Home > Where the Rubber Meets the Road > Where the Rubber meets the Road – Guest Post #1

Where the Rubber meets the Road – Guest Post #1

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I have received a few of the entries for the Guest Post Series so it is time to officially kick it off and get it moving down the road.  I will be posting the entries as I have received them from the author which means the views and opinions will be that of the author.

And so we begin.

Introduce yourself in 25 words or less (we are all counting – some of us are borrowing our neighbors fingers or toes):

My name is Amy.  I am a believer in Jesus Christ, and a child of God thanks to His sacrifice.  I am a stay-at-home wife and mother of five children.

Respond to the following the scenario:
I am a skeptical seeker who has just read Matthew 25:31-46 and you are the first person that I meet at your church on a Sunday morning and I ask you to explain these verses and show me how your community applies them.

The following is how I would hope to explain to a skeptical seeker the verses recorded in Matthew 25:31-46:

There will come a day, nobody knows when (however in the previous parables we are told to watch and be ready) that Jesus Christ will return to earth to set up His kingdom and reign on it.  This passage describes some of that scene.  Jesus is speaking about the coming judgment of the peoples and nations of the earth.  He comes back to earth with all of His angels, in a glorious display and takes His place on His throne.

He will separate the peoples or nations of the earth into two categories.  He uses the illustration of shepherd, sheep, and goats.  Jesus being the shepherd (which He refers to Himself as in the book of John 10:11-16), and likewise refers to His people as sheep.  He puts the sheep (His followers) into His right hand and then the goats (non-believers) into His left.

He then proceeds to judge each group.  First He speaks to the sheep and when He does He is loving and kind and they receive eternal life and inherit the kingdom prepared for them by Christ Himself.  He tells them because they served others who belong to Him (brethren), they served Him.  They are accredited with righteousness.

He then speaks to those He has in His left hand and tells them they are cursed and they receive their punishment, eternal fire.  They were not His sheep, they did not follow Him, and they did not serve others through Him.  It’s possible that some of them have done some good things in their lives, but the only way to receive eternal life is through Christ.  The Bible is clear about this issue.  You can not equate good works or benevolence with salvation.  Jesus is the only Way to the Father (John 14:6).

The key factor of judgment in the passage is treatment of God’s people, by God’s people.  Inheriting the kingdom (eternal life) is not possible if you are not a child of God which you cannot become without a right response to God’s word (His Son, Jesus).  So while acts of kindness and compassion take place in the community through food pantries, or those who care for the sick, or take in strangers etc., the condition and motivation of the heart will be the starting point for judgment.  If I am personally presented with needs like the ones spoken of here, I would help in whatever way I could.  If the church as a whole is presented with these needs (food, drink, clothing, shelter, visitation) it would do the same.

I believe it is a natural result of Christ living in you that will cause you to recognize a need and fill it.  The good works of the righteous aren’t the root or what saves you; they are the fruit of God’s grace extended to us though undeserved. God’s word says that Jesus knows His sheep and they know Him.  It is critical to belong to Christ; you will not receive eternal life without knowing Him as your Savior at the very least.

What makes you come alive?

As for what makes me come alive?  I wish I knew.  I can say that I get very excited when I see God at work around me and in those I love…and myself.  It motivates me to keep going.  Life certainly has ups and downs and there are times when I just want to throw in the towel.  Somehow in those times especially, God reminds me that He is there, He is still in control, and that I am His.  He is my reason for living; He did give me life after all

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  1. August 3, 2010 at 4:40 am

    amy, are we judged by the way we treat others and respond to their needs or by our faith in Christ? because there’s a lot in your explanation that i don’t find in the story. i’m not saying it’s untrue, just that the story makes it sound one way…

    you even said “the key factor of judgment in the passage is treatment of God’s people, by God’s people.” then you add that “the condition and motivation of the heart will be the starting point for judgment.” where does that idea come from?

    i’m not trying to attack your views; this is just something i’ve been struggling through of late.

  2. Amy
    August 3, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    No attack felt by any means. I appreciate the opportunity to look at this again.

    We are judged by whether or not we are believers (have faith) in Christ. As my husband said to me in response to the passage, it a nutshell…”sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell.” That’s probably the explaination I should’ve stuck with. 🙂 The whole “keep it simple stupid” idea.

    Jesus does give special attention to service in the passage though. Once He seperates His followers from those who did not follow. That leads me to believe that while we aren’t saved by what we do or don’t do in regards to serving others, it still matters to Christ how we utilize what He has given us (gifts, grace, mercy, compassion and so on). While believers may serve to different degrees, maybe due to the measure of faith given to each one (see Romans 12:3-8), they will indeed serve. It (our service to our brethren, and others, ultimately Him) will be the evidence of Christ in us. I admit in looking at the statement again, I shouldn’t have deemed it the key factor in the passage. I apologize. I truly thank you for your special mention of it.

    It is clear to me that whether or not you are His,is key. That is why I used the condition and motivation of the heart statement. Everyone is probably capable of doing some good stuff in life, but why they do it…is it an outpouring of the love of Christ in your life? or is it because you just think it’s good to do good?…it makes a difference. There will be fruit or evidence of belonging to Him.

    I may have really over complicated this especially when presented the idea that I am responding to a skeptical seeker. I had a hard time not relating to other Scripture when approaching this. That is probably why the explaination grew beyond the passage itself.

    I struggled with approaching this passage when I received the info. from our host and I am still struggling. I wanted to resend my offer to be a guest once I read the questions. It scared me to death to say the wrong thing, not out of fear of being wrong but of leading someone in the wrong direction. I guess this is where the disclaimer comes in, I do not know everything and would just encourage you to seek God and pray through the struggle. Thank you again for your reply, I hope I answered your questions in all the rambling.

    • August 5, 2010 at 4:08 am

      amy, you did fine with the text. and i’m happy to see the honesty in your struggle. i’m struggling, too, and that’s why i ask some hard questions. which… i’ve got more. well, not questions per se. but verses (only a couple, but i assume there are more):

      1 cor 5:10, “for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

      revelation 22:12, “behold, i am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”

      these verses seem to agree with matthew 26, that judgment will be one in which our works are evaluated and not our faith. unless our faith is evaluated by our works? i think if forced to address the question as its usually stated, this is where i stand but i’m pretty unsure of it.

      because what i am fairly sure of is that biblical writers would have ever dreamed that we’d separate faith and works to the extent we have. i think one problem with studying the bible (to death) for knowledge sake is that we begin to take everything apart. even things that are meant to stay together. i wonder if faith and works are that way — i think they are. they do more than complement one another; they are so intertwined that they can’t be separated. i think.

      • August 5, 2010 at 5:26 am

        James,

        You said a mouthful when you wrote:

        “i wonder if faith and works are that way — i think they are. they do more than complement one another; they are so intertwined that they can’t be separated. i think.”

        I would add these questions:

        Can works be defined into true and false works?
        If so, how do we understand the difference?

        (by the way, I once defined faith this way: Faith is at once both the belief and the action taken on that belief. Maybe the two are tied together 😉 )

      • August 5, 2010 at 5:57 am

        “Can works be defined into true and false works?
        If so, how do we understand the difference?”

        i’m not sure. i really want it to be cut and dry, so that whoever has good works has done so by the power of the Spirit and because he is a christian. that way we could be judged on the basis of our deeds, but that judgment would only select out those of us who have faith in Christ.

        but that doesn’t seem to be the case in reality. i see a lot of good works done by people who don’t know Christ. this is where the argument for true and false works would come in. but i don’t know how i feel about it. Jesus says if they’re not against us, they’re for us — speaking of those who cast out demons, BUT in his name.

        true and false works would solve some of those theological questions, but i feel like i’d be producing a solution, rather than objectively reading it in scripture. what do you think?

      • August 5, 2010 at 6:18 am

        I think I need to sleep on it 🙂

        But…

        I believe that there are ‘good’ works done in the name of Christ that can have kingdom impacts IN SPITE of the producer of the works or intentions behind the works. We see that reflected so many times in scripture. God being the Sovereign Potter, I have to believe that it His desire to use the clay in any fashion He chooses. He will receive the glory due Him irregardless of our poor attempts.

        However, that would/could mean that there is not a direct correlation of works produced to the eternal destination of the one who produced the works. In other words, we cannot earn our way into heaven based on our actions.

        So could we create a matrix that looks like this?

        Lost People Produce Bad Works
        Lost People Produce Good Works
        Redeemed People Produce Bad Works
        Redeemed People Produce Good Works

        I think so. Now I could further complicate this by adding one other element to the matrix – Motivation Behind the Works. Taking just the last 2 examples from the above matrix, I could make another determination:

        Redeemed People With Bad Motivations Produce Bad Works
        Redeemed People With Good Motivations Produce Bad Works
        Redeemed People With Bad Motivations Produce Good Works
        Redeemed People With Good Motivations Produce Good Works

        Now we can see why this conversation is so confusing. As Christians we could have good motivations and still produce bad works and yet our motivations could be completely messed up and the works produced could be good.

        Definitely something I need to sleep on.. night all!!

  3. August 3, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    These are great discussion points and I think that we are getting some positive framework to discuss faith & works and how they correlate. Add in a pinch of discussion on motivation and all of sudden we are talking Rubber Meets the Road type of theology.

    In this passage we have so much that we can discuss:

    Salvation – Faith & Works
    Missions vs Missiology
    Purpose & Motivation
    Eternal Outcomes – Reward/Punishment

    C’mon lurkers – step up and add your 2 cents!!

  4. Amy
    August 5, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Thanx for the input Tony! I would love to hear some response on the discussion points you mentioned.

    I have questions too…I do believe it’s clear as far as you have to believe to receive the reward of eternal life. No doubt in my mind or in Scripture on that.

    However, how do works fit in? Works obviously matter as we see in Matthew 25, but I can’t be sure about it all. I believe that we are justified through Christ’s sacrifice and God’s gift of grace to us, not by what we do (Ephesians 2:8-9). Another Scripture that points to justification that is not works based is Romans 4:5-8.

    I recently read a devotional by John Piper who I do like and respect tremendously. I am including the link so it can just be read in it’s entirety and would love some input on it. I realize it deviates from the passage originally given, but at the same time believe it adds to discussion on the passage. Here is the link: http://www.christianity.com/DEVOTIONALS/DESIRINGGOD/11549955/PRINT/

    I am hungry for input of your contributors. I have read most of the blogs since I have been introduced to your spot and have come to respect the thoughts of others that have been shared here. Looking forward to that 2cents!

    • August 5, 2010 at 5:39 am

      Good questions, Amy.

      I would answer in this way. Faith has two parts: the belief and the response to that belief.

      We receive salvation when we believe in the message of the gospel and act upon it through repentance, trust, and obedience. We usually refer to that as justification or regeneration. (Past salvation is another term that I have used to define it)

      There is a future salvation that is the perfection of our faith through glorification. This one happens with little to no participation from our part besides that of expiring.

      Now.. there is a present salvation – sanctification. It is my opinion that sanctification is much like past salvation in that it requires belief and trust followed by some form of action. We could call some of those actions works. Maybe it is fair to say that as we become more like Christ that we will ACT more like Him not from false compulsion but because of natural inclination brought about by obedience.

  5. August 5, 2010 at 4:13 am

    another idea some people like is that “regeneration is by faith, evaluation is by works.” i think those people would say that faith saves us, but works determine our reward (i’m not sure who they are, nor am i sure this is what they would say). i think there is some biblical support for that suggestion. just one verse that comes to mind is:

    1 cor 3:11-15, “for no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. if any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. if what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. if it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

    this text is actually speaking of church leaders, so that may be a reason it’s not true for everyone? thoughts?

    • August 5, 2010 at 5:27 am

      Sounds like the book of James to me. Faith points up and works point out.

  1. August 5, 2010 at 5:56 am
  2. August 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm

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