QUESTIONS & RESPONSES

MARCH 2012

 



03/08/12     Parable of the Sheep and Goat (Matthew 25:31-46)

03/05/12     Can you explain Mark 8:38? (when the Son of Man arrives) 

                 (Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)

 

03/04/12     How can a Christian avoid the mark of the beast?

 

 

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On March 8, 2012, we received the following inquiries:     

 

“Questions about the parable of the sheep and goats.  In Matthew 25:37, 38 sheep says: "when did we see you?"  Why do the sheep [say] this, they already know the meaning of the parable today, and know that Jesus speaks of the anointed ones. So why do they ask when did we see you?”    

 

“Question 2. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, 45 "one of the least of These my brethren." Why does not Jesus say, my brothers, why he say one of the least?”    

 

    To the author, we thank you for your inquiry, but we are a bit at a loss.  The first question as phrased, presents a problem for anyone trying to provide an answer.  It is incongruous.  What you are basically asking is ‘why do the people in the parable do what they do in the parable if they already know what the parable meant before the parable was spoken.’  Perhaps you can see why we are unable to answer the question as posed.    

 

    Having said that, and keeping in mind that this site is about revealing that all Christians have one hope – the heavenly hope – we presume that your question is meant to address this assertion and perhaps suggest that the sheep must not be anointed since anointed Christians would not ask that question.      

 

    The second question appears to us to be making the same suggestion, namely that by Jesus referring to the “least of these,” that perhaps there are two classes of “brethren.”  Based on these presumptions, we will provide a response.  If, however, we have misunderstood your questions, please feel free to write us back with a clarification.     

 

    The illustration at Matthew 25:31-46 (encompassing both of your scriptural references) is meant to explain the basis for certain people inheriting the kingdom, and certain other people going into “everlasting cutting off” or death.  Please note at the outset that there are two options: (1) an inheritance in the kingdom; or (2) death.  Since an inheritance only goes to sons, this illustration is about the heavenly hope.  The idea or provision for an earthly hope is not mentioned.    

 

    As to why the sons of the kingdom would ask “when did we see you,” and why Jesus would refer to “the least of these,” the illustration appears to be emphasizing the importance of showing brotherly love to all Christ’s brothers (who are also our brothers).  In other words, we cannot be selective about which ones of our brothers we will love and support.          

 

    As humans, we have a tendency to be drawn to the more well-to-do, or the more knowledgeable, or the more beautiful, or the more skilled among us.  Or we might be committed to only our small circle of family and friends, and reject or ignore the remainder.  Jesus was admonishing us to widen out in our affections and look upon the entire brotherhood with the eyes of the spirit, seeing Jesus in each of them, even the lesser ones among us.      

 

    Thus, we see the illustration as a tool to broaden our spiritual perspective and appreciation for the entire brotherhood.  We do not see it as providing any support to a “two hope” theory.    

 

    We hope we have adequately responded to your questions.  Again, if we have misunderstood you, please feel free to write us with a further clarification.

 

“Elaia Luchnia”
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On March 5, 2012, we received the following inquiry:     

 

“Can you explain Mark 8:38.  For whoever becomes ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will also be ashamed of him when he arrives in the glory of the Father with the holy angels.”        

 

    To the author, we thank you for visiting the site and submitting your inquiry; however, we are not clear on what it is your are asking.  To us, the scripture appears rather straightforward and not in need of further explanation.  On the other hand, if your question is not ‘what does this mean,’ but rather ‘when will this occur,’ our response is: we do not know.  Nevertheless, your inquiry provides us with an opportunity to address a very important subject that we believe will be helpful to the entire Body.  With that spirit in mind, here is our response:    

 

    We are finding that many of our brothers and sisters are very concerned about future events.  They are perhaps thinking of Jesus’ admonition:

 

“Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”

– Luke 21:36

 

    or the parable of the ten virgins, where we are counseled:

 

“Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour.”

– Matthew 25:13

 

    It is commendable that we are taking this counsel to heart, but we want to be careful not to turn our wakefulness into negativism – what we should avoid – as opposed to positivism – what we can actively do.    

    If we elect positivism, we will be focused on doing the work the Christ set out for us, namely serving as ambassadors.  (See our series of articles “Ambassadors Substituting for Christ” for a discussion of this work.) Whereas, if we elect negativism, we will be in fearful expectation and worried about what might happen, much like the “sluggish slave” spoken of in the parable of the Talents at Matthew 25:14-30.  We encourage you to read that account.    

 

    The “sluggish slave” buried the one talent he was given in the ground and waited in fearful expectation of his master’s return.  His excuse was that he ‘knew his master to be an exacting man.’  And true to his negative expectation, and in harmony with his fearful inaction, his master was displeased and the slave suffered.      

 

    The other two slaves were called “good and faithful slaves” because they “immediately” went to work increasing the master’s interests.  These faithful slaves were not fearful of their master’s return. They did, in fact, ‘know him’ as the joyful master that he was.    

 

    It appears to us that neither were the faithful slaves worried about the timing of their master’s return, for whenever he would return, the master would receive an increase.  In fact, the longer the master was delayed, the greater the increase.  And true to theirexpectation, and in harmony with their industrious action, their master was pleased with their results and so welcomed them into his “joy.”      

 

    This is a lesson for us, namely, let us not be worried about when the master will return.  And let us not worry about what will happen to “sluggish slaves,” for what has that to do with us who are industrious and faithful?    

 

    We take the counsel of positivism suggested by Paul and Timothy:

 

“Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering theses things.” 

– Philippians 4:8

 

      We let go of anxiety as counseled by our Master:

 

“Keep on, then seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be added to you.  So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.  Sufficient for each day is its own badness.”

– Matthew 7:33-34

 

  And we live our lives in joyful expectation of our Master’s return – whenever that day arrives. Notwithstanding the above, if we have not satisfactorily answered your question, please write to us again.

 

“Elaia Luchnia”
   
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On March 4, 2012, we received the following comment:    

 

“In Revelation 13 and 14 it is written that the people on earth get mark of the beast.  How can a Christian avoid mark of the beast?”    

 

    To the author, we thank you for visiting the site and for your inquiry.      

 

    The answer to your question is quite simple: In all things, in good season and bad, in joy and in sorrow, in tribulation and in peace, imitate the Christ.  You may find some encouragement in our series entitled Ambassadors Substituting for Christ,” especially Letter No. 3, “The Faith and Religion of Jesus.”      

 

    We also direct you to Jesus’ admonition in the 7th chapter of Matthew, especially verses 33-34:

 

“Keep on, then seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be added to you.  So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness.”

– Matthew 7:33-34

 

    and to the encouragement of Paul and Timothy:

 

“Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made know to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” 

– Philippians 4:6-7

 

    May you have peace.

 

“Elaia Luchnia”

 
 
 

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