This morning I was at a loss to find a sweatshirt which I thought would be good for the job I want to do today. I finally found it, in an odd place to be sure, though I remembered putting it in there vaguely, in the drawer with my t-shirts.
Scripture tells us in Jesus’ words that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. Why? Because the lost is found!
We all belong to God because of creation. We are made in God’s image. And yet we are indeed lost in our sins and alienated from God.
God doesn’t let us go; God in a true sense seeks us. In a number of ways, but essentially by the Spirit and through the word, especially the message of the gospel.
How does God do this to those in far off places (maybe even near), perhaps isolated, who have either never heard the gospel, or may have heard a distorted view of it? I don’t know, but I believe God does seek them. I believe it because of God’s mercy. God is a merciful God. Do people need to hear the message of the gospel to have saving faith? According to scripture, yes, so I say unequivocally, of course. I go by scripture, by the word, by what God has revealed, and leave what he has not revealed to others to speculate over. I might do some speculation myself, but never would I press any of my speculations into teaching.
We need to pursue something of this sense of people’s lostness to God along with something of the sense of longing that they might be found by God. Notice I did not say, found by us, as if it’s we who are pursuing them. We should pray that they might be found by God.
The message of the gospel of King Jesus is indeed a message of reconciliation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Sinners are reconciled to God, to themselves, to each other, and to creation. The reconciliation of all things awaits Jesus’ coming, when all is made new in him. But the beginning of that reconciliation is happening now. As God pursues the lost even through us. Some proclaiming, all being witnesses and all in prayer- that by the power and working of the Spirit, the lost may be found, the sinner may come home to joy and celebration in the love and care of God. Together in Jesus in this for the world.