In Luke chapter 15, Jesus tells two similar parables in response to the Pharisees and scribes murmuring that He “receives sinners and eats with them” (v. 2). After telling the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus makes the following application: “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner  who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (v. 7). In the parable of the lost coin Jesus says that “when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’” (v. 9). Then Jesus says: “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (v. 10).

Our Lord goes to great lengths to show us that there is great joy and much celebration in heaven when just one sinner repents and is saved. Do we engage in this level of rejoicing and celebration when one is converted? If not, perhaps the reason is that we don’t fully grasp the seriousness and severity of what it means to be lost. In order to truly appreciate the good news of salvation, we must fully understand the bad news of condemnation.

Those in a lost condition are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). They are “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel [we could say they are not part of God’s spiritual family], and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world!” (Eph 2:12). This is a most deplorable condition! And most who are lost do not even realize the dreadful condemnation that waits them. The lost are caught in the “snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” They need to come to their senses and repent (2 Tim 2:25-26).

Should they not repent, they will be cast into outer darkness [everlasting punishment] where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 25:30, 46). “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess 1:9). They will spend eternity being excluded from God’s presence, not able to experience His goodness or His holiness in any way. This is an accurate description of Hell – a place without any influence of God! In Hell, the lost will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15) and “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10). Not a pretty picture, is it? This is why heaven rejoices when just one sinner repents and is saved!

This is why we need to have compassion on the lost. “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted [defiled] by the flesh” (Jude22-23). As James affirms: “He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death [eternal separation from God] and cover over a multitude of sins” (Jas 5:20). May we ever strive to be vessels unto honor – sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for the all-important task of helping to save lost souls – the most important work we could ever be engaged in! (2 Tim 2:20-21).

Terry Schmidt


Author: southmain006

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