The Priority of Biblical Forgiveness

August 5, 2016

Hello Church,

I pray that you have received the greatest gift of God, the forgiveness of your sins through faith in Christ alone, and that you are reveling in the unending joy that accompanies the complete pardon from the eternal penalty sinners rightfully deserve! What a blessing biblical forgiveness is and what a priority it must have in our life and ministry as a Church.[1] How thankful I am that Jesus Christ not only establishes the possibility of comprehensive forgiveness,[2] but He also lucidly provides the complete picture and pattern of genuine forgiveness.[3] Last Sunday we started a mini-series on Biblical Forgiveness born out of Paul’s exhortation that the Church must be a people who forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us.[4] We all know that receiving forgiveness is a huge blessing to us who believe, but giving it is also a massive problem with many Christians, if we are honest. Sadly, the most forgiven people in the world can, at times, be the most unforgiving. Furthermore, to be an unforgiving Christian is to be a living contradiction, as your life actually reflects the antithesis of Christ![5] Therefore, it is imperative that we hear the Scriptures honestly and apply these truths to our lives wholeheartedly in order that we might display Christ-like love to one another, that God may be ultimately glorified and the world may clearly see Christ in us.[6] Because of the critical nature of this series, I thought it would be most helpful to review the priority of Biblical forgiveness, which establishes why this scriptural and theological truth should take center stage in our lives personally and our church corporately.

The Priority of Biblical Forgiveness

 Forgive

The Bible patently establishes the necessity for and priority of biblical forgiveness as a main theme that threads its way completely through the Scriptures from Genesis 3 through Revelation 22. It is undeniable that the gracious offer of forgiveness for guilty sinners is in many ways the merciful binding that holds the books of the Bible together![7] We see this scripturally beginning with an understanding of how forgiveness is the ultimate promise of the gospel. The gospel is finally about, and the proclamation of, “good news” that the guilty sinner may go free through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of the divine sin bearer, Jesus Christ.[8] Now consider these facts: the promise of a future and complete forgiveness from sins was the proclamation of the prophets in the Old Testament[9] and the ultimate ministry of the New Testament prophet John the Baptist.[10] The promise of forgiveness was the driving point of Peter’s first sermon[11] and a primary point of the earthly ministry of Christ as He proved His authority to forgive sin;[12] He provided the ultimate sacrifice to forgive sin,[13] and readily proclaimed the message of forgiveness of sins.[14] Without question the blessed promise of the gospel undeniably establishes the priority of forgiveness![15]

However, the priority of forgiveness is also seen biblically from the fact that forgiveness is the gracious provision and power source of the believer’s life or the new man. Just consider how, through God’s merciful gift of forgiveness, believers have been released from the eternal penalty of sin,[16] released from the bondage of sin,[17] released from the power of sin,[18] and released from the desperation, separation, and isolation of sin.[19]Moreover, contemplate and rejoice over the fact that because of judicial forgiveness believers are fully released from the ongoing haunts of past sins[20] as they have been made into a new creation in Christ and are thus released from the divine judgment that might come from all past, present, and future sins, being justified by God.[21]

Thirdly, the priority of forgiveness is also seen in the fact that forgiveness is preeminent in the Church. The Church was founded upon forgiveness,[22] is fostered through forgiveness,[23] and is ultimately fortified by ongoing relational forgiveness within the body of Christ.[24]

Fourthly, we learn from God’s Word that forgiveness is a priority as it is a prerequisite for all godly relationships within the home,[25] common relationships outside of the home,[26] and all relationships within the Church.[27]

Fifthly, we see, sadly to our surprise, that forgiveness is a priority because it protects the believer against the schemes of Satan.[28] Satan desires to keep believers distracted through bitterness and depression through hurt feelings, but forgiveness deals a deathblow to the disgruntled and discouraged heart!

Sixthly, forgiveness is a priority because it pictures Christ powerfully and poignantly to the world like nothing else! Consider the impact of the forgiving attitude of the afflicted Christ[29] and the subsequent example of Stephen[30]and the impact it potentially had upon the conversion of Saul.[31]

Finally, the priority of forgiveness is seen in how it is inseparably linked with true salvation.[32] We forgive and love much because God, in Christ, has forgiven us of all our wickedness.[33] Therefore, any person who claims to be a Christian, and yet lives in a habitual state with an ongoing unforgiving heart, should examine himself to see if he has truly been forgiven.[34]

I am so thankful for the opportunity to stall out here in Colossians 3 and simmer on the Scriptures that deal with the all-consuming reality and blessing of biblical forgiveness.  I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we will be considering the inseparable links in the chain of biblical forgiveness. There are three critical links that come together and form the undeniable and unbreakable bond of true forgiveness. Those links, which must always be a part of every attitude and act of true forgiveness, are mercy, grace, and love. I look forward to considering these properties of biblical forgiveness this Sunday. We will also have the blessing of celebrating the Lord’s Supper together, and we will be receiving an update from one of our missionaries, the Rosses. See you on the Lord’s Day, Lord willing!

Overwhelmed by Full Forgiveness,

Pastor Matt

 

[1] Mt 18:21; 2 Cor 2:6-11

[2] Mt 26:28

[3] Col 3:13

[4] Col 3:13

[5] Mt 18:21-35; Eph 4:32-5:2

[6] Jn 13:34-35

[7] Ex 34:6-7; Jerm 31:34; Lk 1:77; Mk 1:4; Acts 2:38-39; Rom 3:21-26; 1 Jn 1:9

[8] Isa 61:1-2; Lk 4:43; Acts 26:15-18; 1 Cor 15:1-11; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24

[9] Jerm 31:34

[10] Mk 1:4

[11] Acts 2:38-39

[12] Mt 9:6

[13] Mt 26:28

[14] Lk 7:36-50

[15] Lk 24:47

[16] Rom 8:1

[17] Col 1:14

[18] Col 2:12-13

[19] Eph 2:1-5; Col 1:21; Rom 8:8:31-39

[20] 2 Cor 5:17

[21] Rom 5:1

[22] Lk 24:47; Acts 2:38-39

[23] Eph 4:32

[24] 2 Cor 2:5-11

[25] Eph 5:25-6:4

[26] Lk 6:37

[27] Col 3:13

[28] 2Cor 2:11

[29] Lk 23:34; 1 Pet 2:21-25

[30] Acts 7:60

[31] Acts 9

[32] Eph 4:32; Rom 8:1; 10:9-17

[33] Lk 7:36-50; Col 3:13

[34] 2 Cor 13:5

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