This Week's Gospel Sermons
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June 20, 2010
Paul, in both Ephesians and Colossianstells us that in Christ is found redemption. A price for pardon is paid — the blood of Christ. He explains that this results in forgiveness of sins or trespasses. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7) and “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). How much do we understand about forgiveness?
What is forgiveness? The word originally came to us from a series of words meaning “to send away from.” This carries the idea of pardon or dismissal. Carries forward to the natural conclusion, we understand it to refer to remission, and/or the eradication of guilt. This is what the blood of Christ brings. Jesus explains this to us in His statement to His followers as He took the cup at the Passover before His crucifixion: “for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
We often sing hymns about His blood — “There is Power in the Blood” and “There’s a Fountain Free” are just two of the many examples. This is the fountain spoken of through the prophet Zechariah, “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity” (Zechariah 13:1).
Who forgives? Who releases or sends away sin? We know that the blood of Christ is the means, but is there other involvement? God forgives. God is the one who has been sinned against. He is the one who forgives. Speaking through Isaiah, He says, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins”(Isaiah 43:25). Jesus, as He taught disciples to pray, put it this way: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:9-12).
Christ forgives. “In Christ” is where we find redemption. His death is how forgiveness is even possible. “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30,31).
We are to forgive. The apostle Paul explains that the forgiveness from God in Christ also teaches us proper behavior. “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, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31,32).
Who needs forgiveness? All do. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12; 23). Even Christians need this. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10; 2:1,2). The need is magnified when we recall how bad sin really is — “For the wages of sin is death”(Romans 6:23).
What is the nature of forgiveness? Forgiveness is eternal — past sins that are forgiven are never more on our account. The writer of Hebrews reminds us of the promise that God made. “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,” He then says, “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE” (Hebrews 10:16,17).
Still, forgiveness does not erase the fact of sin. It is still a fact that we have sinned even though the sin has been forgiven. Forgiveness does not erase the memory of sin. Paul remembered his past clearly, “… even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor …” (1 Timothy 1:12-15). Forgiveness does not erase the physical consequences of sin. That is seen in so many ways. A dug addict still shows in the physical body the results of that sin. A murder victim is not miraculously reanimated. Devastation, whether a dent in a fender or a life taken through an automobile accident caused by a drunken driver, doesn’t disappear. Forgiveness does something better than change the facts, the memory, or the physical consequences of sin. Forgiveness takes the guilt of sin away. Man’s soul becomes as white as snow: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool’” (Isaiah 1:11-20). We no longer must suffer the separation from God, the death, that sin brings.
Who is forgiven? The people referred to in our beginning text at Ephesus and at Colossae had forgiveness. As noted, these were those who were in Christ. People who have been baptized correctly are in Christ: “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6.3,4). These had forgiveness. We can have forgiveness, too, if we have done as did those at Ephesus and at Colossae.
What is the price of forgiveness? It is not silver and gold — “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18,19). It is the blood of Jesus, according to our previous observations. But, there is a price for all to pay. Our price is that of obedience — “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17,18). This is the price all must pay. Have you put forth the effort to comply?
— S. Scott Richardson Sr.