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Luke 15:20-24.
Luke 15:20-24.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jan 10, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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"And he arose and came to his father. But while he wasyet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compas-sion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And theson said unto him, ' Father, I have sinned against heaven, andin thy sight ; I am no more worthy to be called thy son.' Butthe father said to his servants, ' Bring forth quickly the bestrobe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoeson his feet ; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat,and make merry ; for this my son was dead, and is alive again :he was lost, and is found.'" — Luke 15:20-24.SAVING FORGIVENESSThe study of comparative religions revealsat least one element which is common tothem all. Indeed, by many students thiselement is thought to be the cause of thevery birth of religion. This common andperhaps causal element is due to the con-sciousness of all mankind of the need of what the Christian religion calls forgiveness.It is a consciousness born of the sense of un worthiness ; and the sense of unworthinessin turn has been induced by the conscious-ness of variance from the will and purposeof the Deity.In primitive religions the need of forgive-ness found its expression in crude and oft-times horrible forms of propitiatory ritesand ceremonies. As civilization advanced,the propitiatory rites became more refined.There was, for instance, the substitution of the sacrifice of the brute animal for the hu-man individual, the slaughter of innocent
[57]EFFICIENT RELIGIONlambs and turtledoves, instead of the mur-der of innocent children and of hapless wo-men, but the object of the propitiatory riteremained the same — to appease the wrath of the God who had become estranged by men'ssins.When civilization had so far advancedthat men could no longer think of God asan angry Potentate, but only as a just Sov-ereign, the propitiation by the sacrifice of beasts became, in turn, displaced by the pro-pitiation thought to inliere in the sacrificeof one man once for all. But even afterthis sacrifice, "once for all," we find menstill praying for their restoration into thatharmony with God which they felt had beenbroken by their own wrong doings.At this day there are professing Chris-tians who do not believe in the propitiatoryvalue of the death of Jesus, but they allbelieve in the need of forgiveness. Thereare those who deny the reality of sin, butthey admit the fact of the error of sin; andthe need of the restoration of those in errorto the mind of God is the same need which[58]SAVING FORGIVENESS
most Christians call the need of forgive-ness.If we could imagine that the conscious-ness of sin could be universally obliteratedfrom men's minds, we should not therebyimagine the necessary end of all religion;but we should be imagining a modification of rehgion which it is extremely hard for usto understand. This religion of the millen-nium would be so different from any formof religion with which we are now familiarthat we should hardly recognize it as re-ligion at all. The harmonious communityof all men in the Spirit of God would be incomparison with religion as we know it, likethe heaven of our anticipation to the earthof our experience.Since in this state of existence we are butstruggling upward to God, and in our im-maturity are continually failing in ourstruggles, there must always be in the re-ligion of this existence the desire for restora-tion into harmony with God. Until thehuman race becomes fully matured, whetherin this world or in any world to come, the[59]EFFICIENT RELIGIONconsciousness of variation from God's willmust always be a part of every man's experi-ence, and the need of restoration will alwaysbe a causal, or at least a contributory ele-ment in every man's religion.

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