Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year Resolution ‘08


God is a God of preparation.

And, there are many certainties in life which we should be prepared for.

For example:

* It is certain that you and your family will need to eat today.

* It is certain that you will need clean clothes this week.

* It is certain that your mortgage, rent or utility bills will need to be paid this month.

* It is certain that your taxes will have to be paid this coming year.

* It is certain that you will need more in your future.

* It is certain that someone will teach your children what ‘no’ means.

* It is certain that you will have happy times and sad times in your life.

* It is certain that you will die one day and leave everything you have worked for to others you cannot control.

* It is certain that you will spend eternity in the grace or outside of the grace of God.

There are many certainties in our future from simple daily needs to great adventures of faith and destiny. We must realize that …

Life demands preparation.

Preparation requires someone look far enough down the road to foresee and forecast the need and plan for it. From today’s meal to eternity’s estate … Life demands preparation.

God is a planner. He is never caught unaware or unprepared. And that’s how He would like for us to be.

We should be prepared for our everyday responsibilities and for the once in a lifetime, great and awesome adventures of faith.

This morning we are going to look at a few bible characters, some who were and some who were not prepared for the certainties life.

It is my hope that we can use these scriptures as God intended, as a guide, an instruction manual, if you will, for our lives today.

The first bible character we will look at is King Saul of Israel. Turn with me to 1 Samuel 13.

Saul was a tall, strong, good looking man whom God chose to be the first king over His children, the nation of Israel. Saul had all the qualifications and opportunities necessary to succeed in his calling.

However, Saul was not adequately prepared for a certainty we all face in life … Fear!

The fear I am referring to is a lack of trust in God, who God is and what God will do. Many people in the Bible faced this type of fear.

We see it in:

* Aaron, when he made the golden calf for Israel to worship.

* Sarah when she had passed the time of life to have children.

* We see it in Job who lived in fear that his children were not pleasing to God.

Job 3

25 For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.

26 I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.

* We see this in the New Testament parable of the talents … this man had a poor and critical image of God as someone who could not be trusted. He was afraid and fear makes irrational decisions.

Matthew 25 NKJV

24 "Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.

25 ‘And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

Now back to Saul: When God was willing to bless and favor King Saul, Saul allowed fear to dominate his decisions and instead of waiting on God, Saul went ahead of God to secure his own success. Listen to what the prophet Samuel said to Saul as a result:

1 Samuel 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. 14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue … (KJV)

It is certain that each of us will be tempted with fear to prejudge God or to take matters into our own hands. We need to prepare ourselves for those days when it seems like God is not hearing or not responding quick enough to satisfy our own desires.

The best way to defeat the temptation to let fear move you into making bad decisions is to cover yourself with the truth of God’s Word which says:

Psalms 62:1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. (NIV)

When you are looking for a scripture to motivate you, don’t look for threats, look for promises.

Not only is fear a formidable opponent of God’s will for your life but there is also the element of Greed.

Greed finds its root in selfishness. I believe all Sin has its origin in selfishness and all selfishness leads to sin.

There are several bible characters that epitomize greed. Some who changed and some who died greedy. Remember:

* Zacchaeus, the tax collector of Jericho in Luke 19 – he changed and defeated the selfish greed which had controlled his life.

* Laban, Jacob’s greedy uncle in Genesis, who eventually lost it all … he never changed.

* The rich man in Luke 12 who had so much that he did not know what to do with it all so he decided to build bigger barns to horde it for his future … he died and left it all behind for others.

* Nabal in 1 Samuel 25 who refused to give any help to David because of his greedy spirit … he failed to see the greatest opportunity of his life, to bless the soon to be crowned King of Israel … greed blinded him and he died 10 days after refusing David’s request and David ended up getting it all and getting Nabal’s young and pretty, wise and eloquent wife. Greed makes bad decisions too.

* Greedy Balaam in Numbers 22.

However, I think the best example for us this morning will be found in the story of the young man who came to Jesus asking to be included in His Kingdom’s future. Let’s turn in our bibles to Mark 10.

Mark 10 NKJV

17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"

18 So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

19 "You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’"

20 And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth."

21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."

22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!"

24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!

How can we defeat the temptation to be greedy, to live a life motivated by selfishness and trust in riches?

Again, the best way to defeat the temptation to be selfish and greedy is to apply the Word of God to your soul and renew your mind with His will.

If you face temptations in this area of your life memorize:

Proverbs 11:25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.

And make your faith declaration daily.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2008 is:

“To walk God’s best path for my life.”

To examine my life and rid myself of fear, greed and selfishness.

I want to encourage you also to examine your life and make your New Year’s Resolution to include becoming the kind of person whom God wants to bless, favor and use. It’s your choice. Give God the time and opportunity to prepare you, guide you and use you.

Rid yourself of fear, greed and selfishness in 2008. You can change. Decide now to trust the Lord with your future … prepare yourself to be a blessing and give more of yourself to others this coming year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The God of Hope

The God of Hope

Romans 15:13

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 Kenneth Bent

GT Church on the Rock

Beaumont, Texas

Kenneth Bent

Romans 15.13: (NASB)

13Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The word “fill” is in the Optative mood – a mood of wish or desire for the future – not many optatives in the NT compared to OT.

Work Backwards in the text:

1) All done by the power of the Holy Spirit

2) The Purpose is to abound in HOPE

3) Mechanics – This is Accomplished by being filled with all joy and peace through Faith (Believing)

4) Source: This all comes from the God of HOPE

How do we get this?

First, the God of hope.

To be in abundance of joy and peace we must be IN HOPE.

Hope: Elpis (Greek: elpiV) “a confident expectation”….Confidence in what isn’t seen…related to faith.

Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

1 Timothy 1:1 ¶ Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

1 Timothy 4:10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

1 Peter 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Second, the Word of Promise.

Hope (confident expectation) develops through Faith in the Word of God. No daily Word, not feeding Faith…No Hope!

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Faith in God and His Word PRECEDES the development of HOPE

Galatians 5:5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.

Hebrews 11:1 ¶ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

1 Cor. 13.13, 1 Thess 1.3, and 1Thess 5.8 – all group Hope with Faith and LOVE but in EACH OCCURANCE, FAITH IS MENTIONED FIRST!

Hebrews 6:19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

We are Not to trust in things of the world…

Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

We must not trust in ourselves:

2 Corinthians 1:8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.

2 Corinthians 1:9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Third, the Spirit of power.

Fullness includes Joy and Peace:

Ephesians 3:19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge— that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

True Joy and Peace only come thorough a vital, living relationship with God through Jesus Christ

John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Joy & Peace are fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Once you are filled with joy and peace in believing, you are able to help others:

Romans 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

“competent to counsel” - putting proper things into the minds of others (nouthesia – gk)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Christmas Story - Part Four: The Story Foretold

The Christmas Story

Part 4: The Story Foretold


The Christmas story is one of the birth of Jesus the Christ, Messiah, and Savior of the world.

Many through the years have claimed to be the Messiah but only one fulfills the prophecies written about Him more than 1000 years before His birth. No man could orchestrate these specific qualifications so as to arrange for himself to be born in the right place at the right time to the right family. No … this birth was not the plan nor the hand of man … this impossibility could only be God!

This morning we will not look at the more than 1000 prophecies easily discovered in the Old Testament concerning Messiah which were all fulfilled by Jesus, but rather we will look at only a few which surround the birth of Messiah, the reason for our celebration this Christmas season.

Watch with me as we review the story foretold and see how it narrows more and more taking us to only one certain conclusion –

Jesus is Messiah!

Prophecy says that:

Messiah will be the seed of a woman

Genesis 3:15 Galatians 4:4

A son of mankind, a descendant of Eve … Narrowing the field farther the prophecies say that:

Messiah will be the descendant of Abraham

Genesis 12:3 Galatians 3:16

Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.

Farther narrowing the possibilities:

Messiah will be the descendant of Judah

Genesis 49:10 Luke 3:33

Messiah will be the descendant of David

Jeremiah 23 & 33 Luke 1:32-33

Not only is Messiah a son of mankind, the seed of Abraham, from the Tribe of Judah, in the lineage of David, but here is the real clincher …

Messiah will be born of a Virgin

Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:18-25

That’s right, a virgin shall conceive, the scriptures did not say from what town the woman would be from but there is a prophecy about Messiah being called a Nazarene and Mary was from the town of Nazareth … go figure.

Even though scriptures do not say where the mother will be from, prophecy specifically tells the town of Messiah’s birth ---

Messiah will be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:1

As if that were not enough to narrow the field of prospects, the prophet Daniel recorded a conversation he had with the angel Gabriel concerning a vision God had given him. Guess what?

Messiah will be born at a specific time

Daniel 9:25-26 Galatians 4:4

This is how Gabriel explained it to Daniel …

Key Scriptures:

Daniel 9 NLT

25 Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, (The Messiah), comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defenses, despite the perilous times.

26 "After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One, (The Messiah), will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end.

It is certain that when the wise men from the east saw the star rise and came to Jerusalem seeking the one who was to be born as King of the Jews, the religious leaders and priest did not only know the place of His birth but also the time. It had now been 490 years since the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given by Cyrus and it was now time for Messiah.

The Jews also knew the prophecy of Psalms 72 …

Kings will pay tribute to Messiah

Psalms 72:10-11 Matthew 2:1-11

This no doubt served to unnerve Herod even more, later making him lash out and order the killing of all the new born male babies in Bethlehem making Rachel weep once again for her children who are not. Matthew 2:18

More important than all of the other prophecies about Messiah is the fact that:

Messiah will be the Son of God

Psalms 2:7 Mark 1:11

No one less than the Son of the Living God could defeat sin and destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8b

Prophecies do not stop with the birth of Christ, the Anointed One, Messiah of the Jews, prophecies continue to speak truth, set courses and draw destiny along it’s foreknown path. Such is the prophecy which includes:

The Gospel foretold through Isaiah

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 The Gospels

This morning I am taking no personal license suggesting these prophecies refer to Messiah and His coming. Long before the birth of Jesus, learned scholars believed and taught that these portions of scriptures pointed directly to Messiah. It was the most studied and religious Jewish scholars of the day whom King Herod sought out to learn the place of birth. How did they know? It was foretold in prophecy, prophecies which they studied, prophecies which point to Messiah.

One of the confusing elements surrounding the prophecies of Messiah paints two pictures. There are more than 300 prophecies of the first coming as a suffering Servant, (Isaiah 53), but 500 prophecies about the second coming as triumphant King, (Zachariah 14).

There are not two Messiahs but rather one only begotten Son. The Jews for the most part are waiting for the triumphant One.

More than simply offering us the kingdoms of this world for a lifetime, a risen and victorious Messiah offers us the Kingdom of Heaven for eternity.

* He made His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death.

* He bore our sorrows and carried our grief.

* He was despised and rejected of men, smitten and afflicted

* It pleased God to bruise Him and make Him an offering for our sins

* Jesus and Jesus alone owns the right to be called Messiah, Redeemer of mankind and Savior of the world.

I read this week that a French mathematician named George Heron calculated the odds of one man fulfilling merely 40 of more than 1000 prophecies written hundreds of years before his birth. They are 1 in 10 to the power of 157. That is a 1 followed by 157 zeros. Your odds of winning the state lottery are 14 followed by only 6 zeros.

Another mathematician, Dr Peter S. Ruckman, calculates the odds of one person fulfilling just 60 of the written prophecies concerning Messiah is equal to 10 to the 895th power. That’s a one over another one followed by 895 zeros. That’s impossible and yet it happened.

Odds like that are overwhelming … but imagine if you did put your money there, wow, even a penny wagered would make you the richest person in the universe … imagine what the payoff would be if you invested your whole life!

Before it happened it might have seemed more risky, but not now … we know from historical accounts that Jesus of Nazareth already met every qualification and fulfilled each prophecy of His first coming to the letter.

If nothing else, it just makes sense to believe in Jesus. With Him fulfilling all these prophecies is there any room left for doubt? Jesus is Messiah if only from a logical, rational, reasonable conclusion … how much more from the spiritual unction of the Holy Ghost.

Won’t you believe while we read:

Our Christmas Story

Luke 2 NLT

1 ¶ At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.

2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

3 All returned to their own towns to register for this census.

4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee.

5 He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was obviously pregnant by this time.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.

7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

8 ¶ That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep.

9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened,

10 but the angel reassured them. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!

11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!

12 And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!"

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

14 "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors."

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16 They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

17 Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.

18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished,

19 but Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.

20 The shepherds went back to their fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told them, and because they had seen the child, just as the angel had said.

Matthew 2 NLT

1 ¶ Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,

2 "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him."

3 Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, as was all of Jerusalem.

4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. "Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?" he asked them.

5 "In Bethlehem," they said, "for this is what the prophet wrote:

6 ‘O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’"

7 Then Herod sent a private message to the wise men, asking them to come see him. At this meeting he learned the exact time when they first saw the star.

8 Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!"

9 ¶ After this interview the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.

10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!

11 They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

13 ¶ After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up and flee to Egypt with the child and his mother," the angel said. "Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to try to kill the child."

14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother,

15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: "I called my Son out of Egypt."

16 ¶ Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier.

17 Herod’s brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah:

18 "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah—weeping and mourning unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted—for they are dead."

19 ¶ When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him,

20 "Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead."

21 So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother.

22 But when he learned that the new ruler was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid. Then, in another dream, he was warned to go to Galilee.

23 So they went and lived in a town called Nazareth. This fulfilled what was spoken by the prophets concerning the Messiah: "He will be called a Nazarene."

Along with Brenda, our Eldership, Staff and Church Leadership, I want to wish all of you here and those watching a very Merry Christmas.

Make Jesus the reason for the season and accept Him as both Lord and Christ.

Jesus is Messiah … only He can satisfy your soul!

Ask Jesus into your life right now and commit to live your life according to His commandments.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Prodigals and Elder Brothers - 2 prblems 1 Answer

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Luke 15: (NIV)

11 ¶ Then He said: "A certain man had two sons.

12 "And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.

13 "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.

14 "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.

15 "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine 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 bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18 ‘I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,

19 "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."’

20 "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

21 "And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 "But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.

23 ‘And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;

24 ‘for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

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 "So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.

27 "And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 "But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.

29 "So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.

30 ‘But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 "And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.

32 ‘It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’"


- This “story” is evidently NOT a parable, but a true story.

- A parable (a story giving an illustration of truth) normally uses the word “parable” in the beginning.

- This story and the one in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazerus are NOT parables, but stories that actually happened.

-The story of the Prodigal Son illustrates 2 approaches to life with “the Father”

- 2 Problems with 1 Solution

- These 2 problems are essentially 2 sides of the same coin.

A. One side of the coin is: (as illustrated by the Prodigal)

Hedonism (definition from )

1. Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses.

2. Philosophy The ethical doctrine holding that only what is pleasant or has pleasant consequences is intrinsically good.

3. Psychology The doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

- to use a theological term, we would call this antinomianism – “against Law”

B. The Other side of the coin is: (as illustrated by the Elder Brother)

(definition from: )

Legalism - strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit

1. Strict, literal adherence to the law or to a particular code, as of religion or morality.

Why are they too sides of the same coin??

- Self Reliance & Self Assertion – one depended on his own free will and self expression (the Prodigal) while the Elder Brother depended on his faithful works of service

- Independence – Prodigal wanted to be free of responsibility and have freedom of choice and thought this would make him free, while the Elder Brother wanted his faithful discharge of duty to make him free and earn him his freedom.

The root of both is UNBELIEF.

John Piper: “Moral behavior that is not from faith is legalism”…”Both reject the sovereign mercy of God in Christ as means to righteousness and use either morality or immorality as a means of expressing their independence and self sufficiency and self-determination”

“ The moral legalist is always the elder brother of the immoral prodigal.”

(John Piper – Desiring God – )

- Most readers of this Bible Story do not notice that BOTH the Prodigal and the Elder Brother received their inheritances at the SAME TIME!

Luke 15:12 - "And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to THEM his livelihood.

Both RESPOND TO THEIR FATHER’S GRACE, BUT One reacts hedonistically, the other reacts legalistically.

The Prodigal Hedonist fails to trust God for his OWN sanctification

The Elder Brother Legalist fails to trust God for the sanctification of OTHERS!

The Prodigal Hedonist:

- Saunters – went on a journey (vs. 13)

- Spent – all he had (vs. 14)

- Ended up with Swine – (vs. 15&16)

- Came to his Senses – (vs. 17)

- Sorry for sin (vs. 18)

- Servant Attitude (vs. 19)

- Seen by the Father (vs. 20)

- Sandled (restored) (vs. 22)

- Sumptuousley Dined (vs. 23)

The Elder Brother Legalist:

- Angry at mercy (Vs. 28) – Like Jonah – “I knew You were going to forgive them!!)

- Anguish at joy (Vs. 28)

- Antipathy to the Father (Vs. 29)

- Alienation from his brother (Vs. 30)

The Father’s Grace demonstrates God’s heart for both parties / both expressions of unbelief and independence.

The Secular and Religious atmospheres of Jesus’ day reflect both expressions:

Rampant idolatry and hedonism in Greek and Roman culture

The Jews were divided along various factions:

Herodians – the politically connected

Pharisees – the strict legalists

Sadducees – modernists of their day, liberals

Essenes and similar groups – ascetics

Zealots – religious radicals looking to overthrow existing authority

Into this background comes JESUS.

How does God come to earth?

- a mighty conqueror?

He comes as a BABY! Why a BABY?

- Illustrates complete dependence on the Father

- Complete humility

- You cannot live the Christian life either as an independent hedonist or as an independent legalist.

Phil. 2:– ultimate humility:

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

Isaiah 64: 6 ¶ All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

- 7 No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.

John 5: 19 Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.

Jesus had nothing physically about Him that would make people want to follow Him….talk about total dependence…

Isaiah 53: 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Romans 9: 30 ¶ What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;

31 but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.

32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone."

1 Cor. 15: 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them— yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

About legalism:

Colossians 3:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,

10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ,

12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 ¶ When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,

14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

16 ¶ Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.

19 He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules:

21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"?

22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.

23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

1 ¶ Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Ro 15:1 Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

2 Cor. 11: 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is caused to stumble, and I burn not?

30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my weakness.

2 Cor 12: 9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

10 Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.


1) Trust that you are accepted by God through faith in Christ

Trust in God’s grace and enabling to help you live a powerful and righteous life – depend on God – not on your

2) Trust God’s grace in others who are struggling with sin – Christians and non Christians – and be ready to forgive

3) Know that in your weakness, God’s strength will appear.