Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lost and Found

This is a summary of the message preached by Colin D Cruz on Sunday 24th July 2011 at Word of Grace Church, Pune.

Luke 15 The Lost Coin, The Lost Sheep


In these two parables something of value is lost. In the stories the thing lost, whether a sheep or a coin, have monetary value. Nobody, including the religious leaders who valued material things, would ignore such a loss; rather they would put every effort into finding it and would rejoice when they did.
If this is true about things that are lost, shouldn’t it also be for people who are spiritually lost? The term "lost" is an analogy used to refer to those who are not Christians, to those who are outside of the household of God but whom God desires to come home. You can see this in the story of the Prodigal Son where the father says about the son who has repented and returned home "he was lost and is found (verse 31)." Clearly it is those are spiritually lost who are represented by the lost things in these illustrate stories.
Shouldn’t we respond to people who are lost in the same way or even a greater way than we would to lost things? Shouldn’t we exhibit the same efforts, and perseverance in searching for them? Shouldn’t we be filled with joy at there being found? I believe that the point of this passage is primarily to remind Christians of how they should respond to the lost. You could also interpret these parables as primarily illustrating how God responds and searches for the lost.

The first thing needed is found in the setting that the parables were given in and the other two things that are needed to reach the lost are found in the parables themselves.

1. The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.

1.      Jesus had the "tax collectors and sinners" gathering around him.
These are lost people who were not running from Jesus but rather running to him. They were not avoiding him, ignoring him, or even hostile towards him. Verse 1 says that they were "gathering around to hear him." Why were sinners so willing and even eager to listen to Jesus? It certainly wasn’t because Jesus had an easy message that tickled people’s ears. It wasn’t because Jesus compromised on sin and said that everything they were doing was acceptable.

2.      Why did the "lost" seek out Jesus rather than run from him?
 I believe the answer is his compassion. Jesus loved them and showed that love with a compassionate instead of condemning attitude. The Bible says in verse 2 that Jesus "welcomes sinners and eats with them." One of the definitions for the Greek word translated as "welcomes" in this verse is to "receive as a friend." This was Jesus attitude toward those who were lost in sin. Jesus had a attitude that lost people were attracted to, do we? For us as individuals and as a church to reach people we are going to have to show and have that same love and acceptance.

Then He eats with them. And this is most outrageous because in the ancient Near East and Middle East, eating with somebody was a sign of approval and affirmation, particularly if you were a rabbi or a Pharisee or a spiritual leader. The rabbis used to say they ate with people and whenever they ate with anybody, they conveyed to that person, affirmation and spiritual blessing. So Jesus eating with sinners was a way to give approval to them in their view. And so here they are again making the same chronic complaint against Jesus completely misunderstanding the heart of God for sinners. And Jesus answers their murmurings with three stories.
Mt 9:10,11 while Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?

Mt 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners”.

·        Acceptance does not mean approval
·        Bad company corrupts good character 1 Cor 15:33 Watch out
·        Your goal should be transformational

When it comes to reaching the lost and hurting, we’re going to be in one of these three groups.
·        We will be uninvolved and let others do the work. Or we will condemn people for their foolish behavior saying things like, "It’s your own fault that you’re in this mess.
·        1 The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.
Much of the church is responding to the lost like the police officer instead of the paramedics. This is what the Pharisees and teachers of the law did. There are several lessons in the next two parables. Along with an illustration of the joyous attitude the Pharisees should have had to the lost coming to Jesus, we are also instructed about two more things needed to reach the lost.

2. The second thing needed for reaching the lost is effort.

In these two parables, Jesus emphasizes the effort that went into finding the lost. In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus said that the shepherd would "leave the ninety-nine sheep in the open country and go after the lost sheep. . ." In the parable of the lost coin, the woman lights a lamp, sweeps the whole house, and searches carefully for the lost coin according to verse 8.

In both cases the thing that was lost had to be sought after with great effort.. We tend to wait for the lost to come to us. We’re passive rather than active.
 The second thing needed for reaching the lost is effort.

How do we practically practice this principle?
What do you and I need to do in order to be following Jesus instructions about giving effort to reaching the lost? There are several things we can do.

1.      First, a significant part of our prayers should be for the lost.
2.      Second, making every effort means that a significant part of the ministries of New Life in Christ should be directed toward reaching the lost. I know that we must also be careful to dedicate a significant part of the ministries toward discipling those who are already Christians. Nevertheless, this is no excuse for not seeking the lost as Jesus instructed us to.
3.      Third, making every effort to reach the lost means we must be willing to make outreach a significant part of our personal and church spending.

So far I’ve shared two things necessary to reach the lost like Jesus did.

1. The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.
2. The second thing needed for reaching the lost is effort.

There is also a third thing necessary for reaching the lost found in these parables.

3.     The third thing needed to reach the lost its persistence.

Read Luke 15:4, 8

In both these cases Jesus notes specifically that the person continued seeking after the lost item until he or she found it. In other words, Jesus seems to be pointing out that persistence was a needed quality for success.
 It is not usually the case there our first efforts meet with success. Sometimes it takes years and years of persistence, but we should not be discouraged or give up.

Read Luke 15: 5-7, 9-10


The religious leaders of the day had been indifferent toward the lost and even antagonistic toward them coming to Jesus. Jesus uses these two parables to illustrate how wrong their response was, especially when compared to how they would have responded toward recovering something of far less value.
Jesus then pointed out that the one thing that matters most to God is the lost. They matter so much to God that when the lost are found, even one of them, all heaven rejoices and throws a party! There is more joy over one sinner coming to Jesus that over ninety-nine people being right where they’re supposed to be with God. If lost people matter this much to God, shouldn’t they matter this much to us? Shouldn’t we be willing to give everything needed in order to reach the lost? My answer is "yes" and I hope yours is also.
In each case there was tremendous joy...tremendous joy. The thing that I want you to note in your mind is that salvation and celebration go together. Salvation and joy belong together. Being made right with God is cause for on the part of God, joy on the part of Christ, joy on the part of the angels, joy on the part of the church and joy on the part of the one who is redeemed.
Joy in heaven.
So if you asked a simple question, What goes on in Heaven, pretty easy to sum up...the worship of God, the exultation of Christ, the fullness of holiness and endless, perfect joy. And right now it's going on. As one sinner after another is sought and found and recovered, the party never ends. God places the highest value on the worth of a sinner, one soul recovered
And that takes us to the fact that the coin is lost and sought and found and celebrated,
What is needed to reach the lost? From this passage we discovered at least three things.
1. The first thing needed for reaching the lost is compassion.

2. The second thing needed for reaching the lost is effort.
3. The third thing needed to reach the lost its persistence.

Colin D cruz .

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