Returning to God!
For Those That Have Forgotten God
The Bible says that one of the signs of the end-times will be a great apostasy (falling away from the faith) (2 Thess.2:3). Backsliding has become a very common feature in all churches now.
Jesus spoke about four types of backsliders in the three parables in Luke 15 - represented by the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost younger son and the lost elder son
The Lost Sheep And Lack Of Fellowship
The lost sheep is a picture of a born-again believer who backslid. He went astray because he lacked fellowship. Perhaps he was alone in a place where there was no good church. Not having a strong enough relationship with the Lord, he was dragged down by his surroundings. Or perhaps, he did not value fellowship with other believers sufficiently, and thus went astray. If he had stayed in the midst of the church, he would have been safe. But perhaps he was self-confident and thus went astray.
There may have been other reasons too why he backslid. The attractions of the world may have proved to be too much for him. Or perhaps he was discouraged by the pressure of trial. He may have been deceived by the craftiness of men and demons. Or he may have been careless in his walk with the Lord and gradually fell away.
The Lord describes His flock in this parable as consisting of "righteous persons WHO NEED NO REPENTANCE" (Lk.15:7). The reason they don't need any repentance is because they are judging themselves all the time and striving at all times to have a conscience without offence towards God and men. They are quick to confess the slightest sinful thought and attitude to God, and equally quick to confess the slightest sinful word and deed to men. Thus they live each day as those who need no repentance - because they repent constantly. The lost sheep did not have this attitude - and so it backslid.
The Lost Silver Coin And A Careless Church
The lost coin was lost due to very different reasons. It was lost because of the failure of the woman. The woman is a picture of a church. She was careless in taking care of her coins.
The coin was a silver coin - and silver was used to redeem the firstborn children of Israel in the Old Testament (Numbers 18:16). So the silver coin speaks of a redeemed child of God (once saved) who is now lost. But this believer backslid primarily due to the failure of his church. His church was perhaps a dead church where the standards of God's Word were not preached and so they did not care for his eternal soul.
Cain asked the Lord if he was his brother's keeper. He was. In the church, every one of us has a responsibility to "keep" our brothers and sisters from falling. So this parable is directed not at the backslider as much as at the other members of his church (the woman) who are careless enough to allow a coin to be lost.
The Lost Younger Son And A Spirit Of Independence And Rebellion
The younger son represents yet another type of backslider. He was one who was impatient to launch out on his own - before God's time. He sought his own, loved money, rebelled against his father and finally left his home.
Here is a believer who wants to receive everything he can, from God and from his elder brothers. But after he has received everything, he leaves them. Many preachers make use of their connection with their spiritual fathers and thereby get a ministry and a name for themselves. Once they have got that, they seek to become independent.
This son is a picture of a believer who doesn't want the discipline of being subject to God-appointed authority (his father). God's purpose in all discipline is to break His children, so that He can commit spiritual authority to them one day. But many like this younger son, frustrate God's purposes for them, and end up with "the pigs"! Only then do some of them "come to their senses" and return to the Father's house in brokenness and repentance.
The Lost Elder Son And Spirit Of Comparison And Pride
The elder son is a picture of a believer who does not look like a backslider. He is a proud, self-righteous believer who compares himself with others and who feels that he has lived a better life and produced better results in his ministry than others.
Instead of humbly acknowledging these blessings as the undeserved mercy of God, he becomes proud of what he thinks he has accomplished. Therefore God resists him and very soon Satan is able to knock him down.
The first three backsliders in these parables finally came home. But in the case of the elder son, we see him outside the house, at the end of the story.
The Right Attitude Towards Lost Sheep
The Good Shepherd went after the lost sheep until He found it. We who are under-shepherds must have the same attitude. We must go after those who have backslidden from the church through carelessness, Satanic deception and their lusts. It must be the longing of all of us to be "shepherds after God's own heart" (Jer.3:15), who can seek out the many such lost sheep around us today.
Many are quick to criticize these lost sheep, saying that they should not have wandered off on their own, or listened to the voices of false shepherds, etc., What God is looking for however are shepherds after His own heart who will go after these lost sheep and bring them back to the fold.
The Right Attitude Towards Lost Coins
The woman who lost her silver coin was eager to find it.
So she did two things: She lit a lamp and swept her house diligently, until she found it. These are the two things every church needs to do. First of all, she needs to light a lamp. The life of Jesus is the only true light(John 1:4) and this is what the church needs to hold up and emphasis at all times. Secondly, there is a lot of rubbish - sin and human traditions in the church - that needs to be swept out completely. Only then will many lost coins be found.
The Right Attitude Towards Lost Younger Sons
The father of the prodigal son did not go looking for his son when he was lost. He allowed his son to reap the consequences of his rebellion. And when his son came to an end of himself, he came home on his own. He was not carried home on anyone's shoulder, like the lost sheep. He came back when he was totally sick and tired of himself. God's love for such backsliders is shown in His not going after them, but allowing them to reap what they have sown.
Many believers however lack this wisdom and seek to carry these rebellious sons on their shoulders in to the church. Thus they ruin them. On the other hand, these believers don't do much for the lost sheep. Thus because they lack discernment, they console those who should be rebuked, and rebuke those who should be consoled.
Feeding rebellious sons of God will only ensure that they never return to God. Such acts are not acts of compassion but acts of folly. Such foolish actions make these lost sons stay out in the far country even longer - and in some cases forever.
When the prodigal son returned, the father made him sit at his right hand. He didn't place his son on probation or make him live in the servant's quarters - because his son had come back in brokenness and repentance - on his own, without anyone having to persuade him.
When rebellious sons return to the church in true brokenness and repentance, our hearts must be wide open to welcome them. Here is where we see the difference in attitude between those who are like God and those who are like the Pharisees. It will certainly take time for confidence to be restored in such a prodigal son who was once rebellious. But if he has repented, he must be accepted immediately, warmly, and wholeheartedly, even if he is not given any ministry in the church for many years.
The Right Attitude Towards Lost Elder Sons
In the case of the elder son, the father went outside the house and pleaded with him repeatedly. But the older boy would not yield. Jesus left the story open-ended at this point, leaving it to our imagination to decide what happened to him finally.
There are two possibilities: Either, he may have yielded to his father's pleadings and finally come back home, with his head held high. Or he may have rejected his father's pleadings and gone out into the darkness. Whichever way he may have chosen, he lost the place of honour in his home, for that had already been given to his younger brother. The father had already given his ring and the seat at his right hand to his younger son.
There is a vast difference between "prodigal sons" and "elder brothers". Prodigal sons are convinced of their sin on their own and repent deeply and seek no place of honour in the church. They only want to be slaves until the end of their lives. They are truly broken. "Elder sons" however have to be repeatedly spoken to, before they are convinced. And even when they are convinced, they seek to come back to their place of honour in the church - as kings and not as slaves.
King Saul knew that he had sinned. But he wanted to confess his sin privately to Samuel. He told Samuel, "I have sinned; but please honour me now before the elders of my people and before Israel" (1 Sam.15:30). King David also sinned - far more seriously than Saul. But he wrote a psalm and acknowledged his sin publicly(Psalm 51).
Jesus told the Pharisees that their greatest sin was that they sought to justify themselves before men (Luke 16:15). God hates this sin more than any other. There is very little hope for a backslider who wants to justify himself before men.
God's Word to sinners has always been: "Only acknowledge your sin" (Jer.3:13).
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
For those that have Forgotten God
More on Backsliders and returning to God here.
A Call to Backsliders by John Wesley here
A Daily Reading Plan from Charles H. Spurgeon's Devotional from Jan to Dec here
An Alarm To The Unconverted by Joseph Alleine here
A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word by Thomas Watson here
A Vision of the Lost by William Booth here
Backsliders Returning to God here
Christ & The Christian in Temptation by Octavius Winslow here
Christian Behavior Being The Fruits of True Christianity by John Bunyan here
(How to Walk so as to Please God - With a Word of Direction to All Backsliders)
Did I Miss God's Will For My Life? by R. A. Torrey here
From Grace To Glory Or Born Again by Octavius Winslow here
Help Heavenward by Octavius Winslow here
Holding Him To The Scriptures by R. A. Torrey here
How to get the Most From Reading Your Bible by Thomas Watson here
How Do You Know If You Are A Real Christian by Jonathan Edwards here
How To Study The Bible by R. A. Torrey here
(Introductory to Methods of Bible Study, Study of Individual Books, Topical Study, Biographical Study, Study of Types, Study of the Books of the Bible in the Order in the Bible and their Chronological Order, The Study of the Bible for Practical Usefulness in Dealing with Men, Fundamental Conditions of the Most Profitable Bible Study, Final Suggestions)
How To Study The Bible by Watchman Nee here
(Preparing the Person, Methods of Studying the Bible, etc.)
Important Question by John Wesley here
Letters To A New Convert by Jonathan Edwards here
Man's Ruin - God's Redemption by L. R. Shelton here
Not I But Christ by Watchman Nee here
(If Any Man Sin, Restore Your Brother, The Believer's Reaction, The Will of God, etc. )
On Keeping the Heart by John Flavel here
On Living Without God by John Wesley here
On The Wedding Garment - Matthew 22:12 by John Wesley here
On Worldly Folly - Luke 22:20 by John Wesley here
One Thing Necessary by Thomas Watson here
Pardon For The Greatest Sinners by Jonathan Edwards here
Personal Declension & Revival of Religion in the Soul by Octavius Winslow here (Incipient Declension, Declension in Love, Declension in Faith, Declension in Prayer, Doctrinal Error, On Grieving the Spirit, The Fruitless & the Fruitful Professor, The Lord, the Restorer of His People, and The Lord, the Keeper of His People)
Repentance of Believers - Mark 1:15 by John Wesley here
The Absence of the Sense of Sin in Present-Day Religion by Rev. J. S. Sinclair here
The Anxious Inquirer After Salvation Directed & Encouraged by John A. James here
The Blood of Jesus by William Reid here
The Compassion of Christ to Weak Believers by Samuel Davies here
The Danger of Luke warmness in Religion by Samuel Davies here
The Day of Golden Opportunity by R. A. Torrey here
(Because the Lord Jesus Brings Peace to the Tormenting Conscience, Because Jesus Christ Brings Inexpressible & Glorious Joy to Those Who Accept Him, Because Jesus Christ Brings Deliverance from the Power of Sin, Because Jesus Christ Brings Beauty of Character, Because Jesus Christ Fills Our Lives with Highest Usefulness, Because the Sooner We Come to Christ, the Fuller and Richer Will Be Our Eternity, Because if We Do Not Come to Jesus Christ Today We May Never Come At All)
The Deceitfulness of the Human Heart - Jeremiah 17:9 by John Wesley here
The Fool's Creed by R. A. Torrey here
The Heavenly Footman by John Bunyan here
(A Description of the Man That Gets to Heaven an Epistle to All the Slothful & Careless People)
The Jerusalem Sinner by John Bunyan here
(Good News for the Vilest of Men or A Help for Despairing Souls)
The Manner in Which the Salvation of the Soul is to be Sought by J. Edwards here
The Method of Salvation Through Jesus Christ by Samuel Davies here
The Most Important Question by R. A. Torrey here
The Power of the Blood of Christ by R. A. Torrey here
The Strait Way to Heaven by William Dyer here
The True Gospel of Christianity versus the False Gospel of Carnal Christianity
by L. R. Shelton here
The True Christian by John Angell James here
The Vain Self Flatteries Of The Sinner by Jonathan Edwards here
The Young Man Leaving Home by John Angell James here
Ten Reasons Why I Believe the Bible is the Word of God by R. A. Torrey here
Wilderness State - John 16:22 by John Wesley here
Words for Backsliders here
Are you Searching for More in Life here
A Good Church
When you look for a church check to see that it has the following four things:
- 1. Sound biblical preaching that lifts up Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord and God.
- 2. Humble , godly and wise leadership. ("Red flag" attitudes include: greed, pride, moral looseness, and disrespect.)
- 3. The people of the church clearly love one another.
- 4. There is holiness and clear standards of right and wrong.
Once you have found a good church (there are no perfect churches) stick with it despite the ups and downs. Churches are full of people like you who make mistakes, aren't quite perfect and say things they do not really mean. One day someone may say or do something that really hurts you. Stick with it then - don't get bitter towards all Christians because of a foolish one or two. Remember some people who attend church are not really born again. Some are still searching, some are pretending, but the vast majority are really nice people. Here are three things you should take to church each Sunday.
- 1. Your heart to be filled with the Spirit. Go with an open and expectant attitude and you will receive.
- 2. Your eyes and your hands - to watch for the needs of the people of God and meet them in practical ways.
- 3. Your mind - to hear, understand and think about God's word. Some Christians think that faith and their minds cannot mix. That is wrong. It is true that faith and a puffed up and arrogant mind cannot mix. But faith and an inquiring mind go hand in hand and create wisdom, knowledge grace and truth.
The more time you make for God - the less there will be for sin and self-defeat.
In particular pray for these things :
- Grace- God to be kind toward you and give you many undeserved favours and the power to resist sin.
- Mercy - for God to deliver you from the messes you get yourself into especially when we are ignorant/foolish.
- Peace - the integration of your life under the blessings of God so that sin has no foothold in you.
- Understanding - of what God has done for in Christ and the power over sin that is within you.
- Wisdom & Discernment - so you can apply your understanding to real life situations.
- To Be Filled With The Love of God - which takes over our hearts and makes thinking spiritual thoughts easy.
To Be Filled With The Spirit - and able to see and perceive the things of God so that we are bold and joyful.
If you are unsure about a church then talk to some wise Christians that you know and ask their opinion of it. Or ask us here for contact information on local Churches in your area, contact us here, we will not favour one particular denomination over another but seek to give you sound principles and advice here.
Experiencing Christ rather than Man's creation or Religion. It does not matter who you are or where you have come from, you are ALL WELCOME to search for truth and meaning of purpose for your life. We genuinely care that you find a true relationship with God on your life's journey. Find out here at our new website www.questionsgod.com.
The scriptures are perfect, but men are fallible. I prayerfully check all of the material I put on my sites. However, I am quite capable of missing something or making a mistake. If you find anything at all on these pages that is questionable or find any links broken please contact us here.