Preparation (Parable of the Lost Son)
- How did the younger son show that he has repented from his sin?
The younger son did not just repent through showing in his actions but also through verbal acknowledgement of his sins. He showed humility and even prepared and willing to just serve his father as a servant. He rationalized that he is not even worthy to be called his son.
This demonstrated total humility and surrender. The younger son accepted the fact that he had sinned and wronged his father. He humbled himself and repented for his sins. How? He presented himself to his father with no pride and ego, repented, asked for forgiveness, and is willing to accept whatever the circumstances of his past actions.
- What was the father’s response when the younger son returned?
The Father was indeed delighted to see that his younger son returned after a very long time of not seeing him. He ran towards him, embraced and kissed him. He called his servants to bring the best robe, ring and shoes for his son and asked everyone to prepare for a celebration with music and dancing. The fattened calf was brought and prepared for everyone to share. This is just the love in action showing that he totally forgave his son without any reservation.
This demonstrated on how there will be same celebration when one lost soul has been saved. As per Luke 15:7 “ Just so I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. During that time, tax collectors and sinners were all drawing to God. This offended the Pharisees and scribes, hence they grumbled saying, “ This man receives sinners and eats with them”. This opted Jesus to narrate to them the parable of the lost sheep to demonstrate to them the importance of repentance to receive forgiveness and salvation.
Topic on Repentance and Forgiveness:
Across the bible, we will see different passages referencing on repentance. In the New Testament, Matthew 3:2- this was John saying ” Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
In Mark 1:15, Jesus was saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And in Acts 26:20, Paul was repeating the instruction given to him …but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
From previous lesson, we have learned that the wage of sin is death. That God sent His one and only beloved son to redeem us and save us through His blood. But we need to have faith that God will forgive us and we will be cleansed from our sin.
The step to forgiveness is very straightforward. And that is through repentance. “Repentance is a transition from rebelliousness and independence from God – through humility – to a relationship with Him based on faith and love. “
It should not simply involve a mere stirring of emotions but it involves three dimensions.
The first and second dimensions are thought (mental realization) and word (verbal acknowledgement).
- First we should acknowledge that we have sinned, realizing the consequences of it and acknowledge the fact that our sin displeases God. It is against heaven, against others and other ourselves.
- We should humble ourselves and accountable to the sin that we have committed and acknowledge verbally that we sinned and have been sinning. We should stop blame shifting and pointing fingers but be brave and aware to be stepping forward and ask for forgiveness. This is what the younger son did. He reached out to his father (verbal acknowledgement) and asked for forgiveness.
The third dimension is Deed (personal restitution)
- There should be a transition, a period where there is a transformation in heart attitude as evident through actions, speech and thinking.
Remember the bedtime story about the boy who cried ‘wolf’ several times. He was just messing around as there is actually no wolf. So when it comes to the time when it did really happen, no one believes him.
Your change should be reflected in your actions. The people surrounding you should see the change in you. You should not be the same person anymore. At first, there should be a conscious effort at your end to be transformed. Once we are borne again, we should have this expectation and earnest desire to have a change of attitude of heart. Being a Christian is a lifestyle and everyday, we should pray that God will continue to pour out His Spirit for us. As David’s prayer in Psalms 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
- The way to true faith:
True repentance must always go before true faith. How can we accept that we can be forgiven if we ourselves don’t believe that we have sinned and there is a need to repent? How can we believe the God is our Lord and Savior, if we have not repented? How can someone save us if we do not acknowledge that we need to be saved?
Indeed, we need to believe that we have sinned. We need to acknowledge our sins, reach out to Jesus and repent. We need to believe that Jesus Christ exists and that He saved us and redeemed those who seek Him. As per Hebrews 11:6 “ And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
- God ‘s forgiveness:
We are redeemed through the blood of Christ, through His death on the cross.
We believe in His presence, we confess our sins, we ask for forgiveness and welcome Him in our hearts and declare Him as our Lord and Savior. We believe that by doing so we are then recognized as His children. Our God indeed is a forgiving God, generous of his love and compassion to mankind. No matter how heinous our sins are and deep our shortcomings, He is ready to extend His grace and accept our sincerest repentance of our sins.
That salvation resulted from faith in Christ Jesus and the cross. This will only happen if we let God work in our lives. It will only happen if we stop condemning ourselves and blame ourselves for the sins that we have already asked for forgiveness and that we already surrendered to God. We are forgiven and this guilt from previous sins should not continue to haunt us.
- True Faith:
We need to turn our eyes upon Jesus and He will make our eyes see Him. In John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
We should not give the devil an upper hand and resist him. Like what we have always been taught… When the devil reminds you of your past, you retaliate and remind of his future. He will never stop whispering lies to you and your duty is to not let him win you over. You are a new creation, a new being, a child of God. He strives to destroy the relationship that you are building with Christ.
Hebrews 2:14-15”Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery”
And then after we ask for His forgiveness, we need to continue confessing that faith. Never look back but continue in our journey with God. The Devil is the father of all lies so why should we believe Him. Seek for truth and that is God.
- When we stumble we are called to confess our sin:
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
When the younger son was deciding to go back, he didn’t expect that his father would welcome him with open arms. The younger son was actually ready and willing to be a servant and not a son. He was not 100% sure if his father would forgive him but it did not really matter to him. He has decided that he will need to return home. He was in his lowest low status of his life and was truly humbled by the circumstances. But surprisingly his father says..” Welcome home” and that says it all.
We should have an expecting heart. Forgiveness from God does not simply result to us being cleansed from our sins. Forgiveness from God will also translate to God’s promise to our lives that we are redeemed from death as He purifies us from all unrighteousness.
Romans 8:1-3 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
God does not keep a record of our sins. Once it’s forgiven, it’s forgiven..total and complete without reservation.
In Roman, it says “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”. Always remember that we are condemning the sin and not the sinner.
The gift of salvation is a special privilege extended to us. We should continue to reach out for souls and not neglect our mission to share the Word and His promises. We should bring the kingdom closer to others so they won’t neglect salvation. Hebrews 2:1 is a warning against neglecting salvation.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”
We need everyday to ask for forgiveness from God. Before we sleep at night, pray and ask for His mercy.
The change will soon be evident in our lives. In Ephesians 4:22-24 “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Repentance should involve a complete transformation. This transformation will be reflected in our speech, actions and perspective in life. It should not just be a mere declaration. Other people will see His glory in our face and we will be a testimony of His forgiving heart. Allow the Holy Spirit to work within us and produce the good fruit.
We should be thankful of this second life that He bestowed upon us. As the song goes: Once again, I look upon the cross that you died. I’m humbled by your presence and I/m broken inside us. Once again, I thank you. Once again, I pour out my life.