Are you able to recall how you felt when you were converted to Jesus? What sort of emotion did you display? I recall the night of my conversion after reading the Book of Colossians a few times. I felt relieved, excited, happy and very different. As silly as it might sound I felt as if I was floating on air. I could not articulate how I felt … but it was a mixture of joy, peace and confusion … confusion because I could not explain what had just happened, though I knew that what had happened was not just some experience, it was real, dynamic and different even though it was literally unexplainable. From experience, some people land up in tears of joy whilst others are so happy because of the relief of salvation, escaping eternal hell and certainty of heaven. Loved ones and friends might be happy about your conversion … but what about heaven? Consider this parable that Jesus told:
Lk 15:4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
One sinner who repents … that was you or could be you. Look at verse 7 … see the word “more”? There is so much rejoicing in heaven when just one soul repents. When you were saved, that was true of you too! The same applies to the next parable about the lost coin …
Lk 15:10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
And then in the account of the prodigal son we read
Lk 15:31 ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
The celebration is because the brother was “dead” and is now “alive”, he was “lost” and is now “found”. These parables all point towards the salvation of a soul that was spiritual lost … dead in sin … and is now spiritually found and alive in Jesus Christ! Now let’s finish looking at the passage where Peter reported back to the Christians in Jerusalem after the questions arose once Cornelius and his house were saved. (Gentiles were saved).
4) Salvation of a soul must lead to praise. This is the climax to Peter’s report back to Jerusalem … praise.
Ac 11:18 … and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”
Notice a few things …
(a) An encouragement for believers. Although the main focus is Gentiles … remember we too are Gentiles. So where the encouragement is on Gentiles being saved it must include the salvation of Jews too. The command is to get the Gospel out so that souls may be saved and when souls are saved the Church [every Christian] ought to be motivated and encouraged to pray for and strive harder to get the Gospel out and souls brought into the Kingdom.
(b) God grants repentance unto life. There is no shame about being repetitive here … God grants repentance unto life! Before salvation a soul exists in spiritual darkness and belongs to the deceiver of souls. The following passage is scary but true for every person outside of Jesus!
Eph 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.
Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. Belonging to the devil (the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient) means that before God, one is damned, spiritually dead and hell bound (objects of wrath). But notice verse 1 says … “you were”. That is past tense! Something happened:
Eph 2:4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
How gloriously precious. Through Jesus’ Blood Sacrifice, God the Father takes a dead soul (dead in transgressions) and gives that soul life. As He took His dead Son in the tomb and makes Him alive, so He takes a dead soul and makes that soul alive. Note the “great love and the rich in mercy”. Those He chose for salvation would experience this love and mercy from God expressed in “grace”. Remember that if God saves, He does this with full knowledge of his eternal decree before creation. This is why He alone grants a soul the ability to repent and live a repentant life bearing the fruits of the Spirit.
(c) Heaven rejoices. The passages from Luke 15 reveal how there is rejoicing in heaven and rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God. Each time a soul is saved this happens. From what I have said over the past few days you may feel that few souls are saved … yet daily souls are being saved across the planet. And each time the rejoicing is because “yet again O God Your salvific work at Calvary proves it was successful. The substitutional penal sacrifice of Jesus works!”
(d) God is praised. What is your reaction when someone is saved? Do you give God praise and thanksgiving when a loved one or friend is saved? What about when an enemy is saved? When someone who has been cruel to you, hurt you, injured you, damaged your reputation, stolen from you, caused you to lose your employment … is truly saved … do you praise and thank God for their salvation? If not … ask yourself “why not?” If God can forgive we too need to forgive. If these converted Jews could praise God for Gentiles being saved, so can we praise God when our enemies are saved.
Dear God, forgive us for not rejoicing and being happy when some people are saved. Help us who are heaven bound to rejoice with heaven and give You glory when souls are saved for Jesus Christ. Amen.