Today: [Matthew 25] Jesus Teaches on Accountability: In chapter 25 of Matthew we find three accounts, or parables where Jesus emphasizes the requirement that believers walk in personal accountability in some very sensitive areas of life. What about you? Could you actually demonstrate and prove by your daily life that you are walking in personal accountability to Christ? Or are you simply seasoning your life with a spiritual condiment of considering yourself as being under Christ Lordship without actually being able to demonstrate that fact?
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[Mat 25:1-46 KJV] 1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five [were] foolish. 3 They that [were] foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, [Not so]; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

In chapter 25 of Matthew Jesus continues teaching in parables, beginning with the parable of the ten virgins. This is an important passage because it identifies the people of God as a whole with the bride of Christ. The kingdom of heaven is not just seen as a static domain, but rather as something wherein all the people of God are moving toward a climactic conclusion and consummation of God’s purposes. That ultimate fulfillment is expressed throughout scripture and compared to a bridegroom who is Jesus, taking a bride. In the parable in verses 1-13 there are four components: the five wise and five foolish virgins; the watchman, or friend of the bridegroom and lastly the bridegroom Himself who is Jesus. The friend of the bridegroom is a John the Baptist type figure, serving as a forerunner of the coming of Christ, who calls out “behold the bridegroom cometh…” This corresponds to Christian leaders and elders who are to keep the people’s minds and hearts fixed on the immanent return of Jesus the bridegroom to claim them as His bride. That is why it is so unfortunate to see Christian leaders in recent decades become so passé about the teaching of the Lord’s return. Imagine being the best man at a wedding, waiting with the bridal company on the arrival of the bridegroom. Can you picture the best man, nonchalantly passing off as unimportant when or if the bridegroom shows up?

Can you imagine the best man telling the bride that if she really loved the bridegroom she wouldn’t be to overly concern about the bridegroom’s arrival, even if He shows up at all? This shows you how despicable it is for leaders today who have made a casual attitude about the coming of Christ the hallmark of their idea of Christian maturity. If your pastor or leader takes this position, you should mark that man or woman as someone who deeply needs to repent and change their mind where matters concerning the Lord’s return are concerned.

Next we have the idea of foolish and wise virgins being identified by whether or not they have oil in their lamps. What does the lamp represent? It is the receptacle for oil, which is a type of the Holy Spirit. When we become believers the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives, and we become the light Jesus spoke of that should not be put under a bushel basket. Here again, Jesus is predicting a time in Christian culture, at the end of the church age, when the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will become a greatly marginalized teaching. In recent years, the teaching about the Holy Spirit has been very much neglected. In our own experience my wife and I have ministered in Assembly of God churches where the pastor refused to teach on the Holy Spirit, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Holy Spirit because it might offend members of the congregation who didn’t believe in such things. That is astounding when you realize this is a church whose denomination was based on and grew out of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the turn of the last century. Again, it is a fact that the overwhelming majority of professing Christians have no concept of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit or the idea of the anointing of God as necessary for Christian service. Where the bible teaches the necessity of the anointing of God men have substituted ideological truth, populist theological ideas, and seminary training. These are the 5 foolish virgins, who by their attitude toward not needing the oil of God in their lives will be found excluded, and in fact are this very day excluded from the heart of what God is doing in the earth because they have by their practice, beliefs and doctrines rejected the agency of God in the earth (the Holy Spirit, indwelling the hearts of all true believers).

14 For [the kingdom of heaven is] as a man travelling into a far country, [who] called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made [them] other five talents. 17 And likewise he that [had received] two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, [there] thou hast [that is] thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, [Thou] wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and [then] at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give [it] unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Next we have the parable of the man traveling into a far country. This is the parable of the talents. Here again is a parable that is almost universally misinterpreted. The story given is that the man gives three servants talents of varying amounts, and expects them to maintain stewardship and produce a profit upon His return. The first two produce a profit but the their gives the talent back, folded in a napkin, for fear of not handling things rightly. Because of this the man is cast out and punished for not being faithful with what he was given stewardship over. What are the talents? We have all been told that the talents are those abilities that God has given us that we should employ in His service, and of course we all have abilities and “talents” that we should put to use in the pursuit of the kingdom of God. Every breath you breath is a stewardship from God. What never gets talked about in this parable however is that the word talent as Jesus uses it does not mean the same thing as the world talent as we use it today. A talent in ancient usage is not an ability but rather it is money. The disciples would have received this story as a man giving servants certain amounts of money and being expected to be profitable. What about your money? Does it come as a gift from God or do you see it as something you have earned? Jesus is saying, no matter how you get your money, that it is something that comes from God that you are expected to be a good steward of. What are you doing with your money? Are you handling your money as something that doesn’t really belong to you, but something you are to use for the advancement of the kingdom? In a capitalist society this is an almost foreign concept, but it is evident that this is exactly what Jesus is teaching.

31 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: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 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. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Lastly, we come to the story of the dividing of the sheep and the goats. In this account Jesus is saying that there are people who are regarded by God as sheep and people who are regarded by God as goats. What about you? Are you a sheep or a goat? Jesus gives us criteria whereby we may clearly answer this question. It is important to know because according to what Christ says here, your eternal disposition before God is determined by this one thing – are you a sheep or a goat. In the words of Jesus, sheep who will be rewarded are those who are feeding the hungry, quench the thirst of those who are parched, taking in strangers, clothing the naked and visiting those in prison. In other words, unless you are radically giving place in your life to PERSONALLY taking care for the marginalized, the poor and the suffering then you are not a sheep but a goat, and you don’t want to be a goat because they are those who are excluded according to Jesus. Again, as we saw in our study of the minor prophets, the theme of caring for the poor comes up. The emphasis in the Bible on caring for the marginalized is much more emphasized that is currently reflected in the culture of the church. How much of your personal finances are dedicated to caring for the poor. In the Old Testament the Levites were commanded to give over 15% of their wealth to the poor and 10 percent to the temple. Can you imagine your church or your pastor getting behind an initiative like that? How much of your churches budget goes to the poor? A paltry amount? Or is it a sizable line item in the yearly expenditures of the ministry? The answer to that in light of this passage tells you whether you are attending a goat church or a sheep church. We certainly build new buildings and keep the best sound equipment and smoke machines on the platform, don’t we? We even BORROW MONEY and MORTGAGE the future of the church to do these things – but what are we doing for the poor, not just institutionally, but personally? In the culture of the bible there was no such thing as saying “well that is the institution’s job” – in scripture individuals are personally held responsible for personally seeing to it that the poor are relieved at your hand. To fail to do so in the words of Jesus Himself in v. 46 puts us in peril of everlasting punishment. What a sobering thought and one that is totally neglected in Christian culture as we know it.

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