Expect the Unexpected

Finding Freedom From Rebellion Through Repentance and Grace

Dan Franklin
Feb 18, 2024    41m
Do you find yourself caught in a cycle of self-righteousness or rebellion against God? Jesus warns there's danger in both mindsets - either openly defying God's will or paying lip service while inwardly disobeying. Yet this powerful message reveals how repentance and grace unlock the door to true life and relationship with the Father. You'll be reminded that no matter how far you've strayed, Jesus offers complete forgiveness and restoration when you turn to Him. Whether trapped in pride or willful sin, repentance and grace provide the way back to joyful obedience as Jesus' disciple. Discover the freedom of humbly admitting your need and receiving the unmerited favor Christ purchased for you. Video recorded at Upland, California.

More From This Message

Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Amelia Vargas: [00:00:19] Good morning. My name is Amelia Vargas. I'm part of Quest for Quiet Time on Monday mornings. Today's scripture reading is from Matthew 21:28-32, “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29“ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." This is God's word.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:41] So when I was about eight years old, one of my friend's first birthday party, had his parents schedule a father-son hike. And so just imagine a whole bunch of eight-year-old boys and their dads were all involved in this hike, there was a local mountain that we all loved looking at, and so we were going to be able to climb up this mountain, and we were really excited about it. It was like it was going to be the longest hike we'd ever been on; we were going to get to be up at some high peaks and be able to look over the area that we lived. So we went on the hike and there was one point where we really had got up high on the mountain, one of the highest points we were going to be at, and the dads brought all of us boys forward to sort of a peak to an edge, to be able to look down on the valley and look down on the area where we live, so that we could be amazed at how high we were. And so we were all looking down, but we also noticed that the edge where we were standing on was very steep. It's like you could look down and you just realize, if I fall, that will not be good. If I fall, that will be the end of my story. And so as we were looking out, it was a little bit daunting to be so close to the cliff. And so one of my friends got sort of physically overwhelmed by the fact that he was so close, so what do you think he did? Hey, he took a step back, and just kind of stabilized himself and he, still in his body, felt uncomfortable and kind of overwhelmed by everything. So he took another step back and he just sort of kept inching back, part by part, until he was about to take one more step back, and then he felt a hand on his back stopping him, and the hand was from one of the dads who was on the trip, and he had stopped him because if my friend had taken one more step back, he would have walked backward off another cliff that was behind him that was just as steep as the one in front of him. In an effort to avoid the very obvious danger that was right in front of him, he had backed into another danger that he never saw coming.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:48] Does anybody feel like that's a little bit of an analogy for life? Like there are so many cases where it seems like this is what happens. Like, I remember when I first started driving, when I got my learner's permit, and the thing that I knew for sure, the danger I knew about for sure, was that it was dangerous to drive too fast. You were not supposed to drive too fast, that put other people in danger, and that put you in danger, it is dangerous to drive too fast. So for my first driving lesson with the driver's training instructor, guess what his constant command was to me the entire time? It was speed up, speed up, the entire time, speed up, speed up, speed up. I had taken seriously the danger right in front of me of driving too fast, but I was backing into the danger of driving too slow, which, if you don't know, is just as dangerous and sometimes worse.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:41] Sometimes this applies to marriage, where maybe we're getting ready to get married and you've seen the couples that are always bickering and always fighting. And so you say, we don't want to fall into that, we don't want to be one of those couples that are always fighting, and so we're going to make sure to avoid that danger, we're not going to become one of those couples who are always arguing and always fighting. But you end up backing right into the danger of being one of those couples that never fight because they never talk, one of those couples that don't have any conflict because there's no real communication or closeness, and you end up backing into a situation that might even be worse.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:20] Over the past few years, I think we saw this in the area of health where there were some health dangers, and there were some people that took those very seriously and said, I'm going to go out of my way to make sure to avoid the dangers of these different health scares, but they ended up backing into situations where isolation and anxiety took over their lives.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:40] Often in life, there's a very obvious danger, but then there's also a less obvious danger that we can back into without even realizing it's there. And that's what Jesus is going to talk to us about today in the passage that we're going to go through. Specifically, Jesus is going to let us know this, there is more than one way to miss out on the Kingdom of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:09] Now, throughout our series in the Gospel of Matthew, this phrase the Kingdom of God, or in Matthew more frequently the Kingdom of Heaven, which means the same thing, has been a shorthand way of Jesus talking about what it's like to enter into a relationship with God. When Jesus talks about entering the Kingdom, he's not just talking about entering into heaven after we die, although that's bound up in this, he's talking about entering into a relationship with God where we become his children through our faith in Jesus. We enter the Kingdom, not just in the future, we enter the Kingdom now when we come to Jesus by faith. But there's more than one way to miss out on the Kingdom of God, and Jesus is going to warn us that there's a very obvious way to miss out, and then there's a more subtle way that can be even more dangerous.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:08] Now, before we get to the parable, the point that we're at in the Gospel of Matthew is significant right here, because we're in Matthew 21. If you want to follow along when we get ready to go through the passage, Matthew 21 verses 28 through 32 is our passage. And Matthew 21 marks a turn in the Gospel of Matthew because Jesus is now in Jerusalem for the last time. Matthew 21 begins with the triumphal entry, which we normally celebrate at Palm Sunday, where Jesus enters in on a donkey humbly, he's received by all the people, and immediately he's in conflict with the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the Jews. We're calling this section in Matthew 21 through 28, this last run, we're calling this the King goes to battle. And on the surface, that battle is between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders who are threatened by him and looking for a way to undo him. But we also know at a much deeper level, the battle that Jesus comes to Jerusalem to fight is not ultimately against flesh and blood, Jesus is fighting the spiritual forces that would enslave us and condemn us. The King's final battle, his final stand, is going to be when he sacrifices his life on the cross for us. And the King's final victory is going to be when he's raised from the dead, triumphant to open eternal life for all of us. But on the surface, what we get to see is that the battle he engages in is with the Jewish leaders.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:47] It's been kind of a Cold War to this point, it's been happening, but it hasn't been super hot. It's about to go from a cold war to a hot war. And so Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees, and in our passage, he tells them a parable, and that's what we'll look at right now. It's not a very long parable, it's just verses 28, 29, and 30. He says, “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29“ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go." And that's it, that's the whole parable right there. Later on, we'll talk if Jesus will debrief us on this parable. But sometimes you get a really long parable like the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan, this one's really short, just three verses, and the setting is sort of in the context of a family business. So the family owns a vineyard, and the two sons, in this case, the Greek words indicate they're not little boys just being told to sort of go out and do your chores, they are adult sons. But the whole family is a part of this family business where they're caring for the vineyard and they're working for it because that's how they get their sustenance, that's how they're providing for the extended family, so all the behavior in here is very normal. The father is not overstepping his bounds, and they don't need to set up boundaries as adult men, this is all very normal. He goes to his two sons, and with each one of them, he says it's time to go and work in the vineyard, and he gets two very different reactions.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:34] He goes to the first son, and the first son says, I will not. Now for us, in our day and age and in our culture, we look at that and we know well, that's not great. Like, that's not a great response, but it doesn't really blow us away. And maybe part of it is that we're thinking, well, I don't know if I'm an adult, I don't know about my parents still bossing me around, and maybe we were all just used to our kids not obeying us. So we're sort of like, yeah, we've all been there. Like we've all been there where we've told our kid to do something, and they decide not to do it. So for us, we look at this and we're like, well, that's not ideal, like, that's not a great response. What we need to know is for a first-century Jewish audience, the response wasn't something that would instruct them as just that's not ideal, this response by the first son would have struck them as shocking and despicable. This was absolutely horrible in the way he's responding, because for first-century Jews, man, family is everything. Your family connection is the strongest thing that you have, and honoring and showing deference to your parents would have been one of the key ways.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:47] Like, we all do this thing where we sort of are in society and we use different ways to sort of signal like, is this person a good person or a bad person? Maybe it's a way that people talk to employees at a restaurant. Maybe it's the way people drive. However be careful with that because you drive too, and people see you. But we have different ways of shorthand of saying like, all right, how do we know who's a good person and who is a bad person? For the first-century Jewish people, one of the key ways that they would be able to say, this is a good person, this is a bad person, is in how they responded to their parents. And this guy has automatically labeled himself as a bad person who is not a part of polite society, to respond to his father in this way, and follow it, it's not like he gives an excuse here. It's not like he says, oh, father, I would go out into the vineyard, but I'm super exhausted and I feel like I have a sprained ankle from my work yesterday, like he doesn't give an excuse. He doesn't give an explanation, he's not like, father, I would go out, but I invited some guests over, they're about to come over and when they come over, I need to entertain them and attend to them so I can't go out into the vineyard. He doesn't even sort of give a bargain. He doesn't say, how about I go out tomorrow instead of today? He just says I will not. It's as if he's saying to the father, it might be your will for me to go out into the vineyard, but it ain't my will, and so I'm not doing it. This is a shocking response. But then what happens? He changes his mind, and he goes. And the word, the Greek word, for changing his mind implies that this wasn't just an intellectual thing, it's not as simple as him thinking about it later and saying maybe that wasn't right, it implies remorse and regret. So he has a little bit of time, he thinks about it, presumably the Holy Spirit convicts him on it. He says, I shouldn't have behaved that way, that's not the right way to behave. He ends up going out and working in the vineyard, despite his despicable behavior, the first time that the father came to him. So that is son number one.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:03] The father gets a very different response from son number two. He goes to him and says the same thing, go out and work in the vineyard, but this son says I will. In fact, he doesn't just say I will, what does he say? Sir. That's pretty good, that's a good son right there. I will, sir. I mean, just automatic deference, automatic respect, I will, Dad, your word is my command. I will, sir. This is the kind of son everybody wants. This is the kind of son that when you have guests over, you're like, come meet this son. I'm not sure about the other one, he can stay in his room but come meet this son, he's dressed the right way, he talks the right way, he's never going to say anything to embarrass us, he's going to speak well of us wherever we go, if we're out in public, he's going to be very deferring to us, this is the son everybody wants. He gave the right answer, I will, sir. But then what happens? He doesn't do it. And the implication here, we might look at it and say, well, sometimes you forget. The idea is not that he forgot, it wasn't like the dad came back later and said, weren't you going to go out into the vineyard? And he says, oh my gosh, I'm sorry, I'll go right now. The idea is that he just chooses not to go. In fact, think about this because something happens later that I think indicates that this might be part of the parable, later on, he looks out the window and you know what he sees? He sees his brother, he sees his brother out there working in the vineyard, and he remembers overhearing the conversation because there was some shouting going on in that other room before. He's like, didn't my brother say he wasn't going to go? He's out there right now working in the vineyard, but even seeing that doesn't move him. He gives the right answer, I will, sir, but then he doesn't go.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:05] That's the whole parable, that's it. Jesus ends it there, but then he has a question for the Jewish leaders that he's speaking to. The question is, which of the two did what his father wanted? I mean, the version that we use here is the New International Version, and this translation is accurate, but it's sort of a missed opportunity the way they translated here to connect this to some other things that Jesus has said. Because the more literal way to translate this question here is, which of the two did the will of the father? And the reason that matters is because that's a phrase Jesus has used other times in this gospel. If we went back to the Sermon on the Mount, chapter 7, verse 21, we have Jesus saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." By the way, another connection between Matthew 7 and our passage, Lord, Lord, Jesus says, not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom. That word for Lord is the same word that the second son used for sir. There's a connection, he says, sir, these guys say, Lord. And Jesus says the signal that you're entering the Kingdom is not that you say, Lord, Lord, it's that you do the will of my Father in heaven.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:36] In another passage, Matthew 12. Jesus is in a room, he's teaching some people, his mother and his brothers come outside, and they want to speak to him, and all the people just assume Jesus will drop everything and speak to his family. But Jesus makes an indication that there's a way to be even closer than family to Jesus, and he says in Matthew 12 verse 50, For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Jesus is saying, that doing the will of my Father is more important than being biologically related to me. We might even take this another step and say, that doing the will of the Father is more important than for any of us being biologically related to people who are Christians. It's been said God has no spiritual grandchildren, we don't get into the Kingdom because our parents did something right, we get into the Kingdom on our own faith in Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:33] And so don't misunderstand, it could be easy to misunderstand what Jesus is saying here, so let's pause and make sure we don't. Jesus is not saying if you obey enough times, eventually, God will let you in. Like if you obey enough times, in enough ways, God finally has all the checkmarks next to it and he says, all right, they did enough 250 acts of obedience, now they're in, that's not what Jesus is saying. But what Jesus is saying is that the biggest mark that you have entered the Kingdom is not that you call Jesus Lord out loud, it's that you're doing the will of the Father. The biggest indication that you're part of the family of God is not that you're biologically related to other people who are, it's that you're doing the will of the Father and that you're marked by this because when we come to faith in Jesus, we say, I will follow you. When we come to faith in Jesus, we're not just coming to him saying, I want an impersonal exchange where I say something about you and then you let me into heaven. We're coming to him and we're saying, I trust you, I follow you, I'm following your lead, and if you follow his lead, you end up doing the will of the father.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:51] So back to Jesus' question. He's told this parable, and he says, "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" And the Pharisees answer, and they say, the first. Now are they right? Are they right? Yeah, yeah, they're right, they get this one right. It was kind of a gimme, but they got it right. I mean, if you think back to the parable, there's no other way to answer this. There were two sons, one went into the vineyard, and one didn't. The first one ended up in the vineyard. Did the first son behave perfectly? No way, this was a mess, this didn't work every way it was supposed to, but at the end of the day, he did the will of the father, and the second son didn't. So they get the answer, right, they say the first.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:37] And this is where Jesus drops the hammer on them. In the second half of verse 31, "Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John..." That's John the Baptist, "For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." That's the end of our passage, we read this last night as a family, and my 12-year-old son David described this passage as short and not sweet, which I thought was a very accurate description. Jesus here shocks the Pharisees by identifying who's who in this parable. You’ve got the two sons and they each represent somebody. And he makes clear that the first son, the I will not, but he still did son, this son represents the prostitutes and the tax collectors. These were the castoffs of society, these were the people who had said to God in no uncertain terms, I will not do what you say. It can be a little bit hard for us to get because even though, I mean, in 2024, we could say, well, who likes a tax collector? It wasn't simply that they were saying, I don't like that my taxes get collected and so I don't like the tax collector. For first-century Jews, tax collectors were Jewish men who had decided to sidle up to Rome when Rome was in charge of Israel and get rich off their fellow countrymen. And tax collectors were given a wide berth to not just collect what technically was owed, but to overcharge and to keep the extra, they were corrupt, they were greedy, and they were wicked. They had said to God, I know what you're telling me to do, but I don't care, I'm not doing it. And it was similar with the prostitutes, this was a level of immorality where this was a group that said to God, I know what you're telling me to do, and I know what the laws of purity are, and I know how I'm supposed to behave, but I don't care. If I can find a way to get rich, if I can find a way to indulge myself, if I can find a way to get what I want, I will go and do it. Jesus is identifying a group of people that we might describe as being those who are in open rebellion, they're not claiming to be Christians, they're not claiming to be godly, they're saying, God, I know you have certain things you've told me to do, but it's my body, it's my way, it's my choices, it's my life, I will do what I want, nobody else will tell me what to do. That's son number one.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:25] But son number two is the Pharisees and the religious leaders. Because the Pharisees and the religious leaders, they had the right answers, they had declared what side they were on. They're the ones who had said to God, we will do what you tell us to do. We'll know your word, and we will do what you tell us to do. We will dress in the right way. We will behave in the right way. We will do what you tell us to do. They had shown what side they were on by their words and by their response. So Jesus says that that's the two sons here, but then he says to the Pharisees, tax collectors and the prostitutes are getting into the Kingdom ahead of you. In other words, and this would not have been a welcome thing, he says that the Pharisees, if you want to know how to get in, watch them, watch what they're doing. This doesn't shock us as much as it would have shocked them, this would have been a little bit like today if Jesus said to all of us, the drag queens and the racists are getting in before you are, and it would have just taken our breath away, saying them, sort of the dregs of society. Jesus is not saying being a tax collector is good, and he's not saying being a prostitute is good, he's saying they responded and repented. They initially said to God, we will do whatever we want to do, not what you want us to do. But then John the Baptist came along, pointing them to God, speaking the message of God to them, and it is kind of implied, right after that, Jesus came along speaking the message of God to them, and many of these tax collectors and prostitutes responded and repented. They felt bad, they changed their mind, and they came to follow Jesus. And what Jesus said to the Pharisees is that happened, and you looked outside your window, and you saw all of them coming, you saw the tax collectors and the prostitutes coming to Jesus, you saw them repenting and turning over a new leaf, you saw all that and you still didn't decide to repent yourselves, they're getting in ahead of you.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:38] Now here's what I want to do now, Jesus has identified, as we already talked about, Jesus has identified that there's more than one way to miss out on the Kingdom of God. There's the very obvious way to miss out on the Kingdom of God, and that's open rebellion. That's just saying that I don't care what God tells me to do, I'm going to do what I want to do, that's the very obvious way. But Jesus has also identified that there's another way to miss out on the Kingdom, and that's one that we back into, that's one where we're going to get far away from that idea of open rebellion, but we back right into self-righteousness, and one of the scary things that Jesus reveals in this parable is that it is easier to repent of open rebellion than to repent of self-righteousness.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:29] Now, let's take a minute, I want to bring this into today, and I want to just talk about both of these dangers, the danger of open rebellion and the danger of self-righteousness. So let's take open rebellion first, this is son number one, the I will not, son. Unless you repent of open rebellion, open rebellion will keep you out of the Kingdom of God, it will keep you from becoming a Christian. And ultimately, we know there's a lot of people in our culture that this is just how the behavior is, just, hey, I'm going to do what I'm going to do, nobody's going to tell me what to do. I don't really care what God has said, I will direct my own life. So a lot of people that behave that way.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:15] If we're looking at us in this room right now, we might look at open rebellion and say, well, that's not us. And I think largely that's probably true, but I don't want to pass over the fact that there may be some of you in here that if you're looking to find yourself between these two options, you're more in the case of open rebellion than in self-righteousness. Maybe you haven't yet committed to following Jesus, you're here with a friend or a family member, or you're just sort of checking things out. But if push came to shove right now, you wouldn't claim to be a Christian, you wouldn't say, no, no, I follow Jesus. You would say, no, I don't really, I'm the one in charge of my life and nobody's going to tell me what to do. This will keep you out of the Kingdom of God. The only way into a relationship with God is for us to come to a point where we see what we've done, and where we repent of it. That was Jesus' key message, repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:14] And here's what I want to say about the open rebellion piece. If you have been in open rebellion against God, just, I'm going to do whatever I want and I don't care what God thinks, it can be very easy to get to the point that you start to think, after all I've done, who would want me? I mean, who would want me? Do you know the things that I've done? Do you know the wickedness that I've done? Do you know what it would look like if a film of my life was played? Who would want me after the things that I've done? And I want you to know Jesus wants you and Jesus loves you and Jesus came to save sinners, and all of us are part of that category. So if you're looking at this and you're like, well, I'm the first son, like, I'm still doing it, I'm still in open rebellion, I'm not even pretending, but the die is cast, I've done too much, I could never be welcomed back. Jesus, in this parable, says that the prostitutes and the tax collectors are paving the way to the Kingdom of God. God loves to save sinners and don't be so arrogant as to think that your sin is so special that God hasn't thought of it and that God can't forgive it. Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross, and he welcomes prostitutes and tax collectors, drag queens and racists, and everything in between to come to him for life.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:48] But the fact is, if we're looking at these two options where the vast majority of us in this room fall is in the second danger, the danger of self-righteousness. And let me just explain how I got to self-righteousness from this parable. The second son says I will but doesn't feel the need to do anything. He apparently feels like the I will, sir, is enough. That makes him a good person, that puts him into the family, I will, was enough, declaring what team he was on. And there's a big danger of that for all of us today. You might say, like, well, clearly, I'm not an open rebellion, I'm here at a church service. I'm not an open rebellion, I read my Bible. I'm not in open rebellion, I have adopted the morality of the Bible, and I have given voice to the fact that I think that God is right, and the way that society is living is wrong, I've declared which team I'm on. The danger we have is that we can declare which team we're on, and once we've done that, we feel so good about ourselves, that we don't feel any obligation to actually do what Jesus has told us to do. There's a real mistake we make in understanding the Pharisees and in how we're supposed to look at the Pharisees, because we typically say something like this, we say the Pharisees did all the right things, but their heart wasn't in the right place. Like, how many of you have heard something like that before? You know the Pharisees, they did all the right things, but their hearts were not in the right place. That is not Jesus's evaluation of the Pharisees, he never said anything like that. Jesus never said the Pharisees do all the right things.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:34] In fact, two weeks from now, we'll be in a passage in Matthew 23 where Jesus tells his disciples when the Pharisees and teachers when they teach, listen to them because they're telling you the truth, but don't do what they do. Jesus doesn't say they do all the right things but for the wrong reason. If that were the case, he might tell this parable differently, where the second son went out and worked in the vineyard, but just had a rotten attitude the whole time he was there. But that's not what happens, he says. I'm going to go, and what does he do? He doesn't do it. Jesus is revealing something even more dangerous than we might think. We think I might become the person who does all the right things, but my heart is not in it. That's not what Jesus is warning about. Jesus is saying, you might declare what team you're on and feel like that's enough, and then you don't really mind the fact that you're living disobedient in different areas of your life. Because after all, you already said what team you're on and you're on Team Jesus. But Jesus says, that declaring that Jesus is Lord is not what differentiates somebody who has entered into the Kingdom, it's doing the will of his Father.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:45] So let's just put legs to this for a minute. Maybe for some of you right now, what it means to do the will of the Father is that there's somebody in your life that you need to forgive. I've been amazed just over the time when I've had the privilege of being a pastor, of how frequently Satan uses the idea of bitterness as a stronghold in our lives. That there's somebody we need to forgive, we know the Bible verses, we know we need to forgive this person, and it's not even that we're saying to God, all right, I'm trying to forgive them, but it's very difficult, is that we've said to God, I'm not doing it, I'm not doing it. I'm not forgiving that person after what they did, I'm not forgiving them. And we look at that and we say, I know that's not great, I know that's technically not right, but still, I'm on the right team. I've still declared where I am, and I still affirm everything about what God has said, I've even said to God, I'll do everything that you tell me to do, but on this one, I'm just not going to do it and it's going to be okay because overall, I'm on the right team.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:55] There are probably some of you in this room who right now you're engaged in premarital sex or sex outside of marriage. And you're looking at that, and you're saying, all right, I know that's not great, I know the Bible verses, I know technically I'm not supposed to do that, but it's not like I'm sleeping around. I mean, I'm not, like, super promiscuous, just sleeping with all kinds of people, I mean, compared to most people in society, I'm very conservative in this area. But you look at it, you know it's sin, you know it's wrong, but you look at it and say, but I'm still on the right team. I've still told God that I believe what he says, I've still told God that I'm going to follow him in what he calls us to. So there's this area of my life where technically it's not the best, and I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing, but I'm sure it's fine.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:43] Maybe for some of you, it's a little different, maybe it's something more active that right now you're choosing not to do. Maybe God has called you to serve in some way in this church, or in the wider culture, or maybe God is calling you to an area of boldness that's outside of your comfort zone. And to this point, you know that he's calling you to do it, you know the Holy Spirit is prodding your heart, but to this point, you've just said to God, no, I'm not going to do that. I mean, you come, and you sing the worship songs and you've said to God, I will do whatever you say, but in some area of your life you've just said, no, I'm not going to do that. And the weird thing is, we might look at that and say, well, this is the wrong category, that's not this, that's the open rebellion, that's the open rebellion when we do that. No, this is actually much more like the Pharisees. The Pharisees who said to God, we will, but then went out and found a workaround so that they didn't have to honor their father and mother as they aged. The Pharisees, who were frequently engaged in adultery and extramarital affairs. The Pharisees, who were frequently doing things to exploit others financially. They had given the big yes, but then they didn't actually do what they were supposed to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:54] And for most of us in this room, it's this second danger that's the biggest danger, it's the danger that we back into saying, I'm not going to be like those people out in the world, I'm not going to be like the people that we see on the commercials, I'm not going to be like all the Hollywood folks, I'm not going to be like all of them, and we back right into a self-righteousness where we've already decided the kind of people that we are, but we don't feel any need to actually do anything about it. And what we get is a parable from Jesus, where he calls both groups to repentance, where he calls those, where he invites those who have been living in open rebellion, and saying, there is space for you, come on back. And where he looks in the eyes of the Pharisees, the most moral people, most respectable people of their day, and says, go ahead and repent, there's room for you. But he warns us that it's going to be difficult for those of us who are self-righteous to repent, because we don't really think that we have anything to repent of.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:54] I know repent is a word that we don't love, it sort of feels like, all right, I've got to eat my vegetables and repent, it's not a really exciting idea. But what I want you to know is that Jesus, in his grace, invites us to repentance, not because he just wants us in some impersonal way to do the right thing, but because he wants us to return to him and experience the joy that's found only in him. And here's the best news about repentance, the invitation to repentance is an invitation to grace. So right now, whether you're in open rebellion or if you feel some self-righteousness in your life, and you're looking at it and saying, that's scary, the idea of admitting that this is where I am is kind of scary. I want you to know that it doesn't have to be scary because you already know what God's answer is going to be if you repent and return to him, and that's going to be that Jesus has already covered all of your sins. He has already exercised forgiveness for everything, his sacrifice covers it all, and the invitation to repentance is an invitation to grace. Jesus is not just calling us to impersonal commands, he's calling us to trust him and trust him that his commandments are for our good and are not burdensome. He's calling us to grace-filled repentance. Whether we're the first son who's been saying, I will not, or whether it's we're the second son who all the while has been saying, I will, but when we look at our lives, we realize that we haven't been. We're invited to repentance because Jesus has already paid it all, and the invitation to repent is an invitation to grace.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:42] So here's what I want to invite us to do now. We're going to get to respond to this in a way that's going to put the focus on this grace that we've received because the next thing we get to do in our service is experience communion together. So if you're going to be helping with communion, you can head to the back right now as we prepare for this. But we believe that communion is a symbol that Jesus has given us, it's a powerful symbol that he's given us for the price that he paid, in order to bring us the grace that's available to us when we repent. We take the bread, and we remember the broken body of Jesus that was given for us. We drink from the cup, and we remember the shed blood of Jesus that was poured out for us. And we remember the price that was paid so that we could be forgiven. So what's going to happen is, in a moment, the band is going to lead us in a song and the elements will be passed and we'll all hold on to them and we'll take them together at the end.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:44] But here are two things that I invite you to take in and reflect upon as the elements are passed. The first is just, don't skip over the power of this symbol that we're taking, that Jesus's body was broken and that his blood was shed because that's how much he loves you, and that's the price he was willing to pay. And secondly, use this as an opportunity to consider what are the next steps of obedience. What is the will of the Father that he's calling you to right now? And how can you remember that the will of the Father is the will of the one who sent his Son, that he is fully trustworthy, and that all his commands are for your good?

Dan Franklin: [00:40:34] So let me pray for us as we respond. Father, thank you so much that you invite us to repentance when you have no obligation to do that. Many of us, at some point in our lives, have been high-handed and have said, I will not do what you say. And yet that doesn't put us in a position where we're outside of your invitation to come back for your Grace. And, Father, many of us have thought of ourselves as good enough people that we don't need to change anything about ourselves, thank you that you offer forgiveness for that, also. Thank you that you saved both prostitutes and Pharisees because we all need your grace. We pray that during this time of communion that you will receive honor and that we will receive help and guidance from your Holy Spirit. We pray this in the name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Recorded in Upland, California.
Read More

Next in this Series

View all in this series
Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848