Summary: We can expect forgiveness from God: unexpected, undeserved, unearned, and unlimited.
Faith Expectations Part 2
Reading: Luke 15:11-24
Text: Luke 15:11-32
[This lesson and this series are drawn from the writings of Tom Allen in his book “What to expect now that you believe.”]
This lesson is another in the series I call Faith Expectations. I know it is probably true of many gathered here tonight, I know it true for myself, that when we had obeyed the call of the gospel, accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and been Baptized into Him there were great expectations of what our faith would do in us, for us, and through us. And we are justified in these expectations:
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
John 10:10b “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
We are right to have high hopes for our faith. As believers we should never lose the “great expectations” of our faith especially since the greatest expectation will one day be fulfilled in the return of our Lord and Savior. Until that day it remains for us to balance our expectations with the reality of living as sojourners in this world. And so let us consider a great expectation of our faith: Expect Forgiveness.
Some stories are seemingly unbelievable. When you read or hear of them you accept them “with a grain of salt” not really convinced that the events could occur in real life. Our text for today is a story like that, one that just seems too good to be true, to perfect for the real world. It is the story told by Jesus that describes the depth of man’s sin and the heights of God’s grace. It is a story of repentance and forgiveness. And as much as it seems too perfect, it is a real story, one in which each of us plays the lead role.
A.Aphesis: Greek meaning release from bondage or prison
1.– a pardon, of offenses (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty
2.Usage in NT NASB (17) - forgiveness, 15; free, 1; release, 1
3.Carries nuances of release from the debt of sin: Romans 6:6b “…so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;”
4.This is the liberty of the sons and daughters of God, this is the freedom experienced by the prodigal son returned.
[So what kind of forgiveness can we expect? Let’s consider the characteristics which spring from this story…]
II.Characteristics of Forgiveness
1.Prodigal’s expectation was for some kind of consequence for his actions, some kind of retribution to be paid. He expected to be “a servant” in his father’s household, not even favored among the household slaves.
a.It’s understandable why he would feel this way. The word Sin literally means “to miss the mark.”
b.Deep in every heart is the nagging feeling that we don’t measure up and that we owe something for the sorry state of our lives.
c.But an often overlooked detail occurred: read Luke 15:20
2.We might have expected the father to hold out until the prodigal had made some apology or demonstrated contrition.
a.The father had been keeping a look out and ran to meet his son and kissed him before any words were spoken.
b.The father offered his affection and compassion to the son as soon as he had seen him returned. So it is with the unexpected forgiveness of our Father in Heaven.
3.We often feel like the prodigal, that we must work or perform some penance or charitable action to earn our way into God’s good graces but the truth is we cannot. The good news is that we don’t have to because Jesus has paid our debt.
a.Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace”
b.God desires all to come to repentance, to be forgiven, don’t confuse that with the expectation that we somehow deserve to be forgiven.
c.God forgives us because it is His pleasure to do so and the sacrifice of Jesus paid the price for our sin, not because we in any way warrant it or earned it.
d.That is grace: God’s unmerited, undeserved, and unearned favor.
[To say “expect forgiveness” is really the same as saying “expect the unexpected.” We can only expect forgiveness because pardon has been freely offered to us by the high cost of Jesus. This brings us to our next characteristic…]
C.Undeserved Read Luke 15:21
1.Prodigal knew what he deserved
a.The Father could have simply agreed and left it at that. “You know what son, you are absolutely correct. You’ve shamed me and worried your mother to death. I might consider allowing you to work as a slave but you are no longer a part of this family.”