The Sonshine June 2022
The Prodigal Son by Walter Olsen
In reading the parable of the Prodigal Son recently, the Lord seemed to impress on me how much this message is needed in our world today. There are very many who are hurting because of poor choices made by the youth of today, hurting both the youth themselves and their parents. Thankfully, there is a way to bring comfort and restoration to those who are so hurting if they will acknowledge their rebellion and turn to the only One who can restore them and give them abundant life.
I think a consideration of the following observations may be helpful to those who are in the midst of such a problem. Consider the following applications from the illustration of the prodigal son.
His character, vs. 11-12. He was blind to the essential truths of a good life. He had no comprehension of a good relationship with either God or his father. People who do not know the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior cannot see spiritual truth. Thus, it is normal for them to make decisions apart from a Godly perspective. Many of them may be very nice people but, without Christ as their life and light, they walk in spiritual darkness which leads them to make decisions consistent with their personal wishes rather than with God’s will for them.
If the child’s parents are believers, they will readily see the error of their child’s ways and will grieve for them. They want nothing more for them than to see their sinful ways and turn to the Lord for forgiveness and restoration. The child may be very successful in many endeavors of life but if he does nor live for and honor God in his life, the parent will grieve and pray for him because he knows the futility of a life lived apart from the blessing and protection of God.
He was selfish. The prodigal son cared only for himself and the pleasures he could glean for himself. He apparently did not take much into consideration the feelings of his father or his family. Consider, the believer, if he is walking with God, has eyes mostly for the glory of God. The unbeliever has eyes mostly for the pleasures of this world.
The apostle John warned, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. 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 he Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (I Jn. 2:15). The unbeliever or the carnal believer are bound by the attractions of the world. It takes the light of the Lord Jesus for people to see the difference between the poverty of their world and the glory of God. Until then, one lives in relative selfishness.
He was greedy. To be greedy is an inward desire to accumulate for oneself all he can regardless of how he may get it, regardless of how it may hurt others. Such a person assumes that the more he has the happier he will be. This is seen in the son’s request of his father, “And the younger of them said to his father, “Father give me the portion of the goods that falleth to me...” v.12. True, the inheritance belonged rightly to the son, but apparently he did not consider if it was the right time. It would appear that he did not consider the wishes or feelings of his father. This request had an uneasy edge to it. “I want what I want and I want it right now” seemed to be his appeal.
His Choice. “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and he took his journey into a far country...v. 13a . His departure into a far country perhaps indicated that he was dissatisfied with the standard of righteousness set by his father. He wanted his independence to do what he thought would bring him a sense of satisfaction. He wanted what he thought was the “good life.” Because one cannot see through his sin to see what truly is the good life, he looks to the world about him for what he imagines is a better life.
Sin is always the deceiver! It can make the immediate look so appealing without revealing what is the end of such choices. Sin never brings lasting happiness regardless of the short term “advantages.”
When children are not brought up in a genuine Christian home and church, they often choose what they think is a more advantageous way of life. Perhaps a note of explanation is helpful here. Many children are brought up in a home that is nominally Christian. They go faithfully to church, learn the doctrines of the church, even Christianity, but something is lacking! What is lacking is a personal relationship and walk with God. When parents have and present a learned Christianity, the children do not see the reality of the Christian life! They do not see the difference Christ makes in the lives of people who have not only professed Christ, but who live the life of Christ. Is it possible that some children grow up in a nominal Christian home, but not a genuine Christian home where the Lord Jesus really has His proper place? When that is the case, the children never see the reality, blessing, and power of a truly Christian life. Where that is the case, the children are left to make their own choices about what has value and meaning to them.
Of course, sometimes children grow up in a genuine Christian home and still make choices to go their own way and not the way of God. Unless children are genuinely born again they cannot see the difference between the real and the false. Remember the words of Jesus, “...Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). Man cannot change himself for the better. Again, Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:6).
His Conduct. The record is that when the young man took his journey into a far country, he “...there wasted his substance with riotous living” v. 13. What all is included in his riotous living one can only imagine. His older brother, however, accused him of “ living with harlots...” v. 30. Riotous living suggests that he did anything that appealed to his flesh, that is, his unsanctified nature. There were no limits set on what he desired. True, he may have been given some good guidelines by his father, but if one is not genuinely converted, the power of the flesh is too strong for him to resist.
So it is today. Even if one is born again he can yield to the power of the old nature. If one is truly saved, he has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, but if he does not yield to the Spirit and walk in the Spirit, he is subject to the controlling influence of the flesh. Paul gave a word about this, “This I say, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). The yielding, walking in the Spirit needs to be a daily, even a constant reality. Apart from this, one will not live the Christian life as God intends. The power of the flesh is too powerful for any one, even a believer, to resist in his own strength. We need to remember that, “...the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17).
Also, it should be noted, this truth is crucially true for all believers, but especially for Christian youth of today. Our Christian families and churches need to emphasize the matter of walking in the Spirit. It needs to be taught not only as a Bible doctrine, but as a needed reality for living the Christian life. It needs to be exemplified in the lives of those who claim the Lord Jesus as their Savior.
If someone is reading this and is not a born again believer, this truth is irrelevant to them. They cannot grasp its intent. Indeed, Biblical truth can only be taught by the Holy Spirit to one who is a genuine believer.
His chastening. God, in His grace, seeks to call sinners to Himself. This is especially true of the believer who has departed from his walk with God. Of course, God is “...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). Paul reminds of us of God, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4).
To accomplish His way with the sinner, God often sends a trial to remind him of his departure from the way and will of God. This is not so much a matter of punishment but a matter of getting the sinners’s attention, to draw the sinner back into fellowship with Himself. A believer who disregards the will of God disregards his worship of God and any fellowship and ministry he could otherwise have. Of course, we must also remember “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:8).
As to the prodigal we read, “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in the land; and he began to be in want” v. 14. To willingly step out of the known will of God is always to be in want. It is to lack all the blessings the Lord could otherwise bestow upon one. It is to lose one’s way spiritually and begin to stumble in the dark.
His correction. By correction is meant his attempt at self correction. He saw and experienced the problem of his choices. The problem of the famine was severe and something had to be done about it. He did the only thing he saw to do, “And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his field to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him” vs. 15-16. His choices were very limited and they weren’t very good. To seek an answer from the world about when one is out of fellowship with God is to get a very unsatisfactory answer. Yet, that is what many people do. However, it is a very poor substitute for the provision that only God Himself can give. The world has no satisfactory answer for the needs of the human soul.
His consolation. Finally, the prodical came to himself. He remembered the blessings of his father’s household and he yearned to return to those days and blessings! “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!” v. 17. He now began to see the difference between his present lot and the blessings he had with his father. Hopefully, backslidden believers can see and remember the difference between their walk with God and their time of seeking their own way. The contrast is immense!
His confession. The prodigal said, “I will arise and go to my father, and 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” v. 18-19. His confession was sincere. He recognized his sin both before God and his father. Confession, to be complete, needed to be acknowledged to both.
His cleansing. His cleansing is seen in the father’s glad reception of his erring son. Yes, the father was grieved for his son’s departure but rejoiced to see his return! The father’s response is seen in his exclamation, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry, v.24. Any Godly father will rejoice to see his son or daughter return from a wayward, sinful life. Even so, the Father in heaven rejoices when a son or daughter acknowledges their sin and returns to Him.
His comfort. There is great comfort for the sinner who returns from a sinful life and truly repents of his sin. “...the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring forth the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry” v. 22-23.
There is much need for the truth in the parable of the prodigal son for our Christian homes and in society today. There is so much hurt and suffering in our world because of the departure of a beloved son or daughter from the love and security of their home. Many sons and daughters are living a sinful lifestyle and parents are deeply grieving. We need desperately to pray for both the youth and the parents.
Let me emphasize again the need for the reality of our Christian faith and walk. Where such is not the case on behalf of the parents, they have little influence upon their children and other loved ones.
We extend our sympathy to the family of Barbara Johnson Arens. She passed away on May 7th following a brief illness. Her funeral was at the First Baptist Church of Woodville on May 15th. Barbara will be much missed by family and friends. We also extend our sympathy to the Dahl family in the recent passing of DeAnn’s dad, Michael Mujwid.
We were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Lucille Lund of Woodville on Saturday evening, May21st. Lucille had a rich ministry of music, especially singing.
We much appreciated the teaching ministry of Dr. Jerry Benjamin at the home of Lloyd and Polly Newborg recently. He taught on the book of Revelation which is so much needed today.
Our grass was cut for the first time this spring on May 17th. Our son, Tim, is very faithful to do this for us. Our son, Dan, was here recently too, and helped us with many things.
We thank God for His continuing blessing and presence in our lives. Without Him, where would any of us be?