Bible Reading: Luke 15:11-29
Tim Keller’s classic, The Prodigal God reveals a huge side to the story of the Lost Son that we so often overlook.
We think a lot about the story demonstrating the younger son as the ‘prodigal son’, but Tim shows how the story reveals God as what He calls a ‘prodigal God’.
To be prodigal doesn’t actually mean to be wayward. It means ‘to be recklessly extravagant; to have spent everything’
In other words, to spend till you have nothing left to spend.
Is that not the big point of the story Jesus told?
I think all the characters and the tensions Jesus created were really pointing to how gracious the Father is.
Is the story really about the younger son getting lost far away from the father, or about the older brother getting lost so close to the father- isn’t the story about the Father and his amazing ability to graciously give everything to find and save the lost?
This is where the story of Christianity must start from, if it will ever be told. It is a story of Grace.
It doesn’t start from us finding our way to God. It starts from God finding a way to us in Jesus. It doesn’t start from us stretching out holy hands in worship. It starts from Jesus stretching his hands out on a cross for us. We reach up because God reached down.
We will come to talk about the many wonderful things we do as a response to God’s grace. But first, we must revel in and put the spotlight on God’s prodigality.
What underlies the Gospel? What’s our Christian journey? The only way we will travel this entire journey of faith from where we are to God’s ultimate for us without backing out, is when we understand that in the Gospel, God came from that ultimate to where we are. That entire pathway is lined with the words G-R-A-C-E.
Every step I take towards God is because God has opened it to me by His Grace.
Christianity only starts because Jesus graciously shouted on the cross ‘It is finished!’
It doesn’t start from our ability to do anything; it doesn’t start from how far-away-lost or near-lost we are; it doesn’t start from how prayerful we are or diligent in studying the word. The story of Christianity starts from how prodigal God is. It starts from the strength of God’s grace to save.
Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children 1 John 3:1 TPT
So What Exactly Does Grace Look Like In The Gospel?
It works repentance in us
Watching diligently so that no one falls short of the grace of God… as Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. Hebrews 12:15-17 MEV
…the goodness of God leads you to repentance Romans 2:4 NKJV
It forgives us
Even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) Ephesians 2:5 MEV
It teaches us
I will teach you and tell you the way to go and how to get there;
I will give you good counsel, and I will watch over you. Psalm 32:8 VOICE
This same grace teaches us how to live each day as we turn our backs on ungodliness and indulgent lifestyles, and it equips us to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in this present age Titus 2:12 TPT
[Grace] educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. Titus 2:12 CEB
It empowers us
But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 TPT
This is what Grace looks like! Amazing, isn’t it?
One more thing, though:
It is Available To Us!
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need Hebrews 4:16 NKJV
Every time we say it’s a time of need, God says it’s a time of Grace!
But he continues to pour out more and more grace upon us James 4:6 TPT
The Christian road is one of repentance, forgiveness, learning and empowerment- all by the abundantly given grace of God in the gospel!
Don’t ever slip away from that awareness: Putting our faith in the gospel has brought us into a story of Grace. Whether you were the far away lost younger brother, or the nearby older brother- the Christian story is a story of Grace!