Attitude determines altitude
Matthew 21:28-32; BCBC/IOUC; 4/4/2021; Rev. Paul Wang
Attitude determines altitude, who said this sentence? This famous words was said by a late great speaker, Originator of successology, Norman Vincent Peale. Actually there is another sentence after this, “details determine success or failure.” I do not totally agree with these words, but just use the things that we are familiar with to talk about the truth that we are unfamiliar with.
As a matter of fact, I do not quite agree with any kind of determinism. Since other than God, How dare a person determine anything? However, through today’s thinking context，together we can answer several concepts, and understand God’s heart to us. Let’s see the first point:
Two different answers
I think these two questions are what we are familiar with, right? If you don’t believe, just try to ask your child to do some work, and see what your child will answer you. First, a question raised by the father. The question the father asked was: Son, go and work today in the vineyard. The father did not use a question mark, but a period. It means: it’s not seeking your opinion, but it is the father’s command. Today’s world no longer has the concept of a father’s authority， and it has become a joke to obey a father’s words. For the half century, some people said it is rare to see a filial son. Do you agree? It seems like “filial piety” has gradually disappeared. On the contrary, we can see unscrupulous offspring all over the places. In the scriptures, the father has to say the same words twice. After talking to the first son, he had to talk to the second son. Isn’t it the same kind of relationship that we have with heavenly Father? Through the Great Commission issued by His Holy Son Christ, how many people would listen? Have you ever answered the question God asked you?
Second, the first son’s answer. The first son said, “I will not go!” Would this be the authority of all sons? Facing a father’s voice, how would today’s son answer? Maybe rejection is the best way to express restlessness. People can choose not to face it, like an ostrich put its head into the sand, or a fish swimming in the deep sea ocean. Both are ways to escape reality. In the same way, China can say “no” or not to take it. Anyhow, just choosing not to play the game anymore. However, most of the time they would regret, and quickly the attitude softened. Same as the first son, he repented after his words, and then went into the vineyard to work. His attitude was not good, and in the end he still obeyed reluctantly with the fact. He had an action after impulsion, but he lost the beginning attitude.
Lastly, the second son’s answer. The father saw his first son was so hard to talk to, then he went to talk to his second son. It seems like the second son is good at resolving the pressure，and has skills in the business field. He would agree in the very beginning, then he would think it over. The bible says, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.” On the surface, he has a good attitude, actually he is the one with craftiness， and still without a good attitude. Saying one thing and doing another. Isn’t it less for people with duplicity? Let’s see the second point:
The difference between belief and morality
The closer the last days is, the less the belief is. Not only belief is getting less, even morality is getting less. There are even less people to distinguish between belief and morality! With Jesus’ one sentence, He shows us the difference between belief and morality. First, between the two sons, which son is right? Let’s see the two sons. The first son is impulsive， and is not willing to think when he is facing an issue. His heart may not be straightforward， but he has a quick tongue. It’s difficult to disobey his father, but he still reacted by flash, “I will not go!” Even though later he repented, and went. Still, he continued was controlled by his own flesh. Please note that this kind of repentance is without any life change. The second son was clever， first he said he would go, then he found an excuse not to go, and you could do nothing about him. The last days are near, there will be more and more of these two types of people. Are you among one of them? The great commission issued by Christ, is kept in the Bible for over two thousand years, Who is living the life for it? Finding all the excueses，and just do not want to do the gospel work in the vineyard. With such great needs in the church, people just do not give the heart to God!
Second, belief is far above morality. Maybe we all focus on the two sons, and think no matter what, either this one or the other， eventually God will choose one of the two sons. In this case, we have at least 50% chosen rate. It seems like this is a general trend， and the social trend is like this way. Even so, It is not important whether I participate or not. However, God quickly turned to say: “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. (Matthew 21:31)” This sentence may be out of our expectations. How could it be? Who are the tax collectors? How dare they be on par with us? They are sinners of the nation. How could prostitutes enter the kingdom of God? Wouldn’t they contaminate heaven? Here Jesus proclaimed an official Call To Arms：道德Morality，never try to stand before belief! Lastly, it is the right way to follow the father’s command. Speaking in logic, there are three choices： First is the first son, next is the second son, third is both sons followed or not to follow the father’s command. Obviously Jesus did not choose both of them, but the tax collectors and prostitutes. They were chosen by God because of repentance and changing. Because they obeyed Father God’s will, repented and were justified by faith,， they were beyond the judgement of morality. For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith. Not relying on the binding of morality and ethics. Let’s see the third point:
The truth of faith and repentance
Preaching to this point, Jesus started to mention the core of the message: Believe in Jesus, and receive eternal life! First, John has come, what about you? Who is John? Jesus says, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, he is the last prophet. Therefore, anyone who came after John and called himself prophet is the false prophet. How far do you want to walk on the path of the prophet? The reason is very simple, right? For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, what about you? Do you want to follow? Or neglect? Or even ignore the message of repentance brought by John and continue to walk your own way in sins and not repent even till death?
Second, the sinners repented, what about you? The sinners as the prostitutes and tax collectors whom you looked down usually already repented and believe in God, do you still want to run on the path of death and destruction? Do you still bind yourself in the world? You said you believe in God, but you still embrace money, position, reputation and false glory! Jesus says, you are not even worthy of the prostitutes, and are inferior to the tax collectors. They even enter into the kingdom of heaven ahead of you. Do you think it’s better to enter late than never, and better than not able to enter? Two robbers, one entered into the paradise, the other was weeping in the darkness. Ten virgins，five prepared oil for the lamps, five did not have the oil and the life dried out and were not able to shine the light. All people are running on the heavenly path, Do you still want to self-love in sins?
Lastly, this is the opportunity, do you want it? Dear friends, today is Easter Sunday, and remembering the Lord Jesus died for us on the cross, He rose from the dead three days later. Because of His resurrection, the meaning of our life has been re-written. If Christ is not resurrected, we would have no hope, and will die in the hopelessness of sins. Without the eternal life from Christ, The meaning of human beings is Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Do you really want to hold on to hopelessness, and die meaningless? The Bible says, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)”
Dear gospel friends, before God, if you are willing to affirm your attitude, determine your will, I am willing to lead you to have an earnest prayer before God: Dear heavenly Father, I thank you and praise you! You talked to me through today’s message. Please forgive my sins! Through my humble attitude expressed in front of You today, please guide me to move stably on high, the dimension where You are. I am willing to hold on to the salvation opportunity, to believe in You, to follow You, till eternity!
Lord, we thank You!