Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – March 22, 2016
Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:22-23
God has been sending some messages my way lately that have been hitting me right in the heart. Such are the words from Timothy Keller’s book, The Prodigal God. In this fantastic read, Keller reveals there is more to the Parable of the Prodigal Son than most Christians were ever taught in church.
In his book, Keller writes that there is not just one lost son, but two in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In reality, the older brother who diligently obeys his father is as lost as the younger who squanders his inheritance and lives a wild lifestyle. Both are alienated from the father because each reject relationship with the father but in very different ways: one through licentious living, and the other through legalism. One through being bad and one by being good (Luke 15:13; 29). Both attitudes are rooted in pride and self-centeredness—and both attempt to get from their father what they want without caring for their father’s heart.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart. . .” (Luke 10:27).
Keller writes, “Neither son loves the father for himself. They both were using the father for their own self-centered reasons, and rather than loving, enjoying, and serving him for his own sake. This means that you can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breaking his rules or by keeping them diligently.” This means that being right with Christ all comes down to the motives of the heart and our willingness to embrace our sinfulness, and accept Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sin. It comes down to having a genuine relationship with Jesus. In his book, Holiness by Grace, Bryan Chapell writes, “Those who face the hopelessness of their spiritual condition apart from God’s mercy are nearer to experiencing his grace than those who pride themselves on their goodness.” And Keller writes: “The prerequisite for receiving the grace of God is to know you need it.”
What fantastic news for those of us who feel like spiritual train wrecks because we know we can never live up to God’s holy standards, and what a sobering wake up call for anyone who believes they can earn God’s favor through good works. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). There is nothing you can do to earn God’s favor; you already have his unchanging favor if you belong to Him. Let’s be mindful of prideful attitudes in us that look like either the younger or the older son.
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. . .” (Ephesians 1:6-7).
PrayerLord, thank you that you accept me and I have been saved by grace through faith. Make me mindful of any attitudes in me that look like the older or younger son. Amen.
ApplicationTalk with the Lord and tell Him thanks for the gift of salvation. If you don’t know Him already. . . Learn How to Become a Disciple of Jesus Christ
Related ReadingActs 2:38; Colossians 1:13-14; 1 Peter 2:9
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