I couldn’t be more excited than to be here with you tonight. This is one of my very favorite parts of the week. Tonight we get to look at some of God’s precious truths. I will say on the front end that I do have a fear for many of us. I have a pastoral concern for many of us. I fear that, like me earlier in my life, you have never really heard the fullness of the gospel. The message we often hear of the gospel is full of the benefits of the gospel but often is incomplete in terms of what is required to be a Christ follower.
I believe many of us have been brought up in a kind of cultural Christianity that I would argue is actually no Christianity at all. It’s more in line with the American dream than it is the call Christ calls us to. In these instances, as Matt alluded to in one of his recent messages, Jesus just becomes an add-on to our lives and doesn’t radically alter the trajectory of our lives. Tonight this message is called The Response of Faith: Repentance.
Growing up, I’m not sure I ever heard the full gospel; it was incomplete. Maybe it was incomplete, or maybe it was just I couldn’t hear all the gospel was calling me to, but regardless, I remember being comforted by the fact that Christ died for my sins. I remember being just comforted by the fact that it was a free gift. It was something I could not earn; I could go to heaven because of what Christ did. Who wouldn’t want that, right? We could live eternally with God!
I lived for the first 15 years of my adult life believing I was a Christian when the the gospel I had believed was merely a life insurance policy so I could continue to sin. I could continue to sin all the more so grace would abound. Paul, as he unpacks the gospel, says may that never be the heart of a believer. May that never be the heart of a believer that grace would be cheap, because grace is very costly, as we’ll look at tonight.
I lived a life where I felt free to sin all the more. Paul goes on to argue. He says that’s even impossible for the believer because of something called regeneration. We’ve been given a new heart and new affections. It doesn’t mean we don’t sin. It means when we sin, our desire is to return to God, to be obedient to God. We have been given hearts that desire obedience. God still desires obedience out of his children, but the obedience goes from kind of “I have to” (“I have to be obedient to God”) to “I want to.” That’s evidence of God’s grace. That’s evidence he has changed our hearts; he has written his law on our hearts.
The gospel is not only a comfort, but it is also a call to something so radically different and so countercultural that it is worth forsaking all the world values. In Mark 1:14b and 15, it says, “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ’The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’”
I want to orient us here for just a minute. Last week, we talked about this kind of high-level gospel view, the gospel from the air. We talked about creation. Remember? Then we talked about fall. Then we talked about redemption. Then we talked about consummation. This we want to look at from a little bit different angle, a little bit more personal angle, something you and I have to contend with personally. We’ve looked at God. We’ve looked at man. We saw last week the intervention of Christ.
Now we’re going to look at how we are to respond to this glorious gospel, this good news that light has entered the darkness. Light has invaded the dark spaces. Now how are we called to respond to that glorious gospel? I would say evidence that faith has taken root in our hearts, that we have received the good news of the gospel, will lead us to repentance, to worship, to gratitude, to surrender, to love, and to obedience.
This week our two primary texts will be Luke 15 in terms of fostering a better idea of what biblical repentance looks like. We’re going to compare that to what worldly sorrow looks like. Maybe you’ll tonight find yourself more on the worldly sorrow side, but God is here. He is among us. He is with us. He is shaping our hearts and leading us to a type of sorrow before God, a breaking of our hearts, a softening of our hearts so we might find life and peace, and we might not be stuck in that insanity we talked about last week.
Before we get to that, before we get to Luke 15, the first thing I want to do is to try to reconcile something for us. My mentor in biblical counseling was a man named Jerry. He was really excited as he came into the office one day. I think he had overhead some sort of a radio program. He just had this visual contrasting these ideas, these two sides of God, of God’s mercy and God’s justice. How can a God be perfectly merciful and, at the same time, be perfectly just?
I think the only way we can reconcile those two things is through the cross of Jesus Christ. I just want to give you just an illustration of what that might look like. In Romans 3:23, it says all of mankind is on a one-way track to death. That’s kind of where we spent our time two weeks ago. We saw the redeemed step one truth there. We are all on this one-way track. Unless someone intervenes, unless someone who has the power to break sin and to save us from death intervenes into this, this is the track we’re all on.
But God has intervened through Jesus. I don’t want you to look at this as kind of a ladder. I want you to look at this as a track, a track leading to life through Jesus Christ. We see we were in our sin, and we see Jesus comes and offers a way to life as he lived a life we couldn’t live, a life of righteousness. Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We have this example of love in Jesus Christ as he comes and offers life.
This mercy God has shown us through Christ… It says in Romans 2:4, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” I think part of what this is saying is just because God is patient, just because he is kind, just because he has not been quick to anger, just because he has not wiped us out as a people, don’t think that means he doesn’t care. Don’t think just because he has not poured out his wrath on us he does not care about your sin.
He cares! He cares so much that he would send his Son to the cross. Jesus cares so much about sin that he would go to the cross and lay his life down. There has to be something that happens here. Some will call this the great exchange, where Jesus becomes our sin. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin…” He becomes sin on our behalf. Guess what we get? We get his righteousness.
Second Corinthians 5:21b says, “…so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That’s pretty cool that he would impute his righteousness to us, but there’s something that’s happening here. The question is how do we get on the other track? I think biblically (and I think there are two sides to the same coin) it’s called faith and repentance. You don’t get righteousness and just continue on the same track you’re on. It calls you to something radically different.
I know some of you are really uncomfortable right now because I’m talking to you, but that’s okay. I pray God is speaking to your heart and leading you to something better. Acts 17. Remember when we finished up last week? It said, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
God is commanding all people everywhere to…what? To repent. Some of us oftentimes are offended by that word repent. I mean, only the self-righteous would go, “What do I have a need to repent for?” Right? We need to remember the commands of God. Remember back in Genesis 2 when God said, “Don’t eat of the fruit of the tree in the garden”? Right? The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. What is he trying to do? He is trying to preserve their lives.
In the same way, this command is attempting to preserve our lives. It’s calling us to life. He is not withholding life from us; he is inviting us into it. Remember this cycle of insanity. When we left off, we said there’s this kind of remorse that comes after these injuries and pain, and there are two kinds of sorrow. There’s the kind of sorrow that will keep you perpetually stuck in this insanity and there’s the kind of sorrow that produces repentance without regret leading to salvation.
There’s worldly sorrow and there’s godly sorrow. Second Corinthians 7:10: “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” My hope is that God tonight would not allow one person here to leave regretful. I think in some sense, each one of us has landed here for one reason or another because of difficulties, because of suffering and sorrow. It wouldn’t just be worldly. God would grant repentance and life to those he has gathered here.
We’re going to look at what is called the parable of the prodigal son. I’m going to borrow some language here and call it the parable of the two lost sons, because both sons in this parable are lost. We’re going to look first at the first part of Luke 15, verses 1 and 2. Then we’ll move into the parable. I know this probably has been a rich text for each of you as you were in the Word this week. Starting in verse 1, it says, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ’This man receives sinners and eats with them.’”
The first thing we just want to notice is the fact that there are both the sinners and tax collectors. That’s one group of people. Then you have the Pharisees and the scribes. You have the sinners, and you have the self-righteous. The second thing I want to point out just here right before we get into this particular parable is just the response, because we see in the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and this parable similar responses.
In the parable of the lost sheep in verse 7, it says, “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.” Do you see what’s happening there? Joy in heaven. Rejoicing. We should never be ashamed to come home to God. Then we see in verse 10, “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Then we turn our attention here to this parable. “And [Jesus] said, ’There was a man who had two sons.’” So this is a story about two sons. “And the younger of them said to his father, ’Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’” It’s interesting here (this younger son). I think this younger son has some idea of authority. This idea of authority that in his father’s house, under his father’s covering, come several things: provision, protection, the presence of his father, and direction.
I think, just like in Christianity…you know, we talked about the benefits without the responsibilities…I think oftentimes in our culture, and even what I would call entitlement, is wanting the benefits without the responsibility. “I want the protection of…” Those of us who have teenage kids, oftentimes they want the benefits of living under their parents’ covering, but they don’t want the responsibility. They don’t want to answer to anyone. You know, those of you who have children that age.
I think this young man has some idea of, “Hey, this is a package deal.” He realizes he cannot live under his father’s covering, under his father’s roof, and live the way he wants to live. This forces the son to make a decision. “You can either stay and live under my rules and my guidelines, or you can go.” We don’t see a lot of arguing by the father. The son shows he is really more interested in the father’s stuff than he is relationship with the father.
In a way, he is saying, “I’m counting you as dead.” Right? First of all, you need to understand an inheritance is not earned. It’s something that’s bestowed upon you. To think you deserve that is just as kind of insane as thinking we deserve to go to heaven. You know? There is that idea that he is saying, “I want your stuff, but I don’t want you.” Then the question becomes, “Is the father enabling?” Because this has really provoked a lot of questions in me. What is enabling?
First of all, I want you to know enabling is not enabling a person to get help. That’s not enabling in a bad way. That’s enabling in a good way. Enabling in a bad way, I think biblically, is allowing those you’re responsible for to continue to live under your covering without consequence when they’re being disobedient. Okay? That’s enabling, but that’s not what’s going on here with the father. He is saying, “If that’s what you want, then…” He doesn’t resist him.
In a way, he preserves the relationship and gives him what is rightfully his even though he didn’t deserve it. He gives it to him, and having the means is going to expose his heart, what he really loves. It says, “And he divided his property between them. 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.” I can remember in my life God giving me a great job, a job in which I was making a ton of money. Guess what it revealed? It revealed what I really loved, because that’s what I spent my money on. I squandered it.
It says, “And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.” Sin is costly. It will ravage your life. We see some desperation here in this young man. “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.” Now this is a Jewish boy with unclean animals. He is pretty desperate. “And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.”
There’s a picture of longing for sin. That’s a picture from God’s perspective of sin. You are longing for the pods the pigs ate. No one is feeling sorry for this young man. No one is giving him anything to eat. This is his best thinking, his best decisions, in trying to find satisfaction apart from his father. This is where it’s landed him. He thinks he is in hog heaven, but he is not. He is in the pigpen. Listen. He is not a pig. He is a son! He’s not where he belongs.
“But when he came to himself…” This is just a picture of repentance. It’s like suddenly this young man’s eyes are opened to the reality of his situation. “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! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ”Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.“’”
He is willing to get up. He will arise. He has a willingness to get up and to make it right, to accept whatever consequences come his way. He humbles himself as an unworthy servant. He is not entitled anymore. He doesn’t say, “You owe me this,” or, “You owe me that.” He had already squandered all he was entitled to. There was nothing left to claim. “And he arose and came to his father.” He didn’t just say, “I’m going to do it.” It wasn’t always, “This is what I’m going to do,” but actually it moved him.
Faith is active. Faith without works is dead. It’s not just about saying you’re going to do something. It’s about actually taking a step of obedience in faith. It led him to action. “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.” Look at the response of the father. He is watching! He is waiting! I mean, the son is still reeking from the pigpen, and he runs and gives him a big hug and he kisses him.
“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.’” Even before he can get it out, the father has heard enough evidently and interrupts him and says… “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.’” He is not looking for anything for himself personally out of this. He is not putting himself between his son and God and saying, “Oh yeah? Well, then you’re going to have to do this. You’re going to have to do this.” He receives him back.
We see here just the provision of the father, just a picture of us coming home in Christ. This robe he is given is a robe of righteousness. It covers his filth, his shame. He is given a ring, and this ring is a representation that he belongs to this family. There’s belonging. Then we see the sandals for his feet. He is treated as he is as a son rather than a slave. He comes as a slave. He comes in humility, but he is blessed. Do you think he is grateful? You bet he is grateful.
It says the father says, “’And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” I heard one guy talking about this. I agree with most of what he teaches, but one of the questions he asked is who did it cost the most for this son’s reconciliation with the father? I would say the calf. It cost the calf his life! Right?
This shows us the seriousness of sin. I mean, somebody has to die. Reconciliation costs the life of an innocent calf, a fatted calf that is apportioned for many. Jesus was the Lamb of God who was sacrificed on our behalf that we might have reconciliation to the Father. We see the response to this repentance in celebration, but not all celebrate. Not the self-righteous, because it’s not fair.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 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.’” You would think there would be joy in this young man’s heart. “But he was angry and refused to go in.”
What does his father do? “His father came out and entreated him…” He doesn’t want grace for his younger brother. He wants the law. His father entreats him to come in, to repent, and to join the party, to maintain relationship with the father, otherwise he might end up outside of the party. Then it says, “…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.’”
First of all, look at the self-centeredness of this young man. “I served you. I never disobeyed. You never gave me…that I…with my friends.” He misses the fact that his brother, who was headed for destruction, is now home. Then look at his justification for his relationship with his father. He is self-justifying, right? His justification is in his own goodness, in his own obedience. How does he view the fatted calf? Just a young goat. He treats the sacrifice with disdain. He doesn’t value it. He doesn’t value the sacrifice, just like the self-righteous don’t value the sacrifice of Jesus.
“’But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ’Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” We don’t know how the older brother responds. We don’t know if he will remain outside of the party or if he will repent and come in and join the celebration.
Let’s take a look here just with a table of what the difference between godly, grief-producing repentance and worldly grief looks like. On this left side, we can see godly grief is vertical where worldly grief is horizontal. Godly grief is a recognition of where I’ve been before God first and foremost. Remember in the story? He says, “I have sinned against heaven and before you.” Worldly grief is just grieved over my circumstances. “I got busted. I lost my wife. I lost my kids.” It’s not oriented around God.
This godly grief is God- and others-focused, where worldly grief is self-focused. It wallows around in self-pity and says, “Poor me,” and lives kind of as a victim. Godly grief is spiritual, that God might grant us repentance. That’s what we’re praying for: God might grant us a softening of our hearts that we might experience a godly sorrow that would lead to life, where worldly grief is purely emotional. It’s not that godly grief is not emotional; it’s just that worldly grief is only emotional.
Godly grief has a willingness to do whatever needs to happen. “I’ve been reconciled to the Father. My heart has been changed. If I have offended somebody, then I want to make that right.” See, we’ll learn later when we talk a little bit more about reconciliation that the gospel reconciles a heart in a way that the law can’t. The law can do it outwardly, but the gospel can transform a heart of injustice, where worldly grief is demanding. It’s, “I will do this, and I won’t do this. There are things I will and I won’t do.”
Godly grief is active, and worldly grief is passive. As a pastor, these can be pretty revealing, because you can have somebody who comes in, and they confess a lot. But then when you say, “Okay, why don’t you go get involved in our Recovery ministry? Why don’t you go begin to live in biblical community and live that out?” there is a resistance to that or an all-out, “No, I won’t do that. There are certain things I will and I won’t do.”
I’m not saying this is the place somebody has to go in order to experience repentance. It’s just are you willing to live the way God has called you to live, in open community and accountability and those sorts of things? Godly grief is hopeful. I mean, think about this. If I’ve been reconciled to God, if I have the most wonderful thing in the universe, the thing I should treasure above all things, whatever it cost me, then I’m without regret and having been broken in that moment.
It doesn’t mean I don’t regret what has happened historically. It’s forward-looking. “I’ve been given grace.” Worldly grief is going to be hopeless. It’s going to be continually looking back to the good ol’ days, you know, as if being caught up in sin is a great… I mean, it’s the pigpen. It’s like looking at the pigpen and longing for the pigpen still. Godly grief, I think, and repentance, is going to lead us to gratitude. We’re going to be begrudging with worldly grief. Then godly grief is going to be perseverant, right? There’s something that’s been radically changed in me internally that shapes the way I live my life outwardly.
I’m not saying I never sin again. I’m saying God begins to lead me out of that sin, lead me out of that slavery, where worldly grief is temporary. Why? Because there’s been no heart change. There’s been no heart change, and really what I’m doing is I’m waiting for everyone to stop looking at me so I can get back to what I really love. Godly grief is humble. I come as an unworthy slave, not demanding, taking responsibility, and accepting the consequences, where worldly grief is prideful, angry, avoids responsibility, blames, justifies, minimizes, and avoids consequences.
We can see here that in that insanity cycle we were in before, we can do this through irreligious types of behaviors, and then we can do this with religious types of behaviors (what we might describe as counterfeit forms of redemption). That can be doing religious practices. It can be working steps apart from a gospel context. Apart from Jesus, it doesn’t matter what we do. Until God shines his light in our hearts and until he exposes that which we have been pursuing that is unfruitful and really reveals to us the life that is in Christ, we will continue repeatedly in this cycle.
To those who are self-righteous who might not be able to understand those who are caught up in an irreligious-type cycle, Romans 2:1 speaks to that and says, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.” I can’t tell you how many times this has happened in my life, where I’ve judged somebody, and then I end up being that guy.
How will you respond to your sin? Because we said this is personal tonight. How will you respond to your sin and God’s grace? Once we are saved, once we give our lives and surrender our lives to Christ and we say, “Okay, we’re in. We’re all in. Whatever it costs, I’m in,” then we can begin to move this idea of repentance counterclockwise. You know, instead of it being after the injuries and pain we experience this sorrow and then come back to Christ, perhaps here as we’re working around this, as we’re tempted in our flesh, then by action we turn to God rather than to our flesh.
If you want to turn, you can really quickly to Romans, chapter 6. There in verses 12 and 13 it says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” Perhaps we catch it earlier, and it’s just in this thinking and obsessing stage. If you can flip over maybe a page or two to Romans 8:5-6 it says there:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Again, we’re just trying to learn how to war against this so when we realize when the Holy Spirit begins to show us what we’re thinking and obsessing on and when it’s not honoring to God, then, through the power of the Holy Spirit we can begin to look to him rather than to it for satisfaction, for redemption. Because all of these other forms are going to be counterfeit forms.
Then we have 1 Corinthians 10:13-14, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Just at that point of temptation, God provides a way out. Sometimes we don’t recognize (or we ignore, I think, is a better way) the Holy Spirit. We say, “No, I can handle this. I’m going to allow myself to continue around this cycle. I think I can stop it before it gets out of hand.”
It’s kind of that idea of having a pet rather than killing the lion. Then we can have that desire for relief. Remember it starts off with irritable, restless, and discontent. We can have that desire for relief. In Galatians it tells us that part of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Maybe it’s before I even get out the door that I go hit my knees and I settle my heart before the Lord before I go out and I start making a mess of my life and of the lives of others.
Some games people play… This was a sermon series I would recommend to you that Matt did (Games People Play). These aren’t the examples he gave, but one of the ways we play games is we suppress the truth. Romans 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
We avoid. We avoid difficulty. We just avoid sorrow. We just kind of always try to live elevated and pretend like nothing is wrong. We don’t allow ourselves to get honest with God and really allow our hearts to be soft and broken before him and to confess where we really are.
Another way we try to play this game without genuine repentance is we try to cover it up. Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” Our attempts to clean ourselves up through our good works are to no avail. It’s kind of like this idea that, “I messed up, so I’m going to go balance this out. Then I’ll approach God once I kind of get clean.” That’s not the gospel. That’s never going to fix the problem.
Another way of doing this is by serving penance. This is just living under the law. This isn’t repentance; this is penance. This is when I do something wrong, I beat myself up. Once I’m finished beating myself up, then all of a sudden, I’m justified. Now I can stand before God again. That’s the law. That’s not grace. That’s not the gospel. Galatians 2:21 says, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” If you could get there from here by doing that, then Christ had no reason to die.
Another way we often play is we hide through labels, through psychological labels. We explain our behavior, our ungodliness, because we have some sort of psychiatric disorder. I’m not saying there’s not a legitimacy to psychiatric disorders, but what that can do sometimes is we blame that and therefore, “I’m not responsible.” If we’re not responsible for our sin, then we’ll never repent. “I am the way I am because I have this disorder. So I’ll never grow spiritually.” We’ll look at some of that in a couple of weeks.
Now I want to talk to you just in summary to how we got to where we are right now. I want to talk to you quickly about something called the fear of the Lord. Scripturally, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” That’s what Proverbs tells us. It’s good to understand what the fear of the Lord is. That’s Proverbs 1:7. It says, “…fools despise wisdom and instruction.” One easy way for me to remember the fear of the Lord is being right-sized before God. That means I need to understand who I am before God, and I need to understand who he is. I am small, and he is big.
One time I was counseling a young man who spent a lot of time on the Internet. He was telling me about how much he knew. I said, “How much of what is on the Internet do you know? I mean, you’re like 14. You sound like you know a lot.” He said, “Well, I probably know about 60 percent.” I was like, “That is phenomenal! That’s unbelievable. Let’s test that out. There’s this thing called WeatherBug on my computer.” This was like, I don’t know, 8 or 10 years ago.
I said, “I can get on there, and I can tell you what the weather is of any little city around. Here we are in Flower Mound. I know you’re from Plano, but in Flower Mound, what’s the temperature outside right now.” He was like, “It’s about 85.” I was like, “No, what’s exactly the temperature? What’s the wind speed? What’s the barometric pressure? Do you know what? I can get on the Internet right now and tell you what those things are, but maybe it’s because this isn’t your city. What is it in Plano? Okay, you don’t know. What is it? Maybe it’s just you haven’t had a chance to study it yet. What was it yesterday?”
You know, he says, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.” “This is what’s on the Internet. Do you know what? Gosh, there’s a lot of information on the Internet, but do you know what? It doesn’t compare to what the knowledge of God is. You know very little. You are bound by your senses. You can’t see…” I mean, we’re in a counseling office.
“You can’t see outside of these walls. You can’t tell me what’s going on in the parking lot. You can’t tell me who is there. Guess what? God can. The Internet can’t tell you that. Not only can he tell you that (what’s happened today, yesterday, a hundred years ago), but he can tell you what’s going to be tomorrow, the next day, and so on. From that standpoint, why would you ever make a decision on your own if he knows and you don’t know?” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”
I want to look quickly at just a picture of this in Scripture. I want to look at Isaiah 6. I think when we understand the love of God against the fear of the Lord, you’re going to see what this is going to lead to. Starting in verse 1: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
And one called to another and said: ’Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.” As he saw the Lord sitting on his throne, he says, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
We just see this, the majesty of God. Christ sitting on the throne. “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ’Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’” See that grace? See that love?
Then we see Isaiah’s commission from the Lord. “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ’Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ’Here I am! Send me.’” That’s his response. “You have been so gracious to me. I’m all in. I’m yours. You tell me what you want, and I’m yours.” Faith in God will lead us to repentance, will lead us to submission, will lead us to obedience, will lead us to gratitude, and will lead us to love.
The last thing we’ll see here is a song by David Crowder that I just love. I love Bleecker. I also love David Crowder. Right here this is just an awesome song that kind of contrasts the difference between who I am and who he is and what he has done. It’s going to lead us to this idea of submission and freedom and life. It says, “I am full of earth, and you are heaven’s worth.” He is singing to God. He is acknowledging what he is made of. He is saying…
You are heaven’s worth.
I am stained with dirt, prone to depravity.
You are everything that is bright and clean,
The antonym of me.
You are divinity,
But a certain sign of grace is this:
From a broken earth, flowers come up,
Pushing through the dirt.
You are holy, holy, holy,
All heaven cries, “Holy, holy God!”
You are holy, holy, holy.
I want to be holy like you are.
You are everything that is bright and clean,
And you’re covering me with your majesty.
And the truest sign of grace was this:
From wounded hands redemption fell down, liberating man.
But the harder I try, the more clearly can I feel
The depth of our fall and the weight of it all.
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
So here I am, all of me, finally everything
Wholly, wholly, wholly,
I am wholly, wholly, wholly,
I am wholly, wholly, wholly yours.
There’s a pause, and he says, “I am full of earth and dirt and you.” David Crowder comments on this song. He says, “And so, like any good country song, the punch line comes at the end with such a simple turn of phrase that is the difference between life and death, decay and newness, winter and springtime.”
Father, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for the offer of life. Lord, we pray as we look to you in all your majesty, in all your glory, we understand just the great lengths you have gone to love and pursue us and to pay everything it would cost for us to come home. Just as you are there waiting for us to come home, we would not stand outside of your kingdom, demanding like an entitled person and say, “We want the benefits without coming under your authority,” but tonight we would see life comes from living with you, and you are the treasure.
Those of us who have been far off, I pray you would lead us home, and we would fully give our lives all in. We would push it all in tonight, and we would follow you regardless of the cost. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.