Knowing God


A certain father had two sons. The older son was a hardworking, faithful young man who labored in his father’s fields without grumbling or complaining. However, the younger son was different. He loved to play and waste his time around, and as he grew older he became not only lazy but also a bad child. He developed bad habits of drinking, gambling, and womanizing. He wasted his father’s money and he became an embarrassment to him. Ultimately, he became a pain in his father’s heart.

One day he was weary of being told to work all the time, so he demanded of his father the inheritance that was due him. (Sometimes Jewish sons would get their inheritance before their fathers would die.) The father gave him the money he had coming and the son left for the big city, not to wisely invest it there but to squander the money in evil ways. He spent it, eventually, on drinking, gambling, and womanizing, his favorite pasttimes. Within a short time he was without money — and of course without friends, for those he thought were his friends were only interested in getting his money.

A drought struck the land during that time and there was little food and few jobs. The younger son began to starve. His fine clothes became dirty, torn rags. Finally, he received a job feeding pigs for a farmer. He was so hungry that he wanted to eat the food that he fed to the pigs.

The hunger pangs in his stomach grew worse. He felt miserable. The young man came to his senses when he realized that even the servants at his father’s farm were better off than he was. But he also realized that he had sinned against his father. He wanted to go back to him, with much repentance, not as his father’s son, but only as a servant. He repented to heaven for now he realized how much pain he had caused his father.

Can you imagine how he must have felt as he set out on his trip back home?! Certainly, he must have felt ashamed for what he had done, for all the hurt and pain he had caused his parents. Certainly, he must have been afraid. What sort of reception would I get? Would the gate be locked? Would the sevants even let me in? Would my father yell to me and punish me? Would my father even let me come back home after the embarrassment that I had caused him?

As he neared his house, he saw a figure standing by the gate, and he noticed that the gate was not closed but open. As he drew closer he saw it was his father, looking down the road in his direction. His father recognized him and started to run toward him. As the father reached him, he hugged him and kissed him, despite of his dirty clothes and horrible odor.

The son began to talk. “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son.”

But in his excitement it seemed the father hardly heard his son. “Servants!” he shouted. “Servants, bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet: And bring here the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to be merry.

So the wayward son was not punished, not reprimanded, not closed out. The gate was open, not shut. The father was overjoyed, not angry. The son was treated as a son, not as a servant. Not even as a criminal.

This story is a dramatization of the parable of the lost son told by Jesus in Luke 15:11-32. Our Lord Jesus was always teaching in parables. What do you think He meant with this story? Jesus was simply illustrating the truth that there are only two kinds of religion in the world today. One kind of religion says we must earn our way back to God. God is an angry God, and we must appease that anger with sacrifices and rituals. We can never be fully certain that God will accept us because we never know fully what to do to please Him. This is not the religion of the New Testament.

The other kind of religion, Jesus says, shows us that God, like the father in the story, is eager to have us come back. We do not have to earn our way back! God Himself welcomes us back. And just as the father put a robe on his son, put sandals on his feet, and put a ring on his finger, so the Heavenly Father will make us presentable to Himself.

We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God by anything we do. No rituals of worship, no sacrifices, no amount of good works can ever bring us to the point where we can turn to God and say to Him that He must let us back into His presence. 

But if we come humbly, sorry for what we have done, completely broken and repentant, if we come as the son returned to his father, then Jesus says God will have the same attitude toward us that the father had toward the son. We will be welcomed back! It will be as if our sins never existed!

This is the wonderful fact of the New Testament. No other religion teaches this. All others say that we must make ourselves pleasing to God. Only Christianity, the religion of the New Testament, says we can never make ourselves pleasing to God; but God Himself will do this for us.

Just as the father stood longing, waiting for his son to return, so does God longs for us to return to Him.

But how can God forgive our sins? Does He just ignore them? That is not fair, is it?

No, God does not ignore our sins. Our sins are punished. But God loves us so much that He allowed His only Son to be punished for those sins.

This is the most beautiful truth in the whole wide world: Our Heavenly Father gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the punishment for sin that we should bear. So when we return to Him and confess our sins, He can forgive us because He tells us that all the sins we have committed has been paid for by the death of Christ on the cross.

That, my friends, is love for you.

  1. REPENT. This means you must say and admit that you have sinned. You must admit that you cannot make yourself pleasing to God on your own and must throw yourself to his mercy.
  2. ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR. This means you must believe that Christ died on the cross as payment for your sins. Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior then becomes the start of your new spiritual journey and relationship with God Himself.
A Christian is a person to whom God has given his Holy Spirit. A new, transformed life comes to him that will never stop, not even at the time of physical death. The Holy Spirit dwells in him, changing him towards Christlikeness (2 Cor. 5:17) and producing a fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

You can become a Christian right now. This is done by making a commitment to Christ in prayer. Pray this prayer:

Heavenly Father, I have sinned against You and against others. I confess this sin. I ask that You receive me back as Your child to live with You closely forever. I believe that You have forgiven my sins through Your Son, Jesus Christ, and are now removed from me. Make me pleasing to You now. I receive Jesus as the Lord of my life and the Savior of my soul. Give me Your Holy Spirit and fill me so that I may bring glory to You here on earth and in eternity. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord. Amen.