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April 8, 2021 8:00 am
We are taught from an early age that more work and harder work usually equals more in common, better opportunities in a parable that makes an important point about the nature of salvation. Jesus turns this concept on its head with a scenario that most of us would consider unfair on this broadcast of the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce will unpack the mystery and meaning behind the story to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically.
JI Packer once explained that for many people the term amazing Grace seems like a foreign concept will find out why. As we listening together to the teaching of Dr. Boyce this last week we were talking about that rich young man who came to see Jesus.
He asked all the right questions. Easing to be honest about salvation but it wasn't willing to pay the price for following after Christ, and so he went away and were told that Jesus was sorrowful and swallows the young man himself. We noticed, I think that Peter probably saw that trying to cheer Jesus said, well, look after all, you still have us. We left all to follow you big deal and Jesus responded because he asked the question yet on what will there be in it for us. Well, yes, there will be something that will be a lot of rewards to some of the things that Jesus talked about. Specifically, I sent in a context that God will never be any man's debtor.
Yet now I look at that and I say debtor isn't really the right word to use because it doesn't really describe what's going on in this passage you talk about debt you're talking about obligation saying that God owes you something is what Peter had in mind. We left everything to follow you, therefore you are in our debt.
What are we going to get out of it and it's not like that in salvation God doesn't owe us anything. He doesn't even owe us a chance to hear the gospel, all of grace and we have is grace. That's why I'm sure Jesus went on to tell the story of a parable that we find here at the beginning of the next chapter. This story occurs only in Matthew doesn't go anywhere else in the service to illustrate the principle that you find in Matthew 19 verse 30 that is right at the end but many who are first will be last of many or last will be first is illustrates that it has to do with the grace of God and we know that it is to be seen as an illustration of that statement because when you get to the end of the parable you get all over again low and slightly different language.
It ends by saying so the last will be first in the first will be last of the parable itself is quite simple, was a landowner who needed men to work in his vineyard.
It was the grape harvest the grapes come to fruition quickly and have to be harvested quickly and so we needed all the people he could find.
They went out very early in the morning to hire workers who gathered in the marketplace to do day labor and about 6 AM, sunrise, he hired everyone he could find sentiment of the vineyard work they did later in the morning at 9 o'clock. He came back and by this time others had gathered in you hired them. He did ask them why it was they were standing there idle and they explained it's because no one's hired so he said well go work in my vineyard. So what he had done at six and 90 did later when he hired those who had common begun work at six. He agreed that they would work for the Narragansett and Arius was a day's wage.
Quite sure what that would be worth in today's currency but if you think of the day's wage. Maybe $100 $200 something like that. That's what he agreed to pay them for the day's work. Now when they hired the others later on the insanity specific to that me to say when the day ends.
I'll pay you what is right. So we continue that throughout the day and finally hired a group of laborers very near quitting time. It was about 5 o'clock in the afternoon.
Only one more hour to go now. At the end of the day he paid them because in those days you paid on the day for the day's work, and he began to those he hired. Lastly only worked one hour, but he paid each of them at the Marriott's marvelous thing they were delighted.
Of course, and then he went on to those he had hired before that it would only work three hours and those would work six and so on, until finally got down to those he hired at the beginning of the day and by this time they were rubbing their hands together in glee that would assure that the others nodded and Arius they would get a great deal more when he finally came to pay them but he paid them the Narragansett exactly what he had agreed to do earlier they were very unhappy. Of course grumbled against him and his response was this friend. I am not being unfair to you, didn't you agree to work for a denarius take your pay and go. I want to give the man was hired last the same as I gave you don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money or are you envious because I'm generous and then at that point the parable is followed by that statement I mentioned earlier. So the last shall be first in the first will be last is a variation of what seems to have been the most popular tracks that Jesus ever talked on you find it again and again and again throughout the Gospels, it usually takes this for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
The stories clear enough, but that doesn't mean it's without difficulties in the first difficulty is that it presents an admittedly strange situation.
We have a business plan, who's paying people who worked only one hour at the same wage that the paying people who work 12 hours sore all day we might say that the payment for a full day's work is fair but somehow it just doesn't seem right. Whoever would work that way.
It's irrational. It certainly would create labor problems and that any business when the daily operation of those principles would be out of business pretty quickly. Well, as a further difficulty to hear. We are getting what really is important. It seems to be unjust.
We may be hesitant to use that because we know the story and we know that the landowner represents God and no Christian wants to accuse God of being unjust, but it does seem unjust because there are people that I worked a long time and they get the same amount as those who work to shorten time. How do you explain that mother been all kinds of bizarre explanations. Some suggested those began early in the day didn't really work all that well. They took extended coffee breaks. I talked on the job. They knocked off for 2 1/2 hours of lunch and so forth and so they really only accomplished in their 12 hours. What is hard worker came in at the end accomplished in one hour. The problem, of course, the story doesn't suggest that all of the emphasis is not on the quality of the work on the generosity of the landowner suggested that the coins were different. One case it was a golden Arius Kaiser was a silver that S&M bronze one and so forth that sheer fantasy. Others had suppose the parable to be teaching that there are no rewards in heaven. Everybody's gonna get exactly the same when you get the glory difficulty was that of course is that there are other texts that teach that there will be rewards in heaven and sub will be acknowledged in a way that others aren't so how do we understand the parable of the very least it's intended to teach about the grace of God in salvation is what I've suggested the context certainly teaches at Peter wanted to know what he and the others would get for their discipleship, which they considered to be major contributions on their part of Raleigh let their business and let their families that were following Jesus was taking a long time. I hadn't seen my trap in the been after it for three years. Although Jesus answered by saying that there would be rewards those who followed him.
He didn't want them to get the idea that somehow they had earned the rewards so he begins to talk about grace. Instead, anything that they receive from God and God is going to bless the abundantly but anything they get is simply because God is gracious.
Sola Grazie of the great Reformation theme God owes us nothing, not even a chance to hear and respond to the gospel. Most people don't think that way.
Of course, like the kind of teaching is why they don't like the idea of grace and of the most popular hymn of all time was John Newton's him, amazing grace, it is been song recorded by more vocal artists than any other song in all of human history, yet is JI Packer said that knowing God's amazing grace is an amazing two people anymore. It's become boring grace. Instead, reason, grace has become boring grace rather than amazing grace is that we no longer really think of ourselves as sinners would rather think of our selves as people who were doing pretty well. Thank you, and that God should take note of it and reward us accordingly.
We are calling where generous.
We are grateful other people. Why shouldn't God be grateful to us what Jesus is telling us there is a God doesn't like human beings. And he doesn't operate in line with our ideas. All is of grace and God's kingdom. That's why the last will be first on the first will be last. Now there's nothing in the immediate context of Matthew that requires us to see anything more than the parable in Matt. God operates by grace and salvation is all of grace and that lesson alone is an important one.
And yet I can't help but notice that this is one of the class of parables. The deal in part the problems created for the Jews when the gospel began to expand the Gentiles. That's something that happened historically after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But it is anticipated by Jesus, and a number of these stories. Example problems reflected in the person of the older brother in Jesus parable of the prodigal son seen in the story about the banquet to which many people were invited and yet refused to, and man was giving the banquet went out into the highways and the byways and brought in the derelicts and everybody else he could find those invited didn't make it.
Also see in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Now the problem is this clearly days of Old Testament history, God began to work with Abraham 2000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ to call out inform the people for himself began to work with this people in the special way was almost as if he had turned his back on the Gentiles entirely, at least for a time began. First of all the forms and redeem from Egypt and instructed Sinai and eventually bless and prosper this nation through whom Jesus Christ would eventually come now, the Jews were quite proud of that heritage and rightly so in one sense, because I was God's work, something certainly to be cherished but instead of remembering what they had received they had received entirely from God by grace grace, which is a matter of fact they had often resisted the Jews began to suppose that the benefits of their heritage were something that they had really achieved for themselves. They thought that they had earned their position by centuries of faithful labor forgot they were complaining. Glad for the privilege. But when Jesus came, and the gospel of salvation through Christ, began to be preached to the Gentiles would done nothing to deserve something began to be upset with what was happening.
Gentiles were like the prodigal wood squandered his father's wealth Gentiles like that tax collector was wicked to the Jews way of thinking. Moreover, in time, so many Gentiles were converted. It seemed as if these cherished Jewish traditions were being laid aside, and utterly disregarded. Now number the parables deal with that. Although they analyze it in different ways. It makes for an interesting study because of the older brother and parable of the workers in the vineyard are similar because in each case, the faithful, hard-working people, one case son the other. The workers were hired at the beginning of the day or resentful of the fathers or the owner's generosity to the others who they think deserve less son, and the parable stood outside refused to go in. Workers grumble against the landowner in each case, the problem there was in the envy of the blessing that the other one was receiving so that's the way it's analyzing those two stories in the parable of the banquet. The diagnosis is somewhat different here all the friends of the King are invited in, but their difficulty is that they refused, and the reason that refused to come is that there too caught up in their own affairs all sorts of things are conducting their businesses of all Latin, so they say they're too busy to come in the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector problem. There is pride because the Pharisee was praying, but is not really praying to God is really boasting everybody can hear about it. He says not like other man robbers and evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector and any again to boast of all his own good deeds so he was proud both of what he wasn't. Also of what he was all those are different ways of analyzing the same problem but it is a problem, it becomes increasingly evident in the New Testament, let me say however that is not uniquely a Jewish problem is certainly highlighted.
There is a problem for anyone who thinks that he or she is serve God faithfully for many years and then because of that alleged faithful service really is something by God in care of a story that Ruben Torre told from the days when he was carrying on a ministry in Melbourne Australia and preaching on prayer and the power of prayer and man handed him a note that did been written out by somebody else that asked a question about prayer and it went along these lines is the way Torre gives it dear Mr. Torre I am in great perplexity. This note said, I have been praying for a long time for something that I'm confident is according to God's will, but I don't get it been a member of the Presbyterian Church for 30 years tried to be a consistent one all that time I have been the superintendent of the Sunday school for 25 years and elder in the church for 20 years and yet God does not answer my prayer.
Can you explain why Torre answered he could explain it quite easily that this man thinks that because he's been a consistent church member for 30 years of faithful Sunday school superintendent for 25 years and an elder in the church for 20 years God is under an obligation to answer his prayer is really praying in his own name. God will not hear our prayers when we approach him in that way, we must if we would have God answer our prayers.
Give up any thought that we have any claims upon God. There's not one of us deserves anything from God the end of the meeting. Another man came up to Torre identified himself as the man would written a note and said to them, you've hit the nail directly on the head. Now, that story has to do with prayer, but it applies to other areas as well. It applies to anything we may do for God on the basis of which we think we can get or her own something from them what Jesus is saying here is we have to get over thinking about our service in terms of obligation and debt. It's a privilege that were even allowed to serve are given the opportunity to serve God bless us that it's not because we've done so well, but because it pleases them to do it when we understand that then we can rejoice with others whom is also blessing the date, perhaps, and unless another several lessons in this parable that's only one of them.
The next lesson is that God cares for people more than things because what else could of prompted the owner of the vineyard act the way did he certainly wasn't getting anything out of it. He could paid that workers required. Later last. Why did he treat them away didn't wasn't because he knew that they needed the money and he cared about them more than he cared about the denarius when you read the story carefully. If either is not a word of criticism about the workers that he hired later goes out into the marketplace and says why you are standing here. I know they say no one hired us it wasn't their fault nobody had a needed work.
They were there wanting work. They were ready to work a criticism against them were to think that the owner hired them, simply because he wanted to help them.
He was thinking about people I mentioned, the parable of the prodigal son stories needs to be taken with this is exactly the opposite of the case of the older brother was the younger brother wanted his share of the inheritance. He took it from the father and went off into a far country, where he wasted it and then when he finally came to his senses. He retargeted wasted everything. Of course he came back with nothing but the father received him joyfully in the older brother out there is unhappy about any money to go into the house, will he find out what is happening. The father comes out and says what's wrong why are you acting this way, your brothers, and he says listen that son of yours wasted. The inheritances come home and you're throwing a party for him and Devon done anything for me, even though I've labored for you all these years. You see this problem was that he would have been happy if the inheritance had come back in the sun had been lost was was a son to come back in the inheritance was lost. That made the father happy, but it bent the older brother of the shape so it makes us ask the question who we really like we like God serving because we love God because of what we could get out of God rely God in our estimates of other people cherishing them for themselves alone for what they do for us produce for us or are we like the unhappy workers for the disconsolate older brother. The only way will ever be like God is to recognize the grace of God to us in Christ. Speaking of the older brother. I can't help but remember that his story occurs in a chapter of Luke Luke 15 in which you have a story of three things are lost lost sheep of the lost coin, you have lost son, and in each case, what's important is that the object lost is valuable in the mind of the owner the case of the sheep or hundred of the one gets lost. You can imagine an owner of sheep, saying, well, no one's loss. That's too bad, but doesn't really matter a whole lot.
I still have 99 you've got expect a certain amount of loss when you try to run the business, you know, you lose merchandise through damage or pilfering or something like that.
I'll just count my losses and be happy with a 99 or the woman who lost one of their 10 coins might've said while 10% said want to lose but at least I have the line that's all right unsatisfied with math. You might even imagine the father saying well. One son is lost and that is really sad that happens, that's the way life is.
I still have the other one.
You know he's loyal, he's here, he's working which is a that isn't the case in each case, the owner valued what is lost on that points us to God, who not only values what is lost but seeks out, at least in the case of the first two parables shouldn't we who have been found by God, have the same law for those who were lost shouldn't really told them that if they are lost are valuable to God even in their lost condition, you may be feeling lost right now. Many people do most people have far too high an estimate of themselves. I think they're doing fine but sometimes people go through bad times. They do feel lost and do things that make them feel worthless in their own site. If that's the case of your one of those you should know that your valuable to God because he sees you in a while you can see yourself he knows what he made you we can make you what he will make you in Jesus Christ. If you'll come to him. The gospel always holds out hope those are Lawson's were perishing. One last point and I can't let this go. I'm sure Jesus didn't really have anything like this in mind when he told this provocative parable, but it is suggested by the adverse that ends the parable begins it as well because it comes at the end of the preceding chapter, many who are first will be last of many were last will be first. I think the important word there is many because the teaching isn't that every person who begins early will come in last or may want to begins last will come in first, only that may be true for many people, but not for all. Many will begin early will lose their reward and for a variety of reasons I may not even come to faith in Christ and salvation, because what they're doing is approaching God and the basis of their own merit. We don't get them anywhere at all and not on the basis of God's grace in Christ. Many winter last will be first because although they begin. Lastly, nevertheless, recognize that their status is due to God's grace alone in a praise and four-inch those cases describe everyone not want to shut up. Just those two alternatives is not necessary either to start early and finish last, or start last and finish first and pay neither is best really desirable thing is to start early and work at it with all the power you have not reward out of genuine love for Jesus Christ. When you finish still be able to say. Nevertheless, I am an unprofitable servant those are the people God likes to honor Daniel was a person like that. He was carried off to Babylon at a young age, probably when he was about 15 or 16. He was a burst of the splendors of the Babylonian court were temptations on every hand. He was surrounded by them but he determined not to live that way. We read in the first chapter of the book is that he decided not to defile himself with the royal enticements. He determined instead to serve God. The end of his wife many many decades later, we find God saying go your way to the end you will reap rest then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance. Daniel serve God for 70 years. Moses serve God for 80 years. Abraham serve God for 100 years. That's a challenge I put before you especially if you were young way to serve God. Don't wait until the ninth hour of the 11th hour afternoon of your all too brief life. Start now serve now keep a church service year-by-year when you come to the end you will be saying one of my old all my faithful service will say it's been a great joy serve God in your find him say well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord's prayer father. We don't think your thoughts after you. Your ways are not our ways. Think in terms of earning and works and even when we become Christians trusting your grace for us in Jesus Christ.
We still think somehow we have to earn work at Afton get what we deserve.
We got what we deserve. We will be in hell this moment. Salvation is entirely by grace.
Even the rewards or by grace, we come to serve to get out of you, but because we love you and pray that you give us grace to do that in increasing measure and with abounding joy to our life's Jesus, you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.
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