Scripture Query and Answer: Luke 15: The Proper Intention of This Chapter

Luke 15  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Q. Luke 15. What is the proper intention of this chapter and particularly of the prodigal son? Is it restoring grace, or salvation? Is the best robe only given then? A.
A. I have no doubt that the application of this chapter to the saint's failure and restoration is a mere fancy, and that the truth intended is God's grace to the sinner. It is well to observe, that the notion, Calvinistic as it is, which makes so much of the circumstances that the sheep was a sheep of the flock before it strayed, &c., really would prove Arminianism, if it proved anything; because it is certain that—sheep, money, or son all were LOST. If therefore these parables were meant to teach restoring grace, they would equally teach that the child who departs from his Father is “lost” and “dead,” after having been in the place of a son and before he is brought back. But take the, parables, not as provision and instruction for disciples, but as the expression and vindication of divine grace in Christ's receiving sinners, and all is plain. The general truth of departure from God, and privileges abandoned or abused, is set forth in the straying of the sheep, the loss of the money, and the wretched, far-off penury of the prodigal. The previous relationship of the prodigal is not the point the Lord is illustrating any more than the question which curious minds often raise, about the ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance. The real point was, whether the blessed Lord was right in receiving sinner's; and what he demonstrates is that such is the very way and delight of God in grace. Hence, restoration of erring saints is quite beside the mark, and as the prodigal sets forth such souls as the publicans and sinners, so the self-righteous elder son as clearly portrays men like the murmuring Scribes and Pharisees. Not that I would deny also a dispensational bearing of mercy towards the poor Gentiles, in spite of Jewish pride and opposition. But the grand point is, I am persuaded, the joy of God in the salvation of the lost, be they who they may, closing with the relationship into which grace brings, rather than what sin spoils. Is the best robe, is divine righteousness, never the portion, till we have failed as believers? Is Christ not put on, till the saint has dishonored Him and turned to Him once more? Such thoughts are not only unfounded, but in truth, if pressed, they tend to sap the foundations of grace. In a word, whatever applications may be made and more or less allowable, it is clear to me that the Lord is here showing, not how communion, once interrupted, is restored, but the full free grace of God towards the lost.