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Summary: “The father said to his servants, ‘bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was

Theme: The loving and forgiving Father

Text: Josh. 5:1-9; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Lk. 15:11-32

Many people today think that the most important thing in life is to believe in God. This has led to the situation where many people claim they believe in God but have no idea what kind of God they believe in. There is nothing worse than claiming to believe in God but having a wrong conception of who God is. There are many religions in the world today that present many different pictures of God. I once read the story of a converted Muslim, a man who taught the Koran, to Christianity. According to him what really led to his conversion was when he was presented with a true picture of who God is. This happened when the story of the woman caught in adultery was presented to him. This woman was brought to Jesus to be stoned according to the Law but Jesus responded with love and sent the woman home without condemning her with the words “go and sin no more”. According to the converted man the Muslims had a similar story about an adulterous pregnant woman. This woman was brought before the prophet Mohammed and he decreed that she should be allowed to have the child before a decision was taken about her. After she had delivered he again decreed that she should be allowed to wean the child before hearing the decision about her. After weaning the child she was again brought before the prophet and this time he decreed that she should be taken out and stoned to pay the penalty for adultery. The converted man saw nothing wrong with this because at the time his conception of God was completely different from the Christian conception of God. He had always believed the Muslim viewpoint and the behaviour of Jesus conflicted with his idea of God. But, according to him, for the first time he saw God as He really is. He saw God as a God of love. You can believe in God, but if you have a false conception of God, you are no better off than an unbeliever. Jesus Christ became a man to reveal to us exactly who God is. He came to reveal to us the character and nature of God. He came to reveal God as the loving and forgiving Father.

It’s not enough to believe in God. We must also know His nature and character and understand that His love for us is like that of a loving father. We must understand that He loves us even though He is hurt by our rebellion and our refusal to obey Him. Like the rebellious son we often come to God asking Him to meet all our needs but are not willing to obey His commandments? It is love that makes God meet our needs. It is love that makes Him allow us to leave even though He knows it is to our disadvantage and He desires our fellowship. As our Father we cannot break our relationship with Him, we can only break our fellowship with Him. The whole time the younger son was away from home he was still a son. But he no longer had access to the presence and favour of his Father.

This parable is not about unbelievers but about believers. The younger son does not represent an unsaved person but someone who had experienced his father’s presence and favour and yet demanded his inheritance because he did not regard his father’s provision and authority. The father grants his rebellious and disrespectful son’s request to be independent of his father and he takes his inheritance and leaves his father’s presence. This son broke his Father’s heart as he left His presence and this is repeated every time a Christian leaves God’s presence. This is because once you become a Christian God establishes a love relationship with you. He becomes your Father and nothing can ever change that but you yourself. You may choose to rebel and disobey the Father. You may choose to leave His presence but He will never leave you. God loves you so much He will never force you to stay in His presence especially when you are determined to do something as foolish as leaving. God will not force you to be obedient and loyal. He wants you to freely love and serve Him. This is one of the reasons we often find our lives in a mess and this is often the reason we blame God and are often bitter toward Him. We blame God for not stopping us when He had all the power to do so. God does not stop us for the same reason He didn’t stop Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God does not stop us for the same reason He didn’t stop King David from having sex with Bathsheba. And God does not stop us for the same reason the father in this parable didn’t stop his son from leaving. God loves us so much that He not only allows us to make our own choices but also respects our decisions even though He knows what the consequences will be. Rebellious children or grandchildren always cause pain to parents. They can only be disciplined as children and at a certain age the only way to deal with the problem is to respect their choices and decisions and allow them to leave when they so desire. Some of you may be hurting because your children are alienated from you as a result of rebellion, a disagreement, a sinful lifestyle, or a bad relationship. Be comforted because God understands your pain and He cares. Be comforted because God will use his or her tragic circumstances to bring them to realize what the right thing to do is. Never close the door or tell your child they are never welcome back into your home and receive them when they repent.

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