Sermon Transcript – Subtle Idolatry

1 Year Lectionary – Septuagesima – Sunday, February 13, 2022 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy gospel according to saint
0:30matthew the 20th chapter
0:41Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like
0:44a master of a house who went out early
0:46in the morning to hire laborers for his
0:47vineyard after agreeing with the
0:49laborers for a denarius a day he sent
0:51them into his vineyard and going out
0:53about the third hour he saw others
0:54standing idle in the marketplace and he
0:57said to them you go into the vineyard
0:59too whatever’s right i will give you so
1:01they went going out about the sixth hour
1:04and then the ninth hour he did the same
1:06and about the 11th hour he went out and
1:08found others standing and he said to
1:11why do you stand here idle all day and
1:14they said to him because no one’s hired
1:17us and he said to them you go into the
1:19vineyard too and when evening came the
1:20owner of the vineyard said to his
1:22foreman call the laborers and pay them
1:24their wages beginning with the last up
1:26to the first and when those hired about
1:29the 11th hour came each of them received
1:32a denarius now when those hired first
1:34came they thought they would receive
1:36more but each of them also received a
1:37denarius and on receiving it they
1:40grumbled at the master of the house
1:43these last worked only one hour and you
1:45have made them equal to us who have
1:47borne the burden of the day and the
1:49scorching heat but he replied to them
1:51friend i’m doing you no wrong did you
1:54not agree with me for a denarius take
1:56what belongs to you and go i choose to
1:58give to this last worker as i give to
2:00you i am not am i not allowed to do what
2:03i choose with what belongs to me or do
2:05you begrudge my generosity so the last
2:08will be first
2:09and the first last this is the gospel of
2:12the lord
2:13in the name of Jesus
2:16what are we to do with this gospel text
2:19it’s a little complicated it was
2:21actually kind of fun doing the uh sermon
2:23prep for this taking a look at how the
2:25church fathers have handled it how
2:27luther handled how johan gerhart and
2:29other lutheran pastors have handled it
2:31and let’s just say there’s a lot of
2:33discussion about the denarius but martin
2:36luther in his sermon on this text
2:38actually says don’t focus too much on
2:40that that’s kind of to miss the point
2:43the real the real action is in the
2:46attitude of those grumblers those people
2:49who are upset at the generosity of god
2:52and so that being the case i’m going to
2:55see if i can work this properly i need
2:57to set it up this way
2:59when i was a kid when i was three years
3:02old i was given a tricycle
3:05all right and you remember those old
3:07ugly metal tricycles you know what i’m
3:09talking about all right this is the days
3:10before they had like that form plastic
3:12kind of stuff but you know that can only
3:15get me so far i outgrew my tricycle
3:18pretty quick and then i upgraded now you
3:20got to understand the year is
3:231971 72
3:26i got a big wheel
3:27all right if you know what that is all
3:30right you know what a big wheel is
3:31that’s a big deal all right now my
3:34brother he got a green machine now the
3:37difference between a big wheel and a
3:39green machine the green machine rather
3:40than having handlebars it had these
3:43little things that you know you would do
3:45and you can really skid out with that
3:46thing but my brother and i this is the
3:48days before they made kids wear helmets
3:50for everything okay
3:52we would be in my driveway and we would
3:55circle around and we would do crash em
3:57up derbies okay and it was glorious we
4:00would come in bruised and bleeding and
4:02it was like yeah you know there’s
4:04nothing like nothing better than
4:05smashing your big wheel into your
4:07brother’s green machine while he’s on it
4:09it’s like yeah you know
4:11but then
4:12my dad came up with this idea as i was
4:15starting to get a little bit older got
4:17to be five years old the year is 1973
4:21and my dad decides it’s time for your
4:24first bicycle
4:27bicycle it was a big deal so what did he
4:28buy me an avocado green schwinn with a
4:32banana seed all right you know what i’m
4:34talking about if you’re old enough okay
4:37and why i have to ask why the people why
4:40did the boomers pick avocado green as a
4:43color i just don’t get it okay
4:46anyway but uh i didn’t care and they had
4:49those like really weird kind of stupid
4:51girly tassels coming off the handlebars
4:53you know what i’m talking about here
4:55okay but i didn’t know how to ride a
4:58and so my dad thought all right well
5:00let’s get to your first bike and it had
5:02training wheels
5:03and you know what i preferred
5:05my big wheel
5:07i did not like my bicycle at first and
5:09being on you know a bike on training
5:11wheels you’re always kind of going like
5:13this and like this and so my dad decided
5:16it’s time
5:17for chris to learn how to ride a bike
5:20and i don’t know if you’ve noticed this
5:21about men sometimes we can give like
5:23really unhelpful pep talks
5:28let me explain so i’m having like total
5:31panic about riding my bike my dad is
5:34saying you’re going to learn how to ride
5:36a bike today and i’m terrified at it and
5:38so my dad says something like this chris
5:40you just need to be a man you know stop
5:44being afraid and go do the man thing i
5:45have no idea what he’s talking about
5:47okay dad all right and so his solution
5:50and remember i’m not wearing a helmet
5:53okay his solution was
5:55take the training wheels off pop me onto
5:58the banana seat and then with a big old
6:00heave and a hoe he threw me down the
6:04and here’s the thing as soon as the
6:06gyroscopic effect of the wheels started
6:09to do its thing at that speed all of a
6:11sudden it clicked i knew how to ride a
6:13bicycle but here’s the thing my dad
6:15didn’t tell me how to stop it
6:18so there i am flying down the street and
6:21i don’t know how to stop this he’s all
6:23hit the brakes hit the brakes i didn’t
6:26know where the brakes were so what did i
6:28do i crashed into my neighbor’s trash
6:29can all right and boy was that a mess
6:32all right but there was this big aha
6:36and i went from having a big wheel and a
6:38tricycle to now having the freedom of
6:41being on a bike i could actually travel
6:43places i could visit friends down at the
6:45end of the block i can visit friends who
6:47live two blocks over i can well
6:50take some glass bottles to the local
6:54mini mart trade them in for nickels and
6:56get myself a snickers bar there was
6:59freedom here in fact from the time i was
7:02five until the time i got my driver’s
7:04license my bike became my primary form
7:07of transportation if i wanted to do
7:10something and i had freedom i remember
7:12one time when i was right between
7:14seventh and eighth grade my friend sam
7:16and i we went on a fishing trip now we
7:18lived in southern california he i live
7:20in monrovia he lived in dwardi so i rode
7:22my bike at five in the morning to his
7:24house with my fishing tackle
7:26picked him up he rode his bike and we
7:29biked all the way out to the santa fe
7:31dam and we did some fishing but here’s
7:33the thing when you kind of smell the
7:34water and stuff like that you don’t want
7:36to eat that fish it was but we caught
7:38fish and we we released them and it was
7:40big freedom but here’s the thing
7:43we can all relate to this we can all
7:45relate to that freedom we are learning
7:47how to ride a bike having that
7:49experience at aha moment and then
7:51progressing to the point where we have
7:53more and more and more what
7:57but Christianity is not
8:00like this
8:02all right it’s not like you can hit a
8:04part in Christianity and go you know
8:07i kind of feel like i’ve got the sin
8:09thing worked out thanks Jesus it’s just
8:12like riding a bike and Jesus is off in
8:14the background somewhere while you’re
8:16out there doing it all on your own your
8:19own steam your own power and
8:20independence and here’s the thing it’s
8:23really easy to deceive ourselves along
8:24these lines and worse
8:26when you start engaging in that way of
8:30in has rushed into your faith
8:35and over and again you can always tell
8:38when you’re dealing with some kind of
8:40latent form or insipid form of
8:42self-righteousness because the thing you
8:45care about
8:46is the reward
8:48you don’t care about the one
8:51who gives it
8:53you don’t care anything about Christ in
8:55fact one false teacher it was really
8:57interesting yesterday i was having a
8:59conversation with somebody who used to
9:01attend a very very well known mega
9:03church down in australia phil pringle
9:06you know one of these false teachers
9:07heretics he legitimately did a sermon
9:10telling people that they need to start
9:13right now
9:15figuring out the blueprints for their
9:17mansion in heaven
9:18and he said that you know he wanted to
9:20have a seven-bedroom mansion that was on
9:24you know
9:25near a dock and that he would also have
9:27a yacht associated with and he was
9:28encouraging people you got to start
9:30thinking about what you want to do with
9:32your mansion when you get to heaven
9:37hearing something like that i can’t help
9:39but do this and pray that lightning
9:41doesn’t strike that fellow right
9:43because this gospel text flies right
9:47in the face of that insipid
9:51really kind of under the surface
9:52self-righteousness which is really a
9:54form of idolatry and this
9:56false belief that we are independent
9:59from Christ and it shows up in strange
10:03think of it this way this is like a
10:05litmus test and let me ask you have you
10:07ever had a conversation with somebody
10:12a person that you had heard
10:14had on their deathbed or maybe a few
10:17weeks before they died came to faith in
10:21have you ever heard those stories and
10:23somebody’s when you tell the story to
10:25somebody they go
10:26you know
10:28let’s not be too excited about this
10:31all right because
10:32you know i know you they said that they
10:35believed in Jesus i know that you think
10:37that they repented but we can’t really
10:39be sure and then they’ll say something
10:41like this i mean it’s kind of odd to
10:43think that somebody can just live
10:46and enjoy a life of sin and then on
10:48their deathbed believe in Jesus and then
10:50enjoy eternal life
10:52and when you somebody talks like this
10:55they don’t even recognize what they’re
10:57doing but they’re revealing a lot about
11:01enjoying a life of sin
11:05do you know anybody having come to faith
11:08in Christ looks at their life prior to
11:10Christ and go it was the best thing ever
11:13i was a formal kabuto later i was on
11:15drugs it i was just completely strung
11:18out all the time you know it was my life
11:21was awesome does anyone talk this way
11:24i don’t know anybody who does and the
11:26reason is this sin isn’t freedom
11:30sin is slavery
11:32and when somebody comes to true penitent
11:34faith in Christ even on their deathbed
11:38they recognize that they have sinned
11:40against god and they are receiving from
11:43Christ salvation by grace through faith
11:47apart from works and here’s the best
11:49part somebody who’s done that who has a
11:51death bed conversion
11:53there’s no way for them to rack up a
11:55bunch of brownie points it’s kind of
11:57scandalous if you think about it in fact
11:59isn’t that exactly what happened to that
12:01thief on the cross
12:03i mean this guy
12:04he’s a thief he’s being punished for his
12:08and he
12:09on his deathbed which is a cross
12:12mere hours before he dies
12:15and he had the luxury of having his legs
12:17broken in order that he could die a
12:18little bit quicker
12:20right he says to Jesus remember me when
12:22you come in your kingdom and Jesus sits
12:24there and goes well you know you can’t
12:25expect to get into heaven now i mean
12:27you’ve lived an entire life enjoying sin
12:29i i can’t expect you can’t expect me to
12:31do anything for you here
12:33what does Jesus say today he’ll be with
12:34me in paradise
12:36and that’s kind of the issue here so in
12:39our gospel text if you think about
12:41what’s going on here the vineyard is the
12:45and there are people who come to faith
12:48in Christ at different times of their
12:51life some as children
12:54as adults some is in mid-life and some
12:57people as the sun is getting ready to
13:01and you’re going to note here
13:03that in Christ we are all equal
13:05there is no such thing as super
13:07salvation you do you know what i’m
13:08saying there’s salvation and we are all
13:12receivers of salvation by the
13:14graciousness the kindness the generosity
13:16of Christ so here’s here’s the parable
13:19the kingdom of heaven
13:20is like a master Jesus says and note the
13:22emphasis it’s like a master who’s this
13:24about this is about Jesus because Jesus
13:27is the master it’s like a master of a
13:29house who went out early in the morning
13:31to hire laborers for his vineyard after
13:33agreeing with the laborers for daenerys
13:35a day he sent them into his vineyard and
13:38going out about the third hour he saw
13:40others standing idle in the marketplace
13:43and to them he said and listen to the
13:46you go in the vineyard too and
13:47whatever’s right i’ll give you
13:49give give
13:51salvation is a gift so they went and
13:53going out again about the sixth hour and
13:55the ninth hour he did the same and about
13:58the 11th hour he went out and found
14:00others standing and he said to them
14:02why do you stand here idle all day
14:05this is the idleness of sin right and so
14:08he said to them
14:10well because no one’s hired us and he
14:12said to them you go into the vineyard
14:14too now those guys showing up at the
14:1611th hour now we have to note that if
14:18this parable were told today they didn’t
14:20actually work a full hour because union
14:22rules make it clear they get a five
14:23minute smoke break before they get
14:25started you know i just just want to
14:27make that clear so they only work for 55
14:29minutes so all of that being said all of
14:32that being said
14:34those guys who came in at the 11th hour
14:38are they expecting a full day’s wage
14:42they’re not and so what they receive
14:45from the master it truly shows up then
14:48as what a gift and so when evening came
14:52the owner of the vineyard said to the
14:53foreman you call the laborers and pay
14:55them their wages because uh beginning
14:57with the last and up to the first so the
14:59guys who come in at the 11th hour we’ve
15:01only worked 55 minutes when those hired
15:04about the 11th hour came each of them
15:05received a denarius a full
15:09day’s wage
15:11no way and you can hear the guys all
15:13over the back of the line the guys who
15:14came in first they’re going dude
15:17the master’s paying a denarius an hour
15:20no he’s not
15:22there’s no such thing as super salvation
15:23there’s salvation and we’re all equal in
15:26Christ all right so
15:29they received a denarius that the guys
15:31worked for 55 minutes and on receiving
15:33it they grumbled at the master of the
15:35right hang on those who were hired at
15:38the 11th hour came got it now when those
15:40hired first came they thought that they
15:41would receive more but each of them
15:43received a denarius and on receiving it
15:45they grumbled at the master of the house
15:47saying these last worked only one hour
15:50you’ve made them equal to us and we’ve
15:52borne the burden of the day in the
15:53scorching heat
16:01let me ask you a question all right
16:04coming back to that statement that
16:06person has lived a life of sin
16:09how many of you have not lived a life of
16:13this week yesterday this month last
16:16month last year
16:17you’ll note that you know i have it on
16:20authority good record here in fact we
16:22can even check the video
16:24every week here you guys say these words
16:26i confess that i am by nature sinful and
16:30sin against you and thought word indeed
16:33are we not all equal
16:35in Christ
16:38we are
16:39and when we recognize that
16:43then we have the ability to do what the
16:45angels do when any sinner repents
16:48and that’s to rejoice
16:50rejoice when any sinner is brought to
16:53repentance in Christ but rather than
16:56well joyful slack-jawed exuberant
16:59glorifying the master saying wow
17:02you are so generous you are so kind
17:05they’re upset because they feel like
17:07they’ve been cheated
17:09we’re better than them
17:12what’s your point
17:13and you can see here that this is not
17:15talking about the rewards that Christ
17:18gives to people this is talking about
17:22all right and if salvation were by works
17:26for real then you would expect a
17:28different amount of pay for each of the
17:30different workers but in salvation it’s
17:33all the same for everybody
17:35so he replied to them hey buddies
17:37i’m doing you no wrong did you not agree
17:39with me for a denarius take what belongs
17:41to you and go i choose to give this last
17:43workers i gave to you am i not allowed
17:47to do what i choose with what belongs to
17:50me or do you begrudge my generosity and
17:53then we hear these words the last will
17:55be first and the first will be last this
17:58is this is always pointing out to that
18:02arrogance and conceit that runs within
18:04our sinful natures right this is a
18:07warning against that way of thinking of
18:09thinking independently of somehow
18:11thinking you know what i’ve got myself
18:13together here i’ve figured it out i
18:16don’t really need you Jesus anymore and
18:18thanks holy spirit for explaining to me
18:20how it’s done but i don’t need your help
18:22anymore i’m i’m good
18:24this is a person who then takes the
18:26fruit of the spirit and the obedience
18:28that Christ works in us through the
18:30spirit by giving us the ability to
18:33mortify our sinful flesh bear fruit in
18:35keeping with repentance and then us
18:37glorifying ourselves and taking credit
18:39for it and then even worse ex we start
18:42working on our mansion in heaven and
18:43then the the floor plan and and the
18:46interior and all that kind of stuff this
18:49as soon as you do this
18:51you know Christ is warning you the first
18:53will be last the last will be first in
18:56fact a good way to think about it
18:58okay yeah it’s true crisis i go to
19:00prepare a place for you
19:02i have no idea what my place would look
19:05like but i can tell you one thing for
19:07absolutely certain i don’t deserve a
19:10newspaper and a park bench in jerusalem
19:13in the new city at all
19:15what i deserve as an eternity in hell
19:18same with you and same with me
19:20so for me to somehow start working out
19:22my reward and just kind of thinking all
19:23about that
19:25shows that what am i what have i done
19:26i’m trusting in myself
19:29to save myself it’s i’m falling back
19:32into works righteousness it’s here then
19:34that the words of our epistle text would
19:37do well to give us warning and pause in
19:40first corinthians 10
19:42paul writes i don’t want you to be
19:43unaware brothers that our fathers were
19:45all under the cloud and they all passed
19:47the sea and they were all baptized into
19:49moses in the cloud and in the sea and
19:51they ate the same spiritual food they
19:53all drank from the same spiritual rock
19:57the same spiritual drink they drank from
19:59the spiritual rock that followed them
20:00and the rock was Christ nevertheless
20:02with most of them god was not pleased
20:03they were overthrown in the wilderness
20:05now these things took place as examples
20:08for us
20:09so that we might not desire evil as they
20:12did and we need to pay close attention
20:14to this because when we think about evil
20:17we think about okay sex drugs and rock
20:19and roll right as long as i just avoid
20:20that i’m good oh
20:23yeah um those are on the list for sure
20:25you know that’s in galatians 5.
20:29evil desiring evil if you if you really
20:32want to talk about the heart of evil
20:34satan is the ultimate egotist he’s a
20:37narcissist he’s all about me myself and
20:40i me me me me i i right
20:43we are most like the devil when we
20:46desire that same self-focused conceit
20:50and self-glorification beware then
20:54so he says do
20:59and it’s really scary because our sinful
21:05to be
21:06the focus
21:07wants to be in charge wants to dethrone
21:10Christ and self-idolatry is a real thing
21:14and everybody who is self righteous
21:17is a self idolater to the core it’s it
21:20well they’re little satanists if you
21:22would and i know it’s hard to think that
21:24way but it’s true
21:25so don’t be idolaters as some of them
21:27were as it is written people sat down to
21:30eat and drink and rose up to play we
21:31must not indulge in sexual immorality as
21:34some of them did and 23 000 fell in a
21:37single day we must not put Christ to the
21:40test as some of them did they were
21:41destroyed by serpents nor grumble as
21:44some of them did and were destroyed by
21:46the destroyer now these things happen to
21:48them as an example but they were written
21:51down for our instruction on whom the end
21:54of the ages has come therefore let
21:56anyone who thinks that he stands take
21:59heed lest he fall
22:04you never get to say i got it figured
22:06out i worked it out in fact i’m no
22:08longer down here with you mere
22:11Christians i’m now a glow-in-the-dark
22:15right as soon as you start thinking this
22:16way you have fallen hard
22:20let anyone who thinks he stands take
22:23lest he fall
22:25so brothers and sisters as we begin our
22:28journey towards easter you’ll note that
22:30we have that fancy latin name for
22:33today’s sunday septuagina right but
22:36basically roughly translated we’re 70
22:38days out from easter but you can see
22:40that we’ve already begun to make the
22:43to begin to think about our own need for
22:47so search your heart
22:49and ask yourself
22:50am i self-reliant
22:52am i in love with the reward
22:55rather than loving the one who bled and
22:58died for me
23:00so that he can give me the reward am i
23:03high on my own
23:06self-righteousness have i become
23:10this is always the problem this is
23:12idolatry so let us again humbly confess
23:16our sins to god let us come to him and
23:20with the apostle paul this is a
23:22trustworthy saying Christ died for
23:23sinners of whom i am the chief
23:26chief of sinner zo i be Jesus shed his
23:28blood for me
23:30shed his blood for you so let’s repent
23:33of that really sneaky satanic subtle
23:39because that will send us to hell every
23:41bit as much as drunkenness sexual
23:43immorality and just fornicabutilating
23:46like you wouldn’t believe it’s all the
23:48same thing and yeah we are all equal we
23:51are all equal to Christ even if we come
23:53to Christ while we are getting ready to
23:55breathe our last breath but sin is not
23:58something that we get to enjoy sin is
24:01something that is horrible
24:03something that we are ashamed of
24:04something that Christ has bled and died
24:07i think you get the point
24:08the last will be first and the first
24:11will be last in the name of Jesus
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