The least of these My Brethren

Matthew 25:31-46- there’s a few oft misquoted verses “judge not” “2 or 3” and this

  • Context matters when it comes to the Bible. Original language matters when it comes to the Bible. It is very difficult to fully ascertain exactly what the Bible means by simply reading it in modern English. The context, historical precedent and nuance is often missed of the root language because even the Bible translators, come from a theological bend, and want to have it say a certain thing to their own preconceived theological assertions. 
  • These verses are often misunderstood and misinterpreted to people’s theological bend. 
  • Here’s a bend that people have specifically with this scripture– Social Justice is the Gospel. 
  • The social gospel/social justice Gospel is a pretty nebulous term. It lacks specificity because its not specific and there is no one person or organization that owns the definition
  • It’s been around for over 100 years. The basic premise is to apply Christian principles to social problems and they go away. 
  • Social needs are emphasized, doctrines of salvation, sin, eternity, return of Christ are downplayed. 
  • Some even believe that Christ will not return until all of societies ills are made right
  • Liberal Christians use them to make them the gospel- non-C’s use them to push their agenda
  • Its theologically liberal and in today’s time, it references racial equity, wealth redistribution, public education, free healthcare, free housing, gun control, rights for the sexually immoral, immigration reform, prison reform, etc etc. Christianity is reduced to acts of service. 
  • “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross” (Niebuhr, H. Richard)
  • “be the Church” “be the hands and feet” “preach the gospel-use words if necessary”
  • The problem is not service. That’s biblical. The problem is service becomes salvation
  • Social Justice/social justice gospel proponents love this scripture because it possesses many of the ingredients they need to perpetuate the idea that Christians should be enacting social change- it ALSO gives Govt’s, socialists, communists and the like ‘ammo’ to coerce Christians 
  1. V32 All the nations will be gathered before him- justifies the UN as an arm of social Christian change- We must be involved in nation building/wars/border disputes
  2. V32 the sheep and goats will be separated- there is a division between those who do good and those who do bad-Good ones give and serve- bad ones don’t- which are YOU?
  3. V35 clear tangible actions and results towards the oppressed, food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, acceptance of those outside your nation, healthcare, prison reform
  4. V40 the notion that performing this service towards man, is in essence, performing this service towards God- if you DON’T do this- You DON’T love Jesus
  5. V41 and 46 punishment for those who DON’T do these things in the Name of Jesus are clearly goats (not Christians) and will not be going to heaven
  • Seems pretty clear doesn’t it? If you start with your presuppositions (Social justice refers to a fair and equitable division of resources, opportunities, and privileges in society.) you apply these scriptures to that end, and you get a coercive tool to justify and install an economic and societal standard by which you can demand control of another persons resources and labor. You take from one group- give to another bc of the Bible. 
  • Christianity then can be reduced to actions performed towards others and become the litmus test by which someone can determine their salvation: Works towards others. 

Here’s the problem with applying that logic towards these verses- 

  1. It takes the verses out of the context of the rest of the book of Matthew
  • Jesus says In these verses “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren”
  • Which is an operative phrase if you’re trying to understand who Jesus is referring to and what actions they are supposed to perform- These verses apply to believers- not Governments. 
  • You see- they want to use our Bible when it benefits- but not when it condemns their sins
  • Jesus in Matthew 10 lays out the plan for his disciples as they go out to share the kingdom of heaven with the world: V1 Gives them power to heal the sick and disease v5 tells them to go to Samaratains and not gentiles, v7 tells them to preach the kingdom of heaven, v8 heal the sick, raise the dead,  v9 (very important) do not bring any money in your money belts, bags, tunics, sandals, staffs “A worker is worthy of his food” 
  • V14 ‘whoever will not receive you nor hear your words-shake the dust off your feet” 
  • And then he says “More tolerable for Sodom than that city that rejects you”
  • He tells them they will be delivered up, that the HS will speak through them, you’ll be hated, persecuted, you’re going to go through everything Jesus will go through. 
  • He goes on to talk about divisions between families, and loving Jesus more than your family, taking up your cross, losing your life. 
  • And then he says v40 “whoever receives you, receives me”  and then 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
  • He’s setting up his disciples to go and share the gospel, get rejected and imprisoned like Jesus
  • In Matthew 12:46-50 He declares that his brothers are 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
  • Even later in Matthew Jesus refers to his disciples as brothers and says- 
  • Matthew 28:10  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
  • The word in 12:46 is Adelphos  25:40 is adelphos 28:10 is adelphos
  • Brother brother brother. Jesus is referring to those who believe in him- not governments
  • 25:32 the word for nation is eth’-nos a race- a ‘people group’ is the best translation
  • Jesus will gather all people groups (who have seen and heard the Gospel of Jesus)
  1. Sheep and goats
  • Jesus is not separating the Church in this scripture between sheep and goats, he’s separating the gentiles into two groups- sheep and goats. Those that did the will of the father and those who didn’t. He gathers all the gentiles and says “Here’s who rejected me and here’s who didn’t”
  • Separation is a common theme throughout the scriptures- that there will be a division that Christ will do and that separation is between believers and non-believers-not nations
  • Remember- the book of Matthew is written to a Jewish audience- To convince them that Jesus is messiah- So most of these scriptures are written to convince the jews to follow Jesus. 
  • Furthermore- It is to let all the hearers know- Jesus will return and gather his sheep (Followers)
  • John the Baptist said- Matthew 3:12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
  • Parable of tares- Matthew 13:38 The field is the world (not the church), the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 
  • Matthew 13:49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just,
  • The separation of the sheep from the goats isn’t a charge to perform a certain work- it’s a description of what they will see because sheep naturally stay together and take care of each other. Jesus is going to gather his sheep (the believers) excommunicate the goats (unbelievers)
  • AIT- If a drill sergeant said- Go down and find my soldiers at the river walk- You could see em!
  • The separation of the sheep and goats is not two types of people in the church, its two types of people- Those that accept Christ and those who reject Christ– He gathers all the gentiles together and separates them- These are the ones who are my brethren- the ones who took care of me, and those who didn’t because they rejected me. You can see it by their works. 
  • People aren’t going to get to heaven because they perform charitable work, but you can see the difference between those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t because they automatically gravitate towards each other and take care of each other because they are HIS
  • This is not a scripture about works based salvation, social justice, social gospel, working your way to heaven, doing works to prove you’re a Christian. Nope. It’s a description
  • You’ll notice my people bc they will be doing this- they will be different-take care of ME
  • Matthew 10-My people will be making sure that my disciples are fed (because they didn’t ‘bring anything for the journey) that they are clothed (bc they didn’t bring a tunic) that they were visited while infirmed (because they love one another) visited in prison (bc of the Gospel) 
  • Because if you did it for my disciples- you did it for me because they are me.- I told them-do it
  • John 17:21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
  • The separation would be irrelevant if it didn’t show the separation between those who believe in Jesus and those who didn’t- the entrance into heaven isn’t acts of service. 
  • Division is biblical! Matt 10:34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
  • Malachi 3:18 Then you shall again discern Between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10a For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ
  • This is the equity of the Bible- Its not the equaling of the scales of Justice- it’s the level ground of the foot of the Cross where the believers are separated from the unbelievers. 
  • Psalm 98:9 before the Lord, For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, And the peoples with equity.
  • They don’t want this Gospel! It requires repentance. Death to self. Destruction of pride and rebellion- submission to Christ and his will- eradication of sin from our lives
  • They want to reduce to gospel to service bc then SIN is svc v no svc. Not wicked immorality
  1. Unity in the church serving the brethren
  • So you’re sitting here and thinking- so, how do I become a Sheep and not a goat?
  • John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
  • The division is between those who follow and those who don’t. Will you follow Jesus? Followers of Jesus naturally become and produce works in their life and if there isn’t any- go back to the Cross. Be converted and you’ll naturally produce the works of repentance.
  • You’ll notice the scriptures about service in the church- they are for the church. 
  • This is why Jesus said-  John 13:35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (we love our own here- we take care of each other- we do) 
  • When the world looks at the church and we’re a bunch of back biting, destructive, exploitative , fleshly, worldly divided people, the world looks at us and says “why do I want that” 
  • But if they see us walking out the scriptures- and taking care of each other, then they know that God is real. (Again- this doesn’t negate that we SHOULDN’T serve non-believers- just not this verse) This church helps its own- And those In the church organically do the same!
  • Service projects are not the exclusive activity of the Christian Church- The After School Satan Club. ASSC exists to provide a safe and inclusive alternative to the religious clubs that use threats of eternal damnation to convert school children to their belief system. Unlike our counterparts, who publicly measure their success in young children’s “professions of faith,” the After School Satan Club program focuses on science, critical thinking, creative arts, and good works for the community. While engaged in all of these activities, we want clubgoers to have a good time.
  • Service projects, civic engagement, feeding the hungry, helping the sick, visiting prisoners is not not what Christianity is. It’s a BY-PRODUCT, but its not the point of it all. It’s just not. 
  • Christianity is- 2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
  • Now how that MANIFESTS within the church is simple- (scriptures towards the CHURCH)
  • 1 John 3:17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
  • Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
  • Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
  • So the way we walk out this scripture is the take care of those right in front of us. YES there are many scriptures that talk about loving and serving those outside the church. But that’s not the point of the scripture- that’s not the focus. Be honest with the word. Don’t twist it. 
  • The focus is simple- when Jesus returns to judge the non-jewish people it will be easy to see which ones are his sheep, and which ones are not- Those that are taking care of those that are his. Specifically- those who are suffering for living for the gospel- and are of limited means
  • THAT’S the sheep and the Goats. That’s acts 2: 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
  • Because living for Jesus was costly- it cost them everything and they had to take care of each other because of it- They couldn’t make it without each other. 
  • So don’t be a goat. Be a sheep. Give your life to Jesus- follow him. Your life will change
  • You wont be able to stop helping those that are in the faith. And help others outside as well. 

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