|(The prodigal son and his father meet. Click for source.)|
The Father of the Prodigal Son
I am writing this article as a Protestant who cares for Catholics and anyone who believes that it is necessary for them to perform for God's love or do works in order to be forgiven and cleansed from sin.
Some people (both Protestants and Catholics) hold onto a wrong view of God that when they sin and repent, that somehow God would expect them to perform "penances," or acts to help pay for their sin, or works to bring them back to a "right standing" with God. Some believe they should confess their sins to a spiritual leader (such as a priest). But, what does the Bible say about this?
|(Bible. Click for source.)|
If someone has wronged you (such as spoken evil of you), he or she should confess that sin to you and ask your forgiveness. And, vice versa. This is not speaking about going to a person (or a priest) to confess one's sins to. If Jim gossiped about Bill, behind his back, he should confess his sin to Bill and ask for forgiveness. Likewise, Bill should do the same to Jim if Bill had mistreated Jim.
If we have jealous or lustful thoughts toward other people, we should only confess that sin to God (and no other person) as David did with his sins in Psalm 32:5. Then, choose to forsake it. (See also Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 32:5, 1 John 1:9.).
Psalm 32:5 says: " I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah."
1 John 1:9 says: " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:7 says: " But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Proverbs 28:13 says: " He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
For one to believe that we have to confess our sins (which were not directed toward a certain person) to a priest (or spiritual leader), instead of to God alone, would mean that we would likely view God as distant and afar off. If we have truly trusted in Jesus alone to save us from our sins, God dwells in us by His Spirit. And, God the Father and God the Son dwell in us too, since the Holy Spirit is One with the Father and the Son (John 14:17,23). In John 14, Jesus taught that all three Persons of the Trinity of God dwell in a believer.
Jesus in John 14:17 said: " Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
In John 14:23, we read: " Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."
The wrong view that God is "distant" and "afar off" goes along with another wrong view people have had about God.
Some people have wrongfully said that the God the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) was "strict." Does this agree with what the Bible says about God, who is Love (1 John 4:16-18), who is ONE God (Mark 12:29)? In John 14, Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter, who comes into the life of a born-again believer in Jesus.
|(An illustration of Jesus. Click for source.)|
The Holy Spirit comforts us and guides us into the truth (John 14:26-27). If the Holy Spirit is very strict, that would mean Jesus Christ and God the Father would be very strict because they are three Persons in One Being (the Trinity). Philip once asked Jesus to show him the Father.
Jesus Christ's reply is in John 14:8-9: " Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?"
God's Word says how God is a compassionate, kind, merciful, patient, loving Father who desires us to have close fellowship and communion with Him. See Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:5, Proverbs 17:17, Proverbs 18:24 (b.), 1 Corinthians 1:9, 2 Corinthians 1:2-3, John 17:22-23, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalm 103:8 and 103:13, 1 John 1:9, Jeremiah 31:3, 1 John 1:6-7, Isaiah 46:3-4, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43, 1 John 1:3, Isaiah 49:10-16, 1 John 4:16-18,
Zephaniah 3:17, and so on.
Of course, God does not want us to sin against Him. We would be walking in spiritual darkness if we walk in sin, and God could not answer our prayers until we repent. (See 1 John chapter 1 and Psalm 66:18.)
(If you would like to know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, click here.)
In Luke 15, Jesus told a parable about a man who had two sons. One son took his inheritance and lived a sinful life. But, when he lost his money and was only able to find work feeding pigs, he thought about his father and thought that maybe, if he returned to him, his father would accept him and let him be a servant, but not a son. Let's see what the father does when his wayward son returns.
|(The loving father runs to meet his son. Click for source.)|
" I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20. 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. 21. 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.
[22.] 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: 23. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." [End quote]
See how God treats those who repent? He doesn't punish them. He doesn't threaten them. Rather, God welcomes them home with open arms and has a celebration. There are no "penances" or works to make the father happy. There is only joy and celebration because the wandering son has returned to his loving father.
Along with this passage in Luke 15, Zephaniah 3:17 tells how God greatly rejoices over His children with great joy and love.
Zephaniah 3:17 says: "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing."
1 Corinthians 1:9 says: " God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
1 John 1:3 says: " That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
|(The father of the prodigal son gives his son|
his best robe, his ring, and celebrates that
his wayward son is now home. Click for source.)
Psalm 103:13 says: " Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him."
Psalm 103:8 says: " The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy."
2 Corinthians 1:2-3 says: " Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;"
In John 17:22-23 Jesus Christ says this to His Father: " And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
In the last part of verse 23, Jesus said in essence that God the Father loves us (who He created) in the same way that God the Father loves Jesus (God the Son). And, Abba God speaks in His Word of loving others as we would love ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), because God loves us the way He loves Himself.
In Jeremiah 31:3, Abba God says through the writer that God loves us with everlasting love and has drawn us to Himself with His lovingkindness.
Jeremiah 31:3: "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."
Isaiah 43 is a very encouraging scripture passage. Regarding verse 3, the Ethiopians, Egyptians, and people of Seba at that time in history were enemies of Israel. But, God knew that many of them would later turn to him.
Pay attention to how God encourages us by saying He created us, redeemed us, called us by name, said we are His, promised to always be with us no matter what, said He is our Savior, said we are precious in His sight, that He loves us, that we should not fear because He is with us, and He will bring us to Him.
1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;