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Friday, March 28, 2014

God Is Coming after Us

Luke 15:1-10 (ESV)
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3 So he told them this parable: 4 What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Every week I pray for people to come to know Christ as Savior. Sometimes I act as if God doesn't want them to be saved. I think my own witnessing or praying is more substantial than God's own desire to see people come to know Him.

But none of that is true, is it? God always desires the redemption of His creation. He has made the joy of that redemption inherent in His creation. All of heaven rejoices. All of those created by Him should rejoice as well.

Jesus speaks of this redemption as a woman who has lost a coin for her dowry. She would naturally scour the house until she finds that coin. She would be so joyful that she could not contain it within herself and would have to tell others. This is God's joy when He sees even one of us come to Him.

But it isn't because we naturally come to Him. He searches for us. He comes after us. He does all that can be done without violating our own will. Indeed, His offer is made only to those who will accept it. Those who refuse don't see it as an offer at all. They can only see that their own lifestyle must be changed and they are blinded to the ridiculous idea that it is more important than their own eternity.

I know a man who will not come to know Christ though many of his friends have told him of Christ. His wife desires his salvation. She loves him so much that she cannot see that he is the one rejecting Christ's offer. She believes that someone will lead him to Christ because they have better words or a better persuasion or something that will bring him around. But God has been pursuing this man all of his life. He has blatantly rejected Christ so many times that his natural reaction is to reject Christ.

And do you know what his answer is when people tell him that he must trust in Christ as his savior or receive eternal damnation? He says, "I'll just take my chances." There are no chances. It is worse than buying a lottery ticket. At least a lottery ticket has a winner but rejecting Christ all of your earthly life has no winners. I don't know if the man has been deceived by the devil, the world or his own flesh. But there is no one I know who has been told the plan of salvation more times than this man. There is no one I know who has been prayed for more. The picture of God coming after a person could not be displayed any more than it has been seen in coming for this man.

But as elderly as he is, as many times as he has been told and as many times as he has rejected Christ, I still pray for him. I do so for the sake of his wife who wants him to be with her in heaven. I pray that he keeps living so that he will continue to have other opportunities to receive Christ. I know God is coming after him.

Salvation is the culmination of God's pursuit and our own commitment to Him. It is a surrender and victory. It is a renovation of our hearts. It is the creation of someone new. It is God's desire to see us in the repentance which brings us to Him. It is the moment where God has found us and we have found God.

Realizing grace is realizing that God came for us. He will not relent. He desires our redemption that much.


Anthony Chia said...

Interestingly, yesterday in a small group meeting, we talked about revival. One person asked about the definition of revival, and asked if we should still be putting resource to "work revival" for USA or that the resource is "better employed" for such country like India where many have NOT heard the gospel. Some thought that revival should be "to revive the backslidened Christians" nothing to do with "roping in" the non-believers. Then another threw in, this thing about Chrislam (made up from the words, Christian and Islam) and more added in, and one said the correct term to use is Messianic Islam, and the thing went wild, and we hear these terms flying around, Messianic Jews, Messianic Buddhists. I wondered if someone was going to say Messianic Hindus, since the invited facilitator was an Indian!

I know full discussion of this, will swing us out of scope of the entry here about God coming after us. What the small group discussion threw up was that different believers seem to have different understanding or doctrines of some of the core themes of the faith!

God is after us. What does it mean? Specific to the text or parables given, it was referring to The Lord coming after the one who is lost. In the parables, 100 sheep, and then one went astray; 10 coins, and then one went missing. But if we look at the verses before the 2 parables were given, they were saying, why would The Lord, if indeed Jesus was The Lord, be bothered with sinners, go to them or allow them to come to Him?! With the 2 parables, Jesus answered why, NOT!

The interesting thing is that in the passage of the entry is found the same interpretive issue connected with the small group discussion of revival. What is that issue? It is are we talking about God going after (or for the small group discussion, reviving) believers or non-believers?! The grumbling of the Pharisees and Sadducees was that Jesus should NOT be bothered with sinners and to interact with them, implicitly, Jesus should be welcoming the Pharisees and Sadducees for they were the Jews, the children of God; they were the ones belonging to Him, if indeed He was The Lord, or at least, that was in the mind those Jews.

Now, that Jesus in both parables talked what belonged and then lost, if we take them both (parables) outside of the context that Jesus was answering to the Pharisees and Sadducees' grumbling, we will logically come to the narrow conclusion that God is going after a back-slidened believer, or that revival is about reviving the believers.

But that Jesus would use these 2 parables to answer the grumbling, tells us that in God's eyes sinners were once His, and non-believers, too. Now, we must understand that no one deliberately lose something! If you deliberate lose it, it is you don't want it; it is you throw it away. God lost the sinners, because like the lost sheep, they wandered off.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

Actually the reply of Jesus came in a set of three, 3 parables; the 3rd one being the parable of return of the prodigal son (and this bit, is fresh revelation by the Spirit; I can sense it!). The prodigal son chose to go off, to leave (he wandered off). In other words, Jesus was saying why NOT; why would God NOT go after the sinners or non-believers. In fact, the 3rd parable was Jesus revealing how typically, the "God going after us", is to go. I believe the Spirit is wanting to say, it is to be stressed that these parables pointed to the heart of God, and it must NOT be taken to absolve men from the part God wants them to play; in other words, it NOT "There we have it; it is all there - God or the shepherd or the woman, he or she is the one doing the finding, doing the going after. We have no part or do NOT need to help God!" It tells of the heart of God, and it tells of the need for the "lost" one to turn back or repent. And it is, God is longing and He wants to give opportunities for the "lost" one to do that.

The "lost" ones can be referring to sinners, and it can be referring to back-slidened Christians or it can be referring to wayward believers who frequently wandered into the dark instead of always to walk in the light.

God does NOT generally force you, because if He does that all the time, there will be no meaning to volition of men or men's free-will. And so, the "lost" one, in whichever one category as said in the preceding para., needs himself to "allow himself to be found".

I am NOT trying to reproach anyone, but if we are to be His undershepherd, and shepherd like He, The Lord, did and does, we cannot be impatient, when God is patient with us and with our charge. I often remember in the Word, there is the parable of the wheat and the tares.

There is the God's heart of wanting you back with Him, and there is the His under shepherds and servants wanting to help you along, now it is up to you and I, lost in whatever way, to want to be found or come back to Him.

I take a little space here, to further give understanding on the issue of revival. Revival is NOT about the believers alone. Yes, it includes and often starts with believers, but NO revival is complete, if it ends with the believers! Yes, in a revival, believers get revived, and that must necessarily include sanctification (a revival not accompanied by sanctification is a suspect revival!), and with sanctification, our heart necessarily be identified with God's heart; and what is in God's heart is to see the lost ones, in this case, the non-believers, be found. The marks of a true revival are these: believers sanctified, and we can see the change in them (more Christ-like); and increase in salvation cases, i.e. non-believers coming to he Lord. Naturally, revival has evangelism in it. The Christ-likeness necessarily include doing our part to facilitate people coming into salvation.

By the way, those Messianic so and so, stuff, just ask the question, "Who is The Lord in question? Is the Lord, Jesus?" Remember, always, Lordship is NOT blind. Submission is to someone; who is that someone; who is that Lord, who is that King of the Kingdom?

Revival is needed everywhere, and yes, in USA, in India, and in Singapore, too. Even when all of America are believers, America still needs revival, and when it happens on an epic scale, salvation will come in a big way, all over the world. What blessing America can bring to the world! The question is, will America want to be sanctified?! The question is, will each American "allows himself to be found by God"? The same, I can say of Singapore. Will we be the first ones to truly respond?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Prentis McGoldrick said...

I agree. Like the Prodigal Son, I too came back to Him one day. I do not deny that I came to my senses and returned but I also know He came after me. Sometimes He must give us enough rope to hang ourselves. Then, while hanging we may come to our senses. I see it as His grace in all three parables. He seeks and He waits for our return.

Anthony Chia said...

I like the expression, "give us enough rope to hang ourselves". There is always the element of the work of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, grace, in a person's coming into salvation, for, a non-believer is spiritually very weak, said to be spiritually dead, but his spirit is NOT completely dead yet, but can be and needs to be vivified or in the term of Scripture, quickened by the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of the 2nd Adam, The Lord Jesus Christ.There is work and so, grace, of God, and there is the response of us, towards his grace.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions