If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10
A minister had just moved to a wealthy congregation with a great parsonage and an even greater salary.
Mindful of his new status, he desired to preach a good sermon, an interesting sermon, a tactful sermon, the kind of sermon that doesn't hurt anybody's feelings. With great sincerity, he spoke for 15 easily forgotten minutes. He concluded his message with these unremarkable words: "Brothers and sisters, if you are doing something which may not be quite right, you should, if at all possible, repent. You should have a certain degree of sadness, because if you don't, you might possibly be damned and end up, more or less, in hell, which may or may not be a real place."
After the service, the people who shook the pastor's hand at the door told him how pleased they were with his message. The fact they were pleased made the pastor feel pleased. Indeed, that day, everybody was pleased. Everybody was pleased, with the exception of the Lord.
My friends, if you found that story to be more or less amusing, and I hope you did, let me share with you something which is not. You need to be very quiet. Listen carefully. If you do, I think you can almost hear Satan snickering. That's a strange thought, isn't it? Nobody ever thinks about Satan snickering, but I think he does.
I think Satan snickers because he has been so very successful in enabling nations, and institutions, and individuals to walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. In every age Satan has sown seeds of sinfulness, but in our age his work seems to have been marked with singular success. Indeed, he has managed to convince us that we are fine just the way we are.
More than one TV evangelist and national denomination has gone on record saying, "Jesus never turned down anyone who came to Him."
Of course, that is true, as far as it goes, and that doesn't go far enough.
Yes, Jesus accepted sinners, even those who were guilty of some pretty monumental transgressions. But then Jesus called them to repentance. He asked them to be sorrowful for that which they had done wrong so He could forgive them.
That is the transforming power of our Savior. He has redeemed us and then He recycles us. He takes us, who were once fit only for the garbage dump of hell, and transforms us into usable sons and daughters of the King. This transformation is an exceptional and unique thing, and it is made possible only with Holy Spirit-given faith in the Redeemer.
So, next time you hear someone say, "Jesus receives every sinner who is brought to Him," I hope you will remember to add, "And He makes those repentant sinners into saints."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks I no longer am what I once was. May my life reflect a heart which is repentant for my transgressions and a thankfulness for the Savior's transforming forgiveness. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries