Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 3, 1964
NUMBER 30, PAGE 1,7b,9

Hiring Laborers

J. P. Lusby

"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, And said into them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, 'Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward. Call the labourers and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received money and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they received it they murmured against the good-man of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee, Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen." (Matt. 20:1-16)

The parables of Christ constitute a very interesting and profitable study. However, we must be on our guard against two extremes to which men are prone: (1) Over application, and (2) Under application. The primary lesson in all parables is to the generation in which they were spoken. Apparently the occasion for this parable was Peter's question: "What shall we have therefore?" (Matt. 19:27). The primary lesson of this parable is to illustrate the expression, "Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." (Matt. 19:30; 20:16). There are, however, some subsidiary or secondary lessons to be drawn from the parable, to which I call attention.

It is critically important to harvest the crop when the fruit ripens, while it is at the right stage. Thus, the householder "went out . . . to hire labourers into his vineyard."

The householder is the Lord, the vineyard is the church, the laborers are disciples, and the labor they are to perform is the work of the church, which is, in reality, the work of the Lord.

The Lord "hires labourers into his vineyard" through two agencies: the individual Christian and the local congregation. Both are to engage in evangelism, that is, preaching the gospel to the lost.

"Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them." (Acts 8:5.) He was not sent, but he went. This is an example of individual evangelism. No one has a scriptural right to forbid another to preach the gospel to anybody at any time or in any place. Every servant of Christ is obligated to utilize every opportunity to teach others the truth, to hire laborers into the vineyard of the Lord.

Paul "robbed other churches, taking wages of them," to do service unto the Corinthians. (2 Cor. 11:8). The Philippian church had fellowship with Paul in preaching the gospel of Christ to the lost. (Phil. T:3-7; 2:25-30; 4:10-18.) These are examples of congregational evangelism. No congregation holds a monopoly on the place of evangelism.

Every Christian must bear fruit. (Jno. 15:1-8.) To bear fruit we must strive to save somebody else. We need to be going out into the marketplace to find those to be taught. However, before we can do this successfully, we need to study the Bible, become impregnated with its precepts, so that we will have something to teach. Ignorance of God's word among members of the church has reached an appalling degree, and is responsible for much unscriptural teaching and many unscriptural practices in the church today. A specific for this malady is to delight in the law of Jehovah, and upon it to meditate day and night. (Psa. 1.) Those who thus do are persistently engaged in attempting to interest their friends and neighbors in the truth, to teach them the word of God, to bring them to hear the gospel preached.

The importance of the work of evangelism rests upon three significant facts:

(1) Every soul needs to be saved. A good insurance salesman is conscious of prospects. To him everybody is a prospect because everybody needs insurance. Even so, a faithful Christian is conscious of prospects. To hint everybody is a prospect because everybody needs salvation. He goes out early in the morning and all through the day to hire laborers into the vineyard.

(2) The only way to save others (hire laborers into the vineyard) is to teach them the truth. (Jno. 8:32.) The seed must be put into the soil or there will be no crop, regardless of how fine the soil is. (Lk. 8:11-15.) The gospel is God's power to save, and our obligation is to preach it. (Rom:1:14- 17.)

(3) The only agencies God uses to preach the gospel of Christ and save sinners are the individual Christian and the local congregation.

The householder went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. That is diligence. Ile went out the third hour, the sixth and the ninth hour, for the same purpose. He went back the eleventh hour, when there was only one working hour left. That is persistence.

When the householder asked the eleventh hour idlers, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" they replied, "Because no man hath hired us."

What a terrible experience it will be at the judgment if some lost soul should point an accusing finger at me and say: "I stand condemned because you never said anything to me about the salvation of my soul."

In the words of the song by James Rowe:

"Oh, let us spread the word

wher-e'er it may be heard,

Help groping souls the light to see,

That yonder none may say,

'You showed me not the way,

You never mentioned Him to me.

You never mentioned Him to me,

You helped me not the light to see;

You met me day by day and knew I was astray,

Yet never mentioned Him to me.' "

Winning souls is the Christian's main business, and preaching the gospel is the work of the church.

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