“THE LOST SON AND THE LOVING FATHER”
READ IN THE BIBLE (LUKE -32)
In the Bible, the gospel of Luke, chapter 15, we have, not three parables, but one parable in three parts. This chapter describes for us a threefold parable. We have in the first part the story of the Shepherd, a type of the Son of God, the good Shepherd, with its emphasis on suffering. In the second part we have the story of the woman, a type of the Spirit of God, with its emphasis on seeking. In the third part we have the story of the Father, a type of God the Father, with its emphasis on singing. This threefold parable is all concerned with “lost things”. The first part is concerned with lost sheep. The second part is concerned with lost silver. The third part is concerned with a lost son. On previous occasions we have written and recorded messages on the first two parts of this parable, the lost sheep and the lost silver. This parable, with its emphasis on “lost things”, reminds us of a “golden text” in the gospel of Luke which is found in, (Luke ) “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”. The title “Son of man” was often used by the Lord Jesus Christ when speaking of Himself. It speaks of His humanity. The Son of God became the Son of man. It speaks of His universal and eternal dominion as “the last Adam”. The Son of man has come. This is indeed a blessed truth. He came from the glory of heaven. He came to Bethlehem and He came to Calvary where He “poured out His soul unto death”. It says in, (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. It says also in, (Hebrews 2:14) “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy (render powerless) him that had the power of death, that is, the devil”. The Savior’s coming into the world was a demonstration of God’s love for this world of sinners lost. He came for a purpose. He came, “to seek and to save that which was lost”. What was lost? It is the “collective whole” of mankind that was lost. Mankind was “lost” when our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell into sin. It says in, (Romans 5:12) “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. The term “lost” then, is a descriptive term for all men who, by nature, are poor, lost, helpless hopeless sinners. By His coming into the world, the Savior has come to seek and save that which was lost. Dear reader, have YOU ever considered that you are lost and need to be saved? Where ever there is a lost sinner there is a seeking Savior, to seek that lost one. There is a loving Father in heaven waiting to receive you home. In this message we want to focus on the third part of the parable because it is about, “The Lost Son and the Loving Father”. By way of outline we will consider the following:
1. THE SON’S DEPARTURE (Luke 15:11-13a)
We read in these verses, “A certain man had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country”. In this parable there are two sons which represent two classes of sinners. For the time being we want to focus our attention on the younger prodigal son who left his fathers house and went astray. The first thing we notice here is, THE SON’S DESIRE. He said to his father, “Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me”. Many young people are like this prodigal who cut ties with their parents as soon as possible. They move out of their parents’ house. They want their freedom and independence so that they might do “their own thing” without parental constraint. The lesson here is that we have all gone astray from God. God has a loving Fathers heart and wants us to come back to Him. It says in, (Isaiah 53:6) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way”. Dear reader, are YOU aware that you are lost and astray from God and that you need to come back to God? In effect, YOU have taken your journey into a far country and thus you are away from God. You have “turned to your own way”. You may think the path you have chosen for yourself is acceptable but God warns in His Word, (Proverbs ) “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”. The Bible says there are only two roads through life, the “broad way” that leads to destruction and the “narrow way” that leads to life. We read in, (Matthew 7:13, 14) “Enter ye in at the strait (narrow) gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat”: Because strait (narrow) is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The way to eternal life is narrow because it is only through the Lord Jesus Christ. Only by Him can you be saved. He said in, (John 14:6) “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. It says also, regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, in, (Acts 4:12) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved”. There are consequences for those who ignore God’s offer of salvation, for those who live their life without God and who are on a path away from God. Following THE SON’S DEPARTURE, we have:
2. THE SON’S DEGRADATION (Luke 15:13b-16)
We read in these verses, the son “took his journey into a far country”, “and there wasted his substance with riotous living. (The older son said to his father, regarding the younger son in, (verse 30) “He hath devoured thy living with harlots”.) And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave him”. The younger son began to feel the consequences of his choices in life. He was finding out by bitter experience that the ways of sin are hard. We read in, (Galatians 6:8) “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption”. He wasted his substance and he was wasting his life. Here we have THE SON’S DISTANCE. He was in a “far country” away from the father and the father’s house. He was in a land where a mighty famine prevailed. This “far country” with its “famine in the land” is a picture of this world, a world of sin without God. Dear reader, can you see yourself in the actions of the prodigal son? You want God’s blessings in your life but you do not want God. Covetousness is characteristic of your life. Wastefulness also marks your life. You have wasted your life, your talents, and your blessings from God. You are in the “far country” of this world and world system which is alienated from God. There is a “famine in the land” as far as you are concerned. The things of this world have lost their attraction for you. They can no longer satisfy your heart which feels empty and unsatisfied. There is a reason for this and that is because God has put eternity into your heart. You were created for God and His glory. It says also in, (1 John 2:15, 16) “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”. THE SON’S DESTITUTION resulted in THE SON’S DEGRADATION. The son’s path away from the father led him into a disgraceful and degraded condition. He was reduced to desiring swine’s food in a strange country in a stranger’s field. We are reminded of the desperate poverty of those who serve sin and Satan. Sin is a hard master, and the servants of sin always find it out sooner or later. Many who claim to be happy with their ungodly lives, if they were honest, would confess, there is a “famine within” their heart. They are “in want”. It says in, (Isaiah 57:21) “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked”. What is the solution to this problem? Notice what the prodigal son did which brings us to our next point;
3. THE SON’S DECISION (Luke 15:17-19)
It says in these verses, regarding the prodigal son, “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father, and I will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants”. Notice at least three important steps that resulted from the son’s decision;
· “HE CAME TO HIMSELF” – Here we have THE SON’S DELIBERATION. He began to consider his situation. He began to change his mind. The psalmist also felt dissatisfaction and took similar action when he said, (Psalm 63:1) “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is”. To the psalmist this world became a barren place. He could find nothing to refresh his soul, to fill the void in his heart and life. Instead of seeking satisfaction in the things of this world, he began to seek after God. Here is the first step to salvation. It is called repentance. Dear reader, have YOU repented of your sins? Have YOU ever had an “awakening experience? “Repentance” means a change of mind about ones sinful deeds. In true repentance, there is an element of remorse for sins that leads to a definite change of attitude and action. The Lord Jesus Christ said in, (Luke 13:3) “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish”. “Repentance”, or turning away from sin, by itself, is not enough for salvation; there must also be a turning to the Lord Jesus Christ in faith. (Acts 20:21).
· “I WILL ARISE AND GO TO MY FATHER” – Here we have THE SON’S DETERMINATION. Following his review of his situation and his repentance, we have his determination to return to his father. We read in, (verse 20) “He arose, and came to his father”. Genuine repentance is much more than mere words. The prodigal son began to think rightly and to act in a correct manner and he began to move in the right direction. You must determine to come to God by a definite act of faith.
· “I WILL SAY UNTO HIM, FATHER, I HAVE SINNED”. – Here we have THE SON’S CONFESSION. The events following the son’s decision are a picture of a person turning to God in true repentance and faith. The son repented of his sins. He made his decision to go to the Father. He was ready to confess his sins and no longer excuse his sins. He would say, in effect, like David, (Psalm 51:3) “I acknowledge my transgressions”. He would say, in effect, like the publican, (Luke ) “God be merciful to me a sinner”. Dear reader, have YOU ever felt the heavy burden of your sins? Have YOU come to God in all your sins and confessed your sins to God and asked God to save you? The Word of God says that as a consequence of Adam’s sin, ALL HUMANITY FELL. Adam not only acted for himself, but also for the whole human race, of which he was the head. Everyone born since that time has come into the world possessed of a sinful nature. Because you have a sinful nature you sin by practice in thought, word and deed. No sinner can enter heaven unless his sins have been forgiven. We read in, (Romans 3: 9-23) “Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin”. “There is none righteous, no, not one”. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. Dear reader, when God says “all”, He means ALL and that includes YOU. Because you are a guilty sinner you need to be saved.
It says of the prodigal son in, (verse 20) “He arose and came”. He was now about, “to learn of the love in THE FATHERS HEART”, “to be received into THE FATHERS HOUSE” and “to share in THE FATHERS HAPPINESS” .perpetually. Next, then, we want to consider;
4. THE FATHER’S HEART (Luke 15:20)
We read in this verse, “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him”. O what a reception the prodigal son received. It was far more wonderful than he ever imagined. “When he was yet a great way off” tell us much about the love of God. The penitent man was received readily, pardoned freely and completely accepted by the Father. So it will be for YOU, dear reader, when YOU come to God in faith for salvation. We see in this story the infinite love of the Lord Jesus Christ toward sinners. He is willing to receive all who come to Him, and how complete, and full, and immediate is the pardon which He is ready to bestow. We read in, (Hebrews 7:25) “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost (evermore) that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them”. We read also in, (Psalm 86:5) “He is plenteous in mercy”. Dear reader have YOU ever come to Him in faith that you might be saved? The God of the Bible, the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ, is a God of love. We read in, (1 John 4:8-10) “God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins”. Like the prodigal son, when you repent and confess your sins and come to the God in faith, you will learn of and experience the love that is in THE FATHER’S HEART. The father’s gracious reception of his son meant that he would be given a place in THE FATHER’S HOUSE:
5.THE FATHER’S HOUSE (Luke 15:21-24)
We read in these verses, “And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son”. “But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet”: “And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry”. “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry”. It was a grand and gracious reception the father bestowed upon his returning son. It is a picture of how the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, receives the repentant sinner who comes to Him in faith for salvation. It says of Christ in, (Luke 15:2) “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them”. Notice that the son was lost but is now found. He was dead but now he is alive again. It is a picture of salvation, of the conversion of a sinner. It is a picture of being “born again” that we read of in (John 3). The unsaved are described as being lost as we have previously stated. They are described as being, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Dear reader, this is a description of YOU unless you have been saved by the grace of God. The Lord Jesus Christ said in, (John 5:24) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”. Have YOU had this experience in your life? The prodigal son came home to the father’s house and received a grand reception. He was given the best robe. The garment is a picture of salvation. (Isaiah 61:10) He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with a robe of righteousness”. Upon the hand of the returning son was placed a ring. This signifies eternal love and an unending relationship with the father. When a person gets saved they are saved eternally. Those who are saved have eternal security. The returning son was given shoes for his feet. Slaves and servants had no shoes. The shoes on his feet marked him as a freeman, not a servant. He was received as a son who could stand in the presence of his father in full forgiveness and acceptance. All who are saved by the grace of God are brought into the family of God as adult sons as we read in (Galatians 4:5, 6). The fatted calf was a prize animal reserved for a feast in honor of a very special guest. Dear reader do YOU know for certain that you will have a place in the Father’s house? The Lord Jesus Christ said to his own, (John 14:2, 3) “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”. In order for you to have a place prepared for you in heaven, you must be prepared for the place by being saved from your sins.
6.THE FATHER’S HAPPINESS (Luke 15:24b, 25b, 32)
Eternal joy will be the portion for all who are saved for heaven. In the first part of the parable in Luke 15, when the Shepherd found the lost sheep, He said, (Luke 15:6, 7) “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”. In the second part of the parable when the woman found the lost silver she said, (Luke 15:9, 10) “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which was lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth”. In the third part of this parable in Luke 15 which we are considering about THE LOST SON AND THE LOVING FATHER we read, (Luke 15:23, 24, 32) “Let us eat and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again: he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again: and was lost, and is found”. When a lost sinner is saved by the grace of God there will not only be joy in the heart of that person but there will be joy in heaven as well. (Luke 15:24) says, “They began to be merry”. The joy begins at conversion. “It is begun”. It will never end. God’s salvation is an eternal salvation therefore there will be eternal joy as well. The prodigal sinner saved by the grace of God can say like the hymn writer:
Once as prodigals we wandered
In our folly, far from Thee;
But Thy grace, O’er sin abounding,
Rescued us from misery:
Thou Thy prodigals hast pardoned,
Loved us with a Father’s love;
Welcomed us with joy o’erflowing,
E’en to dwell with Thee above.
In closing, I urge YOU to take advantage of this present time while you can and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as YOUR personal Savior. The Apostle Paul was traveling the Damascus road when God saved him. The first African, an Ethiopian eunuch, was returning from Jerusalem in a chariot when God saved him. YOU are traveling the “highway of life”, passing through time on the way to eternity. There are only two destinations before you. It will either be eternal joy in heaven or eternal sorrow in hell. Now that you have read this message you have come to a “crossroads” on your life’s journey. Which way will you go? You can remain on the “broad way” to eternal destruction and hell by doing absolutely nothing. But, heaven can be your eternal destiny by believing the gospel message and by a definite act of faith, receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior. Please give this matter your most serious attention. Your eternal destiny depends on your decision.