Going Deeper with the Message:
Fullness of Forgiveness
by: Ben Biles
One of the most devastating things that can happen to a believer, or really anyone seeking to know God, is misunderstanding God’s forgiveness. I’ve heard countless stories of nonbelievers and believers alike who think that the mistakes they’ve made in their lives have placed them outside of God’s ability to forgive. In their minds, God must be willing to forgive minor mistakes, but not major ones. Our concept of God’s forgiveness is often too small. For a more complete understanding, I’m offering three aspects of Forgiveness: Fullness, Finality, and Family.
God’s forgiveness is full in the sense that it covers all sins across all times. This was Kevin’s main takeaway on Sunday: “God’s love is so big that through Jesus all our sins—past, present, and future are forgiven.” His death covered over every sin that has ever been done or will be done. Hebrews 10:12 says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.” For you, that means that there is no sin that is left unforgiven. Even the mistakes you’ll make in the future are already forgiven in Christ.
God’s forgiveness is also final. There is nothing that can alter or change the forgiveness He offers. Once we believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, that forgiveness cannot be removed or taken away. There was nothing we could do to earn God’s forgiveness and, in the same way, there is nothing we can do to lose that forgiveness. It is final and forever.
God’s forgiveness brings us into His family. Kevin mentioned our positional forgiveness in Christ. That is, though we were once sinners who were alienated from God, He has forgiven us and we now live in relationship with God. We are transformed from enemies of God into children of God. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name.” As children of God, we experience the fullness of His grace and love now and into eternal life. Our forgiveness allows us to live in freedom as His children, enjoying His presence, power, and provision in our own lives.
Our responsibility now is to live out of this forgiveness and let go of past mistakes and related feelings of shame and guilt. In any and every situation, God is welcoming you into a greater and deeper relationship with Himself. No sin should hold you back, for you are forgiven. So, live free in Christ.
Living out the Message:
Forgiveness Inspires Love
By Ben Biles
On Sunday, Pastor Kevin started off our new series, Forgive and Forget?, talking about the forgiveness that we have received from God through faith in Jesus Christ. I think back to the moments in my life when I made a huge mistake that hurt another person and needed to ask for forgiveness.
In that moment, I always felt this great tension as I realized that I didn’t deserve to be forgiven and was at the other person’s mercy. It would make logical sense if they didn’t forgive. How could they? But if they choose to deny me that forgiveness, what happens next for us? However, in the moments that I had been forgiven, I often felt the overwhelming rush of love, joy, and peace, knowing that the relationship was now in the process of restoration. Through God’s forgiveness, we feel that same love, joy, and peace, for though we have sinned, we are now restored to a relationship with God.
I’m reminded of the story in Luke 7:36-50 where Jesus is eating at the house of a religious leader named Simon. In the middle of this formal occasion, a woman who is a known sinner enters in and falls at Jesus’ feet, washing His feet with her tears and expensive perfume. It’s difficult to imagine the awkwardness of the situation. Yet, Jesus uses this situation to explain one of the key components of forgiveness. Because she has been forgiven much, her response to Jesus is that of intense love and joy. The love expressed is proportional to the forgiveness felt. Her display of affection comes from the overflowing love felt in forgiveness.
In the same way, our love for God is proportional to the forgiveness we have received from Him. Because His forgiveness extends to all of our sin, past, present, and future, we know that we have been forgiven much. The natural response to this forgiveness is an explosive, intense love for God that strongly desires to show itself in a personal relationship with Him. But when I examine my own heart, I realize how frail my love really is because I often fail to reflect on the full extent of God’s forgiveness. I’m guessing it’s the same for you. It becomes necessary then to continually reflect on the forgiveness we have received and let that inspire a greater love for God. When we realize the magnitude of God’s forgiveness for us, our love for Him increases in kind.