Two Sons and a Father

Two Sons and a Father

Two Sons and a Father

Throughout history, the tendency to exclude one another based on race, sex, religion, class, etc. has strained not only the way human beings relate to one another but how human beings relate to God. Because of misinformation about God, many people deny the existence of God. Many others believe that God exists but reject Him, thinking — we reject Him because He first rejected us.

One of the most beautiful illustrations of how God, as the Father of all humanity (Mal. 2:10), deals with our ignorance is a parable Jesus told about two sons and a father:

There was a man who had two sons. The younger son said to his father, “Give me now the part of your property that I am supposed to receive someday.”

So the father divided his wealth between his two sons.

A few days later the younger son gathered up all that he had and left. He traveled far away to another country, and there he wasted his money living like a fool. After he spent everything he had, there was a terrible famine throughout the country. He was hungry and needed money. So he went and got a job with one of the people who lived there. The man sent him into the fields to feed pigs. He was so hungry that he wanted to eat the food the pigs were eating. But no one gave him anything.

The son realized that he had been very foolish. He thought, “All my father’s hired workers have plenty of food. But here I am, almost dead because I have nothing to eat. I will leave and go to my father. I will say to him: Father, I have sinned against God and have done wrong to you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But let me be like one of your hired workers.”

So he left and went to his father.

While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him coming and felt sorry for him. So he ran to him and hugged and kissed him. The son said, “Father, I have sinned against God and have done wrong to you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

But the father said to his servants, “Hurry! Bring the best clothes and put them on him. Also, put a ring on his finger and good sandals on his feet. And bring our best calf and kill it so that we can celebrate with plenty to eat. My son was dead, but now he is alive again! He was lost, but now he is found!”

So they began to have a party.

The older son had been out in the field. When he came near the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. So he called to one of the servant boys and asked, “What does all this mean?”

The boy said, “Your brother has come back, and your father killed the best calf to eat. He is happy because he has his son back safe and sound.”

The older son was angry and would not go in to the party.

So his father went out and begged him to come in.

But he said to his father, “Look, for all these years I have worked like a slave for you. I have always done what you told me to do, and you never gave me even a young goat for a party with my friends. But then this son of yours comes home after wasting your money on prostitutes, and you kill the best calf for him!”

His father said to him, “Oh, my son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this was a day to be happy and celebrate. Your brother was dead, but now he is alive. He was lost, but now he is found.”

About the Younger Son

Interpretations of this parable offered by preachers and Bible teachers often place undue emphasis on the wayward son’s repentance. Repentance, although important, isn’t the point of this story. If it were, we wouldn’t see the father running to his son BEFORE hearing the son’s confession.

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them. (Saint Augustine of Hippo)

Interestingly, the younger son’s repentance (if we were to compare it to the repentance associated with salvation) was the first step in a two-part plan to earn his own salvation. Notice his next intended step was to save his own life by working for the father as a servant.

About the Older Son

To understand the older son’s role in the story, we must turn to the context, to the reason Jesus began telling this entire series of lost-and-found parables:

Many tax collectors and sinners came to listen to Jesus. Then the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to complain, “Look, this man welcomes sinners and even eats with them!”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law in that day and age can be compared to today’s religious people who go around deciding who’s in and who’s out in the Reign of God. They say things like, “You can’t possibly be saved, because you ___ (fill in the blank with the sin or perceived sin).” Today, their version of the tax collectors and sinners can include almost anyone — people who view pornography, have abortions, get tattoos, do illegal drugs, crossdress, commit crimes, have sex outside of marriage, have sex within marriage after divorce, have sex with someone of the same gender, gamble, vote for Democrats, make racist comments in public, wear pants (females), have long hair (males), etc. The list goes on and on, but varies in length and content according to the tribe of the modern-day Pharisee. The point is, they exclude others, and in doing so, they exclude themselves. How so? Look at the older brother in the parable.

The older brother believed his identity as a son was established because of his faithfulness to the father in comparison to the younger brother’s faithlessness. Like the younger brother, he believed good things from the father were earned.

About the Father

The default position of the father was that of grace. He welcomed home the son who screwed up and completely ignored the idea that this son should earn his salvation. He welcomed to the party the son who wanted to exclude the son who screwed up and reminded him, “everything I have is yours” — not earned, but freely given.

The irony in this story is that in finding the younger son, the father loses the older son. The story ends with the father reasoning with the older son, and in my opinion, a sort of choose-your-own ending. What kind of relationship will the older son have with the father, now that he disapproves of the father’s generous grace and reconciliation toward the undeserving younger son? Will he continue to exclude himself from the celebration?

The point of the story is that the father never gives up on either son.

How This Story Applies to Us

If we find ourselves excluded from the Reconciliation Party, it isn’t because God excludes us, it’s because we exclude others, disapproving of God’s grace toward those we deem undeserving, and in doing so, we exclude ourselves.

Here is a vision worthy of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – GOD ALL IN ALL. And now, this ultimate reality must begin in us who have received the call to sonship. If this is what fills the heart of Christ; if this expresses the one end of the work of Christ, then, if I would have the Spirit of Christ in me, the motto of my life must be: Everything made subject and swallowed up INTO HIM “that God may be all in all.” What a life that will be when that reality becomes our banner! To serve the Father fully, wholly, only, to have Him all in all! That He is not ALL in all at the present is quite obvious, for only a fraction have faintly felt that God was indeed ALL to them. Some have known Him as their Saviour, some have experienced Him as their Healer, some have received gracious gifts from His hands, some have acknowledged Him as their Lord, but some have found Him as their ALL. Happy are they who know Him thus! They have tasted of the cup ineffable, which quenches every thirst and satisfies completely and forever. (J. Preston Eby)

Comments
  • Lanny A. Eichert June 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    You can’t possibly be saved, because you ___ Alice Dean Spicer refuse to break bread and drink the cup with a local congregation of saints. Do I need to remind you that the Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man is also a liberal heresy as is Universal Reconciliation? Your Malachi 2: 10 refers to the Israelite NATION as created by God, “fathered” by God. In the parable the son wasn’t trying to earn salvation by repentance. Repentance is not a “works” deed. It is a casting ones self upon the mercy of another. Try it in court some day and you will see it gets you no acquittal. Alice, why do you even go to the Bible since you don’t even believe it can be 100% trusted for every word right down to its spelling in the original languages? How about doing what you title your site: CLEARING AWAY MISCONCEPTIONS…Test everything. Hold on to what is good. You need to deny UR and confirm ET if you would be honest to the Bible you corrupt. For the last 3 1/2 months I showed you Moses’ and Elijah’s conversation ruins your site’s purpose. Own up to it ASAP.

    • Lanny A. Eichert June 21, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. {1 John 3: 14} Your absence declares you have no love for the brothers and sisters to break bread with them at a local congregation of Fundamentalists.

      • Lanny A. Eichert June 21, 2015 at 9:19 pm

        What else does this text prove of you? Who is abiding in death? What you don’t do speaks louder than words, dear Alice.

      • Alice Spicer June 22, 2015 at 4:10 pm

        Would you break bread with me, Lanny?

        • Lanny A. Eichert June 22, 2015 at 7:08 pm

          Would you unreservedly adhere to the Fundamental Baptist faith, deny UR and confess ET?

          • Lanny A. Eichert June 22, 2015 at 7:42 pm

            You should, you know, after 3 1/2 months of Moses’s and Elijah’s conversation with Jesus evidencing the true life account Jesus gave of the rich man and Lazarus evidently teaching the everlasting torment of unbelievers from the moment they physically die.

  • Mary Vanderplas June 22, 2015 at 5:07 am

    I like your interpretation of the parable. I agree that the point is the extravagance of grace freely given – not the need to repent in order to merit forgiveness. There is no self-salvation here, as the closing verse with its emphasis on the younger son’s (passive) role of having been found makes clear. I agree that repentance is the product of prior grace, not the condition for earning forgiveness. I like what you say about the elder son failing to accept that his status was not based on his own meritorious achievement but on the father’s lavish love – and his resulting inability to celebrate the father’s acceptance of the undeserving son. I like what you say by way of comparing those in Jesus’ day who criticized his (joyful) acceptance of the unrighteous with the religiously self-righteous today – those who are quick to condemn and exclude from the reach of God’s love undeserving sinners. I agree that the story ends with an invitation-challenge to the readers to decide whether we will join the celebration of God’s extravagant grace toward the undeserving or remain on the outside looking in, scandalized by this grace and unable to accept that all equally are accepted on the basis of what God in Christ has done. And I like what you say about the father not giving up on the elder son, as evidenced by his seeking him and pleading with him to join the party celebrating his brother’s restoration.

    Thanks for the lovely reflection on this familiar, but ever-inspiring and -challenging story.

    • Lanny A. Eichert June 22, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Mary Vanderplas June 22, 2015 at 5:07 am
      I like your …. I agree that …. I agree that …. I like what …. I like what …. I agree that …. And I like what ….

      Thanks for ….

      • Stephen Helbig June 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        Alice, I too agree with Mary, ~

        Mary Vanderplas June 22, 2015 at 5:07 am
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        Thanks for ….

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        p,s ~ Alice, the link under the name ~ (J. Preston Eby) ~ at the end of your blog was a “GREAT READ”. I highly recommend ALL to partake, (READ), and reap the wisdom found within.
        🙂 ~ Click on the italicized name (J. Preston Eby) ~ 🙂

      • Lanny A. Eichert June 22, 2015 at 3:33 pm

        Oh how silly Stephen’s and Mary’s are, even sickeningly repetitive.

      • Lanny A. Eichert June 22, 2015 at 3:44 pm

        Stephen and Mary, this is not Facebook; it is a BLOG site for why’s and wherefore’s.

    • Alice Spicer June 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      I hadn’t noticed that about the closing verse. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Mary Vanderplas June 23, 2015 at 5:17 am

    I love the truth of God never giving up on any of us, as evidenced in the story by the father’s looking down the road for the younger son and his running to greet him and by his seeking out the older son and his keeping the door to the party open to him. What good news it is that no one ever ceases to be the object of God’s persistent, indefatigable searching!

    • Lanny A. Eichert June 23, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Yes, Mary, you love believing your foolish doctrine more than you love believing the perfect literal Word of God in Romans 1: 18 – 32, especially verse 26
      For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections

    • Lanny A. Eichert June 25, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Mary & other Readers, the fact that Alice, after 3 1/2 months of being faced with Moses’ and Elijah’s active intelligent conscious conversation with Jesus Christ of the Mount of Transfiguration in the intelligent hearing of three of Jesus’ disciples (after the Moses had died 1,500 years before the Transfiguration and Elijah had departed mortality 900 years before the Transfiguration and neither were resurrected because none are resurrected before Jesus, the Firstfruit of the Resurrection, Who had not yet been crucified when He talked with them), again Alice, faced with this fact has not professed unending torment without remedy is the true state of all unbelievers from the moment they physically die, is a perfect CURRENT example of the termination of “God’s persistent, indefatigable searching.” She rebelliously refuses to change her oponion in the face of truth presented over the last three and an half months and for that matter over the course of years in which I’ve shown her her foolishness. God’s given up on her and is letting her have her own way and has sent her “leanness” in spiritual understanding. She can’t even find comfort in local church attendance and certainly will not take the bread and wine of communion with the saints and their Lord. She’s OUTSIDE the Church in every way and that cannot be argued.

      Please don’t be like Alice. Hold onto everlasting torment as Biblical truth, because if you don’t, you deny the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross for you. There is no post-mortem satisfaction for your sins by which to be reconciled.

      • Lanny A. Eichert June 27, 2015 at 10:17 am

        Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. {1 Peter 2: 24} While He was yet mortally alive, it was on the tree, the CROSS, He bore HUMAN sins, the sins of MORTAL life. He never bore the sins of post-mortem humans. The sins beyond the grave of unbelievers tormented in hell’s fire were never born by Jesus Christ Who only died ONCE. His purpose in redemption is “that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” in this mortal life. It is unrighteous to neglect the Lord’s Table with His saints. It is unrighteous to eat and drink it if you’re not born again the Bible way.

  • Lanny A. Eichert June 29, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Dear folks, Jesus did NOT go anywhere between His death and resurrection. He specifically said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” {Matthew 12: 40} What was Jonah doing for three days and three nights? He was meditating and praying. He certainly wasn’t preaching to some spirits in prison. Neither was Jesus gone preaching: He was doing the like things Jonah was doing, meditating and praying. Anybody unable to understand 1 Peter 3: 19 sticks out like a sore thumb as one who is totally unqualified to teach Christian doctrine. Peter Hiett is such a person thanks to the link supplied by Stephen Helbig June 23, 2015 at 10:59 pm (Get in the Van, Kids) More of Peter Hiett at the “Rethinking Hell Conference 2015″; held June 18-20 at Fuller Theological Seminary. This particular presentation was at a “Morning Breakout Session” on (6-19-2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6EmTuIc9pg#t=3558

    Stop running to unorthodox teaching and start believing what has been proven by church history as truth. Unbelieving souls burn forever in hell in the Lake of Fire just as the Holy Bible concludes with a populated Lake of Fire without remedy. If you refuse to believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 12: 40 that’s where you will spend eternity without hope and forever tormented. Wise up and believe every perfect and literal word of God’s Book and get saved the Fundamental Baptist way.

  • Lanny A. Eichert July 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Alice, when you leave the absolute standards of God for an emphasis on the love of God here’s what you get. Note the last sentence in the article: “about people forming the families the way they want.” Are you able to imagine what that means? Do you also catch that it is about disrespect and subordination? The whole LGBTQ community needs to be disrespected and subordinated in order to save the United States of America from social destruction. Everybody needs to parade with the sign I’ve indicated below. Push the “gays” back in the closet where they belong.

    LGBTQ
    R BAD 4
    U.S.A.

    Published July 02, 2015
    Associated Press
    HELENA, Mont. – A Montana man said Wednesday that he was inspired by last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage to apply for a marriage license so that he can legally wed his second wife.
    Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage. Montana, like all 50 states, outlaws bigamy — holding multiple marriage licenses — but Collier said he plans to sue if the application is denied.
    “It’s about marriage equality,” Collier told The Associated Press Wednesday. “You can’t have this without polygamy.”
    County clerk officials initially denied Collier’s application, then said they would consult with the county attorney’s office before giving him a final answer, Collier said.
    Yellowstone County chief civil litigator Kevin Gillen said he is reviewing Montana’s bigamy laws and expected to send a formal response to Collier by next week.
    “I think he deserves an answer,” Gillen said, but added his review is finding that “the law simply doesn’t provide for that yet.”
    The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday made gay marriages legal nationwide. Chief Justice John Roberts said in his dissent that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal argument that not having the opportunity to marry disrespects and subordinates them.
    Collier, 46, said that dissent inspired him. He owns a refrigeration business in Billings and married Victoria, 40, in 2000. He and his second wife, Christine, had a religious wedding ceremony in 2007 but did not sign a marriage license to avoid bigamy charges, he said.
    Collier said he is a former Mormon who was excommunicated for polygamy and now belongs to no religious organization. He said he and his wives hid their relationship for years, but became tired of hiding and went public by appearing on the reality cable television show “Sister Wives.”
    The three have seven children of their own and from previous relationships.
    “My second wife Christine, who I’m not legally married to, she’s put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy,” he said.
    Collier said he sent an email asking the ACLU of Montana to represent him in a possible lawsuit. ACLU legal director Jim Taylor said he has not seen the request.
    Taylor said he has no opinion on Collier’s claims, though the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage “is about something very different.”
    Anne Wilde, a co-founder of the polygamy advocacy organization Principle Voices located in Utah, said Collier’s application is the first she’s heard of in the nation, and that most polygamous families in Utah are not seeking the right to have multiple marriage licenses.
    “Ninety percent or more of the fundamentalist Mormons don’t want it legalized, they want it decriminalized,” Wilde said.
    A federal judge struck down parts of Utah’s anti-polygamy law two years ago, saying the law violated religious freedom by prohibiting cohabitation. Bigamy is still illegal.
    The state has appealed the ruling, and the case is pending in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
    Wilde said most polygamous families are satisfied with the judge’s ruling and believe taking it further to include multiple marriage licenses would bring them under the unwanted jurisdiction of the government.
    But she said the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage should strengthen their chance of winning the appeal.
    “We hope the Supreme Court decision will show the direction the nation is going,” she said. “It’s more liberal, it’s more understanding about people forming the families the way they want.”

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