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Payday Someday – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
October 27, 2023 1:00 am

Payday Someday – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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October 27, 2023 1:00 am

Believers know that good works will not get them to heaven. But many don’t know why good works are important once we get there. In this message from Matthew 20, Pastor Lutzer introduces us to the owner who paid his vineyard workers the same wages. Is it fair that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Most believers know that good works will not get them to heaven, but many don't know how important good works will be once we get there. There's a payday coming when Christians will be rewarded for deeds done on earth. How Christ will judge those deeds is our focus on today's broadcast.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, some listeners may feel they've done nothing to merit anything on Heaven's payday. What words of hope would you have for them?

Dave, I have lots of words of hope for them. As a matter of fact, Paul says in 1 Corinthians that in that day, each man, and of course that includes each woman, shall have praise from God. God is going to find something that we have done that has brought him praise. And so to the discouraged Christian, if you are there worshiping God, if you are one who is praying for others, despite all of the mistakes of the past and the missed opportunities, remember this, Jesus is on our side. He wants us to do well at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, so be encouraged. I've written a book entitled Your Eternal Reward, Triumph and Tears at the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. I wrote this book because we need to be able to distinguish the judgment seat of Christ, where all believers will appear, from the great white throne judgment, which is also described in this book. The great white throne judgment is where unbelievers appear.

If you would like to have this resource that I think will be of tremendous help to you, for a gift of any amount, we're making it available to you, you go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let us consider very carefully your eternal reward. How far have we come in our discussion? First principle, works before our conversion are of no merit. Good works after our conversion are made acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Thirdly, God rewards us for what he does in us.

That's why submission is so important. By the grace of God, I am what I am, the apostle Paul says. Number four, the best works, the ones that merit special attention are those that involve sacrifice, and I've given you a sampling of them. But now there's a fifth principle. And the fifth principle is that rewards are not just based on actions, but also attitude.

Not just actions, but also attitude. And for this now, I do want you to take your Bibles and turn to the 20th chapter of the book of Matthew. Matthew chapter 20, where Jesus told a parable which often has been misinterpreted. Matthew 20. The context is this, Peter says to the Lord Jesus Christ, we've left everything.

And he asked a perfectly good American question. He said, what's in it for us? That's in chapter 19 verse 27.

We've left everything. What then will there be for us? Interestingly, Jesus didn't chide him.

He didn't say, well, you shouldn't be asking a question like that because that's selfish. Jesus in fact says, verse 28, truly I say to you that those of you who have followed me in the regeneration when the son of man will sit on his glorious throne, you also shall sit upon 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And in the last message on this series, I'm going to comment on that and what it's going to be like to rule with Jesus Christ. But notice verse 27, and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for my name's sake shall receive many times as much and shall inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last. The last first.

Wow. And then Jesus tells a parable and I'll sketch the story for you. Here's a man who's the owner of a vineyard and at six o'clock he is sending men to be working all day in his vineyard and they agree for a denarius, which is a day's wage. So he sends them out into the, into the vineyard.

But the man knows that they can't do the job alone. So he goes to the labor relations board where there were people who were gathered together who are looking for something to do. And at nine o'clock he sends some others out and he simply says, whatever is fair, I'll pay you. And they say, fine.

And they go into the vineyard. He goes out at noon and he does the same thing. At three o'clock in the afternoon, he's doing the same thing. Five o'clock, one hour before closing time, he still finds that there are some people who have nothing to do and says, why is it that you're standing here idle? He says, go into the vineyard and I'll pay you whatever is right.

So far, so good. But evening comes at six o'clock now and he says to the foreman, bring all the workers together and pay those who came last first. So let's visualize it. Here's a long line of workers and those who show up at five o'clock, they're the ones who are first to be paid. And the vineyard owner hands each of them a denarius. Can you imagine that? A full day's pay for one hour.

They leave probably waving it and you can just imagine that they go home and they're excited. They say, you can't believe the generosity of this owner to give us that much. Well, of course, you see the others who are in line and especially those who came at six o'clock in the morning, they're thinking, ha, ha, ha, a denarius for one hour. We work 12, 12 denarii, if that's the plural of denarius. And that's what we're expecting because after all, he has to be fair.

Big emphasis on our culture today in fairness. The shock is everyone gets a denarius, including those who showed up early in the morning. And you know what? Are you shocked that they aren't happy? They begin to complain. They do what sometimes happens in the lobby of a church after a business meeting. They grumble, they grumble.

You'll notice it says in verse 11 chapter 20, and when they received it, they grumbled at the landowner saying, these last men have worked only one hour and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden at the scorching heat of the day. But he answered and said to them, friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?

I mean, wasn't that what we show cans on? Take what is yours and go your way. But I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.

Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own or is your eye and just because I'm generous? And then Jesus adds the punchline, the last shall be first and the first last. Many people have struggled over this parable, struggled because because they say, why is it that everybody is rewarded the same? Some people have even said this must be salvation here because in the end, everybody a salvation can't be salvation. Number one, you don't work for your salvation. Number two, I can't imagine people arriving in heaven and complaining because some people are showing up whom they thought shouldn't be there. I mean, even if even if Hitler showed up because he repented before he died, I don't think we'd say, you know, you shouldn't be here, though we would sing Amazing Grace with more enthusiasm.

So I don't think it's salvation. Some people have said, well, you know, the people who came later, they worked harder. They did in what hour what those loafers did in a 12 hour period. No evidence in the text. Those who came at six o'clock says, we have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.

What in the world is going on? I think what Jesus is saying is that the Gentiles were the late comers in the kingdom. The Jews were there early. They were the ones who had the covenants. They had the blessings, but they began to take it for granted.

And I think that what the passage is teaching us is it is a difference in attitude, a difference in attitude. Those who came at first, they haggled. They agreed for a denarius today.

We can imagine that there was some discussion going on. Those who came later simply said, we're going to trust the vineyard owner. He's going to do right by us.

Whatever he says, fine. We're just going to go in and we're going to believe in him. The vineyard owner was touched by that faith, just as God has touched. Listen, don't ever bargain with God. Don't ever say, God, if you don't send me to the mission field, I'll support 10 missionaries. Don't you do that because you tie God's hand. He can't be as generous than if you yielded yourself to him and simply said, I go to whatever part of the vineyard you send me to because I believe you will do right by me.

God loves that attitude. Professor of mine who taught me homiletics many years ago said that he had a son who came in in the scorching heat of the Texas sun one day and said, father, I have mowed the lawn, which is to say being interpreted, pay me. So he said, how much do you think it's worth? The boy wouldn't give an amount. And the father kept pressing and saying, how much do you think it's worth? And finally the kids said, look, I don't want to tell you what I think it's worth.

I want you to make the decision because I believe that if you make the decision, you will give me more than I would have ever asked for. That's the way God is. That's the way God is. And at these later vineyard workers, they were willing to simply trust the owner. You serve God in faith.

And he'll be generous to you. Also, the early workers not only served out of this sense of duty and legalism, but they also served with envy. They were watching what the vineyard owner was doing and they were upset because he was generous. Now, there was nothing wrong with him giving the late comers the same as those who came in the early of the day. Really?

Why? Because the early birds, they had agreed for a denarius and they were getting what they agreed on. That was fair. Dr. Ryrie, who wrote some study notes in a Bible that some of you might have said that one day he was on an American Airlines plane and they asked some people in coach, the coach section to move to first class, but he was not among them and he was displeased. Why should they get to go to first class? I paid just as much for my ticket as they did for theirs. Why do they get to go to first class?

And while he was sitting there stewing, he thought of this parable and he pulled out his Bible and he read it this way. But they said to him, friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with American Airlines for a coach seat? Wasn't that the whole idea? Didn't you get a coach seat?

What's your problem? Are you envious because American Airlines is generous? Is it not lawful for American Airlines to do as they will with those who are their own? If they wish to have some people who purchase a coach ticket sit in first class, do you have an evil eye of envy because they are so generous? You know, it's really interesting that when we're not asked to move to first class, we can get irritated. But if we don't deserve first class, somehow we don't sense any irritation. One day my daughter and I were flying to Kansas City and we bought coach seats as we always do and we were asked to sit in first class. I didn't write a letter to United and say, what kind of a schlocky airline do you guys run anyway? Here you know we buy a coach ticket and we're given first class treatment. I didn't do that. In fact, the first thing that came to mind was, well, it's about time.

That's what I thought. By the way, are you envious because God is generous? Does it trouble you that God sometimes blesses some people more than he should?

If he didn't bless all of us more than he should, we'd all be damned. But you know, there's a lesson to be learned here. And this might even be another principle is that is that really we are rewarded on the basis of grace. It is true that God, the owner, shall we say, overpaid the late comers.

It's true. But I want you to know today that no work that we ever do, no work that we ever do does God compensate us for as if to say that we earned it. We never earn rewards in the natural way in which we think of it.

Never, never. I want to disabuse you of that idea. It would be like saying to a young person, if you clean the garage, I'll give you a new car.

It's not as if cleaning the garage somehow, somehow merits him a new car or pays for it. No, it's just a test. Just a test to see whether or not you're worthy of driving a new Cadillac. Just a test. Same way with us. Are you telling me that there's anything that we can possibly do in this world that would somehow merit us to rule with Jesus Christ on his right hand?

Absolutely unthinkable. All those are gifts of matchless indescribable grace. But all that he does do is he does test us to see in the smaller things as to whether or not he deems us worthy for the larger. It is a test.

It is not repayment in the way in which we think of it. But there's something else in the text here and that is, of course, Christ's central point. The first shall be last and the last shall be first, because there are those who come into the vineyard late. They show up at five, but they are so glad to be in the vineyard. They serve with single minded abandon.

They are thrilled for the privilege of walking behind the gate. And because of that, they are going to be rewarded generously. They're going to be rewarded generously more generously than those who have served the Lord for many, many years out of a sense of duty and out of a sense of obligation, but with no love. That's why Jesus is saying, you see, the first on earth, the first on earth, the people whom we think about who will do well in the judgment, we might be mistaken because they may have done some wonderful things, but we don't understand their motivation. That's why Paul says, I don't even judge myself. We do not understand the depths of why they're doing what they are doing. And so only God can make the distinction.

And there are those who serve in obscurity who will be generously rewarded. Last on earth might mean for some first in heaven because God is generous, generous. Dr. Elmer saved last June in a hospital bed, so transformed that he began to pray for his family.

And my wife and I visited him two weeks ago and he said, you know, the last time you were here, he says, you converted me to Christ and he died yesterday at five o'clock. He couldn't do the things that we talked about today. He couldn't throw a party and invite the lame and the halt and the blind. He couldn't do that.

He couldn't begin to defend doctrinal integrity and invest really in the lives of people. There he is. He's suffering.

He's suffering. How will God judge him? Well, you see, it isn't just a matter. It isn't just a matter of action, but of attitude, his attitude of worship on that hospital bed, his decision now to pray, his newly found love for God. He is one of those who showed up not maybe at five o'clock in the vineyard, but maybe at five fifty five.

He shows up in the vineyard, but he's glad to be in the gates. And we don't know, but that God might be very, very generous with him because the first shall be last and the last shall be first. And it isn't just a matter of action. It's a matter of attitude. You want to be rewarded and it's perfectly right that you want to be. You serve God with love and abandon and reckless enthusiasm and you'll do well.

You'll do well. You know, there is that story that I like to tell about the missionaries who came home from the mission field and they were very discouraged because here they are. They spent years serving the Lord in a very primitive culture with all of the challenges that that has and they get on a boat to come to America.

This was in the day before planes made that route. And here they are on a boat and they are of course the lower class. And then there are those who are the upper class on some of those sailing ships and the upper class, they were drinking and carousing and having a quote great time. Missionaries weren't doing that and they arrive in the harbor in New York and here's a big delegation to come and to welcome all of these worldly friends and nobody is there to meet the missionaries.

You know, that's very discouraging. I have a sister who's been a missionary in Africa for 30 years and that's happened to her too where she's gotten off a plane in New York or somewhere and there's nobody there after she's been gone for five years and they felt very discouraged because of the contrast and they had bitterness in their hearts. And they kept saying to themselves you know isn't that something here you have all these people who serve the devil and somebody is there to meet them. We serve you know the Lord the King of Kings and nobody is there to meet us when we get home. But one day it was clear to the wife that the husband had the victory over this particular thing that nagged within their souls and she asked him why and he said well I was just explaining to the Lord one more time. Have you ever noticed how we keep talking to God about the same thing as if he didn't hear us the first time when we're really irritated? We always have that sneaking suspicion that he was out doing something else the first time we told him.

So that's what he did. He said I told the Lord the same thing. These people serve the devil, they get home, there's a delegation to welcome them. We serve you, we get home, there's nobody there and it was as if the Lord said wait a moment you're not home yet.

You're not home yet. I want you to know today that God is generous. God is generous. But the first shall be last and the last shall be first because those who serve with joy they are the ones who will be generously rewarded. It's not just enough to be in the kingdom though that means that you'll be in heaven.

It means that you're content with where he put you in the vineyard and you said one act of service, of teaching a Sunday school class, of being an usher and of serving Christ in your vocation through your integrity and through your witness and in all areas of life. Whatever he asks you to do, do it for him. Do it for him and you will not lose your reward and if you will let us pray. Our Father we want to thank you today for your matchless grace, for the wonder of your love to us and we do pray Lord that you might make us faithful until we see you face to face. You are able to keep us from falling and to present us faithful through Jesus Christ our Lord and our King. Oh Father grant that we shall have that ability in Jesus name we pray.

Amen. My friend it's not possible for me to overemphasize the need for you to understand that we do not enter the kingdom of heaven because of our faithfulness but rather we enter because of what Jesus has done for us and we trust him alone as Savior. Remember that the good news of the gospel is not what we can do for Jesus but what Jesus has done for us. But having done that for us we as believers are going to be evaluated by him and we have so many misconceptions. For example you hear you can't take it with you.

Of course you can take it with you. Jesus repeatedly spoke about rewards that we can take with us if we are faithful in this life. Those rewards will meet us in the life to come.

That's why I've written the book entitled Your Eternal Reward and I have to say quite honestly that I wrote it because I feel that the judgment seat of Jesus Christ is often overlooked in evangelical circles and I take the point of view that it is very serious and not everyone is going to hear well done though everyone in heaven will be happy, will be contributing to the glory of God. Now for a gift of any amount this book can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to That's or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm going to be giving you that contact info again because I believe that this resource will be transforming for you as it has been for many who have read it.

Here's what you can do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the book Your Eternal Reward, Triumph and Tears at the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ and remember attendance is required. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. You've heard Pastor Erwin Lutzer concluding Payday Someday, the fourth of six messages in his series Your Eternal Reward. Next time we'll head to the track with our running outfits on as Pastor explains the rules of the race. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-27 03:23:25 / 2023-10-27 03:32:36 / 9

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