Faith: its reality and evidence
Today’s reading: Leviticus 4-6; Matthew 25:1-30
And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.Leviticus 4:20b
30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth Matthew 25:30
In today’s reading in Leviticus, the phrase oft-repeated is “he (or they) shall be forgiven.” In yesterday’s reading, the emphasis was on “a pleasing aroma to the LORD.” The sacrifices described in Leviticus resulted in God being pleased and the worshipers being forgiven. God does not merely show restraint in punishing the sin of true believers, He forgives them and He is pleased with the offering they make.
Of course, we know from the New Testament that these offerings all pointed toward Jesus Christ, the final and complete offering for the sins of His people. In Him, God is pleased and we, who believe in Him, are forgiven.
So what does the parable of the talents in Matthew have to do with this? Here we see God’s judgment portrayed on one who failed to invest his talent for the master’s benefit. He is not forgiven. In fact, he loses the one talent he had and is cast out of his master’s presence. A similar consequence falls upon the unprepared virgins.
We might be tempted to think that we are acceptable before God based on our works or personal preparedness. In fact, acceptance before God is based on faith in the offering for sin made by Christ, but the reality of our faith is demonstrated in fully employing the talent or gift God has given us and in having an expectant attitude about the Lord’s coming in power and judgment.
Many have falsely trusted in their own good works for salvation, only to be lost in the end. Others have falsely believed that their trust in Christ only needed to be demonstrated once through repeating a prayer, being baptized, or some other outward profession. These fail to show the fruits of faith in their lives and will also be lost in the end.
Be sure your trust is in Jesus Christ’s offering for sin and that this trust is evidenced by diligent use of the means of grace (e.g. God’s word and prayer) daily in your life as well as corporately in your church (the preaching of Scripture, prayer, the sacraments).