Speaking to Oklahoma Baptist University's alumni and friends returning to Bison Hill for the first of two Centennial Homecoming celebrations, Dr. Doug Melton shared a message about "Coming Home" during the Homecoming Chapel service Saturday, Nov. 14, in Raley Chapel's Potter Auditorium.
Melton, who serves as pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, is a 1983 OBU graduate. He drew his message from Luke 15, in which Jesus tells the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.
"Chapter 15, I believe as we think about coming home this morning, gives us one of the most poignant portraits of the lostness of man, but our loving God, as well," he said.
The chapter, Melton said, has a single theme: the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner "coming home" to faith in Jesus Christ. However, the chapter also gives three different pictures of the lostness of man, and it offers three views of Jesus Christ as Savior.
The parable of the lost sheep tells about an animal that has gone astray, not out of ill will, but inadvertently. The lost coin conveys the helplessness of man: while the coin did not lose itself, it also has no power to be found. The lost son - or "prodigal son," as it is widely known - tells about a person who was lost by his own fault. While some may choose to claim society or the community bear responsibility for the failure of the son, Melton said the Scripture clearly points to the responsibility of the son for his own condition.
"We're at fault, and that helps us understand our lost condition: astray, helpless, and it's our own undoing," Melton said.
However, the parables do not end with the lost condition. Melton pointed out the parables are more than just stories to be picked apart. They are more than a lesson on shepherding or a tutorial on parenting. Melton said he agreed with Charles Haddon Spurgeon who wrote, "I don't believe Jesus gave us these three parables, all with the same themes, simply for the purpose of repeating himself."
"There are nuances and details in each of these three parables that, when you put them together, help us get a beautiful picture of our God," Melton said.
In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd himself left 99 sheep in a field and went looking for one lost animal. Melton said this conveys the seeking Savior. Jesus, in his role as mankind's shepherd and also in his role as mankind's owner, personally seeks out each person.
"One of the greatest first truths we can ever capture is, 'To whom do I belong?'" Melton said. "I believe that is why Scripture opens with the words, 'In the beginning, God created ...' God made you. You belong to him."
In the parable of the lost coin, the woman lights a lamp and sweeps the house to search for what is missing.
"We are in utter darkness and we cannot find our way home," Melton said. "We need the light of the Holy Spirit. That parable helps us understand the role of the Holy Spirit. She sweeps the house, and isn't that what the Holy Spirit desires to do in our life?
"The Holy Spirit desires, and his design is, to get into every single corner, nook and cranny of our heart. He's the one who can clean us up. We need the light of the Holy Spirit."
Melton said the parable of the prodigal son describes God, the heavenly Father. Just as the father in the parable watched with patience and compassion for the return of his son, so God constantly faces each person with a desire to nurture a relationship.
"The Father never once has his back to you," Melton said. "We are the ones who turn and have taken our own path, but the Father is always inclined toward us. When we're a long way off, he sees us. You see, the eyes of grace always see farther than the eyes of sin."
The Homecoming Chapel service also featured music by Kelly Anderson, minister of music at Brookwood Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, and his wife, Robin Rainbolt Anderson, both graduates of the Class of 1984, and their daughter, Hillary Anderson, a 2009 grad.