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The Sheep and the Goats, Part 1

The Sheep and the Goats, Part 1

sheep-and-goats

“Having given His disciples many parables illustrating the experiences of the Church, the Kingdom class, in their development and preparation for Kingdom honor, it was eminently proper that Jesus should give the parable of “The Sheep and the Goats” a lesson to illustrate the work of the Kingdom AFTER its establishment—to show its purpose, and its effect upon the world of mankind.”

“In line with this, our Lord in this parable tells what is to befall after His Kingdom shall have been set up— after the selection of the true Church class to be the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife and Joint-heir in His Kingdom, in His Throne.” (R 5530 par. 1, 3)

Other sheep I have which are not of THIS fold (“this fold” being in reference to the Overcoming Church); them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd.”(John 10:16)

During the Gospel Age the Lord has but one Church, one flock who follow him. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) From the very first there has been no change in the Lord’s flock, either in the terms of discipleship or in the reward promised (the same terms have been offered to both Jew and Gentile alike); as we read, “Ye are called in one hope of your calling.”(Eph 4:4)

“The “other sheep” evidently refer to others who will become the Lord’s followers under different conditions and under a different call from that which has gone forth during the Gospel Age. The present flock is called upon to sacrifice the earthly nature and become partakers, with the Master and Shepherd, of the divine nature. (Rom 12:1, 2; 2 Tim 2:11, 12; 2 Pet 1:3, 4) The Lord’s flock of the future will not be invited to sacrifice and to a change of nature, but will, on the contrary, be privileged to maintain and retain the human nature; and by obedience will gradually, step by step, experience Restitution (Acts 3:19-21) to perfection of mind and body and morals, lost through sin in Eden and redeemed by the great Sacrifice at Calvary. These are not now of the “flock,” (i.e. of “this fold” mentioned in John 10:16) for they are not invited to the divine nature and a heavenly mansion, but will be invited to earthly nature and Paradise restored during the reign of Messiah.”

WHEN HE WHO IS OUR LIFE APPEARS WE SHALL APPEAR WITH HIM

These other sheep are particularly mentioned by our Master in Matt 25:31-46. This parable of “the sheep and the goats” belongs, not to this Age–the Gospel Age –but to the coming Age–during the Messianic reign.”

Its location is fixed by the introductory sentence–“When the Son of Man shall come in His GLORY.”

The Savior has not yet appeared in his glory, and the promise is that “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye [the Church, the sheep of the present Age] also appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:4) In a word, the overcoming “sheep” of the Gospel Age will be associated with the Great Shepherd in his work of dealing with the world of mankind during his reign. Then all mankind will be on judgment or trial, to be tested with a view to proving who will develop the sheep-like disposition (i.e. who will compose the Lord’s “other sheep”), and who will develop the goat-like disposition.” (R 4784 par. 1-4)

“Those sheep and goats will not include the Church, to whom the promise is, “When he shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory“–sharing his Throne. The salvation of the Church will be finished before the salvation of the world will begin. This parable pictures the salvation of the world, showing us how every member of Adam’s race will be on trial during the reign of Messiah and, by his obedience or disobedience to the light and knowledge then prevailing, he will be deciding his own everlasting future, either as a sheep or as a goat. It will require the entire one thousand years of Messiah’s reign to complete the testing and separating work.” (R 4694 par. 2, 3)

When the Son of man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the Throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”

Who, after proper consideration, will say that this is a matter of the past? Who will dispute that this is a description of Messiah’s Kingdom following His Parousia (presence) and His Epiphania (“shining forth” or “bright shining”) at His Second Advent?” (R 5530 par. 3)

Continued with next post.

 

The Sheep and the Goats, Part 3

The Sheep and the Goats, Part 3

 

sheep-and-goats

The gradual work of separating sheep and goats will require all of the Millennial Age for its accomplishment. During that age, each individual as he comes gradually to a knowledge of God and his will, by conforming or not conforming thereto, takes his place at the right hand of favor, or the left hand of disfavor accordingly as he either improves or fails to improve the opportunities of that golden age. By the end of that age, all the world of mankind (not the present Church) will have arranged themselves, as shown in the parable, into two classes. As in nature, sheep are far more numerous than goats, so we doubt not that with the perfect knowledge then possessed, the sheep company will far outnumber the goats. (This in contrasts with the present age in which the goats far outnumber the sheep).

With the end of that age comes the end of the world’s trial, or judgment, and the final disposition made between the two classes. The goats who have not developed the element of love–the law of God’s being and kingdom–are not counted worthy of life, and must be destroyed, while the sheep who have developed, and by deeds (works) exhibited God-likeness (love) are to be installed as the rulers of earth for future ages.

The work of restitution will not be quite complete until the great mass of mankind, having been restored to the perfect condition, is re-invested with the dominion of earth as possessed by Adam before sin entered, as God had said, “After our likeness let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, over the cattle and over all the earth,…and over every living thing that moves upon the earth“–a ruler over earth, like as God is ruler over all things. And the Psalmist expresses the same idea, saying, Thou hast made man a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor; thou made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. (Psa 8:5-8) The dominion is not to be over each other, for when the law of love controls human hearts, there will be no necessity for dominion over one another, though by mutual consent, prompted by love, regulations may be made among themselves for the common good and blessing of all.

This, then, is the kingdom that has been preparing for MANKIND from the foundation of the world. It was expedient that man should suffer six thousand years under the dominion of evil (“The Permission of Evil”, which see), to learn its inevitable results, misery and death, and in order by contrast to prove the justice, wisdom and goodness of God’s law–love. Then it requires the seventh thousandth year under the reign of Christ, to restore him from ruin and death, to the perfect condition, thereby fitting him to inherit the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world.

This kingdom in which all are kings, will really be a GRAND REPUBLIC, whose stability and blessed influence will be assured, by the perfection of every member, which result now so much desired is an impossibility. The kingdom of the saints is on the contrary a Theocracy, which will rule the world (during the period of its imperfection and restoration) without regard to their consent or approval.

But the righteous will inquire why they are crowned with such glory, honor and dominion. And the Lord’s reply:

I was hungry, and you fed me; thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; in prison, and you came unto me.” “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Let us notice who these are that Jesus calls his brethren, and in what sense the deeds here named may be true of them. We observe, first, that Jesus is addressing all the sheep or the righteous class, at the end of the millennial age. By then all of that class will have had opportunity to minister to the necessities of the Lord’s brethren.

Jesus calls the Church of the Gospel age his brethren (Matt 12:49, 50) but all of the sheep class then addressed, will not have had opportunity to minister to those brethren. Millions of the sheep class will be of those who lived before the Gospel Church had an existence; and others will have been born during the millennial age, after the Gospel Church has been exalted and no longer needs their ministry.

The brethren of the Gospel Church then are not the only brethren of Christ, all who at that time will have been restored to perfection, will be recognized as sons of God; sons in the same sense that Adam was a son of God (Luke 3:38) —human sons. And all of God’s sons whether on the human, the angelic, or the divine planes, are BRETHREN. Jesus’ love for these, his brethren, is here expressed. As the world now has opportunity to minister to those who are shortly to be the divine sons of God, and brethren of Christ, so they will have abundant opportunity during that age to minister to (each other) their human brethren.

The dead nations when again brought into existence will need food, and raiment, and shelter. However great may have been their possessions in this life, death will have brought all to a common level; the infant and the old man, the millionaire and the pauper, the learned and the unlearned, the cultured and the ignorant and degraded, and all will have an abundant opportunity for the exercise of benevolence, and thus they will be privileged to be co-workers with God lifting each other up out of the mire of sin and degradation. We are here reminded of the illustration given in the case of Lazarus: Jesus only awakened him from death, and then permitted the rejoicing friends to loose him from his grave clothes and clothe him and feed him.

Further, these are said to be “sick and in prison,” (more properly, under ward or watch.) The grave is the great prison where the millions of humanity have been held in unconscious captivity; but when released from the grave, the restoration to perfection is not an instantaneous work. Being not yet perfect, they may properly be termed sick and under ward. They are not dead, neither are they yet perfect; and any condition between those two is properly called sick. And they will continue to be under watch or ward until made well –physically, mentally, and morally perfect. During that time there will be abundant opportunity for mutual helpfulness, sympathy, instruction and encouragement.

Since mankind will not all be raised at once, but in separate ranks or orders (1 Cor 15:23) during the thousand years, each new rank will find an army of helpers in those who will have preceded them. The love and benevolence which men will then show to each other (the brethren of Christ) the King will count as shown to him. No great deeds are assigned as the ground for the honors and favors conferred upon the righteous; they have simply come into harmony with God’s law–love–and proved it by their works. “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:10), and “God is love,” so, when man is restored again to the image of God, declaredvery good” –man also will be love.

Then follows the message to those on the left–“Depart from me ye cursed (condemned)“–condemned, as unfit vessels for the glory and honor of life, who chose not to yield to the molding and shaping influences of divine love. When these my brethren (the world of mankind then raised) were hungry, and thirsty, naked, sick, and in prison, ye ministered not to their necessities (failed to perform the necessary “works”, acts of benevolence, love then prerequisite for those being fitted for the everlasting kingdom), thus continually proving yourselves out of harmony with the heavenly city (kingdom) for “there shall in no case enter into it anything that defiles.”

The decision and sentence regarding this class is, “Depart from me into everlasting fire [symbol of destruction, the second death] prepared for the devil and his angels.” Elsewhere (Heb 2:14) we read in plain language that Christ “will destroy…him that has the power of death that is the devil.” And the lake of fire is defined to be the second death (Rev 20:14).

And these” [the goats] “go away into everlasting punishment” [cutting off–Diaglott–cutting off from life] “but the righteous into life eternal.” The punishment is as lasting as the reward. The reward is everlasting life; the punishment the opposite, everlasting death; a death from which there will be no redemption, no resurrection.

To the sheep it is said, Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But though God give it to man at first, and designs restoring it to him when he has prepared him for the great trust, we are not to suppose that God intends man to rule it except as under or in harmony with his supreme law. Thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven,” must forever be the rule. Man henceforth will rule his dominion in harmony with the law of heaven–delighting continually to do his will “in whose favor is life, and at whose right hand [condition of favor] there are pleasures forevermore.” (Psa 16:11) O who would not say, “Haste thee along ages of glory,” and give glory and honor to him whose loving plans are blossoming into such fullness of blessing.

 

The Sheep and the Goats, Part 2

The Sheep and the Goats, Part 2

sheep-and-goats

APPLICATION OF THIS PARABLE

Next follows a description of the work of the Millennial Age. “Before Him shall be gathered all nations” This means all the people of the world outside of the Lord’s holy nation, His peculiar people, the Church. Everybody except the Church will be before His great white Throne of Justice, Mercy and Love; that will be their judgment time.

Six thousand years ago, Adam and his entire race were judged in Eden, and the sentence was death. None of the race are worthy of everlasting life. They are all sinners. In due time God sent His Son to die for Adam’s sin, in order that, “as by a man came death [of the entire race], by a man [Jesus] also will come the resurrection of the dead” [the entire race] “For as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive”–“every man in his own order.”1 Cor 15:21, 22

 The first order to be made alive in Christ is the Church, called out of the world, separated, “begotten again” of the Holy Spirit. These pass their judgment, their trial, for life everlasting or death everlasting in the present time, i.e. during the Gospel Age.

Those in the parable are such as have accepted Christ’s terms and desire to be on judgment, or on trial, for everlasting life. This will include all in their graves, who, the Master tells us, will come forth, not all at once, but gradually. Messiah’s Kingdom will exercise its power and disseminate the knowledge of God and of righteousness, with a view to encouraging, helping and uplifting all the willing and obedient. All such may rise more and more out of sin and death conditions–out of imperfection of mind and body and out of immoral conduct to the full image of God, as possessed by Father Adam in the beginning.

Many however have stumbled over the the exact time of this judgement with most erroneously assuming that it takes place at the end of the Gospel age.

However the location (or time) of our parable is fixed by the rule of judgment or trial prescribed, viz., works. The positions assigned on the right hand or left, are expressly stated to be because (or inasmuch as) certain works were done or not done, viz., “insomuch as you didVerse 40 and “insomuch as you did notVerse 45.

The trial or judgment of the church NOW during the Gospel age is not of works, but of faith.” By grace are YOU saved through FAITH “Not of works lest any man should boast.” “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Mark 16:16.

The reason for this, (that is the reason why you are saved by faith and not by works at the present time) may be readily seen: To test men by works in the Gospel age while under the dominion of the Prince of this world, and greatly crippled by the imperfections of our fallen nature, would be a very unfair standard. Hence, though now works according to our ability must naturally follow faith, our justification and reward are according to our faith, and not according to our works.

In the coming age the circumstances will be very different. With Satan bound, evil and error restrained, the clear light of truth shining, driving away all obscurity, mist, darkness and error, and consequently driving away all room and opportunity for doubt, faith will become the possession of all mankind: all will know the Lord from the least to the greatest. Therefore we may see the reasonableness of the Scripture teaching that the test in the next age will not be faith, which none could then avoid, but works, which under those favorable circumstances should result from the knowledge and opportunities then afforded.

We know of no statement of Scripture relative to the world’s trial during the Millennial Age, which mentions any other test of approval other than that of works. Of course, this will imply and include a previous faith in the ransom. Works will be the test of judgment in that age as faith is the test in this age.

Works was the basis of the Law covenant, which with its mediator– Moses, was a shadow or type of the good things coming–the New Covenant and its mediator –Christ. And thus Moses wrote of Christ, saying: “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me. Him shall ye hear in all things: and it shall come to pass that every soul [person] that will not hear [heed] that prophet (do, perform as instructed) shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:22, 23) This shows obedience (works) to be the basis of the antitypical covenant–the “New Covenant.”

The Apocalypse (or Revelation) teaches the same lesson regarding the world’s trial in the Millennial age, when the present thrones are cast down and the ruler-ship of earth is handed over to the saints, (Rev 20:4) when Satan is restrained (Verse 2); when the glorious New Jerusalem (heavenly kingdom) has come to rule the earth in harmony with the laws of heaven; and when the nations are being guided and directed by the light of truth shed abroad from it, (Rev 21:23, 24) When the books (of Scripture) are opened, and their teachings made clear and plain to all, and another book or record of those worthy of life-everlasting is open for recording the names of those who then shall be the Lord’s “sheep,” and worthy, as shown in the parable, to enjoy his favor and everlasting life; when the GREAT WHITE THRONE, representative of purity, justice, fairness and impartiality of the TRIAL, when all the world—small and great shall be tried by Him that sits upon the throne, the basis of that judgment or trial is expressly stated in these words, “And they were judged every man according to their works.” Rev 20:13

In perfect harmony then, is the teaching of Jesus in the parable under consideration. Love and its fruit, good works, will be the ground upon which the sheep of that age will be rewarded; and failure to develop and exercise these, under such favorable circumstances, is the peculiarity of the wayward “goat” class, condemned as unworthy of life–to be cut off–to die. God deems them unworthy of life, and our hearts and minds bow to his all-wise decision, “Every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.” Let it not be forgotten that the millennial trial according to works, and ability of those being tried to render works of merit and approval, is based upon their redemption from the Adamic curse, by Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all. Had it not been for that redemption there never would be a millennial age of blessing and trial for the dead race. There could have been neither awakening nor trial had we not been bought with His precious blood.

Continued with next post.

The Rich Man and Lazarus, Part 1

The Rich Man and Lazarus, Part 1

rich-man-poor-man

There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.

Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’  Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:19-31)

While these scriptures are clearly to be taken as a parable it is generally treated as if it were a literal statement, by the Orthodox Church, and so most professed Christians regard it. However to regard it as such, as the majority do, especially those who believe in the theory of eternal torment for nearly everyone but themselves of course, involves any one of a number of absurdities; for instance:

  1. It is stated that the rich man went to hell simply because he had enjoyed many earthly blessings and gave nothing but crumbs to Lazarus. Not a word is said about whether or not he was good man or an evil man; the fact is there is no mention at all of any wickedness on his part. Again, Lazarus is blessed, not because he is a sincere child of God, full of faith and trust–not because he was good, but simply because he was poor and sick. If this be understood literally, the only logical lesson to be drawn from it is, that unless you are a poor beggar, full of sores, you will never enter into future bliss, and if now you wear any “fine linen” and “purple,” and have plenty to eat every day, you are sure to go to hades and be tormented forever.
  2. The plain fact is, there is not a single word in this much discussed parable about the Rich Man being a wicked man or of the Poor Man, Lazarus, been a good man. Merely being good will not save us, “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. “ (Gal 2:16) We are saved through faith in our redeemers “perfect works” in our behalf. There is no mention of Lazarus having faith in Christ, of his having been a believer, of having accepted the one name under the heavens by which we may be saved. On what grounds then to we have in saying that he should go to heaven? Are we to believe that there is another way not made known to us?
  3. Why must the “Rich Man” be alive in torment when he is supposed to be DEAD? Is it not written, “The wages of sin is death” how then is it that he died and was buried and yet is conscious of his condition? Is it not likewise written that the dead know nothing, that “there is no work or device or knowledge (awareness) or wisdom in the grave where thou goes?” (Eccl 9:10) If “hell” is a place of “forgetfulness,” (Psa 88:11, 12) how could the “Rich Man” remember his “five brothers?”

This parable, rightly understood, does not in the remotest degree teach the monstrous doctrine of eternal torment.

  1. Also note the place of favor is stated to be Abraham’s bosom; if the whole statement is literal, then the bosom must be literal too. Abraham’s bosom could not possibly hold the millions of sick and poor people from the earth. Poor Abraham would experience considerable difficulty in clasping all of the poor to his expansive bosom!

Why consider these absurdities? All unprejudiced minds must recognize it as a parable.

“As a parable, how then shall we understand it? We answer, that a parable is one thing said, another thing meant; we know this from some of the other parables explained to us by the Lord. For instance, the parable of the “Wheat and Tares” from his explanation of the parable we learn that when in that parable he said wheat, he meant “children of the kingdom;” when he said tares, he meant (to those who would understand the parable) “the children of the devil;” when he said reapers, angels were to be understood, etc. (See Matt 13) So you will find it in every parable explained by our Lord; the thing said is never the thing meant; consequently in this parable “a rich man” means something else. Lazarus and Abraham’s bosom are not literal, but represent some class and condition.” (R283) “In this parable the rich man represents a class, and Lazarus another class; and the narrative applies to these classes.”

“The rich man represented the Jewish people which up to and at the time of the parable “fared sumptuously,” as the special recipients of God’s favors. As Paul said, the Jews had “much advantage every way, chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God” (the Law and Prophecy). The promises to Abraham and David invested that people with royalty, as represented by the rich man’s “purple.” The typical sacrifices of the law, constituted them in a typical sense, a “holy nation,” represented by the rich man’s “fine linen“–symbolic of righteousness —Rev 19:8.” (R1087)

Continued with next post.

 

The Rich Man and Lazarus, Part 2

The Rich Man and Lazarus, Part 2

the-great-gulf

“Lazarus represented the God-fearing people of other nations debarred, until the close of the Jewish Age, from those blessings conferred upon Israel specially. As the linen represented Israel’s justification, so the sores represented moral defilement in this class, for whose justification no sin-offering had at that time been made. They were not even typically cleansed, and had as yet no share in the rich promises of the kingdom. They were on the contrary outcasts, strangers from the commonwealth of Israel.

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:11-13.)

As to how these ate of the “crumbs” of divine favor which fell from Israel’s table of bounties, and how they accounted themselves as companions of “dogs,” the Lord’s conversation with the Syro-Phoenician woman, who was one of this class, offers a clear explanation.”

“He said to this Gentile woman–“It is not meet (proper) to take the children’s (Israelites) bread and give it to the dogs” (Gentiles); and she answered, “Yea, Lord, but the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”–Matt. 15:27. Jesus healed her daughter, thus giving the desired crumb of favor. Dogs were regarded as detestable creatures in those days, and the typically clean Jew called the outsiders “heathen” and “dogs,” and would never eat with them, nor marry nor have any dealings with them.”–John 4:9

But there came a change to both of these classes. The “rich man” (the Jewish nation) died, ceased to exist as a nation, and as the national representatives of God’s favors, when God’s favors were taken from them (Matt. 21:43) and given to those formerly outcasts.

But there came a change to both of these classes, a time when the typical righteousness of the Jew ceased–when the promise of royalty ceased to be theirs, and the kingdom was taken from them to be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (Matt. 21:43) The rich man died to all these special advantages and soon he (the Jewish nation) found himself in “Gehenna fire“, NOT a place, but rather a condition–a cast-off condition, in trouble, tribulation and affliction, in which they as a people have suffered (been in torment) to this very day hindered by their law prejudices (as a great gulf) from accepting of Christ.

The “Lazarus” class also died, or ceased from their former condition, and from the Gentiles many were carried by the angels (messengers, apostles, etc.) to Abraham’s bosom. Abraham is represented as the father of the faith-full and receives to his bosom all the children of faith–who thus are recognized as the heirs to all the promises made to Abraham. For the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the “children of the promise are counted for the seed” (children of Abraham) “which seed is Christ,” and “if ye be Christ’s then are ye (believers) Abraham’s seed (children) and heirs according to the (Abrahamic) promise.”–Gal. 3:29. Yes, the condition of things then existing terminated by death–at the death of Jesus–“for if one died for all, then were all dead.” There the Jew was cast off and has since been shown “no favor,” and the poor Gentiles who before had been “aliens from the commonwealth (the promises) of Israel and without God and having no hope in the world,” were then “brought nigh by the blood of Christ” and “reconciled to God.”–Eph. 2:13.

If the two tribes living in Judea (Judah and Benjamin) were represented by one rich man, would it not be in harmony to suppose that the “five brothers” represented the remaining ten tribes, who had “Moses and the Prophets” as their instructors? The question relative to them was doubtless introduced to show that all special favor of God ceased to the ten tribes, as well as to the two directly addressed. It seems to us evident, that Israel only was meant, for none other nation than Israel had “Moses and the prophets” as instructors.”

The rich man replied, “… but if one went to them from the dead, they would repent.” One did actually go from the dead—Lazarus by name—but still they did not repent. In other words, the fact the beggar in the parable was named “Lazarus” is a reference to the Lazarus that Jesus would raise subsequently in the Jerusalem area. Jesus was on his way there now, so this parable would have been fresh in the Pharisees’ minds when the raising occurred (and yet they neither believed nor repented). And even when Jesus himself was raised from the dead, the five brothers (Israel as a nation) did not believe.”

In a word, this parable seems to teach precisely what Paul explained in Rom 11:19-31. How that because of unbelief, the natural branches were broken off, and the wild branches grafted in to the Abrahamic promises. In the parable, Jesus leaves them in the trouble, and does not refer to their final restoration to favor, doubtless because it was not pertinent to the feature of the subject treated; but Paul assures us, that when the fullness of the Gentiles–the Bride–be come in “they (the Israelites) shall obtain mercy through your (the Church’s) mercy.” He assures us that this is God’s covenant with fleshly Israel (they lost the higher–spiritual–promises, but are still the possessors of certain earthly promises) to become the chief nation of earth, etc. In proof of this statement, he quotes the Prophets, saying: “The deliverer shall come out of Zion, (the glorified church,) and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” (the fleshly seed). As concerning the Gospel, (high calling) they are enemies, (cast off) for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. “For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. Romans 11:30-32.

(Excerpts taken from R283 and R1087)

The Parable of the Talents

The Parable of the Talents

 (Matt. 25:14-30)

talents

HOW SHALL WE PAY OUR VOWS?

This is an important question with all the truly consecrated, and one surely of paramount importance. Let us consider, then, that when we consecrated ourselves fully to the Lord, we thereby signified that we would hold nothing back for self. That consecration included all our possessions, our time, our physical energies and our mental attainments. And it implied the sacrifice of all our former earthly ambitions hopes and aims, so that we should no longer pursue them to any extent. This, and nothing less, is what our vow of full consecration signifies.

But it signifies, further, that these possessions or personal qualifications, which the Lord terms talents, are not only to be released from the service of the worldly ambitions, etc., but that they are to be so released, not for aimless inactivity, but for the purpose of being utilized in an opposite direction–in the service of God, of his plan and of his children.

In the parable of the talents the Lord illustrated very clearly how we are expected to pay our vows of consecration to the Most High. He says: “It is like a man who, intending to travel called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to each according to his respective capacity; and straightway took his journey.”

TO EACH ACCORDING TO ABILITY

This master had important and valuable interests to leave in charge of his servants; and as these servants had all engaged to serve him, he had a right to expect of them a sincere and faithful interest in the work. Yet he did not expect more of them than they were severally able to accomplish. He rightly expected larger returns from the one who had five talents than from those who had one or two talents. And in the reckoning, it will be observed that the servant who had doubled his two talents was just as highly commended as the one who had doubled his five. The reply to each was the same–“Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” And had the servant with the one talent been similarly faithful he would have received the very same commendation. Notice also that the parable does not represent the obligations of the world of mankind in the use of their talents, but merely of “his own servants“– the consecrated believers only.

And notice also that no servant was left without some talent of usefulness and responsibility. Each servant had at least one talent; and for the right use of that one talent he was just as accountable to his master as were those who had more.

But the professed servant with the one talent was unfaithful to his master, and yet he evidently wanted to be considered a servant still, and probably thought he was worthy of commendation and reward for not perverting his Lord’s money to other uses. He had taken good care of the talent; he had not turned it in opposition to the Lord, but he had simply buried it–failed to use it. At the reckoning time, he who had received the one talent said, “Lord, I knew thee, that thou art an exacting man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not scattered. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth; lo, there thou hast thy own.”

“His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not scattered; thou ought therefore to have put my money to *the exchangers; and then at my coming I should have received mine own with interest.” It will be observed that this servant was not what men would generally call wicked. He was simply an idler, willing, if he could, to draw a servant’s approval and compensation, but lacking any real, active interest in his master’s business. He had no ill will toward his master; he was probably very glad that the other servants kept the business from going to wreck and ruin; he did nothing to hinder them from using their talents, but he did not feel the responsibility he had assumed in becoming a “servant,” nor take a proper interest in his master’s affairs. Yet, as a faithless, slothful servant, he was really a covenant-breaker, and therefore “wicked” and certainly unfit to be trusted with still greater responsibilities on the master’s return.

But let us remember that this was not a real case: it was simply a parable used to illustrate real cases. And if the illustration fits your individual case, let it not lose its effect upon you. The very object of the parable is to arouse such to a sense of their short-comings, and to recover them from the lethargy into which they have relaxed, by reminding them of their responsibilities. Activity in the Lord’s service to the full extent of our ability or talents is what the Lord has a right to expect of all who profess to be his servants; and it is what he does expect. Therefore, if you have but one talent, do not bury it, but cultivate and use it; do what you can, and all you can, in the great work to which we have already consecrated our lives.

Do not fear my friends if after putting forth your best efforts in the Lord’s service you see no immediate results, remember the Lord does not require the assistance of any of us to accomplish his purposes he is simply allowing us the honor of working in his vineyard in order to gauge the sincerity of our love, for him, the brethren and for the truth. Whether or not you or I personally accomplish anything at all is not the point, he is not judging you according to what you are able to accomplish he judging the intentions of your heart.

*The “exchangers” are the Lord’s people. Truth is exchanged from one brother to another and so on and so forth. You should make use of the knowledge which the Lord has given you to the best of your ability, in fact this is the Church’s most important work; the edifying of one another, that we might build one another up in our most holy faith, truth is to be shared not buried.

MUCH GIVEN, MUCH REQUIRED

Those who have several talents let them see to it that they too are faithful to the extent of their abilities, not being content to do merely what the one-talented man can do or ought to do. Such a one would not be a good and faithful servant, and could not expect the Master’s approving “Well done!” His approval will be given to those only who are faithful to the full extent of their opportunity.

Those who find the truth and make the consecration before they are encumbered with the cares of this life, who have no families dependent upon them and who have a reasonable degree of health, have at least two talents–time and health–which can and ought to be utilized in the service to the best possible advantage. Then there are those who have a money talent, or a business talent, and such should consider how these are being used. Are they largely swallowed up in luxuries, or a superabundance of the good things of this life, for either self or family? Or are they being laid up as treasures upon earth–in banks, store-houses and investment securities, to enrich and to cultivate the spirit of pride in friends or children, and for them to quarrel over after you are dead?

Our talents for use in the Lord’s service consist of all those things and opportunities which are over and above what we need for the necessary and reasonable maintenance of ourselves or our families, if we have families, and the reasonable provision against distress in case of a sudden calamity or approaching old age, etc. Aside from these, all we have should be in active service, be they many talents or few. If we have five talents and are using only one or two, how can we expect the Master’s “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Did we not covenant to give and to use all for him?—all our money, all our time, all our influence, all our mental activity, all our physical ability? After providing things decent and honest for ourselves and those dependent upon us, let us judiciously appropriate our talents to what we profess to consider the chief business of life. Here are the testing points of true loyalty and devotion. Let us ponder them well and not lightly set them aside.

FORMER OPPORTUNITIES LOST

But observe further what the Lord has to say about this “wicked and slothful servant.” He says: “Take the talent from him and give it unto him which hath ten talents; for unto every one that hath [made use of his talents] shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not [made use of his talent] shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The outer darkness here referred to is in contrast with the inner light of the holy place of favor and communion and instruction from God, symbolized in the Tabernacle. The testing comes on the return of the Master. Then the faithful servants shall enter into fuller joys and privileges and blessings, while the unfaithful will go into the outer darkness of error and ignorance concerning God’s plans and ways, which envelops the world in general, and their neglected opportunities for more abundant service will go as a reward to those who are already earnest and active, and whose earnest and faithful labors will in due time be abundantly rewarded.

As we thus view our Lord’s teaching, we see that our only security as sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ is in activity in the service of the truth. Well, says one, I see very few doing that. Very true: only a few will do it. But that precious few are the Lord’s jewels. Are you one of them? Ah, that is the point to be considered. No matter how few they are, or whether you ever saw or knew of any such, that does not alter the conditions of our calling. “This is the way: walk ye in it.” One, at least, has trodden it before. Look for his foot-prints and follow him, and “He will give strength unto his people,” even though they walk alone, as he did, without the cheering companionship of fellow-travelers.

“LO, I AM WITH YOU”

But think not that you are traveling alone in this narrow way. The Lord has now a consecrated people, a faithful band of servants who, with every talent consecrated, are steadily pursuing their course in the narrow way. (Onward Christian Solider) We know some of them by name and by character and by their steady and progressive activity in the blessed work. Not many of them have five talents, but a good many have two or three, and some only one. Quietly and unobtrusively (not conspicuous or attracting any undue attention to themselves) they go about from day to day preaching the wonderful words of life, and God is with them and is leading them on. Their hearts are full of joy and hope and they are kept securely amidst all the perils of this evil day. None are as clear in their apprehension and appreciation of truth as those who are fully enlisted in its service (This is a fact which anyone who is actively engaged in the Master’s service knows to be true).

Let all who would run the race successfully look well to their zeal and activity in the Lord’s work. If we bury our one or our many talents under a weight of worldly cares and encumbrances which might be avoided or set aside; if we bury them under worldly ambitions for either self or family– whether this be by wasting consecrated time upon science (for example the endless debate over evolutionary theories), philosophy, music or art; or upon business, politics or pleasures; or in pampering pride and appetite –then as unfaithful servants we will sooner or later go into outer darkness, by being caught up in some one of the many snares of this “evil day,” and will be led further and further into error and away from truth (one of the Adversaries best methods).

Mark well that it is not a case of such unfaithful servants being liable to get into outer darkness, into error: it is a case of must. The Master’s orders are peremptory and decisive: “Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness.” The light now shining is not for the unfaithful, but for the faithful servants; and no matter how clearly the unfaithful may have seen and understood the deep things of God, and no matter how he may have enjoyed them, if he has not loved them so as to serve them and to sacrifice his conveniences for them, he is unworthy of them and must go out into the outer darkness of the world in general. With these as with the world the disappointment of theories and plans in the great time of trouble will ere long bring the weeping and gnashing of teeth foretold. (R3695-3697)

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

wheat-and-tares

The following extracts with regards to Matt 13:24-30; 36-43 were taken from various Bible Student materials

VERSE 24

“Another parable put Him forth unto them (This parable stands related to the one before, “The Parable of the Sower” The first prepares the way for the other. The first deals with the individual; the second with the church collectively.) Saying, The kingdom of heaven (Practically every parable which our Lord uttered was given to teach something respecting the character of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven [the spiritual phase] here spoken of is the embryo Kingdom, which is the kingdom as it is during the entire Gospel age) is likened unto (The Lord here was using a metaphor) a man (the Lord Jesus Himself) which sowed good seed (The Gospel of the Kingdom, “Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord” (Heb 2:3)  “Bringing life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Tim 1:10), in his field (the entire world).”

VERSE 25

“But while men slept (After the apostles fell asleep, that is, after they had died and had left the scene. In the night, of the dark ages, a general spirit of slumber regarding the truth prevailed among the Lord’s people.  Even till now the same thing is true. “Therefore, let us not sleep as do others.” (1 Thess 5:6) The Church was kept free from tares before the apostles fell asleep by God arranging that truth be put forth for acceptance or rejection by the Jews in its most unfavorable light, so that only Israelites indeed would be inclined to become followers of Jesus. During the Apostles’ days such special gifts as “discernment of spirits” enabled them to prevent tares from getting in among the wheat, hypocrites from getting into the Church. Paul warned the Church of what would take place after he died “After my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29, 30) his enemy came (The great adversary, Satan, using human instrumentalities) and sowed tares (Sham wheat, imitation wheat, professors who draw nigh with their lips while their hearts are far from the Lord. Hypocrites, Nominal Christians (i.e. in name only), resembling or counterfeiting the true, Deceived individuals, misnaming themselves Christians, because mis-taught by churchianity. These have since run the church organizations, and the Lord has permitted it to be so and is allowing the truly consecrated ones to be developed under these different conditions. The tares are begotten of error–false doctrine, nevertheless there are however many fine, noble people among them who have neither part nor lot with the wheat because they are not of the same nature, not begotten of the truth among the wheat and went his way (Among the true saints, the children of the Kingdom, for the very purpose of choking it, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with wicked spirits in high positions.” (Eph 6:12).”

VERSE 26

“But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also (Nominal Christians, much more numerous than the wheat, the children of the devil, imitation Christians, some of them very respectable, moral, and actually very good people, however not begotten of the Spirit or of the truth, most begotten by excitement, of fear of hell, or of hopes of worldly advantage, of pride, or of social and financial ambition).”

VERSE 27-29

“So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, an enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, nay (We cannot follow the usual custom in this case, because of the greatly excessive proportion of tares) lest while ye gather up the tares ye root up also the wheat with them (The true and false are too intimately associated, their roots intertwining in society, home, etc. So closely intertwined are the roots of the two classes that to disturb such close relationship in life would cause great commotion. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will manifest the counsels of the hearts.” (1 Cor 4:5) So intimately are the true and false associated, that only the Lord, who could read the hearts, could distinguish between them with unerring precision).”

VERSE 30

“Let both grow (Christ did not seek to prevent or hinder tare development, but allowed both to grow together. The [the tares, being in the majority] set up false, unscriptural standards and doctrines, which have aided in the development of more tares and at the same time choking and separating the true wheat) together (That is throughout the age. Christians and imitation Christians have lived side by side in the same city, house, and family, and in the general nominal church system, elsewhere called Babylon or confusion, because of its mixture of truth and error, wheat and tares. Only the expert [our Lord] can discern the wheat from the tares while growing) until (The command “Come out of her” was given, this was given after the announcement that “Babylon is fallen.” Rev 18:4, 2) the harvest (The end or close, of the Gospel age) and in the time (The close of the summer time of favor, signifying that it will not be instantaneous, but require time) of harvest (In which we are now living. It has three elements: separation, gathering and burning. The harvest is not a time for peace; but, on the contrary, it will surely produce separation and alienation between true wheat and all else. The time of executing the command, “Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made a covenant with me by [self-] sacrifice.” (Psa 50:5) This is the time when the truth makes manifest the true character of Babylon, the great false system, calling itself the Lord’s church) I will say (It is not we, but Christ, who calls his people out of Babylon. We merely call their attention to his words and show that they are reasonable. “He that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth and the earth was reaped.” (Rev 14:16) to the reapers (Angels, messengers, [i.e. men, the vessels of the Lord] such as he has used in plowing, sowing and watering throughout the age; those begotten of his holy spirit), Gather ye together first the tares (Which largely predominate, as did the chaff in the harvest of the Jewish age. Who vainly imagine themselves to be the true Church), and bind them (Restrain all individual thought and study on religious subjects; they are bound by human traditions and by a worldly spirit, bound tightly by their own prejudices. Pride will hold them together; none will wish to appear disloyal or cowardly. Societies act en masse. They seek to bind all by the impression that it is essential to salvation to be joined to some one of their various sects–it matters little to which one–thus combining the idea of individual responsibility with sectarian bondage) in bundles (Necessary, because of their great preponderance. Into great denominational bundles, labeled with various sectarian names. The spirit of the tares is toward sectarian greatness and show, rather than toward individual obedience and allegiance to God. Each denomination retaining its own bondage or organization, and becoming more firmly bound by being wedged in with others. Ready for the burning, destruction) to burn them (To destroy them, not as individuals, but as tares, imitation wheat, in the great time of trouble [Not with literal fire, we cannot burn symbolic tares in literal fire]. The Christian’s duty is to lift up the standard and get the true wheat out of all the tare-bundles into liberty, in union with Christ, the only Head.  All professed Christians will be shown in their true light. The true and false will be completely manifested.): but (without binding it into bundles) gather the wheat (with the sickle of truth, present truth. “They shall gather together his elect.” (Matt 24:31) “Come out of her, my people” (Rev 18:4) Separated from the tares–in spirit, but not necessarily in person) into my barn (The barn condition of security, separateness from the worldly. Not back into another denomination, but gathered to Christ, into oneness with him, in fellowship of spirit through the knowledge of his Word, “For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.” Matt 24:28).”

VERSE 36

“Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us (A special request for interpretation) the parable (In every parable explained by our Lord, the thing said is never the thing meant.) of the tares of the field.”

 VERSE 37

“He answered and said unto them, He that soweth (Jesus and the Apostles, and all his true followers) the good seed (The Gospel of the Kingdom) is the Son of man (His disciples and followers having assisted under his direction).”

 VERSE 38

“The field is the world (The world of mankind; and the seed is sown in their hearts.); the good seed are the children of the kingdom (The spiritual children); but the tares (The imitation wheat, posing as Christians, the result of false doctrines, false teachings, and therefore not begotten of the Holy Spirit) are the children of the wicked one (The whole world of mankind, excepting the true Christians, born in sin and shapen in iniquity, aliens and strangers from God, may be spoken of as “children of the wicked one).”

 VERSE 39

“The enemy that sowed them (with seeds of false doctrines, error, deceptions, using human lips and pens in Satan’s service through pride and ambition. Thus bringing the worldly masses into the church) is the devil; the harvest (There is a large crop of tares and the time of trouble coming upon the church should be recognized as the harvest, the threshing time, the time for separating the real grain, the true Christians from the chaff and tares the false Christians) is the end (Is that which constitutes the end. The Greek word “suntelia”, translated “end,” does not mean a “point,” but a “period of time.” The harvest of this age and the end of the evil world or dispensation terminate together. Just before the inauguration of the new age of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. The regathering of Israel is a sign of the end of this age, and therefore a sign that we are living in the harvest time) of the world (Of the age: Greek aion, The Gospel age); and the reapers (Those who have learned that it is harvest time and that their work is in the gathering of the wheat.) are the angels. (The messengers, begotten of his spirit, the saints of God, His servants. Every faithful disciple who now follows in the Master’s footsteps has the privilege now of being a co-worker with him in reaping this harvest).”

VERSE 40

“As therefore the tares are gathered (into bundles, sects, denominations and etc.) and burned in the fire (Destroyed as tares in a time of trouble; not however literally burned as some imagine, their delusions [faith in their organizations, churches] will be dissolved, thus signifying the destruction of the false pretensions of this class, in the sense that none of them thereafter will claim to be what they are not, none of them will claim to be Christians anymore. And thus they shall be returned to the ground, the world, from whence they came. That the entire field might be cleansed and made ready for a new sowing of the pure seed of truth); so shall it be in the end of this world (age).”

VERSE 41

“The Son of man (A title of high honor, a reminder of his obedience, even to the death of the cross, by which he secured the title to the honor, dignity and power of the divine nature) shall send (Christ is superintending the harvest; he sends forth the reapers) forth his angels (Servants or messengers, begotten of his spirit.), and they shall gather out of (or from, in one sense, the wheat is gathered out from among the tares, because of the greater abundance of the tares; in another sense, the tares are gathered from the wheat. The wheat has the place by right; it is a wheat field, not a tare field. The Lord has chosen to make this separation publicly known, in order to demonstrate his own justice in the matter) his kingdom (The true Church, in the sense that the Church at the present time is God’s Kingdom in embryo state. It is one thing to gather his people out of Babylon, and quite another to gather the offenders out of his Kingdom. Really the “tares” leave the “wheat” by utterly abandoning the faith once delivered to the saints, something taking place even now) all things that offend (Those that cause others to stumble, including many teachers and preachers, and many doers of wonderful works. They are blameworthy; because they are in the nominal church and posing as Christians. And not only “those that do iniquity,” the “tares,” but also “those that offend,” those who fail to come up to the requirements of their covenant in fullness of consecration. There is a particular separation or sifting taking place even now which goes beyond the separation merely of the wheat and the tares, this separation work consist of separating the ripe wheat from the un-ripe, the Wise Virgins from the Foolish, the Little Flock from the Great Company), and them which do iniquity (Which practice sin, or which are not fully in sympathy with the principles of righteousness. The only things that shall remain are the things that cannot be shaken, the true and faithful).”

 VERSE 42

“And shall cast them into a furnace of fire (A time of trouble destructive to the nominal systems and false professions; occasioned in great measure by the growth of infidelity and Spiritism of various kinds. It would be thoroughly illogical to burn symbolic tares in a literal furnace with literal fire. The fire is as much a symbol as are the tares, the wheat and the garner. So-called Christendom will be the great furnace.): there shall be wailing (There is such a commotion in connection with the separation of the wheat and the tares because Christendom as a whole, though nominally a wheat field, is practically a tare field) and gnashing of teeth. (Great disappointment, sorrow, pain, trouble and anguish throughout Christendom, “Men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” (Luke 21:26) The great time of trouble will make general havoc of present arrangements–social, financial, political, ecclesiastical.)

VERSE 43

“Then (After this age and after its harvest, after “the wheat” of this age is gathered into the garner by the power of the first resurrection) shall the righteous (The Church, as a whole, in glory. When the division is accomplished, the wheat alone will represent the Kingdom of the Church of Christ, while the church nominal will fall and be broken) shine forth (To abolish darkness, to heal earth’s sorrows and scatter earth’s night. To bless, restore, purify and disinfect from sin and error the whole world of mankind, to bring order out of present confusion, to scatter present darkness, ignorance and superstition, to cause the knowledge of the glory of the Lord to fill the whole earth. “The earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the Sons of God.” (Rom 8:19) God gives light that it may shine that others may see and be blessed. To shine can mean no less than to give light. And if the Church gives, the nations receive and “walk in the light of it.” (Rev 21:24) as the sun (“The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings” (Mal 4:2) Whom shall scatter the darkness of earth, binding the prince of darkness, Satan, and freeing mankind from the bonds of ignorance, superstition and credulity. The great Sun of Righteousness, the great Messiah, the great Prophet, Priest, King and Mediator between God and man) in the kingdom of their Father (Primarily, the Kingdom is God’s but he has voluntarily, for a thousand years, placed it under charge of a viceroy, the Christ, the Lord and his Church which is his body). Who hath ears to hear (The attitude of heart to appreciate it, the ability to understand spiritual things, not everyone at present has this hearing ear), let him hear. (We should not despise those who cannot hear, but rather sympathize with them and be thankful for the hearing ear, which permits us to appreciate the various features of God’s plan. None can give eye to see nor ear to hear save the Lord alone).”