The Prodigal Son
Before you begin your Bible study, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you have named your sins privately to God the Father.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(Known, Unknown and Forgotten sins) (1Jn 1:9)
You will then be in fellowship with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn Truth from the Word of God.
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth," (John 4:24)
The Prodigal Son
What is a parable?
Before you can understand one of the most familiar parables in the Scriptures, it is necessary to know something of the literary nature of a parable. The parable is a short, fictitious narrative which illustrates a Principle of Truth. “Parable,” derived from the Greek PARABOLE, is a compound word: PARA, meaning “beside,” and BOLE, “to throw”; together they denote “to set alongside.” In other words, in order to understand the Spiritual aspect of a parable, one must match up the story with the Principle of Truth. For example, in the parable of the prodigal son, the father represents God the Father and the two sons are analogous to believers in various stages of carnality and Spirituality. The interpretation of the parable requires deduction compatible with known Truth.
All parables are derived from the mode of life as it was at the time the parable was written. The characters and incidents are figurative or typical, and proper names or specific geographic locations are never used. For example, the story of Lazarus and the rich man is not a parable because specific names and location are given. Thus you can distinguish between an actual historic event and a parable. The narrative of a parable has an outward literal meaning which either the believer or unbeliever can understand; but parables are directed primarily toward the believer who has Bible Truth in His soul. Only the believer with Truth is able to understand the Spiritual significance of the story. When He was speaking before large crowds, Jesus often used this form of communication to teach Truth to the believers who were present. Unbelievers and ignorant believers “missed the boat” completely and never grasped the implications of the analogy.
The new birth
The background for the parable of the prodigal son is, Luke 15. In verse one, Jesus Christ addresses Himself to publicans and sinners who have gathered to hear Him. Noting His compassion for these sinners, the Pharisees and scribes came to criticize. (Luk 15:2) They complained that not only did He receive publicans and sinners. He even dined with them. The publicans, (Tax collectors) and sinners, (Prostitutes, etc.) were the lowest social order in Jewish society. No self-respecting Jew would ever be seen in the company of these people, much less fraternize with them. Yet here was One who, claiming to be their Messiah, flagrantly ignored all their traditions and customs. He would not comply with their legalizing preferring instead the companionship of the “untouchables.” Blinded to their own Spiritual condition, the self-righteous religious leaders would not recognize that He was “the Son of man... come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luk 19:10) They could not understand that Jesus Christ would go to any length possible, compatible with His own character, to persuade those who were without hope and without Salvation to come by faith to Him! He would do anything to draw them to Himself through the Gospel, for He was the only solution to the sin problem, the only hope for eternal life. (Acts 4:12)
The religious leaders knew well this passage in their Old Testament Scriptures:
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isa 53:5-6)
Yet, how little they cared for God’s Plan for a lost and dying world! To these legalistic Pharisees and scribes Jesus had said, “Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7) These men were sincere do-gooders, men who lived by the Golden Rule and obeyed or thought they obeyed every letter of the Law. Jesus said that all their moral degeneracy and human good was not sufficient --- they needed to be born again!
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:26)
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)
This is the only way to be born again. With the rejection of the religious do-gooders, Jesus offered salvation to the “sinners,” who had no illusions about their true condition before God.
Even the rich young ruler, a very moral and upright believer who was confident he had kept the entire Law, was declared to be still lacking. Later, to His surprised disciples, Jesus explained that the trouble with the rich young ruler, was, that he had not followed Him to Spiritual maturity. (Matt 19:21-30) The only people, who are the ACTIVE children of God, are those who are born into the family of God by faith in Christ; and grow to Spiritual maturity! (Rom 8:14)
To answer the criticism of the scribes and Pharisees, the first two parables in this passage are related to Salvation, Rebound and Spiritual maturity. (Luk 15:3-9) The sinner is compared in the first parable to an animal; in the second, to an inanimate object, a coin. In conclusion Jesus states a Principle:
"I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luk 15:7)
In the third parable the analogy changes; a new subject is introduced. In this story there are two sons who are analogous to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And He said, "A man had two sons. (Luk 15:11)
The key to this passage is the relationship that exists between a father and his two sons. When the passage is concluded, the same relationship still exists --- the father and two sons; they are BOTH SONS! Both are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as the universal son-ship of man and the universal Fatherhood of God. This is a lie right from the devil’s mouth. (John 8:44) The only son-ship which the Bible recognizes is the son-ship of regeneration ---believers in the family of God. (Gal 3:26)
The “certain man,” declared to be their father, represents God the Father, the First Person of the Trinity. The two sons portray two believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. They have received the Son of God as Lord and Savior and have now entered into union with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Top circle) Illustration
http://dictionaryofdoctrine.com/files/Top And Bottom Circles.jpg
When the parable opens, the younger son is out of fellowship; when the parable closes, the older son is out of fellowship. But BOTH OF THEM ARE STILL SONS, AND ALWAYS WILL BE!
And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1Jn 5:11)
All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have eternal life. You as a “son” have eternal security and cannot get out of the “top circle.” When you believe in Christ, God provides certain permanent things for you.
Both sons are in the “top circle,” and will always be in the “top circle.”
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
Once a son, always a son. Once you are born into the family of God, you will always be a member of the family of God. You cannot change your Spiritual birth any more than you can change your physical birth. You may desire at some time to change your family. Perhaps you have been the recipient of discipline; perhaps there have been some hard feelings; yet it is impossible to change the family into which you were born physically. In like manner, and much more important, you cannot change the family into which you were born Spiritually. The moment you believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you were born into the family of God.
The Bible has many approaches to this subject; but suffice to say by way of conclusion, YOU CANNOT GET OUT OF THE “TOP CIRCLE.” You cannot lose your relationship with God. Once you believe, the matter is out of your hands. God is immutable. He is unchangeable. Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, to day, and forever.” (Heb 13:8) He cannot cancel what He has done. God cannot invalidate His work. If at some time in your life you have personally received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior regardless of your experiential status at this moment, regardless of your conduct or your behavior pattern, regardless of what a “stinker” you turned out to be, regardless of how self-righteous or how religious you are — YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. That is the end of it! You cannot change it.
And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:28)
Don’t ever come up with that meaningless chant, that so-called prayer, “Oh, God, save us at last.” This is the same as saying that God goes back on His Word, that God is a liar, that God is unrighteous and unfair, that He is not immutable. In other words, you are guilty of the worst kind of blasphemy. You were saved from the Lake of Fire, for all eternity, and that is it! It is settled once for all! The decision of faith in Christ is the only prerequisite for eternal salvation!
“They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)
Fellowship with God
The “bottom circle” represents the area of fellowship with God in time. This is the place of temporal fellowship, a condition we call “Spirituality.” When a believer sins, whatever the sin may be, he moves outside the “bottom circle,” out of fellowship with the Lord and into the area of “carnality.” He is still a believer, but a believer out of fellowship. He is still in the “top circle.” However, there is a provision by which he can move back into the “bottom circle.” It is not by burning candles, rededicating, taking a vow, repenting or feeling sorry for sin; it is not by any kind of emotional flagellation. YOU CAN BE RESTORED. (1Jn 1:9) And when you are restored, you are in fellowship with the Lord again.
Carnality versus Spirituality
Carnality and Spirituality are opposite terms: carnality describes the believer’s status out of fellowship, while Spirituality depicts his status in fellowship. (Rom 8:6) The Holy Spirit, as well as the old sin nature, indwells the believer’s body. When the old sin nature controls the soul, the result is carnality. (Rom 7:14) When the Holy Spirit fills or controls the soul, the result is Spirituality. (Gal 5:16) Every person who is a believer in Jesus Christ, in any given instant in Phase Two,” is either carnal or Spiritual. (1Co 3:1) As a Christian, you are controlled either by the old sin nature or by the Holy Spirit.
The behavior pattern of a carnal Christian cannot be distinguished from that of an unbeliever (1Co 3:3) As far as God’s Word is concerned, you may act like an unbeliever; but if you have believed in Christ, you are still a believer a believer in status quo carnality out of fellowship. This Principle is important in understanding the prodigal. A BELIEVER OUT OF FELLOWSHIP ACTS LIKE AN UNBELIEVER. In fact, he is sometimes worse, as illustrated by David at one point in his life. (2Sa 11:1) David was a believer; yet he behaved like an unbeliever. Saul, too, was a believer, but he acted like an unbeliever most of his life. As far as overt behavior is concerned, a carnal believer cannot be distinguished from an unbeliever.
The prodigal started out as every believer does, in the “bottom circle,” in fellowship with God in time. Remember, however, that although he was later out of the “bottom circle,” out of fellowship with the Lord, at the same time he was still in that “top circle.” He could not lose his salvation. The issue, then, is regaining temporal fellowship with God. This can be achieved only through rebound. Some believers never understand eternal security; they think they can lose their salvation. This is certainly the reasoning of many Christians today. After having been out of fellowship, perhaps for years, and then desiring to return to the Lord, they think they must believe in Christ again. They try to reaffirm their faith, rededicate or repent. You cannot redo anything, as far as your salvation is concerned, for it was accomplished in full the first time you believed. At salvation God provides forty permanent things” for you; these settle salvation once and for all. http://thinkingtruth.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/forty-amazing-blessings-2/
If you reject the Principle of eternal security, you are saying that God did not do a good job the first time, so you must “redo” it! This is an insult to the Lord and displays a pitiful ignorance of the Word. Even preachers falsely use the rededication gimmick when people come to them to find out how to get-back in fellowship.
This emotional approach to the problem of carnality results in confused, miserable believers. There is only one way for a believer to be restored to fellowship. You can promise God that you will never do it again; (But you will) you can be sincere and hypnotize yourself into dedication; (Which is useless) you can try to make a deal with God; but none of these will get you back in fellowship because nothing YOU can do will ever satisfy God — only what Jesus Christ HAS DONE satisfies Him! The ignorance of the average believer is appalling, and particularly the ignorance of the GRACE OF GOD!
The parable of the prodigal son illustrates the grace of God. Believers are often shocked by the sins they commit. They may ask, “Do CHRISTIANS do this?” They may wonder, “Maybe I am not even a Christian!” Be assured that Christians can commit any sins that unbelievers commit! When a believer sins, he has lost temporal fellowship, but his salvation form the Lake of Fire is NEVER on the line. The proper question, then, is, “How do I as a Christian, handle myself when I am out of fellowship?” The moment you believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, whether or not you remember that moment, God went to work. That is the grace of God, and it is HIS grace. It operated on your behalf at Salvation; and, as we shall see, it continues to operate in the matter of fellowship.
Let us be sure the issue is clear! In, (Luk 15:11) there are two sons. One does not “slide off the roof” and become a servant, or something else. He is still a believer. He will be a “pig-pen Christian” for a time, but he eventually recovers or rebounds. We shall see that he is not as bad as his older brother, who is a legalistic, self-righteous prig.
Divine operating assets
"The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. (Luk 15:12)
By way of analogy, the portion of goods that falls to the younger son is related to the Divine operating assets provided by God for the Christian life. Perhaps you are not aware that you are a Spiritual millionaire. Perhaps you have been living a poverty-type existence, Spiritually speaking, because you are not cognizant of the fact that God the Holy Spirit dwells inside you; that you are in union with the Person of Christ: that on the day that you believed in Jesus Christ, God did forty things for you immediately; and He is just “tapping His foot” waiting, (Isa 30:18) to do hundreds of other things. Carnality is strangling the possibility of your receiving these wonderful blessings. If this is true in your case, you are a Spiritual millionaire living like a pauper. The basis of your Spiritual wealth is union with the Person of Jesus Christ! There are thousands of Promises which belong to you as a Christian. Each promise is based on a Principle of Truth. How many have you claimed during the past week? It is a tragic thing when we do not claim what belongs to us. If you had a million dollars in your checking account right now, I suspect you might write one or two checks during the week. By the same token, you are free to draw on the Father’s limitless account at any time!
The younger son made a very legitimate request. He just wanted what would soon be his anyway. Parents in the ancient world actually saved for their children in order to get them launched properly in life. When he asked for the portion of goods that would be his inheritance, he was asking for what was legitimately his. It actually belonged to him already. That is the meaning of the phrase, “that falls to me.”
What was the father’s reaction? He divided this substance between his sons. Both sons received their portion. God the Father has divided His goods, or Divine operating capital, among all believers. It now becomes a matter of appropriation and utilization. Just as with the younger son, many believers dissipate or misuse the capital which God has provided. We know that the older son began to use his capital in the proper way and that he did a good job until he became legalistic. (Luk 15:13) begins the story of the younger son and how he got out of the “bottom circle.”
The Carnal Christian
"And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. (Luk 15:13)
By way of analogy, this “riotous living” connotes carnality, or getting out of fellowship with the Lord. He began activities which were disastrous in his own life and displeasing to the Lord. I hesitate to shed light on what his sins actually were, for any amplification at this point would certainly miss the sin of someone who would immediately assume, I do not fit the pattern of the prodigal son. I haven’t wasted my substance in riotous living. When you come right down to it, I am a pretty good person.”
Just to remind you that Doctrinally everyone fits the pattern of the prodigal, observe the following passage:
If we [Believers] say that we have no sin, [Sin nature] we are deceiving ourselves, and the Truth is not in us (1Jn 1:8)
Legalism moves right along with apostasy. They seem to go together in a most unpleasant way. Respectability is the keynote today; just keep it all covered up and give the impression that you are a perfect person whom others should emulate. Those who deny the existence of the sin nature after salvation are only kidding themselves, the reason being, of course, that they do not know Truth.
If we say that we have not sinned [Personally; when we have] we make Him [God] a liar, and his Word is not in us. (1Jn 1:10)
Whenever someone implies or suggests that believers no longer sin after salvation, he is calling God a liar, and the Word of God is not in his right lobe. Christians who fail to recognize the Truth of carnality, or who are ignorant of it, fail to deal with it realistically; they have a tendency to rationalize or to compensate by covering it with a hypocritical facade. This may be a “Spiritual” front, some form of penance, an increase of their offering, or a promise to be better. While many of these things are certainly commendable, they do not fill the bill of getting one straightened out with the Lord. Paul states the problem:
For we know that the Law is Spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. (Rom 7:14)
There is nothing wrong with the Law; it is “holy, just and good.” But, speaking of his own experience, Paul goes on to say, “I am dominated by the sin nature.” Sin in the singular refers to the sin nature. Then he describes his carnal experience while under the domination of the sin nature:
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. (Rom 7:15)
In today’s vernacular, Paul is saying, “What is this? I am a Christian; I am born again; I have eternal life; my sins are forgiven and blotted out; God the Holy Spirit dwells inside me; I am in union with the Person of Christ; Christ dwells in me. I am the object of Positional Sanctification.
All of these marvelous things belong to me, and yet, out comes sin. I don’t understand it. It works its way out of me. It surprises and shocks me.” Describing a carnal Christian, he says, literally, “For what I desire, I practice not; but what I hate is what I am doing.”
Paul did not stay this way; in fact, he gives us the secret of solving the problem of carnality and dealing with the sin nature in Romans 6 and 8. At this point he traces his carnal experience. There are other passages with the same idea, such as Galatians 5, where the old sin nature is called “the flesh.”
(Col 3:5-9) contains a list of sins that CHRISTIANS commit, which might surprise you. In, (1Co 3:1-3) Christians out of fellowship are said to “walk as men” that is,as unbelievers.
Christian, get your head out of the sand! When you sin, face up to it-UTILIZE WHAT GOD HAS PROVIDED! Do not rationalize, don’t kid yourself that it is just a mistake, not a sin. Above all, whatever your area of weakness is, whatever your sin problems are, learn to recognize them so that you can emulate the perspicacity of the prodigal. There is a sense in which every Christian is the prodigal son. Every time you get out of fellowship, every time I get out of fellowship, every time we sin, WE ARE THE PRODIGAL. But we do not have to remain that way once we find out what God’s answer is, to this situation.
I hope we have established the existence of the carnal Christian. At this particular point you might unwittingly be carnal; yet you may say, “I am not out there raising hell or doing the things that people usually call sin, so how can I be carnal?” You could be out of fellowship right now just by what you are thinking! (Prov 23:7) In fact, this is probably the quickest and shortest route for making the long distance trip of, (Luk 15:13) for taking the journey “into a far country,” into carnality.
Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. (Luk 15:14)
In verse 14 we have a change of pace. Persistent carnality always brings into focus the Principle of discipline. “If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are a child of God; and as a child of God, when you step out of line, God disciplines! You can expect it. The famine is Divine discipline imposed on the believer out of fellowship, out of the “bottom circle.”
This is the Doctrine of the “Divine woodshed.” The prodigal son began to be continually in want; a perfect illustration of Divine discipline. From that point on, he was always in want. No matter what he tried, everything failed. He just could not make a go of anything. I want you to notice what he finally did.
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine (Luk 15:15)
The prodigal was a Jew. When a Jew would do what the prodigal did, you can be sure he was in desperate straits. He had apparently gone out of the land of Palestine because his job was to feed the swine. There were no swine in Palestine, at least not legally, because they were forbidden by the Mosaic Law. (Deut 14:8) Now, if you can imagine a Jew doing this, you can realize what a bind we find the prodigal in. He was going into the fields habitually. He had to be desperate to take a job involving pigs. The job did not pay well, because he was constantly hungry.
And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. (Luk 15:16)
I do not know whether or not you are familiar with this old English word, “fain,” (Gladly) It is imperfect linear aktionsart in the Greek, which means that this was a continuous situation. The verb means to “long for,” or “to desire”; thus his desire continued without ceasing. Then there is a change to the aorist infinitive, “gladly filled,” which means that in that point of time he would have eaten the same food as the swine — corn husks!
When a believer stays out of fellowship the way this man did, his desires change. He apparently had a “champagne taste,” (Luk 15:13) but now he has well, what can we say a “slop taste”? Perhaps the language is not the best, but it certainly conveys the point. You see, now he is desperate. The taste and desires of believers often change radically. Although he did not go so far as to want to eat the swine, which was forbidden to him, he did want to eat the slop that they ate. Does this situation change his family status? No he is still a son; he has been born (Once and for all) into his family; he will always be in that family — a child of his father — even though he is under severe discipline, having been reduced to the status of an unclean animal.
He has become what we call a “pig-pen Christian.” He is still a Christian; he is still a child of God; God’s love will never be removed from him; but he has placed himself in the Divine woodshed for a thorough scourging. He is being disciplined for his persistent carnality.
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES. (Heb 12:6)
His hunger continued, but “no one was giving anything to him.” This indicates refusal on the part of the foreman, (God) to permit the prodigal to eat even the slop he was feeding to the hogs. Now this is an interesting thing: he had sunk so low the pigs were more important to his boss than he was. What is the point? You will find that often the unbeliever is a more pleasant and rational person than the believer who is out of fellowship. When a believer gets out of fellowship and stays out, he is often inferior to the unbeliever in character, motivation and behavior pattern. As a matter of fact, unbelievers have used this Principle as an excuse to reject Christ. Of course, this is no excuse!
You may have heard it expressed in this way: “I will never go to that church they are hypocrites.” The absurd thing about this is that everyone does business with hypocrites, makes money from hypocrites and associates with hypocrites in recreational activities; yet a church where there might be a hypocrite is off limits! This is the height of inconsistency. It makes a great excuse for those who are inclined to think superficially. A believer who has been out of fellowship for a long
time can be a real stinker in his business practices, be known as a “man about town,” and on top of this, be a deacon in the First Church of Podunk. This type often becomes the excuse for unbelievers to avoid contact with the Gospel or Truth. The unbeliever can think of fifteen unbelieving friends who are a hundred times better than some carnal believer and he is right! Further, if the carnal Christian does not rebound, the unbeliever will have twenty-five friends who are better!
Let’s face it: when a believer gets out of fellowship and stays out of fellowship, he gets worse and worse — not better! He is still a Christian; he is still born again; but he is in the same situation as the prodigal.
Rebound and Spirituality
But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! (Luk 15:17)
What does it mean to “come to yourself ?” It means to look at life from the Biblical perspective: to face up to the situation as it really exists; to recognize the sins in your own life; to stop rationalizing or justifying them; to stop blaming God or someone else, (Operation patsy) and to actually acknowledge your sin — to recognize that it is wrong — contrary to the Word of God! The prodigal also realized that the servants in his father’s house were much better off than he was at the moment.
I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. (Luk 15:18)
HERE IS THE Principle OF GETTING BACK INTO THE “BOTTOM CIRCLE.” There is no exception. There is only one way to do
it, not two ways, or three ways! It has nothing to do with emotion! http://dictionaryofdoctrine.com/files/Top And Bottom Circles.jpg
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jn 1:9)
Many Christians question God’s grace by asking: “Why (1Jn 1:9)? Is this the only place that states this Principle? If this is the only verse that says this, why is it so important?” In answer to that, HOW MANY TIMES DOES THE WORD OF GOD HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING FOR IT TO BE TRUE? Once! That is all! However, this is not the only verse. This Principle occurs many times in both the Old and New Testaments: (1Co 11:31; (1Pe 4:17; Neh 1:6; Psa 32:5; Psa 38:18; Psa 51:3-4; Prov 28:13; Dan 9:4) and others. I like to use a word which describes the Principle so aptly — REBOUND: “to bound back, to recover from setback.” Sin causes the believer to stumble and causes a great setback to his Spiritual life. Confession is based on the work that Christ did on the Cross, where He was judged for that sin. Now God can forgive that sin and we bounce right back into the playing field or “bottom circle.”
No matter whether you find the word CONFESS in the Hebrew, in the Greek, or in the Chaldean, it means “to name or acknowledge the sin to God.” It does not carry any connotation of feeling sorry for what you have done. It is all right to feel sorry for what you have done, but this is not a prerequisite for Divine forgiveness nor for restoration to fellowship. It is NOT NECESSARY TO FEEL SORRY FOR SIN IN ORDER TO BE FORGIVEN! If it were, some people would never make it. It is not necessary to feel the “rosy glow” in order to get back into fellowship any more than it is to be saved. Some get a “rosy glow” the minute they accept Christ as Savior --- and that is fine. Other people have no feeling whatever. Feeling is not the criterion. SALVATION IS NOT FEELING — SALVATION IS FAITH! It is “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”
You may not feel saved; but if you have trusted in Christ, you ARE saved, regardless of how you FEEL. The same thing is true in rebound. It is not how you feel. Don’t wait to confess until you have a certain feeling or until you work up a sorrow for your sin! By that time you may be eating husks with the swine. Don’t let your emotions rule your life. I know this is hard for some of you because all of your Christian life you have lived by your emotional pattern; and you have yet to absorb the most basic Principle of Bible Truth. When you feel good, you think you are Spiritual; and when you feel terrible, something is wrong. When emotion or feeling becomes your criterion instead of the Word of God, you have had it!
The grace of God in rebound
God has set up a system totally apart from how we feel, apart from our attitude, whereby any Christian can get back into fellowship with the Lord. If the carnal believer does not get back in fellowship, he cannot be controlled by the Spirit, he cannot serve the Lord, and the whole purpose for which he remains on this earth is negated. Whatever good he produces is human good rather than Divine production. REBOUND IS NEVER A LICENSE TO SIN.” Rebound is a license to SERVE, and to keep on honoring the Lord in Phase Two! Without this gracious provision, neither you nor I, nor any other Christian, could ever survive the exigencies of life, nor meet the demands of the Christian life. If you are one of those rebels who still think that you have to feel sorry for your sins, and if you think that confess means something besides “admit it,” then you do not understand the GRACE OF GOD.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jn 1:9)
“IF’ introduces a third class conditional clause, which denotes that the potential of rebound depends on your volition. Maybe you will, or maybe you will not confess your sins; you are free to choose. The Greek word for “confess,” HOMOLOGEO, means “to admit, to acknowledge.” Confess, like believe, is the absence of human merit, the absence of human works! Certainly it is no credit to me when I simply name my sins. “We” refers to believers. “Confess” means to name it! To identify it! “If we confess our sins...” That recognizes the fact that we commit sins. “He, [God] is faithful, [Truth of immutability applied to the situation] and just...” He is “just” on the basis of Christ’s judgment on our behalf on the Cross. He is “just” on the basis of the blood of Christ, which is the technical term for Christ’s bearing our sins in His own body. We are already judicially cleansed from all sin; thus. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. These are the known sins those we are aware of.
The Bible does not tell us to ask for forgiveness. The Bible says, CONFESS! The Bible does not say to plead, “Oh, God, forgive me!” The Bible says, NAME IT! We need to grow up and operate in complete accord with the Word of God. It says, “If we confess — “JUST NAME IT! And that is GRACE! GOD DEALS WITH US IN GRACE! Since the day we accepted Christ as Savior, God can only deal with us in grace. We do not earn such love; we do not deserve it; we cannot work for it; we do not merit it in any way. Grace depends on who and what God is!
Even in the case of discipline, you will never get what you deserve. God always “spanks” in grace. Did you ever stop to ponder where you might be today if you, (Even as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, a child of God) got what you DESERVED from God? You would be dead! God cannot treat us according to what we deserve. It is impossible! Therefore, although He may spank us severely, it is still grace. That is why we are told to “get up and move on.”
Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, (Rebound) so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
You are deluding yourself if you think you are forgiven because you worked up sorrow for sin, or because you made a vow, or went through some system of asceticism — in other words, practicing Spiritual flagellation. We are forgiven and cleansed for one reason only: BECAUSE WE ADMIT SIN TO GOD. Hence, confession is totally non-meritorious!
God also cleanses us “from all unrighteousness” the unknown sins those sins which we commit in ignorance, sins that we do not realize are sins because we do not know Truth. AND THAT IS THE GRACE OF GOD! We cannot cooperate even a little bit with God; nothing will get us back into fellowship short of confession — AND THAT IS IT! PERIOD!
So far, the prodigal was straight in his Spiritual Thinking when he said to himself, “ ...I will say unto him. Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” That was his confession, and that would get him back into fellowship. But he becomes confused. A believer out of fellowship is a confused believer because God the Holy Spirit is quenched or grieved in his life; therefore, his understanding of Spiritual Thoughts becomes minimal.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men. (Luk 15:19)
It is true that he was not worthy; but it will not get him back in fellowship. Now get this: in his confusion he became ridiculous. He reasoned that his father might no longer care to consider him a son after his sinful conduct, and that perhaps his father would be more inclined to forgive him if he offered to become a hired servant. Even though the father might put him in as a servant of his estate, or even though he might put him in chains, this would not make him a servant or a slave. He is always a son. None of us is worthy; but son-ship does not depend upon our worthiness. And therein is the prodigal’s confusion. You see, he wanted to do penance. He wanted to compensate. But his father set that aside. His father had no intention of making him a hired servant. He did not say, “This boy needs a lesson; put him in the horse barn for a month.” Or, “I’ll give him some nasty jobs like scrubbing floors, cleaning the stables, or plowing the fields. He deserves to pay for his offenses!” But notice how all that is ignored, just as God recognizes our confession yet graciously ignores all the nonsense we add to it.
Divine essence in rebound
So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luk 15:20)
I want you to see a picture in this verse that is so important you cannot afford to miss it. Think of the Truth of Divine Essence.” The omniscience of God anticipates every confession; He knew billions of years ago how many times you would confess in one hour! Here is the significance of Divine Essence. Omniscience anticipates; what the eternity of God always knew. His immutability has had a solution for us since eternity past, and it will never change!
God’s justice and perfect righteousness can forgive us at the moment we rebound because Christ satisfied Divine justice and righteousness on the Cross. The omnipotence of God guarantees that He has the power to provide forgiveness. God’s perfect love for all His children insures His compassion toward us when we rebound. When the prodigal was yet far away, his father saw him: omniscience illustrated; and he had compassion: Divine love Illustrated. Remember that the Father loves you personally with an infinite amount of love, and this is always His attitude. There are no accusations. He has compassion.
And how does He express this love? By forgiving us immediately. Grace depends on who and what God is, never on who and what we are! Grace is aggressive; it reaches out to you. All you need to do is to appropriate it.
When you confess your sins, it is just as though the Father were to run to you, put His arms around you and kiss you. That is the Father’s love toward you as a believer. That is what the Father thinks about you. WHEN YOU ARE WILLING TO ADMIT YOUR SIN — TO HIM — THE DIVINE ATTITUDE IS LOVE AND COMPASSION! This is GRACE. You are His child; you belong to Him.
When my son was young and was away from home, I was never too sure he was the epitome of decorum. There were many times when I was happy to say, “That’s my boy.” Then there were times when I would prefer to look the other way and say, “Whose kid is he?” But I can tell you one thing whether he was good or bad, I was always glad to see the “little stinker” move through that door. And regardless of what he had done, the First thing I did was to put my arms around him and welcome him. I had an attitude of compassion and love. This is the attitude of God the Father toward you personally, magnified many times over. Here is the amazing thing: omniscience knows whether you are going to step out of line five minutes’ Five days or five hours from now, and --- this is what is so tremendous — HE STILL LOVES US. That is grace! We will come back and confess again and again, and He will forgive us again and again AND AGAIN!
The results of rebound
And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son. (Luk 15:21)
That is true; but notice what else he said. He wanted to be made a hired hand on his father’s estate, but his father interrupted him.
But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. (Luk 15:22-23)
There are four characteristics of restoration to fellowship: (1) The best robe represents restoration to full experiential righteousness. His father did not make a servant out of him; instead, he gave him the best robe. (Righteousness produced by the filling of the Holy Spirit)
(2) The signet ring is related to his father’s signature. In the ancient world, it was a form of identification. The restored prodigal was again identified experientially to the father. With this ring, the son could draw on his father’s tremendous account. It reminds us, by way of analogy, that when we rebound, not only are we restored to our full status before God, experiential righteousness, but at the same time we have access to the Father’s unlimited Divine operating assets. We can write a check on His account!
(3) The shoes represent Christian service. (Eph 6:15) When you rebound, when you confess your sins, you have the right and privilege to serve the Lord again. The Filling of the Holy Spirit produces Divine good. Do not let any legalistic believer clip your wings and quote the old cliché to you: “The bird with the broken pinion will never fly as high again.” Why can you fly as high as before? YOU ARE BACK IN FELLOWSHIP. So keep moving. (Php 3:13-14)
(4) Finally, the fatted calf it would not be pork, since they were Jews, this speaks of fellowship in the Word, feeding on Divine Truth. When you are in fellowship, it becomes possible to feed on the Word again.
For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate. (Luk 15:24)
There are different kinds of deaths in the Bible. This is temporal death, (Carnality) described in, (Rom 8:6; Rom 8:13; Eph 5:14; (1Ti 5:6). To be alive again means that he is back in the “bottom circle”; he is back in temporal fellowship. “Lost” is the Greek word meaning “to be ruined” or “to be destroyed,” the connotation being that he is out of the sphere of gaining rewards. All the time he was away, he was losing rewards. Now he is back in that sphere where he can gain reward again, for he is found. (Aorist tense — point of time — rebound) He is back in the reward bracket.
When a believer gets back in fellowship, all the wonderful byproducts of Christianity are resumed. “To be merry” speaks of inner peace, joy, stability all the blessings that can come to the believer who rebounds, the one who utilizes Divine grace.
The legalistic believer
"Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. "And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. "And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.' "But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. (Luk 15:25-28)
The elder brother should have been delighted to have his younger brother back; he should have thrown his arms around him and said, “Welcome home, brother. I am surely glad you are back. We can use an extra hand in the field.” Instead, he was angry and would not join the festivities. At this very moment the elder brother took his own journey into a “far country.” He was now the one who was out of fellowship. The father had the right to treat his children as he thought best. Don’t you get angry with God the Father because He treats another Christian in grace! Remember that the shoe may be on YOUR foot some day, and you will want all of that grace coming your way! The elder brother was jealous and angry because his father had treated the younger brother in grace; he sulked and would not go into the house. Therefore, his father came out and begged him to come in, but without success. God the Father entreats us to have compassion on other believers. We should have the same mental attitude of grace which was manifested by the Lord Jesus Christ:
Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Col 3:13)
But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends. (Luk 15:29)
“All these years I have been faithful,” he whined, “and yet you never threw a party for me!” Of course his father had, but he had forgotten it. One mental attitude sin, (Jealousy) led to another, as he became angry, then to another, as he began to judge and malign his brother.
But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.' (Luk 15:30)
How did he know that his brother threw away his inheritance on prostitutes? He didn’t! In whatever manner his brother lost his money, (The passage says, “riotous living,” which could mean a lot of things) it was only conjecture that he spent it on harlots. He might have, but there is no indication. Furthermore, it was none of his brother’s business. When a person gets out of fellowship, it brings out all of his bad qualities. Elder Brother had a tendency to mind other people’s business. He was legalistic, self-righteous, and guilty of operation “long proboscis. Whatever the younger brother’s sins were, THEY HAD BEEN FORGIVEN! The Principle is that we are never to penalize another believer for the sins which God has forgiven!
The legalistic believer imposes his own standards of human sin nature good on others. It is not unusual for an entire congregation, in their “sanctified,” legalistic, “holier-than-thou” attitude, to walk up and down on one member who is out of line and play “kick the can” with him. No one has the right to do that to any believer. When you begin to judge others, you only get yourself out of fellowship and become the recipient of Divine discipline. One of the most beautiful assets in the Christian way of life is the ability to mind your own business, live your life as unto the Lord, and not worry about whether the other believer is stepping out of line. God will take care of him! If you try to help God with a little discipline of your own, you will be between God and the whip, and who will get the discipline? YOU! So save yourself the wear and tear; live your own life before the Lord! It is amazing how many Christians are concerned that some OTHER believer may get away with something! Don’t worry about the others. You just relax, and rebound when necessary!
And he said to him, 'Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. (Luk 15:31)
Aftermath of legalism
What was the father’s answer to this brother who had gotten out of fellowship through legalism? The brother may have whatever he desires. He had always had all of his father’s operating assets, but they could only be utilized in fellowship. We are not told whether or not the elder brother ever got back in fellowship.
But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found. (Luk 15:32)
This is the Principle: every time you sin, you are “dead” temporal death, out of fellowship. Every time you confess your sin, you are back in the bottom circle ready to utilize all the grace assets provided by God for you. As long as you live; when you sin against the Lord; YOU MUST REBOUND. If you don’t, YOUR LIFE IS USELESS AND POWERLESS. Your production does not count as far as the Lord is concerned. But once you have been cleansed from sin through the Principle of; (1Jn 1:9) you are ready to roll again and serve the Lord. Rebound and keep moving! This is the ONLY way to recover fellowship.
As in the parable of the prodigal son, believers are divided into two categories Spiritual or carnal. The younger son was in a state of carnality, while the elder brother remained in fellowship and served his heavenly Father as well as his earthly father. When the prodigal rebounded and returned to temporal fellowship, his brother became jealous and vindictive, thus putting himself into the same carnal condition. Both brothers had eternal fellowship with God forever, but their temporal fellowship depended on the frequency with which they confessed their sins. Every member of the human race is born with free will. Every one has the opportunity to accept or reject Christ as Savior. If the choice is for Christ, then, as a believer, each one has the opportunity to accept or reject God’s provision for rebound, to be Spiritual or carnal. The choice is ours!