Leading People to the Prodigal God

Tim Keller

The parable of the Prodigal son.

Prodigal means recklessly extravagant.  We need an extravagantly loving God to deal with our reckless behavior. 

The parable is not about the younger brother only.  There are the sinners, the religious leaders.  This parable is for the religious people.  The younger brother is like the sinners around Jesus in that day.  The older brother represents the religious leaders and Pharisees. 

The parable shows that younger brothers and older brothers are alienated from the father’s heart.  They are both lost.  The father has to come out and let them in…

The younger brother only wants the Father’s money.  He doesn’t love the Father.  AT the end, we see that the older brother doesn’t love the Father either.  They both love the Father’s things, not the Father.

Younger brother gets the money by being very bad.  Older brother tries to get the money by staying home and being “good”. 

In the end, the older brother is lost because of his goodness.

I obey because I am accepted….or I am accepted because I obey.

You are the delight and the joy of the creator of the universe.

The diagnosis is that we continually go back to living like the older brother.

  1. Elder brothers get incredibly angry when things don’t go their way.  They think God owes them.  ey
  2. Elder brothers are devastated by criticism and/or attack viciously.
  3. Elder brother’s pray like the Pharisees.  Petitionary.  They don’t enjoy God.  They just ask for stuff.
  4. It is impossible for Elder brothers not to despise people.
  5. Elder brother’s can’t forgive.  They have a lot of bitterness and stay angry.

  1. You have to experience personal renewal yourself.
  2. When you are teaching, make sure not to teach principles beyond the gospel.  Take people to Jesus and show them why they can trust Him.
  3. Get a group of leaders together and share this truth
  4. Share the truth with your congregation

And then Tim told everyone that buying his book would solve all these problems, which I thought was funny.  I’m sure it’s a good book, but…

2 thoughts on “Leading People to the Prodigal God

  1. Lisa says:

    I have this book and love it! And he is right. I bought it and I am a much better pharasee than I used to be. hmmm…doesn’t sound right, does it?

  2. My husband always says he was the “older brother” (you probably know what I mean about that). He completely resonates with Keller’s book. And my two older daughters studied that book this summer with one of their youth leaders. Cool, huh? 🙂

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