“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:24)
I have asked this question before in these letters to you, and I believe it needs to be repeated today, how long can a prodigal son remain away before his salvation can be questioned?
In these days of the beginnings of sorrows faith, the faith of those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord is being tested perhaps as never before. Some will have the faith of Noah, 120 years of building the ark with not one dark cloud in sight, others will be those in the boat that night when the storm was raging, and the Lord was fast asleep. You must remember, Jesus seeks the lost sheep, even the one out of a hundred that went astray, but no one went to look for the prodigal son.
“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” (Luke 15:17)
It may be a matter of running out of money, it may be watching the news as the enemy soldiers draw closer to your town, it may be after they have locked you in prison and offered you a free and clear release, if you just repeat the words they ask you to say. But it may be those sinful actions you will not stop, those thoughts that you know you should not entertain, that sin against the Living God that you know is indeed sin, but has become such a lite thing in your mind, and you know that the Lord is a forgiving God.
How long can one remain, how long does the season of sin need to last before one can truly question the authenticity of their salvation?
I believe you must look at your own conscience here, look at it deeply and honestly, this sin, this season of pleasure, do you look forward to it in anticipation, and only after the act is committed do you feel remorse, only afterwards, when the deed you know so well, has been so thoroughly released so many times and then fulfilled do you feel shame and guilt? And then, slowly, over time, that shame goes away, the guilt begins to abate, and once again you are consumed. How long does the prodigal son need to stay away before the Father stops looking for him to return?
“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numb. 32:23)
The prodigal son gave no thought whatsoever of returning to his father until he met a need that he could find no answer for, and sadly that need itself was nothing more than a meal beyond the food of the swine. He thought only of himself, only of his own survival, his wants, not of the pain, sorrow and suffering that he had caused to those he had left behind.
The account of this is of course based on the mercy of the Father to those who of their own free will come back to Him, the love and forgiveness waiting for all who will repent, who will “come to themselves.” But the Father did not send servants nor go himself to search for him.
How much sin does it take before we can come to the conclusion that a person is not truly saved, that they have only been professing Christ with their lips, that they are those spoken of in 1st John 2:19. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
How long? Weeks, months, decades? All who have been born again sin, all have at one time or another have been the prodigal son, but all those who have truly been crucified with Christ come to themselves, ask for forgiveness and run back to the Father.