Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Lost and Found #2: How a Lost Sheep Got Home

In Luke 15 Jesus tells three stories with one common theme, God’s joy in finding the lost and restoring them to Himself.  These three stories are about the lost: a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son; but the emphasis is on the joy of finding each.

  THE JOY OF THE TRINITY  

1. Jesus, the Son of God, the Good Shepherd finds a lost sheep.

2  The woman, a type of the church, working with the Holy Spirit  finds a lost coin

3.  The Father sees his prodigal son return home. The emphasis throughout the chapter, as well as throughout the Bible, is God’s joy in finding and saving lost sinners.

See Luke 15:7, 10 and 32.  Anyone whose chief joy is not the salvation of sinners is out of touch with God. That was the condition of the Pharisees who murmured because Jesus ate with sinners and reached out in love to them. We are all aware that God is holy, righteous, merciful, loving, gracious and kind; but are we aware that God rejoices in the salvation of sinners?  Luke 15:10 speaks about joy in the presence of angels when one sinner repents.  That is speaking of God’s joy and because God rejoices, the angels and all the redeemed in Heaven join with Him in rejoicing over the salvation of the lost.  Is that your chief joy now? 

If you know you are a sinner and you would like to be saved, but you have heard that only the elect can be saved and  you are concerned that perhaps you are not among the elect; understand that election is not your concern.  That is God’s concern.  The only question that concerns you is, do you long to be saved from your sins and have a pure heart and assurance of going to Heaven?  I assert to you on the authority of Scripture that you can be saved if you earnestly desire  to turn from your sins and trust Christ who paid the full penalty for them. 

II Peter 3:9 assures us that “God is not willing that ANY  should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.  In I Timothy  2:3-4 we read that  “God would have ALL men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth.”  In I Timothy 4:10 we learn that Jesus is the potential Saviour of ALL men, but He is the actual Saviour of those who believe.  

YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE FOR NOT BEING SAVED

Don’t try to excuse yourself from the possibility of being saved because God has not elected you to be saved.  You can’t blame God if you go to hell.  It will be your own fault for rejecting His Son Jesus as your Saviour. 

Why did Jesus endure the torment of dying on a cross?  Hebrew 12:2 explains “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”  As horrible as it was to die on a cross, Jesus endured the agony.  The joy of seeing people saved far outweighed the agony.

Pharisees shepherds?  Ugh! 

Let’s look closely now at the well known story of the good shepherd finding his lost sheep. We find the story in Luke 15:3-7. He begins the story by likening the Pharisees who were listening to Him to shepherds.  That was a blow to their pride as they perceived shepherds to be at the very bottom of the social ladder.  He asks them if they were shepherds, would they not go after one lost sheep?  That very question angered them, for they despised shepherds as beneath their status and dignity. 

The Bible likens each of us to lost sheep in Isaiah 53:5-6. In that passage we learn  that Jesus bore our sins on the cross and paid the full penalty so that those who trust His sacrifice on Calvary, are forgiven and  saved from condemnation. John 10 also likens us to sheep and Jesus as our Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep.  

  

THE 99 SHEEP THAT WERE NOT LOST

These sheep were not safely at home in the fold, as most of us are prone to think.  They were out in the wilderness where wolves and other predators could harm or kill them. The one thing we know from Luke 15:7 about the 99 sheep is that they represent Christians who have been justified through faith in Christ and they do not need to repent. 

It’s true that we need to confess our sins whenever we are aware of them and trust in the cleansing power of Christ’s blood.  It’s only as we live pure lives that we enjoy fellowship with Christ and with one another.  Study I John 1 on this subject.  

These sheep (Christians) have physical, emotional and spiritual needs. They need a pastor who loves them and feeds them God’s Word; but the pastor shepherd has to determine his priorities and make a crucial decision. One of the sheep is lost and needs to be found.  Night is approaching and there are dangers.  So he leaves the 99 with his under-shepherds to lead them home while he goes out into the night and searches until he finally finds his one lost sheep.   

The lesson for pastors is that one lost sheep must take precedence over the feeding and care of justified saints.  The lesson for churches is that all the programs of our church, including Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, home Bible studies, church socials must not only meet the needs of saints; but more importantly, they must be outreaches to the lost in our communities. If we fail to reach out to the lost, we are failing, no matter how many programs we have for the saints. 

  

THE ONE LOST SHEEP THAT WAS FOUND

No matter what the cost or how difficult the task, the shepherd keeps seeking until he finds him. According to Romans 3:11 sinners do not seek God. Luke 19:10 tells us that God seeks sinners.  He uses His yielded servants to reach out to the lost and make the contacts. Thankfully, He empowers us by His Holy Spirit; otherwise, we would have no power whatsoever.  

As a mother travails and agonizes to have her baby, so we must travail in our spirits to win the lost.   Isaiah 66:8  says of Israel that as soon as she travailed, she brought forth her children.  So our hearts must be broken and we must agonize for sinners as we reach out to them in love and share the Gospel with them.

   

HOW DID THE LOST SHEEP GET HOME?

It was only one sheep of his flock of one hundred, but Jesus valued it and hunted it down until He found it. The shepherd did not drive it home or force it to follow him. It was too weak and helpless. So he picked it up and wrapped it around his shoulders and tied it four feet together, and carried it home.

The Good Shepherd knows our frame and remembers we are as dust. He only asks us to do what He gives us the strength to do. Whether the sheep arrives back to the sheep fold is totally in the hands of the Shepherd.   So is our salvation if we have put our trust in Christ.   John 10:27-29, Romans 8:32-39,  and Isaiah 46:3-4 and 40:11 all teach us that our security as Christians is in God’s hands. 

The normal Christian grows and matures and is soon able to stand on his own feet and be involved in the spiritual battle as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  The Shepherd’s goal is to bring us to spiritual maturity and make us effective servants of Christ. That takes place as we feed on His Word. So although The Good Shepherd babies lost sheep,  He does not baby growing Christians.  As a good parents wants his children to grow up and learn to stand on their own feet and become mature, so our Good Shepherd allows us and encourages us to stand on our own feet and become mature Christians. 

August 24, 2007 Posted by | LOST and FOUND | Comments Off on Lost and Found #2: How a Lost Sheep Got Home

Freedom #19: An Allegory of Salvation

Throughout Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, he has been warning the young churches in the area of Galatia of the dangers of the Judaizers who had been infiltrating these gentile believers,  attempting to bring them under the bondage of the Mosaic legal system; including the need to be circumcised and observe the Jewish feasts and sabbaths and all the other ceremonial laws.  All of this has been cancelled and done away with through the death and resurrection of Christ, as  Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians so clearly teaches, as well as the lessons we are learning in Galatians.

  

Here in Galatians, Paul is warning of this danger and teaching these Christians of the freedom that we have in Christ. In chapters 1 & 2 Paul defends his apostleship against the lies of the Judaizers who attempted to portray him as a false teacher. Paul, in these first two chapters shows that he is every bit a true apostle of Christ just as the original twelve.  Whereas the twelve spent the last  three years with Jesus before He was crucified and raised from the dead;  Paul, who was converted after Jesus arose from the dead and ascended back to Heaven, spent three years with the ascended, glorified Saviour alone with Him in the Arabian desert where he was given a concentrated, personal knowledge of Christ and doctrine for the Church which he wrote by inspiration of God in his New Testament Epistles.  

  

In chapters 3 & 4  Paul goes on to prove that  we are saved by trusting in Jesus,  just as Abraham was saved by trusting in God’s promise to him of a Promised Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who would come through Abraham’s seed. Abraham was saved through faith in that promised Saviour, just as we are saved by faith in that Saviour who came two thousand years ago.

  

Now in Galatians 4:21-31, Paul uses an allegory to further teach us truths about this promised Saviour.

  

First of all, you are familiar with an allegory, are you not?  An allegory is a method of teaching truths through a story.  The best known allegory is Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, in which Bunyan teaches the only way to salvation and the Christian life.

  

In Galatians 3, we learned that salvation came through Abraham’s promised supernatural seed, Isaac, who was conceived when Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90.   Now in this allegory in ch 4, based on the true historical facts of Genesis,  it is emphasized that this promised Saviour came through Abraham and Sarah  and not  through Abraham and Sarah’s slave, Hagar.  You remember the story, do you not?  Read it in Genesis 15-18  and 21.

  

So in the passage before us, Galatians 4:21-31,  Paul contrasts the two unions.

  

The natural, sinful union was that of Abraham and the young slave girl, Hagar, with whom Abraham begat a son, Ishmael.  There was nothing supernatural about that birth.

  

The supernatural union was between Abraham and his aged wife, Sarah, who was barren,  far beyond the age of being able to become pregnant and bear a child. Through this union because of God’s promise came Isaac.  Isaac begat Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.  He became the father of the nation of Israel.  One of Jacob’s twelve sons was Judah, through whom the Lord Jesus, the promised Saviour of the world, was born.

  

So we see in this allegory two ways to attain salvation and Heaven.  One way does not work.  The other does.

  

The way that does not work is represented by Hagar and her son Ishmael,  Note the words associated with this way:  the flesh, Arabia, Sinai, bondage, earthly Jerusalem, and the vain attempts to be saved through our works.

  

In contrast, the true way to salvation is represented by Sarah and her promised son, Isaac, through whom came Jesus in the fullness of time. Note the words associated with this true way: freedom,  faith and the destination of those who are saved by faith,  the Heavenly Jerusalem which is from above.

  

Whereas, Ishmael was born a slave;  those of us who are born again by faith in the Promised Seed, Jesus, are born into a life of freedom.  We are born free to do right, to do the will of God from our hearts.

  

As Ishmael, the slave child, mocked and persecuted his young brother Isaac;  so the Christless religionist mocks and persecutes Christians.

  

But note also that the spiritual descendants of Ishmael will not share in the eternal Heavenly inheritance of Isaac, and his spiritual progeny, Christians.

  

In this allegory where are you?  Are you a slave to sin, and a  spiritual child of the bondwoman, struggling through your vain works to earn Heaven;  or are have you been born again through faith in the promised Seed of Abraham and Isaac, the Lord Jesus and been made a joint-heir with Christ, as taught in Romans 8?  Are you a citizen of the Heavenly Jerusalem described in the last two chapters of the Bible, Revelation 21 & 22?  Paul reminds us as Christians in Philippians 3:20-21 of our heavenly citizenship and the wonderful glory that awaits us.   

 

August 24, 2007 Posted by | Freedom | Comments Off on Freedom #19: An Allegory of Salvation