Friday, April 03, 2009

THE FRUIT OF THE VINEYARD

We begin in Isaiah chapter 5. God is telling us here a parable about a vineyard:

Isaiah 5:1
Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

Isaiah 5:2
And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. (lit:) stinking fruit.


Now, let us compare this parable with another parable about a vineyard.

Matthew 21:33
Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

Can you see how similar these two vineyards are?

They have to be similar, because in Isaiah 5:7 God identified that vineyard. God said in Isaiah 5:7,

Isaiah 5:7
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the House of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for justice, but behold bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold an outcry.

And in Matthew 21:43 the Lord Jesus also identified that vineyard as the Kingdom of God. The House of Israel and the Kingdom of God are two different names for the same thing: It is the externally visible Kingdom of God here on this earth. Therefore it is no surprise that the introduction to this Vineyard in Isaiah 5 sounds so similar to the introduction to this Vineyard in Matthew 21. In both cases it was God Himself who planted that Vineyard. Those two passages are almost the same, almost, except for one thing:

The Choicest Vine is missing (Isaiah 5:1-2, Matthew 21:33)

In Isaiah 5 God said that "He planted it with the choicest vine". But if you check Matthew 21:33, you see that the choicest vine is missing.

What does that mean?

The Choicest Vine is only One Vine, and it represents the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus identified Himself with that Vine when He told His disciples: "I am the Vine, ye are the branches".

How could Christ become the Choicest Vine and make us the branches?

By going to the Cross and purchase a people for Himself. When you see the Choicest Vine, the Cross is in view.

Therefore, the focus of the two parables is slightly different. The prophecy in Isaiah 5 is looking forward into the New Testament time all the way to the Final Tribulation Period, whereas the prophecy in Matthew 21 is looking back to the Old Testament time until the time of the Cross. And what God lets us see in both directions is not good. People today are just as wicked as they were 2000 years ago.

Now, let us continue to read this parable of the Vineyard that the Lord Jesus told in Matthew 21:33-45.

The Servants Came to Receive the Fruit (Matthew 21:33-45, 1 Corinthians 10:11)

The word "husbandmen" spoken of in this parable is an old English word for "farmers"; in this case they are the "vinedressers", the farmers who take care of vines in a vineyard.

Matthew 21:33
Hear another parable: There was a certain Householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

Matthew 21:34
And when the time of the fruit drew near, He sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

Matthew 21:35
And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

Matthew 21:36
Again, He sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.

Matthew 21:37
But last of all He sent unto them His Son, saying, They will reverence My Son.

Matthew 21:38
But when the husbandmen saw the Son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill Him, and let us seize on His inheritance.

Matthew 21:39
And they caught Him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.

Matthew 21:40
When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will He do unto those husbandmen?

Matthew 21:41
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render Him the fruits in their seasons.

Matthew 21:42
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The Stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the Head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?

Matthew 21:43
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

Matthew 21:44
And whosoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

Matthew 21:45
And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of them.

This was one parable that the priests and the Pharisees understood very well. They did not understand most of Jesus' parables, but this one they understood very well.

But did you notice how in verse 37 God said: "But last of all he sent unto them his son".

This event leading to the crucifixion of Jesus is called "last of all". This means that the Lord Jesus is not going to come a second time to give mankind another chance to repent. There is no glorious future 1000 years with Christ reigning from Jerusalem. That is not going to happen.

Furthermore, in this parable the Lord Jesus prophesied that the chief priests and Pharisees were going to kill Him, but that the Kingdom of God would be taken away from them and given to a new nation, which we now know as the nation of followers of Jesus Christ, called Christians, those who are of the family of Christ. Well then, they crucified Him, and 37 years later the nation of Judah was destroyed and the Jews were scattered over the face of the earth. That was done. Finished. We do not have to look at this passage any more. It is past tense.

Is that really so?

Can we say of any part of the Bible that it only deals with the past?

No! We may never do that with any part of the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God written to all mankind, at any period of history, for the purpose that man might be saved. Every sentence in the Bible was written for the purpose of bringing the message of Salvation.

1 Corinthians 10:11
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

God wrote this story in the Bible to warn the New Testament Church what He would do if the New Testament Church would go apostate like the Old Testament Congregation did.

But what was their Sin?

The Scribes and Pharisees were not making idols of wood and stone and they were not worshipping such dumb idols like their forefathers have done. Certainly their Sin would not be as great as their forefathers have committed.

Why was the Lord Jesus so condemning of the religious establishment of His days?

The answer is:

There was no fruit! (Romans 9:31-33)

Just like in most the days of their forefathers: There was no fruit!

Have you not always thought that God rented out this Vineyard to the husbandmen, but the husbandmen wanted to keep the fruit to themselves?

But that is not so. This is not a parable about husbandmen who are withholding fruit from the owner of the Vineyard. Look at all these verses of this parable in Matthew 21 carefully.

Where is the fruit?

The only fruit mentioned is the future fruit in verses 41 and 43. There was no fruit!

Does God expect fruit from His people?

Most definitely!

This parable is presented in Matthew 21 as well as in Isaiah 5, and this parable makes it very plain that God expects the fruits of Salvation. God converts his elect under the hearing of the True Gospel, which should have been preached. But when the kings and the priests worship idols made of wood and stone, then the True Gospel is not preached, and then the fruits of Salvation will be missing. And the Lord Jesus accused the Scribes and Pharisees also of not preaching the True Gospel. Here also the fruits of Salvation were missing, and it was worse than ever before.

What happened?

What was their Sin?

Their Sin was just as bad as making idols of wood and stone. Their Sin is summarized in Romans 9:31-33.

Romans 9:31
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

Romans 9:32
Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone;

Romans 9:33
As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

What was their Sin?

They were trying to become righteous before God by the works of the Law. They believed that they could get into Heaven by carefully obeying the Law of God, and because they were sons of Abraham they were entitled to go to Heaven. Totally a works gospel.

Therefore they had no need for the Lord Jesus Christ. That was dreadful Sin, which was just as bad as worshipping false gods, because with this fabricated system of salvation by works effectively they had created a false god whom they worshipped. Therefore Christ had become a Stumbling Stone for them. They had no need for a Savior who would shed His blood for their sins.

Why do WE need the Lord Jesus Christ?

The last thing we want to do is fall in the trap that the Pharisees fell into: A works gospel.

What does God teach us in the Bible?

1. God says:

"The wages of sin is death."
(Romans 6:23)

"The soul that sinneth, it shall die," (Ezekiel 18:4,20) and the death that God has in view is an eternity in Hell.

But who are these sinners?

Who deserves to go to Hell?

2. God says:

"There is NONE righteous, NO NOT ONE"!
(Romans 3:10)

All mankind are sinners who deserve to go to Hell. Just one sin will do you in, because "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin". (John 8:34)

3. Therefore the whole human race is on the way to Hell; even the cute little babies. God says: "There is NONE that seeketh after God...there is NONE that doeth good, NO NOT ONE"! (Romans 3:10-11)

4. But then, if there is NONE that seeketh after God, who can be saved?

But God in His great Mercy, decided to save certain individuals by providing a Stand-in who would pay for their sins.

5. That Stand-in is the Lord Jesus Christ, who on the Cross of Calvary endured the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for the sins of those individuals He came to save: His Chosen People.

6. Does that grab you?

Does that news do anything to your soul, that the Lord Jesus voluntarily endured the awful torments of Hell for you?

(LISTEN) If that news does NOT produce mourning in your soul for your many sins before you die, then Christ did NOT pay for your sins. That means you still have to go through the torments of Hell for your own sins.

What an awful future!

7. But all those of US for whom the Lord Jesus Christ DID pay for our sins, have this gnawing in our soul, because we believe this Gospel that God Himself had to come down from Heaven and personally endure Hell in our place, just because we chose to live in sin.

8. This is the work of God the Holy Spirit in our soul so that we plead to God for Mercy; and God the Holy Spirit produces in us faith and repentance from sin, and an ongoing desire not to sin any more. Of course that is not possible, because we live in this body that is still inclined to sin. But we are drawn to read the Bible and to hear more of this Good News of Salvation. We are drawn to action to show our gratitude to God for what He has done for US.

9. And God assures us in the Bible that once we are saved we cannot lose our salvation. God saved us, and God will make sure that He is not going to lose us.

Therefore, why do WE need the Lord Jesus Christ?

We need Him, because for every human being the way to Heaven is through Hell, and only Christ can do that for us, in our place, and He does it FREELY. That is the True Gospel, and if the True Gospel is not preached then an imitation gospel is preached, which is "good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trampled under foot by men".

That is why there was no fruit in the Vineyard. In the Old Testament time very few people became saved because the True Gospel was scarce. These days again the True Gospel of FREE Grace is not preached in most churches, and Particular Atonement, or Limited Atonement through the Cross of Christ has become a "Rock of Offence" in many Congregations. As a result, Election is out the door regardless what the Bible says. Hell is not mentioned any more. Churches are drawing up their own rules of what salvation is, but their salvation is no longer FREE. They have arrived at a salvation by our own free will, which is a salvation by works, even though that is not what the Bible teaches. They have forgotten the error of the Pharisees, which is given to us in Romans 9:31-33, and they have fallen in the same trap: A works gospel, which is BAD FRUIT.

On the other hand, there is another kind of fruit that is also demanded by God from His Vineyard. Once we have become saved, God requires from us that we bear:

The Fruits Resulting from our Salvation (Galatians 5:22-23)

Indeed, God does require that we bear the fruits resulting from our salvation. These fruits are not the outward fruits of obeying the Law, but they are inward changes resulting from the transformation of our soul by God the Holy Spirit. I have already mentioned a few, such as repentance from sin, an ongoing desire not to sin any more, a desire to read the Word of God, and a desire to show our gratitude to God. All these are fruits of the Spirit that God expects every child of God to have in some measure. These are not fruits that we produce, but these are fruits generated by the Holy Spirit living within us. Salvation is FREE; these fruits are FREE also. (SANCTIFICATION)

In the Bible God lists in several places those fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness (kindness), goodness, faith,

Galatians 5:23
Meekness, temperance (self-control):
against such there is no law.

You see that these all describe the inner state of a person, not the external activities. The first three reflect our relationship to God, and the next three reflect our relationship to our fellow Saints:

1. Love is the love of God for US and the resulting love we have for Him. "We love Him, because He first loved US."

2. Joy is the Joy of Christ "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame", and the resulting joy we now have in knowing that we have become the sons of God.

3. Peace is "the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." We have an inner peace because we are at peace with God.

4. Longsuffering is "the longsuffering of God that leadeth thee to repentance", and the resulting longsuffering we have toward one another, "forbearing one another in love".

5. Kindness is "God's kindness toward us through Christ Jesus", (Ephesians 2:7) and the resulting kindness we have for one another.

6. Goodness is that "God fulfils all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power in us", and the result is that we also are "filled with goodness toward one another".

7. Faith is the Faith of Christ when He went to the Cross to save us, and the resulting faith we have received from God in our heart is a faint reflection of that Faith of Christ.

8. The Meekness of Christ is not very well known, but the Bible says: "I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:1), that you in turn will be, "with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2).

9. The last one is Temperance or Self-control. Only Christ has a perfect self-control. If our self-control would be perfect we would not sin any more.

All these are fruits of the Spirit that God expects every child of God to have in some measure. They reflect the change in our inner nature when we have received our new soul. Our soul has a new nature, which also has the result that our life now has:

A New Focus (Galatians 5:24-25)

In the following verses in Galatians 5 we read:

Galatians 5:24
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:25
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Now we are not reflecting on our inner changes, but we are looking at our actions. Our actions are now different than before we were saved. Our outlook on life is now different, and we have acquired different interests and different affections. Our main interest is to please the Lord. For example, the Lord Jesus is stepping on many toes when He says in Matthew 10:37.

Matthew 10:37
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Examine yourself, and see if the actions in your life reflect this new set of priorities.

Our former friends do not like us any more, because we now seem to be living in a different world. And some of them would say: "I liked you better before you were saved".

Has this happened to you?

It is because we have become:

A New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 5:18
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Corinthians 5:19
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

We have a new focus, and we have a new lifestyle, because deep inside we have become a new creation. And the focus of our new life is: The ministry of reconciliation.

What does that mean: "The ministry of reconciliation"?

It is the ministry of reconciling people to God. Oh, we cannot personally reconcile people to God; only God does the saving. But when we tell people the Gospel of Salvation we are laborers together with God. That is where our new focus is. That is one of the evidences of our Salvation.

And when the Lord of the Vineyard Cometh (Matthew 21:40, 43)

Does He require an accounting from us how we have spent our time?

Are we dragged before the Judgment throne of Christ to give an account "that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad"?

That depends. If we have been saved, then all our sins have been judged already in Christ, when He was judged in our place. But if you have not been saved, then NONE of your sins have been paid, and then you are found guilty and you will be thrown in Hell forever.

Let's read again what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 21:40.

Matthew 21:40
When the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will He do unto those husbandmen?

Matthew 21:41
They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render Him the fruits in their seasons.

When is the time that the Lord of the Vineyard cometh?

When an unsaved person is resurrected for judgment on the last day, he will be standing before the judgment throne of Christ, he will be found guilty and he will be thrown in Hell. For that person the Lord of the Vineyard has come, and He is avenging Himself.

To the nation of Israel the Lord Jesus said:

The Kingdom shall be taken from you

Matthew 21:42
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The Stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the Head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?

Matthew 21:43
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

When is the time that the Lord of the Vineyard cometh?

For the nation of Israel it was the time that Christ came, He was crucified, and when He died the curtain that shielded the Holy of Holies from view in the Temple tore from top to bottom. That was the end of the Temple as a holy place. Fifty-one days later, on Pentecost, the New Testament Church came into being and God let out His Vineyard, His Kingdom, to other husbandmen.

But that is not where the buck stops. God's requirements from the New Testament Church are not less than those from the Old Testament Congregation. We have the whole Bible, the complete Word of God. Our accountability is so much greater than that of Old Testament Israel.

The reason God ended the Old Testament Congregation was: There was no good fruit: A works gospel.

Do you now think that God will have infinite patience with the New Testament Church?

Think again. God recorded this parable for US, so that we are warned: When there is no more good fruit the end of the New Testament Church will have arrived. We will be held accountable when the gospel we are bringing has become good for nothing. And the following verses tells us of the consequence.

Isaiah 5:5
And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:

Isaiah 5:6
And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

Isaiah 5:7
For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

Isaiah 5:8
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!

Isaiah 5:9
In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant.

Now we know what the fruits of the Vineyard are that the Lord requires of us. Let us be faithful unto death.

By Alfred J. Chompff

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