“Come Back”

In some areas of our country when you leave a store or a place of business the person who waited on you may say just as you are leaving, “Come back.”

It is a courtesy to let a customer know that he or she is welcome to return, and give them more business at a later time.

My grandfather was said to have actually “come back” because he thought they wanted him to for some reason.

That is the way Scripture would have us take it also. “Come back.” It is said many ways, and always meaningfully. It was the message God gave to Jeremiah to deliver to backsliding Israel.

Jeremiah 3:12  12Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever.

In other words, you change your attitude toward Me and I will change my attitude toward you.

God always appeals to us to change. Leave the old, common, broad way down to death, and take the higher road.

What must they leave? What have they done wrong? It was the same as always:

Jeremiah 3:13  13Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the Lord your God, And have scattered your charms To alien deities under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the Lord.

You have not obeyed My voice.

That is what Paul wrote to the Galatians.

Galatians 5:7  7You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

WHO hindered you? Somebody, Paul says, has gotten between you and your God, your hope, your faith, your future. Get away from them. COME BACK now, come back to faith!

Paul said it again:

Galatians 3:1  1O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?

Paul had told them the facts, and now someone had thrown them off course. “Come back,” he says.

And then, STAND FAST.

Galatians 5:1  1Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Stand fast! Don’t let yourself keep getting pulled away. Come back and then stand fast means literally, be a pillar. Persist, persevere in godliness and rectitude (Thayer’s Lexicon)

Paul said it to the Ephesians. Don’t be blown and tossed about and thrown off course by every little wind of doctrine that comes by.

Ephesians 4:14  14that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

Don’t let the little surface winds affect you, says Paul. Focus on the facts and stay with them. Solid. Sure. Yes, men will use trickery. They will be cunning and deceitful. Close your ears to it all—it isn’t worth repeating, and you won’t be able to take them down.

So “come back” and “Stand fast.”

What did Jesus say that sounded a lot like “come back”?

He said it several times in his letters to the churches as recorded in Revelations, and it wasn’t just a quiet courtesy. It was a strong directive. “Come back,” Jesus says, come back to where you were. Get back into the depth of thinking you did at the first, those deep impressions of heart that stirred you to the depths. Get back to the open response you gave to God and spiritual things.

It is in Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus. First a compliment, then a serious judgment:

Revelation 2:3–4  3…you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4Nevertheless …

A serious indictment is coming:

4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

Jesus says, I see your love has grown cold. You have mixed in so much love and satisfactions of this world that Your love for Me?… well, the fire has gone out! I see only a few dying embers.

What keeps the fire burning in our hearts? It is our love, our affection, our faith in the future. It is our joy in thinking about the promises of God and the great future He has planned for His faithful ones.

The church at Ephesus HAD had it. They had HAD that first love, that rush of affection, that deep burning enthusiasm, that bright sparkle of hope at the very thought of things Divine.

But it is gone. How can they COME BACK? What can they do to renew the blaze? What does Jesus say?

Revelation 2:5  5Remember therefore from where you have fallen;

Here is the warning: Remember where you were when you fell.

…Repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

Straight forward advice. REPENT. Get back to where you were.

It is so easy to slip back, so easy to relax and let the fire in our hearts die down even if it doesn’t go all the way out.

Jesus says, COME BACK! Keep going over the EVIDENCE! Renew your faith, your fervor, your fortitude, your bright vision of the future. Keep a tight grip on things spiritual.

Jesus found need for renewal in yet another church. It was the church at Sardis.

Revelation 3:1  1“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, …“I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

To all appearances, they had a lot going for them. Programs, activities, lots of youth, energy and zeal. Oh, that delightful church in Sardis!

All looked good on the outside, but—

When Jesus opened the door and looked inside—Shock! It looked like a corpse!! Was there even a feeble heartbeat of spiritual life there?

What did they need? Emergency treatment! Act FAST, Jesus says. COME BACK now!

Revelation 3:2  2Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.

Whatever life is there, rescue it. Save it from dying. Stimulate it! Bring it BACK. Remember…

Revelation 3:3  3Remember therefore how you have received and heard;

What or who got you started in the faith? What convinced you? What started you on the way? Think about it. Revive it! Then…

3…hold fast and repent.

Don’t let anything slip back. HOLD FAST! Grip it tight and tighter!

Then Jesus adds a bright promise of hope—not everyone in the church is dead! Read on in His letter:

Revelation 3:4  4You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

Don’t we want to take that walk with Jesus? Let’s be busy making those WHITE garments now—Jesus won’t walk with anyone in dirty clothes. They must be dressed like His bride, of whom it is said,

Revelation 19:8  8And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Repenting is literally “come back.” In repenting, one makes a complete change of direction (180° turn) toward God. In Acts 3, Peter implored his people

Acts 3:19 19Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Repent and convert have different connotations: 1) Turn with our mind, 2) Turn with our actions.

Peter was actually saying, “I urge you to repent with your mind and turn with your actions.”

If we are to be forgiven of our sins, we must give absolute and ultimate unconditional surrender to God, hating (with our mind) sin so much that we turn (with our actions)–this is true COMING BACK!

And remember––we must COME BACK to our strong tower (the Word), and STAY THERE, in order to be safe:

Proverbs 18:10 10The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.

What is the name of the Lord?

Revelation 19:13 13He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

Come back to the Word and STAY there! That’s where the saints are who stand with Christ on Mount Zion.

Revelation 14:1  1Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.