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!
- Judgment and the Wedding
- 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.)
- Read Matthew 22:3-4. How many times does the king invite
his preferred guests?
- How much does the king want the preferred, invited
guests to come?
- 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
- 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.)
- What is Jesus teaching about the final judgment and
the Kingdom of Heaven?
- Read Matthew 22:8. Why did the invited guests not deserve
to be in heaven?
- “Deserve” sounds like a judgment on the merits of the
invited guest. In what ways did they lack merit and
thus fail the judgment?
- 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.)
- What have we learned about the Kingdom of Heaven and the
judgment so far?
- Read Matthew 22:8-9. Who now gets invited to the wedding?
- 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.)
- Read Matthew 22:10. Tell me about the character of those
who are now invited to the wedding?
- Why do you think Jesus stresses that “bad” people
were at the wedding?
- What is the standard for coming to the wedding? (It
certainly is not your character, but rather your
willingness to come.)
- 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.)
- Was this guest who was not wearing a wedding garment
a good or bad person? (The Bible does not say.)
- Is this information significant? Does it matter
if a guest was good or bad under the garment?
- The standard for this judgment is
clothing, and not character?
- It turns out that the old saying “clothes
make the man” is Bible truth?
- Before we get too far down this track, what, exactly,
is the wedding garment?
- 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.)
- What does a close reading of this story suggest
as to the source of the wedding clothes?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- We have been studying the sanctuary – what
does this mean (in sanctuary talk) to be
“washed” in lamb’s blood?
- Read Isaiah 61:10. Who provides the “wedding
- What do these texts and the sanctuary service
teach us about the source and nature of the
wedding garment?(I think Augustine had it
- Read Matthew 22:12. What is the king’s attitude towards
this fellow? Does the king sound angry like before
( Matthew 22:7)?
- 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.)
- Read Matthew 22:13-14. What happens to this fellow who
does not wear the robe of Jesus’ righteousness?
- Consider Matthew 22:14. After reading this entire
story, who do you think is doing the choosing?
- 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
- What is the standard for the final judgment of God?
- Judgment and the Two Sons
- 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.”)
- Which son did the father approve?
- 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.)
- Works and Judgment
- Read Zechariah 3:1-3. Is this a judgment scene?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.”)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
- Next week: The Meaning of the Judgment Today.