2014-03-23 Focus on Forgiveness
We’re going to go to Romans chapter 4. Romans 4 starting at verse 20, “yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief,” we’re talking about Abraham, “but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it also was reckoned to him as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was reckoned to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised from the dead because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus I ask that You bless us, help us to understand Your word. Thank You that we have an introduction and we know that there is going to be more than just an introduction. As life goes on we will have more than just a taste of the grace, Father, because we stand in it and we want to exult in the glorious things that You have done in our lives. We want to exult in them because of the grace that we have obtained. Bless us in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now, I’m just going to tell you a story. It is not a lie. It is just a story, okay? I want to get through it because actually I’ve got 9 pages of notes here and I’m sure you guys want me to get through it too. Anyway, say you were living in a foreign country, say I was living in a foreign country and I’m living there minding my own business not knowing too much going around but I end up managing to break a major law. So, they haul me before the court and he is the one who is going to sit in judgment of me. When he is coming in and they do those will you all stand, I stand up and this great big burly guy dressed in black walks out onto a high platform, very intimidating, and I turn to one of the guards and I say who is this guy? They say oh, that’s Judge Max. I said Judge Max, what is he like? They said well, he earned the name Max because he always gives maximum sentences for everything that he can find, and he always finds something wrong with people, and then they all say you may be seated.
So, the judge starts judging and he starts going over the documents and over the charges and he says you know, you are guilty. I have got you so guilty. You are in so much trouble and I’m nnn nnn. You would be too, nnn nnn. We’ve all heard rumors about what goes on in foreign courts and stuff, and the judge is saying you are so much in trouble and the maximum sentences are… and he starts reading off all these maximum sentences and I’m just like oh my gosh, how could you survive something like this. He goes on and then he stops and he says but I’ll tell you what. There is something about you that I like. Now, we all, I don’t know about you people, I would say we all meet people who are rascals and we like them. He looks at the person and he says there’s something about you I like. I’ve taken a shine to you and I’ll tell you what, because I do like you I’m going to offer a deal to you today and today only.
If we can find somebody to take your place if you will agree I will let that person take your place, but there are some conditions that go along with it. I’m yeah, yeah, sure, whatever, take my place. Is there anybody? Finally this person stands up and says yeah, I’ll take his place for him and carry out his sentence. So, they go out, the guy is let out and the judge says come here. He says here are some papers you need to sign. The agreement is one, that the volunteer will serve out your sentence. Two is that an adoption will happen. Three is you agree to all the fine print. I’m going sure, what adoption? He says I told you I took a shine to you. When that guy serves out the sentence I’m adopting you as my child. Then there is all this other gibberish. You know how it is with lawyers, just sign here, here, here and here.
So, you’re sitting there listening and you see the volunteer and you see the guy and yeah, I’ll sign, sign, sign, sign, because you’re gong to dodge the sentencing. Now, the guy gets led away and he knows say it’s six months, eight months this guy is serving time. He is serving time and you’re going is the guy really going to go through with the whole thing? Is he going to back out at any moment of him serving time? So, you’re nervous. You can’t leave the country. They’ve confiscated all your Visas and everything and you’re stuck there in that country and you’re waiting and you’re waiting and you’re waiting. Then one day outside your house you hear this moped, rnnnn, pulling up, and the volunteer is there. He says hey, I want you to know I got out and I served the sentence. Now we come to chapter 4 verse 25. “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
How did you know that your sentence had been completely served? You weren’t sure that the man was accomplishing the serving of the sentence enough that he was fulfilling all the requirements of the sentence until you saw him on that moped pull up in front of your house and say I just wanted you to know I finished serving the sentence, everything is dealt with. That is why He, Jesus, was delivered up because of our transgressions. He is the volunteer, and He was raised because of our justification. One of the reasons why, but the reason why Christ rose from the dead like he did was so we would know that the complete penalty had been paid. There’s the proof. He had been punished. He was locked away in prison of death, and now He is out and He goes around and He meets his disciples and over 500 people for those 40 days and He talks to them and visits with them. That is proof that our sentence is completely fulfilled just like the guy on the moped drives up after his sentence is over with and he says it’s completely fulfilled.
Now, here is this guy who says hey, great, thank you very much, I appreciate it. Would you like to hang out with me, and the guy says no. He say oh, come on, hang out with me for a little while. I’ll buy you supper, whatever you want to do. If you want to catch movies, catch up on stuff I’ll be right there for you and we can do stuff because I really appreciate it. He says no. You go but I want you to know I appreciate it. He goes yeah, I’d like to hang out with you but dad wants me to build you a place to dwell on our estate and you go wait a minute. Dad? He goes yeah, Judge Max is my dad and he likes you, and he wants me now to go build you a place of your very own on our estate. Whoo. Wow. Does this not sound great? You think you are off the hook. Life is good. He drives away. Not five minutes later up comes a speeding squad car. Out get these great big people dressed in black, badges. They grab you. They throw you in the squad car and they drive off with you. You’re like wait a minute, wait a minute, it’s been served and they don’t say a thing.
They take you down to the river where you think they’re going to drown me. They take you out, they throw you in the river and then they start scrubbing you from the top of your head to your toes. Once they scrub you completely down they throw you a towel and they drive off. Another car pulls up and it is a famous retailer. He gets out and he starts handing you clothes. He hands you a white shirt with French cuffs. You know, you can’t hardly find those. I’ve been looking for them for a long time. The ones I found are extremely, extremely expensive just for that little extra cuff on the end there. Anyway, they give you French cuffs with real jewels in the cufflinks, they give you a super 120 all wool Armani suit, and if you don’t know super 120 is very, very good stuff. Super 120 Armani suit, and then the guy gets out and hands you some Gucci shoes. I don’t know from Gucci, but I know it’s a name that everybody goes Gucci. So, he hands you Gucci shoes and you put on these Gucci shoes and then once you’re standing there drives off.
Up comes another car, picks you up, a big black limo. Step in here sir. They drive you and they drop you off at your house. You’re going what a treatment. I have been cleaned, I’ve been scrubbed, I’ve got all new clothes. I’m looking pretty darn good right here. Up comes a white limo and out steps of all people Judge Max. Judge Max gets out and he’s got luggage with him. He is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts. He’s no longer dressed like the judge. You say hey, hi, good to see you. What are you doing here? He says fine print boy. The fine print says that when I adopted you as my son which you are now, and I will call you son, and you will know when I’m happy because I’ll say hey son, way to go, and you’ll know what I’m unhappy because I’ll say wait a minute son, we need to talk. He says according to the fine print not only are you my son, you’re going to live with me. My other boy has gone off to build a place, you’re very own place. Until he gets it done I’m going to live with you. Fine print. I’m going to live with you. This is the luggage. I’m moving into your bungalow and we’re going to be there and we’re going to become best buds whether you like it or not. And while I’m there I’m going to home school you.
What? I went to school. Yeah, well you went to Moses Memorial High which didn’t do a very good job of teaching you things. Now, I know that they’re a member of the big 10 and all that, but they have failed to teach you what was proper because had they given you proper teaching you wouldn’t have come before me as a judge and I wouldn’t be standing here today. So, I’m going to teach you, I’m going to home school you, and if I have to I will school you. Do you guys know what that means in modern day language on the streets? Oh, he got schooled. That means that they were taught a lesson, they were schooled, and if I have to I will school you. Hmm. He moves in and he says oh, by the way, I don’t need a bedroom. I’m going to sleep in the living room because that’s where you live and you’re going to have to walk by me and I’m going to talk to you constantly, as you go to your bedroom, your kitchen, as you go in, as you come out, all this kind of stuff. As this is all going on I’m going to be here talking to you, and I’ve got gifts for you.
He opens up some of the suitcases and I’m standing there thinking things like oh, cars, cash, condos, but it’s not that kind of stuff. Rats. You say okay, this is okay. I can deal with this. You go out and your friends start saying things to you like you got adopted by Judge Max? Oh my Gosh. Everybody knows him. Your life is over with. There is going to be no fun for you, no games, no living, no real future. It’s just going to be rules, rules, rules, rules and more rules. I say no, really, it’s not bad. The guy is wearing Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, and he actually acts like he’s going to be fun to live with. They’re going he ain’t going to be, give him some time. This is right where most Christians come to the conclusion that Christianity is like a hot tub. It’s great when you get in it but after you’re there a while it’s not so hot and they’re just sitting there soaking and they’re going rats.
So, what are you going to do? If you’re acting like most Christians there will come a day when you’ll say well, the best thing I can do is just ignore him and go on with my life and go yeah, yeah, yeah as I’m walking out the door or yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard that. Oh, I’m sorry, I made a mistake as we come in the door, but that is not what Christianity is supposed to be about. Abraham which we read was given a promise and he held that promise, and his promise was this. Abraham, you’re going to have this special child and Abraham says I believe it, and when he didn’t see it he kept believing and his faith increased and he kept glorifying God because he knew that child was going to come. What he had to hold onto was the promise of the child. Because he held onto that promise of a child he was declared righteous. Isn’t that what it says? He was declared righteous, and because he held onto that promise of a child by faith God blessed him. Now, it’s easy for us to use the word God blessed him because the word blessed is kind of nebulous and vague out there. It’s kind of whooooo. Nobody knows what blessed is. They’ve never seen blessed, but God blessed him and God blessed him.
But, what it is, is God prospered that man because he held onto that promise. He didn’t hold onto the promise that he was going to be prospered, he held onto the promise that he was going to receive this child and because he believed God on that promise of the coming child he was blessed in all the other areas of his life. Now, to prevent me to go on what they call an aside or chase the rabbit, we’re going to chase a rabbit a little bit there. The problem with prosperity preachers is, and I know I’ve been talking about this for a while, but I want to clarify it again, the problem with prosperity preachers is when they’re reading like the King James or another scripture and it says, “And God will prosper you,” they land on that word flatfooted. They go to the dictionary and they emphasize that it must be monetarily. The angle is monetarily, and God is going to bless you and He’s going to give you a big fat bank account. But, that’s not what it says.
The Greek is the most important thing. We’ve got to always try to get back as close to the original as we can, and the Greek word there in Vine’s actually says God will prosper you. That’s the way we read it, but when they read it they understand it this way. God will help you on your way. God will prosper you. God will help you on your way so the understanding there then is God is there to help you to thrive in this life. God is there to help you have success in this life to cause you to flourish, to cause you to have a successful life. He will be with you. He will prosper you, and He will cause you to have success in the endeavors in your life. That is not a big fat bank account. That is not cars and condos. If you’ve got cars and condos God bless you. Enjoy. Knock yourself out. I’m happy for you. But, God is causing me to prosper, He is helping me along my way, and He is causing me to be successful in my endeavors. What are your endeavors? Whatever they are if you trust Him, He will cause you to prosper.
Before I go much farther I want to jump in on this. What is it that is our promise? What causes us to prosper? No, no, no, no, no. What is our promise that we’re supposed to have faith in because we can see prosperity, we can see the success coming in our life. What is the thing that we have to hold to as trusting God? Abraham trusted that there was a child and God helped him in all other areas, caused him to be successful in all other areas while he was waiting and trusting for that child. What our promise is, is Jesus Christ has forgiven you of your sin. Can you see that? No, but we accept it as the absolute truth of God and we trust in that. We trust that our sins are forgiven, and as we continually trust in that He will cause us to prosper in all the other areas of our life. We don’t have to go out and seek the prosperity. We don’t have to seek His helping us along causing us to flourish and be successful. We’ve got to maintain this. I trust that my sins are forgiven.
Now, if you’ll let me jump right ahead. Let’s just jump ahead to 2 Peter 1:2-9. A lot of times at that point people will say well, what I’ve got to do then is to keep the law, do everything, keep the big 10, but remember in the story the judge says you went to school at a big 10 school, Moses Memorial, but you didn’t understand. They didn’t give you the right teaching; therefore, I’m going to move in with you and I’m going to give you schooling. I’m going to teach you the truth about this on how to live the life. Okay, 2 Peter 1:2-9. “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,” this is where we’re getting the divine nature, “applying all diligence in your faith.”
What are we having faith in? That our sins are forgiven. This is where we start partaking in that divine nature. “applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control,” and you say wait a minute. This is sounding like a law. It’s the self-control here. We’re back to we’ve got to do this. Keep listening though, “perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, (Christian) love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”
These qualities that I’m talking about, what God gives us instead of our trying to keep a law, He gives us virtues, peace, love, joy, happiness, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness, love, all this. He gives us spiritual virtues and they’re not gotten by our trying to fundamentally do something, by fundamentally trying to do something. You’ll notice that verse 9 says those people who lack these qualities are blind or short-sighted, and this is why they lack them. It’s not because they gave up trying or that they’re not trying, it’s because they have forgotten their purification from their former sins.
If you want the Christian virtues to be in your life what you need to do is, you don’t have to strive for them, you need to constantly say I have been purified from all my former sins, and if I have just committed a sin right then we’re 10 seconds down the road already. I could still say I have been purified from my former sins. Well, what if I had just committed a sin when I was talking to you? It’s already another 15 seconds down the road. I have been purified out of my former sins. My sins even though I happen to commit one becomes former almost instantly and I have to trust Christ that He is constantly washing away my former sins, and as I trust in Him just like Abraham trusted that there is going to be a child born, we need to trust in Him, trust in His forgiving grace, His forgiving of our sins, constantly forgiving and just as God prospered Abraham in all things as he continued to live, as we focus on we are forgiven of our sin.
Remember, grace is never permission. He has forgiven us of our sins and as we focus on that He will prosper us in all the other things, and the one area we need prospered in most is the area of our virtues and we will start manifesting the fruit of the spirit, peace, joy, love, happiness and all this. We don’t have to struggle for these because these are spiritual things that come from the inside of us and will start bubbling forth, but it’s always bubbling forth based on this idea of our trusting that our former sins are constantly washed away and we always will have a good conscience before Him, and even though I make mistakes He still loves me, and that’s gone too because if you are a Christian, a real Christian, this is where people get kind of … about it, if you are truly a Christian you came to God, to Christ, for one reason, to get rid of your guilt for the things that you know that you have already done. The sins that you were dealing with you came to Him to get rid of them and you know when you came you said if I can get rid of them I don’t want to be involved in them anymore. I want to get rid of sin in my life. My sin and the knowledge of the judgment that’s coming to me because of those sins are driving me to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and grace.
I’ve been hauled before Judge Max and he says you were going to go to hell but I took a shine to you and if you will trust Jesus, my oldest son, He will take your place, and if you trust Him you will know that your sentence is being carried out when you know that He has risen from the dead. Do you know He has risen from the dead? Yes, I do. Your sins are now forgiven you. He is a carpenter. He is going to prepare a place for you. I on the other hand says Judge Max as he steps out of his judicial role, he steps into your life and says you can call me dad. From now on call me dad, call me father, call me Abba, call me da-da, call me pa-pa. Whatever you are comfortable with, you call me that because I have adopted you and I’m going to be in your life not to cause you misery, but because I want you to focus on what Christ did, your sins are forgiven, and I’m going to school you by living in your living room. I’m going to school you on the idea of grace, and if you will trust Me and you keep believing in Christ, constantly focusing on the fact that your sins are washed away, He’s already building your house, you’re going to make it up there, but if you want to have a full and successful thriving life here on this earth you focus on that, you rejoice in that.
Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, and I will bless you, bless you, bless you, bless you. Spiritual virtues will start coming out of you. No, they’re not going to be cars, condos and cash, but I am going to bless you and as these spiritual virtues come out, all of the other blessings will start coming your way also but don’t focus on this, don’t focus on that, focus on the fact that your sins, your former sins are forgiven, and if you keep that idea in mind then all the spiritual virtues of Godliness, self-control will start being made manifest in your life. Such a deal. Whenever we step out of that hot tub because of a lot of us think ooh, hot tub, that’s great, but hot tubs after a while aren’t so hot and they just make you pruny looking. You can’t live in a hot tub. It’s great for a while, but you can’t live in a hot tub. What I’m saying is we need to get out of that idea that it all came to us at once. We’re here and we’re going to have progressive salvation, we’re going to have progressive faith, we’re going to have a progressive life that is changed and enhanced continually as we walk in faith that our sins are forgiven. The spiritual virtues will come out and our life is going to be enriched in so many different ways.
I can’t describe them because I don’t know how he is going to enrich your life because the things that you count valuable are different than the things that I count valuable. He will enrich your life, and at the end of it you will say if you trusted in Him and you constantly focus on my sins are forgiven, He forgave me of my sins, my sins are forgiven, wow. One day you will stop and look back and say my sins are forgiven and look at my life. It changed so much from the time that I accepted Christ to here I am standing at the pearly gates. My life has changed so much. I had a good life God, thank you, and St. Peter says you ain’t seen nothing yet folks, come on in. The best is yet to come.
Shall we pray? Father, in the name of Jesus give us the courage to step out in faith focused on the one main fact our sins have been forgiven. Father, we do really kind of want to see some of those virtues popping out in our life to help us continually to trust in the fact that our sins are forgiven. Father, we trust in you and the words that You have given us. If nobody is trusting in You today I ask that You call upon them and knock on their door and say hey, if you want I will become your dad and I will move in with you, and even right now I will start your life so that you will have success. Father, I ask that you would lead those people to the right person who can tell them the truth and show them the way. So Father, in the name of Jesus continue to bless us, keep us safe, keep this a place of grace, and keep people coming back and people who hear about Glenwood Church that they would say I want to go out there because something is going on with the people at Glenwood Church. They’re changing and it’s for the better. God, we thank You. We praise You for our forgiven sins that are washed away, and as we push forward we are looking forward to seeing that day that we meet Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.