Saved by grace
The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is a familiar story, but have you ever considered that there might be two prodigal sons in that story? The chapter begins: ‘Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people…So Jesus told them this story’ (Luke 15:1-3 NLT). Jesus was talking to two different groups: 1) Rule breakers like the Prodigal Son, who realise it’s only through God’s grace that we’re saved. 2) Rule keepers like the older brother, who think they can earn salvation by doing good works. And that makes rule keepers judgmental towards rule breakers. In Luke 15:28-30, the older brother refused to attend his brother’s homecoming party. He had followed his father’s instructions and worked hard, and he didn’t think it was fair that his brother should be celebrated while he got nothing. But his father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours’ (vv. 31 ESV). By using the word ‘son, Jesus was teaching that we’re saved by relationship, not rule-keeping. The older brother thought his father’s acceptance depended on his actions. Although our actions are important to God, our redemption depends only on Christ’s actions: ‘God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it’ (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT). We are saved by grace alone.
Which of the brothers are you more like? If you’re like the Prodigal Son, ask God to help you walk on His path for your life. If you’re more like the older brother, ask God to help you rejoice that you’re already saved.
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