Prodigal Son, Return of the -- Rembrandt_Harmensz_van_Rijn - Copy

Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1662–1669 (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)

By Pastor Glem Melo

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:16-18)

“[T]he Lord calls his people to the bar of his justice where of course, they can only be found guilty. But it is there that they hear words of free pardon based on the substitutionary death of a divinely appointed sacrifice.” – Alec Motyer

In the covenant, God demands from us (His children) true faith and it’s fruit of covenant-keeping righteousness. He calls us to turn away from our sinful and evil ways (verse 16). He commands us to live in accordance with His goodness and righteousness. (v. 17)

However, the human heart can never produce genuine repentance. Our “sins are like scarlet” and “red like crimson”; without God’s grace and saving intervention, they can never be “white as snow” or “become like wool” (18). Without the Holy Spirit’s repentance-producing work in our hearts, we are forever doomed.

"The Pharisee and the Publican" by James Tissot, 1894

“The Pharisee and the Publican” by James Tissot, 1894

Yes, in His word we can say that God commands what we can never do without His saving intervention. Indeed, the Bible teaches that “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin” (Romans 3:20).

But the good news is that God did intervene 2,000 years ago in order to save us.

  1. ATONEMENT – On the cross, the Lord Jesus paid for all our sins. (Romans 3:25)
  2. REGENERATION AND CONVERSION – In answer to our risen Savior’s prayer, God sent the Holy Spirit to give the grace of the new birth, faith and repentance to His people. (Ezekiel 36:26)
  3. JUSTIFICATION – By faith, our sins are forgiven and Christ’s perfect righteousness is counted as ours. (Romans 3:21; 4:5-8)
  4. SANCTIFICATION – The Holy Spirit causes and enables us to grow in Christlike righteousness. (Ezekiel 36:26)
  5. GLORIFICATION – On the second coming, we will be made perfectly righteous like the Lord Jesus. (Philippians 3:20-21)

Yes, in Christ we have been washed and made “clean.” “The evil of [our] deeds” have been removed “from before [God’s] eyes” (Isaiah 1:16). By His Holy Spirit whom He has given us, we have been set free from our slavery to sin and “evil.” By His enabling power, we are learning more and more “to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (verse 17).

Yes, because of Christ’s life, death and resurrection… “though [our] sins are like scarlet, they [have become] as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they [have] become like wool” (v. 18).

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)

Praise the Lord!


About New Hope

We are a community of people who believe in and live for Jesus Christ. We embrace and proclaim the Gospel as taught in the Bible and explained in the teachings of the Reformation: Salvation is by grace alone (sola gratia) because of Jesus Christ alone (solus Christus), received through faith alone (sola fide), based on the teachings of the Bible alone (sola scriptura), all for the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria). SALVATION IS BY GRACE ALONE, THROUGH FAITH ALONE, BECAUSE OF JESUS CHRIST ALONE, BASED ON THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE ALONE, ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD ALONE.
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