Monday, February 8, 2010

Another Look at Matthew 25:31-46; What Jesus tells us about the judgment

We have finished up our look at James and Paul but, I would feel that I was remiss if I did not reinforce the mandate for social justice. There are several passages that speak of a final judgment but, Matthew 25:31-46 is the only one that spells out the criteria.
Mat 25:34-40 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 foundation of the world. (35) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' (37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' (40) And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
This explicitly explains the standard that the saints will be judged by….and, repeating myself to make sure that it is really understood….this is the only place that clarifies the conditions of the judgment. And yet, this is not generally the main focus of evangelical Christianity. In fact, I grew up in a main stream denomination…I am not going to tell you exactly when….let’s just say it was a while back and, to my knowledge, I never heard a sermon on this passage. Likely, it was because my pastor was a strong proponent of the Scofield Bible and in the Scofield notes it is explained that this is a special judgment for the Jewish believers at the end of the great tribulation. Let me say that most commentators do not share this view….almost all see it as the final judgment.
So then, why is the church hung up on sexuality, alcohol, drugs and language conventions? Now before you get all riled up….I believe that one should live a chaste and sober life…but what I challenge you to think about is why the evangelical church has NOT shined a spotlight on this behavioral mandate. I also realize that there are many ministries that have but, again, this is not the focus one would expect if we really believed the message of Matthew 25.
Isn’t this just another sign that the evangelical church and evangelical doctrine is off the mark? Jesus said that tax collectors and prostitutes would go into the kingdom of God before the children and today, wouldn’t he say that prostitutes, drunks, homosexuals and aides patients will go into the kingdom before televangelists, preachers deacons and, theologians?
You ask, doesn’t Matthew 25;31-46 promote a works salvation mentality? I will ask right back at you….doesn’t current evangelical theology in reality have a work based salvation? I think it does, especially in view of the Calvin’s statement…”faith alone saves but, faith that saves is not alone.”
We have some ground to cover in the immediate future….I think that there is a way in which justification by faith and the faith works of Matt 25:31-46, James 2:15-16 and Isaiah 58:3-12 can be comfortably reconciled…Jesus gospel of the kingdom and Paul’s gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1Cor 15:1-4) are of one cloth and hopefully if you read on we will address this in future posts.
You can find posts that explain various positionss of this blog in the following areas: Introduction, The Word of God, Realized Eschatology,Jew – Gentile Distinction. These are just a few of the blog posts but, I encourage you to look through them or, you can get a free PDF of the blog through the latest Saturday.

2 comments:

  1. Great!! I gave a message on this a while back. It was based on the the question "How Do I Love God?" The first commandment is to love God, the second "is like it". Why is the second commandment like the first? Because loving others is like loving God. This is seen in the parable of the sheep and the goats, in how our relationship with the least of these is like our relationship with God. This equivalency is restated over and over again in scripture. Check out the mp3 of my message and related links and comments at:

    http://blog.emergingworshiper.org/2008/07/how-do-i-love-god.html

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  2. Those who lived on and in the streets find it easier and more comfortable going back to the streets to minister because this is what they lived. Those who have gotten comfortable in the four walls of their church have gotten or are getting spiritually, mentally, and physically lazy. We need to start picturing a church without walls and go ye therefore and make disciples.

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