His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:21
For the longest time that I can remember I used to read this passage and think, “man I hope I just get in, there is no way I am hearing “well done my good and faithful servant.” That would be so gnarly if I did and I really want to work harder to make sure that I hear that but I’ve done a lot of shady stuff…come to think of it I will be happy with an outhouse for my dwelling place in Heaven. As long as I get to not be in hell and get to be with God, Jesus and my loved ones…just hide me out back with the rest of the “made it in by the skin of teeth” crowd.”
How did I even develop this? Personally I would like to blame all of the sermons, teaching that I have heard in my life that included a presentation of what I need to do now as a Christian in order to be growing in the faith and becoming a better Christian for Christ. You know, they were those “what would Jesus do?” sermons. Those “you need to now show how thankful you are for Christ by living the life you now need to live and the good things you need to do because you bear the name of Christ, CHRISTian!” The challenge to “even though you will not be perfect you should strive for daily perfection” admonishments. Teaching/correction that always ended with the question, “will you hear “well done, my good and faithful servant” when you enter Heaven? Never ending with the finished work of Christ. Never ending with “it is finished.” Never ending on grace or the gospel. It was always the Law, Gospel, Law fight combo that would have you in a Mortal Kombat like daze waiting for the final “finish him” blow.
Looking back this is the confusing part. I actually believed that this was a question for only those who were entering Heaven not those who were entering hell. I actually thought this was the potential possibility:
God at the pearly gates greeting the welcome line: “Well done my good and faithful servant…well done my good and faithful servant….Zack…. (I get a ‘sup’ head nod from God…which would still be awesome but work with me).”
I thought that there would be those in line who would be receiving one greeting based off of their performance as a Christian on Earth and for others who would just be greeted with an “oh alright…come on in you rascal you” for their slack of performance as a Christian on Earth. If I am honest with myself and with you, I don’t only blame the teaching for making me think this but I blame myself as well. I blame my sinful desire to be in control and to think that I can somehow merit God’s favor, as if I could validate my own righteousness and feel good at the ridiculous thought that I could earn hearing “well done” from God like I just graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp to receive the title “United States Marine.”
What if I told you that if you are in Christ…God considers you His good and faithful servant?
My face when I first realized the truth of this. The part of the Holy Spirit played by Scuttle the Seagull.
You may be sitting there reading this asking WOAH how is this possible Z? Here is my reasoning.
1. How are you even making it into Heaven in the first place? Because of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness poured all over you and staying on you and His substitutionary life for you, correct?
2. If it is the life of Jesus that are your credentials to be with God in Heaven, than it is the life of Jesus whom God will recognize as He greets you in Heaven. Not your works…Jesus’ works. Correct?
3. God is crazy and well pleased with His Son Jesus…therefore He is crazy and well pleased with you.
Hearing “well done my good and faithful servant” has nothing to do with what you did but has everything to do with what Jesus did…
Well, bust my buttons! Why didn’t you say that in the first place? That’s a horse of a different colour! Come on in!
Don’t you get it? You are loved and God is in love with you not because of what you did and will do but because of what Jesus has already done! He thinks you are awesome because He thinks Christ is awesome! It pleases Him to be crazy for you! Because it pleases Him to be crazy for His Son. Your righteousness is counted as the righteousness of Christ. How Jesus lived his life, how Jesus obeyed, is what is being counted in your place. Don’t you get it? This is outstanding news! Here are some examples of what it means when you are in Christ. It means that:
- You have had grace forever…yeah…blows my mind up too…in a good way (2 Timothy 1:9)
- Nothing, Nada, Zip can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39)
- You have been forgiven for ALL your sins (Ephesians 1:7)
- You are justified before God and the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to you (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- You have been seated with Christ in the heavenly places (doesn’t sound like barely squeaking in by the hair of your chinny chin chin now does it?) (Ephesians 2:6)
- Your sanctification is in Christ…not in you…you find your sanctification IN CHRIST (1 Corinthians 1:2)
- You have eternal life (Romans 6:23)
The whole point is being in Christ. Not us, but Christ. Looking anywhere else for His perfection will fall short. It is so easy to get wrapped up in how holy we need to live and to use that as a measurement of our progress. We need to live as holy as Christ. He has measured perfectly for us. We can’t and we won’t live as holy as Christ. Anyone suggesting that they can ever achieve that this side of Heaven is not fully considering how Holy God’s Law is and how Holy His Son is.
Therefore we need Christ to be our substitute.
If we are weighing ourselves on a scale with Christ on one end and us on the other, we are doing it wrong and have no hope…the only way the scale would ever be balanced in our favor is if Christ takes our place on our side of the scale and is measured against Himself…the result…amazingly perfect measurement of performance in every way….and then that measurement is counted for you. That is grace. That is the good news. And it pleases God, glorifies God to do this for you. He loves you. Let that sink in. If you are in Christ…God is absolutely crazy over you and has been looking forward to the day, literally forever, when you and He will meet face to face.
Our hope is not in how holy we are becoming but in how holy Jesus already is.
What God will be looking at as you enter heaven is the righteousness, holiness, obedience, perfect performance of His Son.
Now imagine what God would say as He welcomes His son Jesus into the kingdom: “Welcome home.”
To hear that come from the mouth of the Heavenly Father to me…well…I don’t even know what. I don’t have any words for that only a praise of thanksgiving and worship seems like the appropriate thing that I want to do after pondering on that.
To be crowned with the righteousness of Christ…surely has to be that final moment when our tears are wiped away forever. The tears of a sinner who was just crowned a saint. Gone. All because of what Jesus did, not the delusional hope in the performance for earning an imaginary acceptable righteousness courtesy of me.
If you are in Christ…you will hear “well done.”