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"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...." Matthew 25:31-33 (Read Matthew 25:31-46)

On the Last Day, when Jesus Christ returns with all His holy angels to judge the living and the dead, He shall separate the believers and unbelievers from one another as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats, putting the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left.

The unbelievers, those who have not trusted in Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death for the forgiveness of their sins and everlasting life, will "go away into everlasting punishment." But those who trust in Christ and His cross have forgiveness and eternal life solely for Jesus' sake -- because Christ died for them and rose again -- and will go into "eternal life."

If it is through faith in Christ that one goes to heaven, and if it is through unbelief that one is damned and spends eternity in hell (cf. Mark 16:16), why does Jesus here speak of the works of believers for Him and the lack of works in unbelievers?

Jesus is not saying that those on the right hand go to heaven because of their works; it is only through Christ and His sufferings and death that they are acceptable in God's sight and are given eternal life (Eph. 1:6-7). But since they have been brought to faith in Christ and are saved by God's grace, they now love their Lord and Savior and gladly live for Him and serve their fellowman (cf. Eph. 2:8-10). They, those on the right hand, are not depending on such works to gain God's favor; they are not even aware of the many times they have served Christ by serving their brethren. Rather they love and serve their brethren because Christ has first loved and served them by winning for them eternal salvation (cf. 1 John 4:9-11,19).

Those who do not have saving faith in Jesus Christ cannot love and serve Him. Even when they outwardly perform many of the same charitable works as Christians, they are not done for Christ; for "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb. 11:6).

O Jesus, who my debt didst pay and for my sin wast smitten, within the Book of Life, oh, may my name be also written! I will not doubt; I trust in Thee, from Satan Thou hast made me free and from all condemnation. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #611, Verse 5)

[Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

Editorial on 11/29/2017

Print Headline: Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats

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