To a very large extent……. Quite a number of elements boil down to one thing…….”repentance”.
This is a crucial element that is missing in all of Paul’s messages……and it is replaced with “grace”.
The only problem is the grace that he speaks of……”doesn’t exist”.
What does exist though……is you and I.
You and I can choose to be who we are……..and you do not need grace to determine that.
3 Then Jesus told them this parable:
4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders
6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’
7 I TELL YOU THAT IN THE SAME WAY THERE WILL BE MORE REJOICING IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER WHO REPENTS THAN OVER NINETY-NINE RIGHTEOUS PERSONS WHO DO NOT NEED TO REPENT.
We are lost……. The only way we can be found…… is if we repent.
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’
10 IN THE SAME WAY, I TELL YOU, THERE IS REJOICING IN THE PRESENCE OF THE ANGELS OF GOD OVER ONE SINNER WHO REPENTS.”
At this point a definition is important.
What does it mean to “repent”?
To repent means to feel such regret for past conduct, that one takes a decision to change ones life for the better.
Having defined it….. lets look at what repenting is “not”.
It is not repenting……if you feel sorry about it now….. but carry it on later.
It is not repenting…… if you still do what you used to do.
More importantly…..there is no “grace” that covers you while you continue to do it….. regardless of how “occasional” it is.
There is no “blood”….. no “sacrifice”….. no “lamb offering”…. no “remission”.
You have either repented……or you haven’t.
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.
12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.
14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.
15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.
16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “THE SON SAID TO HIM, ‘FATHER, I HAVE SINNED AGAINST HEAVEN AND AGAINST YOU. I AM NO LONGER WORTHY TO BE CALLED YOUR SON.’
22 “BUT THE FATHER SAID TO HIS SERVANTS, ‘QUICK! BRING THE BEST ROBE AND PUT IT ON HIM. PUT A RING ON HIS FINGER AND SANDALS ON HIS FEET.
23 BRING THE FATTENED CALF AND KILL IT. LET’S HAVE A FEAST AND CELEBRATE.
24 FOR THIS SON OF MINE WAS DEAD AND IS ALIVE AGAIN; HE WAS LOST AND IS FOUND.’ SO THEY BEGAN TO CELEBRATE.
This is one of those parables that is a pretty graphic representation of life.
We are lost…… and we are dead.
We are dead because we are no longer with the father…….
You only have “life”……when you have a relationship with God.
Many of us are lost in this world…..with no clue of the purpose of life.
We have deserted the father in search of things that have no value.
We don’t even know that we have a father…… that’s probably the worst element of it all.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.
26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.
27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.
29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
32 BUT WE HAD TO CELEBRATE AND BE GLAD, BECAUSE THIS BROTHER OF YOURS WAS DEAD AND IS ALIVE AGAIN; HE WAS LOST AND IS FOUND.'”
It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past.
It doesn’t matter if you have killed someone.
It doesn’t matter if you were an armed robber.
All that matters…… is “now”.
“Now” in this context is present continuous.
If you repent “now”……. It’s a decision that involves no looking back.
That is all that is required.
God will accept you with open arms……. Because he is your father.
God cannot accept you…… if you choose to be far away from him.
To be continued……