Theme: Faith without works is dead.
This weeks lessons teach us that laziness and evil behavior must not characterize Gods people
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
What do most people think of when one speaks of dying? Most probably do not want to think of it at all, of course; they are not certain what, if anything, lies beyond death’s door. But if they do speak about it, assuming that something does lie beyond this present life, they think of the afterlife in pleasant terms. At the very least they think of a continuation of life as we know it. Or if not that, it must be something considerably better. Very few consider that it may be worse. They cannot imagine the Almighty to be a God of rigid judgment.
This has caused theologian R. C. Sproul to speak of what he has called the doctrine of “justification by death.” It used to be that Protestants and Catholics argued over justification. Protestants said that justification is by faith alone (sola fide). Catholics said that it is by faith plus works (fide et operae). But today that disagreement is outdistanced in the minds of many people, because they seem to think that to get to heaven all one has to do is die. One is justified by death alone (sola morte).
In this our contemporaries are irrational, as they are in most other spiritual matters. This is an evil world. All sins are not judged in this world, nor are all good deeds rewarded. The righteous do suffer. The guilty do go free. If this is a moral universe, if it is created and ruled by a moral God, then there must be a reckoning hereafter in which those tables are balanced out. The good must prosper, and the evil must be punished.
In most theological volumes on eschatology (the last things), there are three great points of emphasis: the return of Christ, the resurrection of the body, and the final judgment. But of the three, the only one that is truly reasonable is the last. There is no reason why Jesus should return again. He came once and was rejected. If he should write us off and never give so much as a second thought to this planet, it would be totally understandable. It is the same with the resurrection: “Dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19). If that is all there is, who can complain? We have had our lives. Why should we expect anything more? There is nothing logical in either of those two matters in and of themselves. But judgment? That is the most logical thing in the universe, and every story in this chapter cries out that there will certainly be a final day of reckoning.
In the first case, it was when the bridegroom came. In the second case, it was when the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them(Matthew 25:19). In the third case, it is when “the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him” and the nations are gathered together before him for his judgement (vv. 31-32).
What part of God’s character do most people tend to ignore?
Why is it rational to conclude that there will be a time of reckoning?
To read more about justification by faith and the wonderful grace of God, read Faith Alone by R. C. Sproul, or Dr. Boice’s book, The Glory of God’s Grace,
What evidence of God’s grace comes to light as you read todays lesson? Think on the glory of His grace and thank Him.