How God’s love enables sinners to repent
You might say you’ve strayed too far from God. You’ve sinned too badly. God would never receive you back.
Or…you might feel your heart is too dark or hard. You could never return to Him.
Or…you might even feel, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, that certain people are hopelessly lost and are unworthy of the Savior’s compassion.
All such thoughts show that we don’t know the depth of God’s far-reaching love for sinners…even for us.
It’s God far-reaching love that enables sinners to repent and return to Him.
We need to see God’s attitude, His loving and forgiving heart toward man.
This is an aspect of God’s good news revealed in the Gospel of Luke. Luke 15 gives us three parables to show how God far-reaching love enables even the worst of sinners to repent and return to God.
Actually, Ephesians 2:18 gives us the caption to these three parables by saying,
“For through Him [the Son], we have access in one Spirit unto the Father.”
This is exactly the steps God took in Luke 15 to enable us, who were lost sinners, to return to God, our loving Father, and to the church, His house of feasting.
First, Jesus came in love as a shepherd to find you as the one lost sheep.
Luke 15: 4-5, 7 says,
4 Which man of you, who has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
5 And when he finds it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance.
How does this parable show God’s far-reaching love?
First, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was willing to become that “man,” as the seeking Shepherd to come find us.
We are all lost sheep in the “wilderness” of this world. (Some just don’t realize it.)
But Jesus loved us so much that He came and died to redeem us. As our good shepherd, He willingly laid down His life for us, His sheep (John 10:11). It was in this way that He could lay us on His shoulders, rejoicing.
When we see what Jesus did for us, we simply need to thank Him saying,
“Lord Jesus, thank you for coming into the wilderness of this world to find me, your lost sheep. I was a lost sinner, but You loved me so much that You came and died for me. Thank you for putting me on Your shoulders.”
Second, the Spirit searches your heart in love as the woman seeking the one lost coin.
The Lord Jesus completed the first step by coming into this world as a shepherd to find us. But for us to repent and return to God something more was needed. Our heart was still dark, hard, and far away from God. So God took a further step.
Luke 15:8-10 says,
8 Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one silver coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek carefully until she finds it?
9 And when she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I lost.
10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting.
Based on Christ’s coming and dying for us, the Holy Spirit lovingly comes to convict us concerning our sinful situation before God (John 16:8-11). As a woman would “light the lamp and sweep the house” to find her lost coin, God’s Spirit illuminates our heart with God’s shining word to make our true condition known to us.
When the Spirit of reality convicts us of our sin in such a way, we can’t help but reconsider our way and say,
“Lord, thank you for enlightening my darkened heart with Your shining Word so that I can now see my lost condition. Thank you causing me to repent, to come to myself and to remember You. Lord, I’m a lost sinner, I repent and turn to You.”
Third, the Father lovingly runs to welcome you home as a father receiving his lost son.
However, once we’ve come to ourselves and repented, we might think that God is angry with us and would never receive us back. We’re ashamed like that prodigal son, thinking of what to say to his father. We might say like that son,
18 I will rise up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.
But look what the father did:
20 …But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and he ran and fell on his neck and kissed him affectionately.
The father was so eager, he ran to meet his returning son. He wasn’t interested in his son’s talk about past failures and unworthiness. Listen to what he said,
22 “…Bring out quickly the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf; slaughter it, and let us eat and be merry, 24 Because this son of mine was dead and lives again; he was lost and has been found.”
Through the Son’s coming and dying for us, and the Spirit’s enlightening and convicting us, we could repent and return to God. When we take that step to return to Him, our loving Father joyfully runs to meet us.
On the one hand, the Father removes our filthy rags and clothes us with Christ as our “best robe.” This meets His righteous requirements and satisfies Him.
On the other hand, He invited us to feast on “the fattened calf,” that is, to enjoy the rich Christ, killed on the cross for our enjoyment. This satisfies our inner hunger.
When we see God’s far-reaching love toward us, we can’t help but repent, believe, thank and praise Him for His saving love saying,
“Father, thank you for running to meet me, for clothing me with Your Son as the best robe and for inviting me to feast with You on the rich Christ as the fattened calf in Your house the church. I praise and thank you for saving me.”
When we hear such a word, we should also be filled with hope for those that seem far from God. We should not despise them as those Pharisees did but tell them that Lord doesn’t condemn them but wants them to return home.
He’s waiting to say, “Welcome home!”
May the Lord grant us to touch the loving and forgiving heart of our Father God and the seeking and shepherding spirit of our Savior Christ so that many more lost souls can be reached and warmly received into the Father’s house of feasting.
If the Lord has touched you with His heart of love for sinners, please share your impression in a comment to this post.
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About Tom Smith
Hi. My name is Tom Smith. I'm the writer behind Holding to Truth in Love, and I love the Lord Jesus and His life-giving Word. Please feel free to send me an e-mail through the contact page if you have any questions. I hope you'd take a moment to subscribe to the Holding to Truth blog. Then you'll be sure not to miss a post. Thanks!