The Heresy of the Vineyard
One recent morning I was reading the passage in Isaiah 48, where Isaiah prophecies the coming of King Cyrus to take down Babylon. He called Cyrus out by name, (because Jesus already new him) 150 years before the man’s birth.
I began to think about Cyrus the King who came as a conquering warrior. As I sat on my sofa and considered the man, as a warrior, rather than as a king, I suddenly felt the physical feeling of my horse getting up under me and us riding across the sand. (Years ago I was a horsewoman, so I know this feeling very well.) It was so unexpected, but also, so very real.
“Lord, why did you let me feel that?” I asked in wonder.
The Lord replied, “I am calling you into battle now.”
“Lord, what is the battle against?”
“It is against religious heresy.”
I asked, “Lord, what heresy?”
He answered, “The heresy of the vineyard.”
My mind sought understanding. Surely He didn’t mean the Vineyard movement?
“Lord, what is that?”
…He had my attention; the word heresy is a very strong word. 😳
Over the centuries, many people have been put to death under charges of heresy; sometimes because they actually were proponents of heretical teaching, but more often because it was politically expedient to someone’s political career that they be gotten out of the way.
Today, sadly, the phrase “heretical teaching” is a favorite accusation to cause division among believers. But when Jesus calls something a heresy, as I believe He spoke this word to me, then we can be sure it really is a heresy.
The definition of heresy is: (by Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
adherence to a religious opinion contrary to church dogma; an opinion or doctrine contrary to church dogma Or: dissent or deviation from a dominant theory, opinion, or practice.
You could say, (this part is just me), it means a belief or doctrine contrary to what is “normal” and “accepted as correct” within church teaching. I’ll come back to that.
In answer to my question, “Lord, what is the Heresy of the Vineyard?” the Lord led me into research. I looked up scriptures related to the vineyard. There are many, but the one that I felt His weight on as I searched is the “Parable of the Evil Farmers,” This parable is in all 3 synoptic gospels. It appears in Luke 20, Matthew 21 and Mark 12.
This is an interesting parable, and as I studied, I found new understanding and the answer to my question. Luke 20 begins with the leading priests and teachers of religious law challenging Jesus on the source of His authority.
“By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?” they asked.
3 “Let me ask you a question first,” he replied. 4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?” Luke 20:2-4
But, they refused to answer His question because there was no politically correct response. So, Jesus refused to answer them…and then!
THEN, He told the parable of the evil farmers/tenants who tried to steal from the vineyard owner, even resorting to killing the heir of the estate. The answer to their question, and mine, is contained in this parable:
Luke 20: 1-19
1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 2 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
3 “Let me ask you a question first,” he replied. 4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
5 They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. 6 But if we say it was merely human, the people will stone us because they are convinced John was a prophet.” 7 So they finally replied that they didn’t know.
8 And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Parable of the Evil Farmers
9 Now Jesus turned to the people again and told them this story: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and moved to another country to live for several years. 10 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers attacked the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 11 So the owner sent another servant, but they also insulted him, beat him up, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 A third man was sent, and they wounded him and chased him away.
13 “‘What will I do?’ the owner asked himself. ‘I know! I’ll send my cherished son. Surely they will respect him.’
14 “But when the tenant farmers saw his son, they said to each other, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 15 So they dragged him out of the vineyard and murdered him.
“What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do to them?” Jesus asked. 16 “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others.”
“How terrible that such a thing should ever happen,” his listeners protested.
17 Jesus looked at them and said, “Then what does this Scripture mean?
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’[a]
18 Everyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.”
19 The teachers of religious law and the leading priests wanted to arrest Jesus immediately because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the people’s reaction
The passage says that the religious leaders became offended because they realized that Jesus was telling the passage against THEM — THEY were the wicked farmers!
At this point in my research, I began to feel like I was gleaning understanding about the “Heresy of the Vineyard” that the Lord had spoken to me;
For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has arrived
to look after Judah, his flock.
He will make them strong and glorious,
like a proud warhorse in battle.
He will make THEM, (the flock, NOT the shepherds) strong and glorious like a proud warhorse in battle.
The book of Job 39:19-25 (NLT) gives a fuller description of a warhorse. In the pictorial language of scripture, a warhorse is majestic and terrifying to the enemy, he laughs at fear and is not distressed; he does not turn back from the sword. He rushes into battle at the sound of the trumpet. The warhorse smells the battle from afar and it does not make him fearful — it excites him!
This is a description of us believers! We are to be warhorses. This is the us that Jesus says He is making us into!
So What Is The Heresy of the Vineyard?
The shepherds, (the Pastors and Teachers, and we can include Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists too) are supposed to be making us into warhorses!
We are the Lord’s agents, we are His co-heirs! He sent us! Not a select few, but all of us, His chosen ones! We are the ones made in His image who know Him as King.
But Zechariah said, He is angry at the shepherds, because instead of building us up, they take our authority from us, make us question our authority, our callings (the callings spoken to our hearts by the Father himself) and leave us as lost sheep relegated to pew sitting, waiting on the shepherds to do it all for us.
In many cases, we haven’t even been taught what is supposed to be done, much less be trained do it for ourselves.
Someone in the Body needs prayer? Only the pastors or elders or trained people can do it. Everyone else stay where you are! You might mess it up! You might say the wrong kind of prayers. We’re not even sure you hear from the Lord!
You have a word of the Lord for another believer? We need you to pass it through us first, just to make sure we agree it is from the Lord—But they don’t teach on discernment so that the one receiving knows that they can discern for themselves or among those who know them by the SAME HOLY SPIRIT!
The Body of Christ has been turned into bench warmers instead of powerful, fiery, passionate warhorses! This, I believe, is the “Heresy of the Vineyard.” Jesus is coming to train us up. He will make us strong and glorious! His bride, ready to receive Him, ready to be one with Him.
Fleshing It Out
Remember, Heresy is a deviation from what is accepted as correct doctrine. So in the context of this parable, NOT accepting or diminishing the authority of the Lord’s people is NOT NORMAL! It is in fact heresy.
In the early church, there was an equality among believers, regardless of their title. It was acknowledged that each one carried the SAME Holy Spirit and that everyone could hear from the Lord and move by His Spirit.
Jesus turned the 70 loose, as babes, to go out an do what they had seen Him doing. Preach the Kingdom of God, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. They came back shocked that they had been able to do it. They didn’t even have certificates to say they could!😋
However, over the centuries religious leaders have gotten it wrong. These shepherds, far from training and sending out believers who were humble yet secure in their authority, are instead acting like parents who, long after their son is married to his wife, continue to try and manipulate and control him.
In their efforts to control, religious leaders are like parents who cite to their married son, the commandment to honor you father and mother. However, before that law was established on stone, the word of God said through Adam, “a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and they shall be one flesh.”
As married adult children, we continue to honor our father and mother but we do not do everything they say.The relationship with our spouse now takes precedent. We are the Bride of Christ, not of the church establishment on Earth.
We believers are now married to the Lord Jesus Christ. We have become one flesh with Him; we are His Body. His Spirit leads us. We can honor our human authorities, but we obey the Spirit of God. Our “shepherds” do not have superior authority to Him.
Jesus never desired for His Body to be couch potatoes. Everyone He taught was required to put His instruction into practice immediately; try it out. We have not been given authority only to sit on the sidelines of the war while a few valiant warriors do battle. We all have a role to fulfill. The war is waged every day.
Beloved, YOU are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to accomplish good works that He set aside for YOU to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
In Christ Jesus, YOU are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. YOU are a restorer from ruin. In your righteousness – that YOU HAVE RECEIVED from Jesus– YOU are like a great oak that the Lord has planted FOR HIS GLORY!
As a new creation in Christ Jesus YOU are a rebuilder of ancient ruins. The ruins in your family, in other peoples families. A rebuilder of the ruins left after addiction, abuse, bad choices…
YOU are called a priest of the Lord, a minister of our God. All the time, every day.
Instead of shame and dishonor YOU will enjoy a double share of honor. YOU will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land.
Because you ARE in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit HAS and IS renewing your mind and you are gaining wisdom in how to steward ALL things. He is instructing you how to steward your gifts, how to steward your authority, how to steward the hearts that have been put in your care, how to steward money, land, wealth for the increase of the Kingdom in your community and everywhere you set your feet.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is FREEDOM! (2 Corinthians 3:17) Not guilt and condemnation. There is the easy flow of living according to the Spirit within you and seeing the fruit of that Spirit from the easy obedience you live in.
I hope you have been blessed to have some of the MANY righteous, loving, generous and servant-hearted leaders in your life. Leaders who have set you free to become fully who you are called to be. If so, the fruit is likely that you too are producing disciples who are becoming more and more in the image of Christ Jesus.
If not, the evidence my be hard for you to see. If we lived under a tyrannical government that made us choose between our faith in God and obedience to the law of the land, we would recognize that we were not living in freedom.
The problem has been that we have not, consciously, recognized the problem for what it is when people with titles like; pastor, leader, teacher or organization cause you to be locked in conflict with your conscience, requiring you to choose whether to obey them or Holy Spirit within you. Just like the tyrannical government, this is illegitimate authority. Censorship. Captivity. Heresy.
Just as Jesus has the full authority of the Father because He is submitted to the Father, you and I have been given the authority of Jesus because we are submitted to HIM! We do not take off our authority, give it to our pastor and sit down!
It is time to rise up beloved! Rise up into the fullness of your identity in Christ Jesus.
You ARE a new creation, you have been given the authority of the Bride of Christ. You have been given authority as sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Take a step today and begin walking in the fullness of your authority. Let Holy Spirit teach you how to walk in it. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. Our victory is sure, but we must still engage in the war.
Cultivate a close group of fellow believers who are believing God and learning to walk with Holy Spirit. Listen to the wisdom they too are receiving from Him; discerning and growing together into the fullness of your gifts and calling.
Take the Word of God seriously, then take territory for the Kingdom of God.
If your spirit has been stirred as you have been reading this, talk to Jesus about this feeling. If He confirms that there is a problem, turn away from the Heresy of the Vineyard. Spot it by Holy Spirit in familiar places.
Ask Holy Spirit what to do about it, and agree with Him. Step into the fullness of your authority in Christ Jesus as co-heir of the Kingdom of God. Let Holy Spirit be your teacher, and believe what He says! The world needs us to be warhorses who know how to take and hold territory for the Kingdom of God. May everlasting joy be yours as you experience true freedom in Christ Jesus.