Provocative Bible Verses: Jesus Never Knew You!

Posted: February 25, 2009 in loving your neighbor, Salvation
Tags: , , , , , ,

You can’t read the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats without being just a little bit nervous about your eternal destiny. Now without a doubt, the Bible teaches that we are saved by faith in Christ and even that is not our own doing but a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8-9 is about as clear on this as possible. We are not saved by our works. Yet, there is a incredibly important role that our good works play in relation to our salvation.

In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus tells of sheep and goats who are separated at the judgment. The sheep are welcomed into eternal life and the goats are sent to eternal punishment. When they ask why one group goes to heaven and one does not they are told that one group, the sheep, visited the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked. As a result, the really did those things for Jesus. The other group, the goats, failed to do so and as a result failed to do so for Jesus. What is amazing is that Jesus said to the goats, away from me, I never knew you. Incredibly, these goats called him Lord in the story. They claimed to know who he was, but he denied knowing them.

So what are we to make of this? Is Jesus teaching that we are saved by works? Is he saying that we can earn our way to heaven when other parts of the Bible clearly say otherwise? Is he saying that we can loose our salvation if we don’t do enough good works? The answer is going to be found in understanding the less clear parts of the Bible, in light of the perfectly clear parts. We have to use Scripture to understand Scripture.

We have already taken a look at Ephesians 2. The next place that will help us is James2:14. “What good is it brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” The answer that James gives is no, it can not. What we need to be clear about is this, James is talking about a certain kind of faith, not saving faith. In essence what he is saying is this, can a faith that does not manifest itself in a changed life, that shows no evidence of doing the works of God, that does not forgive people, serve people, love people as ourselves, really be a faith that saves? True saving faith will demonstrate itself by how we live or more precisely, how we LOVE. If we love God with all we have and all we are, we will love our neighbor. We will serve them and care for them. That is what Jesus says the sheep did. That kind of faith will save you. Faith that does not show up in loving others is really no faith at all. That kind of faith will not save you.

That is the issue with the sheep and the goats. The goats thought they had faith. They thought Jesus was their Lord. But their faith was pure lip service. It was not people service. They talked a good game. They did not walk the talk. What the Bible teaches is that if you have a faith that is guided by loving God and loving your neighbor, then you will show people your faith by how you serve them in their time of need. Those good works do not save you. They are evidence of the faith that you have that saves you. Failure to love your neighbor and love God would be an indication that saving faith is not present. People who show no evidence of loving God by serving others my be shocked to find out that Jesus does not know them as his sheep.

Comments
  1. jené says:

    I think it all comes back to my favorite thoughts from “Velvet Elvis”, it is not just what the cross has done for you but what it is doing in you.

  2. Jemima says:

    In the separating of the sheep from the goats, what part do you see “Babylon the Great” playing? Seeing as how God’s “people” are told to “get out of her” if they don’t want to “share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues”, (Revelation 18:1-8) knowing who she is is vital, wouldn’t you say? If God is going to judge this “harlot” so harshly, how do God’s people get out of her before God destroys her? The sheep will heed God’s warning and separate themselves from her. But who is she?

  3. Robert E says:

    I liked this. I hope you don’t mind, but I updated my FB status to reflect the thought of this. Thanks!

  4. Matt says:

    That parable scared the daylights out of me when I was in Sunday School. Actually, it still kind of scares me. I don’t know if it’s a holy fear, or not, but it is motivating.

  5. Dan Lacich says:

    Robert, feel free to pass it on in anyway you want. I’m glad you are enjoying it

  6. Dan Lacich says:

    That’s probably a good thing Matt. It tells me you are wanting to make sure you are really following and serving Jesus

  7. Frank Logan says:

    Hey Dan,
    I would like your opinion on how much good deeds in enough and how much bad deeds is too much. What if I walk the walk but not enough. There is good fruit but enough and then God tells me “I’m sorry Frank, you are sentenced to hell?”.
    Thank you.

  8. Dan Lacich says:

    Frank,
    Great question. We need to always remember that salvation is by faith in Jesus and not a result of our works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 The relationship between that faith and our works is one of validation. Our good works are intended, at least in part, to be evidence of the saving faith we have. Think of it in terms of someone who loves their spouse. You can say you love her all day long, but if you never do anything to serve her, care for her, encourage or build her up, then your love would be suspect at best. There is no line that can be drawn that says, oh you have done enough to show you love her, yet, people can see that you love her in those actions.
    The same is true with what Jesus says about our good deeds. It is not as if there is a number that we can attach to it all, yet, people should be able to look at our lives and say, “yes, they love Jesus and I can tell because of how they live”.

    So bottom line is we are not saved or condemned by those deeds, but they are evidence of the presence of lack of saving faith.
    I hope that helps.
    Dan

  9. Jason edwards says:

    well guys i am scared for my soul because i am addicted to terrible things and dont have the will power to stop myself. It brings me some peace to think that maybe the good i do day to day might help with the wrongs i do from time to time. I know i love god and struggle with myself to do his work in a more profound way, but i also fall to temptation despite my efforts. do you feel like the time of the rapture is quickly approaching? i do.

  10. Dan Lacich says:

    Dear Jason,

    I would offer this encouragement to you. Jesus promises to finish the work that he has begun in you. None of us have the strength to overcome the sin in our lives. However, Jesus does and through the indwelling Holy Spirit that becomes possible. It also requires that we be in deep fellowship with some other believers who can walk with us and help us overcome. Please fee free to email me if you want to get more specific on this. dan.lacich@northlandchurch.net

  11. Ally says:

    Dan,
    First time i have popped on here and i value your feedback to those who have written in. Well done. Will be using some of your insightful thoughts in my sermon tomorrow, thanks.

  12. Karen says:

    Jemima, the answer to your question can me found in several places. Read the “The two babylons” by Alexander Hislop. You can also go to chick publications.com and check out their catholic tracts. it will exlain the answer to your questions.

  13. Beth Norman says:

    This verse trips up the majority of Christians. So much so that Luther called James the epistle of straw. We must remember that we are not saved by works but rather for works. Once saved always saved. There is nothing we can DO to get saved; nothing we can DO to stay saved; and nothing we can DO to prove that we are saved. To DO so would be bringing works into an area where works cannot exist. Its Christ alone. We can DO nothing to ADD to the finished WORK of Christ.

    Scripture speaks of “faith” in two ways. Like Scripture declares its from FAITH to FAITH! The faith that saved you and me is a done deal. This has to do with with that moment when we went from being dead in trespass and sin to being quickened, being made alive in the spirit, born again. 80% of Scripture speaks of the NOW WHAT? The purpose of our salvation. Don’t we know that our saved spirit is housed within an unredeemed soul and body. These salvations of body and soul are yet future – to be revealed in the Day of our Lord, which is to follow this present age of the Church that we are in – or it is also called the age of Grace. Christ is presently our high priest – his Blood on the Mercy Seat forgiving as we confess our sins to restore our fellowship. This age or day will soon come to an end, where Christ will not longer serve as our high priest, but rather our Judge. What will come next is our (Christians) judgment at the Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ. This is where we will give an accounting of HOW we lived in our christian walk. Did we act on our saved status? Or, as christians, did we not? There are many “shoulds” and “ifs” in Scripture when it comes to works. As christians we are commanded to. We should. But what if we Christians don’t? Too many portend then we probably weren’t Christian in the first place. Nothing can be further from the Truth of Scripture! Why do you suppose there will be a Judgment in the first place? We will either be found approved or disapproved NOT in our SAVED status, but in our works! We will either be rewarded or suffer loss. YET SAVED BY THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH! We are either a faithful (acting on our saved status) servant or an unfaithful (not acting on our saved status) servant. We will hear a “Well done by good and FAITHFUL servant or we will hear that we were a SLOTHFUL servant. Be assured though, we are still a servant. (SAVED)
    If one can only have eyes to see and ears to hear we would recognize that Scripture speaks of two faiths and addresses each one with a salvation, Scripture could be rightly seen. One is based on our spiritual birth and the other on rewards.

  14. Lee says:

    This has been taken out of context. It isn’t about works at all. And it isn’t about only Christians.
    It is a story that must be read in its entirety to understand its meaning.

    The Sheep and the Goats

    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 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. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “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. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ”

    All the nations will be gathered before him. Christians and non Christians. This story is talking about our humanity and that fact that some can see a poor person and say they deserve to be poor, or see a person who is sick and think that they should not have health care, or see someone different than them and want to deny them human rights, or know that there are children who do not have food but don’t want to share enough of their wealth to feed them. Those sheep that he ends up picking are not all believers but they are people with empathy that truly care about others.

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