Thursday, March 27, 2014

Matthew 25

(My BSF Notes)

Last week Jesus told us the signs of the end of the age and that all these terrible things must happen before He returns.  He told us we need to be prepared and ready, because we don't know the day or hour He will return.

This study of Matthew 25 are parables relating to Christ's return.  He warns us and tells us to be prepared for His unexpected return, that our rewards will be based on our faithfulness and the use of the talents He has given us, and that to love Him fully we need to put our faith into action.

Do you enjoy waiting?  We wait eagerly for lots of things.  We have hope and wait eagerly and are excited for a child to be born.  We get prepared for what we expect like furnishing the nursery and buying baby clothes.  Are you excited for Jesus to return?  As we are waiting for Jesus to return we are not to just to sit there.  As we wait we are to share and show Christ to others.  He wants us to be doing something.  He wants us to be prepared.  No matter what you are going through there is hope and encouragement to know we will be with Jesus someday. 

Matthew 25:1-13 - The Parable of the Ten Virgins

The kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins with lamps and oil who were waiting for the bridegroom to come to the wedding banquet.  "Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps." - Matt. 25:2-4.  The bridegroom was a long time coming and they became drowsy and fell asleep.  When he finally came the foolish virgins ran out of oil and wanted the wise virgins to give them some of their oil, but they would not.  They were told to go buy oil.  When they were buying oil, the bridegroom came.  The wise virgins went in with the bridegroom to the banquet and the door was shut allowing the foolish virgins to not enter.

In this parable Christ is the Bridegroom, the ten virgins represent the entire body of Christians who claim to follow Jesus, the lamp represents our outward profession of faith, and the oil represents the Holy Spirit which produces light in our lives.  The Holy Spirit is a gift from God given to a person when he accepts Jesus as Savior.  The Bridegroom waited a longer time in coming than they had expected and they became less eager as they waited.  We are the same today.  We become preoccupied with life and all we have going on day to day and simply are not excited or eager at His return.

The wise virgins who were prepared and had plenty of oil could not give the oil to those who were did not have oil.  We cannot give the Holy Spirit to another person.  Each one must receive the Holy Spirit himself.  When the Bridegroom came, it was too late to seek the oil.  When Jesus returns, it will be too late to receive Him and His Holy Spirit.  All people have the opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and have eternal life with Him.  If we wait until He returns, it will be too late.

The foolish virgins never really had a relationship with the bridegroom.  They were over confident and fooled themselves thinking they were accepted by the bridegroom.  They were pretenders.  They didn't understand that the bridegroom would come in his timing and not theirs.  When the door was shut, they begged him to open the door and let them in.  "I tell you the truth, I don't know you.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." - Matt. 25:12-13.  Jesus knows our hearts.  The Shepherd knows which sheep are His.

This parable teaches us that Jesus is coming for sure.  We need to be prepared and not surprised at His coming.  It teaches there is no second chances.  If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior before He comes again, it will be too late to make that decision once He returns.  You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool Jesus.

Jesus gave no reason for the bridegroom's late arrival.  Peter explained it.  "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9.  Jesus didn't judge the foolish virgins for falling asleep, but because they didn't bring extra oil and were not prepared for the bridegroom coming.

We are to be prepared and ready for Christ's return.
Only those who truly know Jesus before His return are prepared.
How are you prepared for His return?
Will He recognize you as His faithful follower?
How are you helping others get ready for His return?
Do you think you are saved, but not sure?
Will you ask God to reassure you?

Matthew 25:14-30 - The Parable of the Talents

The kingdom of heaven will be like a man going on a journey who trusted his servant with his property.  In this parable Jesus is the master and His servants are His followers.  A talent in those days was money.  In this passage the talent represents God's truth, the Bible and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  You can also look at talents as the gifts He gives us.  "To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability." - Matt. 25:15.  God owns everything and we own nothing.  He lets us use what He owns.  He trusts us to use it for His purpose.  The talents He gives us are different for each person according to our abilities.

The servant he gave 5 talents use it and gained 5 more talents.  He represents someone who knows the Bible, has many abilities, and has many opportunities to spread the gospel to others which he does.  The servant he gave 2 talents used it and gained 2 more talents.  He represents someone who has average ability and average opportunities.  Maybe he is a quiet Christian, but influences others for Christ.  The servant he gave 1 talent as fearful and buried it in the ground gaining nothing.  He represents someone who understood about God, but refused to take God's promises for himself.  He didn't want the responsibility.  He buried his knowledge and said "I can't do it".  His faith without works was dead.  To bury God's light and refuse salvation is to deserve hell. (Matt. 25:30).

When the master returned, he was pleased with the first 2 servants and rewarded them with many things.  They had been responsible, faithful, and diligent.  "Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with few things;  I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master's happiness!" - Matt. 25:21, 23.  This teaches us that God is fair and just.  He is wise and rewards those who serve Him.  He expects us to serve Him with what He has given us.  We are to accept the talent He gives us and we don't need to compare our talent with the talents of others. 

The servant who hid his 1 talent was like church members who hear the gospel but refuse to take God's promise for themselves.  He was fearful, had excuses for everything, blamed the master, had a very legalistic view of the master, was angry and frustrated with the master for giving him talents, and didn't even want the responsibility.  The master called him "wicked" and "lazy".  Then the master took his talent away and gave it to the servant with 10 talents and sent judgment on him.  "And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." - Matt. 25:30.  Even though we go to church, read the Bible and hang out with believers, if we don't obey God we are worthless to Him. 

Believers are called to take obedient risks for Christ to multiply their faith.

Are you using the knowledge of God's Word He has given you?
How are you putting that knowledge to work?
Do you bury what God has given you?
What risks is He asking you to take?

Matthew 25:31-46 - Judgment of Nations

Jesus came the first time for salvation.  He will come the 2nd time for judgment. At His 2nd coming He will come with His angels and will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.  This period will begin the Millennium as described in Rev. 20, which is Christ's 1,000 year reign on earth.  There will be 2 judgments.  One is the judgment of nations in Matt. 25 which takes place before the Millennium begins.  This will be a judgment on those who are alive at that time.  Those dead before He comes will either be already in heaven or hell. (Rev. 20:4-6).  The last judgment to come is called the white throne judgment will take place at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:111-15).  This is when non-believers of all ages whose names are not written in the book of life are raised for judgment.

"All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." - Matt. 25:32-33.  Jesus will be the judge.  All nations are people still living when Christ returns.  The sheep are believers.  They will be put them on the right hand of the King, Jesus, a place of honor.  They will inherit the blessing of the kingdom.  They are the ones still alive after the tribulation and who treated God's servants by giving them food when hungry, drink when thirsty, invited them in when a strange, clothes when needed, looked after them when sick, visited them in prison.  Jesus said by doing these things for them they were doing it for Him. (Matt. 25:34-40).  Jesus recognizes work and help given to His people.  He rewards us even after He has saved us from sin and death.  He always knows our heart's motives.

The goats are unbelievers.  They will be put on the left and sentenced to punishment.  They are those who reject Jesus.  He says, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." - Matt. 25:41.  They did not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, invite in a stranger, clothe when needed, look after the sick, or visit those in prison.  Therefore, they did not do it to Jesus. (Matt. 25:42-43).  Out of fear and self preservation they did not expose themselves to helping God's people.   They were heartless and selfish.  Hell is eternal punishment.  God doesn't send people to hell, people choose to go there.

How can we change our inner motives to be like His?  We can pray, fast, and obey.  We can study God's Word and follow Jesus' example.  We can accept and apply Jesus' teachings in our mind, heart, soul, and strength.  We can have a humble loving sacrificial heart and live by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

Principle:  The righteous will inherit the kingdom of heaven and go to eternal life, but the wicked will go to everlasting fire for eternal punishment.

What can you do to serve Jesus?
How are you loving Jesus through people in your church and community?
What assures you that you have been born again by God's Spirit?
Are you ready for His return?

Lots to think about in this lesson.  Lots of soul-searching to do.  Next time we will cover Matthew 26:1-46 - the plot against Jesus, Jesus betrayal, the Lord's Supper, and Jesus predicts Peter's denial.

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