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1 Corinthians 9:11
"If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?"









Relationship With Jesus
The Key To Effective Ministry

Section 7, Chapter 3

Parable of the Talents
and Fullness of Joy

Study Questions:
  1. According to the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, what brings about the abundant life in our lives?

  2. If the unity of believers is not centered in what denomination we belong to or in our form of worship, outside of basic morality, what does our unity center in?

horizontal rule

Jesus tells the following parable in the Gospel of Matthew,

"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

"Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master’s money.

"Now after a long time the master of these slaves came and settled accounts with them. And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.’

"The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted to me two talents, see, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful slave, you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

"And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 25:14-30).

As was shared earlier, Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. According to Jesus in this parable, part of this abundant life is realized through the development of one’s abilities and talents. Not only is the abundant life realized through the development of one’s abilities and talents, but Jesus promises fullness of joy through faithfulness to the development and use of one’s abilities and talents as Jesus reveals them to us. He also promises that as we are faithful to that which he has given to us that he will give us more.

I used to think this parable referred to when we died and went to heaven, that Jesus, in this way would reward us according to our faithfulness down here on earth. It does mean this as well, but through personal life experience I have come to realize that these promises are fulfilled while here as well. Many years ago the Lord led me to go into a two year electronic technician program. He made plain to me that He did not want me to do anything else until the two year program was completed. More than two years later, one night I was reading the last chapter of one of my texts books which completed the two year program. The Lord came to me in my spirit and said, "Well done good and faithful servant. Because you have been faithful in little, I am going to put you in charge of much." He then called me an Evangelist, Overseer, Teacher. He gave me three more talents. This program of Evangelism is part of the development and fulfillment of these three talents.

Not only at that point did Jesus give me three more talents, but since that time I have had a greater sense of fulfillment, purpose in living, and a clearer understanding of who I am and my place in the kingdom of Jesus than I had before the completion of the two year program in electronics. I have a greater experiential reality of the joy of the Lord and sense of fulfillment now that I have completed my formal education in theology. Over the years the Lord has increased my giftedness even more as I have been true to Him and walked with Him uncompromisingly.

This again is part of the meaning of the cross. Not only through the cross has Jesus freed us from the penalty of sin, death, and focus on our needs and problems, but through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, we are assured Jesus’ provision and power to fulfill His purpose and plan for our lives as we by faith choose to walk in obedience to His revealed will in our lives. In the context of the present discussion, this means submitting to the development of our abilities and talents he has given and called us to.

Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew, "But continually seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matt 6:33). We are continually seeking Jesus kingdom and righteousness when we are obeying His presently known will in our lives.

You may say you know what Jesus wants you to do with your life, but you do not have the material means to do it. If it is Jesus will then according to 2 Peter 1:10-11 Jesus will provide what is necessary to fulfill His will. Remember in Chapter 13 of Section 4 I shared how when Jesus made plain to me it was His will that I go to a Christian University and complete my studies in theology, I told the Lord, "Jesus, I do not have the money. If you really want me to go then please provide the financial means." He did.

You first determine God’s will for your life according to the Apostle Paul’s command in Ephesians 5:15-17,

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."

Second, you determine what is needed materially to fulfill God’s will, and then by faith believe Jesus to provide these needs according to Paul and John’s promises,

"And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:19).

"And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." (1 John 5:14-15).

Jesus assures us that if we ask Him for anything that is needed to fulfill His will, we can be assured the prayer is heard and know we have what we have asked for.

I believe it is important to note that this passage in Matthew clearly teaches that if you know what Jesus’ will for Your life is and do not obey it, you can lose your salvation.35

"Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents. . . . And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Part of salvation is confessing Jesus as Lord according to the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:9-10. Paul makes plain in this passage that confession of Jesus as Savior and Lord of our lives results in our salvation. As Lord means to obey Him. This again is part of the meaning of the cross. Without the cross, the Bible tells us plainly that Jesus’ Lordship in our lives cannot be realized because our sins put a barrier between ourselves and God. Isaiah the prophet wrote,

"Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, so that He does not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2).

However, Jesus’ death and resurrection have removed this barrier of sin.36 We are now able to receive the will and plan Jesus has for our lives if we come to Him on the basis of His death and shed blood.37 But if Jesus is not Lord of your life, Paul says you cannot be saved. The message in Romans above plainly says that confessing Jesus as Lord as well as putting our trust in His death and shed blood for our sins ". . . results in salvation."

This is why religion cannot save us. Religion is not Jesus’ Lordship over our lives. Religion actually is an excuse for not submitting to Jesus’ Lordship over our lives. Concerning religious rituals and acts, the prophet Samuel states,

"Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. . . ." (1 Sam 15:22-23).

Jesus died on the cross not only to free us of sin, but also to free us of religious non-profit actions so that we could focus on His Lordship over our lives. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the total dept of our sins. There is nothing we can do to add to what Jesus has done. We are now freed from attempting salvation through obedience to the Law so that we can now focus on the will and plan that Jesus has for our lives. This involves the development and use of our abilities and talents.

The Christian’s concern in life is not food or clothing or even his own personal problems. The Christian’s only concern is Jesus’ plainly known Lordship over his life and this alone. Jesus said about His own life and ministry as a human being on earth, which was a living example of how Jesus wants us to relate to Him, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work." (John 4:34). Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry He said in the Gospel of John,

"Father, the hour has come, glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You. . . . I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do." (John 17:1, 4).

Jesus glorified the Father by submitting to His will and plan for His life while a human on earth which partly involved His death on the cross for our sins.

In another passage of Scripture Jesus said, "It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’" (Matt 4:4). Since we are no longer under the Law, this is referring to Jesus’ personal dictates to our lives through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. When we are obeying Jesus’ words to our lives individually through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we are submitting to Jesus’ Lordship over our lives and glorifying Jesus with our lives. Glorifying Jesus means to obey His will and plan for our lives revealed through the Holy Spirit.

I believe that if this was realized and practiced out by all Christians in the Church, unity in the Church would be realized. This is because the focus of our unity would be Jesus’ Lordship and He does not work against Himself. Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand." Jesus does not work against Himself.

The focus of our unity is not our denominational methods, theologies, or form of worship. Jesus is our way, truth, life, and Lord; not our theologies or methods. Jesus’ Lordship in our lives individually can lead to denominational involvement, but not because it is the only right way of worshiping God, but because it is His plan for us individually. Our differences are not what cause our disunity, but rather our misunderstanding of what it means for Jesus to be Lord of our lives individually as related to the body corporately.

Instead of seeking Jesus’ will for the individual Christian in need in our midst, we are instead comparing who Jesus has called us to be individually with who He has called them to be individually and then trying to push that person into the mold Jesus designed for us, not for them. If this is not Jesus’ will for the individual Christian in need, it will not meet his need, but will instead lead him into religious-strife, confusion and condemnation.

Others do not practice your form of worship because Jesus has not called them to do so. If that person is doing what he is doing out of relationship with Jesus, he is just as spiritual as you are if what you are doing is out of your relationship with Jesus. Your commonness and unity does not lie in who you are individually, but in the Lord and source of who You are: Jesus Christ!38

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