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Luke 19:11-27; Luke 10:38-42

Over the next few months, in Connect Groups and Sunday Services, we will be exploring what it means to live 'For God Alone'. This bible study will help us to begin this exploration by laying a foundation about 'worship'.

  • What do you do for work (either paid or unpaid)?

  • What's the strangest/most interesting job you've ever had?

  • How do you feel about the idea that we should work for God?

Jesus taught his disciples how to live well through many parables and sermons. Some of these are helpful for us to understand His view of work.

Read Luke 19:11-27

  • See if you can identify what each of these elements of the parable might represent:

    • The nobleman who became king

    • The subjects who hated him

    • The nobleman's servants

    • The ten minas (1 mina was about 3 months' basic wage, so 10 minas is equivalent to about $100,000 in Australia today)

    • The good and wicked servants [1]

  • In what respect does belonging to the Kingdom of God require us to 'receive' a free and generous gift?

  • And in what respect does belonging to the Kingdom require us to do something with it?

  • What sorts of 'investments' should we make with what God has freely given us?

  • What do you think a 'wicked servant' type of Christian would look like in practice? [2]

Earlier in Jesus' ministry, he taught something else about 'working' and 'receiving':

Read Luke 10:38-42

  • How does this story help us to think rightly about the place of work and busyness in the Kingdom?

Yet we read in the writings of Paul to the early church about the value of work (in the world, not in the church):

Read also 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 & Ephesians 4:28

  • How do these instructions from Paul help us to understand Jesus' words to Martha?

  • See if you can sum up: What is the value of work in the Kingdom of God?

  • How can you use the work you do (both paid and unpaid) to glorify God?

  • What are the potential dangers of too much work (or of laziness)?

Spend some time reflecting and praying that God would enable us to rightly live lives of worship to Him.

[1] Leon Morris gives this interesting historical background to his parable, concerning nobles travelling to distant countries to be appointed king:

The nobleman going to a far country to receive a kingdom reminds us irresistibly of a vassal making a pilgrimage to Rome to be made king. Herod the Great had received his kingdom that way. In his will he divided his realm between three of his sons, all of whom in due course went to Rome to press their claims. Archelaus had been left Judea with the title king, but the people detested him and sent representatives to ask that he be not given the kingdom. He had given them good reason for hating him. At the first Passover after his accession, for example, he had massacred about 3,000 of his subjects (Josephus, Bellum ii.10–13). He was a thoroughly bad ruler. But the emperor confirmed him in the place of authority, though he denied him the title ‘king’ until he should prove worthy of it (which he never did). There would be special fitness in an allusion to Archelaus in this region, for he had built a magnificent palace in Jericho and also made an aqueduct for irrigation purposes (Josephus, Antiquities xvii.340).

We should probably take the references to the kingdom allegorically. Jesus was about to finish his course at Jerusalem and that meant leaving this earth. But he would return in due course, having been given the kingdom. The reference to a far country shows that he cannot be expected to return very soon.

[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in chapter 1 of his famous book 'The Cost of Discipleship', wrote about the difference between 'cheap grace' (where Christians receive God's grace the way the wicked servant did - laid away in a piece of cloth) and 'costly grace' (where Christians appreciate and respond rightly to what Jesus has done for us). Read and discuss this extended quotation if you would like another perspective on the Christian who does nothing with what God has given them:

Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed a a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian “conception” of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The Church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto a part in that grace. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less till less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. “All for sin could not atone.” The world goes on in the same old way, and we are still sinners “even in the best life,” as Luther said. Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world's standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin...

Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


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