Lesson Five – God’s Children are Servants

God’s Children are Servants

Lesson Aim:  To show that when Christians recognize the sovereignty of God we will accept our individual role as a servant.

Scriptures:  Matt. 20:1-16; Luke 17:5-10

Historical analysis for reading the two parables.

Place:  In the region of Judea beyond Jordan, Matt. 19:1.

Occasion:  Jesus was clarifying principles of the kingdom before entering Jerusalem.

Time  Shortly before Jesus entered Jerusalem to confront the Jewish leadership and provoke them to demand His death, Matt. 20:17-19.

Audience:  Multitudes of people and the twelve apostles, Matt. 19:1.

The parable in Luke was given specifically for the apostles, Luke 17:5.

Aim:  Parable in Matthew: To reveal the unique system Jesus would be using to calculate “time in service” in His kingdom.  In light of the incident Matthew recorded immediately following this parable, Jesus may have told this parable for the specific benefit of the apostles, Matt. 20:20-28.

Parable in Luke:  Jesus had been conducting a mobile apostle school for His chosen Twelve for over three years.  Judas Iscariot would fail the course but the others would be given unimaginable power in, perhaps, less than three months.  Although they would be guided by the Holy Spirit they would serve with the strength and integrity of their own character and faith.  Jesus may have been saying to them in this parable, “You will have power to direct the establishment of My kingdom, but I will be the king.  You will be serving Me.”  That is to say, “Do not let your new power go to your head.”  The message for Christians may be:  Jesus expects us to produce fruit for His kingdom but we are still saved by grace.  We cannot do enough to earn our inheritance.


Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.  Deut. 10:14

Some, perhaps most, people who have made their appearance on the world scene have not developed a concise “world view.”  Their world view does not include the eternal kingdom of God or the present dimension of God’s kingdom with Jesus reigning as king and priest for Christians.  They do not have a clear view of eschatology – physical death and things beyond.

The “remnant” has always had our “theistic world view” (Rom. 11:5).  We accept Moses’ declaration from the foregoing Scripture and all of God’s declarations.  Some people hold a “deistic” view. They accept Moses’ statement; however, they have a notion that after God created the world and the trimmings, He wound things up like a mechanical clock and left us.

A great number of people in our Western society lean toward “naturalism” for their world view after Darwin came on the scene.  They see nature as the key factor in developing their world view.  In theism and deism God is the key mover.  Naturalists want to believe matter is all there is – there is no room for God in their view.  We can see how the naturalistic world view might lead to “nihilism” (nothingness), and it has!  Existentialism in its various forms came on line to transcend, or fix, nihilism.  None of these non-theistic world views, except perhaps deism, accept Moses’ declaration.

We would not want to oversimplify this matter of developing our world view.  It is an individual task all people must undertake as we mature.  For those who want to keep this task simple please try the following “three question” method.   Why not use the same basic rule to explain life on earth as we do when people seek employment?  We ask who owns or controls the business or project.  Secondly, we ask the purpose of the establishment.  Then we ask what role those in charge expect us to fulfill as an employee.  Many people pass through life on earth without ever finding the answers to these three basic questions in regard to God’s purpose for creating mankind and this world.  Theists develop our world view with God’s kingdom as our backdrop.  When people have attempted to form their world view without relating life to God’s kingdom, they have developed some very unworkable views of reality.  For instance, if a person’s world view does not include a program for the satisfaction of our innate needs, he or she must live with the tension of being unsatisfied.  One example is mankind’s need for security.  A world view that does not include Biblical eschatology will leave people with tension in regard to their physical death.   Fear of death is the dominate factor in the rule of nations, communities and families.  It will rob an individual of his or her courage. All people need a strong faith in a world view based on truth (Heb. 2:14, 15).

Moses gave the children of Israel the answer to the first question before he disappeared on Mount Nebo.  We need to understand God created the world and it still belongs to Him (Deut. 10:14).  This is a principle of the kingdom Jesus taught in the parables in our text.  People, in some cases, appear to believe God created the world and gave it to mankind to make improvements therein.  They are left with the possibility that man is in charge of the world (Psa. 8:1-9; Heb. 2:5-9).  God did, indeed, tell Adam and Eve to subdue the earth and take charge of the animals.  He also gave them the plants for food.  See Genesis 1:27-31.  Adam and Eve were not put in charge of these things to develop their own purpose for creation.  The purpose for the creation of mankind was predestined by God (Rom. 8:28-30).


God’s purpose for creating mankind is for us to share in His glory as His children.  This is the theme of the Bible.  This may sound repetitive, but since our eternal identification is a son of God, all of our lessons about the kingdom of God are understood in this context.   Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has been given authority to bring God’s purpose to fruition in the lives of Christians (Matt. 28:18).  Having a faithful understanding of all these things, Christians are able to accept our present role as servants of our king, Jesus Christ.  The parables in our text help us understand our present servant role in God’s kingdom.

The parable in Matthew 20 presents the principle that “the last shall be first and the first last” (verse 16).  This simply means God will treat all Christians as equals, regardless of seniority, age, race or personal abilities.  The people in the parable who had worked all day complained about this method.  They became victims of their minds.  The landowner, who represents God, had to remind them it all belonged to him.  They should not have been envious because he was generous.  If they could have accepted the absoluteness of His sovereignty, they could have accepted His method without being envious.

Christians enjoy referring to God as our Father but we do not want to forget our Father is “God Almighty.”  This is our assurance He is able to provide enough of everything for everybody; therefore, He can be generous without anyone becoming victimized.  Christians can overcome our unhealthy scarcity complexes with a cornucopias view of God’s method of rewards.

God’s program “in Christ” was foreshadowed in Jesus’ parable.  God is continuously calling people from the world into the “in Christ” realm (II Cor. 2:14-16).  There is no seniority or merit program in the church for we all enjoy justification of life (Rom. 5:18).  All of us are in training (I Pet. 4:1, 2).  We all have a problem with weak character and the lust of the flesh (Rom. 6:12-14).  We all need mercy and grace (I John 1:6-9).  God is generously meeting all of our needs regardless of our time in service (Jude 24, 25).

The Holy Spirit is willing to fellowship each Christian, without showing favoritism, from the first day we were born again (Acts 5:32).  All Christians are counted equally righteous (Rom. 5:1).  All are saints while we develop saintly attributes (Col. 1:2; 3:8-11).  All are equally important to God (I Pet. 2:9, 10).  On the Day of Judgment, the question will not be how long we were members of Christ’s church.  The question will not be about what position we occupied in His body.  The question will be, were we faithful servants while conforming to the image of Jesus?  Did we “live a life worthy of the calling” we chose as our service to God (Eph. 4:1; Rom. 12:4-8)?  If we lose our focus on serving and conforming we may become one of the grumblers about our “rights” as they were portrayed in Jesus’ parable.

World organizations use the seniority and merit systems for rewarding their employees for their service.  This is justice without mercy – it is legalism.  God’s program for Christians is grace based on faith (Eph. 2:8, 9).  His program meets the needs of Christians so we can all develop as sons of God while in our service roles.  God’s program is more like a class of students in school.  Each student is as important as the other.  Seniority schemes create differences in groups of people.  God’s program is strictly equal opportunity – if we remember our role and walk by faith (I Pet. 1:17).

We will want to keep in mind the rule established in the Hebrew letter: “work now, rest later.”  There is a rest waiting for the diligent children of God (Heb. 4:9-11).  God gives each member of the church the “right of choice” in our selection of our special way of serving Jesus in His body (Rom. 12:4-8).  The “well worn” excuses “I have no abilities,” or “I would if I had time” were both missing from the Apostle Paul’s “choice list” for ways of serving in the “body of Christ,” the church.

The parable in Luke 17, deals with a problem that Christians may develop after “the new wears off.”  It is similar to the problem that occasioned the Hebrew epistle.  When the Hebrew Christians were first enlightened they were willing to serve God joyfully under extreme tribulations (Heb. 10:32-35).  At some point they began to “drift away.”  Heb. 2:1.  They became dull of hearing to the point of not being qualified to serve as teachers.  They could not discuss spiritual subjects; consequently, they had to employ someone to teach them elementary principles (Heb. 5:11-6:3).  Obviously, they were not serving well in other areas because their production department was nearly defunct (Heb. 6:7-9).  Finally, they were no longer willing to be trained and disciplined by the tribulations of service (Heb. 12:4-13).  The Hebrew writer said they had a confidence problem, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”  Heb. 10:35, 36,   (NIV translation).

Why do Christians stop wanting to serve?  When our study of the word of God is merely academic, that is, the word is not being mixed with faith, we lose our focus and this restricts our service (Heb. 4:2). A loss of confidence can become a chronic problem.  We can know we are afflicted when we lose our zeal to serve.  See the Apostle John’s cure: I John 2:28; 3:21, 22; 4:17 and 5:13, 14.  Some Christians may begin to think we hold an exalted position “above the servant level.”  Jesus reminds us to keep our servant attitude as long as we live on earth.  He said, “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’”  Luke 17:10.

Questions for Discussion

  1. List three basic questions that might help a person develop his or her proper life view.
  2. Write a paragraph about the sovereignty of God, utilizing the information in Genesis 1:1 and Deuteronomy 10:4.
  3. What is one erroneous view sometimes developed when people do not consider the information in your answer to question number two?
  4. What part of God’s creation did He give over to the stewardship of mankind?
  5. What program did God not give to mankind in relation to His creation?
  6. What facts must mankind understand and accept before we will be willing to accept the role of a servant in time?
  7. Will faithful Christians have the same role in eternity as we have in time?
  8. What is the main point of Jesus’ parable in Matt. 20:1-16 for the church today?
  9. What position do we “rule out” for God when we are envious of the blessings He gives to others?
  10. Why would the world seniority and merit systems fail in God’s sonship program?
  11. What is the main point of Jesus’ parable in Luke 17:7-10?
  12. When people are developing their world view what should they first consider?

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