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Lost Things -- Restoration in Jesus Christ

by David A. DePra

     Christians talk much about people whom we call "the lost." To us,

those who are "lost" are those who are unsaved. And for the most

part, we are right. "The lost" are those who do not know Jesus

Christ as Saviour.

     The fact is, ALL humankind are born lost. All of us. So those who

have yet to receive Christ are still lost. Part of the job the church has

is to reach the lost and introduce them to Christ.

      There are, however, other applications to this idea of "the lost."

For instance, have you ever felt LOST? I mean, even as someone

who is saved? Maybe lost as to where God is, or as to what He is

doing in you life? Maybe you feel as if you have lost your spiritual

place in Christ, and are presently adrift in a sea of darkness and

confusion. This can be a very real sense of being lost and alone.

Perhaps, as a Christian, you are lost in sin and unbelief -- from your

way of looking at it. You are living in sin and can't find your way


     There are other ways of looking at this Truth about being "lost."

Perhaps, you, as a person, don't so much feel as if YOU are lost.

Maybe you just feel as if you have lost "something." For instance,

have you ever felt like you have lost years of your life -- wasted?

Have you ever felt as if you have lost relationships and chances?

Maybe you've lost loved ones -- either to death, or even to a broken

relationship. How about a LOST chance to grow spiritually? That

can seem like a great loss.

     LOST THINGS, by definition, are things which we once had, but

have passed out of our possession. Even if that lost thing was but

an opportunity which could have led to other things. It was once

before us, but we LOST it. It is no longer in our possession. It is no

longer in our lives. It is gone.

     All people experience loss. We experience loss over things we

value, and even over things we ought to value, but don't. This is a

part of life. There is ALWAYS loss where there is sin. And we are

ALL guilty of sin.

     But there is good news. It is the greatest news possible. That

news is this: We have a redemptive God. He is a God who can

restore fully all that was lost. Or, He can take the fact that we have

lost something and turn it into something better.

     God is an "expert" when it comes to LOST THINGS. Redeeming

them is what He does. He redeems lost people, and He redeems

the things which people have lost. ALL things. How? And under

what conditions? Well, that is what this article is about.


     To begin, we need to get our definitions straight. We need to

define, as it were, God's perspective of what is "lost and found." It

certainly differs from the way human beings think.

God's definition of "FOUND" is simply anything that is in His

hands. And God's definition of "LOST" is therefore anything that is

NOT in His hands. Period. It is just that simple.

     Now, these definitions certainly agree with the Biblical description

of things. This world, and all humanity, are considered LOST unless

they are surrendered to Christ. Indeed, the Bible describes all

things as first belonging to God, but then later becoming LOST --

due to the sin -- first of Satan -- and then of Adam. And then when

Christ came, God made a way by which all things could once again

belong to God -- that is -- be found, or restored from the lost

condition back to God's intention and purpose. That way was

basically the NEW BIRTH in Jesus Christ.

     So we now have our fundamental definitions of "lost" and "found."

That which is "lost" does not belong to God. It is not in His hands.

That which is "found" does belong to God. It IS in His hands.

     Note how this differs from our thinking. We think that something

is "found" when it belongs to US. Don't we? Sure. And many

Christians think this too, even regarding spiritual issues. As long as

we think we are in control, and understand what is going on, we

are able to announce that all is well. We don't feel as if anything is

"lost." Things are right where we want them.

     But what a deception! The fact is, our understanding, our self-will,

our ownership of things, is never an indication that all is well. Sure,

they may be UNDISTURBED presently, but not necessarily "well."

The only things in this world, or in our lives, which are occupying

the proper place in the plan of God are those things which we have

unconditionally surrendered to HIM. The rest continues to be LOST.

Parable of Lost Things

     Jesus told a series of parables in the gospel of Luke about

things which were LOST, but then FOUND. These parables serve

as the basis for one principle we must understand about the way

God views things lost and found.

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear

him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, "This man

receives sinners, and eats with them." And He spoke this

parable unto them, saying, "What man of you, having a hundred

sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in

the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And

when he hath found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And

he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours,

saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep

which was lost.' I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven

over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just

persons, which need no repentance. Also, what woman having ten

pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and

sweep the house, and seek diligently until she find it? And when

she has found it, she calls her friends and her neighbors together,

saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of

God over one sinner that repents." (Luke 15:1-10)

     Jesus also goes on to tell the parable of the prodigal son, which

is too long to duplicate here. But these parables are, in fact,

corrections for the Scribes and Pharisees. As such, they contain

some items which need to first be clarified before the teaching can

be fully grasped.

     One of the things we need to understand is that, in the parables,

the "ninety-nine" sheep which were NOT lost are symbolic of the

Pharisees in an indirect way. The same can be said for the 9 coins

where were not lost, and the elder son in the story of the prodigal.

     These things were NOT lost. But if we read the parables, this is not

good. It is bad. These things which were NOT lost are things which

symbolize those of us who are as lost as everyone else, but do not

think we are lost. But we ARE lost, It's just that we aren't yet

DISTURBED from our secure place in life. So we think we are

better than those who are disturbed -- and who are clearly lost.

     But you see, you really aren't where you need to be in Christ

by remaining undisturbed and firmly entrenched in your life. No.

You might seem ok, because you don't appear to be lost. But that

isn't the point. The point is, you aren't FOUND. You have to be

FOUND in order to go on with Christ. And you cannot be found until

you come to the place where you see you are LOST.

     This explains why Jesus is able to say that there is more rejoicing

in heaven over finding the ONE lost thing, then over the many who

were not lost. You see, Jesus is speaking to the fact that THEY, the

Scribes and Pharisees, considered themselves NOT LOST. In

fact, they considered themselves, the "just persons, which need no

repentance." Jesus is trying to get across to them the fact that God

sees the heart. There is more rejoicing in heaven over the one lost,

who is now found, than those who don't think they are lost, or think

they have any need for repentance.

     Unless the UNlost are the self-righteous, these parables would

seem a bit unbalanced, if not unfair. In that case, the parables would

infer that to sin, and then be found, is more cause for rejoicing than

to never sin to begin with. Think about it. Do we have to sin, and

then repent, before God will rejoice? Would He not rejoice more if

we never sinned to begin with? Certainly.

     So we see that Jesus is trying to expose the self-righteous

Scribes and Pharisees. They had been critical of the fact that He

was associating with those whom they considered "sinners." They

thought of themselves as being above sin, and of being better than

those others. Jesus is trying to get at their blindness and hypocrisy.

Losing to Find

     The fact is, in each parable, all the items -- whether it be sheep,

or coin, or siblings -- ALL of them started the same place. Even

those who were not lost. So they were all equal. All in the same

spiritual condition and same spiritual place. It is only after one is

LOST, and then FOUND, that things change.

     What do we see from this? We see that God will often allow us

to "get lost" from HIM -- that is, become disturbed from our secure

place -- so that we might see our need for Him. Then HE will find

US. Then there will be rejoicing.

     Do we see the Truth here? Think of it in terms of what Jesus was

trying to say to the Pharisees. He was saying, "You think you are

righteous. You think these other folks are rotten sinners. The lost.

     Actually, you are right about that. That is exactly what they are: Lost

sinners. But guess what? They know it too. That is why I am able to

talk to them. They have realized their condition. It is therefore going

to be much easier to FIND them. To bring them back to where they

belong. However, you won't even entertain the possibility that you

are lost. How will you ever be found?"

     Jesus is giving a tremendous principle here. He is saying that

ALL are lost. But it is only when we become detached from the

security of our life here that we being to realize our need and wake

up to our lost condition. Then, we are ready to be FOUND. Then,

we will beg to be found. Then we want God. But if we are never

disturbed, and never brought to the realization of our need, we will

not only remain lost, but we will remain blind to the fact. And we will,

as these Pharisees, probably look down on the lost as being

inferior to us.

     In short, we must get lost in order to be found. We must LOSE

our life in order to FIND it in Him. We must be brought to see our

true condition so that we might repent and cry out to God. It is then

that we will see He has always been there, waiting for us.

     This is why Jesus is able to say that there is more rejoicing in

heaven over the one lost, who is now found, than over those who

were never lost. Those who were never lost are those who have

never seen they are lost. Those who were lost did see it, and were

found. They have passed through an experience which all must

pass through if they wish to go on with Jesus Christ.

     Again, this Truth applies to unbelievers who are lost with regards

to salvation. That is one level. But it applies to believers, too. We

all have different phases of growth where we must get lost in order

to be found. It is a never-ending process in this life.

To Be Lost

     To be "lost" means that you don't know where you are. It means

that you can't find where you belong -- or even that you don't know

where you belong. And by definition, if you are lost, you really can't

help yourself. You can't "find yourself." Rather, you have to BE


     This is our condition with God. Those who are truly lost don't

know God. They don't know where He is, or perhaps even that He

is there for them. They don't even know how to begin finding Him.

But not to worry. God will find them. In fact, it is God that has brought

them to the point where they feel helpless, lost, and without direction.

THEN He has something to work with.

     Now we can see a wonderful progression. God allows all sorts

of circumstances and things in life to bring us to the place of seeing

we are lost. Then, once we do, we surrender by faith. And then we

are FOUND. We are home. We are where we belong. And we

know it.

     Faith is not necessarily knowing and understanding. But it is a

confidence and rest in the fact that God knows and understands.

And how appropriate this is to the idea of being lost, and then found!

     Imagine a little child who has been lost in a forest. And the parent

finds him. Does the child, even then, have any idea where he is?

No. But the parent knows. And the child is at ease because even

though he does not know where he is, it is sufficient that the parent

does know. He can take the hand of the parent, and trust that

parent to lead him to home.

The Seeking God

     People talk a lot about our need to "seek God." This is good.

But did you know that God is seeking us? In fact, God never stops

seeking us out. He is like a Divine invader, into our hearts and lives.

Indeed, God finds us at salvation, only to continue "finding" us in

deeper and deeper ways.

     The idea that God is a seeking God is all through the Bible.

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (Matt. 18:11)

I will seek that which was lost. (Ezek. 34:16)

     The best example of God seeking out man is found in His

dealings with Adam, after the sin. Read the account. After Adam

sinned, who came seeking whom? Adam did not seek out God.

No. Rather, he HID from God in the garden. It was GOD who took

the initiative and sought out Adam.

     Remember that this was not only the first sin by man, but THE

sin -- the greatest sin of humanity every committed. And the way

God dealt with Adam there is a template for the way He ALWAYS

deals with us. God seeks out the sinner. The sinner will not seek

out God. He wouldn't BE a sinner if he sought out God! God comes

to the sinner and FINDS him. He does, solely by grace, what is

necessary for the sinner to be able to choose to turn to Christ.

     God seeks Christians, too. He wants US to turn to Christ. But

wait. Haven't we already done that? For salvation. But that was

not the end of the matter. It was only the beginning. Now we must

go on. And to go on, we are just as helpless as a sinner to be able

to see our way, know the way, or to accomplish anything. So God

brings us to the place where we see we are lost without Him, and

then He finds us, and leads us on to the next place.

Lost Things

     So far we have talked mostly about lost people, and the fact that

God finds them -- whether it be a sinner lost in sin, or a Christian who

has lost their way in the kingdom. But there are also many of us who

have lost THINGS. We have lost time -- some of us have lost years.

We have lost life's opportunities and experiences -- perhaps

through sin, or maybe just through what appears to be inexperience.

Some of us have lost many things for the sake of following Jesus

Christ. For various reasons, many of us have lost relationships,

time, or perhaps we even think we have lost our calling in Christ.

There is barely a Christian who cannot look back and say, "If only I

have know THEN, what I know NOW." The spectre of lost time and

a supposed wasted life can cause many problems which hinder the

present in our walk with Christ.

     There are many false teachers today who control people with

these regrets and fears. They will set up conditions and mandates

for people to follow, "lest they lose out" in Jesus Christ. I have heard

some on television say, "I don't want you to miss God. He is moving

at this hour, and you dare not miss Him." This is a terrible thing to

do to God's people. Others set themselves up as great leaders

and suggest that unless you are following them you are not going

to experience your full potential in Christ, and will just have to "settle

for less."

     We need to clearly understand this: In all of human history, there

has been only one person who has walked before God perfectly:

Jesus Christ. The rest of us have only a series of failures, mistakes,

misunderstandings -- as well as sin and unbelief -- to show for our

lives. We have only rubble. But it is here that God wants to find us.

And it is upon that rubble that He wants to build something new.

In our arrogance, we think what God wants from us is our strength,

and our wonderful spiritual accomplishments. But if that is what we

think we are all about, then we are like those sheep that were never

lost, and those coins that remained safe. No. Even if God has used

us for His purposes in the past, it is still to HIS glory, and not ours.

What God wants from us is our sin, our unbelief, our mistakes, and

our foolishness. He wants everything we have ever LOST.

     Now, lest there be a misunderstanding, we need to be clear

about something here. God does not desire for us to sin. He does

not want us to walk in unbelief. It is not His will for us to be fools,

or to make choices which bring upon us unpleasant circumstances.

No. But the fact is, we are going to do all of those things. Those

things are the product of what we ARE -- certainly before we know

Christ -- but even after. And God knows that. He is simply saying

to us, "I know what you are made of. I know what you are capable

of. But I intend to take all of those lost things and use them as the

very material from which I will do a new thing."

     So again, we see that God wants to bring us to the place of need

and of seeing we are lost, so that we will finally hand ourselves

over to Him and be found. Then He will take all of the things we

have destroyed and use them to do a work in us which will produce

eternal fruit.

     The nice thing about people who become "lost" to this life is that

they are in ripe condition to be FOUND for the eternal realm. But if

I refuse to become lost to my life here, I cannot be found. I am

going to remain in tact and undisturbed, totally blind to my real


What the Locust Has Eaten

I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten, the

cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great

army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be

satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt

wondrously with you. (Joel 2:24-25)

     If a locust eats something, it is gone. It isn't coming back. God

uses this example because locusts ate the food which those who

planted the crops would have eaten. The locusts ate the fruit of

all of their labor. They made all of the effort to grow the crop be a


     Funny thing though. The locust can eat an entire crop. But you

can always plant a new one the next time around. God says He is

going to do this -- He will restore it. But He says even more than

that. God is not only going to restore WHAT the locust has eaten,

but He is going to restore the YEARS the locust has eaten. He is,

in fact, going to restore ALL THINGS through Jesus Christ.

     Now, right here, it is easy to simply scoff and say, "That's nice.

But it is up in the clouds somewhere. I messed up my life big time.

I have wasted years and years. My life could have turned out so

much better."

     Then we add, "Don't get me wrong. I have repented of my sin

and unbelief. I have accepted responsibility. But don't tell me it is

all going to be restored. Those years restored? They can't be.

Nothing can change the past."

     Well, that's right. But it is also wrong. God said He would restore

the YEARS the locust has eaten. What does He mean by that?

Ask yourself a question: What is the past? I mean, your past?

The past consists of what went on in your life up to this point. But

all of that is over and done with. There is no way to re-capture it,

or to bottle it. All that happened -- both good and bad -- is done.

But something does remain from the past. First, the memories.

But more, what remains is what you have BECOME because of

your past. You had experiences and you had choices. And you

are here today, the person you are, the sum total of all of those.

In a very real sense of the word, it can be said that YOU are your

past personified -- in that you are the sum total of all that came into

your life, and the sum total of how you chose over it.

     Now note: If you are the sum total of your past, then if God

changes you, He is actually changing that "sum total." He is

altering and adjusting to something better what the past has done.

So ask: What has He actually done with your past? Well, He has

made it null and void. He has restored back to you the equivalent

of a good past. He has given you back -- spiritually -- the years

which the locust had eaten.

     Now what this means is this: You may not be able to change

physical history. But if God changes YOU, then it is equal to your

past being changed, as to it's effect upon YOU. For instance, if I

spend twenty years living in sin, and then repent, and become a

changed person, free of sin, and free of the lingering damage of

my sin because of Christ, then sure, my past is still my past. But at

that point, here in the present, I AM CHANGED. So I may as well

have not had that past. It no longer has power over me. It no longer

has a connection to what I am in Christ Jesus.

     This is how God is able to RESTORE YEARS. He makes us into

people whose present spiritual condition no longer resembles their

past choices. We are forgiven. We have died to that sin. We are

new creations in Christ Jesus.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things

are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (II Cor. 5:17)

     How many "things" are "become new?" ALL THINGS. That is

talking about ME. It is talking about the PAST. ALL of it is

swallowed up in the victory of Jesus Christ.

Not Just Religion

     If experiencing Jesus Christ does not make us into different

people -- no, not all at once, it is a process -- but if it does not make

us different, then Christianity is not real. It is mere religion. But if we

are in fact born again new creations, then AS new creations we are

going to eventually start acting like it.

     Of course, when God restores the lost years, we are not merely

casual observers to what He is doing. God does it all in the sense

that He makes us brand new, and gives us all the material. But we,

at some point, must start acting like it. In other words, I am only

going to experience the restoration of my lost years when I begin

to stop living the way I did in those lost years. I must live a new way.

     "Now there's the catch," someone might comment. "You said

God was going to do this. Now it sounds like I must do it."

     Actually, no. Your changed conduct doesn't do anything except

"work out" what God has "worked in." But if you ARE changed, this

will happen. You will want it to happen. And as God brings before

you choices whereby you can work out your salvation, and work

out His Redemption in a situation, you will make them. No, not

perfectly. And perhaps not very well, or at all, at first. But you will do

so eventually. You will, because you ARE a new creature with a

different past. A past which has been restored.

     Now someone may say, "Well, that's wonderful. But look at all

the consequences my sin has caused. That can never change.

Those consequences remain to this day."

     First of all, yes, it is true that in this age God is not going to

remove much of the physical and temporal consequences for sin.

He does, however, fix some of it. But a lot of it remains because to

fix it NOW would abort God's purpose of free will, and to fix it now

might mean God would have to suspend or reverse physical laws.

     For example, if I am a girl that has a child out of wedlock, God is

not going to cause the child to cease to exist because I repent of

my sin. No. God is not going to suspend the physical laws of time

and space, nor undo my free will choices. And He is certainly not

going to fail to love that child as much as He loves me. God simply

takes me, and the child, just as we are, and begins there, with what

I surrender to Him.

     God will also want to use the child in my life as a wonderful means

of conforming me to Christ -- through both blessing and through the

responsibility. And if I yield to Him, I will become a different person.

And then, spiritually and morally, things can be, in the present, just

as they might have been if I had not sinned. This is true regardless

of the fact that there is a child who is born who would not have been

born otherwise.

     Another example is divorce. If I were divorced, it might be true

that there was no way back to the marriage. Maybe there have

already been remarriages. But this does not mean that God

cannot set me free from all that accumulated in my heart from that

experience. He can. And if He does, then I will be spiritually and

morally, just like a person who was never divorced -- this, despite

the fact that the physical facts remain. I may have a former wife

and even a split family.

Forgiveness and Redemption

     What we are talking about here, of course, is total forgiveness

and total redemption. And the Truth is, if the forgiveness and

redemption of God are not total, then they are not real.

     Some folks do not want to accept the fact that even the worst

sinner can find full restoration in Christ. Instead, they insist that even

if someone repents, that they will have to settle for "less of Christ,"

even in the eternal ages. But if I think that, I'd better realize that in the

eyes of God I may be worse than those I condemn. I am judging

them, and deciding what penalties God must impose upon them.

     The fact is, if the Redemption of Jesus has paid for ALL sin, then

there are not "parts" of sin that remain unpaid for. Furthermore -- and

this is the vital point -- if Christ paid the FULL penalty for all sin, then

parts of that penalty are not left over for ME to pay for. In other words,

the Redemption not only paid for all sin, but for all of the terrible

damage and consequences which sin brings upon the sinner.

     In Truth, the people who will settle for "less of Christ" are not

those who have sinned. No. But rather, those who have not repented!

Thus, rather than a Redemption which cannot fully restore sin, we

have people who will not be fully restored. That is their choice.

     Is this not the message in the parable of the lost things? That

God rejoices over a repentant sinner more than over those who

think they need no repentance? Sure. It is the whole point.

God is beckoning us to believe Him. He tells us that we WILL

reap what we sow -- there are consequences for sin. But when we

turn our sin to Christ, we then begin to sow NEW LIFE. And then

that is what we will REAP. The new life of Jesus Christ will even

begin to invade the consequences for sin, and make it possible for

God to either remove them, or to use them for His purpose.

Paul verified this in his epistle to the Philipians:

But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and

reaching forth unto those things which are ahead, I press toward

the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

(Phil. 3:13-15)

     There is no possible way that Paul could "forget" those things

which "are behind" unless God had "forgotten" them! And further,

does it sound like Paul sat around lamenting over all of the years

he wasted? No. And remember, Paul was a Pharisee. He killed

people who were Christians. So if anyone was going to live in the

past, it would have been Paul. But no. His past has been cut off.

He is now of a new generation, that of Jesus Christ.

     Incidentally, as an aside, there are errant teachers out there in

Christianity today who believe in such things as "generational

curses," and that God visits the sins of the grandfather upon the

father, and upon the son, etc. -- even upon Christians. One false

teacher is Bill Gothard. But this is not the teaching of the Bible, but

rather of those who are blind to the grace of God. In Christ, we are

of a NEW generation. We are no longer in Adam. If only we could

see the totality and finality of what Jesus Christ has done, and

simply believe it. We would see the folly of trying to solve the sin

problem with all of our psychological gimmics and by the power of

religious flesh.

     If, as a Christian, I allow my past to hinder my present life in Christ,

I am telling God He is mistaken to "so easily" forgive and redeem

me. I am refusing to leave those things behind even though God

has left them behind. These errors are always the result of not

seeing how much it cost God to redeem us, and therefore, how

full and total the Redemption of Jesus Christ is.

God's Lost and Found

     Lost things are things which are NOT in God's hands. They are

usually in OUR hands. The trouble is, when they are in our hands,

we don't think they are lost. But they are. The only way any of us

can be found is by letting go of ourselves and falling into the hands

of Jesus Christ.

     This is to be worked out on many levels. We have to stop trying

to base our relationship with God on our works, our merit, or on our

worthiness. We have to begin resting in HIM. We also have to stop

living life on our terms, and begin living it on HIS terms. This means

faith, obedience, and surrender.

     There is absolutely nothing God does not desire to FIND and

redeem. Nothing. He wants to invade with His redemption every

sin, every relationship, every thing and every year the locust has

eaten, and every aspect of our person. He wants to bring all things

back into the condition He originally intended. Then they will be


     For again:

For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (Matt. 18:11)*

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