Were the Elder Brother and the Prodigal Brothers?

At least you will not say that all men are your brothers. You are very right to focus on the elder brother’s refusal to say that the one who came home was his brother. My question: WERE they brothers? If the elder brother goes on never repenting of his legalism, is he in the family of God?

Your assumption, suited to your purpose of attacking “these people” who say that Arminians are lost, is that both are brothers. But that is a false assumption.

Though Cain and Abel are brothers in the flesh, both creatures of God, made in the image of God, both are not saved. The one who came home is saved; the elder brother is not yet saved. They ultimately do not have the same home or the same gospel.

We need to know what the gospel is. And we need to say that those who reject the gospel are condemned already. John 3:17-21 “He who DOES THE TRUTH comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

The “good works” of Christians are necessary but they are not “good works” unless the sinner has understood that his salvation is conditioned on what God did at the cross and not on these works. Faith must exclude itself as the condition of salvation, or it is not faith in the gospel and is not pleasing to God.

You say that “these people” think that “the only thing that matters is if you believe the five points. It doesn’t matter if you pray or witness, if you believe the five points.” Let me say, John, not only is this NOT what I think but also that neither you nor I know anybody who thinks that.

I pray for you, because I think it matters. I do not pray for you because I think that my salvation (or yours) is conditioned on my praying. I do not pray to get assurance. I pray because I have assurance.

Similarly I witness to you, because I think it matters. But not because I think my salvation is conditioned on my witnessing. Of course you are mad that anybody thinks you need witnessing to. I know the feeling.

I would be urgent with you. The gospel is different, much richer than you think it is. It is a great and wonderful thing that salvation is conditioned only on the death of Christ for the elect. What you call an unnecessary and unhelpful “qualifying” of the gospel is all about the glory of God in the gospel.

It is a great comfort for me to define sin as God defines it, and thus to confess my sin of conditioning salvation on the sinner. It is false comfort to tell the sinner that he can define his sin anyway he wants, and so define the gospel any way he wants.

I am urgent because I am happy in this good news. Jesus did not die for the non-elect. If you don’t submit to the righteousness, only then will we know that there never was any righteousness for you. If there was a righteousness for you but that righteousness did not save you, then that righteousness will not save me either. There is no difference between me and any non-elect person EXCEPT that righteousness.

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2 Comments on “Were the Elder Brother and the Prodigal Brothers?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    The parable of the prodigal contains multiple allusions to the record of Jacob and Esau, their estrangement, and the anger of the older brother [Esau] against the younger brother (5). There is a younger and an elder son, who both break their relationships with their father, and have an argument over the inheritance issue. Jacob like the prodigal son insults his father in order to get his inheritance. As Jacob joined himself to Laban in the far country, leaving his older brother Esau living at home, so the prodigal glued himself to a Gentile and worked for him by minding his flocks, whilst his older brother remained at home with the father. The fear of the prodigal as he returned home matches that of Jacob as he finally prepares to meet the angry Esau. Jacob’s unexpected meeting with the Angel and clinging to him physically is matched by the prodigal being embraced and hugged by his father. Notice how Gen. 33:10 records how Jacob felt he saw the face of Esau as the face of an Angel. By being given the ring, the prodigal “has in effect now supplanted his older brother” (6); just as Jacob did. As Esau was “in the field” (Gen. 27:5), so was the older brother.

    “All these years I have served you… and you have not treated me justly” (Gen. 31:36-42)

  2. markmcculley Says:

    F YOU —-promises have consequences, laws have consequences
    the theology of glory is a prosperity theology
    prosperity theology is a “possibility theology”
    sarcasm alert
    have you “actualized” your “potential”?
    1. make sure you have oil in your lamps
    if you don’t, there will be consequences
    if you do have oil, be sure to thank god for his grace in causing you to have oil in your lamp
    2. exercise your faith in the gospel
    appropriate by faith being united to Christ
    act on your option to accept the offer which is sufficient if you meet the conditions of the gospel
    3. F YOU as a legalist elder brother welcome those your Father welcomes, then the consequence is that you get to be at the party
    but F YOU as a legalist elder brother do NOT welcome those your Father welcomes, then you will NOT get to be at the party
    but you “sinned against grace”, against “potential”
    you excluded yourself, since God excludes nobody but “offers” to save the non-elect
    and despite your legalism, we must assume that you are a Christian
    because God is your father
    and your baby brother was already a Christian before he left home
    circumcised as a baby because he was born a Christian,
    just like you were
    otherwise the law could not have commanded you to obey the law and the gospel could not have commanded you to obey the gospel

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