The Truth About the Sheep and the Goats

The Following is the text of a response that I gave on the message board of "Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries", at an Anti-Catholic page, whose object is to get Catholics to leave the church. I had pointed to Matthew 25:31-46, as a place clearly in scripture that shows that works are necessary for salvation. A man, by the name of Tim Kauffman gave a critique of my analysis, and maintained that it does not show that works are necessary for salvation. Here is my response to him. This response has been deleted from their cite, so here is the copy. Below is the text of scripture of Matt. 25:31-46 and then all those comments that follow > are Tim's and what follows is my response.


Matthew 25:31"When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 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.' 44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?' 45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

There are sevaral problems with Tim’s analysis. First, he brings all his presumptions in the text of Matthew 25. All must ask yourself, is Jesus saying what Tim is saying, or is Jesus saying what Matt is saying. Any clear reading of the text shows that works, or lack of works are determinant of the final destiny of the people being judged.

He quotes many other texts that may be somewhat related, but in doing exegesis of this passage, we must examine exclusively what this passage says on the sheeps and the goats. Am I being hyprocritical in just focusing on the sheeps and the goats in this judgment scene? After all, in my 4 part demonstration of the errors of Sola Fide in relation to Abraham, I did quote Genesis, Hebrews, Psalms, etc. to make points. When we looked at Paul in Romans, I did so because Paul quoted Genesis and the life of Abraham to make the points. Thus, it was important to investigate the life of Abraham in Gen. 12-15 and Heb. 11:8, which destroys the idea of a one time imputation, btw. As we need to understand what Paul means, we must see the background of Genesis to understand what Paul is saying in Romans. It is the same thing in relation to James, who also quotes Genesis.

In doing purely biblical exegesis, When there are no specific cross references, or clearly parallel passages (Judgment scenes that have to do with the separation of sheep and goats), we must be sure to focus exclusively on the related scripture itself. A common tact that I see of those who believe in Sola Fide for example, is the doing away with James 2:14-26 by relating to Paul in Romans. This is what Tim has done in regards to the sheeps and the goat. His own reading of passages in other sections he brings into the passage in question in Matt. 25:31-46. Jesus does not quote himself anywhere else in this passage. How one interprets the passages of John 10 and etc. must not be the main point of exegesis of the passages here. If he wants to exegete John 10, by all means let us exegete John 10, and draw our conclusions on John 10. The same with John 15. However, we do not exegete John 10 with Matt. 25. After we reach our conclusions, then we see how they can be brought together in unity.

> The "these" to which Christ refers are those who did not do good works, and the righteous
> are those who did. Thus, it is taught by the RomanCatholic that good works are the basis of salvation,
> and are in fact a part of our justification. To borrow from another verse,

> "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves
> shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of
> life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28-29)
> Thus, it is asserted by the Roman Catholic that the good works done by the individual sheep
> is the righteousness contemplated by God in the verdict of justification.

Well, this passage may give us the reason for this. What is the reason that our Lord gives for some going to heaven, some going to hell? What does he directly say?:

34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 FOR I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'

He says For I was hungry, and you responded, that is why you are entering heaven. Why this repudiates the Faith Alone, one time imputation theology, because there is absolutely no hint of it in this crucial judgment scene. Why does Jesus not say in this judgment scene, or any other, as a matter of fact, “Because I chose you, and because you have an imputed, forensic justification, and you are covered with Christ’s righteousness alone, you will go to heaven. These works I really appreciate, and as a reward, you get extra rewards in heaven.” No, Jesus does not say that. These are determinative of whether one is a sheep, or he is a goat. The For of v. 35 is the reason that Jesus explains how he inherits the kingdom. What does he say to the goats? Does he say, “Depart from me, because you did not receive my alien, imputed righteous, and because I chose you, and you thought works had to do with salvation, you people go to hell and join Mother Teresa, because she thought works had to do with salvation, you should have trusted in Sola Fide, etc.” Jesus gives absolutely no hint of this theology in this most important judgment scene. Instead, we get,

“41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'DEPART FROM ME, YOU CURSED, INTO THE ETERNAL FIRE PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS; 42 FOR I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 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.' “ Jesus gives us the reason here why the goats go to hell. After condemning them to eternal fire, he gives the reason why. He says, FOR (in v. 42) I was hungry, etc., and you did not visit me, etc. The reason is give right here, plain for everybody to see. Absolutely no hint of alien righteousness, right at this pivotal point of judgment.

> our rebirth is not because of any good works which we do;
> rather, all attempts to do good works in order be reborn are stifled

Tim fights straw men here, because he is not arguing against Catholicism. I don’t get reborn by doing good works. That is condemned at Trent. The church recognizes that nobody can do anything of any merit outside of God’s grace. All those who are the sheep are the regenerate.

> Thus, we look at such passages as Ephesians 2:10, Titus 2:13-14, and John 15:16 and see that
> we have indeed been created in Christ Jesus to > do good works which God ordained in advance that
Ø we should walk in them.

These passages are nice to reflect on, and could very well be debated, but they are not referred to in specific passage of Matthew 25. Just as I do not exegete Eph. 2 through Matt. 25, I do not exegete Matt. 25 through Eph. 2.

> Having said this, I can then say that those who are Christ's sheep are those who have "done
> good" and rise to resurrection and life, as Christ says in John 5:28-29. But the reason
> they rise to resurrection and life is the same as the reason they do the good works: they are
> sheep. What I affirm is that those who have done the good are told to enter into eternal life,
> and those who enter into eternal life are only those who did the good. What I deny is that "doing
> the good" is the _reason_ they are allowed to enter in. My reasons for this are several.

I encourage you to read especially verses 35 and 42. Here it gives the reason WHY some are going to heaven, why some will inherit heaven, and why others are sent to hell. If Tim was correct, we sould see this as a judgment for extra rewards for the believers. However, he gives the reasons here not for extra rewards, but now why they inherit the kingdom.

> In short, the Roman Catholic version of the story has the judgment of works preceding the separation.
> But this is not how the story goes. Quite the opposite, the separation takes place before the
> judgment, and apparently apart from works.

Ok, I do not agree with this, but Tim after making such a statement has an obligation to show where this prior separation takes place. Is it here where we ge a judgment scene where Jesus says, “Since you have my imputed righteousness, you go to heaven,” Please, show me a judgment scene that does this. If one relies on the bible alone, one would think that someone would be able to come up with a bible passage that shows this judgment scene. Our interpretation of Rom. and Gal. (actually except for Rom. 2:4-13) is another thread that needs to be debated, and are, but they do not give us these judgment scenes. Every single judgment scene in the bible given are separated not by imputation but by works. Every single judgment scene the fate of the people are determined by their good works or lack thereof, as given by my original piece. (John 5:28-9, Matt. 25:31-46, Rev. 20:10-13, Rev. 22:11-14, Matt. 16:24-27, etc.)

> The criteria for separation is something different. Thus, those who are Christ's sheep (the elect)
> are set to the right and then judged to have done the good works that Christ ordained for them in
> advance to do, which one would expect. Those who are not Christ's sheep (the non-elect) are judged
> to have done evil, for, never having been sheep,they were never fit for any good work in the first

Where in the world in Matt. 25 does it say that those who were sent to hell, never knew Jesus? That is nowhere stated. The passage in Matt. 7 can not cover all, because there are of course many who never knew Jesus who got sent to hell.

> The order of events impacts the whole story. Thus, when Christ says the righteous (the sheep)
> enter into heaven, it does not necessarily mean that the good works they did is the righteousness
> God contemplates in justifying them. It merely means that those who are righteous (accepted in
> the Beloved, c.f., Ephesians 1:5-6), are those who do good. God has so ordered it.

If that was the case, then why do verses. 35 and 42 give us the reasons for them either inheriting the kingdom or departing to condemnation. The FOR is the plain reason for the separation.

> Second, the Roman Catholic view suggests that those whose works are being judged in Matthew
> 25 are not declared to be sheep until their works are finally judged. That is, as has been asserted
> on this BBS by some Roman Catholics, you're not finally saved until you step through the gates
> of pearl. But Christ teaches not only that the sheep were sheep when they believed, but more
> than that, the sheep were sheep even before they > were saved. For example, His teaching is that
> He came for the lost sheep:
> "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
> (Matthew 15:24)
> And elsewhere, speaking of the gentiles,He says,
> "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they
> shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:16)

Those passages are nice to reflect on, and very well could be debated, but nowhere in this judgment scene does Jesus say, well, because I said this back in John 10:16, and Mt. 15:24, this is what I really mean here in Matt. 25. It is to divert from what Jesus says in Matt. 25. In fact, as given by a prior thread I had given, John 5:24 says whosever believes has crossed from death to life, but just a few verses later 5:28-29 he gives us another criteria for going to heaven and hell, and even Tim pointed out.

> "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves
> shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of
> life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28-29)

Notice Jesus does not say, well, one is already saved, and I reward them for the fruit of this justification, but he separates them based specifically on whether they have done good or evil.

> Thus, Christ came to seek His sheep. He did not come to find out who His sheep were, nor did
> He come to tell goats how they can become sheep,nor to tell people to try to be sheep and hope
> for the best. He already knew who His sheep were.

Tim creates a straw man by claiming that Catholicism teaches that Christ did not know who were his sheep and who were the goats. Of course he knew, however the sheep and the goats themselves were not absolutely certain, as could be told by their responses.

> Third, the Roman Catholic view of Matthew 25 (as far as justification is concerned) suggests
> that the sheep can go back and forth between being sheep and being goats, never knowing for sure
> which one they are. As Matt has asserted in his posts, you can gain justice and even be fully
> justified (a sheep) and then commit a mortal sin and lose it all (or, through habitual sin, lose
> it progressively) and become a goat again. Thus,> the Roman Catholic would hold (correct me if I'm
> wrong on this) that the majority of one's Christian walk takes place somewhere between being a sheep
> and a goat. The problem I have here is that nowhere > in the Bible (and certainly not in the Matthew
> 25 story) does Christ teach of sheep alternately being goats and being sheep. The fact is, the
> sheep were always sheep and the goats were always goats. For example, when Christ speaks of those
> believers who preceded Him, He speaks of them as sheep who could not be led astray *because*
> they were sheep:

As an adopted son, I am walking in divine life, partaking of the divine nature. I am not to become always worried and scrupulous like Luther which led to his error. Through God’s grace I hope to remain his sheep. However, I can not presume upon God that I will always remain his sheep. In my orignal piece I gave lots of biblical evidence and sustained in my 4 point analysis of Abraham that there are indeed people who can lose their salvation. (i.e. 2 Peter 1:3-4, cf. 2 Peter 2:20-22, 1 Cor. 9:27-10:12, etc.) Tim continues to import his Calvinist view into the text of Mat. 25.

> "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop
> of your souls." (1 Peter 2:25)

Tim continues to bring texts that do not relate to the specific judment scene. Whether one can lose or not lose salvation has been discussed in a separate piece and I gave lots of biblical support that one can lose salvation.

> For these reasons (by no means exhaustive, but perhaps sufficient for this discussion), I
> do not believe that the Matthew 25 story is about justification. For Christ to say that those who
> did good works are those who enter into life (which I think any Protestant would affirm), is not the
> same as saying that the reason they enter into life is because they have done good works, although
> many Roman Catholics seem to assert as much.

Of course Tim’s predilection is to say this is not a judgment scene relating to the justification, but it does. Remember, verses 35 and 42 specifically says one will inherit or get condemned FOR you have done or not done this. The responses of the sheeps and the goats do not show that they already knew their ultimate destinty.

> To be sure, their good works are recounted in the sight of the nations, which is what the Scriptures
> teach. But the good works are not recited to determine who will get into heaven.

Of course he can say that, but the verses are very clear.

> Rather, they are recited to demonstrate that those who get into heaven
> did the good works which God prepared for them in advance that they should walk in them. The
> good works are recited in the sight of the nations so that the goats will give glory to God:
> Rather, being sheep, placed within Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world (Ephesians
> 1:4), they are placed on His right because they,always having been His sheep, heard His voice
> and believed unto justification.

I would ask Tim to provide the judgment scene from the bible that this socalled separate judgement says you are here because you believed unto justification and are covered by an alien righteousness and that is how you get to heaven.

> Matt, you will recall that those who say "Lord, Lord!" in Matthew 7:22 think
> they should be justified on the basis of their works:
> "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?" (Matthew 7:22)

If he wants to bring in Matt. 7 this is valid, because this is a judgment scene where the separation takes place. Let us examine it. Who gets to heaven and who gets to hell. Let us examine the background:

Matt. 7:15"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. 18A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will know them by their fruits. 21"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' 24"Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it."

Notice again in this judgment scene that at this point of separation where even Tim will agree that here is a plain separation from those who go to heaven and those who go to hell. Why is there absolutely no judgment saying, “well because you only believed in me, and had my alien righteousness imputed to you, you shall enter heaven. Those who did not have my alen righteousness shall go to hell.” Such a vital part of Sola Fide is absent from this important scene again. On the contrary, whether one has fruit is indeed an important ground for justification. V. 19 says “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” A little bit like Faith w/ works is dead. Those who do not bear good fruit get sent to hell. V. 21 says only Those WHO DO THE WILL enter the kingdom of heaven. Nothing about those who believed get to heaven, and the byproduct is good works, which is an essential byproduct, but not related to the justification itself. The whole surrounding context shows that only those who did do the good fruit get to heaven, and THAT IS THE BASIS. Whoever does them (v. 19, 21, 26) will avail before God. That is the criterial given in this judgment scene. Sola Fide just happens to be absent again.

> How can you possibly read "faith alone" into that statement? The essence of the "faith
> alone" soteriology is that those who hold to it do good works *but do not appeal to the
> works as the ground of justification*, the very thing the goats of Matthew 7:22 are attempting
> to do. If those saying "Lord, Lord!" truly believed they were saved through faith alone,
> why do you suppose they are drawing attention to their works in hopes of justification on the
> basis thereof? Rather, those who are justified by faith alone find themselves marvelling before
> the Shepherd, saying, "Lord, when did we....?" They were very far from trusting in their works.
> But the ones who were counting on their works getting them into heaven are they who say, "Lord,
> Lord, did we not...?"

Catholic doctrine does not say one trusts his own works, but it is God who works through one to justification (Phil. 2:12-16).

> To conclude, it is clear that the separation of the Nations in Matthew 25 takes place based
> on a righteousness apart from works, for the separation of the sheep from the goats in fact takes place
> before the works are recited and contemplated.

Tim has yet to provide a judgment scene, even in the particular judgment where the scene shows one getting to heaven only because he believed, and what stands before God is a particular judgment scene.

> That righteousness is the righteousness of Christ,for, having been placed in Him before the foundation
> of the world, that was the only righteousness contemplated by God in electing them. Thus, the
> kingdom had been truly prepared for the sheep from the foundation of the world, for that is
> when they became sheep:

He concludes this statement without providing biblical support for what he specifically states in his conclusion. He gives texts which prove predestination, which I have no problem with. He again gives no scene where one has an alien righteousness and is thus going to heaven.

> "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should
> be holy and without blame before him in love." (Ephesians 1:4)

Predestination, not judgment scene. Of course God knows who he chose for heaven. Catholics do not deny that. Irrelevant to the debate.

> Please note the order of events yet again: we were not elected because of our holiness. Rather,
> our holiness is the result of having been elected. And thus, the sheep, reckoned sheep based on the
> righteousness of Christ, enter into the kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the
> world:

Where oh where is this judgment scene where one gets to heaven based on an alien righteousness?

In conclusion, we have seen a very artful, but vain attempt by Tim to explain away what so clearly is shown in the judgment scene of Matt. 25:31-46. We must all give an account to Christ what we do in relation not to merely extra rewards but for salvation. The bible shows us that works, will be judged by God and will be determinative on one’s final destiny. To deny this is to deny scripture.


James 2: 20-24
20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, 23and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Phil. 2:12-16
12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

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