I want you to turn in your Bible with me, please, to Luke's Gospel 15, Luke chapter 15. Now, I got this message - well, I felt the Lord telling me to look at this passage for this week, last week, while I was sitting over there at the Breaking of Bread. It's just as well He gave it to me early, because I haven't been well all week - we had the bug in our house - and the thoughts I had at the beginning of the week, really, and last Lord's day, well, they comprise the message. But in saying that, this is something that has been fermenting in my heart probably for months now. I believe it's a message from the Lord, and I'm excited about delivering it, because I believe that it's going to revolutionise your Christian life, as it has done mine. So that's my prayer for you today, and I'm entitling it: 'The Parable Of Abba's Heart'.
So we're going to read from verse 1 of Luke 15: "Then drew near unto him", unto Jesus, "all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying". Now, the first parable given here is the parable of the shepherd with a hundred sheep, and he loses one. He leaves the ninety and nine behind, and he goes out into the wilderness to seek the one that was lost. Then He tells another parable about a lady who had a headdress with 10 coins on it, probably a wedding present, and very precious. She loses one of the coins, and she lights a candle and she sweeps the whole house until she finds the coin that was lost. The third parable, you know it as the parable of the prodigal, but I want you to understand it today as 'The Parable Of Abba's Heart'.
This is the third parable, and we're going to start at verse 11, this is the one we're looking at: "And Jesus said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found".
Let us pray please: Abba Father, we approach Thee in the Saviour's precious name. We, Thy children here assembled, access to Thy presence claim. Lord, we want to see into Your heart. You have said in Your word: 'My son, give me thine heart' - but, Father, we would pray now: Abba, give us Your heart. For Jesus' sake, Amen.
In Galatians chapter 4 and verse 6, Paul said: 'Because because you are sons, God has sent forth His Spirit, the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father' - Abba, Father. Now James Montgomery Boice, in his commentary on that particular verse, in footnote references probably an academic work by a man by the name of J. Jeremias in which there is an essay titled 'Abba', about this name of God - but the complete work in which this essay is found is entitled: 'The Central Message of the New Testament'. Now that's significant, because what that author is telling us - if we needed him to tell us, because the Bible shows us it - is that the word 'Abba' actually is central to the message of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Now this author, and of course the Gospels themselves, tell us three things at least about this name 'Abba'. Now listen carefully, and try to remember these: no one ever addressed God directly in these terms before. No one ever addressed God as 'My Father', because it would have been understood as disrespectful. A second thing about this name is that the Lord Jesus always used this form of address in praying to His Father, much to the amazement of the disciples. He always used the term 'Abba'. The third thing that we need to face is: Jesus went further than using it Himself, He actually authorised His own disciples to use this form of address of their Father, and they did it.
Now, let's tease each of those out before we look at this parable. First of all: no one ever addressed God as directly as saying 'My Father'. The reason being, because the concept of God was so far removed from anything that we know, and anything that we are. Now, 'father' in the ancient world had two concepts to it. It had the idea of the father being the ruler and the head of the house, with absolute authority; and it also had the idea of the father being a guard, protector, and supporter of the members of the family. Now, the idea of God as a Father is as old as religion itself. Even in Israel, God was called 'The Father of the nation', and the nation were called 'His children', and I could give you many verses for that - but never, ever was it understood that we could personally call God 'My Father'. It was never conceived of that the individual could address God, or relate to God as 'The Father'. In fact, in Jesus' day, the distance between God and man was actually widening in popular thought, rather than growing narrower. In other words, people were feeling farther away from God than they ever had done.
The second point I mentioned was: Jesus always used this form of address when praying, much to the amazement of His disciples. The reason for that is, the word that Jesus used for 'Father', 'Abba', is originally an Aramaic word. Now, it's translated into our English as 'Abba' only three times. First of all in Mark 14 in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed: 'Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what you will'. In Romans 8, Paul uses it in verse 15, where he says of believers: 'You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, Abba, Father', and then in Galatians 4 verse 6, that I've already quoted. But wherever you find the word 'Father' in English in the New Testament, it's the Greek word 'Pater' - and, though it's not the actual word 'Abba', it is supposed and understood that underlying that term 'Father' was the term that Jesus used, which was the common term to use for 'Father' in His day, 'Abba'. It shows us that every time Jesus said 'My Father', or 'Our Father', He was using the term 'Abba'. The only exception to that rule is, and this is significant, when Jesus was hanging on the cross and being a substitute for our sins, the only time He didn't address God as 'Abba' was when He cried: 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?', 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'. He was becoming the substitute for our sins.
Now, this was amazing to the disciples, and shocking to the Jews of Jesus' day, because there was an unseemly intimacy, an over familiarity, with Jesus addressing God, the Holy God of Heaven, as 'Father' - and not just 'Father', but as 'Abba'. Now in Aramaic, 'Abba' is the male equivalent of 'Imma', which is basically a word derived from baby language. I'm going into this because I really want you to get the import of what this word means. It's baby language, like in our families when a child is weaned from its mother, it might say 'Mama' - or the first words in our home were 'Dada', of course! But you understand what I mean - or maybe 'Mummy', 'Daddy'.
Now, this term 'Abba' in Aramaic evolved to not just mean some baby talk expression, but it actually could be used of an elderly father - where you might call your elderly father 'Daddy' - and it's a term of affection. But this was the origin of this term, and you can understand how obnoxious this was to the Jew - this was the origin of this term 'Abba', and yet here was Jesus calling God, Jehovah, 'Abba', the address of a small child to its father. Picture the scene: a Jewish father comes home after a hard day's work, and he opens the door, and his little toddler son comes running down, and this is what he's crying - 'Abba! Abba! Abba!' - and he lifts him up in his arms. Have you got the picture now?
The third thing we have said is: Jesus authorised His disciples to use this form of address after Him, and they did. I don't like calling it 'the Lord's prayer', but 'the disciple's prayer' that He gave us in Matthew 6 and verse 9 - you know the line that goes: 'After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name', and the word underlying 'Father' is the usage of 'Abba'. Now, there's a balanced approach to God, and there must always be a balanced approach to God. We approach God on the basis of our sonship, we are children of God if we are born again - and I hope you're born again today, because you cannot come to God unless you're able to say: 'God, You're my Father'. You can only say God is your Father if you're a son or daughter of God, if you've been born again. So the basis on which we approach God is sonship, and yet we also reverence Him, His Holiness - there's the balance: 'Our Father who art in heaven', His holiness.
So, we're not thinking of God as an overindulgent grandfather - you know what grandfathers are like! Sons, like me, say: 'Boy, you never gave me that! You never let me off with that, but you're letting him off with that!'. It's not an overindulgent grandfather, it's a Father who is able to mingle both compassion and discipline - for whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. Yet, 'as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him'. But, even though there is that balance, and we must always keep the holiness of God along with His fatherhood, we must not take away the revolutionary intimacy that is conveyed in this term 'Abba'. Incidentally, it's the first thing that Jesus says and teaches us to say to God in prayer: 'Our Abba'.
Now, let's broaden the approach for a moment. We haven't touched the parable yet, but this is all important groundwork. The broader picture that you must see is the life and ministry of Jesus. What I mean by that is: if this word 'Abba' is something central to the whole message of the New Testament, we've got to understand what the ministry of Jesus was. Now, in John 1 and verse 1 we read: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God', verse 14 says, 'the Word', Jesus, 'became flesh, and dwelt among us, (we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth'. Now, what that simply means is: a word is an expression of your thought and your heart, and Jesus is the expression of the mind and the heart of God. He has come to us in human flesh, so He's displaying the thoughts and the feelings of the Father to humanity! Have you got it?
Now when we come, then, into Hebrews chapter 1 and verse 3, we read that Jesus is 'the brightness of God's glory and the express image of God's person'. If you like, He is the stamp of God's identity. So, Jesus is the heart of God revealed - and there has been a great debate in philosophy and theology for millennia: 'What is God like?'. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus! Do you remember John 14? You know, 'Let not your heart be troubled...', and all - but later on, people are not so familiar with what happened. Philip came to the Lord and said, 'Just show us' - we would say 'Cut out all the difficult things to understand, just show us the Father, and that will suffice us - we'll be satisfied, just show us the Father'. Jesus said: 'Philip, how long have you been with Me, and you do not know that he who has seen Me, has seen the Father? I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me. The works that I do, the Father does them through Me' - have you got it?
The tragedy of the Jews of Jesus' day was: they knew their law, they knew the Old Testament inside out - if you like, they knew their Bible - but when their God showed up, they didn't recognise Him! They knew their Bible, but they didn't know their God! Here's the proof, look at verse 1, please, of chapter 15: 'Then drew near unto him all the publicans', that's tax collectors, 'and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this', or these, 'parables unto them, saying...'. Now, understand this please, these parables were an explanation to the murmuring of the Pharisees of why Jesus was fraternising with the scum of the earth, as far as the religious Pharisees were concerned.
He gives us, at the punchline of each of these parables, the reason. Verse 7, after the parable of the lost sheep: 'I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance'. Then down to verse 10 please, at the punchline of the parable of the lost coin: 'Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents'. Then at the end of the parable here of the prodigal, verse 32: 'It was meet', it was good and fitting, 'that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found'. Now, do you understand? The ministry of Christ is to reveal the heart of God. These Pharisees who knew so much about the law of God and their Bible didn't recognise what was in the heart of God - and Jesus is saying: 'Here's the reason why I eat and drink with sinners, because the heart of God is to love and to rescue sinners!'.
They only understood the law of God which condemned sinners. I don't have time to show you this, but in Deuteronomy chapter 22 we have the law of the rebellious son, and it must be read in parallel with the prodigal son. That law says that if a son is rebellious and is breaking the heart of his mother and father, his mother and father had a right in ancient Israel to bring that son to the elders of the nation, and they could judge him by being stoned to death. You might say: 'That's harsh!', well, it is harsh - but, you see, that's the seriousness of our sin. The wages of sin is death. I don't know if it ever happened, but what God is doing when He reveals to us His law is showing us His holiness and His justice, and the seriousness of our sin. It goes on to say that the dead body should be hanged up to show that the law has cursed this rebellious son! But the body is not to hang all night, it is to be taken down - now, when we go to Galatians chapter 3 and verse 13, we read there that Jesus Christ was taken in bodily form and was hanged on a tree, for 'cursed is every one who is hanged on a tree'.
Do you know what that means? The wages of our rebelliousness, whether you're a rebellious son or daughter, or whatever your sin is, the wages of our sin is death - that's what God's law says about every sin! But Jesus, on the cross, died and took our place and was cursed by God for our broken law, so that God can offer grace to us. You see, the holiness of God is revealed in the law, but that is only a partial revelation of the heart of God: Jesus is the only complete revelation of the heart of God, and Jesus reveals the heart of God as a Father. Now, I want to ask you before we go into this parable or say anything more: have you seen into the heart of Abba? Have you seen into the heart of Abba? Not the Holy God of the law, the heart of Abba as revealed by Jesus? If you haven't, you need to understand this parable of Abba's heart.
Now, I want you to first of all go to the end of it, to verse 22 where we are introduced - this is a parable of two sons - we are introduced to the second son, the eldest. He is an individual who never saw into Abba's heart, never. He never learned to relate to his father as his father. Isn't that interesting? Have you learned to relate to God as Abba, as a child to a Father? Or do you have this legalistic relationship where you're cowering in fear constantly of God, a God of Commandments, and a God of fire, and a God of wrath? Is that your relationship with God? Do you have religion and not a true parental, paternal relationship with Abba? You say: 'How do I know?' - well, you'll just be like this elder brother.
Let me show you: you will relate to God more like an employee to an employer, than a child to a father. Look at verse 29, please: 'He answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee' - I serve thee - 'neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends'. Imagine talking to your father like that: 'I served you, I never broke any of your commands'. Verse 30: 'But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf'. You will know whether or not you see into Abba's heart by whether or not you're living like an employee of an employer, or whether you're living like a child to a father. Let me tell you this: you will become like the God you worship - that's why the Muslims are running around, not all Muslims but Muslim extremists, are running around with death in their hearts, because Allah commands it according to their reading of the Koran. That's why some Christians run around and they're no better looking than some of the Muslim extremists, because they obey a despotic dictator in heaven who is a legalistic God, and they have never seen into Abba's heart. You become like the God you worship.
Second, a sign whether or not you have seen into Abba's heart is: you become highly critical of your Father's other children. Now you notice please in verse 30: the elder brother couldn't call the prodigal 'my brother'. He just says in verse 30: 'This thy son', 'Your son'. Have you ever seen that? Where brethren and sisters in Christ can't relate to one another as siblings in the Lord because of this haughty separatist spirit? I tell you, here it is evidenced in verse 28. He heard a commotion, he was out in the field this elder brother, he wanted to know what was going on. He heard that his brother had come back again, the prodigal, and in verse 28 it says: 'He was angry, and would not go in'. Have you ever heard about that or seen that in Christian circles? People who won't even go in, but will stand out and be separate - isn't it wonderful to be able to say that our Lord Jesus Christ was never like that? He was never standoffish, He never displayed a holier-than-thou attitude, when He was the very one who had a right to do it! Even when they wanted Him to stone a woman caught in the act of adultery, He said to the Pharisees: 'Let he who is among you without sin cast the first stone'. He didn't say: 'Let he who is without sin', He said, 'among you'. The emphasis was: He was the only one who had a right to stone her, because He was the only one who was holy - but He said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more'.
If you're highly critical of your Father's other children, you might be showing that you've never seen into Abba's heart. Someone once said: 'Make sure you get the prodigal to the Father before the elder brother gets to him'! How true that is! Can I ask you here this morning: have you had a bad experience with an elder brother? Maybe you're a young person, and the elder brother has been your father. It was Mark Twain, who was not a Christian, who said: 'Having spent some time with religious folk, I can understand why Jesus liked to be with tax collectors and sinners'. Many religious folk, and many 'Christian folk', have never seen into the heart of Abba.
But not only have legalists given us a warped view of God as our Father, often our earthly fathers have done a good job of that. What I'm talking about is that, when you call God your 'Father', sometimes people who have had rotten fathers here on earth transpose onto God their understanding of how their father was with them. So to talk about God as a father doesn't convey intimacy to them, it conveys an absent individual, or someone who was too busy to have time for them. It conveys someone distant or disinterested, an insensitive and uncaring person; or a stern or demanding taskmaster; or someone who is passive, laissez-faire, or someone who is cold; someone who's never satisfied, a perfectionist, you can never do good enough; or someone who is impatient with you, or becomes angry when you don't measure up; someone who is mean with money or gifts; someone who is cruel or abusive in every sort of way. Or maybe you conjure up in your mind someone who is trying to take the fun out of life completely, a controlling figure, a manipulative figure, a condemning or unforgiving nitpicking figure?
Now, listen carefully: that may have been how your earthly father was, and for many of us it is how it was - but that is not your Heavenly Father. If you want to know what your Heavenly Abba is like, look at Jesus! Yes, remember the Bible story pictures of Jesus - I know they maybe aren't always so balanced, but the stories of Jesus that have been written on your heart since you were youth, remember those and know that He has revealed to you the heart of God - that's how God is! Abba!
Look at verse 19 till we look at the other son. Verse 19 - he has taken the inheritance of the father, which was tantamount to saying: 'Dad, I wish you were dead so that I could get my hands on your money'. He takes all his inheritance, which it was a shame to do in Israel, and then it was a shame for him to waste it all - as we would say - on wine, women and song. He squandered it all, and eventually he's eating the same food as the pigs, and he wises up - as we would say - and he comes to himself, and he decides he's going to go home. But in verse 19 we see that he believes he is no more worthy to be called his father's son, he thinks he's only worthy enough to be a hired servant. The son thought that because he had sinned so much, he only could expect to be a hired servant. Do you understand what level of a relating to God this is? It's an earning level, it's a qualification level: 'I've done this, so I can't earn that. I've sinned so much, so I can't be called a son, I must be a slave' - that is not how we relate to God if we're born again! We relate to God on a familial level, we're children of God! We don't earn it, we are gifted it by grace.
This young man thought: 'I've blown it! I've blown it! I've shamed my father by asking him for my inheritance, and I've wasted it all away on sin and I've shamed his name. I can't go home and expect to be a son, that would be too rich to expect that! Maybe he will have mercy and make me a hired servant?'. This young man was losing sight of Abba's heart - I believe he once saw into it, but he had lost sight of it. Maybe you're that young man, or that young woman, or not so young person here this morning? What you need to see is not the elder brother and not the prodigal who had lost sight of his father, you need to see the father as he is. Now notice this, before even the prodigal went into the far country, come back with me - the prodigal comes and he asks his father for his inheritance. What would you have done, father? What would you have done? Be honest. If your son came to you and said: 'I want what you're going to give me in your will, but I want it now' - what would you have done? He didn't pummel him into submission, did he? He gave him what he asked for, and he let him go.
Can I say something to you? I believe this was the reason why he ever ventured to come home at all, because he had a history, a good history, with his father. He knew something of the character of his father. Do you think this young man would even have thought of going home if he knew he would have got the door slammed in his face, or got a hammering? It's interesting, isn't it? He knew something of his father's character, but secondly I want you to see this, look at verse 20, we're looking at the father now: 'He arose, and came to his father', he has now started the journey home, 'but when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him'. Now listen: the prodigal started the journey home, but who of the two of them saw the other first? The father! The father saw him a great way off! Now, that implies to me - the inference is, it has to be, that in this ancient Israelite home he was on the top of the roof, the rooftop, he had to be to see him a great way off. How did he see him on that day? I don't think it was a coincidence, that he was up sunbathing, I believe that he had been up on that rooftop every day since the prodigal left! Every day, looking, squinting at the horizon where the sun was blinding him! Every day looking out for his prodigal!
That's what He's been doing for you. How long has He been waiting? He's still waiting. Now, see something else, and I love this: he sees him a great way off, and he doesn't take a second look to make sure, he runs down those steps shouting orders, 'Get everything ready!'. He doesn't sit and have a family conference, and say: 'Now, what are we going to do with this guy? We want to make sure that he knows that he's done wrong. We want to make sure that he feels the weight of discipline and justice, that he can't just play fast and loose with his father' - no! He raced out of the house shouting instructions for the servants to make a feast. I see him hurriedly stumbling towards the boy. Now, the men wore skirts in those days, for him to have run - now see, this is the picture that Jesus is giving us, and you mightn't think this is too reverential, but that's your problem - he would have lifted the skirts and run. Then when he reached him, he would have dropped them, and he threw his arms around him - the son he had longed to embrace for so long.
This is fantastic - now, you can look at this later on - do you see when the young fellow was making his mind up that he was going to go home? He had his wee spiel, his speech, all rehearsed: 'I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants'. Right, that was the spiel, all rehearsed - if he had had a mirror, he would have been standing there going over it again and again - but the father comes and meets him halfway, and he starts: 'Father, I'm no longer worthy to be called your son, I've sinned against heaven and in your sight...and make me as one...', he doesn't even get that far! He doesn't even get to the bit of, 'make me one of your hired servants' - the father shouts: 'Kill the fatted calf, get the best robe and put it on him, and a ring on his hand; for my son that was lost has been found again!'.
You see, we have everything worked out, and we don't know the heart of God. I hear so much - and I believe in repentance by the way, and I believe in sin, and I believe in preaching the wrath of God and the justice of God - but we sometimes labour so much on this that we say: 'Now, sinners have got to do this, they've got to do that, they've got to do the other in order to get saved. They've got to say it this way, and it has to be all in order, that must come before that and all the rest' - and the heart of God is, 'If you just look toward Me, I will meet you!'. We've lost the heart of Abba! He didn't even let him get the repentance out, why? Because He knew it was in his heart.
I know what the Pharisees said in Jesus' day about all this, and they're still saying it: 'That's too easy on sin' - that means that they, and perhaps us, have no concept of God, and we certainly have no concept of how He works with men. Do we need more holiness in this day and age? Oh yes, we do, I'm absolutely sure of it - but here's the great issue: how do we get it? How do we get that? I'll tell you how we get it: Romans 2, 'the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance'. Do you call Him 'Abba'? I'll tell you, a number of months ago I first came into the knowledge of this truth - I can't remember whether I was lying on my bed or sitting in an armchair - and I just kept saying 'Abba, Abba, Abba'. I couldn't get over what it meant to be able to call God 'Abba Father' - but calling Him it is one thing, do you know Him as Abba? Like the little Jewish boy running with his arms open wide to his Daddy? As a man once said to me: when father comes home after a day's work, and mother says about the wee toddler, about how they're getting on in their walking, does the mother say, 'Oh, she had 50 falls today and bumped her head 10 times', or does the mother say, 'She took three steps'? That's the heart of Abba, and this word does convey the awe and affection that a toddler has for his Daddy - I'm not saying we call God 'Daddy', don't misinterpret what I'm saying - but that affection, with a holiness, but that affection is there. We ought to experience this toward our Father in heaven.
Now, your reaction might initially and naturally be: 'That's too familiar, that's irreverent!' - that means you've never known it! John White says: 'Such a carnal sort of dignity must go, and a humble trust be added. When you know Him as 'Abba' your faith will be simpler and clearer, your prayers at once reverent, intimate, informed'. There's someone, or more, in this meeting this morning who needs to come home to Abba, isn't there? There's some believer in the meeting, and you need to be introduced to Abba.
On Saturday, 18th September 1982, the United States government released results of a sad investigation that determined a soldier in South Korea had defected to the Communists. According to the investigation, on the 28th August 1982, this 20-year-old private willingly crossed the Korean demilitarisation zone into North Korea for motives that are unknown. His fellow soldiers pleaded with him to come back, but he wouldn't. The day after the findings were released, his parents held a press conference in their St Louis home. Wiping tears from their eyes, his father said that he accepted that his son was a defector, and he had accepted the fact that he had lost his credibility with him and his country - but then he showed the heart of a father, and he said: 'But I still love him, and I want him back'.
God is like that. If you've turned away, the door is open, the light is still on, and the welcome is: 'Come home'. As the songwriter put it:
'I'd left my family, the love I had known,
And couldn't believe how calloused I'd grown.
I woke up one morning in cold, freezing rain,
And said, 'I'll go back to where I caused so much pain'.
Oh, just inside of the place where the lane meets the road,
The Father was waiting to carry my load.
His big arms were open to draw me to Him:
Forgiven, forgiven, forgiven again'.
Let us pray. I want to take a moment, please, in the presence of God to give you an opportunity to respond: backslider, prodigal, this is the heart of God to you. Hard, legalistic believer, this is the heart of God - it's what you're called to reveal to others, but if you don't know it, how can you reveal it to others? Oh, do you know what we need? We just need to get to know our God! Why not take that first step today, and say, if you are saved: 'Father, I'm coming home, I come home'. Just say that: 'Lord, I confess my sins, and I come home' - it's as simple as that, and He will meet you, He will meet you. If you've never been saved, call upon Him. He wants to be this Father to you too, He wants to give you all this.
Father, we just pray, Abba, we pray that the Holy Spirit, who promised to testify of Jesus, and the Jesus who revealed the Father's heart, will come and make their abode, make Your abode, Triune God, with souls that are willing to obey Your command and humble themselves at the feet of Jesus.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Lifeboat Mission in Moy, N. Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "The Parable Of Abba's Heart" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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