BCI 8 & 10H30 SERMON NO:
SUN 3 March 2013
THE GOODNESS OF GOD (1)
The story of the compassionate father/lost son, Luke 15:11-32 is essentially a story of a wayward son that rediscovered the goodness of his father. He realised that because of the father's goodness he would be better off as a servant working for his father, than free but impoverished in a distant land. The sons depict the BADNESS of humans. One is goody goody bad, and the other is out and out bad. This story also demonstrates the wickedness of sin ... how it lures the fun-loving, unsuspecting young man away from his family, into supposed fun and freedom, into total loss and self-destruction. From the Gospel of John we can understand that the devil would have been very much a part of the son's demise, because Jn 10:10 (NIV) 'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.' So, the sons - the world - the religious - are all shown to be BAD while the Father demonstrates the INCREDIBLE GOODNESS OF GOD.
One of the core values of the Christian life, especially of revival, has to be a profound belief in the goodness of God. No wonder the story of Jesus is called the Gospel / the Good News. It's logic ... Good News from good God?
WHY IT IS SO HARD TO BELIEVE IN THE GOODNESS OF GOD?
BLAME SHIFTING - Because our human tendency is to blame others for what we have brought on ourselves. The lost son was able to get out of his mess because he blamed nobody but himself. He owned up before he could get up again. We tend to blame God for the judgement we bring on ourselves through our sins, rebellion and self-will. Lots of what is negative about our world is simply the outworking of human sin ... not because of God's active judgement.
When we read of GOD'S JUDGEMENT of sin in the Old Testament we can easily override, overlook the dimension of God demonstrated by Jesus in the New Testament. John 1:14 (NIV) 'The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.' God is not to be messed with. He is perfect in all his ways. He is to be feared, but the N.T revelation of grace and truth takes precedence over the O.T preoccupation with 'the Law, sin and condemnation.
WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT GOD?
God has a track record of demonstrating his most astounding goodness to the most unlikely, undeserving people, simply because they deeply desire it. Consider Moses Exodus 33:18-19 (NIV)
'Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.'
Moses, as a murderer, was a classic prodigal. He also went to the far country. He didn't live a drunken, womanising life, and he wasn't in a pig sty when he decided to come back to Egypt but there are definite similarities. And God didn't just want Moses to be His servant. He wanted him to be a personal, intimate, friend of God, 'To speak with Him face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.' (Ex 33:10). The lost son tells the story of initial welcome back from the world, but my concern is that many people COME BACK BUT DON'T STAY in the FATHER'S EMBRACE or AT THE FATHER'S FEAST - like Moses.
WHY THIS CONVICTION OF GOD'S GOODNESS IS SO IMPORTANT:
According to John Crowder we are meant to live our entire lives preoccupied with ... THE ECSTASY OF LOVING GOD ... (Trances, Raptures and the Supernatural Pleasures of Jesus Christ)
23 You were born for pleasure, and nothing else will do. There is a yearning inside every person to know the Source of all pleasure,.... 25. Something in the heart of humankind remembers Eden.
26. If we stray from the bliss, the Kingdom we will miss. It is easy to be sidetracked by good things. Fasting, serving, healing the sick, and even prayer can sidetrack me from the glad presence of the Most High. As soon as we forget the euphoria of Jesus, we have missed the mark. If your prayer does not overwhelm you - get you "whacked" in His love-then pray differently. Don't fast from food if you aren't feasting on heaven. When God shows up, you should be a happier person!
28 ... the answer to combatting the drunkenness of the world is not to embrace a religious, powerless sobriety. We are called to live an intoxicated lifestyle, inebriated on the presence of God to the point of full possession.
29 in the meetings of revivalist Maria Woodworth-Etter in the early 20th century, tens of thousands would be carried away into trances and divine ecstasy simultaneously. Entire regions would be changed as a result. 31. ... ecstasy ... an intensely pleasant experience.
34 Whenever God cuts covenant with humankind it is always to our benefit. God never brings us into an agreement where a superior pleasure is traded for an inferior one. He would never pull you from the temporary enjoyment of sin in exchange for a lesser gratification.
44. A "hedonist" is one who lives for pleasure. John Piper believes that all are called to be Christian hedonists, those who live for the pleasure of God.
47. If you are struggling with sin or addiction, don't try to kill your appetite for pleasure. It is impossible. Just direct it to the true source of all pleasure.
63. C.S. Lewis '... joy is the serious business of heaven.'
Jer 23:9 NIV "I am like a drunken man, like a man overcome by wine, because of The Lord and His holy words"
65 the apostles of our faith gave us a great precedent when they got whacked openly in public in Acts 2. Spiritual wine drinking always produces fruit, as well as mighty acts of power.
67. Paradoxically, anyone who has abused alcohol probably did so because they have a strong calling to be filled with the Spirit. Without the real we are predisposed to the counterfeit.
CONCLUSION: COME HOME TO HIS GOODNESS/ CONTINUE IN IT / FORCE INTO IT!
Rom 11:22 (KJV) 'Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God:on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness:otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.'
It's the goodness of God that keeps the righteous man getting up even if he falls seven times (Prov 4:4). It is His goodness that draws us and keeps us.
Because God doesn't give his best on a plate. He makes us contend for it. In the contending there are often many disappointments and much reward. Lk 16:16 (Darby) 'The law and the prophets [were] until John:from that time the glad tidings of the kingdom of God are announced, and every one forces his way into it.'
These days people are desensitized to fear and horror. Our media, our movies are so full of explicit violence that people are not easily threatened with the fear of hell. Many say, "No problem, I'd like to go to hell because all my friends are there. Fire escape altar calls just won't cut it anymore. What will draw such a hard-hearted generation has to be the goodness of God. Rom 2:4 (KJV) 'Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?'