Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Right Choice

The Right Choice
November 9, 2015
Matthew 21:31  "'Which of the two did what his father wanted?'"

Jesus told some fantastic parables, analogies that put the pious religious elite in their place.  One such parable was of two sons.  The Father told the the two sons to go and work in the vineyard.  One said he would go but did not.  The other refused but later decided he would go and do the will of the Father.  The parable was slightly explained by Jesus when He told the religious elite that they were like the son who said he would go but never did.  The opposite of the religious elite, the tax collectors and prostitutes, were the ones who did the will of the Father and ended up in Heaven.  While the parable is about salvation, it is about more than just entering the kingdom of God.

Without adding words to Scripture or putting context where Jesus didn't intend, I believe the parable is not examined in its entirety.  Modern scholars disagree with the complete version of the story, suggesting scribes did not document the parable fully, rather instead jotting down the gist of it.  The Pharisees would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven because they said they believed the Word of God yet did not follow it.  The sinners, however, they refused the Word of God initially but accepted it later in life, and so got the reward.    I believe it is more than just a quick story of salvation but of obeying the Father wholly.  The full extent of obedience is not just in accepting Jesus as a Savior but of accepting Jesus as a Savior AND following His instructions.  The includes what the tax collectors and prostitutes demonstrated in their faith.  Not only did they accept Jesus as their Savior but they became disciples in spreading the excitement of following Jesus.  They believed AND they became ambassadors.

You and I have been given an option of working in the Vineyard, just like the two sons in the parable.  Thankfully, most of you have accepted Jesus as your Savior.  Sadly, some of you might read this and go to church but will end up with the same fate as the Pharisees in Hell.  You say you believe in the Word of God and in salvation through Christ, but do you live like it?  The tax collectors and prostitutes in Jesus' parable figured it out.  It required a full life-change and commitment, which entailed becoming an ambassador for the Lord.  Do you live like the Pharisee, or is there a full turn-around in your behavior?  It's one thing to accept salvation on your death bed and make it to Heaven, but it is another thing to accept salvation early and do nothing with it for the rest of our life.  Do you live like you are saved?  Are you really working in the Vineyard of the Lord?

This parable has exciting news because it carries with it the opportunity for second chances.  The son who initially refused to work in the vineyard, he repented and went at it.  You, too, can have a second opportunity in what the Lord is calling you to do.  He is calling you first to repentance and secondly to obedience.  If you find yourself not fully walking in obedience, there is opportunity to start right here and right now.

I believe if Jesus meant the parable to end with accepting salvation, then He would not have required the sons in the parable to work in the vineyard; He would have likened it to accepting a free gift.  If you want to debate this, please read the parable in Matthew immediately following this specific parable.  Jesus was comparing the Pharisees to the son who said they would go and work but did not.  The Pharisees thought they WERE doing religious work, only they were not.  They were spending all their time and energy getting it wrong, not engaged correctly in the ways of the Kingdom or the work of the Kingdom.  Accepting Jesus as your Savior requires you to be obedient in accepting the Kingdom and working FOR the Kingdom.  You have a second chance, just like Jesus was giving the Pharisees.  Whether it is the first time or the second time, make the right choice.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matt 7:21, Matt 21, Luke 6:46

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