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The Prodigal Who Came Home Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
February 6, 2023 1:00 am

The Prodigal Who Came Home Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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February 6, 2023 1:00 am

There’s no one too far gone for God, even when we are determined to hold out. In Luke 15, the prodigal son ran to the “far country,” blowing away his inheritance. In this message, we glean hope from real life stories of prodigals. What does it take for a prodigal to reverse directions?

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Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
Fellowship in the Word
Bil Gebhardt
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The Bible's famous prodigal son demanded his inheritance and spent it all in a big hurry.

Reduced to eating with pigs, he knew he needed to come home and face the dad who begged him not to leave. Today, what it takes to get a prodigal to reverse direction. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, take us again to the book of Luke and give us a heads up on the marvelous conclusion to this timeless story. You know, Dave, I think that most people realize that the prodigal's son indeed did come home to the father. I can't prove it from scripture, but my suspicion is that he was hesitant because of his judgmental older brother.

But thank God for the pigsty. It was there that the prodigal realized that he needed to come home. I believe that this sermon series will be a tremendous encouragement to parents, and as far as that's concerned, also it will instruct prodigals. For a gift of any amount, we are making this series available. It's simply called The Prodigals.

It includes a message about Absalom, a rebellious son who didn't come home, and of course also this story, which is so familiar but so powerful. For a gift of any amount, you can receive these messages in permanent form. Here is what you do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for The Prodigals. And now let's go to the pulpit of Moody Church.

Here I am. I'm interviewing Pops, parents of prodigals, and we're learning about the prodigals, and we're putting them on name lists, and we even received calls from outside the church of people who couldn't be here who said, please put my son and daughter on your list. And by the way, we have a list of maybe 30, and we're praying and fasting and seeking God until the prodigals come home.

We're taking this seriously. But one of the things we learned also was I interviewed people who had been prodigals at prayer meeting and said, now, they weren't prodigals at prayer meeting, you understand. They attended prayer meeting, though at one time they were prodigals, although prayer meeting is open to prodigals. Hundreds of you should come to prayer meeting. It's open to prodigals.

I wish you'd come to prayer meeting. So I interviewed people because I want to know what is it this business of coming to your senses. What does it take for a prodigal to finally say, okay, I give up.

I surrender the weapons of a rebel no matter what it is. I'm submitting to God, and I'm coming back to God. What is it that God has to put people through? Let me give you one testimony of a man whose name is Bob. If he were here, I'd interview him. Unfortunately, he couldn't be here today. So he sent me his testimony, which I've summarized. He said, okay, he's brought up in a Christian home.

That's the background. I threw myself into a life of sin. I soon embarked on an adulterous relationship with a woman I met at work, and several months later I moved to California hoping to put my past behind me once for all. He goes to the far country.

And California is the far country, is it not? All right. Although I never felt prey to the conventional addictions such as alcohol and drugs, for me the ultimate addiction was independence. I reveled in having absolute control over my life with no one to answer for the choices I made.

Master of my fate, captain of my soul. For the next 22 years, that was the pattern of my life. During my years apart from God, he brought health crises to wake me up, but it didn't work.

I refused to surrender. My life of sin was becoming less and less fulfilling every day. I can recall numerous times when I literally sobbed at how empty my life had become. Although I was never tempted to commit suicide, for the first time I could understand how someone could hurt enough to take that way out. There's some people who say rather than come to God, I'd rather kill myself. I knew that the choices I had made were responsible for the situation I was in, but I saw no solution. I felt totally bound by my sin. I had lunch with someone this past week who said regarding his boss, he has no ideas of the chains of sin that bind him.

Wow. And then he says he talked to a missionary and this awakened within him a desire to live differently. And then he says things were like this until October the 19th last year.

And the man is in his sixties. And whenever I interview him, those of you who were in prayer meeting, you will remember he wept. He could hardly talk about the grace of God in his life. He had an allergy attack.

He called for assistance. He passed out. He thought that this was the end.

He was absolutely certain he was dying. And even though he lived, he said later to himself, I just dodged another bullet. I can continue to ignore God. Don't you marvel at the stubbornness of the human heart?

I mean, I read this and I say, wow. All right. They discharged him and he began to realize that he was gambling with his soul and now he was scared and still the bonds of sin were so strong that I was not willing to relent. You know, particularly those of you who are living in immorality, you know, you're sleeping with your girlfriend because after all, you know, you're going to get married anyway and those of you who are in those kinds of sinful relationships, it is tough for you to come to the father because you know right well that when you come to God, God is going to not only forgive you, but he's going to try to clean you up. And quite frankly, the bonds of sinner such, listen to what he says. I was not willing to relent for three days. I wrestled with many questions. How could I give up the sin that provided the only enjoyment and fulfillment in my life?

How do I do that? How could I expect God to forgive me and have me back? My only motivation at that point was to avoid hell. How could I hope to live a successful life when all of my previous attempts were failure?

During that long weekend, here it is now, it finally gets good here. During that long weekend, God opened my eyes to the reality of my life. I saw clearly that my best efforts to achieve happiness on my own terms were dismal, a failure. I could only look forward to emptiness, death and eternal separation from God. And I realized, catch this, I realized the tremendous sacrifices I made for the illusion of independence and control, the illusion of independence. Like that kid I told you about over at water tower that I saw in this little, he was maybe two years old and he was in one of these little push carts and that had a little steering wheel and he's steering this thing to the right and crying. He wants to go to the right, but his mother is just leading him gently to the left and his steering wheel is not tied to anything that has significance.

You know what I mean? Listen, if you're living for sin, you're not in control. Jesus said that you are the servant of sin. Sin tells you do this and you do it.

The illusion of control. Well, four days later, October 23rd, clinging to God's promise and forgiveness and belief in Jesus, I cried up to God and he answered me with an overpowering sense of his presence and love. I now understood how he had refused to give up on me, how he had pursued me through many years despite my repeated rejection of his love and grace and I surrendered the control of my life to him and now he says my spiritual growth is stuck on fast forward and he thanks Moody Church and others who have helped him in the transformation of his life. I just need to pause here today. How are you all doing out there?

You tracking with me? What will it take for some of you stubborn people to give yourself to God? What will it take? How many sermons are you going to have to listen to? How many songs are you going to have to sing before you say, you know what? This is the illusion of my own control. I give myself to God.

What is it going to take? I'm only asking you the question and you prodigals hurry to the father. Well, you know the rest of the story. This kid says to himself, I'm going back to my father because you know even his servants are better off than I. I wish he had better motivation. I wish he'd say, you know, I'm going to my father because I broke his heart.

No, the kid goes because he's hungry. The father so gracious he receives him anyway. And so he gives his speech and says, you know, I've sinned against heaven and against thee and I'm no more worthy to be called thy son. He can't get out the last words make me as a hired servant because his father is smothering him with kisses. Because the father's waiting, you see, the father lost all interest in the farm.

He's constantly looking down the road. That's why the Bible says when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and ran to him and kissed him. The kid is saying, I'm just a servant now and the father says, bring hither the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet.

Servants didn't wear shoes. And bring hither the fatted calf and kill it for this my son was dead and is alive and is lost and is found. Let's have a party. Oh sure, there's some things we're going to have to talk about tomorrow. But for tonight, let's party.

And you find that the elder brother of course was not amused and the elder brother is actually the heart of the story. Jesus was saying to you Pharisees, you know, you're criticizing me for welcoming sinners and eating with the drunkards and the prostitutes and connecting with those kinds of people and look at that and you're not rejoicing about the fact that these people are coming to the father and all that you can think of is why do they deserve such love and grace. Look at us. We've been in this church for 30 years. Look at what we've done.

And we don't even have those kinds of blessings. And you know what happened with the older brother is even though he was a son, he lived like a slave. The father says, don't you understand everything that I have is yours. Enjoy it.

Enjoy your own party. But legalists never do that, do they? The bottom line my friends today is simply this, that the father is waiting. The father who is God. And God says, I have made provision for you to come back home. I sent my son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for sinners so that if you receive me and if you seek my forgiveness and my transformation, I will accept you.

All the reluctance is on your part. How much does God love us? Well, Jesus stretched out his hands like this and said so much. That's how great the love of God is.

The reluctance, the stubbornness is on your part. It's not on God's part because he's gracious and merciful. And he's waiting for sinners just like you to come home. And he's saying, how long are you going to hold out from my blessings?

Don't you know that sin is an illusion? Don't you know that it boomerangs and the consequences come in? So hurry, hurry to the father. One more letter from a prodigal.

Now, the thing about this prodigal is a girl brought up in a fine Christian home where there's love and acceptance, all right. Let me read her story. She says, when I was a teenager, I made a very grave mistake. I ran away from home, not like most rebellious kids run away from home with a night at a friend's house, but with a bag of clothes set on the porch. I really ran away, she said. Now I have to tell you in parenthesis, she had a number of children from various men along the way. The far country is a terrible place.

It's a terrible place. For nearly three months, no one knew where I was. I did not run away because I was treated badly. In fact, I was spoiled. I was not abused. I was not neglected in any way. I was constantly nurtured and encouraged in all areas of my life.

But I guess in my radical teenage mind, listen teenagers, in my radical teenage mind, I felt that the few simple rules I had been given were barring my freedom and keeping me from really seeing the world, the illusion of independence. Well, when things were no longer fun, and now we're talking over a period of years, I called home. Nearly 30 years later, she says, I remember my father's loving response. I called him collect from a thousand miles away, sobbing on the other end of the line. He did not ask me to tell him the bad things I had done. He did not even ask me where I was at, or even if I was ready to come home. The first thing he said was, what can I do to help you?

Now here's a parenthesis. You parents of prodigals, you have to prepare your own heart for your prodigal to come home. You may be standing in the way of your prodigal coming back home. You know at prayer meeting, one woman said this, I mean, where could you find such beautiful insight? She stood up and she said, you know, here's my son over here. Here's Jesus over here, but he can't see Jesus because I am in the way with my critical spirit.

Isn't that powerful? So why would this son want to come home with a critical judgmental mother? She has to repent of her own sin and welcome her prodigal back. Well, anyway, she says, many of us would not have received such a merciful response from our earthly parents. The prodigal's father loaded him with blessings and yet he ran away.

She's referring to that. And then she came back. She came back to her parents and she came back. Now she was married for part of the time and so forth.

Very, very, you know, you know, life is a mess when you get into the far country. And I'll simply end by saying, she says, even if you've wasted all he's given you, he wants to bless you again. The father said to the prodigal that he would have the best robe and put a ring on his hand. And she ends by saying, it's not too late. And even if you're far away, as soon as you make up your mind to come home, he will meet you. Angels celebrate your return, which is true. Jesus said that even the angels celebrate when one soul repents. Now I need to tell you the rest of the story. This woman came to Moody Church here with her father several months ago and she came because she had terminal cancer. And I was actually asked if I could do her funeral and would have been very glad to accept that I was out of town when she died. So she is now in heaven.

But at least the last years of her life were spent in fellowship with the father. And what happens is God begins to take the messes, the messes, and begins to send some snowfall to cover the ugly ruts and to begin to put your life together. The bottom line is this. God sent Jesus so that the vilest of sinners who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. Your bonds of sin are strong?

Yes. But you know, Jesus is there to forgive and to help and to restore you. So prodigals, whether you're saved or unsaved, those of you who are saved, you're backslidden. Those of you who never have trusted Christ as Savior, never have trusted Christ as Savior, you're a prodigal too. You come to the father through Jesus Christ.

Let's pray. Now father, what more can we say? Only you can overcome the blindness and the deceptions of our hearts, all the lies we tell ourselves that we so willingly believe. Who is their father who's able to reach into the heart and deal with the anger that keeps a prodigal away from God?

Who is there except you? Now I want you to pray. No matter where you are listening to this message, whether on the radio, in the church, or over the internet, you talk to God right now. Father, we throw ourselves helplessly in your presence and simply say you do the work that we can't. We've done what we could do. We've rolled the stone away, but you need to say Lazarus come forth.

Would you do that? We pray in Jesus' blessed name. Amen. My dear friend, I hope that this message has been of tremendous encouragement to you. As a parent, perhaps as a prodigal, today come back to the father. We're making this resource available to you, that is to say this series of messages titled The Prodigals.

As you may know, it includes another prodigal by the name of Absalom who did not come home. Both stories are instructive. Would you like to have these messages in permanent form so that you can play them again and again, share them with your friends? Here's what you do. Go to That's rtwoffer. Of course, rtwoffer is all one word. or call us at 1-888-2 1-8-9337. Remember that this is available to you for a gift of any amount, and I want to thank you so much for standing with us as we get the gospel of Jesus Christ to so many. Here's what you do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thank you for your partnership. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Some questions are simple, but today's question may take some time to sort out.

Follow closely to Kara's series of questions. If a man and woman are married and one is a believer and the other isn't and the rapture occurs and the believing spouse is taken to heaven and the other spouse becomes a believer during the tribulation period, can that person remarry during the tribulation period? Kara, I do need to say that if a prize were offered for the most creative question, I think you'd be number one.

Of all the questions I've ever been asked, this one here I think is the most creative, the most surprising, and it's a very good question, but I'm sure that no one else on this planet has probably thought about it, but you have, so I want to commend you. In answer to the question, when the rapture occurs, the Bible teaches that the dead in Christ will rise and then those who are alive will be snatched up and they also will be transformed and have heavenly bodies, so I take that to be the equivalent of death. Yes, it's true that those who are snatched up when Jesus Christ returns to earth, they will not technically have died, but actually they will have already been transformed in such a way that they are able to be with the Lord, they will have their heavenly bodies, so the person who is left on earth would be able to remarry. Now having said that, I doubt whether there is going to be a lot of interest in remarrying during the tribulation period. At least during the last half of the tribulation period, things on earth are going to be very, very bad. You know, Kara, this reminds me of the fact that there are some people who think to themselves, oh, even if I'm not saved today, if the rapture happens, I'll get saved after the rapture. That is really false thinking, because the Bible says that after the rapture of the church, God shall give them strong delusions that they should believe a lie. That means that many people are going to continue to be deceived after the rapture occurs. Don't count on, quote, receiving Christ, and I'm not saying that you are, but there are those out there who sometimes speak this way, don't count on receiving Christ as Savior after the rapture occurs. We have no guarantee that that will even be a possibility, especially because the human heart might be turned against God at that time in a way that is even worse than it is now. Now, of course, during the tribulation period, evidently there will be those who will be saved whom God has chosen to save, but we should never gamble on our conversion, which leads me to conclude this way. If you or anyone else who is listening have never trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, rather than being concerned about being able to trust Him after the rapture or marrying after the rapture, what you must do is to receive Him right now. If the Holy Spirit of God is at work in your heart, do not stifle the only voice that can save you. Now is the accepted time.

Now, today, is the day of salvation. Some wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer.

If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can. Just go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or, call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Everyone has a dark corner in their closet, secrets no one can know. Too many people are living lives of quiet desperation. Next time on Running to Win, a life-changing series begins.

It's called Putting Your Past Behind You. Don't miss it. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-06 02:16:42 / 2023-02-06 02:25:59 / 9

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