A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – Be Wise To The End

 

In Matthew 24 Jesus began His Olivet Discourse which is His response to the disciple’s questions, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). [1] In Matthew 25 Jesus continues His Olivet Discourse driving home His instruction with two parables and a sobering account of what will occur at His 2nd Coming. Jesus has given His disciples instruction on the end times; now He will give instruction for all times. His opening parable in this chapter conveys His thematic exhortation, which can be summed up as Disciples – Be Wise To The End. Let’s see what wisdom Jesus imparts to His disciples in this chapter.

 

Being Wise In The Spirit

 

Matthew 25:1-13 - “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.2 “Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.3 “Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,4 “but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.5 “But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’7 “Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.8 “And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’9 “But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’10 “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’12 “But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”  [2]

While this parable possibly refers to Christ’s judgment of Jews at His 2nd Coming, there is much that we can glean from this parable to live now.

The Jewish Kiddushan Wedding

In order to grasp what is going on in this parable it is necessary to have an understanding of the traditional Jewish wedding. The Jewish Kiddushan wedding had three parts or stages.

The first stage was the Engagement. A boy and girl could be engaged to each other before birth or by the age of three by the fathers of the children. Children did not choose their spouses but parents did according to family standing, friendships, etc. Children were viewed as too immature to make such an important decision. In light of the breakup of so many marriages in our day, it is clear that there is some truth to this old custom. 

The second stage is the Betrothal. The betrothal of a young girl took place during her 12th to 15th birthday. (This means that Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph was likely 12 to 15 years old at the time of Jesus birth - Matthew 1:18.) The betrothal stage confirmed that the father had made the selection of a groom for his daughter. It was during this stage that the bride and groom met for the first time. It was the custom of the betrothal stage for the father of groom to go with groom and meet with the father of the bride. The two fathers would negotiate the price to be paid by the groom’s father for the bride to be. The mohar is the price to be paid for the bride. A wealthy father of the groom would not want to appear cheap and so would offer a mohar commensurate with his economic standing. The mohar would often entail a designated amount of work to be performed by the groom. The mattan was the part of the mohar which was divided up. Part was given to the bride for a dowry in case the bride was widowed. Part was given to the father of the bride to compensate for the loss of his daughter. This was a kind of down payment. The tanain was the agreed upon price for the bride. A contract was written out and laid on a table before all the parties. This was a way of “putting your money where your mouth is.”  The contract was signed, partial payment was made and the bride was pledged to the groom. To seal the agreement the bride and groom would each drink wine from a single cup. This signified they were legally married although they did not yet live together. Now betrothed, if a groom died at this point the bride would be considered widowed. To break up, the two would have to get a divorce. The period of the betrothal lasted approximately one year. The bride and groom would not drink together again until the wedding. During the time of the betrothal the bride to be would wear a veil when out in public. This was to prevent anyone from looking desirously upon her. The veil blurred her vision but it was a necessary part of the betrothal to assure purity.

 

During the year of betrothal the bride works on her wedding garment. At times the groom would supply the bride with the materials for the wedding garment. Also, during this year of betrothal the groom returned to his father’s house and began construction on what was customarily known as the little mansion. This was an add-on section to his father’s house where he and his bride would consummate their marriage and live together. While the groom is working on the little mansion, the father of the groom is watching the progress. ONLY THE FATHER OF THE GROOM HAS THE AUTHORITY TO DETERMINE WHEN THE WORK IS COMPLETE AND THAT THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR THE GROOM TO GO AND GET HIS BRIDE.

 

While the groom works on the little mansion, rumors spread back to the bride about how far along he is in his work. The bride waits alertly and savors with bright anticipation every word about her groom’s progress. In the same way, Jesus exhorted His disciples to WATCH for His coming

 

Often the bride would gather her troop together on Wednesdays because this was the day grooms were often sent out by their father. The reason for this was that the court was opened on Thursdays and a wedding consummated on Wednesday, if it was shown the bride was not a virgin, could be divorced in court the next day.

 

The third stage is that of Marriage.  Suddenly the father would say to the groom, “You’re done, go!”  The groom would put on his marriage crown and gather his men together. He would especially take his SHOSHBEN or best man with him as he went off for his bride. The groom would ALWAYS GO AT NIGHT. The groom would go with a procession of people, TRUMPETS BLARING, shouting, “The groom is coming! The groom is coming!”

 

The groom will take a round about route and as he approaches within earshot of the bride, her father will pronounce a short blessing on his daughter and she will run out to meet her groom. 

 

From outside the bride’s home the two will go to the HUPA, a structure in the village that has a canopy held up by four posts. At the hupa, no vows will be said (vows are a Roman and Greek tradition). The contract will simply be read and accepted. From the hupa the procession goes to the little mansion. At the little mansion the bride and groom go inside to consummate the marriage. The shoshben, or best man waits outside the bedroom door for word from the groom on whether or not their is proof that the bride is indeed a virgin. The groom will say either “Okay!” or “No way!” If the groom says, “Okay!” then all the guests will lift their voices in a cheer and begin a 7-day celebration.  (If “No way!” the guests will go home and the bride may be stoned.)

 

For seven days the guests celebrate this couples marriage. To the couple this is the best time of their lives. For this couple their wedding marks the only time they will be able to relax from their labors. There were no vacations in those days and this wedding was as close to a honeymoon in Hawaii as it got! For the seven-day celebration the bride and groom would be treated like Queen and King. After seven days, the groom would bring the bride out and present her to the community as his wife. It’s at this point, upon the presentation of the bride to the community that the MARRIAGE SUPPER takes place.

 

The Kiddushan Wedding Traditions and The Bride of Christ

 

The three stages of the Kiddushan wedding can be applied to the church. The Bible refers to the Church as “the bride of Christ” (Ephesians 5:22-32).  If this is so, then the Kiddushan wedding traditions convey much regarding the church. Just as two people are “engaged” at a very early time in life, so too believers are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world:

 

  • Ephesians 1:4 – “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,”  [3]

Just as a down payment is exchanged at the betrothal, so too the Spirit is given to believers as a guarantee of one’s eternal relationship with God in Christ:

 

  • Ephesians 1:13-14 – “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”  [4]

During this betrothal stage a groom builds a little mansion for He and his future bride. Similarly, Jesus has gone to prepare a mansion for His bride the Church. As the Scripture says:

  • John 14:1-3 – “ “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” [5]

And just as the bride waits for her groom during the betrothal stage, not knowing when he will be sent by the father, so too Jesus is in heaven working on little mansions until the Father tells Him it is time to come for His bride. Similarly, Jesus said only the Father knows the day and the hour of His coming: 

  • Matthew 24:36 -  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”  [6]
  • Matthew 24:42 -  “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  [7]

The apostle Paul associated the coming of Christ for His church with the sound of trumpets like at a Kiddushan wedding:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 15:52 – “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  [8]
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”  [9]

Once taken by Jesus, the Bride of Christ, just as an earthly bride and groom celebrate seven days of a wedding feast, will enjoy seven years of the wedding feast and marriage of the Lamb. The Bible says:

  • Revelation 19:6-9 – “And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!7 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”  [10]

When Jesus takes His bride the church at the rapture, we will experience a seven-year wedding feast in heaven with Him.

So you see, Jesus chose the imagery of a wedding for some very particular reasons and such imagery would lend itself to some very important meanings for His disciples.

 

The Kingdom of Heaven

 

Jesus says, “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened . . .” This parable is put in the context of a characteristic of God’s kingdom. The kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God is a kingdom where God reigns over those who have given their hearts to Him by grace through faith in Christ. What does this parable tell us about the subjects of this kingdom?

 

Ten Virgins

 

In the parable of Jesus He refers to “ten virgins”  (25:1).  The ten virgins are not for the one groom; this is not a polygamous marriage arrangement! No, the virgins are simply living during a time in which a wedding is expected and since a wedding was a great community event, they didn’t want to miss it. The idea here is that a great event is expected but the exact time is unknown; therefore watchfulness and readiness are required to attend it.

 

The Symbols of the Parables

 

In this parable as in all parables, Jesus uses symbols. The “virgins” are people. The five “foolish virgins” are those who may be in the church but who are apostate and do not have the Spirit. The five “wise virgins” are the real and true spiritual members of the church. The “lamps” are the lives of the people and whether or not they have light. The “oil” is a symbol of the Spirit (see Zechariah 4:12).  The “Bridegroom” is Jesus.

 

The Wise and the Foolish

 

The word “wise” used by Jesus here is translated from the Greek term PHRONIMOS (Strong’s #5429). PHRONIMOS is a term that means, ““prudent, sensible, practically wise.” [11] Therefore, a wise person here is seen by Jesus to be one who practically applies what he or she has been taught.

 

The word “foolish,” used by Jesus here is translated from the Greek term MOROS (Strong’s #3474) and carries the meaning of, “dull or stupid . . . , i.e. heedless, . . . blockhead, . . .absurd . . .  foolish, foolishness.” [12] Therefore, a foolish person is one who disregards and is hardened to the teachings of Jesus failing to apply them to life. We get the word “moron” from this term. A fool fails to factor God into their life equation (see Psalm 14).

 

What is it that determines whether or not someone is “wise” or “foolish” according to Jesus? There is one factor in that determination and it is this to which we now turn.

 

The Determining Factor – THE SPIRIT

 

In this parable there is one factor that determines whether or not one is wise or moronic. What is that factor? What determines whether or not you are wise or foolish? The determining factor in deciding whether or not a person is wise or foolish is whether or not the Spirit is in you. Notice the following truths about this parable.

 

First, without the Spirit you are not ready to meet Jesus. The five foolish virgins weren’t ready for the groom because they had no oil in their lamps. Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Bible (Zechariah 4:12). It was the absence of oil that made five of the virgins foolish and unprepared for the coming of the groom (25:3,8, 10-12). On the other hand, it was the presence of the “oil” or the Spirit in the lamps of the five of the virgins that made them wise and ready for the coming of the groom (25:4, 10).

 

You “must” be born spiritually of the Spirit

 

Jesus said you must have the Spirit in you to enter His kingdom. He said this in the following verses:

 

  • John 3:3,5-7 – “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” . . . 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7 “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”  [13]

Jesus tells us in these verses that just as we were physically born, each person needs to be spiritually born. This implies that until you re spiritually born again, you are spiritual dead. If you are spiritually dead, you aren’t ready to meet Jesus.

A personal relationship with God through the Spirit

It is possible to have a personal relationship with God in Christ. The Holy Spirit makes that personal relationship with God in Christ possible. The apostle Paul explains this truth later as he is inspired to write:

  • Romans 8:8-9 – “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”  [14]

To be “in the flesh” means to be trying to live your life in your own strength according to your own understanding. Such a person  “IS NOT HIS.” If you don’t have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, you don’t belong to Jesus and you don’t know Him personally.  You may do a lot of religious things, but you don’t belong to Jesus. In the concluding words of Jesus in Sermon on the Mount, He said:

  • Matthew 7:21-23 - “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  [15]

You must have the Spirit within to belong to Jesus, to know Him in a personal way.

The Spirit is God’s seal of ownership

The Holy Spirit, according to the Bible, is the seal of ownership of God in the life of the believer. We see this in the following verses:

  • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”  [16]
  • Ephesians 1:13 – “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,”  [17]
  • Ephesians 4:30 – “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  [18]

The Holy Spirit is our stamp of approval from God. If you have the Spirit, you are ready to enter His kingdom. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit within, you aren’t ready to meet Jesus or enter heaven. If you don’t care to receive the Spirit, certainly you are foolish and not wise. We will see this truth all the more clearly later in the study when we consider saints saved during the Tribulation in Revelation 7.

 

The Spirit enables us to comprehend the things of God

 

Without the Spirit in you, you do not have the capacity to understand or discern the things of God. Paul was inspired to put it this way:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 – “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  [19]

There are some who say, “Answer my questions and then I will accept Jesus as my Savior.” But God says, “without the Spirit, you do not have the capacity to know or receive the things I have for you; first receive the Spirit, then you will find your answers.” Without the Spirit in you, you just aren’t ready for Jesus.

Second, the sleep of the wise is a secure rest in Jesus; the sleep of the foolish is presumptuous. In the parable Jesus says, “they all slumbered and slept” (25:5). Both groups slept, but both groups slept differently.

 

The sleep of the wise is a faithful rest in Jesus whereby they are trusting Him with their entire lives. The Bible likens the life of faith to resting or being at peace with God. This is what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount when He said:

 

  • Matthew 11:28-29 – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  [20]

Elsewhere in the Bible we see this concept in the following verses:

 

  • Psalm 4:8 – “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  [21]
  • Psalm 37:7 – “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.”  [22]
  • Romans 5:1-2 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  [23]

The sleep and slumber of the wise is a faithful rest and waiting in Jesus. The sleep of the foolish is a sign of spiritual death. The Bible says:

 

  • Ephesians 5:14 – “Therefore He says: 1 “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”  [24]

The slumber of the foolish however is presumptuous because it assumes all is well and that they are ready, and yet they are not.

 

Thirdly, you can’t borrow the Spirit from someone else; you must personally experience Him yourself. In verses 8 and 9 it states:

 

  • Matthew 25:8-9 - “And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’9 “But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’”  [25]

You can’t get the Spirit by rubbing shoulders with spiritual people. You can’ t get the Spirit by belonging to a family or a church filled with the Spirit. The only way you can receive the Spirit is by God’s grace through faith in Christ. The Bible says:

  • Titus 3:4-7 – “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  [26]

To receive the Holy Spirit you must PERSONALLY receive Jesus Christ by faith as your Lord and Savior. This is something YOU must do; no one can do it for you. The way this comes about in a person’s life is when they ADMIT/ACKNOWLEDGE there sinfulness before God and their need of a Savior; they ACCEPT Jesus by faith as their Savior who died on the cross paying the penalty for their sin as a substitute; and ADVANCE in the Spirit. Works have nothing to do with being saved for we are not saved by what we do, but by what Jesus has done for us (Romans 3:19-26). But the faith that is saving faith changes us; it is characterized by repentance and a desire to know and live in a relationship with God in Christ through the Spirit. Therefore, we say, “advance” because the fruit of an actual conversion is a changed life and fruitful living produced by the Spirit from within the new believer.

 

Fourth, now is the time to receive the Spirit, if you wait it will be too late. The groom came and took the wise virgins and by the time the foolish virgins returned, the door was shut and they were left out (25:10). When they did come the groom (Jesus) said to them:

 

  • Matthew 25:12 - “But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”  [27]

Notice, there are no second chances here; you are either ready when He comes, or you are not. Today is the day of salvation! Right now is the right time to accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord and receive the Holy Spirit into your heart. Read what the Bible says about this:

  • Hebrews 3:7-13 – “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:  “Today, if you will hear His voice,8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years.10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”  [28]

Don’t be like the foolish virgins who dozed in their presumptuous slumber. Today is the day for you to be saved. Today is the day! If you wait it may be too late. No one is guaranteed more than one opportunity to receive the Lord. If you have passed up more than one opportunity to receive Jesus as your Savior, you are living on borrowed time. Today, now, right now is the time God has set for you to receive His Son as Savior! Don’t be a moron. There is no reason why you should not receive Jesus as your Savior, be forgiven of your sins, and filled with the Spirit who gives you new life which is eternal. Only a hardhearted, dull, thick headed, blockhead of a moron would reject the gracious provision of God!

Watch therefore

Jesus says:

  • Matthew 25:13 - “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”  [29]

To the spiritually wise these are words that are received with great joy and anticipation. For the spiritless fool, these are words that should be, but aren’t met with dread. Receive the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus and be wise to the end.

A Satanic Strategy of Slumber

 

William Barclay tells of s satanic strategy session Satan has with his demons on how to trick people into eternal damnation.

 

One demon said, ‘Satan, I’ve got a plan. Let’s whisper in the peoples’ ears that there is no God.’

 

‘No,’ Satan said. ‘Creation declares the reality of God. People are too smart to deny His existence. A few idiots might be sucked in, but not the masses.’

 

‘I’ve got it,’ a second demon said. ‘We’ll say there’s no hell.’

 

‘No,’ said Satan. ‘People understand there needs to be retribution and judgment. People won’t buy that.’

 

A third demon said, ‘Let me suggest how we might trick them. Instead of saying ‘No God’ or ‘No Hell’, we’ll just say, ‘NO HURRY.’

 

Satan said, ‘that’s it!’ And he commissioned his demons to go throughout the world whispering, ‘No Hurry.’

 

Have you been duped by such a satanic strategy? If so, may the Spirit open your eyes and may you respond by faith to receive Jesus as your Savior by faith and experience the spiritual birth of the Spirit.

 

Being Wise In Stewardship

Matthew 25:14-30 - “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.15 “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.16 “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.17 “And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.18 “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.19 “After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’22 “He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.25 ‘And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.27 ‘So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.28 ‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.30 ‘And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”  [30]

Again Jesus gives a parable to describe the nature of the kingdom of heaven or the citizens of such a kingdom (25:14). In Jesus’ day it was not uncommon for a landowner to go on a journey and entrust responsibilities to servants or steward left behind. Here we see a parable about an owner who entrusts his servants with different amounts of money while he goes away. A “talent” was an amount of silver. “A talent weighed between 58 and 80 pounds.” [31] Therefore, this is a sizeable sum of money the owner is entrusting to his steward-servants.

 

This parable has symbols like the others. The “man” who goes away on a journey is Jesus. “His own servants” are disciples. The “talents” are resources God gives to each person. Now, what do we learn from this parable?

 

First, Jesus distributes sovereignly to each one “according to his own ability.”

 

Jesus says in the parable:

 

  • Matthew 25:15 -  “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.”  [32]

Here we see that Jesus reserves the right to distribute to us resources as He sees fit. In this parable the resources are given in increments of “five,” “two” and “one” talents. Similarly, we are told in the New Testament that Jesus gives spiritual gifts to those in the church. In the epistle to the Ephesians it states:

 

  • Ephesians 4:7,11-12 – “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. . . . 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,”  [33]

In this passage we see that Jesus reserves the right to measure out position and spiritual gifts according to His sovereign will.

The role of the Holy Spirit in giving “ability”

How does Jesus determine how to distribute resources to believers? He says in the parable, “according to his own ability” (Matthew 25:5).  The word, “ability,” here is translated from the Greek term DUNAMIS (Strong’s #1411). DUNAMIS means, “ability; might; power; strength; force; miraculous power.” This is the same term used in Acts 1:8 where Jesus states:

 

  • Acts 1:8 - “But you shall receive power [DUNAMIS] when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  [34]

In Acts 1:8 we see the promise of Jesus stating the Holy Spirit empowers disciples for service. The book of Acts is more of a compilation of the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the early church disciples, more than it is an account of the work of the people in the early church. The early church of Acts turned their world upside down with a powerful ministry not because they had great intellect, personal ability, worldly wisdom, had access to flow charts, demographic studies et.al. No, the early church of Acts was effective in ministry because they had been empowered by the Spirit for service. Jesus was able to entrust the early church disciples with His resources because of their empowerment by the Spirit. This is so important for the disciple that we need to pause a moment and look at this empowerment more closely.

“With,” “In,” and “Upon”

In the gospel of John Jesus said:

  • John 14:17 -  “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”  [35]

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is “with” a person before they are born again as they are being convicted of their sinfulness and need of salvation (John 14:17b; 16:8-11). It is sometimes startling for readers to find that the disciples of the gospels did not receive the Spirit until after the resurrection of Jesus (John 20:22). Until then, they were closer to Old Testament type believers than they were New Testament disciples. Upon receiving Christ as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit comes “in” or into a person to bring the abiding presence of Jesus and resultant assurance of salvation-eternal life (John 3:3,5; 14:17b; Romans 8:16; Ephesians 5:18; Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit “in” a person works to conform that person to the likeness of Jesus, transforming, conforming, sanctifying them spiritually (Romans 8:11,29; 15:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Lastly, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit comes, “upon” the believer to empower them for service (Acts 1:8; 2:4; 4:33; 8:16; 10:44; 11:15; 19:6). It’s important to note that this third position of the Spirit with people, (the empowerment of the Spirit) is a relationship that is subsequent to initial salvation.

The subsequent nature of the Spirit’s empowerment

That there is a subsequent work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer that involves empowerment for service is seen in the following examples of Scripture.

 

In John 20:22 Jesus says to His assembled disciples “receive the Holy Spirit” and then breathes on them. There can be no clearer and acceptable understanding of this circumstance than to see this as the disciples being born of the Spirit. If Jesus breathes on you and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” you will receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:4-5 and 8, Jesus instructs the disciples about the subsequent baptism with the Holy Spirit that had been promised by the Father (Joel 2:28-29) and discussed by Jesus (John 7:37-39 – “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”; Literally “torrents of living water). His instruction was to wait for this empowering baptism with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:1-4 we see at Pentecost the fulfillment of what had been promised by God for His servants, a subsequent baptism or empowerment with the Holy Spirit.

 

When Peter preaches at Pentecost with his newfound powerful boldness and courage we see this twofold work present again in those who respond in faith. In Acts it states:

 

  • Acts 2:36-39 - “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  [36]

In this portion of Scripture we see an example of the threefold prepositional relationship defined in our earlier study of John 14:17 and Acts 1:8.  In verses 2:36-37 the Holy Spirit is “with” the listeners, convicting them of their sin bringing them to a point of repentance. In verse 2:38a Peter instructs them to repent and they will be forgiven their sin, which entails the Holy Spirit coming “in” them. Peter continues that if they do respond with repentance they shall receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” i.e. the Baptism with the Holy Spirit would come “upon” them.  

 

Later in Acts it states:

 

  • Acts 8:12-17 – “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them,15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”  [37]

 

In verse 12 conversion occurs. They had been baptized  “in the name of the LORD Jesus” (8:16). This is a clear indication they were saved, born again, born of the Spirit and filled with the Holy Spirit. In 8:14-17 the apostles were sent to pray for them to receive subsequent to their conversion, the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

 

In Acts 9 we see the conversion of Paul. Note the following verses from this chapter in Acts:

 

  • Acts 9:3-5,6,17-18 – “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” . . . 17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”  [38]

When we examine his conversion experience we see a subsequent empowering by the Spirit. In 9:3-5 Jesus clearly identifies Himself to Paul. Paul then refers to Jesus as LORD. This is significant and a mark of Paul being converted at this point. The basis for such a belief is the following verse:

 

  • 1 Corinthians 12:3 – “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”  [39]

Because “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit,” Paul’s referring to Jesus as LORD is evidence that  indicates he must have been indwelt and born of the Spirit at this point.  In 9:17-18 Ananias lays hands on Paul and explains God had sent him to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit. This occurs subsequent or after Paul’s conversion. Notice the word “filled” is used here to refer to the subsequent work. In this section and the one that follows it appears that the word “filled” is used interchangeably to refer to both works of the Spirit (i.e. being born of the Spirit and baptized with the Holy Spirit.)

 

Further in Acts it states:

 

  • Acts 10:44-48 – “ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered,47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.”  [40]

In this section it appears that both works (i.e. born of the Spirit and baptism with the Holy Spirit) occur so close together as to be near simultaneous. Indeed, the people are baptized with the Holy Spirit before they are water baptized. This should be a warning to us to not try to lock God into a formula. When Peter returned to Jerusalem and went before the Council to explain what had happened to the Gentiles in Acts 10, he makes a direct correlation to the Acts 2 Pentecostal experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit (compare Acts 11:15-17; 15:6-9).

 

Lastly in Acts we see the subsequent work of the Spirit among the Ephesian believers. In Acts it states: 

 

  • Acts 19:1-7 – “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.7 Now the men were about twelve in all.”  [41]

 

In this section we see that Paul perceived the Ephesian believers as lacking something. When he asks them about their experience it is revealed that they have not even “heard” of the Holy Spirit. They had been baptized with John the Baptist’s baptism. Paul responds with first, baptizing them “in the name of the LORD Jesus” (19:5; i.e. born of the Spirit). He then lays hands on them and “the Holy Spirit came UPON THEM” (19:6; baptism with the Holy Spirit).

 

These instances in Acts give ample evidence of the born of the Spirit experience and the subsequent experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The empowerment of the Spirit is the key to being an Acts-type of church. Therefore, I would encourage every disciple to ask him or herself where they stand in terms of Jesus words which state:

 

  • Luke 11:13 - “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”  [42]

Have you received the empowerment of the Spirit from the One who so desires to bless you with it?

 

The empowering factor – The nature of the Spirit’s empowerment

What is the nature of this empowerment of the Spirit? In Matthew 25:5 we have seen that Jesus says, through His parable, that He distributes resources and responsibilities according to the empowerment of the disciple. If we look at the parable in light of Acts 1:8 we see the involvement and role of the Spirit. The connection to be made here is that Jesus distributes resources to believers on the basis of the degree to which they have surrendered to and been empowered by, the Holy Spirit.

But what is this empowerment of the Spirit? How are we empowered? Some see this empowerment as getting more of the Spirit. This is a wrong view for the Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, cannot be divided up or poured out in portions like some liquid commodity. No, the empowerment of the Spirit is not a matter of getting more of the Spirit; it is a matter of THE SPIRIT GETTING MORE OF OR ALL OF YOU. When the disciple, by faith, totally surrenders and abandons himself or herself to the way of the Spirit, the Spirit then is able to work powerfully in and through that disciple. When the disciple no longer trusts his or her own wisdom, strength or resources, then they are tools in the hands of the Spirit. In Acts this empowerment is described in the following way:

  • Acts 15:8-9 - “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”  [43]

In this passage, Peter is describing how the subsequent baptism of the Spirit, the empowerment of the Spirit, was poured out upon Gentiles. Notice it is received by faith, it is not something we gain through works, God gives it in grace. Secondly, it involves a purification of the heart, meaning a total emptying of the heart before God of anything and anything that would challenge the Spirit’s sovereign rule of the disciple. That is not something we can do, that is something only God can do in us and we can receive it as a gift by faith.

Serving in the Spirit

The resources or, “talents,” in this parable can be likened to spiritual empowerment.  The believer is only able to minister effectively to the extent that he or she depends upon the Spirit’s empowerment. The Bible further testifies to this in the following verses:

 

  • Zechariah 4:6 – “So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.”  [44]
  • 1 Corinthians 2:4 – “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,”  [45]
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:5 – “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.”  [46]

Disciples are effective and powerful in ministry in proportion to their faithful surrender to and dependence upon the Spirit in their life.

The role of the Spirit in giving spiritual gifts

 

Spiritual gifts are given by the power of the Spirit according to the will of the Spirit. The empowerment of the believer by the Spirit is channeled through spiritual gifting. The Holy Spirit works in unison with Jesus to empower and guide the disciple in this way. Jesus said:

 

  • John 14:26 -  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” [47]
  • John 16:13-14 -  “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”  [48]

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit works in tandem with Jesus to administer the resources to believers.  These resources of the Holy Spirit involve the distribution of spiritual gifts to the body of Christ. This is stated in the following passage:

  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 – “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”  [49]

The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts “for the profit of all.” The person who is grumbling over their position and gifting in the body of Christ is the person who has lost sight of not only the unity of the body, but also the sovereignty of God. The Spirit distributes gifts, as He wills.” Believers should be happy to receive anything beyond their salvation. Spiritual gifts are the product of God’s grace and should be received joyfully. 

Spiritual gifts flow from God’s grace

 

Believers have no grounds for dissatisfaction regarding the spiritual gifts God distributes to them. First of all, if a person approaches God with a right attitude and heart, the spiritual gift God gives them will be just right for them. We see this principle in the Psalms where it states:

 

  • Psalm 37:4-5 – “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.5 Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.”  [50]

This verse doesn’t mean that if we put on an air of “delight” toward the Lord that he will acquiesce and give in to our demands. It doesn’t mean that if we delight in Him that he’ll give us what we want. No, not at all, these verses mean that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, it opens our hearts to receive HIS DESIRES into OUR HEARTS.

We should worry about what gifts God gives us; if we delight in Him he will give us the spiritual gift that is best suited for us. The gift God gives to a believer is the one he determines is the best for that believer and the life circumstances they are in.

Spiritual gifts flow from the gracious heart of God. To express dissatisfaction in one’s spiritual gift reveals that one has likely entered into a gifting situation presumptively and for the most part lost sight of the graciousness of the gifting itself. God saved our souls from eternal punishment; that would have been enough; but God in His grace goes even beyond that and gives us the privilege to be used in His divine plans and not only that, He equips us to fulfill those plans according to His calling.

In the book of Romans, Paul is inspired to write of this saying:

 

  • Romans 12:3-8 – “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”  [51]

Here we see the role of the Father in spiritual gifting too. The Triune Godhead is fully involved in equipping believers for service. The thing to see here is that God sovereignly gives believers “a measure of faith,” and distributes spiritual gifts, “according to the grace that is give to us,” by Him. Spiritual gifts and the privilege of serving the Lord with them is icing on the cake of the Christian. God not only saves our souls from sin; He allows us to participate in His redemptive plans. What a glorious blessing!

Therefore, Our concern should not be with what we have or how much we have, but with how we use what we have been given. It is better to be faithful with the little you have been entrusted with, than to be unfaithful with more than you were given. It is better to receive joyfully the spiritual gift God gives you, than to ungratefully grumble and risk being put on the shelf by God.

Second, we need to occupy until Jesus returns.

Getting back to our parable we see that Jesus says:

  • Matthew 25:16-18 - “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.17 “And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.18 “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.”  [52]

While Jesus is away, (like the owner), there is work to be done. It would be wrong for us to sit back and say, “Well, no use going to work; no use going to school; no use doing much of anything while the Lord is away.” No, we should be serving the Lord while He is away. To wait on the Lord, does not mean to sit back and do nothing, it means to be like a waiter or waitress in a restaurant who are diligently serving those around them. Remember the inspired words of the apostle Paul who wrote:

  • Romans 13:8-14 – “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”  [53]

Disciple, live as though Jesus were coming back at this very moment, because He just very well might do so.

 

Third, when Jesus comes for the church, there will be an assessment and judgment

 

When Jesus comes for the church, there will be an assessment and judgment concerning our accountability based on the resources God has give us. In the parable it says:

 

  • Matthew 25:19 - “After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.”  [54]

Notice Jesus says I the parable, “after a long time.” He is preparing the disciples of His day for a prolonged wait until He returns. We are still waiting; but based on our study thus far of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse we can see that His return will likely occur shortly. When He does return, He will, “settled accounts.” Now while this settlement refers to Jesus’ judgment at His 2nd Coming, every believer will go before His judgment seat. What will believers be judged about?

 

The Judgment Seat of Christ

 

The Bible tells us that while believers will not face the judgment of God to determine their salvation (because there is no condemnation for those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior – Romans 8:1) believers will be judged by Jesus to determine the rewards they will receive based on their works or ministry. We see this mentioned in the following verses:

 

  • Romans 14:9-12 – “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.11 For it is written:  “As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”   [55]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”  [56]

Just as the three stewards were judged on how they used what had been entrusted to them, we too will give an account to Jesus concerning what He has entrusted to us in this life.

 

Fourth, God rewards those who are faithful in their service to Him.

 

The parable states:

 

  • Matthew 25:20-23 - “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’22 “He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”  [57]

Notice that each servant doubled what he or she had been entrusted with. They made a measurable increase. They stepped out in faith and turned a profit, they were productive with what the Lord had given them.

Notice, both servants, though they were entrusted with varying amounts of resources (five and two talents) both were seen as being “faithful in a few things.” To God it is all a little thing; what counts is that we are faithful with what He gives us. We tend to focus on amounts; God focuses on faithfulness not “success.” For God success is faithfulness more than numbers.

Also notice, God says the same encouraging words to both servants regardless of whether or not they had been entrusted with 5 or 2 talents. God looks more at the faithfulness of the servant more than the amount produced.

Lastly, think of the joy and prize it will be to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” Oh what glorious and wonderful words these are and oh that we would all be greeted with them upon coming face to face with Jesus. May we all hear these words some day.

Fifth, fearful lack of faith will be judged.

 

The Lord doesn’t want us to simply preserve, but to increase what He has given to us. The parable states:

 

  • Matthew 25:24-25 - “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.25 ‘And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.  [58]

The key here is the phrase, “I was afraid.” Fear is the opposite and enemy of faith. It was fear that kept a generation out of the Promised Land (Numbers 14). It was fear that caused Peter to sink into the Sea (Matthew 14:22-33). Fear fights against faith. Fear is the foe of faith. Fear also hinders knowing God as we should. Fear stifles the work of God and therefore, God will judge those who show a lack of faith with what He has entrusted to them.

Sixth, God will judge laziness and sees it as wicked.

The parable states:

  • Matthew 25:26-28 - “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.27 ‘So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.28 ‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.”  [59]

Interestingly, in Proverbs it states:

  • Proverbs 22:13 – “The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!”  [60]

Those who use the “fear of God” as an excuse to do nothing, will not be well received by Jesus when it comes time to judge works. The very least a person could do is put God’s resources in a bank so to speak, where they would have gained interest. Those who are lazy and unfaithful will have what little they were given taken away form them.

The need for discipline

Some use the grace of God as an excuse for not being disciplined. Or worse, they liken walking in the Spirit as a life of laziness or ill-preparedness. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we look at Jesus we do not see someone who is lackadaisical or undisciplined, we see Someone who rises early to pray and demonstrates that He has studied, knows the word of God and is able to teach and share it confidently with authority. Just read some of the verses that relate to the disciplined life Jesus led:

  • Mark 1:35 – “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”  [61]
  • Luke 6:12 – “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”  [62]
  • John 8:2 – “Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.”  [63]

The prophet Daniel is another example of one who held dear his devotional life with the Lord. He even risked his life to pray to the Lord. When his adversaries contrived a law that prohibited praying to God, He prayed all the more fervently as the Scripture says:

  • Daniel 6:10 – “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”  [64]

The Lord’s call for prayer and regular devotions in His word imply the disciple have a disciplined life. Read what some selected verses tell us:

  • Psalm 55:17 – “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.” [65]
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “pray without ceasing”  [66]
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” [67]

God tells us in His word to “redeem the time.” To redeem the time is to prayerfully follow Him and receive directions and life from Him through the prayerful study and application of His word. We need to diligently seek the Lord. Read what His word tells us about diligently keeping our heart focused on Him and growing in our relationship with Him by the power of the Spirit:

  • Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”  [68]
  • 2 Peter 1:5-11 – “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  [69]

The Bible says God is a God of order and therefore, we should seek in the Spirit to have God bring us into an orderly life with Him. Disorder, laziness, and lack of attention to the details of the Spirit is nothing that should be associated with a disciple of Jesus. Rather heed God’s word that says:

  • Psalm 37:23 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”  [70]
  • 1 Corinthians 14:33,40 – “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. . . 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.”  [71]

In his book Men Who Met God, A.W. Tozer said:

“We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living. This attitude finds its way into the church. We have liberty, we have money, we live in comparative luxury. As a result, discipline practically has disappeared. What would a violin solo sound like if the strings on the musician's instrument were all hanging loose, not stretched tight, not "disciplined"?”

In the June 28, 1989 issue of Our Daily Bread an account was given that said;

In the 1880s a young man who was an earnest Christian found employment in a pawnshop. Although he disliked the work, he did it faithfully "as unto the Lord" until a more desirable opportunity opened for him. To prepare himself for a life of Christian service, he wrote on a scrap of paper the following resolutions: "I do promise God that I will rise early every morning to have a few minutes--not less than five--in private prayer. I will endeavor to conduct myself as a humble, meek, and zealous follower of Jesus, and by serious witness and warning I will try to lead others to think of the needs of their immortal souls. I hereby vow to read no less than four chapters in God's Word every day. I will cultivate a spirit of self-denial and will yield myself a prisoner of love to the Redeemer of the world." That young man was William Booth, who later led thousands to Christ and founded the Salvation Army. 

We should not be so guarded against legalism that we throw discipline out the window. No, we need to be consistent and regular and even diligent in our prayer life and study of God’s word. Disciple, seek the Spirit’s help in being disciplined in your life.

Seventh, our position in Christ’s kingdom is connected to our faithfulness.

The parable states:

  • Matthew 25:29- “‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  [72]

In regards to the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus, we will be given positions in His government according to our faithfulness in this life. But more generally speaking, if you prove yourself with the little things God entrusts to you, He will give you more and greater responsibilities. If you don’t do anything with what He has given you, what little you have will be removed from you. There is a time to “wait on the Lord,” but waiting on the Lord doesn’t mean kicking back and doing nothing, it means serving Him with all you’ve got and trusting Him to open doors and lead you by His Spirit.

Eight, those who don’t serve the Lord are questionable in terms of salvation.

The parable closes with the words:

  • Matthew 25:30 – “‘And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”  [73]

Jesus uses the words, “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” in a number of places in Matthew (8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). Jesus uses these words to refer to the judgment on the unsaved. Therefore, the manner in which this parable ends demonstrates that those who are unprofitable in service have a questionable saving relationship with the Lord. Jesus said that many would give an appearance of being saved but only those who are productive are genuinely saved (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 and the Parable of the Sower). Jesus said a person’s heart could be assessed according to the fruit they produce (Matthew 7:15-20).

A saving faith that works

We should understand, while a person is not saved by works but by faith (Ephesians 2:1-10), the faith that saves works. When we examine the great portion of Ephesians that speaks of salvation by grace through faith we see that God’s plan involved a faith implanted that leads to fitting into good works he prepares for us to do. Read what it says in Ephesians:

  • Ephesians 2:8-10 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  [74]

A person is saved by God’s grace, it is all Him and none of us in salvation. Even the faith that saves is, “not of yourselves.” The passage says, “we are His workmanship,” we are His artwork. The English word translated “workmanship” is translated from the Greek term POEMA from which we get another English word, “poem.” The person who is saved is God’s poetry and the gracious God-incidents and work of God to save a soul bears witness to the beautiful poetic work of God in life. But look at God’s stated purpose for our salvation. It states, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  God doesn’t save a soul so that soul can sit around with one’s head in the clouds. God has redemptive work, ministry, for the saved to do. Yes, God wants us to do, “good works.” We are not saved by our “good works,” but the faith that saved, received by grace, is purposeful. We are not saved by OUR good works; but the faith of God’s grace that saves us is proved authentic and real in fulfilling GOD’s GOOD WORKS that He prepares for the saved to do. And as we have seen, it isn’t as though the good works we do are in our own strength, (i.e. our flesh), but God empowers us by the Spirit to do them. Good works are good only when God is the Author and Enabler of them.

In the 16th century the church had gotten far away from Biblical Christianity. During this time God spoke to a man named Martin Luther. Martin Luther’s Spirit illuminated revelation of Romans 1:17. (“The just shall live by faith”) brought a mighty revolution and regeneration to the church. In Luther’s commentary on the book of Romans, he gives the following comment on faith saying:

“Instead, faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn't stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing.  Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. . . . Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of  God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The  Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you  freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they're smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.” [75]

 

Disciple, be wise in stewardship until the coming of the Lord.

 

Wise in Sensitivity To Needs

Matthew 25:31-46 - “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.33 “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.34 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;36 ‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?38 ‘When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?39 ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;43 ‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’46 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”   [76]

Jesus now leaves the parabolic method of teaching to speak about the order of business upon His return to earth at the 2nd Coming. We know that Jesus’ words here refer to the 2nd Coming and not the Rapture because here Jesus is making a final judgment with eternal implications for those He judges. What Jesus speaks of here will actually and literally happen as he states it. 

The first thing Jesus will do upon His return to the earth at His 2nd Coming is to sit in judgment of the nations and the people of the nations (25:31-32). Those He will judge are those who survive the seven-year Tribulation. The “sheep” are those who by faith have lived out the love of the Spirit (Romans 5:5) through acts of kindness on the hurting around them. The “goats” are those who through willful negligence have not shown any compassion on the needy around them. What do we learn from these final words of the Olivet Discourse?

First, some will survive and be saved in the Tribulation.

When the nations are brought before Jesus for judgment, He will turn to some of the people and say:

  • Matthew 25:34 - “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”  [77]

There will be some who survive the Tribulation and who will have been saved. Proof of this is found in the book of Revelation. Let’s take a moment to elaborate on this point.

“. . . And who is able to stand?”

 

Will anyone be saved during the Tribulation? The events of the Great Tribulation are frightening. The world will face Political, military, economic, and natural upheaval.  In Revelation chapter 6 this very question is considered when it states: 

 

  • Revelation 6:17 - “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”  [78]

Revelation 7 answers that question. This question has immediate relevance for us in this life as well as for those during the Tribulation, because everyone will inevitably encounter trials. When trials come, “WHO WILL BE ABLE TO STAND?”

 

The seal of the living God

 

Revelation 7:1-3 - “After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”  [79]

 

“After these things” implies that what follows is a kind of interlude. There is a respite in order for the events of chapter 7 to take place.

 

In the first century, a merchant would put his seal on materials he chose to be shipped to another destination by using a signet ring. Upon arrival the materials or merchandise would be identified as belonging to the merchant because of his sea he had placed on it. Perhaps the “seal of the living God” will be a distinguishing mark given to the 144,000 that will identify them as the particular property of God and fully devoted to Him.  They are distinguished because God has an awesome task for them during this time, to spread the gospel in the upheaval of the Great Tribulation.  

 

What does the “seal of God” represent? This seal indicates two things about the 144,000 listed later in the chapter: First, the seal of the living God is a SEAL OF SALVATION and second, the seal of the living God is a   SEAL OF PROTECTION.

 

The seal of the living God is a SEAL OF SALVATION

 

In his letter to the Ephesians the apostle Paul spoke of the seal of God and described it in the following way:

 

  • Ephesians 1:11-14 – “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”  [80]

Notice the qualities of those who are sealed: First, they “trusted in Christ”; Second, they trust in Jesus based on “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” God’s word reveals salvation is by grace through faith (Romans 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10); and third, they were “sealed with the Holy Spirit,” they are born again and belong to God (John 3:3,5; Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 timothy 2:19; 1 John 3:24; 4:13). Is God’s seal of approval on you? Are you certain of where you stand with God? If you are not certain of your salvation it is a likely indication God’s seal is not on you and you need to be saved and sealed with the “seal of the living God”!

Therefore, these are people who are; “able to stand.” those who accept the gospel of grace in Christ are able to stand during the Tribulation, though many of those who do so during the Tribulation will be martyred for their faith.

 

The seal of the living God is a SEAL OF PROTECTION

 

The 144,000 mentioned in this chapter (Revelation 7:4) are a select group who will be protected from the events which take place during the Great Tribulation. Biblical precedents for such protection are seen in such cases as that of Noah (Genesis 6-9), and Rahab (Joshua 2; 6:25).  The children of Israel during the plagues leading up to the exodus show that God does make a distinction on behalf of His people at times (Exodus 8:22-24; 9:4,6, 26; 10:23; 12:13).  

 

That the 144,000 make it through the Great Tribulation is demonstrated in Revelation 14 when they are seen with Christ at His Second Coming:

·         Revelation 14:1 - “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.”  [81]

It is possible that more than 144,000 Jews will be saved during the Tribulation. Those beyond the sealed 144,000 will likely perish from persecution or the other effects upon the earth during this time. (It should be noted that the seal mentioned in this chapter regarding the 144,000 is not the only “mark” mentioned in the book of Revelation. Apparently Antichrist will imitate God’s seal placed on the 144,000 and mockingly use the marking of people as a means of singling out believers during the tribulation in order to execute them - Revelation 13:16-17; 14:9-10).

Who are those sealed by the living God?

Revelation 7:4-8 “And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed: 5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed; 1 of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed; of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.[82]

Numerous groups claim to be the 144,000. Jehovah’s Witnesses, 7th Day Adventists, Mormons, the Children of God, the original World Wide Church of God of Garner Ted Armstrong, and many others have wrongly claimed to be the 144,000 of Revelation 7.

Some sections of the church view the 144,000 as representing the church rather than Israel. This is the product of what is called Replacement Theology, Dominion Theology, Reconstructionism, or Kingdom Now Theology. The gist of such theology is that Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah and as a result they no longer play a role in the plans of God, the church now supplants Israel in God’s plans. All of the promises of the Old Testament made by God to the Jews are forfeited and given to the church. The church, in the false theology, replaces  Israel and will usher in the Kingdom. Those with this theology view Revelation as allegorical and not literal in any sense. [83]

But, if God is not true to His covenant with Israel, we cannot be sure of His promises to us. That is what Satan is trying to undermine, our confidence in God. That these covenants are unconditional demonstrates they are based on God’s grace not human works. Human works fail. God’s grace never fails! (See Romans 1-11).

The following indicates that the 144,000 are representative of Israel and not another group:

1.) This group is specifically referred to as “the tribes of the children of Israel.” It then goes on to list twelve tribes of Israel and their corresponding 12,000 sealed members (Revelation 7:5-8). To refer this to the church or other group would require that we divide them into the 12 tribes mentioned here. It appears that God goes out of His way to stipulate and identify this group as “Israel.” Nowhere in the Bible does reference to the tribes of Israel mean anything other than, the tribes of Israel. The word “tribes,” is only used to refer to an ethnic group in the Bible, it’s never used figuratively.

 

2.) The term “Israel” is used to refer to the descendants of Jacob, not the church. Nowhere is the church referred to as “Israel.” The “Church” and “Israel” are separate and distinct entities in the Bible.[84]

3.) If the reference to Israel and the tribes of Israel is symbolic, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim, then why can’t the reference to 144,000 be symbolic too? Why do they interpret the 144,000 literally and the reference to “Israel” figuratively? This is a misinterpretation that lacks continuity. Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that since the tribes of Ephraim and Dan are left out of the list, that it must be symbolic not literal. But when we look in the Bible we find that there are no fewer than twenty various listings of tribes in the Old Testament. Lists of tribes include anywhere from ten to thirteen tribes (Genesis 49; Deuteronomy 33; Ezekiel 48). It is not necessary for a list of tribes to be identical. The tribe of Dan may have been omitted due to idolatry (Leviticus 24:11; Judges 18:1,30; 1 Kings 12:28-29). Ephraim may have not been specifically mentioned because a tribe of Joseph is mentioned. Ephraim and Manasseh were the sons of Joseph and became tribes of Israel (Genesis 49). But Ephraim may have been omitted for the same idolatrous reason as the tribe of Dan was (Judges 17; Hosea 4:17). The Levites may have been mentioned as a tribe because their priestly functions were fulfilled in Jesus (Hebrews 7-10). [85]

4.) Jesus too referred to a day when Israel would call Him blessed:

·         Matthew 23:39 -  “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’   [86]

5.) In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans he clearly teaches that Israel will be grafted back into the vine in the future and take an important part in God’s plans once again (Romans 11:1-12, 23-27). Therefore, the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7 are most likely indicative of a revival that will take place among the Jews. The Old Testament prophet Hosea spoke of a future revival amongst the Jews. What we see in Revelation 7 may be the fulfillment of that prophecy (Hosea 5:15-6:3).

6.) The Bible teaches that all who believe in Jesus have a heavenly destiny. This is shown in the book of Romans which states:

  • Romans 3:21-22 – “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;”  [87] (See also John 10:16; Galatians 3:29; 4:28-31; Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1; Titus 3:7; Hebrews 3:1; 12:22; James 2:5; 2 Peter 1:10-11.)

So what?

Some might say, “So what! I’m not Jewish. What does that have to do with me?!” It has a lot to do with everyone. What we see in the case of the revival amongst the Jews is the faithfulness of God to His word and promise. The apostle Paul exults in God because of what God planned for the Jews saying:

·         Romans 11:29,33-36 - “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”   [88]

If God is faithful in history to keep His promises to Israel, we can be assured that He will also keep His word and promise to us. God is faithful. You can depend upon God. If He grafted Israel back into His vine of purpose, He will also Rapture His Church before the Tribulation, just as He said He would.

“A great multitude” of Tribulation saints

Revelation 7:9-10 - “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”   [89]

When we look at this chapter we see a REVIVAL taking place. Not only will there be many from the tribes of Israel who will be saved, but also there will be many non-Jews who will be saved. That this revival is great is demonstrated by the phrase, “a great multitude which no one could number.” And this group comes from all over the world, i.e. “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.” Perhaps this revival is the fruit of the salvation of the 144,000 who have been saved and are now 144,000 apostle Paul type evangelists! Perhaps some of these were those you witnessed to and the seeds of the gospel and word of truth that were planted bear fruit in the Tribulation. Remember, God’s word does not return void (Isaiah 55:10-11).

This group consists of the martyrs (7:13-14) who are saved in the Tribulation and come out of the Tribulation to stand before the throne of God. The palms they wave represent a symbolic gesture testifying to the triumph they experience by not bowing to antichrist.

The 144,000, the “great multitude” and Jehovah’s Witnesses

Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that the only people who go to heaven are the select 144,000 from their group. Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that God stopped calling people to the select group of 144,000 in 1935. Since 1935, all other people form a secondary class of believers who can only hope to live forever on earth in the flesh. The Bible teaches two covenants, but does not teach a two-class system of believers, nor does it teach anywhere that 1935 was the cut off point for a select group of 144,000. Their teaching is based rather on the “revelation of divine truth,” supposedly received by Watchtower president J.F. Rutherford at a Washington D.C. convention on May 31, 1935.

That the “great multitude” is not a secondary group of believers on earth is apparent by the fact that they are located, “standing before the throne and before the Lamb,” (7:9). In Revelation 7:15 it states,  “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. [90] The point here is that the “great multitude,” is before the throne and “in His temple.” These locations are in heaven. What we see are martyred saints who have come out of the Tribulation and are before the throne of God in heaven. The only way the great multitude can serve in any earthly temple would be if they return with Jesus at His Second Coming and serve during His millennial reign on earth (Revelation 20). But the “great multitude” mentioned in Revelation 7 is in heaven. This much is clear.

Rejoicing over what God has done

Revelation 7:11-12 - “All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,12 saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”  [91]

The salvation of those during the Tribulation causes the heavenly host to worship the living God. They are rejoicing because the greatest revival of all history will occur during the time of the Great Tribulation!  (Further proof that this is a heavenly scene.) The greatest revival in history will occur AFTER we are raptured. Be faithful in sharing your faith, God’s word will not return void! (Joel’s prophecy confirms this – Joel 2:30-32).

Not even martyrs are saved by works

Revelation 7:13-14 - “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” [92]

The elder initiates conversation with John to assure that he does not miss the significance of the group in white robes. That’s a good practice, to initiate spiritual conversation. We should imitate the elders in this point.

Notice, these saints are not saved by their works, even though they give their lives for their faith. These saints were those whose robes were, “made white by the blood of the Lamb.” REDEMPTION COMES BY THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST NOT HUMANS. (Romans 3:25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Nothing we can do, not even giving our lives, can cleanse us from our sin. Only faith in the work of Christ on the cross saves from sin! The concept of the shedding of the blood of Jesus may appear gruesome and unsophisticated, but it is nonetheless essential to salvation.

“These” are not the church

That these saints come from the Great Tribulation is clear by observing the literal translation of the Greek here, which is, “These are those who came out of the tribulation, the great one.” These saints are separate and distinct from the church which is represented by  the elders. When the elder speaks of the tribulation saints he identifies himself and them as separate and distinct. Furthermore, John did not know who these people were, if they were the church, John would have recognized them. The church is in heaven having been raptured before the Tribulation. But what the answer does demonstrate without a doubt, is that there will be people saved during the Tribulation. This scene takes place in heaven and these saints are those mentioned in Revelation 6:9-11 who were martyred for their faith.

 Second, some will survive and still not be saved in the Tribulation.

Returning to Matthew 25 we see incredibly, that there will be a number of people who experience the Tribulation wrath of God and still do not submit to Him. To such Jesus will say:

  • Matthew 25:41 - “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:”  [93]

Incredibly, there will be some who live through the wrathful judgments of God during the Tribulation and are given opportunity to respond to the gospel during this wakeup call of God, but who will refuse to do so. Despite the incredible revelations of God in the Tribulation, some will persist in their sin. Read what it states in Revelation:

  • Revelation 16:9,11,21 – “And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. . . . 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. . . . 21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.”  [94]

In light of this, there is good reason for such unrepentant people to be cast into an eternal place of fiery torment. Those in hell will have been given incredibly gracious and longsuffering opportunities by God to repent; our Holy God justly recompenses their refusal.

“Everlasting fire” prepared by God for the devil, not people

Notice, there is a place of everlasting fire and this place of everlasting fire was prepared for the devil and his angels, not for people. Those who reject God and follow a devilish alternative to God, will be thrown into the place of the devil and his angels. God never intended for people to go to hell, people choose hell as an eternal destination because they refuse to receive God’s gift of eternal life in Christ. Those who are so spiritually negligent and nonchalant that they do not care about their spiritual destiny, demonstrate their spiritual bankruptcy and unfitness for heaven. God will admit no one to heaven, who doesn’t want to be there.

Third, eternal destinies are determined on the basis of serving the Savior or serving self.

When Jesus pronounces His judgment on the sheep and the goats, both say, “When did we see You.”  This is recorded in the following verses:

  • Matthew 25:37-38 -  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?”  [95]
  • Matthew 25:44 - “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’”  [96]

While both groups respond with these similar words, they do so for very different reasons. The righteous say, “When did we see You,” because they are serving selflessly in the name of Jesus those in need. Those who are “cursed,” the unrighteous, say, “When did we see You” because they are so obsessed with self that they were oblivious to the need around them. Those who served righteously did so without any thought for reward, simply to serve their Lord. Those who did not serve had no thought of serving anyone other than themselves.

Fourth, when you serve or do not serve the needy, you serve or do not serve the Lord.

Jesus says:

  • Matthew 25:40 - “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”  [97]
  • Matthew 25:45 -  “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’”  [98]

When we see our service as, “you did it to Me,” it puts it into perspective. All that we do is for the Lord (Colossians 3:17,23). Think of that the next time a need is brought to your attention.  

Fifth, there is a real place of everlasting punishment and a real place of eternal life.

Jesus closes the Olivet Discourse with the words:

  • Matthew 25:46 -  “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  [99]

Therefore, before the millennial reign of Jesus “Everlasting” means everlasting. The word, “everlasting” is translated from the Greek term AIONIOS (Strong’s #166) which means, “eternal, forever, everlasting.”

Now what is important to recognize here is that the same word is used to describe the eternal nature of punishment and eternal life. Therefore, if a person interprets “everlasting punishment” as something less than forever, then they must interpret “eternal life” as being something less than forever.

Furthermore, Matthew 25:46 makes now mention or allowance for purgatory, annihilation of the damned or any other such alternative or second chance. Now, in this life, is the only time and opportunity for people to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The Bible knows nothing of any such alternatives.

This is a very sobering verse. Think of it, spending eternity in a place of perpetual pain and punishment; a place prepared for the devil and his angels, not you, but you chose to join them; a place where it’s just you and other sinners gnashing teeth and weeping remorsefully; a place where the end is never in view, where there is no hope of an end to your torment. Sounds great doesn’t it? Or, you could spend eternity, forever, in the presence of God enjoying the blessings of eternal life, the fruit of the Spirit in full bloom, fellowship with your brothers and sisters of Christ from all ages.  A place of fellowship with not only the saints of old, but most importantly, fellowship and sweet togetherness with Jesus your Lord. I think I’ll take the last option over the former thank you. Only a moron would choose eternal punishment over eternal life.

Conclusion

I would like to close this study by sharing a story I found on the Internet. The author is unknown as far as I know. But the point the story makes is in line with our study.  The story is entitled, The Letter and is as follows.

 

Ruth went to her mailbox and there was only one letter.  She picked it up and looked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:

 

Dear Ruth,

 

I'm going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I'd like to stop

by for a visit.

 

Love Always,

Jesus

 

Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. "Why would the Lord want to visit me?  I'm nobody special.  I don't have anything to offer." With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. "Oh my goodness, I really don't have anything to offer.  I'll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner."

 

She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents.  "Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least." She threw on her coat and hurried out the door.  A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk... leaving Ruth with grand total of twelve cents to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt as she headed home her meager offerings tucked under her arm.

 

Hey lady, can you help us, lady?" Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn't even noticed two figures huddled in the alley way. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.  "Look lady, I ain't got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out  here on the street, and, well, now it's getting cold and we're getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us, lady, we'd really appreciate it."

 

Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad and, frankly, she  was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to. "Sir, I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I'm having an important guest for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to Him."  "Yeah, well, OK lady, I understand.  Thanks anyway." The man put his arm around the woman's shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley.

 

As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.  "Sir wait!  Look, why don't you take this food. I'll figure out something else to serve my guest." She handed the man her grocery bag.

 

"Thank you lady.  Thank you very much!" "Yes, thank you!" said the man's wife. Ruth could see now that she was shivering. "You know, I've got another coat at home.  Here, why don't you take this one." Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman's shoulders. Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street... without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest. "Thank you lady! Thank you very much!"

 

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit and she didn't have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox. "That's odd.  The mailman doesn't usually come twice in one day." She took the envelope out of the box and opened it:

 

Dear Ruth,

 

It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal.  And thank

you, too, for the beautiful coat.

 

Love Always,

Jesus

 

The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.

 

The choices are clearly set before you. Perhaps to this point you have been more of a Christian couch potato than a servant of the Savior. Perhaps you being living a spiritless delusion of presumption thinking you’re all right and ready for Jesus to return. Perhaps you’ve lived a life looking down on the needy around you self-righteously saying, “God helps those who help themselves, get a job!” Well, if that’s the case, then this chapter in Matthew should be a sobering wakeup call to you. To be ready for Jesus’ return, you need to be born again and indwelled by the Spirit. Nothing less will qualify you for readiness. You need to get serious about serving the Lord with the resources He has blessed you with. You need to look at the world and needy around you with the compassionate eyes of Jesus. Disciple, consider, are you a disciple? Let the Spirit speak to you. Wakeup!  Be wise to the end, don’t be a foolish moron.

 

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[12]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[73]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[74]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[75] Martin Luther's Definition of Faith: An excerpt from"An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans,"

Luther's German Bible of 1522by Martin Luther, 1483-1546Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith

from DR. MARTIN LUTHER'S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHE SCHRIFTEN. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63

(Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]August 1994

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[79]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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[81]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83] The allegorization of apocalyptic parts of scripture began when historically, Christianity became accepted by the state. This happened when Constantine, as new emperor of Rome, became sympathetic to Christianity, (there is a question as to whether he did this by true conversion or political expediency) and instituted the Edict of Toleration to reward Christians who assisted him in turning the balance of power to his advantage in a fight for rule of Rome (312-313 A.D.) At this point persecution of the church stopped and Christianity shortly became the state religion of Rome. With Constantine in power, and favorable toward Christians, the church was in a position of power politically. This led to the church looking to achieve its goals via politics rather than by the Spirit. This may have happened gradually, but it happened nonetheless. The church found itself in a comfortable position relatively overnight and the need to hope for a coming Deliverer was no longer a priority. Those passages which spoke of the failures and persecution by the state created a politically incorrect environment for the church. The result was that Origen and later Augustine, as well as Martin Luther perpetuated a new and different way of interpreting the scriptures via allegorization. This resulted in seeing the church as supplanting Israel and all the Biblical promises attributed to Israel were then interpreted as applying to the church. Such a view of scripture became known as AMILLENIALISM. Such a view twists Scripture and undermines it’s intent. Such a view spawns anti-Semitism. This is ultimately a satanic strategy to destroy the Jews in the world. By destroying the Jews, Satan would prevent the fulfillment of God’s prophetic promise to revive Israel and use them in His plans. Destroying Israel would show God to be impotent and unfaithful to His covenant claims. The kingdom of God could not come because the prophetic plan could not be fulfilled.

 

[84] The Bible Knowledge Commentary states in regard to Galatians 6:16 - Peace and mercy from God are available to those who walk according to this rule, that is, according to the message of salvation by grace through faith alone. This blessing is pronounced on believing Galatians and on believing Jews. (The niv errs in trans. even to the Israel of God rather than “and upon the Israel of God” as in the nasb.) While some believe that “Israel of God” is the church, the evidence does not support such a conclusion. First, the repetition of the preposition (“upon” or “to”) indicates two groups are in view. Second, all the 65 other occurrences of the term “Israel” in the New Testament refer to Jews. It would thus be strange for Paul to use “Israel” here to mean Gentile Christians. Third, Paul elsewhere referred to two kinds of Israelites—believing Jews and unbelieving Jews (cf. Rom. 9:6). Lest it be thought that Paul is anti-Semitic, he demonstrated by means of this benediction his deep love and concern for true Israel, that is, Jews who had come to Christ. - Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.

 

[85] Two books were consulted for the comments on JWs – David A. Reed, Jehovah’s Witnesses Answered Verse By Verse, (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, MI.1986) pgs. 104-108. Ron Rhodes, Reasoning From the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, (Harvest House Pubs.: Eugene, OR 1993) pgs. 263-268.

[86]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[87]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[88]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[89]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[90]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[91]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[92]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[93]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[94]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[95]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[96]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[97]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[98]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[99]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.