Listen to the message
(To download: Right Click, choose “Save Target As…”)
Series: The Finished Work
Sunday am 06 December 2015 – Kobus Swart
Matt. 21:28-32; John 3:3-7; Matt. 13:24-30; Luke 15:11-32;
Luke 23:43; (Matt. 23:27); (Luke 11:39); Eph. 2:4-22; 2
Cor. 5:18-19; Col. 1:20; John 1:12; Isa. 66:1-2
A Kingdom parable:
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him (Matt. 21:28-30).
Religion has found ways of drawing subtle lines to exclude certain people. However, there is no short cut into the kingdom of God either. The modern message of “cheap grace” has lost sight of the following Truth uttered by Jesus Himself: Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ (John 3:3-7).
Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ (The two seeds looked identical). The most dangerous lies come from interpretations of the Bible. It looks the same, it sounds the same but you have to be alert to see the difference. And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. (Roots become intermingled). Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:24-30).
And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, …and he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.” There is something more than repentance needed when you have done something wrong. What is required is restitution. He did not expect to be immediately re-instated to the position he had before he left. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ See the response of the father to this genuine repentance from the heart of his son. The response confirms the truth, the reality of real repentance. But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly 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 fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring … and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving …but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found’” (Luke 15:11-32). The father never disowned him; he still called him “my child”. Who do you identify with more, the younger brother or the older brother? When the younger boy said, “Give me my inheritance now”, his father immediately made the division and he left. In the tradition of those days the older received more than the younger. The older son was actually wealthier than the younger.
How many times have you left for a “distant country”? There was a stage in their lives where there was warmth in the house, fellowship and fatherly love was freely available. How many times have we left that place of intimate fellowship with our Heavenly Father, where we could sense His love for us? How many times have we taken steps away from that? He acted and desired to find something better outside. You do not have to leave for another country physically; you only have to leave that place of intimate relationship with the Father. It is possible for people to sit in a Sunday morning meeting but they are actually in a “distant country” as far as their intimacy with the Father is concerned. When you do that you have basically forgotten who you are, and you try and find identity in the things of this world. Our true identity, our genesis is in God. We should never neglect that intimate place of fellowship with the Father. How many believers leave that place and squander what God has given them? You are looking for unconditional love where it cannot be found.
This picture also reflects what happened to Adam and Eve when they left the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was not a physical place. The Garden of Eden simply refers to a special place of intimacy in the presence of God; that is where Adam and Eve were. God walked with them in the cool of the day; they had intimate fellowship. When they disobeyed God they went to a “distant country”; they left that place of intimacy with God. As soon as they left the garden, people began to call upon the name of the Lord as though He was distant. With the fall of man we can say that humanity was leaving the place of intimate fellowship with God. Humanity became the prodigal son. That is what Jesus came to restore (2 Cor 5:18-21; Col 1:20).
What made the youngest son realize what he had done? He discovered his deeper inner self, “I still have a father. Even though I lost the dignity of sonship I am still a son. I am not worthy to be called your son dad. Make me as one of your hired men”. All of humanity was created in the image and likeness of God. The image of God is still in humanity. It may be marred, it may need cleansing, but it is still created in the image of God. The accurate teaching of the gospel has to unlock people; help them re-discover who they truly are. Religion is keeping many prodigals away. Remember the words of Jesus on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). He was talking to the sinner who repented next to Him on the cross.
The ‘lostness’ of the older son is more difficult to identify. On the surface he looked fine but he was also lost. Outwardly he was faithful and obedient, law abiding, serving. It reminds me of the Pharisees and Sadducees, outwardly clean but inside was a different story (Matt. 23:27; Luke 11:39). When the older brother saw his father’s joy at the return of the younger brother, the hidden person manifested. Identify the religious spirit here. He became angry and reacted. He did not realize his own ‘lostness’. In the family of God some have lost their joy in serving. They do according to their gifting. You can be lost while at home serving. You are faithful and present but have lost your joy. A child (teknon) is somebody who has not reached sonship (huios), which talks about the mature son. Reading in context, the father was not trying to make him feel bad, but rather a father that still loved him, saying “Everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). This parable ends with nothing further said about the older boy. What do you think happened? I am sure he came in and became part of the party. He came and embraced his brother who had wasted his inheritance. The older brother in the end was touched by the love of the Father.
Humanity – two groups:
The Apostle Paul reduces all of humanity into two groups, Jews and Gentiles. Eugene Petersen refers to these two groups as “insiders” and “outsiders”. When the lost (the so-called prodigals and sinners), which is who we were, came to the Lord …in mercy and in an incredible love He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on His own, with no help from us. This is the inclusive love of God. We are seated with Him in Heavenly places. … … The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders (Eph. 2:14). No such thing as Jews and Gentiles, insiders and outsiders. We know that not all received Him. Jesus came for his own but they did not receive Him, but those that did receive Him He gave the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). … He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. … Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody (Eph. 2:4-15).
God wants one new man in the earth
God wants one new man in the earth, a new humanity, a corporate man! Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, … You’re no longer wandering exiles. .. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. …He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day…a temple in which God is quite at home (Eph. 2:19-22).
Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool where then is the house that you can build for me? And where is the place of My rest. … But to this one I will look who is humble and contrite of Spirit who trembles at my word (Isaiah 66:1-2).
Our biggest problem is religion. Religion wants to be exclusive, divisive, judgmental and legalistic. God is building a family in the earth. Are you in or out? The price has been paid for all of us to be in.