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Wordwise Insight, Issue #053
March 14, 2009

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free monthly newsletter of


BIBLE INSIGHTS (and Reader Q & A): What is the meaning of the Parable of the Talents? What are the 3 types of human beings the Bible describes?

MEDITATIONS ON OUR HYMNS: "My God, How Wonderful Thou Art"

MORE ARTICLES: Church Membership; Bulletin Boards and How to Use Them

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? See below for how to send it to us.


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LIKE TO ASK A QUESTION? On a Bible topic or passage of Scripture? Or one about a hymn or gospel song? Click on Questions from You.



What Does It Mean?

QUESTION: Bill writes, "Could you please comment on the parable of the talents, especially Matthew 25:30 where the consequence meted out was 'outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth'? It seems like our pastor alluded to losing one's salvation for not using one's talents for the Lord. His motto for Christian living is: 'Recognize that the Christian life is all dependent on God, but live as if it all depends on me.'"

ANSWER: Thanks for the question. I'll try to make a few comments on the parable, and in the process provide an answer to your question.

The parable actually addresses Israel in the coming Tribulation. It is not directly about Christians or the Church Age. That is not to say, of course, that there is nothing there for us. "All profitable" (II Tim. 3:16). And there are some lessons on stewardship that may be drawn from the text. But first we must see the passage in its context. Then we can seek to make a secondary application, or an application in principle, to ourselves.

Matthew 24 (the chapter before) provides Christ's teaching on the coming seven-year Tribulation, during which the raptured Church Age saints will already be with the Lord. It includes many of the plagues described in more detail in Revelation 6-18, and refers to the Antichrist's "abomination" that brings desolation at the mid-point of the seven year period (vs. 15). Then, "immediately after the tribulation" (vs. 29), Christ returns in glory.

The references to the "holy place" in the rebuilt temple (vs. 15), and to the Sabbath law (vs. 20) remind us that the audience is Jewish. The parables that follow exhort the believing remnant of Israel to be watchful for Christ's return at the end of the Tribulation, to be prepared for it, and remain faithful to Him.

That helps to put the Parable of the Talents in ...

To see the full article, click on Parable of the Talents.

QUESTION: Janice writes: "There are three types of human beings. Could you explain the three: the natural man (non-believer); the worldly man (worldly, but saved); the spiritual man (walking in the Spirit)?"

ANSWER: Thanks for the question, Janice. You have rightly identified the three types. Let me make some brief comments on each. I'll also give you Scripture references, so you can study the subject further if you like. And I hope I've made things clear below. If not, feel free to ask for more explanation.

1) The Natural Man Each of us experienced a natural (or physical) birth, but we inherited more than simply genetics. The spiritual corruption that came upon Adam and Eve when they sinned has been passed on to us too (Ps. 51:5; 58:3). The Lord Jesus was able to avoid this, through the miracle of the virgin birth. The rest of us were born physically alive, but spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1, 5). As one who is spiritually dead, the natural man (or woman) is not able to understand spiritual things (I Cor. 2:14), nor does he have the power to respond to God as he should (Rom. 3:11; 5:6).

What is needed to correct the problem is a second birth, a new birth. When the Lord Jesus talked to a man named Nicodemus about this, he mistakenly thought Jesus was saying we need another physical birth (Jn. 3:4), but that is not what was meant. Christ was speaking of a spiritual birth, a work of God accomplished in the individual by the Holy Spirit.

"As many as received Him [Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn. 1:12-13). Born of God. That is...

To see the full article, click on Three Spiritual Conditions.



Stooping to Ask

Years ago, there was a radio show called Twenty Questions. On it, panelists would try to identify some obscure item by asking only twenty questions answerable by "yes" or "no." One of the common queries, early on, was, "Is it bigger than a bread box?" A response to that gave an important piece of information.

When we know the approximate size of something, we can begin to form a picture of it in our mind's eye. But what if the item were to be infinitely large? Did you ever try to envision infinity? The word means: boundless, endless or limitless. That is simple enough to say, but getting our minds around something that big is another matter. And infinite is what God is.

When the Bible speaks of Him being "from everlasting to everlasting" (Ps. 90:2) it expresses the infinitude of his existence. The Scriptures further describe God as the One who "fills heaven and earth," and the One whom even "heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain" (Jer. 23:24; I Kgs. 8:27). In addition, Psalm 147:5 says His understanding is infinite [beyond measure].

God is also said to be "omnipotent" (Rev. 19:6), possessing surpassing power. ("With God nothing shall be impossible," Lk. 1:37.) Psalm 115:3 states that "He does whatever He pleases"--a reference both to infinite power and absolute authority. These verses serve to picture for us the utter transcendency of God. He is completely beyond our understanding and experience. Yet, that is only half of the story.

In 1849, Frederick Faber (1814-1863) published a hymn he entitled "The Eternal Father." Now known by the opening words, the song begins, "My God, how wonderful Thou art, Thy majesty how bright! / How beautiful Thy mercy seat, in depths of burning light! / O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears, / And worship Thee with trembling...

To see the full article, click on My God, How Wonderful Thou Art.


The two articles below deal with two rather different church-related issues. The first examines the importance of church membership. Why is it important to become an official member of a local church? The second article has to do with a physical property that almost every local church has--bulletin boards. These can tend to become a neglected clutter. How can you get the most out of them?

Church Membership

Bulletin Boards

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