Last week, Pastor Caldwell began a study on Luke 15 and the "prodigal son." He ably demonstrated that the parable is not about the lost son, per se, and that the thrust of the passage is more about both sons of the father instead of just the one. Indeed, verses 25-32 focus explicity on the "other" son who stays on with his father and works in the field. This son is jealous and has no concept of the love that his father is showing to his prodigal brother. His heart is hardened when he sees how his father reacts to the lost son. After all, he never demanded an early birthright; he stayed in the home and worked diligently! Why isn't he getting a reward for his actions? As a result, the older son does not experience same sort of grace, mercy, and joy being given to his brother. He has no sense of forgiveness, and thus no love for the "salvation" of the lost.
It is interesting that at the end of the parable Jesus equates the son's return with resurrection. The son was "lost but now found," to be sure. But he was also "dead, and is alive." This parallels our experience of salvation in Christ, which is "already," but "not-yet" fully realized. When a person comes to the Father—confessing his sin and placing his faith solely in the finished work of Jesus—he is saved. He is justified before God because of Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit for righteous living. He is no longer under condemnation (Rom 8:1) even though he was once dead in his sins (Eph 2:1). He is made alive together with Christ, raised up to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph 2:6). All of this is what has "already" happened to those who place their faith in Jesus.
But there is a final salvation that is "not yet" realized. This is the time when Christ returns to establish his kingdom on earth, and to abolish every rule, authority, and power, and finally defeat sin for all time. Paul says that Christ's resurrection from the dead is the "firstfruits," and only at his second coming will "those who belong to Christ" receive their final salvation, the redemption of their bodies (1 Cor 15).
I'm looking forward to studying the remainder of Luke 15 with you. Songs that we will sing this week include the following, provided in a playlist here
2. It is Well with My Soul
3. Before the Throne of God Above
4. Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery
Pastor for Worship.