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 Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potterís hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel [Like the master and workers of Mt.20, the prerogative of God is foundational.]. 7If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. 9And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, 10and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. 11Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: 'Thus says the LORD, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.' [In other words, God is always ready to forgive as long as people are able to repent. These prophesies function as statements of intent rather than as absolutes.]

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 Israel and captured the ark, 2 Sam.4:1-10. God says He will do the same thing to the temple, Jer.7:12-15.]

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 land of Israel, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrenís teeth are set on edge'? [Evidently this is a challenge to Godís righteousness, referring to the fact that the generations before them had brought on their generationís exile to Babylon.] 3As I live, declares the Lord GOD this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins shall die. [Normally this would be seen as proper and be agreed with.]

[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 Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 26When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. 27Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. 28Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

30"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 31Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."

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 Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?' 30Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,' but now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your fatherís house, so that there will not be an old man in your houseÖ35And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, "Please put me in one of the priestsí places, that I may eat a morsel of bread."'" [Here is another principle, the existence of promises doesnít mean one is home free. Faithfulness to the end is still required to secure them to oneself. Remember that in Heb.11, they all died waiting for the promises, and so will we. Otherwise as stated here and in Esther, God will raise up another and give the promise to him.]