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The Church Clown

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4, ESV

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. ~ Matthew 25:41-46, ESV

 

At the end of the Lord’s Olivet Discourse is the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, which is a short and simple narrative in which the Lord metaphorically compares two kinds of people. Now, while there are different interpretations of this parable, many believers’ interpretation, this blogger included, is that the Parable of the Sheep and Goats is about Jesus Christ’s prophesied second bodily return at the end of the Great Tribulation and about Him judging the nations of surviving humans (the prophesied Day of Judgment). In other words, this parable is not about any Rapture, as it is very clear that the setting of this event is at the beginning of the millennium, which starts sometime after the seven year Tribulation Period has ended.  

Matthew writes:

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. ~ Matthew 25:32-33, ESV

Now, while Christ Jesus died for both the sheep and the goats (being sheep’s Sacrificial Lamb and goats’ Scapegoat), unfortunately it’s the goats who never choose Him as their Lord and Savior—neither prior to the Tribulation Period nor during it. What’s more, the literal goats have characteristics that are bad for the literal sheep, and thus bad for the metaphorical sheep as well. For example, goats are unreliable, reckless, devious, and antagonistic. Goats also have a stubborn streak. The bottom line then is neither the literal nor the metaphysical goats are very good followers, as they either prefer being the leader or the loner. Then too, because of both goats’ independent nature, they often find themselves in contention with the Shepherd for leadership of the flock, and they often lead some sheep astray.

These abovementioned literal goat characteristics in the metaphorical goats and the metaphorical goats’ unregenerate hearts make it clear why the Good Shepherd (Christ Jesus), in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, separates His saved sheep from the lost goats. For one, like the literal goats, these end-time goats who survived the Tribulation Period will create disunity, and secondly, as already mentioned, they often are in contention with the Shepherd for leadership of the flock. Furthermore, while the metaphorical goats certainly are capable of performing acts of kindness and love, the Lord knows whether or not those acts of kindness and love were done or not done for the right reasons. Put differently, apparently the goats in the parable are rejected primarily because their hearts (spirits) were not right with God.

According to what Christ Jesus says in the parable, the kind and loving acts believers in Christ performed were the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (were the deeds of mercy that spring from true Faith in Christ Jesus and Father God). In other words, the works saved sheep did, without doubt, demonstrated the reality of the conversion that took place in their hearts (in their born again spirits). On the other hand, the kind and loving acts unbelievers like the goats might have done were not the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, because the goats neither had a relationship with the Good Shepherd nor with Father God. For this reason, the Lord judges their deeds as those that were not done for the right purpose—were not done to honor and glorify Father God.

Spiritually speaking, because these serious goat characteristics are noticeable in the current institutional “church,” it is safe to say that presently there are countless goats sitting on numerous pews. Indeed, the above PreachTheGospel.org picture and the Spurgeon quotation in that picture absolutely point out the condition of modern-day “churchgoers,” especially those “church” members whose spiritual leaders have substituted true evangelism with evangelistic windows, which say: Come inside and check out “our” church! Come see how we worship! If it isn’t the evangelistic windows advertising this 21st-century brand of evangelism, then it is today’s “churches” announcing in their newspaper ads who will be preaching on a given Sunday, or today’s “churchgoers” promoting their “churches,” as they hand out Gospel tracts.

Whatever the case might me, what’s most important to mention here is that it is amazing how dead right Spurgeon’s quotation is! For example, just the other day this blogger read online that someone saw an ad in a newspaper in which a “church” was advertising that a “clown” would be giving Sunday’s morning message. Evangelicalism, at least the kind that used to stress the importance of unbelievers obtaining the God kind of Faith that leads to a regenerate heart (spirit) and salvation, apparently no longer is the focus of some pulpit pastors or “their” congregations.

This century’s pulpit pastors seem to be more concerned with preaching to entertaining the crowds they’ve attracted with their watered down and often politically correct “feel good” psychobabble sermons or lighthearted purely amusing messages than they are concerned about preaching the unadulterated Gospel’s Truths. The problem here is that this definitely is not the time for dancing, singing, ball juggling, and/or joke-telling pulpit clowns. The goats’ eternal lives are at risk!

For this last reason, this is the time for brave born again, saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit sagacious men and women to preach the tough messages on salvation, eternal life, discipleship, grace, holiness, righteousness, Holy Spirit’s ministries, adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexuality, abortion, apostasy, divorce, and so forth. Pulpit clowns won’t give these difficult messages the soberness, tough love treatment, and/or spiritual nutrition they need.

Finally, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed the answer to all of this world’s ills. Furthermore, Jesus Christ is the ONLY Way any surviving Tribulation goats ever will be able to avoid being told to move to the Lord’s left. That’s why today’s men and women in the Lord’s ministry must preach the Gospel NOW and preach it without making clownlike concessions! A word to the wise should be sufficient.