Thursday, April 19, 2018

Jehovah's Witnesses

Probably the most glaring error of the JW’s is that they believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is a god not the God.  They have a works salvation scheme.  Have both doctrinal and some sociological characteristics of a cult.  I have put these links in order of priority.

GotQuestions.org—Short overview

Cold-case Christianity with J. Warner Wallace: “A Brief Overview of the Jehovah’s Witness Worldview”

Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry—Links to several resources about Jehovah’s Witnesses

ReligionFacts: “Jehovah's Witnesses Beliefs”—A non-evangelical summary of their beliefs.

ChristianAnwers.net—“How do Jehovah’s Witnesses’ teachings about Christ compare with Scriptures?”
Defense of Christ’s deity geared toward JW’s

Bible.org—This page has several good articles about Jehovah’s Witnesses.




Wednesday, April 18, 2018

JOURNEY: ADVOCATES – QUESTIONS by Sean McDowell

JOURNEY: ADVOCATES – QUESTIONS  by Sean McDowell

Why do we go to Google, Youtube, and other search engines to find answers to our questions?  Because we believe, at least generally, that we will find helpful, reliable answers to our questions.  In 1 Peter 3: 15, the Apostle Peter says to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, to always being ready with an answer for the hope within and to give it with gentleness and give it with respect. Here’s a question that’s important for us to think about.  What would it take for you and me to live the kind of life that would invite questions from other people?  How do we live our lives in a certain way that others want to know the source of our hope?  And what are some questions we can ask other people to help them along their spiritual journey? 

A few years ago I co-wrote Is God just a Human Invention with a friend of mine named Jonathan Marrow.  The goal was to provide succinct answers to the seventeen biggest questions skeptics and atheists were asking about God.  Christians were reading, and I was getting a good response.  I started thinking to myself, “How can I get other non-believers to read it and engage with the ideas?”  So I called up one of the largest skeptic groups in the area where I live and said I would be happy to sit in the hot seat of your group and answer questions that people in your group would have towards a Christian.  I went up there and they had questions about God, questions about the Bible, political questions, and even specific questions about what I believed about the soul.  It was a blast.  Before the event began I had asked the leader if it was okay if toward the end I could ask them some questions.  Now I could have asked this group of skeptics how they explained the origin of information in DNA, or the origin of the universe, or how they explain the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.  While those are great questions I decided to take a different approach.  Instead, I asked the questions like, "What are blind spots to Christians have?  What bad impressions to Christians often leave?  And how can Christians improve their interactions with skeptics?"  
I’ll never forget a lady sitting right in front to my right who was 70 years old said, “Listen.” 
I said, “Tell me what you mean.” 
She said, “A lot of my Christian friends want to speak to me, tell me why I’m wrong and preach at me, and occasionally tell me I’m going to Hell, but when I want to share my beliefs, they don’t want to listen to me.  Why should I listen to them when they don’t listen to me?”
And a fellow in the back who is maybe fifty years old described himself as a former Christian.  He said, “Stop slandering atheists.” 
And I said, “That’s a pretty serious charge.  What do you mean?” 
He said, “Look, I’m an atheist, but occasionally I’ll just show up, and I’ll go to church.  People don’t know who I am, or why I’m there.   And I just listen.”  He said, “Almost every time I show up, I hear some cheap shot, often from the stage, about atheists or some other non-Christian group.”

Here’s the bottom line.  If we don’t treat non-believers the way that Christ called us to, they so often won’t even hear what we believe is true.  The Bible tells us that Jesus came in grace, and he came in truth.  He came in grace which is a loving relationship.  And he also spoke truth.  We are called to speak the truth.  We can‘t compromise truth, but we must do it in love.  If we mess up the relationship, so often people won’t even hear what we believe is true.  If we want people to ask us questions about our faith, we need to be living the kind of lives that invite inquiries.  We need to live the kind of lives that make people wonder, "What is the source of that person's hope?"  

We also need to be ready with some thoughtful questions we can ask other people to help them along their spiritual journey.  Here are some specific questions that I found helpful in my own experience and relationships. 

First, What do you believe?  It’s important to find out what the other person believes.  Proverbs 18:13 says it is foolish and shameful to answer before you hear.  To have an honest conversation with somebody you first have to understand what the person really believes.  And that person is only going to share what they believe when we ask good questions and really listen. 

Second, “Why do you believe it?”  What reason does a person have for his or her beliefs?  Proverbs 20:5 says that the purposes of a man’s heart are like deep waters, but a person of understanding is a person who can draw it out.  In other words, people have a deep reason for why they believe what they do.  And sometimes people know those reasons and sometimes they don’t.  Take my father for example.  Before he became a Christian he was an angry agnostic.  He looked for ways to shoot Christians down and prove that they were wrong.  One thing he did before he realized it at the time is he would hear people talk about a heavenly father, and he thought, "Why would I want a heavenly father?"  That idea turned him off.  Why? Because his earthly father was abusive and absent.  His relationship with his father was a deep reason that gave him some anger against God.  People have deep reasons for why they believe as they do, and it takes wisdom and listening and patience to help draw out what those real reasons are. 

The third question is “Where do we agree?”  Where can we find common ground?  Finding common ground is a powerful way to have meaningful, spiritual conversations with other people.  When we find common ground, often someone’s guard will go down, and they will listen in a way they wouldn’t have listened before. 
When I was meeting with these skeptics, they were surprised to find out that even though we clearly disagreed on a number of significant issues, how much we actually have in common. 

And the fourth questions is, “Where do we disagree?”  I’ve had at least two significant conversations with skeptics about the origins of the universe.   And each of these conversations we talk about the science and the philosophy, that points toward the universe having a beginning.  As we got back to the basis of the argument, I said to them either you have to believe that the universe can come into existence from nothing, or you believe that there is a cause outside of space and time that speaks the universe into existence.  Which do you find more reasonable?  And both of them looked me right in the eye and said a universe from nothing is most reasonable.  Now in some ways, I am not exactly sure where to take the argument from that.  So I just said back to them, “Here’s where you and I differ.  I think its more reasonable that there is a God that speaks the world into existence.  You think it’s more reasonable that something can come from nothing."  All I was trying to do is clarify the cost of being an atheist.  Now interestingly in a matter of time, one of them actually became a believer.  

In my experience, most people are willing to have genuine, spiritual conversation.  If we treat people the way they want to be treated, they will often return the favor to us.  If we really listen to people and value their opinion, most people will listen back and value what we have to say as well.  You have learned some powerful lessons in this study, and you are ready for spiritual conversations.  Now don’t think you have to have all the answers.  If someone asks you a tough question, simply say, “I don’t know,” and then go find an answer so that you’ll know next time.  If you are willing to ask good questions, listen to people, and stick with people through their journey, I think you will be amazed at how God will use you in people’s lives to make a difference with them spiritually. Go forth.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Starter questions for writing a Christian Testimony

LIFE BEFORE CHRIST

--What was your life like before you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord?
--Describe two or more things about your life before you became a Christian.
--Background: did you grow up in church?  If so, what was that experience like?  If not, what was your original worldview?
--Be careful not to glamorize how "bad" you used to be.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--What were your attitudes? Needs? Problems?
--What did your life revolve around?  What was most important to you?
--Where did you look for security? Peace of mind? Happiness? Significance?
--Where were you spiritually before receiving Christ, and how did that affect you - your feelings, attitudes, actions, and relationships?
--On what did you rely on for security and happiness?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--What did I think of God? Of Jesus?
--In what ways was God drawing you to Christ?
--When did you begin to feel convicted about your sins?
--What circumstances caused you to think about the Lord?
--Who were the people that influenced you toward the Lord?

CONVERSION TO CHRIST
--When were you first exposed to dynamic Christianity?
--How did you learn about the gospel? Include 1 or 2 verses from Scripture.
--When / where did you first hear the gospel?
--If a church played a part in your conversion, tell how you came in contact with that church and who or what you remember from your first visits.
--What were your initial reactions to Jesus Christ?
--What were your initial reactions to Jesus?
--What feelings did you struggle with right before your decision?
--When and why did you begin to feel positively about Christianity?
--What was the turning point in your attitude?
--What motivated you to invite Christ to be your Lord and Savior?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--How and why you became Christian
--Specifically, how did you receive Christ and His forgiveness?
--Where were you? Alone in your room? Driving in your car? At a church service?
--Who talked to you about becoming a Christian?
--What actions did you take to become a Christian?
--How did you come to accept Christ and give Him complete control of your life?
--How did you yield your life to Christ? What did you say?
--What thoughts went through your mind?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--How did you feel after you accepted Christ?

LIFE AFTER CHRIST
--What happened after you trusted Christ?
--Did you struggle with your faith?
--What kind of problems did you face?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--How are you different than you were before?
--How did your life begin to change after you trusted Christ?
--What changes did you see in your life? In your attitudes? In your actions?
--How long did it take before you noticed any changes?
--What area of your life has the Lord changed most significantly?
--How have the changes in your life influenced others around you?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Describe two or more things that are different about your life now that you are a Christian.
--What other benefits have you experienced since becoming a Christian?
--Why are you glad that you are a Christian?
--How did God answer prayer, or strengthen you in difficult situations?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
--What makes you excited about living for Christ today and in the future?
--What makes you sure that you are going to heaven?
--What does Jesus Christ mean to you now?
--What does Jesus Christ mean to you now?
--Finish this sentence: "My prayer is....


Monday, April 9, 2018

Hell links










Thursday, March 29, 2018

Discussion Questions
Matthew 19:13-15  “…for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
1.     Why was it so surprising that the children were held out as an example of those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven?  What traits do children have that make them especially suited for the kingdom of heaven?
Matthew 19:16-29  “Whatever you love more than Christ will burden and drag you down.”
2.     How rich are we? (globalrichlist.com)How do our riches impede our relationship with God? 
3.     How can we tell that everything we have belongs to God?
Matthew 20:1-16  “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
4.     How was the different pay to the last and first workers a surprise?  How did the first workers respond?  Why?
5.     What "hints" did Jesus give about greatness in the Kingdom?
Matthew 10:17-34  “God wants to turn the understanding of greatness upside down.”
6.     How did Jesus describe the greatest in God’s Kingdom?
7.     In what ways did the two blind beggars contrast with James and John?
Matthew 21:1-11   “Jesus came as a humble, unexpected, and unrecognized king. Jesus is inviting you to recognize and welcome Him as your King. “ 
8.     Why did Jesus choose to make such a public entrance to the city of Jerusalem?  What prophecy did Jesus fulfill with his “Triumphal Entry?”  (Zechariah 9:9) 
9.     What are some repercussions of accepting Jesus as your King?

CONNECTION Discussion Notes
Matthew 19:13-20:11
April 8, 2018

Discussion Questions
Matthew 19:13-15  “…for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
1.     Why was it so surprising that the children were held out as an example of those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven?  What traits do children have that make them especially suited for the kingdom of heaven?
Matthew 19:16-29  “Whatever you love more than Christ will burden and drag you down.”
2.     How do our riches impede our relationship with God? (How rich are you?  globalrichlist.com)
3.     How can we tell that everything we have belongs to God?
Matthew 20:1-16  “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
4.     How was the different pay to the last and first workers a surprise?  How did the first workers respond?  Why?
5.     What hints did Jesus give about greatness in the Kingdom?
Matthew 10:17-34  “God wants to turn the understanding of greatness upside down.”
6.     How did Jesus describe the greatest in God’s Kingdom?
7.     In what ways did the two blind beggars contrast with James and John?
Matthew 21:1-11   “Jesus came as a humble, unexpected, and unrecognized king. Jesus is inviting you to recognize and welcome Him as your King. “ 
8.     Why did Jesus choose to make such a public entrance to the city of Jerusalem?  What prophecy did Jesus fulfill with his “Triumphal Entry?”  (Zechariah 9:9) 
9.     What are some repercussions of accepting Jesus as your King?

Full sermon video & audio are available on the TBC website, www.tulsabible.org (bottom of Home Page, select Sunday Sermons, then by date)

Key Texts

5.

Matthew 19:13-15 

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.

Matthew 19:23-24 

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 20:25-28  But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:29-34  And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord,[a] have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.


8.

Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;

    righteous and having salvation is he,

humble and mounted on a donkey,

    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.


 Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Matthew by J.C. Ryle 

The plain truth is, that our Lord knew well that the time of His earthly ministry was drawing to a close. He knew that the hour was approaching when He must finish the mighty work He came to do, by dying for our sins upon the cross. He knew that His last journey had been accomplished, and that there remained nothing now in His earthly ministry, but to be offered as a sacrifice on Calvary. Knowing all this, He no longer, as in time past, sought secrecy. Knowing all this, He thought it good to enter the place where He was to be delivered to death, with peculiar solemnity and publicity. It was not fitting that the Lamb of God should come to be slain on Calvary privately and silently. Before the great sacrifice for the sins of the world was offered up, it was right that every eye should be fixed on the victim. It was suitable that the crowning act of our Lord's life should be done with as much notoriety as possible. Therefore it was that He made this public entry. Therefore it was that He attracted to himself the eyes of the wondering multitude. Therefore it was that all Jerusalem was moved. The atoning blood of the Lamb of God was about to be shed. The deed was not to be "done in a corner." (Acts 26:26.)   -

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

AWANA Journey Advocates / Lesson 7.2 Falsehood with Sean McDowell

These are my note from the lecture and not the exact things Dr. McDowell said on the video clip.

Here is the logic some use to "prove there is no God.
First Premise: If God is all-powerful, He could stop evil.
Second Premise: If God is all good, he would stop evil.
Third: Premise: Evil Exists, or at least evil acts happen.
Conclusion: Therefore, an all-powerful, all- good god does not exist.

If these three premises exist, then the conclusion follows.  If we are going to prove that this conclusion is false, what do we have to do?  Show that one of them is false.  If we can show that one of these premises is untrue then the conclusion does not follow.  
Premise One:
Eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and others of the sort will typically begin with the third premise.  What would a pantheist say about the third premise?  They will deny that there is good and evil because they believe all is one.  So distinctions between yesterday and today, me and you, mind and matter—all these distinctions are artificial, so they actually solve the problem of evil by saying there is no such thing as evil.  Logically speaking this does get us out of the problem of evil.  Is that a meaningful, substantial way to solve the problem of evil by saying it’s not a problem at all?  Does that resonate in your heart?  When you look at the world in your experience is it fitting to you to say, “Evil doesn’t exist.”?  Getting rid of evil by saying it doesn’t exist seems like too high a price to pay. 
Premise Two:
All of you agree that God is all-powerful, but we have to ask a more basic question.  What does it mean that God is all-powerful or omnipotent?  Can God do anything we can conceive of?  Can God make a rock so big that He can’t move it?  People raise that challenge and say, “If God can make a rock so big he can’t move it, He is limited.  If He can’t make a rock so big he can’t move it, He is limited.”  These are ways to trick or confuse what we mean by God is all powerful. 
You can’t bend a paperclip into a square circle.  Could God bend a paper clip into a square circle?  By definition, a circle has no points and if it has points, it is not a circle.  By definition, a square has four points and can’t be a circle.  A square circle cannot exist.  Even God cannot make a square circle exist. 
What do we mean when we say, God is all-powerful? Theologians have wrestled with this for centuries.  When we say that God is all-powerful, we mean that God can do everything that can be done.  If power can do something, then God can do it.  But power alone cannot make a square circle so there are actually some things God can’t do.  This isn’t a limitation on God, it is a recognition that some things in themselves are impossible and cannot be.  How many of you have told a lie?  Can God tell lies?  In the book of Hebrews it says that “God cannot lie.”  Does that mean you can do something that God’s can’t do, therefore you are more powerful than God?  Does that follow?  A lie is not a strength.  It’s actually a weakness, an imperfection.  So God cannot lie, not because He lacks power, but because he is morally perfect.    
When we say that God is all-powerful, we don’t mean that God can do anything conceivable, we mean God can do everything that power can do that is consistent with his moral nature. 
Even God can’t make a world with beings that are genuinely free and then force us to do what is good.  If God forces us then we are not truly free.  God can and will stop evil, but God can not make a world with genuine free will where humans can make meaningful choices and then turn around and force us to always choose what is good. 
Premise Two:  When you see someone suffering or drowning, or someone being bullied or taken advantage of.  If you had the power, wouldn’t you step in and stop it.  Yes, but every day certain kinds of evil happen and God doesn’t stop them.  Does that make you better than God?  What are some reasons that God might allow suffering and evil.? Maybe God has reasons for the evil and suffering in the world.  If God had reasons or a purpose, should we expect to always know what they are? 
If I told you there was an adult elephant in this room, how quickly could you determine whether that was true or false?  You could look around and instantly determine it was false.  What if I told you there was a flea in this room?  A flea would take a lot more search.  You wouldn’t expect to see a flea from your seat just looking around. 
If God is all-powerful if God is self-existent if God is eternal--He sees the past and the present and the future and how every decision he makes affects other people, should we honestly expect to know why every time God allows suffering and evil. 
Most of us can think of times where there is suffering and evil and good comes out of it. Evil and suffering can make people think about eternity in a way they never have before.  Can you see how God would allow something like that to happen?  Maybe because God is good, He realizes the depth of our depravity, how distracted we get, how we get caught up in our sin, and He allows some evil and suffering to draw us to Him.  God has a bigger plan.  Will we trust Him?

“God whispers in our pleasure, but He shouts in our pain.  Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  --C.S. Lewis   

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Journey: Advocates - Evil / Partial transcription of Sean McDowell

A problem well defined is half solved.
The problem of evil is one of the greatest challenges to
Define Evil:  
One answer is “Evil and good are equal are equal but opposing forces.”
Evil is a corruption of good.  You can have good without evil, but you can’t have evil without a standard of good that can be corrupted.
----------------------------------------------------
“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.  But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?  A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.  What was I comparing this universe with when I called in unjust?”  --C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity
---------------------------------------------------
A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.  Injustice is parasitic on a standard of justice.  Truth is when a belief matches up with reality.  Truth is telling it like it is.  A lie is when you tell something that intentionally doesn’t match up with reality.  You can have a truth of which no one tells a lie, but you cannot have a lie unless you first have the truth.  Lies are a corruption of truth.
Evil is taking food, technology, medicine, and sex (etc.) and corrupting it for something bad.  Evil is when things are not the way they are supposed to be, or they are the way they are not supposed to be.  Understood this way, evil assumes that there is a way the world is supposed to be.  But this only makes sense if there is purpose and intent and a mind and a design behind the world.  Raising the problem of evil assumes or implies that there is a way the world is supposed to function. 
Atheism can’t account for design or purpose or that the world is supposed to be a certain way.  In atheism the world just is.  It popped into existence from nothing and through time and chance and the laws of physics the world just arranged itself the way we see it today.  If an atheist complains about the problem of evil, that have to assume a theistic worldview to do so. 
Pantheists also can’t consistently raise the problem of evil.  In pantheism distinctions are artificial.  There really is not a distinction between me and you, mind and matter, today and yesterday, good and evil.  According to pantheism, you can’t have a problem of evil, because evil doesn’t exist.  It is an allusion.

Properly understood, the existence of evil is one good reason to believe there’s a standard of good.  And if there is a standard of good, the best explanation is that there is a god.  This doesn’t explain why God allows evil, but at this point, it is critical to understand that when we properly understand the nature of evil, it’s one good reason to believe that God actually exists.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Following the Gracious King to the Cross in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard --180311AM@TBC


INTRODUCTION
Segway

Historical Setting
·       At this point in Christ’s ministry, we find Him going from Galilee through Perea to His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.
·       There are All three synoptic Gospels record four events between Galilee and Jerusalem (by AT Robertson’s Harmony of the Gospels organizing). 
·       Three of them surrounds our text that is unique to Matthew.
123. CHRIST AND CHILDREN AND THE FAILURE OF THE DISCIPLES TO UNDERSTAND THE ATTITUDE OF JESUS / Matt 19:13-15 Mark 10:13-16 Luke 18:15-17
124. THE RICH YOUNG RULER, THE PERILS OF RICHES, AND AMAZEMENT OF THE DISCIPLES. THE REWARDS OF FORSAKING ALL TO FOLLOW THE MESSIAH WILL BE GREAT, BUT WILL BE SOVEREIGN (PARABLE OF THE LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD)--In Perea / Mark 10:17-31 Matt. 19:16 to 20:16 Luke 18:18-30
125. JESUS  FORETELLS HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION TO THE DISCIPLES AGAIN (COMP. §§ 83, 85, 86, 88), AND REBUKES THE SELFISH AMBITION OF JAMES AND JOHN--Probably in Perea / Mark 10:32-45 Matt. 20:17-28 Luke 18:31-34
126. BLIND BARTIMÆUS AND HIS COMPANION HEALED--At Jericho / Mark 10:46-52 Matt. 20:29-34 Luke 18:35-43
127. JESUS VISITS ZACCHÆUS, AND SPEAKS THE PARABLE OF THE POUNDS, AND SETS OUT FOR JERUSALEM--Jericho / Luke 19:1-28
PART XI THE LAST PUBLIC MINISTRY IN JERUSALEM
128a. JESUS ARRIVES AT BETHANY, NEAR JERUSALEM--Friday afternoon / John 11:55 to 12:1, 9-11
128b. HIS TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM AS THE MESSIAH--From Bethany to Jerusalem and back (Sunday). / Mark 11:1-11 Matt. 21:1-11, 14-17 Luke 19:29-44 John 12:12-19

·       Only Matthew inserts the “Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard” in event 124 about the rich young ruler.
·       Parable Definition: A simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson, as told by Jesus in the Gospels.  --OxfordDictionaries.com  

Encourage the kids to listen & study the picture while we read and draw the pictures while I tell the story.
Scripture Reading

Context: 
Richard C. Trent, in his classic work, Notes on the Parables of our Lord, notes that “It is a parable which stands only second to that of the Unjust Steward in the number of explanations, and those diverging the most widely, that have been proposed for it; and second to that, if indeed second, in the difficulties which it presents.
Let’s look through our passage’s context for clues to the meaning of our text.
1. What specific question or problem is the basis for the parable?
2. How much of the parable is explained in the text?


·       Jesus receives the children (19:13)
14 
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
·       Encounter with the rich young ruler (19:13) who  22…went away sorrowful, for he had many possessions.
·       Peter’s Question (#1.)
27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?
Before and after the parable we find these statements  (#2.)
30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
16 So the last will be first, and the first last.
·       Foretelling his death (humiliation) and resurrection
·       James and John (with their mother) ask for the best seats in the Kingdom.  The other disciples were displeased.
·       Jesus responds
27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
 “The parable was designed to rebuke Peter’s self-seeking spirit that had prompted him to ask in effect, ‘What are we going to get out of all this?’ ”  --John Philips in Matthew (Exploring the Gospels by Loizeaux Brothers)

Big Idea: 
20:30 Many who are first will be last,
and the last first. 
Many who are thought great in this world will have a low place in the Kingdom.  The Kingdom will have a different operating system than this world operates on.

BODY
“Remember that Jesus used illustrations from everyday life that people back then would have immediately understood.”  
A. The Hiring of the Workers  (20:1–7)
1. Who were the day laborers?
·       Wealthy landowners often hired temporary workers, especially during harvest season, when workers were needed for short periods of time. Work began around sunrise, about 6 a.m. before the day became hot.[1]
·       Many of these would be the poor who depended on their daily wages to buy food for that day. 
·       This is why the Old Testament law required employers to not withhold wages, but pay each day.
·       In the New Testament the word "hireling" (misthotos) occurs only in John 10:12 f, where his neglect of the sheep is contrasted unfavorably with the care and courage of the shepherd who owns the sheep, who leads them to pasture and lays down his life for their protection from danger and death.  -- http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/H/hireling.html  Edited by James Orr, published in 1939 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
2. What was a Denarius?
·       “However, some classical historians have discovered that a common day's pay for unskilled labor was equal to one denarius. Roman infantry soldiers were paid slightly less and Roman officers were paid slightly more.”    --https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-a-denarius-768439
3. Time of hirings
·       (hired 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 11th hour)
·       The day started at about 6 AM, so the 3rd hour was 9:00 AM, etc.  The 11th hour was a 5:00 PM, just one hour before everybody quit for the day.
·       The passage does not say why the owner returned four more times to hire more workers. Desperate? Compassion?
4. Details to notice:
·       The first group had a specific agreed upon what we think was a typical wage of one denarius.
·       The last group agreed to go with the understanding they would be paid “whatever is right.”
·       Nothing is said of why they had not been hired earlier.
·       Nothing is said about how hard they worked or how they felt about the owner until they were paid.

B. The Dispute over the Pay (20:8–15)
1.   The workers paid in reverse order (vv. 8–10)
·       Deuteronomy The order to pay them “from last to first” (v. 8)
·       Can you imagine the surprise and delight of the eleventh-hour workers when they are given a whole denarius? (v. 9)
·       Can you imagine how puzzled the full day workers were when the one-hour workers were paid for a full day.  Do you think they hoped for more?
·       Can you appreciate their sense of injustice when they are paid the same denarius after having worked through the heat of the day? (v. 10)
2.   The complaint about the equal pay (vv. 11–12)
·       What was the heart of their complaining?
1.     These last men have worked only one hour and you have made them equal to us.
2.     We have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.
·       Do you hear Peter’s question in the laborer's complaint?
We have left everything to follow you!
What then will there be for us?”
·       Do you hear the coming request of Zebedee’s sons (Jesus’ cousins) and mother?
Grant these two sons of mine to sit on your right hand and left hand.

3.   The owner’s reply (vv. 13–15)
·       He was just giving at least what was agreed upon (v. 2) (v. 13)
·       His generosity was as surprising as it was expansive.  “There is an element of human tenderness in this parable.”  –William Barclay
·       It was his money was his to be generous with. 
·       Instead of goodwill and being happy for those who would be able to buy food for their families, resentment and envy filled their hearts.
·       Envy: It is to be distinguished from jealousy.
"We are jealous of our own;
we are envious of another man's possessions.
Jealousy fears to lose what it has; envy is pained at seeing another have"
(Crabb's English Synonyms).  --http://www.internationalstandardbible.com/E/envy.html
·       Envy (the evil eye*) is close kin to strife. (Rom 13:13; 1Co 3:3; 2Co 12:20; Jas 3:14,16)

*Evil eye, glance believed to have the ability to cause injury or death to those on whom it falls; pregnant women, children, and animals are thought to be particularly susceptible. Belief in the evil eye is ancient and ubiquitous; it occurred in ancient Greece and Rome, in JewishIslamicBuddhist, and Hindu traditions, and in indigenous, peasant, and other folk societies, and it has persisted throughout the world into modern times. Those most often accused of casting the evil eye include strangers, malformed individuals, childless women, and old women.
The power of the evil eye is sometimes held to be involuntary; a Slavic folktale, for example, relates the story of a father afflicted with the evil eye who blinded himself in order to avoid injuring his own children. More frequently, however, malice toward and envy of prosperity and beauty are thought to be the cause. 
©2018 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc   https://www.britannica.com/topic/evil-eye

C. Conclusion: The Great Reversal (20:16)[2]
You see this theme in Luke. 
Those who attain recognition and greatness on earth are often spiritually bankrupt face a bleak eternity.
·       The beatitudes in Luke 6
24 But woe to you who are rich,
For you have received your consolation.
25Woe to you who are full,
For you shall hunger.
Woe to you who laugh now,
For you shall morn.
·       The account of Lazarus and the rich man.  Luke 16:19-31
·       The foolish rich man who built bigger barns  Luke 12:13-21

APPLICATIONS
1. The expansive generosity of God should change our disposition (from envy to rejoicing) and cause us to praise God.
Envy often a result of ungratefulness. 
Envy is often the fruit of a proud, entitled heart.
Envy is evidence of a lack of faith in God to reward us. 
·       More focus on gratitude and blessings and less on “my rights.”
·       Enjoy and practice God’s generous kindnesses.

2. The danger of an “evil eye” should be humbly avoided.
·       Proverbs 14:31-32
31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker,
But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.
32 A sound heart is life to the body,
But envy is rottenness to the bones.
·       Generosity and rejoicing is way better than envy.
·        
3. Kingdom principles should change our perspectives and aspirations.
You can tell where your heart is by what kind of clothes you wear.
A servant’s heart is the sign of greatness in the kingdom.

4. We should take care to learn from the disciple’s poor example and adopt Jesus’ purpose.
Three times the Gospels record Christ telling his disciples about his coming death. 
Each time their thoughts turned to who would have the highest position in the Kingdom. 
Our focus and thoughts ought to be on serving Christ as we serve and love others. 
When we are too important or busy to associate with the poor man in filthy clothes, when we shame the poor in the church with our heartless selfishness, we have lost our way.

5. We should maintain an attitude of gratefulness for all of our undeserved blessings.
Do we believe that God is good all the time?  Do we believe that He is a just and generous God who will reward at His judgment seat?
A thankful heart glorifies God and exults His goodness.
·       Romans 1:20 … although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts
·       Colossians 3:15be thankful.
·       Ephesians 5:3-4 …  fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
·       1 Timothy2:1 giving of thanks be made for all men
·       Hebrews 13:5  Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

6. We should rejoice with those who rejoice.
We should take such pleasure in God’s grace and generosity that we are pleased to see God’s goodness and mercy even on those less deserving than ourselves. 
How sad when disbelief and envy rob us of the joy of fellowship with others.
Romans 12:15-16
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice,
and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another.
Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.
Do not be wise in your own opinion.

BENEDICTION  2COR2.13
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 




[1] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Mt 20:1.
[2] Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, vol. 1, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 727–728.