Matthew 20:1-16 Part 3

One of the theological “bright stars” on the modern, evangelical scene is a man by the name of Clark Pinnock.  In a recent book of essays by various evangelical arminians designed for the purpose of blocking the influence of Calvinism in evangelical thinking, Mr. Pinnock writes of his decades-long theological pilgrimage.  His essay is reviewed in an article I recently read.

In that essay Pinnock expresses his “considerable relief” in moving away from his more Calvinistic roots.  In fact, he has completely changed his theology a number of times, but refuses to repent or even apologize for what he calls “some kind of weakness of intelligence or character”.  “After all”, he says, “that’s what one would expect from theologians who are properly aware of their limitations to experience!”  “Limitations to experience”?  (In other words, it’s not that he has to deal with the eternal and unchangeable God and His Word, but that people should already understand the fact that he’s limited in experiencing these things!)  Therefore, he says, his “theological pilgrimage” ought to be understood.  That’s what ought to be expected of him by those who read him and hear him; people ought to come to worship, ought to read his works, he is saying, anticipating his transient, unstable and erratic thought!  After all, he has limitations as far as experiencing these things is concerned!  (Maybe this year he’s got it right!)

For example, he now believes that the Bible’s “vigorous exhortations to persevere” and the “awesome warnings not to fall away from Christ” are incompatible with the doctrine of eternal security.  He says that “the determinist model” (that’s what he calls the electing and predestinating love of a sovereign God for His people), the determinist model cannot survive once one recognizes “the dimension of reciprocity (cooperation) and conditionality of God’s relations with (humanity).”

He also insists that “total depravity, Biblically, would be the point beyond which it is not possible to go in realizing the full possibilities of sinfulness,” which is “not the actual condition of all sinners at the present time.”  “Scripture appeals,” he says, “to people as those who are able and responsible to answer to God, and not as those incapable of doing so.”  “People are not free if their actions are determined,” he says.

Well, it is obvious that the major shifts and alterations in Mr. Pinnock’s theology have come about because of human reason and logic which is “absent” the reason and logic of God.  And it is also obvious that Mr. Pinnock hasn’t done any work in the passage of Scripture we’re dealing with this morning.  Rather than dealing faithfully with the Revelation to Matthew (and others), Pinnock prefers his own theological models and prescriptions.  And (again) the evangelical world is treated to the “shifting sands” of another man’s “theological pilgrimage”.  Haven’t they had enough?  Today’s Scribes and Pharisees are just like those of Jesus’ time.  And the condition in which they leave the people is much the same as it was then.  They are weak, immature, and sick and blind and powerless and disinherited because men like Clark Pinnock are their Pharisee leaders.

Instead of hearing God’s Revelation of Himself through Matthew and John and Peter and Paul, the evangelical world now hears the blowing winds of man’s thought about himself!  So then it’s the same old Pelagianism which Augustine contended with in the fifth century; and it’s the same old Arminianism that Calvin battled in the sixteenth century!  Our Puritan forefathers excommunicated men like Clark Pinnock in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries!  In this country – believe it or not!

But today’s Church receives him and understands him and welcomes his thought.  His thought beginning with himself is the basic presupposition from which all else is interpreted and understood, do you see?  It appeals to man for everything to be interpreted beginning with himself!  He flatters himself that way.  It strokes his ego.  But of course every time that happens, what comes out at the end is that everything is backwards.  Instead of man living and working within the confines of the will of Almighty God, it’s God operating within the confines of the will of man!  Rather than God being the Creator by Whom, around Whom and for Whom everything else has its being and its reason, the creature becomes, in his own mind, the one for whom all else exists – including God!  Instead of heaven and hell, and life and death, and time and space and history and eternity and salvation and reprobation – all these things coming to pass by the determinate council of the Sovereign will of God (as the Scripture explicitly states), man’s appraisal of himself is that he has independent authority – as God does!  You see, as Paul contends in a number of places, man just wants equality!  He wants his own thought to be equal with God’s thought; he wants his own law to be equal to God’s Law.

Every time I read a book or an article or review such as this one, I am thoroughly disgusted that such men as this could be raised by the Church to a level of esteemed theologian pastors and teachers and professors, because they do such great damage to the Church with their high-sounding words.  They never reach a stable maturity in Christ!

But our Lord Jesus Christ said that we are all dead in the sin of the first Adam.  “You must be changed,” He said.  “You must become as the babes,” newborns!  “You must follow Me in rebirth” to see the Kingdom of the Heavens.  Man is in such a condition before God that he has to be made new in order to have eternal life!  He has to have a new beginning in a new Adam!  And the last Adam is Jesus Christ!


And, “therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  (Second Corinthians five, seventeen) 


We are resurrected with Christ, reborn, into new life from the dead!  The old, dead man in Adam is


“buried with Him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”  (Romans chapter six, verse four) 


“Now if we be dead with Christ, we faith that we shall also live together with Him… for death hath no more dominion over Him.”  (Romans six, verses eight and nine)


“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”  (Galatians two, twenty)


“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  (Ephesians two, ten)


“Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed (reborn) in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.”  (Colossians three, nine and ten)


God’s grace is more powerful than our sin; more powerful than our dead humanity in Adam; more powerful than the inheritance of the curse on our original father!  By His grace, dead men are resurrected in Christ and given newborn life – created new in His resurrected life.  The “old man” is reborn after the image of the Creator.  A “new heart of flesh”, says Ezekiel, is put into us – where there was only a stone before!  All Adamic hearts are “dead stones”.  And a new human heart of flesh has to replace it!  And only a newborn babe in Christ has a new heart of flesh, and a new beginning, and a new humanity.

“You who follow Me in the rebirth” shall have eternal life, for the old flesh and blood of Adam shall not enter into the Kingdom of God.  And many of those born in the first Adam shall be reborn in the Last Adam.  And those born in the Last Adam shall be “firsts” in the Kingdom of the Heavens – for newborns in Christ have a new inheritance and a new humanity and a new future.  The old Adam was cursed; the New Adam is graced.  The old Adam is dead; the New Adam is alive, and “continually makes intercession for us.”  “You must be changed.”  You must “follow Me in rebirth,” and “become as newborn babes.”

Those in the first Adam receive their reward – everything they bargained for; and they have no cause to call God’s justice into question. But those in the last Adam, by the free grace and goodness of God, receive a righteous gift of God.  And “the lasts shall be firsts, and the firsts lasts.”

Many are standing idle – not knowing the One Who seeks them out; and they receive, by the grace of God, a resurrection to new life in the Last Adam! 


“Is it not permitted God to do as He wills with what is His?”


Is it right for the clay to question what the potter has made?  Is it right for subordinate man to accuse the Creator God of injustice?

It is God’s will to reverse the order of hiring and paying.  That’s the essence of the parable.  Many men born in the first Adam will become reborn in the last Adam.  And they shall be firsts in a new inheritance by the resurrection of Christ.  “Many firsts shall be lasts, and lasts firsts.”

And those who remain in the first Adam have no claim to equality.  They have received their just reward, and they have no righteous cause against the goodness and justice and integrity of God.  Man is subordinate to his Creator – not his equal!  He doesn’t have a vote as to what is right!  He has no authority to change what God has said or done.  Who is man, anyway, to assert that he is due more than he has received?  It is permitted the owner to do what he will with what is His.

Now.  As I promised, we are going to look at some of the good and necessary implications of this sublime passage of Scripture.  And those all have to do with the authority of God and the subordination of men (the Creator/creature relationship).  But let me say once more that this is the very center of the Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ.  We have arrived at the purpose and intent of the parable in its proper context; so further explication of the Truth that’s here must not replace, or in any way cloud, the original purpose of what Jesus has said.  So, to that end, the further comments that I’ll make with regard to the good and necessary consequences will remain within the theme of the allegory – which is the authority of God and the subordination of His creatures.

Now, Jesus’ Own had yet to recognize the consequences of what He had just said.  They, you remember, were anxious about their own status in Christ’s coming Kingdom; they wished to have the power and authority which comes from being close to the King!  This will come up again soon, when the mother of two of the disciples lobbies Jesus to favor her sons when He comes to power in Jerusalem!

But the disciples have been told, with great power, that many of those dead in the first Adam will, by the will and grace of God, be reborn in the Last Adam; because God, as the Creator of all, is permitted to do what He will with His Own!  And since all dead men in Adam deserve what they bargained for, those who receive their reward for that have no cause to question the righteousness and justice of God!

Therefore the disciples themselves, the future apostles of Christ’s Church, must submit themselves, subordinate themselves, humble themselves before the mighty counsel of God’s Will.  It is not because they are somebody in the eyes of God (for God is no respecter of persons); so Christ has not sought them out because of who they are!  They were all idlers in the marketplace when Christ called them to follow Him – all the way to the cross – in order to be rebirthed in Him.

And “who they were” was certainly not the reason that Christ was to give them to be “judges” over the whole realm of His Kingdom!  So their status and position in the Kingdom had to be the result of being resurrected from the dead by the determinate counsel of the Will of God!

So the good and necessary consequence here (which the apostles would see clearly after the resurrection) is the abject humility and subordination of one who has received rebirth into the Kingdom – simply because it is permitted the Creator to do as He wills with His creatures!  The status and position of the apostles as the firsts of the firsts and as judges of the Kingdom and as recipients of the Revelation of God would be shaped entirely by the fact that they had been found by Christ and raised from the dead by the grace and mercy of God.

The implications here for those in authority under God are awesome.  And we’ll be discussing that some more when we come to the mother who lobbies for the prominence of her two sons.  But it is clear that men like Clark Pinnock just do not understand.  Just like the rich, young Jew, he has thrown himself down before Jesus, claiming his right to eternal life.  By his own authority he chooses so have it, and it is his right to have it!  But dead, cursed men have no rights.  Neither can they choose to be alive in Christ – as Mr. Pinnock chooses to believe!

Humility and lowliness of heart and poverty of spirit come from truly knowing that God does what He wills with His Own.  The exact opposite of that subordinate state of mind is the arrogant delight in the self-delusion of one’s own independent authority!

If dead men are made new creations in Christ solely by the grace and mercy of God, do they have any right to boast of that?  No they don’t.  Do they have a right to independent authority?  No.  Do they have a right to preach and speak and write books about four different versions of the truth?  No.  Do they have a right to anything?

They have a right to speak and preach and live under the authority of God!  Having followed Christ in rebirth they now have a right to put off the old Adam and put on the new man in Christ.  They have a right to be the judges of the earth – under the authority of God; that is, to speak the Truth of God to the world order.  Knowing that they’ve been rebirthed from the first Adam into the Last Adam, they now have the right to be servants to the King and to the King’s people.

But those who remain in their dead and cursed father, Adam, receive their just reward.  Do they have a right to question God’s justice?  No they don’t.  Do they have a right to self-deluded, independent authority?  No.  Arrogance?  No. Being born anew in Christ produces lowliness of heart and submission to, subordination to, the Authority of God.  It does not produce self-willed authority and arrogance.

Now, I want you to see, this morning, the reason for the moral decline in our society.  The talk shows, the news commentators, the editorialists all avoid the issue – some better than others.  But the rioting and chaos in the streets, the government’s rise to more socialistic power, the disintegration of the judicial system, feminist and ethnic radicalism, sexual perversity, political correctness, national bankruptcy – all of these ills of our society have a common source.

While striving for unity and equality in all the diversity, the authority of God is omitted!  The nation has rebelled against God’s authoritative Law-Word; therefore every like-minded group, no matter how small or large, by its own self-deluded authority, seeks its own best interests.

With no objective Law-Word, and no subordination, and with no mediator (Christ); and with envy and covetousness, workers form unions against businesses and other employers in order to force the collective will.  With elevated self-importance, women form groups to force their will on a perceived masculine society.  Branches of government set themselves apart from the population, as elitists, self-willed and self-important, exempting themselves from the laws and restrictions they impose on others.  Courts use subjective standards to punish crime and engineer the culture – subjective standards imposed on the people – man’s standards.  Man is the authority.  He’s as God!

There’s no objective Law-Word!  Sexual perverts use political strategy to force the society to accept death as a way of life.  People form together by race to act as animals and produce havoc and chaos in society, which is the nature of true envy.  And they use the “sins of our fathers” as a political tactic in opposition to the Law of God!

But God’s Authority, and the mediator-ship of Christ, have been discarded with extreme prejudice!  Men wish to be “as God”, and they will not subordinate themselves to Him and His Law; and they will not follow Christ in rebirth; they will not have Him as Mediator between men!  So all their attempts at unity in diversity by necessity end in chaos!

Having discarded God’s authority with prejudice, the relationship between men and women is war, adultery, divorce and lawsuits!  Without God’s authority employers and employees are extreme antagonists.  Racial groups live in disharmony without Christ as Mediator!  And without the authority of God, governments become totalitarian, and war-mongering; men place themselves in opposition to the people!  And there are many other illustrations.

But God has established His authority; and He has stated it irrevocably.  “It is Mine to do with as I will.”  Who are you, o creature, to charge your Creator with injustice?  And who are you to assume your own authority?  Self-willed, egotistic, arrogant, insubordinate, idolatrous….  You have your reward.  Take it and go.


“But many of you I will cause to follow My Son, the Last Adam, in the rebirth.  And I will put within you a new heart.  And I will be your God; and you will be My people.”


The good and necessary implications and consequences from this parable are many.  These are just a few.  May God soon receive pleasure from reestablishing His authority and His Mediator in all of our institutions – beginning with His Church – especially His Church.

The necessary implications here for the Church are crystal clear!  We need men like you, who recognize the authority of God, and who know – of a certainty – that you have nothing with which you might bargain with Him.  That you stand before Him in humility and fear, since eternal life is a gift of a Just and Holy God Who does with His Own as He wills.