Jesus teaches that how we see and respond to God is a major source of joy and rejoicing in heaven. He said that when just one sinner repents, all heaven rejoices (Luke 15:7). Furthermore, He connects the act of repentance to a lost sheep being found and a lost coin being recovered.
Neither the sheep nor the coin played any role at all in their own recovery other than getting lost. Yet, Jesus declared their being found and restored to their rightful owners as acts of repentance. The sheep that was lost because of its nature didn’t apologize for getting lost. The coin that was lost because of circumstances that caused it to fall into a dark hiding place didn’t say sorry I got lost. A man drowning doesn’t apologize to the lifeguard for not being able to swim before he is saved. He is thankful and overjoyed that his life was saved.
What Repentance is?
Repentance isn’t about the agony of being separated or the guilt of past failures and sins. It is about the joy of being found and recovered by your heavenly Father. The lost sheep and coin were precious belongings of value to their owners who treasured them and sought for their return. In the same way, the fall of man in the garden caused us to be lost to our owner and Creator. He devised a way by sending His Son to recover us. God paid a great price for our recovery and did so because of the value He saw in us.
True repentance is recognizing and believing in God’s goodness to you; that leads you home, which is in Him.
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Repentance is simply responding to God’s goodness.
Jesus demonstrated that real repentance is simply responding to God’s goodness. He taught the apostle Paul that repentance was turning to God, not turning from sin as some teach today. When a person turns to God, He is the one who sets him or her free from the bondage of sin. Sinners cannot set themselves free, only knowing the truth aka Jesus can. When people are slaves to sin, they are powerless to free themselves. Jesus said that He came to set the captives free.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19).
Jesus taught Paul that freedom from Satan and the kingdom of darkness came when people turned to God. The Pharisees “turned” from sin but never turned to God. It is only knowing the Truth/Jesus that will set a person free from the bondage of sin.
“I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17–18).
Receiving the forgiveness of sins is what repentance is all about.
Jesus explains to Paul that receiving the forgiveness of sins is what repentance is all about. We are also “sanctified” in Christ when we receive God’s forgiveness of sins. The Greek word for “sanctified” means to purify and cleanse, as well as being set apart or dedicated to God. It also means to be free from the guilt of sin. We can see why all of heaven rejoices when just one person “repents.” Heaven already knows how good God is and understands that true repentance isn’t about feeling guilty for your past but discovering what God has done to your past. It is trusting in God’s goodness that cleanses and frees you from all guilt while dedicating you to God. No wonder the city of Samaria was full of great JOY when Phillip preached the gospel to the people there (Acts 8:8).
When people find out that God has forgiven them of all their sins and they receive that truth, heaven rejoices, as well as the one who is forgiven. My goal is to keep heaven “partying on.”
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