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the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and
feed You, or thirsty and give You
did we see You a stranger and take You
in, or naked and clothe You?
Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to
You?” And the King will answer and say to
them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it
to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:37–40).
three parables Jesus included in the Olivet Discourse were given to reinforce
the urgency of being prepared for the coming of Christ. Jesus repeatedly said,
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”
gave a brief outline of the history involving the church by which we might be
able to discern the season of His coming. From what we can tell, based on what
He taught, we are in that season, if not at the end of the season.
is much fascination about the coming of Christ for any number of reasons.
Prophecy teaching sells books and makes some television preachers famous. If one
follows such teaching, it can be seen that any time something happens in the
Middle East, with Russia, or concerning the Jews, some prophet discovers a
prophecy for it somewhere in the Bible. However, the season does not offer such
detailed clues. Jesus said it is like a fig tree; when it puts out its leaves it
means that summer is coming. The tendency with fig trees is that the leaves come
more or less all at once. One could get the idea from modern prophets that the
leaves pop out one at a time with each of these events; as soon as all the
leaves have popped out, Jesus will come.
recent article found on the Internet is an example of what takes place in the
world of modern prophecy. Undoubtedly the writer was sincere in his belief and
his research of the Bible was extensive. From what this man saw in Scripture, he
prophesied that World War III will begin on or before January 2017 when Russia
will detonate a special nuclear weapon over the United States causing all
electrical power to fail and without communication and other essential services
the United States will be defenseless and fall prey to Muslim invasion. This may
or may not happen, but as a prophecy it follows the one-leaf-at-a-time principle
whereas Jesus said His coming would be sudden and unexpected.
also used the metaphor of an expectant mother. Mark 13:8 (NASB), “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom
against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also
be famines. These things are merely
the beginning of birth pangs.” The mother knows she is expecting a baby and
she knows the time is close, but the baby comes when the baby comes. Modern
prophets seem to know precisely when end-time events will take place, but the
birth pangs actually began 2000 years ago. Yes, the time is much closer now, but
remember Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the
angels of heaven, but My Father only.” The end will come when the Father says
so and He is under no obligation to tell any preacher or prophet what that will
than being concerned about when the end will come, Jesus is far more concerned
that we will be prepared for the end when it does come. So far in the Discourse,
Jesus has warned u to be prepared, to be active; and, now, He warns us to be
IS COMPASSION A WARNING OF JUDGMENT?
does Jesus bring up the subject of compassion as a warning to be prepared for
the judgment? At first glance there appears to be a disconnect.
the Parable to the Ten Virgins we found that we dare not backslide; we must be
up to date in our experience with God. Under the Parable of the Talents we found
that we must have the light of the gospel and be actively sharing it with those
in the darkness of sin. As important as those are, Jesus places the highest
importance on compassion. To those who exercise the compassion He speaks of God
will say at the final judgment, “Come, you blessed of
My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
world.” Those who do not exercise this compassion will hear a far different
sentence: “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for
the devil and his angels.” Which set of words will you hear?
is a feeling of sorrow or pity for the sufferings or misfortunes of another, It
can also be called mercy.
is not calling for a mere human emotion; He is calling for those professing
Christianity to let God love the world through them. The Apostle John teaches
that God’s love is in the very lives of the redeemed. He writes in 1 John
4:12, 13, 16
one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His
love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in
us, because He has given us His Spirit. . . . And we have known and believed
that love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in
God, and God in him.
is love and if God lives in us, His love is present in our lives. The great
principle of Wesleyan theology is that holiness is experienced by submitting to
that indwelling love of God and serving God through His own love. If His love is
in us, it must reach out from our lives to those that are lost in sin to draw
them to the gospel of Christ. Verse 14 connects the love of God, God’s love in
us, to our outreach with the gospel, “And
we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the
world.” It is we who have God’s love dwelling in us who testify that Christ
is the Savior of the world.
A GOSPEL OF GOOD WORKS
this lesson on the judgment, Jesus is not teaching a gospel of good-works; He is
teaching a gospel of love-works. If we are actively engaged in love-works we are
fit for the kingdom of heaven; if we do not engage in love-works, we are not fit
for the kingdom of heaven and we cannot enter the presence of God in the next
life—for, God is love.
identified six things as essential love-works: the hungry, the thirsty,
strangers, the naked, sickness, and prison. One might say this sounds like the
work of the Salvation Army. It is, but this Salvation Army must be far larger
than the one started by General William Booth. It is the work of the Salvation
Army built by Jesus Christ, the biblical church of God. We had better be that
church of God if we want to go to heaven.
the judgment scene described by Jesus, the sheep are standing at His right hand.
You will notice that Jesus speaks to the sheep collectively, not as individuals.
He commends all of them for having done these love-works because these works
were done by God has He loved those lost in sin through their lives. This is a
clear indication that individual sheep did not have to do all six of the
love-works. Collectively the sheep did them all, but individual sheep could only
do what they could do.
you can only feed the hungry but you cannot visit those in prison. Another sheep
has done that. Perhaps you can give a drink to the thirsty and visit the sick,
but you cannot take in a stranger. Another sheep has done that. We do what we
can as individuals, and collectively we the sheep do all the love-works. God
recognizes the love-works in the lives of His sheep and accepts anyone that will
allow Him to love the world through his life in any of these love-works.
the hungry. John 6:35, “I am the bread
of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger.” Souls that have never come to
Christ or who have fallen away from Christ are in a state of spiritual
starvation. We of the Church are responsible to bring them to Christ to cure
their spiritual starvation. He will fill them with spiritual life and save them
out of their spiritual death.
drink to the thirsty. John 7:37–38, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to
Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart
will flow rivers of living water.” In the next verse, it says that Jesus was
speaking of the need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The only way a person
can be right with God and live a holy life is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
We of the
Church are responsible to tell people this great truth and minister it to them.
Ephesians 2:12–13, 19–20, “That at that time you were without
Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the
covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in
Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of
Christ. . . . Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but
fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being
the chief corner stone.” Without
Christ, people are strangers from God. It is through the atonement in Christ
people can be made right with God and brought into the household of God. We
of the Church are responsible to seek out the strangers and bring them into the
household of God. We must let them know Christ died for them and it is only
through Him they can be made right with God.
the naked. Galatians 3:27 (NASB), “For all of you who were baptized into
Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Being without Christ is to be
spiritually naked. It is essential to put on Christ to make it to heaven. Dr.
Albert Barnes in his Notes on the New Testament explains: “That is, they have
put on his sentiments, opinions, characteristic traits, etc., as a man clothes
himself.” The lives of saved people look like the life of Jesus. We of the
Church are responsible to teach converts how to live for Christ; to instruct
them in how to make that which He has done on the inside appear on the outside.
the sick. Luke 5:31–32, “Jesus answered and said to them, Those
who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I
have not come to call the
righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Sin is a sickness that has infected
the entire human race and there is only one cure for sin and that is salvation
through the blood of Jesus Christ. We
of the Church are responsible to call sinners to repentance so they can be saved
from their sins.
to those in prison.
1 Peter 3:18–19, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just
for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh
but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits
in prison.” Sinners are held captive in a prison of sin. They are in bondage
and cannot stop sinning without the deliverance made possible only by the Holy
Spirit. We of
the Church are responsible to go to the sinners in their prison of sin; we are
not to wait for them to come to us—they can’t; they are in prison.
ONLY TWO CLASSES OF
PEOPLE AT THIS JUDGMENT
three parables in the Olivet Discourse are directed, not to the world, but to
the church. If we profess to be saved from sin and in the church, we are held
responsible to be prepared; there can be no excuse at the judgment for not being
we profess to be saved from sin and in the Church, we are held responsible to be
active in doing the work to which Jesus has called us. There is no reward at the
judgment for having just held our own. And now we learn that we are held
responsible to be compassionate, to do God’s love-works so God can minister
His love to sinners through our lives.
that there are only two classes at the judgment in this story. The first class
is sheep. These are Christians who have performed God’s love-works in their
lives. The second class is goats. These are professed Christians who have
neglected to do any of God’s love-works in their lives.
have the idea that if they call themselves Christians, do the best they can (or
want), give some money to the church or to a charity, they have a ticket through
the judgment straight into heaven. Jesus teaches that this is not so. There will
be many professing Christianity turned away at the judgment because their lives
did not conform to the standard of Jesus Christ. One might complain that such a
standard is just too high and not possible to live out in this life. What about
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who
live, but Christ lives in me; and the life
which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me
and gave Himself for me.” To be a Christian is to live a crucified life so
that instead of following the dictates of self, one follows that faith of the
Son of God. Christ will never lead you into sin or selfishness, but only into
the will of God.
life in us is the standard. Is He living His life in your life? If Christ truly
lives in you, He will manifest His life through your life. He will do God’s
love-works through you.
closing the study of the Olivet Discourse remember that Jesus is not concerned
so much with the details of the end time but that we be prepared for the end
whenever it comes. One day Christ will return and call an end to time; however,
it may be that our end will come before that day comes.
as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. (Hebrews
will you hear when you reach that judgment? “Come you blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
(Matthew 25:34). Or, “Depart from Me, you coursed, into the everlasting fire
prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41). The choice is yours.