Over recent summers at Tri-State Fellowship we have had long sermon series of something like 12-14 weeks. And this is the 14th week upcoming in our Parables series “Long Story Short.” But even so, it always surprises me how quickly it goes by, though, so do the summer weeks and months as well, don’t they?
Just a couple of days ago I heard one of my favorite political/cultural commentators talk about the general state of humanity. He was referencing the strikingly larger number of atrocities that are occurring throughout society, as there also seems to be a growing number of people who are soulless and without any beliefs or values system. He said, “In spite of the increasing number of these horrific situations, I continue to believe that the vast majority of humans are inherently good, as we are all God’s children.”
I cringed, at least theologically.
We are all God’s children in the sense that our creation is sourced in Him, whatever view you take of exactly how that happened or how long it took. But we are not all God’s children in terms of relationship with him as our God and heavenly father — not until such time as we have a saving moment of faith and trust ONLY in the substitutionary death of Christ.
And we are not inherently good — quite the opposite is actually true. The heart is deceitfully wicked, says the Scripture. In Psalm 14 we read, “The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
Now there may be good and honorable and worthy things that some people do, even those with not faith component at all. This is the residue of the image of God in mankind. But these deeds do not compensate for or atone for the debt of sin into which we are born and are doomed through our inheritance of original sin.
So how can we be OK with God? How can we know that we have a relationship with him as a heavenly father? How do we have confidence that we do not stand in jeopardy of God’s wrath and judgment for sin? We need to be perfect to avoid that; and apart from the introspective minds of a couple of candidates running for President right now, none of are perfect.
But isn’t pretty good, good enough? Doesn’t being in the top several percentage points of goodness amongst human beings surely give enough merit with God for him to say, “You done good son, c’mon into this here heaven!”?
That is a countrified way of saying what essentially was the view of the Pharisees and religious leaders of the time of Christ. And honestly, a great many people today have much the same conception.
So let’s talk about this as we wrap up the summer. David Hadigian will take to the front on Sunday to share some thoughts about these final two parables in Luke 18. Since the latter one talks about children, we thought it would be good for Dave to take the subject and along the way become even a bit better known to the whole congregation.
Here are the parables from Luke 18 …
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
Luke 18:9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Little Children and Jesus
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”