“Nature of the Church V”
- I. It Belongs to God
- II. Purchased With Blood
- III. Displays the Wisdom of God
- IV. Is the Elect
- V. Are Glorious
- VI. Clothed in Righteousness
- Verse 32) And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 33) And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
- I believe that it is important for us to see the whole picture of Christ’s forgiving spirit that we should strive towards.
- He (Jesus) was asking forgiveness from His Father for…
- The soldiers who were crucifying Him (They were just doing what they thought was right in their own eyes.)
- The Jews that were telling the courts to crucify Him (They believed the leaders of the church and did not follow their own convictions.)
- The leaders for their lack of discernment upon remembering the words of Isaiah and the other prophets that foretold His coming.
- The scoffers who made fun, mocked and spit on Him. They were only following the crowd not their conscience.
A) It doesn’t matter who you are married to
- The church, a man, a woman, a job, a government….
- They are going to fail you
- They are going to offend you
- They are going to misunderstand you
- They will misinterpret what you mean by what you do.
- They will disappoint you
- You may also do the same to them. WHY? Because we are sinful creatures.
B) The “Key” to any relationship, or marriage.
- Is “Forgiveness.”
- Look at Proverbs 19:11… The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over (overlook) a transgression (a wrong against someone).
- Our society today will not accept this. Today’s society say.. “I’ll get even…”
- This kind of attitude fills people with bitterness, hate, anger, and vengeance towards others.
C) The biggest destroyer of a relationship or marriage
- The world makes us think this way by putting out movies such as Dirty Harry, Rambo, the Terminator, and my favorite… True Grit.
- They make us think it is cool to get even or seek revenge.
- There are more than 300,000 lawsuits a year in America alone.
- People who sue others are vengeance seekers.
- 70 % of all lawyers are busy keeping up with those lawsuits.
- The sad thing is that counselors and psychologists will tell you that it is not healthy to “forgive.”
- Susan Foreward wrote a book titled “Toxic Parents.” She presents what is the prevailing attitude towards forgiveness in our culture. She has a chapter in the book entitled “You don’t have to forgive.” She claims that we should place the blame on our parents because that is where it belongs. They poisoned us. We all had toxic parents. The new cry is … “I’m a victim, it’s not my fault, and I’m not responsible.” In her book she implies that guilt for anything and everything is pushed off on others and left there, until vengeance exhausts itself. She furthermore says that there is really no place for forgiveness. In fact, she often suggests that forgiveness is not healthy. It’s sort of wimpy, and cowardly. She says that we’ve all been oppressed, abused, victimized, and we aren’t about to forgive anyone.
D) Unforgiveness imprisons people in the past
- As long as you fail to forgive offenders and what they have done to you…
- You are chained to both
- You keep the offense alive
- The pain is constantly there
- You are constantly picking at an open sore, keeping it from healing.
- You choose to love hate, and feed it through your life.
- It becomes a cancer of bitterness that infects your judgment of how you see life.
- Every conversation becomes an open grave for slandering the person.
E) Forgiveness brings Freedom
- There are 75 word pictures for forgiveness in the Bible.
- Here are a few….
- To forgive is to turn the key, open the cell door and let the prisoner walk free.
- To forgive is to write in large letters across the debt… “Nothing Owed”
- The Bible says that to forgive is to pound the gavel in a courtroom and declare… “Not Guilty”
- To forgive is to shoot an arrow so high and so far that you cannot find it.
- To forgive is to take out the garbage and dispose of it once and for all, leaving the house fresh and clean.
- To forgive is to loose the anchor and let the ship set sail.
- To forgive is to grant a full pardon to a sentenced and condemned criminal.
- To forgive is to sandblast a wall of graffiti, leaving it looking brand new.
- Like the Psalmist wrote…and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
I. Forgiveness is The Most Godly Act You Can Do
A) God’s definition of forgiveness
- It is a personal verbal declaration of a granted promise.
- It is a statement of undeserved or unearned love that affirms to an offender that there is no anger, hatred, nor desire for vengeance because guilt, and blame have been removed .
- This is the attitude of God toward sinners, those who have put their faith in Him.
- Look at Exodus 34:6…And the Lord passed by before him (Moses), and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7) Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
- This is the Character of God…
- Merciful– Compassionate; tender; unwilling to give pain; not cruel.
- Gracious– Favorable; kind; friendly;
- Longsuffering– Patient with our stupidity, and lack of discernment
- Abundant in goodness and truth– He is all good and full of truth
- Forgiving iniquity-Evil things that are done against the spiritual laws of God with a perverted understanding.
- Forgiving transgressions-Evil things that are done deliberately (full knowledge) against the Law out of rebellion. This too can be from a perverted understanding.
- Forgiving sin-A disobedience to the will of God. Not doing what God’s Law requires or doing what it forbids.
- “…and that will by no means clear the guilty; This means that He will not let you go unpunished. You will be forgiven, but there is a price to pay for your sin.
- “…visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” The punishment will be that our sin will also be visited (be the sins also of the next four generations)
- We are more like God in character when we forgive.
- Psalm 32:1… Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. The reality of an unforgiving heart lies within this chapter. If time permits, let us read it and study it.
- Another big story of forgiveness is in the story of the “Prodigal Son.”
- In Luke 15 the story…
- The son was impatient to spend his inheritance.
- Anxious to get his hands on wealth he had not earned.
- Abandoned his father and family
- Spent his money foolishly
- Allowed his friends to influence his every decision.
- When the money ran out, his friends left.
- He woke up in a pig pen realizing that the servants of his father deserved more than he did.
- When he was afar off the father saw him and ran to meet him with a kiss, and a forgiving heart.
- Christ teaches us that very same thing. When a person realizes their sin and wishes for forgiveness, we are to forgive them before they even arrive to ask it.
- Forgiveness starts immediately after the sin has been committed.
B) Examples of forgiveness
- Jesus on the Cross– Luke 23:34… Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
- Stephan– Acts 7:59… And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60) And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
- Paul teaches us in Ephesians 4:32…And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
- Ephesians 5:1…Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2) And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.
- Colossians 3:12… Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13) Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
- Being Angry with someone is the same as murder
A) Jesus teaches this
- Go to Matthew 5:21..Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22) But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:
- I John 3:15…Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
- The Bible makes it very clear that Anger, hatred, bitterness and revenge is all the same as breaking the sixth commandment… “Thou shalt not kill.”
- It’s just as bad to wish someone were dead.
- Whoever has offended you has offended God even more
A) To be forgiven requires forgiveness
- Many people say.. “I’ve had it up to my ears with this marriage” or “”I am not going to that church another Sunday, I’m just sick of it!”
- The reality is this… That person who has wronged you has sin in their life and they have sinned against a Holy God more than against you.
- When God has forgiven them, why can’t you forgive them?
B) David for example
- Remember when David sinned by lusting, and intimately being with Bathsheba which resulted in the sin of murder?
- In Psalm 51:4…Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: David had the right perspective… He had offended Bathsheba, Uriah, his family his friends, and more than anything else…He had offended God!
- Note what David said in Psalms 41:4…I said, Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.
C) God forgives totally
- God forgives totally- He wipes your dirty slate clean. (Psalms 103:12)
- God forgives freely- it does not cost you anything.
- God forgives completely- the entire situation of the sin is forgiven. (Jer. 31:34)
D) Looking at our own crime first
- Too many of us Christians are looking judging other people for their sins against us when we should be examining ourselves!
- Go to Matthew 18…
- When we stand before God, before our salvation…
- We are worthy only of hell, because we are enemies of God.
- We had ignored God, and did that which was right in our own eyes.
- We had denied God and the Holy Spirit’s convictions.
- We deserve an eternal hell.
- BUT… God in His mercy forgives us for our damning sins.
- He forgives us a sin that will condemn us forever!
- Look at the punishment for crimes in our world…
- Misdemeanor crimes- 1-3 days in jail
- Petty crimes- 30 to 60 days in jail
- Armed robbery- 3-5 years
- 2nd degree murder- 20 years
- Premeditated 1st degree murder- life sentence
- But the punishment for sinning against God is -Eternal Life!
- In Matthew 18… We see a massive debt owed to the king.
- Let us read verses 21-35…
- Here Christ gives a parable of person who was forgiven a big debt, then went to collect a debt owed him by strangling the man. When he could not pay it then he took him to court and the man was sentenced to jail time. Then the king summoned the man to come and serve his time also since he could not pay his debt.
- Note what king said in verse 34…And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
- Who are “the tormentors?” Chastening, spankings, stress, hardship, illness, difficulties.
- James 2:13…For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
- Mercy is a big part of forgiveness.
- Look what Christ said in verse 35…So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
- This is not the first time Christ said this…
- Note the Lord’s example of prayer in Matthew 6:12…And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. “debts” here means …our trespasses or sins against others.
- Again in verses 14…For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15) But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
- Some people think that you can loose your salvation.
- No, because Eternal Forgiveness we have in our justification. This secures our future in heaven.
- Temporary Forgiveness we need in our sanctification (To make us holy) and that secures our blessings in the present.
- Do you want blessings or chastening?
- The Lack of forgiveness means we are unfit for worship
A) Worship becomes a form of hypocrisy
- What is hypocrisy? “hypocrite”…
- Look at Matthew 5:23…Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, (if you are presenting your offering at the altar, then you are coming to worship.) and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Now then, if we all of a sudden remember that we are angry or bitter against a relative, a spouse, or a brother in Christ, then we must leave our offering there and go to the offended and make up, or make it right. 24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
- In Psalms 66:13-15 he is talking about the worship service and note what he says in verse 18… If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
- The absence of forgiveness means you are unfit for worship with a forgiving God!
- To not forgive is placing yourself above God
A) To whom does vengeance belong?
- When you cannot forgive, then you are taking God’s sword of vengeance and trying to pierce the heart of those offenders.
- You are then taking the authority of God away from Him and placing yourself above Him.
- Romans 12:18 …If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I (not YOU) will repay, saith the Lord.
- Note what He says we are to do with those who offend us…20) Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
- These “coals of fire” are convictions.
- Offenses against you are your trials
A) Our trials perfect us
- When God brings trials our way…He is trying to perfect us in our walk.
- I Peter 5:10…Note the four things that trials do for us…But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while,
- make you perfect, – Sanctifies us, makes us holy and acceptable to God
- stablish, – give you a good foundation to build upon
- strengthen, – Make you strong against satan’s attacks
- settle you. – everything around you will be calm and settled.
- You may think you have a difficult marriage.
- You may think that everyone is against you.
- You may think that the pastor is picking on you and your family.
- You may think that your boss is trying to get you fired.
- You may think that your friends have a bad attitude.
- But all these trials are for your perfecting growth in Christ!
B) The Bible theology of forgiveness
- I Peter 2:19…For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20) For what glory (or credit, benefit) is it, if, when ye be buffeted (harshly treated) for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, (if you do the right thing, forgive them) and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
- Do you want God to accept you or reject you?
- This means to have God’s favor upon you!
C) Forgiveness is…
- Heaven coming to earth
- The peace of God in your heart
- The image of God
- The improvement of God’s kingdom
- What makes a relationship last.