To clarify further what I was saying in the previous post, I am not suggesting that our theology of salvation change. I'm not saying that people don't need to claim faith in Christ, repent of their sins, etc... But I believe Jesus was saying that if you don't live a life marked by physical acts of compassion for those who need it most, it won't matter if you've stated faith in Christ and repented of your sins. I think Jesus was saying that there will be some goats who thought they were sheep. They said all the right things, prayed all the right prayers, attended the right churches, and held the right positions, but there was no "legs" to their faith. It was all lip-service. If you say you love Jesus, but are ignoring "the least of these", you may be loving Jesus all the way to hell.
This is kind of a theme in Matthew. Not only does Jesus make a big deal about compassion, he makes a big deal about forgiveness. In Matthew 6 when Jesus gives us "The Lord's Prayer", he says, "and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." In other words, "God, forgive me in the same way I forgive other people." Jesus knows he's said something confusing or shocking, so this is the only line of the prayer he explains after the prayer. He says, "You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. (MSG)" Matthew emphasizes this further by recounting Jesus parable of the unjust steward in Matthew 18. Jesus tells the story of a king who forgave the debt of a servant, only to throw the servant into prison and reinstate the debt when he found out that the servant had not himself been forgiving. Jesus follows up this parable by saying, "And that's exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn't forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy. (MSG)" Jesus basically says your salvation can be taken away if you're unwilling to forgive someone.
To me, the teaching about compassion and the teaching about forgiveness teach us that saying the sinner's prayer does not mean God is "legally bound" to give you an eternal reward. We must follow that decision up with a Christ-like life. If compassion and forgiveness (which go hand-in-hand) are such a big deal to Jesus that he would threaten our eternity, I think it's a HUGE deal.
I realize this flies in the face of the biggest majority of evangelicals in this country who are Calvinist in their theology, and it goes against the trend of the last 30 years to preach that Jesus is all "love, love, love" and anybody who prays "the prayer" is going to heaven (no matter what their level of commitment), and some will say it borders on works salvation or whatever. But I believe there is more to faith than a singular prayer or decision. Our faith and our love for Christ demands that we give up our lives for Him and do everything possible to live like Him. Now your "everything possible" may look different than my "everything possible". We can't be judges of that. But we are all so guilty of selling what Dietrich Bonnhoeffer referred to as "cheap grace", or salvation with out life-change. This has to stop.