Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Many times it seems that it is not worth it to be a Christian in this world. The wicked win the victory, or at least, avoid the consequences of their deeds. On the other side, we believers suffer and see the good fortune of the evildoers.
However, in our text for today, the Lord tells us that the faithful will win the victory in the final judgment. The hope of the gospel is not for success in this world, but for eternal life with Christ. We must remember this when it seems that our faith seems in vain. In this world, even when justice prevails, it is only for a while. Maybe a hundred years or more, but in time another generation will face the same challenges of their ancestors. But, our Lord tells us it is not an eternal cycle. One day He will come in justice and glory.
But, look, the victory will belong to those who will not think of the reward for their good works.
In our Old Testament reading (Daniel 7: 9-14), the prophet Daniel says:
I watched until the thrones were laid. And the Ancient of days sat down, whose garment was snow white, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was like a flame of fire, and his wheels like a burning fire. A river of fire came and went from before Him: thousands of thousands served him, and millions of millions attended before Him: The Judge sat down, and the books were opened.
But then: I looked in the vision of the night, and behold in the clouds of heaven one as the Son of Man who came, and came to the Ancient of days, and was brought before Him. And he was given dominion, glory and kingdom, so that all peoples, nations and languages may serve him; his domain is eternal domain, which will not pass, and his kingdom one that will not be destroyed.
He who the Father gave the authority to judge all nations is Jesus Christ. Then, Jesus in our text expands the vision: "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; and all nations will be gathered before Him; and he will separate one from the other, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will put the sheep on his right, and the goats on the left. "
On that day, all of God's plans will be fulfilled. Only the judgment will remain: eternal life for the faithful and eternal death for the wicked. And those who trust in their good works will belong to the left, with the kids. The sheep will be those who trust in the grace of God.
"Then the King will say to those on his right: Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. Because I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was foreigner, and you took me in; I was naked, and you covered me; sick, and you visited me; in jail, and you came to me. "
The faithful will not take into account their good deeds. "Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and sustain you, or thirst, and gave you something to drink? And when did we see you as a foreigner, and did we pick you up, or naked, and cover you? Or when we saw you sick or in jail, and we came to you? And the King answering, he will say to them: Verily I say unto you, As soon as you did it to one of these my younger brothers, you did it to me. "
Faith bears fruit in good works in the lives of believers. But, they only reflect the love God showed them on the cross, when they were still rebellious against God. Their faith is not in their own works, but in the grace of God.
What will condemn others is the rejection of God's grace and mercy and faith in their own merits. "Then he will also say to those on the left: Turn away from me, cursed, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Because I was hungry, and you did not feed me; I was thirsty, and you did not give me drink; I was a foreigner , and you did not take me in; I was naked, and you did not cover me; sick, and in jail, and you did not visit me. Then they will also answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or foreign, or naked? , or sick, or in jail, and we don't serve you? " Then he will answer them, saying, "Truly, I say to you, as soon as you did not do one of these little ones, you did not do it to me." And these will go to eternal punishment, and the righteous to eternal life. "
The goats always look for the reward for their deeds. Sometimes they achieve something good, but their motives are never pure. Your desires and thoughts are bad, and in time they bear fruit in bad deeds.
We receive the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit in holy baptism. But, the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts does not end with the gift of saving faith. The work of the Holy Spirit is to grow our faith, to teach us more and more to trust in the Word of God.
Because now we have the promise of eternal life and resurrection, but we have not realized these things. We must trust in the Word of God, with the help of the Holy Spirit. We have the evidence of the testimony of the prophets and apostles; evidence of the history of the church; and the evidence of the blessings God has given us in this life. Of course, God will bless us now and forever. But, only with the help of the Spirit can we trust the Word of God when we do not see God's justice in our lives.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can remain until the end. On that day there will be no doubt about who belongs to the family of God. But, nobody knows the time of the trial. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass with great noise, and the burning elements will be undone, and the earth and the works that are therein will be burned. (2 Peter 3: 3-14) We must be prepared at any moment. As? To walk in the way of the Lord with joy, and much anticipation of the second coming of the Lord. We understood that our lives in this world are brief and the world itself will not last forever. But the Word of God will not pass and in this we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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