Ephesians 4:4-6, One hope of your calling: Eternal Reward, part 5.

Class Outline:

Wednesday Januray 13,2020

Parables: Rewards in these are all assigned to our Lord’s return


ISA 62:11

Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth,

Say to the daughter of Zion, "Lo, your salvation comes;

Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him."


20:1-15 Vineyard owner (“I am generous”)

24:45-47 Faithful slave (“He will put him in charge of all His possessions”)

LUK 19:11-28 Minas (“To everyone who has shall more be given”)

25:14-23 Talents (“I will put you in charge of many things”)


One two different occasions in Matthew we read our Lord saying that the last will be first and the first last.


The parable of the vineyard owner warns us against a crude “quid pro quo” concept of repayment which can be earned. God’s reward is far more generous. It is given in grace; bestowed and meritless favor. This is why the reward is not something else than what we do, as money or valuables are given for a work in the world.


This parable is only recorded by Matthew.


It is given right after Jesus’ confrontation with the rich young ruler whom Jesus instructed to sell all that he had and come follow Him, and if he would do this, he would have treasure in heaven. Faced with his current treasure on earth and the prospect of treasure in heaven, the man chose the former.


Then Peter claims: MAT 19:27

"Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?"


Jesus replied that they would sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and that he who left houses, families, or farms for His sake would receive many times as much (LUK 18:30 “at this time and in the age to come) and “shall inherit (Luke and Mark - ‘receive’) eternal life.”


Salvation is by faith and not by works. That they would sit on thrones easily fits the idea of reward, but receiving eternal life is for all believers, making this statement somewhat harder. We could see eternal life as a reward for faith in the gospel, or we may imagine that the disciples had to be encouraged with the fact that they possessed eternal life in light of the fact that they had left their families and businesses to follow Him. Those, like them, who had left everything to follow Him has eternal life as all believers do, so there is no need to be concerned with “what then will there be for us?”


This interpretation helps, I think, but doesn’t settle the issue. The whole realm of doctrine helps us. EPH 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.


And, in like fashion at the end of the parable, MAT 19:30

“But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”


However this phrase has been interpreted, we can simply say that the values and honors of the new kingdom of Christ is a reversal of those in the old kingdom of the present fallen world.


MAT 20:1-16

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 "And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day [one quarter of a Jewish shekel and equivalent to a Greek drachma and a fair wage for a day’s work], he sent them into his vineyard. 3 "And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; 4 and to those he said, 'You too go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' And so they went. 5 "Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. 6 "And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing; and he said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day long?' 7 "They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' [they are likely the least desirable workers who were passed over - analogous to “the last”] He said to them, 'You too go into the vineyard.' 8 "And when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.' 9 "And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10 "And when those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; and they also received each one a denarius. 11 "And when they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying,' These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.' 13 "But he answered and said to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 'Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?' 16 "Thus the last shall be first, and the first last."


Our work in the world is not to print money or dig up treasure, for even the few who actually do those jobs don’t keep what they make. Contract in a society is to do a job and be rewarded for it. No believer ever entered into such a contract. The contract (if that is the right word) we have with God is only signed or sealed by the Holy Spirit. It is unconditional and it includes inheritance.


The rewards, which the Gospel of Matthew has persistently spoken of are not earned, nor are they proportionate to human effort.


The God who lavishly clothes the flowers and feeds the birds delights to give to His servants far more than they could ever deserve from Him. That is the point.


As we look at the natural disappointment of the whole-day laborers and their sense of unfairness, we naturally reexamine how much our own notions are still governed by human ideals of deserving rather than by the uncalculating generosity of the kingdom of heaven. If any earthly owner or manger of a business acted like this landowner he would be out of business in no time. God is uncalculatingly gracious.


Peter’s question, “what’s in it for us,” would have its concerns squashed by this parable by revealing its error. Who’s the greatest disciple? What about John? All of it goes away when we realize that God will give to each as He pleases. Each of us are to bring to completion our own salvation with fear and trembling and while doing so, hope and pray for all in the body of Christ to receive their full inheritance. Peter would give his life for the gospel. What about another man who would only serve God for a few years and not be martyred? Are God’s rewards in the spiritual life based upon the number or type of works, or upon time served? No.


To think in terms of contractual obligations is to miss the point of the kingdom of heaven. God’s goodness is far more generous. To think in terms of God’s blessing to all who believe in Christ, and that “exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think” is the point of the kingdom of heaven. To bless others in selfless and unconditional love is the point of the kingdom of heaven.


The parable of the Prodigal Son was directed toward Jewish leadership who objected to Jesus’ openness to the undeserving; now the same principle is being applied to those with in the kingdom of heaven who do not share God’s generosity toward those who have not worked as much as others.


Mat 20: 16

"Thus the last shall be first, and the first last."


In the kingdom of heaven the tables are turned. The rich young ruler is first in the world and the disciples who gave up much to follow Jesus are last, but only according to this world. It is also true that in the kingdom of heaven itself, the notion of Peter at the time (we have left everything to follow You, what then shall there be for us), i.e., that blessings should be commensurate with amount of service or amount of sacrifice - that the seemingly first in the kingdom will actually be last. As the Lord taught, our service to Him should be so secret that even we do not count its measure: “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”


Know that when you follow the Lord’s instructions on living that your calling will come to fruition in your experience - the hope of your calling.


The context of the next parable we will look at is the Rapture of the church as stated by our Lord in the Olivet Discourse.


MAT 24:3-4

And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" 4 And Jesus answered and said to them


This occurs just days before His cross. They ask Him three questions: 1) When will Jerusalem and the Temple be destroyed and (LUK 21:7) what will be the sign that this is about to take place?, 2) What will be the sign of Your coming? (Second Coming - Rapture is imminent without sign), 3) What will be the sign of the end of the world?


Jesus answered all three questions but not in order. He answered the third question first, the first question second, and the second question third. And, only Luke provides the answer to the first question. Much work goes into unraveling the Olivet Discourse and it is fruitful work.


Jesus’ teaching quickly switches from His Second Coming to the Rapture.


MAT 24:42

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”


Jesus addresses the point of when for the Rapture, and it is only known by the Father; not even the Son knows.


MAT 24:36

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”


Many pretribulational, premillennial teachers believe vv. 36-42 speak of the second coming, some are convinced it is the Rapture. There are convincing arguments on both sides. However, we are not after the answer to that question in this study. What we are after is the warning from our Lord to “be on the alert.”


The parables that follow (MAT 24:43-25:30) all concern watchfulness, readiness, and laboring.


The Messiah presents five parables, all having as their main point the urging of watchfulness, readiness, and laboring. In all of them the distinctions are not between different kinds of believers, but between believers and unbelievers.


The parables would all seem to associate with the second coming, and yet in our age, watchfulness, readiness, and labor are just as important. The principles apply to us as it would to believers in the Tribulation awaiting the return of the Lord.


The Faithful Slave - emphasizes laboring. The previous emphasis on watching is not to be misconstrued as doing nothing but looking at the sky.


The previous parables, the Porter (MAR 13:33-37), and the Master of the House (MAT 24:43-44) emphasized watchfulness and readiness respectively.


MAT 24:45-47

“Who then is the faithful and sensible [phronimos = practically wise] slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”