Title: Aspects of Trust: Obedience
Text: Matthew 24: 45-51
FCF: We often struggle missing what God has called us to be.
Prop: Christ’s return, although seemingly delayed, is certain and soon, so we must continue to obey.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew 24. Two weeks ago, We saw Christ assure His disciples that His words will always endure. He told them to trust what He has said, that His return is certain and that it is soon. Last week we started a little mini-series on what it means to trust Christ. The first practical expression of faith in Christ’s words, that his return is certain and soon is what?
Be Vigilant. Keep Watch!
Last week we determined that to be vigilant is less about action; so much as it is about attitude. We live every day, every moment, with the blessed hope that one day our faith will be made sight. We yearn with eager anticipation that TODAY could be the day. And that changes how we live.
We plan for the future, we don’t quit our day jobs, but we are not captivated by the world because the world will burn up. We are not focused on making our best life now, because our best life is yet to come. We are not concerned with pleasure here, because the greatest pleasure is to serve our King which we will do perfectly once the King returns and takes us home.
That is vigilance. But there is more to trusting Christ when He says His return is certain and soon. And today we will see the second aspect of Trust, and that is obedience.
I am in Matthew 24 and I’ll start reading in verse 45. I am reading from the NET which you can follow along in the pew bible on page 1123, or in whatever version you prefer. If you don’t have a bible of your own, take the pew bible we want you to have it.
So what is the next aspect of trust? What does it look like to trust that the return of the Son of Man is certain and soon.
I.) The exact timing of the return of the Son of Man is unknowable, so we must continue to obey.
a. [Slide 2] 45 – Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their food at the proper time?
i. Jesus has fully, and completely answered all three of His disciples’ questions.
ii. He told them when the events of the fall of Jerusalem and the temple’s destruction will occur.
iii. He has told them the signs of His coming
iv. He has told them the signs of the end of the age.
v. For the first time in this discourse, Jesus asks them a question. What is the question?
vi. Well, grammatically we have to see that everything after the first comma is simply explanatory notes.
vii. If a slave is given the opportunity to represent the master for a time. Managing the household, even down to feeding the other slaves on time. If all this was given to a slave - and here comes the real question - how would his master measure if the slave was trustworthy and prudent?
viii. What would be the standard set against that slave to show he was faithful and wise?
b. [Slide 3] 46 – Blessed is that slave whom the master finds at work when he comes.
i. First of all, we see the word blessed. Literally “Good given to them”
ii. Back when we did the beatitudes we substituted the word grace there. Graced. God has shown favor and good on this person. How has God shown favor?
iii. In that this slave performs his duty, with or without his master watching him.
iv. So back to the question Jesus asks. How would you know a slave is faithful and wise? Notice that Jesus does not say, how does a slave become faithful and wise. He says who IS a faithful and wise slave.
v. A slave is proven to be trustworthy and prudent when the master arrives unexpectedly to find that the slave has been doing his job the whole time.
vi. A trustworthy and prudent, faithful and wise slave is one who obeys His master, in season and out of season. In sickness and in health. In despair and prosperity.
vii. Now take special note of this ok. He does not obey to become trustworthy and prudent. He is not earning these platitudes. It is clear that the slave has been graced to obey. Meaning His obedience isn’t to His own credit.
viii. Instead the slave proves that he is trustworthy and prudent by obeying his master.
ix. If you love me, you will keep my commands and if you do not love me you will not keep my commands. John 14.
x. How do you know whether you are a faithful and wise slave of Christ? Is God’s grace producing obedience in your life? Are you becoming who God has commanded you and is making you to be?
c. [Slide 4] 47 – I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions.
i. And friend, make no mistake about this.
ii. What is on display here is not the faithfulness of the slave, but rather the generosity of the master.
iii. Why do I say that?
iv. Two basic reasons.
1. What is the slave actually doing?
a. His job.
b. He is simply doing what the master told him to do.
c. He was granted the masters authority, his power, and with it he did exactly what the master told him to do.
d. What would be a fitting reward for a slave who did this?
i. “Good job!” “Atta boy” “Well Done”
ii. Or possibly, “here is your pay check for today”
iii. Or if the master was feeling particularly generous, “here is a bonus for you and your family”
2. What is it that the master is giving to his slave?
a. He is giving him charge of all his possessions. Do you realize what that means?
b. This is the place of a son. A son is in charge of the possessions of his father until he inherits those possessions for his own.
c. It is perhaps too far to say that the slave is adopted as a son. But he has certainly been granted the status of a son.
v. And notice another startling detail about this reward… it is not rest. It is not retirement. It is not to do as he wishes. It is more responsibility. Friends in the new Kingdom, in the new earth, in the eternal state – we won’t be playing golf. We won’t be sipping coffee. Friends we will finally inherit the dominion that God intended us to have from the beginning. “don’t you know that you will rule over angels” God has more work for us. But work in the most glorious and fulfilling sense of the word. That is what eternity looks like. And in a very real sense, it is what we were created for.
vi. Do you understand? The slave’s simple obedience is what was expected of him. And counter to our culture, you don’t get trophies for doing what was expected.
vii. It was not the slave’s obedience that earned him the rights of a son, it was not his obedience that granted him more responsibility… it was the generous master who recognized a faithful and wise slave by His actions, and awarded far above what the slave deserved, beyond what he could ask or think.
viii. Sound familiar?
d. [Slide 5] Passage Truth: So what is Jesus teaching His disciples and what is Matthew teaching the Jews? Although difficult to see so far, the clear truth of this passage has been borrowed from the previous section. The return of Christ could happen at any time, and that none know when it will occur, not even Christ himself.
e. Passage Application: But the application advances the points from the previous thought considerably. Before Jesus seemed to be encouraging His disciples to trust him by remaining vigilant to His coming. Constantly keeping watch. But in this parable we see that keeping watch is not passively waiting by a window, but rather, doing what has been given to them to do by Jesus. Being what Jesus has called them to be.
f. [Slide 6] Broader Biblical Truth: So broadening this point out for ourselves, we continue to see the theme reinforced, that the exact time of Jesus’ return is unknown to all but the Father. As we pointed out last week, that doesn’t mean His followers are unaware, but rather, that our watchfulness should be heightened because we know His return is soon.
g. Broader Biblical Application: The application then further develops on the concept brought out two weeks ago. Christ is imploring His followers to trust Him. “My words will never pass away!” We are not unaware of the immanency of the Son’s coming, therefore, not only must we remain vigilant, having His return color the glasses through which we see the world and our lives, but that vigilance transcends to our hands and feet. We have been delegated responsibility by Christ to be His ambassadors to a dying world, performing good works that the Father has predestined us to do before the foundation of the world, not so that we might receive glory, but so that those who see us perform them would give glory to the Father. Because only He could bring about that change in us. If we are trusting Him, the proof of that trust is not only our vigilance but our obedience. Who is a trustworthy and wise slave? One that is found obeying his master when He returns.
[Slide 7(blank)] But what happens if we don’t continue to obey? What happens if we start but stop? What happens if we accept the responsibility of watching over the household of the master, but do not continue until He returns? What then? Perhaps he will be displeased with us and give us a lesser reward? Perhaps he will not allow us to reign as close to Him in the Kingdom? Let’s see…
II.) Although seemingly delayed, the return of the Son of Man is still immanent, so we must continue to obey.
a. [Slide 8] 48 – But if that evil slave should say to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’
i. Although it can be a somewhat confusing transition, it is not all that difficult to see what Jesus is doing.
ii. He is speaking from the master’s perspective. How would the master know a faithful and wise slave? By His obedience to the tasks that He gave.
iii. How would a master know an evil slave who was given the same assignments?
iv. I’d like for you to notice a couple things.
1. First look at the words “should say” This is a verb in Greek that expresses a conditional element. It expresses possibility. Meaning of course that there is a possibility as to whether the slave would say this or not. It is not guaranteed.
a. This could express possibility in whether it would be said at all
b. It could express possibility in saying something similar but different
c. It could express possibility in saying something different completely
d. Does whether the slave says this or not depend on him or other factors?
e. All of that cannot be certain by the verb alone. We must look beyond it.
2. Notice also where the slave is saying it. He is saying it to himself or, in his heart. This is an internal conversation. This is not an ACT of the will so much as it is a thought that, as we will see, will later be acted upon.
3. Notice finally that Jesus calls the slave evil BEFORE the possibility of the thought entering the mind of the slave occurs.
4. All this fits together to prove the similarity of this slave to the first. Just like a person proves they are trustworthy and wise by obedience, so a person proves they are evil by what Jesus will describe.
5. Therefore Jesus is talking about nature not will, being not action, essence not performance, who we are rather than what we choose to do. We are defiled, not from without, but from within.
v. And what does he say to himself?
vi. “My master is staying away a long time”
vii. The evil slave makes an observation. My master is delaying his return. Why would he conclude something like this?
viii. Obviously the master has been gone longer than expected. Perhaps Jesus’ subtle hint that he too may be gone longer than His disciples expect.
ix. Now we could be convinced that such an observation is innocent of sin. However, what is clear is that this is far more than just observing a truth. We might say that he states in his heart, my master is delaying his return – so how can I profit from this. There is something sinister in his observation.
x. The result of the slave observing his master taking a long time is that he assumes that there will be no accountability for his actions any time soon, if at all.
xi. What this evil slave was entrusted with by the master, he now turns to use for His own selfish ends.
b. [Slide 9] 49 – And he begins to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards
i. The evil slave considers that since the master is not due anytime soon, if at all, he will reprioritize the managing of the estate.
ii. He won’t do as the master would do. He won’t treat the master’s possessions the same as the master would. No the evil slave is turned inward upon himself consumed with spending and using all of the things that are the master’s for his own selfish gains.
iii. Even though a slave himself, he exercises his authority brutally over his fellow slaves while simultaneously ignoring his own duties. Even though a steward of the wealth, he spends foolishly on riotous living with those who are riotous.
iv. Where the wise and faithful slave continued about His master’s duties regardless of the timing of his return, the evil slave has pushed aside his master’s return as a forgettable event that may never be. By doing so, he is now unprepared for a day of reckoning.
c. [Slide 10] 50 – then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee,
i. In this text both slaves are surprised by the master’s return.
ii. The wise and faithful slave is pleasantly surprised as he lived every day as if his master could come.
iii. The evil slave lived every day as if his master would never come, and he too was surprised.
iv. This reinforces what we have already seen about the coming of the Son of Man. That the righteous do not know the exact moment of his return, but that doesn’t mean they have not been prepared for it. But the unrighteous have so dismissed this event that they are completely unprepared.
d. [Slide 11] 51 – and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
i. Verse 51 is a rather startling verse.
ii. The Greek word for cut in two means to rend asunder. Literally to divide in two.
iii. But given the fact that it seems as though the slave could still be alive after this, some have concluded that this may be some sort of hyperbolic statement of punishment for the slave.
iv. However, there is no need to soften Jesus’ words here. There is little doubt that the place of the hypocrites and the weeping and gnashing of teeth is Jesus breaking the fourth wall of the story. We have seen Him do this before.
nbsp; v. Basically, Jesus is not interested in coming up with a “story appropriate equivalent” to the second death, the lake of fire. Rather he simply pulls his hearers out of the story to abruptly apply it to their current context.
vi. Which leaves us with the question, is cutting him in two part of the story, or part of the application?
1. If it is part of the story, perhaps this could mean the slave’s actual physical death, representing his spiritual death which is main plain by the following two judgments.
2. Or perhaps another interpretation would be dividing him from the possessions of the master – emphasizing separation from the master and the rest of the slaves.
3. Another possibility is that Jesus is alluding to the Kings of the earth warring with the Lamb of God in the last days. It is said at that time, that a sword will be issued from the Lamb’s mouth and the blood will run as high as the horse’s bridle. Then they will be cast into the lake of fire.
vii. In any event, what we can conclude with certainty is an emphasis on separation here. The faithful and wise slave who was obedient will inherit the rights of sonship, while the evil disobedient slave will be separated to punishment.
viii. And one final point we need to see here. Both of these examples Jesus’ gives are of slaves. They are in the same status. And part of the punishment of the evil slave is that he is taken to a place where the hypocrites go. Pretenders or actors.
ix. In the next 3 examples in chapter 25, Jesus will expand on this point. Jesus is not talking exclusively about saved and unsaved. Christian and non-Christian. Alarmingly, Jesus is talking about both these categories, but included in the category of the unsaved, the wicked, the unrighteous, are those who would claim to be religious. Those who may even claim to be of Christ. Christ is speaking to His disciples remember – 1 of which will not keep watch. 1 of which will not obey.
e. [Slide 12] Passage Truth: So what is Jesus communicating to His disciples and Matthew to the Jews. Expanding on the previous truth that the coming of the Son is unknowable, we see that although there may be a delay in His return, it still could happen at any time. We are not told the length of the delay, and to assume it is long could be catastrophic.
f. Passage Application: So Jesus wants His disciples to be what He has called them to be, regardless of when He will return. Though it be long or short, they are still doing the work He has called them to.
g. [Slide 13] Broader Biblical Truth: For us then, we must realize that although it has been almost 2000 years since Jesus spoke these words, we cannot afford to think, “my master is delaying his return”. We cannot afford to assume that the cat is away so the mouse can play. His return is imminent.
h. Broader Biblical Application: So what should we be doing? Pressing on for the prize! Being His ambassadors. Holding the kingdom of darkness at bay as the kingdom of light marches on! We ought to be what God has predestined us to be. Not because we fearfully await the coming of our King and hope that we are found worthy, but because if we are in Christ we are made worthy because He is worthy. And He has freed us to be His ambassador. If His delay causes us to be apathetic or disobedient which slave are we? But if we press on, faithfully obedient in the midst of His delay, which slave are we?
[Slide 15 (blank)] So what must we see here? How can we apply this to our lives today?
[Slide 15] Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’
Friends, It is tempting to preach a message imploring you to obey. But Jesus’ words are about being not action. Essence not activity. The obedience we are called to springs form a life in Christ. Jesus does want us to understand that His people obey His voice, but if you aren’t obeying, the message is not to start doing so.
[Slide 16] There are two doctrines that we continue to confuse and distort. The doctrine of Eternal Security and the Doctrine of Assurance of Salvation. These doctrines are most assuredly connected, but we must be careful not to confuse them. They are two sides of the same coin.
[Slide 17] The doctrine of eternal security is a blessed promise. A promise wholly dependent on Christ’s Work and the Father’s sovereignty. A doctrine that states that those whom the Son sets free are free indeed. A doctrine that teaches that nothing can ever separate God’s elect from their Father. They have been adopted forever. There is permanence. There is no condemnation in Christ. God Himself sees to it that the relationship is established forever.
[Slide 18 (let it run till it stops)] What an amazing biblical teaching! But that teaching does not answer the question “how do I know I am in Christ?” does it. No! Each statement starts with the assumption that you are in Christ and then concludes that it is unshakable.
So when we get to the doctrine of Assurance. Moving to answer the question “How do I know I am saved?” you can’t start quoting verses and passages talking about security. Because they don’t answer the question.
[Slide 19] If I were to hear on the radio, a car dealership that stated “If approved we can guarantee that you will drive away with a new corvette!”
So let’s say I call and ask
“How do I know whether I would be approved?”
And the person on the other line literally reads me the ad from the radio…
“Well, let me tell you! We have worked out a deal with the banks so that for a lower than normal interest rate and accepting a lower than normal credit score we are now able to provide a solid guarantee that everyone who the bank approves WILL ABSOLUTELY walk away with a new corvette!”
So still lacking clarity…
“Well that is perfect! So how do I know I would be approved?”
“You’ll drive away with a corvette!”
“Yeah, if I am approved. But how do I know I will be approved?”
“The banks are making it possible for you to be approved!”
“So everyone who comes into your dealership and fills out a form is approved and drives away with a corvette?”
“Exactly, everyone who comes into our dealership and fills out a form that the bank approves, has the guarantee of a corvette! Is there anything else I can help you with?”
[Slide 21 (end)] Maddening isn’t it. So it is when we confuse the doctrine of Assurance with the doctrine of Eternal Security. No New Testament writer ever questions the security of true believers. But we do have New Testament writers, pastors, encouraging their flocks to examine themselves to make their calling and election SURE. In those cases they are not asking how it is possible for someone to be eternally secure in Christ… they are asking how they know they are in Christ. And the answer is not that they are eternally secure.
There is unanimous agreement in the New Testament from gospels, to Acts, to Paul, to Peter, to James, to John, to Jude, and to whoever wrote Hebrews… Pricilla. HAHA
The agreement is this!
How do we know that we are in Christ? How do you know a slave is trustworthy and prudent? We obey the master.
Friends as the end approaches, I hope you will not be deceived. You may have been told you were saved, you may have prayed a prayer once, you may believe all the right things, but as James puts it, that really doesn’t make you much better than the demons.
The only sign we have in scripture by which we may know that we are genuine believers is that we do the will of our Father in heaven. That we are lawkeepers.
Not perfectly, but passionately. Not without failure, but without ceasing. Not without the need of repentance, but always repentant and dependent on Christ to change us.
Being as plain as I can today… If you have claimed to be a Christian, but are living in unrepentant sin… there is no way for you to know that you are not the evil slave. You can’t know. Because right now you are not ready for His coming. You have not remained vigilant. You have not trusted Christ’s words.
But the good news is that God’s mercy yet endures for you. You can still repent of your wickedness. The master has not returned yet. You can seek forgiveness from the slaves you have beaten. You can cut ties with the ungodly influences and practices in your life. You can beg God for mercy to forgive and grace to obey. Even today you can do this.
And the doctrine of eternal security is not relevant to this particular discussion, in that if you are living in unrepentant sin, it matters very little whether your soul is eternally secure or not. All that matters is that you repent and believe. And if you do, and continue to do so, then you have gained assurance because the grace of God has not allowed your heart to grow cold toward Him. But if you continue to walk away in sin and disobedience to God – you have no assurance, and therefore the question of your security , remains a question that you can’t answer.
The trustworthy and wise slave was graced with obedience. And so the same shall be to those in Christ.
But an evil slave will selfishly neglect the promise of the master’s return and be captivated by his own pleasures, passions, and pursuits.
So the application is not to go start living like a trustworthy and wise slave – because you can’t just start obeying.
The application is – Which slave are you?