Sermon Series: To Save That Which Was Lost (Part 2)
Jesus came to earth to save that which is lost. This must also be the mission of every local expression of the Body of Christ — toward others within the church and toward those around us in the world. If 99 out of the 100 sheep are safe in the fold, Jesus’ heart is for the 1 that is not. When we share His burden, we will never be jealous of the love and joy of the Father over a prodigal who returns.
In the midst of a Christendom that increasingly teaches that sin is okay, we must learn to balance the holiness of God with the love of God. The Devil, as the father of all lies, loves to portray God as someone waiting to catch us in sin so that He can send us to hell. Yet, the Bible teaches the exact opposite, that God is actually longing that everyone will repent (II Peter 3:8-9). That is why, God still allows this world to exist as it does, despite all the suffering in it. When Jesus does return and puts an end to all suffering, it will also mean the end of all opportunities to repent. “Tomorrow” is not the day of salvation, today is!
If you need forgiveness today, it does not reduce God’s love and mercy, any more than taking a cup of water out of the ocean reduces its supply. But, God invests His love in us so that His love will flow through us toward others. Having been forgiven and justified (Romans 4:25), God gives us the Holy Spirit as an initial deposit (II Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14) of the love that He wants to shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:1-5). Jesus also needed grace for this, and, starting with the introduction (Luke 2:40) He finished the “book of grace” all the way to the end (Hebrews 2:9). Paul also finished his “book of grace” (II Timothy 4:7), despite the fact that he was an enemy of Jesus for the first half of his life. What God did for Jesus and for Paul, He wants to do for you.
We see this in the lavish feast that the father threw for his son who had returned (Luke 15:22). It was an initial guarantee of his love for his son, as the first of many “feasts” he wanted to have with him. Let us seek to receive God’s love increasingly, which goes beyond just forgiving our sins, but also preserving us from sin, as we dwell in the Father’s presence constantly.
If we don’t keep ourselves in this love of God, all our sincere attempts to exhort or help others in their faults will only cause more harm — like a building that is architected correctly, but whose foundation is not good. When we keep ourselves in the love of God and recognize the mercy He has shown us, we will be able to have mercy on others in snatching them from the fire (Jude 1:22-23).