Sermon #30                                       Series: Song Of Solomon


          Title:                     The Church

Our Lord’s Vineyard

          Text:            Song of Solomon 8:12

          Readings:     Office: Paul Winderl Auditorium: Bob Poncer

          Subject:       Christ’s Special Love For And Care Of His Church

          Date:            Sunday Evening - January 29, 1999

          Tape #         V-7a and V-10b



Song of Songs 8:12  "My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred."


          The Song of Solomon is really a series of responsive songs. As I have told you many times, it must be read and understood spiritually. This poetic book is a symbolical picture of Christ and his church. Wherever we see Solomon speaking, it is Christ speaking to  his church. Wherever we see the Shulamite speaking to her Beloved, it is the church speaking to Christ. Throughout this “Song of Songs” we hear Christ speaking to us, his church, his Bride, his Spouse; and then the church responds to his words of love in tones of sincere affection and admiration.


The very fact that this is a responsive song, makes it at times difficult to understand, because it is not always easy to determine who is speaking in a given passage - Christ or his church. For example, the commentators are just about equally divided over this sentence: “My vineyard, which is mine, is before me.” Some say, “This is Christ speaking to his church.” Others insist, “This is the church speaking to Christ.”


Personally, I would not want to say. I cannot press the issue one way or the other. So, tonight, we will take this first sentence of our text as coming from the lips of our Lord to his church. Then we will put it into the mouth of the Bride herself. I believe that our souls will be greatly profited by both considerations, if the Lord will bless the labor of his servant.


Proposition: The church is the vineyard of our Lord Jesus Christ, always under his watchful eye and tender care.


NOTE: As we talk about the church, please understand that we are talking about the church universal, the mystical, spiritual body of Christ. The church is the whole body of God’s elect, the whole family of God. All true believers of every age are in the church. We are all one body in Christ, who is our Head (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:13-14).


1 Corinthians 12:13  "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."


Ephesians 2:13-14  "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (14) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;"


NOTE: We have no difficulty understanding that the vineyard spoken of in this text is the church of Christ (Psa. 80:8-10, 14-15).


Psalms 80:8-10  "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. (9) Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. (10) The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars."


Psalms 80:14-15  "Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; (15) And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself."


          Other trees may be useful for lumber or firewood, though they bring forth no fruit. But a vine is only useful when it is fruitful. If a vine is fruitless it is useless. It cumbers the ground. It must be cut down and burned. The church is frequently compared to a vine, or vineyard, in the Scriptures (Isa. 5:1, 2, 7; John 15:1-10).


1.   It is compared to a vine, because of its fruitfulness.

2.   It is compared to a vine, because as a vine which has many branches is one, even so the church of Christ is one body in Christ, though it has many members.




1.     The Words Of Christ To His Church.

2.     The Language Of The Church About Her Own Responsibility.

3.     The Declaration Of The Church To Her Great Lord.


I.      First, I want us to look at this first sentence as coming from the lips of our Lord. These are THE WORDS OF CHRIST TO HIS CHURCH - “My vineyard, which is mine, is before me.”


          With these words, our Lord Jesus Christ claims the church as his own and declares his special love and care for it.


A.  The Lord here declares that the church is his own special property.


          He makes the claim twice, “My vineyard, which is mine.” He is declaring his rights of ownership. He looks upon his church, his believing people, those whom he has chosen and redeemed, and says - “This is my vineyard.”


1.   We know that all things belong to our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 4:11).


a.   All things are his by right of creation.

b.   All things are his by the prerogative of providence.

c.   All things are his by virtue of his mediatorial reign (John 17:2).


2.   But our Lord here claims a special interest in and possession of his church.


          It is true that our Lord is good and benevolent to all his creatures. But the special object of our Savior’s love, care, and concern is his own vineyard, his church. In providence he rules over all things and all people; but the object, goal, and purpose of his rule is the welfare of his church (John 17:2; Rom. 8:28).


a.   The church belongs to Christ by divine gift from his Father (John 17:6, 9, 11, 12).


John 17:6  "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word."


John 17:9  "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."


John 17:11-12  "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (12) While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled."


          The church is the property of all the three persons of the Holy Trinity. She belongs to God the Father by eternal election. She belongs to God the Son by donation, by Suretyship agreement. And she belongs to God the Holy Spirit by his indwelling presence and special habitation (Eph. 2:20-22).


b.   The church belongs to Christ by a lawful purchase (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27).


          There are some who say that all men were purchased by Christ. But you and I do not believe in such a sham redemption, a redemption which does not redeem. We do not believe in a universal atonement which extends even to those who were in hell before Christ died. Such an atonement is no atonement at all. We believe in an effectual redemption, a particular and special atonement. We can never tolerate the doctrine of those who would tell us that Christ died in vain, and that some of those for whom he died will perish in hell.


          Our Lord will never part with his church. He will never lose one of his redeemed ones. He paid too dear a price for us.


c.   The church belongs to Christ as a bride belongs to her husband (Hos. 2:14-3:3).


(1.) He chose us as the object of his love.

(2.) He redeemed us with his own precious blood.

(3.) He has courted us, wooed our hearts, and won    our love by his gracious Spirit.

(4.) He will not allow us to be lost.

·        He will never leave us.

·        He will never allow us to leave him.


B. The church is the special property of Christ. He says, “My vineyard, which is mine.” But there is more. In this sentence, our Lord also declares that his church is the constant object of his watchful eye and special care - “My vineyard, which is mine, is before me.”


          Those words, as coming from the lips of Christ are full of meaning for the comfort of our hearts - “My vineyard is before me.” He is saying to us - “Fear not, my eye is upon you. I am engaged to do you good.” (See Isa. 41:10, 14).


Isaiah 41:10  "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."


Isaiah 41:14  "Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel."


1.   The church is before Christ in the sense that he so loves us that he will never let us out of his presence.


          The vineyard is so dear to him that he never leaves it. He may sometimes hide himself among the vines; but he is always present (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). He still walks among the golden candlesticks.


2.   This statement by our Lord also means that he is always caring for his church - Providence. He will do us good.


3.   In this expression there is also the assurance that the Lord is knowledgeable of his church.


He knows us. He is thoroughly acquainted with us and with all that concerns us.


4.   There is a sweet thought here for all who love Christ. You, as his church, and each one of you who are his people, are especially preserved by Christ - Personally and particularly.


5.   Let us ever remember, the church is the Lord’s own vineyard.


          He will take care of her. He will maintain her cause. He will provide her needs. He will build her walls, establish her gates, and maintain her success.


NOTE: The church does not belong to the pastor, nor to the people, but to Christ alone.


NOTE: These two things, our Lord would have us to understand.

·        The church belongs to him.

·        The church is under his care.


Part 2



Scripture Readings

Office: Gary Baker Auditorium: Merle Hart


Song of Songs 8:11-12  "Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. 12 My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred."


          In verse 11 several things are set before us.


1.    The Church of God in this world is Christ’s vineyard.


2.    The Lord Jesus has trusted the care of his vineyard to chosen men (Matt. 20:1-2, 21:33).


3.    Gospel preachers are the Lord’s rent-gatherers. They collect his fruit and bring it in to him (John 15:16).


4.    The fruit gathered and brought by these keepers of the Lord’s vineyard is all the same.


          The fruit brought in by each one is “a thousand pieces of silver.” God’s servants all have the same commission to preach the gospel. They have different gifts and abilities. And their outward, apparent successes differ. Some have greater and some lesser success, at least in their own eyes and in the eyes of men. “Yet,” as John Gill wrote, “in the faithful and honest discharge of their work, they are all so blessed by him, as to answer the end of their ministration (ministry) designed by him; so that he reckons that every one, even the meanest (most humble and least gifted), brings in his thousand pieces, as well as the more able and successful.”


II.   Now, let’s look at this sentence as though it were spoken by the church herself, as spoken by us to our Savior - “My vineyard, which is mine, is before me.” THIS IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE CHURCH ABOUT HER OWN RESPONSIBILITY.


          The church is Christ’s own vineyard. It belongs to him. But he has let his vineyard out to many “keepers” (v. 11). It is our responsibility, as “keepers” of the vineyard, to be faithful stewards over that which the Lord has committed to our care.


A.  Every believer is responsible for his own heart, his own life, and his own work (Song of Sol. 1:6).


Song of Songs 1:6  "Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept."


          If you are a believer, if your are one of those men or women who belong to Christ, you are a “keeper” of the Lord’s vineyard. He has placed into your hands, under your care, a part of that vineyard which is so dear to him that he paid for it with his own life’s blood. Now, it is your responsibility to faithfully serve him in his vineyard.


1.   Keep your heart for him. - Proverbs 4:23  "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."


2.   Keep your life for him.


          See to it that your life upon this earth is a life lived for the honor and glory of Christ (Col. 3:1-3).


Colossians 3:1-3  "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (2) Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (3) For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."


3.   Faithfully keep to the work which he has given you.


Illustration: Peter (John 21:20-22)


John 21:20-22  "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."


          Serve the Lord where you are. To serve him is to serve his people and to serve his cause. There is something that you can do, something that you are responsible to do, something that you must do for Christ, for the good of his church, for the furtherance of his gospel.

·        You can visit the sick.

·        You can bear faithful witness of Christ.

·        You can bring folks to hear the gospel.

·        You can minister to God’s servants.

·        You can take care of the church property.

·        You can assist in the many aspects of the ministry God has given us.


B. There are some who are given special talents and special responsibilities as “keepers” in the Lord’s vineyard.


          With special talents come special responsibilities.


1.   Some of you are teachers in the church of Christ.

2.   Some of you are deacons in the church of Christ.

3.   I am given the privilege and the awesome responsibility of being one of the Lord’s pastors, an under-shepherd, a keeper of the Lord’s vineyard.

4.   Now, there is one thing which the Lord requires of us, in each of our respective places - Faithfulness! (1 Cor. 4:1-2).


1 Corinthians 4:1-2  "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (2) Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."


          As a steward under God, this is “My vineyard”. It is the vineyard which God has given to me. This is the sphere and place of my responsibility - It is “before me”.


I am not responsible for my brother, or for his work; but I am responsible for myself. I must always keep my own work before my eyes. I must go about my work, doing what I have to do, just as though there were no one else in the world to do anything.


If I see another man prospering more than myself, I will thank God for his blessing upon my brother and his work. But still, I must say, “My vineyard, which is mine, is before me.” I do not look for, nor do I desire another man’s place. This is the place God has for me. This is the work God has committed to my hands. This is the place where I must faithfully serve him.


          What about you? Will you be faithful in the place where the Lord has put you, and faithful in the work he has set before you?


III. Now, thirdly, here is THE DECLARATION OF THE CHURCH TO HER GREAT LORD. - “Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.”


A.  The fruit of the vineyard belongs to Christ and He must have it.


          I trust that each one of us feels the necessity of that word “must”. Jesus Christ must have the fruit of his vineyard. That is to say, He must receive all the honor, all the glory, and all the praise from his church.


1.   We must not applaud ourselves for God’s blessings upon us.

2.   We must not exalt and magnify those who labor most zealously and those who give most generously.

3.   We must not give glory and praise to the preacher through whom the Lord speaks and works.


          “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.’ No flesh shall glory in his presence.


B. And the keepers of the vineyard shall receive their reward as well.


No earned rewards in heaven are promised here! But this fact must not be ignored - Those who honor God, God will honor (1 Sam. 2:30).


1 Samuel 2:30  "Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed."


1.   Each man and woman who faithfully serves the Lord Jesus Christ will find great reward in doing so.


·        Your own soul will be profited by your faithfulness.

·        Such men and women should be highly esteemed by those who profit by their labors.


2.   Those who are faithful pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons in the church should be given their proper respect and esteem.


3.   And those who preach the gospel of Christ are to be rewarded for their labors by those for whom they labor.


a.   Every true and faithful servant of God is to be esteemed very highly for his work’s sake (1 Thess. 5:12-13).


1 Thessalonians 5:12-13  "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; (13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves."


     One of the old writers made this observation – “Where Christ gets his due among a people, there and there only do ministers get their due. Where Christ is heartily received, the feet of them that bring glad tidings will be beautiful. Where Christ has his thousand, ministers will have their two hundred.”


b.   Those who preach the gospel are to live by the gospel. They are to be generously supported and maintained by their congregations (1 Tim. 5:17-18; Gal. 6:6; 1 Cor. 9:9-11).


1 Corinthians 9:9-11  "For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? (10) Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. (11) If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?"


Galatians 6:6  "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things."


1 Timothy 5:17-18  "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (18) For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."


c.    This two hundred, which is the reward of God’s servants, certainly includes those chosen, redeemed sinners who are converted by the Spirit of God under their influence.


1 Thessalonians 2:19-20  "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy."


d.   This two hundred shall be the full possession and compensation of every servant of God in eternal glory.


          Here, we may seem to come far short of it. Poverty, disrespect, and reproach are the common lot of faithful gospel preachers in this world. But there is a day coming when, “they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).


2 Timothy 4:6-8  "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."



Application: These three things I would have you to take home with you and meditate upon them.


1.   The church belongs to Christ. It is his vineyard, always under his watchful eye and the object of his loving care.


2.   It is our responsibility to faithfully serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the place where we are, with the capacity he has given us.


3.   Those who faithfully serve Christ, all of them, are to be duly honored by us.