Be vessels of God's free grace

Pastor Doug Addinton, West Hills Presbyterian Church
Jun. 27, 2014 @ 08:56 PM

Jesus told a story known as the parable of the prodigal son. However, I think the title that Sinclair Ferguson gave it is a better description of what Jesus intended. He calls it the parable of the free grace father.

The main character in the story is not the younger son who leaves, nor even the older son who stays, though their actions are very significant. The main character in the story is the father. The way he responds as both of his sons mistreat him tells us about his heart.

Jesus told this parable to reveal the heart of his heavenly Father, who is full of grace, full of love, who is good to all. When the son who squandered his father’s inheritance came to his senses, he said, "How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’” So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

The father interrupts him mid-confession, saying to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.

That is the heart of God the Father in heaven. When we find ourselves offended by God’s goodness to our enemies we are becoming like the older son who did not understand the heart of his free grace father. When we find ourselves offended by God’s goodness to our enemies, we are forgetting that each of us is like the younger son, squandering all our Father’s bounty, and unworthy to be called his child.

What makes us think we are worthy of the grace he gave us, and others are not? That is when we need to come to our senses and be silent before this mystery of God’s goodness to all. That is when we need to come to our senses and rejoice in his free grace so lavishly poured out on us, so we can in turn be channels of that goodness into the lives of others around us.

Don’t you love being in the presence of someone who loves you, who fills your life with goodness? Of course you do! Now we can be those very people to all we meet because the free grace Father pours out his goodness through us. That goodness is the fruit, the result, of his life in us.

After bowing in silence before this mystery, we go forth from his presence as vessels of his free grace, his goodness.