June 17, 2001
When the prodigal son’s father held a feast to celebrate his return, the elder brother burned with anger. Feeling unappreciated and overlooked, he believed that his faithful service deserved recognition. The older son’s attitude reflects that of the Pharisees, as well as many today who depend on their works to earn them God’s kindness. As Alistair Begg highlights, where an impenitent brother sees the Father’s grace as unnecessary, a penitent son understands his desperate need.
Sermon Transcript: Print
“Make the Book live to me, O Lord. Show me yourself within your Word; show me myself, and show me my Savior, and make the Book live to me,” for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Well, I invite you to turn again to Luke chapter 15. We read from Ephesians 2 as a cross-reference, and we come to these concluding verses in Luke chapter 15.
They say that the test of a good suit is how much material is left on the tailor’s floor when he finally walks out with it and gives it to the client. To the extent that that may be true, then perhaps it is also true to say that the test of a good sermon is how much is left behind after the teacher has done his studies. And the danger is that in seeking to bring everything that we’ve learned, we simply bamboozle our listeners.
But given that you are such a thoughtful group, there is something that I want to mention that is sort of a transition from where we were to where we’re finishing up. Those of you who have read Luke chapter 15 with frequency, as I have done, and who have grown to love it, as I have done, may well have been struck by something, and that is that there is—although great mention made of the celebration in heaven over one sinner who repents, both in the first story, and in the second story, and in the third story—there is, however, no mention made of any cost whatsoever to the father in redeeming the prodigal.
Now, liberal scholarship looks at this and says, “This is because the message of Jesus was different from the message of the apostles, and that Jesus’ message of salvation was a different message of salvation from the one that was invented by the apostle Paul.” And they say, “He is the one who inserted all this atonement business into it, all this death of Jesus.”
Now, this may strike many of you—I hope it does—by surprise, because you’ve never even for one second considered such a thing. But to the extent that the day may come when someone says that to you, I want you to know that the way in which it needs to be addressed is by taking everything that we have in the Bible and setting it within the context of all of the unfolding truth of Scripture, so that not in every passage of the Bible is everything mentioned and recorded for us.
For example, in Acts chapter 17, it’s not uncommon to hear people say that when Paul preached in Athens, his success was meager because he didn’t do in Athens what he so clearly did by the time he got to Corinth, and that by the time he reaches Corinth, so the argument goes, there he was proclaiming “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” but when you find him back in Athens, what he was doing there was a kind of apologetic—he was dealing with creation, he was quoting the poets, and so on. Well, of course, if anybody thought for more than twenty-five or thirty seconds, they would recognize that we don’t have the totality of his sermon in Acts chapter 17. If you read the verses in Acts 17 and read them out loud with an egg timer, you will have finished reading them before all of the salt or the sand has come from one side to the other. It won’t take you more than about two minutes and twenty-five seconds.
In the same way, when you come to the story of the prodigal son, to somehow or another suggest that what Jesus is doing here is setting it aside from everything else that is involved in his journey towards Jerusalem is frankly ludicrous. However, that doesn’t prevent people from doing so. And you can find books—mercifully, not in our bookstore—that will help you to that end or will take you down that path.
We need, then, to understand the story of the prodigal in light of what we read in Romans 8, for example, that God “did not spare his own Son, but [he delivered] him up for us all.” That what we learn elsewhere in the Gospels, that “the good shepherd give[s] his life for the sheep.” That he has made him to be sin—that is, the Father has made Jesus to be sin for us—that is, he who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. That the words of the prophet “Surely he ha[s] borne our [sins], and carried our sorrows” are pointing forward to the wonder of what Jesus was to do in the redemption of all the prodigals. That the words of the Father at the time of his baptism and the time of the transfiguration—“This is my beloved Son”—that the word from the Father then is the same as the word from the Father in the Old Testament Prophets where is says that “it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” So when we look at this story, or at these three stories here, we need to keep this in mind—that God delights to forgive sins, that he does so on the basis of the death and resurrection of his Son, that God is intent that sinners should upon conversion become his sons and daughters, and that God has in every instance provided the means whereby this may take place—namely, at Calvary.
Now, I say all of that because it may have been raised in some of your minds. As I’ve often told you, I’m greatly helped, usually, by just going to a hymnbook and looking at the requisite section. And for those of you who have lived long enough, you would find yourself, especially in going to the first of the stories here, back with the famous gospel hymn, “There were ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold.” And then the question that comes to the shepherd, “Lord, you have here the ninety and nine; are they not enough for you?” And then, “None of the ransomed ever knew how deep was the water crossed.” Or the question that then comes, “Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way that mark out the mountain track?” And then the final verse:
But all through the mountain, thunder-riven,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a cry to the gate of heaven,
“Rejoice, I have found my sheep!”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back his own!”
So we must bear in mind that when Jesus is telling this story of how the prodigal is redeemed, he is looking forward down the road to Jerusalem and to the moment when he will cry from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Now we come to these final verses where Jesus delivers the Scud missile to the grumbling and muttering Pharisees who are identified in the opening section of the chapter. These individuals that were so sure of their own position and were able to look down their noses at everybody else are about to find themselves identified with this other son who’d been mentioned at the beginning but has been offstage for the whole time. You remember, as Jesus began this story in verse 11, he said, “There was a man who had two sons,” and then immediately begins to speak about the younger son and tells the story which we’ve been considering over these last three weeks. Every thoughtful person would have been saying to themself, “Well, I wonder what happened to the other boy? I wonder we’re going to find out anything about the other son? Where was he and what did he do?” And he’s introduced. He comes back off the wings of the stage and out onto centerstage: “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. [And] he came near the house, [and] he heard music and dancing.”
There was a discovery that this young man hated to make. The celebration was taking place, the music was going, and people were dancing. “I wonder why I’m not included?” he must have said to himself. “Why didn’t I get an invitation? After all, this is my house! I really am working far too hard these days.”
Interestingly, he doesn’t go in. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about that. It would seem the most likely thing for a fellow to go in, wouldn’t you? I mean after all, it’s his house. He lives there. He hears the music. He learns of the dancing. Why not just go in and see what’s going on? Perhaps he had a sneaking suspicion that what he really didn’t want to see happen had actually happened. He was enjoying the exclusivity of living with his father. He was enjoying taking the high ground and reminding his father, “Hey, I’m around again today, Dad. Hey, I did everything you asked me to do today, Dad. Hey, I know you’re upset about my younger brother, Dad, but listen, at least you’ve got me.” And there was something perverse about the way in which he had really no interest at all in seeing his brother come back.
And so he calls one of the servants, and he asks the servants, “What’s going on?” The servant says, “It’s celebration time! Come on! Your brother has come. Your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has him safe and sound.” Now, presumably, the servant was delighted to be the bearer of this news. After all, the father’s reaction was so incredible that he assumed that the brother would feel the same way. He must have found it very, very hard to imagine why it was that his older brother would, in verse 28, “[become] angry and [refuse] to go in.”
Now, remember, Jesus has been telling these stories one after another. He says, “There was a fellow, and he had ninety-nine in the fold, he lost one, he went to get it, brought it back on his shoulders, and everybody rejoiced, and so there’s rejoicing in heaven. Lady lost her coin, she had nine, but she needed the tenth, she got the tenth, she brought it home, they had a tea party, everybody rejoiced, and there’s rejoicing in heaven.” So he’s gone from one in ninety-nine, to one in ten, to one in two. And his listeners are waiting to see how this story’s going to end. Is it going to be the same way? Well, there’s an inkling of it now, perhaps, with the introduction of the brother—“Perhaps this is what we’re waiting for.” And now the news is going to be, “And when the older brother found out, he rejoiced as well, and they had the most fantastic party that the family had ever seen in all of their lives.”
But it doesn’t happen that way. And so their ears must have perked up. “The older brother,” said Jesus, “became angry and refused to go in.” The strains of the Pharisee are beginning to play out. “This is the one thing,” he must have said to himself, “that I didn’t want to have happen. It would have been one thing if he’d come back and just sidled in quietly, but that’s just what I expect from him—useless brother that he is, useless son, useless character altogether. There’s no way that I’m going in for a party like that.”
Perhaps you received the invitation to go to someone’s baptism, and you refused to go. You couldn’t believe that that person could ever be baptized. “Useless character,” you said, “dreadfully perverse. Used to have a horrible tongue. Dreadfully selfish. I’m not going to go to that kind of event. Those are not the kind of people who should be getting baptized.” What does the song say, “You’re bringing out the Elvis in me”? This guy’s bringing out the Pharisee in everybody who’s honest for more than half a moment.
There’s a discovery that he didn’t want to make, and there was a sympathy that he certainly didn’t want to display. And so his father goes out and pleads with him in verse 28. He sends a servant in, but his father doesn’t send a servant out—just as well that God does not treat us the way in which we are tempted to treat him. The father goes out, and he pleads with him; you’ll notice the tenderness and gentleness of his approach: “Hey,” he says, “come on! What are you doing out here?” He might have justifiably rebuked the boy for being petulant. But instead you’ll notice that he entreats him. The love of the father extends to both his sons: one who went and got lost, and one who stayed home and lost out. One was lost far away, the other was lost close in. Both lost. Both in need of the father going out to them. To the one he’s run down the road, to the other he comes out and he entreats him, he pleads with him, he says, “Come on in.”
Now, what Jesus is saying to the people here is, God the Father is seeking not only the publicans and the sinners, the people who are really interested in hearing the message, but God is also as Father seeking the Pharisees who are lost, if you like, in God’s own backyard. And the absence of forgiveness in the life of this older brother is simply an indication of the Pharisee’s predicament. “This man welcomes sinners”—remember—“and [he] eats with them.” The older brother says, “I’m not going in! This is a party for a sinner. He doesn’t deserve a party. If anyone deserves a party, I deserve a party. I’m the good kid, remember. I’m the one that didn’t leave. I’m the one that did the chores. I’m the one that stayed home. Everyone in the neighborhood knows me. When I go to the market, they say, ‘It’s good that your father got at least one good one out of two.’ Everyone knows what a wreck this kid is. And now a party? And now a celebration? A fattened calf?”
He views himself as a model son. But he’s actually not a model son; he’s living like a slave. In fact, that’s exactly how he describes his existence. He says, “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.” See, the Pharisees, that was their whole game—slavish in their religious adherence, yet inwardly estranged from God. So he represents them and all who are like him. At the same time, he’s able to boast about himself: “I’ve been slaving for you, I never disobeyed your orders.” He blames his father: “Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.”
Can I ask you a question, just in passing: Do you think God owes you anything? Does God owe any one of us anything that he should repay us? No. And yet what do we hear customarily throughout every day of our lives? “He didn’t deserve to have that happen.” “She deserved better than that from God.” “He deserved more than that from God.” Listen: if we got what we deserve from God, none of us would be in existence. We would be banished from his presence forever. The mystery is that we do not get what we deserve.
What this young man in the party received, he didn’t deserve. That’s the whole point! And that’s the point that this son cannot get his head around: “I deserve something, and I don’t get it. He doesn’t deserve anything, and he does get it. What’s going on here? And you expect me to come in to this chicanery of a party? Father, you’re asking too much.” All the years that he’d been in his father’s house, all his years of obedience, were just grim duty. And suddenly his longstanding secret alienation becomes apparent. Eventually something will bring it to light. A man or a woman may live as a slave of religious orthodoxy for all through their days, but eventually something will show it up for the reality that it is. And in this man’s life it happens here.
You see, the contrast in the story that Jesus is telling is not a contrast between a profligate son who went away and made a hash of it and another son who stayed home and made a great job of it; the contrast is between the penitent prodigal who understood his need of the father’s grace and the impenitent older brother who saw in himself no such need at all. He could understand why this messed-up brother of his would need intervention—but not him!
And that’s the contrast. Because the younger son is now bound to his father in a relationship of grace. He came back up the road, saying, “I’d be prepared to be a slave in your house,” and he is given his bedroom back, and it’s all redecorated for him, as it were. “I’d be prepared to be a slave in your house.” The elder son has actually been living as a slave in the house. The younger brother is united to his father by grace; the older brother is united to his father in a relationship of legal obligation.
In fact, if we had longer, we could go through this. You could put two columns down, and we could write in them, if we had time. On the prodigal’s side, he is a son by grace; on the older brother’s side, he is a son by law. On the prodigal’s side, he’s done nothing to merit God’s kindness; on the older brother’s side, he’s done everything to earn it. On the prodigal’s side, this is salvation by the sheer mercy of God; on the older brother’s side, this is an attempt at salvation by obedience and the keeping of the commandments.
Now, this isn’t to say that son number two wasn’t at least outwardly a good, steady, faithful son. Jesus is not here saying that the Pharisees were all rotten. Oh, sure, they had hypocrisy that was part of their existence, but they weren’t the sort of archetypal hypocrite on two legs. These people had given their lives to religion. These people were concerned to know God. These people stayed up late in the night reading the Torah, searching it out, telling others how they can also live by these obligations. So it’s not that this older brother represents some kind of pathetic creature. No, we should think of him exactly as he’s described: as a good, steady, faithful son.
But you see, when the Bible says that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” that does not eradicate the degrees of difference that exist amongst men and women. Right? Not all of us have committed murder. We have all sinned. Not all of us have violated every command in the way another has. Not all of us have lived consumed with pride, or consumed with something, in the way that someone else may have done. So that there is a distinction—not a distinction in terms of whether a man is a sinner or not a sinner, but all are sinners, but the sense of sin and the expression of sin works itself out in different ways and in different people’s lives.
So there is vast difference between these two brothers. But it is a relative difference. Right? One of them definitely lived better. You can’t argue that. He lived better! He stayed home, he shined his shoes, he went to work, he did his business. He was present when he said he would be present. His life, from one perspective, was a better and a more constructive life than his brother’s, who made a hash of it. But the difference is relative, because they were both equally sinners, both equally in need of mercy. And it was this fact that the elder brother couldn’t understand—because he represents the Pharisees.
You see, the Pharisees despised the publicans and the sinners, because they’d given up on the law. They said to themselves, “Listen, we have broken so much of this law—I mean, we are so messed up, we have so many tickets in our glove box—that there is no way in heaven that we’re gonna be able to get ourselves out of this mess by going down this particular avenue.” The law for them was a useless avenue to God. And consequently, the Pharisees said, “You are not the people of the law, therefore you are rejected by God, therefore you have no prospect of eternity in the welcome of the Father.” They saw sin in quantitative terms. Therefore, they regarded salvation as the rendering of sufficient obedience to the law in order to build up enough credit in their account so that when push came to shove in the matter of the judgment they would be able to say, “Yes, we did this and this and this in the debit side, but we did this and this and this in the plus column.” And they believed that they were going to be welcomed into heaven on the strength of that.
So their approach is the opposite of grace—the absolute opposite of grace. Their approach is one of contentment under legal obligation. And that explains the predicament of the older brother. Because he failed to see that sin is not simply acts of wickedness and disobedience, but sin is a heart of rebellion against the Father. And he had a heart of rebellion against his father—expressed differently from the rebellious heart of his younger brother, but nevertheless he was in the same predicament. And he was in need of the same mercy. And what he deserved, he should not be asking for. And what God was willing to give, there was no basis for him to receive.
Well, I hope you’re following that. There was for him a discovery that he didn’t want to make: “Oh no, he’s not back, is he?” There was for him a sympathy that he could not express. The absence of a forgiving heart on the part of the elder brother is an indication of the fact that the elder brother himself had never understood forgiveness. You will never be a forgiving person, I will never be a forgiving person, until I have discovered the amazing forgiveness that is granted me in the Lord Jesus Christ. And the way in which you offer forgiveness to others, the way in which I respond to others in forgiveness, if it is a grudging, mean-spirited, “stay in the garage for the rest of your life” forgiveness, it is an indication of the fact that I have not understood the way in which God throws his arms around me, smothers me in kisses, and calls for a party to begin.
There is no human explanation for this, you know, is there? No, you see, it’s grace. It’s grace. And the danger of certain chunks of American evangelical fundamentalism is that it has actually never understood grace. And in the absence of grace, it has lived with lists, and it has lived with obligations, and it has lived with shibboleths, and it has lived with accretions, and it has lived with rules, and it says to people, “If you will do this, and if you will meet that, and if you will come there, and if you will fulfill this, then there’s a chance, you know.” Which is nothing at all about the way that the father grabs the boy up the street, is it? It’s all grace. He deserves a hiding; he gets a hug. He deserves to stay down in that mess; he’s given a new bedroom. He deserves to walk the streets in his sorry outfit and with the stinky smell of the pigs on him, and he’s given a bath, and he’s given all of the radiance of his father’s welcome. It’s a wonderful story. And you would think that anybody would want to go to this party, especially his brother. But he refused to go in.
Well, why was that? Well, finally, because the very necessity of it all he couldn’t understand or he refused to accept. He resented the irresponsibility and rebellion of his younger brother. After all, he was the picture of loyalty, and responsibility, and faithfulness, and obedience. The elder brother saw himself as spiritually sound, if you like, and healthy. Therefore, he couldn’t grasp the reason for which the father so joyfully welcomes the prodigal home, because he couldn’t see that he was as much in need of grace as this useless brother of his.
You see, the proud and the self-righteous always feel that they’re not treated as well as they deserve. The son looked at this event, this party, this celebration, in terms of rewards. After all, that’s the way he viewed his relationship with his father: “If I do this, I get so many points, and once I get a certain number of points, I get my frequent-flyer miles, then maybe I’ll get the fattened calf. Something has gone horribly wrong here, for this guy has drawn down all of his credit points, he has no credit points, he’s now in the dumper in relationship to credit points, and suddenly it’s ‘Let the good times roll!’ and the party has begun. What in the world is going on here?” The answer is grace. What he receives, he doesn’t deserve. The younger son was able to sing a song which his older brother had never fathomed. And so the father explains to the boy, he says, “Listen, this isn’t a reward; this is a must. You need to understand the nature of salvation itself.” And what had happened, of course, is what happens today—that the fact that this older brother realized that his younger brother had a relationship with God that was based on something he didn’t understand pointed out to him the fact that his relationship with his father was not as it should be.
For those of you who have recently been converted, and you have discovered God’s grace in all its truth, and you’re now surprised that your husband or your father or your brother or your sister are resentful of you in a way that you cannot fully fathom—after all, you simply told them that you have found the answer to your life, that you have discovered forgiveness for your sins. What is the problem with this? Why would they not come to the baptism? Why would they not participate in the celebration? I’ll tell you why: because you have become a catalyst in their lives for showing them that they do not have a relationship with God. They now realize, “If this is what it means to know God, I don’t know him. If this is what it means to love the Father, I don’t love him. If this is what it means to be welcomed by his goodness, I never have.”
And instead of it drawing him in… instead of him falling down at his father’s knees and saying, “Father, I’m in need of the selfsame grace that you’ve bestowed upon my younger brother, because although I haven’t been where he’s gone, although I haven’t seen what he saw, although I haven’t participated in what he participated in, father, I have to tell you, I’ve been living like a slave in your house. I’ve been resentful of you. I’ve been doing things so that people would say, ‘Didn’t he do well?’ I’ve been refraining from doing things simply because I was afraid that I would get caught. But from my heart, Father, I live like a slave in your house. I’m a Pharisee…”
The father would’ve taken him in in an instant, wouldn’t he? After all, it had been a big day for the dad: earlier in the day, running down the road, the people saying, “What happened to Samuel? What’s going on in the street?” Then they see him coming up the road with an unrecognizable, stinky character. And then a few hours have elapsed, and suddenly people are phoning up to say, “Could you turn that music down, please? Turn the music down. What do you think’s going on here?” “What happened to Samuel now?” And then some of them said, “You know, I was watching out my window. I was looking out of the kitchen window. I know what it is. The younger boy’s back! Came back a royal mess, but apparently, a huge party. The older boy came by, and the last I saw, the father and the older boy standing on the doorstep having an unbelievable argument. And it looked to me like the father was saying to him, entreating him, ‘Come on, come in!’ And the last I saw was, the older brother turned his back on his father and said, ‘Away with you and all of this!’ and he stomped off back out into the fields.”
Would anybody choose hell rather than heaven? Yes. Why? Pride. Pride! “If I go in, I’m going to have to admit that the only way in is on my knees. If I go in, I’m going to have to admit that I am a messed-up character as well. I’m not the perfect little daughter. I’m not the exemplary little housewife. Oh, sure, I’ve kept it going. Yes, the people look and say, ‘Yes, ten points for this, and five points for that.’ But inside of my heart,” says the individual, “I know what I’m really like. And if I am to go in, then I’m going to have to go in on my knee. Oh, I would much rather go in with my head held high, with the people clapping, and cheering, and congratulating, and saying, ‘Hey, you made it. Well done!’”
Like that scene in Tommy Boy, when it starts, and he goes up to the university there at wherever it is, and he’s looking on the board to see the results, and he’s pushing forward and pushing forward—the dreadful, sad life of Chris Farley—but there he is, and he pushes forward, and eventually he looks and he goes, “I got a D! I got a D! I’m going to graduate! I’m going to graduate!” and he goes off running through the campus, “I’m going to graduate! I did it!” And you come into church, you’re trying to get a D, you gave up on an A a long time ago, a B-plus has passed you by, you’re down to a B, you’ve got a C average, you’re in a C-minus, you now hit D, you know that the chances of making it are dwindling with every passing endeavor to try and live like a slave—when the Father welcomes you as a son.
You see, this message—this Scud missile, this sting in the tail—brings in many of us who were reared in Christian homes, who’ve learned to play the game, who’ve learned to talk the talk, who’ve learned to get by on our wits, but when our friends have come now to Christ, and many of them have been radically changed, they have been a catalyst to show us we don’t actually know the Father. And instead of bowing our knee and crying out to the Father for mercy, we retreat to our enslavement and our activities and all of our endeavors. And the fact that we are surrounded by so many like us should hold no safety for us, for it is a broad road that leads to destruction, and it is a narrow road that leads to life.
Well, you see God the Father here in all of his beauty. The judgment of God is not God sorting out the human race into a group that he likes that go to heaven and a group that he doesn’t like that go to hell. Rather, the picture of him here is a Father overflowing with grace and generosity and opening his arms to all: to the boy who did a bunk and made a hash of it—he got lost—and to the boy who stayed home and lost out.
Let’s pray together. Once again, a hymn helps me:
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
[There] on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe;
You that are longing to see his face,
Will you this moment his grace receive?
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Father, we pray that you will look upon us in your mercy this night. Do not treat us as our sins deserve. We recognize that we need to be born from above; otherwise we cannot see nor enter the kingdom of heaven. “Come down, O Love divine, and seek thou this soul of mine, and visit it with thine own ardor glowing.”
Lord, grant that those of us who have been away down the road and in a royal mess may come back on our knees and discover the wonder of your loving embrace. And for those of us who’ve been trapped in a form of self-induced slavery—and we’re in the horns of a dilemma now, because most of our friends think we are Christians, that we do know you—help us, Lord, to fall down by our beds before we go to sleep tonight and say, “Father, I want to know you. I want to live my live to show you all the love I owe you. I’m a seeker of your heart.”
And then, when the morning sun rises over the trees, we’ll do that for which we’ve been created: we will glorify you, we will enjoy you forever, we will praise you still. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 R. Hudson Pope, “Make the Book Live to Me.” Paraphrased.
 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV 1984).
 Romans 8:32 (NIV 1984).
 John 10:11 (KJV).
 2 Corinthians 5:21 (paraphrased).
 Isaiah 53:4 (KJV).
 Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35 (KJV).
 Isaiah 53:10 (KJV).
 Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane, “There Were Ninety and Nine That Safely Lay” (1868). Paraphrased.
 Luke 23:34 (KJV).
 Faith Hill, “Bringing Out the Elvis” (1999).
 Luke 15:2 (NIV 1984). Emphasis added.
 Romans 3:23 (KJV).
 Matthew 7:13–14 (paraphrased).
 Julia H. Johnston, “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” (1911).
 Bianco Da Siena, trans. Richard Frederick Littledale, “Come Down, O Love Divine.”
 Beverly Darnall, Nick Tunney, and Melodie Tunney, “Seekers of Your Heart” (1987). Paraphrased.
 Westminster Shorter Catechism, A. 1. Paraphrased.
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.