Matthew’s Spiritual Journey

Posts Tagged ‘Luke

The Prodigal God

leave a comment »

Rev. Tim Keller’s new book is now available. He explains what is in the book and why he wrote it.

It is an expansion of my sermon on the Prodigal Son parable in Luke 15. Kathy and I have long felt that this was the clearest and best single exposition of the gospel I’ve been able to do over the years. My interpretation of the parable was originally based on a sermon called “Sharing the Father’s Welcome” that I heard preached by Dr. Edmund P. Clowney over 35 years ago. That sermon had a profound impact on how I preached for the rest of my ministry. In some ways the teaching of this sermon is at the very foundation of Redeemer’s ministry.

What’s the book about? It’s about being ‘prodigal.’ The word ‘prodigal’ is an English word that means recklessly extravagant, spending to the point of poverty. The dictionaries tell us that the word can be understood in a more negative or a more positive sense. The more positive meaning is to be lavishly and sacrificially abundant in giving. The more negative sense is to be wasteful and irresponsible in one’s spending. (Some people think prodigal means ‘wayward,’ but there is no dictionary that indicates that the word means ‘immoral.’) The negative sense obviously applies to the actions of the younger brother in the Luke 15 parable. But is there any sense in which God can be called ‘prodigal’? I think so.

Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Matthew

October 27, 2008 at 4:47 pm

The Fellowship of Grace: Study Guides 1-4

with one comment

Below are links to the first four weekly study guides for the sermon series, The Fellowship of Grace, at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

You can listen to Rev. Keller’s free sermon (streaming or mp3) about the prodigal sons. Also, search and sign up for a fellowship group that is most convenient to you.

Written by Matthew

October 25, 2008 at 11:45 pm

The Fellowship of Grace: To Be Called Your Son

leave a comment »

Below are my notes from the Sunday service on October 19 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. The title of the sermon is To Be Called Your Son.

Scripture Reading – Luke 15:11-24 (ESV)

Notes on the Sermon by Rev. Timothy Keller

In The Parable of the Prodigal Son, the theme of sonship is important to understand. First, the father proclaims that “this son of mine was dead and is alive again” (verse 24). What does he mean by that declaration when the son had not physically died. Second, the main topic the younger son talks about after his repentance is the fact that he is “no longer worthy to be called your son” (verses 19 and 21). Therefore, Rev. Keller explores the following four aspects of the meaning of sonship in the ancient culture and the Bible.

  1. The character of sonship
  2. The practice of sonship
  3. The community that results from sonship
  4. The true sonship of Jesus

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matthew

October 21, 2008 at 12:15 am

The Fellowship of Grace: Give Me Mine

leave a comment »

Below are my notes from the Sunday service on October 5 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. The current series is examining how the Gospel creates a new kind of community. This sermon introduces the Parable of the Prodigal Son which will be discussed over the next six weeks.

Scripture Reading – Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)

Luke 15:11-32 (ESV), courtesy of http://wordle.net/

Notes on the Sermon by Rev. Timothy Keller

Rev. Keller asks us to think about this familiar parable in a slightly different way. He summarizes the story as a picture of an assault on the community, because of idolatry, which is only overcome by agony. He then touched on the following topics.

  1. What is happening in the story? There is a two-front assault on the integrity of the family.
  2. What is the underlying cause of this assault? An idolatry.
  3. What is the source of this sin of idolatry tearing up the community? A disordered love.
  4. What is the ultimate meaning of life for Christians? Loving relationship enjoyed by the triune God.
  5. There is nothing more beautiful than an infinitely powerful and perfectly happy God who is willing to suffer for our sins.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matthew

October 7, 2008 at 10:32 pm

Beta Group Week 1

leave a comment »

Praise and Worship Psalm 98 (ESV)

Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Scripture ReadingLuke 15:1-10 (ESV)

Study Questions
Related Sermon — He Welcomes Sinners by Rev. Tim Keller

1) Based on these parables and the setting into which Jesus spoke them, what should we expect to occur in communities that are shaped by the Gospel? What is the difference between religious communities and Gospel communities?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matthew

October 4, 2008 at 11:12 pm

The Fellowship of Grace: He Welcomes Sinners

with one comment

Beginning with this post, I am starting a new project to summarize teachings at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on a regular basis. Below are my notes from the Sunday service on September 28.

Scripture Reading – Luke 15:1-10 (ESV)

Luke 15:1-10 (ESV), courtesy of http://wordle.net

Notes on the Sermon by Rev. Timothy Keller

The “muttering” [Luke 15:2, NIV] from the Pharisees and the scribes triggers Jesus to deliver three parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son. Conventional interpretations of these parables typically discuss how the Grace of God changes us as individuals.

In this 7-week series entitled the Fellowship of Grace, however, Rev. Keller wants to discuss them in a different light, exploring how these parables illustrate that the Grace of God, not only changes us individually, but also transforms us into a unique kind of group—a distinctive Gospel community.

Focusing on the parable of the Lost Sheep in particular, Rev. Keller asks the following three questions.

  1. What does the lost sheep teach us?
  2. What does the search itself teach us?
  3. What does the shepherd teach us?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matthew

September 30, 2008 at 11:06 pm

My Starting Point

with one comment

Thank you for joining me here at the starting point, as I embark on a personal yet public journey.

What are my reasons to start this blog? And, why now? Those are fair questions. While I have toyed around with the idea of maintaining a personal blog for as long as this format has become popular, my recently heightened interest in Christianity—either a sign of my emotional maturity or of simple aging—provided the final impetus to create one so that I can begin to organize my thoughts and commit them to “paper.”

In particular, watching Pastor John Piper‘s extensive sermon series about the issue of regeneration and beginning to analyze Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus earlier this year motivated me to study the Bible more carefully and systematically, perhaps as any thoughtful academic scholar would treat his important primary sources. One positive result so far is that I am finding more depth and intellectual challenges in the biblical studies and theological discussions than I had expected. My initial expectations were admittedly flawed since they were based mostly on my readings of political history as well as various secondary sources about Christian philosophy and practice.

Once I began to inquire more deeply about Christian beliefs, doctrines and life, I felt a need for a central depository of my ever-accumulating notes, lessons and thoughts and for a record of my reasoning and inspiration. I thought that a blog could meet those immediate needs and, in the future, could even broaden its role to facilitate earnest dialogs or debates about particularly challenging or vexing questions which could enlighten us to the right path and illuminate our destination.

Or, so I hope. The ultimate destination of this journey is far from clear to me now, as I struggle, right from the start, with thorny concepts such as the nature of election, the issue of free will under God’s sovereign choice, and the combination of faith and works among regenerates. We shall see where all these would lead.

Let me close this entry with a prayer.

Grant me the key of knowledge to open my heart and feel your nature. Grant me the zealous passion to open my minds without becoming rigid and self-righteous. And, above all, grant me the steadfast courage to obey and submit to your righteous and merciful will.

• • •

References – All Bible texts are from the English Standard Version or ESV

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-3)

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4)

Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52)

Written by Matthew

April 26, 2008 at 11:27 pm