Continuing to answer His disciples’ questions about His return, Jesus concluded by telling them what would happen soon after He did come back. That will be the time when He will judge everyone on the earth, ultimately allowing them to remain in His kingdom or be cast into hell.
The question most asked about this portion of Scripture centers on the criteria used by God to determine who is saved and who is not. If we are saved by grace through faith and not by works, then why are people’s works the determining factor in their salvation or damnation? The answer is that our deeds show if we believe or don’t believe in Jesus. The Bible often declares that every person will be judged according to his or her deeds. The reason is because deeds alone reveal the faith a person possesses or doesn’t possess.
True believers in Jesus love others who believe in Jesus. Jesus Himself said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). The apostle John wrote, “If we love other Christians, it proves that we have passed from death to eternal life” (1 John 3:14). Love is manifested in deeds, and that is why the saved in today’s reading were the ones who gave food, drink, hospitality and clothing to their needy brothers and sisters, cared for them when they were sick and visited them when they were in prison. That is what true believers do, and when they show their love for the brethren, they show their love for Christ.
On the other hand, unbelievers could care less about Christians who are suffering. In fact, they are often glad because of it. And when they show their hatred for Christians, they show their hatred for Christ. Again, the apostle John wrote, “Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them” (1 John 3:15).
Q. Today’s reading gives us another indication that God wants everyone to be saved. What indication is that? (Clue: It has something to do with for whom hell is prepared.)
A. Jesus said that hell was prepared for the Devil and his demons. That could indicate that is wasn’t originally intended to be a place for human beings. God’s will is for everyone to be saved, even for those who will spend eternity in hell. The unsaved forfeit what God wants for them by their unbelief.
Q. Jesus said that His kingdom was prepared for saved people from the foundation of the world. Does this prove that God has predestined only certain people to be saved?
A. No, that would contradict what He said about salvation being offered to everyone. God planned from the foundation of the world that anyone who would believe in His Son would inherit His kingdom. The kingdom has been prepared from the foundation of the world for all who will believe the gospel.
Application: The most important question any of us could ask is this: Is my love for Jesus Christ evident in how I treat fellow Christians? More specifically, what needy Christian have I served or am I serving?