Monday, May 23, 2016

Let NONE Scare you! The Last Judgment of Matthew 25:31-46 is a Parable - Part #1


Most of my Christian life I have been dreaming of seeing myself on the right side of the throne of judgment, among the righteous sheep. In those days, if someone were to tell me that the narrative of the Last Judgment in Mat 25:31-46 is not to be understood literally, I would have been extremely annoyed and upset. So, I won't be surprised if someone becomes extremely disappointed with me after reading this article.

Please read Mat 25:31-46 from a standard translation of the Bible (I use ESV), marking terms like heaven, hell, faith, Jesus, God and resurrection. Also mark all the sins that would disqualify one from inheriting the kingdom of God: adultery, dissension, division, drunkenness, enmity, envy, fits of anger, greed, homosexuality, idolatry, impurity, jealousy, orgies, reviling, rivalry, sensuality, sexual immorality, sorcery, stealing, strife and swindling (Totally 21 sins, compiled from Gal 5:19-21 and 1Co 6:9-10, sorted and deduplicated.) Don't forget to mark blasphemy against the Holy Spirit - the only sin for which there is no forgiveness.

Let us examine the King's accusation of the goats, placed on the left side of the throne: Mat 25:42-43
  • For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
  • I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
  • I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,
  • naked and you did not clothe me,
  • sick and in prison and you did not visit me.
Without getting into interpretational acrobatics, can you see any of the 21 sins, listed above, mentioned in this passage? Can you see blasphemy against the Holy Spirit mentioned in this passage? Have you noticed that faith in Jesus or God finds no mention in the passage? If not feeding and clothing the poor and needy are sins that can land one in hell, why didn't Apostle Paul warn us?

If the Bible were written in modern English, these failures would have been called as inhospitality or uncharitableness. If you look at the kind or the character of the omissions of the goats, they are entirely different from sins, even by human standards and common sense. Will your family ever equate your not visiting one of your friends languishing in a prison with your having an extramarital affair?

Quick-fix Solutions

It is a fact that most of the legalists haven't even observed that none of the sins are mentioned in the so-called Last Judgment passage. (If they notice it on reading this post, I am sure they will come up with rejoinders!) When we bring it to their notice, they offer quick fix solutions like:
Jas 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
Yes, I know that it is the right thing to feed the poor, but my wife doesn't approve it. Do I still sin? Do I have to divorce my wife, so that I am free to feed the poor?
1Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (KJV)
Many assume that the talk is about the Law of Moses, but none of the Greek words used in mentioning it is found in this verse (G3551 and G3549 in Strong's). Moreover, if transgressions against the Law of Moses were a sufficient reason to judge and condemn the whole world, why Jesus and his sacrifice at all?
1Jn 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. (KJV)
Sorry, Sir, even scholars are not able to figure out what are and aren't sins unto death, how do you expect common men to figure out what they are? If the expression implies offenses like that of Ananias and Sapphira, do we have such genuine cases of instant justice happening even now?

There are many who attempt to over spiritualize the acts of charity mentioned in the "Last judgment" passage as the work of faith mentioned in 1Th. 1:3 and 2Th 1:11. Unfortunately, those passages don't specify that work of faith means charitable activities. Moreover, it doesn't take a faith in any deity for one to engage in charitable activities.

If you were the Son of Man on the throne.

Imagine for a moment that you are the Son of Man sitting on the throne to judge the world.

Though the so-called Last Judgment passage doesn't mention resurrection of the dead, let us assume that it happens before the judgment (a similar passage in Rev 20:11-15 mentions it).

Since it is told that there is a resurrection of both the just and the unjust (Act 24:15; Dan 12:2), every human being ever lived on this planet is present in front of your throne.
  • Among the huge gathering in front of your throne there is Mr. Salmaan Taseer, a Muslim politician from Pakistan, who was assassinated for standing up for the Christians there. On which side of the throne will you place him? (Mr. Tasser's name is mentioned here as an example from the recent history. In the 2,000 year old history of Christianity, there are many non-Christians who stood up for Christians and laid down their life in protecting them.)
  • There are thousands of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics who served the poor, taking care of the sick, visiting prisoners and comforting them, without any religious considerations. On which side of the throne will you place them? Since a belief in Jesus or God is not mentioned as a necessary criteria, anyone who does charitable work may find a place on the right side of the throne, which implies they will inherit the Kingdom and eternal life! (Mat 25:34, 46).
  • Knowing there are 795 million starving people in the world (as of May, 2016) and hardly 2% of the 2,200 million Christians in the world are involved in charitable activities, on which side of the throne will you place the rest of the Christians (98%)?
  • We can go on and on.
Did I mention Inhospitality?

Have you noticed that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was inhospitality?
Eze 16:49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

Ezekiel 16ᵗʰ chapter is about the abominations committed by Jerusalem and Samaria. Please remember the inhospitable attitude of Sodom, we will come back to it, later in the series.

If you are not already disappointed with me, continue to read Part #2 of this series.

In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal

There are Christians who claim that people belonging other religions and atheists won't do charity without any vested interests. Such talks are silly.

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