Summary: We are justified by faith, saved by grace and the shed blood of Jesus Christ, but this does not mean we should not do 'good works', and while the Bible is not specific there are references to 'rewards' that will be showered on Christians for their work fo
Matthew 25: 14-30
One day the Master will return and He will settle accounts
As we come to the last two weeks in the Church’s calendar,
before the 1st Sunday of Advent and a new Church Year,
the Bible readings always about the End Times.
They remind us that we will have a personal End Time
when we will die and face the Lord,
from whom no secrets are hid
and all desires known.
And they remind us of the ultimate End Time
when the Parousia, or 2nd Coming, will take place
and, as we recite every week in the Creed,
Jesus will return to judge both the living and the dead;
the sheep, those who have accepted God’s grace, forgiveness and salvation,
will be placed on His right hand and will enjoy His presence for all eternity,
while the goats,
those who did not receive what God freely offered to all through faith in Jesus Christ,
will be placed on His left hand and will suffer eternal damnation.
Our Introit psalm today was Psalm 90:1-12.
In the Lutheran Study Bible which Glen Zweck gave me at Westfield House before he retired
and moved to a Nursing Home in Australia,
Psalm 90 is a prayer to the everlasting God to have compassion on His servants,
who live their melancholy lives
under the rod of divine wrath.
It is a plea that God will yet show them His love
and give them cause for joy
and bless their labours with enduring worth.
That prayer could be answered in this life, or in the next.
If anyone here feels they are leading a melancholy life
and they are suffering under the rod of God’s wrath,
I pray that God will hear your prayer
and make things better.
I pray that we will all experience God’s love
and have cause for joy,
in eternity, if not in this life,
and that however we labour in His vineyard
He will bless our labours,
when, like the Master in the Parable,
He comes to judge.
Our Old Testament lesson was Zephaniah 1:7-16
and here again we are reminded that God will return to judge.
Those who have sinned and have never repented;
those who have mocked God and taken His name in vain,
will crying and wail.
Everything that they have put their trust in,
possessions and positions, status and bank balances;
will all be wiped out; ruined; demolished.
No one knows when that Day will happen;
only fools try to calculate the date and time,
and only great fools make announcements that they know when it will happen,
for even Jesus said He did not know,
but only the Father in heaven.
However, as Zephaniah put it in chapter 1 verse 14
‘The great day of the Lord is near,
and is coming’ although maybe not as quickly as he thought.
When it does come, however, it will be ‘a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish,
a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness’
for some, for many,
but not for those who have put their trust in Jesus,
as I hope all of us here have.
In today’s Epistle reading, 1 Thess 5:1-11, Paul, correctly,
does not try to work out when the Day of the Lord will occur;
he knew that would be a waste of time;
but he warns non-Christians that ‘destruction will come on them suddenly’
and no one will escape,
but he encourages us, and exhorts us to encourage one another,
that when ‘the Day of the Lord’ does come
it will not be our lot to ‘suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’
who died for us,
taking the punishment we deserve for our sins.
These readings from the Old Testament and the Epistles provide the context
for us to look at Jesus’ Parable of the Master and the Tenants in Matthew 25:14-30,
which, coupled with his Parable of the Ten Virgins in verses 1-13,
and his Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in verses 31 – 46,
are all about the rewards God’s good and faithful servants can look forward to,
and which those who have given God no time in their lives, will not benefit from,
but will suffer His wrath for eternity.
Before we get proud about what we DO for God and His church,
or get a guilty conscience about HOW LITTLE we do,
it is important, absolutely fundamental,
to remember that salvation, forgiveness of sins, eternal life,
are the believer’s because of God’s grace, which we receive through faith.
These things cannot be earned, merited, worked for or deserved, only received
(Ephes 2 v. 8-9),
because all our righteousness, good works, etc. are of the same value or worth as ‘filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64 v. 6).