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

    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

    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

      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.