September 29: Always Returning A Prodigal

“For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:13, 14

But for a crucified Savior, there could be no possible return to God; in no other way could He, consistently with the holiness and rectitude of the Divine government, with what He owes to Himself as a just and holy God, receive a poor, wandering, returning sinner. Mere repentance and humiliation for and confession of sin could entitle the soul to no act of pardon. The obedience and death of the Lord Jesus laid the foundation and opened the way for the exercise of this great and sovereign act of grace.

The cross of Jesus displays the most awful exhibition of God’s hatred of sin, and at the same time the most august manifestation of His readiness to pardon it. Pardon, full and free, is written out in every drop of blood that is seen, is proclaimed in every groan that is heard, and shines in the very prodigy of mercy that closes the solemn scene upon the cross. Oh blessed door of return, open and never shut to the wanderer from God! how glorious, how free, how accessible!

Here the sinful, the vile, the guilty, the unworthy, the poor, the penniless may come. Here, too, the weary spirit may bring its burden, the broken spirit its sorrow, the guilty spirit its sin, the backsliding spirit its wandering. All are welcome here. The death of Jesus was the opening and the emptying of the full heart of God; it was the outgushing of that ocean of infinite mercy that heaved, and panted, and longed for an outlet; it was God showing how He could love a poor guilty sinner. What more could He have done than this? what stronger proof, what richer gift, what costlier boon could He have given in attestation of that love?

Now, it is the simple belief of this that brings the tide of joy down into the soul; it is faith’s view of this that dissolves the adamant, rends asunder the flinty rock, smites down the pyramid of self-righteousness, lays the rebellious will in the dust, and enfolds the repenting, believing soul in the very arms of free, rich, and sovereign love.

Here, too, the believer is led to trace the sin of his backsliding in its darkest lines, and to mourn over it with his bitterest tears—

“Then beneath the cross adoring,
Sin does like itself appear;
When the wounds of Christ exploring,
I can read my pardon there.”

If the Lord has restored your soul, dear reader, remember why He has done it—to make you hate your sins. He hates them, and He will make you to hate them too; and this He does by pardoning them, by sprinkling the atoning blood upon the conscience, and by restoring unto you the joys of His salvation. And never is sin so sincerely hated, never is it so deeply deplored, so bitterly mourned over, and so utterly forsaken, as when He speaks to the heart, and says, “Your sins are forgiven you, go in peace.” As though He did say, “I have blotted out your transgressions, I have healed your backslidings, I have restored your soul; that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more because of your shame, when I am pacified toward you for all that you have done, says the Lord God.”

If your heavenly Father has restored your soul, not only has He done it from the spring of His own unchangeable love, but that which has prevailed with Him was the power of the sweet incense of the Redeemer’s blood before the mercy-seat. Moment by moment does this fragrant cloud go up, bearing as it ascends all the circumstances of all the Israel of God. There is not only the blood already sprinkled on the mercy-seat, which has satisfied Divine justice, but there is the constant pleading of the blood, by Jesus, the Priest, before the throne.

Oh precious thought, oh comforting, encouraging truth, for a soul retreading its steps back to God! Of its own it has nothing to plead but its folly, its ingratitude, its wretchedness, and its sin; but faith can lay its trembling hand upon this blessed truth—faith can observe Jesus clothed in His priestly garments, standing between the soul and God, spreading forth His hands, and pleading on behalf of the returning believer the merits of His own precious obedience and death. And thus encouraged, he may draw near and touch the scepter: “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” “Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.

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