Barbecues are lighting up all around as I sit peacefully on a warm sunny evening. We’ve been to the beach where I played in the surf until I got several mouthfuls of salty water. Not very pleasant.
Don Williams spoke Sunday and Monday morning in the plenary sessions. Echoing Paul’s warning to the Philippians, against those who would deny their freedom in Christ, he identied three enemies of Grace: Legalism, Perfectionism and Sensualism
Legalism says we are accepted only if we obey a set of rules – in the Philippians’ case they were being told they must conform to the Jewish Law. Perfectionism misunderstands the call to holiness as a condition of acceptance by God, rather than an expectation of what we can be after receiving God’s grace. Sensualism assumes that because we are saved by grace, we can do what we like. (I hope I’ve not misrepresented Williams by condensing his message so much.)
On Saturday evening Williams took the story of the prodigal son as an example of God’s radical grace. Much of what he said was familiar from the many expositions I’ve heard and given on this passage. Perhaps the biggest challenge came when he pointed out that both sons saw the Father as an accountant, keeping score and expecting same form of payment. In contrast the Father went out to BOTH sons to invite them to the party, but only the wayward son accepted. This would have been particularly striking as the Pharisees were complaining that Jesus ate with sinners.
Following on from Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, the Jews should have realised that they were all invited to the party. Sadly many Christians still refuse to join, complaining instead that the sinners don’t deserve such attention