When I became a minister, everything I preached had one purpose – save unbelievers! I believed we (all Christians) had been commissioned by Jesus to do this – “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone!
Saved people go to Heaven and unbelievers go to Hell!
That was the message we took to the world. It was not just a belief system – it was our reality. We believed there were only two kinds of humans -- believers and unbelievers. It was as simple as that! Now let’s see what Jesus said about salvation.
The Great Day of Judgment
31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Be sure to note that all the nations of the earth are being judged and everyone is standing with members of their own nation. Everyone with be placed in either the group on the right or the group on the left. Now pay close attention to the criteria that determined in which group people were placed.
34 Then the King will say to those on his right: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Did you recognize that the things the people did were acts of TZEDAQAH (tze-doc-kah)? They were acts that protected lives, preserved lives, made lives more functional and restored the SHALOM of the community. What Jesus said next confirms that conclusion.
37 Then those who did acts of TZEDAQAH will ask him: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
They had no doubt they would done those things, but they didn’t remember him.
40 The King will reply: “Amen! Let me explain! Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me!”
This was a reference to “all humans being part of the Creator’s family” in Genesis 1. Every member was made in “image of God.” His vision for all members of His family is that they experience life in a SHALOM community – an environment in which lives are complete, healthy, wholesome; relationships are harmonious and mutually beneficial; homes are safe; places are secure and restful; members are loyal and committed to each other and the community.
41 Then the King will say to those on his left: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the adversary and his messengers. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”
44 They also asked: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”
45 The King will reply: “Amen! Let me explain! Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
46 Then those who did not do acts of TZEDAQAH will go away to eternal punishment, but those who did acts of TZEDAQAH will go to eternal life.
Who will be saved? Those who did acts of TZEDAQAH will be saved! That is the only answer Jesus gave. But, be sure to remember, this is a parable teaching wisdom, not a commandment or a law. Jesus was teaching people how to walk with God in this life.
Chances are good that you now realize your beliefs about salvation didn’t come from Jesus. I had the same experience. It changed my beliefs about what my future would be like, what God wanted me to do, and what Jesus wanted me to do. It also changed my salvation message to this -- Choose Life 1st by Doing Things that are Good (TOV)!
May your SHALOM increase,
Helping People Examine Their Beliefs
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