A government is to protect its citizens from evil. This responsibility is universally recognized and is one of the roles the Bible tells us God assigned to national and local governments. Citizens of a nation are right to expect authorities to prosecute crime and guard individuals from harm. Recent decades have seen a redefinition of what constitutes harm. Many responsible for administering justice in American communities define harm differently than it would have been defined 30 years ago. Harm now includes that which stifles a person’s sexual expression, which opposes one following his dreams, or which denies a person opportunities for personal pleasure. Not only is it harmful to punch someone in the nose, it is also harmful to denounce someone’s behavior. It is harmful to steal a man’s money and it is harmful to declare a man should not follow his desires. (Which leads to a problem. If my desire is to steal your money, your denunciation of my action is harmful to me.) The redefinition of harm creates havoc of any attempt at logical governance.
Harm and protection cannot rightly be defined apart from an absolute standard of right and wrong. The Christian justly declares, “Righteousness exalteth a nation.” However, even among professing Christians, the question of what is righteous is debatable. Some declare the righteousness of economic equality exalts a nation. Others declare the righteousness of loving tolerance exalts a nation and others declare the righteousness of keeping the ten commandments exalts a nation. Without a firm commitment to an objective standard of truth and a Divine arbiter of righteousness, these questions can never be answered. The culture war will continue to be lost because the foundational principles of right and wrong have no meaning.
The redefinition of harm creates a chasm in the conversation between Christians and the rest of society. Conservative Christians develop definitions of harm from the Biblical descriptions of forbidden behavior. Harm is defined in terms of sin. Behavior that scorns or injures an image bearer of God is intrinsically harmful. Behavior which is adverse to God’s perfect design for humanity is inherently harmful. Because such behavior is harmful, Christian compassion compels the believer to denounce sin. The believers condemnation of sinful behavior sets him at odds the modern definition of harm. The Christian in his compassion does that which the world sees as hatred.
The solution to this communication barrier is multi-faceted. For the lost to come to a right understanding of harm he must be saved. The culture wars will only be won by the preaching of the gospel. Only when people have turned to Jesus for salvation and are living as His disciples will there be basic agreement on matters of right and wrong. The Christian must pray for peace in his nation so that the gospel may be preached and the Christian must preach the gospel so that peace may come to his nation. The Christian must preach the gospel and he must not stop decrying evil. Even though the world does not understand his compassion the Christian who loves his neighbor must constantly denounce the perniciousness of sin. To allow a man to go into destruction unopposed is an evil far greater than being misunderstood and disliked. The Author of humanity has defined what is best for man and has warned against that which is harmful to men. We must never lose sight of this truth.
Jesus did not mince words with the religious charlatans. He condemned them without compromise. These men were prideful, predatory pretenders who used the worship of God to manipulate others for their own personal gain. In Mark they are described as men who loved to to wear rich clothing. They loved to be dressed in the finest clothes and covered in the garments of prestige. They loved to be greeted with praise in the streets. The loved the praise and applause of the crowds. They liked to be called teacher and master and to be sought after. The loved to have the chief seats in the synagogue. They liked the seats up front, set apart from the crowd where everyone would see them and know they were someone important. They loved to have the most important seats at feasts. The loved the seats of highest honor and to be seen by all. They wanted to be known as important and powerful men.
They lived for fame and were greedy to become rich. They used their influence over people to convince them to give up all their wealth. They preyed on the poor and needy. They would convince the elderly and destitute to sign over their homes to the temple. They placed minimum requirements on offerings so that none could give less than a certain amount of money, even if it was all the person had. They used their power and influence over people to coerce them to give to the temple. The money that was given to the temple was then distributed among the scribes, ending up in their own pockets. They became wealthy off the sacrifices of the needy.
They made a pretence of prayer. Their worship of God was not genuine. They were not seeking Divine approval, but the crowd’s accolade. They did not desire to speak with God, nor did they trust God. They desired to be seen of others and trusted their own goodness. They stood where they could be seen and prayed long prayers for the listening crowds. The religious frauds used religion as a show to gain power, importance and riches.
The warnings of two thousand years ago are still pertinent today. Beware the false teachers. Beware the professional religionists who use a profession of a faith to achieve their own selfish ends. Whether this be the politician who claims Christianity for the sake of gaining a block of voters or this be the televangelist who preaches one must send him “seed money” to get a blessing from God, any who use the worship of God for personal gain are frauds. The very worst of them prey on the poor and needy to achieve their own fame and wealth. Beware those who get rich off the church and ministry. Beware those who use the Bible as a means to get famous. Beware those who work for influence and control instead of serving the body of believers. The and the things of God are not tools for personal promotion. The church is no place to strive for noteriety, importance or wealth.
“Whosoever will be great among you, will be your servant.”
“First, a little upon some of the QUESTIONS OF THE DAY, not with any intent of interesting you in them, but rather of calling you somewhat away from them lest they too much engross you. The first question of the day is nearly akin to that which was proposed to our Lord by the Pharisees and the Herodians. It deals with the connection between politics and religion, the vexatious question of Church and State. How far does Caesar’s rule go? Where does it end? And where are we amenable to God alone?
This enquiry, in a very practical shape, presses upon the Dissenters of England. We are told that we enjoy toleration—the very word is insult! What would the members of the dominant sect think if we talked of tolerating them? We shall never be satisfied until all religious communities stand upon an equal footing before the Law. Caesar has no right to demand of us that we shall support the religion or the superstition which he chooses to select. An Established Church is a spiritual tyranny! We wear no chains upon our wrists, but on our spirits our oppressors have thrust fetters which gall us worse than bands of steel. We are compelled, as a part of the nation, to support, through taxation, a church whose business it is to pull down that which with prayers and tears we live to build up and would even die to maintain.
Now, we cannot think about all this and be earnest about it—we confess it and are grieved it is so—without very much of our strength running in that direction. And that is strength which we would rather spend upon pure, spiritual religion. We desire to be always and alone preaching Christ. We desire to be building up His Church and living at peace with all our brethren. We need, in all things, to be giving unto God all our heart and soul and strength. But this altercation concerning God and Caesar will come in. It imperatively demands our attention and so it distracts us in a measure from our higher work and, therefore, the sooner it is done with the better. We cannot be always taken up with this matter. We count the Gospel to be worth 10,000 times as much.
The Savior, when the Caesar question was brought forward, answered it most completely. They said, “Shall we pay tribute to Caesar?” “Whose money is this?” said He. “Caesar’s money.” “Very well. You have evidently submitted to Caesar’s government, you are under his sway. Therefore pay to him the tax which he demands of you, but still by no means forget that you are under God’s government. Therefore render unto God the things that are God’s.” He drew a line of distinction here which always ought to be maintained. “To Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” To maintain order, to repress crime, to preserve individual liberty, to protect each man’s rights—this is Caesar’s business.
To teach us religion? Is Caesar to do that? God forbid, for what religion will Caesar teach us? Is he a Pagan? He will enforce idolatry! Is he a Papist? He will ordain Popery! Is he an atheist? He will establish infidelity. Remember the days of Queen Mary and see what Caesar is capable of when he meddles with religion! It is none of Caesar’s business to deal with our consciences! Neither will we ever obey Caesar in any matter which touches conscience. He may make what laws he will about religion, but by our loyalty to God we pour contempt on Caesar when he usurps the place of God! He is no more to us than the meanest beggar in the street if he goes beyond his own legitimate authority. To Caesar, Caesar’s politics to politicians. Obedience, cheerful and prompt, to civil rulers. To God, and to God only, things that are God’s! And what are these? Our hearts, our souls, our consciences. Man himself is the coin upon which God has stamped His image and superscription (though, alas, both are sadly marred!), and we must render to God our manhood, our wills, our thoughts, our judgments, our minds, our hearts. Consciences are for God. Any law that touches a conscience is null and void, ipso facto, for the simple reason that kings and parliaments have no right to interfere in the realm of conscience. Conscience is under law to none but God. We do not believe in liberty of conscience towards God. We are bound towards Him—to believe what He tells us and to do what He bids us—but liberty of conscience in respect to all mankind is the natural right of every man of woman born and it ought to be tenderly respected. Our Lord, here, lays the controversy to sleep by telling us to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”
– Charles Spurgeon
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Though the Messiah has many enemies He is and will be completely victorious over them all. Notice the promise given by God the Father to God the Son. All the enemies of Jesus will be put under His feet. After His work on earth was completed Jesus ascended into heaven and is not seated at the right hand of the throne of God. He is not seated in frustration, defeat or despair. He is seated as One who has work has been accomplished and who’s victory has been secured. Christ now resides with the Father waiting the day when His victory will be fully accomplished. Right now the enemies of Jesus are given liberty. They rage and they ravage. They rebel and they will continue to rampage against Him until the time appointed by God for their full and final defeat. When that day comes, all the enemies of Christ will be subdued. They will no longer rise up against Him. All of rebellion creation will bow down before Him and acknowledge He is Lord. Jesus is the victor and His victory will be made complete. There is coming a day when His victory will cover the world and no creature, physical or spiritual, will oppose Him. He reigns and will reign eternal. None hinder Him. None will break His rule over them.
This is not mere dry theology that ponders difficult abstractions. These are essentials truths in which are unfolded the majestic person of God that His people may respond with praise to the glory of His name. It is fitting for David the King to bow in honor before the Messiah for the Messiah is superior to all kings. It is fitting for all men to bow in honor before the Messiah for He is superior to all. Pause for a moment to consider the greatness of Jesus. Jesus is the eternal God. He is the God who created all the universe. He is the God who provided covering for Adam and Eve on the day of their sin. Jesus is the God who told Noah to build an Ark and kept Noah’s family safe throughout the year of the flood. He is the God who provided a ram in place of Isaac on Mt. Moriah. He is the God who led the children of Israel out of Egypt. He is the passover lamb, the manna in the wilderness and the rivers of water in the desert. He is the mighty warrior who gives His people victory. He is the King descended from Judah, Jesse and David. He is the One pointed to in all the law. He is the One foretold in all the prophets. He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament, the one longed for by all men since Adam. He is the eternal king who rules now from the right hand of the Father and will one day stand as king over the whole world. Jesus is God, Creator and Savior. Jesus is the Messiah promised who came and is coming again. Worship Him. Bow before Him and acknowledge Him as Superior, as Lord, as King, as God.
Revival ministries have helped popularize a view of sanctification that leaves many Christians in despair. This view of sanctification is found in those who walk down the aisle, kneel at the altar and then leave expecting the major struggle with a particular sin to be at an end. This perspective of going to the altar is one piece of a larger view of sanctification that perceives the process of Christian growth to be similar to the knock together furniture bought at a big box store. Plug the right parts into the right slots and in no time everything is as it ought to be. Plug church attendance (A) into Bible reading (B), insert prayer (C) into Christian living (D) and maturity will follow. The big problems will be gone. The Christian life will be free from sorrow and disappointment. Fruit will pour out of the Christian like he is some sort of mobile, spiritual cornucopia. The Biblical reality of sanctification is something entirely different.
Christian growth requires the proper uses of means. The proper steps must be followed, but Christian growth is not a formulaic add this external to this external and you will achieve this great victory. Christian growth is a transformation of the heart. Externals disciplines and habits aid the process but they do not accomplish it. The mere performance of proper behavior can never achieve Christian maturity because the problem of the Christian life is more than getting the outside of a man to match the eternal, internal change produced by Christ at salvation. The problem of the Christian life is one of slaying a multi-headed monster that makes the Hydra look like an earth worm. Sanctification is a process of total renovation in the middle of a battle field. As soon as one gets the windows all put in place, some fiend comes along and shoots an RPG through one of them. As soon as a Christian feels like he is finally getting a handle on patience, some spiritual terrorist interferes with the day’s agenda and shows the patience achieved was not as real as believed.
Sanctification requires the Christian make use of the Biblically prescribed means of growth. Attend church every Sunday. Read and study the Bible. Pray constantly. Serve in the church. Tell the gospel to the unsaved. Take part in communion. Be disciplined to godliness. While making the proper use of means, never imagine that the mere performance of rituals and duties will magically make sin go away. The process of sanctification is accomplished by the Spirit in the heart and mind of the believer. God will complete this task, but never in the time and way expected.
Christian growth is mortal combat in which the flesh rages against the Spirit every step of the way. This warfare will never cease. The Christian who believes putting together a series of proper actions will render sin powerless and the Christian life a breeze is a Christian doomed to disappointment. Christian growth is only accomplished through God dependent combat. The means of growth are tools and weapons in this conflict. God in His wisdom has not given to man a nuclear option that will end the fight. Christian growth is a lifelong war with victory accomplished in Christ and assured the believer.
Deuteronomy 6:4 is often, and rightly, used to show the Bible teaches the unity of God. Though God is Trinity, He is One. However, Deuteronomy 6:4 is not intended to teach the unity of God but the uniqueness of God as the sole subject of human worship. In Deuteronomy 6:14 God commands Israel not to follow after the gods of the Canaanites. The connection is obvious, God is the only true God and thus the only appropriate focus of all worship. Since God is truly the only God then He deserves to be the supreme object of all human devotion.
To love something more than God is to have another god besides Him. The elevation of another being or another benefit to a place of supreme adoration is an act of idolatry. God alone is God. He is the most important Being in the universe. None else is to hold the place of highest affection in the hearts of men. The most important command is the command to love God. Since God alone is the true God, the greatest command ever given is the command to love God. The first command demands devotion, entire devotion, genuine devotion, passionate devotion, intellectual devotion and active devotion.
The command “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” is the first command. From this command flows every other command. All the commands of the Old Testament originate in this command. All the commands of the New Testament originate in this command. Deuteronomy 6:6 draws a definitive connection between love for God and obedience ot the commands of God. The Christian today is to love God supremely. When God is the supreme object of the believer’s devotions, the commands of the New Testament will be recognized as tangible and appropriate expressions of love for God. The one devoted to God alone, who worships and adores Him above all else will desire to obey God.
Anyone familiar with current Christian music will recognize much of modern worship has a highly romantic flavor to it. To often love for God has been depicted as a romantic love. The Bible never describes love for God in this way. God is not a lover to be wooed. He is not a wife to be romanced. He is a God to be worshiped. The Christian’s love for God is not to be the romantic love between man and woman, but the reverential love of creation to his Creator. Christians are to worship, venerate and adore God. He is to be the greatest desire and the supreme love. He is not Disney world, a favorite football team, a bowl of ice cream, a beloved parent or a lifelong spouse. He is God and love for Him must retain that dignity and veneration which is due the Sovereign of All. This is not to suggest love for God is empty of passion and emotion. The command to love God with all your soul is a command to respond to God with a passionate love. Passion is not the same as romance. Intensity and devotion are expressed in ways other than sappy sentiment, love songs and breathless longing. The most important command, the first of all commands that is the fountainhead of all other commands, is this: Love God supremely. Love God intensely. Love God entirely. Love God as the Supreme Creator who deserves all respect, adoration, veneration and devotion.
Those living in the Upper Peninsula received the product of a mass mailing campaign this week. The contents of the mailer included a cover letter from Strong Tower Radio ministries and a brief Bible study booklet. The material contained in the mailer is benign and rather non-descript. Beware. Strong Tower Radio Ministries is a Seventh Day Adventist radio show. The teachings promulgated by that ministry and the Seventh Day Adventist church include that which is heretical and that which is damnable.
The heresies of the Seventh Day Adventist church include the doctrines of soul sleep and annihilationism. Soul sleep is the belief that when a person dies, his conscious awareness stops. The body goes to the grave and the soul returns to God where it resides in His presence, without unique awareness or identity, until the time of judgment. At judgment the soul is reunited with the body and the person judged by God. This doctrine denies the present, conscious suffering of souls in hell and the conscious joy of souls in heaven.
The doctrine of annihilationism teaches that in the judgment the souls of the lost are destroyed by the wrath of God. The condemnation of the lost is not eternal torment, but a moment of wrath that causes the individual, body and soul, to cease to exist. This article is not the place to critique these doctrines. A simple warning will have to suffice for now. The verbal and mental gymnastics necessary to affirm the doctrine of soul sleep or of annihilationism leaves one wide open to a host of other errors. These doctrines depart from a normal, literal understanding of language and do severe damage to the integrity and clarity of the Bible. As far as I have been able to find, every Seventh Day Adventist church affirms these doctrines.
The apostasy within the SDA church is the teaching that keeping the Sabbath is a necessary part of genuine salvation. Though I know of no SDA church which teaches one is saved by keeping the Sabbath, the official doctrine of the church is that keeping the Sabbath is a mark of genuine salvation. The official doctrine has been carefully worded, but there remains within Seventh Day Adventism those who believe that keeping the Sabbath is a necessary part of salvation. This is very similar to the Judaizers in Galatia who taught keeping the law of Moses was necessary for salvation. Paul declares the addition of any law keeping as a requirement for salvation is a false gospel. Those within the Seventh Day Adventist church who teach keeping the Sabbath is necessary for salvation are apostates teaching an accursed gospel. Not all Seventh Day Adventists teach this apostasy. Some SDA churches teach Sabbath keeping in such a way that it is is not viewed as necessary for salvation but is one of the evidences of genuine salvation.
The Seventh Day Adventist church is dangerous. The doctrinal errors of the church are no little matters. The church’s focus on end time events and healthy eating makes it attractive to many today. Do not be deceived Seventh Day Adventism teaches some things that are good and right. Beware. The SDA church is, at best, a heretical church which will lead Christians from the truth into many hurtful and dangerous doctrines.
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” This Biblical phrase has entered into our culture and become a kind of short hand to express a person’s obligation of obedience to one’s government, especially in the matter of paying taxes. Jesus uttered this phrase in the first part of His answer to a difficult question put to Him by His enemies. His answer is obviously reasonable and just. Since Caesar prints the money, circulates the money, backs the money and uses the money for the general benefit of the nation, then it is only proper that those who benefit from the government return a portion of the benefit received.
Many stop there, but Jesus did not. To end the quote with Caesar is to miss a major part of the truth Jesus is proclaiming. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Give to Caesar the things that pertain to him, and give to God the things that pertain to God. The government is due some things, but there are some things it is not due. The government is due the Christian’s honor, prayers, obedience and financial support. The government is not due the Christian’s worship. The government does not get to bind the conscience of the Christian. Though the government is an authority, it is not the highest. Every government is an authority constituted by God and under God. God reserves to Himself the right to dictate matters of morality, conscience, doctrine and worship. Governments greatly err when they attempt to step outside their authority and act as if they have the right to demand the worship of men, to dictate how their subjects worship will take place or to attempt to compel a citizen to violate his conscience.
As America moves into a time in which the government feels increasing freedom to dictate the conscience of the Christian, believers must remember to always give the government that which is just and right. No matter how wicked the government may become, Christian’s must still must obey its laws, honor its officials and pray for its leaders. However, no matter how wicked the government may become Christians must still reserve to God those things which are God’s. The federal courts, the president, congress and other officials do not have the authority to order the consciences of men. They do not have the authority to countermand the commands of God. The Christian must stand firm on the commands of God, unmoved by all the threats of a nation. The Christian must stand firm in his respect to those very officials who would seek to coerce him to disobey his God. The right path of a Christian citizen will at times be very narrow with snares and pitfalls underfoot, but this narrow way must be taken. Pay your taxes, honor your leaders and be good citizens. Worship your God, obey His commands and be faithful Christians. Don’t confuse the two sets of duties and do not neglect either.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34
In the 19th century research surfaced on the moral conditions that preceded the fall of some of the world’s greatest empires. Though some question can be raised about the research methodology, one conclusion seems undeniable. A strong correlation exists between a country’s morals and it’s continued strength. When a country reaches a certain point of immorality its downfall as a world power appears to be inevitable.
The weakening of the moral structure of a nation weakens its entire sociopolitical foundation. Morals matter for national security. The Bible says righteousness exalts a nation. When a nation’s leadership upholds decency and morality, that is good for the entire nation. When the rulers of a land act morally towards the people, that is good for the entire nation. When the people of the land are moral, upright people, that is good for the entire nation. Righteousness is in the nations best interest. On the flip side, sin brings shame to any people. Notice Proverbs 14:34 does not just say sin is a reproach to Israel, or to Christian countries. Proverbs says sin is a reproach to any people. Any nation is shamed by sin. And the nation does not get to define what it believes to be sin. The nation doesn’t get to hold a vote and declare certain behavior a sin and other behavior not a sin. God determines what is sin and what is not sin. God has declared in His Word what those sins are. When any nation begins to promote behavior that God forbids, that nation is bringing shame upon itself. That nation is doing the opposite of that which will raise it up. That nation is undercutting it’s own foundations.
Greed provides a clear and present illustration of why sin is a reproach. Greed is often easy to justify and explain away. Unless one is discussing someone like Scrooge or Bernie Madoff, greed isn’t seen to be that big a deal. What happens when a nations citizens live greedy lives, interested only in their own personal gain? What happens when a persons prime motivation is his own gain and his own happiness? Instead of a nation of hard working, fair minded people seeking to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, such a people become a nation of self serving narcissists who are only motivated by their immediate pleasure and interests. The nation becomes filled with people who only do that which can be shown to bring them some immediate gain. Instead of an honorable people, the nation becomes one of cut throats, sharks, con artists and thieves. The inevitable result is that man living on an income that does not provide for an acceptable number of his pleasures considers himself a wage slave. He protests the actions of his employers, cuts corners at work, slows down production and disregards quality controls. He and his fellow wage slaves reduce the profitability of the company and then at the end of the year demand a significant pay increase. Because the company has also been doing all it can to make as much money as possible for the top few, it cuts wages to as low as it can. The company buys cheaper, low quality materials and begins producing an inferior product. The customers notice the change and begin buying from other companies, further decreasing the first company’s profits. However, since the other companies are also bent on maximum gain for themselves regardless of the cost to anyone else, they all enter into a vicious cycle in which workers are paid the lowest the employer can get away, the product is of the lowest quality the company feels it can market and everyone, even those at the very top, find their greed is not satisfied. In this simple and often practiced, illustration we can see a glimpse of how sin undermines a nation. The greed of a people leaves many in financial straits, many more angry and discontented, destroys work ethic, devalues the product and ultimately leaves everyone clamoring for more. What nation can stand with that kind of workforce?
A few years ago the US Army adopted the advertising slogan, “An army of one.” That campaign didn’t last long and didn’t seem to work out very well. Someone in the Army forgot that being a soldier isn’t all about yourself. I know I would not want to be anywhere near battle with a squad mate who thinks it’s all about him, what he’s getting, how he’s feeling and his own well being. That narcissist is going to get a lot of people killed. An army of one is an army destined to defeat. In contrast, the Marines advertising emphasized being a part of a corps, honor, courage and fighting for something greater. One slogan (in my opinion the best one) read “A commitment to something greater than themselves.” That’s the kind of corps I would want to be a part of. That is a group of men who are going to work together, sacrifice for one another, and in the end do great things for their country. A corps, community or country based on selfish individualism will never be strong or healthy. A nation that promotes sin promotes selfish individualism. Every sin is rooted in human pride and selfishness. Every sin is committed because the individual wants to be number one. Why would any nation want to promote extreme selfishness and self-centeredness? When a nation promotes sinful behavior, it is promoting a nation of one. That nation is supporting and furthering selfishness. In the end, that nation’s citizens will become a rabble and a mob bent only on their personal interests no matter what it costs others nor what it costs themselves in the end. A selfish, self-centered population has no stability, no strength and will not stand for long. Sin always brings shame on a people, because sin is selfishness and pride. Sin is contrary to the mindset necessary for a group of people to live together in a strong community.
Righteousness is good for our country, because the social and economic structure of a nation is weakened when it promotes evil. When the pride and selfishness of the human heart is allowed to go unchecked citizens, workers, employers and politicians will all begin to act for their own good and not the common good. The selfish interests of the individual will become more important than the promotion of benefit for all. The nation will become a hollow tree. It may look good on the outside but it is rotten and dead inside. Destruction is inevitable.
A wealthy land owner took a portion of his property and planted a vineyard. He worked hard to make sure the vineyard was well protected. He built a strong fence all the way around the vineyard. He dug a pit to store all the juice from the fresh pressed grapes. He built a tower for a guard to keep watch over the vineyard and protect it from thieves. When the vineyard was finished and all the young vines planted, he rented out the fruitful land to some men to tend it and watch over it. Satisfied with his preparations the owner went on a long trip.
When harvest time came, the land owner sent a messenger to the share croppers to collect the rent they owed him. The farmers did not want to pay what they owed, but sought to keep all the crop for themselves. They took the messenger, beat him and sent him empty handed back to the owner. The owner sent another messenger to collect his rent and this time they threw stones at him and drove him away with severe head injuries. The land owner kept sending servants, and every servant the tenants rejected, beating some and killing others.
Finally the land owner decided he would send his only son to collect his rent. Surely these ungrateful, dishonest men would show respect to the land owner’s son. They might mistreat his servants, but never mistreat his son. When the renters saw the son was come to them to collect, they decided among themselves that if they killed the son, they would not only get to keep all the crop, they would get the entire vineyard. They captured the son, killed him and threw his body out into the street. How would a wealthy property owner respond to the wretched men who abused his servants and murdered his son?
Jesus taught the parable of the husbandmen to show how the Jews had rejected the prophets of God and had now rejected Him, God’s Son. Just like the landowner, God has done everything necessary for His servants. He has given a beautiful vineyard and expects His people to be fruitful for Him. The work of the Lord is a marvelously complete work. Instead of being rebels against God, the only reasonable response to His generosity is to produce fruit for Him. We must give Him the praise and worship due Him. We must acknowledge Jesus as God and that we are caretakers of His grace to bring fruit for Him. The response of faithful men must be a response of submission and faith. Believe His word and obey His commands.
As the parable of the husbandman powerfully indicates, God demands a right return from His servants. He has made us His people. He has made us His church. He has given us His Holy Spirit to make us able to do His work. He has entrusted to our care the work of His vineyard. He expects us to use the gifts He has given for His glory. He expects us to use the grace He has given for the increase of His gospel. He expects us to be faithful servants. He expects us to be bearing fruit for Him. He is worthy of our praise and obedience. He is worthy of our worship and trust. He is good to all and the only reasonable response to His goodness is one of great devotion and praise. God is due the reasonable service of a life lived abandoned to the increase of the glory of God in this world.