Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Lost and Found #4: The Prodigal Son

In this story that Jesus told, found in Luke 15:11-32,  are three major characters:  A loving, forgiving father, a prodigal son and his older bitter brother.  In this article we will concentrate our attention on the prodigal son. He certainly pictures a sinner repenting of his sins and coming to God.  I  believe, this son is also a picture of a Christian who has wandered away from God and destroyed his life in sin, but who repents and returns to His Heavenly Father and receives full forgiveness.

  

Note in vs 12 that he is willful.  He demanded that his father immediately give him his full inheritance.  It was as though he wished his father dead. He demanded his independence.  He demanded what he considered his rights.  He demanded freedom from the restrictions of his father.

  

His father wisely and lovingly gave in to his demands, gave him his inheritance and let him go.  That is a fearful situation in which to find yourself.   God did that for rebellious Israel in their wilderness journey to Canaan.  Psalm 105:15 says, “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls.” God will give you your freedom also to run from Him and allow you to suffer the consequences.  Running from God always appears as freedom, but it always ends in bondage and misery.

  

Note in vs 13 that this prodigal son wandered as far as he could get from home. He wanted to be totally free to live life recklessly with no restrictions.  He’s like the sky diver who jumps and is exhilarated by his freedom until he discovers he has no parachute.

  

He acts totally unaware that he must face God for his ungodly living. King Solomon wrote to young people about this kind of reckless living in Ecclesiastes 11:9 through 12:1, a sobering passage for every young person to read and ponder.

  

Luke 15:13 also tells us that he wasted his life in riotous living, such as many young people celebrate on their infamous spring breaks.

  

God gives us gifts to enjoy and use for His glory.  Sinful man perverts and wastes those gifts.  He turns hunger to gluttony,  thirst to drunkenness,  the gift of sight  and affection to lust and sexual orgies. The gift of our mind can be used for God’s glory, or it can become the object of our worship.  The gift of time and energy can be wasted on self interests.

  

Satan is always pleased when churches are not fulfilling God’s will; the evangelization of the world and the edification of believers.  We are wasting our time, energy and resources when, regardless of our activity, we ignore these core reasons for our existence.

  

The prodigal son, verse 14 tells us,  soon came to want. Waste always leads to want.

  

According to Psalm 34:10 those who seek God’s will never lack anything, Psalm 23 promises us that if the Lord is our Shepherd, we will lack nothing. On the other hand,  those who go their own way, wasting God’s gifts soon come to want.   The husks of this world do not satisfy.  The road of self-will leads to the garbage dump of sin and desperation. Proverbs 13:15 warns that “the way of the transgressor is hard.”

  

It wasn’t long before he found himself a slave of the world, feeding pigs; one of the most offensive jobs a Jew could ever imagine doing.   We cannot escape slavery. Romans 6:12-23 teaches that each of us finds ourselves serving a master.  We either serve our loving Master, the Lord Jesus, or else we find ourselves as slaves of Satan.

  

This prodigal son soon found himself starving. No man would help him.  Ultimately he was forced to share the pigs feeding trough and I’m sure he had to fight the pigs for anything he got.  What a contrast to the way God provides for those who love Him,  as shown in Psalm 103:1-5

  

Note, The father was not out in the far country seeking for him. He left him alone to allow his life of rebellion to run its course and for his wayward son  to get his fill of the pig slop and the loneliness and misery of his choice.  All the time he was praying for his son and  watching for any trace of his homecoming.  God does not force us to live surrendered to Him, but He controls our circumstances to bring us to desperation and back to Him.

  

Gradually the prodigal son was awakened  by his God-given dissatisfaction.  The Bible says “he came to himself”. He was coming to his senses.  As he was coming back to his father, a picture of God; he was coming to himself, realizing that he was made to live for God. That’s repentance!

  

Humble and broken, he sensed his utter unworthiness to receive anything from God. He determined to return home and make a full confession, making no excuses for his sin.  There in that far country, he formulated his confession.  In Luke 15: 18-19 we read the words that he determined to say to his father. “Father, I have sinned against God and against you, and I am not worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.”

  Then he began the long journey home.  We’ll discuss the homecoming next time. Just a hint of what lay ahead,  He never got a chance to complete the confession he had formulated in his mind.

August 22, 2007 Posted by | LOST and FOUND | Comments Off on Lost and Found #4: The Prodigal Son

Freedom #21: Stand Fast

The world’s definition of freedom is the liberty to do whatever you wish with no restrictions, no accountability, no one confronting you and no adverse consequences. That, of course, is not freedom, that is anarchy as in the days of the Judges when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. Judges 21:25     

Jesus said in John 8:34-35 that the one who sins is a slave of sin and that freedom is only found in knowing Him.   Did you know that Christians are the only free people on the face of the earth?  Though in the past we were in bondage to sin;  as Christians, we have been freed from that bondage through faith in Christ.     

Liberal preachers over the past century have forsaken the Gospel of Christ that delivers from sin and its consequences and have replaced it with the false gospel of the Christian Liberation Movement, that of vainly attempting to deliver the masses from poverty and disease by destroying capitalism and ushering in Socialism.    Actually, forms of this false gospel have been around since Bible times. Peter warned of these false teachers in II Peter 2:9-22  who preach freedom, but they themselves are slaves to sin.      

The Galatian Christians had been set free from the oppression of sin by the Gospel of Grace that Paul had preached to them. Then Galatians 2:4 tells us that false teachers had infiltrated the churches and were drawing  the young Christians back into the bondage of attempting to keep the Mosaic Ceremonial Law which was abolished when Jesus died and rose again.      

WHAT IS CHRISTIAN LIBERTY?     

First, it is freedom from the power of sin to enslave us.  That freedom is found only in Christ who perfectly fulfilled God’s Law and then paid the penalty for our inability to live it, imputing His perfection  on all those who trust Him.   We are also freed from the oppressive burden of the ceremonial system with its feasts and observance of sabbaths and holy days that Israel had trouble keeping. Paul writes about this in Colossians 2:8-23   As believers in Christ, we have been given the gift of His Holy Spirit who lives the righteousness of the Law through us as we allow His Spirit to have control in our lives. That is taught in Romans 8:1-4.      

THE PURPOSE OF GOD’S MORAL AND CEREMONIAL LAWS      

Unconverted, carnal  men need God’s Laws to show them what is right and wrong.   He also needs punishment severe enough to control his behavior because he lacks the inward control of character.  The unconverted religionist can’t imagine life without laws and punishment to control passions.      On the other hand, the believer whose trust is in the grace of Christ has the Holy Spirit living within him as the restrainer from sin. That restrainer is referred to in II Thessalonians 2:7  The Old English word let in that verse in the King James Version, is a word for restrainer or hinderer.     

The Judaizers thought Paul was throwing off God’s Law.  They didn’t understand that the Law of God is written in the heart of every Christian and we delight to keep God’s ethical standards and are empowered to do so by the indwelling Holy Spirit.   The Old Testament saints, as David, also delighted in God’s Law and it was written in their hearts. David writes about this in Psalm 40:7-8.     

So when we Christians do right, we are not reacting to a code of laws. Rather we are responding to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit.   As for the Old Testament Ceremonial Laws, we study them to see pictures of Jesus; however,  we are under no obligation to observe them, for according to Colossians 2:16-17 Christ is the fulfillment of those laws.     

OUR CALLING IN CHRIST IS TO LIBERTY, PURITY AND LOVE.     

God’s moral law has not changed.  The change is in the fulfillment of it.  Read the beautiful story in Exodus 21:1-6 of the slave who was set free, but chose to stay with his master and serve him the rest of his life.  Note that the slave continued with his duties as a slave, but now his motive for serving had changed from coercion to love.     

God’s moral standards regarding murder, fornication, adultery, and deviant sexual behavior are still an abomination in the sight of God and are punishable by death.  But now the Christian’s behavior is no longer motivated by fear, but by his love for God.  If you determine to live by God’s standards because you love God and appreciate his gracious salvation,  expect  to be misunderstood and labeled a legalist, even by some Christians who lack a knowledge of God’s Word.     

Christian freedom is not to be used as an occasion to cast off restraint and live a licentious life, doing whatever comes naturally and harming others.  Rather,  Christian freedom according to Galatians 5:15  is the ability through the indwelling Holy Spirit, to walk in holiness, serve others and glorify God. 

Love enables us to fulfill God’s Law even as it did for Old Testament saints, Obedience should flow from a heart that loves God. That’s why God commanded Israel  in Leviticus 19:18  and Deuteronomy 6:4-8 to love Him and love one another and that’s why we in the New Testament are given the same commands and that’s why the Apostle Paul challenges the Galatian Christians and us to “stand fast” in the liberty which is in Christ Jesus.  

August 22, 2007 Posted by | Freedom | Comments Off on Freedom #21: Stand Fast