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Classic Crusade: Greg Laurie on the Prodigal Son

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 3, 2022 3:00 am

Classic Crusade: Greg Laurie on the Prodigal Son

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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December 3, 2022 3:00 am

We're only days away from Harvest's biggest film event of the year: Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon. Find tickets and showtimes here: 


Today, we look back two decades at a message from Pastor Greg Laurie given at the SoCal Harvest event at Angel Stadium (formerly Edison Field) of Anaheim. Pastor Greg speaks powerfully from Luke 15 on the story of the prodigal son. 

In this message, you’ll find answers to the major questions of life. What are you on this Earth for? What are you here for? And how can you be a happy person?

No matter what kind of home you might have come from, Pastor Greg underscores the possibility of hope. He says, “Even if your parents has let you down, even if your earthly father has left you down, you have a heavenly Father who loves you and will never let you down.” 

To learn more about coming into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, just go here

This message was originally given on July 13, 2002. 


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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
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Matt Slick
Chosen Generation
Pastor Greg Young
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Abidan Shah

Hey everybody, Greg Laurie here. You're listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, and my objective is to deliver, hopefully, compelling practical insights in faith, culture, and current events from a biblical perspective. To find out more about our ministry, just go to our website,

So thanks for joining me for this podcast. Let me ask you a few questions. Questions that we all get around to asking eventually. What is the meaning of life? Why am I here on this earth? Why do I exist?

What is going to happen after I die? Maybe you don't like the course that your life has taken lately. Maybe you are just not having fun at those parties anymore.

When you go down to the bar for a happy hour, well it just isn't happy anymore, is it? Maybe there is an emptiness inside of you that you have begun to notice and you can't figure out what the problem is. So you thought, I just need more drugs. I need more booze. I need more sex. I need more stuff.

That will do it. But the more stuff you take in, the more empty you feel. But then again, maybe you have worked hard your whole life. You have never gotten into drugs or alcohol or stuff like that. And you have always felt if you made a certain amount of money you would be happy.

If you drove a certain car. If you lived in a certain house or something else happened, that would make you happy. But maybe you have reached those goals.

Maybe you have even surpassed them. But there is still this emptiness inside of you. Why is that? No one less than Madonna was quoted as recently saying, quote, I think a few years ago I wasn't sure what I was on this earth for.

I was mostly concerned with getting things for myself, more clothes, more money, more popularity and more boyfriends. I wasn't really thinking. I was just doing. Madonna says, then I woke up and said, what am I on this earth for? End quote.

That is a good question. What are you on this earth for? What are you here for?

And how can you be a happy person? I want to read to you a story from the Bible that many of you have heard. Some of you are going to hear it for the first time in your life. It is a story of a young boy who ran away from his father, realized how life was without his father, how empty it would be rather, and returned back home again. And it is a story that Jesus told to illustrate what our life was like when we put God out of it. This story is commonly known as the parable of the prodigal son. It is found in Luke chapter 15.

Let me read it to you now. Jesus said, a certain man had two sons. The younger said to his father, I want my share of the estate now instead of waiting for you to die. So his father agreed to divide his wealth among his sons. A few days later the young son packed all of his belongings and took a trip to a distant land and wasted all of his money on wild living.

About this time the money ran out. A great famine swept over the land and he began to starve. He persuaded a local farmer to help him feed his pigs.

And the boy became so hungry that even the food he was feeding the pigs started to look good to him. But then he came to his senses and he said, you know at least men who work for my father have food on their table and here I am dying of hunger. I am going to go home and I am going to say, Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

Just take me on as a hired person. So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a great distance away his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion he ran to his son. He embraced him and he kissed him. The son said, Father I have sinned against heaven and against you and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. The father said, Quick bring out the fatted calf and the finest robe in the house and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

For my son was lost but now he is found. And so the party began. I love that story. Jesus told it to show us what God is like. You might even say that this story is a snapshot of God. Not the image that a lot of people have of God. They see him as a perpetually ticked off supreme being who is just out to reign in your parade and make your life miserable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The picture that Jesus gives us of God and the only accurate one I might add is of a loving heavenly father who is saddened and heartbroken when we push him out of our lives and who anxiously awaits our homecoming. As the story begins we read of this young boy who just decided he wanted to leave home. Now why he wanted to leave home we are not told. It sounds like he had a pretty good situation here. First of all it was an affluent home. They had servants.

He probably had more clothes, more food than he would ever want but he probably had responsibilities that went along with it. This is also a loving home because when he comes back again the father kisses him over and over again. So this kid seemed to have a good stable home life. Now a lot of kids run away from home because they are abused or they are neglected or the parents have split up and they are disillusioned. I read a statistic the other day that said in 1960 the total number of children living in fatherless homes was fewer than 8 million. Today that total has risen to nearly 24 million. Meaning that nearly 4 out of 10 children in America are being raised in homes without their fathers.

And soon it is going to be 6 out of 10. And many of the studies that have been done and all of the social ills we are facing today have come back to this simple fact. These kids come from broken homes. It is the number one reason that kids get into drugs. The number one reason kids get into drinking. The number one reason girls get pregnant outside of wedlock. The number one reason that young boys join gangs and you could go on and on.

Dad is not home. They are left to themselves. They don't have any direction. Maybe you come from a broken home. Maybe your parents let you down.

You look to them as an example. And then they broke apart and you feel that you are somehow responsible for it. You have just been sort of set adrift.

I certainly felt that way. I came from a broken home many times over. An alcoholic home. And as a young kid I never really had any adult role models and I had all that much admiration for. And so I realized that I had to start thinking and fending for myself. And my little journey took me into drinking and partying and doing drugs. And it wasn't long before I discovered that that was a dead end street. People told me when I used drugs I would become more aware.

And they were right in one sense. I used drugs and I became more aware of how empty and miserable I was. And maybe that is where your journey has led you tonight. You have seen the emptiness of life. You are searching.

You are looking for someone. I want you to know even if your parents have let you down. Even if your earthly father has let you down. You have a heavenly father who loves you and will never let you down. So come to him tonight. I think this boy probably felt that the old man was keeping him from the good life.

He probably thought, you know I am just so sick of dad and all of his stinking rules and regulations and standards. And I don't want to live that way. I want to go out and really live large.

I want to go out and experience everything this world has to offer. I am tired of school. I am tired of work.

I am tired of responsibilities. And I don't care if it bothers my father. So he goes up to his father and says, dad I am tired of waiting for you to kick the bucket ok. I don't want to wait until you are dead to get my inheritance.

I want you to give it to me right now. And this of course was a great inconvenience for his father. But that kid didn't care how his father felt about it.

I want to go out and see for myself. And maybe you feel that way. You know these adults.

They don't know what they are talking about. I am going to go live life and I am going to see all that this world has to offer. And have you ever noticed that it always seems like it is going to get better just a little bit later? You know when you are a young kid you think, well when I am a teenager that is when I am going to be happy. That is when life is really going to be good. Then you become a teenager and you say, well when I get my driver's license that is when I am going to be happy.

Then you get your driver's license. Ok I am so sick of driving my mom's lame car. When I get my own set of wheels.

And I really trick them out. I am talking custom wheels. Stereo system. Lowered. I am going to do everything to this vehicle.

Supercharge the engine. Then I am going to be happy. Then you get that. Well as soon as I graduate from high school that will make me happy. Then you get out of high school.

Well I need to get my degree from college. Then I will be happy. When you get out of college, well when I am financially independent that will do it. Then I will be happy.

Ok you reach that goal. Well I need to find my soul mate. And I know when I find him or her that I am going to really be fulfilled and happy. And you find that person. You marry them. And after some years pass by you say, I need a new soul mate now.

The old one is not working out. So you get divorced and you find another soul mate. Well maybe it is kids that we need. If we had kids then we would be happy. And you have kids.

Now if we could get rid of these kids that would do it. You say I know. It is when the kids are grown they are gone and we are in retirement.

And if I could just get this really cool wheelchair with custom wheels and I will supercharge the engine. Get the picture. It just goes on and on and it is always just beyond your reach. When John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the world someone asked him the question, how much money was enough?

His answer was just a little bit more. And that is how it is always going to be when you leave God out of the picture. You are in a vicious cycle of seeking but never satisfying.

Why? Because no matter how much money you make. No matter how many people you know. Or how many pleasures you have experienced. It will never be enough because you were created for something more. You were created to know the God who made you. And He has a plan for your life. Don't you believe it when people tell you the answer is within. And you must just find yourself. No. No.

Forget that. Because the more you get to know yourself the more depressed you are going to be. The answer is not within friend. According to the Bible the problem was within.

Because the Bible tells us that we have all sinned and our heart is in rebellion against God. And nobody had to teach you how to sin now did they? No one had to teach me. It came naturally. We all do it. And so there was this boy.

He thinks I am going to go out and find out for myself. I am going to live it up. And he wasted everything he had on wild living. I remember when that kid came into town with money coming out of his pockets. He had a lot of fast friends. Hey buddy what are you doing? Where are you going?

Let's go spend your money. But as soon as his money ran out his friends ran out with it. Reminds me of a story I heard of two guys that were out camping in the woods. They were getting up early in the morning and having their first cup of coffee and they heard a rustling in the trees and look and there coming toward them full speed was a very large grizzly bear with a hungry look in his face. One of the guys began to quickly pull on his running shoes and his buddy said to him, you don't think you can outrun that grizzly do you? He says, no I don't need to outrun the grizzly. All I need to do is outrun you. That is how a lot of so-called friends are.

When trouble comes in they run out. Hey consider this. You want to find out who your real friends are tonight? Make a commitment to Jesus Christ and you will know real fast. You will know. I say that because when I made a commitment to Christ my friends thought I had lost my mind.

And you know what? I found out a lot of those people weren't my friends at all. I don't know what has sent you on your rebellion against God. Maybe you were raised in a Christian home. Maybe you were taught the Bible from your youth. But something happened that turned you off.

I mentioned parents splitting. Maybe it was a minister or a priest or someone else who misrepresented God to you. And you said, that is it. There are a bunch of phonies. There are a bunch of hypocrites. And you threw out the baby with the bathwater. Can I just publicly tonight apologize for all the hypocrites in the church?

I am sorry. We don't live as we always should live. Maybe we Christians ought to have a sign hanging around our neck that says, under construction.

Because we have a long ways to go. But having said that can I also point out to you that you need to understand that the excuse of too many hypocrites in the church will not hold water on judgment day. Because I know a lot of people hide behind it. Well you know the reason I am not a Christian. Too many hypocrites in the church. Ok.

I will grant you that. There are some hypocrites in the church. But you know what? There are a lot of people that live godly lives too.

A lot more than those that are hypocritical. But you never hear their story. You know you won't read the story of someone that lived a godly life. You will read about someone that messes up.

And it will be on the front page of the newspaper. And yes that happens. But I am telling you there are a lot of people that walk closely with God.

But this is my point. When you stand before God Almighty one day. And you will friend.

You will. And He asks you the question. What did you do with my son Jesus Christ?

Do you think you are going to be able to say. Well ok that is a good question. Um ok.

There were like really a lot of hypocrites in the church. Yeah that is a good one. Ok never mind. Come on into heaven.

No I am sorry. That won't hold water. Because you know it is an excuse and you are hiding behind it. Maybe some of you knew the Lord at one time and you fell away. You have gone back into sin.

And you are trapped right now and you are miserable. The Bible says in Proverbs 14 the backslider will be repaid for all their ways. The Bible says in 2 Peter 2.20 when people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning about Jesus Christ and get tangled up with sin and become its slave again they are worse off than before. Maybe that has happened to you. You were living a certain way before you were a Christian.

Made a commitment to Christ. Have gone back into the old life again and you are worse off than you were in the very beginning. This is what the Bible says will happen. That is why you need to come back to the Lord again. I mean have you seen how miserable life is yet without God?

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired yet? Look at the prodigal. One day he is living with his dad in the home with love and affection and the next day he is taking his inheritance. He is blowing it on prostitutes and everything else.

And he is feeding a bunch of stupid pigs and he is so hungry he is ready to eat the food the pigs are eating. And that is sin for you. It promises fun but it will bring misery. It promises success but it will bring failure. It promises life but it will bring death.

Know that. And the story says he finally came to his senses. You know I think that is such a great description because sin is like a form of insanity. People do the wackiest things. Under the influence of sin they will make the most idiotic decisions.

Because they are not thinking clearly. But then one day they just come to themselves. They just realize this is it. And maybe this has happened for some of you. Maybe it happened earlier tonight.

Maybe it is happening right now. You are saying I get it. I get it. Jesus Christ is the one that I need. Jesus Christ who died on that cross and rose again from the dead wants to come into my life and he wants to forgive me of my sin. I need to get right with God.

That is right. You are almost there. But there is another step you need to take. First you have to realize you are responsible for what you have done.

Because this young boy said, I am going to just go back and say to my dad, Father I am no longer worthy to be called your son. I have sinned against heaven and against you. See that is what you have got to say.

And a lot of times we don't want to say this. We will say, well I don't know that I have sinned. I have made certain mistakes. I love it now in Washington when something wrong is done they won't say I have made a mistake. They won't even say a bad thing was done. They will just say mistakes were made. That is classic. Mistakes were made.

We don't know who made them. Somewhere someone on this earth made a mistake but mistakes were made. Now listen.

If you want to get right with God you have to say three things. I have sinned. Stop blaming your parents. Stop blaming your environment. Stop blaming other people.

We are so prone to do this if we have trouble at home. It is my parents. Trouble at school. It is the fault of my teachers. Trouble at work. The problem is my boss.

You have got to just say, you know what? The problem is with me. I am a sinner. And I need help. I need God's forgiveness. And I need to call out to Him.

That is hard to do. I remember years ago I was surfing down a big Corona beach. And so a big set came in and I was paddling out. And you know when big waves come you have to go toward the waves and go under them. And so I paddled. Went under.

Came up. Another wave was coming. Paddle out a little further.

Went under. Paddle a little bit more. And by the time I was done it was about halfway to Catalina.

Ok. And I was tired. And I felt like I could actually drown. I was a pretty good swimmer but I thought I am in serious trouble. I could see a lifeguard on the shore and some of my friends were there and I had a choice. Call for help and get the lifeguard to come to me or drown. And I seriously considered drowning. Because I didn't want to call for a lifeguard to save me. I was too embarrassed. Is that not stupid or what?

Well I eventually got my way back in fortunately. But some of us are like that. You know we are basically so far out.

We are so in need of God but we are so prideful. I won't do it. I have seen people on their death bed. They are seconds away from eternity.

And you will say to them, come to Jesus. I won't do it. No. I think what is wrong with you?

What are you holding out for? Is that the way you feel right now? You are going to have to humble yourself and say, God help me. I have sinned.

I am sorry for what I have done. That is what this boy needed to do. And suddenly it dawns on him. Life in his father's house was great.

Suddenly he realizes that everything he needed in life was found in his father's house. And it can dawn on you tonight. It is not these Christians that are crazy. It has been me. They are the ones who are right. And I need to get right with God.

And you can tonight. See here is the thing. You have been running from the very God who has what you are looking for. I heard a story of a lawyer who was trying to deliver an important paper to a man who was determined to avoid him at all costs. You see this guy thought that the lawyer was going to deliver some kind of a subpoena. So he took great ways to dodge this guy. And he did this successfully for months which led to years. Every time he saw that lawyer he always found the back door.

Always managed to evade him. He says, he is not going to give me a subpoena. Fourteen years passed and this man got cancer and was in the hospital with only days to live.

And on one of his final days who gets rolled into the room but the lawyer who had been pursuing him. This man said, you know what? Go ahead and serve me your subpoena. I don't care anymore.

It doesn't even matter. I am going to die. The lawyer said, subpoena?

I have an article of paper here that tells you that you have inherited $45 million and I was trying to give it to you. See that is how we are with God. Oh I am not going to let God get me.

I am not going to become one of those born agains. What are you running from? What do you think God wants to do? He wants to forgive you. He wants to show you His love.

He wants to give to you the meaning of life. But you have got to go back home again. Would you like to come to God? Would you like to be forgiven of your sin? Would you like to know that when you die you will go to heaven? You say, well Greg let me ask you this. If I become a Christian will I have to give up anything? The answer is yes. You will.

But let me say that what you give up will be replaced by something better. Let me illustrate. Let's say that you were at home and you got a knock on the door. And you went up to your door.

Who is it? It is Jesus. I stand at the door and knock and if you will hear my voice and open the door I will come in. Oh no. You are lying.

What? It is Jesus. I am knocking at your door. Jesus Christ as in Jesus of the Bible at my front door?

Yes. Open the door. I will come in. Well come on in. You open the door.

And there He is. Jesus. I can't believe you would come to my door.

This is so cool. Come on in Lord. Jesus. You don't mind if I call your first name. Come on in.

Wow. It is so exciting to have you here. Well it is good to be here. I feel like I should offer you something to eat. Are you hungry? Jesus says, well yeah I am. Ok.

Here. Sit down and I will get you something in the kitchen. You run in the kitchen. What am I going to give to Jesus to eat? He is hungry.

You open up the fridge. Ok. I am not going to give him a beer. That is not a good choice. Let's see. What a devil's food cake. No.

He wouldn't. No. That is not good. Oh here I will give him this piece of pizza. I will reheat it you know. And you are getting it ready and you hear some noise in the front room. Some commotion. You are breaking.

Excuse me. What is going on? You walk out. And there is Jesus. He has your front door open.

And He is picking up your furniture and throwing it out the door. Excuse me Jesus. Hi. How are you doing? What are you doing? Jesus says, I am just making myself at home. Cleaning house. Jesus starts ripping down your wallpaper. Well Lord hello.

I got that at the Blue Light Special 15 years ago. You are ripping it down. He is ripping up that shag carpeting that you have had for years. Throwing out all your stuff.

Pictures that have been hanging on your walls. Out the door they go and you think, well you know someone should have told me this. If they would have told me that Jesus was going to throw some stuff out I would have never let them in in the first place. You know I don't know if I like what you are doing Jesus. And the Lord says, would you just sit over there for a moment. And He lets out a loud whistle and a big moving band backs up into your driveway. And emblazoned on the side of it are the words, Father and Son Moving Company.

Ok. Jesus says, roll it in boys. Beautiful brand new carpet laid down on your floor. Hello. That is nice. Very nice. Brand new wallpaper. Beautiful handcrafted furniture. Pictures that were so incredible like you have never seen before.

Put up on your walls in the place of what you used to have and suddenly it dawns on you. The only reason the Lord wanted to get rid of the old stuff was to put something better in its place. And that is what Jesus Christ wants to do for you tonight. So Greg will I have to give up anything?

Yeah. You will have to give up being lonely, being empty, being guilty, and being afraid to die. And in its place you will have a friend that will never leave you who will remove your guilt and give you the hope of heaven. That is God's trade in deal.

And it is here for you right now. So the boy heads home. He is feeling so bad. Oh man.

I just. The old man is going to just whoop me. I can't bear to look in his eyes. He is slowly making his way home. And he looks up and who does he see but his father? Coming toward him.

Not walking but running. Oh. And before he can even blink the father is there and he throws his arms around his son and he kisses him over and over again. Now I bet that boy stunk. You know when you have been hanging around with Porky and the gang you are not going to smell too good.

You could have seen the father running toward him getting about three feet up. Whoa. Hello.

You stink. Take a bath and then I will hug you. Clean your clothes and then I will accept you. But no.

The father accepted the son as he was. And in the same way some people think oh I need to clean my life up and come to God. I need to make certain changes and come to God.

No friend. Listen. You need to come to God and He will clean your life up.

He will make the changes. You need to come as you are tonight. Because you can't do it.

You need God's help. And maybe there is another reason the father ran to the son. Maybe it is because he knew that the people in that village that they lived in were about ready to kill his boy. See this boy had drugged the family named for the mud.

He had disgraced his friends in his village. And they may have been picking up stones to kill him and execute him. And the father realized I have got to get to my boy or he is not going to live to see tonight. And when he threw his arms around his son everyone stopped and dropped their stones because they wouldn't kill that father. In the same way God saw our situation. How we have sinned.

How we have fallen short. And He sent His son Jesus Christ to that cross. And I have to tell you He didn't stop at the last moment. He put all of His judgment for all of the sins that we have ever committed upon Jesus as He hung there and bled and died for you. And then rose again from the dead. That is why Jesus died you see. He had to die because we had sinned and broken God's commandments. Jesus came to pay a debt He did not owe because we owe a debt we cannot pay. But Jesus paid for it for you. He bought your salvation and now He offers it to you as a gift.

And He says, I love you and I will forgive you and I will throw my arms around you and all you need to do is come to me now and turn from that sin. Do you want to do that tonight? You can. You can find the meaning of life. You can find personal happiness. You can find that peace you have been looking for. But you must come to Jesus Christ.

Tonight is your night. And in a moment we are going to pray and I am going to give you that opportunity. And I want you to know wherever you are sitting in this great stadium that God sees you as an individual. You are not just a face in the crowd to Him. He loves you. He has got your number. The Bible says the very hairs of our head are numbered.

Now in my case that is not a lot of work but for some of you it is. But He loves you and is ready to forgive you if you will come to Him tonight. We are going to pray and I am going to invite you to be forgiven of all of your sin and get right with God. Ok. Let's all pray.

Everybody pray. Lord we know there are people here tonight that want to meet You. People that want their sin forgiven. People that want to come to You. And we ask Lord that You would speak to their hearts and help them to come to You this night we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Listen very carefully. Everyone that Jesus calls He calls openly and publicly. That is why in a few moments when delirious begins this next song I am going to ask you that want your sin forgiven. You that want to get right with God. You that want to find the meaning of life. Or you that want to come back to the Lord.

I am going to ask you in a moment to get up out of your seat and come down to this field and stand in the back of this platform. And when you all get down here I am going to lead you in a prayer of commitment or recommitment. I am calling you that have never asked Christ to come into your life. You that don't know what it is to have that hope of heaven. But I am also calling you that have fallen away from the Lord. That need to come back to Him tonight. You prodigal sons and daughters.

It is time to come home. You need to be willing to turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. And then follow Him from this night forward and He just like with the prodigal will throw His arms around you. He will forgive you and He will smother you with kisses.

He loves you and you can come to Him tonight. So if you want your sin forgiven. If you want to know that when you die you will go to heaven. If you want that void in your life filled. Or you want to be ready for the Lord's return.

He could come back at any moment. Or you want to come back to Jesus Christ tonight. Right now wherever you are get up out of your seat.

Make your way down the stairs. Come down to the field behind and we will lead you in a prayer of commitment. Why do I ask you to come publicly? Because Jesus says, If you will acknowledge Me before people I will acknowledge you before My Father and the angels in heaven. But if you deny Me before people I will deny you before the Father and the angels.

This is a way to acknowledge Him publicly. I am going to ask my Christian friends out there to not get up and leave early. The only movement I want to see in the next moment is the movement of those making this commitment or recommitment. Everybody else be praying as people come to Christ. You in the top levels there. It takes you a little bit longer to get down here. Don't feel this doesn't apply to you.

You come on down. Make your public stand for Christ. Men and women.

Boys and girls. Whoever you are. Come to the God who loves you. And receive His forgiveness tonight. As Delirious plays this song. Let's take a break.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-03 04:17:48 / 2022-12-03 04:31:05 / 13

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