He Came to Himself – Gospel in Life
Sermon

He Came to Himself

Tim Keller |  October 12, 2008

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Duration:
38:10
Scripture:
Luke 15:11-20
SKU:
RS 205-3

Overview

We’re looking at the parables of Luke 15. Of course, the biggest, longest, and most famous of them is the parable of the prodigal son. We see how the grace of God not only changes my individual life or your individual life, but how the grace of God creates a new kind of community, a new kind of human society, and how it creates new kinds of relationships.
This parable is essentially an image about the meltdown of a community and the restoration of it. The key theme we’re going to look at in this text is the theme of repentance — this is crucial for the restoration of community. Even though the word is not in this text, what we have when the younger son decides to go back to his father is an example of repentance. Let’s notice three things: the importance of repentance, the anatomy of it (what it’s actually made of), the key to doing it, and the kind of community that results from it.

Luke 15:11–20

The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 isn’t just about one person’s journey back to God. It’s about a family that falls apart and then comes back together. It shows us how saying sorry and turning back to God, which is what we call repentance, can heal relationships and build strong communities. The story teaches us why repentance is important, what it looks like, how we can do it, and the kind of community that it creates.

1. The importance of repentance

In this story, the younger son’s decision to apologize, or repent, is what heals the broken relationship with his father. Some people might think saying sorry is a sign of weakness, but it’s actually a sign of strength and freedom. Being a Christian means constantly realizing when we’re wrong, saying sorry, and choosing to live better — that’s the key to experiencing God’s life-giving power.

2. The anatomy of repentance

Repentance means waking up to the fact that we’ve done wrong and messed things up. It means realizing how our actions hurt God, who loves us, and deciding to change our behavior. In the end, true repentance is about shifting from a focus on ourselves to a focus on God. It’s about admitting the harm we’ve caused and finding freedom in that admission.

3. The key to repentance

In religion, we learn that trying to earn forgiveness by feeling bad about ourselves or punishing ourselves doesn’t work. Real repentance is about admitting our mistakes and seeking forgiveness without beating ourselves up about it. The message of the gospel helps us remember that we are loved by God, despite our flaws, leading to personal growth and positive change.

4. The kind of community that results from repentance

Being a Christian also means being accountable for our actions. Just like Odysseus tied himself to a ship’s mast to avoid temptation, we can hold ourselves accountable through church membership and promises. We also need a community that patiently corrects us and never gives up on us. This kind of community, built on responsibility and grace, is a place where truth and love are the rule, and no one is left behind or mistreated.

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February Book Offer

Put Your Hope Not in Lesser gods, But in the One True God

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.

February Book Offer

Put Your Hope Not in Lesser gods, But in the One True God

In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller shows us how a proper understanding of the Bible reveals the truth about societal ideals and our own hearts — and that there is only one God who can wholly satisfy our cravings and fulfill our hopes.