So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation! There shall be the weeping – Of the careless thoughtless sinner; and the gnashing of teeth – Of the proud and stubborn. – John Wesley
JESUS IS COMING BACK. The Bible insists that Christians in all time periods must remain alert and ready for the Lord’s return (Rom 13:11, 1 Cor 7:29, 10:11; 15:51-52; Php 4:5). The hope that our Saviour Jesus Christ will soon return to “ever be with the Lord” is the blessed hope of all who have yielded their lives to Jesus Christ (1Thess 4:17, Ps 62:5-6). Heaven is not abstract or figure of speech. Heaven is the city without cemetery but a place of constant worship. Whatever you are building your hope of salvation will determine your damnation or decoration. Don’t be deceived about the popular preaching and teaching on human “mere harmlessness” and loving attitude. Yes, in the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s love remains constant, ‘but those who refuse to imitate the gratuitous, unearned love of God choose instead to fuel the cycles of violence.’ God’s love never fails just as God’s grace seeks out sinners and God’s mercy and talents embraces us all but we still have a choice to make, choice on what we build our hope of salvation upon including its moral demands. Your choice determines your eternity – a victim of this violence or a partaker of eternal life with God in heaven.
Biblical hope is based on a deep assurance and a firm confidence about future things that are based on God’s promises as revealed to us through His Word. Biblical Hope is the anchor that can keep us steady through all the circumstances of life (Heb 6:19-20). Paul’s sense of urgency of the hope and anticipation that our Saviour will soon return to the Thessalonians calls us to repentance in our age of fake news, theological apostasy, fake and false system of religion (2Thess 2:3-4, Rev 17:1). Indeed, the ways of the world are no match for the joy and the Day of the Lord.
Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians keeps them focused that Jesus is coming in order not to fall to the hype of peace and love-claimers. In an age and time when it easy to stray from the path of Truth, God is calling us to wake up and keep the faith, stay with Jesus Christ, stay on course especially in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Paul’s truth, the Gospel truth is not person or secular-driven; it is Christ-driven. Paul’s preaching matched his profession and the question for today’s preachers is, does our preaching match our Christian profession, especially in pointing people to the Biblical hope of Christ’s return?
Jesus’s parables, though perplexing and revealing lead us to acknowledge the darkness in ourselves, ‘teach us, spiritually blind and self-deceived as we are, to see the reality beyond ourselves.’ The parable of the talents warns us that our place and service in heaven will depend on our faithfulness and service on earth (Matt 25:29). The parable of the talents, as any parable, is meant to teach a spiritual lesson. As people who wait in the deepest hours of night, tragic hours of pandemic and global political divisions and instability, the parable Jesus tells are more prophecy than descriptive. Jesus is coming back, we know this is true, hence we have to be diligent in the use of our time, talents, and treasures as we serve God completely in whatever we do.
The parable of the talents describes the consequences of two attitudes to Christ’s return just as every choices and idols have consequences. The person who diligently prepares for it by investing his time and talents to serve God will be rewarded. God rewards faithfulness and unfaithfulness though the words of judgment are difficult for many modern audiences. Jesus’s parables offers grace, mercy, and forgiveness just as God’s character beyond a strict system of earning rewards is not about harmless loving God without holiness. Using the words of John Wesley, when we believe and build our hope of salvation on our “mere harmlessness” and that God loves without condition, we find it hard to believe in the existence of eternal punishment, hence the cause of damnation.
To avoid the coming damnation, God is calling us to remain faithful and ready like the two servants in the parable of the talents for the Lord’s return. To avoid the coming damnation, God is calling us not to be like ‘the last servant who misses the point in his pretence.’ John Wesley provides us a good conclusion. He said, “He that had received one” – made his having fewer talents than others a pretence for not improving any. Went and hid master’s money – Reader, art thou doing the same? Art thou hiding the talent God hath lent thee?
To avoid damnation and to remain faithful and ready for the Lord’s return, Jesus’s parable calls us to enthrone Jesus in our hearts, ‘there let Him subdue all that is not holy, all that is not true.’ Caroline Maria Noel in her hymn warns us:
“…this Lord Jesus,
Shall return again.
With His Father’s glory,
With His angel train…”