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Does God Really Care About our Salvation?
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. - Luke 15:7, ESV
God is sovereign. He rules over heaven and earth with absolute power, wisdom and foresight. He foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, according to the counsel of His own holy will. For those who belong to Him, He has chosen us before the foundation of the world and has predestined us for adoption as His children before He ever said, "Let there be light." (see Eph. 1:3-11)
But understanding that God is absolutely sovereign can lead us to a cold and calculating view of God devoid of warmth, joy, delight and true love. We can imagine God coldly and disinterestedly making calculated decisions and running the universe like some kind of all-knowing super-computer. But that's not what the Bible says!
God delights in all of His works, in the decreeing of them from eternity and in the accomplishing of them in time, He takes joy and pleasure in all that He does, and yet not all in the same way. Salvation is the highest and best of the works of God. The redemption of a lost sinner is the most loving, most costly, most precious and most joyful of all of God's works. When it is accomplished, heaven is filled with joy.
Last night, I watched Michael Phelps stand on the podium and receive his 22nd Olympic gold medal. He was teary-eyed and overwhelmed with the emotion of the moment. Even after 22 golds, it doesn't seem to get old, If that's the way Michael Phelps feels about winning an Olympic event, God the Father- who is love and is full of mercy and compassion, untainted by sin and never tired by any hint of fatigue - rejoices even more over the salvation of each and every one of His dearly loved children.
But one part of what Jesus says in verse 7 needs more explanation: "than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Is Jesus saying that wayward sinners who get redeemed later in life bring more joy to God than faithful Christian children who grow up in the faith and never wander away from their love for Jesus? Is Jesus saying that God is less joyful over the salvation of His own people than the salvation of the lost? No!
First of all, if they are saved, then even Christian children who grow up in the faith and who never wander from Jesus are sinners who repent. No one truly belongs to God's people unless they comfess their sin and repent. The "righteous persons who need no repentance" are not actually righteous but self-righteous. These are the healthy who do not need a physician. These are the self-satisfied, and they refuse salvation because they don't think they need it.
So, if you have had your eyes opened to see your sin and your need for a Savior, and if you have cried out to God for salvation and found it in Jesus Christ, then rejoice! Rejoice in your salvation and rejoice knowing that your Lord rejoices over you!
"The your God is in your midst,
he will exult over you with loud singing." - Zephaniah 3:17, ESV
Prayer Based on Psalm 127:
Unless You, O Lord, builds our house,
we labor in vain.
Unless You, O Lord, watch over our city,
we stay awake in vain.
Without Your blessing, it is vain for us to rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for You give Your beloved sleep.
Behold, our children are a heritage from You, O Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Lord, bless us with Your favor.
Build our houses and guard our holy city, the church.
Keep us in Your care and give us fruit for our labor and rest in You!