Again from Faith and Life, here is an excerpt from Augustine of Hippo on the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20).
We may apply the parable to this life of ours. For they are, as it were, called at the first hour, who, when fresh from their mother’s womb, begin to be Christians; those, as it were, at the third hour, who begin as boys; those, as it were, at the sixth, who begin as young men; those, as it were, at the ninth, who begin when verging towards old age; those, as it were, at the eleventh, who begin when actually in the decay of life; but all, with the prospect of receiving the one denarius of life eternal. But attend and understand, my brethren; let no one delay to come to the vineyard, on the ground that he is confident of receiving the denarius whenever he does come. He has reason to be confident that the denarius is promised to him; but he is not told to delay. Did those who were hired for the vineyard, when the householder went out to them to hire those whom he found at the third hour, say to him, “Wait, we are not going thither until the sixth?” Do thou come when thou art called. For to all an equal pay is promised; but as to the actual hour of working there is great uncertainty. If young men, when called, were to say, “Wait, for we have heard in the Gospel that all will receive one reward; when we are old, we will come at the eleventh hour; as we shall receive just as much, why should we work so much more!” the answer would be, “Do not you choose to work, you who know not whether you will live to the seventh hour? You are called at the sixth hour; come. The householder has indeed promised you a denarius if you come even at the eleventh hour; but no one has promised that you shall live even to the seventh. Why then do you put off Him who calls you, when you are certain of the pay, uncertain of a day? Take heed lest, when He will give you the pay by promise, you rob yourself of it by putting off.”
–St. Augustine, Sermon lxxxvii.
Indeed, we should come to the Lord when the Holy Spirit prompts us – else we may not come at all.
Again from Faith and Life, here is an excerpt from John Chrysostom on the dangers of reprobation, where he is quoting the Epistle for the day – 1 Corinthians 9:24ff – and addresses the fact that the Apostle Paul himself thought about this:
IF one so great as Paul, who traversed the whole world as it were on wings, and became superior to corporeal needs, and was thought worthy to hear those “unspeakable words” which no other man has heard up to this day, could write, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway;” if, I say, he, who was deemed worthy of so much grace, after so many and such eminent good works needed to keep under and subjugate the unruliness of the body, and subject it to the authority of the soul, and to the excellence thereof (for a man keeps under what rises up against him, and brings into subjection what is restive), what must we say, who are devoid of all virtues, who are burdened with a load of sins, and, in addition, exhibit a great degree of indolence? For does this war admit of any truce? has it any fixed time for joining battle? We must be always wakeful and on the look-out, and never deem ourselves secure; for there is no set time for the onset of him who is at war with us and is ready to attack us. Let us therefore be always thoughtful, always anxious about our salvation; that so we too ourselves may be able to remain unconquered, and, having escaped the devices framed by the enemy, be counted worthy of the loving-kindness coming from God, through the grace and compassions of His Only-begotten Son.
–St. Chrysostom,Homily xa. on Genesis.
Let us never forget that the Christian life is a fight.
This being Septuagesima Sunday, here is a sermon from Fr. Bill Klock of Living Word REC for the occasion which is titled It’s Not Fair; It’s Grace. It is based on the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard, and Fr. Bill writes:
We see grace in this scene Jesus paints for us. While the workers he called first are busy labouring and sweating under the hot sun, Jesus returns over and over to the marketplace to find more workers who need to provide for their families. Jesus even goes back and hires the ones no one would take—the lazy ones, the dimwits, the clumsy ones, the ones who never seemed to be able to do the job right. Jesus rounds them up, even if it’s late in the day, puts them to work and out of his abounding generosity, he gives them a full day’s pay.
You see, the grace isn’t about wages. God doesn’t negotiate employment contracts with his people. God calls us into covenant with himself. And in that covenant he promises his everything to us, and in return the covenant demands we give our everything back to him. If that sounds like a hard bargain we need to remember that when we say that God gave his everything for us what we mean is that in Jesus God—the almighty Creator of the cosmos—humbled himself to take on our form and humbly died the death we deserve—for us. That’s grace. That’s unmerited favour.
And, Brothers and Sisters, the only response is gratitude—gratitude for having been given a full measure of grace ourselves and gratitude for the overflowing and abundant generosity of God that he not only shows us grace, but that he shows the same abounding grace to others. Rather than resenting those who came at the last hour and were given grace, rather than resenting that God would call the lazy and the dimwits and the ne’er-do-wells and reward them just as he has us, all of this should move us to praise and to celebrate a God who is so good. And consider after all, no matter how long you yourself have laboured under the hot sun for the Lord, there will always be someone who has laboured longer and there will always be someone who has labour better and who is overjoyed that our Lord has chosen to be generous in pouring his grace on you—knowing that not one of us has been given what we truly deserve, but through Jesus have been show grace—umerited favour—in overflowing abundance. This is what the kingdom of heaven is like.
If you’d like to listen to this message you can do so either here or immediately below.
Continuing with his series on the Book of Acts, here is another message from Phillip Jensen, titled “The Universal Essence of Christianity”. It is based on Acts 20.
If you have been following the recent controversy at Wheaton College, you may find this interview quite interesting: King’s College Professor Terry Mattingly and SBTS President Dr. Al Mohler discuss the controversy at Wheaton College and the state of Christian higher education.
From Dr. Richard Trucks of Third Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, here is a message on James 1:2-4, titled “The Purpose of Trials in My Life.” He addresses these two questions:
- what is the purpose of these trials with which we are all faced? and
- what should be our attitude while we are going through these trials?