Category Archives: Articles

Jesus’ Warnings in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, part 4

Don't judge, and you won't be judged. Don't condemn, and you won't be condemned. Set free, and you will be set free. (Luke 6:37)
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Contrary to the way of life Jesus taught for His followers, the elder son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son was judgmental, condemning, and unforgiving. He epitomized the Jewish leaders. But do many professing Christian today also show the elder son’s attitude? Background image by Barbara Bonanno from Pixabay

In part 3, we saw how Jesus used the parable of Luke 15 as a way to warn the Jews who lived in His time. We also saw how those warnings were fulfilled. Now, in this final installment, let’s look at why Jesus’ warnings in the Parable of the Prodigal Son are so important to Christians today.


Jesus’ Warnings in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, part 3

The parable of Luke 15 contained a warning that was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 painted by David Roberts (1796-1864).
Throughout His ministry, Jesus pointed out to the Jews their misconduct, including in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. He warned them what would happen if they didn’t repent. But they didn’t listen. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 painted by David Roberts (1796-1864). CC0 1.0 DEED

Until recently, I’ve been able to read the parable of Luke 15 without grasping Jesus’ warnings in it, and, specifically in what is called the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I saw that the father was quick to forgive his repentant son. I understood that the elder son was unrepentant, and his father was patient with him. But I was missing so much! What was Jesus saying, specifically, for the first-century Jews? And, what warning does it carry for twenty-first century Christians, both Jews and Gentiles?


Jesus’ Warnings in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, part 2

The father pleading with his elder son as described in the Parable of the Prodigal Son
The story of the Prodigal Son ends with the elder son stubbornly holding to his works-based righteousness. He refuses to recognize the validity of his father’s gracious forgiveness of his sinning brother. Despite his father’s pleading with him, he won’t enter his father’s house and eat the fattened calf to celebrate his brother’s return. Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We saw in part 1 of “Jesus’ Warnings in the Parable of the Prodigal Son” that the Parable of the Prodigal Son is really the last story in a three-part parable that takes up most of Luke 15. And Luke 15 is set within the context of Jesus criticizing the self-righteous Jewish leaders who looked down upon the poor, uneducated people as sinners. This, in turn, contrasts with passages that reveal that Jesus considered the poor people of the multitude His friends. He even told them, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” When the Pharisees and scribes murmured about Jesus’ welcoming and eating with these people whom they considered sinners, “He told them this parable.”


Jesus’ Warnings in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, part 1

Painting, "The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Received Home by His Father" by Luca Giordano (1634-1705)
The Parable of the Prodigal Son may seem like a simple story of familial love. In fact, Jesus intended it as a very pointed message in response to the attitude of the Jews of His generation and a severe warning to them. Further, it teaches an alarming lesson that Christians today need to learn.
“The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Received Home by His Father” by Luca Giordano (1634-1705). Public Domain

The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is one of the most familiar stories in the Bible, and one that we can too quickly assume we understand. We know that Jesus tells the story of a man with two sons. The younger son leaves home, wastes his inheritance, returns, and his father forgives him. But, is knowing that much really enough? Are we grasping the messages Jesus intended to convey? Who did Jesus direct the parable to in His day? Does it contain a lesson—maybe even a warning—for us today? Let’s take a careful look at Scripture so that we can learn what Jesus was teaching in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.


Zionism, the Christian Heresy, part 2

Francesco Hayez: The destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. Christian Zionists believe the Jews must rebuild the Temple.
God used the Roman army to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70. Christian Zionists believe that the Temple must be rebuilt. Francesco HayezThe destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

In part 1 of “Zionism, the Christian Heresy,” we saw that the land promise that is foundational to Christian Zionist thinking was physically fulfilled in Old Testament times and was also a spiritual type. Now, let’s look at the Christian Zionist belief in the continued distinction of the Jews.


Zionism, the Christian Heresy, part 1

His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
This is the letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild that contains the statement called the Balfour Declaration. When it was published a few days later, it became the first public support of Zionism expressed by a major world power. Both Balfour and his Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, were Christian Zionists. Public Domain.

Zionism is a form of Jewish nationalism that arose in the nineteenth century. This article’s purpose is to examine a form of Zionism known as Christian Zionism. I intend to show that, by focusing on physical Israel, the adherents of Christian Zionism have fallen into a heresy that misses the reality of God’s promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This being the case, I believe Christian Zionism opposes the Gospel and deserves exposure as a teaching that spiritually blinds its disciples.


Spanking Children in Light of the New Covenant

A closeup headshot of a father speaking to his son. This illustrates the topic of spanking children in light of the new covenant by suggesting that nurture and instruction are to be preferred to spanking.

You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6:4)

Is spanking children Christian? Does spanking our children agree with the New Covenant, or are we to take a different approach? Image by giselaatje from Pixabay

Many Christians, especially in the United States, look upon spanking their children for disobedience as a mandate from God. Some also see it as a civil right. They sincerely believe that the Bible teaches that Christian parents must spank their children for misbehavior. But is this true? More specifically, is physically punishing children in line with the teachings of Jesus and His apostles? Does corporal punishment harmonize with the Gospel of grace? Is spanking children Christian? How are we to see spanking children in light of the New Covenant?


The Savior of All Men?

The Savior of All Men? Silhouette of tree near body of water during beautiful sunset.
How can God be the Savior of all men and especially those who believe? You’re either saved, or you’re not. Pixabay

Universalists, Arminians, Amyraldians, and the followers of Fullerism have several proof texts that they misuse to support their idea of an unlimited atonement. I was recently reminded that in my writings I have shown the flaws in the way they abuse many of these Scriptures, but I have never addressed 1 Timothy 4:10, which explicitly describes the living God as “the Savior of all men.” The fact that I haven’t published anything about this surprised me, so I’ll do it now. Why does 1 Timothy 4:10 say that God is the Savior of all men?


Let’s Solve Baptism for the Dead

Let's Solve Baptism for the Dead. Drawing of a Mormon baptism ceremony, circa the 1850s. Line drawing showing 19th century-garbed people at the edge of a pool and two robed figures in the pool.
Drawing of a Mormon baptism ceremony, circa the 1850s. Mormons believe that their church members can be baptized as proxies for people who have died unbaptized. But is this what 1 Corinthians 15:29 really teaches? Frederick Hawkins Piercy (1830-1891), a Mormon artist., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

What did Paul mean when he referred to those “who are baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29). This mystery has puzzled Christians for centuries. Scholars have suggested dozens of interpretations. But I know of only one answer that is totally in line with Christian doctrine, is totally in line with the context of the surrounding text, is totally in line with the Greek, and makes total sense. So, let’s solve baptism for the dead.


Violence in the Bible

Peter Ditzel

Violence in the Bible. The battle of Ai in a painting showing Joshua holding a sword and buckler with a skeleton holding a spear and fighting beside him.
This fanciful painting of the battle of Ai depicts death as fighting alongside Joshua. John Trumbull: Joshua at the Battle of Ai – Attended by Death Public Domain

Christians and non-Christians alike have often pondered the question of violence in the Bible. Many see God’s commands to kill the inhabitants of Canaan (e.g. Joshua 6:21; 10:40; 1 Samuel 15:3) as sanctioning Christians fighting in wars. Others view such statements as “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) as prohibiting Christians from acts of violence. Nonbelievers say these Scriptures contradict and use them to ridicule the Christian faith. Some Bible teachers have tried to reconcile these discrepancies by asserting a middle ground in which Christians are to seek peace when possible while understanding that certain circumstances allow for violence. How are we to understand the fact that the Bible appears to condone and even command brutal violence while also calling for peace and nonviolence?