The Scriptorium

The Foolish Goats

Good works: We're not saved without them. Matthew 25.41-46

Matthew 25: Wise and Foolish (6)

Pray Psalm 58.10, 11.
The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked,
So that men will say,
“Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
Surely He is God who judges in the earth.”

Sing Psalm 58.10, 11.
(Arlington: This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made)
The righteous will rejoice to see the vengeance of the Lord;
All men will say, “Then God must be, the righteous to reward.”

Read Matthew 25.1-46; meditate on verses 41-46.

1. Why did these people think they should have been saved?

2. Why did the Lord reject them?

Jesus taught emphatically that true faith is demonstrated in works of love. From beginning to end of His ministry, this was a consistent thread of His Kingdom message and lifestyle.

That is not to say that people are saved by works. They are not. Only the work of Jesus saves us, as we receive it and submit to His rule in every area of our lives. But submitting to His rule will mean living as He lived, showing that we are from God, and possess the life of God, by showing the love of God to the people to whom God sends us.

In other words, we’re not saved by works, but we’re not saved without them.

Jesus rejected those who professed to believe in Him but had no works of love to back up their profession. We do not really love Jesus if we don’t love the people to whom He sends us.

On the day of judgment, those who have not kept their lamps lit, or failed to use their talents in loving service to others, will be in for a rude awakening. Jesus will tell them to depart from Him, and He will send them “into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (v. 41). That such an “everlasting fire” and “everlasting punishment” (v. 46) awaits the foolish goats of this world should dispel for all time any notion or idea that, in the end, God will save us all.

It’s not that He could not save everyone; Jesus’ death is sufficient to cover all the sins of every human being from all time. But clearly God will not save those who have spurned His love, or tried to use religion in any way other than what He prescribes – love God, love your neighbors.

Let your light shine and invest your talents in serving others. Then you’ll be able to look forward with joy to “inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (v. 34).

1. We’re not saved by works, but we’re not saved without them. Explain.

2. Why is it wrong to believe that, in the end, God will save everyone?

3. What is the place of the threat of “everlasting punishment” in our presentation of the Gospel?

“And they will go into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Whatever will be is everlasting. Sinners will have everlasting punishment; and the righteous, everlasting life.
Ephphanius the Latin (5th or 6th cent.), Interpretation of the Gospels 38

Lead me into loving service of my neighbors today, O Lord, and I will…

Pray Psalm 58.1-9.
Pray for the lost, for the enemies of God and His Church, and for all those who need to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Ask God to give you an opportunity to share His Good News today.

Sing Psalm 58.1-9.
Psalm 58.1-9 (Arlington: The Is the Day the Lord Hath Made)
Do you indeed speak righteousness, you rulers of the earth?
And do you judge the sons of men according to their worth?

No, not at all, but in their hearts they seek unrighteous ways;
Their hands weigh out upon the earth cruel violence all their days.

The wicked from the womb rebel; from birth they utter lies.
Their tongues of serpent’s venom tell; all truth their ears despise.

Break, shatter, and destroy them, Lord; dissolve them from the day.
Consume them by Your mighty Word; and sweep them all away.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore