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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Forgiveness

A particularly challenging message at the worship service of Wishaw Baptist Church this morning.  The pastor, Colin Mackenzie, is a fine preacher at any time, but today, he took on a(nother!) difficult topic.  This session, we have been going through The Sermon on the Mount, as recorded by Matthew (Matt.5-7).  For the past few weeks have been concentrating on what is commonly, but erroneously, known as The Lord's Prayer.  Today we came to the petition, "Forgive  us  our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us.)." (6:12), combined with verses 14 and 15: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Forgiveness, as Colin pointed out, is something that we are always ready to receive - but that we are not always ready to offer! Yet, if we are disciples of Jesus (and I know that many of the regular readers of these posts are!), then we should be forgiving people.  This is not in order that we may be forgiven - that has already been dealt with, by Jesus, at Calvary.  It is a work of God's grace.  If our forgiveness depended on us being forgiving, then our salvation would be changed into one of works!  No, our forgiveness should be a reflection, and a result, of the forgiveness that we have received.

We were directed to the parable of the Kingdom, recorded in Matt.18.  This was given in response to Peter's question as to how many times he ought to forgive someone.  The big fisherman seemed to think that seven would be an adequate number.  Jesus' answer was, effectively: "There is no limit!"   And, of course, the example is there for us to follow.  There is no limit to the forgiveness of God.   That is Good News for many.  There are those, I believe, who have lived lives that they now acknowledge failed to meet their own standards, let alone those of their Creator.  They want to enter into a relationship with Him, but feel that He would not want to reciprocate.  Let me assure any such, on the authority of the Word of God, that He longs to welcome you, and embrace you, and cleanse you, and love you, and own you as His child.  Like the father in the well-known parable of the prodigal (wasteful) son, who was watching and waiting for his wayward son to return to his home, Father God is watching, and waiting, for you!  

All that you need to do is to take Him at His word; come to Him in repentance and faith; and feel the warmth of His presence enfold you.  Of course, that is only the beginning!  You then have to acknowledge His Lordship over your life.  It's a life of obedience, and submission.  You will fall, and fail, again and again.  But here's a thing - as you confess your sin, He is faithful and just to forgive you, and to cleanse you afresh from all unrighteousness. (see I John 1:9-10).  And He'll do it, not just seven times; not even just seventy-seven, or seventy times seven; but as often as it takes, until you leave your sin-tainted body behind, and enter eternity, and His nearer presence, in which sin cannot exist.

Are you prepared for what can be the greatest adventure of your life?  The choice is yours.  May yoiu make the right one!

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