2/9/08

The Faithful And The Evil Servant (Matt. 24:45-51)

On the three parables of the Olivet discourse (Matt. 24:45 - 25:30)

The first section (24:3-44) of the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24-25 speaks solely of the time referred to as the time of "tribulation", aka Daniel's 70th week. The language used is very literal, describing in specific detail the great trouble to come upon the earth, and the end result, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, when all the world "shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (24:30)

The 'church' is not found in any connection with this first section of the Olivet discourse. The reason for this is that before that great and terrible day of tribulation comes forth, before that stone which the builders rejected comes crashing down upon the kingdoms of men, the Lord Jesus Christ, the "Bridegroom", shall have first escorted his own, his bride, safely to his Father's house. (John 14:1-3)

In contrast then, the second section of the Olivet discourse deals with matters related only to the NT church, and is the topic of this study. The concept of the 'church' was unrevealed at the time the discourse was given, but as we now of course know began shortly after the resurrection and ascension of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
This second section (24:45 - 25:30) presents a marked change in the language used. The Lord no longer uses the literal and descriptive language found in the first section, but instead presents three distinct parables. These three parables are seen as presenting a brief overview and a 'prophetic history' of the new dispensation which was about to begin - the "church age".
It is with this perspective that well known and widely respected bible teacher of years past, A.C. Gaebelein, wrote his commentary on the gospel of Matthew, from which this teaching on the three parables has been excerpted.

1. The faithful and evil servant
2. The ten virgins
3. The talents
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pt. 1 The faithful and evil servant (Matt. 24:45-51)
Does it even matter what I believe about the "coming of the Lord"?
.....and what of the "kingdom building" dominionists and emerging church slash preterists who deny a literal interpretation and future fufilling of the prophetic portions of scripture which promise the return of the Lord to first remove his blood bought church, and afterwards bringing judgment upon the rebellious nations? Nothing to be concerned about, they would have us believe, saying that these things have all either been fufilled in the past or that they are just symbolic, and can be interpreted in many different ways. "My Lord delayeth his coming..." they say.

Is there no mention of these 'naysayers' in scripture? Or, is there in fact a stark warning against becoming one of that number...a naysayer? Here is the subject of the first parable, and where this study begins. It is worthy of careful consideration.....
"and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming.....
"The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (v.48, 50,51)
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excerpted from Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew; 1910
by A.C. Gaebelein (1861-1945)
Chapters xxiv :45—xxv :30. THE CHRISTIAN ERA.

The second part of the Olivet discourse begins with the 45th verse of this great chapter and extends to chapter xxv :30. The contents of this division are entirely different from the preceding one. Up to the forty-fourth verse we learned that the Lord gives predictions relating to the end of the Jewish age, an end still to come. We traced all these predictions in the Old Testament and in the great book of prophecy in the New Testament, the Revelation. We found the closest correspondency between Matthew xxiv:3~44, certain parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation, because all three deal with the same period of time. But now another series of predictions are before us which have no connection with Old Testament prophecy nor with Revelation vi-xix.

In the first part of this discourse we hear of wars, pestilence, famine, great tribulation, false Christs, the abomination of desolation, Judea, the Sabbath day and the visible and glorious coming of the Son of Man. The exhortations were to flee to the mountains, to pray that the flight take not place on the Sabbath day, to endure unto the end for salvation, etc. Of all this we do not read a word in the second section of our Lord's utterances. Here again he speaks in parables as He did in His second discourse in this Gospel, contained in chapter xiii.

The three parables which make up this part of the Olivet discourse picture the condition of things during the absence of the King and how in the professing church, in Christendom, there will be the true and the false, possessors and professors, saved and unsaved, such who have life and such who have a name to live but are dead.
These three parables then may be justly put alongside of the seven parables in chapter xiii dealing with the kingdom of heaven; the phrase the Lord uses again in giving the second parable. The great parables in the thirteenth chapter give the beginning, the external and internal development of Christendom, in a general way; the three parables in the Olivet discourse give the moral aspect of those who are in the professing church, and each is linked with the fact of His coming again. His coming discerns the true and the false and brings the separation of the good from the bad.
Let us, however, understand clearly that we have in these parables not the full revelation of what is the blessed Hope for the Church. The Church is, as we have seen from our exposition, mentioned in this first Gospel and spoken of as being an institution of the future.
Not in the Gospels do we find full revelation about the church, her relationships, her calling, her heavenly hope and glorious destiny. All this is made known elsewhere in the New Testament. The parables concern the Christian profession in a general way. If we hold this fast in our minds we shall find no difficulties at all. This Christian age is a mixed age and will be so to the end and the Coming One will find the faithful and prudent servant and the evil servant; the wise virgins and the foolish; the faithful servants using their talents and the wicked and slothful servant. The Coming One will mete out the judgment. The faithful servant is called "Blessed," the evil servant is cut in two and cast out. The wise virgins go in with the bridegroom and the foolish face a shut door. The servants who used the talents are set over many things and the slothful servant is cast out into the outer darkness. That the Lord will first descend into the air (i Thess. iv:15-18) and that the true believers, resurrected saints and living saints will be caught up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air to appear then before the judgment seat of Christ; that the unsaved, nominal Christians will go into apostasy and after the great tribulation receive judgment when the Lord comes out of heaven and all His saints with Him —all this is not revealed in these parables.
And now we turn to the first parable.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:45-51 )
The Lord still speaks to His disciples, but let us understand now while they are viewed in the first part as Jewish disciples and typical of the remnant of Israel in the end of the Jewish age, here the Lord looks upon them as soon to be in connection with something new, that is, Christianity. The parable itself is the simplest of all three; yet it has very significant and far-reaching lessons. The thought in this parable is service over the household; the household are those who are Christ's. This household is to receive food in season and the bondman or servant, faithful and prudent, is to supply the household with that food. He does it faithfully and at the coming of the Lord, this faithful and prudent bondman is set over all the substance of his lord. This is an extremely beautiful and blessed parable. It takes us at once upon an entirely new ground. Judaism knows nothing of that kind of ministry which is spoken of here; it is essentially Christian. The Lord, the great shepherd of His sheep, for whom He died, whom He loves so much, appointed His own as bondmen of Himself, to feed His flock, to give them to eat. This is what pleases the Lord, and it is only another proof of how dear and beloved His own people are to Him. Faithfulness to Him and to His own, His household, is the teaching of these words. The true servant (and every true believer has a service) is faithful and prudent and attends to that, to which his Lord has called him. And what keeps in such service? What is it that makes it ever fresh and refreshing, sweet and precious? It is the Hope of His Coming, yea, His imminent coming. The next paragraph, the description of the evil servant with his evil watchword, will bring this more prominently to our view. The reward of the faithful and prudent servant is a higher service, a service over all the substance of His Lord. Service does not terminate with this earthly life; there is a service up yonder, for "His servants shall serve Him." Faithful service here fits for that higher service in His presence. According to our faithfulness in service here we shall find service there to the praise and glory of His Name.
But now the other side comes up. The Lord pictures an evil servant and he saith in his heart, "My lord delays his coming." He acts outrageously, smites his fellow servants and eats and drinks with the drunken; suddenly his lord comes and gives him his portion with the hypocrites.
The interpretation is easily made. Here is the spurious, that which has taken the name of Christ and claims to be a servant likewise. The person described is a hypocrite; he professes outwardly to be a servant under his lord, but in his heart he saith, "My lord delays his coming." Then he usurps the place of authority, instead of serving in meekness, feeding Christ's own, he domineers over fellow servants and associates with the drunken.
The faithful and prudent servant is a picture of how it ought to be in the house, the church, and the evil servant in his hypocrisy and evil work is a picture of Christendom in corruption. The starting point of this corruption, this domineering over fellow servants and association with the drunken, the world, began with saying "my Lord delayeth his coming." It began in the heart. He gave up first in his heart that Hope, which was so pronounced in the early church. The belief given up that the Lord would come back, the departure from the doctrine of the imminency of the coming of the Lord, soon brought out the evils which the parable pictures. If the return of the Lord at any time had been the heart faith of the professing church, all the abominations of which the parable speaks would have been well nigh an impossibility. Gradually the belief in the coming of the Lord was given up; and as it was abandoned in the professing church, "the domineers of the' people," the Nicolaitans sprung up; an earthly priesthood was inaugurated, fashioned after a priesthood, which was the shadow of the better things, fulfilled in Christ. This false priesthood took the place of authority and domineers over the others, the servants of Christ. The separation was likewise given up and the church became identified with the world. It is another glimpse of the mustard seed in chapter xiii becoming a great tree with the birds nocking into its branches. The evil servant and his deeds are more fully pictured in the church message to Pergamos in the book of Revelation. But let us not pass lightly over the fact that the evil servant began by saying in his heart, "my lord delayeth his coming." He may not have been that evil servant all at once; but as soon as he said in his heart that the lord delays he had taken the first step towards becoming corrupt in doctrine and in practice. The enemy had put that foolish thought into his heart and then led him on into the wickedness he practiced
And has this no meaning for us? Indeed it has. God's own Spirit through the Word has but a few years ago led back to the blessed Hope and the midnight cry has been heard, "Behold the bridegroom; go ye forth to meet Him." There has been a most powerful revival of the study of prophecy and the imminency of the coming of the Lord has been taught and believed with apostolic simplicity. It has led out and on into true service for Christ. One who believes in the imminent coming of the Lord cannot help himself from looking to that Lord of being responsible to Him for service and wait on Him for service. This has been the case. Of the large numbers of servants who have been used in preaching the Gospel and shepherding the flock of Christ, the great majority have been and are such "who wait for His Son from heaven." There is a remnant of faithful ones who expect Him to come, who wait for Him; this expectation leads to faithful and happy service. One can be very happy indeed in serving the Lord with the childlike but scriptural Hope "He may come today."
The enemy, however, is not satisfied with having God's people waiting for the Lord. He is the author of that evil cry, "my Lord delayeth his coming." And he has succeeded in producing it in these days of revival of the study of Prophecy. We know some who taught and believed the imminency of the coming of the Lord. All at once their voices were silent as to the blessed Hope.
Why? In some way they became ensnared in teachings which put off the glorious event till after the great tribulation, the manifestation of the Antichrist, etc., and this unscriptural view silenced their testimony completely. It is sad to see this, and we fear, if our Lord tarries, some of these men (as it has been already the case) will act the part of the evil servant in a still more pronounced way.
Let us beware of any teaching which has even the faintest insinuation in it of the Lord delaying his coming. It is not of God. Let us rather begin each day with the blessed expectation that He may come to-day and then go forth to serve and be faithful to Him. But be assured the enemy will not rest, but find some new and subtle way to take away the blessed Hope and the blessed expectation, and to try and bring us into conformity with the world. Only the power of God can keep us in these evil days in this simple path and that will rest upon us as we cling to Him, the Lord who comes.*
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*We take the following from a recent volume by W. Kelly (1820-1906):
"Only let the children of God get clear of those clouds of noxious and unwholesome vapors that constantly rise up between the Lord and them. Let them cherish in their souls the hope He gave them. If you bring in a millennium first, it is hard to see Christ's coming clearly; it must act as a veil, which dulls the hope of that day. It may not destroy the hope; yet one cannot but look for His coming in an imperfect manner. If you bring in a great tribulation first, this also lowers the outlook and enfeebles the hope greatly; it occupies one with evils as they rise, produces a depressing effect, and fills the heart with that judicial trouble and its shade of desolation. They are mistakes of theorists. The one puts a wrong expectation between you and the coming of the Lord, kindling meanwhile a dreamy excitement in waiting for that day. The other case produces a sort of spiritual nightmare, an oppressive feeling in the thought that the church must go through so dreadful a crisis.
"Be assured, my brethren, that the Scriptures deliver us from both the dream and the nightmare. They entitle the believer to wait for Christ as simply as a child, being perfectly certain that God's word is as true as our hope is blessed. There is to be God's glorious kingdom; but the Lord Jesus will bring it in at His coming. Without doubt the great tribulation shall come, but not for the Christian. When it is a question about the Jew, you can understand it well; for why does the greatest tribulation come upon him? Because of idolatry; yea, of the Beast and the Antichrist worshipped. It is for him a moral retribution, with which the Christian has nothing directly to do. The predicted trouble falls on the apostate nations and the Jews. Those that ought to be witnesses of Jehovah and His Christ will at last fall into the dreadful snare of allowing the abomination to be put into the sanctuary of God."
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Midnight Cry: pt. 2
Parable of the talents pt. 3

1 comment :

maidinthejungle said...

Arno Gaebelein understands the identity of the church. We are the Bride of Christ. We are the Faithful Servant. We are the Virgins with oil (the Holy Spirit) in our lamps. I think the big word today is delay. And the evil servants have pounced on this opportunity to further their own agenda. Those faithful servants who have continued to wait and watch patiently for the Lord's return have been accused of everything from being too heavenly minded to neglecting the important things of salvation to escapism. I know, because I'm one of them.

The evil servants have jumped on the back of the NWO (complete with funding) to engage in matrimony with the Anti-christ agenda through the political engagements. They have made love to the rich men of the earth and received the reward of their unfaithful alliances. In the process of becoming the truly evil servants that they are, they began by beating down the protestations of the true church, and with the help of the frightful lot of alphabet networks, they have expelled the truth in order to build up their own earthy empire.

The Lord delays...yes...this is the dividing factor...we will be taken up to meet him in the air. Those who come to Christ after our departure will be martyred and come back to life rule with Christ in the Millennium. But we the Church will already be with him when he returns.


Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.