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The Prodigal and the Perfectionist - Receiving Grace, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
May 25, 2021 6:00 am

The Prodigal and the Perfectionist - Receiving Grace, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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May 25, 2021 6:00 am

Have you ever wished for a super simple explanation of something that’s very complex? Well, that’s why Jesus told parables, or simple stories. In this program, Chip tells us that the parable of the Prodigal Son is one Jesus told to give us a clear picture of God’s amazing grace. And since a picture is worth 1,000 words, you’re not gonna want to miss this one!

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If I ask you to describe God for me, what would you say? I mean, how do you picture an invisible God? I mean more than naming his attributes like holy, just, loving, kind. What picture comes to your mind that would really get your arms around who God really is? If you're stumped, stay with me.

That's today. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry featuring the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Druey, and Chip's in the middle of a series, The Prodigal and the Perfectionist. We all know family dynamics can be tricky, but in this program, Chip takes a look at a family that can only be described as disastrously dysfunctional. The good news is, he also tells us about a father's amazing heart for his sons that will inspire and encourage you.

So let's get going. Here's Chip with his talk from Luke chapter 15, Receiving Grace. By way of review, each story, one big story, talks about things to make one really big point. Each story has five things in common. Number one, something valuable is lost, right? A coin, a sheep, a son, actually two sons. Number two, an intensive search occurs.

I mean they are searching and really looking. Number three, that which was lost is found. Number four, a great celebration follows. The shepherd calls his friends, the woman calls her friends, the father, literally you're going to learn it's a Near Eastern village, the entire village would come to this party.

And then fifth, the spiritual application is explained. So each time, Jesus talks about the value of one single sinner, someone far from God, whether they're religious or not, coming to God, and the joy, the celebration, the party that happens in heaven. What we learned from the parable or the following things by way of review is that God deeply values irreligious, immoral, lost people. And part of the message is going to be He wants us to deeply value immoral, lost, irreligious people, as were many of us. God actively is pursuing a relationship with lost people.

This whole story is Jesus is getting criticized because He's relating and hanging out and eating and loving and caring about Him. Third, heaven rejoices when one lost person repents. The value of that lost person exponentially increases.

The story keeps building to a climax. A sheep would be worth something, the coin more, and the sons far more. The story and story number three represents the Father is God.

Jesus is going to completely redefine, especially for the Pharisees. This is what God is like instead of who you think He's like. The two sons depicted, the younger son is the immoral sinner. The older son is the righteous or religious sinner. But both are far from God. Both are disconnected from the Father. And then finally, both sons are equally lost but not equally aware of their lostness.

Now here's what I want to do. I want to walk through our time with the younger son, and I'm going to ask you to put on some new glasses and see the story if you had grown up in a peasant village in the Middle East at the time of Jesus. What you learn is that actually a lot hasn't changed in a lot of these villages. Because what you're going to see is when you understand, if you understood the story He's going to tell would have never happened. It would have never happened.

In fact, it was scandalous. They're shocked. I will tell you as we begin to open up the story, the disciples are over here with their mouth going, and the Pharisees are over here going, no way. Because what Jesus is going to do for them, and I pray for us, He's going to completely redefine what God's like. Left to yourself, left to myself, people left to themselves, we create in our mind and our heart a God who can never, ever be pleased. A God who will probably be holding out on us and that we can't trust. A God who's not really good, and so we basically say, I'm in control. I'm doing life my way. I'll build my security.

You know what? I'll give some, you know, maybe a little words and comments, and yeah, I want to believe in God, but when pressure comes, I'm in control. This deal is about me and my life and what I can do, and our sense is that there's some way, maybe some day, we can earn God's favor. That's hardwired into human beings, and Jesus is going to destroy that.

So what can we learn about the three main characters? First, the son's request. Pick it up in verse 12 here. The son's request, he says to his father, I want mine now. This is completely culturally, never done, completely unacceptable. In fact, in this particular culture, even today, you never even discuss inheritance.

Never even discuss it. In fact, I don't have time to develop it, but the little speech about his dad, he phrases a number. He uses three or four different words to get around the word. He doesn't say, I want my inheritance. Basically, he says, I want what's coming to me, and he avoids that because once you get the inheritance, two things happen.

You not only get the property and the money that's due you, but you also get the responsibility of taking over that part of the family when that happens. He wants his stuff, but he doesn't want any of the responsibility. In fact, what he's really saying, his son's message is, I wish you were dead.

This son is revealing his heart. He's rebellious. He's self-centered. He's cruel, and he's callous. He doesn't care about the father. He doesn't care how he feels. I wish you were dead.

I just want what I can get, and I want it right now. The implications for the father economically and socially. This is where it gets interesting. According to Jewish law, the older son got a double portion of any inheritance. According to Jewish law, you could get your inheritance, you could possess it, but it wouldn't be de-possessed.

In other words, so you could actually, it would be yours, but the father has authority over it until he dies, and then it's yours to spend. So the son comes and says, I want mine now. Well, first of all, the men in the village, when they heard this, their natural response would be, take him out. I mean, take him out. He has shamed the father. He shamed the village.

This is, we don't want those kind of people here. Kick him out of the family, banish him. That would have been the normal response. The father doesn't do that. They're listening to this story going, no father would do this. Second thing that's happening is that, you know, he didn't go down to the bank and say, well, you know, I need to cash in some of my 401ks, or I'll tell you what, wealth was not liquid. He had land and property that generation after generation after generation had been given his family.

Then he had barns, and then he had livestock. For this younger son to ask for this now, he's squandering the future. I mean, 20, 30, 40 years later when this father's going to die, I mean, his estate's going to be this big, not this big.

And so he says, I want it now. So he's the younger son, so he gets a third of the estate. And the only way to get the third of the estate is the father now is completely embarrassed.

He looks like a fool. He's selling property. Well, isn't that your family property? Yeah. You get selling your livestock? Yeah. You're selling two of your barns? Yeah.

Why? I'm going to give a third of all that I have to this son, and not only that he can possess it, but I'm going to let him have it. Literally, a little bit phrased later, he gets his things together.

The phrase literally means he cashed out. And by the way, he would be ridiculed. I mean, he would be scorned. I mean, people would be talking about, do you believe this guy? Do you believe this kid?

This is the most ruthless, selfish, narcissistic, I mean people. So he's going to sell it fast. What happens when you sell stuff fast? Right? Think of business you guys call fire sale.

You don't get a lot for it. And so he's completely discrediting his father. So the father now, economically, huge implication.

Socially, huge. You fool. You should have kicked him out of the family. By all rights, a rebellious son at this level, you might jot down Deuteronomy chapter 21, 18 to 21. A rebellious son in some cultures in the law, you could stone him.

The father's giving this son the exact opposite of what anyone in this village could ever fathom any father would ever do. He is a notorious sinner in his actions. Now be thinking about why is Jesus telling this story? And who is Jesus hanging out with?

And what are these very religious people who know the Bible backwards and forwards and I mean they tithe down to the mint and the herbs. The father's unprecedented response shocked his audience. That's putting it mildly.

They were absolutely undone. And at this point, they're not thinking highly of the father. Stupid. Foolish. What's he thinking? He's violating hundreds of years of culture in our village. Finally, we learn not only about the young son who is a selfish, I'm in it for me.

I'm going to be in control of my life. A father that doesn't seem to make sense who actually takes the shame on him instead of the son. And then now we have the older son's shocking silence reveals he has a broken relationship with his father and a broken relationship with his younger brother. At the very bottom, I put the book that I told you about of the man who lived in the Middle Eastern culture for 60 years.

And he said, I've taught that this message of Luke 15 thousands of times. And when I get to this portion of it and I say, there's a rift in the family, the father and the younger son, who should solve this? And he said, 1,000 out of 1,000 times, the older brother, that's his job.

In the Middle East, you don't want to lose face. It would have been the older brother's job to go to the younger brother and say, what are you thinking, you little idiot? I mean, how do you think that makes dad feel? What are you doing to the inherited? In fact, what are you doing to me?

You're making a laughing stock in the village. Now, there's no way you're going to do, hey dad, I'm really, really sorry. You know, let me work something out. And he would negotiate or he would put a pact together so that he could resolve this. The older brother was responsible as his role in the family because he's going to be the new head of the family.

He's silent. He doesn't care how his father is viewed and he doesn't care about his younger brother. So that's what we learn about the three main characters.

Now, let's dig in and what can we learn about ourselves? Because the younger brother doesn't just represent these lost immoral people of that day. It's really a picture really of all of us left to ourselves and our attitude toward God the Father. And so you notice it says he went to a distant country. We know from what he does, it's a gentile area and he goes to this distant country and he's cashed out and basically what he's done is he squanders all of the father's resources. Now, this was also very interesting to me as I've studied this because you always wonder, you know, his older brother says he, you know, I don't know if it was his own thinking if I would have left, this is how I would have squandered it because we never know how. But he goes, this son of yours squandered it with prostitutes and that certainly may be the case and historically an immoral lifestyle seems to be a part of this. But one of the other thing that's interesting is if you would go to a different land in this time to win friends and influence people, you would have parties. You would want to be seen as generous. You would want to be the, you want to get acceptance and you're in this gentile area and he's got a lot of money. And so he's inviting a lot of friends and having a lot of parties and they're probably pretty wild parties and everyone's, oh, it's great, great, great. You know, he's the guy that's got the stuff.

And then pretty soon because they're all friendships based on, you know, this guy's going to pay the bill, we'll go party with him. And then it says a severe famine comes and the word severe and famine is a picture in your mind, a compassion or a world vision commercial with the little kids with their little tiny bodies and their ribs sticking out. That's this. And there was no government. There was no relief organizations. In other words, there's no, there's no crops. And so he finds himself and in this culture you don't help foreigners. You take care of your own family at best. And so he's out of money. He's in the gentile world. His sort of big party lifestyle is upside down. And now he's stuck.

And he goes through this sort of internal time of what am I going to do? And so literally the phrase is he hires himself out. Literally the word is he attached himself to a business person there.

The words used here probably with someone of wealth that even in the famine had resources. And this gentile doesn't want to help him. And so the picture here is so if you have a Jewish boy, you don't want to help him, but there's some sort of social obligation.

What do you do? You give him a job that you know he can't do. This is sort of like maybe some of you have experienced this. A company decides they want to get rid of someone, but they don't want to fire them. And so they give them a job that they know they'll hate. We're transferring you to Siberia.

We're going to have you, you know, they've been out on the field. We would like you on the desk, and the hours are from 6 a.m. because we actually, it's actually from 3 a.m. to because we want you to do work with another, you know, you just create a job where the person goes, I just, I can't do this, so they quit. And that's what happens here. He's given a job that it's absolutely the lowest point that you could ever get at. And he's looking at what the pigs eat. And then notice he has a turning point.

And the turning point is interesting. He comes to his senses, and I would like to suggest that the reason he came to his senses was he was really hungry. He was really desperate. And the memory of his father, in the Jewish culture at the time, there was a bond servant. If you read through the Old Testament, this is someone who served a master, and there's such a love relationship at some point in time. He says, I never want to not be your servant. And literally, they would go against a post, and they would take an awl, and they would drive a hole, and they'd put an earring, and that would mean he's a bond servant, a part of this family.

And he just says, I'm a part of the family to be well taken care of, and I never want to be sold, I never want to leave. Then there were other servants, or slaves, and then there were hired workers. The bond servants would often live in the house, the hired workers would often live on the estate, the other servants, and then there were the casual workers. And this is the word he's referring to. These were people, like if you go to a Walmart parking lot, if you go to a Target parking lot, and people that are looking for work, and they're just kind of hanging out, hoping that, you know, hey, do you need some help today?

That's what these people did. They got up every day, they lived in town, didn't have any regular work, they were called hired help. And what goes through this guy's mind is, his father is good and kind and generous, because he wouldn't have to do this, but he takes care of the bond servants, he takes care of the slaves on the estate, but these hired workers, all they really deserve is, hey, look, here's your paycheck, but no, no, no, no. They're treated like family.

They eat plenty. He takes care of them. He's now remembering what kind of man his father is. And he realizes at this point, and by the way, this is how a lot of us come to the father, it's called desperation. I mean, I'd love it if in some great holy moment we said, you know what, my life is so wonderful.

I don't know if there really is a God, but I think out of the goodness and wonderfulness of my heart, I think I will pursue the God that is. The fact of the matter is we are high control people that tend to be very selfish by nature. We get it very naturally. You don't have to teach your kids to be selfish. You don't have to teach your kids to fight. You don't have to teach your kids to be greedy. And when they grow up, they become like us where we do it in very sophisticated ways where we can actually look nice and sweet and still be selfish and greedy.

Right? You guys don't like that too much, but it's true. And it's when we're desperate. It's when we realize, you know what, I can't make this marriage work. Or I, you know what, I've been to a lot of doctors and this isn't going to go away. Or, you know, I've tried this job, this job, this job, and by now I thought I would be here and I'm here. Or I'm struggling and I'm discouraged and I'm depressed and I'm trying hard to have a positive attitude and I'm listening to those self-help tapes but it's just not working. You know, there's at some point where you find yourself next to a bed with one of your children in ICU and you don't know if they're going to make it. And all of a sudden the reality of what matters in life versus all the stuff and all the junk and all the pressure and you cry out to God like never before.

And what's amazing is instead of being sort of consistent and going, well, I noticed when things were going, well, you weren't talking to me much. You don't, you meet a God whose arms are open and that's what Jesus is trying to teach them. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, Receiving Grace, from his series, The Prodigal and the Perfectionist. Chip's exploring the elusive concept of grace, helping us 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 a 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 lavish on you? We hope you'll engage the question and continue the journey by digging into the messages of this series, The Prodigal and the Perfectionist.

To listen again or to check out the resource options, go to, call 888-333-6003, or tap special offers on the Chip Ingram app. Hey, I want to take just a minute to ask you something really important. If you've been impacted by this ministry, would you please pray about partnering with Living on the Edge in a new way right now? Nearly everything we do is dependent on contributions from partners like you.

Our ability to reach people through radio, online, or our app, sharing and developing small group resources, providing broadcasts that are international in Asia and the Middle East and literally dark places around the globe. Please pray how you might be able to come alongside and be a partner to Living on the Edge to help us reach people with the truth of God's Word. Thank you in advance for whatever God leads you to do. Thanks, Chip. If that mission resonates with you, we'd love to have you join us.

Helping Christians get a high, accurate biblical view of God will change the world we live in. To give a gift today, just give us a call at 888-333-6003. Or if you prefer to give online, you can donate securely by going to

That's Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Now here's Chip with some final thoughts about this message. As we close today's program and think about what the Father is really like, what Jesus taught about his heart, that picture of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, what I want to ask you is this. When you mess up, when you fail, when you know you've done something that's really wrong, or God spoke to you and said, I really want you to do this, and you just flat out didn't do it, or maybe you find yourself in an addiction, or you've really made a moral lapse, or you're privately logging onto the internet, and this whole addiction with pornography no one knows about, we all have secrets. But your view of God will determine what's going to happen to the rest of your life. If you think your guilt and your mistakes and your failure make you unacceptable to him and because you don't feel like you can come to him, it will keep you far away.

Your life will never change. Today is a day where God gave you a picture of the kind of God that he is that when he sees your pain, your addiction, your lies, your stealing, your adultery, your image management, all the stuff that we humans have, the moment you would come to your senses and say, oh God, I need your help. I want you to know the God of the universe that sent Christ his son loves you, is for you, wants to forgive you, wants to redeem you, wants to help you.

Now here's the question. Are you willing to come right now and say, God, help me? Are you willing to humble yourself and admit that you need help from God? If so, tell him right now in your own words and then find the greatest Christian you know and tell him, I just had a very serious prayer with God and I think I need help on the path. And God will show up. Run to him.

He'll greet you with open arms. Hey, before we go, let me remind you of an easy way to listen to our extended teaching podcast. Hear Chip anytime on Amazon's Alexa Echo and Echo Dot. Just say, Alexa, open Living on the Edge, and you'll hear that day's extended teaching anytime you want. Well, for Chip and everyone here, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-14 11:25:01 / 2023-11-14 11:34:39 / 10

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