Saw this comment on FB ,”If you believe that the parable of the goats and the sheep (Matthew 25:31-46) is about future judgment then you are a believer of works.”
But guess what? I believe the parable is about a future judgment and I am not a believer of (salvation by) works.
*Before going on, I think I should explain the theological position of the person who wrote the comment so as to provide some background.
He holds to the view that all End Times prophecies have been fulfilled by AD 70 and because of that, he believes there is no more judgment for everyone born after AD 70, meaning everyone is saved by Jesus Christ regardless of their faith.
As you can tell, I strongly disagree with him.*
Let us look at the passage:
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
There is a different account of the same event in Revelation which gives us some additional information about the same event.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
This is known as the Great White Throne Judgment where Jesus Christ will sit on His… well, great white throne and judge the people from all nations, both dead and alive.
Now, if we just read the account in Revelation 20, it does seem we will be judged according to our works (since that is what is explicitly written), but the Bible also clearly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9)… so what shall we believe?
Before we answer that question, let us go back to the parable in Matthew 25.
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…
The blessed ones are represented as sheep (on His right hand) and Jesus gives them the reasons for their blessedness.
… for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
Notice the reaction of the sheep (“the righteous”)? When Jesus lists the things they have supposedly done for Him, they could not recall doing any of them.
Think about it: If they had indeed done any of those things for the Lord, would they simply forget about it? In all likelihood, they would remember it so well and boast about it at parties.
Then what about the goats on His left?
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Just like the sheep, these goats have no recollection they did (or in their case did not) any of those things Jesus says. How can this parable be about works when both groups are rewarded or condemned for things they did not do?
There is only one possible explanation for this conundrum…
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
The sheep are judged righteous because of their imputed righteousness through their faith in Christ (thus by grace through faith)! In other words, their works are deemed righteous because they are righteous!
On the other hand, the goats are judged unrighteous because they are still sinners through Adam (Romans 5:12). Their works are deemed unrighteous because they are unrighteous!
Thus… the parable is about a future judgment and has nothing to do with salvation by works because the parable is never about works!
*Please note that I believe the Great White Throne Judgment will take place after the 1000-Year Reign of Christ which will begin after the Rapture. Yes… I am a futurist.*