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Lesson 13: The Gospel and Judgment *

Introduction: For the last two weeks we have been pounding away on the theme that "Antiochus v. 1844" is question of works versus righteousness by faith when it comes to our salvation. If the sanctuary in question is the one in heaven instead of the one on earth, if the Daniel 7 & 8 picture of the choice between Jesus and the "Little Horn" is a matter of grace versus works in the final judgment, then we need to ask ourselves: is righteousness by faith a solid Bible-based doctrine? Or, is it just some hopeful "pipe-dream" of lazy Christians? What, really, is the standard for the judgment? Let's jump into the Bible and find out!

  1. Judgment and the Wedding


    1. Read Matthew 22:1-2. What does Jesus say He is about to teach us? (He is about to teach us about the "Kingdom of Heaven" and his teaching is symbolic.)


    2. Read Matthew 22:3-4. How many times does the king invite his preferred guests?


      1. How much does the king want the preferred, invited guests to come?


    3. Read Matthew 22:5-6. What is the attitude of the preferred guests towards the king and his invitation? (We see several reactions to the invitation. Some simply make their work a higher priority than coming to the wedding. Others are openly hostile and mistreat and kill the king's servants.)


    4. Read Matthew 22:7. What does the loving, caring king do to his preferred guests? (It seems to depend on their attitude. If they are too busy for him, he leaves them to their own efforts. If they are hostile to him ("those murders"), he executes judgment on them in a big way.)


      1. What is Jesus teaching about the final judgment and the Kingdom of Heaven?


    5. Read Matthew 22:8. Why did the invited guests not deserve to be in heaven?


      1. "Deserve" sounds like a judgment on the merits of the invited guest. In what ways did they lack merit and thus fail the judgment?


      2. What, precisely, did they do or fail to do to be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? (This is the critical part. All they had to do is come.)


    6. What have we learned about the Kingdom of Heaven and the judgment so far?


    7. Read Matthew 22:8-9. Who now gets invited to the wedding?


      1. What does this say about the Calvinistic idea of pre-destination - that only those who God selects will go to heaven? (The servants go to the street corners and make an open invitation to come to the wedding.)


    1. Read Matthew 22:10. Tell me about the character of those who are now invited to the wedding?


      1. Why do you think Jesus stresses that "bad" people were at the wedding?


      2. What is the standard for coming to the wedding? (It certainly is not your character, but rather your willingness to come.)


    2. Read Matthew 22:11. The king apparently inspects his guests. What does this suggest about the kingdom of heaven? (That there is, as we have been studying, a judgment which proceeds the second coming of Jesus.)


      1. Was this guest who was not wearing a wedding garment a good or bad person? (The Bible does not say.)


        1. Is this information significant? Does it matter if a guest was good or bad under the garment? (Apparently not!)


          1. The standard for this judgment is clothing, and not character?


          2. It turns out that the old saying "clothes make the man" is Bible truth?


      2. Before we get too far down this track, what, exactly, is the wedding garment?


      3. One commentary I read said that Augustine was the source of the idea that the king was handing out wedding garments - but there is no textual support for that idea. What difference does it make whether the guests came in clean, appropriate clothes or whether the king gave them the appropriate clothes to wear? (It makes all the difference in the world. If you are expected to wear your own, clean white clothes, then the standard for the judgment is your works. If the king provides the special clothes, then salvation is a gift of God.)


        1. What does a close reading of this story suggest as to the source of the wedding clothes?


        2. Re-read Matthew 22:9-11. What does this suggest about the ability of the new guests to get their clothing in order? (They came off the streets. How could they provide their own appropriate wedding garments? Do you shop and work in wedding clothes? No.)


        3. Read Revelation 7:9, 13-14. What further insight does this give us into the source and nature of the wedding garment? (White robes are the result of being "washed" in the blood of the Lamb.)


          1. We have been studying the sanctuary - what does this mean (in sanctuary talk) to be "washed" in lamb's blood?


        1. Read Isaiah 61:10. Who provides the "wedding garment" here?


        2. What do these texts and the sanctuary service teach us about the source and nature of the wedding garment?(I think Augustine had it right!)


    1. Read Matthew 22:12. What is the king's attitude towards this fellow? Does the king sound angry like before ( Matthew 22:7)?


      1. What does the man's reaction tell us about his failure to wear a wedding robe? (If he had an excuse, I assume he would have given it. Apparently, he thought that his own clothes were more than good enough for this wedding.)


    2. Read Matthew 22:13-14. What happens to this fellow who does not wear the robe of Jesus' righteousness?


      1. Consider Matthew 22:14. After reading this entire story, who do you think is doing the choosing?


    3. Considering this Kingdom parable, what four classes of people have we identified? (Those who are too busy for God, those who are hostile to God, those who accept the kingdom invitation, but depend on their own works, and those who accept the invitation and the Lamb's robe of righteousness.)


      1. What is the standard for the final judgment of God?


  1. Judgment and the Two Sons


    1. We don't want to ignore the context of Jesus' wedding parable. Let's read a closely related story. Read Matthew 21:28-31. Is this a judgment story? (Jesus speaks of the "Kingdom of God.")


      1. Which son did the father approve?


      2. What does this teach us about what it means to accept the invitation to the wedding? (It has to mean that accepting the invitation to the wedding is not a matter of words.)


  2. Works and Judgment


    1. Read Zechariah 3:1-3. Is this a judgment scene?


    2. Read Zechariah 3:4-5. Again, we see a "wedding garment" parallel. What is the purpose of the "rich garments?" (They show that Jesus has taken away the sins of Joshua.)


      1. Is there any reason to believe that Joshua had these cleans clothes in a suitcase with him? (Joshua's clothes were "filthy." Augustine is right about God providing the robe of righteousness.)


    3. Read Zechariah 3:6-7. What does God require of Joshua now that he is saved by grace? (Works! "Walk in My ways and keep My requirements.")


    4. Read Zechariah 3:8-9. Who is the "Branch" and the "Stone?" (Read Jeremiah 23:5 and 1 Peter 2:6. This is a promise to Joshua that Jesus will come and will "in a single day" take away our sins.)


    5. Read James 2:17-24. How would you explain James 2:24? Is this contrary to everything we have learned about the robe of righteousness being a gift of God? (If you just looked at this one verse, it would be contrary. We see in this group of verses an important point: works arise from faith. This concept is clear to me from my litigation for religious objectors under our federal law. The logic or reasonableness of a person's religious beliefs does not have to be proven to the court. Only the person's sincerity of religious belief need be proven. How should I best prove what is in the person's heart? I do it by showing their works.)


    6. Friend, do you want to want to be on the right side of the final judgment going on in heaven? Then accept that robe of righteousness offered by Jesus. Your works will absolutely not be sufficient to pass the final judgment. However, acceptance of that robe of righteousness is not a matter of mere words - you must be sincere. You must be honest. You must mean it. You must let your faith transform your character. Whether you are serious about wearing the free gift of Christ's righteousness will be reflected in your daily life.


  3. Next week: The Meaning of the Judgment Today.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2014 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Website by Blake Cameron, M.D.
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