Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Friday, July 28, 2006

An Email from a Friend

I recieved the following thoughts from a fellow blogger via email. I thought they were very interesting - especially the tie-in between the unjust steward and the lost sheep, coin, and son. Also - his thoughts on verse 31, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours..." really intrigued me because my mind is always drawn to that verse when I hear this passage preached on - I have seen this parable labeled "two lost sons" in a study Bible and at least one commentary. What do you think?

Luke 15 and 16

In that passage, Jesus gave a series of parables that were connected. He had been criticized by the Pharisees for reaching out to sinners (Luke 15:1-2), so in response He offered the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. The basic message of all three parables was similar: that if we backslide, He desires to draw us back to Himself and to restore the relationship.

Now, Jesus had also spoken this in the presence of His disciples, and this couldn’t have sent a healthy signal to them. So I think an evil thought had risen in their hearts: "You mean I could backslide for awhile, and still make it back again? I think I’ll tuck that little nugget away! That might be useful to know one day!" In other words, it might have seemed like a license to sin, or to backslide in one last prodigal fling.

This is why Jesus turns in Luke 16:1, to address the disciples now, with the parable of the unjust steward. This parable is very hard for most Christians to understand, but essentially He is addressing the evil thought that I have just mentioned. His intention is to show them ‘the other side of the same coin’ and to speak of the consequence.

To demonstrate this connection and the contrast, let’s return to the parable of the lost son. In the beginning he had said to his father, "Give me the portion of goods that falls to me." So the father had divided his wealth between his two sons (Luke 15:12).

But this had always left a question in my mind. Wouldn’t this mean that all of the remained inheritance would belong to the older brother now? In fact, the father himself would later tell him as much: "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours." (Luke 15:31).

Therefore the prodigal son, on returning under the good graces of his father, was actually being received into his brother’s inheritance; and in receiving the ring on his finger (the symbol of the household’s authority) he would now have to prove himself faithful in that which belonged to another man.

You see, his inheritance truly had been squandered; he was not simply taking up as though nothing had ever happened, as though there was no consequence (Luke 16:1-2). True repentance and the good fruit of it, including faithfulness, was needed for him to regain eternal riches of his own (as in Luke 16:11-12).

So here’s the shocker. Essentially, the unjust steward from Luke 16 is the prodigal son from Luke 15. He must now prove himself a good steward of his brother’s goods. If he does, the fruit of his repentance in his latter self (the good steward) will confirm the true departure from his earlier self (the shameful son) and allow him to share in his brother’s inheritance (see Luke 16:4). This is according to the same principle that we find in Proverbs 17:2:

"A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame, and will share an inheritance among the brothers."

Allow me to focus on the parable of the unjust steward now, to complete this thought. Most Christians are astonished that this man gave away his master’s goods, yet he was commended for so doing. This is because they are not understanding the true ‘currency’ involved. Jesus came, not to raise money, but to save men’s souls. Through his actions, the unjust steward is doing everything within his ability to make other men able to stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment. This is the true currency, the master’s true riches, and the fruit that is worthy of repentance in restoring such a person. As Jesus had said to Peter in foretelling his denial: "and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." (Luke 22:32).

Again, the preceding were not my own thoughts, but an email I received from a fellow blogger.

20 Comments:

  • Wow, those are some deep thoughts. I think you are really getting at the spirit behind His parables.

    Jesus does indeed have a heart for reconciling us to God. He longs for sinners to come to Him, but also that as His children we will realize the need to be faithful.

    By Blogger Jim, at 7/28/2006 12:08 PM  

  • I'm not ignoring this post...I'm studying! ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 7/28/2006 5:33 PM  

  • Hey Rose,

    Thats some good insight and we should all glean from your research here.

    Would you consider the unjust steward to be an unsaved person as Jesus says the children of darkness are much wiser in this world than the children of light.

    God is telling us, look at how the lost rub shoulders and do everthing in desperation knowing that they are living on borrowed time and are using all there resources to make themselves comfortable in this world.

    He tells us to have the same desperation for lost souls. That is where your idea does indeed fit in, but the unjust steward is lost man doing things for selfish reasons while us Christians are like "Great were bound for glory!" and we are not concerned about the lost around us and eternity as the lost unjust steward is concerned about making his room and board as comfortable as possible on the Titanic.

    He is telling us that time is up and have the mentality that the theif on the cross had...its over!

    DO EVERYTHING YOU POSSIBLY CAN because people are pouring into hell. Make connections like this man did and use your money for alms in order to win others.

    Paul said that he has become all things to all people in order that he might win them. He cared nothing about himself.

    The movie Hotel Rwanda unlocks this truth in such a powerful way.
    One night his wife is boasting on how frugal he has been and how wise he has been to make them well off in wealth and good status of a major Belgium hotel. He looks at her and tells her, "You don't understand, I have been doing all of these things because I know a horrible day is coming and I am trying to deliver our family."

    Anyway he said something like that.

    Good post

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/28/2006 6:14 PM  

  • BTW,

    His master who commended him, commended him for cheating him out. He outwitted the outwitter. Jesus calls money unrighteous because so many have this masters outlook and the unjust stewards outlook. He took what wasn't his and made it work for himself.

    God possesses everything and Satan has reign over it. Satan wants us to think it belongs to him as the unjust steward master thinks. He is a driver. Strictly business.

    God gives us all these things generously, but we forget that it really is all his and even our salvation is his. Now take what is not yours and belongs only to God and give it away to save others.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/28/2006 6:21 PM  

  • Interesting thoughts.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 7/29/2006 5:57 AM  

  • You said>Again, the preceding were not my own thoughts, but an email I received from a fellow blogger.<

    I am sorry Rose. I have an inhibition between the cerebrum. A lesser number of axioms and dendrites firing, which often causes me to miss things immediately:-)

    When I read this I was thinking he shared his thoughts with you and then you were writing on his thoughts.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/29/2006 2:06 PM  

  • Rose, you've been doing an excellent job in going through the parables. You do an outstanding job in inviting discussion.

    First, I agree with a lot you said on the prodigal son. I see the major point is the extravagant love God shows for his own – so much so that it looks like God is doting, acting very undignified (looking and running to his son) and wastefully pouring himself and his possessions on this wayward son. God is also indicating that his family should also reflect this extravagant love on the wayward bothers and sisters too.

    So, I would have to disagree with your friend’s comment that the prodigal son would have to prove himself. The father took him in and has scandalously pardoned him; not even taking account for all that was wasted. There is nothing that the prodigal son has to do to merit this forgiveness by the father. The forgiveness is a done deal.

    This is at the heart of the true gospel. Scandalous forgiveness, so much so that when Paul presents this gospel in Romans, he anticipates the question, “shall we sin so that grace may abound?” The answer is of course not. The reason that the prodigal will not walk away from God is the tremendous gratitude he has for his father’s unconditional love.

    Have you ever done something so bad, and you were expecting the hammer to fall on you, but you were forgiven instead? How did that feel? Did you want to ever take advantage of that person again in the future? No you won’t. Not because you’re afraid of that person you wronged, but because you are so grateful and love that person.

    The wicked steward dovetails onto this. God has given us the resources of his kingdom; squander it on people who have large debts to God. God is pleased to scandalously give himself to the undeserving, and is pleased when we do it too with his resources.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/29/2006 8:53 PM  

  • Hey Earl,

    You said>No you won’t. Not because you’re afraid of that person you wronged, but because you are so grateful and love that person.<

    You made a good post here and I do agree that there is an initial gratitude and humbling in accepting the free gift of God, as AW Pink said"Faith is the act of a beggar recieving bread"..but this point you make is why I cannot embrace the Lordship position as a whole. While we are bowing a knee before him and asking for mercy...unfortunately you point is not being realistic about the presence of the flesh and its horrid potential. Conside Peter going back and betraying Christ by his embracing the Law in Galations. This was a horrible sin, yet he was still forgiven. Paul even said that Barnabas was carried away by the hypocrisy. Unfortunately many Christians today are doing this as well and do not realize it. I had to confess up to being guilty of it a few months ago.

    We must be honest about our flesh and every vice that Satan can again ensnare us with. Remember we are admonished not to let the son go down on our wrath as Satan will use this root of bitterness in the Christian life and it can take a Christian very far.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/29/2006 10:23 PM  

  • bhedr,

    You're right, I have overplayed the point in writing "you won't take advantage." You're correct. We will sin, and even our best times of obeying God in this life will be tainted with sin.

    However, what I should have said is that our motivation not to sin should be out of gratitude for what Christ has done. In one sense, we have nothing to prove, because Christ has paid for all our sin and when God adopted us into his family, God will grant us the strength and the will to ultimately endure. The proving that will happen in the Christian's life will be the proof that God is at work in that Christian through his ultimate endurance to the end brought about by God.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/29/2006 11:33 PM  

  • Thanks Earl,

    I think we all have a tendancey to overplay at times in order to make points.

    Also, God uses the Sin unto death to sanctify other believers and make them fear so that they will endure. So some believers will fall short in the endurance respect as well. Their lives will be cut short. The vine must sometimes cut off the branches that Jesus said were *IN HIM* in order to produce more fruitfulness in the rest of the vine. Ironically that greek word that means cut off has a dual meaning of lifting up. Therefore the one being cut off, sometimies goes through a re-grafting experience as is the case of John Mark.

    Remember also that Titus and some other deserted Paul having loved the present world and at that choice time John Mark had come full circle and was needed by Paul. The depth of God's wisdom is beyond us...but we cannot rule out the sin unto death of the believer in order to accomplish endurance in other believers.

    My wife had a best friend growing up. He was saved as a child, but as he grew he walked away from the Lord and became an alcholic, yet his heart was still understanding toward the Lord. His father kept warning him of the sin unto death. One day it finally happened and he ran into a tree just outside our house. His father preached his funeral and the whole town came to hear as the boy was friendly to everyone he met. he knew no strangers. The church did not have enough room to hold everyone. The towns people were in the basement and standing outside. God brought a harvest in that day and my former pastor preached the sin unto death using his own son as the example.

    There have been other believers that died early and it got my attention and got me back into the scriptures. Zane Hodges is not wrong about everything.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/30/2006 4:17 PM  

  • Hi Jim,
    I think maybe you thought that this post was my own thoughts. Well, this was an email I pasted from a fellow blogger. He is a very deep thinker. I think much of the email was great and I wanted to share it with others.

    KC,
    Are you done with your studying yet? ;~)

    Brian,
    I think Jim thought so, too. I figured it must have been my own weak communication skills, so that is why I added the sentence at the bottom. Thanks for your comment!

    Earl,
    It is always so nice to see your smiling flask, Earl. Thank you for the compliment. Honestly, that was the part of the email that I felt slightly uncomfortable with, as well. The insight that I had never thought about before was that he didn't regain any posessions. The father says to the other son "all that I have is yours."

    Earl, thanks again for your comments and your dialogue with Brian. I was edified by both of you.

    Brian,
    I like this statement: Zane Hodges is not wrong about everything.
    That is a very brave statement seeing how much he is dissed in reformed circles! ANyway, I appreciate that statement ... I think it is very reasonable to see that a man you disagree with in some areas has pointed out some very important things in other areas.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/31/2006 8:41 AM  

  • Matthew,
    Interesting thoughts? Interesting thoughts?!
    Is that all you have to say? I really wanted to see what a "free-gracer" would have to say about the post, so please ... give me a little more than that!

    Where is Antonio's comment on this post?

    Antonio? Wherefore art thou, Antonio?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 7/31/2006 8:43 AM  

  • I was worried there might be something incorrect in the post and if I said I agreed with it I would look silly.

    I am a coward.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 7/31/2006 8:48 AM  

  • Matthew a coward? Welcome to the club. It's a super-secret club, even us members don't know who the other members are. I'm a very active member in this club. :o)

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/31/2006 11:03 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/31/2006 4:07 PM  

  • (oops, typos on the first try)
    Rose, thanks for your kind words on my remarks. I think when the father told the older son that all that father had was his, the father is expressing that he has all his sons have too, including the prodigal who returned. This is what I am inclined to believe from reading the rest of the Bible. On a parable, we can't reliable induct a general principle from the story in the parable, such as the older son having all the posessions while the prodigal doesn't. The fact that prodigal is wearing the robe, ring, and has the fatted calf indicates that all does not belong to the older son. It shows the father's extravagant love to his own and his full pardon and acceptence.

    By Blogger Earl, at 7/31/2006 4:12 PM  

  • Good thoughts Earl on that last one.

    Thanks Rose.

    Also the younger son had a full and actualized understanding that he was given another inheritance altogether and a closer standing to the father without any merit whatsoever. The elder prodigal felt that the Father still owed him. Clearly the younger knew better and thus fully understood through the mercy he begged for that he was given grace in its place.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 7/31/2006 6:27 PM  

  • DF,
    How honest of you to say that. I am truly impressed with your confession. However, I have a hard time believing it ... seeing all the controversy you have gotten into on Jonathan's blog. ;~)
    You are not worried about ME thinking you are silly are you? ;~)

    Earl,
    Yes, I belong to that club too. Shhh ... don't tell anyone.
    You have offered an interesting counterpoint to Loren's (he was the friend that sent me the email.) I think this requires more study on my part. Thanks for your great contribution.

    You too, Brian!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/01/2006 9:01 AM  

  • Wow Rose, this is cool. I have to teach on the unjust steward this Sunday, so this was serendipitous.

    I don't actually agree with your deep thinking friend on the meaning of this parable; I'm going to parrot my old pastor's take on it. I'll post it when I'm done to see what you think of it.

    By Blogger BugBlaster, at 8/02/2006 10:43 PM  

  • Hey, Bugblaster!
    Thanks for stopping by again.
    I hope when you do that post you will come over and comment and that will be a reminder to me to come and look at your ideas.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 8/03/2006 8:20 AM  

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