Monday, January 25, 2010

Same Question, Different Meaning

Oftentimes there are clues to the proper interpretation found right in the biblical text itself when interpreting Scripture. One must learn to make careful and close observations of the text and make insightful and correct conceptual connections within the text itself.

I think this is true in Matthew 25:31-46. This is what is commonly called the Olivet Discourse named for the place where Jesus made predictions relative to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the end of time (eschatological) events that will occur. But there is a major theme included in this section - the theme of divine judgment and divine redemption.

In this section the saved and the unsaved are clearly indicated and delineated. There has always been, and there will always be, those who "get it" and those who don't. When Jesus comes again the Scriptures say that there will be one taken and the other left.

One of the most fundamental differences between saved people and unsaved people is how each group thinks. There is a world of difference between the two groups. Notice in the text in Matthew 25 that this contrast of perspective is clearly marked by a question that both groups ask God in the day of judgment. The day of judgment, for God's covenant people who are saved by grace through our Lord Jesus Christ, is really a day of salvation. Yet it is clear that the people of God know instinctively and experientially that they are not worthy of salvation. God commends them - the lives they have lived and the heart they possess, in verses 35-36. But the saved respond to God in verses 37-39 that they do not believe themselves to have been obedient to God in their lifetime. They cannot remember the times in their lives when they saw themselves faithfully performing the duties that reflect their salvation. When God said to the saved, "You came...", the saved respond, "When?...When?...When? (verses 37, 38, 39)." The saved never feel pride, arrogance, and self-achieved honor. The saved always feel that they are the unworthy recipients of divine grace and mercy, which in fact we are.

But look at how the unsaved think! To the unsaved the Lord says, "Depart from gave Me gave Me did did did not... (verses 41, 42, 43)." With stunning dullness, insensitivity, and hard-headedness the unsaved say in response, "Lord, when did we...and did not?" Theirs is not a heart of repentance, contrition, or even admission of guilt, sin, and failure. Instead, the instinctive nature of the wicked, unregenerate heart is to make excuses, to seek to justify, to cover up, and to deny all guilt and sin. What a difference there is between the heart of the saved and the unsaved!

The heart of the saved people of God never feel that they have done enough, they never feel they have been as obedient as they should, they can never forget the awesome, sovereign grace of God poured out freely and abundantly upon them in Christ. The people of God, when they ponder their salvation through Jesus Christ, marvel that God would love them and choose them and want them for His own. They do not speak of God not being fair to them; they do not demand justice from God. Rather, the people of God relish the divine mercy lavished upon them in Jesus Christ. They rejoice in the cross of Christ, and they take hope in Christ's resurrection. They (we) are a joyful people; they (we) are a grateful people.

If this Scripture narrative is indicative of a saved heart (and it is), in which group does your heart seem to fit? Are you joyfully and gratefully amazed that Jesus loves you? Or, are you one who will hear a different message from God in the end, and will your heart rise up on self-centered denial revealing the blindness of your soul?


  1. I just wanted to say thank you again. These post speak to my heart. I am grateful to receive them. God is using them in my life and in turn I share these truths!

    Praise God!

  2. Thank you so much. You cannot know what an encouragement to me such comments as the one you gave are. I thank you for reading my blog, and I thank you for loving our Lord.