Are you a sheep or a goat? PII

The Coming Of The Son Of ManMatthew 25: 31- 46 

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25: 41

When the Son of Man comes!

Many people go to church and claim to be Christians. But, when it comes down to it, many are not living in the Spirit. Their faith is based on their identity-that they go to church-not that Christ has a hold on their lives (Rom. 8:9).

These are the goats who hang with the sheep, but they are pretenders and fakers who trust in themselves and not in the Lord. They are the ones who cause the most trouble for the good leaders with gossip and divisions, they will exhibit little to no fruit.

How do you know you are a goat? If all you see in life is yourself, your works, or your heritage, you may have a big, eternal problem leering at you! We must be aware that the goats will be taken; make sure you are not a goat, but rather a sheep, one who loves the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and whose identity is in Christ (Mark 12:29-31; John 10:14; 27-30).

At His second coming, Jesus will be looking for those who are prepared and faithful.

When the Son of Man comes. This refers to Christ’s reign on earth, predicted by Daniel (Dan. 7:13-14). This is a depiction of our Lord’s absolute authority over the apocalypse, judging all who have ever lived, and of both His omnipresence and omniscience.

Right hand, left. In ancient customs, the right side was the place of authority and power, whereas the left was for guests or those in trouble. Inherit the Kingdom refers to those who have been predestined (Romans 8).

We are being prepared for His Kingdom and glory!

Say to those on the left. This is about judgment. Jewish literature teaches that those nations who wronged Israel will be judged. Jesus takes the focus to how we were obedient with His call to the poor and oppressed (Matt. 12:50; 28:10). As we go out to proclaim the Word, how we are treated will bring judgment on those who have done ill to His servants (Matt. 5:19; 11:11; 18:4; 20:26; 23:11).

Here is something you do not want to hear…. Depart from me. The sentence is eternal! Before the Judgment can take place, the news of the Kingdom needs to be told (Matt. 24:14; 28:18-20).  Destruction and judgment, not God’s original plan for His people (Exodus 33:19; 34:6; Psalm 67:1; 1 Tim. 2:4; James 5:11;1 Pet. 2:3; 1 John 4:8-10). But, when sin entered in, the utopia ended and now evil must be put off (2 Peter 2:4-12).

Hell is a real place, not an idea to keep people in line!

Everlasting fire/ punishment refer to Hell, as in eternal punishment. The punishment of Hell is endless; so it is with the eternal blessed life of the Christian who is saved by grace. This is why evangelism and witnessing are so important (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

We need to proclaim Christ as Savior to help save people from this eternal damnation (Matt. 18:8; John 5:24)!

Reflection:

Even in the mist of fear and woe, make no mistake. Christ’s return will be glorious, and present us, the faithful, with commendation, victory, and security. We will receive our rewards and our proper place! We will see that all we went through in life had a purpose and a reason, and we will see the people who benefited, the souls that were saved, and the work that gave Him glory.

We will see clearly what our life was about and what it meant to Christ and to others.

We will say, yes, it was worth it! I am glad I remained faithful! Faithfulness, even when it is hard, is well worth it, as nothing else we do is greater that what we do for our Lord. Our works do not earn our salvation. His grace paid for that; but, why be one who is foolish when we can be the victorious, faithful sheep!

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Are you a sheep or a goat? PI

sheep or goatMatthew 25: 31- 46 

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25: 31- 33

Are you a sheep or a goat? The foolish will be judged and removed from the wise; the wasteful and fearful will be separated from those who love and trust in Christ (Matt. 25:14-30).

This parable is about the coming, final, inescapable Judgment! There was a judgment that was escapable, when the Jews could flee from their homes and business as the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. But, this time there will be no escape; all will be judged! It is about evaluation and separation; the good are set apart from the bad! The faithful are rewarded; the unfaithful are damned. The wise are praised and the foolish are judged Matt. 25:1-46).

Those who are in Christ will receive their blessings, and those who willfully reject Him will be cursed! This is a harsh teaching; nonetheless, it is true, and it will happen (Rom. 3:23; 6:23)!

When the Son of Man comes. This refers to Christ’s reign on earth, predicted by Daniel (Dan. 7:13-14). This is a depiction of our Lord’s absolute authority over the apocalypse, judging all who have ever lived, and of both His omnipresence and omniscience.

Angels. Jesus is perhaps quoting Zechariah 14:5. Angels are important and powerful in Jewish mysticism; however, Jesus is the Judge who will evaluate us as to whether we are saved or not, and reward us for how we served and represented Him (Psalm 62:12; Prov. 24:12; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Ezek. 18:30; Daniel 7:13-14.).

All nations will be gathered. This is the Judgment to come; no one will be immune or have a “get-out-of-jail-free card,” unless he or she is in Christ (Isa. 2:4 Mic. 4:3).

Sheep and goats. Both the sheep and the goats grazed together and were herded together; they were both for food; the sheep gave clothing and the goats gave milk and cheese. At night, they were separated. The sheep needed the outdoors, for their fur kept them warm; the goats needed to be inside or they might freeze to death. Sheep were much more valuable to the Jews because of the necessity of clothing they provided and the income from the selling of the wool. Sheep are also the representation of God’s chosen people (Ezek. 34; Matt. 10:16; 18:12). In pagan literature, goats were associated with the devil and being bad, whereas sheep were representative of good.

Do you realize who you are in Christ? As His child, do you realize how much He loves you, how valuable you are?

Separate. The segregation referred to individuals, not nations as a whole. Nations referred to all people groups. Right hand.  Left, in ancient customs, the right side was the place of authority and power, whereas the left was for guests or those in trouble.

Reflection:

When Jesus comes back, it will be magnificent, but it will also be a time of extreme anguish, as people will be separated and condemned for their blatant foolishness in not accepting Christ as Lord. It will also be a time of condemnation, woe, and guilt, as there will be judgment for those who wasted the gifts and opportunities He gave. We all will be surprised to see who made it and who did not! What Christian leaders will be there, and which ones will not? Which ministry will be praised and which ones will not? Those we think are the real Christians may turn out to be pretenders, and those we toss aside, thinking they are not worthy, may be the heroes, as we look at pride and accomplishments; God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).

Those who are in Christ will receive blessings, and those who willfully reject Him will be cursed. Is this fair? Yes or no? Why?

At His second coming, Jesus will be looking for those who are prepared and faithful. What have you learned to help you be prepared?

Christ’s return will be glorious and present us, the faithful, with commendation, victory, and security. How can this fact give you confidence and help build your faith?

Christ will Certainty Return PIV

second coming eBe curious and hopeful! 2 Peter 3:10-13 

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3: 13

Can you think of a specific area in your life that could use more hope? What does it mean for you to be confident and exuberant? What can you do to be more confident and exuberant?

Coming refers to when Christ will come back and gives us blessings as Christians who are faithful in Him. This is an aspect of great hope, that our righteousness do matter and it will come into fruition when He comes (Isa. 9:7; 32:16-17; 62:1-2; Jer. 32:40).

New heaven and a new earth could refer to an entire, new, created order after God destroys this one, but other passages indicate this means God reboots this one, cleanses it, and restores it as in a transfiguration process. Whatever means is used is because of His redemption that allows us to have a home of Righteousness. His righteousness will exemplify the world, not sin (Isa. 11:4-5; 45:8; 65:17-25; 66:22; Dan. 9:24; Rom. 8:21-23; 1 Cor. 15:35-57; Rev. 21:1).

Peter makes the point that since everything will be destroyed and judged, we should focus ourselves on Christ. He is our Hope and reason for life and living. He will return. There is no “if;” only “when.” It is not theory, but fact, and it points us to a faith that is sensible and useful. Our lives need to be in pursuit of Him and His Truth and principles so we are not spending our energies in sensationalism and endless debates, but rather in knowing Him and making Him known.

God calls us to be curious and hopeful with what is to come. This is to give us strength for endurance and anticipation of His work to come.

But, we are not to be obsessed and impatient or slip off the path He has for us. Our focus is to be in and on Him, not on our agendas. We are to make sure we do not fall prey to sensationalism or are not carried away by those who are deceptive, manipulative, or condescending or who play to our fears, hopes, and desires. Nor, are we to fall prey to our own faulty thinking, negating the real, revealed truths. Our footing is in Christ. Let us not lose it and fall off a cliff!

Our security, salvation, and lives are in Him and in Him only, all for His glory.

His promise to return is the climax of our life and the beginning of life everlasting. It is our hope in the midst of our trials and sufferings as well as in the daily grind of life. He wants us to live in the contentment of His love, not in the circumstances of ours or other’s notions or trepidations.

Do you understand who you are in Christ? Do you look for signs, or do you take His precepts as your sign and roadmap for life?

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were experts in inferring what was going on in the world with people, perceived motivations, knowing ‘their’ rules, and even the weather, but they did not know their Scriptures. They knew them as had them memorized, but not understood or applied. They knew the mechanics, but not the heart and intent. They only knew what their interpretations were, what others had said, and the passion to follow the concepts they cherished. But, they did not know the facts of what God had plainly told them in His Word. Just as many Christians today.

The best view to have in eschatology is the buildup of our faith and the deployment of our spiritual formation in the lives of others.

We pave the way for His Second Coming by our faith development and deployment, not by our feeble theories and the chasing of signs! From this passage in 2 Peter, what do you understand God’s call to be for you? What can your church do to discipline and/or warn people who make apocalyptic predictions or have bad motivations for their teaching?

Christ will Certainty Return PIII

God controlConfident! 2 Peter 3:10-13

“… As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” 2 Peter 3:12

What do you think discourages hopeful Christians? What can be done to inspire someone who is discouraged to remain faithful and vigilant?

God’s call for us is to be confident and exuberant that He is in control and things will work out. He does not want us, forsaking our duty as Christians in the world here and now by using our energies in nonsocial and nonsensical ways, trying to predict the future and arguing our views of it. If you really think this through, it is like focusing on your favorite junk food and arguing why it is good while forsaking healthy food that is good for you and helps you to grow and thrive.

Since everything refers to what should I do now? This is also a call, a call to keep you from being spiritually or emotionally defeated when tough times come. We are always seeing our Lord, not our situation. This is an aspect of the character of faithfulness, as it will help you persevere under stress and chaos. Christ is the One who keeps us secure, not our environment (John 10:28-29; Rom. 8:31-39)!

What kind of People you ought to be means to watch our motives and behaviors, making sure they are lined up with Christ and not with what is false and pretentious. We are to conduct ourselves with good ethics, honor, and godliness. What we do as a Christian is in response to what Christ has done in us. Works are not for our salvation; they result from our gratitude for the salvation that was freely given to us.

Thus, what we should be thinking, as committed Christians, is how do we now live for Christ and His glory, not how do we live for our desires and needs.

He has given us everything in abundance and in love. This is not a time to be impatient; it is a time to grow and do more in Him and for Him (Heb. 13:9).

You ought… live holy and godly/lives of holiness refers to not letting suffering overtake us or move us from His Way. Suffering is a part of life; it will happen. We have to learn to cope, seek Him, and prepare so we can help others and ourselves through it (see articles on “Suffering” http://www.intothyword.org/pages.asp?pageid=53502). We are called to not be discouraged when bad things, troubles, disasters, and tribulations happen in the world (2 Chron. 15:6; Isa. 13:8; 19:2; Jer. 51:46; Hosea 13:13).

We live in a fallen world where sin has corrupted everything and everyone, so disasters will come. We are called to prepare, plan ahead, and look to Christ as the Deliverer. He is in control!

The day of God. This is slightly different than the “Day of the Lord” and refers to “The Coming One,” as no one else but God Himself. Both terms are interchangeable, meaning great signs will take place, and He is seeking us for our salvation as well as for our spiritual growth. (Rev. 16:14)!

What does this come down to? Do not to make up dates, or dramatize bad theology; rather, know He is on His Way in His timing and be excited, but not fixated.

We are to have a “hasten desire” for Him to come back now. But, we cannot change God’s mind or speed things up. His timing is deemed and decreed by God’s providence and by God alone (Eph. 1:11).

Peter is warning us not to diverge into sensationalism, emotionalism, or fatalism, but see it from God’s view and trust in His timing. Contemporary Jewish thought at this time was divided on whether we participate in God’s intervention. Some rabbis taught that we do hasten it by our repentance, piety, and good deeds, while others said it was fixed and we have no sway over God. The debate continues today amongst Christians. Many Christians feel we hasten God’s timing by our missions and evangelism to all people groups (Matt. 24:14).

The fact is, we have no knowledge of the factors God considers or how His providence, mercy, and patience are working out for our benefit, too.

We do contribute; our actions matter. We evangelize as best and as aggressively in love as we can, because that is what we are called to do. We hasten this day by our fervor, our humble and honest prayers, and our obedience to know Him and make Him known to others. These are the only contributions we make to His timing (Matt. 6:10; Mark 13:10; Luke 11:2; Acts 3:19-20; Rev. 8:3-5; 22:20).