Lesson Three – Be Alert

Be Alert

Lesson Aim:  To show that if the present program of satisfying our  drives for achievement, social acceptance and security is approved for Christians at Judgment, we will be rewarded with an eternal program for these same drives.

Scriptures:  Matt. 24:42-25; Mark 13:33-37; Luke 12:35-48; 21:34-36.

Historical analysis for reading the parable.

See Part Four, Lesson Two for the place, occasion, time and audience except for Luke 12:35-48.  Although this parable was given by Jesus at an early time, it pre-empted the points in the other parables in our text.  The aim may have been directed more specifically at the future Apostles and others who would lead the church.  Peter asked, “Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well.”  Luke 12:41.  Jesus’ aim may have been to encourage the disciples.  Jesus applauded the servants who were good stewards and He promised them they would be served by the master upon His return.  In this promise Jesus may have given us a glimpse of a faithful Christians’ life past Judgment.  Another concept Jesus included in this parable was about the “degree of lashes.”  This was not spoken of in the other parables.

Aim of the other parables:  Based upon the fact that God has deliberately kept the time of Jesus’ return a secret, Jesus wants us to live in such a way that we are ready every day. His aim is that Christians should “Be Alert!”


There are several parables in our lesson text.  There are four points being considered in this lesson from these parables.  First, a faithful servant of the Lord can expect to be served when Jesus comes again.  Secondly, no one knows when Jesus is coming.  The third point is that Judgment will be a day of rewards for faithful stewards.  In the last point we will also consider what Jesus meant by “many and few lashes.”

In order to clarify the aim of this lesson the following excerpt is from a book by the same author, entitled, “The Kingdom of God,” Part One, Lesson Two, Intro., p. 13.

Teachers and preachers strongly proclaim Jesus died for our sins, but we do not always present Him as the teacher of life in the kingdom of God.  In this series of lessons we will attempt to keep our lives and religion on the same channel.  We will begin with why and how God created us.  We will keep the answers to these questions in tact as we present the Christian religion.  Remember God and Satan must work with us the way God designed us – and so do we.

When Christian teachers begin to deal with real life subjects people often say he or she has turned from religion to psychology.  The following scriptures are presented to show why and how mankind was created is indeed a Bible subject.

        1.    Why?  Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-6; Heb. 2:10

        2.    How?  Gen. 2:7; Eccl. 12:7; II Cor. 4:16

        3.    What moves us?  Natural drives.

               a.    Sex:  I Cor. 7:1-5

               b.    Hunger:  Matt. 6:25-34

               c.    Social acceptance: II Cor. 13:14; I John 1:3, 7; I Pet. 1:22-25

               d.    Achievement:  I John 3:1; Rom. 5:3-5; Eph. 2:11-13

               e.    Security:  Heb. 12:26-29; II Pet. 3:9-13; I Cor. 15:32-52.

                       End of excerpt.


First Point:  A faithful servant of the Lord can expect to be served when Jesus comes again.

Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird Himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.   Luke 12:37

The word “blessed” was translated from the same Greek word Jesus used several times in Matthew 5:1-12.  It means “to pronounce a person happy.”  The thought is that Jesus will do something for us upon His return that will satisfy us.  Happiness is the result of being satisfied, or having a hope of being satisfied.  We will take up this discussion later in this lesson.

The second point is, “no one knows when Jesus is coming again.”

And be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.   Luke 12:39

Some religious people appear to be determined to establish the time of Jesus’ return.  God does not want us to know the hour of His arrival (I Thess. 5:1-3).  The reason is we would prepare for the day just as the above verse suggests.  If the head of the house knew the thief was coming at 1:00 A.M. on Wednesday, he would prepare for his or her arrival.  If he does not know, he will surely remain in a state of preparedness.  God wants Christians to live in a state of preparedness.  This concept is one of the peculiarities of Judgment Day – every day is Judgment Day.

God has created us with several very strong drives as was suggested in the introduction excerpt.  Our happiness depends upon the program we have selected to satisfy these drives.  God has offered us ways to find satisfaction and therefore, happiness.  His ways are the law of life (I Cor. 9:21).  The success, or failure, of our present plan is what God will want to discuss with us on the Day of Judgment.  If our strategy now coincides with God’s laws of life, all will be well then.  His will is that we be happy.  Our will is the same but we may disagree with Jesus on how to “get there.”

The third point is, “Judgment will be a day of rewards for stewards.”

Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.  Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.   Luke 12:43, 44

We have already discussed stewardship and judgment in lesson two.  But, here we want to consider our inherited drives in relation to the results of Judgment.  We want to consider what the words “glory” and “eternalness with God” mean in regard to our present desires.  We speak of the inherent drives that seek to achieve a seat of honor and then be accepted by God in it and our inherent need for security.

Our stewardship for God must involve a program to satisfy these drives.  Therefore, the resultant factor of judgment will offer a faithful Christian total satisfaction.  It could be verse 44 in Luke 12 is Jesus’ way of saying Judgment will offer satisfaction to faithful stewards’ inherited drives; that is, the drives we will still have at that time.  Physical death will eliminate at least two of our natural needs.  The people in heaven will not have a sex or a hunger drive.

Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food; but God will do away with both of them.   I Cor. 6:13

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven.   Matt. 22:30

We do not have information about the resurrected body of the people who will go to hell.  We know when they die their bodies will go back to dust according to Eccl. 12:7.  We know they will have a resurrection for Judgment (John 5:29).  Both of these events will also happen to Christians unless Jesus comes first.  This is where the information stops for the lawless people, except we know they will go to hell.  The Apostle Paul did define the resurrected body of a faithful Christian in I Cor. 15:35-54.  He did not say anything about the Christians who are not in fellowship with the Spirit of Christ at the time of their death (Rom. 8:10, 11).

The hunger and sex needs involve our outer man and God’s arrangement for us in the physical world; therefore, it is natural this will all be eliminated during the process of the change of our outer man (II Cor. 4:16-18).  The change will take place in our physical death and the resurrection.

The drives involving achievement, social acceptance, and security will surely remain with us through this change; otherwise, the hope of heaven would be meaningless as a motivation for our spiritual growth.  Our place in heaven serves to motivate us to “push on” now in time.  See Phil. 3:20, 21.  If this is a correct hypothesis, then a program will be available to satisfy some of our present inherent needs after our resurrection.  The events at Judgment will offer this satisfaction; otherwise, we will not leave Judgment happy.  Those who fail judgment may go away with unfulfilled needs eternally, thus the weeping and gnashing of teeth.

After judgment Jesus will bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10).  This glory is the result of being socially acceptable with God and the heavenly host.  Also it will be the achievement of a position of eternal sonship.  Eternalness in heaven will satisfy our inherited drive for survival.  Salvation means the safety of the soul of mankind (Heb. 1:14).  Our drives will not go away; consequently, they will be satisfied on a continuous basis, that is, eternally.  Jesus said, “Blessed (happy) is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.”  Luke 12:43.

Let us now take up the fourth point from the parables in our lesson.  After that, we will compound the four points in an effort to gain a composite picture of our own judgment.  Remember, the better view we have of that Day, the better we can make sure we are ready.  We want to “be alert” to that which we are to be alert.

This point is found in the following Scripture from the parable in our text.

And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.  And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.   Luke 12:47, 48

This could be another way of stating the equation for the judgment of God’s stewards.  Remember the basis for calculating the judgment from Lesson Two:  OA + T = G.  The “many lashes” could be symbolic for the more gain expected from a five talent steward over a two talent steward.  Consider I Cor. 3:12-15.  In the same way, the “few lashes” could be symbolic of a more lax judgment of a steward whose own ability got him one talent.

Of course, these verses of Scripture could open up the subject of greater and lesser rewards in heaven.  If there are greater and lesser rewards in heaven, then we could assume that there will be greater and lesser punishment for those in hell.  In either case, we would need to understand a lot more about both places than we do now in order to discuss the subject.  We would need to understand the on-going program in eternity to understand the different degrees of heaven and hell, if there be any.

It is reasonable to think that God will have an active program for the saints in heaven.  We are sure there will also be an active program in hell.  God has not told us much about the activity in either place, except to say He will be in heaven.  He will not be in hell.  This tells us where we want to be.

Now let us compound our four points to see what we can learn.  The key word used to sum up the rewards of a faithful servant in these parables is “blessed.”  The four points in our lesson will be a blessing to us.  They will make us happy.

Point one:  When Jesus comes He will serve us in some way.  Point two, it is important that we do not know when He is coming.  Point three:  Judgment will give us an inheritance if God so decides.  We will get what we seek now (Rom. 2:7, 10).  We will be allowed to share in God’s possessions.  We will be happy.

The last point is, Judgment will have a merciful equation:  OA + T = G!  To understand the rewards of Judgment in a reasonable way, we must accept ourselves the way God created us.  We must also accept the point that after Judgment faithful people will be happy.  Therefore, to understand the rewards at Judgment, we must consider what gives us true happiness right now.  Would we deny, if we had satisfaction for all of our God-given drives, we would be happy?  All of us have chosen some plan to satisfy our drives right now.  On the Day of Judgment we will find out if the program we have chosen is acceptable with God.

The methods we have used to satisfy our drives have formed our character and personality.  If we have chosen the plan of God for our plan we will have already enjoyed a great deal of satisfaction.  We will have developed healthy emotional attitudes.  We will be what Jesus speaks about in the Sermon on the Mount.  If we have chosen sonship with God as our goal we will have strong character.  Our value system is based on our identity as God’s sons or daughters now (Gal. 4:4-6; Rom. 8:16).  Our faith in this goal will have enabled us to accept our challenges in life and become equal to them – this has developed our character.  Discipline by tribulation develops legitimate sons of God (Heb. 12:8).  Character is our power base from which we move in life as we seek satisfaction for our inherent needs.

Nobody but Jesus Christ has “perfect son of God character.”  No person will attain it in this life.  But all faithful servants of God are moving along toward this goal.  We do not know when we will cross the goal line.  We do not know because God did not tell us where the goal line is drawn.  He does not want us to know because of the peculiar way Jesus will judge us.  One day we will have crossed our physical death line.  It will be just another day in our lives.  This will be who we are on that Day.  Then, all at once, we’ll be before the Judge.  He will be talking to us about the everyday happenings in our lives.  The books will be open.  See Rev. 20:12.

The point is, Judgment Day is not something Christians “work up to” like a graduation in college.  A college must bring a student up to a certain point in order to graduate the student.  God’s program is sonship and any day could be graduation day.  It is not important that we attain certain feats.  It is important who we have chosen as our master.  It is important that we have chosen His program to satisfy our drives.  We must be alert to what Judgment is all about.  Suppose He came today.  Would He find us faithful to Him?  Would He find us moving along toward His goal for us?  If so, we are ready to face Judgment.  If not, we are in trouble before we get there.

If all of the foregoing questions are yes, then we are ready for our Judgment.  There will be a discussion about our deeds done in the body.  The gain from our own ability, plus the God-given talents, must be discussed.  If we are faithful stewards now all will come out right.  Jesus will then reward us in such a way that we will be happy.

He will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.  Luke 12:37

What does all of this mean?  It means Jesus will make us happy.  He will give us an eternal program to satisfy our inherited drives for achievement, social acceptance and security.  This is our inheritance in God’s kingdom.  Be Alert!

Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamp alight.  Luke 12:35

Questions for Discussion

  1. List the four points set forth in this lesson.
  2. What must Judgment offer us if we will be happy with the results?
  3. God does not want us to know the time of our Judgment. Why?
  4. What does eternal glory mean in regard to our present drives?
  5. List two of our inherited drives that will not survive our death and resurrection.
  6. What is the one best word to define the result of Judgment for those who are approved?
  7. Does Luke 12:47, 48 harmonize with the equation for Judgment from Lesson Two:  OA + T = G?  Your thoughts please.
  8. What hinders us from a discussion about different degrees of punishment or rewards in heaven and hell?
  9. Describe Judgment in relation to the four points in this lesson.
  10. How can we know the program we have now chosen to satisfy our drives will be acceptable with God at Judgment?
  11. How is Judgment different from a school graduation?
  12. What will be discussed at Judgment other than our character and personality?

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