“Son, go work to-day in my vineyard.” – Matthew 21:28
When Charles Spurgeon began this sermon he candidly acknowledged “I take leave to withdraw these words from their immediate context.” Instead, he sought to “use them as a voice” to call God’s people to serve Jesus Christ.
Spurgeon was certain that “God still speaks to us,” after all “he has spoken to us in his word.” God’s “precepts,” “promises,” “statutes,” and “testimonies” called for the Christian’s attention. But on this particular occaision, Spurgeon sought “the more martial and stirring call.” He wanted his church to be inflamed with zeal for “service for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon examined “The character under which it calls us.” Here Spurgeon noted that when God said “‘Son go to work,’” it “puts work on a very gracious footing.” Spurgeon thought it a marvel that “we are bidden to work for the Lord, not as slaves, nor as mere servants, but as sons.”
As sons, the Christians do not work “for life but from life.” As Spurgeon said, “You do not try to serve Christ in order that you may be saved, but because you are saved.” Additionally, Christians “do not obey his commands that you may become children,” but rather because they are children.
Indeed, this strengthened the command “because, in addressing us as sons, it reminds us of the great love which made us what we are.” One only had to think “of the love which chose us” and “the love which adopted us” for the heart to be filled with “immeasurable…gratitude.” Spurgeon believed that such a call to service should “awaken in you the filial feeling which is swift at once to yield obedience and love.”
In the second section of his sermon Spurgeon addressed “The service to which the Lord calls us.” Here Spurgeon lamented that “I know some Christians who do not like the name or work,” known for their “sullen mood” and “when they turn sour” instead of their faithful service. Spurgeon warned such individuals that “he that quarrels with the precept quarrels with God.” Furthermore, he who “does not like the practical part of Christianity” proves that “he has neither part nor lot in the matter.”
In Spurgeon’s view the Scripture was clear, “go work” simply meant “go work.” And by this “work” Spurgeon meant “something that will involve effort, toil, earnestness, self-denial,” and “something that will want perseverance.” Indeed, as he continued his specific object became clear when he said, “a man does not win souls to Christ while he is himself half-asleep.”
Indeed, while there were many ways to serve the Lord, Spurgeon’s special focus here was personal evangelism. He warned his congregation “Do not play at teaching in Sunday-schools,” and he warned aspiring ministers “Do not play the preacher.” Rather, Christians were to “Throw thy soul into” work. Indeed, “If it is worth doing well…it is worth doing better than you have ever done it.”
Furthermore, Spurgeon believed that “there is no pleasure in the world like that of serving God.” The Christian is “always receiving.” Receiving grace upon grace, and while this was “very blessed, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” And so when the believer could offer up their humble service to God “it is a happy and blessed thing.”
In the third section of his sermon, Spurgeon focused on “The time.” Here he counselled his congregation saying, “Brother….Let the morrow take care of itself.” Spurgeon stressed the urgency of the command “Go work to-day” because he was worried that delayed obedience would putrify into stale disobedience. And so he said, “If thou hast done nothing for Christ thou hast wasted enough time.”
Finally, Spurgeon encouraged his congregation to “keep on as long as you can.” In his view, the command “means work all the day: work as long as ever you live.” The Christian was to serve Christ the whole of his life. Indeed, there was no retirement from serving Jesus Christ although the form may change over time. And when the work became tiresome, the Christian could persevere for “there is rest in heaven enough” sufficient for “the toils of time.”
Why you should take up and read:
For Charles Spurgeon, the command to “work to-day in my vineyard” was a call to zealously serve the Lord Jesus Christ. But this work was not “for life but from life.” Indeed, “there is no pleasure in the world like serving God.” In this sermon Spurgeon expounded upon the sweetness of working for Christ. For those thirsting for such sweetness please take up and read.
Here is the link the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/work-for-jesus#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves at the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where he is also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.