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View Full Version : Sinners, Sons, Silver & Sheep in Luke 15



New Creature
Apr 28th 2015, 06:46 PM
Centuries of moribund tradition about the Sinners, Sons, Silver & Sheep in Luke 15 should be swept into the dustbin of history. The New Testament case must bear the burden of proof to take the place of the traditional, moribund case.

This N.T. case may not be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt to everyone - neither has the moribund, traditional case. However, this N.T. case may be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to those with an ear to hear. If not, the clear and convincing evidence of the N.T. case shall prove to be – beyond a reasonable doubt – far better than the traditionally moribund case. But those hardened in the ways of their sacrosanct, moribund tradition aren’t likely to be persuaded by any case made beyond the shadow of a doubt: “because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” - Matthew 13:13.

Not being omniscient, I don’t know if this New Testament case is the absolute best Biblical case that can be made; but it’s a lively case compared to the deadly tradition of men. I’m a simple sheep (Luke 15:4), sans a silver tongue (Luke 15:8); a silver tongue may prove this case beyond the shadow of a doubt. But you may feel that a silver tongue might pull the wool over your eyes; such is not your concern with me! If you are persuaded to agree, the “Spirit of truth” (Jn. 16:13) has let you see.


“This parable is not written about lost humanity in the bulk—it may be so used if you please—but in its first sense it is written about Christ's own sheep; as also is the second parable concerning the woman's own money; and the third, not concerning any prodigal youth, but the father's own son” - C. H. Spurgeon, The Parable of the Lost Sheep, September 28th, 1884, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.


It’s a crying shame to exhume Reverend Spurgeon from his place of peaceful rest to testify; but the end justifies the expedient means. Rest assured; no other Particular Baptist – saved in a Primitive Methodist church - will be disturbed.


“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” – Luke 15:1, 2.


The publicans and sinners drew near to hear, not the indignant, distant Pharisees and scribes.


“And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” – Luke 15:3-7.


Notice that there were a hundred sheep (Luke 15:4) - not 99 sheep and a lost goat - like many moribund commentators would lead you to believe. “I have found my sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:6); a sheep does not a goat make (Matt. 25:33; Jn. 10:2-16, 27; 21:17; Rom. 8:36; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25) – not to put too fine a point on it. A lost goat wasn’t converted into a found sheep – no evolution occurred. It was the same kind of sheep as the other 99 – neither a transitional form nor a missing link. The sheep needed repentance; not regeneration (Jn. 3:3). If repentance (Hosea 6:6; Matt. 9:13; 12:7) is the same as regeneration (Jn. 6:63; 1 Pet. 1:23), then Judas Iscariot was regenerated (Matt. 27:3) – highly unlikely (Jn. 6:70, 71; 13:10, 11; 17:12; 2 Thess. 2:3).

The lost sheep didn’t get dipped or re-baptized. A believer wandered away from the flock of believers. Notice: The sheep had to be carried back; the backslider was so worn out, far out and strung out that he had to be hauled out.

Since confusion about repentance abounds, this should illustrate that repentance is about being returned to fellowship (1Cor. 1:9; 1Jn. 1:3, 6, 7) with God - by accepting what He has done and will do for you (Rom. 2:4; 11:29; 2 Pet. 3:1,2, 9-18,). A penitent sheep remains with its shepherd: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” - John 10:14. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one returned sinner, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which haven’t wandered off. Though others may not be rejoicing, heaven is rejoicing.


“Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” – Luke 15:8-10.


How does an inanimate object repent – pray tell, my sister? The woman finds the uncommunicative, unresponsive, comatose silver and places it back where it belongs. Notice: The lost silver wasn’t a counterfeit coin; it wasn’t converted from lead to silver; nor did a lead slug get baptized in silver paint. The only thing that changed about that lost silver was its location, not its nature; a lead counterfeit didn’t get a silver heart. She did not redeem the silver; she simply found it. This episode is dissimilar to The Pearl of Great Price (Matt. 13:45, 46) and Hidden Treasure (Matt. 13:44). Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one returned sinner.


“And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither 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.

Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is aliveagain; and was lost, and is found” – Luke 15:11-32.



Believers can squander their inheritance like the “younger son” in Luke 15:11-32 but the contumacious child remained a son. (Similarly - “If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” - 1 Corinthians 3:15.) Are the words of Luke 15:17-19 those of an unbeliever? ("Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God!" - 1 John 3:1.) The pigheaded youth "wasted his possessions with prodigal living" (v 13); he forfeited his inheritance (Luke 15:30) - not his relationship (Luke 15:24, 30) – and had no fellowship (Luke 15:24, 32) with his family. There is not one mention, allusion or intimation of the wandering son believing in or on anyone to become a son (Jn. 1:12, 13) because he already was a son of the Father, not of the devil (Jn.8:44). Moreover, the idea that believers and unbelievers are brothers is the mark of beastly Universalism – eternally anathematized by Revelation 20:15. Furthermore, the elder brother’s resentment typifies the reaction of many believers toward affection shown for returning rebels, or black sheep of sanctimonious families. Not knowing the Scriptures, sanctimonious brethren err: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments” - 1 John 5:1, 2. Faith (Rom. 1:17; 10:17) is ultimately a battle for the mind (Rom. 12:2); don’t lose it!

Sometimes believers are so incapacitated that God has to send someone compassionate enough to rescue and resuscitate them (Luke 10:30-35): “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” - James 5:19, 20. “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that” - 1 John 5:16. “Remember Lot's wife” - Luke 17:32. “And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines….” - Judges 16:30. “And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” - Deuteronomy 34:7.

In the case of the wayward, wild child, he wasn’t so far gone that he couldn’t make it back on his own. In 2 Corinthians 7:10 Paul wrote, "godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation." The context determines what type of "salvation" or deliverance is in view. Paul was speaking of the deliverance of believers from temporal judgment because he was addressing the "beloved" (v 1). But temporal deliverance isn’t guaranteed: “There is sin that leads to death” - prayers notwithstanding: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” - Galatians 6:7. Notice what the father said to the elder brother: “And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” He did not say all that is mine belongs to you and your brother. Sin is prohibitively expensive and discipleship costs a fortune (Luke 14:26; Rom. 12:1; Rev. 2:9, 10; 12:11); you pay either way! “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” - Proverbs 16:25.

The son was planning on paying back his debt (Luke 15:19) but his father had different plans: “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” - Luke 15:20. The prodigal son was accepted back where he belonged: “Mercy there was great and grace was free.” Godly sorrow caused him to return, leading to his salvation from even worse temporal judgment, including potentially premature death. See Do Believers Experience The Wrath Of God? - By: René A. López, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society Volume: JOTGES 15:2 (Autumn 2002); The Road to Reward: Living Today in Light of Tomorrow – Robert N. Wilkin, Grace Evangelical Society (January 15, 2003), January 15, 2003.


Luke 15 is about the joy in heaven over a returned believer, notwithstanding the resentment of some sinful brothers. Backsliding is all risk - no eternal reward. In the case of the lost silver, one need not depart from the church house to be a backslider – as the case of the angry, elder brother proves (Luke 15:28-30): “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him” - Luke 17:3.



“Grace, grace, God’s grace,



Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;



Grace, grace, God’s grace,



Grace that is greater than all our sin!”



Julia Harriette Johnston (1849-1919)



“Grace is when God gives us what we don't deserve and mercy is when God doesn't give us what we do deserve” – Anonymous recipient.

mike1983
Jul 22nd 2015, 09:30 PM
I feel like I should get some sort of diploma after reading this study. ;)
You are very articulate and English is not my first language, but I received your message.

I guess the valuable lesson - besides the true meaning of the parables in Luke 15 of course - should be not to trust any "moribund traditions" given through commentaries or proclaimed by certain denominations for centuries long.
Nevertheless this is the age of confusion and these traditions are a fact of life to us, hopefully the Holy Spirit will more and more shine a light upon these seemingly we-already-know-what-this-means cases.