Warning Signs | Don't Reject God's Grace, Day 3
When we repent, the grace of God gives us cause to celebrate.
Verse of the Day
So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:21 ESV
How would you define “grace”? What’s the difference between grace and mercy?
Mercy is the aspect of God's love that causes Him to help the miserable, just as grace is the aspect of His love that moves Him to forgive the guilty.
Have you ever been forgiven of something you’ve done? How did it feel to be welcomed back into a relationship?
As Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem continued, He still attracted crowds and was willing to enter into the homes of both the religious and irreligious.
Jesus’ message had such a sharp edge to it that many in the crowds were offended. Truth by its very nature divides fact from fiction, real from fake, Truth from lies.
In Luke 15:1-32, we see that many unlikely candidates had counted the costs and decided to follow Jesus. They risked everything so that they may gain what is most important, which is genuine fellowship with God in eternity.
Luke 15 begins with sinners and tax collectors drawing near to Jesus. Sinners were individuals who found themselves on the outside of the community because of their irreligious lifestyle.
Tax collectors were equally despised by the community because they worked for the Romans in taxing their fellow Jews.
Yet, both of these groups were drawn near to Jesus. There was attractiveness to Jesus’ message that made these outcasts believe He would welcome them.
Read Luke 15:1-7
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:1-7 ESV
What does the parable of the lost sheep tell you about your worth to God? How does it impact the way you view those who are wandering from the faith?
That is what heaven is like. Ninety-nine self-righteous people who keep all the rituals, festivals, and rules bring no joy to heaven. One sinner confessing his sin and repenting sets off celebration. God is concerned about the lost who admit they are lost and turn to Him. He wants people to put their sinful life behind them and follow Him. Pharisees never do this, because they never realize they are lost. They always count themselves among the saved, even though they have never repented of their sins.
Read John 9:39-41
39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.” John 9:39-41 ESV
Read Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
You’ve likely been around modern-day Pharisees whose intense quest for religiosity ends up creating bitterness and quarrels with those around them.
How should we respond to modern-day Pharisees?
Read Luke 15:8-10
8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10 ESV
What does the woman's reaction to finding her lost coin tell us about how God feels when a sinner repents?
Jesus described these individuals as repentant, because this denotes their attitude toward their relationship with Jesus. They came as contrite sinners seeking forgiveness, and Jesus welcomed them in.
Read John 6:37
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37
Read Luke 15:11-32
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:11-32 ESV
The younger son demanded his share of the estate and got it. We don’t know why he wanted it or why the father so quickly gave it to him.
The younger brother’s portion was only a third of the estate if the entire estate were divided. By law, the older brother got a double portion (found in Deut. 21:17).
Although this well-known parable is usually called the parable of the prodigal son, the other son and the father are also important characters.
Read Proverbs 20:21
An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end. Proverbs 20:21 ESV
What surprises you about the father in the parable of the prodigal son?
In the third story, we learn that the younger of two sons insisted on receiving his inheritance from his father.
To make such a request in that culture was like saying you wished your father to be dead. Shockingly, the father granted the son’s selfish request.
After the son left his father’s house, he quickly wasted his money and found himself in a heap of trouble.
He was out of money and found work feeding pigs, which as a Jew, was as low as one could get.
Starving, the wayward son decided to return home. On the son’s journey home the father sees his son from a far-off distance and he does the unthinkable—he runs to his son.
What is the significance of the father’s running toward his son?
In Jewish culture, men did not run. For men, running was considered undignified. For the father to run to his son was to act in a humiliating and shameful way.
Yet the father didn’t care about dignity or propriety in that moment—he just wanted his son.
In order for the father to see his son coming from a far off means that every day he was actively looking for his lost son to return home.
As the son started the speech he most likely rehashed over and over in his mind on his way back home, he was cut off when he said “I am no longer worthy to be called your son”
The father would have none of his foolish and degrading speech.
The father immediately called to his servant and demanded proper clothes for his son who was no doubt in rags and barefooted. He placed a ring on his finger as a sign of full status as son and heir of the father.
After this, he called for a huge celebration because his son, who was lost, had now been found. The father’s celebration shows the way God the Father receives repentant sinners.
The father’s proclamation that the son who was dead is now alive is an act of absolute divine grace.
How does this story reveal more about the father than it does about the son? In the same way, how does our salvation experience glorify God, and not ourselves?
How did the older son react to the party the father threw for his brother?
The older son explained to his father that he had been slaving for his father for many years and that it didn’t seem fair that “this son of his” received all of this extravagant, undeserved favor.
The older brother refused to even consider any relation to his younger brother.
The father replied that everything he had belonged to the elder brother and that he, too, should join in the celebration.
Notice that the father treated the older son with equal grace.
Unlike the father’s positive attitude, the older brother
(1) was surprised at the return of his sinning brother,
(2) was offended and jealous at the father’s celebration,
(3) became angry at the father’s forgiving love,
(4) declared his own self-righteousness, and
(5) focused on his brother’s sinfulness rather than his newfound repentance.
Jesus’ representation of the religious leaders in the character of the older brother was a scathing rebuke of their self-righteousness.
Read James 4:6
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 ESV
Which of the three of Jesus’ analogies—the lost sheep, the lost coin, or the wayward son—speaks to you the most? Why?
Share a time when Jesus actively sought after you. How did you respond?
How do each of these parables highlight Jesus as the catalyst of grace? Can you share about a time when you thought you were doing the seeking but, looking back, you see that Jesus was pursuing you?
Who in your world do you deem unworthy of your grace? What does this reveal about your own need for grace?
In all three parables, celebration was involved. What does that reveal about heaven, and what does that reveal about Jesus’ intention for community? Why is it important that we rejoice with those who have been found?
Close your time in prayer, praising God for His grace that He has given to us. Thank God that He graciously gives what we cannot earn or work for. Pray that God would continually remind you of His love and grace, so that you may trust Him more. Pray that God and His grace would be your hope.