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When I consider how my light is spent
  E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
  And that one Talent which is death to hide,
  Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
  My true account, least he returning chide,
  Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd,
  I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
  Either man's work or his own gifts, who best
  Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
  And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
  They also serve who only stand and waite.

John Miton, "On His Blindness".

The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work

Matthew 25:16, NET.

The face meaning of the parable of the talents is surely "Use what you have, don't bury it" and Milton alludes to that in his sonnet. Milton is saying that God gave him gifts and now, due to blindness, he can't use them. Someone like Jenkins would, it seems, be totally clueless why that would matter.

Since sola fide adherents say that actual good deeds don't matter (and sometimes, in extreme cases, seem to strongly imply that doing good deeds is actually a bad thing), how do they interpret the parable of the talents?

(Question inspired by a discussion of the Left Behind books by Tim LaHay and Jerry Jenkins, both the main post by Fred Clark (which discusses how the doctrine of sola fide affects the writing of the books), and the comment by Mary Kaye (which brings up the parable of the talents).)

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1 Answer 1

Sola Fide answers "how do you get saved."

The parable of the talents addresses, what is my reward, once I am saved.

Even the most Calvinistic sole ride adherent still believes that you should work for the kingdom. Whether or not you get to heaven may not be in your control, but how well you have pleased the Master once you are there most certainly is.

The beauty of the parable of the talents is not that we can earn anything- indeed, it would be assumed that the Master could handle his own assets best of all. Rather, that we as servants of the most high have the privilege of participating in the work of Christ is pretty cool. True gratitude for the ability to do anything is evidenced by labor for the Kingdom. And again, that God would allow us to join Him in what we do is supposed to "spur us on to good works."

Does God need us? No more than a dad needs a toddler. Does anything we do make him love us more or less? NOt at all.

But God likes us and let's us try. How cool is that?

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The parable of the talents also points out that not doing good works is an evidence of not having faith/having the new life/being saved. Doing good should be as natural to spiritual life as eating is to corporeal life, and lack of good deeds is a symptom of illness or even not being alive. –  Paul A. Clayton Jan 5 '13 at 23:29
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