Come Home To The Lord

Bible Book: Hosea  6 : 1-3
Subject: Repentance; Life Change; Backslidding

The celebrated clipper ship the Dreadnought sailed backward for 280 miles. In 1862, while going west from Liverpool in the Atlantic, it was struck by a gigantic gale, which disabled the vessel. For three days it wallowed in the wild waters.

Then the captain furled all lead sails and all canvas on the foremast, set all square sails on the mizzenmast, and threw back every sail that was set. By steering the boat over the bow, he sailed the boat backwards to the nearest harbor in the Azores. Like that captain, many Christians have weathered a storm in their lives, but now they are going backwards. We invite you to come home to the Lord.

I. Who is a Backslider

Did you know that the words "backslider" or "backsliding" are never used in the New Testament? But they appear 17 times in the Old Testament. The truth, however, is also in the New Testament. You see it in the words of our Lord warning the Christians of Ephesus (Revelation 2:4), "You have left     your first love." And you see it again in the words of our Lord to Peter, in Luke 22:32, "When you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." And Paul sadly recorded in 2 Timothy 4:10, "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world."

A backslider is one who has "gone back" or "turned back". It involves a change of the believer's standing before the Lord, but not his state. That means when you are truly converted you are eternally secure.

But not every person who professes conversion is truly converted. Many profess conversion who don't possess Christ. They appear to be Christians but they have never accepted Christ.

Some time ago we witnessed a thrilling display of fireworks. The skyrockets amazed me. In a flash they rose from the ground into the night sky, producing a beautiful burst of brilliant colored stars, which floated about and then fell to the ground.

They were prettier than the stars, but different from them. The skyrockets were temporary, the stars permanent. The skyrockets were the work of man, the stars the work of God.

Haven't you seen many religious skyrockets? They have responded to an invitation. The hand was raised, a tear shed, and the person has gone forward. It was beautiful. But months later the so- called convert has disappeared from the church, having gone back to the world. The blackened stick had fallen to the ground. Why? Because he was a man-made skyrocket, not a God-made star. He had never received the Lord Jesus and experienced new birth. "But," you ask, "can one who has received the Lord Jesus go back and be forever lost?" Never! Our Lord said in John 6:37, "The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." This doesn't mean merely, "I will by no means refuse," but "I will by no means give him up after receiving him." "Isn't this dangerous?" you ask. No! It's helpful.

Several years ago the longest bridge in the world, costing $77 million, was completed at San Francisco. During the construction of its first phase, no safety nets were used, and 23 men fell to their death. Then it was decided to install a safety net at a cost of $100,000. The lives of 10 men were saved, and work proceeded 15 to 25 percent faster.

The assurance that they were safe left the workers free to devote all their energies to building the bridge. The blessed assurance that I am eternally saved sets me free to serve the Lord happily and heartily.

II. How does Backsliding Begin

Backsliding is to the soul what sickness is to the body. Just as sickness begins secretly, so does backsliding. Suddenly, without warning, some germ enters the body. It often invades when you haven't had the proper nourishment, or exercise, or the body is weak.

III. What a Backslider does to the Lord

He hinders the Lord. When Admiral George Dewey came home from his victories in the Orient, he was given a royal reception at Winsted, Connecticut. To add to the happy noise, an old Confederate cannon was brought to the site to be fired, but it was found to be spiked. A hold was bored into it and a small charge of powder put in and touched off. An old shell was discharged, which fell helplessly a few feet from the cannon.

That's suggestive of Christians who once were good soldiers for the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of sending shells into the hosts of evil, they're like the spiked cannon - a hindrance.

A backslider hurts the Lord. Some time ago a backslider persuaded her baby sister to join her in stealing a car. They were arrested and jailed. The mother, humiliated and hurt, jumped into the Neosho River and committed suicide. Yes, you suffer when you backslide, but the Lord suffers more than you. How can you keep on hurting the Lord?

IV. What a Backslider does to Himself

When you backslide, you hurt yourself as a saint. You don't lose the Jesus of your salvation, but you do lose the joy of your salvation. You give, but there's no glow to your giving. You pray, but there's no power in your prayers. You testify, but there's no thrill to your testimony. You read the Bible, but there's no rapture to your reading. You worship, but there's no warmth to your worship. You attend church, but there's no ardor in your attendance.

The other day a gentleman visited our studio. My secretary said, "Your ex-congressman is here to see you." We honor the ex-congressman and the ex-president almost as much as the incumbent. But there's no such person as an ex-Christian. However, there are damaged Christians. Can it be that you're one?

When you backslide you hurt yourself as a servant. If you're moved by the world, you can't move the world. When you're of the world you'll have no influence for the Lord in the world. A rebel against the will of God can't extend the kingdom of God. If you're sliding back from the Lord you can't bring others to Him.

Look at Abraham. He backslid, and took Lot with him to Egypt. Abraham later came back to the Lord, but not to Lot, who, "pitched his tent toward Sodom." And the tent toward Sodom soon became a house in Sodom. When Lot tried to witness to the fiancés of his daughters, they mocked him. The last years of his life were a big blank.A backslider who became very sick was told by his doctor that he had only a few days to live. A friend asked, "Are you afraid to die?" "No," said the damaged Christian, "but I'm ashamed to die." The wearer of the backslider label is of all people most miserable!

V. What the Lord Says to the Backslider

Mark the call. It's written in Hosea 14:1, "Return to the Lord your God." He always takes the initiative. It was the Lord who sought out Adam when he had sinned, Jacob when he was running away, Moses as a fugitive, and Peter when he had sinned.

After he denied the Lord, Peter wondered what the Lord would say to him. One day after our Lord was raised from the dead a heavenly messenger at the tomb told Mary, "He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go and tell His disciples and Peter!" Our Lord was more anxious to pardon him than to punish him. Someone has said, "The most precious thing about Jesus is the way in which He trusts us on the field of our defeat."

Mark the care. Our Lord promises, "I will heal their backsliding." Even though you have hurt Him, He will heal you. Even though you have sinned against Him, He will cleanse the sin and cure your sinning. Along with the eraser, the Lord gives you the lead to write a new life. Mark the compassion. Our Lord declares, "I will love them freely." The Living Bible puts it like this: "My live will know no bounds, for My anger will be forever gone." You get a glimpse of this in the story of the Prodigal Son. He left home dressed up in his best togs, but wound up with hogs. Bankrupt and brokenhearted, he trudged home to his father. His father, like our Lord, not only longed for his son, he looked for him. While he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. How did he know he was coming? He must have been looking for him every day and longing for him to come home. When he saw him he ran to meet him. He was filled with such compassion that he embraced him and smothered him with kisses.

Wonder of wonders - the father didn't lecture him, he loved him. He didn't expel him, he embraced him and forgave him with no recriminations. Once Lincoln was asked how he was going to treat the rebellious Southerners when they returned to the Union. The questioner expected that Lincoln would take vengeance upon them. But he answered, "I will treat them as if they had never been away." And that's the way the Lord will treat you when you come home to Him.

VI. What a Backslider may Expect

A Christian can sin and does sin. He's not sinless, but he does sin less. And when he sins he may expect chastening, or child training.

The Lord chastens to deliver us. From what? Sin. The Christians a Corinth backslid, became weak and sick, and some of them died. They wondered why, and Paul gave them the answer in 1 Corinthians 11:28-30, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep."

Not all sickness the result of specific sin. Not all weakness is from worldliness. Not every death comes from disobedience. But the Lord sometimes wounds the body to heal the soul. In every time of sickness I always search my soul to see if I am condoning sin. If so, I confess it and quit it.

That's what David did. He went astray, then he was afflicted. He acknowledged his straying, he confessed his sin, and was cleansed. He wrote in Psalm 119:67, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word."

The Lord chastens us to develop us. Paul was given some unusual experiences. About to become puffed up with pride, he was too valuable to be put on the scrap heap, so the Lord gave him "a thorn in the flesh." He confessed in 2 Corinthians 12:7, "Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelation, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure."

It's written in Hosea 6:1-2, "Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will build us up.

VII. What a Backslider must do to be Restored

Listen to the plea. The Bible tells us that in Hosea 14:1-2, "Return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, 'Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.'"Look at the price. "Take with you" - what? Wealth? No. God is too rich to need them, and we are too poor to supply them.

"Take with you" -what? Works? No. The prodigal tried that. Returning to his father he begged, "Make me like one of your hired servants." But instead of starting him in the field, the father started him in the home. He was restore, robed, ringed, and reshod as a son, not as a servant. Our Lord revealed that He desires fellowship more than farmhands.

The Lord wants your words. What words? The words He gave us: "Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips." How wonderful! The Lord puts these words within our mouth, which, if they come from your heart, will cleanse your backsliding and cure your sinning. Oh that you would voice them to the Lord just now!


The Seville Cathedral contains a priceless painting by Murillo, one of the greatest in the world. That outstanding artist, in a monastery one morning, felt an urge to paint. He called for canvas, but none for artists was on hand. They turned the monastery upside down and finally brought back a rough brown canvas, little better than a coarse cloth for making sacks. Murillo stretched it across a board, and on it painted a world masterpiece. Your life may be a bit of rough and ugly material, but you have come back home to the Lord. Now yield yourself to Him and let Him paint His own likeness on your life and in your soul. You'll do it, won't you?