Matthew 25.31-43 and John 14.15 – Faith and Works
Posted: 3 January 2012 in John, Matthew

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me….. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.”

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

The passage from Matthew seems to say pretty clearly that we will be judged upon the basis of our works and the kind of life we have led. At first sight that might seem to sit ill with the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Of course the difficulty is fairly superficial, and the verse from John gives a clue as to why.

To have faith in God, is also to love God, and the acid test of our love for God is the strength of our desire to obey him and keep his commandments. That desire must be real. To obey his commandments only gradgingly is not to love God. An atheist could lead a life of outstanding altruism, but he nevertheless would not be saved, because salvation is through faith in Christ alone, and by the grace of God alone. Not surprisingly, that is an idea atheists sometimes have difficulty with.

God is sovereignly free, and salvation cannot be earned. Firstly God must endow us with the gift of faith, which itself is not something which is ours to pluck out of thin air. But if we do have the gift of faith, then the strength of that faith is measured by the extent to which we willingly obey God. It is in that sense that we are judged upon the basis of our obedience, as Matt 25 suggests.

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