Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
FEBRUARY 7, 2016
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
— Matthew 24:45-51, ESV
The end times scenario proclaimed by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse is spoken with heavenly drama and earthly logic. It is mysterious and unpredictable, yet reasonable and traceable. The birth pains begin, the signs of the times unfold, then the rapture strikes like lighting. The second coming of Jesus Christ will end the world as we know it and separate all the members of the church into those who go to be with the Lord and those say they know the Lord but somehow wind up “in that place [where] there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
To which place will you go? It all depends on what you expect, which is determined by what you believe, which is evidenced by whom you serve. When it comes to the latter, Bob Dylan wrote, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you're gonna have to serve somebody.” Dylan is prophetic, to be sure, but the Lord Jesus Christ is the Prophet and Messiah. His words are sure and perfect in this tale of two servants.
The Faithful Servant
The faithful servant is easy to follow, for he or she is a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. The faithful servant can be found present and presenting service in the “household,” which is the same symbol Paul used in 1 Timothy 3:15 to refer to the church. So, the faithful servant is a born again, baptized believer and member of a local church that belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. Four terms describe this servant: faithful, wise, giving, and blessed.
A person who is faithful is, hang on to your hats for this highly technical definition, full of faith. They do not give lip service to faith, our just have a little bit of faith. They are full of it, and I mean that in a good and godly way. They have received faith from the Lord (ref. Ephesians 2:8; 2 Peter 1:1). They profess faith in baptism and communion. And, they demonstrate faith in responsible church membership and reasonable service to others. Faith is what they believe and faithful is the way they behave. When it comes to faith and faithfulness in Scripture, you cannot separate one from the other (ref. James 2:14-26).
The faithful servant is also wise. Wisdom is useful intelligence from a reliable source. We would all hope our doctor is a wise woman using intelligence gained from her medical school. We would hope the same from our accountants, lawyers, teachers, and other professionals we turn to for service. But where does the wisdom come from that is useful for the true Christian, practical for this life and the life to come? It comes from God and His holy word. Real Christians feed upon it and share it with others.
Faith and wisdom are gifts that keep on giving. The faithful, wise servant is constantly giving, with “food” here symbolizing the sustenance of spiritual life. True Christians give grace, mercy, peace, prayers, fellowship, and service to the body of Christ. They are constantly found in worship services, small groups, and one on one giving an ear, giving encouragement, giving time, giving talents, and giving treasures to God by giving them to the people of God. At the end of the day, the givers discover that you cannot outgive God.
For, the faithful, wise, and giving servant of God will be doubly blessed by God. He or she will be blessed with uncommon peace in this life and untold prosperity in the next life. The gospel is a prosperity gospel, when we understand that the promised prosperity comes after the lighting strikes, after our death or rapture, when in the new heaven and earth we will be joint heirs with Christ over all of His possessions.
Jesus says these are the ones, the faithful servants of the Lord, who are expecting the Lord to come at any time, because they fully believe the gospel, which is evidenced by the way they live and serve the Lord. Those who live this way will always be ready to die, or for the lightning of the second coming of Jesus Christ to strike.
The Wicked Servant
The wicked servant is both wicked and a servant. By “wicked,” this does not mean he is always bad all of the time. The word literally means “of a bad nature,” which is merely human nature, depraved and unredeemed by the grace of God. Note the person in Christ’s parabolic language is also a “servant,” meaning he counts himself as a child of God, a member of the church, and wears the external clothing of Christianity. What do you call a person who pretends to be a Christian but is not? Jesus names the name at the end.
Like the faithful servant of Christ, the wicked servant in this story is also endowed with four characteristics, none of which include faith, wisdom, giving, and blessing. On the contrary, the wicked servant is unbelieving, unforgiving, unrestrained, and unexpectedly punished.
Christ “delayed” according to the wicked servant is a permanent delay. It literally means he thinks the Lord is never coming back. The wicked servant believes the second coming of Jesus Christ is a hoax, because he really does not believe in the first coming of Jesus Christ. Remember, he is a pretender, having never made a true profession of faith in the gospel by grace alone through faith alone in the person and work of Christ, alone. So, the wicked servant is pointed out to be an unbeliever inside the church.
Not only is he unbelieving, he is unforgiving. He beats up the other members of the church by constantly pointing out their sin while never taking responsibility for his own. He talks about them behind their backs, gossips about them incessantly, and seeks to do them harm rather than serving them for their good. I suppose all of us in the church do a little of both, harming and serving, but the wicked servant is scant for true service and quick to take out the blunt instrument of the tongue and beat down the true servants of Christ.
The unbelieving, unforgiving, wicked servant is also unrestrained. Drunkenness is unrestrained and irresponsible drinking, and what the Lord says here about drinking applies to other areas of living as well. If you choose to drink, God’s word provides parameters for it, and to exceed those boundaries is sin. The same thing can be said about sex, money, food, speech, and every other area of life to which servants should submit to their master. But if you are not restrained by the Lordship of Christ and the word of God, and if the pattern of your life is governed by such selfish non-restraint, then you are a wicked servant and a, I’ll use the word now since Jesus does, a hypocrite.
The final characteristic of the wicked servant is their final destination, divine wrath and punishment fit especially for the hypocrite. They do not expect to be caught and punished at all, yet theirs is the most severe punishment of all. Seven times the Bible mentions a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Every time it refers to a particular place of punishment, not just the average lost person, but for the pretender, the faker, the hypocrite. While all divine punishment for sin and unbelief will be final and horrible, the hottest place in hell seems to be reserved for the hypocrite, known here as “the wicked servant.”
Who is the wicked servant really serving? Certainly not the Lord and not other people for their good. He may not be overtly serving the devil, as Dylan suggests, for he probably cares about as much for the devil as he does for God. He is simply serving himself, at the expense of God and others, which is absolute selfishness, the worst form of sin. When you do what you want to do virtually all the time, not caring what God has said and done, not caring how it effects the lives of other people, then you are a selfish, lost, wicked person. And if you are a church member living like this, you are a hypocrite, which is the worst of the worst.
Jesus tells us all of these things in His tale of two servants. Which kind of servant are you? Time will tell, and if it tells you that you fail to fit the description of the faithful servant, and you realize you fit the description of the wicked servant, you do not know how much time you have left. Perhaps it is time to repent and believe the gospel.
In his sermon on this text telling the tale of two servants, the late Dr. James Boice closed with a tale of three demons. They approached Satan with a strategy to mislead the nations and turn them away from God. The first said, “I’ll tell them there is no God.” That won’t work, Satan said, since everyone believes in God. The second said, “I’ll tell them there is no Hell.” That won’t work either, Satan said, for most people believe in Heaven and Hell. The third one said, “I’ll tell them there’s no hurry.” That, Satan said, will work.
You could die, or Christ could return, at any moment. If you are unsaved, even if you are a hypocrite, do not continue to serve yourself or believe the lies of the devil. And please hurry. Serve somebody, and let it be the Lord.Copyright © 2016 Lake Hamilton Baptist Church, All rights reserved.
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org