August 09, 2016

FORGIVENESS - BOTH ONCE-FOR-ALL AND DAILY



FORGIVENESS – BOTH ONCE-FOR-ALL AND DAILY

Here is a John 3:16 kind of verse: "Of Him (JESUS) all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43). 

FORGIVENESS by God is readily available. He gives it freely but it is not cheap. It cost God the Father His Son and His excruciating death on the cross. T. De Witt Talmage once penned: “Release! Signed in tears, sealed in blood, written on heavenly parchment, recorded in eternal archives. The black ink of the indictment is written all over with the red ink of the cross: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.’”

Believing in Jesus brings a sinner God's overall judicial forgiveness. Such a believing sinner is at once freed from all guilt and penalty of sin. By "all" means all past, present and future sin! The slate is cleared. God the Judge declares him forgiven. He is thereby justified.  "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Romans 5:9). A truly justified sinner, having believed in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, is forever freed from God’s law of sin and death. The Word of God says so: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:1-2). This judicial forgiveness is a constant and in no way contingent upon daily behavior. 

And so, the believer rests in this truth, as stated later in this same chapter: “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

But this needs to be pressed this further. For Christians, remembering the gruesome price Jesus paid for them should keep them from sinning freely or in a carefree way. This moves us from positional truth (what we possess IN Christ) to every-day or practical truth (what we daily have BY Christ).  The God who saves sinners once-for-all desires that when living our lives we eschew evil and confess it day by day and receive forgiveness. When we say this is carried out BY Christ we mean He gives us freely all things pertaining to life and godliness. Though judicially forgiven once-for-all at the point of initial salvation (when the sinner accepts Jesus as personal Lord and Savior), Christ's agonizing death should lead believers on a daily basis (or practically speaking) to crucify the flesh (old nature) and the lusts thereof. This is an ongoing experience, a variable and not a constant, and has in view God, not as Judge, but as Father. 

The Judge was rendered satisfied at the point of initial belief in Christ. The Scriptures are clear about this. The Apostle John declares: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Glorious truth! 

But, day by day the sensitive Christian desires to be close to Him as Father. And so daily confession and forgiveness are necessary (John 1:9). Experientially His wisdom dictates that evil be detested in an ongoing and growing way. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil..." (Proverbs 8:13). And so, we are instructed to take up our cross and crucify the sinful urges that arise from one's inner self. Put them to death! While suppressing the inner proclivities we also fight against external solicitations. We must say NO to the world’s encroachments. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” 

This ongoing experience is costly. It hurts! Listen to Scripture: "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin..." (1 Peter 4:1). Jesus clearly said, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39). A cross is an instrument of great pain. Fighting the good fight requires a willingness to suffer for the One who suffered for me.

And so, the sincere believer in Christ talks to himself saying:
I am saved by God’s grace. He has redeemed me, yea, and also justified me. He declared me righteous through the blood of His Son. In the courtroom of heaven I stand a forgiven sinner, having been justified and completely forgiven all my sin, past, present and future. The Judge, Almighty and Holy God, is satisfied that through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, justice for me has been procured. Amen! I do believe in Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. What a load of guilt is lifted. I leave His courtroom a fully pardoned sinner. There is no further penalty to be paid. I’m free! I need now to sing Charles Gabriel’s MY SAVIOR’S LOVE:

          He took my sins and my sorrows;
               He made them His very own.
          He bore the burden to Cal-v’ry
               And suffered and died alone.
          How marvelous, how wonderful!
               And my song shall ever be…..

But now, given such love, I must ever please my Heavenly Father. He as Judge has forever been rendered satisfied, but now, viewing Him as my Father, I want Him to draw me close, to hold me near to His heart, to be well pleased with all my thoughts, words and doings, to make me His much loved child. I must remember Jesus’ Words. He said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21). How do I express my love for Him? By keeping His commandments. How am I a member of God’s Insider Club (not that all His children aren’t loved. Of course they are!)? By obediently obeying His Son the Father responds by saying, “I will love him and will disclose My-self to him.” What is this special disclosure? I want it! I want to be godly. I want intimate insights into God’s Word, the Bible. I want the Spirit unquenched and not grieved to let me see and enjoy God as never before. I greatly desire to walk with Him and talk with Him and to have Him reassure me that, yes, I am His own. What comfort! What joy! What blessed assurance! 

I now understand the Apostle John’s words when he said, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:18-22).

Certainly, this is a so-great salvation provided by God’s grace and indescribable love. He satisfies Himself judicially. He is the uncompromising Judge. But, at the same time, He makes full provision for the believer to find comfort and deep emotional satisfaction walking day by day with His dear Heavenly Father.

Once a small boy threw a baseball and broke a neighbor’s window. The little one shied as the neighbor burst out in a fury of anger. He ran to his dad and explained what happened. The daddy went to bat for his son. He went to the neighbor’s house, rapped on the door and, to a still seething man, gingerly opened the discussion. The father did two things: First, he offered to pay for the broken window. In fact, he said he would repair it himself. He would do so at once. Then, he talked kindly about his son and asked for understanding for the youngster. The boy confessed his wrong. At once the seething disappeared, forgiveness was granted and the once offended man even offered a ready hug for the lad. Notice this: The offense tangibly was taken care of. The dad offered to pay and fix the window. And, on a personal level, communication was opened, forgiveness sought and granted and emotions of satisfaction flowed.

Even so, when a sinner comes to an offended God, a thrice-holy God who hates sin, the appeal to a go-between is of utmost importance. Jesus Christ is just such a mediator. Because he paid for a sinners sin, His blood ever pleads before the Father for making things right. The Scriptures state: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at  the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). And again, Jesus everlastingly serves as the Christian’s advocate, or defense attorney. On this truth hear the Word of the Lord: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). The “advocate” is one called in to help, like an attorney hired to plead the case. Jesus freely, by grace, does this forever for the believing sinner. So, when saved, the sinner has a MEDIATOR by whom once-for-all forgiveness is gained. He also has an ADVOCATE whereby in an ongoing fashion Jesus pleads in our behalf, pleads His own payment for our sin, and, on the basis of both roles, saved sinners are free and ever FORGIVEN.

“But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].
If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts].
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]” (1 John 1:7-9).


Do make special note how ‘forgiveness’ is intermingled with the atoning work of Jesus Christ. There can be no forgiveness by a Holy God apart from His being assuaged by blood sacrifice. Geoffrey Wilson says, “The Bible knows nothing of mere pardon. There can be no pardon except on the ground of satisfaction of justice.” And Oswald Chambers clearly states, “It is shallow nonsense to say God forgives us because He is love. The only ground upon which God can forgive us is the cross.” Let us sing with P.P. Bliss:

     “Man of sorrows!” what a name
          For the Son of God who came
     Ruined sinners to reclaim!
          Hallelujah, what a Savior!

     Guilty, vile and helpless we, 
          Spotless Lamb of God was He;
     Full atonement! Can it be?
          Hallelujah, what a Savior!


Dr. Dick Christen