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The Tenants and the Vineyard, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
April 29, 2022 9:00 am

The Tenants and the Vineyard, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 29, 2022 9:00 am

All throughout his ministry, Jesus explained that if your heart is in the right posture, and you have ears to hear, then the truth about him will be evident.

Summit Life
J.D. Greear
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Alistair Begg
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Dr. Stephen Davey
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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. The only reason that we think that we're more merciful than God is we have no idea the depth of the evil of what we've done. And that's why we think we're more merciful than God. But when you really see the extent of the evil, then what will amaze you is not the harshness of God's judgment, but the magnanimity of his mercy. God's mercy is staggering, scandalous. God sent his son knowing full well what we were going to do to him. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author and teacher J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today, as we conclude our teaching series on the parables of Jesus, I have a question for you. Are you just hearing things about Jesus as we go through this content, or are you truly listening to him and understanding what he has for you?

It's a challenging question as we wrap up today. And as a quick reminder, it's also the final day to reserve your copy of the matching 10-day devotional resource. If you missed any of the messages of this teaching series, or if you'd like to get your copy of the Listen Up devotional, visit us at or by calling us at 866-335-5220.

But for now, let's join pastor J.D. in Matthew 21. Sometimes religious activity is a way of keeping God at bay because you don't have to deal with real surrender because you don't feel desperate for God and his grace in your life. For a lot of people, it's like the goal of their religion is to keep Jesus in timeout.

Your parents know how, you know, when your kid gets naughty or noisy or just annoying, you want to put them in timeout and they go stand in the, I'll just say the corner, and they're over there in timeout. And that's where people want to keep Jesus. It's like he's there when we need him. We don't want him all, you know, away. We want him in our lives.

But our goal is to keep him kind of out of our lives and not interfering with what we're doing. So, you know, when you sin and you do something wrong, then all of a sudden Jesus gets the freedom to come out of timeout. And Jesus is over there, you know, he's over in the corner and all of a sudden there's a, you know, Santa, he comes out and he's like, ha, I got you now.

I got something to get you. You really messed up. And so you do whatever religious thing you got to do. You, you know, say your Hail Marys or cross yourself or go to church, tithe, read your Bible. And you're like, ha, I've done enough. Back in timeout. And Jesus is like, oh, back in timeout.

And he goes over there back in timeout and waits on you to come get him. That's not repentance. That's not a relationship with God. That's an attempt to avoid God. I'm doing just enough to keep God and his claims away from my life. I don't really want to surrender.

I just want to do enough to make sure that I stay away from the judgment of God. That's what these religious leaders, Jesus was showing them. It's like, you've used religion to avoid God's rightful claim on your life, that he is the one with all authority.

And he's the one that deserves all glory, which leads me to number two, which is similar to the first one. Most rejection, most rejection is rooted in a desire for control. Some unbelief is, is willful. And most rejection is rooted in a desire for control. The servants had been hired by the owner, but by verse 38, they're now acting as if the vineyard belongs to them. Everything in us, in the human heart wants to pretend like we're the owner, not the tenant.

The world constantly reinforces to us that we're the owner. This is your life. You got to make the most of it. You got to enjoy.

You got to get your bucket list and do everything on it. You're the owner. A lot of sin goes back to that question. Who owns your life? Is your life yours out of which you share some with Jesus?

Or is it his which he is allowing you to enjoy? For many people, I've told you that Jesus is like the GPS system in their car. You decide you want a happy life and you know, God has got something to do with the happiness in your life. So, and you keep it there and you keep it turned on and it helps you know which way to go. But you know, the GPS system, you've always got the option to disobey the directions. And so the GPS system tells you to turn and you choose not to turn because that route doesn't look good to you. And you figure like the GPS system, God will patiently kind of recalculating and he'll come up with a new route for you. And by the way, I know a guy who told his wife that the GPS directional lady he thought was the ideal wife and he wanted to know why his wife couldn't be more like her. That when he made a decision she didn't like, she should just recalculate.

And that conversation did not go well and I would not commend that to you. But many of us have that relationship to God where we're like, well God, I just expect you to be there to tell me when I ask a question. And I expect you to adjust when I don't because I'm the owner of this car and you're there to give suggestions and make things work out. God, is the owner of your life.

He is not the navigation system for it. And a lot of our rejection of Jesus comes out of the sense that I'm the owner and he's the help rather than it's his and I am his servant that is just receiving this on loan from him for a while. Number three, what we see is that God's grace toward us is amazing. God's grace toward us is amazing, but it won't last forever. God shows his grace toward us in this story in repeated ways. I mean, first, there's the fact that he gives the vineyard to us to enjoy to begin with.

Life and all the pleasures that go with it are just a great gift that God gives us that he wants us to be happy with and he wants us to enjoy. He shows his mercy to us through allowing us to enjoy the vineyard. Second, through the repeated patient warnings, he sends the rebellious farmers. He shows his mercy. In this story, he doesn't just send them one messenger, one chance to repent. He sends them chance after chance after chance when it seems like they've demonstrated they don't need any more chances. The same is true for you and me. He sends us repeated warnings.

For some of you, it's happening right now. You're here and God has been trying to get a hold of your life. And this message is just one other thing where God's saying, wake up, wake up, pay attention. Sometimes it's more of a natural messenger that comes. The process of aging.

Aging is depressing, I can tell you firsthand, but in one sense, aging is God's gracious reminder that I don't last forever and that everything that I have is borrowed from God. That I'm a tenant and I'm not the owner. My daughter is in middle school and they had their end of year middle school soccer picnic. And so they had a pickup game between the girls middle school soccer team and the parents. That doesn't sound that difficult, right?

I'm going to go out and play soccer with a bunch of middle school girls. They about killed me. I have part of my family that's about killed me. I have parts of my body.

This is two weeks later. I got parts of my body that I'm still, I'm like, I didn't even know that part was still attached, but it hurts. It's sore. It's one of them was on my part of my foot. I'm still, if you see me walking up here, I'm still limping slightly.

And it's from a middle school soccer game. I get sore. Sometimes I'll wake up in the morning and I'm sore. And I'm like, all I did the night before was sleep.

Like somehow, you know, going from this position to that position in bed is enough to make me sore for two or three days. It's just, these things are all messengers that life just goes quickly. And I'm not the owner. I can't even hold on to the health and the body that I have. It's all borrowed. And ultimately it's all going to be turned back in the fragility of life as a messenger that we're not the owner.

Maybe you've seen something you thought was secure get taken away. I remember reading a couple of years ago about just one of the most successful civil war generals. I can't remember if it was for the South or North, but when all these incredible battles against ridiculous odds and then died right toward the last year of the war because of a tick bite. And I thought, so here you've got a guy who could face down armies and overcome them. And a little tick that you could squash under your foot ultimately is what killed him. It's a messenger that you're just a tenant, not really the owner.

C.S. Lewis said that unfulfilled longings are a sign to you from God that you're a tenant, not the owner. He said in every pleasure, the longing for the pleasure was better than the actual obtaining of it. You ever experienced that where the pursuit of that pleasure is actually more enjoyable than when you obtained the thing you were looking for the whole time? I always tell people that there are only four things in my life that have fully lived up to expectations.

Just four. Number one, becoming a Christian. Number two, getting married and having kids. Number three was going to the island of Kauai in Hawaii, one of the only places I've ever been that fully lived up to the expectations.

And then number four was skydiving. Everything else in my life is disappointed. Everything. Everything else, the search for it was not as good as the obtaining of it.

That's what C.S. Lewis was talking about. He says, I spent my life chasing after academic success and money, and I've spent my life chasing all kinds of things. And here's the way he described it. He said, it's like the scent of a flower was in my mind that I've never been able to find on earth. I've smelled the smell, but I can't find the flower. He said it was the echo of a tune that my soul longed to hear.

I hear the echo of the tune, but I can't find the original on earth. And he concluded by saying, if I find in myself desires which nothing in this world will satisfy, the only explanation is that I was created for another world. Unfulfilled longings are a messenger that you're not the master. You're not the owner. You're just a tenant. Again, some of you are in church today and God has been after you. And this is another warning that God has given to you life is a messenger constantly coming at you saying, you're not in charge. You're not the owner.

You're just a tenant. So God shows his mercy by letting you tend the vineyard to enjoy it. He shows his mercy by sending repeated warnings. The ultimate way of showing mercy, of course, was by sending his son. Like I said, we got to stand a little dumbfounded by the mercy of God that was shown to these farmers, right? After they'd killed the other messengers, he would send his son.

Why would anyone do that? Would anybody else, would you, any of you, ever show that kind of mercy in that situation? And by the way, if you'll let me just digress for just a second, sometimes we complain about the harshness of God's judgment and we think, well, if I were God, I'd have set it up different. And I'd have been a lot more merciful than him, but any time in scripture, listen to this, any time in scripture when God's disposition to mercy is contrasted to a man's disposition to mercy, God always wins by a long shot.

Think about it. Is this how you would have reacted to a group of tenants who stole your vineyard? We're almost scandalized by this story. And the story of Hosea, where God tells Hosea to go out and first marry a prostitute, make the prostitute his wife, then love her. And then after she leaves him and goes out and sleeps with a bunch of other men and resells herself back into slavery, God tells Hosea, go back again and buy her back and love her and love her even though she'd been unfaithful to you. And when you're reading this book, you're like, that's not even fair, God.

I mean, why would you do that to somebody who had humiliated you and scorned you? And God's answer to Hosea is, because that's how I love you. And that's how I love Israel.

And you don't understand the scandal of it. Jonah, Nineveh, the people of Nineveh had abused and enslaved and killed and tortured Israelite people. And God said, Jonah, go preach mercy to them. And Jonah says, I can't, I don't want to, I don't want them to get saved.

And you understand when you see the history, you're like, I get it. I wouldn't want to go preach to those people either. And God says, do it because that's essentially what I'm doing with you. I'm extending mercy to people that have done nothing but hated me and scorned me in return. You see, the only reason that we think that we're more merciful than God is we have no idea the depth of the evil of what we've done. And that's why we think we're more merciful than God. But when you really see the extent of the evil, then what will amaze you is not the harshness of God's judgment, but the magnanimity of His mercy.

God's mercy that gets revealed in stories like this is staggering, scandalous. God sent His Son knowing full well what we were going to do to Him. Why?

Why? Well, Scripture says first that He was demonstrating His love for us. Romans 5, 8. He was through Christ putting on display His love His love in a way that we could never doubt and should never forget.

We see that He was willing to make Himself vulnerable and put Himself in harm's way for no other reason, for no vested interest than to rescue us. We'll return for the conclusion of our teaching series in just a moment. But I wanted to remind you once again that today is the final day to get our latest resource. It's a 10-day devotional that follows this teaching on the program from the parables of Jesus and it's called Listen Up. The only way to truly listen to God is to spend more time getting to know Him. And that happens by reading His Word, praying and spending encouraging time with other believers who help us not just hear the Word, but to do what it says. We'd like to encourage you to reserve your copy right now by calling 866-335-5220 or visit us online at Thanks for being with us today.

Now let's get back to the final moments of our series. Here's Pastor JD. Second thing is He was enabling us to trust Him by showing us His willingness to identify with us.

He had no personal vested interest in becoming one of us other than just to lead us to safety. I love my friend Joby Martin's illustration here. He's preached here at a church and he tells a story. He says when I was a kid, the vacant lot next to my house was filled with little ant piles of carpenter ants. He said, well, the kid next to me, he said he had one of those big wheels he loved.

You remember big wheels? He said with this kid, he said would go out and he would take like Smucker's jelly and he would smear it all over part of the ground there on this vacant lot so that the ants would come out to see what was going on and be excited about the jelly. He says, I don't know how they had their network of communication. They'd put it on ant Facebook like, hey, jelly, free jelly over at the vacant lot. He says, well, in about 10 to 15 minutes, the whole place would be filled with just all the ants you could see, just like a carpet of ants. He said at that point, he would hop on his big wheel and he would go tear it into the middle and he would power slide and just send all these carcasses of these little ants flying everywhere. He said, now, he says, as a kid watching this, I figured that if I loved ants and I was really sad about what was happening to them and I wanted to keep this from happening and I wanted to communicate with them, he says, what would I do? He says, if I went over to them and stood over top of them, their ant hills, and said, behold ye ants, hear ye, hear ye, thou shalt not eat the jelly because it will lead to thy death. He said they wouldn't pay any attention.

They would just look at the size of that guy's boot and they would run back in the ground in fear. He said, but if I were just an ant, I wouldn't have the perspective to understand that psycho big wheel kid is on his way with the jelly of death. He said, so I would need to simultaneously be big enough to have the right perspective, powerful enough to understand what's happening and yet small enough like an ant to be able to communicate with other ants. I'd have to grow up like an ant, speak ant language and still have the right perspective. He says, and then one day if I did that, if I loved them at just the right time, I would enter the colony and I would say, behold ants, follow me.

I know the jelly tastes good, but look around, look at all the carcasses and squish body parts of your fellow ant brethren. That's going to be you one day. Follow me across the street where there's no psycho big wheel kid because his mom won't let him cross the street.

And so nothing but safety over there. And then Job, he says, he says, that's what the coming of Jesus was like, sort of, sort of. He said, well, that's a ridiculous comparison. Yeah, but honestly, is that any more scandalous or ridiculous than what God actually did? So in becoming a man, he demonstrated his love for us. He identified with us.

He got himself in a place where we could see his vulnerability and be in relationship with him and we could trust him. And then his death thirdly became the means by which he saved us. I mean, this is the irony of the gospel is that our murder of him became the means of our forgiveness because our murder of him had him die for our sin. And that satisfied the penalty that was due on our sin in our place. You see, there's only two ways to pay for sin.

One of them is you can pay for it eternally. Or secondly, he, the righteous, can suffer in your place. His death also released in us the power that would change us. Again, the irony of the gospel, the murder that came from the hatred we had toward God became the means by which God destroyed the hatred in our hearts. His willingness to serve us and to suffer for us breaks the stronghold that self-centeredness and self-will have on our hearts. How do you get the new heart that they needed? How do you get the new heart that doesn't hate and kill the prophets? That only comes, Jesus says, by being in right relationship to me. Look at what he says next, what he says next in verse 42.

The stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone. This is what the Lord has done and it's wonderful in our eyes. Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit. In the last verse, whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but on whomever it falls that it will shatter him. So what it's showing you is that his grace is amazing. It has the power to transform you, but it's a grace that won't last forever. You choose whether to let his death compel you to repent and to build your life on him and to have him change your heart or you ignore him and that stone will crush you.

God in his mercy has sent you messenger after messenger after messenger to remind you you're not the owners. And finally, he sent to you a son, Jesus, who came and lived the perfect life and showed authority and mastery over all the things that scared us, death, disease, the weather, demons. He conquered all of it and he showed you that he was doing it so that he could rescue you. It's amazing, but in this parable he shows you it won't last forever. The parable's question Jesus is asking them and us is, if you won't listen to the son, then who would you listen to? Who would you listen to and what hope is there for you? God will not force himself on you and if you won't listen to the revelation of himself in Jesus, then who would you listen to?

Number four, last one. Finally, don't flatter yourself that God couldn't get along without you. That's what he's telling them. In that last statement, Jesus told the Jewish leaders something that they absolutely did not believe. Verse 43, therefore I tell you the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruit.

They thought, no way. Man, since Abraham we've been God's people. What other faithful group does God have?

Who's got the history we have? God can never turn away from us. In another place they told themselves God will never destroy us because we're the sons of Abraham and we're his only people. Jesus responded by saying, listen, God can raise up new children of Abraham from these stones if he wanted to.

Sure enough, that's what happened. 70 AD, just 30 or 40 years after Jesus is teaching this, the Roman ruler Titus Vespasian massacred the citizens of Jerusalem, tore down the temple so that not one stone was left on top of another and murdered and destroyed 985 villages in Israel. Wiped out almost the entire country. Spiritual leadership passed to Jesus' apostles away from the religious leaders. Apostles who had been completely disconnected from the religious establishment and who had spent the majority of their ministries taking the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul gives the same warning to us. He said just because God took it from them and gave it to you doesn't mean it's going to belong to you forever. To Gentile Christians he says, don't take your place for granted. Romans 11 verse 20, the branch of Israel was broken off because of unbelief. And you, you Gentiles, us, Summit Church, we now stand in their place by faith.

Don't be arrogant though, but tremble because if God did not spare the natural branches, why would you think he would spare you either? If you didn't listen and you didn't repent, you didn't believe, we would not be the first people in history that God had discarded and then started over with somebody new. The question is, are we walking in a way that is worthy of the grace we've received?

That's how Paul frequently admonished his churches. I urge you therefore, he tells the Ephesians, walk worthy of the calling which you have been called in Jesus. Are you walking in a way that is a proper response to the grace of God?

Let me just think through the different areas of your life. Do you worship in a way that is a proper response? Do you worship with the enthusiasm that should come from somebody that whose soul had been purchased by the blood of the only Son of God? Does how you worship put his worth on display?

Does God look at you and say, that's why I died right there? Because their response, the way they worship, is what I was going for when I came to redeem them from sin. It's how you give.

It's how you give. Is it a worthy response to who Jesus is and what he's done? Is it a worthy response to the preciousness of the gospel that you have that you want to see other people have?

Is your attitude toward sin and holiness, do you fight sin with the fervor that should come from somebody that knows the great price that was paid in order to purchase their soul? You see, if God took the gospel away from Israel and he gave it to others because they didn't respond in a way that was worthy of it, then he could certainly do that to our church. It means that if we did, we're not good stewards of the gospel and reaching our neighbors and raising up our children to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, then why would we think that we could always just in perpetuity enjoy the blessings that God has put upon us? God says, well, if you're not going to be a good steward of it, I'll take it from you and give it to somebody else. We would not be the first church in history that God took his grace away from. With the privilege of the grace of God comes a responsibility to steward it. Yes, the reason we work hard, the reason we want to give more than anybody else, the reason we go to farther places in the world than anybody else is because we believe that this gospel we've been given is precious and we're trying to respond in a way that is worthy of it.

This is why he saved us. I think about that in my family. I mean, I wouldn't be the first family line that God had taken away his grace from. If I don't respond the right way to the gospel, if I don't teach my kids to respond to the gospel, if they don't steward the gospel, is it possible that from the Greer family line we'd have in one generation, God said, well, they're not going to be good stewards of it.

I'll take it from them and I'll put it on somebody else. God will keep his promise to build his church, but there's no guarantee that us and our descendants will be the ones he does it through. The denomination we're a part of, that's another question. God has blessed the Southern Baptist Convention immensely. It's the largest mobilized mission force in history, planting more churches around the world, but that's no guarantee that God's going to keep his hand on us if we don't respond in the right way to how his spirit is moving in us and if we're not good stewards of the gospel.

Our country. Here in our country, we have enjoyed access to the gospel like no people in history. There is no guarantee that that will continue, that if the churches in this country are not responsible with God has given them in the gospel, then there's nothing to say God might not take it from us and to say, yeah, the new center is not going to be here. The new center is going to be sat down somewhere in South America and Africa, which by the way is already beginning to happen as believers there begin to steward the gospel in ways that American Christians have just grown comfortable and complacent with. You know, look, God's promises are guaranteed and he is going to do mighty things in the world, but we must never be so presumptuous as to think that God can only do mighty things through us because we are his people.

He can raise up children of Abraham from the stones. If we do not walk forward in humility, in grateful response, in a worthy way to the grace that is given to us, then he will pour out his powerful spirit somewhere else. The grace of God is the greatest gift, not to be taken for granted, and it's meant to be shared. Thanks for being with us for this great teaching series. We pray that it's been a blessing to you and has brought lasting change to your life and your understanding of the gospel. Now, JD, now that we've concluded this series titled Listen, help us take a step back.

Can you give us the big picture from the past couple of weeks? Well, as you've probably realized, it's about the parables of Jesus. That was one of the key things Jesus would always say. Listen, listen, and listen, not just with your ears, but listen with your heart.

These are stories so simple that a child can understand the plot line, yet they are so profound that we can never really exhaust the wealth of their wisdom. We want to give you a copy of this new book of 10 devotionals that I've written that'll help you refocus on the gospel and the teachings of Jesus, following right along with the five parables we are covering in this series. We would love for you to reserve your copy of Head over there right now or when you get home and take a look at it and get your copy today because I think you'll find it to be a blessing. We believe this devotional book will help you feel more confident and more joyful in reading the Bible and applying it to your life right away. And today is the final day to reserve your copy, so don't wait. When you give $35 or more, we'll send you a copy of Listen Up as our way of saying thanks for your generous support. Give us a call at 866-335-5220, or you can give and request the book online at I'm Molly Vidovitch, encouraging you to join us next week for a short and timely teaching series titled Rest in Distraction. Don't miss the next Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-25 01:01:06 / 2023-04-25 01:13:00 / 12

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