||Chosen no: R-5426 , from: 1914 Year.
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HEAVENLY INTEREST IN SINNERS
--APRIL 26.--LUKE 15:1-10.--
"There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."--Verse 10.
BIBLE STUDENTS should always seek to
view the jewels of the Lord's Word in the
settings in which they have been placed. To
neglect this is to lose a portion of the lesson
intended. The Scribes and the Pharisees
held themselves aloof from the common people--
the Scribes, because the masses were
illiterate; and the Pharisees, under the claim
that the people were sinners, cut off from
relationship to God, and therefore not
proper to be recognized by the holy of humanity, which
they claimed to be.
Jesus, however, received the common people, even the
publicans, acknowledged sinners. His superior knowledge
did not make Him haughty, and His superior righteousness
did not make Him proud and unsympathetic. He
has set His followers an example that they should walk
in His steps. And the more closely they follow Him, the
more pleasing will they be to the Father, and the more
ready for a share in the Kingdom for which we pray,
"Thy Kingdom come."
Our lesson tells us how the Pharisees and the scribes
murmured against Jesus, charging against Him as a sin
that He received sinners and ate with them. Whatever
did not harmonize with their standards they could only
contest. Their difficulty in part was that they had too
high an opinion of themselves. Their spirit in this matter
was an evil one, begotten of the Adversary. Hence
Jesus sometimes spoke of them as being children of the
Devil, because his works they did, and his spirit they had.
But even this does not signify that the Pharisees were
[R5427 : page 92] beyond hope of salvation. Did not Jesus address St. Peter
on one occasion, saying, "Get thee behind Me, Satan (adversary)"?
He was an adversary, had the adverse spirit
at the time; but, corrected in harmony with the Lord's
spirit, everything was changed.
So it is with us. "His servants ye are to whom ye
render service." "By their fruits shall ye know them,"
said the Master. Applying His words to many who profess
to be His disciples, we are bound to suppose that
either intentionally or ignorantly they are in opposition
to the Master's Spirit and teachings--adversaries of His
Jesus, knowing the thoughts of the Pharisees, and
perhaps noting their gestures and looks or hearing their
words, answered them in a parable, saying, "What man of
you, having a hundred sheep and having lost one of them,
doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and
go after that which is lost until he find it?" And finding
it, he lays it upon his shoulders rejoicing, and tells the
fact to his neighbors exultantly. This course of the
shepherd, Jesus declared, illustrates the attitude of God
and all the holy angels associated with Him. They have
a special feeling of interest in those who have strayed,
and especially rejoice in the recovery of such. There is
more rejoicing over the repentant sinner than over ninety
and nine just persons needing no repentance.
Oh, how encouraging it is to us to know that this is the
sentiment of Heaven, and that the fall of man and our
imperfections do not stand as a perpetual bar to recognition
by the Lord, if we return to Him! He is merciful,
and will abundantly pardon, and will remove our sins
from us as far as the East is from the West. But this
interest is in the repentant one or in the one who has
not sinned beyond repentance. Any sheep, having been
found by the Shepherd and then preferring the wolfish,
would no longer be interesting to the Heavenly ones.
Many apply this parable inconsistently. They seem
to think of the whole world of mankind as representing
the flock of a hundred sheep, and the one straying as
representing the sinners of earth, comparatively few.
Surely this cannot be the true interpretation! Rather,
as the Prophet has declared, "All we like sheep have
gone astray." "There is none righteous, no not one."
Let us rather interpret the parable on a broader scale,
in comportment with the facts and the Scriptures. Let
us understand the one stray sheep to represent Adam and
his family; and the ninety and nine just persons needing
no repentance as representing the holy angels. To this view
every feature of the parable inclines. The Good Shepherd
left the Heavenly flock and came to earth to find, to redeem,
to recover, mankind, the lost sheep; and there is
more rejoicing in Heaven over human recoveries from sin
and alienation from God than over the holy ones themselves,
than over each other, who have never been
alienated, never needed redemption.
[R5427 : page 93]
The lesson to the Pharisees is plain. They had a different
spirit from that of the holy ones. Theirs was an
earthly view, a selfish one, a proud and haughty one, out
of accord with the Divine spirit, and not pleasing to God.
Jesus would have all of His disciples copy God. "Be ye
like unto your Father which is in Heaven." "He is kind
to the unthankful." "His mercy endureth forever"--to a
His mercy sent His Son, the Under Shepherd, to be
our Redeemer, and to help us back into His favor. His
mercy will pursue the lost sheep until every member of
Adam's race shall have been brought to a knowledge of
the Truth and to a full opportunity of returning to the
fold of God. To this end the Messianic Kingdom is to
be established. To this end also is the present call for
the Church, to be a Royal Priesthood, that under the
guidance of the great Deliverer, they may be co-laborers
with Him in carrying the Message of God's grace to all
the members of Adam's family.
Oh, how different this view of our loving Creator
from the one which was handed down to us from the
Dark Ages! How different from the one which represented
the Almighty as angry in a vicious sense!--as
having prepared in advance a place for the eternal torture
of the human family, except a few who would have
the hearing ears and happen to hear the Message in the
present life. On the contrary, we find that God's loving
provision is only beginning to be manifested, in His
favor toward Christ and the Church; and that ultimately
the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole
earth, until every knee shall bow and every tongue confess,
to the glory of God.
THE LOST COIN
In proportion as we become Godlike we have an interest
in sinners--especially in those who through heredity
or evil environment are more deeply steeped in sin, ignorance
and superstition. Having God's Spirit, we are
glad to do anything in our power to reach these sinners.
Nevertheless, we are not to be wise above what is written.
We are not to expect to find all the sheep. Rather, we are
to prepare as many as the Lord our God shall call and
draw to be associated with the great Chief Shepherd in
the work which He shortly will institute, the work of
seeking the lost sheep and finding it and restoring it--all
the willing and obedient.
"The Son of Man came to seek and to save (recover)
that which was lost." The race was lost, not merely a
few, the Church; and their recovery is to include all that
was lost. This does not signify universalism, but will
be accomplished in bringing every member of Adam's race
to a full knowledge of God and to full opportunity of
recovery from sin and death.--1 Timothy 2:3,4.
Jesus gave another parable of similar import, to illustrate
the same great truth from another angle. It was
the custom among Jewish women to wear on the forehead
a fringe of coin bangles. These might be of gold or silver,
and sometimes represented her dowry. The loss of one
of these coins would represent more than its intrinsic
value; for its absence marred the beauty of the bangles.
The search for the coin would mean that, instead of its
being abandoned as not worthy of consideration, it would
be hunted for diligently until found. The female neighbors
would learn of the loss, and also learn if it were
found, and would rejoice with her greatly. This is another
illustration of joy in the presence of the angels of
God over one repentant sinner.
THE VALUE OF A MAN
Jesus said, "Are ye not of much more value than
many sparrows?" And in the present lesson He intimates
that a man is of much more value than many coins and
of much more value than many sheep. We all agree that
it would be difficult to estimate too highly, too fully, the
value of a human life, especially if it were our own life
or the life of some one dear to us. But to what extent
do we manifest this in our daily lives?
Each should put the question to himself first, before
applying it to his neighbors. How do I manifest the
spirit of God toward my fellow-men, in placing as the
first object of my interest a human life? What am I
doing day by day that substantiates my professed interest
in humanity in general? How am I showing my interest
in my friends, my relatives, my children, my brothers and
The manufacturer should take up this subject and ask
himself, To what extent am I placing coin as of more
value than humanity? To what extent am I allowing the
accumulation of coin to interfere with the making and
the giving of proper protection to my employees and all
for whose welfare I have a care, a responsibility? Their
fingers, their eyes, their limbs, their health, their lives,
should be precious to every one who has the Spirit of
God to the slightest degree.
Each Christian should ask himself, How much of
God's Spirit have I? How much of my time am I giving to
helping my fellow-men out of their difficulties and trials
back to God? How much am I sacrificing of my time and
strength in going after the lost sheep? Hearken to the
Apostle, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked." "He
that doeth righteousness is righteous"--and not merely
he that professes to be a follower of Jesus.
Nevertheless, we are not to forget that God is the One
chiefly interested in this great work, and that He has sent
forth His Son for its accomplishment. We are not to
forget that not only we have an interest, but that Divine
interest and love are greater than ours, and that Divine
wisdom is superior; and our course should be to give
strict heed to "Him that speaketh from Heaven," to follow
His course, His example.
This may mean that we shall to some extent be misunderstood
by others. There are many theories for saving
the world by social uplift, political uplift, moral uplift,
vice-fighting, etc. Undoubtedly, the principle remains
always true that there are but two great Captains in the
warfare between sin and righteousness; namely, Christ
and Satan. It remains true also that whoever is fighting
for the One is fighting against the other. It is for us to
make sure, first of all, that we are on the Lord's side, on
the side of righteousness, truth, purity and goodness.
There is still a further step--to make sure that we are
fighting as our Captain would wish us to fight; that we
are laboring as He would wish us to labor; that we are
spending ourselves as He would wish us to be spent.
"This is the will of God (concerning you), even
your sanctification." Thus our personal salvation comes
first, in God's order. Reconciled to God ourselves and
consecrated to His service, we inquire, What is the next
step? The answer comes, "Feed My sheep; feed My
lambs." At first we might be disposed to demur, to say,
Lord, should we not rather go after the straying, after
the lost sheep? The answer is given by the Lord, through
the Apostle, that we are to "do good unto all men as we
have opportunity, especially unto the Household of Faith."
If, therefore, the Household of Faith demands all of our
time when we have the opportunity, we may be doing
nothing for the lost sheep, but only helping to perfect
those whom the Lord has already found.
[R5428 : page 94]
The circumstances of the Lord's providence alone can
direct our course. When we see His purpose, His object,
in this arrangement, all is clear. He is taking out of the
world a peculiar people, to be joint-heirs with His Son
in the Kingdom; and they all need education along
spiritual lines for their own development, and to fit and
prepare them to be the Royal Priesthood--to be kings
and Priests unto God--who by and by are to judge, to
chasten, to uplift, to bless, all the world, in proportion
as they shall prove willing and obedient.