Saturday, August 28, 2021


Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The Apostle Paul’s Epistles regularly note the danger of the “Judaizers” who would follow his Evangelical treks, and attempt to put new Gentile believers under the old Jewish Laws.  Jeremiah 31:31 clearly declares that God would make a New Covenant with the House of Israel, and the House of Judah. Did they miss that?

In the Letter to the Hebrews, in 8:7, the writer states; “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.”  This new covenant was to be written in the minds and hearts of believers.

The Law of Forgiveness is integral within the new covenant. Mercy and grace are the ruling tenets of this law, for that’s what Jesus exemplified for believers everywhere, without regard to race, ethnicity, or country of origin. Salvation was open to “whosoever.”

Based on what we know about our own lives, for how much have we each been forgiven? Yes, we lose count after 10 incidents, for all the rest are repeats of the ten, one for every commandment broken. Yet when we confess them, 1 John 1:9 says God is not only faithful, but just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “POOF! The record of our sins has been more than just redacted, it has been wiped clean as though they never happened! No redaction needed! No redaction even possible! God “chooses” to forget our iniquities.

But we first must acknowledge them, and take ownership of them. If we don’t acknowledge them, how will we know to confess them to Jesus, unto forgiveness? This takes a little quiet introspection, searching our own hearts, as King David did:

~ Psalm 139:23,24 ~
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Jesus’ work of perfecting His living saints begins with each of us individually.

Today's Audio Message:

Matthew 18:15-35 - "ORDER IN THE CHURCH!"

Forgiveness is a great virtue, all believers have the capacity to forgive because God’s Spirit indwells the hearts of believers. Forgiveness is the key to loving one another and serving one another in unity and fellowship. It is the key to having truly meaningful relationships. It tears down the barriers we put up that separate us. It is the cure for bitterness, anger and revenge. We live in a world that is so divided. Listening to the commentary on the news, do any of them show mercy, grace, or forgiveness. There is hardly a civil word to be heard. They are like vultures going after their prey, and by their words they devour one another.

That is not the case for the believer. We exemplify the virtues of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God has called us out of this world to shine as lights in darkness. What the world is incapable of, He has enabled us to do. Jesus reminds us that He has forgiven us a great debt, how much more should we be eager to forgive those who sin against us? It is the heart of God to forgive, it should be our heart too.

Proverbs 19:11 says, “It is a man’s glory to pass over a transgression.” In other words, if you want to see man at his best, he is at his best in his ability to forgive. In overlooking a transgression, in forgetting a sin and an evil. Ephesians 4:32 takes the thought even a step further for Christians and it says we are to be “forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us.”

We have received the forgiveness of God in Christ, should we not then offer forgiveness to others? We have been forgiven so much!

Colossians 3:13 “forgiving one another even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” It is the glory of a man that he should forgive another, and particularly for a Christian who has been forgiven so much by God through Christ. And if, in fact, it is the best of men in terms of their character quality to forgive, and if it is that we as Christians have been forgiven everything, how eager we should be to be able to forgive others.

There are many great examples of forgiveness in the Bible, one that stands out is the story of Joseph. You remember the story. Joseph was one of 12 of Jacobs sons, his father’s favorite. His brothers were jealous of him, in fact, they hated him so much that they threw him into a pit, and sold him into slavery. later we learn that because of his ability to interpret dreams, he was made governor of Egypt. He wisely rationed the country’s food supply preparing for famine, and it is during the famine where the opportunity comes to forgive and reconcile with his brothers.

The story of forgiveness and reconciliation can be found in Genesis chapter 50.

Joseph tells his brothers, “As for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly unto them.” That’s quite a good example of forgiveness, yet there was a greater example of forgiveness yet to come.

As we finish up Matthew chapter 18 today, we learn what Jesus teaches on forgiveness.

Following Jesus' discourse on church discipline, Peter asks Him how many times should a brother sin against him, and he forgive him? Peter kind of offers a rather generous number, “till seven times?” Now we know that the Jewish rabbis (or teachers) of Jesus’ day taught that when it comes to forgiveness they are to be generous. The world’s standard is so low that many people refuse to forgive just one time. So the Jewish rabbis taught that you should forgive someone of an offense up to three times.

Now we don’t know what is going on in Peter’s mind, but we do know that he knows the law, and he has been with Jesus for quite a while now. He probably has some inclination that Jesus’ standard will be much higher than that, so he is rather inclined to make the generous gesture of forgiving some one up to seven times.

Jesus’ standard is of course much higher. He tells Peter, not seven times but "seventy times seven times." In other words, you are never done forgiving others. As Christians, we have all experienced the unbelievable forgiveness that God graciously pours out on us through Jesus Christ. Yet, if we are honest, it is incredibly hard to forgive others when they have offended or hurt us. This parable is a painful reminder of this reality. We all want and need forgiveness. We also want others who sin against us to pay the price for their sin while we withhold grace from them. The teaching of Jesus reminds us that our sin against a holy and righteous God is an enormous debt compared to the sins we commit against each other.

He has forgiven us a debt we could not pay, how much more should we be eager to forgive those who sin against us?

It is the heart of God to forgive, and when we forgive we radiate the true nature of God.

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