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If grace is grace then morality and repentance will be of no consequence.
And that, Virginia, is why “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” There is no condemnation because there is no condemner.
The door to the celebration is open to the older son. But the older son simply cannot bring himself to enter. Although the father opens the door wide, for the older son it is too narrow to enter.
We are not forgiven, therefore, because we made ourselves forgivable or even because we had faith; we are forgiven solely because there is a Forgiver.
The point is that none of the people who had a right to be at a proper party came, and that all the people who came had no right whatsoever to be there. Which means, therefore, that the one thing that has nothing to do with anything is rights.
The result of living a life of gratitude towards God in Christ is a breaking of the pattern of Prayer, Deliverance, and Forgetfulness, because every day, not just the extraordinary days, are days to give thanks.
But now we (specifically Jesus) are faced with the direct question of “will those who are saved be few?” Luke 13:23. Or more subtly, “how do I make the cut, and others won’t?”
In the parable, God does not come to our aid because we ask or because we have invited Jesus into our hearts, or because we have a right relationship with God, but only in our shameless, selfless admission that we are dead without him.
The sole difference, therefore, between hell and heaven is that in heaven the forgiveness is accepted and passed along while in hell it is rejected and blocked.
The sheep is effectively dead and the shepherd gives it life, and he gives it freely and fully on no conditions whatsoever.
It is only through Jesus’ death and resurrection by which death is defeated and we are liberated from its power. God’s Grace works when we die to ourselves and our merit and get out of the way.
In his explanation of the parable, Capon hypothesizes that Jesus gives his disciples only what they can handle. He gives them a dog biscuit. (see, Mark 7:27-28).