I WAS GOING TO SUBTITLE THIS:
GOD’S GREATEST PROBLEM: PASTOR KENNETH BENT
BUT THAT DIDN’T COME ACROSS QUITE THE WAY I IMAGINED!!!!
THE REASON I SAID “GOD’S GREATEST PROBLEM” IS BECAUSE FOR GOD TO FORGIVE US, HE HAD TO FULLY MAINTAIN HIS HOLINESS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HIS INDIGNATION AGAINST SIN, AND AT THE SAME TIME BE JUST, PROVIDING A JUST WAY TO ALLOW HIS NATURE OF GRACE AND FOREBEARING AND FORGIVING TO BRING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION TO ALL MANKIND.
HOW COULD HE BE BOTH JUST AND JUSTIFIER?
THE ANSWER OF COURSE, IS THAT IN CHRIST, GOD RECONCILED US TO HIMSELF. HE HIMSELF, IN CHRIST, BORE THE CURSE OF SIN FOR US ON THE CROSS. GOD HIMSELF GAVE HIMSELF TO SAVE US FROM HIMSELF.
PERFECTLY BALANCING HIS HOLINESS AND HIS LOVE IN CHRIST ON THE CROSS.
NOW ON THE BASIS OF THE SHED BLOOD OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS AND HIS DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION, BY FAITH, WE APPROPRIATE GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION.
IT IS ON THE SAME BASIS THAT WE ARE ABLE TO FORGIVE OTHERS, AS EPHESIANS 4:32SAYS:
BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER, TENDERHEARTED, FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, EVEN AS GOD IN CHRIST ALSO HAS FORGIVEN YOU.
Key Scripture: 1 John 1:9
1. Forgiveness absolves a person from the penalties, not the responsibilities, of the past.
2. There is a difference between asking to be forgiven and asking to be excused.
Forgive me is not “excuse me.”
3. Forgiveness is the offender’s right and the offended’s command because it was paid for by the blood.
4. There is a difference between forgiveness and restoration.
Restoration is always in mind in concert with forgiveness.
“Yes, I forgive you, son, for breaking the window with your baseball, but now let’s talk about how you are going to earn the money to pay for its restoration.”
Luke 19:1-10 – Zacheus, forgiven, seeks to restore…evidence of true heart change.
Old Testament: for items like Stolen oxen, or borrowed items lost or destroyed, restitution must be made.
Galatians 6:1,2 – “restore” in the spirit of meekness/humility.
5. Whoever confesses and forsakes their sin will have mercy.
True repentance and forgiveness is not the same as saying;
“I’m sorry if I made you feel bad.”
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”Jesus said to him,
When Peter asked Jesus how often should he forgive his brother who sins against him, Jesus responded with an overwhelming number: 70 times 7, that is to say, every time.
Forgiveness is then in the following verses in a story is characterized as a forgiving of a “Debt”
In fact, a promise is connected to us forgiving others of their trespasses against us. Jesus said if we forgive others we will be forgiven also. This is the basic principle of sowing and reaping and treating others like we want to be treated ourselves. The grace of God is sufficient so that we might access His storehouse and forgive others in Christ.
Forgiveness is both a right and responsibility. Each offender has a right to be forgiven because forgiveness is based upon the blood of Jesus. The offender has a right to be forgiven while the one who is offended has a responsibility to forgive. Forgiveness is not based on what the person does or does not do, rather forgiveness is based on what Jesus did.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 2:1
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
SOME THINGS NEED TO BE KEPT IN THE FOREFRONT OF OUR THINKING:
IF I DO NOT ESTEEM GOD’S HOLINESS, THEN I CHEAPEN HIS GRACE AND FORGIVENESS.
IF I DO NOT THINK OF MY SIN AS EGREGIOUS TO GOD AND OTHERS, THEN I FAIL TO SEE MY NEED TO BE FORGIVEN OR TO FORGIVE OTHERS.
THE DIALOGUE IN 1 JOHN CHAPTER 1 IS REALLY INSTRUCTIVE HERE:
Man says about sin: (using the repeating phrase: “if we say”)
Verse 6 –I deny that sin breaks fellowship… I have fellowship, but walk in darkness – then I deny the effects of sin in hurting my fellowship with God
Verse 8 –I deny that sin exists in my nature. then I deny the reality of the existence of sin, and I am self deceived, and therefore have no sense of guilt or obligation to God or others.
Verse 10 – I deny that sin shows itself in my conduct – therefore I can justify anything I do.
When a person is born again they become a new creation in Christ and as such gain access to a storehouse of God’s grace. This storehouse is filled with every good and precious promise, all paid for by the blood of Jesus. At the point of salvation, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins, old things pass away and all things become new. We are forgiven the eternal debt of sin and are given and open door into God’s grace of continued forgiveness.
Without question the grace of God is sufficient to cover every failure and the sins which do so often beset the saint. The grace of forgiveness comes when we recognize our sin before God, confess our sin to God, and forsake that sin. This grace is available and abundant when accessed by a true heart of repentance. More than simply saying, “excuse me” we must mean “forgive me” with solemn contrition because each request makes its demand on the blood of Christ. For without the blood there can be no forgiveness.
Not only can we access the forgiveness we need for our sin but we also can access the grace of forgiveness which we need to pardon others. Just as Jesus said, “forgive and you will be forgiven.” Forgiveness is a right while restoration is a responsibility. Forgiveness does not relieve one of the responsibilities for their past. However, forgiveness does absolve and fully pardon from the penalties of the past. Forgiveness is the responsibility of the one who was offended while restoration often costs the offender.
REAL FORGIVENESS OF OTHERS IS TO ABSORB THE COST OF THEIR SIN.
JESUS TALKED ABOUT “DEBT” AS DESCRIBING THE NATURE OF SIN.
“FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.” MATTHEW 6:12
TIM KELLER: FORGIVENESS MEANS GIVING UP THE RIGHT TO SEEK REPAYMENT FROM THE ONE WHO HARMED YOU.
THIS IS A VOLUNTARY SUFFERING ON OUR PART.
YES WE SHOULD “CONFRONT AND RECONCILE”
MARK 11 / LUKE 17:5
IT TAKES FAITH – IN THIS CONTEXT, THEY SAID “LORD, INCREASE OUR FAITH!!!”
CONTINUALLY STRIVE (BE IS PRESENT IMPERATIVE) TO BE KIND, TENDERHEARTED, FORGIVING (ALSO A PRESENT TENSE PARTICIPLE)
BAKER ILLUSTRATED COMMENTARY ON Ephesians 5:
“It is uncomfortably threatening both to forgive without guarantee of a favorable response and to give up personal anxieties without assurance of provision.”
TO BE TRULY FORGIVING OF OTHERS, I MUST:
1) NOT USE IT AGAINST THEM.
2) NOT TALK TO OTHERS ABOUT IT.
3) NOT DWELL ON IT PERSONALLY.
. . . you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in such you are asking God’s forgiveness is this.
In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.
As regards my own sin it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought.
But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine percent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one percent guilt which is left over. To excuse what can really produce good excuses is not Christian character; it is only fairness.
To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.
This is hard. It is perhaps not so hard to forgive a single great injury.
But to forgive the incessant provocations of daily life—to keep on forgiving the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son—how can we do it?
Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.
C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: Harper Collins, 2001; Originally published 1949), 181-183
(emphasis and paragraphs mine)