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1733. God’s Gracious Love For Sinners, Pt. 2

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2024 6:00 pm

1733. God’s Gracious Love For Sinners, Pt. 2

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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March 20, 2024 6:00 pm

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

The post 1733. God’s Gracious Love For Sinners, Pt. 2 appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform. Today, 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 continue the message from yesterday about the prodigal son from Luke 15. Look to him, but thirdly, I want you to see that God's love for sinners is demonstrated in His readiness to receive broken sinners. Look with me, please, now at verse 20. And he that is the prodigal arose and came to his father.

And now we come to this beloved climax of this story. We read, but when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him. The clear implication was that this was not a chance occurrence, but that his father was looking for him. How many days did the father search the horizon for his son, hoping and praying that he would return?

Most of Israel is very flat with few trees, and so you can generally see for miles. And so the father, I imagine, sees the solitary figure walking on the road to their village off in the distance. And he begins to hope and wonder, is this my boy? He looks carefully and intently, and perhaps his son had a certain posture or an unusual gait to his walk. And suddenly the father realizes, it is my son.

But this is where the real interesting response comes. How would this father receive his prodigal son? This is really important part of not just this parable, but of the whole string of parables in this chapter. Remember, the whole intent of these parables is to reveal how God receives sinners. So how does the father receive the son?

Our text mentions four ways. First of all, the father receives his sinful son compassionately. Compassionately.

We see that here. It says the father saw him and had compassion. Why was the father compassionate towards his son? I'm sure there are many reasons.

I want to mention two. First of all, because his father was a compassionate man. This is the answer to a lot of theological questions. Why does God love us? It's not because we're lovable. It's because God is love.

That's His nature. Why was this father so compassionate towards his son despite what he had done? Because he was a man of compassion. We've already seen how he had compassion for his workers. What is fascinating here is that the Greek word that's translated compassion is used about a dozen times in the New Testament.

And it's always used to describe our Lord's response or it's found in a parable told by our Lord. Several times we read in the gospels that Jesus, when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion. Why was Jesus so sympathetic to the needs of people? The answer is because he was just like his father. You see, our Heavenly Father is a compassionate God.

Let me ask you, do you believe this? Do you believe that God is a God of compassion? Dr. Pettit made mention of this the other night when he was talking about the children of Israel in Exodus 34, how God revealed Himself to Moses. And how they probably thought if you asked them, what's God like? They would say, well, He's a God of judgment and wrath. And there's many people who still think that way, but our Heavenly Father is a God of compassion. And so often people don't come to the Lord because they think He's just going to condemn me. He's just going to judge me.

He's just going to dismiss me. He's going to treat me like the Pharisees would have treated this young man if he had returned. But there's another reason the prodigal son responded, why the father responded with compassion to the prodigal son. And I think that's because of the way his son looked when he returned. When he left, I imagine he was a picture of health. He was in the prime of his youth.

He was the son of a very wealthy man, so he had the finest foods and everything he needed. But can you picture him now as he returns? His clothes were tattered, they were torn and filthy, his body was emaciated. You could probably see his ribs. He smelled like a pig pen, and he had flies that covered his body.

His face was thin and gaunt, and his wry smile was replaced with a jaded, empty stare. This is the type of person our Heavenly Father loves to welcome home, those who are broken, lost, and desperately seeking His grace. Isaiah 42 and verse 3 describes God's response to sinners this way, A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. The father receives his son compassionately. And secondly, he receives him affectionately. The next thing we read is the father ran towards his son. This seems like a perfectly normal reaction to us. But that's not the way Jesus' original audience would have received this. The father's response would have really bothered them.

It would have been considered completely undignified. You see, in the East it's very inappropriate for a mature man, especially a man of some status in society, to run. In fact, for over a thousand years, Arabic Bible translators refused to render the common Greek word for run in this parable with this Arabic equivalent. Instead, they said that he hurried to meet his son.

Because these translators knew that their readers would be shocked to read of a nobleman running. But this father put aside all social norms because his beloved son had finally come home. And when he reached his son, he fell on his neck. This was no simple hug. It was a spontaneous and intense display of affection.

Have you ever seen reunion scenes where people, loved ones, have been parted for many, many years and they reunite? It's a very powerful thing to witness. Dr. Pettit mentioned that I grew up on the mission field. My family left there due to my father's health concerns when I was nine years old. And the most significant thing that my father did was train a young man for ministry. He led this young man to the Lord. He gave him some training and sent him off to a little local Bible college that was run by other missionaries. He was a little older than I was.

He was about 16, I think, when I was nine. And this young man went to that little Bible college there and he became a preacher and he became a very well-known preacher in the country of Papua New Guinea. And in 1993, when I was in graduate school, he came to Bob Jones University to see me. He came with some other missionaries that had come into town. And I remember he called me on the phone and I said, I'll meet you in the student center area. And I met him there and he was this little man, he was about five foot two. And he comes and he runs up and he hugs me.

And he's from a different culture. Very effusive. And he hugged me for about five minutes at least. And it was a little awkward. Everyone's walking around me and there's this man just clutching to me and crying. He hadn't seen me since I was nine years old, I was now 25. But that's the kind of powerful, emotional response we have here. What did the Father's affectionate embrace signify?

Complete and unconditional acceptance. And then we read that the Father kissed him. The Greek grammar signifies that he repeatedly kissed him. He couldn't constrain himself from just kissing his son's face tenderly. Because the son that he thought was dead is alive and he's come back home. But thirdly, he not only received his son affectionately and eagerly, but he receives his son graciously. Once the shock of his father's response wore off, the prodigal son begins to deliver his confession. Look with me at verse 21. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Now if you compare his confession here to what he planned to say back in verse 19, you will notice that he leaves out, make me as one of your hired servants.

Why is that? I think it's because his father interrupts him before he has a chance to finish. Have you ever tried to apologize to someone and before you really get all the words out there saying, hey Liz, there's nothing to it, you're completely forgiven, I'm not at all offended by it. And you're almost, you're happy but you're almost a little put out. I had this really nice confession I was going to give and you didn't give me a chance to give it.

That's kind of what's happening here. But his confession was right on the mark. He had no right to be received as a son. This fallen man had nothing to offer his father. He had done nothing to contribute to his father's wealth or status. Instead, he had depleted one-third of the family estates. But more importantly, he had brought disgrace to the family name.

And in an honor-shame culture, this was huge. You see, it's not just that he didn't deserve the treatment that he received, he deserved the opposite of this treatment. And yet the father not only forgives him and accepts him, but he lavishes gifts upon him. When the Pharisees heard this story, they were undoubtedly greatly offended by the father's response.

It was scandalous, it was disgraceful. They couldn't grasp the meaning of this parable because they didn't understand grace. Now perhaps this story doesn't make sense to you. Maybe you're thinking, how could the father respond this way?

It really doesn't seem very equitable or fair. Well the fact is, you can only make sense of this story through the lens of the cross. Because at the cross, Jesus paid the debt for all prodigals. You see, this is the only way that God can be just and the one who justifies. This is the only explanation for how the father can demonstrate this extravagant, loving grace to sinful sons and daughters like us.

But there's more. Look with me at verse 22. The father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Did you notice that the prodigal son does absolutely nothing?

He doesn't bathe himself and get dressed for dinner. It's all done for him because salvation is of the Lord. For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. But what is the significance of these gifts the father has given to his son? We read here of the best robe. This was a long, luxurious garment that was only worn on special occasions. And there was only one robe like this in the mansion and that was the father's robe. I see here a picture of justification. The honorable and righteous status of the father was imputed to the son.

Isaiah 61 in verse 10 says, he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. And then a ring was placed on his finger. This was not just any ring, this was undoubtedly a signet ring. It was used to sign documents with the family seal.

The ring speaks of his authority and legal standing in society. And then we read that he put shoes on his feet. In the ancient Near East only family members wore shoes.

All servants and slaves went barefoot. The wearing of shoes speaks of his being a member of the family again. And all three of these actions are symbolic of sonship. Behold what manner of love the father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. Let me ask you, are you enjoying this gracious standing before God? Or do you feel like you're not fully accepted by God because of your sinful past? There's an awful lot of people who struggle with being forgiven because of their sinful past. Pastors know this. This past week I was called by a man in our church who was saved about three years ago from a very difficult and sinful lifestyle.

He saved us an adult. And he called me up on the phone and he said, Pastor, I just got to ask you. Has God really forgiven me for all my sins? He says, do you realize how many wicked things I have done? They constantly come to my mind and they weigh down on my soul when I remember all the horrible things that I have done time and time again.

And it's almost every day some fresh memory comes to my mind. Are you sure that God has really forgiven me for all my sins? And I was delighted to give him a strong yes answer backed up by Scripture. You see, God doesn't have any stepsons.

He doesn't have any estranged sons that are in His doghouse. Everyone who has come by repentance and faith in Him is fully accepted as a son or daughter. The Lord receives sinners compassionately, affectionately, graciously. And would you notice with me finally, the Lord receives sinners joyfully.

This is one of the major themes of this chapter that is woven like a thread through every section of the garment. Look with me please at verses six and seven. And when He cometh home, He called together His friends and neighbors saying unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.

I say unto you that likewise joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over 99 just persons which need no repentance. And when it says it'll be in Heaven, it means, again this is an indirect way of referring to God. Now look with me at verses nine and ten, the next parable.

Parable of the lost silver, and when she found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the peace which I had lost. Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. And when it says the presence of the angels, it's referring to the Lord. Look with me at verse 23.

Bring hither the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and be merry. Verse 24, and they began to be merry. And now look at the very last verse of this entire chapter and this trilogy of parables in verse 32.

It says, it was meet that we should make merry and be glad. This is Jesus' answer to the complaint of the Pharisees that started this whole chain of instruction. Their question to Jesus was, why do you give such attention to sinful people? And the answer that Jesus gives in these three parables is because God delights in graciously saving repentant sinners. This is His hesed love, for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Notice the extravagant feast that is portrayed here.

Look with me at verse 23. Bring hither the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat. The fatted calf was an animal that was set apart from all the other animals who was given a special diet of grain. It was saved for a very special social occasion, like a wedding or the birth of a son. So this banquet was no minor celebration. This would have been the social event of the year in that village. And this meal was symbolic of communion and reconciliation between the father and the runaway son.

Everyone in that village knew that he was fully accepted. And events like this didn't last for a few hours like it does in our Western culture. No, it would have lasted for days, if not a week. Why did the father give this feast? Because he wanted his joy to be shared by others. You see, when our joy is shared by others, it somehow completes it. That's why I like going to enjoy something and seeing something spectacular.

If you have no one to share it with and no one to tell about it, it's not nearly as enjoyable as being able to share it with others and make sure joy takes up to another notch. He wanted everyone in this community to rejoice with him. Because his son, for all intents and purposes, was dead, but he was alive, he was lost, and now is found. The Bible tells us that before we were saved, we were spiritually dead. We were all once non-responsive to God and to the truth of the Gospel. Therefore, the salvation of a sinner is a great, is cause for great celebration. When a person is converted, they pass from death unto life. And the joy of our salvation should not last for a little while or even a lifetime, but for all eternity. Notice how the first half of this parable ends in verse 24. I love this, and they began to be merry. In other words, this elaborate celebration was just the beginning. And I think it alludes to the eternity that we will experience in heaven someday of marveling over our great salvation. But this celebration is only for sinners who repent and believe the Gospel. Will you be there for that celebration?

I'd like to quickly now give just a few words of application. One of the most effective lies that Satan tells to lost sinners is that they're not good enough to come to God. And so many people think they must clean up their act in order to come to God, and then he will receive them.

But this is all wrong. We see in this parable that the prodigal came home just as he was, dirty and dying. Shame and guilt keeps so many people from coming to God. They think that forgiveness is for those nearly perfect people who go to church.

But let me remind you of the lesson of this passage. God receives sinners compassionately, affectionately, graciously, and joyfully. John 6 37 says, All that the Father giveth me will come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. Now I can't imagine that in a group this size, there aren't many people who are still in the far country and in need of forgiveness. Once you come to this loving Father today, he will never turn you away.

He will receive you. There's a sense in which every single sinner who is saved is received just like this lost son. And so don't think of God's response to you like that of the Pharisees. My second application is one of the great lies that many Christians believe is that God is horribly disappointed with them. Even though they might affirm that they believe the gospel, they don't really feel accepted by God because of their repeated spiritual failures. I see this all the time as a pastor. And so, so many Christians keep their distance from the Lord, living somewhere between the far country and the Father's house.

But this is no way, no way for children of the Father to live. I want you to know something that when God saved you, he knew every sin that you would ever commit. You may at times be shocked and horrified by the things that you do as a believer, but I want you to know it's never taken God by surprise.

He knew it all the moment he welcomed you home. Yes, sin can break our fellowship with God. This is why we must confess our sins to maintain that fellowship. But our standing before God as the sons and daughters of God never changes.

Because of our Father, our Father's love is steadfast and unchanging. But the main application of this parable is this, do we respond to notoriously sinful people like the Pharisees or like Jesus? Are you comfortable around people who are very different from you? Do you avoid sketchy people? Or do they avoid you because they can tell that you're very uncomfortable and you're likely to condemn them if they get anywhere close to you? I think that many Christians never interact with scandalous sinners. In fact, they might think that's what a Christian should do.

We're to be separate from the world and so I want to do nothing, have nothing to do with these people. But Jesus, the Son of God, the holiest man who ever walked on this earth was a friend of sinners. In fact, sinners sought Him out because they knew that He loved them.

And the reason He loved them is because He's just like His Father. May God help us to respond to sinners like our Master. Let's close in prayer. Father, we thank you for your Word. We thank you that it always speaks to us. I pray that you would take what has been said tonight and use it for your purposes. For it's in Jesus' name we pray, Amen. You've been listening to the conclusion of a sermon by Pastor Tim Layman from Bob Jones University's 2023 Bible Conference. Thanks for listening and join us again next time as we'll hear more soul-stirring sermons on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-20 21:00:02 / 2024-03-20 21:08:58 / 9

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