SERIES: Topical Messages: God: His Love For Sinners
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (November 22th, 2015)
SUBTITLE: The Greatest Story Ever Told: The Parable of the Loving Father
SCRIPTURE: Luke 15:19-32
SUBJECT: God loves sinners
SUMMARY: The proof of the Father’s love is demonstrated by the father’s acquiescence to the son’s request, in the reception by the father when the son returned to repent, when the father restored the son to an exalted position, and in the face of the younger son’s reaction.
SCHEME: To provide evidence, or proof of God’s love for sinners
Our theme is: God loves sinners
Interrogatory Sentence: How does God prove that he loves sinners who repent?
Transitional Sentence: The passage before provides seven (7) proofs that demonstrates that God loves sinners who repent:
• Is seen in the request
• Is seen in the response
• Is seen in the rebellion
• Is seen in the result
• Is seen in the repentance
• Is seen in the rejoicing
• Is seen in the reaction
[The Title of the Message]
The Greatest Story Ever Told: The Parable of the Loving Father (Part 2)
[Announce the Text]
Please open your Bibles to Luke 15:11-32
This gospel was written by Luke to an important government figure in Rome named Theophilus. Luke wrote his gospel to ground Theophilus in the things that he had been taught about the incarnation of Christ and all the events that surrounded Christ’s life up to his ascension into heaven. Luke claimed to have perfect understanding of all the events involved in Christ’s life from his birth to his ascension. Luke did not write a biography but he did write the longest book of the New Testament. He focused on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Even though it was written to strengthen the faith of Theophilus, God has wonderfully preserved this gospel so that it serves to strengthen your faith. Luke, guided by the HS gave us a well-balanced presentation of the deity and humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Re-announce and read the text
Let’s now read Luke 15:11-32
Prayer for illumination & understanding
Heavenly and Gracious Father, we, your children know that in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Through your HS open our eyes that we may see the wonders of your Word; and give us grace that we may clearly understand and freely choose the way of your wisdom; through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
A lawyer made his way to the edge of the excavation where a gang was working, and called the name of John Smith. "Who wants me?" inquired a heavy voice. "Mr. Smith," the lawyer asked, "did you come from Kelso, Cowlitz County?" "I do." "And your mother was named Bridget and your father Michael?" "They was." "It is my duty, then," said the lawyer, "to inform you, Mr. Smith that your Aunt Mary has died in Iowa, leaving you an estate of sixty thousand dollars." There was a short silence below, and then a lively commotion. "Are you coming, Mr. Smit?" the lawyer called down.
"In one minute," was bellowed in answer. "I've just stopped to lick the foreman."
It required just six months of extremely riotous living for Smith to spend all of the sixty thousand dollars. His chief endeavor was to satisfy a huge inherited thirst.
Then he went back to his job. And there, presently, the lawyer sought him out again.
"It's your Uncle Patrick, this time, Mr. Smith," the lawyer explained. "He has died in Texas, and left you forty thousand dollars." Smith leaned heavily on his pick, and shook his head in great weariness. "I don't think I can take it," he declared. "I'm not as strong as I once was, and I don’t think I could go through all that money and live."
I propose to you that sometimes money even from an inheritance is not always the best thing for you. Money, possessions, and wealth can be at times a hard taskmaster. Sometimes it is too tempting to live according to the money that you have.
At times it is easy to sin, and to violate the standards, the holiness, and the character of God our Father by what we have rather by what we don’t have. Many times believers choose to depend on and come to love wealth. During those times when God will often bring you to a place where you recognize your rebellion and draws you to repentance and to himself. Because God loves repentant sinners.
Again, this morning I want to share with you the proof that God loves sinners who repent. We do not have to be afraid of God even though we may have sinned, and even sinned egregiously against God. God takes pleasure and rejoices when sinners repent.
And so, I intend to continue this morning proving to you that God loves sinners who repent
I ask you again, what proof do we have that God loves sinners who repent? Our passage provides seven (7) proofs that God loves sinners who repent. You will see this proof in the request, in the response, in the rebellion, in the result, in the repentance, in the rejoicing, and in the reaction spoken of in this parable.
[Before we start our third point, let’s take a minute and…]
Two weeks ago we began examining the proof that God’s loves sinners who repent by
taking a look at…
1A The Request of the son
“And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’”
This man’s son make a most unusual and as you saw a very disrespectful request of this father for his share of his inheritance. He wanted his share immediately. He did not want to wait for his father to die to get his hands on his portion of the estate. He violated the cultural mores of his day and age to get his hands on monies that was one day coming to him.
Since none of you will not be asking your parents for your share of your inheritance, I think the most value that comes from this point is this – be careful what you ask your heavenly Father for. The reason many prayer requests are not answered is due to the fact that God cannot answer because they are not in accordance with his will, his word, or his character.
[And that led us to…]
2A The Response of the Father (12b)
“So he divided to them his livelihood.”
Unbelievable! The father responded by complying with his younger son’s request. This was a real “eye-roller.” What was he thinking? The Pharisees – this is who this story is for – would never believe that a Jewish father would respond this way.
Rather than disciplining his son or having him publicly disciplined, he went through a rather demeaning procedure of finding someone who would buy his estate, usually at a discounted price, and then wait for him to die in order to take actual possession.
The point here is somewhat similar to our first point – sometimes God in His infinite wisdom just might give you what you ask for. Sometimes what we want or what we ask for is not always good for us. But, since God is sovereign and infinitely wise, he may allow something He knows is unpleasant or bad for us into our lives in order to accomplish his eternal purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son. You just might get what you asked for.
[So, having considered these things, let’s move to our…]
TRUTH FOR TODAY
[We now consider the third proof that God loves sinners who repent and that is seen in:]
3A The Rebellion by the Son (vss. 13-14a)
The younger son has rebelled against his father and his family. He has even rebelled against God by his actions and attitudes.
[He begins his rebellion against his father by…]
1B His Departure (13a)
“And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country…”
It seems that he could not wait to get out of there. He packed up everything he wanted to take, filled up his money sack with his portion of the inheritance money, and he boogied on out of there.
Note, that he didn’t even want to remain in his hometown or even in Israel. He wanted to get away as far as possible. He went to a “far” country, a foreign country. He took his dough and split. He was going to do it “Frank Sinatra style,” in other words he was going to do it his way now that he had the money. He would make his own decisions and he was going to be his own man.
[But his departure led to…]
2B His Debauchery (vs13b-14a)
“…and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all…”
[It isn’t hard to see that…]
1C His Debauchery led to his Loss
The Greek Word is the word It means to scatter or to waste, to disperse. It gives us the idea of scattering around or to winnow.
We know what winnow or winnowing means. This term winnow comes from the fields. It is the process of throwing the grain up into the air so that the chaff or waste is blown away and the heavier grain falls back on to a blanket or the ground.
So, in other words, he threw away his money. He spent it so freely that it was like he tossed his money up into the air and the wind blew it away.
[Not only does his debauchery lead to his loss of all his money, we see that…]
2C His Debauchery lead to his lifestyle
“…with prodigal living.”
Prodigal living or reckless living. It means to live riotously. The NASB translates this word as “loose living,” the NIV translates it as “wild living.” It is uncontrolled or undisciplined living.
These words may not give us the full sense of the meaning or just how bad his lifestyle was. In the original the meaning is “incurable.” In other words it meant to be hopelessly sick. This word came to be associated with one who by his manner of life, especially by dissipation, destroys himself. It meant unusual and unhealthy.
So, it represents someone who is living very wild and an extremely undisciplined lifestyle. It is a carefree life that spends all one has on pleasure and indulgence in a very wild and disorderly and dangerous manner.
In today’s language this would mean that he spent all that he had on sex, drugs, and alcohol. It tells us that his debauched lifestyle was one of pure self-indulgence with no thought of the consequences.
The actor Charlie Sheen is a classic example of the concept of this word prodigal. Sheen lived a very dangerous, loose, and wild lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity. Now he has just revealed that his wild and uncontrolled behavior has led him to contract the HIV virus.
This son lived the way Charlie Sheen and countless others have lived, reckless, wild, uncontrolled, and with no thought of the consequences or of tomorrow. You might have a hard time seeing the full picture of this son’s living.
The only real clues that we have is that he spent all that he had been given and his brothers comment in verse 30, “…who has devoured your livelihood with harlots…” The word “devoured” means “to eat or to swallow.” It came to mean metamorphically “to plunder, to consume, to use up, or to destroy like as with fire.” It is a very strong word.
This son had no regard for his father’s hard work, or for that matter his grandfather, and great-grandfathers who had worked the land and kept it in the family building up the estate. He had no thought that his father’s estate was in hock, mortgaged and probably at a discounted price. He lived recklessly without any restraint and “destroyed” or “consumed like a fire” the inheritance that he had been given.
[There is final thing that enters into the picture of his debauchery, and that is…]
3B His Deliverance (vs 14a)
“But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.”
Remember his father had given him what he had requested. He gave him his head and he gave him the money he demanded. He let him go his own way. And he did, he went his own way and did his own thing.
But now, God is going to get into the picture. God begins his deliverance by bringing a famine to the land at the same time he has spent all of this money. Bad timing, huh? (Wink, Wink!)
Famines can be really bad! There were several famines in the history of the Jews. You can read some very sobering and fascinating things about them. As a matter of fact there are some thirteen (13) famines listed or described in the bible. Famines were judgments of God. They are mentioned in connection with judgments (2 Sam. 24:13; Ps. 105:16; Isa. 51:19; Jer. 14:15; 15:2; 24:10; 27:8; Ezek. 5:12; 12:16)
• The siege of Ben-hadad on Samaria resulted in the eating of children for survival. The Jews during that siege paid outrageous prices for a donkey’s head so that they could boil it and eat it. They even paid money for dove droppings in order to eat them.
• The Babylonian siege of Jerusalem produced a more severe famine. During that siege the Jews resorted to eating straw, sandals, and leather. They even ate the afterbirth when a baby was born.
God would often send famines by withholding the rain and sending hail or pestilences to destroy the crops when the Jews broke his covenant and commandments. Here we have a severe famine in a faraway land where this younger son had runaway and had lived very wildly without thinking of the consequences. He spent all his money and now he had no food to eat and he was very hungry.
Going against God by violating or disobeying God’s character, God’s will, or God’s will, will always lead to a lifestyle that is opposed to God.
Rebellion is an open door to the demonic in a person's life. The Bible strictly warns us against rebellion, and its consequences are not to be taken lightly. God's Word tells us that rebellion is in the same category of sin as witchcraft itself:
1 Samuel 15:23, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft..."
The word witchcraft above is translated back to the Greek word qesem, which not only includes literal witchcraft itself, but also divination. Both of these practices are highly demonic. I believe it is clear in the following verse that those who practice true divination have a demonic spirit.
D.A. Carson once said, “Hell is not a place where people are consigned because they were pretty good blokes, but they just didn’t believe the right stuff. They’re consigned there, first and foremost, because they defy their maker and want to be at the center of the universe...and who persist in their God-defying rebellion....What is God to do?" (Source: “The Case for Faith” - Lee Strobel)
[So, fourthly, we now see the fourth proof that God loves sinners by seeing…]
4A The Result of God’s Deliverance (15-16)
[The first result intended by God to draw this son to repentance was to make him aware of…]
1B His State (14)
“…and he began to be in want.”
What state was he in? Well:
• His money was gone
• His “friends” were gone
• He was desperate
• He was hungry
The word for “want” means “to suffer want” to be devoid of necessities, to lack what is needed. He was in a horrible state, wasn’t he?
[The second result intended by God to direct this son to repentance was to make him aware of…]
2B His Solution (vs 15)
“Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country…”
The word that Luke used is a very interesting word. It means:
• To glue
• To glue together
• To cement by fastening together
• To join or fasten firmly together
You are familiar with this idea. This is a description of marriage in Genesis. A man and a woman are “glued” or “fastened” together.
So, his solution was to find somebody that he could “glue” himself to in hopes of not starving to death. He wanted someone to provide for him or give him the means to provide for himself. But unbeknownst to him this “solution” would lead him to repentance.
The third result intended by God to direct this son to repentance was to make him aware of…]
3B His Shame (15)
[His shame is depicted in his actions…]
“…and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.”
This was the worst possible shame and humiliation that he could face. Or so he thought. Pigs were unclean animals. To the Jews they were the worst of the unclean animals.
There is probably no animal as disgusting to Jewish sensitivities as the pig. It’s not just because it may not be eaten: there are plenty of other animals that aren’t kosher either, but none of them arouse as much disgust as the pig.
Colloquially, the pig is the ultimate symbol of loathing; when you say that someone “acted like a chazir [pig],” it suggests that he or she did something unusually abominable.
Jewish Attitudes toward the pig
It’s not the only animal on the unkosher list, but it gets the worst treatment of any of them.
● Avoiding its name: Many call the animal davar acher, “another thing,” rather than by its proper name. This practice goes back to the Talmud.
● Prohibition against raising pigs: The Talmud says, “The sages forbade raising pigs anywhere [whether in the Land of Israel or elsewhere] . . . The sages pronounced a curse on one who raises dogs or pigs, because they cause frequent and serious damage.”
The Talmud traces this ruling to the civil war between the Hasmonean brothers Hyrcanus and Aristobulus (67 BCE). Aristobulus and his forces had barricaded themselves in.
One day the besiegers sent up a pig to the Temple Mount, where they were besieged by Hyrcanus’s army. Each day Aristobulus’s men would send down a basketful of coins, and receive in return lambs for the daily Temple offerings. Until one day the besiegers sent up a pig instead:
When it was halfway up, it stuck its hooves into the wall, and it is alleged that the entire Land of Israel, (about 1000 miles) square, trembled. At that time [the sages] declared: Cursed be one who raises pigs . . . !
So, here is this young man, he is feeding these cursed pigs. He had hoped to have been given a job where he would be taken care of and at least fed. We don’t know what his “boss” felt or thought, but he didn’t pay him and he didn’t give him any food. His shame was worse than just having to feed the pigs.
Look at the downward spiral of this boy. He hates his home life enough to demand his portion of his inheritance, he leaves his home, his family, his religion, and he becomes unclean by feeding pigs.
[But look at the fourth intended result by God to direct this son to repentance was to make him aware of…]
4B His Struggle (vs 16)
“And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.”
[The first thing that we note about his struggle, is…]
1C His Problem
He would have been happy to eat the pods that he was feeding to the pigs. At this point he would have been happy to eat anything!
These were actually sweet beans from a carob tree. Sometimes they grew as much as a foot long.
The pods that the younger son longed to eat were carob pods, the fruit of the Ceratonia siliqua. Common names are carob tree, St. John’s bread, locust tree, and Egyptian fig.
Although the carob tree grows to 55 feet in the United States, in Israel carob trees are smaller. After pollination, long (up to 12 inches by 1 inch) pods develop. Pods are filled with soft brown pulp and 10-13 flat, hard seeds.
But the problem was that they were only good for the pigs.
He longed to fill his stomach with the pods” — it wasn’t as if he wasn’t allowed to eat the carob-tree pods! He wished he could eat them, but he couldn’t, because he could not digest them. They are indigestible for a human being.
They must be processed through a lengthy process. He didn’t have time to process them and separate the seeds from the pulp. He had to feed them daily and immediately to the pigs.
He would love to have eaten them but he couldn’t. So he was struggling with starvation.
[The second thing to note about his struggle is…]
2C His Predicament
He could not make any kind of a living. No one would give him anything. His predicament was desperate.
• Here he was the son of a wealthy father
• He himself had had wealth. He had his share of the estate. But it was long gone.
Sometimes God’s deliverance starts with His chastisement towards our rebellion. The concept of chastisement carries with it the purpose of restoration. Chastisement is the process of disciplining rebellion until it ends and obedience is restored, such as a parent disciplining a child for its own good.
This is the way the Lord works with His children, according to Hebrews 10.
[There are many accounts of chastisement in the Bible.]
• The Lord chastises Jacob while in service to Laban.
• Joseph chastises his brothers in Egypt.
• The Lord chastises David for his sin with Bathsheba.
• Jesus chastised Peter at times.
• Paul chastised the church in Corinth.
• The most powerful example of chastisement in the Bible is the way the Lord chastises the nation of Israel over the course of its history.
• The Lord's discipline eventually leads Israel back to faithfulness at the end of the age.
God will forgive our sin. Many times God may even deliver us from our sin and its consequences. What I mean is that much of the time the consequences of our sin is not permanent. But remember, just like this rebellious son who was assigned to feed pigs and was starving as a consequence of his rebellion, God intends for our forgiveness and deliverance by beginning with a miserable state, with a miserable solution, causing us a miserable struggle.
Well, once again this looks like this is as far as we can go this morning.
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
Although God may allow anyone of us to take a little trip into sin, He will not leave us in sin. He is at all times working to conform us into the image of his Son. There are times God will allow us to sin, because sin is often the chastisement God dishes out on his children. Sin begets sin, but sin also is a punisher.
This younger son saw how true this was. He was starving and no one would give him any food. God loves repentant sinners. But sometimes God must allow us to sink into sin before he brings us to repentance.
Seven different proofs went into the making of this parable to make it effective. The first proof that we saw was the request made by the younger son. It was an offensive and shameful request. The second proof we saw was the response of the father. He responded by giving the younger son what he wanted or had requested. The third proof was the rebellion designed by God, and the fourth proof was the result intended by God.
Next week, Lord willing we will complete the fifth and sixth point and finish with the seventh proof that God loves sinners who repent.
[This week, think about this:]
Francis Quarles said, “Heaven finds an ear when sinners find a tongue.”
In other words, when you repent of your sin, God will be available to hear your confession. This is the road to restoration.