Luke Series #79 September 15, 2002
Title: Who is and Who is Not Welcomed by God
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. This morning we are in Chapter 18 of the Book of Luke in our verse-by-verse teaching series out of that book.
Read Luke 18:9-14
This passage today is connected to those that come after it, although I will only cover this particular parable today. This passage, the example of the children which follows and the story of the rich ruler are all connected by a single theme, which is what we would expect since Luke tells us that his intention was to "write an orderly account" (Luke 1:3) of the story of Jesus.
The theme of this passage is a healthy relationship with God. Jesus tells us through this parable, the example that follows, and the story of the rich ruler, what kind of person does, and what kind of person does not have a healthy relationship with God. This is certainly a subject of the greatest importance, since a healthy relationship with God is the essential criteria for receiving God blessings, God’s mercy, and eternal life in heaven.
When Jesus uses the word "justified" in verse 14, he is referring to a healthy relationship with God. Later when he talks about those who will be receiving the kingdom and entering the kingdom, he is also, in a broad sense, referring to those who have a healthy relationship with God. In essence, Jesus is telling us who will be welcomed into the presence of God in heaven and who will not be.
Last week, Steve Harty was sharing with me about an invitation to dinner and golf he had received to Wayne Huizenga’s private golf and country club. He received this invitation as a result of a business connection. Many of you are aware that Wayne Huizenga is one of America’s wealthiest men. He is the owner of Blockbuster video, and of several professional sports teams. You can imagine that his private club must be elaborate and the dinner five-star, and it was. Of course, not everybody can go to the club and enjoy these benefits. There are criteria that must be met before you are welcomed in or accepted. Steve had to give them his social security number (for a background check?) and a picture of himself so that when he arrived, he was quickly and graciously welcomed in to enjoy the many luxuries available. The dinner and country club were great, but first Steve had to be accepted or welcomed in.
The same is true with being welcomed into God’s presence. In order to experience his blessings, including eternal life in heaven, we must be welcomed in. Not everybody is welcome. There are criteria which must be met. Fortunately, those criteria have nothing to do with your status in society. What are God’s criteria? Who is acceptable to God? Who has the right relationship with him? What kind of person is welcomed by God and what kind of person is not welcomed by God? This is the important question our passage today answers. I believe there are two main points being made in this passage.