“They yet believed not for joy”

 

This moment, recorded in Luke 24:41, is surely one of the most joyous moments recorded in the scriptures. It is fitting that it should be so, because it is do with the most joyous fact in all history: the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Sometimes what we plainly see with our eyes is so wonderful, that our joy is more than our capacity to believe what we see. Our joy is so great that we are momentarily thrown into dumbfoundedness. The emphasis must be on the word ‘momentarily’, because the dumbfoundedness was only for a moment. It very quickly changed into joyous believing for those disciples, because they knew that He had truly died on that accursed cross, and that He had been laid in the grave. Now there He was standing before them, showing them His wounds and proving beyond doubt that He was no spirit, but ‘flesh and bones’.

Why do christians rejoice so much in the resurrection of Christ? It is because it is the ‘linchpin’ of christianity. The linchpin is the most vital part of an axle. If it fails the axle is useless. The wheels just come off and the axle is of no use whatsoever. If the resurrection had not happened, the whole scheme of the christian faith would fall apart. This is no exaggeration, and if we have difficulty with giving such an important place to the resurrection, we should read 1 Corinthians 15: 13-20. Verse 17 reads, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain (empty), ye are yet in your sins”. Paul is not exaggerating. He is simply stating the facts of the matter. Even atheists recognise that the resurrection is fundamental to all christianity. That is why they have made such efforts to disprove it. However they are up against the evidence, that the resurrection is the best attested fact of the history of that time, sacred and secular. Let us then rejoice and be glad because Christ is risen indeed.

Now everything prophesied about Christ has fallen into place. The door to heaven is wide open for sinners. Now they can be RightWithGod through Jesus Christ. All things are now ready, and the invitation is unconditionally to all men everywhere, to repent of their sins, and come to Christ, and receive freely all that is in Him.

It is so wonderful to know that there is One at the right hand of God who says to us, “, Fear not: I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth and was dead: and, behold, I am alive for evermore; and have the keys of hell and of death”(Revelation1: 17-18). In rising from the dead, he has conquered death for all who will believe in Him; yes, they will die, but death will have no sting for them because it is not hell, but heaven’ which awaits them ‘on the other side’. No wonder Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: 55, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Where indeed! For those who are RightWithGod through Jesus Christ, death and the grave are the access door to heaven.

 

 

“Take, Eat; This is my Body”

These words from Matthew 26: 26 were uttered by Jesus in the course of eating the last Passover with His disciples. In doing so, He instituted the Lord’s Supper which was to to take the place of the Passover. From then on the Passover, which was a Sacrament which involved the killing of an animal, and the shedding of its blood, was to be replaced by a bloodless Sacrament, where the flesh and blood of the animal was to be replaced by breaking of bread and the pouring out of wine. The blood-shedding of the Passover was to be replaced by the bloodless sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Both sacraments were symbolic of the death of Christ on the cross. In the first, believers looked forward in faith to the final sacrifice to end all sacrifices; the second looked back, again in faith, to the actual accomplishment of that final sacrifice. Further shedding of blood would now be out of place, as it would suggest that the one final sacrifice of Christ was not utterly and completely sufficient to accomplish salvation for all of Christ’s believing people. As we read in Hebrews 10: 12, “This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.”

Neither Sacrament had any effectiveness in itself towards salvation. The effectiveness lay in the sacrifice of Christ, and the effectiveness of that was received in each case by faith. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must exercise our faith, that is our trust in Christ and His sacrifice of Himself on the cross in the place of sinners.

But that does not mean that the Lord’s Supper has no effectivenss in the life of the believer. The Supper is a remembering of the Lord’s death, but Jesus did not say, ‘take this bread and keep it to remind you of my death’. He said, pointedly “Take, eat: this is my body”. Why so? Because, as eating bread gives strength to the body, so the eating of the bread at the Lord’s Supper gives strength to the soul. It has a stengthening effect on the spiritual life of the believer. However, again, that effectiveness is not in the bread itself, but in the faith of the believer, who, as he takes the bread and eats it, looks to Christ and His sacrifice as the source of strength for his spiritual life: not the only source, but one source beside several others, such as devotional bible reading, prayer, worshipping and fellowshipping with the Lord’s people. In all these, we exercise our faith, and are strengthened for our pilgrimage through this life, until, at the journey’s end, faith gives way to sight, as we see Christ in His glory, and we all together enjoy His company forever. The world may have many blessings for the christian, but to be with Christ is far better (Philippians 1:23).

There are two more things about the Lord’s Supper which we must keep in mind. Firstly, it is something which the Lord’s people do together. There may be some believers in remote parts of the world, who do not have any brothers or sister with whom to share the Lord’s Supper; but for most of us we must seek togetherness when we eat the Lord’s Supper. Surely this is pleasing in the Lord’s eyes. We are all one in Christ Jesus. Secondly, one of the passages in the scriptures which describe the institution of the Lord’s Supper should be read. This reminds all present that this is not a man-made institution, but one which has the authority of the word of God.

 

 

“I will take you from among the heathen”

The title is from Ezekiel 36: 24, and is part of a wonderful block of verses from 24 to 28, which are characterised by eight instances of God saying, ‘I will’ (with slight variations), in reference to what He is going to do for His people. The original application of these verses was to Israel when they were in exile in Babylon, but all these Old Testament histories are patterns which have application to us in our present pilgrimage in this world. The words in this block of verses have a very clear gospel application.

The phrase, ‘I will’, sometimes will be to do with judgement, but here it is to do with the the great kindness God promises to pour on His people under the gospel. We must learn to respond with gladness of heart when, in a gospel context, we read, the phrase, ‘I will’, coming from God. The more we read our bibles, the more we appreciate the comforting, assuring effect of that phrase. It speaks of the most powerful force in the universe, the will of God. It is the invincible power behind every stage in our salvation, sanctification and glorification. It is a shelter in time of trouble. It is a nest where we can rest ourselves. It is a comfort in time of sorrow. It leads the believer to say with the apostle Paul, “If God be for us, who can be against us”(Romans 8:31).

The promise, ‘I will gather your from among the heathen’, speaks of the very early days of our concern about our eternal destiny. How does God gather sinners to Himself? When we become concerned about our need to be RightWithGod, we become very conscious of the burden that is laid upon us. Our guilt before a holy and righteus God is not only made known to us, but the burden of it is heavy and becoming heavier. The reality is that God is ‘gathering’ us out of the world towards Himself. We had heard the call of the gospel many times, calling us: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest”. That call had made us uneasy in the past, but a new urgency is now laid upon us, until we surrender, and close in with Christ. We do make a choice, but God is behind it all as we come to find ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We then knew that our sin was covered by His suffering and death on the cross. As we were passing through this experience, the burden seemed to be all on us. However, as time went on and we looked back on it, we came more and more to realise that God was in it all the way, and that His irresistible will was behind it all: ‘I will take you from among the heathen’.

This great beginning is only the beginning of the ‘I will’ blessings, which are now heaped upon us by the irresistible will of Almighty God. We will summarise:                                                                   ‘I will cleanse you’. Every child of God longs for cleansing, not just from the guilt of sin, but from its pollution.                                                                  ‘I will give you a new heart’; a heart to love God and His people, a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone.                                                                         ‘I will put a new Spirit within you’. The Holy Spirit will come and make you His permanent dwelling place. He will never leave.                          ‘I will cause you to walk in my ways, and to love my laws’. I will order your life in a way that is right, and feels right.

We will have the indescribable joy of knowing that the omnipotent and irresistible will of God has ordered it all.

Grace: the kindness of God

What is ‘grace’ in the particular context of the christian faith? It means something very different from what we call ‘grace’ in a worldly context. There it refers to a quality of character or style that someone possesses, and does not have any reference to God. One of the best illustrations in the bible as to the nature of christian grace is found in 2 Samuel 9, and the story of King David, having succeeded to the throne of Israel, not by inheritance, but by popular demand. David had no connection with the line of king Saul. The story is too long to go into the details of it here. We will simply deal with the ‘bones’ of the matter in order to grasp the very important illustration that is here.

In those days when there was a change in dynasty, as here, the first thing the new king would do would be to kill all the remaining relatives of the old king, as they would be considered a threat. In this case, that did not happen, but rather the very opposite. In many ways David was a type, or pattern, of Christ, and he asked those around him if there was anyone alive of the house of king Saul, “that I may show the kindness of God to him”. There was only one, Mephibosheth. He was actually a son of Jonathan, who was a son of Saul. Jonathan, strangely, had become a friend of David while Saul was still on the throne. Both Saul and Jonathan had died in battle on the same day. Mephibosheth was a poor soul who was lame on both his feet as a result of a childhood accident. David immediately sent for him. When the summons came to Mephibosheth, his heart would have sank, thinking that his end had come. However, he had no choice, but to obey the summons.

When he arrived before the king, he threw himself down in reverence, in the forlorn hope that he would be shown mercy. How relieved he was to hear the words that came from the king’s mouth: “Mephibosheth, fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and I will restore you all the land of Saul your (grand)father, and you will eat bread at my table continually.”

Christ said that He was come to seek and to save that which was lost. He finds the sinner in a state of hopelessness, and trembling in fear of the judgement of God. What relief when he or she reads the promises of God in the bible, and is enabled to lay hold of them: promises of grace extended to him or her, ‘fear not, I will show you the kindness of God (grace), and you will eat at my table continually’, in other words, ‘from now on you will enjoy all the blessings that I pour out on my people’. What joy for the sinner, who could not see anything for himself or herself but condemnation. There is nothing like the relief of knowing that we are RightWithGod, that God has showed His kindness to us, that His banner over us is now love, and that there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; and it is all of Grace, God’s kindness to us in providing such a great salvation for us by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and coming to seek us and bless us so super-abundantly.

“A name which is above every name”

Our title come from Philippians Chapter 2, verse 9. The previous verses describe the amazing humiliation of the Son of God, the Second Person in the Trinity from the  exalted position which He had from all eternity as the eternal Son of God, co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It reads like a step by step descent to the nadir of “the death of the cross” (verse 8) as the God/man Jesus Christ. Then in verse 9 begins His wonderful exaltation. Before we look at this exaltation we have to notice two very important and precious things.

Firstly we see that in the step by step humiliation, every step was taken actively, voluntarily and willingly by Christ Himself. There was no coercion. There was nothing driving Him,  other than His love for sinners. Christ went to the accursed cross willingly and gladly, suffering and dying there, the just for the unjust, the sinless One for sinners. However when it comes to the exaltation, beginning with the resurrection, we see that God the Father is the active One. He highly exalted Him, He gave Him a name above every name, and so on.

Secondly we must give due force to the word “wherefore”. It makes a clear connection between the humiliation and the exaltation. The word is sometimes translated, ‘therefore’, which has the same effect. It tells us that the exaltation took place because of the humiliation. This is clarified for us by the words in v8, “He became obedient unto death”. As He Himself said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me” (John 6:38). His exaltation was the Father’s reward to Him for His perfect obedience.

When we come to the exaltation itself, surely our hearts leap with joy at what we read, but only provided we keep before us the fact that when He took to Himself a human nature,  that that union was forever irreversible. So, when He was exalted, it was not for Him and the Father who received Him, a case of going back to heaven to the same situation as it was when He left, but to a whole new scenario. He was raised and exalted as the God/man, the Lord Jesus Christ. There was now something new in heaven. He, the God/man, who loved us and gave Himself for us, was highly exalted. The phrase ‘highly exalted’ is just one word in the original language. It is as if we would say that God had ‘hyper-exalted’ Him. The main thing in this ‘hyper-exaltation’ is that God the Father gave Him a “name which is above every name”. It is difficult for us to appreciate the full force of this, because a name to us is just a label by which we can recognise people and things. It was not so in bible times. Then the word ‘name’ had a far wider and deeper meaning. It indicated the person’s character and worth.

Then we are given a measure of the greatness of this name above every name. It is that, at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It is totally right that it should happen, and it will. O happy day for those who have Him in sure possession. Woeful day for those who do not.

The Day of Trouble

Few christians go through the whole of their christian lives without experiencing a time of trouble. Some, like our beloved brethren in foreign countries where it is forbidden to practice christianity,  have never known a time of peace  and freedom from danger.  Some who have enjoyed years of blessing under the hand of God are suddenly hit by a time of trouble. So it was with Job who lost all his wealth and family in one day; then was struck down with a most unpleasant and painful disease. The day of trouble came to him ‘out of blue’. Some christians are persecuted just for being what they are. The Lord Himself made the matter clear, “Offences must come” (Matthew 18:7). The reference is to the hurt and injury that comes to the christian, from the unbelieving world, simply because he or she is a christian, . The world resents the christian simply because they dare to be different from themselves. The great Samuel Rutherford who experienced much persecution in Covenanting times, writes to comfort a friend who was finding  the persecution difficult to cope with, and he tells her how unfriendly dogs often bark at strangers, but not at those they know. In the same way the world barks at those they see as ‘strangers’ in their midst. We should not be surprised when the world is offended even by our presence.

Why does the Lord allow christians to suffer for their faith? When the Lord says, ‘offences must come’,  why does He use the word, ‘must’? Does He really mean that trials and afflictions are a ‘must’ in the christian life? Yes, that is exactly what He means. Why is this so? It is that even after a person  is saved, and has experienced the great changes that accompany being saved, such as changes in inclinations, enjoyments, tastes, company, entertainments, and  so on, God has further work to do on and in the christian, before they leave this world to enjoy the pleasures of heaven with Christ forevermore. This work is what we call ‘sanctification’. It is best described to us in the words of scripture:  “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom [be] glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21). The important words  to notice and to learn by heart if possible are the words, “working in you what is well pleasing in His sight”. Notice particularly the phrase, “in His sight”. Let me explain.

We all have our own dreams of what kind of people we want to be, but God will almost certainly  have different plans for us as christians. This is not an easy thing to accept. We are proud creatures by nature, and God’s plan for is will always involve a process of being humbled, and that is, being made more like Christ, who, “humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. Satan will come to you with his wicked whispers: ‘Don’t spoil you life, you can be a christian and still enjoy all the things of this world’. That is a lie that will never give you happiness. Far better to believe Christ, who says, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” ( John 16:33). My dear friend, be of good cheer, and surrender to God’s plan for your life, especially in your day of trouble.

The Rich Mercy of God

The word, “mercy” is not so common in the christian’s vocabulary as it once was. This is a great loss, and undermines the christian’s appreciation of his or her salvation. Loss of appreciation leads to reduced thankfulness, and that leads to reduced gladness of heart, because the mercy of God lies close to the root of our salvation. In Ephesians 2: 4,5 we read, “But God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.”  This tells us that the very root of our salvation is the special Love of God for those He saves; but that love, however amazing it is, would not by itself save. That love had to be put into effect. It had to reach out to us in the exercise of His rich mercy toward us. It had to be mercy because of the sorry state into which sin had brought us.

We were by nature, as we came into the world, in an extremely sad state: we were ‘dead in sins’. We were not just disabled, or stunned, or retarded; we were dead as far as any  spiritual life or inclination towards God or His salvation was concerned. Worst of all we were in this sorry state without any awareness of it whatsoever. If God had just ignored us, our destiny would undoubtedly be  in Hell. We were in a sad, sorry and pitiable state, and we did not know it.

The wonderful thing is that God did not ignore us, He reached out towards us in the richness of His mercy, even when we were dead in sins. He first of all provided for us a great salvation. He sent His beloved Son into this world in our nature to suffer on the cross the penalty for all the sins of all His people. On that cross He made the greatest provision that has ever been made for human beings: a way for them to enter into a relationship of love and friendship with God.

But, of course, there was a problem, we were not interested because we were spiritually dead. Left to ourselves, we would have continued dead in sins. However, the great mercy of God reached out to us ‘even when we were dead in sins’. He ‘quickened us together with Christ’. He worked a miracle of resurrection in us. He raised us from the state of spiritual deadness to make us spiritually alive. What He did for us was only possible because Christ our Substitute was raised from the dead. This made it possible for sinners such as we are to be ‘quickened’ to spiritual life. The result of this was that we wanted Christ as our substitute, to cover our sins. Indeed we ran to Him; we fled into His arms; we embraced Him. So we continued, happy to have Him as our sure possession, thankful to God for His great mercy towards us.

Being a conscious recipient of mercy is a humbling thing for the proud, self-sufficient creatures that we are by nature, but it builds true christian character, the kind of character that adorns the faith that we profess, and the Saviour that we serve; who “humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2: 8).

Superabundant Love.

The Song of Solomon is a love song: it describes in beautiful words and word pictures the mutual love between Christ and the believer. One of the most beautiful things about this love is its mutuality. It is always two-way. Christ loves the believer, and the believer loves Christ. This does not mean that this love is equally strong on both sides, because it never is, and cannot be. From its very beginning it was not evenly balanced. We are actually told what it was like in its very beginnings. In 1 John 4:19.we read, “We love Him, because He first loved us”. That is a wonderful source  of assurance to us, because His love is enduring and not dependent on our love. In fact our love for Him is always a reaction to His love for us, and we are often overwhelmed by it.

This comes out, for example, in Song of Solomon chapter 2, verse 4: “He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love”. As a sinner, this believer would have been eternally grateful for the forgiveness of all her sins, but she is now saying that Christ has gone away beyond this in His love for her. He has brought her to a banqueting house. Few of us have experienced a real banquet where the table is laden with the best of everything, no expense spared. This believer feels that Christ has brought her to a gospel banquet, where the table is laden with blessings. We are certainly not reading too much into this when we say that she is humbled by His generosity, and her heart is filled with love for Him. She could say with the Psalmist, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. My cup is running over” (Psalm 23:5). Her love is in response to His great love, and that is the way it always is, and probably will be for all eternity. Let us look briefly at some of the blessings on this gospel table.

There is, above all the forgiveness of all our sins, past, present and future. This forgiveness is more than just a bare forgiveness. It is what we call a justifying salvation. God’s justice has been fully satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to the extent that further charges would be unjust, even on the part of God Himself. “There is now therefore no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). It is as if you sat down at the banquet table at the place reserved for you, and on the name card it says your name with the words added, “NO CONDEMNATION”, declaring that you are as RightWithGod as it is possible for you to be. Truly, His banner over us is love.

Then there is adoption into the family of God. We become children of God by adoption the moment we are saved, “Heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8: 17). Paul tells us the wonderful final purpose of this. It is that Christ “might be the firstborn among many brethren”.  Why all this for undeserving sinners? There is only one answer: His banner over us is love.

There are many more blessings on this table, but we shall take just one more: sanctification; that is, being made holy. We tend to look on sanctification as a great burden on us, but it is in fact a blessing. It is God working in us by His holy Spirit to make us more like Christ. God will progress and finish that work. Indeed it is already purchased for us by Christ. It will happen. It is guaranteed to everyone who is saved. God puts in us the desire to be holy. He creates in us a strong urge to be holy like Christ Himself: “Every man that has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He (Christ) is pure” (1 John 3: 3). His great love for us makes us long to be like Him.

Let us feed at His table continually, enjoying the inexhaustible blessings of His word, remembering that His banner over us is love.

The Brother in the Field

The parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’ which we looked at last week would be far more appropriately titled, ‘The Parable of the Two Sons’. Indeed, the Lord introduces the parable with the words, “A certain man had two sons” (Luke 15: 11). There is no doubt that this parable is inexhaustible as a source of gospel sermons, even when we concentrate on the younger brother as we did last week. However, there is much to be gained by comparing and contrasting the two sons.

Both were born from the same womb, had the same up-bringing and the same parental examples. As time went on the difference between the two became more and more marked. The elder brother was very industrious, serving his father faithfully over many years (verse 29). He was a hard, diligent worker, always to be found in the place of duty, working in the fields. In many ways, he was an ideal son, the kind that any parent would wish to have, always faithful and obedient, and content with his lot at home

The younger brother turned out to be very different, becoming more and more discontented with his lot, until finally he had enough, took his share of his father’s estate, left home, and became a ‘waster’ in the anonymity of a country far away from home: a dangerous situation for any young person to put himself in.

By contrast, the elder brother never strayed from the pathway of ‘duty’, toiling faithfully in the father’s field from year to year. One can imagine the conversations at the meal table. Very likely much of it would be contrasting the two brothers. Sadly this would have ministered to the inevitably increasing pride and self-righteousness of the elder brother. This pride and self-righteousness breaks out one day when he returns from the field and finds that his father has received the younger brother back home, and was organising a celebration for him. The elder brother’s anger was now directed at the father, not at the younger brother. What was the cause of his anger? It was that his ‘waster’ brother was being rewarded simply for returning home, whereas he had remained at home and worked faithfully for his father for many years without receiving any such reward.

This is illustrative of the problem that many have with the gospel. They think that God has an obligation to recognise and reward their good works, service to the community and to the church, and for their general goodness, uprightness and decency. They are filled with pride and self-righteousness, and they burn with anger against God because He makes it clear in His word that they actually have their reward in this life in the approval of men, and self-satisfaction. The problem is that God does not promise them heaven after death, but rather an eternity of torment. They sometimes see a ‘waster’ like the younger brother turning from his sins and being received by God and getting assurance of being forgiven for all their sins on account of what Christ has done for them. They receive the ‘best robe’, the righteousness of Christ, instead of any righteousness of their own and they are given assurance that they are RightWithGod, and that their final home will be heaven. The self-righteous hate such dealing on the part of God, and they are forever angry, and forever miserable because they refuse God’s way and God’s wonderful provision for sinners in Jesus Christ and Him crucified,

The Love that Never Gives up

Sometimes we find ourselves asking the question, Why is God bothering with me at all when He must so often be disappointed with me? I forget Him so often, but He never forgets me. I often wander from the pathway He has laid out for me in His word,  but He, in His own way draws me back. I often fail Him when He gives me the opportunity to present Christ; fear and Satan’s whispers cause me to lose courage, and I let the opportunity pass, but He still presents me with further opportunities. The pull of the world sometimes draws me away, but He draws me back by making me miserable in the world. There is only one answer to these questions, that is, the nature of God’s love. It is so different from our love, because it is unquenchable, unconditional, and everlasting. Happy are those who experience this love, that never gives up, that always wins. We have a wonderful illustration of this love in Luke 15: 11 to 24, in the parable that we call “the Prodigal Son”, although that title is not given to it in the Bible.

It is a lovely story from a human point of view, which tells of the love of an earthly father for his ‘difficult’ younger son. However, we have to seek from it the spiritual lessons that the Lord meant us to learn, keeping in mind that the earthly story can never fully represent the spiritual truth which it is meant to teach. It illustrates the love of God the Father for the one on whom He has set His love. The parable is given as a rebuke to the Pharisees and scribes who complained about the Lord Jesus, saying, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them”.

This younger of two sons had a good upbringing, in a home where there were certain restrictions which were put in place by the  head of the household. This is always a mark of a loving upbringing. However this son began to hear about the world outside, and he felt the pull. It all seemed so attractive compared to the restrictions of home. Thus Satan entices the sinner, who has had a godly upbringing, and draws him into the world. The surprising thing is that the earthly father does not put up any resistance, but gives him his share of the estate there and then. This is spiritually instructive in that God often allows such a person to go on a detour into the world, knowing that He is able to make him miserable in the world, rather than happy. The earthly father is not able to guarantee this. All he can do is hope and pray, his eye continually on the horizon where he last saw his son go out of sight, hoping that one day his greatly loved son would reappear.

God, on the other hand, is able to make the one on whom He has set His love to become so miserable in the world, that he hates it. Not only that, but God is able to bring such a person to a moment of truth, where he says to himself, ‘What a fool I have been!’ He repents of his sins, and turns in hope to God, content to be even on the fringes of God’s favoured ones, as long as he is RightWithGod. The reception that the earthly Father gives is exquisitely beautiful. As soon as he sees him, he runs to meet his son, now smelling of the pig-sty, and he falls on his neck and kisses him. The father brings him home and pours upon Him all his love.So the sinner on whom God has set his love, is made miserable in the world, brought to repentance, and showered with every blessing in Christ. God’s love has never lost its intensity, because it is unquenchable, unconditional, and everlasting.