How long can a prodigal son remain in that lifestyle before a determining factor can be made that perhaps they were never saved in the first place. Is there a type of time limit that can be put on these individuals, how long is it necessary for them to live a life of unrepentant sin before it can be determined that they indeed have made a false profession of faith in Christ as Lord.
“And when he came to himself” (Luke 15:17) does not indicate an exact time, but we can tell from the account that our Lord gave us in the Book of Luke that he was gone for what could be considered a lengthy period of time, from the time he received his inheritance, the traveling time to get where he was going, the party life, all these are fairly good periods of time, not to mention the amount of time that it takes for a famine to enter into a land, this young man was a prodigal for quite some time. From rebellion, to anticipation, to revelry, to dejection, to submission, and then back to the acceptance he had all along but would not see.
Let me ask you something here, how many of the homeless that you see around you every day, those that at times fill the viewing screens of our televisions in every nation of this planet, how many of those do you think are prodigal sons and daughters of God. how many have become trapped by the indulgences of the world, the enticements of our adversary, how many are truly saved and can’t find their way home. Home is where the heart is, or better yet, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21) Can a man’s heart still rest in Christ when he has turned his back on the Lord, I speak here of those who truly have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, those who have been saved by grace thru faith in Christ. I could ask this question of you also, do you think that the famine that was sent upon that land was for the sake only of that young man, was that God’s way of calling him, prompting him to return home, remember, the rain falls on the just and the unjust.
Think here on the lost sheep that our Lord spoke about in Matthew 18:12, and ask yourself another question, does our Lord always and without fail go and search for those of His flock that have gone astray, or is the account of the prodigal son one in which the young man returned on his own accord. If he would not have run out of money, if the famine would not have appeared, if he had not become so despondent at the pig’s feeding trough, would he have eventually returned of his own accord, would he have “come to himself” without all of these circumstances? How long can a prodigal son remain so before it can be determined that he was truly never saved, but if truly a child of God, how long before the Lord comes searching for, as it were, and finds that lost sheep, bringing him back to the fold.
We are hard-headed, stiff-necked people my friends, we want what we want, and we don’t like being told no. The majority of these letters that I am prompted to write by the Holy Spirit, though it is by His will that all are written, seems to be directed at encouraging the reader to constantly re-access their position in Christ, to judge themselves so they would not be judged. (1 Cor. 11:31) The first three seeds in the parable of the seeds, of the sower, that our Lord gave us in Matthew 13:18-23 were not saved individuals, but too many today seem unable to differentiate between the third and fourth class of seeds, those who profess Christ with their lips only and those who are producing fruit. Only those who have the Holy Spirit of God in them can bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we do not produce these fruits, we are only a very small branch on the vine, it is only by His mercy and grace that we are able to bear them.
The fourth person of the seed parable though produces fruit, thirty, sixty, or a hundred, they bring forth fruit, they bring people to the cross and those people, of their own accord, give their lives to Christ. Showing up to church on Sunday, maybe putting something in the plate, being on the finance committee is not producing fruit. There are many weeds in almost every God-fearing church around this planet, and there may be more prodigal sons and lost sheep outside of those church doors then we could ever imagine. “You will know them by their fruit,” (Matt. 7:15) and if you do not see the works of the fourth seed, if you cannot see the fruits of the Spirit, then more than likely that person is not saved. Why do you think there are few “fire and brimstone” preachers out there anymore, preaching about sin, about repentance, about the fires of hell that will envelope all who reject Christ, using the word of God to convict those who are saved to get out there and get to work, submit to the Lord and obey His commandments. Because there are a lot of weeds in the church today, my friends.
Many of those who are calling some “prodigal sons” are those who are the tares sitting in the church pews each weekend, placing upon themselves a sort of “spiritual vanity,” not even seeing anymore that they were never part of the flock in the first place. The corporeal setting of the institution of some of the churches today has become nothing more than a clubhouse for those who believe themselves to be part of the fold to gather in, they listen, but they do not hear, the context of the conversations revolve around the world and self, and the first words out of their mouths when they meet someone on the street who says they know Christ as Lord is not “What are you studying in His word” or “How is He using you,” but “Where do you go to church.”
There are no prodigal sons, no lost sheep who have gone astray, yet are truly saved, in church my friends, there are of course many who are saved by the grace of God, but far too many are only deceiving themselves, their hearts are far from Him. A prodigal son is an individual whose name is written for all eternity in the Lambs Book of Life, but he wants more than he now has, he has fallen prey to the call of the world, he has heeded the whisperings of Satan and his own personal desires and ambitions. Nonetheless, he is an eternal child of the Most High God, loved beyond measure, and he will always be searched for, found, and brought home. Will there be chastisement, of course, we are loved, and there are always consequences for our actions of disobedience, but if I am correct, and only God knows, the consequences of our actions when we are disobedient can also bring much sorrow and suffering to those around us, hence the famine in the land the prodigal son went to.
If we have gone astray, for no matter what length of time it is, He will call us back, the young man was allowed to follow the wrong path, but he ran out of enough money to stay on the path. He could have come home then, but the famine was not quite bad enough yet, wasn’t the farmer still able to feed his pigs? Second chance, work for someone who still has. The third opportunity he listened to though, he came to himself, he found the strength of humility and sought earnestly for forgiveness, willing to take the least position in the household if he could just return, he came to himself and realized that he could only find rest at home. What he found was complete restoration and great joy that the lost had been found. In my mind’s eye I see this young man growing up to be a strong servant of the Lord, filled with a knowledge and wisdom that few will attain to unless they have experienced the life of a prodigal.
He is waiting to forgive, He is waiting for you to come back home, to where your treasure is, but if you do not, He will come and get you, for you are loved beyond all measure. “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 23:12) Stop looking for Him in the world, stop seeking for Him in church, start searching for Him in your heart, that is where He is waiting.