Question / Comment - Did the prodigal son lose his salvation?
I was reading your website in my quest for more knowledge & understanding of prophetic scriptures of what is still yet to come. As I was searching I found your belief on pre-trib. I've never been convinced of pre, mid, or post trib. That's not to say that I don't necessarily believe in the rapture. It's just in all my studies of scripture I'm now more uncertain about any of the beliefs. I don't want to cop out and just claim pan trib because if the Word gives us the answers I want to know.
Also in my reading I found that you support Ray Comfort. I was pleased to find that there are Christians out there that believe in truly understanding the Law & the Prophets, not just the law or just prophecy.
As I'm scrolling through your beliefs there was something I'd like to ask you about. I read your eternal security comment on Hebrews chapter 6 and found these statements:
"In contrast to this are several other passages which speak of apostasy. The first falling away is temporary and is in regard to their walk. For a true believer however, they will never deny their faith in the Lord Jesus. And, like the true prodigal son, they will return."
And..."A prodigal son may stupidly go into the world for a season, but in his heart he will never find rest and will long for, and return, home."
If I'm interpreting you correctly, you believe the prodigal son to be saved still even though he's a part of the world. Luke chapter 15 says that the prodigal son partook in "riotous living" was "dead" & "lost" (says twice), and had "devoured his living with harlots". So, do you believe a child of God can partake in riotous living & sleep with prostitutes? If so, I have to ask, are you a teacher of the Word that teaches that you can live in sin & still be a Christian?
Thanks for taking the time to read my e-mail.
Thanks for the email and your thoughts. You wrote:
“If I'm interpreting you correctly, you believe the prodigal son to be saved still even though he's a part of the world.”
I understand why you have made that assumption but actually no. I always find it interesting when people on both sides of the eternal security debate go to this passage to prove or disprove eternal security because as far as I can see, that wasn’t even an point that Jesus was making. Looking at the context of Luke 15, all three parables (the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son) were answering the need of the “sinners” that he was speaking to as well as the grumblings of the Pharisees. Look at how the chapter starts -
Luke 15:1 “Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable…”
All three parables that he spoke were to show the joy that Heaven has when a sinner returns to God as well as speaking to the pride of the Pharisees. None of them were addressing the issue of eternal security or whether the son was “saved” before he left home or whether the son was “saved” when he was out in the world spending his inheritance. Jesus was speaking directly to the “sinners” in his midst to show the wonder and joy in Heaven when a sinner returns to God. He wasn’t addressing whether these “sinners” were saved previously or now. He was also speaking to the Pharisees to show them the error in their proud hard ‘holier than thou’ attitude towards these “sinners” as pictured by the attitude of other son who didn’t leave home.
So to try prove a point against eternal security based on the fact that the son was called “lost”, or “dead” is missing the point in my view. Even if you did go down that track you could easily argue that while the father called his son lost and dead, that was only as he perceived it to be because he didn’t know where his son was. The same cannot be said of God the Father. The actual fact was that the son wasn’t dead even though the father thought he was. But again, this is missing the point of the parable. Jesus was speaking to “sinners” who needed to know that though they were living in sin and were not right with God, God’s arms were waiting to receive them with joy just as the Father ran out to meet and accept his son that returned.
So I have never gone to the parable of the prodigal son to prove eternal security as I don’t believe that that was the point of the parable. All I have said, as someone who does believe in eternal security, is that a true born again believer, like the prodigal, will return home even if they do go back into the world for a season. I believe this to be true because I know that Jesus has promised to lose none of those that the Father gives him and I believe that to leave the faith and not return proves that they were never a truly born again believer to begin with (1 John 2:19)
You asked ‘are you a teacher of the Word that teaches that you can live in sin & still be a Christian?’
To answer that, you might have to define ‘sin’ for me. I’m not trying to play games. I just think that people are quick to point the finger without looking at their own heart. Some have a list of what they consider to be sin like sexual immorality, lying etc and forget that Jesus taught us that it isn’t just outward acts that are sin – it is also what is going on inside. Jesus said -
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
You should also remember that ‘everything that is not of faith is sin’. (Rom 14:23). Everything that is not based on dependence upon God is sin. Not only that, but it is not only what we do in act or in our heart, it is also what we fail to do. There are sins of omission – that is, we sin when we fail to do what we have been told to do in the word of God.
So, knowing your own heart, with its wrong sinful desires, do you still consider yourself a Christian? I’m not trying to get at you. I’m sure I think that same as you about “riotous living & sleeping with prostitutes.” I just know that for myself even though I have definitely been born again and I am a Christian, I also know that I continue to sin as the Bible defines sin. So if I was to answer your question above as honestly as I know for my own life the answer is definitely YES. But praise God that he accepts me on the basis on Jesus’ death for me and not based on my works.
Now maybe you are thinking of a particular sin that would prove that a person isn’t a child of God. Maybe you are thinking of a period of habitual sinning. I don’t know. Feel free to define what you meant. But do you believe that a truly born again Christian loses his/her salvation when they sin? If so, how many sins does it take or how long do they have to sin for? You will find that we have already moved from faith/grace for salvation to works and the answers have become impossible to answer.
Feel free to write back if you want to define what you mean a little more or if I haven’t answered your question adequately.
All the best
It's great to hear from you. I've read a lot of the e-mails to you & it must be hard sometimes to take some of the criticisms that you get. So, I appreciate the kindness in your letter.
I know drawing the line can be difficult. But I think that there is definition in what the Bible says about someone who is living in sin, which is what I'm talking about.
The Armenian point of view is a radical point of view that misses so many Scriptures. For example: John 13:10 says, "Jesus said to him, 'He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean..." If I interpret this verse correctly, we're bathed in the blood of Jesus but there are times when we need to repent of a sin. But I guess the questions lies: Repent of a sin or a lifestyle of sin. There are no Scriptures that support that you lose your salvation when we sin once.
If we drive down the road & curse at the driver that cuts us off we've sinned. If we curse at all the drivers everyday, always find ourselves flipping people off, getting in shouting matches, etc. then we're living in sin. Where do we cross the road of sinning to living in sin? I think we sell ourselves short by denying that we know the difference. If the Spirit lives within us, we know. Our fruits bear witness of who we're slaves to: The command of the Word or to sin. If a tree has a branch that needs cut off, cut it off. But if it bears bad fruit, chop the tree down. When we sin enough to bear bad fruit then we know that we aren't true children of God & the Spirit doesn't live within us.
I was doing street ministry once & some guy got really convicted by the Law. (Yea, I use the Law similarly to Ray Comfort.) Well, he cut me off to ask if I believe in Once Saved Always Saved. I avoided the question because that had nothing to do with what I was talking about. But I also knew that he asked to rebuke the conviction of the Holy Spirit. He was trying to justify his lifestyle & reject the Law of Moses. So, finally he realized that I wasn't going to answer his question & so he said, "I've given my life to Jesus & you can't lose your salvation." Then he walked off. (He had homosexual tendencies, too.)
The sad news is, most people in church believe they can live in sin, justify it, & say they're still going to heaven. After all, false teachers right books on it, like Charles Stanley.
Anyway, the prodigal lived in sin by spending his inheritance with prostitutes & partook in riotous living. There can be no justification for a man to spend his blessings from God on street walkers & still call himself a Christian. He's not a follower of Christ; therefore, he's not a Christian.
If a Christian commits a sin of omission then they repent & then beat their flesh into submission to stop sinning. This was a great example of me. I struggled at sharing my faith in so many ways. But the more I do it, the easier it is. I still struggle against the flesh but I don't submit to it regularly. I'm giving in to the flesh less & less, & giving in to the Spirit more & more. The Bible says to "work out your salvation through fear & trembling" & there is a point when I've conquered my flesh enough to claim myself as a true child of God. I know that sounds like works save you but that's not what I'm saying. It's just when we beat our flesh into submission, we've demonstrated that God has worked within us. His working within us brings us into obedience. So, we don't do good works to be saved nor to keep our salvation. We do good works as a demonstration of what He did in our lives.
I hope that you can agree that a Christian can't have a lifestyle of sin. The prodigal son is a story about a son who was lost & dead. If the story doesn't mean anything about a relationship with the Father, our lifestyles of obedience or sin, then there isn't much to learn from the story. I hope you can agree.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for the reply and I'm glad that you have taken my first email in the spirit in which it was written. I think we would agree on quite a few things - especially in regards to the fact that there should be an outworking of our faith once a person becomes a believer evidenced by their works. Works are not the root of salvation but the fruit; they are not the cause but the effect. I think we're clear on that. I would agree also that there are many who 'profess' to know the Lord but have never been truly born again. Unfortunately, this is very evident in the western church and it is a true fact, as Jesus said, that
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
There are of course some things we would disagree on. I don't believe Charles Stanley should be labeled a false teacher. I take it you have said that because he believes in eternal security. While I don't have his books etc, from what I have heard and read I consider him to be generally quite sound. And especially considering most of the teaching that passes as "Christian" from tele-evangelists and "Christian" money grabbers that make it onto TV, I would say he is by far the most sound. (That is from what we get down here in New Zealand on free to air television anyway).
Also, I don't think you have got what I was saying about the prodigal son parable. Maybe I wasn't clear enough. (Or maybe you just disagree! Either way I might as well have one more go at it!) You wrote:
The prodigal son is a story about a son who was lost & dead. If the story doesn't mean anything about a relationship with the Father, our lifestyles of obedience or sin, then there isn't much to learn from the story. I hope you can agree.
Yes, I do agree. I agree that the story centers around our relationship with God, and the effects of sin and the need for the lost to be reconciled with God. Do you agree that it isn't a message about "Eternal Security"? For to try make it into a message about eternal security totally misses the context of who Jesus was talking to and the point he was trying to make. So, let's revisit Luke 15.
Luke 15:1-3 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Then Jesus told them this parable:
Firstly, the context: Jesus spoke these three parables to "sinners" and some Pharisees who didn't think he should associate with sinners.
Secondly, the purpose: To show the "sinners" of their need to repent and return to God, with a lot of emphasis is placed on the joy in Heaven when a sinner returns to God. Jesus also wanted to speak to the pride of the Pharisees as shown by the position of the old brother who didn't like the fact that his brother would be received with joy upon his return.
So, put yourself in the position of the "sinners" who were listening to Jesus. What would these "sinners" have thought? That Jesus was trying to point out some who were saved could be lost again and therefore eternal security isn't true??? Of course not!!! I believe some would have thought this to themselves -
"I'm just like that younger son. Being an Israelite, I was born into this position of blessing with God. I had God's law, His special covenants, the temple... but I didn't consider a relationship with God important. Like the younger son I turned my back on it and went after worldly pleasures. I sinned against God. But this message has given me hope. It has shown me that I can return and that God is actively seeking out lost people like me. Not only that, but there is immense joy in Heaven when sinners like me do return. That which is lost can be found and I can return to God!"
I believe that is the context of the message. Hopefully you can see, when taking into account the context of who Jesus was talking to, that it was never meant to be a parable either endorsing or dismissing eternal security. All three parables were given to show that 'the son of man was sent to seek and save that which was lost."
Well, that will do for me... All the best.