MATTHEW CHAPTER 25

[Mt 24:45-25:30]:

This brings us to a section, (Mt 24:45-25:30), which includes three important parables reflecting different aspects of our Lord's judgment at the time of His Second Coming. Mt 24:45-51 is the first parable.

The incredible signs were discussed which precede our Lord's Second Coming, followed by the description of the very moment when our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed in His full glory coming on the clouds, (Mt 24:29-31). Then followed an illustration about a fig tree blooming which exemplifies the imminence of summer just as our Lord's return is exemplified as imminent when all of the signs occur, (Mt 24:32-35).

Then Matthew followed up with two illustrations which admonished those living during the Tribulation times to be ever watchful, i.e. prepared and faithful, because of the judgment and consequences when the Lord does return - such that His return will in the final analysis be as unexpected as a thief in the night when He comes, (Mt 24:36-44).

After this comes the three parables sandwiched in between the preceding accounts of the 'imminent return of the King' and the details at the end of chapter 25 of His judgment of Tribulation believers and unbelievers.

Parable number one, (Mt 24:45-51), refers to our Lord's judgment of believers - both faithful and unfaithful, (faithful servant and wicked servant) at the end of the Tribulation period. He will judge the unfaithful believers severely. They will suffer loss of eternal rewards even to the extent of suffering weeping and gnashing of teeth when they enter the Kingdom rule. And He will reward the faithful believer with "all of His possessions" relative to the Millennial rule about to begin on the earth.

Parable number two, (Mt 25:1-13 - the ten virgins), refers to the relative preparedness of believers during this Tribulation time. Those believers who are not in a constant state of readiness - who do not continually maintain a state of faithfulness - will not be included in the wedding feast of the Lord, and will be left outside in the 'outer darkness'. Those believers who are faithful - remaining prepared and 'at the door' - will be included in the celebration of that feast.

Thirdly, we have the parable of the talents, (Mt 25:14-30), which reflects the relative rewards according to one's faithful service or non-service. Those believers of the tribulation who physically survive to the end, who are faithful to the specific tasks assigned to them will be put in charge - corulership - during their new lives in the millennium. Those believers who are unfaithful - even rebellious and sinful - will have all things taken away from them and will enter the millennium life with nothing and for a season be cast into a location on the millennium earth outside of the fellowship of the wedding banquet where there is a relative darkness. Their utter disappointment will lead them to weep and gnash their teeth at the devastating loss that they incurred due to their wasted life on earth.

Other passages indicate that unfaithful tribulation believers will not endure to the end, i.e. will physically die. They will enter heaven prematurely in their new immortal bodies, (Cp. Mt 24:13); and then they will come back to earth with the Lord at His second coming, (Cp. Mt 24:30 in Mt 24 file).

PARABLE OF THE FAITHFUL AND UNFAITHFUL SERVANTS

[Mt 24:45-51]:

(v. 45) ''' "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time.

(v. 46) It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.

(v. 47) I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

(v. 48) But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,'

(v. 49) and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.

(v. 50) The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

(v. 51) He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

[Compare Lk 12:41-48]:

(v. 41) "Peter asked, 'Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?'

(v. 42) The Lord answered, 'Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?

[Mt 24:45 uses the word "servant" here. Luke later refers to him as a "servant" also, (v. 4)]

(v. 43) It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.

(v. 44) I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

(v. 45) "But suppose the servant says to himself...................

[Matthew says here "But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself........"]

(Lk 12:45 cont) "But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the men servants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk.

(v. 46) The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the "apiston" [= "unfaithful"].

[Matthew says here: "and assign him with the hypocrites [= equivalent to 'unfaithful'], where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."]

(v. 47) That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.

(v. 48) But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Notice that in both instances when our Lord proclaimed this message of the faithful and unfaithful servants it was set in the context of being in anticipation of our Lord's Second Coming, (refs: Mt 24:36; Lk 12:40, 46), and thereby being faithful is in view not salvation unto eternal life, (ref. Lk 12:35).

THE MESSAGE OF THIS PARABLE CAN BE DIVIDED INTO TWO STATEMENTS ONE ABOUT A FAITHFUL BELIEVER AND THE OTHER ABOUT AN UNFAITHFUL BELIEVER

The message of this parable can be divided into two statements one about a faithful believer and the other about an unfaithful believer:

(1) A faithful servant who continues to serve in his master's absence and upon his master's return is rewarded with tremendous blessing, responsibility and authority - an example of what a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ should be like - but sad to say, few and far between.

(2) An unfaithful servant who takes advantage of his master's absence and not only shirks his duty but uses the opportunity to do despicable things - wielding his authority in a cruel way over his fellow servants and living in a licentious manner.

This is an example of an unfaithful believer, not an unbeliever. With few exceptions no unbeliever is depicted in Scripture as being in a position to serve the Lord and be in charge of those who serve Him, (v. 45). Since this parable is portraying a picture in order to establish a doctrinal principal, then believers must be in view even in the case of the unfaithful servant. The unfaithful believer in the parable at hand has developed a seared conscience and goes the whole evil route with his life - not making any attempt to do at least some human good which even moral unbelievers do.

THE FAITHFUL SERVANT

Since God's Word teaches that unbelievers who by definition are all controlled by the sin nature all of the time because they do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit and therefore cannot please God and therefore would not be put in a position to serve Him:

[Compare Ro 8:5-9]:

(v. 5) "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

(v. 6) The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

(v. 7) the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

(v. 8) Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

(v. 9) You, [those who are in Christ Jesus, i.e., believers, (v. 1; Eph 1:13-14)] are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

And since all unbelievers are under God's eternal condemnation and completely estranged from Him:

[Compare Jn 3:16-18]:

(v. 16) "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

(v. 17) For God did not sent His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

(v. 18) Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

And since only believers will be rewarded for faithful service, noting that the faithful servant was indeed rewarded in our Lord's parable by being 'put in charge of all of his [the master's]... possessions' (v. 47).

[1 Cor 3:12-14]:

(v. 12) "If any man [believer, (v. 11)] builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,

(v. 13) his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

(v. 14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward."

Then the faithful servant must be considered a believer.

THE UNFAITHFUL SERVANT

Now, as to the unfaithful servant in Mt 24:48-51:

(v. 48) But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,'

(v. 49) and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.

(v. 50) The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

(v. 51) He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites [Lk 12:46 = "apiston" = "unfaithful"], where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This servant is decidedly a believer because the contexts in Matthew 24 and Luke 12:42-48 indicate that he has been appointed by God as a servant of God's own. No where in Scripture can one of our Lord's parables be found to refer to servants of a master of lord as unbelievers. Faithful and unfaithful, even wicked servants are referred to in the parables as having a servant to Lord/Master relationship, thus excluding unbelievers who cannot serve God at all. Both parables depict the servant as recognizing that the master, i.e., Jesus Christ, will return in His Second Coming, something that is totally uncharacteristic of unbelievers. So all of this puts believers in view in our Lord's parables, not unbelievers for all the servants.

SCRIPTURE ELSEWHERE INDICATES THAT NOT ALL BELIEVERS WILL BE FAITHFUL NEVERTHELESS ALL WILL MAKE IT TO HEAVEN

Scripture elsewhere indicates that not all believers will be faithful nevertheless all will make it to heaven, (ref. 1 Cor 3:11-15 ). Many Christians will spend their days on the earth in self-serving interests, even at times when doing things at "church" or for charity. (These things may not be what God has specifically ordained for a particular Christian to be doing, [ref. Eph 2:10]. When a believer's deeds have the appearance, but not the reality, of divine provenance. These deeds may have value in some way to fellow man; but they are of human origin and worthless in God's sight relative to rewards in heaven for that believer.

[Compare 1 Cor 3:11-15]:

(v. 11) "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

[Salvation comes alone by grace - a gift - through faith, not works, (Eph 2:8-9). And that saving faith can be directed only to the foundation that Jesus Christ laid - the work that He did on the cross to satisfy the penalty for the sins of the whole world, (I Jn 2:2)]

(v. 12) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,

[The word foundation here refers to a man's salvation which is completed and secured solely in Christ, (Eph 1:13-14; 2 Cor 1:21-22).

A man is permitted by God to build on his foundation of eternal life in order to receive rewards in heaven for himself. He may build with worthy deeds, (of divine provenance: Eph 2:10), which are described as "gold, silver and costly stones" or he may build with unworthy deeds which will not be acceptable to God, which are of human origin no matter how altruistic and helpful to mankind. These are described as "wood, hay or straw"]

(v. 13) because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

[the Day = a technical term referring to the period of time when our Lord will judge all men and their deeds. Ref Isa 2:1-22; 13:6-13.

So the believer will have what he does on this earth with his life, (thoughts, words and deeds), evaluated by Almighty God - the Lord Jesus Christ - in order to determine the rewards and lifestyle he will have for the rest of eternity.]

(v. 14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.

[If the man was performing divine good works, i.e. walking in the ways and doing the deeds the Lord had assigned to him, (Eph 2:10), then he will receive tremendous rewards, authority and glorious responsibility when he enters eternal life with Jesus Christ. The deeds represented by "gold, silver, costly stones" will be tested in the fire and come out refined and more valuable]

(v. 15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through flames."

[But if a man wastes his life on earth doing trivial, self-centered, human originated or sinful things, ("wood, hay or straw"), these thoughts, words and deeds will burn up in the testing fires and God will account no rewards to him. However, on account of that unfaithful man's one time trusting in what the Lord Jesus Christ did on the cross, that man will truly enter eternal life in heaven, (Eph 1:13-14; Ro 8:38-39; Jn 5:24). But he will enter heaven's shores "only as one escaping through the flames" with nothing to show for his life spent on the earth. His eternal lifestyle will be severely limited for the rest of eternity compared to what it could have been]

Furthermore, believers can also act like hypocrites and even worse than the worst of unbelievers, (Eph 5:1-17 []); but they will never be assigned to the Lake of Fire:

[Compare Jn 5:24]:

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

One would not cross back and forth from death to life to death to life according to one's faithful or unfaithful lifestyle. The context in Jn 5:24 speaks of a permanent crossing over at the point of faith in Him.

Finally, if the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all of the sins of the whole world, (and He did, 1 Jn 2:2),

then

How could a believer commit a sin which would not be covered by what Christ already did on the cross, (1 Jn 2:2) and which was forgiven at the moment he trusted in Christ as Savior?

AN UNFAITHFUL BELIEVER NOT AN UNBELIEVER IS IN VIEW IN THIS PARABLE

[Bob Wilkin states, "Grace in Focus", Sept/Oct 2000, 'Believers: Well Done or Cut in Two']:

A pastor recently wrote with this question:

The sources I've seen are uniform in saying that the servants in Luke 12:46-47 are unbelievers. Is there another opinion?

Yes, there is indeed another opinion. there are many compelling reasons to conclude that the man who is cut in two represents any believer who has lost sight of Christ's soon return and has fallen into abusive and wayward living.

First, the man is a servant entrusted by the Lord Jesus with a stewardship (Who then is that...steward... Luke 12:42). There are few, if any, examples in Scripture of unbelievers who are called servants of Christ who are called servants of Christ who are entrusted with a stewardship by Him.

Second, the cutting in two is obviously figurative and does not suggest eternal condemnation. Even if this servant did represent an unbeliever, he would not literally be cut in two and spend eternity in two pieces!

[At the very least if it was meant to be literal, (and it is not), it would simply signify a terrible way to die physically. No passage indicates that one would end up in the Lake of Fire in more than one piece - especially one who merely did not serve the Lord faithfully!]

The figure refers to something that will cut a person deeply, to the core of his being. We know from other Scripture that the Word of God is like a two edged sword that cuts to the division of soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus' words will deeply cut the unfaithful believer - in two, so to speak.

The apostle John spoke of this when he said, 'And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming' (1 John 2:18). Stinging rebuke will cause the faithless believer to be ashamed.

Third, the last word in verse 46, apistos in Greek, is translated as 'the unbelievers' in many versions (NKJV, KJV, NIV, NASB). However, it could also be translated 'the unfaithful.' In fact, it is translated that way in the Revised Standard Version. That, in my estimation is a better translation. Support for this translation is found at the beginning of the parable:

'Who then is the faithful and wise steward...?' The issue from the start is faithfulness, not faith.

Further support is found in the parallel passage in Matthew 24:45-51. On another occasion when the Lord gave this same basic message, He said that those who are cut in two are appointed a portion(meros) 'with the hypocrites.'

[The 'portion' with the unfaithful (hypocrites) is not some sort of physical location. Rather, it refers to sharing a common experience. This is the Greek word meros. In John 13:8 Jesus told Peter that if He didn't wash his feet then he would have no meros, no part, no portion, with Him. The issue there is fellowship (cf. 1 John 1:9), but there may also be an implication of what we see in this passage as well. If any believer continued to walk out of fellowship with Christ, then he would have no portion, or share, in His kingdom reign.]

[Wilkin, cont.]:

A believer is a hypocrite whenever he lives in a manner contrary to what he says to be true.

Remember that these servants are specifically given the responsibility to feed and rule over their fellow servants (...his master will make [him] ruler over his household, to given them their portion of food in due season,' Luke 12:42). In the church this represents all who have some form of spiritual authority and teaching ministry. This would include all elders, Sunday school teachers, Bible study teachers, youth workers, etc. If a person teaches the Word for years, and then later falls away and violates his own teachings, then he is a hypocrite and unfaithful.

Fourth, there is a lessening progression of judgments in this passage. Some were well taught and did well for a time. Later they abused their responsibilities and hurt rather than helped their fellow servants. They will be 'cut in two' by Christ's rebuke. Others also knew what they should do (i.e., they too were well taught in the Scriptures) yet failed to properly prepare themselves to do it. They 'shall be beaten with many stripes' (Luke 12:47), clearly a lesser penalty. Evidently these didn't abuse their fellow servants, or at least not as much. Still less severe is the punishment of those whose failures are due to ignorance of God's will (i.e., those who were never well taught) and who 'shall be beaten with few [stripes]' (v. 48). Ignorance does not eliminate all rebuke, but it does lessen it ('to whom much is given, from him much will be required,' v. 48).

Unless all of these are seen as unbelievers, these must refer to degrees of stinging rebuke that unfaithful believers will receive.

Fifth, the issue in the passage is rulership, not kingdom entrance.

[The Lord doesn't even say that the servant who becomes faithless is excluded from all rewards. According to vv 31-34 in this chapter (see also Matt 6:19-21; 10:40-42), any treasure we lay up i heaven is secure forever ('money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail'), even if we later become unfaithful]

[Wilkin, cont.]:

Those who rule well not (v. 42) will rule in the coming kingdom (v. 44).

[So in terms of what I call 'perseverance prizes' the options are ruling with Christ and the attendant privileges (right to eat the fruit of the tree of life, hidden manna, special white garments), versus not ruling and missing out on those special privileges. The former hear praise and approval (dokimos). The latter hear rebuke and disapproval (adokimos)]

[Wilkin, cont.]:

The reference to 'much given, much required' (v. 48) is obviously rewards language, for eternal life is not received for perseverance in faithful service for Christ.

Sixth and finally, the setting is the return of Christ. The servant believes Christ is coming again (v. 45) and for a time he lives in light of that soon return. (Note in v. 45 the phrase 'if that servant' refers to the servant mentioned in vv. 42-44 who was faithful to that point. then he loses focus and falls into disgraceful behavior.)

While we need to be prepared to live out a lifetime if the Lord should tarry, we also need to be fully prepared for Him to come today. Jesus said, 'Surely I am coming quickly' (Revelation 22:20b). Our response should be: 'Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus' (Revelation 22:20c)."

THE PLACE OF WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH WHERE THE EVIL SERVANT IS ASSIGNED IS NOT THE LAKE OF FIRE

WHERE THERE WILL BE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH = TREMENDOUS GRIEF AT THE LOSS OF ETERNAL REWARDS

[Compare Mt 22:13]:

(v. 13) "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth...' "

1) THE DEVASTATION IN THE UNFAITHFUL BELIEVER'S SOUL IS EXPRESSED THRU WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH

"where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." = Refers to the utter disappointment and devastation in the souls of the unfaithful believers who have all been cast into relative darkness excluded from rewards in the kingdom because of their unfaithfulness; but they still remain in the kingdom. So there is a literal weeping and gnashing of teeth of these believers due to their loss of eternal rewards in heaven and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers who have wasted their lives, who chose not to serve the Lord, but only to pursue their own carnal desires and self-serving interests will be excluded from their own wedding banquet with the Lord Jesus Christ, (Mt 22:1-14) and numerous other rewards such as indicated in Mt 24:45-51. They will not suffer condemnation in the Lake of Fire but they will weep and gnash their teeth at the severe disappointment of being excluded from so great a feast and celebration as the "wedding supper of the Lamb", Jesus Christ, and whatever other treasures they were to be given upon faithful service rendered.

2) NUMEROUS PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE SHOW THAT THE TERMS WEEPING AND GNASHING HAVE A VARIETY OF MEANINGS IN ADDITION TO EXPERIENCING THE LAKE OF FIRE

a) DEVASTATED DUE TO LOSS OF ETERNAL REWARDS,

[Mt 8:12; 22:13 []

b) JOY: [Acts 20:37] [Gen 45:2; 46:29]

c) MOURNING FOR THE DEAD: [Dt 34:8]

d) FACING ONE'S OWN DEATH: [2 Kgs 20:3]

e) PHYSICAL SUFFERING AND THE LOSS OF EVERYTHING: [Job 16:17]

f) IN TROUBLE DUE TO EVIL: [Ps 6:8]

g) EXPRESSION OF ANGER: [Job 16:9]

h) THE WICKED TRYING TO INTIMIDATE A POTENTIAL VICTIM: [Ps 35:16; 37:12] [Lam 2:16]

i) THE REACTION OF THE WICKED WHEN DEFEATED:

[Ps 112:10]

j) BEHAVIOR OF A DEMON BEHAVIOR OF A DEMON

POSSESSED INDIVIDUAL: [Mk 9:18]

k) BEHAVIOR OF THOSE ACTUALLY IN THE LAKE OF FIRE: [Mt 13:42 & 50]

l) REGRETFUL BEHAVIOR I CONTEMPLATION OF BEING EXCLUDED FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD: [In Lk 13:23-30]

The term weeping and gnashing of teeth here in Luke chapter 13 refers to the regretful behavior at the moment of contemplation of being excluded from the kingdom of God paralleling in type the regretful behavior that unfaithful believers will express when they are excluded from the intimate fellowship with the Lord at the wedding banquet and throughout the Millennial rule. Experiencing the Lake of Fire is not in view in this passage, but the exclusion from the Kingdom of God is - which results in the weeping and gnashing of teeth, outside of the Lake of Fire.

3) 1 COR 3:11-15 INDICATES THAT UNFAITHFUL BELIEVERS WILL ACTUALLY SUFFER LOSS FOR THEIR UNFAITHFULNESS

a) [1 Cor 3:11-15]:

(v. 11) "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

["foundation" = "themelion" = a foundation for a building which one would "lay" and then "build upon". Salvation is the key to entrance into heaven and the foundation of one's life in heaven which God solely and exclusively builds as a result of one trusting alone in Christ alone, (Eph 1:13-14; 2:8-9)]

(v. 12) Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

[Now once one is saved one then begins to build upon this foundation. One may build with eternally valuable gold, silver and precious stones, i.e., divine good works; or with valueless and destructible wood, hay and straw, i.e., human good works, (or perhaps no works at all - just a sinful lifestyle). The building that a believer's lifestyle is forming upon the foundation of salvation in Christ is representative of the reward that a believer receives when he gets to heaven]

(v. 13) each man's [each believer's, (v. 11)] work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work,

["the day" = a term which signifies the day when our Lord will return in judgment and rule the earth from Jerusalem, (Isaiah - details of the "Day" described throughout the entire book. 2 Thes 2:1-2 and 1 Thes 4:13-18 point to the rapture which is the beginning of the "Day" of the Lord []]

(v. 13 cont.) each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work,

[Notice that the quality of each believer's work will be tested by fire. What a believer does with his life on earth will then be judged as to whether or not it deserves a reward in heaven. So fire is not just a judgment of the unsaved it is also used by God to judge the value of the deeds of believers' lives]

(v. 14) If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward,

["it" = the "foundation" of eternal life which is faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, (v. 11). If a believer's work which he has built by what he did with his life on earth survives the test of our Lord as to its eternal value then he will receive a commensurate reward in heaven. The question as to whether the believer's works were of divine origin or not, (Eph 2:10), will be decided by Jesus Christ Himself. Ref. 2 Cor 5:10]

(v. 15) If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire."

["any man's" = 'any believer's', since the context is limited to the population of those who are building on the foundation of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, (v. 11). Notice that if the believer's works were burned up, i.e., if the works did not survive the test of fire, then that believer will actually suffer loss - suffer in the kingdom of heaven on earth for the loss of what he could have received but did not because he wasted his time on earth. But that believer, the Scripture says, will still remain saved unto eternal life, barely entering onto heaven's shores as one escaping to safety from a burning house - without bringing anything out of the burning house but himself. 2 Cor 5:10 supports 1 Cor 3:11-15 in teaching about the judgment of a Christian's life on earth:

4) [2 COR 5:10 INDICATES THAT DISCIPLINE IS METED OUT TO BELIEVERS IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN]:

[2 Cor 5:10]:

"For we [believers, v. 5] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or worthless."

"recompensed" = given what is due him, i.e., rewarded/disciplined for his deeds whether good deeds or worthless/evil.

"worthless" = "kakon" = "evil"

Notice that here again it is the believer's works which are judged and not his salvation. He is either rewarded or disciplined for what he has done with his earthly life.

5) [MARK 8:34-38 INDICATES THAT GOD WILL BE ASHAMED OF UNFAITHFUL BELIEVERS]:

(v. 34) "And He summoned the multitude with His disciples and said to them, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

[Notice that our Lord is addressing believers only here since taking up one's cross and following Jesus is out of the question until one is saved and indwelt with God the Holy Spirit Who enables individuals to serve the Lord in the first place]

(v. 35) For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it.

[i.e., preserve the value of it for eternal rewards in heaven]

(v. 36) For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

(v. 37) For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

[And what if a believer is unfaithful and acts ashamed of His Lord and Savior?]:

(v. 38) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in the adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.' " (cp Lk 9:26)."

[Charles C. Bing states, ("The Cost of Discipleship" from the Grace Evangelical Society Journal, vol 6, Spring '93, p. 43]:

"[Mk 8:38]: 'If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father's glory with the holy angels.'(cp Lk 9:26)

...Those who were too ashamed to identify with Christ will experience Christ's shame. The effect of Christ's shame is not specified, but one could surmise that for a redeemed and now fully-enlightened believer, this would at least produce agonizing regret....[Compare Mt 22:1-14; 25:14-30]"

6) MT 10:24, 32-33 INDICATES THAT OUR LORD WILL DENY UNFAITHFUL BELIEVERS BEFORE GOD

(v. 24) "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master....

[So the subject is discipleship which is limited to believers]

(v. 32) Whoever acknowledges Me before me, I will also acknowledge Him before me, I will disown him before My Father in heaven.

(v. 33) But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father Who is in heaven.", [cp Lk 12:9].

[Bing, ibid]:

"In... Matt 10:32-33, the idea of recompense is good (v. 32) or bad (v. 33) accordingly. Christ's confession (or lack of it) in heaven would not relate to the judgment of our salvation, but to an acknowledgment (or lack of it) before the Father of the disciples' unity or fellowship with Christ which is recompensed in an unspecified but appropriate way. (However, one might compare 2 Tim 2:12, where reigning with Christ is the specific reward.)...

... Jesus is giving instructions to the Twelve before sending them out to preach the Gospel (Matt 10:5ff). He warns of rejection and persecution (vv 16-25) and encourages them not to fear (vv. 26-31). Verses 32-33 are also followed by similar warnings about rejection (vv. 34-36). In vv 32-33 Jesus is both encouraging and warning in the face of the fear off persecution. He wants the disciples to know that anyone who identifies with Him will be rewarded, while anyone who shrinks from this will be denied by Christ before the Father...."

7) [MT 10:37-39 INDICATES THAT BELIEVERS WHO DO NOT TAKE UP THEIR CROSS AND FOLLOW OUR LORD ARE NOT WORTHY OF CHRIST & THOSE WHO LOSE THEIR LIFE WILL FIND IT]:

[Mt 10:37-39]:

(v. 37) "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

(v. 38) And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

["take up his cross and follow Me" = Charles C. Bing states, (op. cit., p. 41)]:

"...Because following another person is a process, a progression, and requires time, this condition cannot speak of entrance into salvation. This would promote salvation by the imitation of Christ or by adherence to His example which would be a salvation of works. It is best taken as a term that describes a continuously committed lifestyle."

"is not worthy of Me" = Not being worthy in this passage does not constitute a condition of being unsaved. The context of this passage speaks of eternally secure believers, (Mt 10:1-5). Only believers can take up their cross in the first place. Unbelievers cannot please God by taking up any cross, (Ro 8:8). First they must be saved before they they do anything! So being unworthy of Christ in this context speaks of a believer who chooses not to follow Jesus as one of His disciples - choosing not to make the necessary sacrifices and not enduring the God ordained hardships, i.e., not taking up his cross].

(v. 39) He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.

"Losing one's life" = turning the control of one's life over to the sovereign will of God.

By living according to the will of God, (which is contained in His Word), one is rewarded on earth with an inner happiness and confidence that God will carry them every step of the way through life, into heaven and on into eternity, especially in light of the confidence a faithful believer has in going to heaven and receiving indescribably wonderful rewards. One who has lost his life to the sovereignty of God has found the real purpose of his life for which he was created, (Eph 2:10). This new found purpose brings love, joy and peace to a child of God's earthly life when he is aligned with the purpose of the great Almighty God of the universe Who provides that love, joy and peace. The peace and inner happiness is based on Who God is and His indescribably wonderful promises.

[Charles C. Bing, (op. cit., pp. 42-43)]:

"...When Jesus says 'whoever loses his life for My sake,' the sense is certainly not eternal destruction, for He says this one will then 'find it,' which is something good. Conversely, it fits well that what one may lose when he tries to save his life (preserve himself from the hardships of self-denial and cross-bearing) is life in the essential qualitative sense (i.e., experiencing God's life in this life, John 17:3), not the eternal soul. The paradox Jesus used has great meaning. What He appears to be saying is this: 'Whoever desires to preserve himself from the hardships of God's will of self-denial and cross-bearing will in fact forfeit the essential quality (= true spiritual value) of the present life he is trying to preserve. On the other hand, whoever forfeits himself to God's will of self-denial and hardships will discover the greater essential quality (spiritual value) of the present life he was willing to forfeit.' This interpretation would therefore not describe eternal salvation, but a higher quality of experience with God in this life, with implications for the eschatological life [future & eternal life]..."

e) 2 TIM 2:11-13 INDICATES THAT UNFAITHFUL BELIEVERS WILL BE DISOWNED BUT NEVER LOSE THEIR SALVATION

8) [2 TIM 2:11-13]:

(v. 11) "Here is a trustworthy saying: 'If we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

[This passage indicates that eternally secure believers who lead unfaithful lives will be denied before the Father in heaven in the sense of receiving rewards and recognition for service to God during their mortal lives; but never loss of eternal life:

"For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him" = If, by faith, we become sharers in the death of Christ, then we will also share in His eternal life, (cf. Ro 3:21-24; 6:1-16).

a) [Compare Col 3:1-3]:

(v. 1) "If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things that are on earth.

[If then you were raised up with Christ at the point of trusting in Him for eternal life, (Ro 6:1-10)]

(v. 2) Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

(v. 3) For you have died [with Christ, (cp Ro 6:8)] and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

["If you have died with Christ" you were saved unto eternal life which is by faith alone in Christ alone, (Jn 3:16; 5:24; Eph 2:8-9) then you will live with Him forever, (Ro 6:1-10). Furthermore since all believers at the point of faith alone in Christ alone received the baptism of the Holy Spirit then all have become "included in Christ", (Eph 1:13-14), i.e., identified with the death of Jesus Christ and its benefits. Therefore all believers will "also live with Him", (Ro 6:8b)]

8 cont.) [2 Tim 2:11-13 cont.]:

(v. 12) If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us;

["If we endure, we shall also reign with Him" = If we, who are believers, who are secure in our eternal life, (Eph 1:13-14), endure the difficulties and testing and live a faithful, productive life = full of divine good production; then we believers will not only have eternal life with Jesus Christ in heaven because of our one time expression of faith in Him alone; but we will also reign, i.e., corule, with Him and receive unimaginably glorious rewards.

b) [Compare Ro 8:16-17]:

(v. 16) "The Spirit Himself with our spirit that we are God's children" [i.e., born again believers]

(v. 17) Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory."

"Now if we [believers] are children, then we are heirs of God [unto eternal life in heaven] and [not only heirs of eternal life in heaven but if we are faithful, as the rest of this verse states, then we are] co-heirs [coinheritors of rulership] with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings [by taking up our own cross, (Mt 16:24-27)] in order that we may also share in His glory."

So it is those believers who "Take up [their] cross and follow" Christ who will reign with Him. Indeed, those who endure by remaining faithful, by abiding in Christ - by producing fruit will also suffer their own peculiar suffering during their lifetime for the sake of Christ. Those believers who do not abide in Christ will not inherit much in heaven when they get there:

8 cont.) [2 Tim 2:11-13 cont.]:

(v. 12) If we endure, we shall also reign with Him, If we disown Him, He will also disown [disinherit] us," (cp. Mt 10:33).

["If we disown Him, He will also disown (disinherit) us," = If we believers disown, i.e., disavow Christ's ownership of us by acting in thought, word and deed in disobedience and unfaithfulness, (1 Cor 6:19-20), then Christ will disown our ownership, i.e., our inheritance of eternal rewards and co-rulership with Him, (Col 1:10-12; 3:23-24; Eph 5:5; Gal 5:21)]

(v. 13) "If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself."

"if we [believers] are faithless, He [Jesus Christ] will remain faithful [to His promise that] "if we died with Him, we will also live with Him," (v. 11). If we believers are faithless toward our Lord, He will nevertheless remain faithful to His promise of eternal life to all who have trusted in Him no matter what, (Jn 3:16: Eph 1:14), because He cannot disown, i.e., disinherit Himself - His Body - the Body of believers to whom He promised eternal life, (Col 1:24). Our Lord cannot deny eternal life to those who have become part of His body forever - the body of Christ - the body of believers whom He indwells forever, the church. The believer's unfaithfulness cannot cause God to deny His own work of salvation.

9) [Mt 16:27]:

"For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father's glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done."

[Bing, cont.]:

"The consequence of facing someone who is ashamed of or denies Christ is more enigmatic. Does Christ's reciprocal shame and denial of that person at His coming denote a denial of salvation? In correlating Matt 10:32-33 with 16:27, it is clear that the issue is some kind of recompense for one's works... Matthew takes care to state that at His coming, Christ 'will reward (apoodosei) each according to his works... ...Also, the verb 'apoodosei' carries the idea of 'recompense' with no inherent sense of whether it is good or bad, so it could speak of positive reward or negative judgment. In Mark and Luke a negative recompense is suggested..."

Recall that since salvation is a gift and not a reward, then we have something other than salvation in view in this passage:

a) [Eph 2:8-9]:

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -

(v. 9) not by works, so that no one can boast."

[Bing, cont.]:

"That Jesus makes works the basis of the recompense demands that salvation not be the issue..."

[Mt 24:45-51 cont.]:

(v. 45) ''' "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time.

(v. 46) It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.

(v. 47) I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

(v. 48) But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,'

(v. 49) and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.

(v. 50) The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.

(v. 51) He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

CONCLUSION RE: THE PARABLE OF THE FAITHFUL AND UNFAITHFUL SERVANTS - THE CHRISTIAN IS TO LIVE HIS LIFE IN THE LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT HE IS TO STAND IN THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST

[McGee states, (op. cit., p. 133):]:

"This parable reflects the attitude of some folk in that future day. They shall say, 'Well, the Lord delays His coming - so I'll just go on living carelessly.' When Christ returns, He will judge that man.

This is a great principle which is applicable to every age. You and I ought to live our lives in the light of the fact that we are to stand in the presence of Christ. Note that I didn't say in the light of the coming of Christ but in the light of the presence of Christ. Regardless of whether Christ comes an hundred years from today or a thousand years, you and I will stand in His presence.

Whether you are saved or lost, you will stand in His presence. If you are saved, you will have to give Him an account of your life to see if you receive a reward. If you are lost, you will stand there to be judged. Therefore, every person should live his life in light of the fact that he is to stand in the presence of the Lord. This is the great emphasis in the Olivet Discourse [Matthew chapters 24 & 25]:"

So chapter 25 of Matthew is one which again stresses to believers the importance of preparedness:

Preparedness for believers by walking in fellowship with the Lord and faithfully following His will by serving Him and not one's own self-centered or sinful desires...thus earning rewards in heaven.

PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS

[Mt 25:1-13]:

(v. 1) "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

(v. 2) Five of them were foolish and five were wise."

(v. 3) The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.

(v. 4) The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

(v. 5) The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

(v. 6) At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'

(v. 7) Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.

(v. 8) The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'

(v. 9) 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be

enough for both of us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves."

(v. 10) But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

(v. 11) Later, the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'

(v. 12) But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'

(v. 13) Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

Let's review the above passage verse by verse:

(v. 1) "At that time..........................................

[At that time - at the time in the Tribulation period when our Lord's Second Coming is imminent and one should be preparing oneself by living faithfully moment by moment]

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom

[If the bridegroom represents our Lord Jesus Christ, and if the Lord is coming to earth, (not only to judge but), to attend His wedding feast, (v. 10, this is examined in detail in pp. 72-86), then the wedding has already occurred with His bride, the church, (Rev. 19:7-9) who was raptured earlier into heaven, (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18 & 2 Thess. 2:1-5). and then the Lord Jesus Christ is coming to earth with His bride, the church, to celebrate His marriage - to celebrate the wedding feast, (Rev 19:6-9).]

[BKC, p. 80]:

"...10 virgins ...are awaiting the return of the bridegroom. In wedding customs in Jesus' day, the bridegroom would return from the house of the bride [at nighttime] in a procession leading to his own home where a wedding banquet would be enjoyed. [Everyone in the wedding procession was expected to carry his own lamp and according to custom one might very well be considered an uninvited guest without one that was lighted and functioning in order to be part of the procession]

[B.K.C., p. 80, cont.]:

"In Jesus' parable, He as King will return from heaven with His bride, the church, in order to enter into the millennium.

The [believing] Jews.........................

[as well as believing Gentiles]

......................... in the Tribulation will be some of the invited guests privileged to share in the feast.

But preparation [i.e., faithfulness especially including a mental attitude of constant readiness for His Coming] is necessary....."

Note that the word translated "virgins" ("parthenos") has no special significance to the point of our Lord's parable, nor does the number 10 other than that there were ten invitees to the wedding feast some of whom were foolish and some of whom were wise:

[Mt 25:1-13 cont]:

(v. 1) "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

(v. 2) "Five of them were foolish and five were wise."

(v. 3) "The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any [extra] oil............

[The foolish virgins did not take EXTRA oil = compare v. 8 which indicates that their lamps were in fact burning for a time but went out, having run out of oil. So the foolish virgins had an original supply of oil in their lamps but they brought no extra supply:

(v. 8) "The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' "

and compare v. 4 which states that the wise maidens did not do like the foolish ones. The wise maidens did take extra oil in jars in addition to what they had in their lamps:

(v. 4) "The wise, however, took [extra] oil in jars along with their lamps."]

[Mt 25:1-13]:

(v. 3 cont.) "The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any [extra] oil with them."

(v. 4) "The wise, however, took [extra] oil in jars along with their lamps."

(v. 5) "The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep."

(v. 6) "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'

(v. 7) "Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.

(v. 8) "The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' "

[The parable indicates here that the foolish virgins had some oil in their lamps and that the oil was running out. Therefore, those who interpret the oil as being the Holy Spirit in this parable thus indicating that the five foolish virgins are not saved do not have a good argument. Scripture teaches that upon believing in Christ as Savior and thereby receiving the permanent indwelling of God the Holy Spirit one cannot 'run out' of the Holy Spirit and go out to 'buy some more'. Cp Gal 3:2; Eph 1:13-14; 2 Cor 5:4-6.]

[Carson, (op. cit., p. 513):

"The 'wise' (v. 2) are called such because they are prepared (v. 4) for the bridegroom's delayed coming. Both wise and foolish wait and doze (v. 5); no praise or blame attaches to either group for this. There is no point in seeing hidden meanings in the oil or sleep. The sole distinction between the two groups is this: the wise bring not only oil in their lamps but an extra supply in separate jars, while the foolish bring no....extra oil....................

The wise are prepared for delay; the foolish expect to meet the groom, but are........unprepared if he is delayed. And the bridegroom is a long time coming."] [Mt 25:1-13 cont.]:

(v. 8 cont) "The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.' "

(v. 9) " 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both of us and you.

[This implies that the oil could have been shared but was not. Since neither salvation nor individual preparation, i.e., faithfulness and divine good works, can be shared, then the oil merely represents oil in this parable.] (v. 9 cont.) " 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both of us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' "

(v. 10) "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut."

(v. 11) "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!' "

(v. 12) "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'

[The question of whether or not the 5 foolish virgins came back with oil is to miss the point of the parable. There is some question as to whether one could buy oil at such an hour in the night. In any case,- going into minute details in our Lord's parable would be to miss the simple point of this parable: the value of preparedness for THE MOMENT THAT OUR LORD COMES. And not to be still having to be prepared 10 minutes or even a second later.

"I don't know you" =

The bridegroom truly, ("I tell you the truth", v. 12), did not recognize the five foolish virgins after he went inside the banquet. The reason for this is not specifically stated, but the context indicates that it was primarily because the five foolish virgins were not there to greet the bridegroom at his arrival with lamps lit and therefore recognizable as part of the wedding party. Furthermore, since salvation is not in view in this passage, especially considering the fact that eternal life is not dependent upon an individual's preparation, i.e., faithfulness, then we must consider what else "I don't know you" can mean. Just as a human father can say to his son who has behaved so despicably toward him, 'I don't know you', in the sense that his current despicable behavior is unacceptable and the son is thusly estranged from his father, i.e., out of fellowship with him - never out of sonship but certainly out of fellowship, so our Lord can say to an unprepared, i.e., unfaithful believer, i.e., child of God, "I don't know you" and thus bar entrance into the wedding banquet and fellowship with Him in the Millennial kingdom.

SO PREPARE NOW AND

STAY PREPARED!!

None of the virgins, foolish or wise, would have been invited to the banquet unless they were believers in the first place. The wedding banquet could only be for believers because it is to be held after the judgment of the nations when the unbelievers will be killed and cast into the Lake of Fire, (Mt 25:31-36). There will not be any unbelievers alive at the time of the banquet.]

[Mt 25:1-13 cont.]:

(v. 13) "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

[Our Lord leaves word for all Tribulation saints: Stay in fellowship with God and stay in His will - "keep watch". By indirect application and by examination of other passages one may conclude that the same command goes to the believer in our age and in all ages]

THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

&

REWARDS IN HEAVEN

[Mt 25:14-30]:

(v. 14) "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.

(v. 15) To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. (v. 16) The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.

(v. 17) So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.

(v. 18) But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

(v. 19) After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.

(v. 20) The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

(v. 21) His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

(v. 22) The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

(v. 23) His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

(v. 24) Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. (v. 25) So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

(v. 26) His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant. So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed.?

(v. 27) Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

(v. 28) Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents.

(v. 29) For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.

Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

(v. 30) And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "

Let's examine this parable verse by verse.

[Mt 25:14]:

"Again, it......................

["it"- the kingdom of heaven, (v. 1)]

"Again, it [the manifestation of the coming kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them."

Note that the "man going on a journey", (the master), in the parable in Mt 25, was apparently going on an extended journey because the parable indicates that he "entrusted [all] his property to them".

[So one aspect of God's sovereign kingdom of heaven occurs when God entrusts His authority over the earth to a number of His servants, like the church during the present age, or other groups of believers of other periods]

[Mt 25:15]:

"To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey."

"Each according to his ability" - ability to do what? Spiritually speaking, the message of this parable has to do with deeds that are of divine provenance, (as opposed to human good works). The doctrine of divine good works for which the believer is rewarded closely ties in to the doctrine of spiritual gifts which are God's way of enabling each believer with capacities, abilities and opportunities for work for the kingdom of heaven. Thus, inherent in verse 15, ("each according to his ability"), is the fact that by God's grace, (unmerited favor), a believer is endowed with specific and varying spiritual gifts, varying abilities AND VARYING OPPORTUNITIES to carry out the use of those spiritual gifts.

The doctrine of divine good works is indicated in the following verse:

[Eph 2:10]:

"For we [believers, vv. 2:8-9] are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, WHICH GOD PREPARED IN ADVANCE FOR US TO DO." And the doctrine of spiritual gifts is taught in Scripture in numerous places:

[Ro 12:3-8]:

(v. 3b) "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (v. 4) "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,"

(v. 5) "so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

(v. 6a) "WE HAVE DIFFERENT GIFTS, ACCORDING TO THE GRACE GIVEN US..."

EACH AND EVERY BELIEVER IS PROVIDED WITH GIFTS FROM GOD WHICH ARE GIVEN BY GRACE - NOT BY THE MERIT OR WORTHINESS OF ANY INDIVIDUAL!

Dr. J Vernon McGee states, ('Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee', Vol IV, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, p. 135):

"Notice that the 'talents' were sums of money. They do not represent talents in the sense of the natural endowments of a person such as a musical talent. The application to us is that whatever God has given us, we are to use for Him."

John MacArthur states, ('The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 24-28, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago', 1989, p. 100):

"Jesus mentions only three levels of responsibility [5,2 & 1 talent], but those are suggestive of the extremely wide range of individual abilities among people, who vary greatly in natural talent, intellect, and other capabilities. They also vary greatly in opportunity and privilege. Some church members have heard the gospel and studied Scripture since early childhood, whereas others know only the rudiments of the faith and have had little opportunity to learn more. Those who are true believers are given spiritual gifts that vary widely from person to person (See Rom 12:4-8; 1 Cor 12:4-11). Some Christians are privileged to live and work closely with others of like faith and are continually encouraged and corrected by fellow believers. Other Christians, however, are the only believers in their families or even in their community or town. God knows intimately the abilities, gifts, opportunities, and circumstances of every person, and He graciously assigns responsibilities accordingly ...................

The issue of the parable pertains to what each slave does with the fairly assessed responsibility he has been given. The noblest motive in the heart of a faithful servant would be to accomplish as much as possible for the sake of his master during his master's absence. That was also the master's desire: not equal return from each of his slaves but relatively equal effort according to ability..............................

In the same way, Christians with different capabilities and opportunities may produce differing results while working with equal faithfulness and devotion. The Lord therefore assures His servants that 'each will receive his own reward according to his own labor' (1 Cor 3:8).

1 Cor 3:8, the passage that MacArthur cites emphasizes the grace of God working in our efforts such that compared to God we are really valued at nothing:

[1 Cor 3:5-10]:

(v. 5) "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you [Corinthians] came to believe - AS THE LORD HAS ASSIGNED TO EACH HIS TASK. (v. 6) I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, BUT GOD MADE IT GROW.

(v. 7) SO NEITHER HE WHO PLANTS NOR HE WHO WATERS IS ANYTHING, BUT ONLY GOD, WHO MAKES THINGS GROW.

(v. 8) The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, AND EACH WILL BE REWARDED ACCORDING TO HIS OWN LABOR.

(v. 9) For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

(v. 10) By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.

But each one should be careful how he builds."

The word "talent" is generally defined as a measure of weight. In the context of this passage it refers to approximately 114+ lbs of whatever metal coinage was given - gold, silver, copper, (about 3000 shekels) - a large sum of money! Matthew, a tax collector who would be familiar with all types of coinage, wrote the word "argyrion" which means "silver money" in verse 18 of this passage referring to the money the owner entrusted to his servants. Such large sums of money and the owner's having entrusted all of his possessions with the servants suggests that the servants are to take charge of the owner's entire operation with the authority and the funds entrusted to them - a huge and weighty responsibility. This is much like the stewardship responsibility God gives each group of believers in each age - which no matter what it is to us is huge and weighty to God.

[Mt 25:14-30, cont.]:

[Mt 25:16-17]:

(v. 16) "The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more."

(v. 17) "So also the one with two talents gained two more."

The Greek word "eirgasuto" which the NIV renders "put his money to work" is perhaps better rendered "traded with them". For in the context of this passage it is suggested that a continual diligence in trading was made. The first two servants were assiduously doing business such that they both doubled their money for the owner, their master.

Carson states, ('The Gospel According to John, Inter-Varsity Press, 1991, p. 516):

"..'put his money to work' does not mean the servant invested the money in some lending agency. Rather he set up some business and worked with the capital to make it grow."

[Mt 25:18-19]:

(v. 18) "But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

(v. 19) After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them."

Some emphasis by many is being placed on the length of time which the master was gone as it is with our Lord Who has not returned yet for nearly 2000 years. The 7 year Tribulation period which is primarily being focused on, (Mt 24:3, 25:1, 14), would not be considered a long time. Rather than to examine this point in 'tunnel vision' detail, the parable is merely emphasizing the long term attitude of faithfulness required of the master's three servants. Recall that parables are stories to emphasize a point or two and are not to be dissected in every detail other than those particular points: the prerogative to the parable Author. And recall in verses 14-15 the master entrusted all of his possessions and large sums of money to his servants indicating the journey would be a long term one. In those days travel times were lengthy. If anything might be discerned from the master's long absence it would simply be that all believers are to persevere in their walk with the Lord as if He would not return soon. For tribulation saints, soon will not be soon enough in spite of the short duration of that period.

[Mt 25:14-30 cont.]:

[Mt 25:20-23]:

(v. 20) "The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

(v. 21) His master replied, 'Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

(v. 22) The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'You entrusted me with two talents; see I have gained two more.'

(v. 23) His master replied, 'Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

In obedient response to the master's request for an accounting, (v. 19), the first two servants told of the results of their efforts. There is no self-pride being emphasized here - just simple obedience in giving the requested account. The master's response was a "Well done" and much more than that, for he called each one of them a "good and faithful servant.". An emphasis is placed on the faithfulness of the two servants to their responsibilities and not on the gross amount of their productivity. There was absolutely no distinction made between the first servant who out produced the second by 2? times! The verses which commend the two servants' faithfulness are purposely identical, (cp vv. 21 & 23). God in His sovereignty has decreed different gifts, divine good production capacities and responsibilities for His kingdom to different individuals. He rewards according to the individual's faithful obedience to His assigned tasks:

[Lk 12:48b]:

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Then the master in the parable in Mt 25 gives the faithful servants responsibility over "many things". Finally, notice that the master invites both faithful servants to "Come and share your master's happiness.". The faithful servants, (faithful believers), are enjoined to share in the joy of the Lord - to celebrate and partake of God's indescribable divine happiness!! .

The letter to the Colossian believers, (Col 1:2), speaks of the consequences of faithful and unfaithful Christian service:

[Col 3:23-25]:

(v. 23) "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men;

(v. 24) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ Whom you serve."

[Sad to say, this will not be so for the unfaithful believer who will be weeping and gnashing his teeth over severe disappointment at his eternal loss of rewards when he gets to heaven. This weeping and gnashing to last only for a season, then the Lord will wipe away every tear, (Isa 25:8; Rev 7:17; 21:4)]:

(v. 24) For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality."

MacArthur states, (op. cit., p. 104):

"Of the many things heaven will be, it will not be boring. Our heavenly perfection, for example, will not be a matter simply of never making a mistake. Nor will it be always making a hole in one or a home run, as it were. Rather it will be a time of ever-expanding and increasingly joyous service, and the saints who then will serve the most and rejoice the most will be those who have served the Lord most steadfastly while on earth. Every soul in heaven will equally possess eternal life and will be equally righteous, equally Christlike, and equally glorious. Everyone will be equally perfect, because perfection has no degrees. THE DIFFERENCE WILL BE IN OPPORTUNITIES AND LEVELS OF SERVICE. [Emphasis mine] Just as the angels serve God in ranks, so will redeemed men and women, and the degree of their heavenly service will have been determined by the devotedness of their earthly service."

[MacArthur, cont.]:

"Heaven will not involve differing qualities of service, because everything heavenly is perfect. Everything done for the Lord will be perfectly right and perfectly satisfying. There will be no distinctions of superiority or inferiority, and there will be no envy, jealousy, or any other remnant of sinful human nature. Whatever one's rank or responsibility or opportunity, those will be God's perfect will for that individual and therefore will be perfectly enjoyed. In a way that is beyond our present comprehension, believers will...

[after a season of reckoning when there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, cp Mt 22]

...believers will be both equal and unequal in the ....eternal state." [Comments in brackets mine] The parallel parable in Luke chapter 19 provides additional support for this:

[Lk 19:12-19]:

(v. 12) '''He said therefore, "A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.

(v. 13) And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business with this until I come back.'

(v. 14) But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.'

(v. 15) And it came about that when he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him in order that he might know what business they had done. (v. 16) And the first appeared, saying, 'Master, your mina has made ten minas more.'

(v. 17) And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.'

(v. 18) And the second came, saying, 'Your mina, master, has made five minas.'

(v. 19) And he said to him also, 'And you are to be over five cities. ' "

[The second servant did not receive a "well done" - his work being productive but not up to expectation as was the first servant. Notice that the faithful servants were put in charge of 10 & 5 cities in the kingdom. There is a good possibility that faithful believers will indeed be placed in authority over towns, cities and countries. For 2 Timothy 2:12 and Rev 20:4-6 indicate that co-ruling with Christ is what is in store for the faithful believer.

[Mt 25:14-30 cont.]:

[Mt 25:24-26]:

(v. 24) "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed." (v. 25) "So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' "

(v. 26) "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?"

Verses 20-22 of the parallel parable in Luke chapter 19 provides additional insight into this:

[Lk 19:20-22]:

(v. 20) "And another came, saying, 'Master, behold your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief;

(v. 21) for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.'

(v. 22) He said to him, 'By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow?

To harvest where you have not sown and gather where you have not scattered seed is not necessarily evil at all. The apostle Paul indicates that this is not only acceptable but in essence decreed by our sovereign God when one is doing the Lord's work:

[1 Cor 3:5-8]:

"What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - AS THE LORD HAS ASSIGNED TO EACH HIS TASK.

I PLANTED THE SEED, APOLLOS WATERED IT, BUT GOD MADE IT GROW.

SO NEITHER HE WHO PLANTS NOR HE WHO WATERS IS ANYTHING, BUT ONLY GOD, WHO MAKES THINGS GROW.

The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor."

The master, as a matter of fact, is entitled as owner to the fruits of the labors of others under his authority to the extent of their mutual agreement in their business arrangement. (By the way, this is called the divine doctrine of capitalism, [the private ownership and receipt of the rewards of one's own venture and labor respectively], which Scripture teaches as the norm for man. Scripture is opposed to the human doctrine of socialism which God's Word indicates as God's judgment on man or a special circumstance and not the proper order of things, [Isa 65:21-23]). So the servant is wrongfully accusing his master of being a hard and unjust man. His perception of his master is warped out of his own (sinful) attitude about himself in relationship to his subservience to his master. In a word, he is rebellious and his behavior reflects this, especially in his unjust smearing of the Master's character and the way he justified doing absolutely nothing with the money. The master calls him wicked and lazy:

[Mt 25:26]:

"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

The master is not agreeing with the servant's charge that he unjustly harvested where he had not sown by repeating what the servant said. The context indicates an "if" you thought that I was a hard and unjust man....."then" why didn't you at least deposit the money in the bank?

[Mt 25:27]:

"Well then, you should have [at least] put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest."

[Lk 19:23]:

" 'Then why did you not put the money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?'"

MacArthur states, (op. cit., p. 106-107):

"The ancient Roman Empire had a banking system that was in many respects like those of modern times. The maximum loan rate was 12 percent simple interest, and the interest earned on deposits was probably about half that rate. The slave with the one talent therefore could have reaped at least a six percent return by making virtually no effort at all. The fact that he did not attempt even to earn simple interest on the money confirmed his total irresponsibility and his indifference to the master.....The truth of the matter was that the slave had no real concern for his master one way or the other, and his excuse seems to have been more spur of the moment than planned. He did not expect the master's return and did not expect to be held accountable, and when he was caught by surprise he simply thought out an outrageous charge [and a personal attack] that made no sense."

This is what many unbelievers and carnal Christians do when confronted with the truth of God's Word.

[Mt 25:28-29]:

(v. 28) " 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.

(v. 29) For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

[Lk 19:24-27]:

(v. 24) "And he said to the bystanders, 'Take the mina away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.'

(v. 25) And they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas already.'

(v. 25) 'I tell you, that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.' "

Those believers who demonstrate their faithfulness will receive more and the reverse is also true:

[Lk 16:10]:

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest will also be dishonest with much."

[Mt 25:29-30]:

(v. 29) "For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

(v. 30) " 'And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "

In these particular parables the last servant is not faithful in his works and he is defined as worthless in terms of the value of his thoughts, words and deeds to the kingdom of God. Nothing, however, is mentioned relative to whether or not his eternal destiny is to be in the Lake of Fire as in the parable of the wicked servant at the end of Matthew 24. The servant who wasted his opportunity with the one talent was to be thrown "outside...into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Most will jump to the conclusion that this must mean the Lake of Fire. For other passages which are clearly in contemplation of the Lake of Fire are accompanied with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

BUT LET'S CONSIDER TWO IMPORTANT DOCTRINAL STATEMENTS:

(1) WITHOUT GOD'S GRACE OPERATING IN THEIR LIVES BELIEVERS WOULD STOP SERVING HIM.

Thus their lives would end up being relatively useless so far as divine good production is concerned.

(2) UNBELIEVERS CANNOT SERVE GOD FOR REWARDS.

Unbelievers from any age are not given the responsibility to perform service for the Lord God. Here in this parable our Lord speaks of the three men with respect to the service and responsibility they are to uphold for Him. An unbeliever can perform no service for the Lord which will please Him until he becomes saved through faith. Let's look at a passage in Romans that verifies this:

[Ro 8:6-8]:

(v. 6) "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;

(v. 7) the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, NOR CAN IT DO SO.

(v. 8) THOSE CONTROLLED BY THE SINFUL NATURE CANNOT PLEASE GOD."

[All unbelievers and some believers at times are controlled by the sin nature and therefore cannot please, i.e., serve God. Note that the above passage in Romans says:

"THOSE CONTROLLED BY THE SINFUL NATURE CANNOT PLEASE GOD." So the parable of the talents cannot apply to unbelievers at all. For God does not give unbelievers an opportunity to serve Him for the purpose of rewards and enhancement in the kingdom of God. One cannot and will not serve God for rewards in heaven without the illumination and guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, (i.e., until one is saved). Although God USES the lives of all men to His glory, (even the lives of the worst unbelievers serve Him in spite of what they do with their lives, (cp Ro 9:17-24), He only GIVES unbelievers an opportunity relative to the kingdom of heaven to believe in what He has testified to about His Son, (I Jn 5:9-13). Not until they become children of God by faith in His Son, (Jn 1:12), will they then be GIVEN an opportunity to personally serve Him for enhancement in the kingdom of God. Relative to the doctrine of spiritual gifts: only believers are endowed with spiritual gifts....and this at the point of salvation, (Eph 1:3), when God the Holy Spirit permanently indwells a believer, (Eph 1:13-14). Without any spiritual gift at all it is impossible for an unbeliever to serve God. Once that unbeliever trusts alone in Christ alone as Savior, he immediately receives his spiritual gift(s). Now it is up to him as a newborn child of God, (Jn 1:12) - AND SOVEREIGNLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD - to diligently study and obey God's Word in order to learn about and utilize his gift(s) for eternal rewards in heaven. An unbeliever, by his refusal to trust alone in Christ alone as his Savior and thereby submit to being totally transformed into a different and righteous being, has refused the opportunity to co-reign with Christ in the millennium and to share in the joys in the kingdom. Unbelievers have at least one common denominator - they think they have at least one righteous deed within themselves to offer God for receiving or keeping their salvation. Until a man realizes that all he can do is come to the cross of Jesus Christ totally bankrupt - totally naked - with nothing to offer before and after salvation in order to have eternal life in heaven he denies God the opportunity to transform him into a righteous being fit to enter the kingdom of God. Believers can similarly block God the Holy Spirit's operation in their lives relative to rewards in heaven by offering their own works to please God instead of allowing God to direct them in the life that He has for them to lead. So these believers while they are busy doing their own works to please God do not grow as Christians and do not avail themselves of opportunities for Christian service and rewards in heaven. So, relative to this parable, to give an unbeliever tasks to perform in order that he could qualify to co-reign with Christ and enjoy the kingdom would be fruitless. An unbeliever cannot please God by performing assigned tasks. Therefore this parable must be referring to three believers.

Let us examine several passages that contain the terms "weeping and gnashing of teeth" and "outer darkness" in order to verify if unfaithful believers actually do enter into the kingdom AND THEN, WHILE REMAINING INSIDE THE KINGDOM, are cast into outer darkness and then weep and gnash their teeth for a season:

CLICK HERE to move to Mt 22.

[Mt 25:14-30 cont.]:

[Homer A. Kent in "The Gospel according to Matthew," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, eds. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 952]:

"Herein is the crux of the interpretation [of Mt 25:14-30]. If this reckoning [that the third servant, who received the one talent, is condemned to hell] is the judgment of the believer's works, then we apparently have a true believer suffering the loss of his soul because of the barrenness of his works. But that interpretation would contradict Jn 5:24:

[Jn 5:24]:

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

Or, if the unprofitable servant represents a mere professing Christian, whose real nature is thus unmasked, then it appears that the judgment of believers' works and the damnation of sinners occur together, although Rev 20 separates these judgments by 1000 years."

THE RAPTURE vs THE SECOND COMING

Before moving on to the section which describes our Lord's judgment of the nations let us review systematically the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming. John Walvoord summarizes the differences between the translation (the rapture) and the Second Coming on pages 101-103 of "The Rapture Question":

"The preceding discussion has offered many inherent contrasts between the translation of the church and the second coming of Christ to establish the Millennial kingdom. These contrasts are such as to make any harmony of these two events an impossibility. Those who attempt it must resort to wholesale spiritualization of details that clash and avoidance of striking differences in general character...

RAPTURE SECOND COMING
At the time of the translation, the saints will meet the Lord in the air [1 Thes 4:13-18. Mount of Olives unchanged] At the time of the second coming, Christ will return to the Mount of Olives which on that occasion will undergo a great transformation, a valley being formed to the east of Jerusalem where the Mount of Olives was formerly located (Zech 14:4-5).
At the coming of Christ for the church, the living saints are translated..

[Believers are translated & are given immortal bodies (1 Cor 15:35-54; 1 Thes 3:13-18)]

At the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom, there is no translation whatever
At the translation of the church, Christ returns with the saints to heaven.

[Believers go from earth to heaven (Jn14:2-3; 1 Thes 4:13-18). Our Lord does not go to the surface of the earth]
At the Second Coming , Christ remains on the earth and reigns as King.

[Believers go from heaven to earth (Rev 19:11-21). Christ will meet tribulation saints and unbelievers on the surface of the earth (Mt 25:31-46; Rev 19:11-21; Zech 14:1-15). No mention of this translation & the immortal bodies happening in all of the passages that are clearly the Second Coming]

At the time of the translation , the earth is not judged and sin continues.

[Jn14:2-3; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Cor15:35-57) - only church age believers will be judged relative to their divine good work production for rewards (2 Cor5:10, 2 Cor11-15) Concerns only the saved]

At the time of the second coming, sin is judged and righteousness fills the earth.

[All mankind living at the time is judged
Judgment of the saved and the lost (Mt 25:31-46)
The translation is before the day of wrath from which the church is promised deliverance. (1 Thess 5:9; Rev 2:10) The Second Coming follows the great tribulation and outpoured judgment and brings them to climax and culmination in the establishment of the Millennial kingdom.
The translation is described as an imminent event.
[The Rapture is an imminent event which will occur quickly (1 Cor15:51-57; 1 Thes 4:13-18). No signs required first before the rapture occurs.]
The second coming will follow definite prophesied signs.

[Series of events that will take many hours
(Rev 19:11-21. Many signs as yet to be fulfilled (2 Thes 2:3-12; Mt 24:3-31; Rev 4:1-19:10)]
The translation of the church is revealed only in the New Testament. The Second Coming of Christ is the subject of prophecy in both Testaments.
The translation concerns only the saved of this age. The second coming of Christ deals with saved and unsaved.
At the translation, only those in Christ are affected. Satan's activity not changed At the second coming, not only men are affected but Satan is bound.

[Satan bound for 1000 years (Rev 20:1-3)]

While it is evident that there are some similarities in the two events, these do not prove that they are the same. There are similarities also between the first and the second coming of Christ, but these have been separated by almost two thousand years. These similarities confused the Old Testament prophets but are easily deciphered by us today. Undoubtedly after the church is translated, tribulation saints will be able to see the distinction of the coming for translation and the coming to establish the kingdom in a similar clarity.

So the Rapture is indeed a coming of our Lord but not the Second Coming. Jesus comes for the church but stops just above the earth in an area called heaven. (Scripture speaks of three heavens - this apparently being the first heaven). This is where the believers of the church age are caught up from the earth to meet Him in the air. Our Lord does not literally touch down onto the earth Himself as He will do later on in His Second Coming to fight the armies of unbelievers of the world and then begin His rule on the earth. This is what happens in the Second Coming.

The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Abraham as a man, as the angel of the Lord and as the eternal Priest Melchizedek, ("without beginning of days or end of life", Heb 7:3). Our Lord was the One Who wrestled with Jacob in the wilderness. He appeared as the burning bush to Moses. He led the nation Israel as a cloud by day and fire by night:

[1 Cor 10:1-4]:

(v. 1) "For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.

(v. 2) They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

(v. 3) They all ate the same spiritual food

(v. 4) and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual Rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ."

[Ex 13:21]:

"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night."

The Jehovah God Who "accompanied them", (1 Cor 10:1-4), was the preincarnate Lord Jesus Christ. He was the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. He also appeared on the earth a number of times in His resurrection body to the disciples over a period of 40 days, etc. etc. All of these appearances do not meet the parameters which describe our Lord's First or Second Coming in scripture. At the time of our Lord's First Coming the bible says He was to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem. Jesus Christ's First Coming is a first coming with respect to His redemption and reconciliation and salvation of mankind. His Second Coming is His second coming to earth as a man to complete that process and rule for 1000 years and on into eternity forever with the nation Israel as the ruling nation of priests and as the church as His co-ruling body.

One would be correct if one stated that our Lord's appearance on the face of the earth at His Second Coming is also His coming to earth for the 'Nth' time, 'N' being a number which equals all of His appearances to the earth up 'til then. Jesus Christ has been on the earth in one form or another many times, but so far only once in His role as Redeemer. He has yet to complete that role - which will begin at His Second Coming.

JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS

[Mt 25:31-46]:

We have just come through three parables which illustrate the various spiritual conditions of individuals living in the Tribulation period. These parables point toward our Lord's return when He will occupy His earthly throne - His Second Coming. At this time He will judge the earth's inhabitants of that period relative to whether or not they will enter into the Millennial kingdom. And then finally, He will rule for 1000 years. This leads directly into the prophecy of our Lord's judgment of all of mankind living at that time only. This will be a judgment which occurs on the surface of the earth. Our Lord will literally touch down on the earth, on the Mt of Olives.

This section goes beyond a direct answer to the disciples' three questions but is a necessary part of the answer since it completes the picture of the end of the age which the disciples were focusing on.

MacArthur states, (op. cit., p. 112):

"The judgment of the sheep and goats is not mentioned in any of the other gospels, no doubt because they do not focus on Christ's Kingship, as does Matthew. For that same reason Matthew places much greater emphasis on all aspects of the Lord's second coming than do the other gospels, because it is at His return that He will manifest Himself as King of kings and Lord of lords in consummate regal glory and power. (Rev. 19:11-16)."

And here is the passage in Revelation referred to above which so aptly pictures the beginning moments of our Lord's Second Coming:

[Rev. 19:11-16]:

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven [believers of all ages - you and I] were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.

'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' [Ps. 2:9] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written:

KING OF KINGS
&
LORD OF LORDS

I
I
I
I
THE SECOND COMING
&
THE JUDGMENT OF NATIONS

[Mt 25:31-33 (NAS)]:

(v. 31) "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

(v. 32) All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

(v. 33) and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left."

[We are skipping over verses 33-46 in order to keep the context of verses 31-33 in view. Verses 33-46 will be commented on shortly]

(v. 41) Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

(v. 46) Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

This is not the Great White Throne Judgment - the final judgment of God -which is detailed in Rev. 20:11-15 when all the unsaved of ages past will be resurrected and judged. This passage in Matthew chapter 25 is an earlier judgment, a judgment of all the nations, individual by individual, on the earth, including Israel, in order to determine who will physically live on into the 1000 year millennium and who will not. The sheep who are 'born again' and who are on the Lord's right will physically live on into the millennium. The goats who are unsaved and who are on the Lord's left will be be sent to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire.

Let's continue on in Revelation chapters 19 & 20 to verify that this is not the Great White Throne Judgment but a separate and earlier judgment in history. Recall that author John is providing here at this point in The Book of the Revelation a chronological account of future events from Rev 19:11-20:15):

[Rev. 19:11-21]:

(v. 11) "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice He judges and makes war.

(v. 12) His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself.

(v. 13) He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.

(v. 14) The armies of heaven [believers of all ages - you and I] were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.

(v. 15) Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.

'He will rule them with an iron scepter.' [Ps. 2:9] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

(v. 16) On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written:

KING OF KINGS

AND

LORD OF LORDS.

[Rev 19:17-21]:

(v. 17) "And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, 'Come, gather together for the great supper of God,

(v. 18) so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.'

(v. 19) Then I saw the beast [the Antichrist, Dan 7; Rev 13] and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the Rider on the horse and His army.

[AND NOW AT THIS TIME , THE LORD JUDGES THE NATIONS AS ALSO DESCRIBED IN MT 25:31-46]:

[Rev 19:20-21]:

"But the beast was captured and with him the false prophet, who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. The two of them were [at this time] thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur.

(v. 21) The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh."

[AND NOW AT THIS POINT THERE IS STILL MORE TO COME BEFORE THE FINAL AND GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT]:

[Rev 20:1-15]:

(v. 1) "And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.

(v. 2) He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan and bound him for a thousand years.

(v. 3) He threw him into the abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time."

[NOTICE THAT SATAN HAS NOT YET BEEN FINALLY JUDGED AND SENT TO THE LAKE OF FIRE FOREVER. THERE IS STILL AT LEAST 1000 YEARS OF HISTORY LEFT!!]

(v. 4) "I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus [martyred Tribulation saints] and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life

[they received their perfect resurrection bodies, 1 Cor 15. This is the first resurrection which is of believers only]

(v. 4 cont) "They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

(v. 5) (The rest of the dead did not come to life [receive physical bodies] until the thousand years were ended.

[John is saying in a parenthetical statement that the second resurrection is when the rest of the dead, all unbelievers, come to life, i.e. receive physical bodies again. And this will be after the 1000 year Millennial kingdom. They will receive their old sin contaminated, tormented bodies which they refused to have changed through trusting in Christ as Savior. Cp. Ro 3:21-24.]

[Rev 20:4-5 cont.]:

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus [martyred Tribulation saints] and because of the word of God.

They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended).

This is the first resurrection."

["This" = Refers to verse 4: which discusses the resurrection of believers]

["This is the first resurrection" = This is the first resurrection, i.e. when born again believers of all ages including those that died in the Tribulation period, from Adam & Eve throughout history, receive their new immortal resurrection bodies at the beginning of the millennium. Note that church age believers will have already received their immortal bodies at the Rapture before the beginning of the Tribulation., (1 Cor 15:51-53). Thus the First Resurrection will occur several times and is more a type of Resurrection than a chronological one. Consider our Lord Who was the Firstfruits of the First Resurrection which occurred nearly 2,000 years ago from today]

(v. 6) "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.

[They have accepted Christ as Savior and received His blessings and holiness]

(v. 6 cont) The second death [eternal separation from God] has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

(v. 7) When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison

(v. 8) and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth - Gog and Magog

[What is now Russia and her ruler, ("Gog and Magog"), who were instrumental in the anti-Semitism of all nations in the past resulting in her attack on Israel during the Tribulation, (Ez 37-39).... What is now Russia will once again in history in the future, as stated here in Rev 20:8, lead the nations of the earth in their attack on Israel and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is as Russia did 1000 years earlier in the Tribulation period.]

[Rev 20:8-12]:

and [Satan] will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth - Gog and Magog - to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.

(v. 9) "They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city He loves [Jerusalem] But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

[And now, history as we know it will be ended]:

(v. 10) "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are also.............................

[The original Greek text indicates that the Antichrist and the prophet continue to exist in the Lake of Fire even after being in it for 1000 years! This confirms that no one will be annihilated in the Lake of Fire, but rather suffer eternal torment]

(v. 10 cont) They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

[This part of verse 10 also confirms that one suffers forever in the Lake of Fire and is not annihilated]

[BKC, op. cit., p. 982]:

"Most significant as a support of the doctrine of eternal punishment is the concluding statement, "They will be tormented day and night forever and ever." The word "they" includes the devil, the beast, and the false prophet. The lake of burning sulfur is not annihilation, for the beast and false prophet are still there a thousand years after they experienced their final judgment (Rev. 19:20)."]

[AND FINALLY AFTER MORE THAN 1000 YEARS, LONG AFTER OUR LORD'S JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS IN MT 25, COMES THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT]

(v. 11) "Then I saw a great white throne and Him Who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them.

[Notice that the Great White Throne Judgment is held in heaven when the "Earth and sky fled from His presence, and there was no place for them." Recall that the Judgment of Nations in Mt 25 is held on the earth]

(v. 12) "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

[BKC, op. cit., p. 982]:

"The purpose of establishing the great white throne is to judge the dead.

[Notice that the Lord judges the living at the end of the Tribulation in Mt 25]

John wrote that "the dead great and small," stood "before the throne." From other Scriptures it seems that all the righteous dead have been raised, including the Old Testament saints, the dead of the Great Tribulation, and the church saints, the body of Christ..............................

[no mention in Scripture, however, of the millennium saints]

..................Thus it may be assumed that verses 11-15 refer to the judgment of the wicked dead, who according to verse 5 would not be resurrected until after the thousand years and will have no part in what is called 'the first resurrection.' "]

[Rev 20:13]:

[The Judgment of the Nations is different from the Great White Throne Judgment]:

"The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades..........

[Hades is a literal place where unsaved were held in the 'torments' compartment until the time of this final judgment. Hades also had a compartment called 'paradise' or 'Abraham's Bosom' which held the saved until our Lord was resurrected and came to take them to heaven, (Lk 16:19:31). So the 'Paradise' compartment of Hades was empty at this time of the Great White Throne Judgment.

But not empty was the torments compartment of Hades]:

[Rev 20:13-15 ]:

(v. 13) "and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done."

(v. 14) "Then death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death.

[Recall that in Rev 20:6 it indicates that the "second death" had no power over those who were resurrected before the millennium, (Rev 20:4-6 - pp. 80-81), so believers are not part of the Great White Throne Judgment since those being judged now will all partake of the second death, the Lake of Fire]

(v. 15) "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire."

[The "book of Life" or the 'Lamb's Book of Life', (Rev. 4:27), is a book in which all individuals have their names written in at physical conception even before birth. Those individuals then have an opportunity to trust alone in God's plan of redemption -

His Son the Messiah Jesus Christ - from the time in their lives when God decides to hold them accountable for deciding until the moment of their physical death. At the moment of an individual's death if that person never accepted Christ as Savior at any time in their decision-making life then their name is "blotted out of the book of life", (Ps 69:27-28). The prophet Daniel wrote of the deliverance from judgment of those Jews living in the time of the Tribulation who have trusted in the Messiah Jesus Christ:

[Dan 12:1]:

"At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. [The Tribulation] But at that time your [Daniel's] people [the Jews] everyone [of the Jews - other Scripture refers to Gentiles also] whose name is found written in the book [everyone of the Jews who has trusted in Christ as Savior] - will be delivered. [= will be delivered from physical death and from being cast into the Lake of Fire, (Ref. Rev 19:21)].

This doctrine of the book of life supports the doctrine of eternal security, (once saved always saved), because one's name would only be written in one time and then blotted out one time - never repeatedly written in and blotted out as one kept repenting and crucifying Christ all over again]

[Mt 25:31-33 cont.]:

(v. 31) "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.

(v. 32) All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left."

["And all the nations will be gathered before Him..." = signifies that all nations ("ethne") - all peoples, not just the Gentiles, who are alive on the earth at the time of our Lord's Second Coming, but this also includes the Jews, (Cp. Ez 20:34-38). Other passages reflect the gathering of people before our Lord at this particular time:

[Mk 13:26-27, cp Mt 24:30-31]:

[Mk 13:26]:

"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

[Mk 13:27]:

"And He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, [from all directions, N.E.S.W.] from the ends of the earth............. [notice: His angels will gather His elect from all parts of the earth.......

The term elect is not a term which is exclusive to the Jews but it encompasses all of God's chosen, both Jew and Gentile]

(Mk 13:27 cont) And He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, [from all directions, N.E.S.W.] from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens."

The angels will gather believers from all over the earth as well as from all points in the heavens - those who have already gone to meet the Lord in heaven before. Some will be in mortal bodies from the earth and some in immortal bodies from heaven. The agents our Lord uses here are the angels to gather the elect. It is not inconceivable that our Lord also uses His angels to gather the unbelievers on the earth to Him as well as the believers. All church age believers will have been taken out of the earth to meet the Lord in the air before the beginning of the Tribulation so they will be in heaven with the Lord when it is time for them to be gathered by the angels and be part of His entourage at His Second Coming. They will not be part of those on the earth who will be gathered to Him when He judges who will remain alive on earth to live in the millennium and who will die and be cast into the Lake of Fire. (Cp. 1 Thes 4:13-17; 2 Thes 2:1-4 and charts on the Rapture vs. the Second Coming ]

[Mt 25:32 cont]:

"And He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."

In ancient days in the east it was customary for the shepherd to herd sheep and goats together. And it remains that way even today. But due to the differences in temperament - the goat being aggressive and unruly and the sheep being docile and easily upset - the animals were separated whenever it was time for feeding or rest.

So our Lord illustrates the separation of the saved from the unsaved by a picture of a shepherd parting the sheep, (believers), which are placed on His right from the goats, (unbelievers), which are placed on His left.

[Mt 25:33]:

"He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left."

In ancient Israel a father's right hand and the position seated on his right was reserved for his greatest blessing and inheritance, usually his firstborn son. In this passage our Lord uses this custom to emphasize the distinction between the saved who will enter alive into the millennium and the unsaved who will be slain and thrown into the Lake of Fire.

There will be many unbelievers left on the earth just after the Rapture of the church occurs. Many of them and their children will come to trust in Christ as Savior during this time of the Tribulation, (Rev 7:9-14). Many of these believers will physically survive those awesome times. These will be those believers who remained faithful to the end. (Note that other faithful believers who have been chosen by God to be martyrs will already be in heaven). So many believers by the grace of God will be faithful to the end and by the grace of God be physically alive when the Lord comes. These people are represented by the sheep who are positioned on our Lord's right. They in their mortal bodies will be ushered into the kingdom on the earth to live under our Lord's Millennial rule.

The goats are those unbelievers who physically survived the tribulation also - never having trusted in Christ as Savior. They will be physically killed and sent to the Lake of Fire.

The saints of all ages who were gathered by the angels and who are in their resurrection, immortal, bodies will also be on the Millennial earth, (although not necessarily limited to the earth). The faithful believers will co-rule with the Lord over the mortal citizenship of the Millennial earth, (Rev 20:4). The saints of past ages will be in enormously different bodies yet they will mingle with the mortal inhabitants of the earth carrying out their own responsibilities. Our Lord's visitations on the earth in His resurrection body - His communications and interactions with His disciples and many believers - gives some light to this scenario in the future especially with respect to the fact that the disciples who were in mortal bodies did not have a problem communicating with the Lord in His immortal body.

[Mt 25:34]:

"Then the King will say to those on His right. 'Come, you are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

"take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world". = Let's examine a passage in Ephesians with respect to the doctrine of inheritance in the kingdom of God:

[Eph 5:1-17 NAS]:

(v. 1) " Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children;

(v. 2) and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

(v. 3) But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints;

(v. 4) and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

(v. 5) For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolator, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ Who is God

["tou Christou kai Theou" = of the Christ Who is God]

(v. 6) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

(v. 7) Therefore do not be partners with them;

(v. 8) For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.

(v. 9) (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

(v. 10) trying to learn what is pleasing to the the Lord.

(v. 11) And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;

(v. 12) for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. (v. 13) But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. (v. 14) For this reason it says,

'Awake sleeper,

And arise from the dead,

And Christ will shine on you.'

(v. 15) Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise,

(v. 16) making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

(v. 17) So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

[Eph 5:1-17 cont. - verse by verse]:

(v. 1) "Therefore,................

[Therefore, believers who are eternally secure, (Eph 4:30)]

"Therefore, [believers] be imitators of God, as beloved children

["beloved children": = one becomes a child, a beloved child, of God when he trusts in Christ as Savior. It is solely by faith alone in Christ alone that one becomes and remains forever a child of God, (Jn 1:12-13, Eph 1:13-14, 4:30)]

[Eph 5:1-2 cont.]:

(v. 1) "Therefore, [believers] be imitators of God, as [the] beloved children [which you are to God],

(v. 2) "And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, and offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

[EXPLANATION OF TERM "walk in love":

Believers are commanded to walk faithfully, i.e. "walk in love". Love for the Lord is what motivates a faithful walk. Jesus said to Phillip,

[Jn 14:15]:

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." A believer keeps our Lord's commandments by a walk of faith energized by love,

[Gal 5:6,14,16]:

(v. 5:6) "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value, THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTS IS FAITH EXPRESSING ITSELF THROUGH LOVE." (Gal 5:14) "The entire Law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

[Gal 5:16]:

"So I say, live by the Spirit.........

[the promptings of, the control of, the filling of the Spirit - (cp Eph 5:18-21)]

"So I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

The fact that believers are commanded to walk "in love":, as it commands in Eph 5:2, which we are analyzing, indicates that believers can choose to walk by faith or not to walk by faith, i.e., to walk in the flesh outside the control of the Spirit. The next part of the passage in Ephesians which we are studying reflects this important doctrinal point]:

[Eph 5:1-17 cont.]:

(Eph 5:3) But [believers] do not let immorality or any impurity or greed be named among you, as is proper among saints;

(Eph 5:4) and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

[and here is the critical point - the consequence of not walking by faith - the consequence of a lifestyle of sin in a believer's life]: (Eph 5:5) "For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, or one who is an idolator,

[whether believer or unbeliever - keep in mind that the subject of Paul's commands are the believers in Ephesus and by application, all believers.]

[Eph 5:5 cont]:

"For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, or one who is an idolator, has an INHERITANCE in the kingdom of Christ, Who is God"

.["In .the kingdom of the Christ ...Who is God =

..."en te ..basileia ..tou ....Christou kai .....Theou"

This phrase confirms the diety of Christ.]

["no...person....has an inheritance" = There are two kinds of inheritances mentioned in the Bible with respect to eternal life. Romans 8:17 illustrates both:

[Ro 8:17]:

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs -heirs of God.......................

[you as a child of God - a believer - receive an inheritance of eternal life. Cp Gal 3:29.]

[Ro 8:17 cont.]:

"Now if we are children, then heirs -heirs of God...............................

and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory."

[In addition, this verse goes on to say, if a child of God shares in the sufferings of Christ, i.e. if a child takes up his own particular cross, cp Mt 16:24-27, then there will be another inheritance to be received besides eternal life in heaven: that of being "co-heirs with Christ", i.e. co-rulers with Him, and that of inheriting the capacity to "share in His glory". ]

With respect to the passage in Ephesians 5:1-17, verse 5...........

[Eph 5:5]:

"For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, or one who is an idolator, has an INHERITANCE in the kingdom of Christ, Who is God"

[With respect to the above verse in Ephesians, the second inheritance is being referred to - that of a receiving rewards in heaven since believers already are assured of the first inheritance of eternal life, cp Eph 1:13-14. The subject of the entire passage in Eph 5:1-17 is one of encouraging & commanding BELIEVERS to walk by faith and not sin so that they can, by their divine good deeds, inherit rewards in heaven. Verse 5 quoted above says that those who lead sinful lives - could be unbeliever or believer - will not receive an inheritance of rewards in heaven. An unbeliever does not receive the first inheritance of eternal life. He does not even enter heaven's shores so he will surely not receive this second inheritance of rewards in heaven. But consider also the believer, who is a child of God, who leads an immoral life. He will not receive an inheritance of rewards when that child of God goes to heaven. That child has been disinherited from the second inheritance but remains a saved child who will go to heaven but with precious few rewards and inheritance if any. Cp. Eph 1:13-14; 4:30; 1 Cor 3:11-15.]

[Eph 5:6]:

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

["...sons of disobedience" = Those who disobey the gospel, i.e., who do not believe in Christ as Savior, are defined by Scripture as "sons of disobedience" or "sons of Satan". Compare I Pet 1:18-22, 2:6-8, 4:17; Eph 2:1-3; Jn 3:36, 8:42-47 to obey the gospel is to believe it, to disobey the gospel is to disbelieve it.]

[Eph 5:6 cont.]:

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things, the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

["these things" = the sins of unbelievers]

(Eph 5:7) "Therefore [you believers] do not be partakers with them,

[Therefore you believers do not be joint PARTICIPATORS in sin with unbelievers. Don't you know that God punishes unbelievers due to their sin? God hates sin. You are His child. Why would you want to go back to behaving as you did in your former unbelieving days and practice sin as a lifestyle?]

[The phrase "joint partakers in" refers back to vv. 3-4 - to be continuously participating in sin - (just like unbelievers do). This phrase does not refer to a believer experiencing God's wrath which a believer would experience if he could lose his salvation, (and he cannot). Neither does this verse indicate that a believer would be a ""joint partaker in", i.e., participator in, God's wrath in the sense of helping God to mete out His wrath to others. Incidentally, believers at the point of salvation are in a forever position of never being subject to God's wrath, (Ro 8:1 & I Thes 1:10; 5:9). So this verse commands believers not to sin, it does not indicate that believers would ever be condemned to hell under the wrath of God if they led sinful lives, nor does the verse say that a believer would aid God in meting out His wrath to others.]

(Eph 5:8) "for you [believers] were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; [so therefore] walk as [the] children [that you are]. (Eph 5:9) "(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),

(Eph 5:10) [so do not sin by] "trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord;

(Eph 5:11) "And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness [which are characteristic of unbelievers], but instead even expose them"

[Mt 25:34 (cont)]:

"Then the King will say to those on

His right. 'Come, you are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."

["prepared for you since the creation of the world." = God prepared a specific and individual inheritance for each of His children - each believer. God, in His sovereignty, before the world was created, prepared specific and individual works for each believer to do, (Eph 2:10). He foreknew and predestinated each of us believers as to whom would be faithful and as to precisely what each believer would accomplish for the kingdom of heaven. Each child of God with his finite will and capacity will choose to accomplish what he will for the kingdom. And at the same time, God in His infinite sovereignty and capacity enabled, decreed, foreknew and predestinated precisely what that child of His would accomplish for Him]

[Mt 25:35-40]:

(v. 35) "For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in," (v. 36) "I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me."

(v. 37) "Then the righteous........................

["The righteous.." = believers - who have the righteousness of Christ credited to them at the point of faith, (Ro 3:22; 4:1-8)]

(v. 37 cont) "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?' "

(v. 38) " 'When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You?' "

(v. 39) " 'When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "

(v. 40) "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.'"

"brothers of Mine" = Refers specifically to believers - all believers, Jew and Gentile believers alike - who were physically alive during the Tribulation period. It also applies in principle indirectly to believers of all ages: Heb 2:10-11 and Mt 10:40 confirms this principle of believers of all ages being brothers in Christ:

[Heb 2:10-11]:

"In bringing many sons to glory [Jew &

Gentile included] it was fitting that God, for Whom and through Whom everything exists, should make the Author of their salvation perfect (teleiosai)

[teleiosai = to bring to completion, to perfect a person, to advance a person to a completeness of his kind. As this term was used of our Lord in Hebrews: to bring to completion Christ's human experience necessary to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest]

[Heb 2:10 cont.]

" ...it was fitting that God, for Whom and through Whom everything exists, should make the Author [Jesus Christ] of their salvation perfect through suffering.

[Heb 2:11]

Both the One Who makes men holy [Christ] and those who are made holy [all believers] are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers."

[Mt 10:40]:

"He who receives you ["you" - believer] receives Me, and he who receives Me [Jesus Christ] receives the One Who sent Me [the Father]."

ENDURING TO THE END

Incidentally, during the Tribulation period times will be extremely and unimaginably difficult for everyone. Residents of the earth at this time will hardly have enough essentials for their own survival. People who require help will often be fugitives of the Antichrist's murderous crackdown on believers and all Jews. So to provide food or clothing or shelter or to visit one in prison was to risk one's life politically and economically and physically. A true test of one's faith.

[Mt 25:41-46]:

(v. 41) "Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me you, who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

["....you, who are cursed" - unbelievers are cursed in the sense that due to their unwillingness to trust alone in Christ alone as Savior they put themselves in the position of never being able to do anything that is acceptable and righteous to God. Everything they think, say or do is accursed - under the wrath of God as "sons of disobedience". Believers, on the other hand are permanently indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, (Gal 3:2; Eph 1:13-14), and have become new creations in Christ, (2 Cor 5:17), with the capability, (but not the certainty), to think, say and do righteously.]

(v. 42) " 'For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink,

(v. 43) " 'I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me.' " (v. 44) "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?' "

(v. 45) "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.' "

(v. 46) "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Robert Wilken commented on the doctrine of rewards with respect to Mt 25:31-46, (The Grace Evangelical Society Newsletter, March, 1988, pp. 2-3):

"First, the judgment is indeed based on works. The sheep are praised and inherit the kingdom. The goats are rebuked and are cast into hell. The cause for praise or rebuke is how the Gentiles [and unbelieving Jews also] in question treated believing Jews [and all believers] during the Tribulation.

Second, ALL of the sheep are praised not just some.

Third, the four parables which immediately precede this account (Matthew 24:42-25:30) all deal with rewards for faithful believers and a lack of rewards for faithless ones.

[Note that the parable of the servant who may be faithful or wicked, (Mt 24:45-51), actually deals with an unbeliever in the second case of him being wicked. The parallel passage in Luke 12:42-48 indicates this] Fourth, the reference in verse 31 to the Son of Man coming in His glory with His angels is an obvious allusion back to Matthew 16:27 - another passage dealing with the recompensing of all men according to their works.

[Mt 16:27]:

["For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS."]

Fifth, the verses in question are the conclusion of the Olivet Discourse and must be understood in light of the whole discourse. Especially important to understanding Matthew 25:31-46 is carefully observing Matthew 24:4-28. There Jesus taught that all who endure to the end shall be saved (24:13). End of what? The end of the Tribulation is in view. Endurance in this context refers to persevering in the faith and living a godly life in the face of persecution (24:10-12). "Salvation" here refers to physically surviving the Tribulation as verse 22 makes clear ("unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved.") - not to spiritual salvation from hell as is commonly thought. Thus what Jesus was saying in Matthew 24:13 was that only faithful believers would survive the tribulation. Unfaithful believers would die physically during the Tribulation. (This is not to say that Matthew 24:13 is a blanket promise that has no exceptions. Rather it is a proverbial statement that has exceptions in cases where the Lord has a special purpose. For example, some enduring believers will be martyred during the Tribulation cf. Revelation 6:9-11 .

This explains why all of the sheep are praised at the judgment of the Gentiles. It also explains why every person at that specific judgment who was not faithful to God was an unbeliever.

This is the single most important factor in understanding this passage - recognizing that in that unique time period, the judgment after the Tribulation, EVERY SURVIVING BELIEVER will be marked by faithfulness.

[EMPHASIS MINE]

Sixth, in light of the preceding comments, it is evident that the basis of being sent to hell in this passage was sinfulness and unbelief. Since those cast into eternal fire did not believe in Christ, their sins were not covered by His blood and hence they were doomed to eternal damnation (cf. Matthew 25:41-46; John 8:24).

[Note that by a careful examination of Scripture, especially via an examination of Romans 3:21-31 and I Jn 2:2, it becomes evident that God is satisfied that the sins of all men are paid for, (I Jn 2:2), but that only those who have trusted alone in Christ alone will have received the gift of our Lord's perfect righteousness, (Ro 3:22). This gift of perfect righteousness is the only way a person can be saved - it is a gift which is given because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore a believer can truly say that his sin nature is covered by the blood as well as his sins for his nature will be changed into a perfectly righteous one upon going home to be with the Lord. Unbelievers can only say that their sins are covered but not their sin nature. A person cannot enter heaven with a sin nature, he first must trust in Christ to provide Christ's perfect righteousness - replacing the old sin nature in the individual. Refer to "Lessons in the Gospel of John", Lesson #10, pp. 43-52, Jn 1:17]

Seventh, it follows from the discussion above [in the previous column] that the basis of "inheriting the kingdom" (25:34) is good works. Since Scripture cannot contradict itself, we know from a host of other passages that that cannot mean that these people will gain entrance to the kingdom because they were faithful. Rather, in light of the preceding four parables and many other passages we know that what is in view here is possessing, not entering, the kingdom. Only faithful believers will rule with Christ and have treasure in the kingdom of heaven. Sometimes the phrase "inheriting the kingdom" refers to rulership and rewards. See, for example, Matthew 19:29; Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 9:24-27; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 5:19-21; 6:6-10; Ephesians 5:5; 2 Timothy 2:12; and I Peter 1:4-9. In my estimation these passages refer to Christ's kingdom in its entirety, Millennial and eternal. Faithful believers will forever rule in Christ's kingdom and possess a special abundance of life.

Eighth, this passage does not in any way deny that kingdom entrance is conditioned solely upon faith in Christ. All believers will get into the kingdom though all will not possess and inherit it in the sense spoken of here. (N.B. There is another use of the term inherit, kleronomia/ kleronomeo, in which all believers are members of God's family and kingdom. See, for example, Galatians 3:18, 29. One verse which mentions both types of inheritance is Romans 8:17. All believers are heirs of God. Only those believers who willingly suffer for Christ, however are joint heirs with Christ.)

Matthew 25:31-46 is thus a judgment passage which deals with survivors of the tribulation. Believers who survive won't appear at the judgment seat of Christ. (Neither, by the way, will those who become believers during the millennium. They will evidently be judged at the end of the millennium. While we can't be certain, I imagine that Old Testament saints will be judged at the judgment seat of Christ - or possibly immediately before or after it.)

Similarly, unbelievers who survive the tribulation evidently won't appear at the Great White Throne Judgment. Matthew 25:41-46 records their final judgment - 1000 years before that of Satan and his angels and the unsaved dead at the end of the Millennium (cf. Revelation 20:11-15). The uniqueness of this judgment, [the Judgment of the Nations], unlike the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Great White Throne Judgment, is that believers and unbelievers will be judged at the same time and place."