The Lost Is Found
Lesson 16

The entrance of sin caused a cloud of darkness to cover the earth leading to misapprehension of God. For many the existence of sin, with the misery and death that it has brought into our world, is a great mystery. They cannot understand how a God who is loving and kind would allow something that causes so much misery and hurt to exist. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened; that the world might be brought back to God, His character must be manifested for all to see. This could only be made known by One who knew the height and depth of the love of God.

The plan for man’s redemption was not an afterthought formulated to meet an unexpected emergency. It was the “revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” Romans 16:25. Though God did not ordain that sin should exist, He foresaw its existence and made provisions to meet the crisis. So great was God’s love for the world that He covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Drawing illustrations from the events of life, facts of experience familiar to the hearers, Christ presented lessons in which there was something to interest every mind, to appeal to every heart, opening before them new revelations of the Father’s love.

In response to criticism by the Pharisees who failed to understand God’s love for the lost, and who faulted Jesus for associating with those they viewed as sinners, Jesus told three parables illustrating heaven’s interest and response to the plight of the lost.

1. What charge did the Pharisees make regarding Christ?

Luke 15:2
Luke 15:2

Note: The greatest and most powerful of the Jewish religious sects at this time were the Pharisees. They were also the bitterest opponents of Jesus and the gospel He taught. Considering themselves to be the most righteous of men, they were greatly offended that Jesus should associate with those they considered to be great sinners. Among the rabbis there was a saying that there was rejoicing in heaven when one who has sinned against God is destroyed. By contrast, Jesus taught that to God, the work of destruction is a strange work and that heaven delights in the restoration of God’s own image in the souls of those He has made.

2. In the first parable, what was lost?

Luke 15:4
Luke 15:4

Note: A sheep that has strayed from the fold is the most helpless of all creatures. Though it may have an awareness of its lost condition, it has no knowledge of how to remedy the situation. If it is to be restored, it must be sought out and found.

3. What is God’s promise regarding His sheep that have strayed?

Ezekiel 34:12
Ezekiel 34:12

Note: In the parable, the shepherd seeks for one lost sheep—the very least that can be numbered. While this applies to the individual sinner, in a broader sense it also applies to the one world that has apostatized and been ruined by sin. “This world is but an atom in the vast dominions over which God presides, yet this little fallen world—the one lost sheep—is more precious in His sight than are the ninety and nine that went not astray from the fold. Christ, the loved Commander in the heavenly courts, stooped from His high estate, laid aside the glory that He had with the Father, in order to save the one lost world.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 190-191

4. What is our natural condition?

Romans 3:11-12
Romans 3:11-12

Note: The Pharisees idea was that Christ should permit none to approach Him but those who had repented. However, in the parable of the lost sheep, Christ taught that salvation does not come through our seeking after God but through God’s seeking after us.

The Lost Coin

As with the kingdom of heaven, where no one parable was sufficient to adequately tell the whole story, so there is more than one class of the lost and in Luke 15, Jesus told three parables to bring to view the various groups of the lost and God’s care for them. In the first parable, the sheep had wandered away and though it had an awareness of its lost condition, without diligent effort on the part of the shepherd, it would never have found its way back to the safety of the fold. In the second parable the object lost was a silver coin.

5. Where was the piece of silver lost?

Luke 15:8
Luke 15:8

Note: While the sheep had wandered far away, the coin was nearby—right in the house. Unlike the sheep, however, the coin had no awareness that it was lost. But, like the sheep, its recovery depended upon a diligent search. There are those who, though estranged from God, know it not. Many, even of those who count themselves Christians, are in peril of eternal loss but they are unconscious of their condition and therefore unconcerned.

The Prodigal Son

In the third parable we find presented the Lord’s dealing with those who have once known the Father’s love but who have wandered away, allowing Satan to lead them captive at his will. The parable begins with a father with two sons, the youngest of which requests of his father his inheritance.

6. Soon after receiving his inheritance, what did the younger son do?

Luke 15:13
Luke 15:13

Note: Becoming weary of restraint, the son misinterprets the Father’s love and care as a restriction of his liberty and determines to follow the dictates of his own inclination.

7. How does God view those who, though they have know Him, choose rather their own way?

Romans 1:21-22
Romans 1:21-22

8. What became of this young man’s inheritance?

Luke 15:13-14
Luke 15:13-14

9. Finding himself in great want, what did this son determine to do?

Luke 15:17-20
Luke 15:17-20

10. How was he received by the father?

Luke 15:20
Luke 15:20

11. What is God’s invitation to us?

Isaiah 44:22
Isaiah 44:22

12. What is God’s promise to those who return to Him?

Jeremiah 31:34
Jeremiah 31:34

13. What is closely associated with a change of heart and must take place if we are to truly return to God?

Isaiah 55:7
Isaiah 55:7

Note: It is important to realize that when the prodigal son came to his senses and determined to return to the Father’s house, nothing had changed in the house. The father had not changed the house rules in order to make them more in keeping with the young man’s inclination and liking.

14. How is the way that leads to heaven described?

Matthew 7:14
Matthew 7:14

Note: While it is true that there is no greater love than that of God for the lost, by many professing Christians, love is dwelt upon as the chief attribute of God, but it is degraded to a weak sentimentalism, making little distinction between good and evil. God’s justice, His denunciations of sin, the requirements of His holy law, are all kept out of sight. And, though pleasant to the natural heart, it is a deception to believe that God will accept our sincerity no matter how imperfect the life. God requires of His creatures perfect obedience.

Many seek to enter heaven, but fail because they lack earnestness. In the end they step into the broad road, failing to see that the narrow way has joys that would compensate for any trials. The way marked out by our divine Lord is too narrow and the gate too strait to admit them while grasping the world or while cherishing selfishness or sin of any kind. There is no room for these things; and yet there are but few who will consent to part with them, that they may pass the narrow way and enter the strait gate.

15. In the Judgment, what will Christ say to those who profess a relationship to Him, but who failed to render obedience?

Matthew 7:21–23
Matthew 7:21–23

You may search the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and you will find only two groups of people—those who are obedient through faith in Jesus and those who are not. Each is promised a reward in the end, and in both case it is rendered according as his works have been. See Revelation 20:13; 22:12.

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