the Parable of a Shepherd Seeking the Lost Sheep

My Harvest From the Parable of a Shepherd Seeking the Lost Sheep

Whenever reading these lines from Scripture: “How think you? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, does he not leave the ninety and nine, and goes into the mountains, and seeks that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Mat 18:12-14), I feel very moved in my heart, as God loves men so much that He won’t leave anyone as long as the sheep belongs to Him. But I had been wondering before why the Lord Jesus expressed His love for us human beings by parable and what the Lord’s will was? I didn’t understand the profound meaning within it until one day I saw the word of God on the gospel website. God’s word says: “(Mat 18:12-14) How think you? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, does he not leave the ninety and nine, and goes into the mountains, and seeks that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, truly I say to you, he rejoices more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. “This is a metaphor—what kind of feeling do people get from this passage? The way this metaphor is expressed utilizes a figure of speech in human language; it’s something within the scope of human knowledge. If God had said something similar in the Age of Law, people would have felt that it wasn’t really consistent with who God was, but when the Son of man delivered this passage in the Age of Grace, it felt comforting, warm, and intimate to people. When God became flesh, when He appeared in the form of a man, He used a very appropriate metaphor to express the voice of His heart in humanity. This voice represented God’s own voice and the work He wanted to do in that age. It also represented an attitude that God had toward people in the Age of Grace. Looking from the perspective of God’s attitude toward people, He compared each person to a sheep. If a sheep is lost, He will do whatever it takes to find it. This represents a principle of God’s work among mankind this time in the flesh. God used this parable to describe His resolve and attitude in that work. This was the advantage of God becoming flesh: He could take advantage of mankind’s knowledge and use human language to speak to people, to express His will. He explained or ‘translated’ to man His profound, divine language that people struggled to understand in human language, in a human way. This helped people understand His will and know what He wanted to do. He could also have conversations with people from the human perspective, using human language, and communicate with people in a way they understood. He could even speak and work using human language and knowledge so that people could feel God’s kindness and closeness, so that they could see His heart.” From the word of God, I understood that through the parable—“a man seeks the lost sheep,” the Lord Jesus used the feeling that we can understand to describe God’s eager desire to save people, so that we can experience God’s sincere feelings of expecting mankind to be able to return to the proper path after going astray. When a person strays far from God, God’s intention in wanting to find him is the same as the man’s intention in looking for the lost sheep; when this person is recovered and returns to God again, God feels the joy which is like that of the man finding his lost sheep. But the Lord Jesus’ word didn’t mean that He preferred this lost sheep to the ninety and nine that did not go astray, but expressed God’s love and expectation of mankind. God values us and hopes that we can turn to Him and come before Him to worship Him. So we can understand God’s love for mankind. Apart from this kind of joy, God also made clear to us His resolve and attitude of saving people and never giving up until He gains people. The Lord Jesus also used this parable to let us understand His will toward the people He intends to save. When we are immature and get lost, God is worried about us by our side, and arranges all kinds of situations to awake us and causes us to no longer be harmed by Satan. For instance: When I first started to believe in God, I was so tempted by social evil trends that I just worked hard to earn money, without regular gatherings. Just when I was about to be lost in the social trends and devoured by Satan, God arranged some situations to awake my heart. At that time, I often hit a wall when I did things. Besides, I also felt that I lived like that so miserably and tiredly, feeling empty inside. At last I thought of God, so I came before God once again, admitted my sins and repented to God. God gave me one more opportunity, which made me feel the warmth of His love. Now, I look back on it: If I had not hit a wall in the world and not experienced the pain of living for money, I wouldn’t have turned around; on the contrary, I would still keep on falling into the whirlpool of money from which I would be hard put to extricate myself, let alone have the chance to get God’s salvation. Meanwhile, I also…

“It Is Finished” True Meaning of the Sixth of 7 Last Words of Jesus on the Cross

True Meaning of the Sixth of 7 Last Words of Jesus on the Cross “It Is Finished”

By Qianhe Every Christian knows that the Lord Jesus said, “It is finished” when He was upon the cross, but what did He actually mean by saying “It is finished”? Some brothers and sisters believe that the Lord saying “It is finished” proves that God’s work to save mankind was completely finished and that He would no longer perform any work of salvation; there are also some brothers and sisters who say that, by saying these words, the Lord Jesus meant only that His great work of redemption was finished, and not that God would no longer perform any work of salvation after that … Today, let’s discuss together what the true meaning of the words “It is finished” spoken by the Lord Jesus actually is. As we all know, at the end of the Age of Law, because mankind was becoming more and more corrupted by Satan and was unable to keep the law, they were all in danger of being put to death by the law. In order to redeem man from sin, the Lord Jesus became flesh, He healed the sick and cast out demons and He bestowed on man endless grace. Ultimately, He was crucified for man’s sake, He gave His holy flesh as a sin offering, and He redeemed man from sin. After that, as long as we believed in the Lord and confessed our sins to Him, then our sins could be forgiven, and we could enjoy the grace the Lord bestowed on us. Mankind was also no longer to be put to death by the law, and we were able to live on. This is the true meaning of the Lord Jesus’ words when He said, “It is finished.” What is undeniable, however, is that, although we have accepted the Lord Jesus’ salvation and our sins have been forgiven, our sinful nature still exists and we continue to live in a repeated cycle of sinning in the daytime and confessing at night, totally incapable of casting off the bonds of sin. For example, we often tell lies and commit sins, we have greedy desires and wicked thoughts, we can be jealous of others and can hate others, our hearts are filled with arrogance, deceit and deception, and we are even capable of following worldly trends, lusting for riches and coveting vanity, and when we encounter trials and tribulations, we even blame God, and so on. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The Lord Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever” (John 8:34–35). God says, “You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and have worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy—it is intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it!” God is holy and His disposition is righteous, and His kingdom permits no filthy people to enter. If we have only had our sins forgiven, if our inner sinful nature has not been uprooted, and we are still capable of committing sins and resisting God, then we will be unqualified to meet face to face with God or to enter into His kingdom—this is decided by God’s righteous disposition. In the beginning, the mankind whom God created were unsullied. They lived in the Garden of Eden, they heeded God’s words and they worshiped God. Later, Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and thus they were corrupted by Satan. In order to save man from the domain of Satan and to enable man to detach themselves from sin and be purified, God began His plan to save mankind and began to work to save man, one stage at a time. For example, God proclaimed the law through Moses and He guided man in their lives on earth, so that they would know what sin was and how to make offerings; later, once again according to the needs of corrupt mankind, God began the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus became flesh, He gave to man the way of repentance, and He was then crucified for man’s sake, thereby redeeming man from sin. And yet our sinful nature continues to exist, and we carry on living in a cycle of sinning and confessing, powerless to escape. We have not been purified, we are unworthy to enter into God’s kingdom, and we still need God to perform a further stage of salvation. The Lord Jesus prophesied, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47–48). The Bible predicted, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). From these prophecies, we can see clearly that, when…

Lord Jesus Preaching

What Is the Moral of the Parable of New Cloth on an Old Coat?

By Yaning One day, after a meeting, a sister asked me, “Brother, the Lord Jesus said, ‘No man puts a piece of a new garment on an old; if otherwise, then both the new makes a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agrees not with the old’ (Luke 5:36). Do you know what this parable means? What does the Lord want to tell us through it?” Hearing the sister’s questions, I thought that I happened to have some understanding of this parable of the Lord Jesus, so I replied without thinking, “In the Old Testament, the Israelites were required to fast on the day of atonement every year. But as the salvation of the Lord Jesus had come, the old practices were no longer applicable, and people should abide by the new requirements proposed by the Lord. By telling this parable, the Lord Jesus warns us that in our faith in Him, we cannot cling only to the laws of the Old Testament like the Pharisees did, but instead should accept and follow the Lord’s words and act in accordance with His teachings.” Upon hearing my answer, the sister nodded her head, and I also felt gratified for my ability to understand the Lord’s will. Just then, Co-worker Zhang, who had recently returned from another place, said, “Brother Wang, I used to think like you. But God’s words are the truth and contain deep meaning. A couple of days ago, I had a fellowship with a brother from another church on this verse. Through reading a book of truth, I gained some deeper understanding about the Lord’s will behind this parable. How about we fellowship together?” Hearing that Brother Zhang had a deeper understanding and knowledge about this verse, I said happily, “That would be great!” “Brother Zhang,” the sister anxiously cut in, “since you have a deeper understanding, please tell us about it!” Brother Zhang smiled and said, “OK. Let me first read a passage that we read that day.” As he said this, he took a tablet out of his bag and read, “‘Because there are always new developments in God’s work, thus there is new work, and thus there is also work that is obsolete and old. This old and new work is not contradictory, but complementary; each step follows on from the last. Because there is new work, the old things must, of course, be eliminated. … The work of God is always new and never old, and it never forms doctrine and is, instead, continually changing and renewing to a greater or lesser extent. This work is the expression of the inherent disposition of God Himself. It is also the inherent principle of God’s work, and one of the means by which God accomplishes His management. If God did not work in this way, man would not change or be able to know God, and Satan would not be defeated. Thus, in His work there continually occur changes that appear erratic, but which are actually periodic. … God’s intention has always been for His work to be new and alive, not old and dead, and that which He makes man hold firm to varies with the age and period, and is not everlasting and immutable. That is because He is a God who causes man to live and be new’ (‘Only Those Who Know the Work of God Today Can Serve God’). “From this passage we can see that God’s work does not follow rules, and that He performs new work in accordance with His plan for mankind’s salvation as well as according to the degree of mankind’s corruption by Satan. God’s work varies with the age and period, and is not everlasting and immutable, and He always does newer and higher work. When the new work begins, the previous work becomes out of date, and God embarks on another plan and carries out new work. For example, Jehovah God did the work of issuing laws and guiding the lives of people. Under the guidance of Jehovah God, the Israelites of the time learned how to conduct their lives and how to worship God, and understood what sin was. But in the later period of the Age of Law, as man was becoming more and more corrupted by Satan, no one was able to keep the laws and commandments any longer, and all were in constant danger of being sentenced to death by the law. In order to save mankind, God incarnated into the image of Jesus and, on the basis of the work of the Age of Law, did a stage of work of redeeming mankind through crucifixion. The Lord Jesus brought a new age, fulfilled the laws and commandments, gave people a new way to practice and proposed new requirements for them, such as being tolerant and patient, loving their enemies, being the light of the world and salt of the earth, and so on. From the outside, these two stages of work appear different, but they actually complement each other, through which God saves mankind from the influence of Satan step by step. From this we can see that God’s work does not remain unchanged, but rather is always moving forward, and that God’s requirements of mankind are becoming ever higher. “The Pharisees back then, however, didn’t know God’s work. They abided by religious notions and used the laws of the Old Testament to examine the Lord Jesus’ new work and words. They said that the Lord Jesus sat at the table with tax collectors, and that He and His disciples had violated the laws by not keeping the Sabbath day and not fasting, thereby denying that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah. So when the Lord Jesus said, ‘No man puts a piece of a new garment on an old; if otherwise, then both the new makes a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agrees not with the old’ (Luke…

The Lord Jesus Did Not Keep the Sabbath

What Was the Lord Jesus’ Thinking Behind Him Not Keeping the Sabbath?

By Wang Hao These verses are to be found within the Bible: “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and His disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, Behold, Your disciples do that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:1–2). Whenever I read these two verses, I can’t help but think: “The Sabbath was a holy day prescribed by Jehovah God for the Israelites. Everyone stopped their work on this day and went to the temple to worship Jehovah God. But when the Lord Jesus came, He worked on the Sabbath, so why didn’t He lead His disciples to keep the Sabbath? What was His thinking behind this?” These questions had always bugged me. The Lord Jesus Did Not Keep the Sabbath Later, only after I read a passage on a gospel website did I suddenly see the light. It turned out that there was meaning behind the Lord Jesus’ decision to work on the Sabbath. This is what that passage said: “When the Lord Jesus came, He used His practical actions to communicate to people: God had departed the Age of Law and had begun new work, and this new work did not require observation of the Sabbath; when God came out from the confines of the Sabbath day, this was just a foretaste of His new work, and His truly great work was continuing to play out. When the Lord Jesus began His work, He had already left behind the shackles of the Age of Law, and had broken through the regulations and principles from that age. In Him, there was no trace of anything related to the law; He had cast it off entirely and no longer observed it, and He no longer required mankind to observe it. So here you see that the Lord Jesus went through the corn fields on the Sabbath; the Lord did not rest, but was outside working. This action of His was a shock to people’s conceptions and communicated to them that He no longer lived under the law, and that He had left the confines of the Sabbath and appeared in front of mankind and in their midst in a new image, with a new way of working. This action of His told people that He had brought with Him new work that began with going out from the law and going out of the Sabbath. When God carried out His new work, He no longer clung to the past, and He was no longer concerned about the regulations of the Age of Law. Neither was He affected by His work in the previous age, but He worked as usual on the Sabbath and when His disciples were hungry, they could pick ears of corn to eat. This was all very normal in God’s eyes. God could have a new beginning for much of the work that He wants to do and the things that He wants to say. Once He has a new start, He neither mentions His previous work again nor continues it. For God has His principles in His work. When He wants to begin new work, it is when He wants to bring mankind into a new stage of His work, and when His work has entered a higher phase. If people continue to act according to the old sayings or regulations or continue to hold fast to them, He will not commemorate or praise this. This is because He has already brought new work, and has entered a new phase of His work. When He initiates new work, He appears to mankind with a completely new image, from a completely new angle, and in a completely new way so that people can see different aspects of His disposition and what He has and is. This is one of His goals in His new work. God does not hold on to the old or take the beaten path; when He works and speaks it’s not as prohibitive as people imagine. In God, all is free and liberated, and there is no prohibitiveness, no constraints—what He brings to mankind is all freedom and liberation. He is a living God, a God who genuinely, truly exists. He is not a puppet or a clay sculpture, and He is totally different from the idols that people enshrine and worship. He is living and vibrant and what His words and work bring to humans is all life and light, all freedom and liberation, because He holds the truth, the life, and the way—He is not constrained by anything in any of His work. No matter what people say and no matter how they see or assess His new work, He will carry out His work without reservation. … No matter which new stage of His work He is carrying out, it must be developed and expanded in mankind’s midst, and it must be carried out unhindered in the entire universe until His great work has been completed. This is God’s almightiness and wisdom, and His authority and power. Thus, the Lord Jesus could openly go out and work on the Sabbath because in His heart there were no rules, and there was no knowledge or doctrine that originated from mankind. What He had was God’s new work and His way, and His work was the way to free mankind, to release them, to allow them to exist in the light, and to allow them to live. … God has principles in His words and work, but there are no prohibitions, because God Himself is the truth, the way, and the life” (“God’s work, God’s disposition, and God Himself Ⅲ”). From this passage, I came to understand that God’s work is without rules, and nor does it suffer any constraints. After a stage of God’s work achieves results with man, God then…

christ's agony on the cross

The True Meaning of the Last Words of Christ on the Cross “It Is Finished”

By Lingling That Sunday morning was just like any other as I opened my Bible and began my spiritual devotions, when I then saw Hebrews 9:28 that said: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation.” Thinking about it carefully, I couldn’t help but feel confused. “That can’t be,” I thought. “Didn’t the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ upon the cross mean that God’s work to save man was totally finished? When the Lord returns, we can immediately enter heaven and will feast with the Lord, so how come this says that the Lord Jesus will appear again to save man when He returns? What on earth does it all mean?” The more I thought about it, the more doubtful my heart became … “This won’t do! I must find someone to fellowship this with,” I thought. Just then, I thought of my co-worker from the church, Sister Xiao Xue. We usually discussed the Bible together, and it just so happened that Sister Xiao Xue had just returned from attending a gathering elsewhere, and there was nothing she couldn’t help me to seek. I went to Xiao Xue’s home, and when I saw that both Sister Xiao Xue and her husband Brother Xu were at home, I blurted out my question: “I am confused about something that I’d like to talk with you about. We all know that the Lord Jesus said “It is finished” when He was upon the cross. This meant that God’s work to save man was over, and as long as we believed in Jesus, then the Lord would no longer regard us as sinful, and when He returns, we will immediately be raised up into heaven. And yet it says in Hebrews 9:28: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation.” This says that God will appear again in the last days to perform His work to save us. How do you understand this?” Xiao Xue smiled and said, “This question you ask just so happens to be one that I’ve been discussing with brothers and sisters on my trip away, and after a few days of fellowship, we finally came to a conclusion. In actual fact, when the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished’ upon the cross, He didn’t mean that God’s work to save mankind was completely finished, for He had previously prophesied: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47–48). ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2–3). The Lord has already told us clearly that when He returns in the last days, He shall express the truth to the churches, tell us many mysteries and also perform the work of judgment. God is faithful, and everything that God has said shall come to pass.” I contemplated Xiao Xue’s fellowship, and I thought, “Yes! God is faithful, and seeing as the Lord Jesus prophesied that He shall utter more words and perform more work in the future, then that must surely come to pass.” Brother Xu continued, saying, “Yes, the Lord’s words can never just come to nothing. Moreover, we should also be aware that when the Lord Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ He meant that God’s work to redeem mankind was finished and that man would no longer be put to death by the law. Thinking back to the end of the Age of Law, mankind was being corrupted deeper and deeper by Satan, they were no longer capable of observing the law and were in constant danger of being put to death by the law. In order to save man, God incarnated in the form of the Lord Jesus and preached the gospel, healed the sick and cast out demons wherever He went. He performed many miracles and was ultimately nailed to the cross to redeem man from sin. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ He meant that as long as all those who accept His salvation confess their sins to Him and repent, then their sins shall be forgiven, they shall enjoy the grace He bestows, and they shall no longer be condemned and put to death by the law. After listening to his fellowship, I suddenly saw the light, and said, “Brother Xu, your fellowship has made me understand. The Lord saying ‘It is finished’ actually meant that God’s work of redemption was finished, and that as long as we trusted in the Lord and confessed and repented, then our sins could be forgiven, and we would not be put to death by the law.” Sister Xiao Xue then said, “Thank the Lord, it’s really great that you can come to this understanding. The Lord Jesus acted as a sin offering for man and He redeemed man from sin and forgave man his sins. This was the mercy of God, but it did not mean that we were then free of sin, because our sinful nature still remained deeply rooted within us, and we were still capable of being frequently subject to the bonds of our sinful nature and committing sin and defying God. After we believe…

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