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In the three parables in Matthew 24.45-25.30 are the evil servant, the foolish virgins, and the servant who hid his talent pictures of believer or unbelievers?

I have no doubt that in each case they are unbelievers, but not unbelievers during this present church age. I judge them to be unbelievers in the tribulation period leading up to the Second Advent of Christ. In the first parable the servant is described as "evil". He smites his fellow servants. His associations are wrong, for he eats and drinks "with the drunken". His end is God’s judgment – "weeping and gnashing of teeth". Hopeless rage and measureless despair are his portion. These points plainly tell us he is an unbeliever. There is a solemn lesson here, for we note that the evil servant lacked in patience, love, and separation. Sadly, the true believer can fail in these matters and act like an unbeliever.

The foolish virgins of 25.1-13 I take to be the unbelieving portion of Israel in contrast to the faithful remnant within the nation. The parable of the ten virgins is often taken to refer to the present church age and applied to false profession, but the chronology of the Olivet prophecy is resumed after the illustrative parables of 24.32-51 by the word "Then" in 25.1. In the parable, not only the wise but also the unwise go out to meet the bridegroom. This could not picture the rapture of the church because no unsaved will go out to meet the Lord at that time. The language of the Lord to the unbelieving in Israel will be, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not".

Before the commencement of the millennial reign of Christ takes place there will be the judgment of Israel to determine who amongst them will go into the Kingdom. It is helpful to compare this judgment process with Ezekiel 20.34-38. The rebels who will not enter the land of Israel in the Millennium are the unbelieving in Israel and may be seen in the servant who hid his talent. In the parable he is dealt with in judgment and cast into outer darkness. Many in Israel will not enter into the joy of the Lord (the joy of the Kingdom age).

John J Stubbs

I have heard it taught that one cannot be a believer unless the date and circumstances of one’s conversion can be remembered. Is it possible for one to be saved at such a young age that the date and time cannot be remembered? I have heard some claim this, and yet they are serving the Lord well.

It is true that there are those preachers of the gospel who insist that all professing believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should be able to tell of a time when, a place where, and the circumstances in which they were converted. Certainly Saul of Tarsus would be able to give the time, "at midday" (Acts 26.13), the place, "nigh unto Damascus", and the circumstances, "there shone from heaven a great light round about me" (Acts 22.6), "I heard a voice speaking unto me" (Acts 26.14), when he encountered the Lord. Indeed Paul gave testimony to these facts to King Agrippa more than 27 years after the event. The Philippian jailor would be able to relate the "hour of the night" (Acts 16.33), the place, "the prison", and the circumstances, "a great earthquake" (Acts 16.26), of his conversion.

Generally speaking, those who are saved should be able to give such testimonies, albeit the circumstances would hardly be as dramatic as the examples cited above. Nevertheless, it is a fact that not all genuine believers can recall the exact time when they were converted. However, such should be able to look back to an experience when, in all their need, they came to Christ for salvation. Salvation is not a process, it is an event, a definite experience. The individual is brought to a point of conviction by the Holy Spirit. This is followed by "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20.21).

The questioner refers to one being saved at a young age. Such an one should have no doubts as to the experience of conversion. The youngest believer should be able to say with the man who was born blind, "…one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see" (Jn 9.25). We would all agree that one does not simply "drift into salvation". The gospel has the power to change lives. The reality of salvation will be clearly seen in a life producing fruit for God.

David E West


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