The Parable of the Elder Son
by H.E. Phillips
Jesus was the greatest teacher who ever lived upon earth. He taught his disciples by many different parables, and often made the application for them. The fifteenth chapter of Luke contains three well known parables: the parable of the lost sheep — verses 3-7; the parable of the lost coin — verses 8-10; and the parable of the lost son — verses 11-24. The point of these parables is the rejoicing over finding that which was lost and found. Those things that were lost were of such value that when they were found there was great rejoicing.
Turn now to Luke 15:25-32 and read of the elder son who would not rejoice at the restoration of his brother. He was also alienated from his father.
The account of the elder son is a part of the parable of the prodigal son who took his inheritance and went into a foreign country where he wasted it in riotous and evil living. When all of his money was gone, and he found himself in great need, he “came to himself” and resolved to return to his father and seek forgiveness. He repented of his sins and returned home. His father saw him coming and ran to meet him and welcome him home. He rejoiced because “this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
Now the elder son was in the field. As he came to the house and saw the celebrating because of the return of the younger son, he called a servant to find out why his father had made a feast. When he learned of the return of his younger brother, he was angry and would not go into the house. No doubt this elder son represented the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ lesson. They were angry at Jesus for receiving sinners who repented. They were envious of all who did not stand with them in their attitude toward Jesus.
There are five things about the elder son to which I want to call attention:
1. He was angry. Verse 28: “And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.” He was angry because his lost brother was found and had been restored to his father. Anger expresses resentment. It also indicates selfishness in most cases. The elder son had a bad attitude toward both his father and his brother: he did not want his brother to receive the blessings of his father, and he did want his father to rejoice at the return of his brother. He was envious of his brother, and therefore was angry because he was received home with joy.
2. He was self-righteous. Verse 29: “And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends . . . . ”
The younger son who repented said: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son” (verse 21). The elder son said: “Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment . . . ” (verse 29).
A self-righteous person will not obey the righteousness of God. They go about to establish their own righteousness. Romans 10:3 says: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” The elder son did not consider himself a sinner, and he did not seek any favor from his father.
3. He was ungrateful. He said to his father: “…and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends” (verse 29). But his father told him: “…Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine” (verse 31). His father said he had anything the father had, but he was so ungrateful that he did not consider himself to have anything. Ingratitude is a terrible sin. It hardens the heart to the manifold gifts of God and the blessings available every hour of the day and night to his saints. We must “. . . let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Col. 3:15).
4. He hated his brother. He was envious of his brother and did not want him to receive anything from the father. Verse 30 says: “But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.”
The New Testament teaches that we cannot hate our brother and be saved. 1 John 3:15: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 4:20 says: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” We must love our brother if we want to be saved.
5. He was not happy. He would not rejoice because his brother had quit his sinning and returned to his father. His father said unto him: “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:32).
Those who have the attitude of the elder son must look at themselves and repent as the younger son did, if they want to be received and be blessed of the Father in heaven.
— Via hephillips.org
Am I Honest?
by Gary Henry
Generally, we wish to get correct answers to the questions we ask. The more important the questions are, the more we would like to feel were on track in getting the right answers to them. It would seem obvious that correct answers are nowhere more critical than with respect to the general question of religion. And when we are confronted with the religious claims of Jesus of Nazareth — not only that a right relationship to the Creator should be our ultimate concern, but that such a relationship is possible only through Jesus Himself — we have a specific set of questions that we ought to want to have answered with nothing less than the full truth.
But getting the right answers to the questions of religion in general, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ in particular, is not a mechanical process. We cant assume the truth is going to yield itself up automatically to anyone who pushes the right logical buttons, regardless of what his character or his intentions might be. To the contrary, this happens to be a subject in which getting the right answers depends largely on whether we are a certain kind of person and whether we are asking for a certain kind of reason.
To put it more bluntly: whether we are able to get at the truth about Jesus Christ and His church depends on what we intend to do with the truth. Before we can be in a position to ask questions about the thing called Christianity, there is a more fundamental question we are required to ask about ourselves — and that is whether we are really honest inquirers who intend to do what is right about the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Jesus went a good deal farther than merely saying we must be “intellectually honest” folks who are willing to weigh the evidence objectively. While the Bible certainly does talk about loving the truth, Jesus explained exactly what that means — and how essential it is — when He said, “If anyones will is to do Gods will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (Jn. 7:17). What that says is simply that if I don’t have the integrity and honesty to do what I know I ought to do about the right answers I say Im looking for, then I may not even recognize those right answers when I come across them.
There is really no more sobering text in the New Testament than 2 Thess. 2:11,12, which asserts that God will actually lead those away from the truth who are not honestly looking to obey it: “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” The armchair religionist is bound to get tangled up; he may even go astray on the fundamentals of his subject, let alone the more difficult questions. No matter how diligent and scholarly his pursuits, his investigations will be skewed by the fact that he is merely looking for curiosities to think about. But the fellow who waits only for a reasonable assurance that the truth is really the truth before he is ready to render obedience to it, that is the individual who is going to get the information he is seeking.
It is of utmost importance, then, that we be honest about the truth. The trouble is, we are often not willing to be honest about whether we are honest. As a person claiming to want the truth about the questions of religion, how can I know whether I am honest or not? And if I’m not willing to search for, accept, and act on the truth about myself, would I do any better about other truths?
One good place to begin testing our own honesty is asking what we are doing about the religious truth we already possess. The person deserves no additional light who is wasting what he presently has, and if we are avoiding dealing with obligations that have been in plain view for quite some time, there is little point in debating the finer points of the law.
But there are some other tests that may help us focus on our honesty. Am I, for example, capable of being persuaded, or is my mind basically made up already? Am I a person who decides questions on the basis of evidence, or am I guided by prejudices and preconceptions? Do I tend to believe that the truth is whatever I want it to be? How hard am I willing to dig for truth? How careful am I in approaching weighty issues? Am I fair? On the question of God, do I harbor any reservations about how far I’d be willing to go in accepting the implications and consequences of the truth? Questions like these ought to tell us some significant things about the level of honesty at which we approach the issues of life.
Jesus taught on one occasion that His word germinates in the “honest and good heart” (Lk. 8:15). Deciding to have just that sort of heart has got to be the beginning point for any serious quest for truth. It is, as Jesus said elsewhere, the truth that will make us “free” (Jn. 8:32) — but the truth is a maiden who will not be wooed by just anybody. Anything less on our part than a bona fide commitment to be faithful to truth — whatever that may entail, at whatever cost — and truth will disguise herself from us. If we are serious about getting at the right answers to the questions that pertain to life’s deepest meaning, then we can ill afford to have anything other than the attitude of the Psalmist: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Psa. 25:4,5). It’s that kind of honesty that gives us a chance to make progress. Without it, we are as lost intellectually as we are spiritually.
— Via WordPoints, January 2, 2015
News & News
It was a good gospel meeting we recently had with Phillip Owens, and we were also glad for all our visitors who came out to be with us. For many, it had been about 25 years since they last saw Phillip when he used to preach here at Tebeau Street in the late 80s and early 90s.
I imagine these following people would appreciate, on their behalf, the prayers of the saints:
Judy Daugherty (Jim Lively’s sister) spent about 4 days in the hospital, due to falling backwards and severely hitting her head. She is now having to use a walker as she continues to recover.
Jean Beach (also a sister of Jim Lively) has been having some bad stomach ailments, along with other physical problems, and is feeling poorly.
Ronnie Davis has recently been having some heart issues and not feeling well, for which he is undergoing some testing.
Jewell Wilson, who had been hospitalized, due to a slight stroke and other complications, has been transferred to the nursing home on Riverside Avenue.
Marie Pennock has been having continual trouble with her back, which gives her pain.
Mikaela Jones has not been feeling well lately, due to a touch of bronchitis.
Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Myrna Jordan, Mary Vandevander, Melotine Davis, Danielle Howard, Penny and Deborah Medlock, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Sunny Nichols, Dexter Roberts, Betty Miles, Steve Vista, Buddy Gornto, Sunny Nichols, Dolly Downs Moody, Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jesse Bailey, Sue Wooten, and Colleen Henson.
The Ladies’ Bible study meets every Tuesday at 7 PM in the church building.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)