From the perspective of the value of one soul;
From the angle of the love of the Heavenly Father and the relationship He desires to have with all of mankind (Abba, Father);
From the view of showing the degrading nature and downward course of sin, repentance, and salvation;
Also, how each aspect of the Father's reception of the prodigal son pictures what we have in Christ: the fatted calf representing Christ dying for our sins; the best robe picturing Christ's righteousness - that replaced the prodigal's own filthy rags; the ring representing the seal of sonship; and the shoes corresponding to part of the armour of God in Ephesians 6 - our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
Lord willing, today I will be preaching on 1. What Do You Have To Do To Go To Hell? Nothing.
2. Then What Do You Have To Do To Go To Heaven? Repentance and faith - using the story of the Prodigal Son as the illustration of this second point.
We are condemned already because of our sin:
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
We have all gone our own way in life - wandered away from God - just like this Prodigal Son:
Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Psalm 10:4; Romans 3:10-12, 23; Psalm 53:1-3; Romans 6:23.
What did the Prodigal Son need to do? He had to realize where his sin had taken him - away from the Father's house, and into the muck and filth of sin, brought down to the depths of despair and ruin. That was when the Prodigal came to himself:
Luke 15:14-17 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!
Even though he went the way he thought would bring him pleasure and fulfillment, eventually he found out that the swine's husks just left him empty, distraught, hungering for more than his sin could ever provide. He came to himself - he thought on his ways, and realized that his sin and wandering deserved judgment, and he repented of his sin - he no longer desired it, but instead desired to return to his father. That's what repentance is: changing your mind about sin and the Saviour; no longer desiring the sin but the Saviour, and turning from that sin in your heart to the only Saviour - the Lord Jesus Christ - to save you, as only He can do.
Luke 15:18-20a 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...
He made a choice in his heart to turn from the pigpen of this world, to return to his father (he knew that was the ONLY solution to his distressful situation, the only way to solve the mess his sin had gotten him into - and to deliver him from the just condemnation of that sin), and he arose - he did not stay in the pigpen! He did not want to be there anymore - living in the midst of his sin, in the midst of the filth and mire of it - he turned from it, and turned to go home.
Before the Prodigal Son ever took that first physical step homeward, he had already turned home in his heart. How about you? Have you come to the place where you turned from your sin to the Saviour? He first came to himself, then he turned from his sin in his heart - and he went to his father. It is not enough to be tired of your sin, you also need to receive the Saviour.
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Repentance AND Faith - the two sides of the coin of salvation; both must be together. Without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (trusting in His shed blood and finished work on the cross of Calvary), grief for sin is just human reformation, trying to clean yourself up, trying to lift yourself up to Heaven by your own good works - by your own bootstraps - and it will never work! BUT without repentance for your sin - a desire to turn from it in the heart - without seeing your lost condition in the eyes of God - turning to Christ is just being religious, just saying a prayer, just getting your "fire insurance," with no saving value! Both must be together: you must see your sin in the light of the Word of God and turn from it in your heart to the Saviour to save you from them and from the punishment due you because of those same sins - believing in your heart that Jesus can and will save you. THEN the Holy Spirit gives you eternal life, makes you a new creature in Christ Jesus, and begins to change you from the inside out. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Luke 15:20-24 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 the Prodigal Son was received with open arms and had the kiss of his Father (the kiss of reconciliation, peace with God - see Psalm 2:12); now he had the fatted calf killed for him (now he believed that Jesus died for his sins); now he was a new creature (cleaned up by the Father and forever changed); now the Father had exchanged his filthy robes for the best robe (exchanged his unrighteousness for Christ's righteousness - see Jeremiah 23:6); now he had a ring on his hand (the seal of his adoption, the sign of his sonship - see Romans 8:16 and Ephesians 1:13); now he had shoes on his feet (his feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace - see Ephesians 6:15 and Song of Solomon 7:1) - now he was in a position to tell others of the good news of salvation, of his reception at his Father's house.
Is the story of the Prodigal Son your story? Can you say, that like him you have turned from the mire of your sin to the Saviour? If so, then what was true of that Prodigal is also true of you:
Luke 15:24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
This is one of those times where I hope the preaching of this simple message will far outweigh my ability to put these thoughts into writing. I will be preaching this message at the Gospel Mission in about 12 hours. If you read this before then, please pray for the Holy Spirit to speak through me and to open hearts to His Word and give those listening understanding to receive it. Thank you.