Sunday, March 19, 2023


 I know how many children I have. I don’t have to count on my fingers or think about it for a minute. Granted, my number’s just two, but I would wager even Amish parents whose numbers reach well into the teens know exactly how many children they have. Especially if you’re talking about the moms, not only do they know how many children they have, but regardless of the number, they can tell you their eye color, birthdate, food preferences, and their first words out of a dead sleep.

Other than the odd exception here or there, where selfishness has cast out love and paternal instincts, moms and dads love their kids and want what’s best for them. That’s not to say that sometimes kids go off the rails, want nothing to do with their mom or dad, and make such a mess of their lives that they become the defacto cautionary tale other parents tell their children.

Some things you’re just sure of in life. Salvation and eternal life should be one of those things, yet some fill pews every Sunday who are dubious and uncertain when it comes to them. It’s not a modern-day problem, I assure you. It is likely the reason John penned his first epistle.

So much doubt had been sown within the body of believers John was writing to that they doubted the fundamental tenets of faith in Christ. The joy, the peace, and the comfort had been sapped out of them, and individuals who once walked the path joyfully were now sour, dour, and despondent.

No, I’m not talking about eternal security. However, it is biblically proven that God will never initiate separation. God will never bar the door to those who wander, but those who wander must choose to return home. If I’m half a world away salivating at the thought of eating some pods the pigs are feasting on, then I’m not home, am I?

We are so selective in our reading of the gospel. We butcher it as though it were cattle, take the three verses we like, and chuck the rest of it. In order for the prodigal son to be received back by his father, he had to make the conscious choice to return home, then follow through and actually do it.

Had he stayed in the fields feeding swine and not returned to his father’s house, he never would have experienced his father’s embrace and reconciliation. The prodigal did one other thing: he confessed his trespass and acknowledged that only his father’s mercy could restore him. Not his merit, not his works, only his father’s grace.

Luke 15:21, “And the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

The prodigal returned home! He didn’t stop in for a quick meal and then returned to partying with the pigs. His father’s house wasn’t just a convenient place to get over a hangover between drinking sessions or somewhere to crash trying to avoid responsibility. He didn’t return home just to lick his wounds so he could return to the low place of envying swine.  He came back home to stay.

I’ve run across people who know that they are wayward yet use the parable of the prodigal son to remain so. They tell themselves that one day they’ll make it back, one day they’ll return, one day they’ll make things right, but that one day is far into the future, a future they are not guaranteed. That’s the thing about parables and stories in general; they usually have satisfying endings. Real life doesn’t. In real life, the good guys don’t always win, the prodigals don’t always make it back home, and sometimes, people already in their father’s house don’t appreciate what they have.

The declarative statement John makes to his audience is undeniable. He insists on driving home the point repeatedly, leaving nothing to chance or interpretation. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

You don’t have to guess at it or wonder or suppose. It’s not something someone can tell you you have; it’s something you know you have. You know you have eternal life because you believe in the name of the Son of God.”

Belief compels action. It is the natural flow of things. If I believe a storm is coming, then I prepare for the storm. My actions are a direct result of my belief. If I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He redeemed me from destruction, then I will honor Him, serve Him, worship Him, and praise Him.

You cannot believe something as profound as Jesus dying for your sins, then do nothing about it. You can’t help but weep at the love, and the mercy and the grace. You can’t help but be in awe and wonder of Him. You can’t help but surrender your heart, meager and paltry as it might be, because you know you can do nothing in a thousand lifetimes to make up for what He did.

God is justified in His wrath and judgment on those who trample His Son underfoot. He is justified in punishing those who count the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, a common thing. It doesn’t matter how many churches you planted, how many ministries you started, or how many wonders and signs you performed if you insult the Spirit of grace and refuse to return, repent, and reconcile.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

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