"The Coming Separation" (June 2009)
You would almost have to be deaf, dumb, blind and live on another planet not to realize that we are in the times that the Bible calls the End Times, or last Days. We are seeing the prophecies concerning the condition of things prior to the Lord’s return being fulfilled daily. Reading the Bible is like reading the daily newspaper. It is all unfolding before us. I know you hear me talk about this subject a lot, it seems to be my theme, but it is a very serious matter. Actually my theme is... Get Ready, Be Ready and Stay Ready. This life is not all there is. There is something else after we leave this earth. This life is temporary and only last for a short while. Once we leave this temporary existence there is an eternal existence that awaits us- we will spend eternity somewhere. And what we do during this temporary life determines where we spend it. This month I want to ask you a question, “Are you prepared to face eternity, and where will you spend it?”
None of us are promised tomorrow, death could strike any of us at anytime. We all have an appointment with death- “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)- yet none of us have the luxury of knowing when that “appointment time” might be. So we must make sure that when our appointment time comes we have made arrangements for our soul. In light of where we are in Bible prophecy there is the very real possibility that some of us won’t taste death. We may be here when the Lord returns. Either way, are you ready?
Jesus will return and when He does He will set up His Kingdom on this earth. He will be the ruling King- The King of kings. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15) “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:7) “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (Luke 1:32,33)
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” (Jeremiah 23:5) “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) As King, Jesus, will rule and reign over the earth. He will have the final say so about everything- especially who enters into His kingdom and who doesn’t. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Revelation 21:1,3,22, 27) Because He is King He will also be the Judge of the earth, and His judgments will be made in righteousness. It has been asked, “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” The answer is, “A loving God won’t, but a Holy God will.” A loving God provides a way of escape from hell (which is what God did when He sent His Son Jesus into the world to pay the price for our sins so that we could have eternal life- John 3:16,17), but if we do not choose to accept the way He has provided a Holy God will pass judgment on our sins and the penalty of sin is death- hell, eternal separation from God in a place of torment. (The Holiness of God cannot dwell with sin.) He is a Just God and King who will judge with fairness. “For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.” (Psalm 98:9- NLT) “And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.” (Psalm 9:8)
In the scriptures we read that Jesus often talked about this time when He would set up His kingdom. Each time He talked about it He talked about a separation that would take place. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” (Matthew 25:31-33) But as we read and study His teachings and parables we see that Jesus isn’t primarily talking about a separation between those who are and aren’t saved, He is not talking about a separation between the world and the church- they are already separated (or at least should be). He is talking about a separation that takes place within the “church”, within “Christianity”- among those who profess to know Christ.
In Matthew chapter 13 Jesus taught eight parables. They all were in reference to the kingdom of heaven- the kingdom that Christ will establish where He will rule and reign as we have already discussed. In each one He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like...” As you read the parables you will see this separation that I am talking about: the separation of the wheat and tares, the fish in the net, the guests who had on the right garments from those who did not (Matthew 22). In Matthew 25 Jesus talks about the kingdom and a separation- five wise and five foolish virgins, those who used their talents and those who wasted it, sheep and goats.
Look at these parables with me for a moment. The wheat and tares. (Matthew 13:24-30) The wheat and tares were growing in the same field. They both grew the same way. They both put on shoots/blades. The net of fish. (Matthew 13:47,48) All these fish were in the same net. They all were swimming around together. Wrong wedding garments. (Matthew 22:11-13) This guy was among the wedding guest. He was sitting there waiting for the wedding to take place. The five wise and five foolish virgins. (Matthew 25:1-13) These were all virgins. They all had lamps. They were all waiting for the Bridegroom to come. The parable of the talents. (Matthew 25:14-30) They were all given talents. They were all expected to use them. Sheep and goats. (Matthew 25:31,32) This was one flock. They all grazed in the same field.
This is where we need to take heed to what Jesus is saying. Let me break this down for you. What Jesus said is going to happen when He sets up His kingdom is a separation of those who thought they were Christians from those who truly are. He is going to separate those who played church from those who are the church. He is going to separate those who were religious from those who have a relationship with Him.
Look at the wheat and tares. They looked the same until it came to the fruit- one bore fruit and the other one didn’t. The wheat produced something that would feed a hungry soul and kept reproducing itself through it’s seed. The tares did not produce any fruit. There was no fruit on them. Many people sit in church professing to be Christians but they have no fruit. They aren’t bearing anything- no Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”). They have no “fruit of repentance” “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.” (Matthew 3:7,8-NKJV) There is no evidence of a repentant life- a life that has been changed by the power of God and is being transformed into His image. They are not reproducing after their kind- that means they are not winning anyone to Christ. The wheat and the tares not only were planted in the same field and grew side by side, but they were both watered by the same source. Our churches are full of “wheat” and “tares’, they both hear the same gospel (watered at the same place) yet the wheat takes what they hear and grows from it and applies it to their lives. The “tares” don’t. To them it was just another sermon and another Sunday service.
Look at the net of fish. A lot of people are “swimming” around in church. The separation will take place between those who enjoy the fellowship and the programs that they are involved in because it’s become a social club for them, a place to gather and entertain each other- and those who love going to God’s house so that they can meet with God (they love God’s presence) and have communion with fellow believers.
Look at the parable of the talents. Each one of the three were given talents to use- two did, one hid it. When confronted about it by his master, he was shocked at his response. This guy thought he was doing him a favor by keeping it safe for his return. There are a lot of professing Christians who feel like they are doing God a favor by working for Him, by giving Him an offering, by reading their Bible, etc. This are those who give God what they want Him to have. The first two men represent those who are obedient to what God has told them to do. God doesn’t want you to feel like you are doing something for Him when you aren’t. Your obedience is what pleases Him. Even if you “miss it” while trying, He will still honor your attempt. But He will separate those who walk in obedience to Him from those who don’t. Don’t believe it? Just ask King Saul. He thought he was doing God a favor by saving all the “better animals” to sacrifice to Him instead of obeying Him by destroying them all. As a result his kingdom was separated from him because of disobedience. “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
Let’s look at the man who had on the wrong wedding garment. He was invited to the wedding and thought he would sit there and enjoy it and take part in the feast afterwards, the only problem was he did not have on the proper attire for the wedding. Does the attire matter? Evidently, because the king had his servants bind the man hand and foot and take him away and throw him into outer darkness. Many, way too many, are sitting in churches all over this nation who think that just because they are in church, because they joined the church, or they walked the aisle and shook the preacher’s hand, were baptized in water or repeated some formula prayer that they are saved. They try to dress themselves in “good works” in order to be saved. The only garment that is acceptable is the garment of righteousness. And the only way to acquire it is “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”- be clothed with His righteousness. “..And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6ff) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:5) “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Philippians 3:9) If you can be saved, come into right relationship with God or become righteous by doing some work like becoming a member of a certain church, then let me ask you a question, “What about the cross?” If doing some religious deed will save you, then what was the deal with the cross? Why did Jesus go through all that? What was the point if attaining salvation was as easy as walking an aisle and shaking some man’s hand? Seems to me that if that were the case, then Jesus put Himself through a whole lot of pain and misery for nothing. You may think your religious methods will save you, but the fact is that Jesus did not go to the cross in vain. What He did provided us with the only acceptable wedding garment. Those who expect their “religious” works to save them will find themselves in the same place this man who was improperly dressed did.
Remember the five wise and five foolish virgins? They were all waiting for the Bridegroom to come. They fell asleep while they were waiting. When the call came that the Bridegroom was coming, they woke up to meet Him. Five of them had no oil in their lamps so they went to buy some. While they were gone the Bridegroom came. When they got back the door was already closed. They cried out to him expecting him to open the door but he would not. His reply was, “I don’t know you.” (Matthew 25:12) It seems to me that we have heard this somewhere before. (Matthew 7:22.23)- “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Many who sit in church week after week will stand before Him on that day with confidence that they will enter in because of all the works that they have done- even great works. But they will be surprised when they hear Him say these same words to them. Why? They did good works, they did His work, they did the things that were commanded in the scriptures, but they did not have a relationship with Him (with the King). They valued the works more than they valued a relationship with Him. His reason was, “I never knew you.” The word for “knew” means to have intimacy with, to know in a personal way. They professed to know Him, but their profession was based on the merit of their works not a personal relationship.
Lastly, I want us to look at the separation of the sheep and the goats. While sheep and goats have similar characteristics there is one major difference between them. Sheep follow the shepherd, goats don’t. Goats are stubborn, even rebellious, and like to do what they want to do not paying much attention to the shepherd. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) Many people are actually “goats” but think they are “sheep” just because they know about Jesus. But knowing about Him and following Him- His commandments, His will, His plan for your life, His agenda- are two different things. Even the devils believe in Him, but they don’t follow Him. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19) We were never told in the Bible that it’s enough to just believe that Jesus is real. We were told that if we believe in Him then we will follow Him by obeying His will- this is the evidence of our belief, (“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”- Mark 8:34), even as He obeyed the Father’s will, (“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”- Luke 22:42)
Mere profession is not enough. Jesus will separate those who profess to know Him from those who truly do. The fate of those who don’t know Him and are not known by Him, who don’t follow Him, who don’t obey His word, who don’t love Him, who put their own will above His will, who put their hope of eternal life in religion and religious practices, who don’t deny themselves and live to please Him will be “cast into outer darkness”, “cast into the furnace of fire”, (Matthew 13;22;25). All these that we have talked about expected to be received by King Jesus into His kingdom, but they weren’t. This is why the Bible says there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
Do you profess to know Him but your actions don’t show it? Do you do a lot of “good works” but don’t have a relationship with Him? Are you trusting in your church membership or some religious practice to save you? If so, then you will not enter into His kingdom. You will be separated and cast into the furnace of fire forever.
Before we close, let me give you some good news. Jesus has not returned yet to set up His kingdom. This means that there is still an opportunity for you to repent and turn to Him. It is not His desire to say, “Depart” to you, but He desires to place you on His right hand and welcome you into His kingdom. “And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:33,34)