Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Prodigal Father

Who’s the Prodigal Now? Luke 15:20, 22-24
Luke 15:20 `... and he being yet far distant, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and having ran he fell upon his neck and kissed him; ...22 `And the father said unto his servants, [Quickly] Bring forth the first robe, and clothe him, and give a ring for his hand, and sandals for the feet; 23 and having brought the fatted calf, kill it, and having eaten, we may be merry, 24 because this my son was dead, and did live again, and he was lost, and was found; and they began to be merry.' ESV

Where had the son just come from? From the Pig Sty. One of the smelliest places you can imagine. Worse than a sheep pen the day after it rains. (All that wet wool-yuck.) But pigs are worse.
Ever heard the expression: “Stinks to High Heaven”? He probably did. Not to mention he had walked from a far country in that condition. Would YOU kiss him?

Then The Father ran. “Throwing off oriental custom”(Robert H. Stein), this behavior is ‘beneath’ a man of his status and shameful. (see John MacArthur) Why does he do it?
Why did God send his only begotten son? Jn 3:16 L_____
Why did Jesus endure the cross despising the shame? Heb 12:2 J____
Why does the shepherd leave the 99 for one? Lu 15:2,4,8 Eagerness to save.

Remember What PRODIGAL means?  Extravagant! The son threw away money and wasted his life extravagantly.
But Now the Father behaves Extravagantly! Extravagant Grace!
2Co 4:15 all things are for your sake, so that the superabounding grace might be made to abound (MKJV) or, as the Geneva Bible put it...that most plenteous grace.
Rom 5:17 For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.) & v.20; 2 Cor 9:8, 14
Eph 1:7 we have redemption...according to the riches of His grace, & 2:7
1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant,
Jas 4:6 But He gives more grace. 1 Pe 1:2 Grace be multiplied... &4:10
God always has MORE GRACE! Isn't that an amazing and wonderful truth? The riches of His grace are unfathomable. 

"Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace.
Freely bestowed on all who believe! 
You that are longing to see His face, 
Will you this moment His grace receive?

22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly...”
HERE is the urgency, do this without delay! God is not slow to save!

The Robe: The Best, of First Rank, for official wear or formal occasions.
-Not his old one he left behind (it’s gone),  
not the stinking rags he had on,  that would never do.
not a servant’s robe, nor his other son’s. 
The Father’s Best Robe, His #1 Tux!
Isa 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah ... for He has clothed me with the robes of salvation, He covered me with the robe of righteousness like a bridegroom ... and like a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Rev 7:9 After these things I looked, and lo, a great multitude, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes...
What other is the greatest sign of the Father's owning, and blessing, and provision but that whic symbolizes His purity, holiness, righteousness, and salvation

The Ring: symbol of the Father for his hand (hand=authority and power)
The learned Jews of the day were aware that just a century before Christ came another ruler, Antiochus made provision for his successors in 1 Maccabee 6:14 "Then called he for Philip, ...who he made ruler over all his realm, 15 And gave him the crown, and his robe, and his signet, ..."
The ring signified the authority of sonship. This is ‘positional’ sonship.

The Sandals: The prosperity and “Place” of sonship. This is "Personal" sonship. He didn’t say, “here’s the signet ring, go get your own shoes." God provided from His Extravagant Grace all that pertains to our sonship!

But Wait, that's not all!

The Fatted Calf! Uh-oh, I see a problem brewing here. This was ‘in effect’ the Older son’s calf, and sandals, and robe, and ring! The Father is practicing a type of “Usufruct.” Which usually means enjoying the use and 'fruits' of another man's property. Like when you raise crops on rented land, the land isn't yours but you benefit from it.
In a more ancient version, it’s His son’s property at his death, but until then he can do as he pleases. This doesn't diminish the grace the Father has for his older son. The cattle will have more calves, his income will purchase more robes and sandals and rings.
It's the Fathers to do with "as He pleases." This is the heart of God's Providential sovereign grace. 

Now notice, Jesus never gets to the need for atonement directly in this parable. That is not his point. He is talking to the common people-who are hanging on his teachings, and the Scribes and Pharisees-who are trying to find fault with his teaching. And he is telling the latter group that God welcomes sinners without their attempts at earning forgiveness. God is eagerly, joyfilly, lovingly, welcoming home an extremely offensive son without so much as demanding an apology. The Father didn't even let the son finish his speech!

But even though no mention of atonement is made, a calf still gets killed and blood is still shed - for merrymaking. There is joy in heaven over ONE sinner who repents!

Let’s Celebrate! He was dead- as good as dead, assumed dead- but in our case-we Were Dead! Eph 2:1 He made you alive, who were dead...& 2:5; also Rom 6:13, 7:11, Col 2:13, 1 Pe 4:6.     

Why is the recognition of our deadness without Christ important. One to signify that our salvation is ALL OF GRACE! and second, to remind us of the words of Christ: Joh 15:5 ...He who abides in Me ... brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

(For further study let me recommend John MacArthur's A Tale of Two Sons. And thanks to the folks at extragrace.blogspot for loaning me ;-) the logo, oh and Rembrandt and Guercino.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

What are the troubling headlines in your world?

What are the troubling headlines in your world?

Is it the Incredibly growing deficit? For the last 50 years the USA has been going deeper and deeper in debt with no end in sight.
Maybe its the incredibly shrinking job market.
Maybe its the ongoing misery in Haiti, the earthquake, then rampant Hepatitis, now a cholera pandemic.
Maybe it's the growing violence against Christians around the world. There are radical Muslims out there killing Believers almost everyday.

Well here's one that hit me between the eyes:

Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound 

WHAT? Most Evangelicals? Doesn't the idea that some one is "Evangelical" mean that the church needs to be evangelistic? Obviously not. (See full article below.)
I know, this is not new. Evangelicals have been populating the World Council of Churches for decades. I just forget sometimes that Evangelical doesn't mean Evangelistic. THe WCC is all about tolerance. I guess like the American Cancer Society is. NOT!
Ever heard anyone from the American Cancer Society say, "Go ahead and smoke cigarettes, its OK, why can't we all just get along?" No, that's not what they say. They don't endorse suntanning, carcinogens in the diet and other cancer-friendly activities either.
Does that make them Intolerant? I don't think so.

Brothers and Sisters, we can be Evangelical in many things but let's not be Evangelical in our approach to the gospel. Let's be Evangelistic! Good News Centered! Sharing our Faith in Christ by and through both actions and words. Sometimes actions need to precede the words. Sometimes the words of the gospel are all there is time for.

But let us not forget, that there is a message to the Gospel.

There is a message that must be delivered.

Giving away school supplies, helping with rent, watching children for 5 mornings in the summer time to give moms and grandmothers a few mornings off, are not going to Lead Anyone To Christ.
They may help! They may helps us build relationships. They may help us open someone's mind to the possibility of a relationship with Christ.
But the Message is the Thing!

SO, here goes a "Different" kind of Christmas blog:

1. There is no salvation without the power of God working in someone's life.
Pleadings are fine, encouraging someone to believe is great. But God Alone provides the power, that none of us had on our own, to repent and believe. A person doesn't just wake up one day and out of the blue decide to be a Christian.
Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes,
Act 5:31  This One God has exalted to be a Ruler and Savior to His right hand in order to give repentance and remission of sins to Israel.
Act 11:18  When they heard these things, they were silent and glorified God, saying, Then God has also granted repentance to life
2Ti 2:25  in meekness instructing those who oppose, if perhaps God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,
Isn't it something incredible that God not only gives people the "Faith" to believe but also the ability to repent. I didn't understand for a long time why it said that Esau looked for a place to repent and couldn't. God didn't give it to him, for one thing. He was only sorry about the outcome of his decisions not for what he had done.
(Heb 12:16  (lest there be any fornicator, or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17  For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected; for he did not find any place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears). )
2. Unless we all repent and Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ there is no salvation. None. Zip. Nada. Sorry.
Luke 13:3  I tell you, No. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Joh 1:12  But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name,
Joh 3:36  He who believes on the Son has everlasting life, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him.

3. God does not OWE salvation to anyone. Not even sweet old Aunt Susan who's an atheist (or Buddhist or Mormon...)  but nicer than any Christian you know.
Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us 5 (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved),
6 and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.

God saves people because He Loves, not because there is any good in any of us.
God saves to demonstrate the greatness of His grace. He gets to display it however He wants.
If God gives Faith to people when they hear the gospel it is so that they might believe. (Rom 10:17  Then faith is of hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.)
Dear Old Aunt Susan has to repent and believe. And somebody needs to tell her!

Some think the way I look at the gospel is cold and harsh. (Poor aunt Susie.)
But I am amazed by the grace of God, that sent Jesus to die in my place, or in ANYONE's place.
   I am amazed by love that lifted me from out of the miry pit.
      I am undone by Holiness, that reveals all the filth that inhabits my very best efforts.
         I am beyond my capacity to understand how the blood of Christ can cleanse me of all that uncleanness.
And yet He does. And that is Good News!
And without Christ, there is No Good News.
Christmas is one of the best times of the year to renew your commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and your desire to share the gospel with others.
Have a Very Blessed Christmas!

Love you all, Clark

Here's that article I mentioned...

Author: Most Evangelicals Believe Good People are Heaven-Bound 

By Stephanie Samuel|Christian Post Reporter

Campbell, who co-wrote American Grace, How Religion Divides and Unites Us, contends that surveys of 3,000 Americans, used to write the book, show that American people of faith, though devout, are very tolerant. So much so that most believers also believe that good people, despite their religious affiliation, can go to heaven.

Among the faiths, 83 percent of evangelical Protestants agreed that good people of other religions can go to heaven. Ninety percent of black Protestants also believe good people can go to heaven.
When prodded further, more than half – 54 percent – of evangelical Protestants said yes, people of religions other than Christianity can go to heaven. Sixty-two percent of black Protestants agreed with the statement.
Notably, the author mentioned that there may be some in the evangelical category that don't belong.
Campbell, an expert of religion, politics and public policy, explained at a Thursday discussion of his book that the numbers can be explained with the “Aunt Susan” theory. Aunt Susan, he said, is the nice friend of a family member who is well-loved and is an all around do-gooder.
“You know that if anyone is destined to go to heaven, it’s Aunt Susan,” described Campbell.
However, Aunt Susan is of another religion. Rather than condemn that person to a lost eternity, Campbell said, most American believers choose instead to believe that that person is heaven-bound.
He also shared that knowing an Aunt Susan opens believers up to other faiths.
“You become warmer not only to people of that group, but to people of other groups,” Campbell contended.
Simply put, interlocking social networks allows believers to accept tenants of other faiths.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, works with leaders of many faiths on issues such as stopping pornography, abortion and religious persecution.
“That doesn’t mean that I’m going to abandon the New Testament teaching,” he stated.
Those who do so to accommodate other beliefs “aren’t very good evangelicals,” in his view.
Land lamented that more evangelicals are being taught the doctrine of universalism. “It’s emphasized from the pulpit; it’s emphasized in the seminaries,” he decried.
Universalism is the theological doctrine that all people will eventually be saved despite a relationship with Christ.
He said this is especially true of youths because the messages from the pulpit have changed.
“I think the doctrine ‘In Christ alone’ … was emphasized more 25 years ago than it is today so young [people] are hearing about it less,” he revealed.
While Land said it is possible for Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and even Catholics to follow the tenants of their faiths and have salvation in Jesus Christ, he stated that the same is not true for Buddhists, Muslims and Mormons.
“It is impossible to believe what Mormons believe and be a Christian. It is impossible to believe what Muslims believe and be a Christian,” he said.
Likewise, he acknowledged that there may be unsaved believers among Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Catholics. Salvation, the biblical requirement for heaven, is an individual and personal choice, he told The Christian Post.
Land said he quotes the Bible’s New Testament which states that there is one mediator between God and men and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life to all those who ask about heaven. If missionary work and evangelism is to continue on into the future, other Protestants must do the same, he asserted.
“If the price of respecting your faith is to deny mine, then that price is too high,” declared Land.
Campbell’s discussion was held at the Pew Forum in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Today's Guest Blogger, my Friend and Brother in Christ  John Ketchersid
Day 12 of the 30 Day Spiritual Adventure

I hope your daily time of reading, meditation, and prayer is going well. Today the devotional focuses on the simple man who was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus Christ: Joseph.  He was a common man called to lead an uncommon life.

I think that is one of the great messages of Christmas: the Lord uses the ordinary to accomplish His extraordinary mission.

1 Corinthians 1:27 God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.

Our Sun is called a Yellow Dwarf Star.  Let that sink in for a minute: a dwarf star.  Not exactly a description that engenders pride and confidence.  But it’s the center of our universe…well, our solar system…which is a tiny part of the Milky Way Galaxy…which is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the whole universe.  Small. Insignificant. Common.

Joseph is kind of a dwarf star.  He’s one in a long line of ordinary people that the Lord has used in His mission of extraordinary salvation.  And you know what?  We are next in line!  In our world that focuses on the big, powerful, and amazing, God chooses to use the insignificant folks like you and me!

on Tuesday, December 7, 2010

(Clark-I like this, Marney and I were just talking about insignificant we can feel when we consider all that God has made. And my friend David Ragsdale just put on his FB:
Believes it is better to be .....
A man of the great GOD
than to be A Great man of God.)