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The Prodigal and the Perfectionist - Understanding Grace, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
May 21, 2021 6:00 am

The Prodigal and the Perfectionist - Understanding Grace, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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May 21, 2021 6:00 am

Have you ever tried to describe something but every time you get close to the right words, the thoughts just seem to disappear in a fog? Trying to communicate the idea of God’s grace is like that sometimes. But Jesus gave us a vivid picture of grace that’ll make it all come clear.  Join Chip as he reveals that picture of God’s grace. 

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Did you realize there is one word that is more important than any other word in all the Bible. In fact it's one word that separates Christianity from every other religion on the planet want to know what it is. Stay with me yesterday. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge Chip Ingram trips or Bible teacher on this international discipleship program. Today we begin a series called article in the perfectionist why we call the race is the most important word just talking about race describing grace can be difficult seem vague or nebulous chip helps us get a grasp on things like taking a look at Jesus parable of the two guys lost in her father's lavish love, shocked his listeners. You have a Bible open it up to Luke chapter 15 the let's join Chip for his message. Understanding race. What's the biggest challenge that you're facing right now the number one biggest challenge physical, relational, family crisis health. I don't know you got. Now let me read a promise given to a man who had prayed very hard to have lots of faith.

But God said I'm not going to answer it.

The way that you wanted answered the apostle Paul second printing chapter 12 and the Lord says to the apostle Paul, my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Paul will then say most gladly therefore will I rejoice in my weakness of the power of Christ might be manifested and be made known through me so want you to think about as you hear what were going to talk about. So what is God's grace and how does it work and how is it operational once you think about that challenge and that promise that God would say to you, like you did to him and says to me doesn't always say he's going take you out of it doesn't say checks and come in the mail doesn't mean necessarily a supernatural healing. He can has done all this kind of things in our church, but his grace will be sufficient. If you have some notes go ahead and pull them out because you going to need him and as you pull those out I will make three observations about grace.

Number one. I would argue that the single most important in all of the New Testament, infecting all of the Bible is the word grace. Secondly, I would argue that grace and the concept of grace separates the God of the Bible from every and all religions or religious systems in all the world over here you have grace in the God of the Bible and overhear you have every religious system third, I would argue your understanding or lack of understanding of grace will determine the quality of your life on earth, and more importantly will determine the destiny and the destination of your life after you die when you open the Bible it says, by grace we are saved must be pretty important. The apostle Paul would say of his entire life. I am what I am by the grace of God in his grace didn't prove vain toward me, but I labored more than all of them yet not I but the grace of God in me Peter would say grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ Peter would say set your hope fully on the grace that is to be revealed. You come to know God through grace, you grow through grace your sustained through grace your call into relationship by grace whatever grace is.

It's really really important.

But here's my observation I been doing this for about 30 some years new Christians, not some new Christians really old Christians when you sit down with someone looking right behind you say could you kind of explain grace to me and how it works. You get kind of, well, it's sort and it kind and it's free and it's unmerited and it's and it's foggy and so what I want to do is we get started I wanted to find grace that I want to show you where it comes from and then when you talk about how do you experience this goodness this generosity of God. This unmerited free love that God wants to give us the ready. So let's define it. The dictionary be just open up the dictionary it'll say it's a simple elegance and refinement of movement thinking to herself that may not be the definition were looking for but has this idea, grace movements, like a dancer or ballerina and that gives us the free, unmerited favor of God. The theological definition is if you get this right of a theology book. It's the freeing unmerited favor of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowing of blessings.

So that's theological.

That's what it is for the Sunday school definition.

Many of you grew up in Sunday school and the acronym GRA CE God riches at Christ's expense. That's accurate that's true, the riches of God. The abundance of God given to us freely by what Christ did. Here's the problem.

The problem is that it still nebulous. In fact I looked up the word nebulous and see if this doesn't reflect a little bit on your view of grace is a concept or idea that's indistinct unclear or vague, hazy, cloudy, fuzzy, misty, blurry, ill-defined, confusing and ambiguous week we learned. Grace is the most important word in the Bible you come to know God by grace you grow by grace your sustained by grace your given gifts by grace. The Greek word for grace is Congress, the word for joy is a root word, a car, the word forgiveness charisma taught me it's all about grace and giving and yet the average Christian really has a hard time getting their arms around what is it exactly how does it work and how do you experience so you O open your Bibles to Exodus chapter 33 you take a look at this man named Moses, and one the most interesting passages in all Scripture. Moses says that led the people out of Egypt.

They seen the Red Sea part. Other going out in the mornings and there's managed to pick up.

They seen miracles actually by this time, he's already got the 10 Commandments and he's come down and when he was gone for a while. They decided that they would find a golden calf and they would ship it and the people were involved in sort of blatant immorality and Moses out of his frustration breaks the commandments and goes back up and talks to God and goes through this dialogue can we pick up the dialogue in chapter 33 were Moses says you know if you're not can go with this. I can go and by the way, these are your people. These are my people, and as it began to talk. Moses does something that few people do in Scripture.

He's very very bold what he says is I want to know who is this really not just your presence. If your favorites can go with me. I want to know what you really like. Then Moses said now show me your glory and the Lord said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim the name the Lord in your presence and so here's one time were so much as I want to know who you are. I mean pull back the veil. I want to see you just as you are and God says no man can see my face and live.

But here's what I'm going to do I'm going to cause my goodness to pass in front of you and any gives Moses instructions a good looking and put you you stand over here. I'm gonna pass by my hand here, and you can see the flares of my glory and I'm there to proclaim my name and so instructs him to chisel out two more stones. He get some he brings them back up his along with the Lord. And then as you skip down. Look at verses chapter 34 verse five and the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with them and he proclaimed his name. The Lord passed in front of Moses proclaiming the Lord, the Lord literally Yahweh.

Yahweh I am that I am I am that I am.

It's his covenant name. I'm the ever existent one. I have no beginning. I have no in. I am on the altar of the universe on the author of all history. I have no need. I'm self-sufficient. What is this I am godlike. The God who is the alpha pneumonia has no beginning has no end is the creed of all that there is who spoke in the galaxies came to exist who created life itself. What's he like what's his goodness like and then he fills in the gaps, the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to a thousand, and forgiving the wickedness and rebellion and sin, this amazing picture of God's goodness. The first two words some of your translations if you're another one will say the God merciful and loving or gracious.

The first word is tested, it's 235 times this word is used in the Old Testament. It's his loyal steadfast love. It's a commitment, love, it's time for you love every time it's from a superior to inferior God to man, it's always just equipment of grace. I'm for you. I love you, then the next word gracious is a little wording can that's the idea hundred percent of the time. It is a free, unmerited non-coerced nonlegal unilateral. I want to bless and give and make you all that you can be on help you and love you and care for you and protect you and grace is a very interesting concept in Scripture because when people are proud and say I don't need God. He's opposed to the proud but gives grace to the who to the humble to people that recognize their need. Imagine if you will for word picture. Grace always flows downhill like this huge like an unlimited supply. Think of this, God could have described himself in any way possible.

And he says on then let my goodness pass before you a quote from JI Packard, in his classic book writes this he says within the cluster of God's moral perfections. There is one in particular to which the term goodness points the quality which got especially singled out from the whole proclaiming that all of his goodness to Moses and then when he speaks of himself. He speaks of being abundant or overflowing in goodness and truth. This is the quality of generosity. Packard goes on to say, generosity means a disposition to give others in a way that has no mercenary motive. It's not limited to the recipients. Anything that they deserve.

God gives generously because he longs for the joy and happiness of his people. They are the object of his affection. Here's all I want you to get you have a picture in your mind, and I have a picture in my little psyche of when you close your eyes to prayer. Look up to pray work when you think about what's going on in your life and you think of the give a snapshot of God and I'm to suggest that whatever snapshot you have is probably pretty marred. He's not like your dad is not like a pastoring that is not like a bad experience you've had. He's not a God whose arms are crossed in the sense of you need to get with the program. He's not a God.

That's down on you he is a God whose abundant in grace and goodness. In other words, he wants to protect you. He wants to love you and take this in the right way he wants you to be happy when it's the picture of when a mom hears a baby crying and she rushes in. That's where does she get that that's the goodness of her heart, wanting to comfort her child when you heard that's how God feels about you if your dad and someone picks on one your kids wants to hurt them or take them or kidnap them or something to dad steps up goes you mess with my son. That's how God feels when danger and darkness and difficulty pain comes into your life. He's good he's gracious. His predisposition is not merited based on how you happen to be behaving or not behaving his predisposition. He's good because of what he's like and and and the big air.

When you look at all the systems of all religion down in our psyche. Ever since and entered the world, is we have this and you go to ancient Egypt ancient Egypt when you look at the tombs ever have a picture of a of a scale in the whole mindset of the world, then and now largely is is a scale of good and bad.

And if you're good outweighs your bad you go into some eternal bliss. Every system, the God of the Bible says you're good could never be perfect and holy and righteous enough, and the basis for relationship with me will be grace. It'll be not what you deserve, not what you can earn not what you can merit and that grace is most clearly and most powerfully pictured in my son turn if you will to John chapter 1 in the beginning was the word John is the last Gospel. The other Gospels been written to the church is been going for roughly about 60 maybe 70 years. This is about A.D. 90 between A.D. 90 and 8100 is the last of the apostles. All the others have been martyred. He's on an island and he's speaking now, and all the churches grown under some factions and he wants to pull everything together. Remind people this is why Jesus came and this is who he really is and he says in beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God in all things came into being from God and nothing has ever been created or come into being. That isn't from the word and then he talks about John the Baptist and his role when he came to be a witness to the light and then skip down to verse 14 it says the Word became flesh blog us the word. The truth, the second person of the Trinity became flesh and lived among us for a while. We've seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the father full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out saying this is the one of whom I said you comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me for from the fullness of his grace. We've all received blessing after blessing.

No one is ever seen God, but God the only son who is at the father's side, has made him known literally the text is he has explained him. If you want to know what God is really like.

If you want to know the snapshot for the pictures. Why almost without exception, no matter where I'm reading in the Bible. I read in the Gospels. I want to read about Jesus. I want to watch Jesus want to listen to Jesus because Jesus responded these people has Jesus responded.

This is Jesus respond when you're in a storm. I will always be reading and thinking about Jesus. If he is he's with the father's like Jesus said what if you see me, you've seen the and how is it useful to both grace and truth in perfect balance to understand grace we need to just keep looking and studying and marveling at the person of Jesus.

Finally, we have an amazing opportunity where Jesus explains who God the father is. I think it's probably if not his most famous parable reteaching the good Samaritan was probably up there neck and neck, but in Luke chapter 15 Jesus is going to actually explain this is what the father's like Luke chapter 15 and as you turn there. I had it very very interesting experience.

I teach at Mount Herman almost every summer. Roger Williams has been the CEO and the director Mount Herman is grown it's flourished and some of you that are close to the situation understand.

He died, he battled cancer for about three or 3 1/2 years and this summer I was teaching at Mount Herman and normally I I teach in the evenings and then I have an opportunity. I go in the morning and my families. There's even better to hear someone else teach. I just that's great. I just soak it up then to have a little break and then have all the seminars. What you do what I do for living. Like I want to hear one message and I want to go sort of goof off a bit okay to go to another seminar and so deciding what I'm going to do with my time and and then just I hear that Roger is going to do a seminar on Luke 15 and and I just passed and I looked at him and I had that little prompting from God and and I, I, one of the staff member said in a Roger couldn't teach last week. Chemotherapies really bad. They've done all they can do it and when I became acutely aware of is this man's going to die very soon and and a member thought what you know I just I need little break was all just sit in the back so I can get out and not to disturb him and was in the main, and he begins to talk and I don't know if you've ever been around a person that knows they're gonna die and die very soon, but they speak with the clarity and the conviction that very few of us ever have. There are no distractions that there's no little issues.

There is no little things that I mean they only talk and think and live and breathe and relate in ways that really matter because their time is so limited and he started off he set out in studying this passage for over 10 years and then he said you know I talked about all refer to it later. Dr. Ken Bailey who spent 60 years. Six decades in rural peasant villages in the Middle East. Arab world and he said I've learned, I've been studying this passage for 10 years and my view of God is been so transformed I can never fathom or believe how deeply God loves me totally apart from my performance or my behavior. What grace is really all about and it's a grace that doesn't set you free to do whatever you want. It's a grace that compels you to love others and live a holy life and as you begin to talk. I can tell he's getting emotional and kind of went down a couple more rose thinking up get closer to the sky long short of the night I spent all three days seminar and it was just like pop pop pop and all the sudden I mean I I went to school at Goodpaster 30 some years, I have a little understanding of grace, but after three days I realize my understanding was like that.

I got to be in the presence of a man who not only open God's word but opened his heart in a way that I thought, oh God, I have a thimble understanding of the ocean of your amazing love for me and if I could if I could just digest that it would so change how I think about me and how I think about others and how I relate to life as of the third day I went down and he got weaker and weaker and weaker and I stood in line as if he Roger, I like to ask you a favor and you and we've known each other for probably 1520 years and I said this is really God's really spoken to my life and now rather than steal it.

I'd rather ask proficient because I would really like to take some things I've learned in and pass it on, and he smiled probably like a guy who's exhausted and has baton and you know one is relay races in it like he took he goes.

He lifted his fur on my hands and said you share that with as many people as you can listing the part of ships message understanding grace from a series prodigal, and the perfectionist ships exploring the elusive concept of grace openness discover the depth of God's love so crucial to understanding that our failures are never final when we bring them to him. Chip brings Jesus teaching to life. Looking first at the heart of a merciful father and then his two sons one or prodigal, the other a perfectionist as you listen, you'll likely see a little of yourself in each of these guys. The question is are you positioned to receive the grace your heavenly father is willing and able to leverage on you. We hope you'll engage the question and continue the journey by digging into the messages of the series, prodigal, and the perfectionist to listen again or to check out the resource options go to call AAA 333-6003 or Special offers on the chipping roadmap Chip it's hard to understand the concept of grace. Can you describe the way that we could actually experience God's grace because I think once we experience it. It helps us get our minds around what it is I totally agree and and II really think that we have the sense that God is down on us. None of that is true.

I mean, especially Luke 15 gives us a completely different picture of the father.

Jesus is describing God's graciousness even when we have blown it and rebelled and I I fight with this so much. I have a little practice that maybe this will be helpful for you, you know that that very first moments when you're waking up, and before I do anything I want my mindset in this direction and so often I will I will begin right at that moment and I'll just quote slowly. Psalm 23 the Lord is my shepherd, I don't have to be in want or need. He's going to leave me by green pastures.

He's, you know I'll walk through that line by line by line or often another morning. I'll just start with our father. My father that that is in heaven.

How holy is your name and I just kind of paraphrase. But before I do anything. I'm just saying the Lord's prayer and reminding myself that he's for me and that he loves me and then a favorite of mine right as my eyes open a Zephaniah 317 and it says the Lord your God is with you. The Lord God Almighty, he will deliver you. He will sing over you imagine that this idea of God singing over you, he will quiet you with his love and I just quote that verse and I just pause before I get out of bed or brush my teeth or take my shower and I just start my day in that one moment and I have to tell you that makes all the difference in the world how you start your first thoughts often dictate the whole rest of your day.

Thanks, Chip, will you know another area where men particularly need extra encouragement is in their roles as dads. The fact is, many men don't know how to be the dead their kids need if you want to know more about what the Bible says about fatherhood got a great resource for you to check out Chip just released a brand-new book called portrait of a father how to be the dad your child needs. It's a short, easy read that emphasizes the critical responsibility of every dad in the lives of their kids with Father's Day just around the corner now is a great time to get your hands on this new book, whether it's for yourself that you know or a dad to be, you'll find the details for portrait of a or call AAA 83336003 here's the deal. If you want to order this book for all the guys in your small group or church we've discounted Chip's new book so you can order as many as you need. Just go to or call AAA 333-6003 will hear again is chip with a few final thoughts from this message as we close today's program I have to tell you that this series grew out of a very unique experience and I started to share just a little bit of it at the end of today's message. I was at family retreat and I was speaking at it and if you've ever been in my shoes and you have your whole family and your speaking at night, you don't go to workshops on campus comes can tell you that I go to the morning message with the other guy teaches and then I just want to get away with my family have some fun goof off, drink coffee with my wife, get a work out something, but they announced all the workshops and they Roger in a very feeble voice said for the last 10 years before I die. I I think my eyesight has been revolutionized about what grace really is and I realized as a Christian. Most my life. I never understood it and that's what I'll be sharing in my workshop and his voice was just about like that so I thought while sitting and you know I went to every day of that workshop and it was like God breathed inside of me a fresh this is what grace is all about Chip and here's how to get a handle on it for you and the people you love. So I prayed this series is one that washes over you are fresh.

The you might know who God really is and how much he loves you as we wrap up I would remind you that our mission of Living on the Edge is to help Christians live like Christians.

One of the ways we do that is by giving away free resources. So when you hear a message. That's especially helpful.

We hope you'll pass it on to others that are easily shared from the chipping roadmap or by forwarding the free MP3s from our website. and don't forget to include a note about how it made a difference in your life will be sure to be with us again next time we continue our current series, chipping the entire team.

This is the earliest thing. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge

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