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1732. God’s Gracious Love For Sinners, Pt. 1

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
March 19, 2024 8:43 am

1732. God’s Gracious Love For Sinners, Pt. 1

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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March 19, 2024 8:43 am

Pastor Tim Leaman from Calvary Baptist Church in Westminster, MD, begins a message from the Bob Jones University 2023 Bible Conference themed “God’s Steadfast Love.” The passage is Luke 15.

The post 1732. God’s Gracious Love For Sinners, Pt. 1 appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.


Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today and tomorrow we're featuring a sermon preached from the Bob Jones University 2023 Bible Conference where the theme was God's Steadfast Love. Pastor Tim Lehman of Calvary Baptist Church in Westminster, Maryland will be preaching the message titled, God's Gracious Love for Sinners. Pastor Lehman is pastoring the Calvary Baptist Church in Westminster, Maryland. I've had the privilege of being in his ministry. It is a wonderful church and wonderful people. And I thought about someone that would come in and handle God's Word because that's very important here.

And you understand that because you sit day in and day out listening to Bible preaching and whether you realize what good Bible preaching is or not, at least you have an appetite and you develop that and that's healthy and that's important because when you graduate you want to find a church that is a very strong Bible preaching and teaching church. And that is the church that Pastor Lehman is the shepherd of. He, as a young man, grew up on the mission field with his parents in Papua New Guinea. At the age of 16 years old, he felt the call of God to preach. He graduated from Bob Jones University in 1989 with an undergrad degree in 1991 with an MA degree in Bible. Went on to get his master divinity degree and has been serving in Maryland ever since. A good, solid, warm-hearted, tender, compassionate pastor. And if you got a pastor like that, you're a blessed person.

Thank you. If you have your Bibles, would you turn with me to Luke chapter 15. Luke chapter 15, very familiar portion of God's Word. I was at Bob Jones University for nine years and nine formative years in my life. The Lord used my time here, the professors, in a great way in my life and I'm very glad to be here tonight. Every time I come on this campus I just have many fond memories that come back to me and I'm so glad that the Lord has given me this opportunity this evening. I wonder if you like a good story.

You do if you're a human being. Because God wired us and made us so that we respond well to mysteries. Every preacher that's here tonight knows that you can very easily see that glazed look in the eyes of your people that you've lost them. But if you tell an intriguing story, instantly they perk up and they want to hear what you're saying.

Every preacher in this room knows that this is true. Stories have been called mankind's native language. Because stories not only make a point, but they connect with us in a way that we can experience what is being told. One of the reasons the Bible is such a captivating book is because it has a grand storyline.

We read of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration. Therefore it's not surprising that Jesus was the greatest storyteller that the world has ever known. Yes, He was much more than that. But He was the Word who became flesh. He is the greatest revelation of God to humanity.

He is God's last word to man. And this evening I want us to consider the greatest short story ever told by the greatest teacher the world has ever known, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I'm referring of course to what is commonly known as the parable of the prodigal son. This parable has everything that you could ever want in a story. It has tension, disaster, redemption, a happy reunion, and an unexpected ending.

And all of this is accomplished with an amazing economy of words. This famous story is the last parable in a trilogy of parables that the Lord taught in response to a challenge by the Pharisees. Look with me please at Luke chapter 15 verses 1 and 2. Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured saying, this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them saying, and that's the beginning of the three parables. These three parables are intended to explain to the Pharisees why Jesus received notoriously sinful people. And the answer given in these parables is because God delights to save lost repentant sinners. Notice the interpretive refrain in the first two parables. Look with me at verse 7. I say unto you that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance. Now look with me please at verse 10.

Likewise I say unto you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Now these first two parables are very brief and they very concisely make their point. The final parable is much more fully developed. Now let me first of all say that the parable of the prodigal son is really misnamed. It begins in verse 11 and it says a certain man, the focus is not on the sons, it's on the father. It could more accurately be called the parable of the gracious or loving father.

This is where I found a connection with our conference theme, chesed. Because God's chesed love for His covenant people, you might assume that God has no concern for really sinful people. That's how the Pharisees reasoned and why they were so disturbed that Jesus gave His time and attention to very wicked people. But Jesus reveals in this parable the heart of God for broken sinners. It's also important to remember that this parable is about two sons, not just one. It says a certain man had two sons. The prodigal son represents the publicans and sinners that came to hear our Lord. And of course the older brother represents the Pharisees. This is really a story told in two acts. The first act begins in verse 11 and chronicles the life and times of the prodigal. While the second act commences in verse 25 and reveals the heart attitude of the Pharisees as seen in the older brother. This evening I'd like us to consider the first act of this very familiar parable.

And Lord willing on Friday morning, we will consider the second half of this parable and the older brother. Now one of the dangers of preaching this passage is I suspect that every single person in this room knows how this story goes. You've heard it perhaps from your parents in some kind of storybook that they taught you as a kid. You may have heard it in your Sunday school class. You've heard it preached from many, many times. And so I run the risk of you just turning me off or tuning me out and saying I know what this story is about. I know what it means.

I don't need to hear. But I trust that you will give God's precious word the attention that it deserves. I'm going to preach to you this evening on God's gracious love for lost sinners. And I have three points that I want to bring out of this first half of the parable. The first one is that God's love for sinners is extended even to scandalous sinners.

Look with me please at verses 11 and 12. And he said, a certain man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto him his living. Everyone knows a prodigal son.

They're very easy to recognize. He is a foolish, rebellious young man who wants to party and has no thought about the consequences of his actions. In World War II, when recruiters were looking for just the right person to be trained as a fighter pilot, they discovered something interesting. They discovered that the candidates they wanted to go for were young men between the ages of 18 and 19. And the reason for that is they discerned that young men of that age were very willing to take great risks. And they didn't think about the consequences. By the time they'd become 20 or 21, they would start saying, wait a minute, you want me to do what?

And they were a little hesitant to take on a mission. I say that to you because many scholars think that this prodigal is probably between the ages of 17 and 19. So he's at that age when young men often make foolish choices and they never think about the consequences of their actions. He makes a shocking request of his father. He says, give me the portion of goods that falleth unto me. He wanted his inheritance and he wanted it now.

This would have been considered very disrespectful in this ancient Jewish culture. As a younger son, he would have been entitled to one third of the inheritance, but only after his father's death. But his father was very much alive. And so essentially he is saying, dad, I don't care about you. I don't care about my relationship with you.

I just want your money. And we read that the father complied with his request. He gave him his inheritance and this was no easy task.

It's very unlikely that his father had a third of his estate in liquid assets. Undoubtedly, he had to sell some of the family land to get the boy his money. And this would have grieved the father deeply because ancestral land was considered a sacred trust.

My point is that on so many levels, this was a wrong request. This was defiance and rebellion against a loving and gracious man. This wayward son never considered his father and the tears that must have flowed down his cheeks at night as he thought about the path that his son was on. The son never gave a thought to the disruption that undoubtedly occurred within his family with this startling request. He never thought about the bad example that he was setting in that village, in that little community, and how he was bringing shame and disgrace upon his father's name.

This was a big deal and a shame-honor culture. But the son is intent on going his way. The story here reveals to us the ugliness of sin. In verse 13 we read, And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country. He didn't wait around to say long goodbyes. He made a rapid exit. He couldn't wait to get out of the father's house. You see, sinners always seek to live independently of God.

It's been this way since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. This young man couldn't wait to get away from his father. No more lectures, no more curfews, no more warnings, no more boring services in the synagogue. He was free at last. You see, this young man desperately wanted to live life on his own terms. So he gathered all of this money, probably a substantial amount of money. One third of his father's estate and everything in the description of this parable reveals that this was a very wealthy man.

I imagine he had a bag filled with gold and silver coins and he headed off to the far country. This would have been a Gentile city. When my wife and I visited Israel in 2011, we had an excellent tour guide who took us to the ruins of a Gentile city not far from Galilee. Our tour guide told us that when Jesus told his parable and he referred to the far country that everyone in his original audience would have thought of this Gentile city.

It was known as Sin City. It was a place of wine, women, and song. And undoubtedly the prodigal had heard tales of this city and it captured his heart. This is where he wanted to go. This is where he wanted to live and he wanted to live his life in self-indulgence. And so he goes out to the far country, a free-spending young man, and he wasted a fortune.

You know, you would not even have to know this story at all, but just this part you would kind of know it was not going to end well because this plan wasn't good. I want you to notice the two als in our text. In verse 13 we read that he gathered all, and in verse 14 we read that he spent all. It says in verse 14, and when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land and he began to be in want.

Now the term prodigal comes from the Latin translation of riotous living. It expresses someone who is recklessly extravagant in their spending. His life was one great party until the money ran out. We see in this first part of the story this downward spiral in this man's life. First he left his father's house in disgrace. Then his money ran out. Third, a famine came to the land. And we read he began to be in want. That is his basic needs for survival were not being met. And so we read in verse 15, he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country and he sent him into his fields to feed the swine.

This is the next step down in that downward spiral of degradation that leads to death. When it says he joined himself, the word is he attached himself or he glued himself to this man. The idea is that this was an act of desperation. If you've ever visited a third world country and you've been in certain areas, you will have beggars who come up to you, sometimes young men, and they will, they will like attach themselves to you and they won't take no for an answer. And wherever you go they will follow you.

And they will incessantly be calling and asking for money or for your shoes or for your clothes or for something. That's what this man was like. His life was on the line. This was his last option. And so he's desperate and begging this man for help.

But there's still one step further down. We read of him feeding these pigs. I think that when Jesus originally told this story to his Jewish audience, there was an audible gasp.

Because this was absolutely disgraceful. Of course the Jews had the dietary restrictions of not eating pork. In time through the centuries they came to detest and despise pigs. And the idea of a nobleman's son feeding pigs was unthinkable. And then we have another step further down in verse 16. And he would fain had filled his belly with the husk that the swine did eat and no man gave unto him.

The husk here refers to a variety of carob pods that are found in the Middle East. They are tasteless and without nutritional value. Sort of like eating cardboard.

But to a starving man they look pretty good. And then we read, and no man gave unto him. The idea is that no one in the far country cared for him. No one was concerned for him. There was no safety net.

There was no organization to help people who were starving. It was every man for himself. And the idea is that he was so dirty and smelly that even the Gentiles wanted nothing to do with him. So these are the consequences of his sin. He is separated from his father and he is as good as dead. Because the wages of sin is death and whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. But he is not without hope.

Because back home he has a father who has never stopped loving him. That brings me to the second movement within this story. My second point and that is that God's love for sinners is realized by those who repent and come to Him by faith. And we begin now in verse 17.

If you've ever studied literature you may recall analyzing stories and identifying the central turning point in the narrative. In the parable of the prodigal son, this moment is expressed in the initial phrase in verse 17, and when he came to himself. Or we might say when he came to his senses.

This is like the hinge of the whole parable. Now doctrinally we would call this repentance. The Greek word for repentance means a change of mind. However this does not mean that repentance is just an intellectual exercise. No it's a change of the entire inner man, his mind, his will, and his emotions.

And we see this in this parable. First of all he has a change of mind about himself. He thought he was so clever and resourceful when he left his father's home. He thought he had life all figured out.

He had no time to hear the advice of his father or the counsel of the village elders. But now he comes to the sad realization that he has been a fool all along. He was living under a delusion.

Notice what he says to himself at the end of verse 17. He says, I perish with hunger. He finally realizes the reality of his situation. This young man now understands that if he doesn't take drastic action, he will die.

You see a person must realize they are lost before they are found. Secondly, he has a change of mind about his father. The father in this parable of course represents the Lord, our gracious Heavenly Father. Notice how Jesus the storyteller uses internal dialogue to help us understand what the prodigal son is thinking. It says, he thinks to himself, how many hired servants of my father have bread enough and despair and I perish with hunger. When the prodigal son left home, he couldn't wait to get away from his father. But now in his brokenness, he thinks differently about his death. What does he remember about his father?

Well, he remembers that his father is a good and generous man. You see, his father's hired servants weren't like most hired servants. Who just had enough to survive, to just eke out a living for their families. No, his father's servants had an abundance of food. We don't know about this very much in our part of the world but throughout most of human history, the greatest worry, the greatest concern that people had concerned food security.

Am I and my family going to starve to death because we don't have the resources we need? This man's hired servants never had to worry because they worked for a gracious man who made certain that they were taken care of. In fact, everyone in the village wanted to work for his dad because he was a fair and generous man. Now when the prodigal left home, he viewed his father as a foolish old man who stood in his way of happiness.

But now his perspective has changed. For many days the prodigal son lived, I suspect, in the far country as if his father did not exist. He never thought of him as he went about his pursuits. He never missed home.

He never thought about the pain and suffering of his family and how they were grieving over his departure to the far country. For many days the prodigal son lived as if his father did not exist. This is the mindset of every lost person. There is no fear of God before their eyes.

Despite the claim to the contrary, lost people live as if there is no God. But now the prodigal suddenly remembers his father. He remembers that he is a good man, that he is a gracious man, and perhaps he is a forgiving man. Third, he has a change of mind about his sin. This is clearly reflected in his confession. In verse 18 he says, I will rise and go to my father and will say unto him, father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. Did you notice how he views his sin as being primarily against God? He says, I have sinned against heaven. The reference to heaven was a respectful Jewish way of referring to God. This is the same spirit that we see in David's great psalm of repentance. Psalm 51 where he says, against thee and thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight.

And notice the spirit of humility and brokenness that accompanies his confession. He says in verse 19, and I'm no more worthy to be called thy son, make me as one of thy hired servants. Notice he doesn't return home demanding his rights. That's how he left, but that's not how he returns. Instead he essentially says, I don't even deserve to live here.

I don't deserve to be your son. In verse 19 we have a reference to hired servants. These servants were day laborers who received minimal payment with no expectation of steady work. We still have day laborers today. This past week in a town near to where I live, I went to home Depot and over there in the corner, there were a group of men waiting and hoping that someone would hire them for the day for cash under the table.

It's always been that way and it was this way in ancient times. You see the prodigal son was not asking his father to receive them home. He was asking if his father would spare his life. This is the kind of broken spirit that secures God's pardon.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. When you are truly broken over your sin, you will come before God like a beggar. The prodigal doesn't come home negotiating terms with his father. He doesn't say I will come home, but I will not accept any of your curfews.

And every Friday night I'm going to stay out the whole night and have a party with my friends and I don't want to hear any lectures from you about it. No repentant sinners come to God with no leverage, with no demands, with no sense of entitlements. They come with empty hands and a broken heart. However, we should never think that our repentance has earned our favor with God. God's not impressed with our tears or our words of remorse. God does not save us because of the merit of our repentance. No, he forgives us because of what Christ has done for us on the cross. In fact, we could never even repent without God graciously working within us. However, those who come to God in faith and repentance are forgiven. I remember years ago there was a man who's gone to be with the Lord now for over 30 years.

His name was Jesse Boyd. He taught on the Bible faculty here and was the pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church and he had many memorable sayings. One of those was that God will save a sinner but not a rebel. And he went on to say that the rebel must lay down his weapons and bow in surrender to the Lord in order to be saved. You can't say I will come but I'm going to come with my weapons and I'm going to fight you each step of the way. You've been listening to part one of a sermon preached by Pastor Tim Lehman from Bob Jones University's 2023 Bible Conference. Join us again tomorrow when we'll hear the conclusion of this sermon on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-20 10:26:04 / 2024-03-20 10:35:17 / 9

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