Beloved Christians! Nothing is more
pleasant, lovelier, and sweeter to us sinners than the Gospel. More
welcome than bread to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, freedom to
captives and those in prison, is the Gospel to sinners who understand
"The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost" (Lk.
19:10). This is the exceedingly sweet voice of the Gospel. Who is this
Son of Man? He is the Son of God, the King of Heaven, sent from His
Heavenly Father, the One Who willed for our sake to be called the Son of
Man. For what cause did He come? To seek out and to save us who are
lost and to bring us into His eternal Kingdom. What could be more
welcome and desirable to us who are lost? But let us see what the Gospel
is, and what it requires of us, and to whom it is rightly preached.
From its very name the Gospel is the gladdest of tidings. To all the
world it preaches Christ the Saviour of the world Who came to seek out
and to save the lost. Listen all you lost sinners, listen to that
exceedingly sweet voice of the Gospel! It cries out to us all, "The Son
of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost."
It is a
fearful thing for us to be found in sin before God. The Gospel preaches
that our sins are forgiven for Christ's name's sake and that Christ is
our justification before God. In Thee, my Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son
of God, am I justified. Thou art my truth and enlightenment.
is a fearful thing for us to be found at enmity with God. The Gospel
preaches that Christ has reconciled us to God, and having come He
preached peace to all near and far. A fearful thing for us is the curse
of the Law, for we are all sinners; it subjects the sinner to both
temporal and eternal punishment. The Gospel preaches that Christ
redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become the curse for us. A
fearful thing for us is death. The Gospel preaches that Christ is our
resurrection and life.
A fearful thing for us are Gehenna and
hell. The Gospel preaches that Christ delivered us from hell and all its
calamities. It is a fearful thing for us to be separated from God. The
Gospel preaches that we shall be with the Lord always in His eternal
This, blessed Christians, is the most sweet voice of the
Gospel, "Taste," then, "and see that the Lord is good" (LXX-Ps. 33:9
[KJV-Ps. 34:8]). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only
Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but
have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to
condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He
that believeth on Him is not condemned" (Jn. 3:16-18). "Blessed be the
Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and
hath raised up an horn salvation for us in the house of His servant
David" (Lk. 1:68-69).
2. It is demanded of us, Christians, that
we receive these heavenly and most sweet tidings gratefully as they are
sent from Heaven, and that from a pure heart we always give thanks to
God our Benefactor, Who so freely had mercy on us, and that we show holy
obedience and compliance in all thankfulness. For conscience itself
instructs and convinces us to be thankful to our Benefactor. He loved us
who are unworthy Let us also love Him Who is worthy of all love. Love
requires that we never offend the beloved. God is offended by every sin.
Let us keep away from every sin and let us do His holy will that we may
not offend Him as our compassionate Father and Benefactor. "Our Father,
Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be
done on earth as it is in heaven," and so on (Mt. 6:9-10).
whom is the Gospel preached? Christ answers us, "The Spirit of the Lord
is upon me, for Whose sake He hath anointed Me to preach to the poor, He
hath sent Me to heal the broken hearted" (Lk.4:18). In other words, to
those people who, acknowledging their sins, see their poverty,
misfortune, and wretchedness, and have a contrite heart with fear of
God's judgement and sorrow, to them the Gospel is rightly preached as a
healing plaster is applied to a wounded body. Hear, you sorrowful and
contrite souls, hear the most sweet voice of the Gospel! "The Son of Man
is come to seek and to save that which is lost!" This healing plaster
of the Gospel most sweet is applied to your wounded souls. By this
saving medicine heal your broken hearts. "The Son of Man is come to seek
and to save that which is lost," He seeks you and saves you, because
you are one of those that He came to seek. Accept and confess yourselves
to be sinners before God. Your sins are also forgiven for Christ's
name's sake. Repent of your sins and lament for God, for salvation is
prepared for you, too, by God.
This is a faithful saying, and
worthy of all acceptance, that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners; of whom I am the chief" (1 Tim. 1:15). The Holy Spirit speaks
to you through His servant, "The sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit, a
heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise" (LXX-Ps. 50:19
[KJV-Ps. 51:17]). This sacrifice is offered to God from a repentant and
contrite heart and is more acceptable to Him than any other offering.
God looks mercifully upon such a sacrifice and sends His grace down upon
And so you see, O Christian, that the Gospel is not intended
for those Christians who live recklessly and in iniquity, and do not
recognize their sins, poverty and misfortune, and do not have a contrite
heart. For of what use is oil to a rock? A plaster is applied to a
wound, and healing is given to him who recognizes and admits his
weakness. To such people is it said, "Repent, be afflicted, and mourn,
and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy into
heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift
you up" (Jas. 4:9-10). And again: "And now also the axe is laid unto
the root of the trees, therefore every tree which bringeth not forth
good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire" (Mt. 3:10).
Let us fear the judgement of God and endeavor to have a contrite and
humble heart, that we also may draw from the Gospel as from a saving
font of living water of refreshment and consolation, and that we may
water our souls and so receive everlasting life in Christ Jesus our
Lord, to Whom be glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit, unto the
ages of ages.
Journey to Heaven Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian
Our Father Among the Saints, Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh and
Elets Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2004.