Monday, June 25, 2007

God Pursuing Sinners

Last month I was privileged to preach on Luke 15, one of my favorite texts, at our church. This is such a rich and amazing text. It reminds us that God is indeed “rich in mercy” (Eph 2), that God is the great evangelist, pursuing sinful people like us in spite of us. It is amazing to see that God rejoices in the salvation of sinners! Why should he choose to be pleased with rescuing us? Then the text is bracketed with rebuke of the self-righteous, challenging us to consider whether we are as interested in reaching the lost as God is.

Here are a few excerpts from my pondering of this text:

God rejoices over the salvation of the lost. Do you? Does it move you?
If we can see people saved and be unmoved something in desperately wrong.
If we can fail to see people saved and be unmoved something in desperately wrong.
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Before moving on to the next parable let me pause here to say to those here today who are not converted. Do you realize that the Creator, the One who made you, against whom you have rebelled, who does not need any of us, that He is today seeking to save people like you. Will you reject such a gracious offer from God? Children who do not have new hearts- How about you?
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Believers: Remember the pigsty! Can you still smell it? The only reason you ever left it is that the Father, the great shepherd came and found you. Then he received you with this kind of joy
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The Self-Righteous Brother
This is the jab at the religious leaders. While the father rejoices over sinners restored these only think of themselves and their supposed righteousness.
The question for us is not: “Have you ever abandoned the Father and run off to the far country.” Rather the question is whether you realize and can admit that you have. Some people’s sin is more obvious than others, but we have all abandoned the father. This son rebels against the father by not joining in His joy. Is this you?
Are you worried about not being recognized appropriately for you godliness or your service?
Do you fail to join in the joy of the Father over people being restored, souls rescued?

Probably most of us would not identify ourselves with this readily, so let me probe it further. What leads one to such a self-righteous position. Perhaps any number of things, but pride must be one of the key traps. Beware the allure of spiritual pride! Do you glory in your grasp of biblical or theological truths? Are you fond of speculative talk and debate? Then beware. Flee from the snare of pride, by facing squarely this sophisticated pig pen and confessing that your ‘high falutin’ ponderings are merely dressed up pig food. Cry out with Paul, ”God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of Christ.”

The Table
It is entirely fitting that our examination of this passage lead us to the Lord’s Table. Just as the Father in this parable, representing God, beckons his son to the Table (the feast), so we are invited today. This is the feast given for all of us sinners who repent. This is why we will be received by the Father. As this text makes clear this Table is not for those who are confident in their own self-righteousness. No, such people are forbidden. Rather it is for those who know they have gone off to the far country. It is for those who are all too familiar with the pig pen, indeed perhaps the stench still lingers. It is for such people who have nevertheless repented and come to the Father.

You can access the audio here.

2 comments:

Joel Maners said...

We often forget the power of these parables.Once when I was teaching a class of Deaf kids, I read them this story. The entire class sat stunned when I finished. One young girl looked up with tears in her eyes and signed to me, "Is that really true? Is that how God feels about us?" I replied, "Yes,I guess he really does." I had heard the old story with new ears.

Mark said...

I think your comment about feeling the joy of other's salvation is important....we often are excited about our salvation (cuz we're in, whew!--insert sarcasm for those who don't know me), but don't give a flip about the lost in our communities.

Lately I have been convicted about how I share the gospel---do I share with those I think are fit for the Kingdom or am I boldly proclaiming Jesus to all people? It is really easy to fall into the trap of determining whether or not it will be easy to share the gospel with an individual as opposed to a long, messy encounter which requires diligence and patience on my part!

Thanks for reminding us to rejoice over the salvation of the lost and to be moved to think deeply on such a great and wonderful God! I'll look forward to listening to the audio....