ARE YOU AFRAID?

[SW347] 10/06/2018 message notes by 

Pastor Susan J. Wynn ©2018

Are You Afraid?

Text: Matthew 25:14-30

Are you afraid to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, by which you were saved and reconciled to God? Do you see Jesus as a hard man who asks you to do more than you are comfortable doing? Do you fear persecution? If so, I pray you would heed Jesus’ words today.

Verse 14 —

In this parable, Jesus speaks of a man who goes on a journey. Jesus Christ went on a  journey back to the Father, after He came, died, and rose, and then ascended and sat down at the Father’s right hand. Then He poured out His Holy Spirit.

He called you, O believer, you who are His own slave, His bondservant, one who should serve Him out of love, though your debt of sin has been paid by Him. And He delivered and entrusted to you His possessions which are of incalculable value and cost —the gospel of salvation, reconciliation, and sanctification! 

Verse 15 —

He gave His gospel to every believer, according to their ability. He did not give them instructions on what to do with what He gave them. But I know that He assigns each believer a sphere, an area in which to proclaim salvation through Him (2Corinthians 10:13), and has given us all His great commission (Matthew 28:19-20)

He gave sufficiently to one group of believers so they would be able to proclaim His gospel and watch Him save and sanctify many, even to the ends of the earth. He gave sufficiently to a second group of believers so they would be able to proclaim His gospel and watch Him save and sanctify many in their own country. 

He gave sufficiently to a third group of believers so they would be able to proclaim His gospel and watch Him save and sanctify those who were in their city (see Acts 1:8).

Verse 16 —

Immediately, without hesitation, the first group of believers went forth with the gospel, even to the ends of the earth! And many repented and believed into Jesus Christ! 

Those in the first group were faithful to the Lord, and gladly shared the gospel, just according to what He had given them to do. They could not stop speaking of what they had seen and heard, of how the Lord had saved, reconciled and sanctified them, and proclaim that He will do the same, for whosoever will believe into Jesus Christ, and obey Him! 

I proclaim that Jesus Christ made me a “such were,” beloved — a sinner far from God, who repented and is now saved, reconciled and filled with His Holy Spirit  (1Corinthians 6:11)! I proclaim His great mercy to any who will repent as I did! I proclaim that He died for our sins, rose, ascended, was glorified and has poured out His Holy Spirit to empower His church to walk as He walked in this world (1John 2:6)!

Verse 17 — 

The second group of believers also immediately, without hesitation, went forth with the gospel! And many repented and believed into Jesus Christ! As with the first group, these were faithful to the Lord, and gladly shared the gospel, just according to what He had given them to do. Again, they could not stop speaking of what they had seen and heard!

Verse 18 —

The third group of believers responded differently. Having received from Jesus His gospel, they went away, and dug holes, and hid the gospel by burying it. They called themselves “quiet Christians.” 

Verse 19 —

Jesus Christ is coming back, and He will reckon with all of the believers to whom He has given His gospel of incalculable value. He will ask them for an account of what they have done with what He has given them.

Verses 20-21 —

The first group of believers, who obediently went to the ends of the earth with the gospel, will be able to give Him a wonderful report when they stand before Him on the day of judgment! They will have doubled what the Lord has given them! To those, Jesus will say, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put in you charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master!”

Verses 22-23 —

The second group of believers, who obediently went throughout their countries with the gospel, will be able to give Him a wonderful report! They will have doubled what the Lord had given them! To those, Jesus will say, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put in you charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master!”

Both the first and second group of believers will be rewarded for immediately and gladly going forth to multiply that which He had given them. And their immediate reward, as they faithfully went, was to have front-row seats to watch the Lord give them a great harvest of souls! 

But that is not all He will do, when they give their wonderful report to Him! He will put them in charge of many things, in His kingdom in heaven! 

And they will enter into the joy of the Lord, a continual state of rejoicing with Him, face-to-face! They and He will rejoice eternally over all those who came to faith in Him and were subsequently filled with His Spirit so they, too, could be sent out! Even while they are here, they have a foretaste of His joy — it is joy unspeakable and full of glory (1Peter 1:8)!

Verse 24 —

But the third group of believers, who were to proclaim His gospel in their cities, will have a different report. As they stand before Jesus in the day of judgment, they will try to justify their disobedience, saying, “We know You are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.”

Their words to Him will reveal the poverty-stricken condition of their hearts. They never came to know Him intimately by being filled with His Holy Spirit, or they would have known that He is not a hard man at all! They would have known that the Lord had prepared in advance what they were to do; all they had to do was walk in it —

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Even while they stand before His judgment seat, the third group of believers will accuse Him of being a hard man. They will accuse Him of making them work where He had not worked. Thus, even face-to-face with Him, they sin against Him, falsely characterizing Him as being hard and lazy.

If they had known Him intimately, they would have understood that He had sown seed in advance. They would have known that by His power, they would be able to reap the harvest. They would have known that He makes seed germinate and grow!

Mark 4:26   And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows — how, he himself does not know. 28 “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. 29 “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

But they disobeyed His command to be filled with the Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). As a result, they falsely characterized Him, refused to share the gospel He had given them, and resented Him. 

Verse 25 —

This third group of believers will even say more! They will tell Jesus Christ that they were afraid. Of what? That He would treat them unfairly. 

Thus, they will falsely characterize Him as being unfair. They will say this to the righteous Son of God who saved them from God’s wrath and reconciled them to God, taking upon Himself the punishment they deserved, by selflessly going to the cross for them (Isaiah 53:5).

Those in the third group of believers want only to go to heaven, and believe there should be nothing more required of them than to repent and believe. They do not care about reaching people with His incalculably valuable gospel. Why should they have to do the work that Jesus should be doing?

They are also afraid of the persecution and rejection that always comes when believers share His gospel. They knew that He had told believers in advance that they would be persecuted for His name’s sake (John 15:21).  

They do not want the world (those who reject Jesus Christ) to hate them (John 15:19). They do not want to endure physical harm or even death for the sake of the gospel. 

So they will say to Jesus that they hid His gospel, burying it so no one in their cities could discover it. Then, after accusing Him of being hard, lazy and unfair as they stand before the Lord at the time of reckoning, they will say, “Here is Your gospel that You gave us.” They will not be ashamed that they have done nothing with His incalculably valuable gospel. 

Verses 26-27 —

So He will say to the third group of believers, His own slaves, You wicked, lazy slaves! You knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather were I scattered no seed. He will repeat to them their accusations against Him.

And He will say to them, At the very least, you should have given My gospel to even one person who would believe it, be saved, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then gladly go forth with it, as the others did. Then, on My arrival, I would receive you and that one person to whom you gave My gospel.

Verse 28 —

Because those in the third group of believers did nothing with what He had given them, Jesus Christ will command that the gospel He had given to these wicked, lazy slaves be given back to Him, and He will give what they buried to those in the first group, to take to the ends of the earth. 

He will issue His judgment regarding all three groups of believers. He wants you to understand both the rewards of glad obedience and the consequences of disobedience. 

Verse 29 —

To the first two groups who immediately and gladly obeyed and went out into the fields He had prepared in advance, He said, I shall give you more, in My kingdom. You will be honored in My kingdom.

But Jesus’ words will be different, for the third group of believers who 

— Did not go out into the fields where Jesus assigned them to do the work He had prepared in advance

— Did not obey Him by staying and waiting for the promise of the Father, so they would be filled with the Holy Spirit so they would have His power when they went out 

— Did not know Him intimately and thus falsely characterized Him as a hard and lazy Master who was not trustworthy

— Refused the persecution that is part of proclaiming Him, because they were concerned only for themselves

To the third group of believers, His own slaves who stood before Him, Jesus will say, Even what you have (your salvation) will be taken away. The relationship between Him and them will be severed, per The Expositors Bible Commentary (EBC) . 

Verse 30 —

And Jesus will say, throw out these worthless, useless slaves, cast them into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (clenching their teeth because of pain and anguish).

These slaves will be condemned to hell, banished from His presence forever, dear believer! Again, from the EBC, “To fail to do good and use what God has entrusted to us to use is grievous sin, which results not only in the loss of neglected resources but in rejection by the Master, banishment from His presence, and tears and gnashing of teeth.”

The words of the third group of believers were proof of their own guilt. The consequence of their lack of obedience to Him and lack of intimate knowledge of Him will be condemnation to hell.

Why does the third group of believers hide the gospel? They have not been filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ commands us to stay and wait for the promise of the Father. If they had obeyed His command, they would have received His power, and they would have become His witnesses, ones who are as He is in the world —

Acts 1:4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 1:8 “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

1John 4:17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.

Obey Him today, beloved. Then you will be able to multiply the incalculably valuable gospel He has given you. Then you will not fear when you stand before Him, for He will judge you to have been obedient and faithful.

And when you are filled with the Spirit, you will not fear persecution, but will boldly speak even to those who are persecuting you, just as Peter and John did when they stood before the Sanhedrin 

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Beloved, heed the words of the Lord! Obey Him by waiting until you receive His power, His divine love, and a pure heart. Then you will immediately and gladly go out with His gospel, compelled by His love. And by His power, many will be saved and reconciled, many will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus, they will also be sent out with His gospel. 

Lord Jesus, may today’s believers heed Your words, see the poverty of their hearts, and cry out for You to change them. Amen. So be it!

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