The Parable of the Vineyard Workers

Vineyard Workers

The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise Pt. #3 Matthew 20:1-16

Preached @ Anchor Community Church on September 27th 2015

As we continue our series in Matthew and specifically in Matthew 20, it would be easy to get caught up in the social justices of improper wages, and while the bible does have more direct verses dealing with these injustices such as James 5:4, which says, “Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” But this sermon is not a sermon on proper wages, or fairness in the workplace. As we look at it in context, it’s another parable highlighting what Jesus has been teaching about the Kingdom of God. And that teaching demonstrates that our salvation isn’t about you!! If this teaching was about wage earning, it certainly wouldn’t be fair for a group to do all the work and get the same pay. This parable is about the Kingdom of God, not individuals pay for the work they did. That’s why it begins with, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a master of a house.”

In our passage today, Jesus is still answering Peter’s question in Matthew 19:27, “…what will we have? It’s that gnawing question we often ask, “What do we get out of this?’ And as we saw in Jesus’ answer, we get everything and that everything is Him; it’s “eternal life,” which according to John 17:3 is to “know God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ His Son. Jesus is our prize! Too often we look to Jesus to give us what we want to soothe us and to give us happiness, when He is the end game. Jesus’ answer doesn’t work for those looking for ‘more.’ Matthew 19:30 ends with, “But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Peter still doesn’t get it He still is looking for what Jesus can do for Him, especially in the restoration of Israel as a power in the region. So Jesus tells yet another Parable, and what we see is the parable ends with very similar words to V. 19:30. “…the last will be first, and the first last.” There are 2 differences, one is Matthew reverses the order in 20:16, and in the Greek manuscript, he adds definite articles for emphasis. This displays a clear bracket around this story emphasizing Jesus’ main point, which is; In God’s Kingdom It Is Grace (Unmerited favor) That Reigns Not Our Actions. This is the basic idea behind the “The first will be last and the last first.” In our modern churches, grace has often become what JI Packer referred to as “Boring Grace.” It becomes boring when we don’t think we need it. The Jews had many years of “Service” to God, and after awhile, you start thinking that “I have done a lot for God! Doesn’t He owe me something?” After awhile, we feel we haven’t really sinned that bad, and we have done a lot to earn God’s favor so;

  • Why didn’t God answer my prayer?
  • Why didn’t God allow me to get that job?
  • Why is my marriage so bad?
  • How come God didn’t heal my mom?
  • How come my church doesn’t grow?

It’s not that hard to fall into this category. Until we realize that God’s Kingdom is once again, that upside down Kingdom. The world thinks totally different than God in relation to God’s grace. Humans instinctively desire some sort of god or gods. We want some sort of “Spirituality,” but we want to take part in it. We want to “Own” our beliefs, but God consistently reminds us that we are too broken for that to happen. We can’t do enough, and without His grace we are steeped in our sins and lost forever.

A second thought in regard to our story is the idea that God’s Compassion Is For People, Not What He Could Benefit From People. Those hired in the eleventh hour wanted to work, but there was not enough work for them. These people needed to work daily to eat and support their families, but there wasn’t always enough work for them. No one wanted to over-hire because it would cost too much money, but God in His compassion brings these workers in at the last hour of the day, and then pays them for a full days wage, which was a Denarius (The wage that the early workers had agreed upon). This master did not benefit at all from these workers. Certainly not a full days wage worth, but he paid them that anyway out of his compassion for them, and their great need for the money to sustain them.

One last thought from our passage is that Our Place In The Kingdom Is Not Based On When We Start, But On Who Calls Us To Work. It isn’t how long you work, or how much you work that matters, just that God called you to work. The Jews really had entitlement issues, and Jesus is telling them that none of their history, and none of their works entitle them to anything. It is about Him who calls, and when we are called by Him to work, we do so diligently, not for pay, but because of the joy set before us, and what He has done for us. We see this clearly from Jesus, our example in Hebrews 12:2. “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus is the place we look to for our calling; that even when we are called to hard ministries, we do so looking to Jesus, who found joy in the midst of His painful calling. It is easy to get caught up in the “It’s not fair” argument, and that God owes you something, but in reality God doesn’t owe us anything. He righteously could have us all condemned to hell, but He chooses to save some to be His people for His purposes.

Do you use God and People for what you can get out of them? Maybe it’s time to repent of your self-righteousness, and bitterness toward God for not giving you what you deserve. There is nothing we do to earn our salvation; that is secured and made secure in Christ. Subsequently we have no right to demand anything out of God.

To listen to the sermon, go to: The Vineyard Workers

Questions To Ponder

  1. Why is this message of grace hard for some?
  2. Why do we sometimes feel God owes us something?
  3. In what way(s) do you feel this at times?
  4. What type of person does this attitude foster in a person?
  5. What can we learn from this passage in application to our own life?

For Further Reading

A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener

The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins

The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti

Sermon On the Mount; Sinclair Ferguson

For further dialogue with the sermon go to www.anchorlongbeach.wordpress.com

 

 

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The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 19:16-30

Give to the Poor

Is money evil? Not according to the very misquoted 1 Timothy 6:10, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” There are plenty of figures in the bible who are considered godly and have ample cash.

Our passage today is also one that is often misquoted and misused. There are some who want to make this an absolute for everyone who calls themselves a follower of Christ. However a deeper look into the passage shows that this isn’t the case. Our passage today (Matthew 19:16-30) demonstrates that God is sovereign and loving, and our heart idols are the very things that keep us from loving God well.

The rich young man in this narrative asks the question many ask in regard to their desire for eternal life, “What good thing must I do to have eternal life?” It’s the question many of us have had from time to time, whether we are religious or not. What’s interesting is Jesus’ response. He doesn’t go into the typical 3-4 point pithy gospel presentation asking him to accept Himself into his heart, as we would see many evangelicals do today; but Jesus probes further, because our salvation isn’t contingent on our adding Jesus to our already busy lifestyle. It is because of Jesus’ love for this man that He digs deeper in to the heart issues that are bugging this man (See the parallel passage Mark 10:21). Jesus tells him to keep the commands. Why? It isn’t because Jesus is contradicting His own teachings , as well as the disciple’s teaching that we are saved by grace through faith, but He is trying to show this man where his problem lies; in his heart.

Generally, this man is a good man. The culture saw him as good, but Jesus, who doesn’t judge the outside, but the inside heart issues, realizes that this man has not used his money well, and has developed a love for money that has negated his love for his neighbor. This is why Jesus tells him to do commands 6-9 and another command found in Leviticus 19:18. Those were external commands that the man could appear to keep, but it’s only when Jesus reaches deep in to the real issue (Greed, love of money) that exposed his idols and his heart strings. Jesus tells him there is one more thing, “Sell what you possess and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven, and follow me.” Jesus hit him right where his idol was; his check book. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we are pretty good, and in most cases that may be true; but it is those things we can’t live without and that get in the way of a real relationship with the God that hurt us as people. Jesus cared enough to expose that reality, but instead of repenting of that idol and following Jesus, the text says “…he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions.” His “treasure” was not Jesus. Jesus promised him the treasure he is seeking by letting go of his idol and following him.

In many ways we do the same thing. We’re too busy for Jesus. We have other loves on our mind. We too often seek God, not as the prize or treasure, but as the means to that treasure.

What comes next is interesting. Jesus’ disciple’s witness this, and are “Astonished.” From their vantage point then was “If that guy is out of the Kingdom, then who can get in?” It’s a fair question, and Jesus immediately reminds them that with man it is impossible, but with God “All things are possible!” Our salvation is not from our works. If it were, we would be in trouble. Our salvation comes from God’s “Good Deeds” in Chris Jesus. We are called to repentance from our good works (Hebrews 6:1), as well as, the idols and sins that beset us, and trust that Jesus is truly who He says He is; the Messiah. The reason it is hard for the rich man to obtain salvation is not because of his riches, but because of his affections. His true love and reliance, trust and worth is based on money, not God. This is the heart of man’s problems. It is these heart lusts that oppress others that often lead to greater issues in our world. Jesus is here to heal us from our addictive bondage to our sins and desires that continue to ruin us.

We all have idols, and it is through God’s sovereign grace that we are saved at all. When his disciples, still astonished, ask “What then will we have?” Jesus reminds them that whatever they have left for Him, will be given back to them one hundred times. We are all seeking our joy, worth and sustenance from everywhere but who we were created to get it from, and it has created desires in all of us that separate us from the creator who created us with the purpose to worship Him, and find our joy and worth in the praise itself.

We will be very surprised I think in the end, as we realize those that we thought were first, and those we thought were last will be first. Once again, we have the crazy upside down Kingdom of God, where those that die, live, and those that try to find life apart from God, die.

Humanity: What Is It? Fallen!

Week #5 Fallen

Humanity: What Is It? Genesis 3

Preached @ Anchor Community Church, August 23rd, 2014

“A gulf has opened up in our culture between the visibility of evil and the intellectual resources available for coping with it”

Andrew Delbanco

Intro

It is interesting that we have a culture that teaches us that we are randomly evolved from the animal kingdom, and there are no moral/ethical absolutes, yet it’s a culture that’s creating more and more laws to stop people from hating one another, killing one another, assaulting one another and stealing from one another. Seems a bit hypocritical, or at least a bit contradictory. After all we decry the “Murder” of Leo the lion, yet we don’t prosecute his brother for savagely killing and eating a deer (Leo was ‘murdered by a rich hunter who paid thousands to hunt a lion in the African continent). The views of many other gospel stories fail to remain consistent.

We have been looking at the reality that there is a God and that triune God created all of Humanity in “His Image, both male and female He created them.” And it is because of that that we believe that humanity is similar, yet unique to the animal kingdom. God called everything that He created “Good”. And He created everything on this earth for life to flourish. He created humanity with a purpose to glorify Him with the vocations that God gave them to do, and made humanity co-rulers with Him to keep and serve and cultivate the land that He gave them. So what’s the problem? If we’re created in His image, with a clear purpose and everything we need to succeed; what’s up? What happened to Paradise?

According to our text, everything that God gave the first humans were not enough; we wanted more! And because of that, we (Through Adam) disobeyed the only command God gave us to do; “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”

Today we are looking at the fact that: Humanity is totally depraved! What’s wrong with humanity? We are! It is our heart Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart of man is desperately wicked, who can understand it?” Famed writer GK Chesterton responding to an article in the newspaper entitled “What’s wrong with the world?” and wrote back with these short words, “I am, yours truly GK Chesterton.” Christianity is the only worldview that teaches this idea that we are “Born this way” In Psalm 51:5 David says, “In sin my mother conceived me.” We are a broken people in need of a savior!

From the Head…

The Fruits of the Fall

Proof of Human sin is all around us. As humanity has “Advanced” more deaths have occurred due to war/oppression. Despots like Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Milosevic, have killed millions. Genocides like Rwanda and the Sudan have killed close to a million people. Abortion of innocent victims has taken the lives of over 50 Million Americans since 1973. There are currently 10 wars being fought in our world today and 8 “Conflicts.” It’s not just this type of problems the world has. We have destroyed relationships; murder, theft, hatred, bitterness, slander and many other perversions from the way things were created to be. The world looks at most of these issues as a disease to be cured one day. The fact is sin is not a disease!. It is rebellion against God. When David sinned he said, Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4a) Romans 8:7a says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.” Not only is it rebellion against God’s law, but it is also a placing of our affections on things and people above God, causing a desire for something more than we are created for.

The Details of the Fall

Satan used a created being, a serpent who the bible says was “Craftier than any beast of the field.” Not sure what constituted the serpents craftiness, but suffice it to say Satan used the serpent to deceive Eve. It’s also interesting to note that evil/Sin was present in the garden via Satan and His fall from grace.

Satan deceived Humanity with rhetoric, misunderstanding and doubt.

“Did God say?” Really? You sure? A little doubt can go a long way, and Satan knows that. What was Eve’s answer? “…but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Notice her deviation from God’s word. God never told Adam and Eve not to touch the tree. This is what pious people do; they add pious commands to God’s commands and appear more righteous than others who don’t abstain). The problem is adding to God’s laws do not make you any more righteous. Colossians 3:23 says, “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Satan goes from casting doubt to contradicting God; “You will surely not die.” Don’t worry, have fun, nothing will happen to you, it’s a ruse to oppress you and keep you subjected to the church.

Satan tempted Humanity through their natural “Lusts

All of the ‘Good’ things God created for life to flourish would now be used against us. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” God doesn’t want you to know everything! The temptation here is the temptation to be our own gods. And Satan uses the very things God has given us as good to do it. Things like sex, food, love, intimacy, etc. can now all be distorted and used against us, and against many others. Instead of good, they now can bring oppression, depression, illness and death.

Satan’s tactic is much like John describes in I John 2:15

Lust of the flesh à “The woman saw that it was good for food

Lust of the eyes à “That it was a delight to the eyes

Boastful pride of life à “…it would make you wise

The ultimate sin of Humanity is our desire to be our own god. One theologian said, “Man’s sin lies in his pretension to be God” (Niebuhr). Both those made in God’s image willfully took matters into their own hands. “Thus the origin of sin according to Genesis 3:6 ought not to be sought so much in an overt action, but in an inward, God denying aspiration, of which the act of disobedience was the ultimate expression.” What is sin?

Many Terms/Ideas For Sin

  • Miss the Mark
  • Rebellion/Active Disobedience
  • Perversion/Twisting
  • Straying Away/Apathy
  • Sins of Commission and Omission

Our sins are active and non-active. There are some things we should be doing we don’t, and things we shouldn’t do, but we do. Our sin is a missing the mark, or a perversion of what God intended for humanity and for life to flourish. Sin is destructive, yet it’s celebrated by most humans until it destroys something, and the our culture searches fro methods, laws and systems to change things, and it becomes a hypocritical mess.

The Consequences of the Fall

Humanity is fallen in Adam

The first consequence of the fall is realizing that now, all of humanity is fallen and doomed. Both Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:22 remind us that because of Adam’s sin, we are all sinful. Therefore, We aren’t sinful because we sin; we sin, because we are sinful! Sin is more than selfishness. Sin is more than your actions. Sin is an attitude of privilege that sees God as our equal, and gives us rights to question God’s authority and laws.

Thus, humanity creates their own laws, and even the church preaches the human gospel of “Good Works,” which in God’s economy is something we need to repent of. The gospel of good works that many preach, only confuse the matter, because then the church creates an “us versus them” mentality, where safety and righteousness is found in the church, and not out in the cold, cruel world. This only works until you go into that same world, and realize the world is often more righteous and caring than the church. Then you have a culture war to determine what strategy, system and laws work best for humanity to flourish, instead of looking to Christ as the only hope humanity has. That fall has caused many consequences!

Shame

Genesis 3:7, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made for themselves loincloths”

Problems with God

Genesis 3:8, And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden”

Relational Issues/Blaming

Genesis 3:12, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.

Environmental Consequences

Genesis 3:17, “…cursed is the ground because of you!”

Work/Roles Related Stresses

Genesis 3:16 “To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Genesis 3:18-19a “And to Adam He said…thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field, By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.

Death

Genesis 3:19c, “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return

Ongoing Sin (Genesis 4ff)

…to the Heart

The fact is we are broken people. The world only has systems that don’t work for long. The bible gives us clear answers to Humanity’s problem; and it’s us! Our choice at this time is to ignore this, or call it wrong to call someone a sinner, or realize that it is the most honest thing we can do, and then change our minds (Repent) and believe that what God says is not only true, but the only way toward the joy and wholeness we are looking for. Next week we will look at the Bible’s only answer. Suffice it to say it’s Jesus!

 

What is it With this Book?

What Is It About This Book?

“Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29

Recommended Reading – Psalm 119:161-168
In one of his books, Charles Colson asked, “What is it about this book, the Bible, that causes people to give their lives for it, causes oppressors to try to destroy it, and so infuriates the cultural elite today?” His answer: “The reason is what the Bible claims for itself. Although it is in many respects a book like many others, a collection of ancient writings that includes a variety of genres from historical narrative to introspective philosophy, it is much more; it purports to be the Word of God itself.”

Because the Bible conveys God’s full authority, we cannot ignore it when things are going well or cast it aside during times of persecution. As Christians we must resist the lure of allowing the Bible to be marginalized in our lives, as it too often is.

Read it every day. Memorize key texts. Learn to mull over its words as you drive, shower, jog, or go to bed. Quote it to others. Teach and preach it at every opportunity. Respect its authority, for it’s like a fire and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.

The Bible, written by men but through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us God’s eternal perspective on the world—truth not bound by any time or place.
Charles Colson

Trinity, Your Exceedingly Great Reward

Trinity: Your Exceedingly Great Reward

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward’ (Genesis 15:1 ).
The Lord God is Your Exceedingly Great Reward; because when you get to Heaven, He will give you spiritual treasures that He is holding for you. But, it’s not money or jewels you’ll get; the Lord is your treasure. “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). Abraham fought a battle for righteousness sake (Gen. 14:1-16), yet he refused to take the earthly treasures that were rightfully his (Gen. 14:17-24). Abraham received a reward greater than gold or silver. He enjoyed the happiness of Divine presence; the Lord was his reward. People on earth strive for gold to make them happy, but they don’t realize that the greatest happiness of all is found in the presence of God. If your life is empty, let the Lord fill it with His presence.
The Lord God is Your Exceedingly Great Reward. Once you fix your love on Him, your money will have new meaning. You will get joy donating to many righteous causes. All your work for the Lord will bring you greater pleasures because you’ll glorify Him in all you do. You won’t use all your energy pursuing pleasures; but you’ll do the Lord’s will, which will bring you the greatest happiness of all.
The Lord God is the greatest source of reward and happiness in life.

Jesus: Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus: Lord Jesus Christ

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality (James 2:1).
We usually think of Jesus as having three names: Lord, Jesus, and Christ. But He’s entirely different from people today who have a first, middle and last name. When you call Him Lord, that’s His title. You are referring to His deity. No one gave Him the title Lord, for He has eternally been Lord. When you call Him Jesus, you are referring to His humanity. The angel Gabriel told Mary to call Him Jesus, a Greek name that means “Jehovah Saves.” When you call Him Christ, you are referring to His anointed office. Just as prophets, priests, and kings were anointed into their office, Jesus came as Prophet to give the message of God, as Priest to bring salvation, and as King to rule the hearts of His followers.
Why does Jesus have so many names, titles, and descriptive metaphors? Men who do many things have many titles (dad, husband, uncle, boss, deacon, etc.), so Jesus has over 700 names because He is and does a vast number of things. The names you call Him are not as important as your response to Him. He wants your love and obedience.
Jesus has many names to elicit many responses.

The World Tomorrow

The World Tomorrow

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.  Habakkuk 2:14

Recommended Reading – Revelation 20:1-6
When we think about the future of our planet, we worry for our children and grandchildren. What kind of world will they face in coming decades? The Bible warns that perilous times will come; but the Bible is also filled with encouragement about the future and about the coming Golden Age of Jesus Christ—the Millennium. This is when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as waters cover the sea. This is the period when God’s people will reign with Him a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6). Satan will be bound, earthly troubles will cease, and every need will be met. There will be no want in the millennial kingdom because we’ll have all our needs fulfilled in a near-perfect world.

We don’t have to wait for the Millennium to live under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. We can experience that now. Our hearts can be filled now with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. The principles of the kingdom can govern our lives.

Is the King at home in your heart?

There is an age coming when all earthly problems will end. One day Jesus is going to come back and set up His kingdom on this earth. But here and now, we can make Him King of our lives.
David Jeremiah