Matthew 25c

Matthew 25,Part C: The Judgment

What is interesting about today’s lesson is the Lord is not giving his disciples and us a parable- he is telling us the facts of his second coming.

This will be at the end of that horrific seven year period known as The Great Tribulation. Scripture tells us the church, the true church of born-again believers has been raptured prior to the pouring out of wrath on the earth. I Thessalonians 1:10 tells us: “ …and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead-Jesus , who rescues us from the coming wrath.”

The King who will judge the nations is the Lord Jesus as Jesus uses the name he often referred to himself as- the’ son of man.’  He says he will come in his glory with all his angels. Scripture tells us the bride of Christ will come with Him also, which means we were already in heaven. Jude 14 quotes Enoch, the seventh man from Adam: “ See the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of holy ones to judge everyone…”  Revelation 19 records this event in the future to which Jesus is now telling his disciples about: “ I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True ( what a name to meditate upon). With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a blazing fire and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood and his name is The Word of God. The armies of heaven following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen.{ that’s us the redeemed- the church, the bride of Christ coming out of heaven at the end of the 7 year period where we have been with the Lord in heaven.)

This is the second time the door of heaven has been opened in the Book of Revelation.   The first time was in Revelation 4:  “ After this I looked and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “ Come up here…”  This was the rapture of the church. The second time in Revelation 19 is at the end of the tribulation where the door to heaven stands open for us to follow our Lord to the earth for this judgment of the nations and the establishment of his kingdom on earth.

There will be two groups of people who survive the tribulation. The redeemed and the unredeemed; believers and unbelievers.  The redeemed are those saved during the Great Tribulation and have survived to the end.  There have been 144,000 Jewish evangelists who have spread the Gospel and been persecuted. There will be the two witnesses  who will prophesy for 1260 days, then were publicly executed . Their bodies will lie in the streets for 3 ½ days , then a ‘ breath of life from God entered them and they stood on their feet and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice say ‘come up here!’  And they went up to heaven in a cloud.” ( Revelation 11)   In addition to these- we read in Revelation 14 of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, who we are told- ‘follow the Lamb where He goes’: then three angels who proclaim the Gospel to those who live on earth and the judgment that is coming- to every nation, tribe, language and people.’  So that  man is without excuse.  By the time the King of Kings arrives at the end of the Tribulation, everyone on earth has heard the Eternal Gospel from one or all of these sources.

Remember Jesus said: “ And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” ( Matthew 24: 14) They will have heard the gospel from the two witnesses- the 144,000 sealed Jewish evangelists; and the three angels who proclaim it to the whole world from mid-air.

So when the Lord comes at the end of the Great Tribulation, everyone on earth has heard the Gospel through these three groups. I believe when Noah built the ark, a feat that took 120 years- everyone had heard of God’s judgment  and the coming wrath- but paid no attention to it. Drinking, marrying and giving in marriage- doing what they wanted to do without any concern for the preaching of a righteous man, Noah. No regard for God’s judgment of sin. Man’s wickedness on earth had become great and the thoughts of their hearts were only evil all the time ( Genesis 6) . Today we see the world has no regard for God’s judgment of sin.  Our society is moving toward adopting its own definition of right and wrong. It is considered ‘hate speech’ to call certain sins- sin.  There will be scoffers just like there were in the days of Noah. ‘Scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the creation.   But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.’(2 Peter 3) Notice Jesus said they will be marrying and giving in marriage and today man has defined marriage as suits him or her rather than God’s definition of marriage.

Therefore it is easy for the Lord to judge the nations – the individuals who have survived the Great Tribulation with all its plagues, wars and destruction. They are simply- those who are believers and those who are unbelievers. They are as easy for the Lord to recognize as a shepherd to recognize his sheep from the goats.

Now a word about us who are alive now.   We know in general when the Rapture and these events known as the Great Tribulation will occur. They will begin when the fullness of the time of Gentiles has come.  This is as we have said, next on the list of events to take place.  There is a day in the future, no man knows but God the Father. He will know when the last person to be saved in the church age is saved.  This will complete what Paul refers to as – the time of the Gentiles. Now in the present time God is gathering His Church, the bride of Christ. These are the Redeemed, they are Jew and Gentile alike, as we are one in the body of Christ. When the fullness of the Gentiles comes and the church is complete- we will be taken out of this world and not face the wrath of God. Make no mistake as a Christian you will be disciplined for your sins, rebuked, even scourged, for whom the Lord loves- those who are his- he chastens.  But we will not face his wrath.

This event is called the Rapture. We are told the dead in Christ arise first. Then those who are alive will be caught up in the air and will be changed in the ‘ twinkling of an eye.’  How are we changed? We receive glorified bodies like the body of Christ. They are suited for both heaven and earth, just like the body of our Resurrected Lord Jesus.  He had a body that you could see, touch, and talk with him. He also ate – so he had a digestive system. But his body also defied time and space and could vanish from one place and appear the next moment in another place passing  through closed doors.  This sounds amazing- but why should anything that God has created amaze us?  He hung the earth in space, supported by nothing.  He created light. He actually spoke it into existence. Nothing is impossible for Him!  In fact He is called the Light and may I remind you light travels at 186,282 miles per second which means in the snap of our fingers, perhaps even in the twinkling of an eye- light can encircle the earth 7.5 times!

Our bodies will be fit for both earth and heaven. ‘ Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ It is in these bodies we will come with our Lord the Lamb of God when he comes out of heaven at the end of the Tribulation. And we will be in these bodies for eternity.

At this time we live in- when a person dies their eternity is sealed and disposition of judgment is immediate just as it is here in Matthew 25 at his second coming. ‘ It is appointed once for man to die and after that the judgment.’  When we die as believers in this present time, we are told – we are absent from the body – but present with the Lord.  Those who are not believers- will also be absent from the body- but not present with the Lord.  Luke 16 explains there is a gulf fixed.  In this passage the Lord Jesus pulls back the curtain of death and reveals what happens. Here , in what many do not consider a parable, but real people in real situations, the events when one dies are clearly explained.  These events happened immediately at death:  Lazarus died and angels carried him to Abraham’s side in a place Jesus referred to on the cross to the thief as paradise.  Lazarus, the beggar was a believer, the rich man was an unbeliever. The rich man ends up in a place of torment and since he is conscious of where he is , we must assume Lazarus is conscious of where he is also.  This man is in torment, he is in agony in the fire and wants a drop of water to cool his tongue.  Abraham lets him know- his place is fixed for all eternity. There is a gulf- a great chasm that is fixed and he cannot get out.  You see when one rejects the one who became our bridge across the chasm between sinful man and Holy God – there is no other way- but by the One who said I am the Way. Jesus stated the condition- ‘ no man comes to the Father except by me.’ ( John 14)  We could say the Carpenter from Nazareth built a bridge with a handful of nails and an old rugged cross.

When you die in this present age- eternity is fixed either in heaven or hell. Our soul is present with the Lord if we are saved as we await the Rapture prior to his second coming when we will receive new bodies. If we are alive, I Thess. 4 tells us we will be changed in a twinkling of an eye- receiving new bodies. If you have responded in this life to the invitation of the Lord Jesus to come unto Him all who are weary and heavy laden-  then you will hear his voice say ‘ come up here’.  For example: my mother and father died in the 1980’s the bodies they had occupied for their 67 and 69 years were buried in the cemetery in Trenton.  Their very souls went immediately to be with the Lord.  At the Rapture- their bodies will be raised incorruptible, that is glorified bodies like Jesus. If I am alive at the Rapture, I will   be changed in an instant. If I have already died- then I will have been with him since the moment of death. My soul will be with Him in a conscious state as  I await for the Resurrection to receive my glorified body in which I will spend eternity.

Isn’t it interesting how the Lord’s first words of invitation to his first disciples ( John & Andrew) were : ‘Come and see’.  To Peter and those with him, Jesus said on that fateful day- ‘ Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’

Not so for the unbeliever, the unredeemed- their future is the fate of the rich man in Luke 16.

So in one sense – the rapture and his second coming may not occur for years and years- but every person’s eternal fate is sealed when they  die. You are either redeemed- or not. Saved or lost.

The Bema occurs following the Rapture. It takes place in heaven. So here is the process of salvation:  justification, which occurs at the moment of saving faith; sanctification- the process we are undergoing now, being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus; and finally – glorification- where we are raptured,( if alive) or resurrected ( if we die before his 2nd coming) – then the Bema.  For rewards- not punishment.

Now we see how Jesus, now the recognized King of Kings will divide these survivors of the Great Tribulation into two groups:  Saved and Lost.   His sheep are on his right- the goats, the lost, are on his left.

Jesus addresses the ‘sheep’ those survivors of the Great Tribulation who are redeemed. “ Come ,you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you visited me.”   Now the sheep on his right are not conscious of doing these things unto the Lord.  Jesus explains when you did it to the least of these my brothers- you did it unto me.

Is this salvation by works?  No. Salvation is always the same.  “ For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God not of works, lest any man should boast.” ( Ephesians 2: 8,9) However, as James would say- faith without works is dead.  Paul would tell us:  “ We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works , God has ordained we should walk in.” ( Ephesians 2: 10)

Let’s look at these works- for they are the fruit of the Spirit. James said ‘what good is it if a man CLAIMS to have faith but has no deeds? Faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action is dead. Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” ( Now if you are looking for loopholes- you might say the thief on the cross never did any good works and he went to paradise.  He was saved by grace through faith wasn’t he? A gift of God , not works.  You must also realize he did not have an opportunity to do any works. )

Now saving faith will produce action. Here during the Tribulation there have been extreme hardships, devastating plagues, and horrors we cannot imagine. There are homeless masses with great needs of food, water and clothing. There will be great sickness and prisons full of political prisoners. The 144,000 Jewish evangelists will probably be on the most wanted list. Jesus refers to them as his brothers. To help them is to risk your very life.

One is saved by grace through faith- not works.  But once we are saved by grace through faith alone- a true saving faith does not stay alone. Works are a natural result. Notice also this group on the right were humble also- they were not conscious they were doing these things unto Christ- they were doing what genuine faith in Christ produces- good works. Motivated by love. Not motivated to draw attention to their acts and good deeds. Many people can give large amounts of their wealth for charity, hospitals, racial inequality, or substandard housing- and most of it is not done anonymously. They want recognition and of course the tax deduction.  They are doing things in the flesh to be recognized and receive the reward of public praise which strokes their ego and makes them feel good about themselves.

Paul writes in I Cor.4: “ He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.”  What is the motive behind the deed?  The people on the left had a motive of self- promotion- of selfishness that motivates one to do what will receive applause and the congratulations of others. Like the Pharisees who prayed long in public, made a big show out of how much money they were giving. Jesus said we were to do these things in secret- so there was not a selfish motive of self -promotion.

Isn’t it interesting how many people always want to give something or do something for the rich and powerful so they might get something back from them. People are always giving stuff to the people who can most afford to pay for it – while ignoring the people who can least afford it and need it the most. Jesus said you did it to the least of these.

This brings the question to mind- am I not to have any self- interest? How can we not have self-interest? You realize self-interest is not a sin per se. Are we not commanded to love our neighbor as  our self?

Of course we are. We are to love self. Self-interest, in fact is at the root of all or most of our actions. Our Creator understands self-interest. Why do you think God has told us we will have rewards? Why do you think the Lord Jesus told us- ‘ the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life more abundantly.’  Not just in heaven but here and now.

John said I am writing this to make our joy complete. ( I John 1)  Joy, rewards, blessededness-abundance- give and it will be given to you- shaken together,pressed down, overflowing.  Are these not rewards?

“Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing , that you will not have room enough for it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your field will not casts your fruit. Then all nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land.”( Malachi 3)

God seems to understand the reward system and self interest doesn’t He?   Jim Elliott the missionary who was murdered by the natives he was ministering to, said:  “ A man is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to obtain that which he cannot lose.”  He was motivated by self interest to be and have all that God wanted him to be and have. Paul said he counted hardships and troubles as momentary and were achieving for him an eternal glory.  A reward. Delayed gratification- but more than worth the hardship and delay for how long it last and can be enjoyed- forever.

You can pursue self interest God’s way or the devil’s way.  God’s way is our self interest aligned with God’s interest. He has given me the desires of my heart. His desires are my desires. The devil says- don’t delay gratification – satisfy your self- interest your way, which is acutally the devil’s way- not Gods’ way.  This is the wrong kind of selfishness. This selfishness walks after the flesh not the Spirit.

Notice the wording of his advice to us:  Do not store up treasures for yourself on earth- where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourself in heaven , where moth and rust do not corrupt and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is your heart will be also. ( Matthew 6)  Notice who Jesus says we are laying up treasure for- ourselves.

You might be thinking- I have given food to the hungry and clothes for the less fortunate. Maybe you have even been involved in a prison ministry. And these are good and noble.  But take this to the spiritual realm- for what is needed in the physical is also a need in the spiritual.

There are those who are naked, in need of clothing, wearing only the ragged, filthy clothes of self-righteousness. God would have us offer them the white robe of our Lord’s Righteousness.  They are hungry and thirsty for something that would satisfy their desire- for the world’s offering has only kept them hungering and thirsting for more.  We have the Bread of Life to offer them to satisfy their deepest longing. The Holy Spirit a spring within that is theirs for the asking.  There are those who are imprisoned by sin, held captive by the one who promised to meet their needs- but is a liar, a thief and a murderer. We have the truth of the Gospel to set them free.

We all have been led astray by our self-interest. Deceived by the deceiver that there was a way that seemed right to man- but led to death.  Listen to what Paul wrote to Timothy:  “ Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Self- interest is not a sin. Pleasure and enjoyment are not illegitimate. God longs to give us good things and will withhold no good thing from the man who walks uprightly.

The devil tempts us to satisfy our self-interests his way, which is sin. God says I will satisfy your self-interests my way- which is the best, the longest lasting and the most satisfying.

Let me remind you as a Christian what sin does in your life:

*Loss of fellowship with the Lord until you confess your sin and turn from it.

  • Discipline by the Lord.
  • Loss of power and productivity. ( Apart from Him, I can do nothing.)
  • Loss of opportunities.

These people on the left- pursued self –interest their way.


Come and see. Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden. Come let us reason together- though your sins be as scarlet they shall be washed white as snow.

Come all you who are blessed by My Father.

Depart from me- I never knew you.

How have you responded to the invitation by our Lord to come unto Him?

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14