I am amazed that as a child through young adult, as I attended church every week, ( two services on Sunday, Wednesday night prayer service, youth meetings, and other special meetings) I never once, not even once... heard a sermon preached on this passage. It may be that dispensationalists have considered this a special judgment for the left behind people after the rapture... but none the less, I have not ever heard this passage preached or taught. Yet, if one looks at it grammatically it would seem that this explains in great detail the criteria for God's judgment of humanity. Certainly, at the very least it is a judgment passage for the kingdom of God. Especially in light of the fact that the King is the judge.
I know, I know.... how does this fit into the Protestant view of justification by faith? How does this fit with imputed righteousness? It would seem to the casual reader that there is a disconnect between Jesus and Paul. In fact, many liberal theologians have reasoned that Jesus and Paul had two distinctly different gospels; two distinctly different Christianities. Well, let me give you my answer. The above is the fruit. It is the fruit of believing the gospel. This is overwhelmingly substantiated by the New Testament writers. In the passage where James states that faith without works is dead... he mentions these very works. James 2:14-17 HCSB "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? (15) If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food (16) and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you don't give them what the body needs, what good is it? (17) In the same way faith, if it doesn't have works, is dead by itself." In fact, both Jesus and James are merely elaborating on Isaiah 58. Isaiah 58 is a New Covenant passage in Isaiah that speaks of these very specific works. Isaiah 58:6-7 HCSB "Isn't the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? (7) Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the poor and homeless into your house, to clothe the naked when you see him, and not to ignore your own flesh and blood?" The Puritans greatly skewed our theology in a way that is totally unhealthy. It put the emphasis on sexual morality at the complete and total expense of social morality. It is obvious that in God's eyes, social morality is the MOST IMPORTANT! Why you ask? Because it is the sole focus of God's judgment.
So then, let's bring it back around to Paul's explanation of the gospel. Let's connect it to Romans 5:1 HCSB "Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Peace with God, shalom is ultra important in being able to fulfill these works, or actually, to allow the Spirit of God to produce the fruit. It is imputed righteousness or the fact that God declares us righteous for the works of Christ, that will supernaturally produce these works or fruit of love. The peace, shalom with the Father, produces a rest in us, and a love for the Father that should naturally produce the above fruit. The reason it does not is evangelical, orthodox, reformed, theology is so far off the mark that it cannot produce it.
It saddens me to see the focus of so many Christians today. The thing they seem to most admire is selfish individualism. They support greed; Corporate greed, political greed, and they completely lack social morality. That seems like a formula to bring about the judgment of God.