Luke 15: 1-7
"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15:7).
It has been assumed that the ninety and nine sheep represent people "safely in the fold." Jesus described them as "just persons who need no repentance."
Does this mean, then, that the ratio of "just persons who need no repentance" is ninety nine to one over those who need to repent?
Are we to believe that those who get into heaven "without repentance" are so commonplace that there is greater joy over the exception than over the rule?
Personally, I have serious doubts as to whether there is such a thing as a "just person who needs no repentance." I am convinced, and the Scriptures will back me up, that there is no such person. The fact is, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
To me, it is obvious that Jesus was talking about the self-righteous Pharisees when He referred to the ninety and nine. The idea that there are persons "which need no repentance" was strictly a Pharisaical "mind-set" ... a mind-set that Jesus recognized and quoted straight out of their self-righteous thoughts! How wrong they were! How bigoted they were to say they had no need to repent!
I now come to questions I am asking myself. "Is it immoral to be self-righteous? Were the Pharisees immoral? Will self-righteous immorality keep a person out of heaven?
These are serious questions that need careful consideration!
In Luke 5:32 Jesus said, "I came, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Which prompts still another question. "Will there be righteous persons in heaven who never sinned and therefore did not need to be called to repentance?" The answer has to be, "No ... for there is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10).
Now, if the above is so, aren't those who say they have no need of repentance immoral? If self-righteousness isn't immoral, why did Jesus single out the Pharisees and call them "a generation of vipers ... white sepulchers ... and children of the devil? "
I'm not so worried about the one lost sheep ... that is, the immoral minority, as I am about the ninety and nine immoral majority!
After all, the immoral minority ... the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the drunkards, and the publicans ... according to Jesus ... will have a better chance of getting into heaven than the immoral majority who say, "we have no need of repentance!"
Not that Jesus approved of drugs, prostitution, and drunkenness. He did not. The reason He said they had a better chance was because those who do such things know that they are sinners and are in need of repentance. Consequently, they are more likely to accept salvation.
It is the immoral self-righteous majority that are in jeopardy, because they feel no need and, as a result, do nothing about their lostness.
Chapter five of Matthew reveals the nature of the immorality of the self-righteous majority.
Jesus spoke of those who expect to enter into the kingdom of heaven and said that their righteousness would have to exceed the self-righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees.
Now, it may be asked, "Exceed in what way? The Pharisees' behavior was exemplary. They paid tithes, they fasted, they prayed, and they obeyed the law. What more could one ask? Yet Jesus said that, to get into heaven, one has to do more than they did! Let me explain.
Matthew 5:21-26 says that the self-righteous Pharisees obeyed the law. They did not kill. However, since there was no law against hating, they believed that they could enter heaven so long as their hatred did not lead to killing. Jesus said, "You are wrong. You will never make it with hate in your hearts!"
Applying the above truth to today, the immoral majority do not kill, but it is known to hate. It sits week after week in our churches with hate in its heart, and is incensed and insulted if the preacher suggests it should repent! Being self-righteous, it sees no need for repentance.
Matthew 5:27-32 says that the self-righteous Pharisees did not commit adultery. However, since there was no law against lusting, they believed they could look on a woman, feed their sensuous passions, and still make it to heaven, so long as they didn't cohabit with her! Jesus said, "Not so! Your lasciviousness has already damned you!"
Applying the above to today, the immoral majority does not commit adultery.
Rather, it indulges in mental sex, and is convinced that it has done no wrong and needs no repentance.
Again, in Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus spoke of oath-taking. The self-righteous immoral majority condemns perjury, but feels no twinge of conscience over untruth and deceit that is not penalized by law!
And finally, in Matthew 5:35-42, Jesus dealt with vengeance.
The self-righteous immoral majority will condemn unrestrained violence, but will demand the right to "justice," and will bring lawsuits against their own brothers, expecting "eye-for-an-eye" compensation! It sees no wrong in it, and never repents of it!
The scary thing about all this is not that the self-righteousness of the immoral majority camouflages a multitude of sins.
What is scary is that those sins are never repented of! Which means that those who are guilty of them die with unforgiven sins and will have to answer for them in the final judgment!
How many "Christians" do you see at our altars these days repenting of hatred ... of returning evil for evil... of breaking the law when the "law" isn't looking ... or of lusting to their mind's content? The answer is, "Few ... very few!" They see no need for repentance. They consider themselves righteous, and better than the immoral minority.
So let the immoral minority be prepared! The immoral majority is very concerned about the sins of the immoral minority. Given an occasion to do it, it will drag the adulterous woman before the Lord, and demand that she be stoned!
Please understand this: I am not stratifying sins in this article. I am not saying that the sins of the immoral majority are greater than the sins of the immoral minority ... though Jesus certainly showed that their sins were just as great when He said, "Let him that is without sin cast the first stone!"
Some stratify sins, using James 3:15 where it speaks of the wisdom that "descendeth not from above" ... which is worldly, sensuous, and devilish. They see sins on an ascending scale, starting with an "of this world attitude" that leads to "sins of the senses," and finally to "sins of the spirit" such as envy, anger, pride, and hypocrisy. Were we to take this tack, we could certainly say that the sins of the self-righteous immoral majority are greater than those of the sensuous immoral minority. But we choose not do so, and we are not convinced that God does so. Sin is sin, and let's leave it at that!
Our emphasis is on two attitudes toward sin.
One attitude looks up and thanks God that it is not a sinner like the publican. The other attitude dares not look up ... beats its breast... and says, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!" The first feels no need for repentance and cannot be helped. The latter recognizes its need and can be helped! That is the difference! And that is what counts when it comes to being received into heaven with rejoicing!
There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Pharisees make it to heaven, and yet we have assumed that they do ... that they are the "ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold!" Amazing! God forgive the immoral majority that points a festering finger at the immoral minority, and wags its "holier-than-thou" head over the one lost sheep!"
I guess I should finish what I am saying with the question of the disciples who, when Jesus said it was harder for a rich man to get into heaven than it was for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, asked in dismay, "Who then can be saved?"
Good question! And I guess I'd be totally devastated if I didn't know that it is not by "works of righteousness" that we are saved, nor by "works of unrighteousness" that we are damned. "By grace are ye saved by faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God... not of works lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8).
The truth is that God has provided salvation for the immoral majority as well as the immoral minority ... on condition, of course, that both repent and put their faith in God. Nothing is too hard for God! A rich man can be saved as well as a poor man, and a self-righteous man can be saved as well as a man who makes no claim to righteousness. Hallelujah for that!
Pharisees can be saved! Think of it! It may be like going through the eye of a needle. It may be almost impossible to get them to admit they need to repent. But, praise the Lord, "With God all things are possible!"
God is no respecter of persons, and the way of salvation and entrance into heaven is the same for the self-righteous as for the prostitute!
That way is the way of repentance from dead works and faith toward God (Hebrews 6:1,2).
Those who say they have no need of repentance must face the charge of Jesus who said, "Ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered!" (Luke 11:52). But for those who acknowledge their need ... be it one of the immoral majority or one of the immoral minority ... there will be great rejoicing in heaven when they repent!