I can think of no other parable of Jesus which illustrates God’s grace more than the story of the Prodigal Son. Being restless and prone to wonder, he receives his inheritance early and is off to travel the world. I have a feeling that he was very excited when his father agreed to give him the money early.
But then reality sets in. He is in the middle of a famine. He has squandered his inheritance and must find work. The only job available is that of feeding pigs. (As a Jewish Christian, I find humor in this). He realizes that the pigs are eating better than he is!
He remembers his father and the comforts of his home. Then he realizes that even the servants have enough to eat. He makes a decision to go home, not as a son, but as a servant. He is truly repentant and sincerely believes that he should not be considered a son any longer. It’s interesting to me that he was very willing to work for this father.
He goes back home. It doesn’t say, but I imagine that he was quite nervous and anxious. When he sees his father, possibly thinking that he will be rebuked and perhaps rejected, he says:
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
When the son confessed his sin and his words clearly showed a “broken and contrite heart” all the father could think about was how happy he was to see his precious son! Perhaps his son expected an I told you so lecture, or at least stern words. I imagine that this overwhelmed the son with joy, love and gratefulness.
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost
But now am found,
Was lost, but now I see!”
The son did not merit this welcome from his father. The father had every right to discipline his son and make him feel the weight of his sin. But the joy and love that filled his father’s heart washed away all else. Clearly, this is a picture of God our Father, and how He yearns for His children to come home!
God knows that we are incapable of keeping all of His commandments. He gave us those Commandments to show His holiness and standards, all the while knowing that we will fall short.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
He yearns for reconciliation with those He has created. His plan from before the foundations of the earth were laid, was that His precious Son Jesus would pay for our sins by the shedding of His own blood; the Perfect sacrifice.
John the Baptist said this:
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
“And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).
The blood of Jesus was vastly different from that of sacrificed animals. This was the blood of God Himself; the final atonement for all sin. The Word made flesh had come into the world to shed His blood, so that whosoever believes (trusts) in Him will be saved.
He brought us a better covenant: GRACE. He lavished His love and grace upon us, and those who were drawn and answered Yes, would be reconciled to Him for eternity. We are born- again. Hallelujah!
Have You Changed?
When you came to God, were you broken? Did you agree with Him that you are a sinner? Did you repent (turn away) from your sins, and tell Him that you need Him for the forgiveness of your sins? Did you sincerely ask Him to be your Lord and Savior?
Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in your life?
Do you use grace as an excuse to keep sinning? Grace is often misunderstood. It is not to be used to have one foot in the world and one foot in the Bible. True salvation and repentance go hand in hand. We cannot have one without the other. When we come to Christ and sincerely repent we yield to the Holy Spirit so He can accomplish the regenerative work within.
Galatians 5:22-25 says:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
When a person is born-again from above, there is evidence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within. Good works come naturally; they come out of a grateful heart in the child of God. This doesn’t mean there will be instantaneousrecognition of a redeemed soul. But there should be change in behavior and attitude..A child of God begins to love the things that God loves, and hate that which He hates.
Does the child of God still sin? As long as we live in these bodies, we will sin. Paul spoke about this battle within him in Romans 17:15-24 (taken from the NASB for clarification sake)
“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”
Until we receive our glorified bodies, we will still sin. But we have the assurance from God that we may come to Him and confess the sin:
“ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Sanctification is the process of being set apart from the world. Believers are in the world but not of it.
John 17:15-19 says:
“ I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”
Are you a different person since you asked Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life? I’m not asking if you are perfect. None of us are, except Jesus Christ. I am asking you if you have changed since you made a profession of faith. Have you begun to love what God loves, and feel an aversion to what He hates?
Are you living with a person to whom you are not married? Do you come under conviction that this doesn’t please God? Do you get defensive and angry when someone points out Scriptures that hold us accountable for a changed life in Christ?
When you think back to the time before you asked Jesus to come into your heart, do you see yourself growing in Him? Do you love to read His Word? Do you love to be with other Christians and feel more comfortable being around them than your unsaved friends? Do you share the salvation message? These are questions that each of us should be asking ourselves.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says:
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
Grace Is Not Cheap
Through the years, I have watched the same people walk down the aisle as the pastor does an altar call – over and over, again and again. Some of these people I have known personally. It is difficult to understand why they feel the need to repent and believe all over again. But that is between them and God.
I have seen others who walk that aisle as if it’s a path to a heavenly insurance policy. You can see these types who continue to live in sin, but if anything is said, they point you back to the day that they “Said the prayer” and in their minds that sealed the deal. I must tell you that this makes me very sad and angry.
I call that cheap grace. There is nothing cheap about the suffering our Savior endured on that horrid cross. He suffered an excruciatingly painful death, and spiritually He came to a point where He cried out “My God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:14) because at that moment He had become sin and His Father had to turn from Him.
Now before you say that I’m getting legalistic, let me assure you that I am NOT legalistic in any way. I see many people who claim to be in the faith, but whose lives scream “I’m of the world” Where is the fruit?
If you are a Christian, then you should be following Christ. You should NOT look like the world. You should be able to look back and see that you have changed.
We do not read about the life of the prodigal son after he returned home. I believe that his repentance and coming home changed his whole life. I believe that if Jesus wrote the rest of that story, we would see a completely different person in the prodigal son. I think that the moment that his father kissed him and showed that unconditional love, he was forever a new person. Not perfect, but changed.
I know I’ve changed. He is still working on me and refining and smoothing out rough edges. But the person I used to be is definitely not who I am today!
Praise Yeshua Ha Mashiach!