Wednesday: The Conviction to Return

Read Luke 15:11-21. What specific attitudes and actions led the prodigal to decide to return home? What principles of revival and reformation do we discover in this passage?

prodigal sonRevival can be defined in different ways. However it may be defined, one factor ought not be missed: Revival is coming home. It is a heart hunger to know the Father’s love in a deeper way. Reformation is the choice to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading for change and growth. It is the choice to give up whatever stands in the way of this closer relationship with God. The prodigal could not have both the pigpen and the Father’s banquet table.

Simply put, the young man missed home too much to remain where he was. There was an aching in his heart to return. It is this heartache for the presence of God that leads us to long for revival and reformation. It is this heart cry for the warm embrace of the Father that motivates us to make necessary changes in our lives too.

As the young man prepared to return home, he planned his apology in advance. He must have rehearsed it again and again. Read his speech in Luke 15:18-19 and his Father’s interruption in verses 20-24. What does this interruption reveal about the Father’s attitude toward his son and God’s attitude toward us?

Although his son was far from his eyes, he was not far from his heart. The father’s eyes searched the horizon for his son each day. The greatest motivation to make changes in our lives is the desire to no longer break the heart of the One who loves us so much. When the boy was wallowing around in the mud with the pigs, the father suffered more than his son. Revival occurs when God’s love breaks our hearts. Reformation occurs when we choose to respond to a love that will not let us go. It takes place when we make the difficult choices to give up those attitudes, habits, thoughts, and feelings that separate us from Him.

How is the statement that “my son was dead and is alive again” an insightful definition of true revival? What is it like to be dead and then alive again?



Wednesday: The Conviction to Return — 15 Comments

  1. It seems to me that most of us who read this lesson are more likely to be like the older son who never left the father's house -- at least not physically.

    The younger son was very aware of his need, and when he returned to the father, the father covered him with his own robe - symbolic of Christ covering him with the robe of His righteousness.

    I wonder how many of us have the attitude of the Father towards those who have wandered away from the Father's house? Do we project love and caring to them, so that they will want to return?

    Or are we more like the son who stayed home?

    It seems to me that the son who stayed home was just as "lost" as the son who left. He did not have the father's heart at all. And at the end of the parable, we do not know whether he will enter the Father's house to rejoice with Him. In other words, we do not know whether the older son will remain lost or will be saved.

    The end of the message to Laodicea is similar: Christ is outside the church, knocking to be let in.

    The ending of the parable is up to us: Will we recognize that we need the Father's robe as much as those who wandered? Will we rejoice with the Father?

    The fate of Laodicea rests with us as well: Will we let Him in? Will we stop being proud of our correct doctrines (rich and increased with goods) and ask Him to change our selfish hearts into a heart like His -- a heart eager to draw the wanderers back by demonstrating His love through unselfish service?

    • [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting.]

      I have lost since long time ago
      now I am trying to come back to Jesus because my heart keep telling me to do so
      but I felt people in the church who know who I was always looked down on me because of what I did long time ago
      that is why I kept moving from one church to another church just to find a place where no one knows about me so I can worship Him peacefully
      I am wondering about skipping the church and worship Him at my home only.. I had attended other church but I found they are not teaching the truth especially about sabbath

      • Dear Verne, I wonder whether you have really examined your motives for moving from church to church, so no one would know you?

        You say you have a background of sin. So have we all. Some sins look "worse" than others - as the younger son's sins looked worse than the older son's in the parable, but both young men were "lost."

        Rather than trying to hide your past, why not just acknowledge it, "I did some very bad things in my life, but Jesus has forgiven me and accepted me. I'm so glad for His wonderful mercy!"

        If you acknowledge your past - perhaps even in a testimony, before people can start talking about it - then you don't have to run and hide any more. Sure, there will be some "older sons" in the church who will not rejoice at your coming back. Let the Holy Spirit deal with them.

        But you can come back rejoicing into the Father's house. Share how good God is and how you have found Him to be a loving Father. Share, share, share! Spread the news of our wonderful God! If you do that, you won't have time to worry about what people are thinking.

        We need to assemble together in church fellowship. It is one way we can work out the grace that God works into our lives through the Holy Spirit. If your life is hid in Christ, no insult can touch you, nor can flattery move you - because everything falls on Christ first, and He is moved neither by insult nor flattery. I recommend a little reading in Thoughts from the Mount of blessing. I think you may find some real help in the section, "Blessed are the meek." (Let me know if it helps. 🙂 )

        May you find peace and rest in Him!

        • Hi every one, it's my first time to read the comments but believe me am blessed to have spent my time here. Had never seen the role of the older son in the parable. I believe we have many of them in church, the ones who point fingers when Jesus is healing. How I wish we would know that we are worse off than the seemingly spoiled ones? God should have mercy on us.

      • Dear Verne
        Your Father loves you and he knows your heart and has forgiven you. He is covering you with His robe! Be merry with Him and let Him deal with the older brothers in the church. You, love Him.

      • Verne;
        As I read your post, my heart began to bleed for you. I truly had no intentions of posting on the net, I was simply coming to study today’s lesson, for some reason my spirit would not let me study the Bible Gate way version – after reading your post I know why.

        Our (SDA) 28 fundamental beliefs/doctrines (rich and increased with goods) has not one statement/belief about Gods love for us or us loving each other – they miss the most important character of God….Love; just at the Pharisees were well versed in the doctrine they lacked love for Jesus and their fellow man. The bible is full of stories where sweet Jesus points out love is the foundation, the reason for His life sacrifice, the reason we are forgiven.

        We as church members have no right to judge you when NONE of us have a clean record if not for the blood of Jesus. There’s no need for you to testify about what you have done in order for the people to stop talking about you, that’s not what testimonies is for. Your past testimonies are to be used to encourage your brothers/sisters by hearing your stories of what you came from and where you are going.

        If the people are treating you badly they are no different than the swine in the parable. Just as the son came to himself and went home in doing so he left the swine. Yes the church is a hospital, but everyone should not be in intensive care.

        My advice to you would be to pray and ask God to lead you to where He would have you worship. Know that all heaven is rejoicing over your return. I truly believe the Holy Spirit guided the hearts of the writers for this quarter lesson so the SDA “churches” would return to God as a whole. Remember going to church doesn’t make a person a Christian no more than standing in a garage makes you a car. God will connect you with “Christians” that will be iron for you and you will sharpen each other. There are many people that wear the label church members that haven’t been converted.

        Draw comfort in the prodigal son’s story – Jesus has covered you with His robe of righteousness. Again remember church is like a hospital! Just as God led me to like SDA believers to worship Him collectively, He will lead you as well. Can’t wait to meet you in heaven! Peace and Blessings to you.

      • Dear Verne,

        Who is more likely to reach Heaven? The repentant, humble and contrite prodigal son or the self-righteous, self-centered, prideful older brother?

        I suspect there are many of us spiritual prodigals reading these comments and, praise God, our pain and humility has caused us to see our great need for the love and grace of our Heavenly Father who welcomes us home with open and loving arms.

        Praise Him, rejoice that your painful past has brought you home.

        Welcome home, brother.

  2. In looking at the Prodigal son story we often miss some very critical information at the beginning of Luke 15:

    "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
    3 Then Jesus told them this parable:" (NIV)

    Then Jesus goes on the tell the three "lost" stories: sheep, coin and son. What we often overlook was that these stories were addressed to "the Pharisees and the teachers of the law". In other words, church members who thought themselves more righteous than the "tax collectors". So the story about the Prodigal son is NOT about the boy who returned home (the tax collector) but the boy who stayed at home!

    The very fact that Jesus addressed this story to the Pharisees indicates that He wanted them to see in the son who stayed at home their own attitudes to "sinners".

    • Ray, I think you are right in as far as the main thrust of those parables goes but I do think Jesus was also thinking of the others in the audience who needed assurance of the Father's love toward them. The treatment of the lost son by his father would have given them that assurance as well as the other parables of the coin and the sheep that are diligently searched for. As Jesus once said to His followers, "you are of more value than many sparrows" (Lk. 12:7 NKJV).

    • Ah, but aren't all of us like the younger son, i.e., we have rebelled against the father in sin. Especially the pharisees! They just haven't reached the stage where they humble themselves and return to Jesus. Maybe some of them eventually did.

  3. Fellow Brother and Sisters in Christ let's learn to demonstrate the habit of forgiveness whole heartedly. From the study we could realise that the Father forgave his son without complaining how painful it has been.

  4. Wow!praise the Lord saints,am really excited by your inspirational comments,my first question before l comment,'are you willing to reform and change after reading these comments?'what is tying you up?ok look at the explanation of that man at the pool 'you know sir when the angel comes l dont have anybody to guide me blah blah blah,did Jesus ask him why do you delay once the water is stirred up?we tend to blame ourselves with our weak bodies that we are unable to do ABCD,but then why did the man get the energy to pick his mat and go at once?unless the we hear the inner call of the holly spirit we can not understand who God is,even the lost son reached apoint of counting himself as aservant in his own father's house but the father welcomes him at home happily and orders afat calf to be slaughters but whats the reaction of the other son who was at home?we might be seated in church thinking that we are not lost looking at those who are in the world but once they meet with the holly spirit's voice they come back to their creator you become astumbling block to them,you dont welcome them,you dont allow them to give acomment becos they are new et cetera,heaven is for all people including that neighbour of yours who smokes or drinks and you fear to talk to him,try today to bring just one person in the house of the lord in Jesus name.thank you brethrens.

  5. Thanx for the powerful lessons brought by the comments on top. O of them are very treasured and my prayer is that we be like the young man who came to himself especially if we are like the elder brother who remained with the father @ home yet very unforgiving.

  6. The issue of the parable seems to be whether or not the older son will accept his younger brother as brother. The Father was drawing the younger brother home by love (see John 6:44).

    Now, the Father is going out to the older brother with drawing love, asking him to accept the younger brother as brother, to join the great banquet of brotherhood and sisterhood of all. The Father was waiting for the older brother to participate in that festival of revival and reformation being celebrated on earth and in heaven. All heaven was waiting for the two brothers to have their hearts changed.

    The question remains with us: What lesson can we draw regardiing our relationships in our families and churches?


    Winfried Stolpmann


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