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The Worst People in the Best Place - Luke 15:1-7

Taught on | Keywords: heaven, hell, joy, parable of the lost sheep, repentance, salvation, sinner

The TV comedy The Good Place depicts the popular notion that good people go to some kind of heaven when they die, typically because they have done good things. But did you know that the Bible teaches the exact opposite? In this story that Jesus tells about a lost sheep, we discover that the worst and most undeserving people who repent will experience the joy of heaven. Since there was only one good Person who ever lived, He made a way for us to get to “the good place.”

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6/27/2021
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The Worst People in the Best Place
Luke 15:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The TV comedy The Good Place depicts the popular notion that good people go to some kind of heaven when they die, typically because they have done good things. But did you know that the Bible teaches the exact opposite? In this story that Jesus tells about a lost sheep, we discover that the worst and most undeserving people who repent will experience the joy of heaven. Since there was only one good Person who ever lived, He made a way for us to get to “the good place.”
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Your biggest adversary is not the opponent across the chess board. And the idea of a diverse, inclusive family didn't originate with a sitcom. In this teaching series, Skip Heitzig leverages some of the most popular shows to illuminate spiritual truths. Find out God's plan to give you the power to break bad habits, reward you with an everlasting crown, out-strategize your fiercest enemy, and more.

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Outline

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  1. The Spectators (v. 1)

  2. The Skeptics (v. 2)

  3. The Style (v. 3)

  4. The Story (vv. 4-6)

  5. The Significance (v. 7)

Keywords: heaven, hell, joy, parable of the lost sheep, repentance, salvation, sinner

Study Guide

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Connect Group Guide: June 27, 2021
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: “The Worst People in the Best Place”
Text: Luke 15:1-7

Main Point
The TV comedy The Good Place depicts the popular notion that good people go to some kind of heaven when they die, typically because they have done good things. But did you know that the Bible teaches the exact opposite? In this story that Jesus tells about a lost sheep, we discover that the worst and most undeserving people who repent will experience the joy of heaven. Since there was only one good Person who ever lived, He made a way for us to get to “the good place.”

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninetynine just persons who need no repentance.” —Luke 15:7

Talk about It
  1. Can you recall a item of value you once had and lost? How did you feel when you lost it, and if you recovered it, how did you react?
  2. How lost were you before Jesus found you? How did God find you?
  3. What does God’s joy over a repentant sinner say about your value to Him? Do you have a hard time believing that you are valuable to God?
  4. What one lost sheep would you want to see found? How can you be a part of the process?
“Only Christianity teaches that man can do nothing to get to heaven.” —Pastor Skip

Make It Practical
  • Share how you were lost, then found. Consider where you were before Jesus found you; then, how you came to Christ; and finally, what your life looks like now. Our redemption story wasn’t meant to be concealed; it was meant to be shared. Read 1 Peter 2:9.
  • Invite someone to Freedom Celebration. Think of someone in your life who is still lost and doesn’t know Jesus. Ask the Lord for courage to invite them to join you this Friday. For more information, go to freedomabq.org.
  • Pick up a stack of invitations. Participate as a Connect Group in friendly competition, inviting as many people as possible to hear the gospel message. Stacks of 100 are available at our Osuna campus. If you are online, digital invites are at freedomabq.org.
Pray
Thank You, Father, for the truth of the gospel. It changed our lives. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, came looking for all of us who were lost—all of us who like sheep went astray and wandered our own way. We didn’t look for a shepherd. We had no ability to walk back home. However, You found us and bore us on Your shoulders, and on a tree bore our sins on Your body. Forever You and all of heaven will rejoice. We’ll be a part of that anthem, to see people who don’t deserve to be in heaven there in the good place, the best place, because we have the best Savior. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Facilitator Tips
  • In preparation for a large evangelistic event, consider spending time in prayer for those who will be in earshot of the gospel message on Friday night, whether in person or by way of broadcast.
Cross references: Exodus 22:13; 1 Chronicles 16:27; Isaiah 62:5; 65:19; Zephaniah 3:17 Matthew 6:26; 13:11-13; 21:31; 25:20-23; Luke 5:29-32; 7:34-39; 19:10; Romans 5:6

Transcript

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The Worst People in the Best Place - Luke 15:1-7 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

So let's have a word of prayer, and we'll get started.

(PRAYING)

Father, thank you for the truth of your word. It always brings alignment to our lives. Brings satisfaction to our souls, as we know that you have spoken, and do speak, through what you have spoken in your word. We pray that we would have ears to hear what your Spirit says to us. That all those things that are pulling at our attention right now, all those thoughts and worries, would be banished as we hear from you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

There's an old joke about a pastor and a taxi driver both of them died. They were in heaven. Peter meets them at the gate because Peter's in all these dumb jokes. And so he admits them into heaven and says, welcome to heaven, guys. And I want to show you your Heavenly reward.

So he takes the pastor and gives him his mansion in heaven, his home, is Heavenly reward, his good place. And the pastor's all excited, it looks really good, and he's thankful. Until Peter shows the taxi driver his eternal abode, which is far nicer than the pastor's. It's a bigger mansion. It just looks better.

And so at this point the pastor is a little miffed and says to Peter, Peter, I've given God my whole life. I've served him my whole life. I just don't understand why the taxi driver would get a better place than my place. And Peter said, well, it's pretty easy to understand, Reverend, when you preached, people slept. When he drove, people prayed.

[LAUGHTER]

Most people have an idea about heaven and hell. The idea of the afterlife is pretty straightforward. It's not correct. It's not theologically correct. But most people's view of the afterlife goes like this, good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell.

Good people go to the good place, bad people go to the bad place. So if I live a reasonably good life, I will go to that good place. And then they define good as whatever they think that is, and they have earned their way to heaven.

There's actually a show, some of you know about, called the good place. It has endured four seasons and 52 episodes. It is about the afterlife. And the good place represents heaven, the bad place represents the other place. And they discover that-- some of these people discover they're in the good place, and they go back through their lives to discover how they got there. But it is a view of heaven that, of course, is a biblical view of heaven because this is Hollywood.

And so this is a comedy, which is typical for Hollywood because Hollywood has never taken heaven and hell seriously. And it's all about a works-based righteousness. If you do good things, you will get to the good place. You earn your way to Heaven. And by the way, the good place, Heaven, is depicted in this TV series as a place where people are bored. And it is very, very different from the biblical view of heaven and hell.

First of all, you need to know this the Bible depicts heaven completely differently. You see in the Bible, heaven is not where good people go. Heaven is where saved people go. And some of those saved people were not all that good. In fact, some of those people were a one time the worst people, but they get taken by God's grace and through an act of their repentance to that good place.

Also, heaven is certainly not depicted as boring or dreary but is filled with joy. With that as a little introduction, let's go to Luke chapter 15 and begin in verse 1, where we read, then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, This Man receives sinners and eats with them.

And so he spoke this parable to them saying, what man of you, having 100 sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors saying to them, rejoice with me for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 just persons who need no repentance.

Most world religions view heaven, the afterlife, very much like that television series, the good life. You earned your way there. You work your way there. Here's a sampling.

In Islam, if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, you have a pretty good chance of making it to heaven. And so they recommend good deeds that include the reciting of prayers, it includes going on Hajj or a pilgrimage to Mecca once in your lifetime, it includes doing benevolent acts. And all of that, they figure will tip the scale in your favor, and eventually, you may, though you're never guaranteed, you may make it to heaven.

Then another huge world religion is Judaism. And because as you know the Jews have no temple anymore for sacrifices to atone for their sins, it's now all about their work, so they can earn it. So by acts of repentance, by doing good deeds, by living a life of personal devotion, stand a good chance you're going to make it to the good place. That's Judaism.

In Buddhism, you can get to heaven, but it's not called heaven. It's known as Nirvana. But that requires following the eightfold path. If you follow the eightfold path that is required, you can make it to Nirvana.

And then in Hinduism, because of the cycle of birth and death called reincarnation, if you break the cycle of reincarnation by ridding yourself of bad karma, then you can make it. In all of those world religions, the basic element is the same, you are doing something to earn your place in the afterlife. Only Christianity teaches that man can do nothing to get to heaven. Absolutely nothing, that to get to heaven, it is not by human achievement, it is by divine accomplishment only.

God saves the lost. God saves the worst. Now in Luke chapter 15, we're reading verses 1 through 7, but actually, if we were to read the entire chapter, you discover there's not one parable, but three stories back to back.

The first is about the lost sheep that's what we'll cover, the second is about the lost coin that a woman loses, and the third is about a lost boy-- a lost son who runs away from home, the Prodigal Son. In each case, it's basically, the same. Something valuable is lost. The owner or the superintendent goes out to look for that which is lost. When that thing that is lost is finally recovered, there is joy and a celebration is underway.

Now I figure that probably the boys and the men would have loved the first story about the lost sheep because many of them were probably shepherds in the crowd. They would have said, Yeah, I like that story. I relate to that story.

The girls and the women would have liked the story of the Lost coin because scholars believe it's a coin from a wedding necklace that was lost, so that would have appealed to them.

And then finally, parents would have loved the story of the boy who came to his senses and came running back home to dad. So it's as if Jesus wanted to tell the same story, but he wanted to speak in a hard language that everybody could understand. All of it is basically, the same truth just with a different nuance.

What I want to do is go through what we just read verses 1 through 7 but show you the elements in it one by one, five elements. Number one, I want you to notice the spectators. They're introduced in verse 1, then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear him. Interesting designations. You have here tax collectors, and you have here sinners. Now let me explain those two categories.

A tax collector is considered a traitor to the Jews in those days. Most tax collectors like Matthew, were Jewish people, and they were considered traitors because they extorted money from people through taxation to put into the coffers of the Roman government. They were utterly despised by people. Most people lumped tax collectors in the same category as robbers, murderers, and prostitutes. Nobody like them. Not just Jews didn't like them, even Romans didn't like them.

One Roman author said, I have never seen a monument to an honest tax collector. Now, have things changed from then to now? Do people love the IRS? Do any of you ever even pray for the IRS? I mean, nobody likes to get money taken from them. But what you need to know is it was so bad in those days that the exorbitant tax rate was like a burden on the back of every citizen. Let me explain really briefly.

First of all, there was a tax known as the poll tax that's the tax to get polled, to get counted. Just to breathe air and to be counted in their registry, you paid a poll tax. A female from age 12 to 65, and a mail from age 14 to 65 were under the poll tax. On top of the poll tax, you paid an income tax. A flat 10% of all that you own belonged to Rome.

On top of the poll tax, and on top of the income tax, there was what was called the ground tax. So if you're a farmer and you grow grain, a tenth of your grain goes to Rome. If you grow grapes, a fifth of your wine and the products go to Rome. On top of that, if you say, well, I'm not an agriculturists, I'm not a farmer, I'm a fisherman, well, there was a fish tax. And you were taxed per fish so the more fish you catch, the more taxation you pay.

Then if you have grain, or fish, or grapes, you have to transport them in a cart, so there was a car to tax. And you were taxed based on the number of wheels you had on your cart. So if you have four wheels, more taxes. So a wheelbarrow is your friend because it has one wheel, you'll get taxed less for that.

Then on top of all of those taxes, there were law taxes, there were harbor taxes, there were import and export taxes, so people hated tax collectors. Then notice the second category, sinners.

Now you would think that tax collectors if they're hated that much would just be lumped together with sinners, but sinners have their own category, their own designation. Because sinners were the irreligious people, the non-religious people, the riffraff of society, the notoriously immoral people hated by the religious establishment.

And what is interesting to me is that Jesus attracted these people. They came to him. They flocked to him. They were interested in his sermons. They wanted to find out what he had to say. And it wasn't because he catered to them, and it wasn't because he criticized them, it was because he genuinely cared for them. And they could feel that. They knew that.

Now you discover as you read through the Gospels that Jesus was often criticized for this very thing that we're reading in verse 1. Because so many notoriously irreligious riffraff were attracted to Jesus. Jesus got a lot of flak for that.

I'm going to take you back a couple of chapters into Luke chapter 5. You don't have to turn there, you can if you wish. I'll read it to you Luke chapter 5, just to show this to you, in verse 29 it says then Levi, Levi by the way, is Matthew, a tax collector who becomes a disciple, then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house.

And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And their scribes and Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners. There's those categories again. Jesus answered and said to them, those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. No wonder they loved him. He's saying there's a lot of sick people out there, and I'm a doctor who makes house calls.

Now, go two chapters further to Luke chapter 7 if you're doing that, if not again, I'll read it to you. Luke chapter 7 verse 31, and there's so much in this chapter that bears this point out. But I don't have time to do it.

Verse 31 the Lord said, to what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace calling to one another saying, we played the flute for you, and you did not dance. We mourned to you, and you did not weep. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, he has a demon. The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, look, a glutton and a winebibber, notice this, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. That's what he was. He was their friend. He attracted people to himself. And it was bad enough that people flocked to him. What made it worse is Jesus sat down and ate meals with them. And we have that on our text in verse 2.

So now let me take you from the spectators to the skeptics. They're introduced in verse 2. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, This Man receives sinners and eats with them. You already know this, but Pharisees and scribes, they're like the varsity religious squad. They're the A string. They're the penultimate, the ultimate religious gurus respected by all, feared by all. Joseph has called them the leading religious sect, the most accurate interpreters of the law.

Now, there were only 6,000 Pharisees in existence at the time of Jesus, very, very strict in their religion. And you read this in the Gospels whenever Jesus and Pharisees got together, there were fireworks. It was always an adversarial interaction, or usually, it was. And so Jesus would just unload on them. He'd call them whitewashed tombs. He would say hypocrites over, and over again to them.

So this crowd the Pharisees and the scribes, the religious elite and those who study the law, they are disgusted that Jesus associates with those in verse 1, the tax collectors and sinners. I mean, sure, they're attracted to him, but he Jesus shouldn't be too excited about the fact that they're all attracted to him. And he shouldn't like promote that, call himself a friend of tax collectors and sinners. And he was attracted to them. He loved having them come near.

And there's something you need to know, I think. The Pharisees and the scribes had a distinct dichotomy. There was us and there were them. And them, they called them the people of the land. The people of the land were the people who were not as good as they were. And listen to what the Pharisees said about the people of the land, quote, "When a man is one of the people of the land and trust no money to him. Take no testimony from him. Trust him with no secrets. Do not appoint him guardian of an orphan. Do not make him the custodian of charitable funds. Do not accompany him on a journey." End quote. Stay far away from those people. Don't associate with them at all. They're bad. They're the bad people who go to the bad place.

Pharisees were forbidden to be a guest of the people of the land. Pharisees were forbidden to have as a guest in their home anyone considered the people of the land. Pharisees were kept from business dealings from any of the people of the land. So you get the idea of tax collectors and sinners want to hear Jesus, the religious elite, they're shocked by this.

So we have two basic responses in verse 1 and 2. Some that love Jesus. Some that hated Jesus. Some who are interested in what He had to say. Some who were not. They were disgusted with Him. And I would submit to you, nothing has changed. It's still exactly the same. Jesus Christ divides people. Jesus Christ, today, is the most loved and the most hated person who has ever lived.

Some love Him and some hate Him. Now, that's not the only response you can have. There's a third response. And I would say most people have this response to Jesus and that is pure indifference. They don't care. Jesus makes no difference to them. Jesus is irrelevant. He's a guy who lived a long time ago. He has nothing to do with my life every day. That's how most people view Jesus.

But if given more information, if somebody witnesses to them, if somebody lets them know about the moral authority of Jesus or the personal claims of Jesus, who he said he is, what he demands of people in terms of absolute surrender, usually, those indifferent people will slip into category number two and just reject Him. Want nothing to do with Him. Now, some may be converted, by God's grace they will, Jesus certainly is looking for them. But most would probably reject.

So we have the spectators, and we have The Skeptics. Now, look at verse 3, it shows us The Style. It says, He spoke this parable to them, saying, you discover in reading any of the Gospels that Jesus spoke in stories quite a bit. In fact, one-third of all of Jesus teaching was in story form or in parable form.

Now a parable is different than a story in this the word parable, para-bl-lay is a word that means to play something besides something else. Or to throw something next to something else. So the idea in using a parable is that I'm going to throw something unknown next to something known. I'm going to take something you know about, a situation like shepherd and sheep in those days, and I'm going to use that which you know to teach you something you don't know. I'm going to play something spiritual truth next to something that you know to bring it into your heart.

So this brings us to a very important question. Since Jesus spoke so much in parables, why did he do it? What were the reasons Jesus spoke in these stories? Three reasons. Number one, to appeal to people. Stories are appealing to people. I see it from right where I stand. Whenever I cover some spiritual truths, if I get into the theological weeds, I notice people drifting off, glazing over, say, Oh, goodness he's talk about justification again. And as I go high, wow, it gets a little deep, and I can lose people. I can see it.

But if I say let me tell you a story about what happened to me yesterday and what my wife said to me, and you're, who, ha ha, you perk up. I'm interested in that. And that's good. That's what speakers do. They use stories to draw you in. Because they are appealing, and the truth can be appealing that way.

So think of a parable as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. And the idea is you're going to hear the story and the truth is going to stick. It's going to be memorable. And it's just a good way of teaching-- Jesus could have said, the name of my sermon today is soteriological implications of the avian species and man's faith, and He'd lose everybody. Or He could say, behold the birds of the air. They neither toil, nor spin, or gather into barns, but your Heavenly Father feeds them. Now you've got me. And he was a master at that. So he did it to appeal.

This is the second reason he died in parables, not only just to appeal, but to reveal. To take people who are interested in spiritual truths and reveal deeper truths to them about the kingdom of God. So he said to his disciples, in Matthew 13, it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

So he took the visible world and with it he revealed to them the invisible world. He put something next to something they knew, and people were drawn into it. They understood it deeper. So it's to appeal, it's to reveal, but there's a third reason Jesus spoke in these stories. Not just to appeal, not just to reveal, but in some cases to actually conceal. To hide the truth from certain people because you see our Lord understood that when He spoke to an audience, not everybody in the audience was kingdom-minded. Not everybody was wanting deeper spiritual truth.

Some people were listening to trap Jesus in his words. To spin what he said. To twist what he said. And they did it. One of his accuser-- the accusations they had about him is, this Man said He's going to destroy the temple in three days. It's not what he said. He was speaking about his own body, but they twisted it.

And so Jesus would give a story, a parable, and those who aren't seeking a deeper revelation. They are not spiritually-minded, they would go, OK, that was a cool story, but I don't get it. I don't know what that means. And Jesus even said that was one of his reasons.

Matthew 13 after telling them I am going to give you-- I'm going to reveal to you the mysteries of the kingdom he said, I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. For the hearts of this people have grown dull. And their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed. Less they should hear with their ears and see with their eyes and turn, and I would heal them.

So think of a parable like a political cartoon. If you read a political cartoon, if you read a cartoon about a Congressman or the President, and you read it in your newspaper, you'll laugh, you'll get it. Somebody from another country reads one of our political cartoons, won't make any sense to them. They'll go, OK, it's a cute drawing, but I don't get it. Why? Because they're not a citizen of this country. If you're not a citizen of the kingdom of God, the parables of Jesus are like political cartoons. You won't really get the import of them. But if you are seeking Him, it will appeal to you, and it will reveal to you the truth.

If you're not a citizen, it might appeal to you, but it will conceal from you the truth. That's His style. So we have the spectators, the skeptics, and the style.

Now, let's get into the story itself. And it's a short one, only a few verses verse 4 or 5 and 6. Here it is. What man of you, having 100 sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost when he finds it. And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Now, in this short little story, Jesus invites His audience into a typical rural setting, when they were familiar with a shepherd with sheep. Here's the funny part. Shepherds in Jesus' day were like at the bottom of the social ladder.

So the very bottom of the social ladder were the sinners, the non-religious riff-raff. Just above the sinners were the tax collectors, the traders. Just above the tax collectors were the shepherds. They were at the low echelon of the social totem pole.

Now that's interesting because you go back to the Old Testament, there are some pretty notable godly figures who were shepherds like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, all of them are shepherds that kept sheep. But by the time the New Testament rolls around, Judaism has become so elite in its religiosity that these Pharisees actually despise, look down on, these people of the land, these commoners, who were shepherds.

So it's funny that for Jesus to get these snobby religious people to imagine themselves as a shepherd was insulting, which makes me love Jesus even more. Not that He's insulting, but it's just like, Oh, really you religious snobs, well, which of you having a sheep? And they would go, I would never have a sheep. I wouldn't have anything to do with that occupation. But He uses that as an example.

Now to the story losing a sheep was serious for a couple of reasons. If you lose the sheep, the sheep could get eaten easily by a predator. One thing a sheep is not, it's not a predator. There's no such thing as an attack sheep. Have you ever seen a sign on a fence that says, beware of sheep? Nobody cares. So another name for sheep is called lunch. It's dinner. It's an order of if you're big enough beast.

So if you lose a sheep, the sheep encounters any other species. It's probably going to get eaten. Or like we mentioned a few weeks ago, it gets turned over, it gets castes legs get up in the air it gets stuck. You have to find it and roll it back on its feet or it will die. Circulation will be cut off. It'll get asphyxiated. It will die.

So shepherds, if they lost a sheep, they themselves were responsible for the sheep. If a sheep is missing, they have to pay for it out of their pocket, or they have to provide proof that it's been eaten by a predator. So you've got to bring back an ear or a bloody stump or something to show the owner, this is what happened to your sheep, then he's off the hook.

Now this explains why the shepherd is willing to leave the 99 sheep with other shepherds and go look for the one lost sheep. If he doesn't find the sheep, it's money out of his pocket, it's a stain on his record.

Again, this is a parable. So they know about sheep and shepherds. Everybody sees them out in the pastures. So that's known. That's visible. Jesus is taking an invisible truth and placing it next to it. So it's to teach a spiritual lesson.

The parable, the story, tells us a few things. It tells us about ourselves. We are lost we are lost. All we like sheep have gone astray, Isaiah said. All we like sheep. There's none who does good. No not one. They have all turned aside.

So the story teaches us something about ourselves. We're lost. The story also teaches us something about our God. God loves lost people. God loves wandering sheep. Jesus had a personal mission statement.

In Luke chapter 19 verse 10, this is what he said about himself, for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. So if you were to have met Jesus, and say, so why are you here anyway. He would say back to you, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. That's why I'm here. That is my mission statement. So it tells us something about ourselves. Tells us something about God. The parable also tells us something about God's ways.

You see the shepherds behavior is very similar to God's behavior. First of all, in the pursuit, He's searching for that. And he's not going to stop till he finds it. So he's searching for the sheep. There's no indication that the lost sheep is looking for the shepherd. You don't get that in the story, you know why? Because sheep never look for shepherds.

This sheep does one thing in the story, he gets lost. It's what he's good at. It's his job description. Hi, I'm a sheep. It's what I do. I get lost. Really, I mean, if you know anything about sheep that's true. I've had numerous conversation with shepherds. So it's not like the sheep gets lost and finds another sheep, hey, have you seen the shepherd. I'm really looking for the shepherd, I got to get back home. They don't do that. They're not looking for directions he has gotten lost.

This is all about the pursuit. And this is important because people will say, man, I'm searching for God. I'm on a quest. I want to find God. And a good question to ask is, what are you going to do when you find him? But typically, I say actually, you're not searching for God. No, I am. I'm searching for God. I want to find God. Well, God isn't lost. You are.

And the truth is God is the one searching for you. And if you feel like you're searching for God, it only proves that that's God at work in your heart, drawing you to himself, and proves that he has been looking for you. That's something God is doing, you need to respond to that.

So it shows us his pursuit. Something else it tells us about God's ways not just the pursuit but the pity that this shepherd feels. He sees the sheep, and he finds the sheep. And what does he do with the sheep? Picks it up. Picks it up. Placed it on his shoulder. He doesn't say, OK, get up. OK, now, that you're up, I'll help you a little bit. Now, come on. Follow me. You walk this far, you're walking back, come on back. He doesn't. Why? Because the sheep is probably tuckered out, probably has no strength, is completely tired and wrecked, and so the shepherd picks up the sheep, lays it on his shoulders.

Now, that's monumental, because an adult sheep, didn't say a lamb, it's a sheep, an adult sheep weighs at least, if not more than 100 pounds. So it's not like he has two or three sheep under his arm walking back home. This very deliberate to pick it up and place that weary worn creature without any strength on his shoulders to bear him back to the fold, it shows us his pity. And it is so like God.

Romans chapter 5, when we were without strength, that is when we were utterly helpless, in due time Christ died for us. So it tells us about God's ways, his pursuit, his pity, but also the party that he throws.

He says in verse 6, when he comes back home tells all his neighbors and friends, rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. Obviously, this shepherd thinks this is a big deal. So much. So I got to call everybody in the neighborhood together for a party. So that's the spectators, the skeptics, the style, and the story. I want to leave you now with verse 7, which is the significance.

Here's the take away from Jesus, here's the bottom line, verse 7, I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99% just persons who need no repentance. Do you know that heaven's anthem will be over the joy of repentant sinners? That's what's going to fill the halls of heaven, the joy of repentant sinners.

Now, I got to tell you this because I don't think you really get your grasp the-- I mean, it's a beautiful verse, verse 7, but it's more beautiful when you understand that when Jesus uttered verse 7 probably the scribes and most definitely, the Pharisees when they heard verse 7 said, Oh! Did he just say that? Did he just say there's more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents? And the reason they did is because the Pharisees had their own saying and it was well known.

The Pharisees said, there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who is obliterated before God. That's why Jesus said verse 7, because the Pharisees said, you know what, these people are lost, they're going to hell, I'm glad they're lost, I don't care if they go to hell, just get them away from me, obliterate them. Jesus said, there's joy in heaven when one sinner repents. That's why they were shocked.

In fact, Matthew 21, Jesus said, talk about shocking, assuredly, I say and to you, the tax collectors and harlots will enter the kingdom of God before you. See the joy in heaven is not going to be that the good people are in the good place. The joy of heaven is going to be that the worst people have been taken to the good place. Because they are lost, but they have been found by the shepherd, and they have repented.

[APPLAUSE]

Now, I do want you to see this because it's mentioned three times in the text and that's the idea of joy. Luke in verse 5, when he has found it-- finds that sheep, he lays it on his shoulder. What does he do? Rejoicing, rejoicing. I thought about that, if I'm a shepherd, and I find a stupid sheep that ran away, and I got to go find that dumb thing, and I find that thing there. He is turned over or half eaten, the dumb sheep. Now, I'm going to pick it up 100 pound, Oh, man, can you help me? Thanks. Oh, I put him on my shoulder. And now, I'm going to be complaining all the way home. Stupid thing, you waste so much, and Yeah, this he ran away, and this is hard. I'd be grumbling and complaining. Not this shepherd, this shepherd is rejoicing, got my sheep on the way home.

And then in verse 6, his joy isn't contained to himself. He wants to spread it around. He comes home, calls his friends and neighbors saying, hey, rejoice with me. And they're probably thinking, why should I be, you're obviously, really stoked right now, why? I found my sheep which was lost. So that's the second use of rejoicing.

Then verse 7, I say to you likewise, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents and over 99% just persons who need no repentance.

Now, go down to verse 10, even though it's attached to another parable, verse 10, likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Do you realize that one of God's most overlooked attributes is his joy? Most people don't think of God as joyful. If you were to ask the average person, what's God like? What's his emotional makeup like? His emotional intelligence? Most people would say, I think God is kind of mad. I think, I picture God as kind of arms folded, frowning at People, not joyful.

Now, there's an element of truth to that. The Bible does say God is angry with the wicked every day. But his anger is directed at the lies, that keep people from the truth, and the lies that keep people from his forgiveness and his joy. God is full of joy, and love, and compassion, and forgiveness.

And C.S. Lewis who wrote many great things in a letter to a friend said, joy is the serious business of heaven, joy is the serious business of heaven. You don't believe me? On your own go read Revelation 4 and 5, there's a lot of joy, there's a lot of celebration, there's a lot of Anthem going on in heaven.

Isaiah 65 God said, I will joy in my people. Zephaniah chapter 3, he will joy over you with singing. And I want to close by making verse 6 an invitation of God to you. Verse 6 says, when he comes home, he calls his friends together, think of yourself as friends of God because you're part of the kingdom endeavor, and he says to them, rejoice with me for I have found my sheep which was lost. Consider God saying to you, rejoice with me, rejoice with me.

How do you feel when you get to lead a person to Christ? If you've ever had the experience of praying with another person to receive Christ, you don't walk away from that going, Yeah, that was all right. But I really-- I just would rather just-- I'm hungry, I'm just going to eat lunch. Whatever, no big deal, are you kidding? You are-- I mean, I can't speak for you. I'm geek. I'm stoked. I got to lead a person to the threshold of heaven. I'm filled with joy.

How do you feel when you bring somebody to church and there's an altar call and they walk forward? I know how you feel, you do this, you clap, you're so stoked, you're joyful.

How will you feel when you get to heaven and people say I'm here because of you? Joyful. Joyful. So Jesus said, in another parable, you've been faithful in a few things, I'll make you a ruler over many things, enter into the joy of your Lord.

God is inviting you into his joy zone today. And Friday we have freedom celebration coming up. You can't bring everybody. You can't expect everybody to be there. But you could pray for them, you could bring someone, and enter into the joy of possibly seeing, and certainly, seeing many here and around the world, say yes to Jesus. And we will rejoice, but know this, the angels in heaven will rejoice.

[PRAYING]

Father thank you for this incredible story, this parable. Jesus takes a very familiar common theme that people were knowing because they were observing it around them. And you spoke a spiritual truth of how you as a benevolent God, how you love people who are lost, how you are concerned for those who are broken and helpless and provided a way to bring them back. And when you do, it's not with disgust. It's not with reservation. It is with great delight, incredible happiness, and abundant joy.

And we understand that you are inviting us into a life of joy. A joy-filled filled life by being involved in this great enterprise called evangelism. Evangelism is being invited into the joy zone of our God. Thank you for the opportunity, she said before us. I pray you'd fill us with your Spirit to be concerned about the lost, and to bring them to the shepherd who loves them in Jesus' name Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at MYSTORY@CALVARYNM.CHURCH. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at CALVARYNM.CHURCH/GIVE. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/13/2021
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Breaking Bad Habits
Colossians 3:1-15
Skip Heitzig
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Bad habits are like weeds: they grow without effort and it’s hard to get rid of them! Most people excuse their bad habits as idiosyncrasies or "just being human." But stubborn habits have a way of mastering us if we won’t master them first. We all know the cycle of enjoying a forbidden pleasure, feeling guilty, repenting, enjoying a few moments of victory, and then failing again. Today, let’s explore how we can do better than taking one step forward and two steps back.
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6/20/2021
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The Legacy of a Godly Dad
Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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A sage piece of advice is as follows: Live so that your son, when people tell him that he reminds them of you, will stick out his chest, not his tongue! On this Father’s Day, we examine the blueprint the Lord gave to His people after their deliverance from bondage. For God’s redeemed people, this was a reset—a chance for families and especially fathers to rightly arrange their priorities so that future generations might enjoy the benefits. Let’s ponder three directives to make a positive impact.
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7/4/2021
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The Crown: How to Excel in Your Faith
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Skip Heitzig
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The Crown is a Netflix series that boasts four seasons depicting the political life of Queen Elizabeth II of England. She wears the crown because Britain has a hereditary monarchy with the right to rule being passed down to family. But the apostle Paul speaks of a wholly different kind of crown—one worn by a disciplined athlete who won the footrace in the Olympic Games or the also-popular boxing match. Here, he likens our Christian faith to this widely understood and much-enjoyed contest, giving principles on how to excel and thrive as we follow Christ.
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7/11/2021
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Stranger Things
Matthew 5:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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People have never been more attracted to the strange, the phenomenal, the abnormal, and the inexplicable as they are today. From interest in UFOs to government conspiracy theories to TV shows about any of the above, people are looking beyond the natural and into the supernatural. Likewise in New Testament times. The world was longing for a hero to come, but Jesus was not the hero they were expecting! The Sermon on the Mount displays just how strange the mission and the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed was to the people of His day. Let’s consider four elements that must have seemed like stranger things to most people then and still are now.
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7/18/2021
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The Game You Must Win!
1 Peter 5:8-10
Nate Heitzig
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People play games for a variety of reasons. Some play for enjoyment or socialization, some to prevent boredom, and some for challenge and achievement; but most play to win. Any good game strategist would say that knowing your opposition is one of the most important ways to succeed. In this message, Nate Heitzig examines our opponent, Satan, who uses the world’s system and our sin nature to undermine and distract us. We discover that one of our greatest advantages is knowing that the Devil has already lost and Jesus has already won.
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7/25/2021
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The Last Dance: Instructions on How to Die Well
2 Timothy 4:6-12
Skip Heitzig
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Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “A grave, wherever found, preaches a short and pithy sermon to the soul.” What did he mean? Simply that cemeteries remind us of the unavoidable certainty of death. A grave should prompt us to think about our future on this earth; it’s the only real estate we’ll hold onto for a long while! The words in our text this week are among Paul’s final words. This is his last statement. Here is a man who not only lived well, but also demonstrated what it means to die well. Let’s consider how to face the end of life on this earth with no regrets.
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8/1/2021
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The Modern (Church) Family
Ephesians 2:11-19
Skip Heitzig
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Jesus stated His intention to build His church (see Matthew 16:18). What He had in mind was a family of sorts—a new community made up of people as diverse as there are people in the world (see Acts 2:44). Many of us would not naturally hang out together. Our differences may be profound, our viewpoints and backgrounds may be in conflict, and our ideas may seem incompatible. But there is a glue that is stronger than all that. We are in Christ. And if Jesus is your Savior and God is your Father, that makes us a modern family.
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8/8/2021
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The Chosen
John 15:9-17
Skip Heitzig
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An estimated 194 million people have already seen the popular series The Chosen, based on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The goal, according to producer Dallas Jenkins, is to reach one billion people, and they are well on their way to reaching that goal. As we close out our Now Streaming series, let’s dig into Jesus’ own announcement to His disciples that they were chosen by Him. What does it mean to be chosen by God? What are we chosen for? What plans does He have for us once we’ve been chosen?
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There are 8 additional messages in this series.
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