Sunday, March 17, 2013

Separating Sheep and Goats

I don’t read many sermons. I listen to quite a few – Sundays at church and some audio files. I prefer hearing God’s word, then studying it. That’s been my habit long before I memorized:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

I believe I enjoy most expository preaching, where the word of God is read, openly discussed in detail and the pastor available for questions afterward. That helps me understand the application of specific scripture in daily life.  Often a preacher will be quoted in short clips from sermons and we don’t get the full picture. This week I saw a C. H. Spurgeon quote that might require a larger picture:
A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats
To understand what Spurgeon meant, it is necessary to be familiar with:

And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:33)

Along with the surrounding verses, Christ explains that the sheep are those who followed God’s word, the goats did not. The previous verses describe when this event will occur – at the Messiah’s return. The following verses give examples of those who were surprised at where they fit into God’s kingdom.

Those unfamiliar with the Bible might not understand the reference to sheep and goat in Spurgeon’s remark and would laugh at the foolish picture portrayed. Sometimes these remarks are seen as “inside jokes” that set Christians apart. They appear as part of the foolishness of preaching – I mentioned that this week.

We know there will be many who do not listen. The Bible tells us so:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Paul speaks of this in other verses, too:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

So, what are we who believe suppose to do? That answer is given in Timothy, surrounding 4:3-4:

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5)

Do the work of an evangelist. Paul was writing to Timothy, but it applies to our lives, too. Christ gave that same Great Commission to the disciples who remained after His resurrection:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

We’ve been given instructions. How do we apply them?

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