WHO IS IN & WHO IS OUT? SERMON SERIES | THEME: The Return of Christ & The Destiny of Believers


SERMON 5/5 | 06 & 07 JUNE 2020 | All Services

Rev Stanley Chua, Pastor-in-Charge

Scripture Passage: Matthew 25:31-46


(Click on video below)


Summary | This story of the sheep and the goats is not a parable but a description of the last judgment. It is told in the context of our Lord’s teaching on how to prepare for His second coming. The earlier parables in Matthew 25 about the 10 bridesmaids and the talents remind us to do God’s will through works of piety, to be transformed into Christlikeness and to avoid a dead faith. From warnings about being shut out from the banquet and thrown into darkness, Jesus now talks about the day of judgement.

A key verse in the passage is “the least of these brothers of mine”. There are four views of this phrase:

  1. Those with human needs. Early church history records fanciful stories of how the deformed or leprous were viewed as Christ Himself.
  2. The Jewish people. The dispensational view places this judgment day at the close of the great tribulation, when nations are judged based on their treatment of the Jews.
  3. Apostles or Christian missionaries as in Matthew 10:40-42.
  4. Disciples of Christ or all Christians. This is the most widely accepted view.

Thus, the Lord is not speaking generally about being kind to those in need but love and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, for His sake. 1 John tells of three tests to determine a true Christian.

  1. Whether we believe that Jesus is God incarnate (1 John 2:20-23; 4:2-3,15; 5:1)
  2. Whether we obey Christ’s commands (1 John 2:3-6; 3:4-10; 5:3)
  3. Whether we love other Christians (1 John 2:9-11; 3:14; 4:7-21)

The third point is the lesson of the story of the sheep and goats. Sadly, some of the worst fights and persecutions involve Christians. Even in Paul’s time, this was evident (1 Cor 3:3; 6:7). We would have expected that older Christians would become more loving and kind. Experience shows that there are some professed Christians who are mean and judgemental. Some may attend and serve in church and yet show little love for fellow believers. The proof of our conversion to Christianity is not in the great things we do but in daily little things. In a similar vein, the goats are not condemned for some great evil they did but for their failure to do good. Supposedly “good” people will be caught by surprise, just as the unprepared bridesmaids or lazy servant were. Their neglect of the brethren is the reason for condemnation. In this season of Covid-19, there are many opportunities to show love and concern for those in need or to seek forgiveness from those whom we bear a grudge. We must also love God’s church, for Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her (Eph 5:25).

Almost all the teachings about hell and judgement comes from the Lord Himself. In modern times, the subject of hell tends to be downplayed. This was not the case in the 1900 years after Christ. “Think lightly of hell and you will think lightly of the cross” (Charles Spurgeon). The message about hell is all the more frightening because it is for eternity. It is everlasting punishment and separation from God forever. Matthew, more than any of the other Gospels talks of hell. Mark and Luke are evangelical in nature and reach out to non-Christians. Matthew and John were written for the saints. Matthew is a manual on Christian discipleship, where Jesus’ teachings are placed in five major sections under the theme of the Kingdom of God. As citizens of the kingdom, we are told by Jesus that careless living places us in danger of hell. Our Lord rarely spoke to unbelievers about Hell. Instead, He warns complacent, careless, and backsliding Christians. If we suppose we are right with God when we are not, we will face judgment when He comes.

Salvation is through the grace of God. But belief or confession of faith is not the end of the story. We are to make every effort to confirm our calling and election (2 Pet. 1:10). Our salvation is described in past, present continuous and future tenses: We have been saved (Eph 2:8-9); we are being saved (1 Cor 1:18; 2 Cor 2:15); we shall be saved (Rom.5:9). So we need to take seriously our remaining time on earth. Let us press on to have a lively faith, living for God and reflecting His love to the “least of these”.

(Sermon Notes by Angela Goh)


  1. According to the speaker the key to understanding this story of the sheep and the goats is how we understand the phrase in v.40 “the least of these brothers of mine.” What are the four views of interpreting this phrase?
  2. The speaker mentioned that of the four views, the last is the most accurate. What are the reasons the speaker gave for this last view (i.e. the phrase refers to Christ’s disciples or all Christians)? What is the main message of the story of the sheep and the goats?
  3. What is hell according to the scriptures as explained by the speaker? Who is the person that gives us most of the information about Hell? According to the speaker, whenever Jesus speaks about hell, who was His audience?
  4. What is the biblical understanding of salvation as explained by the speaker?
  5. Who or what group of people are in danger of hell in the three parables of Matthew 25?
  6. What you do in this life has eternal consequence for your soul. Are there areas in your life where you have been nominal, careless or complacent that God is calling you towards repentance?
  7. How has God spoken to you on your action steps to live a life worthy of His calling and prepare for your King’s Coming?

Sermons In This Series:

  1. Part 1 – The Return Of The King (Matthew 24:1-30) – 02/03 May 2020
  2. Part 2 – The Return Of The King (Matthew 24:31-51) – 09/10 May 2020
  3. Don’t Be Caught By Surprise! (Matthew 25:1-13) – 23/24 May 2020
  4. What Does The King Require? (Matthew 25:14-30) – 30/31 May 2020
  5. Who Is In & Who Is Out? (Matthew 25:31-46) – 06/07 Jun 2020