FORGIVENESS IS GOSPEL

I would say that forgiveness is the primary point of the gospel.  Forgiveness is gospel.  It is the good news of Jesus Christ over and for and through our lives.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14  ESV

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”  Psalm 103:10  ESV

“He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins — and not only our sins but the sins of all the whole world.” 1 John 2:2  NLT


Forgiveness flows from the heart of God.  It has always been there for both you and I and the entire world.  Forgiveness is not for sale.  You cannot buy it.  You cannot earn it.  Forgiveness is a free gift of God to the world, to all humanity.

It takes humility to stand in this forgiveness.  It is vast and deep.  In response to God’s forgiveness we must put down our striving to make ourselves right with God.  This is sin.  Because, forgiveness is an act of God unto us and it is Jesus as Salvation, that makes us right with God.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8


Forgiveness is the way and manner of God.  Long before we even knew we needed it.  Jesus Christ is our salvation.  The cross is evidence of God’s great love poured out on our behalf.

In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Then, in John 3:17 we read,  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

In the incarnation of Jesus Christ (his life, death, and resurrection) God committed to co-suffering with us.  God brings no condemnation.  God is good news.  To all of us!  This Good News is better than we have even imagined.

Consider the story of the adulterous woman found in John 8:1-11.  In this story we see:  

1. The religious leaders were eager to condemn her.  And eager to kill her even, for her sin.
2. But Jesus shows us God’s way,  “Then neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”

This, is the gospel.  Sweet and simple.

Have your eyes and understanding been opened to the forgiveness of God, freely given you?

• Or, are you still trying to earn your way to God?
• Are you still trying to make yourself right with God?
• Are you believing that forgiveness is something given you if you do good?

Then, you have missed the message and life of Jesus Christ.

“Rather I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down… so I died to the law — I stopped trying to meet all its requirements — so that I might live for God.  My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It  is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthy body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:18-20

• Have you missed this great gift to the world?  
• Are you selling the gospel, selling forgiveness in any way?

Then you have missed the message and life of Jesus Christ.  We are called to agree with the Lord.  You see, in this verse in Revelation, that it is the Spirit AND the Bride who say,

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Revelation 22:17

Forgiveness is freely given.  Forgiveness is not a transaction.  There is nothing you can do to earn it.  You cannot buy it.  Forgiveness is not for sale.  The Gospel is not for purchase.  It is a gift.  Give it freely.

FORGIVENESS WORKS ACROSS TIME

Of course, it takes humility and courage to stand in forgiveness.  We must put down our striving to make ourselves right with God.  We must stop demanding that others make themselves right with God.  Forgiveness is an act of God unto us and makes us right with God, before we even knew we needed such a thing.  The writer of Psalms, long before Jesus’ coming, knew of the Lord’s forgiveness:

“But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” Psalm 130:4 ESV

And Daniel proclaimed:

“To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him”  Daniel 9:9 ESV

The incarnation of Jesus Christ (life, death, and resurrection) is not bound by time.  Salvation is a continuous present tense occurrence.  We do not have to work for our forgiveness.  We cannot work for our forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a done deal, accomplished some 2000 years ago on a cross.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23 ESV

Forgiveness is present regardless of our response.  It’s about the Lord.
“For the sin of this one man,  Adam, brought death to many.  But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his fight of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. … Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. “ Romans 5:15b & 18

Let’s say this again, “Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.”

I don’t know about you.  But I need to really get this.  God’s love reaches to all of us.  33 

FORGIVENESS IS A WAY OF LIFE

Too often though, as humans we have tried to organize and manage this thing of God that is forgiveness and that is salvation, and what is the good news of Christ.

Our organized religion would take this free gift of God and pander it to people, like sellers on a street bartering sweet buns, or tomatoes, or rice.  We sometimes play games of who deserves it or who doesn’t.  We make divisions in our thinking about whom this is for and whom it is not for.

We tell people they have to perform some sort of ritual prayer or repentant process in order to be forgiven.  And while prayer and repentance are both gifts to us and in us, they are not necessary for forgiveness to happen.  Forgiveness originates in the heart of God.  

• We are invited into the great mercy and grace of God for each other and for this earth and world.
• It is this great mercy and grace and remittance of sins that we are all healed.
• It’s an invitation to the remittance of sins and to the goodness of God poured out upon the world.

For God is love (1 John 4:7-21) and love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).   The Bible speaks much of forgiveness.  It is the entire weave of the good news.  And our response matters.  

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:31-32

Like all things in the Kingdom of Heaven, forgiveness comes alive in us as it runs through our lives.  As it flows through us to others it becomes even more alive within us.

Imagine even.  “Love your enemies!  Do good to them.  Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be eating as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.  You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:35-36

We breath this in our everyday interactions with a hurting world.  We declare,

“God loves you with an everlasting love.  Jesus Christ died on a cross in co-suffering love to take on your sin and to overcome death.  I simply tell you about this today.  Become alive in Christ. The work has been accomplished.  There is nothing you need add to it.  Christ is all-sufficient unto your healing and wholeness from the inside out.  The very foundation of your life is better than you have even imagined.  God loves you more than you will ever know.  Be alive in Christ.”

This is the good news of the gospel.  It is our privilege to now tell folks about this.

God has forgiven you.  This has always been God’s heart for you.  Jesus lived this when he was on earth for you and I.  We are forgiven in God even before we know it.

As Jesus said to the adulterous woman, “I do not condemn you.  Now, go and sin no more.”

PRAYER

“God, thank you for your great love for us.  Bless you that you came in the person of Jesus Christ to co-suffer with us, and to make a way out of sin and death.  You are our salvation.  Thank you and bless you this day.  I am glad to participate in your forgiveness and your salvation.  Flow your forgiveness and your salvation within me and then through me, for the benefit of all I know.  May I live your forgiveness in great grace and peace within my community and for my family.  I love you God.  Amen amen.”


SUMMARY – FORGIVENESS

God has forgiven us.  Psalm 130:4

We receive his forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7

We forgive others. 1 John 1:7

We put down our self effort. Ephesians 2:8-9

We walk in his light. (trusting Jesus for forgiveness, justification, and sanctification). 1 John 1:7

We fulfill the natural requirements of justice.  Leviticus 19:11, Romans 13:7

We act out the ‘rightness’ of God.  Amos 5:24, Leviticus 19:15


APPLICATION


In this quest to fully receive forgiveness into our hearts it is important to note that it is also often necessary to fulfill the natural requirements of justice.


What I mean is this.  First, as we bring our sins to God there are things we have done that need to be spoken out loud and that must be confessed.  Second, some sins require that we do what we can to make them right, in some cases, that we pay the penalty required by human law for that sin.


Through-out this course you have become familiar with the healing prayer model that the Lord has taught for the freedom of hearts and minds.  We can take this same model and use it for the healing of our consciences when we are burdened with sins that seem too great to be free from.  As I said, some of our sins require that justice takes place, and this healing model can guide us in this.


HEALING MODEL FOR JUSTICE 34

1. CONFESSION: we speak out our specific sin

Our healing has been made to happen within the body of Christ. It is why it says in James 5:16, “Confess your sins to one another so that you may be healed.”  NLV Paraphrased

We have committed sins that weigh heavy on us. And forgiveness can only permeate our lives when we have spoken these sins out to a trustworthy and compassionate person within the body of Christ.

Speaking out our sin is very hard to do but in the process of speaking out our sin we enter into a greater level of honesty and from this place we can enter into a grief and sorrow for our sins that is both healing and restorative.

We do not want to remain in layers of cover-up about what we have done and the have we have caused to others. We want to bring it all out and into the open. Confession does this.
2. REPENTANCE: we recognize the hurt we have caused and we grieve

As we speak out our sins we will come into Godly grief and repentance and we will be saved from worldly grief which the Bible describes as deadly.

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10. ESV

It is important that we come into true sorrow and repentance for the sins we have committed. Repentance is something we avoid and yet it is the key to our freedom.
3. RENOUNCING: we go to the person we have hurt and we confess

In the healing prayer model renouncing is where we figuratively stand up and declare alongside the Lord Jesus Christ that we want nothing more to do with our heart sin. As we work with sins that require justice we want to take renouncing into action. Rather than just our words that say, ‘No more!’ we want to declare ‘No more!’ in action.

The first way that we act out our renouncing is to confess our sin to the person that we have sinned against. It is to own up to what we did wrong, to come in humility and repentance to the very person we have most harmed. It is to say, “I did this to you.”

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”  Acts 3:19-20a  ESV
4. BREAKING: we take action to make right what we did wrong

The second way to act out our renouncing through action is to take physical responsibility for the sin. It is to bring recompense to the one we have hurt and harmed. When we take the responsibility to try and set right what we did that was wrong, we are breaking that sins hold upon us and upon the other person.

By our actions, by our humility required in the action, we declare a full stop to the impact of that sin. We break its hold on us. Action takes us beyond words and enters us into the restoration of our lives.

“For the Kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”  1 Corinthians 4:20a ESV
5. CANCELLING: forgiving ourselves and other involved individuals

Cancelling is about forgiving ourselves. It is important that we agree with the forgiveness of the Lord over our own lives. Cancelling may also be about forgiving anyone we believe is complicit in our sin, and it may even include giving up our bitterness against God.

KEY: We take action to express forgiveness. You  might make a meal that you present to yourself or symbolically to God, to indicate that you are letting the past be the past and that you are ready to move into the future; through this meal of reconciliation you extend forgiveness to yourself, and as you eat this meal you extend forgiveness to God.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged, condemn not, and you will not be condemned, forgive, and you will be forgiven, give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37-38 ESV
6. CLAIMING: we take God’s word into our lives

In order to remain free it is important to allow the word of God to penetrate our hearts and minds. As the Psalmist declared,

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you… I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” Psalm 119:11,15-16 ESV

The first thing to do (if you do not have a Bible) is to get yourself a Bible. Pray about this, express your need to the Lord, and then make a plan for how you might put money aside, or how you might plant a little more maize, until you have enough to get a Bible. Make the Bible a priority in your life.

Then, once you have a Bible take a little bit of time to read each and every day. It is best if you read only a little bit each time. If we read too much at one time we cannot meditate on it for we have too much information in our heads at one time; just read a little bit each day. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and then continue to think about what you have been reading. Day by day, bit by bit, you will find yourself transformed by the word of God.
7. SEALING: we serve Jesus by helping others

We take action to encourage and to be there for others who are also bringing their sins and regrets to the Lord. If we are gifted with kindness and grace then we may be the one who listens to the confessions of others.

Or we may minister to those in our communities by helping widows in their gardens, by taking hot meals to widows, by making clothes for children, by doing the laundry of an elderly person who cannot manage this on their own – there are multiple ways that we can give back to our communities and can serve Jesus as we help others.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me… Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, ‘my brothers’, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:34-36,40 ESV

As we are freed by the Lord Jesus we are freed to be the kingdom of God in this world; instead of just talking about God’s ways, we live God’s ways.

Congratulations.

You have completed a very difficult exercise.  But it is the beginning of a heart skill that will enable you to be free of anything that is weighing you down.

The ability to come into confession and repentance, not only before God, but before our fellow mankind, is an incredibly valuable skill.

The perseverance and intention to set things right (to the best of our ability) is another great life habit that will enter you into the pleasure and presence of God in a new way.

We hold these things that we have done wrong, the regrets of our earlier days, between ourselves and God and between ourselves and other people.  But when we take the responsibility for what has gone wrong and for the wrong that we have done we participate in taking these things down, and we find new fellowship and new peace with both God and others.

Continue to use this tool for everything that the Holy Spirit brings to your attention.  Bit by bit come in this kind of transparency before God and others and you will find your life freed and whole in the Lord.

Freedom in God is a process. It is not a one-prayer kind of thing.  And it is not about God just healing us either.  We must do our part in coming before him with our open, whole, hearts.  We bring to God all the good, the bad, and the ugly of our lives and then he has the freedom to heal and to restore our lives.

_____________________

33 “Every person who has ever been conceived was included in the death, burial, resurrection and ascension in Jesus.  When Jesus was lifted up, God ‘dragged’ all human beings to Himself (John 12:32) and that Jesus is the Savior of all humankind, (I Timothy 4:10).  Further, every single human being is in Christ and Christ is in them, and Christ is in the Father (John 14:20).  When Christ died—the Creator in whom the cosmos was created—we all died.  When Christ rose, we rose (II Corinthians 5).

The context of salvation involves three dimensions. First, prior to the foundation of the world we were all included.  Saved in eternity (II Timothy 1:9).  Second, in the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus we were all included (II Corinthians 5:19).  Third, within the context of our own experience a present tense on-going active participation to work out what God has worked in (Philippians 2:12-13).  Although we didn’t do anything in the accomplishment of our salvation (except to kill Jesus), our participation in the working out of this salvation is essential.  Our ongoing choices matter.”  

Quote by Paul Young, as referenced in this article by Brad Jersak. https://www.ptm.org/are-you-saved

34 CCIM’s Healing Model for Justice is strongly influenced by freedomsession.org

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