This is the hotly contested issue surrounding the DO (doctrinal organization/church of today) in the world today when measuring the doctrines they have, versus a Grace based "Servant" belief. They point out, and rightly so, that being a "Christian" there are things that you must do to enter the Kingdom Of God.(KOG) The proof of this is in Matthew 25 verses 31 through 46. This is where is describes Jesus judgement of all men. Please read it at this point from whatever version of bible that you choose to use. It describes Jesus separating the Goats from the Sheep. There is a lot of significance if that. Goats were put among the sheep to protect them because they were headstrong and would not follow easily, and would attack things that they did not like around them. This is why they were kept with the sheep. This is the perfect analogy for the Servant based belief system versus the DO works based belief system. The servant based belief system says that we follow God where ever he leads, just like sheep will. The goats will not follow as they should. They will believe that what they are doing is the correct thing and God will see that what they do, will show how they feel, and how deep their faith in Jesus runs. Either way, Jesus is judging the actions that we have taken in our lives, and determining whether they are "works guided by the Holy Spirit (HS) or guided by our own desires and beliefs. Now that the set up is over, let's get to it.
I have spoken of Core Beliefs in other posts, and these go to the heart of the matter in obedience to God. Not once, have I ever heard of any DO anywhere, explaining why, when the sheep look at God and say, "When did we feed, cloth, take you in, or give you drink?" To me, this is the most important part of the WHOLE parable. The why, is that they did not know they were doing it. You say "How is it possible not to know you are doing those things?" Because of Core Beliefs. What CBs do is cause you to act automatically, and without thought. When a situation arises that needs immediate reaction, CBs take over, and you act according to what you believe. For example, you find yourself in a situation with a person that looks likely to beat you up almost immediately. Based on CBs, you can choose to do certain things. If you do not believe in violence, you may try to reason, or find a way out of the situation. If you believe that what the person is upset about important enough not to back down, you may stand your ground and prepare to fight. Or you believe yourself to be stronger than the other person and attack. Same situation, and three very different responses. But, not uncommon responses, only unconscious reactions. This is why people do not know that they help the least of these. Because they do it without thinking about it, since it is no big deal, they do not remember it. That is what being a servant of God is all about. Following like a sheep, no questions, no doubts, no worries, no what about me's, no HESITATION. Just OBEDIENCE. Obedience so ingrained, that you do not even notice when you are doing it. This is going to sound crude, but it gets the point across. Do you remember the details of wiping your butt two weeks ago? It is something that to most of us is important. It is something that I truly believe is a good thing. Something I do everyday, well pretty much everyday. But it does not leave a lasting impression on me. It is a learned behavior, one that I had to be taught. One that I believed important enough to continue my whole life. It is a Core Belief of mine, and I always act upon it, even though it does not leave an impression. Were our beliefs in God as strong as our belief in wiping our own butts, the world would truly be a better place. Sorry, stray thought. But powerful none the less.
Now to the DOs versions of works. This is where the Goats say, "But Lord, I did visit the least of these in prison, gave them food, and took them in!" "ON December 17th, 2003 our church group went to the prison for a visit. On Thanksgiving the next year, we volunteered in a soup kitchen. For Easter Seals we formed up a clothing drive every year." Listing the good works they had done on and on. Why now would these things be remembered. Because they were out of the ordinary. They stood out. They were not the norm. It was something that the person had to tell themselves that, "Hey, this is what Jesus says we should do, so I am going to make myself do it to show Jesus that I am good enough for heaven." So they teach Sunday School, even though they really do not like doing it. They do daily devotions, so they can talk about what they have read in church later that week. They can spout of all of the things they do to make sure Jesus is happy with them. But it is not automatic, it is not a core belief, and it does not please the one that gave Jesus the authority to be the Judge. God. God gave the Holy Spirit to each and every one of us, to help us discern his will for us. When we listen to what the DOs tell us to do to get Jesus notice and approval, we have already lost the battle. Because we are not to listen to what the DO told us to do, we are supposed to listen to what God tells us to do through the Holy Spirit.
That is why the Goats are in with the Sheep in the story. I believe the story is about the "church". The Goats and the Sheep the different people in the church, and what God thinks about them. Most people remember Dana Carvey's character the Church Lady. Anyone who has been in a DO very long, knows people like the church lady. They are definitely the Goats. And there are many who are. But the only reassuring thing is Grace. Jesus will be able to see through the why of the act, and get to the intent of the act. Was it to show Jesus you are good enough for him? Or was it because the belief was so strong, you did it with out conscious thought, and just obeyed God. Jesus will judge, with God's authority behind him, how well you listened to the Holy Spirit.
The works that bear fruit come because of listening to the Holy Spirit. The works come because they are born of Faith that created the Core Beliefs that guide everyday actions. The works come because, you can not stop them. But no person on the planet, PERIOD, can tell you what the mind of GOD is expecting of you. NO ONE. Not you Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, or Reverend can tell you what God wants you to do. Why, because only God knows his plan for you, and only the Holy Spirit can tell it to you. No one else can, PERIOD, END OF STORY.