Do you realize that blessings fall on the believer and the unbeliever? For instance the different bodily gifts given unto men. Some unbelievers have a much greater gift of leadership than I do. Do they hide it from God? Yes and will have no reward for its use.
I agree with you that in the natural realm God has given to believers and unbelievers alike certain blessings for their natural life. One is blessed with a certain skill and someone else with another ability.
But I don't think the giving of the talents are these natural abilities because man cannot build up the kingdom of God with his natural abilities. Only a worldly organization can be built up with the natural worldly abilities of the natural man.
Our natural ability has to pass through the cross, be transformed by the Lord. Paul said that he and his coworkers had no confidence in the flesh. "For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh." (Phil. 3:3)
Paul was indeed naturally gifted as an intelligent man. He learned that he could not put confindence in his natural ability. Only by undergoing the "circumcision" of the cross, in putting His trust in the Spirit, could that ability be useful. He had to be completely subdued by the Holy Spirit, denying himself and undergoing the process of sanctification.
The Old Covenant demanded works before life. One had to produce the works in order to become one of the children of God. The New Covenant is different. It first imparts life to produce children of God. Then the kingdom demands works to be servants of the Son. And the order is reversed because God does not want us to serve in the natural flesh of the fallen Adamic man.
He gives the life of the Son that we not only be born of God as children but serve in the life of the Son.
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
It is a excellent point. In this verse the Creator is impartial about His sun and His rain. both the evil and the good are benefitted by His creation. And He is no respector of persons in this realm. The evil are mentioned first before the good and then the just are mentioned first before the unjust.
But I will try to show you that these blessings of the natural world are not the talents given by the Lord to His bondslaves.
In Matthew 5:45
the disciples are to do the will of God so as to become sons
to express their Father - "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may become sons of your Father who is in the heavens, because He causes His sun to rise ... etc."
Matthew wants to emphasize doing the will of God to become sons of the Father. This is the gospel of the kingdom of the heavens. It is full of teachings on responsibility and closeness to God because of doing His will: " ... He answered and said to him who spoke to Him, Who is My mother, and who are My brothers ? And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, Behold, My mother and My brothers!
For whoever does the will of My Fathe who is in the heavens, he is My brothers and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:48-50)
This is somehwat like the Old Covenant in that the intimate relationship with God comes about because of doing the will of God.
In John's Gospel the most intimate term that Jesus used to refer to His disciples was "friends"
in John 15. But only after His death and resurrection does He say that He ascends to His Father and their Father
(John 20:17) and He refered to them for the first time as "BROTHERS"
Compare these two passages to see.
Before His death and resurrection: "You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all the things which I have heard from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:14,15)
After His death and resurrection: "Jesus said to her, Do not touch Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father, but go to My BROTHERS and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God."
In John's gospel the disciples graduate from friends of Jesus before His resurrection to brothers of Jesus after His resurrection. In the eyes of God we Christians were all regenerated through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3)"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has regenerated us unto a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3) John
wants to emphasize that the disciples only became regenerated children of God, brothers of Jesus owning His own Father as their Father too, through Christ's redemption and resurrection from the dead. Matthew
does not share this emphasis. Rather Matthew records that Jesus refers to the Father of the children of God in His sermon on the mount. I accept both evangelists' gospels as the word of God.
I think the talents as the Lord's riches meant for His interprise are to be interpreted as things of the divine life. The rain and the sun, without question, is a great blessing upon all mankind. I think though that the talents or money of the Lord refers to things of His divine Spirit of life which is only imparted to the regenerated people.
Psalm 139:14 "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Does this extend to only the believer?
No. It does not extend only to the believer. You are quite correct that there are blessings in the natural realm which are so to ALL peoples regardless if they are believers or unbelievers.
But look at the teaching carefully.
Verse 14 - "For it is as when a man, going into another country"
This is not God the Creator of the good sun and good rain. This is a MAN (God incarnate) who is going away in ascension after His redemptive death and resurrection. He ascends to heaven as a "far country"
. This going away to a far country should point to the ascension of the Lord Jesus the God-man (See Hebrews 9:11, 1 Pet. 3:22)
This Traveler "Called his own servants"
. These should be the people who He has BOUGHT with His redemption. These should not be the unsaved but those who have been bught with a price by the Lord.
He delivers unto them His goods. These should be the "goods" of the One in resurrection who is about to ascend to heaven, a far country. For this reason I think the blessed rain or the blessed sunshine or even the blessed natural abilities of the born unbeliever are the goods spoken of here.
Rather, the truth of the Gospel, the gifts of the Spirit, and the things bestowed upon the redeemed are meant as the Lord's money. And His going away to another country is like a TEST to His servants to see how faithful they will be.
This is not a matter of their relationship as children of the Father with eternal life. It is a matter of SERVANTS of the Lord for doing the business of the kingdom of the heavens.
For this reason I do not believe the punished servant is losing his eternal redemption. Nor do I believe to be cast into the outer darkness is to lose the gift of eternal life. For that is a gift and not a recompense for work: "For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 6:23)
And clearly the believer is not granted eternal life based upon works which he has done but according to God's mercy: " .... when the kindness and the love to man of our Savior God appeared, not out of works in righteousness which we did but according to His mercy He saved us ..." (Titus 3:4,5a)
With this firm grasp of justification by faith and eternal redemption and eternal life by the gift of God, the parable of the talents cannot be a teaching relating to securing eternal redemption.
The faithful servants cannot work in order to be saved. Nor can the unfaithful servant perish because of not working.
But in the manifestation of the kingdom reward or discipline for service is being taught here. The reward is not eternal life. And the punishment is not eternal perdition. Both the reward and the punishment relate to the position of the servant in the millennial kingdom based upon his service through the church age.
It is at that time the Lord went away to a far country and delivered to the saved saints His riches to see how they would profit His kingdom "business."
Do I believe a believer is ever cast into outer darkness?
But if we say that the servant who is cast into the outer darkness is not a Christian, then what logically follows ?
It logically follows that he was lost eternally because he did not work. And conversely, the two servants who were rewarded were saved eternally because of thier works.
By teaching that the servant cast to outer darkness is a false Christian you immediately weaken justification by faith and eternal life is no longer the GIFT but the reward for WORK. This is a mistake.
The solution is that the teaching is not about eternal life or eternal redemption. It is about temporary reward or discipline during the time BEFORE the new heaven and new earth, the eternal age.
For when Jesus returns to deal with His servants it is the beginning of the millennial kingdom and not the beginning of the eternity spoken of in Revelation 21 and 22. I believe five or six times we are told of the kingdom reign for 1000 years in Revelation 20.
for the "thousand years."
If this period of a thousand year kingdom is right then why would not the Gospel of Matthew's parables about the Lord's return be dealing with matters concerning that period ?
No, and in whatever timeframe we see Jesus, He will have our reward with Him. I do believe we can lose reward. Hopefully I understood what you were saying. As to separation from God, He will never leave or forsake us and David said it this way in Psalms 139:8. "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there."
I would not say that for the servant to be cast into the outer darkness is to be utterly away from God. However, the Lord Jesus here is the reigning King upon the earth. There well could a realm far away from Jesus on His throne of bright glory in Jerusalem.
This casting into outer darkness is of one saved eternally. So he is not utterly without God. I think the casting out is remedial and corrective rather than retribution.
Now concerning the talents delivered by the master to the servants. Some points:
1.) A talent here is something which a Christian has but which an unbeliever does not have, because the Lord gave them to His own slaves in the parable. He did not give the talents to any one else's servants.
2.) The telents were given according to each one's ability and not casually or indiscriminatly.
3.) The talent can be encreased through earning.
4.) The talents can be taken back.
5.) The telents seem not to be ordinarily given to men by God. Rather they are given here by the man representing the Lord Jesus in ascension. Christ ascended to heaven as going away to a far country. He will return one day to bring His servants before the judgment seat of Christ.
All such ones before that judgment seat are securely and eternally saved already.
I don't believe that the talents represent property, position, influence, time, life, personal character in the natural realm, a keen mind, health, church position, position in religion,
This money may be the gift of the Holy Spirit which the Lord possesses exclusively (Acts 2:38)
. And which gift can be distributed (Acts 19:6).
The enjoyment of this Holy Spirit can be encreased (1 Cor. 14:12-13)
This Spirit saturating the soul of the believer can encrease in that sense more and more. If we serve with this Spirit we will deepen our experience with Him. In that way there is an encrease of the Lord's riches with us.
Our natural ability cannot perform the Lord's work. But if we are sanctified and filled with this Spirit He can use our abilities when they bear the fragrance of Jesus Christ rather than old Adam.
Peter was a fisher of men through the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter also went through considerable transformation. Through faithfulness and trial and error he learned not to trust himself. But the Holy Spirit could use him as he was sanctified.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit were given from the ascended Christ on Pentacost. And Paul told Timothy to stir up the gift of God that was in him (2 Tim. 1:6)
. All believers have the gift of the Holy Spirit. All believers have at least ONE talent. No believer can say he or she has no gift from the Lord whom they serve.
Five one talented Christians who are not afraid to serve the Lord equal one Christian with five talents. There are probably far far more one talented members of the Christian church than five talented ones.
For length sake I must stop here.