INTRO: In recent months I have come to realize that a great many people only give lip service to the forgiveness of others. Perhaps there have been times when I, too, have been guilty of failure to truly, genuinely, lovingly forgive others when they have sinned against me, the body of Christ, the Lord. What so often happens is that we say we have forgiven another ... and, then, our behavior toward that person seems to be punitive, punishing. Now, I also recognize that a person who is being forgiven has a responsibility to manifest genuine penitence by the necessary changes in his life. But there is a burden which scripture places on me to forgive. Precious friends, it really does matter what you believe about forgiving others!
I. CHRISTIANS DO & WILL SIN
A. That fact is made very clear in 1 Jno 1:7-10 & 2:1
1. what is written here is clearly written to Christian people
2. this is not written of people of Christians who have gone back to the world - but of Christians who are walking "in the light"
B. They may sin in "public ways"
1. the case of the person described in 1 Cor 5:1, for example
2. such sin brings reproach upon the Lord and His body
C. They may sin in "personal ways"
1. such is the suggestion of Mt 18:15
2. such sin certainly has potential of affecting relationships
II. SO, WHAT ARE WE TO DO?
A. This certainly brings us to Peter's question of the Lord - Mt 18:21,22
1. Jesus had been about the brother's trespass against a brother (v. 15)
2. so, Peter asked Him a question you and I, in our humanness, might ask
3. "but how many times must I forgive the brother? several times?"
4. I wonder if Jesus' answer is shocking to us - you just keep on forgiving
B. Then Jesus gave Peter, and us, one of His great kingdom lessons
1. the problem stated? Mt 18:23-27 - the Lord forgave an impossible debt
2. the servant's behavior? Mt 18:28-30 - servant refused to forgive another
3. the master's reaction? Mt 18:31-34 - as he had been forgiven, the servant should have been forgiving!
4. the "bottom line"? Mt 18:35 - if you do not, from your heart, forgive your offending brother, you cannot expect God's mercy in the judgment!
C. And we need to consider that case in1 Cor 5:1 - public, open sin
1. in this case a disciplinary action involving the church was taken
2. but notice2 Cor 2:6-11 - apparently, this is of the person at 1 Cor 5:1
3. furthermore, he has apparently repented of his sin - but the language here suggests that members of the church were not forgiving him!
4. at 2 Cor 2:11 the apostle makes the point that our being unforgiving puts us in the clutches of Satan!
5. the penitent brother needs the confirmation of our love - if we do not forgive and confirm our love, we may well cause this brother to be lost to the Lord!
D. Is all of this easy for us to do?
1. I am very much afraid that it is not - we tend to hold on to these things
2. why we prefer to harbor our resentment, our hurt, our indignation I do not know ... but such is so typical of humanity ... even of Christian people - we just cannot get past injured pride and ego
3. letting go and reassuring a penitent brother/sister is the way of Christ
4. Mk 16:7 - taking the initiative to reassure Peter
5. I suggest, too, that forgiving and reassuring will bring great peace to us - bearing the burden of hurt and resentment absolutely robs us of joy and peace
E. Our relationships in Christ, our families, our friends are so important
1. some are so willing, however, to let relationships suffer ... even die
2. I understand that relationships to ebb and flow ... but must they die?
3. if we can learn to forgive and confirm our love to the forgiven, our lives will be so much more pleasant and peaceful! and eternity not in jeopardy
4. Eph 4:31,32 - here is our lesson in a "nutshell"
CLOSE: As I grow older, I am beginning to think that the matter of our being forgiving may be one of the most critical of all subjects we might consider. You see, we can everything relating to the church just right, teach sound doctrine, give to the poor, etc. and be lost in eternity because we were not forgiving!
Cecil A. Hutson
02 April 2006
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)