September 10th, 2017
ICA Sunday Pulpit Message
(Intro) Even the evil person wants a loyal person.
Greet those around you. It’s nice to see you. Today, we will look at the three parables of Jesus. There are 3 parables recorded in Matthew 25. Today’s introduction says, “Even the evil person wants a loyal person.” Even violent and wicked bullies want people who are loyal to them. Being loyal means to remain faithful until the end. Even the bullies want that kind of people, what about others? Normally, parents want their children to be loyal. Teachers want their students to be loyal to their tasks. Bosses want their workers to be loyal. And nations want loyal soldiers who can protect its people. Even though one might not be loyal, he or she wants others to be loyal. A Muslim suicide squad went against American marines stationed in Lebanon. While the American marines were undertaking a special mission, the Muslim suicide squad made a surprise attack. Because of the attack, two hundred American marines passed away and numerous marines were injured. A 4-star general, Paul Kelly, heard about the news and visited the marines. He comforted the injured marines and awarded medals to the marines who partook in the special mission. General Kelly was known to be strict and tough, but his hands were shaking when he was awarding the medals to the injured marines. The general shed tears. There was one marine who was severely injured by the attack. Usually, the lower ranks state their official rank and name to the higher ranks. However, General Kelly stated his official rank and name to the low ranked marine who was severely injured. Unable to speak, the injured marine wanted to say something to General Kelly by writing down on his bed sheet. A nurse handed over a pen and a piece of paper to the marine. So the marine wrote something down. He wrote down the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps—“Semper Fidelis (Always faithful).” The dying soldier didn’t say, “Thank you,” but instead he said, “Always faithful.” Seeing this, General Kelly wept out loud. People are moved by these loyal people. Then, how about God? God wants to bless people who are loyal and faithful. “Semper” means always in Latin. “Fidelis” means loyal or faithful. If you want to be always faithful, you must be focused. If you become lazy and fall asleep, you won’t be able to be faithful. This means, you need to be awake, not asleep.
1. Through three parables, be thankful to Jesus who taught us God’s will.
(1) The parable of the ten virgins (Mt. 25:1-13) – Be awake!
(2) The parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14-30) – Be loyal!
(3) The parable of a sheep and a goat (Mt. 25:31-46) – Serve!
The first parable of Jesus tells us to be awake. You should be thankful to God who has allowed you to hear and learn from these three parables. There is no way for us to know unless someone teaches us. I hope you are thankful to God. When you give sincere thanks to God, the darkness and unbelief inside of you will completely depart from you. Some say that if a depressed and discouraged person gives sincere thanks, that person will be 100% healed and restored in health. The reason why Jesus gave us parables is so that we can remember and understand God’s will better. The parable of ten virgins tells us to be awake. Today’s passage says that heaven is like the virgins greeting their husbands with the lamps. Among the ten virgins, five of them were wise and prepared oil in their vessels. The other five were foolish and they did not prepare oil. All ten virgins fell asleep while waiting on the bridegroom. In the middle of the night, the bridegroom came. The foolish virgins did not have enough oil for their lamps and asked the wise virgins to share their oil. However, the wise virgins said they only have enough oil for themselves and advised the foolish virgins to buy the oil. So the foolish virgins went to buy some oil. After they were gone, the door of marriage was shut behind them. The foolish virgins came back with more oil and asked the bridegroom to open the door, but the bridegroom said, “I know you not.” There are many interpretations regarding this passage. We don’t really have to know all the different interpretations and symbolizations. What is the moral of the parable? It is to be awake. You never know when Jesus will come. Because we don’t know when our bridegroom, Jesus, will come, so the parable is telling us to be awake. The ancient Jewish marriage custom was like this. Together with friends, a bridegroom would greet his bride in the middle of a night. The bride and her friends would wait on them. When they meet together, they would hold a feast. That was why they needed lamps. The bridegroom refers to Jesus Christ. The ten virgins refer to the saints of the New Testament. The feast symbolizes the glorious heaven. Because we don’t know when the Lord will come, God wants us to be always awake. One day, Jesus will come for the second time. We looked at this last week. At that time, world evangelization will be fulfilled and we will be raptured. The parable of the marriage feast symbolizes Jesus’s second coming. No one knows the time and day of which He will come. That is why we need to be awake and pray. I hope you and I would be victorious. Be thankful to God who let us know that we have to be awake.
Cults are the ones who say, “You have to be here at this time on this day because Jesus is coming.” They are misinterpreting the Bible. And many people were at a loss because of them. That is what Satan wanted. Do you know about the story “the boy who cried wolf”? The shepherd boy cried out, “Help me! There is a wolf!” Then, the entire neighborhood stopped what they were doing and came to the boy’s aid. However, the adults did not see any wolf. The shepherd boy enjoyed the adults moving around because of his word. The foolish boy cried out for help over and over again. And every time the adults came to him, but they didn’t see any wolf. One day, a wolf actually appeared before the boy. However, no one came to help the boy. Likewise, some people said, “Jesus is coming soon. Be prepared. Give offering. You’re going to leave behind all your belongings anyway.” People who believed in these words sold all their possessions. But Jesus didn’t come. What would happen if this happens repeatedly? That is why some people assume churches preaching about Jesus’s second coming are heretical. Last week, I talked about the rapture. Someone who listened to my sermon contacted me and said, “Pastor, how can you talk about the rapture?” In Korea, if a church talks about the rapture, many people frame the church heretical. Even though it is recorded in the Bible, modern churches do not talk about the rapture because they don’t want to be considered heretical. However, they will be like the boy who cried wolf when Jesus comes for the second time. Jesus will absolutely come. And He will take you with Him. So be awake.
The second parable is about the talents. The master was going to travel abroad. So he gathered his servants and entrusted them with different amount of gold. The master gave 5 talents to the first servant, 2 talents to the second servant, and 1 talent to the third servant. The master gave them a different amount of gold according to their abilities. As you know, the first servant profited 5 more talents and returned 10 talents to his master. The second servant profited 2 more talents and returned 4 talents to his master. However, the third servant hid his one talent underneath the ground so that no one can steal it from him. The master said “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” to the first and second servants. But how did the master respond to the third servant? Did he encourage him? Or did he say, “You wicked and lazy servant”? The master took the talent from him and gave it to the first servant and casted the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. It is recorded that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The third servant was enraged. He worked so hard for the master and how could he treat him like that? The master refers to Jesus Christ. The servants who received talents are pastors and church members. Entrusting his goods means entrusting the task of saving and nurturing souls. There were two groups of people. It’s not about being fruitful. Jesus is the One who gives fruits. “I am the vine and you are the branches.” If you are attached to Him, you will naturally bear much fruits. The parable is telling us to be loyal. Young remnants, find your life-long vocation. Adults sway back and forth. If they like a pastor, they stay, if not, they leave. But for you, young adults, find a church and a field you will serve forever. To those souls and remnants, Jesus says, “My loyal servant.” Do not learn from the adults who sway back and forth. Is God a beggar? No. Do not follow after modern church members who take the Gospel light. I hope you can entrust your entire life to God. I’m not saying our church adults are like that. I hope you would grab hold of the covenant of loyalty. So for our younger remnants and young adults, you will find jobs and go to different fields. I hope you find a church, job, and a partner loyal to God. Remember, Jesus responded very differently to those who were loyal and those who were not. I hope you have a victory.
The third parable is about the sheep and the goat. It is when Jesus is coming for the second time with His angels. He gathered all nations at His throne of glory. He divided them into the right and the left. The right side was the sheep. The left side was the goat. The King said to the people on the right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. The people in the right side asked, “What did I do to deserve these blessings?” Jesus answered, “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Then, the people replied, “when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” So Jesus gave them the answer in Matthew 25:40. “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” What you’ve done to your brothers is the same thing as what you’ve done to Jesus. Who are Jesus’s brothers? Right after Jesus’s resurrection, Mary tried to embrace Him, but Jesus said, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” For those who confess that Jesus is the Christ, you are brothers of Jesus. All the saints of the New Testament are the brothers of Jesus. There are many people who say Jesus is their Christ, the Lord Savior; however, there are not many people who say Jesus is their eldest brother. In Romans, it records that we are Christ’s brothers. In God’s eye, Jesus is the Firstborn and we are His younger brothers. Therefore, we become sons of God. So be awake. Just like Jesus served others, we should serve others as well. Jesus said to the people on the left side, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The people on the right side received enteral life whereas the people on the left side received eternal punishment. Doing good deeds does not give you salvation. One cannot enter into heaven by doing good deeds. Doing good deeds is the evidence of the saved people. Jesus is teaching us through these three parables. Jesus was always awake and loyal, and He served others. We must be thankful for His teachings. Be awake! Be loyal! Serve!
2. Learn from the Son of God who was always awake, loyal, and served God.
(1) Do not miss God’s time. (Mk. 1:35, Eph. 5:15-18)
(2) Do not miss God’s work. (Heb. 3:2,6, 1Cor. 4:1-2)
(3) Do not miss God’s person. (Mt. 10-42, 1Tim. 5:17)
Learn from the Son of God who was always awake, loyal, and served others. Do not lose hold of the time schedule. Jesus entered into God’s important time schedule while praying in the early morning. The Apostle Paul said, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Don’t be at a loss but enter into God’s time schedule. I hope you would grab hold of God’s time. It is only possible if you are always awake.
To be loyal means to grab hold of the task God has entrusted to you. Jesus was loyal. It is recorded in Hebrews 3, “Christ Jesus was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.” Especially in verse 6, it says, “ but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Jesus showed how to be a loyal servant. The Apostle Paul, who realized this mystery, wrote letters to the saints of the Corinthian church. 1Corinthians 4 says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” How should others evaluate you? You shouldn’t be evaluated as “That person probably goes to church” or “That deacon used to go to this church but he moved to a different church.” You should be evaluated as “That person is crazy about church.” Be a loyal servant of Christ and devote to the church. That is what God wants.
To serve means to serve the souls. Do not lose hold of God’s people. Jesus said, “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” There may be pastors and ministers among the brothers of Jesus. 1Timothy 5 says, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” You have to honor them not because of their ability to give sermons but because of their ministry. You could receive the blessing of Noah if the minister is not carrying out the ministry very well. You can receive the blessing of Shem and Japheth. Galatians 6 records, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” When you eat or wear something good, I hope you could share it with others. It sounds like “you should be nice to me,” but it’s not. Saying this in sermon is not easy. However, there are many important mysteries hidden inside this.
You don’t come to church because of the pastor, but you come to church because of God who raised the pastor. Who does God send before the Master? He sends His servants first. But what did people do to the prophets in the Bible? People stoned them and killed them. God’s servants were treated with cruelty. This happened all through the history of the Bible. People do not see the authority of God. God already knew that the people would crucify His Son. Therefore, God showed the big picture of Genesis 6-9. Noah built a great ark and God worked behind him. God allowed Noah to live when everyone else perished. God made Noah to build the ark. God instructed him with the materials and their sizes. God sent the pure and impure animals. God performed the work of salvation. You must be able to see God who worked behind Noah. After the great flood, Noah was drunk and naked. Seeing this, how did the people react to him? Our physical bodies are weak and fragile and God knows that. However, Ham did not see God’s work behind Noah. Ham did not speak of a lie; he spoke of the truth, however, his descents were cursed. This is what happens if you do not realize God’s work behind the people He raised. God would send His servants but they would all be weak. Jesus was not attractive in men’s eye. He wasn’t a prince, but He was a Son of a carpenter. People killed Jesus because of His lacking outer appearance and background. God called Elijah. Elijah had a mental disease. He was bipolar. When God’s power appeared to him, Elijah was very happy, but when he was about to be captured, he was discouraged. As a person, Elijah was very weak. When Elijah was on his way to do God’s work, young people ridiculed him for being ugly. God sent bears and beasts to kill the young people who ridiculed Elijah. So you must recognize God’s hidden authority and background. That is why God said to share in all good things with him who teaches. It is because we have to receive God’s Word, be guided by the Word, and pray holding onto the Word.
I will repeat it again. Jesus emphasized “awakening,” “loyalty,” and “service” through His three parables. Why did Jesus give such strong parables? Wouldn’t a good mater just let all the virgins in? “Oh, you were late, but why don’t you just join us?” However, Jesus responded, “I do not know you.” Why did Jesus respond in this way? Last week, we looked at Matthew 24. It said there would be the age of chaos. And what must we do to be victorious in the end? We must be the stewards who train and nurture God’s household. That is the time schedule of the final victory. In order to be a steward, a trainer, and a nurturer, you must always be awake, loyal, and serve others.
3. Go with Christ who was always awake, loyal and served God.
(1) As a steward who was always awake and pray (1Cor. 1:4, Phil. 1:3-4, Col. 1:3, 1Thess. 1:2, 2Thess. 1:3, Phm. 1:4)
(2) As a trainer who was always loyal (2Tim. 2:2)
(3) As a nurturer who always served (1Tim. 4:6)
The mystery to be like Christ who was always awake and loyal is this. A steward who has been entrusted with many things needs to be always awake. Paul worked very well. And God entrusted him with many people. Paul was always awake and prayed for the saints. That is why Paul was greatly utilized and blessed. This is what is recorded repeatedly in Paul’s letters. 1Corinthians 1 says, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.” That means Paul prayed for the church of Corinth in his heart as a steward. It was same for the church of Philippi. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy.” For the church of Colossians, “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” For the church of Philemon, “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers.” For the church of Thessalonians, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” Paul placed the saints in his heart and always prayed for them. Praying for God’s household as a steward is the way to final victory in the end time. The trainers must train other people. When I ask people to take care and pray for the remnants, they don’t do it for long. Without swaying back and forth, we must be loyal in training the remnants. That is why it is recorded, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Nurturers share the Word of God. Threatening others with the Word of God is legalism. You should serve God’s people as a nurturer. “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”
These are the three attitudes to be victorious in the end times. Be awake, loyal, and serve. Everyone wants to be a steward, a trainer, and a nurturer, but it is hard. The key is to be awake, loyal, and serve. When you have this key, you will be victorious until the end.
(Conc.) The reason why the sons of God are being created and exist (Eph. 2:10, Gen. 26:24, Ex. 14:31, Is. 42:1, 2Pe. 1:1, Phil. 1:1, Rev. 22:3)
God created and called us as the sons of God. Why must we exist? Ephesians 2:10 says we are His workmanship. We are created in Christ Jesus for good works. Believe that we are saved for God’s good works. If you truly realize this, you will describe yourself as servants of God. In Genesis 26, God said, “My servant Abraham.” Exodus 14 records, “the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.” Isaiah 42 describes Jesus as “My Servant whom I uphold.” Jesus was God’s Servant. Peter was a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. And Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ. Revelations 22 says, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” The father of faith, Abraham, was God’s servant. Moses who led Exodus was God’s servant. Jesus Christ who solved all the problems of humanity was also God’s Servant. Although he was a fisherman, Peter became Jesus’s disciple and God’s servant. The great evangelist, Paul, was God’s servant. The people in the eternal heaven are God’s servants. I hope you will be victorious for Christ’s good works. Be awake! Be loyal! Serve! Let’s confess this to one another. “You are God’s servant.”
Dear Almighty Father God we give you thanks. Thank You for giving us Your Word. May we become your true servants. Help us to be awake and pray like Jesus. Help us to be loyal servants like Christ who died for humanity. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.