone trusts in Christ, not only are they spiritually transformed, but another change takes place as well. They are united with Christ; they are brought into a spiritual union with Christ. As Paul writes,
But if you’re a sheep, and this sermon has awakened you to the need to express your “sheep-ness”, you are faced with a challenge. No one is wearing a sign, stating “I’m lonely”, or “I don’t have any friends in this town”, or “I’m having a lot of difficulty dealing with my chronic illness”. They’re not wearing signs. They’re probably wearing smiles. They seem fine. And so we tell ourselves that they are fine. The only way you’re going to be exposed to their need is to get to know them. Talk to them. Invite them to lunch. Join a small group. Attend an adult Sunday School. Participate in a men’s or women’s fellowship event. Look up. Look around. Get engaged with people.
Here’s what he means. When someone trusts in Christ, not only are they spiritually transformed, but another change takes place as well. They are united with Christ; they are brought into a spiritual union with Christ. As Paul writes,
“15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?[15]. . . 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.[16]. (, )
“15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?[16]. . . 17 But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.[17]. (, )
I’ll acknowledge, it’s much easier not to do that. Not to get involved with people. People can be a pain, let’s be honest. It’s much easier to focus inward, on your own little concerns in your own little world. No one has ever helped you, why should you put yourself out to help them? And my answer is: that’s goat talk. That’s how goats think. What sheep do is say, “Jesus, you’ve given me everything. Everything I have, everything I am, I owe to you. Show me how I can serve you by reaching out to those around me who are in need. Help me to get close enough to people so that I know what their needs are, so that they trust me enough to let me serve them. Jesus, help me to be less concerned with protecting my privacy, my peace of mind, my comfort, my resources. And help me to be like you, giving generously and joyfully of my time, my concern, my money, my abilities, my intellect and even my emotions. Help me to be less self-centered and selfish, and help me take the risk of being more like you”. Amen? Amen.
And also,
And also,
[1] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
() Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. [17]
() Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. [18]
Those who have trusted in Jesus are a part of him, and he is a part of them. And so, when you reach out to serve others in the body, you are actually serving Jesus. Not metaphorically, but actually. When you feed a hungry brother or sister, you are feeding Christ. When you comfort a brother or sister who is ill, or lonely, or in need of a friend, you are serving Christ. What a great opportunity! Have you every wished you could somehow repay Jesus for all that he has done for you? Somehow give back to him in some way? The opportunities to do that are sitting all around you. As you serve these people, you are serving Christ.
Those who have trusted in Jesus are a part of him, and he is a part of them. And so, when you reach out to serve others in the body, you are actually serving Jesus. Not metaphorically, but actually. When you feed a hungry brother or sister, you are feeding Jesus. When you comfort a brother or sister who is ill, or lonely, or in need of a friend, you are serving Jesus. What a great opportunity! Have you every wished you could somehow repay Jesus for all that he has done for you? Somehow give back to him in some way? The opportunities to do that are sitting all around you. As you serve these people, you are serving Jesus.
[2] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
I can guarantee you that there are those here this morning who are in need. There are those sitting just a few feet from you who are in need of comfort. In need of companionship. In need of friendship. In need of just someone to talk to. There are those here who have financial needs. Yes, in Huddersfield Elim, there are people in this room who aren’t sure how they are going to pay for the food, and clothing, bills.
I can guarantee you that there are those here this morning who are in need. There are those sitting just a few feet from you who are in need of comfort. In need of companionship. In need of friendship. In need of just someone to talk to. There are those here who have financial needs. Yes, Huddersfield Elim, there are people in this room who aren’t sure how they are going to pay for the food, and clothing, and prescriptions.
There are others who are a part of this body but who are not able to be with us this morning, due to illness, or incapacity, or some other reason. There are those who are in nursing homes, and prisons, and hospitals. And you have an opportunity to serve Jesus through serving them.
There are others who are a part of this body but who are not able to be with us this morning, due to illness, or incapacity, or some other reason. There are those who are in nursing homes, and prisons, and hospitals. And you have an opportunity to serve Jesus through serving them.
[3] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
Moreover, the Bible says that’s what you will do — if you’re a sheep. If you’re a goat, all of this will probably go in one ear and out the other.
Moreover, the Bible says that’s what you will do — if you’re a sheep. If you’re a goat, all of this will probably go in one ear and out the other.
But if you’re a sheep, and this sermon has awakened you to the need to express your “sheep-‘ish’ ness”, you are faced with a challenge.
But if you’re a sheep, and this sermon has awakened you to the need to express your “sheep-‘ish’ ness”, you are faced with a challenge.
No one is wearing a sign, stating “I’m lonely”, or “I don’t have any friends in this place”, or “I’m having a lot of difficulty dealing with my chronic illness”.
[4] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
No one is wearing a sign, stating “I’m lonely”, or “I don’t have any friends in this place”, or “I’m having a lot of difficulty dealing with my chronic illness”.
They’re not wearing signs.
They’re not wearing signs. They’re possibly even wearing smiles.
They seem fine – they’ll probably TELL you they are fine, And so we tell ourselves that they are fine.
[5] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
They’re probably wearing smiles.
The only way you’re going to be exposed to their need is to get to know them.
They seem fine – they’ll probably TELL you they are fine, And so we tell ourselves that they are fine.
Talk to them. Invite them to lunch. Join a small group and be in community with them.
[6] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), .
The only way you’re going to be exposed to their need is to get to know them.
Talk to them.
(Moving to connect groups) Join in a men’s or women’s fellowship meeting. Look up. Look around. Get engaged with people.
[7] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
I’ll acknowledge, it’s much easier not to do that. Not to get involved with people.
Invite them to lunch.
Join a small group.
People can be a pain, let’s be honest.
Join in a men’s or women’s fellowship meeting. Look up. Look around. Get engaged with people.
[8] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), .
It’s much easier to focus inward, on your own concerns, in your own little world.
I’ll acknowledge, it’s much easier not to do that. Not to get involved with people.
No one has ever helped you, why should you put yourself out to help them?
People can be a pain, let’s be honest.
[9] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
And my answer is: that’s goat talk.
That’s how goats think.
It’s much easier to focus inward, on your own concerns, in your own little world.
What sheep do is say,
[10] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
No one has ever helped you, why should you put yourself out to help them?
“Jesus, you’ve given me everything. Everything I have, everything I am, I owe to you.
And my answer is: that’s goat talk.
Show me how I can serve you by reaching out to those around me who are in need.
That’s how goats think.
What sheep do is say,
Help me to get close enough to people so that I know what their needs are, so that they trust me enough to let me serve them.
Jesus, help me to be less concerned with protecting my privacy, my peace of mind, my comfort, my resources.
“Jesus, you’ve given me everything.
And help me to be like you, giving generously and joyfully of my time, my concern, my money, my abilities, my intellect and even my emotions.
Everything I have, everything I am, I owe to you.
Help me to be less self-centered (at times self-ish) and help me take the risk of being more like you”.
Show me how I can serve you by reaching out to those around me who are in need.
Help me to get close enough to people so that I know what their needs are, so that they trust me enough to let me serve them.
Amen? Amen.
Jesus, help me to be less concerned with protecting my privacy, my peace of mind, my comfort, my resources.
And help me to be like you, giving generously and joyfully of my time, my concern, my money, my abilities, my intellect and even my emotions.
[1] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
Help me to be less self-centered (at times self-ish) and help me take the risk of being more like you”.
[2] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
Amen? Amen.
[3] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[1] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[4] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[2] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[3] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[5] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), .
[4] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[6] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[5] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[7] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), .
[8] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[6] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), .
[7] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[9] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[10] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[8] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), .
[11] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[9] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[10] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[12] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[13] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[11] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[14] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[12] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[15] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[13] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[16] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[14] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[17] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[15] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[16] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[17] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
[18] Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), .
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