Grace to You

  • The Principles of the Parable of the Vineyard
    What about application? That’s a common question from people who want more what now? and how to at the end of a sermon. Those pointers can certainly help us in our day-to-day lives. But they can also narrow our understanding of the implications of a biblical passage, and bypass the Spirit’s work in applying those truths to each believer’s specific circumstances.  The parable of the vineyard (Matthew 20:1–15) is full of such transformational truths—both explicitly and implicitly. And many of them are central to the gospel and salvation. The parable teaches, first of all, that salvation is not earned. Eternal life is a... Read more »
  • The Purpose of the Parable of the Vineyard
    Christ’s parables were never delivered in a vacuum. They were always provoked by the circumstances, discussions, and debates that surrounded Him. That kind of contextual background information is especially critical concerning the parable of the vineyard (Matthew 20:1–15). While the story itself delivers a profound lesson about the grace of God, we don’t feel the full weight of Christ’s words until we consider their immediate context.  Why did Jesus devise this parable? Our Lord gave this analogy primarily for the benefit of His twelve disciples immediately after His conversation with the rich young ruler. This young man of great wealth and... Read more »
  • The Point of the Parable of the Vineyard
    Jesus made a regular habit of upending established social conventions. The Lord spent much of His earthly ministry illustrating the sharp contrast between the world and His heavenly kingdom. One of those key teaching moments is found in the preface and epilogue to Christ’s parable of the vineyard. Christ’s story is framed with a single, simple proverb: “Many who are first will be last; and the last, first” (Matthew 19:30). The same concept is repeated at the end of the parable: “So the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). An echo of the proverb is also found... Read more »
  • Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Social Justice and the Gospel, Part 1”
    No one wants to be a victim. There’s no queue of people eagerly waiting to be ripped off, smacked around, mistreated, and abused. No one in his right mind wants to inflict those experiences on himself. However, many today are desperate for any excuse to lay claim to victim status. In postmodern society’s backward economy, victimhood is a valuable commodity, granting the bearer unquestionable credibility and authority. In fact, as John MacArthur explains in his sermon “Social Justice and the Gospel, Part 1,” today a person’s moral authority is directly proportional to how many different ways he or she can claim to... Read more »
  • Is Grace Fair?
    We all love to be on the receiving end of a good deal—at least until someone else finds a better one. The perception of inequality and unfairness fosters bitterness, envy, and resentment—attitudes that the flesh thrives on, even among believers. And one of Christ’s parables plays to the heart of that inclination.  The parable of the vineyard (Matthew 20:1–15) defies most popular concepts of justice and fairness. Christ’s story introduces us to a “landowner” who refused to pay his workers proportionately for the labor they had performed on his farm. When this master asks, “Is it not lawful for me to... Read more »
  • Is God Ever Unjust?
    Have you ever considered the stark contrast between Judas Iscariot and the thief on the cross? One was a close disciple of Jesus Christ and gave three years of his life to the best, most intensive religious instruction available anywhere. But he lost his soul forever. The other was a hardened, lifelong criminal who was still mocking everything holy while being put to death for his crimes. But he went straight to paradise forever. The difference in the two men could hardly be more pronounced—nor could the endings to their respective life stories be more surprising. Judas was a disciple in... Read more »
  • John MacArthur on Making the Most of Christmas
    While we in the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving later this week, most of us—regardless of where we live—already have an eye on Christmas. More than any other holiday, Christmas takes over large portions of day-to-day life weeks (if not months) in advance. Between the gifts, the music, the travel plans, and the elaborate decorations, that one day dominates much of life at this time of year. And regardless of how we feel about those various holiday trappings, believers need to recognize the significant gospel opportunity this cultural obsession presents to us. For more on that, here is John MacArthur. We want to help... Read more »
  • God Is Not the Author of Confusion
    Some years ago, a close friend of mine attended a service at a large church of international renown where the laughing revival had been going on for several weeks. After a brief, perfunctory sermon with a minimum of references to Scripture and a lot of mangled theology, the worship leader called everyone to the front who wanted to experience the power of God. The scene that followed was utter chaos—dozens of people writhing on the floor, moaning, screaming, and jerking, while “ministry team” members coached them through the stages of the various phenomena. Other people were dancing, jumping, quivering, sobbing,... Read more »
  • God in the Hands of Giddy Sinners
    Many charismatics today claim that the Great Awakening was a forerunner to their own movement, marked by the same emotional outbursts and experiences that dominate their worship. Moreover, as we’ve already seen, they argue that the movement was quenched by an emphasis on theological precision. But such arguments betray a woeful misunderstanding of the Great Awakening—a revival rooted in strong preaching and sound theology. Far from challenging orthodox theology, it reestablished the Puritan heritage of Calvinist orthodoxy and put a halt (at least temporarily) to the serious erosion of doctrinal clarity that was the hallmark of the age. The emotional... Read more »
  • Jonathan Edwards Warns Modern Mystics
    No one was in a better position to evaluate the Great Awakening than Jonathan Edwards. He watched it firsthand from beginning to end. He personally witnessed the remarkable emotional and physical responses in congregations where he preached. He defended the Awakening when critics denounced it as pure hysteria. And when it was over, he carefully analyzed the reasons it died out. Edwards concluded that it was, in fact, the friends of the revival, not its enemies, who were responsible for its death. One biographer of Edwards has written, He came to believe that there was one principal cause of the reversal, namely,... Read more »