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Redemption and The Work of our Hands (Vol 09) - The Biblical Meaning of Success and our Work

Sunday English Service - 07 JAN 18


Let's turn to Mathews gospel chapter 25 please, let me read you a little bit later, but keep it ready, we've been talking about work and it is a very important teaching I believe. I believe that first three chapters of Genesis is very important because it tells us the beginnings, Genesis means 'the beginnings' and talks about how everything began. It's a revelation of God's purposes and plan, in the first three chapters there are some important matters about how the world came into being, how God made man and woman, placed family on this earth and what kind of a life God gave man, the Garden of Eden and what kind of provision God made for man, and what kind of work God gave man and so on. And then in the third chapter we read about the fall and see that the fall affected all those things, all those things that were given in the first two chapters, the third chapter, the fall affects all those things. And then the rest of the bible is about the redemption and the restoration of all things. So those things that are mentioned in the first couple of chapters are extremely important and success in those areas of life is very important, and our redemption has a lot to do with those things because the fall affected those things.

So when sharing these things I've been teaching on work in three parts, the first part is about how God designed work for man, He designed man as a worker, God is a worker, God worked six days, rested on the seventh day, God designed man just like Himself, to work. Not only did He design man for work, He designed work for man to bring joy and sense of fulfillment and satisfaction and purpose, creativity to man. So God had purposes for work and we shared about that in the first part, then we talked about how the fall affected work, that aspect of man, that very important aspect of his life and how it ruined it. And then now we're talking about how through redemption God has, not only redeemed us, forgiven our sins and made us God's children but how does it impact work? That's what we're talking about, 'redemption in the work of our hands' is the topic that we're covering right now. And in that we got into the Protestant teaching concerning work that brought about sweeping changes in societies in many countries of the world and the Protestant work ethic as it is known famously, is so important even the sociologists and people in the world study it. Because it brought such healthy changes in society, so I'm trying to share with you the Protestant teaching on work and in order to understand that I said we need to understand five things first.

And that is that the gospel is in four parts, it's very important because a lot of people have reduced the gospel to just a two part gospel, meaning to them the gospel is just that man is a sinner, that Jesus is a savior, man sinned and Jesus brings salvation, that's all the gospel is. A lot of people think that's what pure gospel is all about, no, gospel is in four parts, it must begin with how man was created and how everything was created, creation is the first thing in the gospel. How God made everything, including man. Secondly the fall and the sin, thirdly redemption through Jesus Christ, and fourthly and very importantly, the restoration of all things back to its original condition. Unless and until God restores even the earth to its original condition, even the earth suffers from the fall and unless and until even the earth is brought back to that original condition, redemption is not complete. That is why we read in the New Testament that when these things happen, Jesus talking about end time he then says, "When these things happen, lift up your eyes and see for your redemption draws nigh". Your redemption is coming near, we thought we are redeemed but redemption is drawing near in a sense in that even our body we must experience bodily redemption, it must be restored to the state and condition that is was before the fall. It must become a body that cannot die and a body that is immortal and even the earth must be changed. So it is creation, the fall, redemption, and the restoration of all things, it's a four part gospel. If you reduce it to two part, the entire thing will be messed up and confused.

Second thing is the creation mandate when God made man He announced what man will be like, He said, "he'll be fruitful, multiply, fill, subdue and dominate". This is called creation mandate, or cultural mandate, this is what man will be like. We need to understand what those five things mean because those are the things that define the work of man and the mission of man in this world. Thirdly the kingdom of God, the kingdom of God has come in to the world through Jesus Christ, it is here now, it is in us now, the king rules over our lives and we saw how the kingdom is in us and working through us and through our work. Our work is a kingdom work and how it impacts this world, this must be understood, and fourthly we talked about common grace.

Common grace is a very important thing to understand because we work in this work with people that don't know Christ, don't know God as we know. Now some people find it difficult to work with them and they think it is impossible to work with them. They cannot recognize the abilities and talents and gifts that God has placed and put in them and when you understand the common grace, you understand that grace is given in two different ways. One is the saving grace which we have all experienced, the common grace is the grace that even the unsaved people experience in certain ways, certain things that are given to them, certain abilities that are given to them. So when you understand that you are able in this world to join hands with them on a common minimum program and accomplish certain things for common good. If you say just because you're a believer you cannot join with them and do anything that you are to be so separate, then you'll have to only go to heaven and live there you know. You got to live on this earth, you got to live with people of different backgrounds and religions and beliefs and so on. And is it possible for us to join hands with them in some way, to accomplish something good in society? The Bible says, yes, because there is a common grace that is at work in the lives of all people and we need to understand common grace, in order to be able to relate to people of all kinds better and to work with them in this world. We may not become like them, but it is possible to work with them in order to produce something for common good.

Alright, the fifth thing is what I want to talk about today and that is the Biblical meaning of 'success', the Biblical meaning of success. What is success? Now everybody loves success, and what does the Bible say about success? How does Bible define success? What is the meaning of success according to the Bible? Let me-I've asked you to turn to Mathews gospel chapter 25 I'm going to read a parable from there because that tells us something about success. But I want to first talk about the world's idea of success, if you go into a bookstore in the world, you'll find a lot of motivational books. I tell you I like some of those books, it's all right, it's nice, they've got some nice things to say. They sometimes define success in this way, and you need to understand where they're coming from, you need to understand what the difference is between us and them. Sometimes people can hear Christian preaching and they may say, "well it sounds like motivational preaching". For your information all motivational preachers, most of them were preachers first, then they became motivational preachers, that's why it sounds like Christian preaching. But there is a little difference between motivational speech and a Christian message, there is great differences between the way they define things and the way we define them, it's not all the same, alright? Motivational speakers often you'll find that they will take the principles of the Bible, but they will not take the God of the Bible. They reject Christ and the God of the Bible, leave him out, not even mention him but they will take the principles of the Bible. They know it's very healthy, good principles, so they'll take the principles, leave the Bible. Christians take the God of the Bible and leave the principles out, that's a problem, we need to take the principles as well as God who's behind those principles, right?

So there is a big difference between motivational speech and a Christian sermon. For example when it comes to success, the motivational speech people define success in this way, I'll quote a line from those motivational type of books and you'll instantly recognize. They will say something like this, "If you work hard enough you can be anything you want to be", see how soothing it is, so nice to hear. "If you work hard enough you can be anything you want to be", now I know that most of you heard it just like I heard it when I was young and I believed it because it sounds nice, I want it to be that way. If I can work hard enough, I can be anything that I want to be, it's so nice to hear it, it gives some hope, you know that at least if I just sweat it out, work hard enough then I can become whatever I want to be. But if you really think about it, it is not true, if you work hard enough you cannot be whatever you want to be. Why? There's a big difference see they leave out God and his plan and purposes, and God's input into our lives, all these things are left out, it is all about our wisdom, our growth and our development and our this thing. But never about what God does to us, the Creator and his part in our lives, what is the difference? They say if you work hard enough you can be anything that you want to be. Now if you believe that, you'll run into big disappointment, big time disappointment somewhere down the line because you cannot become whatever you want to be.

Suppose someone wants to become a doctor, cause we see doctors and we are fascinated with them, they receive such honor and respect in society because of the kind of job-the profession they're in. So who doesn't like to be a doctor? Everybody likes to be a doctor, nowadays I find people even if they're not doctors they like to called doctors, you know. Because Mr. sounds so cheap, so you want to be called Dr. and you can get a certificate saying that you're Dr. so and so for 10 dollars nowadays you know, if you Google it you'll find it for 10 to 15 dollars, you can become a doctor, if you like the title so much. But to be a doctor is a totally different thing, do you know to be a doctor you have to have a certain kind of a mind, a certain kind of a brain, certain kind of ability, you got to be gifted by God? To do that job you know in that way and not only being a doctor but being anything is like that. Each one of us, the Biblical belief is this, that each one of us are made by God in a unique way, not everyone is made the same way, we are each made in a unique manner, there is a uniqueness about this. And therefore God has endowed us with certain gifts and abilities to be that unique person.

So the Biblical definition of success is totally different, it says that first of all that God made me, and He made me in a unique manner, and has put some abilities and gifts in me, therefore I must first discover what I am made to be. Now that's a big subject if you want to discover what you're made to be, that is a very challenging thing to a lot of people, "Tell me what am I made to be, I don't know". Well it is true, even your mother and father don't know, that is why they call you dumb and all that you know. Because they don't realize what is in you, they think you're useless sometimes when you're growing up and you're not able to score the grades that they want to see on your report card, you're not doing so well. They'll call you useless, dumb and-not satisfied with you, they don't see a big future for you and so on because they themselves cannot understand the potential that you have. Who do you have to ask? I mean who can tell you what you're made for? Only God because He's the Creator, He is the one that endowed you with certain abilities and some gifts, and He's the one that knows.

Now that is why the most important connection that you can make in your life as a human being is the God connection, when you come to Christ and through Christ to God your Father, the Creator, you're not joining a religion, we're not preaching a religion here, you know, we're not saying come we'll change your name and enlist you in our church you know membership and all that and you become a Christian, no. That is not the kind of religion we are preaching, we are preaching Christ, why we are preaching Christ because Jesus said, "I'm the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me", it is through Christ you can come to God, Jesus is the way to come to the Father God, why should you come to Father God? Because without coming to the Father God, you won't even understand who you are. It is not possible for you to understand who you are and realize your full potential, so when you come to Christ, the thing that happens when you come to Christ is you begin to understand God and when you understand God then you begin to truly understand what God has put within you. Because he begins to lead you and guide you into your destiny that he has for you, he leads you and guides you in that way. That's what Christian life is all about, it is a relationship with almighty God, your Creator, in which you discover yourself, you begin to understand yourself, you begin to see yourself in a different way and begin to live out that thing that you see inside of you.

Alright, so the Christian definition of success is totally different, the Christian definition of success takes into account the fact that we are made by God and given certain gifts and abilities and talents and that is why I can't become whatever I want to become because that will only frustrate me and land me in failure and disappointment. Because I'm not made to become anything, when I try that, when I sweat it out and try to become anything that I want to be, that will lead to utter frustration, disappointment. I need to find out who I am, what I'm made for, what God has put within me, and begin to do that which I'm called to do.

The Apostle Paul says, that even when he was in his mother's womb, in Galatians 1 he talks about it, his call for apostleship or call to preach the gospel. He says when he was in the mother's womb, "God separated him to the gospel", when he was in the mother's womb. So God marks a man for a purpose, not only him, all of us are marked for a purpose. So if "God separated me onto the gospel when I was in my mother's womb", and he didn't know it, he became the greatest persecutor of the church. He was going around shutting churches down, killing preachers, persecuting the church, he was the biggest persecutor of the church, did not know God's call and God's purpose for his life and his destiny that he'll be writing the New Testament, literally half of the New Testament and giving all the basic doctrines for the New Testament church and so on. That God has made him tailor made for that purpose, he didn't make him like Peter and John and James and all, no, no he was made differently. He was born in a particular place, became a Roman citizen so that he can have special privileges and so on, and travel the world and was used to the gentile culture and language and so on, was well versed with Greek and so on. Not only with Hebrew, but with Greek and so on, he was a man of the world, he was highly educated, trained and skilled in religion. He was made a certain way so that he can contribute what he has contributed to the church. God tailor-made him even before he knew it, he marked him in his mother's womb, led him in the path of his will throughout his life even when he was rebelling against God. So that he was learning and gaining things that would help him to make a great contribution to the New Testament church.

That is how God is, you know that even before you came to know Christ, God began to take you through certain paths in your life, certain places in your life, began shaping you, He placed you in a family, he raised you in a country, in a society, in a culture. All this for a purpose, so that he can later on have you do his will in that background, using that background and all that you know through that. So God is an amazing God and one day he finds out this God and then his life takes a complete turnaround and when he takes-when the life is turned around, when he comes to Christ you'll find that all that he has gone through, through his life was not wasted, it was all something that was important to the kind of work that he will do hereafter. Nothing was a waste, all his experience and the years of all of those things was never a waste, it was used by God in a tremendous way to accomplish God's purposes. So-and that is what Biblically that is what success is all about, finding out who you are and becoming who you are. Can I become whatever I want to be? No, I can become what God wants me to become, what God has endowed me to become, what God has gifted me to become, I can become that. That is what it's all about, that is what success is all about according to the Bible. Now that's how the Bible teaches success, now let's read Mathews gospel chapter 25, let me read to you from verse 14 all the way to verse 30, it's a long passage, but it's worth reading - For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each one according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, "Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them." The lord said to him, "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." He also who had received two talents came and said, "Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them."And the lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." Then he who had received the one talent came and said, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours."But his lord answered and said to him, "You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, give it to him who has ten talents. "For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I'm sure you've heard this parable and known this parable at least for some time, but let's look at this. You need to first of all understand the background, because parables are basically illustrations. He wants to make a point and sometimes with illustration you can make a point, so when you read a parable like this you need to understand the background, sometimes with illustration you can make a point, so when you read a parable like this you need to understand the background - Why He said it? What is the point that He is trying to make? What is He trying to convey? What is the background of this parable? The background of the parable is this, this was spoken in the last week of His earthy life, just before His crucifixion.

In that what they call Holy Week, the week in which he was crucified, arrested and then crucified. On Tuesday he went to the temple for the last time, in Jerusalem, he went to the temple and delivered a powerful sermon condemning the Pharisees and then comes out and as they were leaving the temple one of the disciples commented on the majesty and glory of Herod's Temple, he looks at it and he was stunned by the majesty and glory of it and you don't have actually the detailed verse here, like if you look at chapter 24, that's where the background starts you know. It says, verse 1 says that - Jesus went out and departed from the temple and his disciples came to show him the buildings of the temple, it just says they came to show him the buildings of the temple. But if you read Mark chapter 13, where the background is given in more detail, it says that Jesus went to the temple, when they were coming out one of the disciples said to him, "Lord look at the stones and look at the building". He's saying look at it, what a great edifice this is, that's what he was saying really. And to that Jesus answers and said, "Do you not see all these things, assuredly I say to you not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down". "Not one stone should be left upon the other" he says, everything will be thrown down, he says. Now after he said that, the disciples asked him two questions, because he took them from there and he was going to teach them something and the disciples ask him basically two questions. He says-they say, "Tell us when will these things happen, you said the temple will be destroyed, not one stone will be upon the other, it'll all be thrown down, when is it going to happen? And tell us the sign of your coming and the end of the age?" These are two questions they asked, you find it in the third verse itself. Now this is the beginning of what you call the Olivet Discourse they call it, because He took them to Mount of Olives and speaks to the disciples separately in a private teaching session, and there they ask these two questions, "When are these things going to happen?" the destruction of the temple, and "What kind of signs are there for your coming and the end of the age?" And He gives them the teaching in chapter 4, the rest of the chapter is about the sign of the coming of the age, end of the age and so on.

And then in chapter 25, the first 13 verses, we read from verse 14, which is what the Parable of the Talents is all about but verse 1 to 13 is the thing that He talks about the virgins, the ones that had the oil and the ones that did not have the oil, it's talking about the readiness for his coming. But then after he talks about readiness for Second Coming in verse 14 by giving this Parable of the Talents he talks about what readiness looks like, what does He mean by being ready? So the Parable of the Talents comes in this context, basically what He's saying is "Look I've been here, now I'm going to go to the father, I'm going to die and go to the father but between the time I depart from this world and the time that I come back", the Second Coming and the end of the age, there's going to be a long time, actually he mentions to them that the time is going to be a long time because in verse 19, in chapter 25 we read from verse 14, somewhere along in there he mentions that the "Master who gave all these talents and went away, came back after a long time, after a long period of time".

So He puts it in there, that He's going to go and that He is giving them certain responsibilities and they're going to take what He gives and they're going carry on the mission and work here, and that He's going to come back, this is what He's trying to convey through the parable. That He's going to come back one day, but it's going to be a long time before He comes back and when He comes back He's going to check on what they have done and so on. So this is the background, so when the master comes back in the story, the one with the five talents comes and says, "Lord look you gave me five, I've made another five, I've been a profitable person, I've not wasted my time, I've not wasted my talents, I have done something with the five talents you gave, I multiplied it and made it into ten", right? And the guy who got two talents comes and says, "You gave me two, look I've made four out of it, I've also multiplied it", and then the third one comes, must be from Chennai I think. He says "Lord I know that you're a very hard person, reaping where you've not sown, gathering where you've not scattered seed, so I was afraid, I didn't want to get into this and that and risk some investment, I don't want to that and get into this and lose everything that I have, so I took what you gave me and hid the talent in the ground. Look, here you have what is yours, see, look what I've done is I've taken what you gave me and I kept it safe, and I'm returning it to you". I mean Jesus in very harsh words rebukes him, He says "You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I've not sown and gathered where I've not scattered seed, you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, at least you would have put it in the bank, I'll get it with interest" he says. And then the punishment is very severe, the talent that he had was taken and given to the man who has ten talents now. And then He gives a verse that a lot of people find it very difficult to digest, He says, "Everyone who has, more will be given and he will have abundance, but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away", and I've heard many people say, "What kind of verse is this? What is He saying? Everyone who has more, will be given more? He who does not have will be taken?" It's said in this context of a person who did not produce what he was expected to produce, a useless fellow, he did not do anything with his life, he did not carry out the mission and the purpose of his master and he was finally cast out into the "outer darkness where there will be gnashing of teeth and weeping" and so on.

Now how do you interpret this parable basically? Now before the Reformation happened in the 16th century they interpret it in a particular way, particularly the thing about the talents. Talents, in those days before the 16th century, before the Reformation, there the Medieval Church interpreted the talents in this parable as spiritual gifts and graces which God bestows on Christians, these are spiritual gifts that God gives to Christians to be used in His work. That's the way they interpret it, so mostly it applied to people that were in ministry of some kind, as a priest or a nun or some kind of a dedicated person, devoted himself into the ministry, these are spiritual gifts God endows them with it so that they can do some kind of service for God. But after the Reformation, now I'm going to get into how Martin Luther changed the whole idea of callings, the calling of our life, how he understood it and thought it and Calvin is another man, Calvin was raised up by God like another Paul of time, amazing teacher. He was raised up and he interpreted the talent in a revolutionarily different way, the way he interpreted the talent is this, he said, "Talents are gifts from God in the form of a person's calling and natural ability", he said "This is not spiritual gifts that God gives to some people that are called to ministry, talents are natural endowments and abilities that God has given to all people, every single one that is born here, natural abilities and endowments. What God has put within a person, because that person has to do certain things in this world, he's born for certain things". Therefore at birth itself, that's what Paul says, that he was separated unto the gospel even when he was in his mother's womb. He says the "natural abilities", see after that you find Paul showing forth many things, the intellect and the ability to dissect the word of God, understand the word of God and present the word of God, and write it and so on. All of these things were given to him, the natural ability and endowments that are a given to a man. So Calvin's idea was very revolutionary at that time, he said this is what is in people when they're born, God has gifted them with something, natural endowments and abilities. God gives it to them for common good, every man is endowed with some kind of a natural ability and gift, so that it will serve common good. And these talents are not restricted to the church or to the piousduties in relation to the church, cause that's the way the Medieval Church understood it.He said,"No, no, no, these talents are not restricted to the church or to the pious duties to the church, it encompasses the whole creation. All mankind has received these natural gifts and endowments from God so that they can be the kind of person they need to be".

So Calvin's idea brought about a great revolutionary change, he says "every person is made a certain way, gifted by God in a certain way". So that when they live in this world, the work that they do and the activity they carry on, can be very meaningful, very useful, very purposeful, that everyone's life can have meaning, that's the way he began to teach. So everyone is called of God, see the Medieval Church thought that only the priest is called of God, none is called of God. Someone who's serving God in some capacity is called of God, calling only has to do with people who are serving in some capacity in the church, that's the way they thought. But Calvin said no, no, no everyone is called of God, people in all kinds of work, who are doing all kinds of professions, they're all called of God. So if they're called of God then when they're working as a called person in secular jobs, we call them secular jobs now, what Calvin would say that's God given call, if they're working in some kind of a job in this world, then Calvin said you must do it with dedication and diligence because that's your response to God who has given you the calling as well as the gifting. As you go out and work and exercise your abilities and gifts that God has given to you, that brain that God has given to you, that ability that God...that special ability that God has put within you as a unique person. As you practice that, and as you live in that way in your everyday life and begin to work, that is your response to your creator, your God, you're saying "God I thank you, you've made me this way. I thank you because you've given me this gift, I thank you because you have given me these talents and abilities", and as you do it with diligence and dedication, knowing that God has given it to you, God has gifted it to you and use it in that way to your utmost-with utmost care and ability, you are really respecting God, reverencing God and saying "thank you God". That's the way you do your work, he says.

So he challenged the workers, the Christian believers, he said, "you work and perform and develop, and progress and change, and choose and be active, all throughout your life because God has kept you in this world as the salt of this earth. When you're working, you're working for God, it's all given by God, from the breath of life to every ability, every gift that you have is all given to you by God. Use that and serve God, you are working in a job in this world, but you're actually serving God because you are being the salt and the light in this world. See in those days people thought, I think now people have come back to the Medieval Days in some ways in belief. In those days, in Medieval Days people thought it is not possible to maintain integrity of faith, that means you cannot be a proper good Christian and be engaged in a worldly job. You want to really be a true Christian? You want to be properly dedicated to God? Live for God? Then you've got to leave everything and go join some monastery or something like that and live for God, you can't go to work and do that. You know how many people believe that today in this city, and so many places in the world? How many people believe that today? People talk about it just like it's the fact you know, they say, "Brother, what do I do for God? Daily 10 hours, 15 hours I'm working for myself, working for my family, working for this world, I'm in this worldly job brother, I'm not able to do anything for God". If you went to Calvin and said that he will say, "you are working for God, that 15 hours your working, the whole time you are working for God only". But a lot of people are not able to see, they think their job is not working for God, but Calvin says, "You are working for God, God made you in that way, gave you that ability, placed you in that place, given you this opportunity and the privilege to work in that kind of a job, so you are being the salt and the light on this earth. So you are working 8 hours a day there, you are therefor God, you are doing God's work." You must be able to proudly come back home and say,"well, just like these preachers who are preaching the gospel, I'm working for God also, in my own way because God has gifted me in this way, to do this and I'm doing it for God, for all the glory of God, I'm being the salt and the light of the earth".

This is so important to understand, you know why? Because the problem with people right now is you see that everywhere, some people's job calling I think, is to tell other people to leave the job. Have you ever seen anything like this? I mean I'm very saddened to say this, this happens a lot in our country, they go around tell other people, "Oh you're still working in the world? Why brother? Leave that, let's become very spiritual people, leave the job", one fellow said, "brother finally I resigned", I said "What are you doing now?", "Right now I'm doing nothing, I resigned".

Then the bigger thing is I slowly asked him, "What about your wife?", he said "I also made her resign" he said, you see now he's got the call to make everybody resign, so he's told his wife who had a nice government job, "you resign also, you come by faith, let's both resign". So she also resigned, she doesn't know what she resigned for, I asked him "Why did you make her resign? She doesn't have to resign because you resigned." He said "Because brother if she worked she'll be very proud that she is earning and all that, so I told her to resign also." I don't know what kind of ministry this is guy is going to do, they think that leaving the job makes you very spiritual, coming away from the world and getting away from the world and getting into some kind of a ministry makes you so spiritual that, that is so important they think. That is what you must do in order to be spiritual, but the Bible teaches differently, the Bible says you're in the world, to be in the world is spiritual. To be among the people is spiritual, to work in a job is spiritual, because you are doing it for God, you are the salt and the light in this world, God has placed you there and there is nothing more spiritual than that, Monday morning going to work is a very spiritual activity. Staying there 8 hours, 10 hours a day is a very spiritual thing to do, that's the way Bible teaches it and Calvin really brought it out and began to show, he began to take these passages and began to expound upon them and show them. He said, "It's wrong to say that it is not possible, it is not possible to maintain the integrity of faith while working in the world in a non-church job. It is wrong to say that", he said. He said "It is possible to maintain integrity of faith while at the same time injecting Christian presence and influence within society, you can work in a worldly job, non-church job, and at the same time inject Christ's presence and Christ's glory into this world", he said "and influence within society", he said.

One of the things that he really showed is that the Bible teaches the whole of man's life is to be lived in divine presence, in God's presence, not when we just come into church. When we come into the church, sometime you know, the preacher say we have now come into God's presence, we think we've been away from God's presence all week, and now we have walked into God's presence. But Calvin made it, made people aware in the Protestant Church that we live our whole life in God's presence. Our whole life is lived in God's presence when you're taking a shower you're taking in God's presence, you're eating, you're eating in God's presence, when you go to work and you're working 8 hours a day, you're working in God's presence, when you come back home and watch TV, you're in God's presence. If you really understand that you'll watch the right things you know, because he's sitting there watching with you. And when you sleep again, when you go to sleep he's sleeping with you, you're in God's presence, you're living in God's presence, this idea that you have to get away from worldly work and come into some kind of a monastery in order to be in God's presence is wrong, you know.

Whatever your job is, great or small, whatever your profession is he says, "We are doing it in God's presence everyday, all the time we are in God's presence". Now this is the kind of teaching thatyielded what is called Protestant work ethic, which became very popular even the worldly people, they studied this, even sociologists and so on, they study the Protestant work ethic because it made such a change in society, it was a revolutionary. Huge benefits started flowing from a cultural shift. Because people started working, realizing that they are working, being watched by God, in God's presence, just imagine if the whole society when to work tomorrow and they all realized that they're working under God's watching eye, and they're right in the presence of God and they did their work. All these guys that go out for tea and come back after one hour, you know, they'll change. All these guys that come late will change, that go early, pack up and go early will change, all these guys that refuse to do their jobs will change you know, everything will change. And it literally happened in the European society in countries where Protestantism took over and these things were taught, scriptures were taught in this way, sweeping changes came and huge benefits flowed and the huge benefit is the thing that brought such prosperity and wellbeing for people.

That's the truth, see before the 16th century they say societies had only a few aristocrats, few rich people in every society in every country, they owned everything and others were all just workers under them. If you're born outside of that class of people that are rich, you can never hope to become rich, never hope to come to that level of prosperity, you can never think of achieving that, you cannot, you're destined you know. If your grandfather was taking care of some sheep, that's all you'll take care of you know, that's the kind of destiny that you had. But when Protestant teaching came, everything changed, whole societies became wealthy, so that the poor in those societies in those countries are better than the rich in so many places, that's how it became. Everybody was taken care of, the wealth became so much, the prosperity and the wellbeing of all people were taken care of in such a way because of this kind of a thing that they realized that they were living in God's presence, working under God's watching eye and they were working for God, their work must be done in that way, that there must be excellence and the work must reflect the glory of God, it must be done to shine as a light in this world, that we must be a salt of the earth through our work. Transformed society, transformed everything, I just hope once again people will turn to that kind... and even some of these countries that turned at that time, few centuries ago, they've turned away from God many times now, they're not the same nowadays. But the benefits that came as a result of such teaching is still continuing because the principles are followed still today. The way they work-see a lot of people that go from other countries they want to stay there because the work atmosphere is better, everything is better. Why? Because the principles are followed from the Protestant work ethic, you know, unknowingly they follow it, don't tell them they're following that. Some of them have become haters of God, in some ways I would say but I really hope that there'll be a turnaround where people go back to that kind of a thing, where God is reverenced and respected that they'll realize, people will realize that their abilities and gifts come from God. They're made in that way and that they will care to find out what they are made for, what they are gifted for, what God has given to them and follow that path. Amen.

Alright now, so what does this parable say? This parable therefore talks about how these people were given responsibilities based on the abilities and the gifts that God has given to them. Not everybody is the same, and they're responsible to carry out some work for the master, we are all responsible to carry out the creation mandate, be fruitful, multiply, fill, subdue, and dominate. In all our work that's the basic thing that we are doing, we may be doing different professions but we are being fruitful, we are multiplying, we are filling, we are subduing, we are dominating, we are changing things, we are developing things. We are doing something to manage problems and bring solutions and answers to difficult situations, that is what subduing and dominating is all about, that is what we're all called to do. God is the Creator, we are called to be co-creators with Him and create a world, a society, a civilization, that is according to God's pattern and we are doing it, that is our job. In the Garden of Eden when God put Adam and Eve there, he gave them work, God gave Adam the work and gave a helper, they were both joined together and carry out this creation mandate, what was their job? Be fruitful, multiply, fill, dominate, subdue - that was their job, make everything right, create a society, a civilization, a world that is according to God's plan and purpose, according to God's mind. Be a co-creator with God literally, that is what they were put there for, that's what Jesus is trying to convey through this parable.He's talking about what they should do from the time he leaves them to the time that he comes back at the end of the age, he says "This is what you do, come back to the creation mandate" he says. "Do carry out that mission that I originally made men for, do that", he says.

Secondly, the talents, here we see are not given for our personal joy but for the common good, you're supposed to do something with it. The Apostle Paul is very interesting in 2 Timothy chapter 4, you remember that famous passage he says, "I'm ready to be poured out as a drink offering, the time of my departure is at hand", he says "I've fought the good fight, I've finished the race, kept my faith and a crown is laid there for me, not only for me, but for all those who believe like this", and so on, you remember that passage you know, mostly preached in funeral ceremonies. Why? Because that's a passage, where that passage comes from Paul when he reaches the end of his life, he knows that he's going to die pretty soon that is why he uses that language in verse 6, he says "I'm being poured out as a drink offering, the time of my departure is at hand", what does he mean? He means I'm going to depart from my body, I'm going to die, if you ask Paul who's going to die? He says Paul, what do you think about life? He'll say "I view myself as a vessel and in this vessel, God has poured some wonderful things like he would pour and fill the vessel with a wonderful drink that will refresh others, that will be good for others, that you can serve others, and when they drink it they'll be refreshed, like God has filled me", he says, "I'm like a drink offering I've been poured out". In the Old Testament times they had a drink offering which they poured before the Lord and "My whole life is like that, I'm like a vessel that has this drink in it, and I'm being poured out", and he says "now all my life I've been poured out and poured and poured out, now I've come to the last few drops, it's going to be over", he says.

One preacher said, "The graves are the richest places on earth". Why? "Because a lot of people were born, lived 70, 80 years of their lives on this earth, never realized, never had a relationship with God, never realized what God made them for, never realized their potential, never even tapped into the things that God put within them because they never realized it and they died in that state and condition and they're buried. Where are the talents and endowments and gifts that God had given to them? It's buried with them, that's why it's the richest place", he says. And when a Christian dies it must be the most glorious day when you realize what Paul is saying, when you see your life, you yourself as a vessel filled with wonderful things that will be beneficial for other people, all the gifts that God has given to you, it's not for you to enjoy and say well I've been given five gifts you know, I'm so gifted. No! It is given for the benefit of others, so that others can enjoy benefits from it, so when you realize that you pour yourself out. See when you're working you're pouring yourself out, when I'm preaching right now I'm pouring myself out because I'm made for this. So I come and pour myself out, this is the third service I'm pouring myself out, right? So when you pour yourself out like this, one day you come to the end of your life and you find that the vessel is getting empty. You are being poured, and poured, and poured and a few drops left and after you pour the few drops it's over, and then you close your eyes and go home to be with the Lord.

When you die only your body is left, you should not have anything else left. When they bury, they bury only the body, not all the gifts with it because you should have used every gift, every ability that God has given in a very productive way in this world for the blessing of others, that's the way this parable is taught. That is why the guy who never did anything with it and buried his talents, what a word that is used here, he said "Lord because I was afraid", see this guy, a non-risk taking guy you know, he plays it very safe. He said "I didn't want to get into this and that, I didn't want to get into this anything, you know I don't want to get involved in anything, I buried this thing and I've kept it, here I'll dig it up", exactly those words that he used, "I'll dig it up" he says. Literally people have buried their talents and gifts in the grave because they never realized that, and then this parable tells us that God will one day, Jesus is going to come back and when he comes back, we'll have to give account to what we have done with what he has given to us. Everyone possesses gifts from God, what we have done is something that we're going to answer to God when he comes back, that is a Biblical truth alright? And you also find here that the reward is the same for both the five talent guy and the guy with the two talents.

See most of the time in our life we are worried about the guy who has more talents, you know, given to him. We waste our lifetime trying to be in competition with others counting how many he's got you know, what did you give him? You know, oh you gave him four, you gave him five, why me two? You know they'll compare with one another you know, in this world people compare salaries, have you ever seen? They compare everything, how much did they give you? You know, how much are they paying you? You know we're all interested in what others are getting. The point the parable makes is - there may be some differences in what is given, don't worry about that, the main thing is the reward is the same because the faithfulness with which they did their job with what was given is the same, therefore the guy with the fie talents and the guy with the two talents get the same reward. The words commending them is exactly the same, not even one word is different, every word is the same, "You good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master", you know all those things are exact same words, there's no difference in reward. It is deliberately put like that in that story because Jesus wants us to know that as long as you're faithful, don't be worried about somebody having more, as long as you're faithful you are successful. Being successful means that you are faithful, being faithful means that you are successful. Success is an issue of faithfulness. Nothing else, alright?

And also our work is a team work, we must do our part, see some people again once again just like the folks that say you can become anything that you want if you work hard, you know people believe that and go sweat it out and they get really frustrated because they are not made for that. Just imagine if I'm becoming a software engineer you know, my God you know, no computer will work, you should be glad it's working when I'm using it you know. Because I'm not cut out to be that, God didn't tell me to be a computer engineer, don't make me a computer engineer, don't-maybe I could if I went to college, you know if I you know put these things in my head and learn it and do, I don't know what they do. Do something you know I can graduate maybe and I can get into some jobs and do something, but it will be a disaster I can guarantee you that. So some people just like that some people get into this mode of thinking that they are the world's saviors, you know that they're going to make a big change in this world. Now when you start out sometimes when you're young, you also think like that, I can change this whole place you know, then you realize you can't change much. But you can change what is given, what you are given, the responsibilities you are given, the realm in which you're working, you can change that realm. I can make some changes here, I can change things in the realm that I'm working, I cannot change the whole world so I'm not frustrated, I'm not saying oh I'm a failure I've tried so much, I've preached so much but nobody is you know, no I don't get into that frustration because I realize that I'm one person, there are many others. God has got a big team, and I'm part of the team, I'm doing my job, everybody's doing their job and if we all do it together, we'll all do a great job for God so that is another thing.

And finally what the master says is the most important thing by way of appreciation, we should not worry about what everybody else says. To be successful does not mean that everybody comes and garlands you and says how wonderful you are. To be successful is to be able to stand before God one day and Him saying, "You faithful and good servant", that's what matters, so you shouldn't worry so much about what everybody says, that you must only think about what God says, what God will say when he looks at your work. Amen. And the whole purpose of work according to the scriptures is this - that God was a worker, he worked six days and rested on the 7th day, six days he created and he looked at all his work and he took it in, he was enjoying what he did. It brought Him great joy it looks like. He said "It's very good", that's the way He said it, He looked at all his creations He said "It's very good". Remember that story of Eric Liddell, I think that's what his name is, Eric Liddell who ran in the Olympics in 1924, his story was made into the Chariots of Fire movie. Remember that? He's a believer born in China to Scottish parents, parents were missionaries in China, because he was I think born in Scotland but he went with his parents to China and worked there as missionaries, and he came back to England to study became a runner, became good at running, and participated in 1924 Olympics, refused to run the 100m race because they had it on a Sunday, but participated in the 400m and won the medal. His sister during the time was very worried because the guy was becoming very popular and because of popularity he may forget his commitment to the Lord that he made some time ago, saying that he'll go as a missionary to China, like his parents. So she told him, said "You're becoming very famous, you're just about to forget the fact that you're going to be a missionary, you're not a runner, you're going to become a missionary". He said "Yeah... God wants me to be a missionary I think, that's why I had so much to do with China and I need to go back to China as a missionary, I realized that that's God's destiny for me, but God has also made me very fast, I can run", and he says "when I run, I feel the pleasure of the Lord, so let me run", he says, "let me first run and get this done for God's glory, because when I run, don't think I'm running for my fame and my satisfaction, I am running because I'm experiencing the real pleasure that God has. He made me the way I am, he made me so fast". And he ran and won the medal you know, "And I need to do that", that was his work in life, that's the thing that he was called to do, the very next year he went as missionary and lived in China all his life and died there as a prisoner in World War II and so on. That was the story, but the thing is this, he said "When I run I feel God's pleasure". When you work do you feel God's pleasure? Running was his work, do you feel God's pleasure? You and I should feel God's pleasure, the joy, the pleasure of working, that is what God has made us for, that is what God intents work for to be in our life. God bless you.

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