Sermon #115††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† Luke Sermons

 

†††† Title: †††† ††† Godís Method of Grace

†††† Text:††††† ††† Luke 15:11-24

†††† Subject: ††† Lessons from the Parable of the Prodigal Son

†††† Date:†††† ††† Sunday EveningóJanuary 4, 2004

†††† Tape #†† ††† X-97b

†††† Readings:†† Rex Bartley & Merle Hart

†††† Introduction:

 

One of the things I remember about the English grammar classes we all sat through in school is a constant recurring thought I had, a question I often raised with my teachers. Invariably, when we were required to learn a rule of grammar, we were required to also learn exceptions to the rule. So I thought, and often asked, ďWhy donít they just make rules? If exceptions must be made, the rule must be faulty.Ē I know that Iím not the brightest bulb in the house, but that still makes perfectly good sense to me to this day.

 

But, as I have gotten older, Iíve learned to accept the exceptions. As you may have guessed, Iíve told you that little story to prepare you for an exception. I have told you many times that parables are intended to illustrate one thing, to enforce one lesson. Well, the parable of the prodigal son is the exception to the rule. This parable, I am convinced, is intended to illustrate and enforce many lessons taught in the Book of God. So I want us to look at the parable again.

 

Tonight, I want to use the parable to show you some of what the Scriptures teach us about Godís method of grace.

 

It is the universal testimony of Holy Scripture that salvation is by the grace of God. ― ďBy grace ye are saved.Ē All who are justified before God are ďjustified freely by his grace.Ē All who claim to believe the Bible profess that they believe in salvation by grace; but there are few people in this world who understand what the Word of God teaches about grace. Whenever you read the word ďgraceĒ in Holy Scripture, be sure you understand the Word in the context of divine revelation, not in the context of human religion.

 

1.    The grace of God is in Christ (Eph. 1:3-14).

 

(Eph 1:3-14)"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: {4} According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: {5} Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, {6} To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. {7} In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; {8} Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; {9} Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: {10} That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: {11} In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: {12} That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. {13} In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, {14} Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."

 

2.    The grace of God in Christ isÖ

 

       Eternal, Everlasting Grace (Rom. 8:28-30).

 

(Rom 8:28-30)"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. {29} For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. {30} Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

 

       Free, Unconditional Grace (Rom. 9:11-18).

 

(Rom 9:11-18)"(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) {12} It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. {13} As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. {14} What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. {15} For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. {16} So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. {17} For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. {18} Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth."

 

       Sovereign, Discriminating Grace!

       Electing, Predestinating Grace!

       Immutable, Unchanging Grace!

       Effectual, Irresistible Grace!

       Sure, Indestructible Grace!

 

3.    There are many, many beautiful pictures and illustrations of Godís saving grace set before us in Holy Scripture.

 

       Adam and Eve - The Skins

       Abel

       Noah

       Abraham

       David and Mephibosheth

       Hosea and Gomer

       Paul and Onesimus

 

In our text we have the beautiful, blessed picture of grace set before us in the parable of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15:11-24.

 

Someone called this parable ďthe pearl of parables.Ē Certainly, it is such to me. None of the Masterís parables is more applicable to my own experience than this one. Actually, as we have seen already, this entire chapter is a single parable about lost things (v. 3).

 

       The Lost Sheep

       The Lost Coin

       The Lost Son

 

The purpose of the parable is to show us the grace of God in saving sinners. God the Son, our good Shepherd, seeks the lost sheep and brings it home. God the Holy Spirit, like the woman sweeping the house, sweeps through the earth to find the lost coins of heavenís treasury. And God the Father, our heavenly Father, gladly receives wayward sinners, coming to him by faith in Christ, because, as it is written, ďhe delighteth in mercy!Ē

 

The whole parable is a picture of grace. It shows us the great delight our God has in the exercise of his saving grace. Three times over we are old of joy in heaven because of sinners repenting. Imagine that Ė

 

 

Proposition:There is joy in heaven when lost sinners come home to God!

 

If God the Holy Spirit will graciously speak these words to our hearts, if he will graciously use them to fetch chosen sinners home to Christ, then my preaching this message will accomplish its intended purpose this hour.

 

Let me show you five things in this parable about the grace of God. I will not exhaust my subject. When I get done, there will still be plenty of preaching room left. But I want you to see and rejoice in these five things about Godís wondrous, amazing, saving grace.

 

Wisdom

 

I.     The first thing I want us to see here is The Wisdom Of Godís Grace.

 

I will not attempt to satisfy the curiosity of proud, unbelieving men who call into question the absolute sovereignty of our God. But I want us to see that it was an act of Godís great wisdom to ordain the fall of our father Adam and the ruin of our race in him.

 

Let no one suggest that God is the author of sin. James tells us plainly that God never causes man to sin. Yet, this blessed Book does teach us that God has ordained all that comes to pass; and that includes Adamís sin as well as all other sin.

 

God did not cause Adam to sin. God did not tempt Adam to sin. God did not in any way induce Adam to sin. But to suggest that Adamís transgression took the Almighty by surprise is to deny the very Godhood of God!

 

Yes, God did ordain the fall; and it was an act of great wisdom on his part. Just as the father in this parable willingly divided to the prodigal all his living, to be wasted by him in riotous living, our heavenly Father wisely ordained the fall of our father Adam and the fall of the human race in him so that he might show us the exceeding riches of his grace in Christ against the black backdrop of human sin and depravity. Had we never known sin we could never have known theÖ

 

       Wonder of Redemption!

       Blessedness of Forgiveness!

       Joy of Reconciliation!

 

Goodness

 

II. This parable also displays something of the goodness of Godís grace.

 

Nothing more displays the great goodness of Godís grace than what the old preachers used to call ďprevenient grace.Ē Prevenient grace is the grace of God that goes before and prepares the way for his saving grace. We see Gods prevenient grace inÖ

 

       Giving the prodigal all his living.

 

Hosea 2:8"For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal."

 

       Sending his servant to watch over his wayward boy. Ė The Angels of God!

 

Hebrews 1:14"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"

 

       Protecting and providing for his son all the days of his rebellion.

 

       Bringing his son down!

 

Luke 15:11"And he said, A certain man had two sons:"

 

Luke 15:12"And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living." Ė A Selfish Demand!

 

Luke 15:13"And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living." Ė A Wasted Life! ― A life without Christ is a wasted life!

 

Luke 15:14"And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want."

 

Luke 15:15"And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine." Ė A Legal Effort!

 

Luke 15:16"And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him." Ė An Empty Religion Ė Husks!

 

MEthod

 

III. Thirdly, in verses 17-19, we are given a picture of the method of Godís grace.

 

Luke 15:17"And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!"

 

Luke 15:18"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,"

 

Luke 15:19"And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants."

 

Experience

 

IV. In verses 20-23 the Lord Jesus gives us a delightful picture of the experience of Godís grace.

 

Our experience of grace is the result of what God has already done and the assurance of what he shall do; but it is not the cause of God doing anything.

 

(2 Tim 1:9-10)"Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, {10} But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:"

 

Luke 15:20"And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."

 

Luke 15:21"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."

 

Luke 15:22"But 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:"

 

Luke 15:23"And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:"

 

Illustration: The Handkerchief

 

Joy

 

V. Now, look at verse 24, and behold the joy of Godís grace.

 

Luke 15:24"For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry."

 

Zephaniah 3:14-17"Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. 15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more. 16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. 17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."

 

"The Touch of the Master's Hand"

 

'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer

Thought it scarcely worth his while

To waste much time on the old violin,

But held it up with a smile.

"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,

"Who'll start the bidding for me?"

"A dollar, a dollar;" then, "Two! Only two?

Two dollars and who'll make it three?

 

Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;

Going for three--" But no,

From the room, far back, a gray-haired man

Came forward and picked up the bow;

Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,

And tightening the loose strings,

He played a melody pure and sweet

As a caroling angel sings.

 

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,

With a voice that was quiet and low,

Said, "What am I bid for the old violin?"

And he held it up with the bow.

"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?

Two thousand! And who'll make it three?

Three thousand, once, three thousand twice,

And going, and gone," said he.

 

The people cheered, but some of them cried,

"We do not quite understand

What changed its worth." Swift came the reply:

"The touch of a master's hand."

And many a man with life out of tune,

And battered and scarred with sin,

Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,

Much like the old violin.

 

Ruined and running from God he goes,

In madness, to hell, headlong!

He is "going" once, and "going" twice,

He's "going" and almost "gone."

But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd

Never can quite understand

The worth of a soul and the change that's wrought

By the touch of the Master's hand.