The Parables of Jesus
by E.H. ‘Jack’ Sequeira

The Parable of the Ten Talents

Matthew 25:14-30:

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.  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.  The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.  So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.  But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  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.”
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!”
The man with the two talents also came.  “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.”
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!”
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.  So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.  See, here is what belongs to you.”
His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant!  So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
“Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.  For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This parable of the talents immediately follows the parable of the ten virgins and this is because the two parables complement each other and together they form a unit.  The parable of the ten virgins dealt with the oil in the lamps, which represents the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts by faith.  The parable of the talents represents working for Christ while we are waiting for the coming of the Lord.  In other words, both parables are addressed to believers, to the disciples.

In the parable of the ten virgins, the bridesmaids, who represent the believers, are represented as waiting for the groom, who is Christ.  In this parable of the talents, the servants or the slaves are working while they are waiting for the coming of their lord.  Put together, we will discover that the best way to watch and wait and to be prepared for the coming of Christ is to be busy in the Master’s business.

I am going to divide our study into two parts.  First of all, we will analyze this parable and look at what its significance is as Christ presented it to His disciples.  Then I would like to take the lessons we learn from this parable and apply it to our present situation.  There are some very important areas that we need to cover.  The parable of the talents may be divided into three scenes.  The first scene is the distribution of the gifts.  The second scene is the use made of the gifts.  The third scene is the day of reckoning.

I would like to take each one of and look at them.  Matthew 25:14-15 is dealing with the distribution of the gifts:

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.  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.

The first thing to do is explain a point that is clearly brought out in some versions of the Bible but is not quite clear in other translations.  The word that Jesus used here is not “servants” but “slaves”.  There is a world of difference between the two.  A slave is a person who has no rights, who has no freedom, who owns nothing at all.  Even the shirt on his back is owned by his master.

I want you to keep this in mind because the Bible teaches us in 1 Peter 1:18-19 that we have been bought by Jesus Christ, not with silver and gold but by the precious blood of Christ:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

In other words, the word “redeemed” is the word that was used in the days of Christ to buy a slave back and we have been bought.  That is why you will notice when Paul writes his epistles that in some of them he introduces himself as “I, the apostle Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.”  Keep that in mind because it has a very important concern as we look at this parable.

Look at verses 14 and 15, the distribution of the gift.  The story is about a man who goes into a far country.  Now obviously this man is Jesus Christ.  He has redeemed us, He has bought us, we belong to Him, but now He leaves us and goes to a very far country which, of course, is heaven.  But before he leaves, he does something.  He calls his servants and delivers to them his goods, “entrusts his property to them”; that’s in verse 14.  Verse 15:

To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.

Notice why he gave them different talents.  He gave the talent in proportion to how much he knew each servant was capable of using it.

Now we have already seen that the man going to a far country is Jesus Christ.  What are the talents?  First of all, the word “talent” was a weight measure used in the days of Christ for silver.  One talent was approximately 75 pounds of silver and someone who knows a little bit more about economics than I do gave me the figures.  He said that today one talent — 70 pounds — of silver would be worth $6,000.  So five talents would be $30,000; two talents would be $12,000 and, of course, one talent would be $6,000.  That is quite a sizable sum of money.

But, of course, that word “talent” is used only as a metaphor.  The question is, “What do those talents represent?”  Turn to Ephesians 4:7-8 where Paul gives us some insight as to what those talents could be.  Here is what the apostle Paul says:

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  This is why it says [now he is quoting from the Old Testament, Psalm 68:18]:  “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts [or we could use the word “talents”] to men.”

Paul is saying here that every believer is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Number one, the gifts represent the abilities that Christ gives us.  These are not our abilities but they are His abilities that He gives us through the Holy Spirit.  Remember, the Holy Spirit gives every believer a gift.  Now I want you to notice in Matthew 25:14 that none are excluded.  He gives every servant a gift.  They are not all the same talents, they are all different, but everyone is given a gift.  Likewise, every believer receives a spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit.  Every one of us, without exception.  Now if you want to add to that our natural talents, that’s fine, although the talents here are those that belong to Jesus Christ.  But you could add to this natural talents under the control of the Holy Spirit because natural talents can be used by the flesh.  I mentioned an experience and I would like to repeat it because it brings it out very clearly.  We had a young couple who came out to work as missionaries in Ethiopia.  The wife was very kind, very generous by nature.  There are human beings who are born that way.  I had a friend in college who was an atheist.  He was very generous by nature.  He would give the shirt off his back; he would give his meals and everything to the poor.  He was generous by nature and this sister was the same way.

It is one thing being generous and kind and soft-hearted in America where the poor are very limited and even they receive help and welfare from the government.  But when she came to Ethiopia, the third poorest country in Africa, she didn’t realize that her natural kindness would be a hindrance.  Her friends in her local church told her she would make a wonderful missionary because she was so kind.  But when she came to Ethiopia and the people — especially the young people — discovered her soft heart, they squeezed every ounce of kindness from her.  She was absolutely appalled at the tremendous need that there was in that country and she gave everything she had until she could give no more.  By the end of one year she was exhausted, her resources were depleted, and she was heading for a nervous breakdown.  We had to ship them back home.

She called me up and she said, “You know, it’s going to be very hard for me to go back.”  I asked, “Why?”  She said, “I was coming here with great expectations from my fellow believers.  They thought I would make a wonderful missionary.  Now I’m going back as a failure.”  I said, “Sister, can I be very honest with you?”  She said, “Yes.”  I said, “You came here with your natural kindness.  God had to exhaust you.  He could not do that in America.  He brought you here to Ethiopia to exhaust you so that you may go back, not with your resources but with Christ’s because Christ’s resources never get exhausted.”

Do you remember the five loaves and the three pieces of fish?  How many did He feed?  Five thousand.  Do you remember in the story of Elijah the little bit of oil and the small amount of flour that the woman had?  How long did it last under God’s control?  When God controls even your natural talents they will never get exhausted because God’s resources are limitless.  So the talents here represent the gifts of the Holy Spirit and it could include our natural talents used by the Holy Spirit.

But what I want you to notice in verse 15 is that each servant was given not the same amount but the amount each could handle.  Likewise, God doesn’t give us all the same gifts.  I would like to emphasize there are no spectators in the Christian church.  God never intended that there would be any spectators.  This is not a football game where a few people are exhausting themselves trying to win the game while thousands watch and do nothing but simply shout and scream.

The second scene is the use made of these gifts.  That is found in Matthew 25:16-18:

The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.  So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.  But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

You will find in verses 16 and 17 that the first two slaves made good use of their talents:  they doubled their amount and were able to give back twice what their master had given them before he left for this far country.  But I would like you to look at the third man.  First of all, I want you to notice that this third man did not hide his talent nor did he complain that the talent that the master gave him was too small.  That was not the issue.  He did not hide the talent because he could do nothing with it.  Please notice you will not find that in the parable.

What is the issue?  Look at verse 18:

But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

He doesn’t tell us why in this verse.  We have to go to the third scene, the reckoning, to find out why he hid the money.  Let’s look at the reason.  Verse 25; listen to why he hid the money:

So I was afraid...

He was afraid of his master.  Does that tell you anything?  He had not understood his master.  To him his master was not a loving, benevolent master.  He was an exacting, demanding judge.

So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.  See, here is what belongs to you.

But I want you to look at the second reason why he hid the money and that is found in verse 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.”

Verse 25:

“So I was afraid....”

So he had a wrong picture of his master.  To him his master was a demanding, exacting master and he was afraid of the man.  The real reason he hid that one talent was not because it was not enough but because he did not appreciate his master.

There was a problem with this man and you will find that in verse 26 in the reply his lord gave him (two things):

His master replied, “You wicked [number one], lazy [number two] servant!”

This man was still in his sins.  He had not accepted the gift of salvation which is in Christ.  He was not only afraid of his master; he was afraid of work, too.  (The word “slothful” in some versions means “lazy.”)  But of all the reasons, the worst of all is that he had failed to understand his master and this is what I would like to say a few words about.

As I read about this third man, I realize immediately that he was a legalist.  A legalist always obeys God out fear of punishment or because he wants a reward, not out of love.  In other words, legalism has never produced works that are genuine.  This man was obviously a legalist.  His relationship to God was not a relationship of gratitude and appreciation.  He looked at God as a severe judge.  The question is:  Is this how you look at God, as somebody who is going to ask you some very pointed questions and if you fail the test in the investigative judgment He’s going to zap you?  Is this your idea of God?

I want you to look at the key word Jesus used in commending the first two servants, or slaves.  He did not commend them because they had doubled the talents.  That’s not what he commended them for.  He commended them for being “faithful” and for being “good.”  To both of the servants he said the same thing.  Look at verse 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!”

He said the same thing about the other man.  Now what is this all talking about?

Number one, the gift that God gives every believer is Jesus Christ [John 3:16]:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

This gift becomes a reality, a subjective experience, when by faith we experience the new birth.  That is the oil.  The Holy Spirit brings with Him the gift of salvation but with that gift is found also many other things — talents, abilities.  The purpose of those abilities is that, while we are waiting for Christ to come back, we may fulfill His mission for us in the church and in the world.  He told His disciples [Matthew 5:14]:

You are the light of the world.

The word “light” is in the singular; it represents Christ.  “You” is in the plural; it represents us all, the servants of Jesus Christ.

Then in Matthew 5:16 He says:

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

What Christ is saying here is what Paul says also, which is that, for us to maintain the Holy Spirit, for us to maintain our hope in Christ, it is important that we make use of the talents, otherwise, we will lose them.  In other words, the fundamental principle in this parable is that we lose what we fail to use.  Now I want to give you some examples.

First of all turn to 1 Corinthians 15.  I want to give you this as an example.  I would like to look at verse 10 but we will read also verse 9 to get the context.  This is Paul talking about himself and he makes this statement in verse 9:

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Paul had very low esteem about himself, as far as being a Christian.  “But,” he says in verse 10:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Now who was Paul and what did he mean “by the grace of God I am what I am”?  Paul was recognized as the greatest apostle of the New Testament.  But he said, “I am what I am by the grace of God.”

...And his grace to me [the talent he received from God] was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them — yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Paul used his talent; he was given the gift to take the gospel to the Gentile world and he fulfilled his mission.  As he told Timothy [2 Timothy 4:7]:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

The two go together.

I would like to read two more texts both from the books of Timothy because Timothy was a young worker who needed some counsel and that counsel applies to us today.  We read in 1 Timothy 4:14-16:

Do not neglect your gift [notice the counsel], which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress [make use of that talent].  Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

When you discover the truth; when you rejoice in Christ, please share Christ.

The second text is 2 Timothy 1:6-7:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God...

Notice in the previous passage he said, “Don’t neglect it.”  In this passage from one of the last letters he wrote a few years later from prison, he says:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Now having said this, I want to take what Jesus is saying in this parable and apply it to our present situation.  What is Jesus saying in this parable and the previous one?  He is saying, number one, that our hope is in Christ.  That’s the gift.  We receive this gift by faith when the Holy Spirit dwells in us.  You want to maintain that, because the devil wants to destroy your faith and, by doing that, drive out the Holy Spirit, so we have to use the talents to God’s use.  Faith and works together make it possible for us to endure unto the end.

This immediately creates a problem in our midst.  One of the greatest problems we have to face as a people is to understand the relationship of faith and works.  It has always been a problem in our history.  One Sabbath after I presented this study, I quoted a text from Revelation 12 where God says to the last generation of Christians, “Here are My people who have the patience of the saints and the faith of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 13:10b:

This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.

This dear brother came up to me and said, “You missed — left out — one more statement in that text:  ‘and they are keeping the commandments.’” Revelation 12:17b:

...Those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

I did not do that because I did not want you to know it.  I did it deliberately because I was reserving for this study the explanation of the relationship of faith and works.  It is a problem in our midst.

That is why I gave you two quotations.  Now we will go to the Bible and lay the foundation from scripture.  First of all, what is the relationship between salvation by faith and works?  Let’s look at two texts.  The first one is in Ephesians 2:8-10.  Here Paul explains to us in a beautiful, wonderfully clear way the relationship between salvation by faith and the works that Christians produce. Verse 8:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — ...

The word “it” refers to grace and not to the word faith.  The Greek grammar points primarily to the word “grace.”  Grace is a gift.  Now there are passages where faith is used in the sense of a gift but in this passage the word “it” refers to grace.  Salvation is a gift of God.

Now look at verse 9:

...not by works, so that no one can boast.

Salvation is entirely a gift.  I want to emphasize that our works do not contribute one iota towards that salvation.  Now look at verse 10:

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God did not save us in Christ only to go to heaven but we were created in Christ to do good works that we should now walk in them.  The greatest evidence that we are justified by faith is our works.  The works don’t save us but they are the evidence.  They are the talent put into use.

Let me give you another passage.  I’m giving you only two but there are many others.  Just before Hebrews and Philemon is the little book Titus.  Turn to Titus 3:5:

...He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit....

After telling us that we are all sinners, Paul tells Titus that, not because of works of righteousness, not because we have changed or tried to be good but because of His mercy He saved us and gave us the Holy Spirit.  Notice that it is out of His love and His mercy that He saved us not because of any works of righteousness we have done.  That is how we are saved.

But now look at Titus 3:8.  What does verse 8 say to you?

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.  These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Notice that genuine faith always produces works.  That’s what James meant when he said that faith without works is dead.  James 2:26:

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

With this in mind let me give you the picture.  I want to turn now to three other texts to get the picture of what happened.  The first passage is from Jesus Christ.  In John 14:8 we have Philip coming to Jesus.  Philip was one of the disciples and he said to Jesus:

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

In other words, “We want to see God.  We have seen you, Jesus, but we want to see Your Father, who is God.”  Philip was given this answer [John 14:9-10]:

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?  Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.  How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?  The words I say to you are not just my own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

One of the missions that Christ came to this world for besides saving us was to reveal His Father to the world.  That is the same desire God has for you.  He doesn’t only want to save you but He wants to reveal Himself through you because the New Covenant says, “I will dwell in you and I will walk in you.”  Then Jesus said to Philip, “If you don’t believe My words, believe My works, because the works I do; it is not I but it is God who dwells in Me.”  John 14:11:

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

In John 14:12 it says:

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Now what has Christ going to the Father have to do with us doing great works?  The answer is found in John 16:7 where Jesus told the disciples, “It is necessary that I go to the Father because if I don’t go to the Father I cannot send you the Holy Spirit”:

But I tell you the truth:  It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

In other words, Christ could not dwell in the believers Himself because He took flesh but He was going to send His Spirit which represented Him.  The Spirit would dwell in you and because the Spirit dwells in you, you will do great works.

What kind of works will you do?  That takes us to the next two texts.  Acts 1:8.  Jesus tells His disciples:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Don’t depend on yourself for witnessing.  Or don’t say, “I am not capable of witnessing.”  The work of witnessing is the work of the Holy Spirit through you.

The next text is 2 Corinthians 3:17-18:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Besides using you to witness Christ, the Holy Spirit does something else.  Verse 17 says that, because we have the Spirit of the Lord, we are free from the problem of self.  Verse 18 says that, as we behold the Lord; as we look in the mirror, we become changed from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  That Sprit transforms our image to look like the image of Christ.

Having said all this, I still haven’t dealt with the problem.  After this dear brother came to me and said, “You have left out ‘keeping the commandments,’” he gave me a quotation and for your benefit I am including this quotation.  This quotation has been bombarded at me many times and everyone who has given me this quotation has taken it out of context.  It is found in Welfare Ministry, page 316.  This quotation was given in the context of sanctification, not justification by faith.  Because we have problems between the relationship of faith and works, we are a confused people.

There are too many Adventists who are standing on the platform that we are saved by faith plus works.  That is why I plead with you to study carefully the book of Galatians.  We are not saved by faith plus works.  That is Galatianism.  We are saved by faith that works.  I want to read a quotation which shows the balance of Ellen G. White.  But before I read to you, let me give you some of the background of this quotation.  This quotation is taken from Manuscript #36.  I first read this Manuscript, the whole of it, in 1970 at Andrews University when I was studying there.  It was in the vault of the E.G. White Estate at Andrews University.

I was so excited because it clarified many problems in my mind that I had but I was very saddened when I was told that I could not share this Manuscript with anybody.  Why?  Because it is not released.  Why was it not released?  I have no answer.  But five or six years later it was released under Manuscript #371.  It was first published in the Review and Herald in March of 1977.  Now you can find it in the book Faith and Works, chapter one.  Before I read you this quotation I would like to read you the second paragraph in this whole Manuscript but before I do that I want to give you the background of this Manuscript.

This was a talk that Ellen G. White gave to the ministers at Battle Creek [Michigan, U.S.A.] because of the opposition to the message of righteousness by faith given two years before.  This talk was given to the ministers over a hundred years ago in 1890.  She was pleading with them.  “Please study the Bible and see for yourselves that this message is of God.”  Let me read you the second paragraph because you need to keep this in mind.  The “me” refers to Ellen G. White; the One who is presenting the danger is God.  Here is the statement.

“The danger has been presented to me again and again [not once, not twice, but many times; what was God presenting to her?  What was the danger?] of entertaining, as a people [not the Baptist church, not the Pentecostals but the Adventist church — she is referring to us; she is talking to Adventist ministers], false ideas of justification by faith.  I have been shown for years that Satan would work in a special manner to confuse the mind on this point.  [I will say 100 years later we are still in the same situation because Satan has worked in a special manner to confuse God’s people on this point.] The law of God has been largely dwelt upon and has been presented to congregations almost as destitute of the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His relation to the law as was the offering of Cain.”

Yes, Cain did offer a sacrifice but he was offering it as a means of salvation.  Abel offered his sacrifice as a confession of faith in the promise of Christ.  Two different motivations.  They both offered sacrifices.  Now let’s go on.

“I have been shown that many have been kept from the faith because of the mixed, confused ideas of salvation, because the ministers have worked in a wrong manner to reach hearts [in other words, win souls].  The point that has been urged upon my mind for years [this is the reason why I am emphasizing it] is the imputed righteousness of Christ [not the imparted, the imputed].  I have wondered that this matter was not made the subject of discourses in our churches throughout the land [the word “land” refers to the North American Division], when the matter has been kept so constantly urged upon me, and I have made it the subject of nearly every discourse and talk that I have given to the people.”

With this in mind, let us read this quotation because here is where the confusion is.

Salvation as a Free Gift  [This is justification by faith]

“There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently [so here is the reason for repeating it more frequently], or established more firmly in the minds of all than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works.  Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone....

“Let the subject be made distinct and plain that it is not possible to effect anything in our standing before God or in the gift of God to us through creature merit.  Should faith and works purchase the gift of salvation for anyone, then the Creator is under obligation to the creature.  Here is an opportunity for falsehood to be accepted as truth [and that’s exactly what we are facing today].  If any man can merit salvation by anything he may do, then he is in the same position as the Catholic to do penance for his sins.  Salvation, then, is partly of debt, that may be earned as wages.  If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus.  It is wholly a free gift.  Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy.  And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him.  The light given me of God places this important subject above any question in my mind.  Justification is wholly of grace and not procured by any works that fallen man can do.”

Have you got it?  I am not saying this; Ellen G. White is saying it.  But the trouble is we take the second statement and put it in the camp of the first statement.

The second statement is applied to the believers who are justified by faith and who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  To them she says,

“If we are faithful in doing our part [not to be saved but as believers saved in Christ] in cooperating with Him, God will work through us to do the good pleasure of His will.  But God cannot work through us if we make no effort.  If we gain eternal life, we must work, and work earnestly.  If we lack in spiritual strength, we may know that we have failed of doing our part.  Just as soon as the plan of salvation was devised, Satan began to work; and if we hope to stand against him, we, too, must work.  We must follow the example Christ has left us, submitting to Him in everything.  Our will must be in harmony with His will.

“Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

“Are we placing the right kind of material upon the right foundation?  If we lay upon the foundation wood, hay, stubble, sad indeed will be the result!  Will that which we are bringing to the foundation endure the fire of the great day of God?  Are we using our talents in the Master’s service?  Are we kind and courteous to all around us?  Do we cherish in our hearts, reveal in our lives, the principles of truth?

“The characters we form here will decide our eternal destiny.  What kind of material are we using in our character building?  We must guard well every point, seeking to gain that purity which will make our lives harmonize with the saving truth we profess to believe.  Our part is to put away sin, to seek with determination for perfection of character.  As we thus work, God cooperates with us, fitting us for a place in His kingdom.

“If we constantly receive grace from God, we shall be vessels unto honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use.  Daily receiving blessings, we shall daily impart blessings to those around us.  But in order to be successful in this work, we must deny self.  We cannot at the same time please self and serve Christ.  We are not to follow our own inclinations, but look to Jesus, waiting to receive orders from our Captain.

“Our one desire should be to do God’s will in a way that He will approve.  All our blessings come from Him, and He desires us in return to give Him our glad and willing service.  Are we doing this?  Are we receiving and imparting His grace?  Are we standing under His banner as faithful sentinels?  Are we learning precious lessons, that we may teach others?  Let us not rob God.  All our money belongs to God, and He calls upon us to acknowledge this by paying a faithful tithe and giving willing offerings.  The children of Israel were taught that their possessions came from God, and that by the paying of tithe and freewill offerings they were to acknowledge this.  Thus we, too, may acknowledge whence our blessings flow.  By giving of our means to save those for whom Christ died, we may show our appreciation of His goodness.

“Is it possible that we are robbing God?  If so, His blessing cannot rest upon us.  This may be the reason why there is not more of the power of God with us.  Let each one examine himself, and see whether he is obeying the directions God has given.  Remove from your lives everything which separates you from God.  Serve Him to the very best of your ability.  Show your faith by your works.  Cling with living faith to Jesus.  Come up to the help of the Lord.  Labor earnestly for the Savior.  Then the rich blessing of God will be your portion.

“The doing of God’s will is essential if we would have an increased knowledge of Him.  Let us not be deceived by the oft-repeated assertion, ‘All you have to do is to believe.’ Faith and works are two oars which we must use equally if we press our way up the stream against the current of unbelief.  ‘Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.’ The Christian is a man of thought and practice.  His faith fixes its roots firmly in Christ.  By faith and good works he keeps his spirituality strong and healthy, and his spiritual strength increases as he strives to work the works of God.”

— Review and Herald, June 11, 1901

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