Monday, May 9, 2011

The gracious and sovereign disposition of Creator God, rewarding whom He pleases

When I was a child, as the Scriptures say, “I thought like a child.” When hearing and / or reading Christ’s Parable of the “Laborers in the Vineyard,” [Matthew 20:1-16] I had the mistaken idea that the prime emphasis of this parable was, that souls could repent and come into God’s Kingdom [Heaven] at the last minute of their lives and that it did not make any difference to the Good Lord, whether they had been a believing Christian all their lives. What mattered most was that they were able to “squeak into heaven’s gate” and nevertheless be equally welcomed by Father, God.

As I have grown older, I have come to realize that this parable of Christ is not, as it may seem. Its message significance, (thrust), is not about sinners, [for instance, about to crash on a jumbo jet only to have less than 30 seconds to make their peace with God]. When I was younger, I was of the mistaken impression that the awareness of one's imminent, certain death, would so motivate a sinner, so that within their last breathful moments, they would be most apt and finally motivated to recognize their sinful state, and believe the Gospel. John 3:14-21

Upon hearing a description of the late Dr. James D. Kennedy, about the massive Canary Islands airliner crash, I gave up on that ignorant belief. The plane’s black box recorder revealed that many passengers, upon impact, wailed in cursing and despair. Far from making their peace with God, most of these passengers entered an eternity after-life, in the same way they had lived their unbelieving existence.

Associated Press -- "History's worst aviation accident turned on twists of fate: – 3/27/02:

…….The collision, was described in an Associated Press dispatch from March 30, 1977 as "a hellstorm of fire and death." It killed all 248 people on the Dutch plane and 335 on the Pan Am flight, putting the number 583 into the world's almanacs and Guinness compilations under "world's worst." ….. [Associated Press -- History's worst aviation accident turned on twists of fate – 3/27/02]

The Main Character in the Parable is the Owner of the Vineyard:

The Parable of the "Workers in the Vineyard" opens with Christ stating:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard…..” Matthew 20:1f

The Parable ends with the words of the Vineyard Owner:

But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. 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 my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:13-16

I believe that most Biblical scholars would agree that the meaning behind the “Owner” is that of the heavenly Father [God]. God seeks of His own, [God's people] to do His work. And when that work is completed, He rewards His laborers, accordingly. I say, “accordingly,” – in respect to His gracious and sovereign will.

Other characters in the Parable: The workers:

Regarding the workers in the vineyard who had labored all day, [Matthew 20:8-12] when one of them stood in line behind a worker who had labored less, there was the expectation to be paid (proportionately) more since he had spent more time working in the vineyard. However, notice, again, the main character in this parable –- [Matthew 20:8-16] The owner instructed his servants to reward those who had been hired last. It was the Owner’s own personal gracious and sovereign call. And, it was his choosing to pay those workers who labored less -- to give them the same amount that the other workers agreed to work for, when they started out in the vineyard early in the morning.

The difference of attitude and motive of the workers in the vineyard:

Two types of character [workers] labored in the vineyard. First, those who had made a binding agreement to work for so much money. Secondly, there were those who heard the vineyard owner’s call for more labor, and joined in the work – not expecting much, but what would be the owner’s good will, to pay. It is assumed by some Biblical scholars that these workers could “represent” those Christians who live and work for the Lord with a pure motive and right spirit – whereas, those laborers who have been “along for the ride” from the “gitgo,” exhibit the "jealous brother syndrome" as personified in Christ’s parable of the “The Prodigal Son.” Luke 15:11-32

What shines through this parable is the difference of attitude and motive of the two types of vineyard workers. One type worked for “hire.” The other type, out of willing spirit, free from personal gain or earthly ambition.

Christ’s Parables were [and, are] meant to be earthly stories that teach spiritual [and, often, heavenly] meanings:

One of Christ’s best know parables is "The Pharisee and the Tax Collector." Suffice to say, those of you who wish to draw near to God and those of you who wish to be counted in heaven’s glory – you must come by way of Creator God, and His Christ. John 3:14-21 ; Matthew 7:13-29

You, whose sins vex and bother you – rejoice. That means that your conscience is not seared and is still alive. Your conscience bears witness to your better knowledge that your sins against God and your fellow man are grievous. A conscience of vitality will not be content to ignore a sinful life and particular [sinful] lifestyle, but will gravitate to find mercy and forgiveness. Only in the Christ of history, whose birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection, spelled, eternal victory, will you discover present, complete relief and a life hereafter, relief, from your sins.

If your sins don’t bother you, you are most certainly in the worst of condition. You are like a blind, deaf and dumb man standing on a railroad track, as the train approaches. Only the gracious disposition and sovereign will of God can make you aware of your hopeless condition so that you can become like that publican [tax collector] and cry out to the Triune God: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” [Luke 18:9-14]

May the Triune God be gracious to work that faith in you to come to an end of yourself. May you be granted the faith to believe in Christ as your Savior from your damning sins. Then, you will have genuine peace and can be assured of life, everlasting, rather than the death everlasting, opposite. Amen.

Please note: Christian Faith -- How does a soul acquire it? -- What is the "New Birth," -- or, what is commonly called "Regeneration," or, the Christian "Conversion" process?

Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Old Testament:

Exodus 33:1f – God’s favor resting upon his servant, Moses

1 Kings 3:1f – The Lord graciously rewards Solomon wisdom and adds to his humble request, earthly material abundance

New Testament:

Matthew 20:1-16 – Christ’s Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Luke 18:9-14 – Christ’s Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican

Romans 9:15-24 – The loving actions of the gracious and sovereign Triune God


Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.


Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3

Note: The above message (with minor editing) was previously posted online by Nathan Bickel

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