In Adam the entirety of mankind is turned away from God and is in the condition of “the prodigal son,” away from the Father, needing to return to Him; and though God knew most would never choose to come to Him, His work is for those whom He knew would come to Him!

Our Father’s Kiss

The natural man is just like the prodigal; he spends his substance in the far country, and ruins himself. A man having $5,000 a year and spending $50,000 will seem very wealthy for a time; but look at the results. He is a ruined man. The moment man departed from God, he sold himself to Satan (e.g. allowed the devil place in his walk, as the devil is always “seeking to devour” 1Pe 5:8—NC), and is spending his soul, his heart, away from God. He even spends what God has given him against God, and when he is thoroughly spent, and has nothing to live on, he begins to be in want. “There arouse a mighty famine in the land” (Luk 15:14), and all the world feels that (e.g. a sense of meaninglessness or “vanity” - Ecc 1:14—NC).

Every sinner does not go to the same lengths of eating the swine’s husks, but all are in the same condition of ruin (Rom 3:23; Gal 3:22—NC). Every man has turned his back on God, though all have not run “to the same excess of riot, nor fallen into the same degradation (same degree of decadence—NC). The famine never draws back to the Father’s house. The prodigal joined himself to a citizen of that country, not to his father’s country. “He would fain have filled his belly” and “no man gave to him.” Satan never gives; that must be found where God’s love is, who spared not His own Son.

When the prodigal thinks of his father’s house, the whole work is morally done (salvation secured—NC), though he is not back yet. He turns, repents, his heart was changed, and thus his whole desire was to get back to his father’s house (all are away from God until saved—NC), from whence he had departed. He was not yet in the full liberty of grace (saved but yet to learn a godly walk—NC), so as to have peace and happiness, and he says to himself, “make me as one of thy hired servants”, He is brought to the sense of his guilt; and what was it, feeding with the swine? No, that was the fruit of it, but his guilt was in leaving his father’s house, and turning away from God.

When he came to himself he desired to return. This was truly a right wish, but the form it took in his mind, from his not yet knowing grace, was a legal one. “I am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants; for when he was “yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion on him, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Rom 5:8—NC). He could not have been a servant with the father’s arms around his neck. It would have spoiled the father’s feelings, if not the son’s. It was the joy of Him who was receiving back the sinner to Himself; and it is the knowledge of this which gives peace to the soul, nothing else does.

If a man does not know love, he does not know God, for “God is love.” The full revelation of God is what we have in the Lord Jesus. “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me” (Jhn 14:9)? The Father acts from the joy and delight He has in Himself in receiving back the sinner, and therefore He does not think of the rages but of the child He has got back again. You will never get peace by the mere act of returning, but by learning the Father’s mind and heart about you (Jhn 17:23). Could the prodigal get peace as he was coming back, if his father had not met him? No, all along the road, he might be questioning: How will he receive me? Will he be angry with me? Will he spurn me from his presence? If he does, what will become of me? “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.” If not so, he might have trembled even to knock on the door.

When the father’s arms were around the son’s neck, was he defiled by the rags? No; and he will not have the son bring rags into the house, but orders the best robe to be brought out of it. God sends His own Son out of heaven, and clothes the ragged sinner; and thus arrayed, the young man could bring credit to his father’s house. Surely, if we are clothed with Christ (Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27—NC), we shall do credit to our Father; and, “in the ages come, He will show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:7).

—J N Darby (1800-1882)

Excerpt from MJS online devotional for September 2

“When once we see and accept His purpose for our lives to the extent that it becomes our will also, the details of His process cease to matter. ”Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job. 13:15).” -MJS

"The one purpose our Father has in view, in all His ways, is to conform us to the image of His Son. This may explain our perplexities as to the past; it will govern our behavior in the present; it is to be our guide in the future. The chief concern of our Lord is not to instruct us about a multitude of details, not to explain to us the reason for the trials which we are called to pass through. He is working out everything to serve His one supreme aim in manifesting the character of His Son in His saints." -H.F.

The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; 'no longer I, but Christ.’” -MJS