BIBLICAL FULFILLMENT

Jesus Receives Sinners

I am Jessie Mills, Ph.D.
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JESUS RECEIVES SINNERS.

The lost sheep

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”. Luke 15:4-7. 

CHAPTER 1 

Let me restrain myself, and now notice that Jesus here was revealing a truth to the scribes and Pharisees of His day. A close observation clearly reveals that the scribes and Pharisees objected to Christ’s teaching. But a chief reason, perhaps, why they objected to Him, was the Self-righteousness of their hearts. “This man” they said, receives sinners, and had eaten with them. If I understand the Old Testament Scriptures, it is declared to be the chief character of the Messiah, that He shall come into close contact with sin, have communion, or close fellowship with sinners, and yet not be their companion. But the Pharisees, willfully or strangely ignorant of this were chagrined because He had the impiety to eat with unwashed hands, or to speak a word of consolation to some poor widow, or some heart-broken, penitent, and afflicted sinner; and they thought this neglect of all tradition, this violation of rubric and ceremonial,- this losing sight of the claims of the Church of Christ and the dignities of the order, was enough to condemn any man, and to show that Jesus was not what He possessed to be were to show anger and self-righteousness in their hearts. 

“They were saying” If this man’s preaching be true, all that we have given to the poor goes for nothing in the way of merit; all that we have done – all the learning we have acquired – all the accomplishments we have gathered – all the offices we have held – all the prayers we have made – all go for nothing. Self Righteousness, or the persuasion that what we are, and what we have done, entitles us to something better than publicans and sinners are entitled to – is the very last element in our sinful nature that leaves us Self Righteous.

The above two Paragraphs are given to show just a few of the objections that the Jewish element of Pharisees, Scribes and Priesthood had against the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Perhaps before we move upon Luke 15:4-7, we might just see a condition of Self Righteousness with our own lives – See our own objections of the Messiah and His Church, or of His Gospel. It seems that I can remember that a great man of God was found to be suffering from Self Righteousness. Job 32:1-3. I am going to teach an almost forgotten – lesson – A Perfidious lesson involving a breach of Faith on the part of the reader – A lesson where I will show Persistence; Perseverance, adhere firmly to written Biblical Doctrines. I will subject thoughts that will be Persuasive. Thus goes the Title “JESUS RECEIVES SINNERS”. The “LOST SHEEP” LUKE 15:4-7.

I ask the question. How is it possible that any one can continue in sin, and perish in the presence of such truths? I might show the reader many touching instances of this. Read at your leisure our Saviour’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well John 4:1-38. Remembering that The Messiah is the Living water, and that Jesus receives Sinners, that was His purpose in coming to Samaria to first do the Will of God, and second to receive Sinners. Read the beautiful statement in Luke 23:33-43, “And he was saying, Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom, and Jesus said to him, truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise”. It is indeed sad today when teachers and preachers, and people alike take the above out of Scriptural context and proclaim that all one has to do to be saved is simply call upon the name of the Lord. It is true that Christ receives sinners, but he has a definite plan in the Gospel that one must be Persuaded to obey. John 6:32-47, affirms this fact. Mark 16:16, confirms this fact.

So again we ask the question. He receives sinners; for what purpose? Not to keep them as sinners, but to make them saints. He receives sinners, to sanctify them, and unhappy men, to make them happy, and wicked men, to make them holy, and slaves, to make them sons, and enemies, to make them friends. Is there any reader who can say you do not have any sin? The more you say that, the more you believe that you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and you are guilty of Self Righteousness. Read the true words of the Holy Spirit in 1 John 1:5-10. How true this is. We are sinners. But there is more to do than say “Save me”. Confess that we are sinners, repent of those sins, Believe that Christ can and will save after Baptism Mark 16:16.

“Christ waits to be gracious,” “HE has no pleasure in the death of the wicked”. Why will you die? “This man receives sinners”. Write it, dear reader, in your heart; write it on the lintels of your doors; hear it in all the Convulsions of the earth – in the poverty of life – in the breath of the wind _ in the storms of the sea – in the sounds of Thunder – in the winds of the Hurricane – the Tornado – in the loss of a family member – forget it not on the sick bed – forget it not when it comes time to die – “This Man receives Sinners”. Dear reader learn how to be received by this Man.

CHAPTER 2 

I have stated in the former chapter, that there were two chief classes in the auditory of our Lord; the Scribes and Pharisees, who believed that they were righteous; and Publicans and sinners, who did not even pretend to be so. I have shown that while the latter listened patiently to the prescriptions of our Lord, the former drew elements of cavil only from the most precious statements that He made. What they did, physically, we still do spiritually; we too draw near to Christ; we draw near upon the wings of faith, under the impulse of love; and we must take care, as I have stated, in drawing near to Him, to stop at nothing on this side of Him who receives Sinners. Some draw near to the minister – Some draw near to the choice Elder – Some draw near to the Sacraments – Some to the Sanctuary, but instead of using these as steps by which to rise to the sacred shrine, to the Deity that is within, they make them substitutes for Him, and they perish, trusting in the ordinance instead of in the Lord of the ordinances.

I stated next that they draw near to Christ to hear Him. To hear the minister is one thing; to hear Christ may be wholly different and distinct thing. It is possible to hear the minister and to be enlightened by his word, and yet hear in his accents not one tone of that voice that has eternal melody in its utterances, and power and emphasis in it’s ever expression. How beautiful is the Words of our Lord, Matthew 11:25-30, Listen closely – “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest, take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble at heart; and you will find rest for your Souls”. 

We must therefore come to the house of God, not to hear the minister, but the Master, we do not come to the house of God to hear Elders bicker about what they cannot discuss, rather we come to study 2 Tim. 2:15, and we come to discuss any issue 2 Tim. 3:16, Therefore, we must make use of the minister to introduce us to the Master; but no we must listen to the minister’s words, if they be faithful, as the echoes of Christ’s and hear music and find delight in them only in as far as we can trace the Masters accent. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and am known of them”. When this beautiful spectacle was presented of men drawing near to Christ, sinners to a Saviour, the hungry to Him who could feed them, the thirsty to Him who could refresh them, the dying to Him that could heal them; what ought to have been the remark of those who sat in Moses seat? They ought to have said, “What a glorious spectacle! What a blessed teacher! What a happy auditory? Glory to God in the highest!” But they did not do so. Heresy, error, apostasy, generally begin with the clergy, not with the laity. The first to teach the wrong are they that ought always to teach the right. The Scribes and the Pharisees, who were the teachers of the Bible, who knew what was the portrait of the Messiah in the Old Testament Scriptures, were the first to shout with exasperated feelings, jealousy, and envy, “This man receives Sinners”.

John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, he has a demon, John 11:18. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax gatherers and sinners! Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. “This Man receives sinners’. Matt. 11:19-20. This Man makes friends out of enemies. This Man suffered death that mankind could live. This Man left a pattern for Ambassadors who are chosen to serve, we Beg you be Reconciled to God, 2 Cor. 5:20. “This Man receives sinners”. But really and truly, the objection they made to Him was the evidence that He was what He professed to be. The very exclamation they uttered, “He receives sinners”, which they, in their folly, proclaimed to be His shame, all heaven now rings with the proof of His Glory. It is the blessed attribute of Jesus still, “This Man receives sinners”; and though many feel it now less than they ought to feel it, yet when that hour comes in which the soul shall tremble and shiver in the porch by which it escapes to God, let us not forget that the objection of the Pharisees is the very essence of the Gospel of “Jesus receives Sinners”. Our Lord replied to their objection, and by one of those simple sublime illustrations which one is never weary of hearing. I do not know whether others have noticed, but I seem every time I read and study the Bible, to feel that the epithet which is applied to the new song of the Redeemed in glory, ought to be applied to this blessed Book the Bible. Revelation 14:3. 

That song is called a new song; the Bible ought to be called a New Bible. We know quite well that the sweetest song that ever was sung upon earth soon becomes hackneyed, a beep and twist is added to it, and soon it is called the song of the cowboy church! But, it is true of the Bible, that the more we read it the more we desire to read. The more we know the book, the more we appreciate it, till we exclaim with David of old, “It is more precious than Gold, sweeter also than honey, which proves that it has infinite excellence. 

Our Lord thus explains to the Pharisees how absurd their objection really is: “What man of you having an hundred sheep, and lose one of them, does he not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost? How interesting is this! The murmuring of a scribe was the occasion of bringing forth the music of the Gospel. The wrath of man is thus made the praise of God. Jesus shows by this beautiful parable, that their murmuring at His reception of sinners had no support either from the daily experience of humanity or from the most applicable analogies of the world, but the contrary; and hence this beautiful parable is the proof that this reception of sinners, instead of being a reason for murmuring, ought to have been a reason for thanksgiving. The contrast is very remarkable between the fault finders of the scribe, and the mercy of Him whom the scribes professed to preach. Man murmurs that his fellow-man is saved; God rejoices that he is. The earthly minister of the earthly temples grieves that the Messiah received sinners; the Heavenly ministers in the Heavenly temple rejoice that Christ still receives sinners. The contrast between the selfishness, the monopoly, the narrow mindedness of the human servant, and the liberality, the large-heartedness, of love, and benevolence of the heavenly, suggests what David said of old: “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord”.

Dear Reader, have you ever read Matthew Chapter 6:14-34, if you have not, I Beg of you to do so, and notice carefully verses 14-24, here is a good instruction which will lead you into the favor of God, and will move you from the category of a Sinner into the category of a Saint. Verses 24-34, clearly informs you as to what God will do, when you make the first move, and how He will protect you on the road to Heaven. But think have you and your family, or friends ever experienced the loss of property during a great flood, the hurricane, the tornado. The loss of a family member in a car wreck? Severe sickness, the loss of a job, poverty, little to nothing for you and the family, children that needs clothes for school? If you have suffered these kind of events in your life, and you have read Matt. 6:14-34, its time to make a long distance call for help. “Jesus still receives sinners”. There is no need to pray until you are convinced that you need Christ in your life. John 9:31-38. Believe and obey.

Let us be thankful that neither scribe nor Pharisee, nor priest, nor pope, has the keys of the Kingdom of heaven hanging around his neck. The first and second parable of Luke 15 recorded in the chapter, presents two views of the Love of God, the last parable of this chapter presents the Prodigal son.

CHAPTER 3 

The parable of the Prodigal son presents if possible a more touching event. The parables of the lost sheep, and the lost coin, proves to us the Love of God and the joy that is felt in heaven at the repentance of a sinner; but the parable of the Prodigal son, while it presents to us the love of God, reveals to us also the response and reflection made to it in the repentance of the sinner. We have thus, in the two first parables, the love of God commencing upon earth, and the joy following it in heaven. In the third parable, we have God’s love commencing upon earth, and terminating in the repentance and return of the converted and reclaimed sinner. The one reveals the nearer, the other the remote results.

These parables, too, seem to indicate progress. The three constitute together a glorious pyramid – a beautiful climax. In the first parable, you have a rich man losing one sheep out of a hundred – - not a very great loss, and therefore the interest that he takes in that lost sheep indicates the greatness of his love. In the second parable, you have a poor woman losing one coin out of ten – a loss proportionally greater. In the third parable, you have a father with two sons, and one son, his beloved, going astray, and spending all in riotous living. We see, in the first parable, a loss of one out of a hundred sheep: in the second parable, a greater loss, the loss of one silver coin out of ten; and in the third parable, a greater still, the loss of one son out of two; and therefore the joy that is felt at the recovery of that son, in the third, is greater than the joy realized in the recovery of the lost coin; is greater still than the joy realized at the recovery of the lost sheep.

The three parables also reveal to us not only degrees of loss, and corresponding degrees of pain, but also degrees of guilt in the parties that are here concerned. The first parable is that of the sinner wandering from the Shepherd – a stray sheep ignorant of the way and scarcely aware of the error into which it has fallen: in other words, illustrating the sentiment expressed by the apostle: I did it ignorantly and in unbelief. “I thought to myself”. Acts 26:8-18. The sheep that went away was lost! Ignorantly straying. The sinner was lost, though it was in ignorance, ruined; the ignorance palliating, but not doing away with the sin until it is found and restored by the Shepherd; a great responsibility for the Lord’s Church in every generation. A responsibility upon the True Elders of the Church.

In the second parable we have the coin, bearing the name, the image, and the superscription of the King, casting itself away, excluding itself from the currency of the realm, buried in the earth, and turned to no good or profitable account: In short, the falling away from loyalty to the King of Kings.

In the third parable you have more heinous guilt still: you have one who had tasted the joy, and reaped the benefits of his fathers’ house, and who, in spite of this, abandoned that home, and plunged into all sorts of riotous and disorderly courses. We have, therefore, not only the loss accumulating from parable to parable, but we have also the guilt of the sinner accumulating from the first, in the stray sheep, to the last in the prodigal and lost son. At this point it is necessary to go back to the first parable in order to connect the responsible duties of the Shepherds, (Elders of the Church). Therefore, the one which I proceed to discuss must have touched emphatically the scribes and the Pharisees because they might have recollected that the symbol under which pastors of Israel were usually represented in the Old Testament Scriptures was that of Shepherds. For instance, Ezekiel 34, is full of the sins, the duties, and the responsibilities of the priests and teachers of Israel, under the figure of Shepherds careless of their flocks; hence our Lord, by using this symbol, employed a figure they could truly understand, and language with which they were perfectly familiar.

Let me now look at the minute, small things, yet critically important features of this beautiful parable. The Shepherd missed his lost sheep. He had a hundred; one went astray; a careless Shepherd would never have observed that only one in a hundred was wanting; but the instant that it went missing, that instant this Shepherd missed it. What an idea does this give of Christ’s surveillance over us; the eye of the Saviour is upon every stray sinner in all his wanderings, in all his departure and apostasy from God; He sees him from first to last, as he missed him at the first. If we may apply this to a lost world – of sinners it causes us to look back and make a careful review of the parable of the Prodigal son, here the son had a loving; caring, and obedient father, but it would seem that the father did not continue restraint upon the son, as he did the older son. The younger son becomes weary, perhaps he thought about the things he had never enjoyed in life, his thoughts and day dreams took charge, leaving no room for restraint, he received his inheritance, and squandered it in the life of sin. He had no one to look for the lost son; he had no one to turn to for spiritual help. Alone he ate his meals with the Hogs, eating slop prepared for swine, he has fallen as deep into poverty as one can, he alone makes up his mind to return to his father, the lost son is found and greeted by his father, he has found love; he has found life; he has found acceptance by the father; he has received forgiveness. I recall hearing a teacher say that no lost sinner ever yet by himself found his way back to God, here is that one, and because of that we do have an excellent illustration. 1 Cor. 5:1-5, and now we observe the illustration being completed in 2 Cor. 2:5-10, forgive and forget is the principle of God. This parable of the Prodigal son has much to say to the spiritual Church of Christ in receiving sinners, and forgiving sinners. The Spiritual Covenant; “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more”. Jer. 31:34.

Dear reader, will this Parable inflict your position in the Church in regards to the plan of God. How long has it been since some one in the Church of our Lord where you worship came forward and repented of some sin, and asked forgiveness? It was a great day, brother Leroy Lard came back to Church. Do you wonder why Brother Leroy took 3 years to come back? No one went out after the lost sinner. Two days after brother Leroy returns on his own accord you are in a group setting where Brother Leroy was the center of discussion, you hear someone say; well-I- don’t know if I can forgive him and forget his sins! Well now, you Dear reader you have a Biblical decision to make on your own. The Prodigal Son alone made his decision. You are next.

Christ is guilty of receiving sinners. The instant that a man leaves God, that instant he comes under the centrifugal force that leads him further and further from God; hell being only the deepest depth into which the soul under this impulse plunges: until therefore that centrifugal force, which drives the sinner further from God, be changed into a centripetal impulse, that shall bring the sinner back again, nearer and nearer to God, the lost sheep will wander further and further, till it is finally and irretrievable lost in the depths of perdition. 

In the second place, the history of the lost sheep suggests to us something that we have lost. We have lost one thing- – and having lost this, we have lost all – we have lost God! We talk more about the present President in one day, than we talk about God in one week –  Romans, 13:1-5, -- True, or false? The most blessed fact mentioned in the Gospel is that the sinner has found Christ; the greatest good that the saint realizes in glory is that God is his portion; and the greatest loss of mankind is that they have lost God. We have lost Him as our priority, we have lost His image and have become defaced – we have lost His friendship and have become His enemies – we have lost communion with Him and have become strangers – we have lost our son ship and have become slaves – we have lost our glory, and there is stamped alike upon the greatest philanthropist, and on the greatest criminal, legible to God’s eye, this vivid inscription – Ichabod! The glory is altogether departed.

Let me reminisce, As I study the Britannica world Language Dictionary as I sit and study in regards to words that I should use in this lesson; certain things comes to mind that I wonder about, sometimes its good to share them. In the above Paragraph we talk about losing God, that is a terrible thought. Yet we have used the Title – “Christ receives Sinners”; “Christ forgives Sinners”. I think about how deep a sinner’s faith is in the subject of forgiveness. I too am guilty of “O ye of little faith”. Occasionally I remember being at Church and announcing that today we will use additional time in Bible study since we have been challenged to study 1 Corinthians 14, dealing with women speaking out in worship services.

Occasionally we will designate a certain part of the service to regulated Bible subjects during Church time, in order that all may have a chance to be involved, including women. One person had visited with us this day, and had heard the announcement of open Bible study on that day. I used Greek, Syriac, and Hebrew language to discuss the issue of women speaking in the Church. Keeping in mind that Paul addressed the issue with women in a different way than most people believes, when Paul said that he forbade a woman from speaking in the Church, he was using the event of 1 Cor. 14 where women were actually taking over the efforts of men in preaching, and teaching; speaking from the front of the audience was preaching. Paul said they could not do this. In no sense of the Word did Paul say that a woman could not sing – could not speak to someone who came in – or speak to her child to be quite in Church. This person took offense by saying that I was wrong in allowing women to ask a question during this period of Bible study. I asked him to please forgive me if I was wrong, he refused, and has never come back. Now I ask the question, has God’s pattern for forgiveness been deluded – white washed? Or am I 100 years behind time? We have talked about losing God. To me this is one of those cases, where someone has lost God. But such happens in all Churches.

The above two paragraphs are given to show only examples of self-righteousness.

Perhaps if I said that we have lost the fountain, and are trying to quench our thirst from broken cisterns – we have lost the sun, and are walking by the twinkling tapers of human reason, or ecclesiastical tradition – we have lost righteousness, and we are clothed with filthy rags – we have lost the way to heaven, and are walking in the road to everlasting ruin. If you think that I am wrong, then observe the 2300 denominations that exist in the US alone. Observe their teaching, is it given by the Holy Spirit of God? Do they wear the name required by God to be called His children – His son’s? Acts 4:11-12. How much to be pitied! It is God’s part to pronounce doom on the judgment seat. It is man’s part to pity and pray for the victims of terrible misfortune. For if there be a terrible misfortune worthy of the name, it is the misfortune of having lost God, and life, and hope, and the way to heaven; and instead of this loss being a reason for indignation and rebuke on our part, it is only a strong reason for pity, for sympathy, for prayer, and for exhortation.

The Son of God who missed this lost sheep at the first, feels deeply interested in its recovery. But how come it to pass that the Son of God should ever be so interested as to have interposed His life in order to deliver us? Most of the time when a question of this nature is asked it is difficult for most people to understand. Let me tell you Dear reader why. In God’s plan there was the law of sacrifice of animals and birds, but these animals and birds could not by their blood make atonement for sins, therefore, when Adam and Eve sinned in the beginning, there was no way in which their sins could be removed and forgiven. To remove sin, there must be a sinless being on earth to willingly give up his life and shed his blood. In the beginning the Son of God willingly interposed His life’s blood to Redeem mankind. Thus God now must decide upon the time when such would take place, and how, this story now is told in Matthew chapter One and two, another reason why, is, John 3:16, God loved us, God loved the sinner. God prepared His Son to hunt down sinners, He walked the land of Israel teaching and, “Receiving sinners”. Finally the time comes when God is ready for a sinless sacrifice for sin, after this sacrifice of the Messiah there would never be another sinless sacrifice. Heb. 9:26-28, The Messiah’s death would Redeem all the departed spirits being held in Hades by Satan, both righteous and wicked. The power of Satan being destroyed, Heb. 2:14-15, the Messiah redeemed the righteous they came out from Hades with the Messiah on the third day. Hosea 6:1-3; Matt.27:51-53, the wicked were cast into the lake of Fire, Rev. 20:10-15. The Messiah might have expunged this earth on which we tread from the galaxy of the orbs of the universe. What could have led the Almighty to love them whose absence He could have easily dispensed with, as to come down from that throne to which the imagination of an archangel never soared in it loftiest stretch, and to humble himself to a depth of agony, and exhaustion, and humiliation, and shame, and suffering, which we have never sounded nor felt as we ought? Why did He do so? Because He had nothing else to do? Or because He loved is so.

There is no other reason on the face of the earth – there is none else we can assign. As it is, let us rejoice that it is so. Let us feel our responsibilities in consequence of it; let us be thankful who have tasted the sweetness of that love, which will not be appreciated in all its glory till all flesh has seen the salvation of our God. And all knees have bowed down, and have asked – O – God what can I do for the Church? Rather than, what can the Church do for me? 

We have not forgotten the Parable of the Prodigal son, nor of his decision to return to His father, and seek forgiveness, for the Father seeks whom He may save. But we have not up to this point of showing the answer to why did God love us so, as to give up His only Son to death which would save the lost sinner. So now, lets look at how a father or mother would feel in the case of having one of their own go missing. We ourselves know that if a mother has seven children, and if the seventh has played the Prodigal, and gone to a strange land, where he is exposed to peril, that, on a winter’s evening when the wind blows loud and whistles at the corner of the house, and the storm and hail and snow are heard pattering upon the roof, that mother will think less of the six children that are seated around the fireside, and often and deeply of the lost son, who is on the bosom of the deep, or in a far distant land. It shows, therefore, that all the analogies of our experience “Testifies the ways of God to men.” certainly our experience tells us that this mother cease not to cry out for the lost son, and she ceases not to pray for his safe return, her pillar is wet with tears, there is always a burden for the other six to help the mother to carry. Because of grief, the six children suffer the loss of a portion of love.

No sooner, as we read the account of the Parable of the lost sheep, does the shepherd miss the sheep, than he goes after it. No sooner did this world fall than Christ came after it. That glorious promise, sounding amid the wrecks of Paradise of the Son of God coming after the lost sheep is as the sweetness of Honey; the rainbow in the sky; the stars of heaven showing their brightness on a dark night; the father of the Prodigal son, “Receiving a lost sheep;” the mother of six no longer weeps for her seventh son, the mother has “Received the lost sheep.”

These Types and Patterns and symbols, and sacrifices, and shadows, those ceremonies and institutions of the Mosaic dispensations, were the footprints upon the sands of time of the great, the Messiah Shepherd, in His compassionate march from the throne of heaven to the cross of Calvary, in order to retrieve and recover the lost sheep; and His greatest act, His incarnation in Bethlehem, His agony and cross and passion, were but the crowning and visible evidence of His search after the lost sheep, Matt. 10:16-23. 

He came, as I have said, from His throne beside the Father, He descended deeper still; He that sat upon that throne, and could say every instant of His pilgrimage “The Son of Man who is in heaven,” entered our grave in pursuit of that lost sheep, clasped the lost one in His bosom, and quickened the dead one with His own divine love, carried it from the depths and darkness of the grave, and leaves it not until He places it as a recovered soul beside Him, and makes him to sit around His throne as He has sat down with His Father upon His glorious throne in Glory.

So what is the glorious, faithful preaching of the Gospel of Christ, whether warnings or promises, or exposition, or exhortation. Dear reader, Christ is still going after the lost sheep. It is this that gives a faithful sermon its mighty importance; it is Christ’s voice calling out for the lost sheep; it is this which gives the hearer comfort during his period of poverty – during his sickness – during the loss of a loved one. When this hearer believes this voice calling him, he will respond with love in his heart, and a desire to come to Christ. At this point “Christ has received sinners”. But, he who rejects the echo of Christ’s voice, rejects; eternal life; rejects Christ as his Saviour; rejects God as an adopted son; rejects the inheritance promised by God to adopted son’s. He rejects Life, but chooses; poverty; sickness; loss of loved ones; worry; anxiety. 

CHAPTER 4

What are all the dispensations of providence but Christ seeking after His lost sheep? He comes sometimes on the wings of the storm; sometimes in the blaze of a burning house; sometimes in the brightness of lightning storms; sometimes on the surge of an earthquake; sometimes in the shocks of successive revolutions; sometime in the still small voice of domestic suffering and private calamity: and all these are the accents of His voice the great Shepherd seeking after the lost sheep. Reader have you lost some near and dear one? That loss is the voice of the Shepherd seeking you. Have you lost the accumulation of years, and are desolate?

It may well be the chasm created by Christ that it may be filled with the unseen riches of His own glorious presence. Whatever be the trial that smites, whatever be the calamity that overtakes you, regard it not as an accident tumbled out of chaos, but a touch by the hand that was nailed to the cross, to which your right response is “Lord to whom can we go, but to thee, thou has the words of eternal life.”

In the declaration that there is joy among angels at a sinners repentance, Christ showed by an appeal to heaven, of which earth ought to be a copy, that if there was joy in the presence of the angels, that never fell over one lost sinner restored, there ought not to be grief or chaos among the just ones, if such they were, that Christ was sent to recover sinners. He supposes, for argument’s sake, the Pharisees were the ninety-nine just persons, and then he shows them by illustrations the most beautiful, drawn from the earth, and by a fact, the most interesting recorded in heaven, that instead of regret and disappointment, there ought to be nothing but joy at the restoration of sinners. A Shepherd with an hundred sheep, if he lose one does not say, what does it matter to me; no great loss; here are ninety-nine left; I will find a source of joy in the ninety-nine that are left in the fold, and I shall feel very indifferent about the one that is gone. Whether it be buried in the snow drift, or it be devoured by the wolf, or perish of hunger, I shall neither hear its groans, nor see its struggles. Dear reader, this may be Pharisees-ism, but it is not Christianity, this should not be in the Church of Christ. The Church He purchased from God with His own Blood, Acts 20:28.

Dear reader, all these pages; all these lines are presented by the use of Scripture. From the types and patterns of the Old Testament, I have spoken to you as if you were in my office. I have related to you the purpose for which Christ, the Son of God interposed His life and blood in the beginning for the sins of the world, His purpose was to save sinners. My purpose is to speak a truth which I always pray will touch someone’s heart in some way; that it may cause even and just one to turn his life around before it is to late and accept Christ by His rules and regulations.

Accepting Christ is like giving a mortgage on your home, you need money to pay hospital bills and you have no insurance. You go to your local Bank, and ask for a loan. You will sit down with a Bank employee after many questions, and filing many forms you are ready to sign your mortgage, and receive your needed money. You keep up your monthly payments for several months, then something happens you cannot make your payments, and after several months the Bank forecloses on you, you now have no home. You look back and remember the night that your wife asked you to stay home with her, but rather you went into town to drink beer and play poker all night, and you have not worked since. You did not meet the requirements of the Lord, you lost. You did not meet the requirements of the Bank you lost. It’s just that simple.

LUKE 15: 7,” And Jesus said, I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous that needs no repentance.”

Why would the angels, along with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit take time out to rejoice and celebrate over one sinner who repented? – First, this is one of the best, and most profitable patterns given to mankind on earth. It illustrates Love for the lost – it illustrates productive patterns within the Lord’s Church – It illustrates that the Lord’s Church can be a heaven on earth – Provided the patterns of heaven is followed.

Forgive me if I sound redundant. But, I am troubled after speaking in length in regards to the parables of the lost sheep – the lost coin – the prodigal son, and now all of heaven rejoicing over one sinner who repents. This one verse reveals so much its almost inconceivable. It is in agreement – it is compatible – it is consistent – it is harmonious – it is suitable for the Lord’s Church on earth. “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Matt.6:10. A perfect balance.

I now come to another point to discuss in view of what Luke 15:7, reveals. That is the conduct of the elder son upon this occasion. Keep in mind the Prodigal son has come home.

Spiritually what happens in heaven can happen on earth, therefore, if God receives a sinner in heaven after he has repented, in such way that all heaven rejoices over him. Then consider what the out burst of joy in heaven really produces, in the Church and for how long. Consider verse 25 of Luke 15, “Now his older brother was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.” Does this represent Luke 15:7? This clause in the parable is full of meaning, it is one of the brightest gems in the Bible, it shows beyond any doubt how the Church should receive sinners – it shows how the Church should rejoice over the repentance of one sinner – it reflects rays of that love which gives pardon to the guiltiest – it reflects the arms of forgiveness to the greatest sin – the music and dancing an expression of the joy and love they felt – the greater celebration, the greater love. Whether music and dancing are lawful, is not here discussed. The Bible makes its case. 

What I see here in this parable today is wanting. After 60 years of studying these and other parables I conclude that the parables and especially these three represent a contrast between heaven and earth, if it is presented in the kingdom of heaven, then it should be presented in the spiritual Kingdom of earth. “Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Matt.6:10. Secondly, I observe that the Church today in no way takes the time on any Lord’s Day to rejoice as is illustrated here regarding a lost sinner repenting, although it is the Lord’s Day, all day long. It seems, that people are more interested when the last Amen is said to get to the restaurant before the Baptist does, people no more even takes time to greet one another, O well, some one says, there is too many people you cannot greet every one. Is this excuse valid?

Clearly this parable of the prodigal son represents the two sons, and one father, the father representing the Kingdom of heaven, in regard of its great primary application; there have always been two different views in the Church. There are those who have seen in the two sons the Jew and Gentile, and in the younger son’s departure from his fathers house, the history of the great apostasy of the Gentile world, in his return its reception into the privileges of the new Covenant; as in the elder brother a lively type of the narrow-hearted self-extolling Jews, who grudged that the “ sinners of the Gentiles” should be admitted to the same blessings as themselves, and who on this account would not themselves “go in”. Others again have argued in the younger son a pattern of all those who, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether in that dispensation which was then drawing to an end, or brought up in the bosom of the Christian Church, have widely departed from God, and after having tasted the misery which follows upon all departure from sin, have his grace while they in the elder brother have seen either a narrow form of real righteousness, or accepting his words to be only his own account of himself, of pharisaical self righteousness. Or righteous in his own sight. (See Eph.2:8-22).

The younger brother and his attitude toward the father, the Kingdom of heaven. The young son did not leave the Gentile world and look for another church; he went back to that which was right. On the other hand the older brother corners his father for conversation, he shows jealously, he shows greed, he shows anger toward his younger brother, and disrespect for his father, he shows no concern nor joy over the repentance of his brother, as if to say, let him prove himself, then show love and acceptance, you do not know what he will take off with next, he did not welcome his brother back. 

You can see here that something formed a very prominent feature in character. If he has had the right feeling of a son, he would have rushed in, knowing that there was a perfect welcome for him in his fathers’ home, a cordial embrace among his own relatives. But the bad temper held him back. Finally the father speaks, “He that was lost is found”.

And next he says, “as soon as he was come”. Now mark the words again, he does not say, as soon as he repented and reformed himself, and becomes a better man, but, “as soon as he was come”. How beautiful. But, more probably, perhaps, if he had crossed the threshold, and beheld the scene of gladness and gratitude that beamed in every countenance, he would not have acted like Cain; he would have joined in the merriment, and danced and sung too. The language that he used is extremely like the language of the younger son, when he said “Give me the portions of goods that falls to my share”. But let us hear the reply of the father, “Son thou art ever with me and all that I have is thine”. In short, you have enjoyed all this plenty, you have had merely to ask and you have received. You have no reason to complain; instead of indulging in complaint, you ought to be thankful.

That which I think is pertinent to the Church is to know, believe and teach, regardless of which son represented the Jewish world or which represented the Gentile world, without argument we can see from Romans chapter 11, that the Gentiles were grafted into the stump of Israel. When the stump sprouted out anew it produced spiritual fruit, thus spiritual Israel, Gal. 4:22-31. Eph.2:8, “He broke down both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall. That He might reconcile them both in one body to God.” 

I think it would be wanting if I failed to show another event that is profitable for the Lord’s Church to look deeply into. That great famine of that heathren world at its height when the Son of God came in the flesh: in this consisted a part, though of course, only a part, of the fullness of time,--the fitness of that time, above all other, for His appearing. The glory of the old world was fast fading and perishing. All childlike faith in the old religion had departed. They were creeds outworn, unable no longer to nourish, ever so little, the spirit of man. It was in this famine, that the prodigal “began to be in want”, for as yet he had only a foretaste of his coming woe, this no doubt, was a summons to him to return home. But as yet his proud heart was unsettled; his confidence in his own resources not altogether exhausted. The first judgments of God do not always tame the roaming spirit, but the stricken will say like Ephraim, “The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stone; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars”. Isa. 9:10; Jer. 5:3.

“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous who needs no repentance”. Luke 15:7. It amazes me every time I think about this event of joy in heaven. Jesus seems to speak out and say, “If I go away to prepare a place for you I will come, again, and receive you to myself”. Jesus loves sinners who are converted to Him. Jesus receives sinners. Likewise, this is a message to the Lord’s Church. Jesus and all heaven rejoice over the repentance of one sinner. Why not apply this to spiritual attitude? If not why not. Why not introduce the sinner to new ideas, things which takes special attention of all the Church.

This lesson is not meant to be a commentary on the parables, rather it is given to the Churches of India, Africa, Canada, and West Indies, where I yet serve as missionary, to guide them into a more spiritual attitude, and serve as a guide for Church activities. The Church can be a heaven on earth. But only we can make it so.

May God have the Praise and Glory, if this is pleasing to Him, this is my prayer.

 

THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF BIBLICAL RESEARCH

Jessie E. Mills, DM – PH.D

1729 Hwy 79-n Bonifay, Fl 32425.

 


 

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