Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

09/23/2018 A.M.

 

Our Need For Biblical Restoration

Luke 15.11-24

 

Access a Worship Bulletin and let’s read some familiar Scripture from Luke chapter fifteen… beginning with the verse numbered eleven… Jesus is speaking… “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father,‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no-one gave him anything.

 

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

The Bible is about RESTORATION

Webster gives three definitions for our subject....

• The act of putting back into the original or former state or relationship.

• To bring back into favor and grace.

• To make something useful again.

 

We have to make restoration decisions every day about… Newspapers... Shopping bags... Milk cartons... Soft drink containers... Old clothes... Etc.… Do we throw them away... Or restore them…Recycle… Make them useful again.

 

Well... What about souls?... Are they worth restoring?

 

Paul gives us the answer in Galatians 6.1... Brothers, if someone is caught in sin… You who are spiritual should restore him gently... But watch yourself… Or you also may be tempted.

So... Restoration is a Biblical concept.

 

In fact… This is what the whole Bible is about... RESTORATION.

• Restoring mankind to his former state.

• Bringing us back into the grace and favor of God through Jesus Christ.

• Making us useful again in God’s service.

 

Let’s notice now some BIBLICAL RESTORATION NARRATIVES…

 

Adam and Eve had an intimate relationship with God.

God created them and placed them in a paradise garden made especially for them.

They spent the day caring for the Garden…

In the evening they walked and talked with God.

A beautiful picture... God and His creation living in perfect harmony.

Then sin happened… The relationship was ruptured... Adam and Eve were in need of RESTORATION.

 

We’re all familiar with the children of Israel and their ups and downs.

They would sin and God would punish them.  They would repent...He would restore their blessings... Only to have them rupture the relationship…Again... And again... And again.

• The Judges

• Some of the Kings

• All of the prophets

Were used to CALL ISRAEL BACK TO RESTORATION... Back to God’s grace and favor.

 

The New Testament is filled with restoration narratives.

 

It opens with John the Baptist preaching RESTORATION...

Prepare the way… The King and Kingdom is coming... Repent… And be ready.

 

Peter’s life is about restoration.

Before Jesus’ crucifixion…He said... I’ll go with you wherever you go… I’ll never forsake you even in the face of death... But that’s not what happened!

 

When the going really got tough... Peter’s faith wavered... He denied Jesus... Swearing he didn’t know Him.

 

But the beautiful part of this narrative is found in John chapter twenty-one... Where Jesus RESTORES Peter as he tells Jesus three times... I LOVE YOU.

• A relationship is restored…

• Peter is made useful again… He was privileged to open the… New Covenant... The Church...

The Body of Christ... The Family of God.

Peter’s restoration made him the instrument of righteousness God wanted him to be.

 

The day of Pentecost was a restoration event.

Pentecost was the day God looked forward to from Genesis chapter three.

Pentecost was the time when God could again have that intimate relationship restored.

• It was a time the prophets had talked and written about.

• Sins could now be forgiven... Made possible by the blood of Christ shed on the cross.

• A time when God could be their God... They could be His people.

• A time when His Spirit could live within His people... Intimacy restored.

Indeed… Acts chapter two is a restoration event.

 

Acts chapter eight contains a restoration event about Simon the Sorcerer.

Simon was into MAGIC AND MYSTICAL ARTS... SORCERY.

But when he heard the preaching of Phillip in Samaria… Simon accepted the Gospel truth and was also baptized into Christ.  As Simon watched Phillip perform miracles… He was astonished.

 

So... When Peter arrived… Simon tried to buy the miraculous gift with money.... Give me this ability… So that everyone on whom I lay my hand may receive the Holy Spirit.

 

Peter told him?... May your money perish with you... You can’t buy God’s gift with money.  Then Peter told Simon WHAT HE MUST DO TO BE RESTORED... Repent and pray for having such thoughts in your heart.

 

Church... This narrative is about the restoration of A BAPTIZED BELIEVER... A CHILD OF GOD WHO HAD SINNED... AND WAS IN NEED OF RESTORATION.

 

Then we note that the Book of Revelation begins with the theme of restoration.

The book opens with letters written to SEVEN CHURCHES telling them what they must do in order to be made USEFUL AGAIN in God’s service.

 

For instance... The church at Ephesus was told to restore their first love... To repent and do the things they did at first.

 

Who could deny this morning that the Bible is a restoration book…

• Telling us how we might recapture our original relationship with God and His family...

• How we can be brought back into God’s grace and favor...

• How we can restore our usefulness again in His Kingdom.

 

Well... After rehearsing these narratives what can we learn?

 

First... We learn that it’s possible to fall from God’s grace and favor.

Adam and Eve fell and were expelled from the paradise garden.

Can anyone deny Peter’s fall in his denial of Jesus?

Simon the Sorcerer fell...Peter told him... May your money perish with YOU.

 

Simon... Who was once saved... Is now in danger of eternal destruction.  Peter certainly indicated that Simon was now in a lost state… In need of RESTORATION.

 

In our narrative of the Prodigal…There was a… BROKEN… RUPTURED… Relationship between the father and the son.

 

There is a deep distinction between the Pig Pen and the House of His father.

 

As we examine the Seven Churches of Asia... We find they were told to...

• Repent...

• To be faithful unto and until death...

• To remain true...

• To persevere...

• To wake up and strengthen what is about to die

• To return to their first love

• To overcome

 

Five out of the seven were told to… REPENT… CHANGE… BE RESTORED...Or something terrible would happen to them... Things like...

He would remove their candlestick…

• Spew them out of His mouth…

• Fight against them with the sword of His mouth…

• Cause them to suffer the second death.

 

These phrases indicate that they would be eternally lost UNLESS THEY CHANGED.

 

Repeatedly... Jesus promises salvation and heaven to those who REMAIN FAITHFUL… Punishment to those who will NOT BE RESTORED.

 

Second Peter speaks of those who have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and SaviorJesus Christ and were again entangled in it and overcome… they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.

 

Look at the last verse in our reading... For this son of mine was dead...And is alive again... He was lost... And is found.... And they began to celebrate.

 

Why were they celebrating?  Because a child of the Father... Who became lost in sin... Has been restored to the grace and favor of His Father.

 

Jesus tells us in John chapter ten that... We must stay in the sheep fold.

 

In John fifteen He tells us we must abide in the vine... Stay attached to the vine.

 

John writes near the close of our New Testament… Saying... We must continue to walk in the light… And as we do… His blood will continue to cleanse us from all our sins.

 

Church... Scripture teaches us that we cannot…

• Turn our backs on the Lord...

• Live in open rebellion to Him…

And expect to be rewarded with heaven.

 

James put it in these terms… When we know to do… Right… Good… And don’t we sin.

 

What is it that you and your preacher know that we ought to be doing this morning that we are refusing to do… We must be careful that this sin DOES NOT ALIENATE US FROM GOD because we refuse to change our attitude and behavior.

 

Secondly... We learn that God is interested in our restoration.

In our parable… The father never stops watching for the son’s return… He maintains… a readiness… Open arms… Forgiveness.

 

When Adam and Eve fell in Genesis chapter three... God started working His plan to REDEEM AND RESTORE mankind from his fallen state.

 

Through 4000 years of human history... God patiently works His plan to bring Jesus... God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son.

 

• Peter puts it in these words... The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance… To Change… To restoration

 

• Paul says to Timothy... God wants all men to come to a knowledge of truth… And be saved.

 

• Titus 2.11 says... The grace of God is available to ALL men.

 

• Jesus says... There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner… Who repents…. Who is restored.

 

Church... God is the Father in our reading... We are the Prodigal.

 

Let there be no doubt this morning that GOD IS SINCERELY INTERESTED IN OUR RESTORATION.

 

He has made it possible for each of us...

• To be brought back to an intimate FATHER/SON RELATIONSHIP with Him,

• To be restored to His grace and favor

• And to be made useful in His service.

 

Thirdly... We note that restoration is a personal choice.

God created us free moral agents... WE DECIDE OUR OWN DESTINY.

 

When you put the free moral agency of God together with our sinful human nature… You don’t always get good results… The prodigal made… A bad decision!.... A poor choice!... We’ve all been there… RIGHT?

 

You see… In a way… Our own will is more powerful than the will of God when it comes to how we’re gonna live our life… We decide!... WE DECIDE!!

 

Joshua challenged Israel by saying... CHOOSE… CHOOSE TODAY whom you will serve.

 

God will not save us in spite of our REBELLION... But upon our DECISION to be restored.

 

• Acts chapter two is about people making a personal choice to accept Jesus as their Savior… Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

 

But some in that audience didnot accept the message and were not saved... It was a CHOICE.

 

• Simon the sorcerer MADE HIS OWN DECISION to repent.

 

• Jesus calls us... Just as He called the Seven Churches of Asia... To come to repentance... To a restored relationship with Him.

 

This entire fifteenth chapter of Luke is about RESTORATION.

• Lost sheep.

• A lost coin.

• A lost son.

SOME ARE LOST LIKE SHEEP.

 

Most of us don’t really intend to live in open rebellion to God...BUT WE JUST WANDER OFF.

 

The grass looks a greener over there and then there and there... We nibble on a little…

• Forbidden Pleasure…

• Materialism…

• Pride…

• Pursuit of Prestige…

• Arrogance…

• Popularity at a price…

First thing we know… We look up and we’re separated from God’s People… We find ourselves alienated from the church... Lost due to the lack of attention to our own salvation.

 

OTHERS ARE LOST LIKE COINS.

They are lost because THEY ARE MISPLACED BY OTHERS.

 

No wonder Paul admonishes us to watch the company we keep.  He says... Evil companions… Corrupt... Destroy… Good morals… Honest hearts.

 

Peter fell… Denied Jesus… Because he was warming by the wrong fire... KEEPING THE WRONG COMPANY.

 

I wonder how many of us need to make a decision this morning to separate ourselves from those who are causing us…

NOT TO BE USEFUL in the Lord’s Kingdom?…

• Those who are robbing us of an intimacy with God?…

• Those who have caused us to lose our original excitement of our relationship with Him?

 

STILL OTHERS ARE LOST LIKE THE PRODIGAL SON.

Sometimes... We decide we love the sins of the far country more than the blessings available in the Father's house.

 

But... Like this prodigal son... We soon discovered that GENUINE HAPPINESS is living under God’s roof… Living in the Father’s house... Living in God’s grace and favor.

 

I want us to note something here... We can never be genuinely happy living in sin.

Note what Peter said to Simon in Acts 8.23... I see you are in BITTERNESS.

The Greek literally says...I see that your heart has been POISONED BY YOUR SIN.

 

You see... God did not create us to be happy… In the far country... In a pig pen… Living in sin.

 

No wonder David is found saying... Restore to me the JOY of your salvation... And grant me a WILLING spirit…God make me useful again!

 

Indeed!!...

• Our relationship with God is a Personal Choice…

• Sin is a personal decision...

AND SO IS RESTORATION!… And so is restoration!!

 

Jesus says... I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

 

Acknowledging Jesus as Savior is a personal choice… Maintaining our salvation is a personal choice… And needs our CONSTANT ATTENTION.

 

Number four... We should be personally involved in the restoration of others.

The Children of Israel were brought back to God...

• By Moses...

• By Joshua...

• By the Judges...

• Some of the kings...

• And by a host of Old Testament prophets.

The Jews of Jesus’ day were called to repentance by John the Baptist.

Peter was God’s instrument preaching restoration on the Day of Pentecost.

 

Paul and James give us this challenge…

 

Galatians 6.1... Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently... But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

 

James 5.20… Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.

 

Let us challenge one another to become more active in this concept of restoring others.

 

Our final point is noting what constitutes restoration?

RESTORATION... We all need it don’t we?

RESTORATION is an ongoing process in our walk with God.

What must we do…? There are TWO possibilities.

 

FOR SOME… WE LOOK AT ACTS chapter two AGAIN

Those… In that audience that day… Were...

• Pricked... Touched in the heart...

• Moved by the message.

And asked... Men and brethren, what must we do?... Then they were told how to be RESTORED.

 

By expressing their faith in Jesus as the Son of God by repentance and baptism… And they… would be Forgiven...Restored... Reconciled... Brought back into a right relationship with God.

 

For children of God who...

• Like sheep have wandered off… Unintentionally gone astray…

• Or… Like the Prodigal Son… Have intentionally left the Father's house...

The invitation is to come home.

 

John says... If we confess... Acknowledge our sins... He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

This morning… Right now… Jesus is calling you...

 

• To become a child of God...

 

• Or if we, as His children, are living in the far country come home… Come enjoy…

 

The Robe… The Ring… Sandals for your feet… A Hug from your Father… And the joy of living in the Father’s house.

 

Come Be restored… As we stand and sing this invitation song.