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The Talents Parable

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Below is Pastor Claude A. Short's interpretation of the Talents parable.
Excerpt used for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY: Short, C A. The Gospel Truth: “Once Saved, Always Saved” or “Salvation Can Be Lost”?. C. Short Publications. Kindle Edition.

In this parable, Jesus tells us about two types of servants. Both types of servants belonged to the same Master and both types were entrusted with “talents” to use for their Master’s interests. Let’s take one or two verses at a time:

Matt. 25:14-15, 19-30 14

Again, it [the kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.

Of course, the Master is Jesus and, therefore, His servants must be Christians, for they belonged to Him and He had entrusted His “talents” with them. Unbelievers are not considered servants of Jesus, nor does Jesus entrust spiritual gifts and abilities to unbelievers. The Master went on a journey and left His property in the hands of His servants, just as Jesus has gone into heaven and has entrusted the advancement of the gospel to us (Jude 3).

15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey…

A “talent” is a sum of money, but these talents can also be likened to gifted abilities Jesus has given to those who belong to Him. Every Christian has gifts…some have more and others less.

19 After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them…
20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.”
21 His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

As Jesus promised, He will return. And the time will come when all Christians will have to give an account for what they have done with the gifts God has given them. In this parable, the man that was given “five talents” used the abundance that God had given him for His glory and therefore received great reward for his faithfulness. This will be the glorious outcome of those who love and serve Jesus while on this earth.

But what of the Christian who is less gifted…the two-talent Christian?

22 The man with the two talents also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.”
23 His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

This man did not receive as many talents (or abilities) as the man with five talents, but he faithfully used the little he had for his Master's glory. Not all Christians have the same abilities and gifts and so Jesus does not expect the same out of each. But notice, in verse 23, that the man who received only two talents received the same reward as the man who had received five talents. Those who have less, but give and use what they have for Jesus' glory, will receive the same reward as those who have been given more. God rewards Christians not for the amount of ability they have, but for their faithfulness and love for Him.

But then there are those worldly servants who do not use even the little they have to serve Jesus:

24 Then the man who had received the one talent came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

This fellow had some flaky excuses for failing to serve Jesus. There will be those who have received Jesus, but then go through life doing their own thing, giving no thought to serving Him with what they have. Perhaps they have a false sense of security, thinking, “Well, I have received Jesus, so I am saved no matter what I do or don’t do. So why worry about serving the Lord?”

But what will Jesus say to those “worthless” (verse 30) servants who do not use even the little God has given them for His glory?

29 His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant…
30 …throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

According to Jesus, Christians who fail to serve Him with even the little God has given them will not be welcomed into His eternal kingdom. Jesus calls this servant wicked and lazy, and then gives instructions to throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Some will protest this interpretation while claiming that the servant with one talent was never saved in the first place. However, those who do this will have to ignore the rest of God’s Word in order to make those Jesus calls His servants and entrusts with His talents unbelievers. They are Christians who have turned “wicked and lazy.”

Others will say, “Isn’t that teaching salvation by works?” They will have to talk to Jesus about that…He is the One who gave the parable. And I am sure He is not advocating salvation by works. Serving Jesus is not a work, but a love-response to the One who died for us. Jesus is just making it clear that those who belong to Him are expected to live for Him. Jesus paid a heavy price, not only so we could be forgiven, but also that we would love and serve Him:

1 Cor. 6:19-20
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Instead of the focus being on “once saved, always saved,” it should be on “once saved, always serve.” There can be no security for those who have received Jesus, and then do their own selfish, worldly thing.

Remember Peter’s words:
2 Peter 1:10-11
10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,
11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If doing things to make our calling and election sure is salvation by works, then the Lord’s Apostle taught salvation by works, and we know he did not. So what does this tell us? It tells us that not only are we saved by grace through faith aside from works, but we also are saved by grace through faith “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Eph. 2:8-10
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

It amazes me how often verse ten is left out when the above verses are quoted. Once we are saved we must bear fruit for God. Good works are simply the fruit of maintaining a personal relationship with our Lord. He is our Master and we are His servants, therefore obedience, which produces a fruit-filled life, is simply a love-response to the King of Kings.

The servant with one talent had a sinful, lackadaisical attitude about serving Jesus, and the result was eternal rejection as a “wicked and lazy servant” (Matt. 25:26 and 30). Any Christian who chooses to serve the world and self over Jesus is in danger of the same outcome.

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