XIVa.13. Does Doing Good to Your Fellow Man Get You to Heaven?

 

Question:  Does Matthew 25:31-46 endorse good works for eternal life in Heaven? In other words, "If you do good towards your fellow man, will the Lord just let you on in."

Answer: First, we quote the passage in question:

 “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: (31) 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: (32) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (33)

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: (34) 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: (35 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (36)

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (37) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (38)

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (39)

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (40)

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: (41) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: (42) 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. (43)

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? (44)

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (45) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (46) Matthew 25:31-46

Even though it appears from this passage that doing good to your fellowman will result in eternal life; when we compare Scripture with Scripture, we find the answer.

1. The Difference Between the Rapture and the Revelation of Christ. The Rapture ends the Church Age, which began on Pentecost, and ignites the start of the 7-Year Tribulation Period of God’s judgments upon the earth. Two of the many Scriptures are found in 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (50)

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (51)

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (52)

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (53)

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” ( 1 Corinthians 15:50-54)

 “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (13)

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (14)

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep. (15)

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (16)

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (17) Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

In Thessalonians, Christ does not come to the earth to set up the Kingdom or judge the nations. Every Christian alive is caught up to be with the Lord. The Christians who have died previously to this have already left their bodies to be with the Lord.

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  (2 Corinthians 5:8)

They come back with the Lord and receive their glorified bodies, just as the Christians that are alive exchange their earthly bodies for their heavenly bodies. Notice the word “sleep” in Verses 13,14 is referring to their bodies, not their soul and spirit. The word “prevent” in Verse 15, is the Greek “phthano” and should have been translated “precede.” In other words, at the Rapture all Christians get their new, Heavenly bodies as we find in Philippians 3:20-21...

“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (20) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (21)

...and no human, sinful body (Romans 3:23) can ever enter the Third Heaven.

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:50)

How wonderful! A new body and a new home where we will never experience death, sorrow, crying or pain, as is promised in Revelation 21:4.

 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

2. The Description of Events at the Revelation of Christ: The Revelation of Christ is when Christ comes back to the earth to establish His Kingdom for a 1,000 years. He judges the nations, defeats Satan and his army at the Battle of Armageddon, and chains Satan for a 1,000 years during the Kingdom rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Revelation 20:1-3).

It should be noticed that in the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that every reference to Christ’s coming is NOT the Rapture; but, rather, the Revelation of Christ at the conclusion of the 7-Year Tribulation. The Old Testament prophets knew nothing of the Rapture, as it was a mystery until revealed unto the Apostle Paul. (Ephesians 3:1-10). The Rapture and the Revelation are entirely two different events, separated by seven years. Notice carefully that, at the Rapture, the Christians are taken up and the lost are left. At the Revelation of Christ when He comes and judges the nations the opposite takes place. The lost are taken and thrown into the Lake of Fire.

 “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:”( Matthew 25:41)

The saved are left to enter the earthly Kingdom of Christ.

 “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:” (Matthew 25:34)

At the Rapture Christ does not come to the earth; BUT, at the Revelation, he does.

3. The Doctrinal Truth of Matthew 25:31-46: Does Matthew 25:31-46 endorse good works for eternal life in Heaven? First, it should be noted that no one has ever been saved by their good works. If you visit the link on our website again, you will find that is the total point.

 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (8) Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

If anyone could go to Heaven on their own good works, then Christ would not have had to pay for the sins of all humanity on the cross. In the verses quoted below, you have the same kind of people from the beginning of Creation as you have today; the saved and the lost. The sinner who believes God’s Word.

 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)

 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (3) Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (4) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3-5)

Then you have the sinner who, through his pride and self-righteousness, rejects Christ as his Savior.

 “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. (14) And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:14-15)

 “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:” (Luke 18:9)

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”( Luke 18:11)

The key to these verses in Matthew 25 is the word “BRETHREN.” The brethren are those believers in Christ who are spiritually related to Christ by their faith. In John we are told:

 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12)

By our belief in Christ as our Savior, we are spiritually related to Him as a son; or, sometimes referred to as “brethren.” This is clearly brought out by Hebrews 2:9,11:

 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (9)

 “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,” (11)

In Matthew 12:46-50 we have the contrast between the physical brethren and the spiritual brethren:

 “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. (46) Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. (47) But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? (48)  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! (49) For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (50)

Notice in Verse 50. What is doing the will of the Father? It cannot be good works, as works do not make you a biological relative to another who does good works, anymore than standing inside a garage makes you a car! This is speaking of a spiritual relationship of yourself to another, as a man, woman, mother or brother, who also believes in Christ as their Savior. So, let us see what the will of the Father is, according to the Word of God in John 6:39,40,

 “And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (39) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”(40).

One can easily see that the will of God, first to the last, is for a person to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.

 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36

 In Matthew 7, we find some using God and His Word as a counterfeit of Christianity, projecting to and deceiving the people by their hypocrisy and self-righteousness. Their end was eternal damnation for trusting good works for self-glory.

 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (21)  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (22) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

With this preamble, let us go back to Matthew 25, Verses 31-40.

 “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: (31) 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: (32) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (33) 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: (34) 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: (35 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (36) Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? (37) When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? (38) Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (39) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (40)

These were the saved, helping their Christian brethren that had a need. They were not trusting their good works; but, doing so because of their love for Jesus Christ, who loved them and paid for their sins on Calvary. Christ would never have greeted them with these words from Verse 34, if they had been trusting their good works for salvation.

 “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:”

Now the lost, as described in Verses 41-46...

 "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: (41) For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: (42) 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. (43) Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? (44) Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (45) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (46)

These were the lost, who had no concern for Christ or anyone else who was a Christian. When a person is full of self, there is no room for Christ to be involved. One thing that Christ CANNOT do, and that is send a believer to Hell. These were the unsaved.

 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”. (John 5:24)

One must remember that Christ sees inside of a person’s mind and thoughts, although we cannot. Christ is...

 “...a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (12) Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him (Christ) with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:12-13

Ezekiel 11:5 proclaims the same omniscience of God concerning Israel...

 “...for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.”

Christ knew their wicked hearts, which were evidenced by their outward disregard for the Christians who were the children of God, bought with the sacrifice Christ paid on the cross. Christ, the Righteous Judge, renders their just verdict:

 “...and these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” ( 46a)

Christ also knew the hearts of the saved; which evidenced their faith, and which Christ described in Verses 34-36, 40.

 “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: (34) 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: (35 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (36)

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (40)

Always remember, salvation is a free gift.

 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (8) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Galatians 2:16

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Romans 4:5

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