"One Sinner that Repenteth"

There are one thousand five hundred million inhabitants of this world [in 1919] — all sinners — yet we read, "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." We are not told that anything else moves heaven to this special joy, but this we are told, twice over, in one discourse by the Lord Himself, and He never repeated Himself without a purpose. The name sinner is an ugly word, but it fits us all, and it is not qualified here by any adjective that would make this revelation of heaven's interest in men applicable to one class only. Whether the sinner be young or old, high born or of lowly birth, black or white, religious or profane, is all the same in God's reckoning; it is the person that counts, the person, with a never-dying spirit, capable, if repentant and reconciled, of the supreme joys of communion with God in heaven for ever, or if not, of speechless woes in the lake of fire.

We may not be able to understand it, but such a statement twice made by the Lord ought to impress us with the value of souls, ought to teach us at least that nothing in the wide earth can compare in value with the souls of men or be worth seeking and saving in comparison with them.

TWO GREAT EVENTS, one past and one still to come, may help us to realize the value of one sinner, and heaven's joy at his repentance. That which is past was enacted at Calvary. Upon the centre cross erected there the Son of God was impaled, condemned to a malefactor's death by the popular clamour and deliberate verdict of the Roman judge. But when that sentence was executed, so far as men were able to do it, a thick darkness covered the earth, wrapping the day in an impenetrable gloom. Out of that darkness there arose the never-to-be-forgotten cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me"; and in that cry there was expressed the unfathomable suffering into which Jesus went when He was made sin for us. And He died, shedding His blood for the remission of sins. Why? "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," is the answer. As we consider that scene the value of one soul must grow upon us, for that was the price of its salvation. The coming event is told by the seer in Revelation 19:6-7. Says he, "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thundering; saying, Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready." Here is the height of the joy as yonder there was the depth of the sorrow. Here is the full and blessed fruition of yonder travail of soul. Here is the multitude of sinners who have repented viewed now according to God's purpose as a holy and suited wife for His Son, and the joy thereat is not merely in heaven in the presence of the angels of God, but rolls in mighty volume to the uttermost bounds of the universe of bliss.

Every soul that repents hastens that day of joy, is one more gathered out of the world for God's honour in that hour. It is this that causes joy over one sinner, for heaven looks on to the completion of God's work and sees in every soul another for that great aggregate. And it is our privilege to be in communion with heaven and with the heart of God over repentant sinners. If we live in the presence of the sorrow of Calvary and of the joy of the coming great marriage-day we shall not lose our interest in the repentance and salvation of souls.