So, we have been on the subject of the kingdom of God since the beginning of this calendar year and, thus far, we have answered several questions concerning it:
We began by answering the question— “Why is it?” We did this through a series entitled “The Gospel of the Kingdom” where we looked throughout the Scriptures seeing how the message of God’s kingdom is emphasized time and time again. We looked at how the kingdom was the very gospel Jesus preached throughout His ministry. But we saw how the kingdom was not just Jesus’ message, it was the message of the New Testament. Yes, all the way from John the Baptist to the apostle Paul, the kingdom of God was the gospel they proclaimed. But we also saw that this was the message proclaimed to Israel under the Old Covenant. Yes, from Genesis to Revelation—from the Alpha to the Omega of the Holy Scriptures, the kingdom of God is the theme. Therefore, we learned that if the gospel of the kingdom is the message of the Bible, then it is our message too!
But then we moved into realizing that before we can carry this message of God’s kingdom, we need to know what it is we are carrying. So, we then answered the question— “What is it?” We did this by defining the kingdom of God—not only learning what is it, but where it is and when it is. And we learned that the kingdom of God is the king’s domain or the people or place where he has dominion. In other words, it is wherever His will is being done. I defined it as God’s government and that it is God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule. We learned that this can be now as demons are cast out, sicknesses are healed, and the good news is being proclaimed and setting the captives free. But it is also in the future as Jesus is returning to establish His kingdom here on the earth. This means that the kingdom is here now in part and will be here in fullness soon and very soon.
And most recently we have been answering perhaps the most important question of all— “How is it?” We’ve been answering this question by looking at the parables Jesus taught us about the kingdom of God which He called the Mysteries of the Kingdom. And I believe the best lesson we can learn concerning God’s kingdom is to learn what God’s kingdom looks like and how it operates—which is what these parables show us.
The truth is, just like we have natural laws that we must live by in this world in order to not only thrive but also survive, there are laws in God’s kingdom that we must learn to live by if we are to see God’s best produced in our lives. I am convinced that many of God’s people do not experience His perfect will for their lives because they have failed to operate under the laws that govern His kingdom. Some are simply ignorant concerning these principles while others are simply not doers of the Word. But the fact remains that God has set His kingdom up under certain principles and it is our job to walk in them just as He does Himself. When we do, we will get God’s results. When we do not, we will get the world’s results. Plain and simple. Church, this is how His kingdom comes and His will is done in our lives.
So now, this week, I want us to move into one final series on the kingdom of God: I want us to wrap up our study of God’s kingdom by learning how you and I can become more kingdom-minded. In other words, how can we have this same mentality that those like Jesus, John the Baptist, the apostle Paul, and many other Jewish believers possessed. In short, how can we think like they did?
You see, there was a strong kingdom-mentality that was engrained in the Jewish people:
For example, in Acts 1:3, the one question that we see being asked by His disciples after His resurrection is “When is this kingdom coming?” Notice how this was what they were expecting from their Christ & Messiah—to establish His kingdom. This was obviously on their radar.
How about in Matthew 20:20-28 when the mother of a couple of Jesus’ disciples came to Him on the side and asked if her two boys could sit at His side when He comes into His kingdom. That’s because this was the hope of Israel. In Luke 23:51, we see how Joseph of Arimathea was also waiting (i.e., hoping) for the kingdom of God.
In Luke 19:11, before giving them the Parable of the Minas, we see the reason why Jesus told them this parable: It was because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately. So, again, they were thinking about the kingdom.
Even the thief that hung on the cross beside Jesus was kingdom-minded because we see him saying to Jesus— “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
So, the Jewish people obviously had the kingdom on their radar. But I believe we today have been brought up with certain disadvantages: For one, even though most of us have been born in the United States of America—a country that was established on Christian morals and the freedom of religion—our great nation does not operate like a monarchy (i.e., a kingdom). So, we don’t have it built into us to think in terms of kingdom thoughts.
On top of that, the Jewish people not only operated under that type of government, but their religion was mixed into it as well. So, they not only knew how a kingdom operated, but they knew it was not man’s kingdom, but God’s kingdom. Therefore, their religion was woven into their government—thus, this mentality was threaded all throughout their culture.
This is why when John the Baptist, and then Jesus after him, came on the scene preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, the people were not responding with— “What is all this kingdom stuff you’re talking about?” No, it didn’t need a lot of explanation because it was already engrained in them. The misconception they had about the kingdom of God was not what it was but how it was not to just be viewed physically and naturally. It was more of a spiritual kingdom that will manifest here on the earth by freeing them, not from the bondage of the Romans, but from the dominion of Satan.
But my point is that most of our churches today are much more ignorant of these kingdom-minded things. And, as a result, this is not something that the church today has helped us with.
You see, these things we’ve been learning about God’s kingdom are not things that are commonly taught in most churches. In fact, the kingdom of God is a foreign concept to most believers today. Therefore, we are at even more of a disadvantage to possessing this kingdom mentality because not only were we not raised this way in the flesh, but we have not been raised this way in the church either.
So, I say all of this to explain why this kingdom-mindedness is not our natural way of thinking like it was to the Jews. But this doesn’t mean that you and I are to just throw our hands in the air and claim ignorance and continue to think incorrectly. No, where much is given, much is required. So, for us here at HPC that are taught well and taste of the good Word of God, we are expected to be doers of the Word and adopt this kingdom-mindedness. Amen?
WHAT CHRISTIANITY IS
And that is what I want us to begin doing this week—learning how to how to become more kingdom-minded and to allow these truths about the kingdom of God to renew our minds, and thereby, transform our lives.
So, let’s begin in Colossians chapter 3 where we have a powerful passage of Scripture that teaches us about this mentality / way of thinking that we are all to possess as the body of Christ:
Colossians 3:1-4 says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
Now, after spending the first two chapters of his letter essentially describing what Christianity is not—namely, all of the things taught in both Gentile Gnosticism and Jewish legalism—Paul now “turns the page” and begins to show us what Christianity truly looks like.
It is all about a new identity, church! We need to understand that a born-again believer is not just a reformed individual; they are a transformed individual. We are now new creations in Christ—having received a new spiritual social security number, a new name, a totally new identity. All things have truly been made new!
And I want you to notice that this totally different way of thinking that we are talking about today is contained in these verses! Yes, I believe these truths perfectly summarize what a kingdom-minded person is to think like.
Notice that the apostle Paul starts off by saying, “If then you were raised with Christ …”
In the Greek language this word translated “if” is not meant to convey doubt but rather to make a point of emphasis. It would better be translated “since” or “in view of the fact.” Now there certainly is an “if” that can be implied if one has never received Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Yes, one must be born again into to receive this resurrection, but if that has occurred in one’s life, then this “if” is a “since.”
So, the obvious reason why the apostle Paul was essentially saying, “Then since you were raised up with Christ …” is because this was a major point of his in the prior chapter (see 2:12-13,20). So, for the follower of Christ, this being raised up together with Christ is not something in question; every born-again believer has experienced this spiritual resurrection whether they realize it or not.
In fact, in the Greek language, the tense of the word “raised” denotes “once and for all have been raised.” In other words, this is a past tense accomplished fact for the Christian and is not something that we are waiting to be done.
But according to Colossians 3:3, not only have we been raised up with Him, but we also died with Him.
You see, this is what water baptism was meant to symbolize to us—that we were crucified with Christ, buried with Him and raised to together with Him. But it was not just symbolism. It is actually what happened, spiritually speaking. We identified with His crucifixion. We died with Him, and then were raised up together with Him to sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Now we all know that this didn’t happen physically. Of course, none of us physically died when we were born again. But according to these verses in Colossians chapter 3, we did die.
Colossians 3:3 says, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
You see, not only did Jesus die for us, we died with Him. In other words, we identified with Him, not only in His resurrection, but also in His death and burial (Compare Romans 6:3-12). Therefore, just as we are now made alive in Christ, we have also died in Him.
Now I am a big proponent of studying “in Christ” realities—that is, I believe we need to establish our hearts in who we are in Him and discover our true spiritual identity. But this is one that we usually don’t add to our list of “in Him” truths. However, the fact is, just as we are righteous, redeemed, delivered, etc., in Him, we are also dead in Him. In other words, while it is true that in Him we have life, we also need to recognize that we have died in Him—both dead to our old man and alive in the new man.
I once heard a story of two sisters who were big partiers in their “BC” days (i.e. life “before Christ”). Then, after they were born-again and had a drastic change in their life, they were invited to another one of those parties—to which they RSVP’d, “We regret that we cannot attend because we recently died.” Would to God that we would see our conversion like this!
But the truth is, not only have we been crucified and buried in Him. We have also found life in Him. That’s why Paul goes on to say that our life is hidden with Christ in God.
Now this is also not to be confused with our earthly life—because that life is actually not “our life” anymore. Why? Because we were bought with a price and are now Christ’s. So, technically, your life is no longer “your life”; now it’s His life. And now we have His life living in and through us—that is, the very quality of His resurrection life is now being lived through the remainder of our lives lived in the flesh. Glory, indeed!
You see, the apostle Paul said that, for him, to live is Christ (See Philippians 1:21). He also said in Galatians 2:20 that it was no longer him who was living. He said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
So, is this true for us too? Absolutely! The moment we were born again, a death occurred. We too were crucified with Christ—which obviously speaks of the death of the old man, not a physical death.
You see, in every place in the New Testament where the Scripture speaks of the death of the old man, it is spoken of as already having taken place (See Colossians 3:9, Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22 & 5:24). So, our old has already been crucified and is dead.
Then the apostle Paul goes on to say, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” That sounds a lot like our verse in Colossians chapter 3—It’s no longer me living because I’m dead. Now it’s Christ living in me and through me.” Amen!
Church, this is part of being kingdom-minded—because we must adopt this new way of thinking that our lives are not our own anymore. We are now Christ’s possession, so the life we live now is in complete surrender and devotion to the King who ransomed our soul.
So, we were crucified with Christ, died with Him, were buried with Him, made alive together with Him, and now, according to Colossians 3:1, have been raised up together with Him. Raised to where? Let’s look over at Ephesians chapter 2 to find out …
Ephesians 2:4-6 says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
These powerful verses eloquently describe what our Lord God did for us in Christ Jesus: Through the mercy that He is so incredibly rich in and because of the great love that He has for us, when we were dead in our sin, He made us alive together with Christ (having brought us to life like Jesus was on that Third Day). And then He took it a step further in raising us up to the heavenlies in Him, seating us together at the very right hand of God. Glory!
So, if all of this is true (and it is!), what Paul says in Colossians 3:1-2 is so very true— “If we have been raised up with Christ, we ought to be seeking those things associated with where we’ve been raised unto.” In other words, “since you have changed citizenships, seek that which will benefit our permanent home and not our temporary one.” And this change of citizenships is what actually transpired the day we were born again.
CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM
You see, the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Notice that Paul is saying our citizenship is in heaven right now. He’s not saying that one day of in the future when we die that our citizenship will be in heaven. No, he’s saying that our citizenship is in heaven right now! So, when our old man died and our new man was risen with Christ to sit at the right hand of God, our citizenship changed!
So, the Word of God teaches us that our citizenship does not begin in heaven when we die and move there. It happens the moment we are born into God’s family that we become His nationality. In fact, the phrase “born again” that Jesus used could be translated “born from above”. That is why our citizenship is in heaven because we were born from heaven.
You see, the Philippians whom Paul was writing, were Roman citizens and as it usually was with those who were Romans citizens, were quite proud of it. Paul was explaining to them that when they entered the kingdom of God they changed citizenships and, as great as the rights they had as Romans were, there is no comparison to the rights and privileges they have as citizens of the kingdom of heaven.
Perhaps that is a Word for us today: As we are certainly to be proud of being American citizens and live in the greatest country on the planet, the truth is anyone on this planet who have been born from above are citizens of a kingdom that is far greater than any nation on this planet. Amen?
So, all of this means that our citizenship is in heaven while we are currently living here. We must learn to work down here while we’re living up there. And that’s the reason we have been left here; to see His kingdom come and grow. This is being kingdom-minded, church.
You see, in Second Corinthians 5:17-21, Paul gives a beautiful explanation of what our post-resurrection life’s purpose is:
Verse 17 starts off by saying that we are new creations and that all the old things (the past sins, the past lifestyle, etc.) have passed away and that everything has become new. Verse 18 starts off by saying that “all things are of God” or “all the things that have become new are of God.” Our new life, our new birth, our new perspective, our new ambitions, are “of” God. Then he says, “who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” In other words, “He has brought us back to God and now has given us the ministry of bringing people back to God.” Then in verse 19, Paul gives a brief explanation of what the ministry of reconciliation is. But I love verse 20: It’s as if Paul was getting this revelation as he was writing it. He says, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” The reason that we were not immediately raptured when we were born again was because our ministry is to stay here and reconcile people with God.
Now what is an ambassador? An ambassador is someone that travels to another country to seek conditions of peace. Ambassadors are representatives of their own nation that go to another nation, that has tension with the other nation, to reconcile their differences.
So that’s a perfect illustration of us: Our citizenship is in heaven, just as an ambassador doesn’t have his or her citizenship in the nation that they travel to, but our temporary residence is in the world while we perform our ministry of reconciliation.
Therefore, our purpose in still being here, even though our citizenship is in heaven, is to change other people’s address too. That should be our main objective, but how do we maintain this attitude of “being in the world but not of the world”? Again, this is being kingdom-minded.
So, our takeaway today is evident— When we were saved and became children of God, there was a complete change in our identity. We are no longer the same—for old things have passed away and all things have become new. We died—being crucified with Christ—and now our life is Christ’s as we live by faith in Him and let Him live His life through us.
This will obviously result in some different ways of thinking, right? We will not continue to live self-serving, worldly lifestyles. No, we will live for this kingdom that we now are called citizens of. We will seek its welfare. We will seek to bring others into the same citizenship that we possess. In short, it will change our motivation and purpose.
Church, we have been raised with Christ—raised up to a new way of thinking and mentality. Now we are kingdom-kids, so that is to be our only aspiration and prerogative. Amen.
For a while now, we have been covering Jesus’ kingdom parables that He taught throughout His ministry, and what we have been learning as a result is how the kingdom of God works.
So, even though these parables were called “mysteries” by the Lord Jesus, what they are intended to do is take the mystery out of how things operate in God’s kingdom. But as I made the point of last week, it is possible for a born again, Spirit-filled Christian to go their entire life without understanding how God does things and, thereby, not experience all of the benefits of living in the kingdom. Therefore, the key to us not being in that company is for us to read, study, and meditate upon these mysteries of the kingdom of God, let these words of Jesus impact our hearts, and then be doers of the Word.
As it was with the children of Israel in the wilderness, if we would just receive the Words of our Deliverer and follow the path He has clearly laid out for us, we will enter into the Promised Land of the kingdom and partake of all of its fruit!
Church, it is time we move into all that God has for us in Canaan Land where His kingdom principle of sowing & reaping brings us into the fullness of His blessing. And this comes as we receive His Words and be doers of them.
So, we’ve covered some powerful truths from the importance of love & forgiveness in the kingdom to the role God’s grace plays in it all. And last week, we looked at a parable Jesus taught us about our marriage relationship to the Lord—the Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins found in Matthew chapter 25. And our big takeaways from this parable is that the Lord sees all of us as His virgins who possess the capability for light. So, we saw that even though five were wise and five were foolish, they had all received the same grace from the Lord that made them pure light. Therefore, who we have been made in Christ Jesus is different than our actions. So, while we certainly need to have our behavior line up with who He has made us, what we do does not change the fact that we are spotless in His sight. Amen!
But we learned that the fact is, some were wise while the others were foolish. And what made the five wise was the fact that they thought ahead and brought “extra oil” with them. Therefore, we learned that a prime characteristic of wisdom is that it looks into the future and prepares for it. Likewise, we need to be like these five wise virgins by looking into eternity and living our lives now for our eternal home.
But perhaps the point that was emphasized the most last week was what this oil was that they used to light their lamps: We learned that oil is almost exclusively used to typify the anointing of the Holy Spirit. So, we learned that without the indwelling Holy Spirit in our vessels, there would be no light in our lives. Yes, He is the oil who keeps our light shining bright for the kingdom of God.
But the fact is, all ten of these virgins had enough oil for their lamps to burn, but there was extra oil to be had—and that is what the wise ones received. Therefore, it’s evidently wisdom to receive what is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit and not just receive what we did at salvation. Yes, the Lord doesn’t just want us to be sprinkled with a little oil of the Holy Spirit to light our lamps; He wants to pour out an abundance of oil in these here vessels! He wants us baptized in the oil of the Holy Ghost!
No, we don’t have to be filled with the Holy Spirit to get to heaven. We can receive an anointing from the Holy One by being born again and have our ticket reserved for those pearly gates. But without the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we might just get there a little quicker, that’s all.
So, let’s not be a part of the foolish brides trying to live this life without being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Be filled with Him and stay full of Him so that you can always be ready to meet the Lord Jesus. Amen.
GETTING OUR HEADS OUT OF THE CLOUDS
Now let’s move on to the final kingdom parable that Jesus gave us, His disciples—the Parable of the Talents (See Matthew 25:14-30). I believe that this particular parable rather fittingly summarizes all of Jesus’ kingdom parables because in it, He teaches us how to be watchful and ready for His Soon Return.
You see, immediately after giving His disciples the Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins, Jesus moves into this parable by saying, “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” (Verse 14).
Now when I see the word “For” I like to read it as the writer is saying, “Because …” So, why is Jesus telling His disciples this Parable of the Talents? It is because of what He just told them at the end of the Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins.
You see, after telling them this parable which emphasized wisely being prepared for the return of the Bridegroom, Jesus said in verse 13, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” So, beginning in verse 14, what I see the Lord Jesus doing is explaining to them how they are to watch and be prepared for His Second Coming.
You know, one could be confused into thinking that this “watching” that He encouraged them to do in verse 13 is merely us gazing into the heavens, looking for His soon return. And some have certainly taken these words of Jesus this literally by ceasing to be productive members of society and literally sitting somewhere waiting for Him to come back. This is where others in the church have come up with statements like— “We can be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good.” But I don’t believe that statement is entirely true.
Now if one has indeed become entirely unproductive here on the earth because they are only thinking of the next life, then yes, this statement can be true. But if one understands that what we do here on the earth for the advancement of the kingdom of God is laying up treasures in heaven and, therefore, how we are to effectively “watch” for His coming, then we will most certainly be of “earthly good” when it comes to the advancement of the kingdom here on the earth. In other words, it is only those who have a misunderstanding of what it means to be ready to the meet the Lord and enter those pearly gates that this statement is true for. But when we know the truth—that by being productive for the kingdom of God here on the earth is the way to truly “watch” for His return because, when He returns, we want Him to find us so doing—then we can be ultra-productive for His glory. Amen?
So, that is what I believe Jesus’ Parable of the Talents is teaching us—how He wants us to watch and be ready for His coming. Therefore, with that in mind, let’s see what Jesus was teaching us in this parable …
WHAT ARE HIS GOODS?
Again, Jesus said in verse 14 that the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country. Now this man is obviously referring to the Son of Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, right? And Him traveling to a far country symbolizes Jesus’ ascension to heaven where He is currently seated at the right hand of God in that “far country.”
So, in this parable, what we see is Jesus calling His own servants to Him just before His departure and giving them something. And this verse says that He delivered His “goods” to them. Now the word “goods” describes this man’s possessions, his wealth and/or property. And we don’t have to speculate as to what His goods were because the proceeding verses describe them as “talents.” So, specifically what the man left with each of them was his money.
So, what does this represent? I believe it is clearly describing what the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:7-8 when he said, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”
So, at the time of His ascension, Jesus delved out His gifts of grace upon the body of Christ. These are His “goods” that He has entrusted to His church—gifts and callings given to us such as the callings of an apostle, prophet, teacher, and other gifts such as the gifts of healings, administrations, ministry of helps, word of knowledge, etc.
But the amazing part is, we have these “goods” delivered to us! They are not of us, and are certainly not put in us because we are “good.” No, these gifts and callings are given “without repentance”—meaning, they are irrevocable. Therefore, they were not given because we’ve been good, but because He is good and He desires to minister to others through us.
So, in the next verse, we see how this man delivered his goods to his servants. They didn’t all get the same amount but were each given different amounts based on their own abilities. Let’s look at it: Verse 15 says, “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.”
TALENTS VERSUS MINAS
Now this has led to some confusion as to why the Lord gives some more than others, but the first thing we need to understand is that this is not talking salvation, but to those gifts and callings that each is given. And the fact is, when it comes to the specific part of the Body that we are assigned to and the giftings that are associated with that calling, not everyone is going to be given the same measure of grace. That doesn’t mean that the Lord loves one more than another. It just simply means that we all have different callings and because of this, there are certain gifts that we need to perform what we are called to do.
You see, just as it is with our physical bodies, just because certain parts of our body seem to fill multiple roles and have more functions than others, doesn’t mean they are more important than the other parts of the body. The fact is, every part of our body is important whether it has multiple functions or not. Likewise, in the body of Christ, we all are important, just with different parts to play. But this is talking about our calling and gifts in the Body, not our position as a child of God. In that respect, we are equally blessed, anointed, and loved by the Lord. So, in regard to our salvation, we all have been given an equal amount.
There is a similar parable that Jesus gave us in Luke 19:11-27 called The Parable Of The Minas which deals more with salvation.
You see, while both of these parables are very similar to where it might be supposed that they are the same, there are a couple of differences: One main difference in them is that in the Parable of the Talents the man delivered his goods to his servants in different increments—to one five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent. However, in the Parable of the Minas, the nobleman gave one mina to ten different servants thus giving the same amount to each one. So, just as the type of currency is different in both parables, the type of spiritual gifting is different.
Now both of these parables are similar in that they are meant to teach us to be faithful in our stewardship as servants of God, but I believe that they are referring to the stewardship of two different things:
It is funny that the Lord uses the word “talents” to describe one of the things we are to be good stewards of because this refers to the different measures of gifts and talents given to us by the Lord. Now some “talents” that we possess were given to us at birth and others were given to us at “new birth.” There are certain individuals that we see in the world today who do not know the Lord and never have, yet they are certainly gifted in certain ways such as singing or athletics. Therefore, the giftings they were given at birth, they may never use for His kingdom’s glory but only for their own glory. But there are other “talents” that are given to us when we receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior and others that are given to us when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit.
So, my point is, the Parable of the Talents is meant to teach us to be good and faithful stewards of the variety of gifts & callings that we have each been given where one may have been given five, another two, and another one. The Parable of the Minas, on the other hand, is meant to teach us the importance of being good and faithful stewards of the gift of grace that we have all been equally given when we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior. More specifically, this describes the “like, precious faith” that we all have received as believers and the same salvation that we’ve all received. Therefore, we have an awesome responsibility to not only be good and faithful stewards of that incorruptible seed that we have all equally received from being born again, but we also are called to be good and faithful stewards of the specific gifts and callings that we have received individually.
But the point is, how we steward our salvation will determine how we will rule & reign with Him. But how we multiply the varying amount of talents that we’ve been entrusted with also play a role in how much of the joy of our Lord that we enter into. Therefore, being good stewards of both the measure of faith we’ve all received and the varying gifts & callings we’ve each received will determine the quality of reward.
GIFTS, NOT WAGES
But what I want you to see today is that the gifts & talents given to you by the Lord are just that—they are gifts. They are His goods which He, in His great grace, has delivered unto us.
Take the gifts of the Spirit for instance: How many people believe you have to work for those gifts in their lives? You see, far too many believers do not see the gifts this way, but rather see them as a “wage.” What do I mean by that? I mean that most Spirit-filled believers think that you and I have to “work” for the gifts of the Spirit; that we have to do something to see them manifest in our lives. But that is simply not true. The gifts of the Spirit are free gifts! They do not have to be earned, worked or paid for! They are gifts, not wages! Amen?
But all of God’s gifts are to be viewed like this: In fact, the word most commonly translated “gift” is the word charisma and is defined as “a favour which one receives without any merit of his own; the gift of divine grace; a free gift.” This sounds an awful lot like the grace we receive at salvation, doesn’t it? Now we know that this grace is not obtained by any good works of our own. Rather, it is a gift given to us by God. Well, if these are “gifts” of the Holy Spirit, then they should be understood to be the same way—gifts of His divine grace, freely given without any merit of our own. Amen.
I looked up the various times that this Greek word charisma is used in the New Testament and guess what the common usage is? That we’ve already got it! Let me give you some examples:
First of all, if you back up to the beginning of this very letter, you’ll see the heart of God concerning the matter: First Corinthians 1:4-7 says, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, Paul starts off this letter thanking God for the grace of God that was given to them by Christ Jesus. Now the grace he is referring to here is obviously the gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit. And notice that he doesn’t say, “I pray to God always concerning you that God would someday give you grace by Christ Jesus.” No, he is saying they’ve already got said grace! Amen?
Paul continues that they were enriched in everything by Him—not hoped to be enriched in everything someday, but they already had been given everything and were enriched in this! In what? In all utterance and all knowledge! What does this mean? Well, “utterance” describes “speech,” which is an obvious reference to the vocal gifts of tongues, prophecy, etc. (gifts that he would have to correct them on regarding their usage later in this letter). The term “knowledge” is a likely reference to the revelation gifts of the word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and discerning of spirits. But my point is that this church was already enriched in all of these spiritual gifts.
Now was this just true for the Church of Corinth or is this a reality for all of God’s Church today? It is for all of us today just like it was for them 2,000 years ago because God does not include these things just for the benefit of one select group! No, He is no respecter of persons! Amen?
Let’s look at a couple of other New Testament verses:
First Peter 4:10 says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Notice that each one of us have received a gift—not just some of us, not just the select elect! Everyone has received “charisma” from God. Therefore, our responsibility is to minister those gifts to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. And notice the parallel yet again of the gifts God gives us to the grace of God.
We understand well that we cannot earn the grace of God, right? So, why would we think we can earn the gifts of the Spirit, which are considered manifestations of His grace? We can’t! They are God’s grace to us, and we are simply stewarding that grace! They are in our possession, and we are responsible for handling them in the correct fashion.
So, if we don’t earn them—not receiving them by our actions—then can we lose them through our works? Nope! For Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts (Greek charisma) and the calling of God are irrevocable.” This means that any “charisma” of God (including the gifts of the Spirit) is unable to be changed or reversed. Another way of saying this is to say—God’s not an Indian giver! Once He gives it, He doesn’t take it away.
This is something the Lord has certainly established me in. Like many of our tendencies, I believed in the past that God used me based on my performance. So, while I knew I had a gift, I still understood that the gift was not completely free.
I remember a time early in my walk with the Lord, when I was busy teaching Bible studies at my local church, and I had made some mistakes at this particular stage. In the midst of having to teach these people, I felt as condemned as a man could be. If I had been given the opportunity, I would have handed that Bible study over to someone else! But I didn’t. I had to go teach it.
How could God use me that evening? I felt so unworthy! But here is a good point to interject here. Was I ever worthy (when it comes to things of the flesh)? Was I ever qualified in the natural? Heavens, no! I might have been holier at other times than at this time, but again, God does not grade on a curve. So, what if I was even the best sinner at other times. The fact is, I was still a sinner. I was still making other mistakes, whether or not they were the more glaring and obvious ones. And, saints, this is all of us. None of us, even in our best state, are qualified. As my father-in-the-faith likes to say, “God has never had anyone working for Him yet that was qualified!”
So, the whole time I was preparing and heading to this Bible study, I was crying out to God to please use me! I said, “Oh God, don’t let these people suffer for my failures! Please use me! Please use me!”
Well, that evening I can tell you, was the most I had ever experienced the anointing of God up to that point in my life! Glory to God! He certainly used me—in a grand and glorious way! Thank you, Jesus!
The next morning, I was praying and thanking God profusely! I was telling God, “Lord, thank you for using me! Thank you for using me!” And really what I was saying was, “Thank you Lord for using me for me!” In other words, “Thank you Lord for not letting me have egg on my face and for showing up in spite of myself.” I heard the Lord speak in my heart very distinctly as I kept repeating, “Thank you Lord for using me.” The Lord spoke the following words to my heart: “Trey, I don’t use you for you; I use you for My people.”
Then after I heard that, He began downloading certain Scriptures into my heart showing me how He uses His people in spite of their own weaknesses, failures and carnality. One of those primary examples He showed me is what we have been looking at: the Church of Corinth, the church that was enriched in the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Amen!
Saints, this is the church who had so many of the gifts of the Spirit going on at the same time so that Paul had to actually tell them to do things decently and in order (First Corinthians 14:40)!
Was this because they were so holy and had no sin? Heavens, no! In one place, Paul called them babies! And why? Because there were factions among them—strife, envy and divisions (First Corinthians 3:1-3). This church was even abusing the Lord’s Supper—using it as an opportunity for the flesh to just pig out and disdain the poor around them. In fact, there was even a man in the church who was having an affair with his mother-in-law, and this church was tolerating it! Wow!
So, no, this church was far from perfect and had all kinds of problems. Yet God was still using them in a mighty way! And why? Because they received the manifestation of God’s Spirit by grace through faith.
So, yes, there is hope for you and I! God has given each of us gifts, and there’s nothing we can do about it!
Finally, let’s look at one more instance where this Greek word charisma is used, and in so doing, learn how to release the gifts within us:
In Second Timothy 1:6, the apostle Paul exhorts Timothy with— “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
Again, the gift of God is already in there; put in us by the anointing of the Holy Ghost. However, as good stewards of these gifts, we are called to “stir up” the gift! One might describe this as “unwrapping” the gift that we’ve been given!
Therefore, I believe we can see a principle here: When it comes to any of God’s gifts that are in us, specifically in this case, the gifts of the Spirit, you and I “stir up” those gifts through the faith that is in us! We can do this by praying in the Spirit and simply pressing into what we have within us!
THE KEY TO MULTIPLYING YOUR GIFTS
Now in this Parable of the Talents, we see how the Lord described these servants “stirring up” these talents that were given to them: We see that the one who had been entrusted with five talents “went and traded with them and made another five” (See verse 16). Likewise, the one who had received two talents “gained” two more (Verse 17). But the one who had been given one, dug in the ground and hid it (Verse 18). So here, Jesus is using the illustration of trading and investing to describe how one grows in and develops their spiritual giftings.
Now any of you who have ever dabbled in these ways of growing wealth know that in order to make money, you have to be willing to invest it. In other words, money will not usually multiply too well while it is still in your possession. So, we have to be willing to put our money into something else to gain interest on it. And this is how our gifts and callings are multiplied as well—by investing them in others. Yes, the more you and I exercise our gifts in the lives of others, the more those gifts can grow and multiply. But if we hide those gifts like the one who was entrusted with one, Jesus’ principle of “even what we have can be taken away from us” can become a reality.
Have you ever noticed that the two in this Parable of the Talents that were entrusted with multiple talents were the ones who ended up multiplying their talents? Yes, it was the one who was entrusted with one talent that never multiplied his, but rather buried it in fear of his master.
Now do you suppose that the Master might have had a little intuition as to who would be the good stewards of what they were entrusted with and who would not? I guarantee you that He did. He saw their hearts. He knew who was wise and who was foolish. He knew who was most likely to produce more with what they had. So, he gave to each according to their own ability (see Matthew 25:15). What does this mean— “according to their own ability”? It means that the master saw and understood what they were all three capable of. So, he distributed to each one very intentionally and specifically. This means that when God sees our faithfulness and He counts us worthy to be a carrier of the keys of the kingdom, He will entrust you and I with more.
You see, God is not stupid. He is the wisest investor in history! And when He finds someone whom He knows will be good stewards with His gospel and His power, He will show Himself strong through them. He counted Paul worthy! He took this man who was giving 110% for the work of satan and said, “I can use this man! All He needs is a little change in perspective and philosophy and that 110% he is giving to satan, He will give it to Me.”
Now, again, don’t misunderstand this: The fact that the Lord delved out different amounts of “talents” is not indicating that our salvation and His love for us is given out in different measures. Those things are the same towards us all and has zero to do with our works. What this parable is referring to is our hearts and how we are used by Him. We must be faithful with our gifts and then we will begin to see an increase in those gifts. Holy Spirit gives us the tools, but we have to open up the toolbox and use them. The more we lean on Him, recognizing that it's only by His grace that something good will come of this, the more we receive.
But as I have personally experienced myself and witnessed in others, the main reason that we do not feel confident to step out in faith and let God flow through us with those “talents” is because we fear missing God—which goes back to the condemnation thing. In other words, the primary reason we do not go out on a limb is because we are scared that it might not be God’s will, plan, or timing. In other words, we want to be sure its God. But this is not how it works! You have to step out in faith first and then you will come to that place of seeing and understanding. But what so many Christians want is they want to know, see, and understand everything before they step out. Just as it is in the natural, in the kingdom of God you are going to have to go out on a limb in order to get the best fruit!
But why do we fear missing God like this? It is partly because we fear failure. We are scared of falling flat on our face. But, thank God, Peter did not think like this. He stepped out of the boat, not fearing that He would sink. And that is the mentality that we need to adopt—not being afraid of falling flat on our face! Sure, we might fail. Sure, we might miss it sometimes if we live our lives like this. But what do you suppose God would rather you miss it in? Do you think He would rather you miss it in not praying for people or do you think He would rather you miss it in praying for people? I guarantee you He would rather you try to walk and fall down than never attempting to walk at all. This is simply a fact of life for any young child: They fall down several times before they truly learn to walk. Do we frown upon them when they fall? No, we understand that in order for them to learn to walk, they might have to fall a few times. Likewise, in order for us to learn to walk with God and walk in the miraculous, we might have to fall on our face a few times! And that is ok because this is how we learn to soar!
You know, it has been said that the way a mother eagle teaches her young to fly is by pushing her chicks out of the nest. It is during their fall that they learn to fly. Now this is a frightening thing, but what does it require? Faith! It requires faith on behalf of their mother to push them out of their comfort zone and risk them never learning to fly during their quick plummet to the earth. But we need to understand that God is a God of faith too, and He believes in us! He believes that we can mount up with wings as the eagle and learn to soar with Him!
Now the awesome thing about our God is that He does not want to push us out of our nests. He lets us choose to make that leap ourselves, just as He did not push Peter out of the boat, but let him make that leap of faith of his own initiative. God, likewise, will wait for us to jump out of that comfort zone—our proverbial “nest”—and learn to operate in the gifts and talents that He has given us stewardship over.
But there is another reason why so many of God’s children fear stepping out in faith to maybe pray for someone, speak into their life, or do something else for Him: It is because not only do they fear failure, but because they fear God! And no, I am not talking about that healthy, reverential fear of God, but the being afraid of displeasing Him.
Do you remember in the Parable of the Talents why the one who had only been entrusted with one talent buried his talent? It was because he “feared” his master (see verse 25). In other words, he had an incorrect view of him. In verse 24, he said that he “knew he was a hard man, reaping where he had not sown, and gathering where he had not scattered seed.” Friends, this is exactly why so many fail to grow in the operation of the gifts of the Spirit and in the gifts pertaining to their calling. It is because they have an incorrect view of God. They think He will be “hard” on them if they fail or do something wrong. This incorrect view of God keeps His children from growing.
For example, many people fear speaking out by faith the utterance given to them by the Holy Spirit. And this is why they don’t speak in tongues when baptized in the Holy Spirit. One thing I have told those who maybe only received one syllable from the Holy Spirit is— “Be faithful with that one word! Speak it out and let the Holy Spirit see your willingness to be faithful in little and He will make you rule over more syllables.” One might say, “Yeah, but what if it’s not the Holy Spirit and it’s just me?” God is not going to be angry with you if you are trying and fail. It is like a parent whose child has not learned to speak yet. When the child is trying to tell daddy & mommy that he loves them, but can’t say it perfectly, doesn’t that still bless the parents? Sure, it does! I believe our Heavenly Father is no different! He is blessed when His children are trying to obey Him! Amen?
But, no, God is not hard on us, and looking to come down on us if we make a poor investment with the talents He has entrusted us with. No, God is not sitting up in heaven with a scowl on his face waiting for us to mess up so that He can pour out his wrath and fury on us! No! Just like with any of us who know how to give good gifts to our children, our Heavenly Father is blessed with our good intentions! He is pleased when we, as His children, make the effort to multiply the gifts He has given to us! What actually displeases Him is when we do not try—making the effort to walk in the gifts He has given to us. That is what God does not want to see.
So, I encourage you, begin to put into practice this truth by taking your “talents” and investing them into others. For as you are faithful in your stewardship of the gifts He has put on the inside of you, you will be made ruler over much! It is simply a principle of the kingdom that as you are faithful to put yourself in position for God to flow through you that He will multiply those talents! Amen!
So, the way that you and I stay ready and watch for the Lord’s coming is not by sitting by idly; it is by actively investing the spiritual giftings God has put in us. Blessed are those servants that when the Master returns finds His servants so doing (Luke 12:43). Found doing what? Being about the Father’s kingdom business, of course. So, what Jesus is hoping to find when He returns is a bride who is prepared, doing the work of His kingdom. Everyone doing their share and their part. He certainly expects to make a profit when He returns, saints.
So, let’s be all about our Father’s business, seeking first the kingdom of God! He is not an unreasonable, hard Lord who expects more out of us than we feel capable of. No, He has given us the giftings, the calling, and the abilities to do all that He has called us to do. Let’s do it, as His huper “nikes” (i.e., more than conquerors). Amen.
THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM
PART FOURTEEN – THE WISE & THE FOOLISH VIRGINS
So, for the past several months we have been covering the various kingdom parables that Jesus taught throughout His ministry. These are those mysteries of the kingdom of God which illustrate to us what His kingdom is like and how it operates.
We have talked about how important it is that we understand how His kingdom works because it is possible for a born again, Spirit-filled Christian to go their entire life without understanding how God does things and, thereby, not experience all of the benefits of living in the kingdom.
A good analogy of this is that kingdom that we have in Orlando (I’m obviously referring to Disney World): Well, one could purchase their tickets to into that magical kingdom but if they do not know how things work at Disney, they might just use their ticket to enter the gates, but never go into all of it and experience all of the sites, rides, etc. As I was talking about this very thing with another minister, prophetically I saw that’s exactly what has happened in many Christians’ lives: they have entered the gates of God’s kingdom but immediately sat down on a bench just inside and never have experienced all that His magical kingdom has to offer.
Let it not be so with us, church! Let’s enter into the Promised Land that God has for us and partake of all of its fruit! No more being satisfied with just being delivered from Egypt and wandering around in the wilderness. It’s time we move into all that God has for us in Canaan Land where His kingdom principle of sowing & reaping brings us into the fullness of His blessing. Amen?
So, most recently, we have been looking at certain parables that show us what are some of the primary characteristics and attributes of His kingdom:
Which is a point I want us to continue looking at today—our marriage to the Lord and relationship with our bridegroom …
So, let’s move on to another parable Jesus taught us about our marriage to the Lord—the Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins found in Matthew chapter 25.
This chapter begins with Jesus saying, “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom” (Verse 1).
So, as we have been doing during our study of these parables, we have been asking questions that we might understand what Jesus was teaching in them. And oftentimes we have seen that there were things mentioned in the prior chapters that helped us to see what Jesus was teaching in context.
So, when we see that Jesus began here by saying, “Then the kingdom of heaven …” we would do good to ask the question— “Then when?” Well, in order to answer that question, we need to back up to chapter 24 and see what Jesus had been saying.
Well, chapter 24 begins with Jesus telling His disciples how the temple and all of the buildings around it would not have one stone standing upon another. So later, as they were alone on the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ disciples came to Him and asked Him when all of these things would occur and what would be the sign of His coming. This propelled Jesus to spend the rest of chapter 24 giving them events that would surround the end times before His Second Coming. But towards the end of the chapter, Jesus then turns His attention to how no one will know the day nor the hour when He will return but encourages them to watch and be prepared by being good stewards of what He will entrust to them.
So, this is what prefaced His Parable of the Wise & Foolish Virgins, and it will make sense why as we look at the details of this parable. So, let’s begin doing just that right now …
Now the first thing that is noteworthy to me about this parable is that Jesus described that “… the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”
Now we know that this parable will reveal to us the difference between the five wise and the five foolish ones, but the fact that all ten are considered virgins and had lamps is noteworthy to me. And by the fact that Jesus was encouraging His disciples to be ready for His return at the end of chapter 24 clearly shows us that these ten virgins were meant to illustrate His followers, those who had committed themselves to marriage with Him. So, this was them, and this is us. And what does He call His disciples? Virgins!
Do you see yourself that way or do you still identify with your uncleanness and impurities? Most do not see themselves as pure and spotless like a virgin because they still identify with their sins. But the fact is, this is apparently how the Lord sees us! He doesn’t see our sin. He doesn’t see our uncleanness. Rather, He sees us as holy, pure, spotless, and without blemish. This is how the Lord sees you and this is how you are!
Now whether we are prepared for His coming or not, or whether we are being good stewards or not, that’s a different story. But that never changed the fact that the Lord viewed all ten of these brides the same—as virgins. So always remember this one thing—our “do” does not affect our “who.” You are spotless and pure. You are sinless and holy. That’s who you are and that’s how He sees you.
Not only that, but these virgins are described as each possessing a lamp: Did you know that we all have this light? In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to His disciples, “You are the light of the world” (See Matthew 5:14). He then described this light that we are by saying that no one puts that lamp under a basket but puts it in a place where it can light up the entire house (See verse 15). So here, we see that this lamp that Jesus described each of the ten virgins possessing is that light that He said we all have been given.
Yes, we are all the light of the world, and the awesome part of that is that this is the same thing that Jesus said concerning Himself in John 8:12 when He spoke boldly, declaring that He was the light of the world. And did you know that this was the same exact terminology that He used in Matthew 5:14 when He told His disciples that they were the light of the world? How can this be? It’s because, as First John 4:17 says, “as He is, so are we in this world.” Amen! Let me say it this way— “As He is the light of the world, so are we the same light in this world.” Amen!
Therefore, this is the way the Lord sees us, His children: We are His pure & spotless virgins, and we are His lamps meant to shine in the midst of this dark and perverse generation. This is who we are, not who we are trying to become.
THE HEART OF WISDOM
Now that we have that settled, let’s look at the point of Jesus’ parable—how we, as His virgins, are expected to be prepared for His coming.
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 25:2— “Now five of them were wise and five were foolish.” Then Jesus goes on to describe the foolish as those who, while they took their lamps, they took no oil with them in verse 3. On the other hand, the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps (Verse 4). So, basically what made the five virgins wise was the fact that they took extra oil along with their lamps that probably already contained its oil. In other words, they thought ahead and brought extra oil, which wound up being necessary because the bridegroom was delayed in his coming and they would need it.
Did you know that this is one of the primary characteristics of wisdom? It thinks ahead and is always prepared. It is not caught by surprise when things happen that were unforeseen and unexpected. You know why? It is because wisdom foresees and expects.
Isn’t this just a common characteristic of a wise person? Through the knowledge and experiences of life, a wise person who chose to learn from their life-lessons, will make adjustments the next go around. In other words, because of what they learned will happen when they do certain things, they consider the outcome of their current decisions. This is wisdom, and this is exactly the opposite of what a fool does …
You know, as you read through Proverbs—the Book of Wisdom—you find that Solomon spent a lot of time differentiating between the wise person and the fool. And we also see that in describing the foolish person, he used the exact opposite characteristics for those who possess wisdom: They will speak without thinking. They will act without contemplating. Simply put—a fool does not think ahead and acts impulsively.
On the other hand, the wise will also consider where what they are about to do will take them before they move forward—thinking ahead as to whether or not their current decision will lead them away from God’s perfect plan for their life. To put it simply—the heart of wisdom is that it looks ahead and considers where it is going.
I like to call this characteristic of wisdom, “the heart of wisdom.” I get this phrase from the 90th Psalm, which was actually a prayer that Moses prayed during the time Israel was wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. And in this Psalm, Moses prayed for something that I believe we should all pray for consistently in our own lives and the lives of others. In this awesome prayer, Moses shows us how the heart of wisdom applies to our life on this earth versus our life in eternity.
So, what was it that Moses specifically prayed for that will enable us to gain a heart of wisdom? In verse 12, he asked the Lord to “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” What a powerful verse this is!
What Moses was asking Yahweh was to teach them to count the number of days that they had. What does this mean? Just think about it: The carnal human tendency is to suppose that we will live on this earth forever. Most people (particularly young people) just float through life never considering that their life may end soon. Since this life is all that we have ever known, we just live life never really considering what happens after we die. But life after death is a reality that we must consider! As a matter of fact, eternity is something that we better consider because how we live our life now will determine where and how we will spend eternity.
Do you see how foreign this is to most people, even Christians? But this is exactly why Moses prayed this for Israel: He prayed that God would teach them to calculate and evaluate their days on this earth so that they would be ready for the next life.
You see, our life on this earth is so short in comparison to eternity. And I believe the church has allowed the same mentality of the world to creep into it. We have adopted the same carnal and foolish thinking that is only concerned with this earth-life. This is indeed a grave mistake because a day is coming—soon and very soon—when we will stand in front of our Master and have to give an account for the stewardship of our life on this earth. I personally want the Lord to look at me and say, “Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in little (i.e., in this short life) and now you will become ruler over much (i.e., in the eternal kingdom of God)!”
So, we could say that making current decisions that will positively affect our future is the heart of wisdom! And wasn’t this what the five wise virgins did? Yes, this heart of wisdom is apparently what five of these virgins possessed. They considered tomorrow. They were mindful of eternity. While they were certainly guilty of slumbering and sleeping like the other foolish five, they were prepared when they heard the cry at midnight. No, they were awake and alert to spiritual realities. Their eyes were open. Their ears were attentive. There was true wisdom in their heart—the heart of wisdom. Amen.
So, going back to our prior point: All ten of these brides were virgins, but only half of them were wise virgins—showing us that one can be spotless, pure, and without blemish and still be stupid. But in no way does our foolishness change who we are.
You see, the reason I harp on this is because the tendency in most people is to identify themselves with their actions. In other words, they see themselves through the filter of what they do instead of what Christ has done for them. The fact is, we’ve been washed. We’ve been cleansed. Our filthiness and immorality have been washed away by the blood. Now we are just as pure as if sin never existed. That’s who we are.
But the fact is you can be holy and righteous and still make foolish decisions just like half of these virgins did. And that’s the differentiator between born again believers. It’s not in what God has made us through grace; it is in the measure of wisdom that you and I choose to walk in. Amen?
PAYING THE PRICE OURSELVES
Well, we know what happens in this parable, don’t we (See verses 5-9)? The bridegroom was indeed delayed in his coming. All ten of the virgins slumbered and slept. But when all ten of them heard the cry that He was coming, they arose and began trimming their lamps. However, the five that were foolish were not prepared and asked the wise ones to share some of their oil with them. But the wise virgins essentially told them— “No way, Jose, because we might not have enough for both of us!”
Now on the surface, this might seem to be insensitive and cold on the five wise virgin’s parts to turn away the other’s request because they didn’t want to risk running out themselves, but we need to understand that this parable is meant to illustrate spiritual things, not necessarily how one is to behave in this world.
And the fact is, when it comes to the wise decisions we make in the kingdom of God and the spiritual things we’ve accumulated as a result, we cannot just generously give those things to other people. I wish that I could just lay hands on people and transfer the good things that the Lord has sown into me into them, but it doesn’t work that way with most things. Now there are spiritual giftings that can be transferred through the laying on of hands etc. but most things we’ve acquired in the Spirit are not able to be transmitted. They will come through one’s diligent pursuit of them themselves and through their own personal relationship with God. Yes, everyone must pay the price themselves. This is what I believe was meant by “but go rather to those who sell and buy for yourselves” (See verse 9).
Church, there is only one place to get the things we need to be spiritually prepared for His coming, and that’s straight from Him. We cannot depend on someone else to give it to us—not our parents, our pastors, or anyone else for that matter. We must pay the price ourselves in order to be as prepared spiritually as we need to be.
EXTRA OIL IN OUR VESSELS
So, as we’ve seen, the main issue in this analogy is that the five foolish virgins did not think to bring extra oil outside of what they had in their lamps while the five wise virgins brought extra in vessels along with their lamps.
Now I see this oil as representing something—namely, Someone: Now what does oil symbolize throughout the Scriptures? It represents the Holy Spirit, the Anointing Himself. Yes, throughout the Bible, oil is used as what anoints someone or something for the service unto the Lord, and it is clear that this anointing oil typifies the Holy Ghost and the enablement He gives us to minister to and for the Lord.
It is for this reason that I see the oil that these ten virgins used to light their lamps as a type of the Holy Spirit who now causes our lights to shine for the glory of God. Amen!
You see, without the indwelling Holy Spirit in our vessels, there would be no light in our lives. He is the One who supplies us with the joy, peace, love, and the abilities to do anything good for the Lord. Without the Christ—the Anointed One—we can truly do nothing! Yes, He is the oil who keeps our light shining bright for the kingdom of God.
But how many of you know that just as five of these virgins in their wisdom carried extra oil in their vessels, there is extra oil to be had?
You see, all ten of these virgins evidently had the oil in the lamps, right? The problem was the foolish ones just didn’t take extra in their vessels. I see this as how all born again believers who are a part of the bride of Christ have received the Holy Spirit in salvation. Yes, we all have been anointed by the Spirit of God, being washed and regenerated by Him. Therefore, the Holy Spirit lives in all who have received their Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. But that doesn’t mean they have received all the oil that they needed to keep their lamps burning. The extra oil that the five wise virgins carried in their vessels is what I see as what is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, or having the Spirit upon us.
Now this is something that you don’t hear a lot about in the modern-day church, but that should not be so. While many of our churches today are attempting to be less offensive and more seeker sensitive in their approach, there are certain topics that we should not be shying away from. Yes, subjects such as sin & repentance, the blood of Jesus, and, yes, the baptism of the Holy Spirit are eternal truths that we don’t need to hear less of, but that we need to hear more of! Amen?
You see, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is essential to us walking in the kind of life that Jesus died to provide us with. Sure, being born again is the first step into eternal life but being filled with the Holy Spirit is the next step into resurrection life. Amen!
Now because I don’t want to assume that everyone hearing this knows what I’m talking about when I refer to this second work of grace available to us called the baptism in the Holy Spirit, let me give you a brief explanation …
THE BAPTISM IN THE HOLY GHOST
Let’s first look at this phrase—the baptism in the Holy Ghost:
In Acts 1:5, Jesus told His disciples, “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So, what does it mean to be “baptized” with the Holy Spirit? Well, notice here that Jesus made the comparison to John baptizing with water to us being baptized with the Holy Spirit.
You see, just as when one is baptized in water, he or she is totally immersed in the water, when someone is baptized in the Holy Spirit they are immersed in the Spirit—meaning, they are not sprinkled with a little bit of Him to where He only affects a relatively small portion of them. Like when one truly is “baptized” in water, they get soaking wet. Likewise, when one receives the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit, they get soaked in Him—meaning, it’s not just their spirit that gets sprinkled; their whole man gets wet. That means our heart, soul, and body get affected. We get soaking wet in the Holy Ghost! Amen!
You know, even the baptism of John has been misunderstood: People today baptize incorrectly because when you look up the word “baptize,” it literally means to be “immersed or dunked” in water, not “sprinkled.” In other words, to be baptized in something means to be completely dipped or plunged into it.
So, if being baptized with water means to be immersed, dipped, dunked or plunged into the water itself, then it is to be understood that being baptized with the Holy Spirit also means to be immersed, dipped, dunked or plunged into the Holy Spirit Himself. Amen!
Saints, this is the difference between having the Holy Spirit “within” us and having the Holy Spirit “upon” us: Sure, as I have stated already, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us when we are born again and He regenerates our spirit, but there is a subsequent Promise which is what Jesus was talking about here where the Holy Spirit doesn’t just dwell in us, but He comes upon us. Amen!
I remember a time when I was attending Charis Bible College in Colorado Springs and a discussion came up in the breakroom about what is the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit at salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This question was being debated and then, by what I believe to be a word of wisdom, the Lord gave me the answer right then and there: You see, when one is born again, they receive the Holy Spirit to where He comes and regenerates, renews and then seals their spirits (Titus 3:5 & Ephesians 1:13). Yes, He dwells in that born-again believer’s spirit, but the hidden man of the heart is the only part of us that He affects. Amen!
This is where the baptism of the Holy Spirit (or, the Holy Spirit coming upon us) comes in: You see, while it is certainly important for the Holy Spirit to affect the spirit of man and perform that first work of grace in our lives, what about the other parts of man? What about the body and the soul?
You see, the question that was getting raised in that CBC breakroom that day was— “Did we not get all of the Holy Ghost when He came to live in our hearts at our salvation experience?” Well, sure, we didn’t just receive a part of the Holy Spirit when we were born again and another part of Him when we were baptized in Him. No, we received all of Him when we were born again but He did not receive all of us.
Let me substantiate this statement, further by us considering the different terminologies that are used to describe this second work of grace:
Therefore, from these terms we see how the Holy Spirit is supposed to be poured out “upon” us to where we are completely “immersed” with Him and totally “filled” by Him. Amen! But my point is that just the phrase “baptism in the Holy Spirit” shows us that the Holy Spirit is certainly likened to water, this is similar to how they anointed men for their ministry positions. They didn’t just dab a little oil on their foreheads, they poured it out on their heads.
Likewise, the Lord doesn’t just want us to be sprinkled with a little oil of the Holy Spirit to light our lamps; He wants to pour out an abundance of oil in these here vessels! He wants us baptized in the oil of the Holy Ghost!
And I can assure you, church, having the Holy Spirit in fullness and abundance is an essential part of kingdom living. Just as it is what the wise virgins did that kept their lamps burning bright.
So, it’s evidently wisdom to keep our vessels filled with the Spirit of God. It is what will keep us prepared and ready to meet our Groom when He appears.
No, you don’t have to be filled with the Holy Spirit to get to heaven. You can receive an anointing from the Holy One by being born again and have your ticket reserved for those pearly gates. But without the help of the Holy Spirit in your life, you might just get there a little quicker, that’s all.
Church, I don’t know where I would be today if it wasn’t for me being filled with the Holy Spirit. He has kept me from harm countless times by leading and guiding me in various ways—through the inward witness, by my prayer language, and by speaking to me in other ways. It is foolish to try and live the Christian life apart from the Holy Spirit—for He is the Spirit of wisdom!
So, don’t be a foolish bride and try to live this life without being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Be filled with Him and stay full of Him so that you can always be ready to meet the Lord Jesus. Amen.
For the past several months, we have been covering Jesus’ “Mysteries of the Kingdom of God” which are the various parables that He taught concerning God’s kingdom. In it, we have spent most of our time looking at the parables Jesus taught in Matthew chapter 13, but we have most recently seen that there are a few more kingdom parables that Jesus taught in the Gospel of Matthew. All of these parables were meant to illustrate the way things operate in God’s kingdom. And that has been the point of this particular series of teachings—to see how God’s kingdom works.
Church, this is so important for us to learn because there is the potential for one to be a born-again, Spirit-filled believer and not experience everything God’s kingdom has to offer. This can occur if one does not learn the in’s and out’s of His kingdom and apply those kingdom principles to their everyday life.
So, last time, we looked at Matthew chapter 20 where we have another one of Jesus’ parables which describe His kingdom—the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. We saw that this parable was given in response to Peter’s question towards the end of chapter 19 where he asked “what was in it for them” seeing that they had left all to follow Him. So, this is what led up to Jesus giving them this Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard—which is essentially a parable describing how there are those who leave all to follow and serve Him at different times.
Now we made the point that though the example is of the hiring of laborers and paying them for their work, this parable is in no way meant to illustrate to us that our salvation is on a works basis. In fact, salvation is not even what this parable is referring to because, based on Peter’s question earlier that provoked this parable, we are talking about the rewards for serving Him—which are most certainly based on the work we do in His vineyard. We saw in this parable that grace plays an integral role in the kingdom of God, but we made the point that we don’t need to make the mistake of thinking that God saves us according to our service of Him. Salvation does not work that way, but certain rewards & blessings do.
But the main point of this parable is the response we see in those who were hired first and worked the entire day for the agreed denarius when it came time for them to be paid: When they saw how those who were hired were paid at the various times after them, they assumed that the landowner would be paying them more. Well, he didn’t, but rather paid them what they agreed upon, which greatly upset them. But should they have been upset? No because they got exactly what they agreed upon. Whether or not the master wanted to give those who were hired later in the day the same was his prerogative.
I made the point then that I wonder if this same thing has ever happened to us—that we have expected the Lord to do something for us or someone we love because of what we or they have done or because of what we or they have not done. “This shouldn’t be happening to them because they are a good person” we say, but we need to understand that it doesn’t work that way. To have that mentality that they don’t deserve to have something bad happen to them because they are a good person indicates that we believe our works have something to do with our experiences. While both our good and poor choices can certainly have their ramifications, to think that one does not deserve to go through what they are going through is the wrong mentality. The truth is—if we were going to base everything on what we deserve, then we all deserve hell and every other kind of suffering. Why? Because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is truly none good, no, not one.
We then looked at the role God’s grace plays in our lives because this parable shows us the nature of His grace and that there are varying layers of grace. And we learned that is one of the most important aspects of God’s kingdom that we need to understand—how everything in God’s kingdom is grace-based. Yes, this grace is not just limited to our spiritual needs. The Lord also has given unto us all things that pertain to this life as well as godliness. Yes, we are blessed by His grace! We are healed by His grace! We have soul restoration by His grace! And the list goes on.
You see, we understand how this applies to our salvation—that no amount of good deeds one does can qualify them to be saved. Our salvation is completely a gift of God—meaning we can’t earn it or work to obtain it, but we need to understand that everything else from our being used by God to accumulating treasures in heaven as a result of working for Him is by His grace as well. This is why we are shown in the Bible that those who have been rewarded crowns in heaven for their service of the Lord throwing them at Jesus’ feet and saying, “Worthy is the Lamb.” It’s because they know that if it were not for the grace of God, they never would have been able to do the things they did to earn those crowns.
So, yes, grace is a big part of the kingdom of God. It’s how we are were saved initially and how we experience His salvation every day subsequently. It doesn’t matter if we have been a Christians for 50 years or 50 days, it will always be the same—by grace and through faith.
THE ARRANGED MARRIAGE
So, let’s move on to another parable that illustrates the way God’s kingdom operates. The one I want us to look at this week is found in Matthew chapter 22 …
This chapter begins by saying, “And Jesus answered …” Now we have no evidence at the end of chapter 21 that a question was ever asked for Jesus to answer. Just because it was not recorded doesn’t mean there wasn’t a question asked, but perhaps Jesus was answering the question that was in people’s heart regarding Jesus’ sayings from chapter 21.
You see, Jesus told two parables in that chapter that are similar to this Parable of the Wedding Feast: One was the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32) and the other was the Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers (Matthew 21:33-40). In both of these parables, Jesus described Israel’s rejection of the call of the Lord to work in His vineyard. As a result, Jesus described how the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a nation bearing the fruits worthy of repentance (See verse 43).
Then verses 45-46 tell us that when the chief priests and the Pharisees heard both of these parables, they picked up on the fact that He was talking about them. This, of course, infuriated them and they were ready to “lay hands” on Him right then and there. But they knew the multitudes thought He was a prophet, so they restrained themselves.
So, this is what led to Jesus’ response of the Parable of the Wedding Feast. Let’s now look at what Jesus said in it:
Verse 2 begins with— “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son …”
Now we are again obviously talking about God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, here. So, first of all, notice that in this parable God is called a “certain king”—and that He is. God is our King, which means that we ought to recognize Him as such by walking in obedience to Him, worshipping Him, etc.
You see, far too many people in the Body of Christ today lack the fear of God. They readily embrace the love of God, but that reverence and respect of the King is not practiced as much as it needs to be. Church, we must recognize Him as the King of all kings and live our lives like He is our Lord.
So, Jesus said that the Lord God, our King, “arranged a marriage for his son.” Notice that this was an “arranged” marriage. Now while our culture today does not necessarily embrace “arranged” marriages, they are not such a bad thing. Did you know that arranged marriages seem to be more successful than even our traditional “love marriages?” Now there are a lot of factors that might contribute to arranged marriages being less likely to end in divorce, but the fact is that there are certainly pros and cons to both types of marriages. And evidently the Lord isn’t against the idea of arranged marriages because that is how He has set it up with His Son.
In this case, the Father does know best, and He has specifically hand-picked the bride for His Son. In Romans 8:29-30 we are told that He first “foreknew” her. Then He “predestined” and “called” her. Therefore, the Lord’s marriage to His bride has most definitely been arranged by the Father, and praise God for that! Father knows best!
DOES GOD ALWAYS GET WHAT HE WANTS?
Then Jesus said in verse 3— “and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.”
So, this king sent servants out to call those who were invited to attend his son’s wedding. Who do you suppose these servants are in the kingdom of God? They are His prophets—those whom God sent to Israel and Judah time and time again. And as evidenced by those various times, the invitation to repent and return to the Lord was often rejected by His people.
And notice that Jesus said that “they were not willing to come”—which is the real issue here. You see, it’s not God’s will that is the issue. He has made it clear what His will is, and we are told to not be ignorant but to understand His will (See Ephesians 5:17). The real issue now is our will. Are we willing to come to the wedding? Do we want to come to the table and eat? Do we desire to come to the party?
Matthew 23:37 illustrates this truth: In it, Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
First of all, notice how Jesus is speaking to Jerusalem, God’s chosen city of God’s chosen people. He is lamenting over the people of God, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! Again, this describes those servants of God sent to invite them to the great wedding feast.
And what does Jesus go on to say? “How often I wanted to gather your children together …”
If you were to ask your average Christian “Does God get what He wants?” your resounding answer would be— “Yes, of course, He does!” But is that really true? Does God get everything He wants? According to this Scripture, He often wanted to gather the children of Israel together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! Yes, He wanted to gather His people together under His protective covering—close to Him and free from all danger—but they were not willing!
Now, again, was God willing? Yes! He wanted them under His wings! But they were not willing, proving to us that our will can override His will. And we have to know this is true when you see the majority of God’s church weak and powerless and living defeated, not turning the world upside down like the early church did. Friends, if we are not seeing what the early church did, then it is not God who changed; It is the church who is not willing. Amen?
WHY ON EARTH?
Then in verse 4, we see Jesus telling us what this king did next: He said, “Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, ‘See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.’ ”
Notice that word at the beginning of the verse— “Again.” You see, with the Lord there is always an “again.” In other words, He gives the opportunity to repent and is not a “one and done” God. Thank God for the multiple appeals He makes to all of us to make the right choice!
So, these servants come to those who were already invited to the wedding again with a message from the king. This time, he wants to share with them what is available at this wedding, and it’s a feast! He said to tell them, “See, I have prepared my dinner (for you to partake of), and the menu is the best meat! It’s all ready for you to come and freely partake of! Come to the wedding!”
You see, this is an illustration of the gospel message! The Lord told His servants to go tell them the good news of what is available for them by His grace! But did they just readily accept this gracious invitation? Nope! We see in verses 5-6— “But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.”
Why on earth would some make light of such a wonderful invitation? That’s why—because they are “on earth.” In other words, it is because they are in the world and the world is in them. This is when they “went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business …”
Jesus illustrates what was happening here in a more detailed way in His Parable of the Great Supper in Luke 14:18-20: After the great invitation to His supper was given, Jesus described how all who were invited responded: “But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ ”
Now the reason this is in the Bible is because this is the tendency that is in all of us—to not prioritize the call of the Lord to come dine with him. Church, living in this world, it is just easy to love the things in it. We’ve all made this mistake multiple times in our lives.
But there were some who took it to a whole other level: While some went their ways—just being preoccupied with other things— “the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.”
This is obviously referring to how the Jews were known for taking the prophet who was sent to them by the Lord and persecuting the Lord’s servants. This is something that can be expected—that people will seek to silence the Lord’s mouthpiece by any means necessary.
But the fact is, there are all sorts of levels to rejecting the invitation of the Lord to His wedding feast, and we likely have all participated in it somehow. But while it might be something we’ve all experienced, that doesn’t mean the Lord condones it. In fact, notice how the king responded …
In verse 7, we are told— “But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” This is, of course, showing the Jewish people what happened to them by rejecting His servants that He had sent to them—namely, His Holy Servant, the Lord Jesus.
Notice what Jesus said next in verses 8-10— “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore, go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.”
What we are seeing here is how after the Jews would reject their Messiah, the Lord would then target the Gentiles. These are those in the “highways.” And notice how those His servants found were “both bad and good.” To me, that’s just beautiful!
You see, the Lord hasn’t just invited the “good” to His wedding feast; He’s invited the “bad” too. In other words, there is no distinction made. As the king told his servants, it’s “as many as you find” that need to be invited. Aren’t you glad for that!?! The Lord was not cherry picking. He said to invite “whosoever will”—both good and bad. Amen!
THE WEDDING GARMENT
But, finally, notice what happened after the hall was filled with its guests: “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So, he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Verses 11-14)
You see, it was customary in their culture for the one who held the wedding to provide all their guests with wedding garments. Therefore, it would obviously be expected that all of the guests be wearing those garments at the wedding. Likewise, our Lord and King has provided all of His guests with garments and a robe! This is spoken of in Isaiah 61:10 when we are told— “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness …”
Praise God, this is what He has done for all those who have been born again and are the true children of God—He has clothed us in the garments of His salvation and has covered us in His robe of righteousness! And it’s important for us to know that this was necessary:
You see, before coming to Christ, our garments were tattered. They were filthy. Isaiah 64:6 says it this way— “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags …” So, all of our garments were filthy and unclean. Yes, as Romans 3:10 states, there is none righteous, no not one.
So, we all had need of new garments. That’s where Jesus came on the scene, and He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Second Corinthians 5:21). Now, we have been provided with His garments of salvation—meaning, we have His peace, His joy, His deliverance, His healing, His blessing, etc. Now, we have been covered in His very own righteousness—having exchanged our filthy rags for His rich robe! Amen.
Then notice what Isaiah 61:10 goes on to say … “As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” So, do you see the comparison of these garments of salvation and robe of righteousness to wedding garments? I believe this is what Jesus was illustrating to us.
But for whatever reason, there was a guest who didn’t have on the wedding garment that the king had so graciously provided. So, Jesus told us that when the king saw this, he approached the man and asked him how he got in without a wedding garment, and we are told that the man was speechless.
I see this as descriptive to how there are people who are trying to enter the kingdom of God by their own righteousness. You see, there are going to be those who think they will attend the marriage supper of the Lamb because they do things or don’t do certain things. This is essentially what Adam and Eve did when they sinned in the Garden. Instead of being clothed in the glory of God, they attempted to cover their shame with fig leaves. Church, these fig leaves will never suffice to cover our own unrighteousness. We must be clothed in the raiment of Christ in order to be a legitimate guest in this marriage feast because when the Day comes that we all stand before the judgment, those who have not put on His wedding garments will stand before him like this man, “speechless.” As the prophet forecasted— “every mouth will be stopped and the whole world will be found guilty before God” (Romans 3:19).
Zephaniah 1:7-8 prophesies this beautifully when he says, “Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; For the day of the Lord is at hand, For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests. And it shall be, in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with foreign apparel.”
This is a prophecy of the Great Judgment which correlates with Jesus’ parable that describes to us that all must accept the gospel invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb and be clothed in His wedding garments.
Church, this what the King of king’s kingdom is all about—a marriage feast! It’s about joy! It’s about prosperity! It’s about favor! But, most importantly, it’s about a marriage—our marriage as the Bride of Christ to our Groom, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Never forget that we are in a marriage with Jesus. Therefore, it is all about relationship with Him—the love He has for us and the love we have with Him. This will be a point we will hammer in a couple of weeks, but until then—don’t miss the invitation to the party! While the kingdom of God is not about eating & drinking; it is about eating & drinking from the table of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Amen!