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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, October 12 2023

How you can enter the Kingdom of God

Jesus Christ died, was buried and resurrected for a reason: so we could inherit everlasting life in the Kingdom of God (John 3:16).

United Church of God

These two parables reveal the keys to understanding what our lives in Christ should be all about. We are here to prepare for life in the age to come, and we should start each day with that understanding.

The Parable Of The Minas (Luke 19:11-27)

As Jesus approached Jerusalem just days before His death, He sensed the crowds were expecting the imminent appearance of the promised Kingdom of God. Jesus knew it wasn't going to appear at that time, so He prepared them—and His followers through the ages—for that reality, by relating a parable about a nobleman traveling far away "to receive for himself a kingdom and to return." Christ is the nobleman, and the "kingdom" is the Kingdom of God over which He will reign at His return to the earth.

Ten servants are each given one mina, and in Matthew's parable of the talents three servants are given five, two and one talent respectively, and an accounting as to how they used the money is required. Both terms, talents and minas, referred to substantial sums of money in the culture of that day.

In these parables Christ is speaking symbolically of money, but He is really talking about something far more important—the elements of spiritual character. The lesson of the parables is that God gives us something of considerable value and expects good stewardship and a return on what He has given. How we live and use the talents and minas—the gifts, aptitudes, abilities, means and opportunities we're given in this life—is critical.

Some are born with greater advantages than others. Then there are those who start with very little, but use their resources and amass great fortune and accomplishment. Others start with great wealth and advantage, but squander it. Most of us enjoy an average, middle class lifestyle, but it is how we finish that's important, and what we do along the way determines the finish.

In Luke 19 we see that the nobleman "called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas [one each], and said to them, 'Do business till I come'" (Luke 19:13). In verse 15 the nobleman returns and an accounting of the disbursed funds is required "that he might know how much every man had gained by trading." One gained tenfold and another fivefold. They were diligent servants who took what was given, worked hard and saw an increase. Their reward is described as rulership over cities in the age to come. The unprofitable servant who took his mina and hid it, doing nothing, had his mina was taken from the and given to one who had done more.

In the judgment we will be evaluated on what we have done with what we've been given in our life. God who has given us life not only expects growth, but offers the help to make that growth happen through His Holy Spirit.

The Parable Of The Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)

The parable of the talents in Matthew 25, is a similar story in which a wealthy man travels to a far country. One of his servants is given five talents, another two and another one. On his return he learns that the servants given five and two have doubled their talents, but the servant given one talent had dug a hole in the ground and buried it, gaining nothing.

Again, the reward given to those who increased their talents and rulership is promised: "You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:23). The one who did nothing had his talent is taken from him and given to another with a statement similar to that in the parable of the minas: "From him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away" (Matthew 25:29).

The two parables are stories Christ told to convey eternal spiritual truths. The "talents" and "minas" are symbolic of all that God gives us as we allow Him to mold and shape us. We all have talents, abilities and skills to develop in service to the One who gave us everything, including life itself. Christ will return, and there will be a day of accounting or judgment.

One of the layers of meaning in these parables is that God gives His servants spiritual "talents"— gifts, abilities and skills — to help traverse this life toward the age to come, through the power of the Holy Spirit, which God gives to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). This Spirit is a transforming power, opening our minds to the understanding of the great eternal truths, found in the pages of our Bibles, and He offers so much more if we're willing to put into practice what we learn and live our life as God intended—as a period of preparation, a training ground, for the coming Kingdom of God.