Since I’m knew to the boards I’m not sure exactly were stuff goes. So mods I understand if this has to be moved. My question is about judgments for those of us who are believers; in particular I have been thinking about Matt 25 and the Sheep and Goats. Does this passage have to do with salvation or is it dealing with judgment of a particular group of people or all people in general. If someone could point me to a good read or give me your take it would be helpful.

You folks have already been a great blessing to me.

Still in One Peace



We’ve had a little discussion about this before, mostly in the thread about whether Hitler will be saved. (Set up as a new comment track for a post from “Gregory” in his original web journal before the forum was started.)

I do believe that the Sheep and Goats judgment scene is about judgment against lazy and/or uncharitable believers, in regard to the goats. I think most of the forum posters (at least among the universalists) agree with that, but we do have at least one universalist poster who believes the goats are not even ‘pro forma’ Christians. (i.e., both groups are not expecting Christ to be the judge.) All the universalists here, so far as I’ve been able to tell, agree that the sheep are not supposed to be expecting Christ as the judge, and so wouldn’t be considered ‘Christian’ by any external doctrinal standard. But more discussion could be had on either side of that topic.

I have noted before that this parable caps off a set of two prior teachings where lazy and/or uncharitable servants of Christ are being zorched analogically at the return of Christ. So the identification of the goats along that line would be very thematically appropriate. It would also heighten the rhetorical contrast with the sheep. Internally, the fact (however it should be interpreted) is that the answer of the goats and the sheep is subtly but crucially different: the sheep are surprised at the acceptance, and want to know when have been serving Christ; but the goats are surprised at their rejection, and want to know when they ever didn’t serve Him. I don’t, myself, see how this narrative structure can work without the goats already thinking that they’re serving Christ, regardless of the proper identity of those “least of these” whom the sheep were also serving but the goats were not.


Correct me if I’m wrong but are you saying that those that are serving won’t know that they are and those that aren’t will think that they are and the goats will be thrown into the Lake of Fire?


Insofar as this ‘parable’ goes, yes. (As C. S. Lewis used to say in regard to this message of this judgment, “There will be surprises.”)

However: I don’t believe that the parable is supposed to be exhaustive as a binary category, where everyone fits into one or the other situation. Obviously there are plenty of times in scripture where God (including Jesus) hopes and expects for people to be really following Him and knowing that they are. The parable would be counterproductive if it taught that everyone who claims or even thinks to be following Him are not in fact doing so. We’re supposed to be learning from the parable what He wants us to be doing in following Him, right?!

(On the other hand, the sheep have clearly never heard of the parable of the sheep and the goats, or didn’t consider themselves to be among the sheep if they did. In the same vein, but the other way around: we may expect that there are those who have heard of the judgment of the goats but figure that, of course, they aren’t among the goats…)


I suspect that I would be among the goats if God is keeping score. I mean if opportunities to do unto the least of these is balanced with the actual acts of doing so. I have to wonder how much would be enough. If the Lake of Fire is really for those who need a little more refining, or a lot of refining if the case warrants such then there has to be some sort of score card, for the lack of a better term.


JP, This seems to me to be in agreement with Jesus’ words elswehere that “many will come on that day and say did we not heal the sick and cast out demons…depart from me.”
What most people don’t realize is that this is the CHURCH he is referring to. It is not “unbelievers” that this is focused at but the very people he mentions in mark 16 that will do all these same miracles (speak in tounges, cast out demons, get bit by poisonous snakes and not die). Thus I tend to see this point Jesus makes as being consistent with your view of Matt 25.

Good point and it’s a DIFFICULT topic on the notion of atonement or old vs. new convenant. If it is true God demands a change in us and wants us to be perfect like him, than just how good do I have to be in order to be considered “changed”?
Did Jesus die on the cross to IMPUTE his rightouessness or did he die on the cross as an example set before us that we might STRIVE against our arrogance and die to ourselves.

The topic is important and hotly debated.

I’ve love to see more on this topic from other EU’ists.




Yes, I’ve noted before that there’s a strong correspondence between this judgment and that saying from earlier in GosMatt (which Matthew reports far more strongly than Luke does in the same scene.) The same concept, in a very different material, can be found in Jesus’ prophetic dictation to the church in Ephesus in the cover letter to RevJohn: they do all things ideally, and anyone would consider them to be super-Christians; but Jesus has one thing against them, and He’s about to punish them (and quite cataclysmically, too) if they don’t shape up about it. (They have gone away “from their first love”. An enigmatic statement, but understandable from these other contexts perhaps.)

GosMatt is also the text that features Christ chastising the Pharisees for only doing things like tithing even their spices while neglecting the weightier things of the Law, charity and fair-togetherness–while affirming that they ought to have been doing one while not neglecting the other! As St. Paul might paraphrase, if I give my mint and cumin to be tithed but have not charity, then…!

This is one reason why I consider it an excellent devotional practice to read myself in with the opponents of Jesus. I know plenty of people (including, God save and keep her, the one whom I love the most) whom I strongly expect are sheep. If God judges me to be a sheep, too, fine. No complaint from me! But it’s safer to expect that I’ll be judged a goat. If so, fine, no complaint from me.

Which is one aspect of an answer I would give to your next concern:

I can think of at least two simple answers to that: will everyone be salted with the fire that is not quenched? Yes, absolutely; and that salting is the best of things. (Mark 9:49-50) Do I have any sin remaining in my life personally at all–not just something that can be cured by a resurrection but sins that I insist on holding onto and fondling? Yep, frankly, I do. Until I let that sin go, God will be acting toward saving me from it; and if that means making things increasingly hot for me (so to speak), then…

But the even simpler answer is: am I going to trust God about it? Or not? Am I going to challenge back to God if He judges that I am a goat? Or am I going to trust God to love me and do the right thing in regard to me?–not necessarily what I may prefer at the moment (frankly I’d prefer to keep some of my sins and my sinning!)

That question, “Am I going to trust God about it, even if He slays me?” may be the simpler answer, as far as the concept goes. But in practice… well, if it was easy for me already, I’d probably be a sheep, huh? :mrgreen:

And God certainly has put me in at least one position where I am confronted, even assaulted, every waking hour of every day, with the choice to either trust Him with my life and my death, even though He slays me… or not.

Or rather, we all are in that situation every day, in various ways, but this particular way has been terribly challenging for me personally. I honestly wish God would just kill me and get it over with, sometimes; every day, it seems like, for the past few years… I usually remember that that’s a selfish wish, in many ways (and even one way is too many ways of being selfish.) But still, I am so, so tired…

(But also very well aware that however badly I may feel, I’m certainly better off than 4/5 of the people alive on Earth today, not even counting throughout past history… so I try to not be ungrateful. :slight_smile: Amen.)


I hope you folks know how cool it is to hash this stuff out with someone. I my circles I would be shunned to even suggest such discussion. With that I say thank you.

Jason I’ve often said that I no longer fear God’s judgment. That may be a foolish thing but if it gets the stuff out that I so desperately hold on knowing all the while that it is keeping away from Truth that will set me free I have to be thankful. Yes even if it slays me. That is the purpose isn’t it, to crucify the flesh.

Aug, I’ve considered myself in perfect standing with Christ because I have been crucified with Him and I no longer live. To me it is Positional vs possessional. I have been Positioned in Christ but I have yet to Possess Him fully. To Possess Him fully means that I have to decrease. It may go back to the humility discussion. Is it harder to know my Position in Him or to know what I possess. Or yet Who possesses me. It reminds me of the discussion Jesus had with the pharisees who condemned Him for healing the man with the withered hand. Jesus asked is it easier to say get up and walk or your sins are forgiven. Which is easier to believe; that I can get up and walk or that my sins are truly forgiven and everything He is doing in me is to “save” me. Quite frankly I struggle with both. I tend to forget that self righteousness can manifest itself as self loathing as well as puffed-upness. The leper in Mark 2 (I think) said to Jesus “If you will.” I have no doubt that He can. I doubt most of the time that He will.

I guess, to get back to the OP, that the sheep in me knows that anything that will get done is Him doing it and the goat in me wants to think I’m responsible. I say slay the goat. :smiley:


Good response. Last night Bob Wilson and I had a long good discussion on these topics and though we hash out our different ideas it helps us both because we play advocates to some degrees.

Whatever the case is I do think there is a notion that many who believe they are righteouss (sheep) will find out they are not (goats). Again the point being it will be believers (whatever that means) who are rejected at judgement.


Well this hoofy little goat has found this little thread very interesting. It is refreshing to read people trying to be very honest in their assessment of their standing in faith and being honest in their struggle with the process of sanctification (which is what I take this to be about).

Jason I found this part of your post very moving. In contrast to some of your more flowery prose when theologising (not a crit as you make me go away and ponder why the hell do I believe this or that) this almost sounded to me as I read it as if you were talking to yourself as much as to us. I can empathise as I have struggled with you all (remember I am an eXtian). I may even revisit some of those struggles with you if this thread continues.


I too was moved by Jason’s honesty. I think that it is one of the missing components in Christianity. And yes I sensed Jason was being very private in a public sort of way. I am tired too. Maybe not for the same reason. Jason seems to have this stuff figured out in his mind. I don’t. As I’ve stated I want it to be true, but…

That “but” kicks my tail. It was so much better being ignorant and at least pretending I was a sheep. I have learned that I can’t say “Hey, God, you know me. I’m the one who taught Sunday School, and went on all those mission trips, and worked with the youth, and sang in the Choir.” Instead I know that if He don’t do it, it ain’t gettin’ done. If He’s not catching me and breaking my religious spirit then who is; who will?

I spent about two hours last night getting the light and sound right for Sunday morning’s Children service. The idea was that if we didn’t get it right somehow it would be a failure. The first thing I thought of this morning was. The Gospel is not dependant on light and sound. Is it?

This is tiring. :question:



2 things (first is tongue firmly in cheek) - I can think of one light on which the success of your children’s service might depend… :wink:

I think if you cut your original sentence down to just that you might be on to something.

All the best.


I am in total agreement with both your observations. Thanks.


Nible, that is why we are here. We want a place where this topic can be the focus and be expressed w/o remorse or anger or discrimination.

We’re glad to have you.



That’s good to hear because the questions have only just begun. :mrgreen:

There are some things that I have struggled with for years now. I’m sure that they are similar to what some of you folks went or are going through.


Many of us were there. It takes time before the bridges you cross must be wrestled with. Don’t abandon your ideas. Build them up and then destroy them (test them). If you can’t destroy them then throw the idea out here for others and let them test the ideas as well.

Losing the idea of a eternal torment is hard because were conditioned to read scripture literally. But when that is done one will find that there is a slew of problems with that mode of interpretation.

I say, Trust God and Pray to him for guidance and STUDY and be critical and be HONEST.




I have been having a discussion on another board about everyone deserving everlasting punishment. I like Talbott’s take on the whole thing and it ties in with this. I asked if anyone could give biblical proof of everyone deserving punishment. No one has yet done so. The did move it to the world religions section which gets less traffic. Maybe you folks could provide some biblical support. I know the Romans scripture and believe that all are sinners. I’m just not so sure about imperfect, finite people being infinitely punished for being imperfect.


Talbott- willamette.edu/~ttalbott/PUNISH6.pdf


Finally catching up after doing things elsewhere. {whew}

Yes, I was being private in a public sort of way. {s} Thank you (and Jeff) for the appreciation on that.

Faith, I find, isn’t so much about belief (though beliefs are necessarily part of what faith is about, as material for faith) as about trust. Belief is only belief; it can be strong or weak, detailed or nebulous, valid or invalid, correct or incorrect as to facts. Whatever.

Trusting and being trustworthy are more important, though. I have very few problems believing, and what problems I do have I tend to think of as interesting speculative issues. Personally trusting God, and being trustworthy myself (which doesn’t necessarily require a belief in God per se), are very different things from that.

I think it’s more of a logical inference from the data: everyone is a sinner, sinners deserve punishment, therefore everyone deserves punishment.

To this is adduced the corollary: the Bible seems to say the punishment for sin is hopeless and maximal; therefore everyone deserves hopeless maximal punishment for their sins.

Obviously there are several points of potential debate as to the data. But the logical analysis of the data, such as it is, is valid enough.

Ironically, I have far more sympathy with this position since going through the metaphysical analysis that not only confirmed orthodox trinitarianism to me, but also confirmed universalism to me! Speaking as a penitent sinner, I understand very well why, in one sense, I should be blotted out of existence for sinning. And I think it’s better for a Christian to focus on this in regard to him or herself rather than to be trying to force this down the throats of other people (broadly speaking. There are certain special case exceptions, but those are the people with the most religious advantages! Jesus’ actions in all four Gospels show a definite pattern along this line. Hey–I have lots of religious advantages, too, don’t I? Hm! :wink: )

I also understand, speaking as an orthodox trinitarian, why (though I hardly dare say it for fear of being misunderstood) I deserve to be saved from my sin by God. But I think it’s better for a Christian to focus on this in regard to other people, and not only the other people we happen to most easily love, but for the enemies we most easily (and maybe even rightly) hate.