In Matthew 25:31-46, the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, is Jesus saying that this is all that is required to enter heaven? Surely I don't think so, but it does appear that this is what he is saying. -- Clyde

Look at it this way. Is John 3:16 saying that all you need to be saved is faith? Is this passage saying you can neglect the needy? Not at all. John 3 is simply explaining God's desire to save the world from perishing, through faith. And Matthew 25, which emphasizes caring for those in need, says nothing directly about God's love for the world. Or about repentance--and yet there are scores of scriptures insisting repentance is necessary for salvation! Each passage has its own topic, or theme. The scriptures are not to be understood in isolation from one another, but rather fitted together and viewed complementarily.

The way Jesus spoke and taught certainly caught people's attention, didn't it? It seems to have struck you. I believe that was his intention. But when you study the scriptures, don't forget what was said before (or after). Matthew 25 doesn't render unnecessary Matthew 7:21-23, 22:37-40, or 28:19-20.

Back to Matthew 25. Of course the Lord isn't saying we'll automatically be saved if we just visit the prisoners, clothe the naked, and feed the hungry. All these deeds could be performed legalistically, or hypocritically. On the other hand, Jesus isn't saying we can be saved without actively helping those in need. After all, he sent us on a mission: to change the world, person by person; to meet needs, both physical and spiritual. As people who believe in the Bible, we are not at liberty to "pick and choose."

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only.