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Monday, March 3, 2014

The Prodigal Understands (Study)

Prodigal son, Luke 15:11-19, our unworthiness, Romans 3:12
A woman in my Bible study wasn't sure she was saved. When we talked, she admitted she'd never understood her unworthiness, which is a key in genuine conversion (Romans 3:12).

The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-19) thought he was worthy of an inheritance he hadn't earned. 

He had to realize his unworthiness before he was interested in returning home. This is how his story played out:

First, he took responsibility for himself, getting a job instead of asking for handouts (v.15). 

Second, he came to the end of himself, realizing his poverty (v.16). 

Third, he remembered his father's goodness (v.17). 

Fourth, he realized he'd sinned (v.18). 

Fifth, he admitted he was unworthy to be his father's son (v.19). 

Only then did he understand his need to return home. 

Looking at Scripture, this woman in my Bible study realized she must also take responsibility for herself, realize her spiritual poverty, realize God's goodness, admit she was an unworthy sinner, and humbly ask for mercy (Romans 3).

She and I are both prodigals who've returned home. Are you? 
To learn the real meaning of prodigal scroll down to the bottom--it doesn't mean a wayward person who returns home. Next week we'll discuss the attitude of the father and the following week the attitude of the other son. 

Bible Study 

If you have time, read the whole story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 5:11-19. If not, start here where we confirm each step of the prodigal's conversion.

1. He took responsibility for himself. 
People often blame heredity or environment for their sins, but the Bible says: 

Ezekiel 18:20, 23: The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them... 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? 

2. He came to the end of himself, realizing his spiritual poverty. 
The unsaved man thinks he's already good enough for heaven, or he thinks he's capable of earning his way.

Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (NIV) 
and in the NLT:
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for [God], for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs." 

3. He remembered his father's goodness. 
The unsaved man doesn't acknowledge God as the source of all blessings.

James 1:17: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

4. He realized he'd sinned against God and his father. 
The unsaved man excuses or ignores sin.

Romans 3:23,24: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

5. He admitted he was unworthy to be his father's son. 
The true believer knows he doesn't deserve salvation.

Romans 3:12: All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 

But the good news is GRACE!
When we can ask God for mercy, He gives us what we don't deserve and cannot earn: 

Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 

Meaning of prodigal:  Even though most folks use it to mean a wayward person or a person returning from a bad life, prodigal actually means spending wastefully or extravagantly 

If you have questions about salvation or if you would like to share more about salvation with an unbeliever, I've written two evangelistic posts that might be helpful:
Can a Simple Misunderstanding Keep You From Heaven?
This is about an incident I experienced on a hospital visit.
Are There Many Ways to Heaven?
This incorporates some of my own confusion about salvation.

After working through this study, read my insights HERE.
copyright 2013, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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