THE DYNAMICS OF GODíS JUDGMENT
Occasionally, we find out that someone we would never have thought leaves Christ.† Iíve seen this happen to women who thought they were marrying Christian men only to find out later that those men petered out with respect to Christ and His church.† These women seem to engage in wishful thinking, taking every little thing as a positive indication of true faith in Christ [there are books touching this subject, ex. What He Must beÖif He Wants to Marry My Daughter by Voddie Baucham Jr.].† In those few instances I am aware of, itís not a question of what drew them away or what did they turn from Christ to pursue as the Jews were warned in Hebrews.† Rather the question seems to be what happened to you that turned you off to Christ (also discussed in Hebrews).† The parable of the sower in Mt.13 speaks of people who welcome the Gospel but later fall away because of trouble or persecution.† There are also those whose attention to spiritual things is diverted.† They are distracted, get caught-up in the concerns of life and deceitfulness of wealth (success) and never show fruit commensurate with their profession.
The issue of endurance or perseverance in the faith comes with great encouragement and stern warning (Heb.11:1-12:17).† At first, there doesnít seem to be much relation between perseverance and the parable of the vineyard workers in Mt.20, but a plot of our lives tells a different story.
Birth†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Conversion -----------------------------------------------------------------------------ŗDeath
The workers hired earlier in the day understood that they were expected to work all day.† They only became disgruntled with the master through false reasoning once they compared their wages with those of the later hires.† They considered his payment of the later hires justified their getting more.† They were content with their wages until they looked at them in comparison with those of the later hires.† This led them to the erroneous conclusion that the Master was unjust.† When we turn to Christ, we understand that we donít deserve His forgiveness at all and that our salvation necessarily requires continued trust in Christ until we dieÖthrough all attendant circumstances, however long that is.† For the thief on the cross who turned to Jesus, it was not long.† Do we begrudge him salvation because of this?† When someone quits following Christ, it seems to be because of discontent with the way things are going in their lives.† It seems to be that they had expectations not fostered by God that were not met.† In other words they came to the place where they doubted the goodness of God or felt that the ways of the Lord are not just Ė they became disenchanted with God.
The following OT background helps us with this:
Jer.18:1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2"Arise, and go down to the potterís house, and there I will let you hear my words." 3So I went down to the potterís house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potterís hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
5Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6"O house of
12"But they say, 'That is in vain! We will follow our own plans, and will every one act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.' [But there is another voice contradicting God that people listen to.]
Jer.26:1In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the
son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: 2"Thus
says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORDís
house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house
of the LORD all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back
a word. 3It may
be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may
relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil
deeds. 4You shall say to them, 'Thus says the LORD: If you will not
listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, 5and to
listen to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently,
though you have not listened, 6then I will make this house like
Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the
earth.'"† [Shiloh was the
site of the tabernacle, the site the Philistines destroyed when they defeated
12Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. 13Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you."
Ez.18:1The word of the LORD came to me: 2"What do you mean by
repeating this proverb concerning the
[Omitted are descriptions of the conduct God is referring to.† It becomes obvious that He is not speaking of an occasional sin, but a whole life-course, either in faith following God or not.]
19"Yet you say, 'Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?' [Yet these people seem to find fault with Godís judgment either way.] When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. 20The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
21 "But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. 23Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? [Here we catch a glimpse of Godís heart and motive in this whole matter.] 24But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. [Here there is a principle laid out - Oneís Final Estate (legal position or status) is What Matters. ďAll these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised.Ē (Heb.11:13). Jesus refers to this principle in the parable of the two sons (Mt.21:28-29, 31).]
25Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord
is not just.' Hear now, O house of
30"Therefore I will judge you, O house of
1 Sam.2:27And there came a man of God to Eli and said to
him, "Thus the LORD has said, 'Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of
your father when they were in