(Read Part 19)
Those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ and live through the future seven-year tribulation will come face-to-face with Christ at the sheep and goats judgment, and meet with catastrophic eternal results (Matt. 25:41-46). This distinctly dispensational doctrinal truth should motivate today’s Christians to proclaim actively the gospel of the grace of God. If the rapture of the church-age saints happens in our lifetime, those of our family members and friends who to date have refused to trust the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation will face the wrath of God poured out upon the world (Rev. 4-18). Should those precious souls further survive the seven-year tribulation without placing their faith in the Lord Jesus, they will face the Master in the sobering judgment described in Matthew 25.
The Guarantee of Punishment for the Unrighteous
The Fate of the Unrighteous (Matt. 25:41)
In contrast to the blessings pronounced upon the sheep on the Lord’s right hand is the disturbing fate of those on His left hand, or the goats. The judgment is pronounced and then the Lord states the reasoning behind the judgment. The Lord announces to those on His left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (25:41).
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer submits that it is probable that this casting of the unrighteous into the everlasting fire will actually be fulfilled at the great white throne judgment. The sentence in Matthew 25 is immediate, and the unrighteous will face immediate expulsion from the earth, which certainly means they will not enter the earthly kingdom of the Lord. After the 1,000-year reign has concluded, then these who were forbidden to enter the kingdom will be resurrected to face the final eternal sentence of the righteous King, who will condemn them to the eternal lake of fire (Matt. 13:30; Rev 20:11-15).
The Acts of the Unrighteous (Matt. 25:42-43)
The Lord now draws the unrighteous to ponder the acts they should have been performing for Him, but failed to accomplish. The exact same six actions that the Lord commended the righteous for accomplishing are now used to condemn the unrighteous. Jesus stated He was hungry, but they did not feed Him. He was thirsty, but they failed to give Him a drink. Jesus states He was a stranger, but they refused to bring Him into their house. Jesus stated he was naked, but they refused to provide him any clothing. Jesus states He was sick, but they refused to pay Him a simple visit. Finally, Jesus stated He was in prison, but once again, they refused to visit Him (25:42-43).
The Response of the Unrighteous (Matt. 25:44-46)
The unrighteous ponder the thoughts of the Lord and respond with a simple question. When did this happen? They cannot comprehend how the Lord could be displeased with them, as they knew they had never encountered Jesus in any of the six scenarios. However, as with the righteous, the Lord turns their lack of action towards another group referred to as “the least of these My brethren” (25:40). Their shameful lack of support for God’s chosen people evidenced their lack of faith and belief in the coming Messiah. They now receive the most devastating of all judgments—eternal separation from God in everlasting punishment (24:46).
Put yourself at this judgment. You are standing before the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the tribulation period and Jesus begins to separate the true believers who received the gift of salvation during the tribulation period from those who never gave their hearts and lives to Him. Jesus asks you why He should let you into His millennial kingdom. You state you tried to do your best, and were better than most people were, and therefore you deserve to enter His kingdom. Jesus asks you to step to His left side. What a horrible, intolerable end to life that would be for you.
However, today, you can change that outcome immediately. The Bible makes it crystal clear that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23) and deserving of eternal punishment and separation from God (Rom. 6:23). However, God loves you. Jesus, God’s Son, literally left heaven, was virgin born, sinless, and He became the God-man who went to the cross, suffered, died, was buried and the third day rose again to pay for your sins (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Right now, the choice is yours. Accept what Jesus did for you and make Him Lord of your life, or make the eternally fatal error of rejecting God’s gift of salvation.
This distinctly dispensational truth is your decision to make.
Here we stand; we cannot, and must not, be moved from this distinctive dispensational doctrine.
(Read Part 21)
Dr. Richard Schmidt is the founder of Prophecy Focus Ministries, having previously served as a pastor and church planter. His love for the prophetic Scriptures resulted in writing a doctoral dissertation on a dispensational perspective on the mystery church age existing between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel. Dr. Schmidt offers seminars on a variety of prophetic topics to local churches and conferences. We are very excited to involve him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House.
Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Richard Schmidt. Used by permission of the author.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.