Part One of a Summary on Lessons Learned on Forgiveness

August 26, 2016

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

What joy fills my heart as I write this letter to you praising God for the amazing gift of the Body of Christ. How thankful I am for the Church, which literally means “called out ones” being those who have been graciously chosen by the Lord[1] and called out from the world[2] having been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light![3] I pray that the love of Christ overwhelms your life today as you consider how He sovereignly and sacrificially calls unworthy sinners to Himself.[4] One of the greatest blessings of salvation is the unending reality of eternal forgiveness that is everlasting[5] and the peace that comes from knowing that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.[6] Moreover, this blessing of judicial forgiveness sets the stage, provides the example, and equips the believer to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us.[7] Thus, we are not left to our own ingenuity, intelligence, or emotions when it comes to forgiving others, but He has commanded us and greatly helped us so that we can be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.[8] That is why we have been biblically dissecting this all-encompassing exhortation to forgive others like Christ[9] in order that we might grow in our understanding of both God’s magnanimous pardon of us, and our place in forgiving one another. Therefore, while we wrapped up our series on forgiveness last week, I would like to give you part one of a summary of some of the lessons learned on being a forgiven and forgiving people.

Part One of a Summary on Lessons Learned on Forgiveness

grace

The Critical Link of Grace

Time will not allow me to recap all that we have learned, so I refer you back to the previous sermons preached on Sundays, and written on Fridays in the Pastor’s Heart, for some of those early lessons on the “Priority of Forgiveness” and the critical link of mercy. However, I would like to remind you that mercy is the negative side of forgiveness in that it holds back judgment or wrath. Yet, grace is the positive side in that it moves forward in proactively offering the offender a better condition! Mercy sees the needs of the offender and says, “I pity you”, but grace sees the offender and says, “I pardon you!”  Mercy rightfully withholds judgment, and grace rightfully gives blessing upon those who have hurt us, abused us, maligned us, manipulated us, belittled us, disrespected us, taken advantage of us, lied to us, and stolen from us. Mercy sees the need of others and is moved to seek to meet the needs of others in grace! John MacArthur says it well when he says… “Mercy eliminates pain, but grace grants a better condition.” A good way to remember grace is by the acronym God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. Here are a few points of clarification on how grace intersects with forgiveness:

  1. Grace takes the positive initiative on behalf of others, including enemies. (Rom 5:8; Phil 2)
  2. Grace sees the needs of others as more important than personal hurt. (Isa 53; 1 Pet 2; 2 Cor 5)
  3. Grace seeks the advancement of others even in the face of affliction. (Lk 24:34; Mt 5:38-48)
  4. Grace grants a better condition of pardon and blessing even at the cost of self! (Jn 3:16; Phil 2

The Crucial Connection to Love

Furthermore, we learned that love is another crucial link in the chain of biblical forgiveness. Remember, forgiveness is actually the conduit or channel through which we pour mercy, grace, and love into the lives of those who have wronged us. I pointed this out through multiple texts but one that is most helpful is Psalm 103 where we see God as a forgiving God[10] because He is a God who abounds in mercy, grace, and steadfast love[11]. One of the lessons we learned was that true forgiveness is directly tied to biblical love, which is aggressive,[12] costly,[13]selfless,[14] and unconditional.[15] Never forget, the Bible declares that true love does its greatest work when the other person is at their worst![16] It is also interesting to consider how when Christ taught on forgiveness, it was always surrounded and saturated in a context of mercy, grace, and love.[17] Another point to contemplate that further highlights the priority of forgiveness is the fact that the only commentary Christ offered on the Lord’s Prayer is in the area of forgiveness.[18]

What a blessing God’s Word is as it provides for us all that we need for life and godliness, including why and how we are to forgive those who have wronged us. This is only Part One, so next week I will continue with this summary as we consider the problem nature of forgiveness and the biblical practice of providing forgiveness. I look forward to worshipping with you on Sunday as we return to our series on the Supremacy of Christ and consider how Christ is ultimately every Church’s compass. We will see this most specifically as we contemplate how the Word of Christ, the Peace of Christ, and the Praise of Christ serve as guide posts and mile markers helping point the way of purity for the people of God! Also, I hope you come ready to fellowship as we enjoy our church picnic directly following the service here at church. What a great time of worship and connection this Sunday will be, so I hope to see you there!

Grace and Peace in Christ,

Pastor Matt

[1] 1 Pet 2:9

2 Jn 17:15-17

3 Col 1:14

4 Jn 6:44; 1 Thess 1:4; Col 3:12

5 Ps 103:12; Col 2:13; Isa 43:25; Jer 31:34; Heb 8:12

6 Jn 3:16; Rom 8:1

7 Eph 4:32; Col 3:13

8 Lk 6:36

9 Col 3:13

10 Ps 130:3

11 Ps 103:4-13

12 1 Jn 4:19

13 Mt 20:28

14 1 Jn 3:16; 2 Cor 8:9

15 Rom 5:8

16 Rom 5:8

17 Lk 6:27-42; Mt 6:38-6:15; 18:15-35

18 Mt 6:14-15

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