We could sum up the sermon last Sunday this way: God speaks...we obey. In Matt. 21:28 we have the parable of the two sons who were spoken to and we see two different responses.
What is it you think about when you think of doing God's will? Is it important decisions? Moves, big purchases, life changes? So often when we think of God speaking to us this is the type of context we think of.....yet....God is speaking to us constantly. God is speaking to you now! We see from scripture that when God speaks, we are to obey and the result is greater joy.
We actually need to see three sons in this parable. The first is the one who says 'no' but then actually does what the father asks. All of us as Christians are like this is one respect. In Adam all of us have said no, but we, like this son, have repented and responded to the Father's command. We have come under his rule. The second son makes a great confession, but fails to obey. There is no repentance, and thus a failure in relationship. The third Son is the one not mentioned in these verses; he is Jesus. He is the one who fully obeyed the Father and as Rom. 5:19 says "through one man's obedience many are made righteous". Our obedience does not make us righteous, Christ's obedience did. Our obedience comes out of the grace we received through his obedience. Grace leads to obedience.
But there are three things obedience shows us. First, it shows us who the master is. We all serve something or someone. As Paul said we are "slaves to the one we obey" (Rom. 6:16).The question is at any moment, who is your functional master? Obedience is the truest evidence of grace. At some point God is going to cross your will and you will have the opportunity to prove who is your master. The second thing obedience shows is where love is. Jesus said "if you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15) To love Jesus and the Father is to do his will...obey. This shows where your love is. ! John 2:5 tells us that love is perfected in obedience. Whatever our love might have looked like in the beginning it is completely different later. It is perfected. Where love started more selfish than not, it changes thru obedience into a more and more selfless love. We learn where our love is. Finally obedience shows us what true freedom is. Our concept of freedom tends to be that we can do anything we want, but like flying a plane, we can only experience it by learning the rules and following the rules and practicing the rules. It is only then we can fly. So with our Christian lives. We don't experience freedom by just doing anything we want or feel like. Love draws us to want to know what God wants and learning, following and practicing God's will. This is true freedom.
Finally we must understand the challenge of obedience. We will fail. What happens when we fail to obey? Is is hopeless? Are we left undone? No, 1 John 2;1 tells us that "when we sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:". We are not righteous because we do not sin, but because Jesus is our righteousness. When he goes to court on our behalf he does not plead for mercy for us, but pleads our innocence because the penalty has already been paid. His sacrifice on the cross has made us free. We are free. This is ultimately the basis for our obedience. We have received God's forgiveness and grace because of what Christ has done and now we, out of hearts of love and devotion to our master desire to obey him in every way. God is not the angry Father waiting to punish you. He is the one who sent his Son and punished Him instead, so you could be free to love and obey.
Some questions for discussion:
1. How does the reality of the "third Son" effect how we answer when God speaks to us?
2. What does it mean when we say we are all serving something or someone? What are some of the things that can be idols of our hearts?
3. In what ways do you see love being perfected in your life?
4. How does the reality of the cross effect you when you face failure?