This parable, or more accurately stated, metaphor, emphasizes the reality of salvation and condemnation. As we will discover in our study this morning, there is a direct and organic relationship between true salvation, a dramatically changed lifestyle, and eternal reward. Due to their salvation or lack thereof, both the saved and the lost are behaving in a manner consistent with their nature- and in this teaching at least, they may not have even know that this was the case! But we must first understand that Jesus is teaching this lesson for the very purpose of instructing us in a matter in which we were previously ignorant- while those in the parable were ignorant that their behavior reflected their nature, we must not be so ignorant.
There is a difficulty in the text regarding an orthodox soteriology, and RT France puts his finger on the tension: “This passage has traditionally been an embarrassment especially to Protestant readers because it appears to say that one’s final destiny… depends on acts of philanthropy, a most un-Pauline theology and one which sounds uncomfortably like Pelagianism.”[i] We will explain this tension, and the biblical resolution of it, in our study this morning.