Not Even a Goat . . .
Vol: 21 Issue: 2 Saturday, April 2, 2016
During His ministry on earth, the scribes and the Pharisees constantly spoke out against Jesus for keeping company with sinners. It demonstrated how little they knew of Him or of His mission. It was those lost sinners that Jesus came to seek.
“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah
They neither recognized nor received Him because they did not think themselves lost. They thought they were alright. They didn’t want a Savior – they didn’t need one. They were thoroughly unbroken, unrepentant; confident in their own righteousness.
In this, they were much like the elder son in the parable:
“And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.” (Luke 15:28-30)
The elder son complained that not only did he NOT get a fatted calf, he didn’t even get a miserable goat. This is a true specimen of an unbroken heart and unrepentant spirit in a man completely satisfied with himself.
He had never felt himself lost. He was so full of himself, he had no room left to feel his father’s love. He felt he owed his father nothing and therefore there was nothing to be forgiven. He saw it more of a case of the father owing him!
“Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid.”
This is the picture of the unrepentant – what I call a ‘cultural Christian’ – the guy that goes to church every Sunday on the premise that he is doing his duty so God owes him. “I have served Thee to get what You owe me.”
He expects his duties, his sayings, his giving and his righteous conduct to keep him. He sees nothing to repent of.
Then there is the other guy who never went to church. He never gave a thought to righteousness. Like the prodigal son, he lived riotously until he had gone through all his substance, fell on hard times and was thoroughly broken.
Such a person, broken, contrite, self judged and repentant, the Bible says, brings joy to God’s heart. It is the reason for joy in heaven. Without repentance, there can be no salvation.
But what is ‘repentance?’
Repentance is translated from the Greek, ‘metanoia’ which literally means, “to change your mind.” But that doesn’t really cut it in English. One changes one’s mind about going to the grocery store. That doesn’t imply sorrow at not going.
Repentance comes with a need for God. Understanding this reveals the full truth of the grand question of repentance. God seeks to make His way to the sinner’s heart, but there is no room for Him as long as that heart is hardened and impenitent.
But when that same sinner is brought to the end of himself, when he sees himself for the helpless, hopeless sin-sick wreck that he is, when like the prodigal son, he sees the reality and the depth of his need, then there is room for God.
“For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O
God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalms 51:16-17)
No man can meet God on the grounds of duty, but God will meet any man whose knees are on the ground. There are two clauses to the Great Commission, repentance and the remission of sin.
When Jesus blinded Paul on the Road to Damascus, He commissioned Paul with ‘opening the eyes of the Gentiles’ making the point that they were as blind as Paul.
A man whose eyes have been opened is brought to knowledge of himself, his spiritual condition, his sinful ways and recognizes that he has been blind.
Until that turning point, he is morally and spiritually blind. He has no perception of anything pertaining to Christ or salvation or eternity or heaven.
Picture a clear-headed, high-educated and intellectual deep thinker, profound in his reasoning, thorough in his philosophy, one who has reached the absolute pinnacle of human power and authority.
He thinks that he sees, believes he has the right to pronounce judgment on things both moral and spiritual, yet he is totally blind to the things of the Spirit.
The Bible says that the unsaved are not only blind, but they are in darkness. Such a person groping about in moral darkness, sees his own mind as the ultimate measure of the things of God, yet what is his judgment worth?
The very second that he repented of his own superiority and surrendered to Christ would reverse his opinion on every matter of genuine spirituality.
Can you imagine if President Obama got whopped really hard alongside the head by the Salvation Stick? It would result in a ‘fundamental transformation’ — everything he believes today would suddenly be wrong.
Repentance is not living a sinless life – if it were, then repentance would be forever beyond the reach of flawed and sinful mankind. Repentance is changing one’s mind about one’s sinful condition and seeing oneself as the Lord does.
Salvation is a gift offered to the repentant. They aren’t repentant in order to get the gift. They are repentant when they recognize that it IS a gift. It is only by changing one’s mind about one’s own sin that one can recognize the need for a Savior.
“But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)
Mercy. Not sacrifice. What a concept!