OpeningTimothy Keller goes back to Luke 15:11-32, traditionally called "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" but titled "The Prodigal God" by Keller, as the foundation of this 3-days conference. This is the focal points of the spiritual renewal. He believed. And Keller tries to show the concept , the problems, and the remedies from the text.
We must carefully notice the audience of the original text. It's Pharisees and the scribes (Luke 15:2) Jesus was address to. Besides, at the end of the text, the father is talking the elder brother, not the younger. It gives us confidence that it's the elder brother we should think and address more deeply
Concept: two ways of controlling God
Controlling God means being you own savior. Either being very bad or being very good could be ways of controlling Him. Being very bad is obvious and easily understood. Being very good, acting morally and perfectly, still could be a form of selfishness inside you heart. Whatever you do is trying to earn the credits and to please God, so that you may gain the secure or rewards from God. It's still self-centered. The true idea is love God just because of who He is and He is happy. If you truly love someone, you're happy because he is happy.
Problems: 6 sings of elder brother spirit
- Often under the current of anger: You assume there should be a good life from God. The true is we can rejoice in whatever situation.
- Having problems with criticism: You think you're good enough. There is no place for criticism.
- Being anxious and comparing to other people: Pride makes you feel superior than others. You always try to be better than other people.
- Not having an intimate joyful prayer life: You ask more rather than enjoy God.
- Staring people and looking them down: Because you're good, you look down other people, such as those who are different from you or in other denominations.
- Can't forgive.
- Repent more deeply: The Pharisees also repent, but they are still who they are. The wrong or shallow repent could be doing good things from selfish motivations. That's why Isaiah says "our righteousness is still dirty cloth" (Isaiah 64:6)
- Great rejoicing in Jesus Christ: Luke 15 actually contains 3 parables. In the first two parables, the man makes effort getting his sheep back and the woman seeks diligently her coin all over the house. In the third parable, it seems that there is no cost for the younger son's return. However, the cost is even huge. It's the elder son's rope, ring, and calf. In our real life, it's the death Jesus making us return God's home. We can rejoice.
How to do that as a preacher
- Becoming an one person model ("Chief repenter," Tim said): We should not repent because we're sorry for the result of sin, not sin itself. We should not repent so that we might get rid of the consequence. Only when we hate our sins, we have to the power form God to conquer. Love God for what he has done on the cross.
- Don't preach synagogue sermons: It's referring to moralized sermon. Every sermon, the answer should be found in the faith to Jesus Christ. That's the ultimate solution. (Giving 2 examples: Queen Esther and generosity)
End with John Newton's poem
Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for His grace and power are such none can ever ask too much.