Thursday, November 20, 2014


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The story is told of a seminary student paying his way through school as a bus driver. One day several young men got on his bus and refused to pay their fares. The driver saw a policeman, stopped his bus and reported what had happened. The policeman forced the young men to pay their fares. After he had left the scene the delinquents badly beat the driver.

The youths were arrested and declared guilty before a judge. But the student, who had given testimony at the trial, asked the judge if he could serve the sentence that had been handed down to the young men. When asked why he would want to do such a thing, the student said, “I’ve forgiven them.” The judge refused to allow him his wish but, over the months his assailants were in jail, the student visited them regularly and several of them came to faith in Christ as a result.

Other than that of Christ, probably the best known example of extreme forgiveness in the face of injustice is found in the Old Testament story of Joseph found in Genesis 37 - 50. Though Joseph’s story covers more than ten chapters we are still left with very little information as to how Joseph felt during his roller coaster ride from favoured status to abject misery and back again, all because of the unjust treatment he received from others.

But what we do know about is how Joseph responded to the evil that was done to him.

Let’s review his story.

1. Favoured by his father (Genesis 37:3, 4)

Certainly neither Joseph nor his father might have been aware of the injustice here, but Joseph’s other brothers were feeling badly treated by Jacob when he lavished special treatment and special privileges on the son given to him by his favourite wife—yet another example of Jacob’s injustice responses. In a way Jacob bears at least some responsibility for what would subsequently happen to Joseph. His favouritism contributed to the many other injustices Joseph would suffer.

2. Dreams of leadership (Genesis 37:5-11)

Perhaps it was the security that his father’s special affection gave him that caused Joseph to be so free about sharing the dreams that he had. The brothers were incensed when this young upstart told then that he had seen them bowing down to him. Even Jacob was somewhat annoyed to discover that he too would one day bend the knee to his youngest child. On the other hand, it might have been those dreams that kept Joseph’s spirit up during all his trials. He trusted God to deliver on what had been shown to him in his dreams.

3. Brothers conspire to kill him (Genesis 37:18-24)

But rather than shrug off their father’s favouritism and Joseph’s brashness, the brothers allowed their anger, resentment and bitterness to grow. When Joseph appeared on the horizon while they were tending Jacob’s sheep, they quickly hatched a plan to get rid of him. The one spark of humanity turned up in Ruben who had planned to rescue his younger brother from the dry well. Unfortunately he came too late and the others sold Joseph to Midianite traders. They believed that he, a pampered son, would not survive life as a slave. Certainly they never expected to see him again. Deceiving their father with a story of Joseph’s death was cruel, and in its own way, unjust.

4. Sold as a slave (Genesis 37:25-28)

And so Joseph came to Egypt where he was sold into Potipher’s household as a slave. Of all the people the Midianites could have sold Joseph to he falls into the hands of someone connected to the court of the Pharaoh. We begin to see a few more threads in the tapestry of God’s design that will bring Joseph to the attention of the king and place him in a position to help his people—even those who betrayed him.

5. Put in charge of Potipher’s household (Genesis 39:1-6)

The text doesn’t dwell on how Joseph might have been treated in Potipher’s household, but we are told that his exemplary conduct brought him to the attention of the master who, as a result, put him in charge of his household. The text tells us that this was because God was with Joseph and brought about this change in status on his behalf.

6. Falsely accused and imprisoned (Genesis 39:7-20)

Despite his favoured status in Potipher’s household, Joseph’s story continues to be characterized by injustice. The master’s wife, her advances toward Joseph spurned, turns on him and falsely accuses him of trying to rape her. Even if Potipher knew differently, he could hardly turn against his own wife in favour of a slave, so he sends Joseph to prison as punishment for his “crime.”

7. Made head over the prisoners (Genesis 39:21-23)

What did Joseph think and feel? He did what was right and it turned out so wrong! We are not told what might have gone through Joseph’s head and heart. But the text tells us that he didn’t change his behaviour. He continued to do what was right. That in itself gives us a pretty strong clue that he continued to trust that God was working out a plan even through the injustice that he was suffering. Because God was with him, the head jailor saw the value in making Joseph his right hand man and putting him in charge of the prisoners.

8. Interpreted the dreams of two prisoners (Genesis 40:1-22)

It turned out that God brought to the prison a man who would be instrumental in bringing Joseph to the attention of the Pharaoh—eventually. Pharaoh’s butler and baker got themselves into hot water with the king and ended up in prison. While there God sent them dreams that foretold their fate. Joseph was able to interpret those dreams. The only time we hear any kind of plea for justice from Joseph comes as he asked the pardoned butler to bring his case to the attention of the Pharaoh. But the time was not yet right and so the butler forgot.

9. Forgotten for two more years (Genesis 41:1-13)

Two years passed. It seems like another injustice. How could the butler's memory be so bad considering the circumstances under which he had met Joseph? The tangled threads on the underside of Joseph’s tapestry do not reveal what God is doing on the upper side.

10. Interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams (Genesis 41:14-36)

Dreams torment the king. Even his most skilled advisers can’t come up with answers to the questions that those dreams generate. The butler remembers and shares his prison experiences with the Pharaoh and Joseph is sent for. It is noteworthy that Joseph makes no claims of his own in order to ingratiate himself with the king. He acknowledges that it is God who interprets what He has sent by way of the Pharaoh’s nightmares. The scene is being set. Bad years are coming, following on the heels of the good years.

11. Made responsible for food production and distribution in Egypt (Genesis 41:37-49)

Surely Pharaoh had lots of men who could have done what Joseph was tasked to do. But it was the time and place and person that God had foreordained to be in Egypt to prepare for the famine to come and to rescue Jacob and his family from starvation. Joseph was chosen, having already been prepared in Potipher’s household and in the king’s prison to “look after” things. We are not quite at an “aha” moment in the story; an explanation for all the evil that has happened to Joseph, but we are getting close.

12. Reveals himself to his brothers (Genesis 45:1-6)

Eventually Jacob is forced to send his sons to Egypt to buy food. The famine has been extensive—famine was generally considered to be a sign of God’s judgment. Their encounter with Pharaoh’s second-in-command, whom they do not recognize as their brother, does not go well. The first time Joseph does not reveal his identity to his brothers, but rather he tests their character. Has anything changed in their attitude while he has been away? Will they betray another favoured son as they had betrayed the first? On the brothers second trip to Egypt, Joseph meets his younger brother, Benjamin, for the first time. Overwhelmed by joy, and with a heart full of forgiveness, he tells his brothers who he is and how God has taken their evil and turned it into good for their sakes.

13. Reunited with his father (Genesis 46:29-34)

The family is reunited, setting the stage for the growth of a nation whose foundation will be built on miracles delivered from the hand of God Almighty. Joseph could have demanded justice. No one would have condemned him for making his brothers pay for their treatment of him. It is almost as though they got away with the evil they had done. But Joseph doesn’t care about retribution or vindication because Joseph sees the upper side of the tapestry and understands that even injustice serves God’s purposes.
…do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you…to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives  by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:5, 7, 8)

Joseph broke the chain of hate, jealousy, fear and injustice when he forgave his brothers. He understood that it was God’s business to set things straight as He chose, and Joseph’s business to believe that God works out His purposes as He chooses.

Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:19).

The New Testament parallel to this thought is easily identified in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

And what is God’s purpose for His children? “…to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29).

When we refuse to break the chains that have resulted from the injustices perpetrated against us by forgiving those responsible, we continue the cycle of evil and never grow in our likeness to Christ who forgave far worse injustice than any of us could ever suffer. We short-circuit the purposes of God—the purpose He has for our lives and for those who have sinned against us.

To be able to face with joy and peace the injustices committed against us, we have to believe, as Joseph did, that God is in absolute control of our lives and everything that affects our lives, and that He is working through these events to make us all that He wants us to be as we respond to Him in faith and complete obedience.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


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“It isn’t fair!” is a phrase we use, and hear, constantly. I suppose the snarky response would be, “And who told you life was supposed to be fair?” The truth is, life isn’t fair, and never will be fair. I know this by experience, but still have to remind myself of its truth. Many people, optimistic by nature, live with the expectation that things will change for the better. However, expectations can come with nasty surprises.

The abused wife thinks her life will get better if she tries harder to please her husband.

The employee figures that as long as he is doing his job he’ll never get fired, or laid off.

Women believe that eventually “equal opportunity” or “equal pay for work of equal value” will become reality.

It doesn’t always work that way. Life isn’t always fair.

As you read the story of Joseph Scriven, the author of the words to What A Friend We Have in Jesus, you are reminded that the unexpected happens, loss is inevitable, and that there are no guarantees outside of the absolute truths of Scripture.

The question remains: “What can I do when life presents me with one of these unfair situations?”

We want God to explain. But often the heavens are silent. He ignores our pleas, and pays no attention to our fists raised in anger (which is a very good thing!).

It’s a test! Like every test, the teacher doesn’t give us the answers until after we have turned in our papers. Alfred Edersheim wrote: “For God to explain a trial would be to destroy its object...simple faith and implicit obedience.

But then comes the thorny question of how to forgive when there might be no possibility of the situation becoming “fair” as a result?


We look at a sample of such a situation in 2 Samuel 16:5-12.

The story takes place in the days when David was king of Israel. At this point in his reign, David was having plenty of trouble with his children. In fact, one of his sons, Absalom, conspired against his father and tried to seize the throne for himself. As a result David fled Jerusalem just as Absalom was entering it.

Some people like to follow the old adage and “kick a man when he’s down.” This was David’s experience. As he journeyed away from Jerusalem, a man who had held a grudge against David for many years because of Saul’s death, came out to the road to throw stones at David and call him names (2 Samuel 16, 7, 8).

Under normal circumstances such an action invites retaliation. David’s supporters were ready to trounce the offender and teach him some manners, but David’s response to the offense, and to the enthusiasm of his followers, is unusual.

Verse 10 says “But the king said, ‘What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’

That presents us with an interesting question. We may believe that persecution or abuse or whatever the evil might be, comes ultimately from Satan, sometimes through people. But we also know that even Satan cannot do anything unless God allows him, and then only under the conditions that God sets. The example of Job (Job 1:6-2:10) and Peter (Luke 22:31, 32) come immediately to mind.  So David’s response here is correct. God had allowed Shimei to curse David and to throw stones, so David was willing to take the abuse because God had permitted it. It wasn’t fair from a human perspective, but David understood that there was a purpose behind it that he was not aware of.

It’s this “other perspective” that we need to pursue. What God does, or doesn’t do, often mystifies us. It isn’t humanly possible for us to perfectly see things from God’s perspective because His ways and His thoughts are far beyond ours. Isaiah reminds us of this truth: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.’ declares the Lord.” Just how distant one is from the other is described in the following verse: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9).

But as hard as it might be to see things from God’s perspective, it is to our benefit to try our best to do just that.

Isaiah 46:8-11 tells us: “Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.

The context of these verses is important. God is delivering a message to His people that He will raise up someone who will be His instrument of discipline on Israel because of her disobedience. While God’s discipline of us may not be the reason for the unfairness in our lives (it can be, but isn’t always) the point of this passage is that there is no other God, and that our God will accomplish His purposes just as He decides and just as He has planned. In Israel’s case, God would use a pagan king to do that, reminding us that God uses for His purposes even those who do not acknowledge Him.

When we look at the unfair circumstances of our lives we need to remember that God has complete control over those circumstances and uses them for His purposes.

In Lamentations 3:37,  38,  Jeremiah the prophet writes: “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” Once again the context is one of disciplining those who have rebelled against God. But the basic principle in all situations is true that nothing happens, good or bad, unless allowed by God.


I mentioned Job earlier. We need to return to Job 1 to look at this man’s story a little more carefully. The ironic thing is that we know the backstory to Job’s horrific experience—but Job had no idea what the reasons behind his suffering and loss were. No one could blame him for thinking that life was unfair.

Read Job 1:6-22.

Notice what happens in verse 8 after Satan whines about having to wander the earth (supposedly looking for someone to bother!). “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.

If, in our other examples, God allows difficult circumstances because He is disciplining His church, such is not the case here. Job was a good man. This wasn’t a case of discipline.

Notice too that God actually OFFERS Job to Satan.

I suppose it never occurs to many of us that when we are treated unfairly that it might be because God has offered Satan the opportunity to test our goodness and our godliness so that the devil can see for himself that a believer can remain both good and godly under difficult circumstances?

Notice that God is in control both of the offer and the limits on the offer. “...everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (1:12). Later, God would allow Satan to go just a little bit further and touch Job’s body: “...he is in your hands; but you must spare his life” (2:6).

And remember that Job knew nothing about this tug-of-war going on between God and Satan.

When we look at Job’s situation we can identify with it. We know that there are times in our lives when unfair things happen to us—things that are not discipline for some offense we have committed, or the consequences of our own unwise decisions. So how did Job handle the situation?

When Job lost his family and possessions, this is the response from him that we have recorded in Scripture: “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship...In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (1:20, 22).

He mourned, as demonstrated in the tearing of his robes and shaving his head. After all, he had lost all his children in one blow. But he also worshiped and did not accuse God of having done something wrong.

Later, after he lost his health and his wife encouraged him to curse God, Scripture records this: “‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (2:10).

Job seemed to know that both good and not-so-good came from God. Like David, he trusted that God had a reason even though he could not point out what that reason might be.

It’s one of the most often quoted verses from Scripture, but perhaps one of the hardest to believe. Tucked into the middle of a discussion on the difficulties of life, and the effects of sin on creation, Romans 8:28 is Paul’s expression of hope in the midst of struggle.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Just a little farther down in the chapter comes the statement: “If God is for is, who can be against us” (vs. 31) and then, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (vs. 37).

The “Why?” question haunts us. If we are treated justly and even when we need to accept the just consequences of our failure and sin, we have no difficulty dealing with the question. We KNOW why. But when we are treated unfairly. mistreated without cause, the “why?” question is one of the first things that pops into our minds. We crave explanations, answers, reasons, for whatever it is that is happening. And often the heavens are silent. God doesn’t explain and we are required to trust Him to have had a good reason for allowing us to be treated unfairly.

In these verses from Romans, Paul expresses his confidence that even though life may prove to be unfair, somehow, in some way, through some means, God will use those experiences for our good and to accomplish His purposes. The bottom line of those purposes is expressed in Romans 8:29, a verse we don’t often connect to the assurance of verses 28: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son….

From before the beginning of time, God had a plan for those who would come back into relationship with Him through faith in Christ. That plan of redemption included restoration—the restoration of the character of Christ in each one of His redeemed children. Christ came, not only to save us, but to model for us these character qualities that God has designed for us to have in our own lives. He became one of us to show us that we could truly become one with Him in every sense.

So somehow, in some way, by some means, the injustices we face in our lives will contribute to the development in us of the character of Christ. And because He loves us nothing can deter Him from completing that plan in our lives. We will overcome to become—what He has designed us to be.

In the light of the promises of God to use the injustices of live to make us more like Jesus, 1 Thessalonians 5:13-24 encourages us to take positive steps to model Christ even when we are being treated unfairly. All of the passage is important, but a few phrases are particularly appropriate for dealing with injustice and understanding its greater purpose in conforming us to the image of Christ.

Live in peace with each other…Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus…Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

The last verses remind us again that whatever God sends our way is meant to “sanctify” us, or to make us holy. Though we can’t do that ourselves, we have the promise that God, through the work of His Spirit, will do it in us as we respond correctly to the challenges of our lives.


One of the instructions in the verses from Thessalonians is “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Enduring is one thing, being thankful is another!

Perhaps part of the secret is to look beyond the circumstances and focus on the end result that is promised—being like Jesus. Combined with the assurances from Romans we can take heart in knowing that we will overcome to become.

We also have the example of Christ to follow. In identifying with us by becoming one of us, Jesus opened Himself up to being treated unjustly. As one who never sinned, it couldn’t be said of Him that He “deserved” what He got as a consequence of some wrongdoing. Jesus paid the ultimate price for the injustice perpetrated on Him—He paid with His life. How He responded to such extreme injustice leaves for us the example of how we need to respond when we are treated unfairly.

Hebrews 12:1-12 describes this for us. The Lord Himself looked beyond the circumstances to the end result. For Him, that meant the return to the glory that was His before He took on flesh and become one of us.

…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (vss. 1-3).

While it is not inconceivable for us to suffer injustice to the point of death, most of us will never have to go to that extreme. We are encouraged to view these circumstances as part of our training in righteousness.

In your struggle against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a son’” (vss. 4-6). The quote is from Proverbs 3:11, 12 and is not meant to say that the injustice suffered is necessarily a punishment from God—otherwise it would indeed be justice. The purpose of the quote is to say that whatever the cause of the difficulties in our lives, they need to be looked on as part of a training process, taken seriously, but from the encouraging viewpoint that God loves us so much that, as the saying goes, he accepts us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us as we are (Leighton Ford).

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?…God disciplines us for our good, that we might share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (vss. 7-11).

Here again is that aspect of the end result that we need to focus on—holiness, righteousness, and peace.

The ability to forgive an act of injustice directed at us is directly related to our ability to look beyond the act to the God Who has permitted it as a part of His training plan for our righteousness. The process is not pleasant, but at the end of it comes the satisfaction of having pleased God by overcoming to become like Jesus.

This perspective allows us the ability to forgive those who are the instruments of injustice in our lives because they are God's instruments designed to make us more like Christ.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


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One of the most amazing stories of forgiveness comes out of the Vietnam war. The American pilots did not know that the village was inhabited and napalmed it. The villagers ran for their lives, including one little girl by the name of Kim Phuc. A reporter happened to be in the neighbourhood and snapped the photo that went around the world of Kim running from the blast, her clothes burnt from her body by the napalm, and agony on her face. Kim was scarred for life. Many years later, the pilot was present to hear Kim speak of how God had come into her life and how she would personally forgive the man who dropped the chemicals should she ever meet him. After the message, the pilot went up to Kim, introduced himself and asked for her forgiveness—something she gladly gave him!

We wonder how it is possible to forgive something like that.

In the previous post we looked at Luke 6:36 where we are told to be merciful as God is merciful. This statement is amplified in passages such as Ephesians 4:22-32, which ends with: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, just as in Christ, God forgave you.

As in other passages we’ve looked at, we are reminded here in Ephesians that the battle for a forgiving attitude begins in the mind (vs. 23) and is the product of our relationship with Christ. We are told to be proactive—putting off the old attitudes and putting on the new ones. That requires effort on our part, beginning with the will to make that effort as the circumstances dictate. But however hard it may seen to the Scripture is clear: We were created to be like God “in true righteousness and holiness” (vs. 24). Forgiveness is not an option.

Because of that (Paul’s big “therefore” in verse 25) things have to change. It is interesting and important to note the first thing that follows Paul’s “therefore.” We are to tell the truth. This means that we don’t live in denial of the offense we have endured, or cover it up, or push down the emotions that it causes in us in the hopes that eventually it will go away. We are to “put off falsehood and speak truthfully to [our] neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Obviously Paul is addressing the relationships within the church here. As obviously, if we can’t resolve the relationship issues that plague us within the church, how much hope do we have in resolving any issues that might exist between believers and those who do not believe?

Most of the rest of this passage circles around anger, and the results of anger. The anger that results from being offended must be dealt with quickly or else it will become harmful and lead to other sins and ills—all of which grieve the Holy Spirit (vs. 20).

Forgiving is not optional, but it is a choice.

What follows is dedicated to how to go about forgiving those who have offended us. This exercise is not original to me and it isn’t the only way to work though the process of forgiveness, but it is a helpful exercise. Read it carefully and follow the directions.


We must read, think and decide what we are going to do.

Ask God to help you remember the names of the people who you need to forgive. Here is a prayer you can use as a model:

“Dear Heavenly Father: I thank you for your kindness, mercy and patience, knowing that your kindness has led me to repentance (Romans 2:4). I confess that I have not always extended the same patience and mercy to those who have offended me. Rather, I have held on to anger, resentment and hurt. I ask you that as I take this moment to examine myself that you bring to my mind those persons that I have not forgiven in order that I have the opportunity to forgive them (Matthew 18:35). I ask this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.”

Make a list of names as they come to mind.  At the end of the list write: “myself.” To pardon oneself is to accept the forgiveness of God. Include God on your list since many times we blame God and hug anger toward Him in our hearts. Technically we can’t forgive God. God never sins, either by committing sin or neglecting to do something, but we need to specifically renounce the false expectations we have concerning God and release anything we hold against Him. Before you pray and forgive these people, take a few moments to think about what forgiveness is, and what it is not, what steps you are going to take, and what the consequences will be.

The following are some important points:

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting the offense. People try to forget but can’t. God says that He will not remember our sins (Hebrews 10:17), but because He is all-knowing He can’t forget anything. To “not remember” our sins is to never use those sins against us (Psalm 103:12). When we throw someone’s offenses against us in their face, we are saying that we haven’t forgiven.

Forgiving is a decision, a crisis of will.

Since God has told us to forgive it means that we must be able to forgive. But it is hard for us because to goes against our sense of justice.  We want recognition that we have suffered, but we are told not to seek revenge (Romans 12:19). "Why should I let him get away with this?" we complain. That is precisely the problem. As long as we feed the monsters from the past, we are always going to be attached to them. But we can let them go because God never will. He will take care of what we can’t—and shouldn’t.

You object: “But you don’t know how much this person hurt me! And don’t you see that he still is? How do I get rid of the pain?” You forgive to release yourself. The value of forgiveness comes not from what happens between you and the other person but from what happens between you and God.
Forgiveness is expensive. We pay the price of the evil done to us. Nevertheless we need to understand that we will have to live with that evil, like it or not. Our only option is how we choose to live: with bitterness because we won’t forgive or with liberty because we have forgiven.

Jesus accepted the consequences of our sin. To truly forgive is substitutionary because no one can forgive who doesn’t bear the weight of the damage the sins committed against him have caused. Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us that the One who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could become righteousness in Him. Where is the justice in that? It’s hanging on the cross (Romans 6:10). Our problem comes when we refuse to leave it hanging there.

You decide to bear the offense by not using those offenses against that other person in the future.
This doesn’t mean that you tolerate sin. You have to put Biblical boundaries up to prevent future abuse. It means that where there are legal issues, justice must be served, but you will not look for revenge with bitterness in your heart.

How do we genuinely forgive? By acknowledging the pain and anger.

If our forgiveness doesn’t face the emotional consequences of our journey, it will be incomplete. Many people feel the pain of the offenses committed against them, but either don’t want to face it or don’t know how to face it. Allow God to bring that pain to the surface so that He can heal it.
Don’t wait to forgive until you feel like it; you never will!

Emotions need time to heal after you have made the decision to forgive. You want to gain freedom, not feeling.

As you pray it is possible that God will bring to your mind people and experiences that you had forgotten. Allow Him to do that even though it may hurt. Remember that you are doing this for your own good. God wants you to be free. Don’t spend time rationalizing or explaining the other person’s behaviour. Forgiveness begins in you, and leaves the other person to God. In the beginning the process of forgiveness must deal with your pain.

Don’t say: “Lord, please help me to forgive,” because that’s what He is already doing. Don’t say, “Lord, I want to forgive,” because you already know that forgiving is your responsibility. Keep praying about each of the people on your list until you are sure that the pain associated with the offense is gone (in the sense that you have no desire to use the offense against that person) and until you don’t feel the emotion that was connected to the offense; what that person did, how he hurt you, how you felt (rejected, unloved, indignant, dirty, useless, etc.) Now you are ready to forgive, to be free in Christ. Now these people on your list have no more control over you.

Pray out loud for each person on your list:  “Lord, I forgive (name) for (offense).”

After you have forgiven each of the people on your list, finish with: “Lord, I give all of these people to You. I turn over to You any desire for revenge. I choose not to be bitter or angry and I ask that You heal my damaged emotions. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen”

There is a freedom in forgiveness, not just for the one being forgiven but for the one doing the forgiving as well.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, just as in Christ, God forgave you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


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Someone has to pay! We believe in our hearts that justice needs to be served—and quickly! It frustrates us when the system fails, when the church fails, when we can’t get satisfaction for wrongs done.

It is difficult in the heat of the hurt to remember that the payment for the wrong done to us has already been made. Christ covered it with His blood on the cross. But we’d still like a little “blood” here and now.

One of the most famous verses of the Bible is found in Matthew 7:12. There are probably lots of people who aren’t even aware that this well-known adage even comes from the Bible (and some who would reject it if they did know), but the so-named “Golden Rule” is a biblical principle that we shouldn’t forget. When we feel the burning desire to “get back” at those who have hurt us, it’s valuable to turn the situation around and ask ourselves how we would like others to treat us if we had been the ones DOING the wrong, rather than having the wrong done to us.

So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

It is an interesting statement for several reasons. The first one being that such action goes against every instinct we have. We hardly ever react to a wrong done to us by considering how we would want to be treated if we had committed the wrong. As well, we might ask now such a statement “sums up the Law and the Prophets.” The Law referred to would have been understood by the audience listening to Jesus to be the Ten Commandments. These are laid out for us in Exodus 20:1-17 and summarized by Jesus in the statement recorded in Luke 10:27: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart  and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.

But consider the Ten Commandments. How are they summed up in this Golden Rule?

If I treat God as I would like to be treated by Him, I will put Him first (Exodus 20:3).

If I treat God as I would like to be treated by Him, I will put no substitute in His place (Exodus 20:4).

If I treat God as I would like to be treated by Him, I will not treat His name like it was garbage (Exodus 20:7).

If I treat God as I would like to be treated by Him, I will respect the time He has designated to our special relationship and to my physical renewal (Exodus 20:8).

If I treat my parents as I would like them to treat me, I will respect them (Exodus 20:12).

If I treat others as I would like them to treat me, I will do them no physical harm (Exodus 20:13).

If I treat my spouse as I would like that spouse to treat me, I will not cheat (Exodus 20:14).

If I treat others as I would like them to treat me, I will not take anything of theirs that doesn’t belong to me (Exodus 20:15).

If I treat others as I would like them to treat me, I will not tell lies about them (Exodus 20:16).

If I treat others as I would them to treat me, I will not be jealous of what they have and I don’t (Exodus 20:17).

Suddenly it makes sense. We need to give what we hope to get back. So the question becomes not “What can I do to get my revenge?” but “What can I do to respond to this wrong in the same way that I would hope others would respond to my wrongdoing?” Some might balk at my use of the word “revenge” and prefer to say that what they want is “justice.” But the same truth applies. However you phrase it, neither revenge or justice is ours to seek. That’s God’s job. Ours is to respond as Jesus responded to the wrong done to Him.

And it is what we believe about God that helps us to put aside the instincts for revenge (or justice) and follow that “Golden Rule.” If we believe that God is sovereign, or in control of all things and all people, and if we believe that He is both loving and just, then we will be much more able to let go and allow Him to deal with whatever needs to be done to set things straight. The better we know the character and qualities of God, the easier it becomes to trust Him in every area of our lives.

The temptation to “get back” at those who hurt us is as natural as the instinct to squash an annoying mosquito. The temptation is often hard to resist—proportionate to the seriousness of the wrong done to us.

I Corinthians 10:13 tells us: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Temptation is common, to be expected. None of us is above wanting to get our “revenge.”

The promise is that God will not allow anything to touch us that will produce a temptation that is beyond our ability to handle. That’s good—we know He’s in control. That’s bad because we can't use any situation that comes into our lives as an excuse to lose control. We can never say that we had to give in because it was impossible to do anything else.

The second part of the promise is that there is always a way out. We don’t have to yield to the temptation. We can endure it because there will be resources to deal with the instinct to “get back” at the person who has wronged us. What “way” He will provide is not defined. Every situation, every temptation, has its own unique quirks. The “way out” will be unique to the situation and the temptation.

In the book, Forgiveness Factor by Gary Thomas, Lewis Smedes is quoted as saying: “Some people view forgiveness as a cheap avoidance of justice, a plastering over of wrong, a sentimental make-believe. If forgiveness is a whitewashing of wrong, then it is itself wrong. Nothing that whitewashes evil can be good. It can only be good if it is a redemption from the effects of evil, not a make-believing that the evil never happened” (pg. 14).

We can never get away with pretending the wrong didn’t happen. Like the garbage, it needs to be dealt with and taken away. Forgiveness provides that “garbage disposal.”

But there is huge benefit to us when we forgive that we often overlook when we are caught in the throes of responding to the wrongs done to us. To not forgive is a sin. Like any sin, the unforgiving spirit is a sin that God can’t forgive until we repent and forgive. The addition to the Lord’s Prayer that we read in Matthew 6, clearly states this truth: “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” (6:14, 15).

So the freedom that comes with the forgiveness of our own sin hinges on our ability to grant that freedom to those who have sinned against us. That is a huge benefit to us because it means that our relationship with God has no barriers erected that would impact it negatively. We’re good with God.

Here are a few of the verses from Scripture that describe the benefits that comes from responding correctly to offense. Proverbs is one book in the Bible filled with short, pithy statements that give valuable advice on how to treat others.

Proverbs 10:12: “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

Proverbs 12:2: “A good man obtains favour from the Lord, but the Lord condemns a crafty man.”

Proverbs 14:22: “Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.”

Peace, the favour of God, love and faithfulness are all positive benefits to a forgiving spirit.

Luke 6:27-36, part of the famous Sermon on the Mount, outlines Jesus’ teaching on how we should treat our enemies. The passage begins and ends with summary statements that define the believer’s response to wrongs done to him.

“...Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat your enemies, do good to will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your father is merciful” (27, 28, 35, 36).

Tucked in among these verses is Luke’s expression of the Golden Rule (vs. 31).

What makes it possible to actually practice these principles, to be forgiving in  and under the most extreme abuse? Romans 12:17-21 describes some of the actions of a person who forgives, but the beginning of the chapter tells how it is possible to do what is described.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). Our surrender to God is key. We surrender to Him because of the great mercy He has shown to us by forgiving us. We could never have as much for which to forgive others as He had to forgive us. This surrender in acknowledgment of His mercy to us, implies a “death” to the old patterns of thinking and acting that characterizes our lives before Christ. That old pattern is gradually replaced by a new one—the imprint of Christ’s character on ours. As that happens our old responses to wrongs done to us are replaced by new responses. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (vs. 2).

His will, as far as our response to the action of those who wrong us, is then detailed in verses 17-21, ending with the summary statement: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Verse 20 of the Romans passage is a partial quote from Proverbs. In its original form the quote ends with “...and the Lord will reward you” (Proverbs 25:22). Any reward of the Lord’s has got to be good!

Most of us know the adage: “You are what you eat.” But more importantly, and accurately, we are what we think. Many of us don’t, thankfully, act on our thoughts. And somehow we come to believe that because we don’t act on those thoughts, it’s okay to think them! But the transformation to Christ-like behaviour begins with the mind.

For that reason Philippians 2:5 begins in the King James Version: “Let this mind be in you , which was also in Christ Jesus...” With the transformation of the mind, comes the change in attitude which results in a change in actions. In turn those changes allow us to treat others as we would hope to be treated ourselves.

Thursday, August 28, 2014



We can all probably come up with examples of extraordinary forgiveness, the kind that makes us say, “I could never do that!” Every day we hear about some horrible injustice done that forms a rock-hard ball in our heart that rejects the possibility of forgiveness—and those don’t include the personal hurts and injustices that have been done against US!

Sometimes we’d just like to walk away. It’s easier to avoid than to resolve. We kid ourselves into thinking that if we wait long enough, the pain will go away or if we simply try hard not to have anything to do with that other person, then everything will be okay.

The truth is unless we face the pain, acknowledge it and deal with it, rather than going away that pain tends to fester, and the anger, bitterness and frustration grows, often out of proportion to the original crime. The other truth is that if a relationship existed between us and the other person before the offence was committed, that relationship is now damaged and that damage has consequences. If husbands and wives, or parents and children, don’t sort out their conflicts, there are serious consequences. In the church, when two people are at odds and haven’t resolved the situation, there are consequences. The unity of the body is disturbed and the Spirit of God can’t operate as freely as He wants to. Paul urged two women in the Philippian church to get their act together: “I plead with Euodia and I please with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord” (Phil 4:2). And there seems to have been no question about this being “no body else’s business” because Paul goes on to say: “Yes, and I ask you, my true companions, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel...” (vs. 3). This idea fits with what we read in Corinthians about the nature of the community that is the church. We are a body and if two parts, like these two ladies, are at odds, then the rest of the body IS affected.


So in answering the “Why Forgive?” question we have to consider the effect a lack of forgiveness has on the body. Among Jesus’s last words to His disciples was that prayer recorded for us in John that the believers be united, that they show love for one another because otherwise no one would want to join them! One the attractions of the early church was the togetherness that characterized the believers, as we find recorded early in the Book of Acts. Love and togetherness don’t happen unless there is a spirit of forgiveness present. So we can’t just walk away and forget it, or avoid the person with whom we are at odds.

Let’s read Colossians 3:12, 13. We are going to “unpack” this verse a bit.

Therefore,as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

When we see the word “therefore” in the Scriptures, it means that something that has been said before is important to what the writer is saying now. This particular “therefore”goes back to Paul’s explanation of salvation, summarized in Colossians 2:13-14: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sin, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”

Sound familiar? Then put those two verses together with what we have in 3:12, 13. Because Christ has taken away our sins, “therefore” this is how we should live now, as part of God’s community: We should be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient.

Then we have another phrase that follows: “Bear with each other” that directly connects with compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient. The King James version of this verse used the word “forbearing” which means basically to “put up with” something. The words that come before tell us how we should “put up with” each other—with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Then Paul adds that where there is a need to forgive, then forgiveness must be given.

Is “putting up with” something the same as forgiving something?

Eric Wright says in his book, Revolutionary Forgiveness, that “Forbearance is often confused with forgiveness. Sins require forgiveness but inadequacies due to human frailty, even oversights due to carelessness, call for forbearance.” (pg. 131, 132)

Examples would be:
—Unintentional mistakes
—Fancied slights or imagined motives
—Human foibles, such as clumsiness, forgetfulness, carelessness etc.
—Physical infirmities such as hearing loss, poor eyesight, etc.
—Valid differences of opinion
—Cultural differences
—Differences of temperament and emphasis
—Differences in Christian maturity.

What do you think?

Whether it is a question of “putting up with” or a question of sin that needs forgiving, why are we to do either of these, according to these verses?

We have been forgiven for far more than we will ever have to forgive someone else for. As imitators of Christ, we are asked to follow His example understanding that when we look at someone else’s frailties and sins, we are looking in a mirror and the face looking back at us is our own.

Okay, let’s look at the rest of the passages given to us.

Matthew 18:21, 22:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord. how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’

Forgiveness is limitless.

Matthew 18:23-35:
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

In this parable we see a picture of the huge debt we owe to Christ who forgave us more than we could ever need to forgive anyone else.

2 Corinthians 2:5-11:
If anyone has caused you grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him…If you forgive anyone, I will forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan will not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Paul is writing to the Corinthian church to instruct them that the brother who was under church discipline and who has repented, must be forgiven and restored to fellowship.

Matthew 6:14-15:
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.”

This last statement has implications. We are told that we have unconfessed sin in our lives if we don’t forgive. That state causes a break in the relationship we have with God as well as causing a break in the relationship we have with the person who had hurt us.


Eric Wright shares the following observations from his book on forgiveness.

Matthew 5:23-24:
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Apparently, seeking forgiveness is synonymous with seeking reconciliation.

Since the reconciler needs to lay bare the murkiness of the sin involved, he must come equipped with the ability to discern between sin and human foibles....Nevertheless, these verses in Galatians [6:1-3] do warn us to use great care when the law of Christ calls us to step into a third-party dispute or to restore a fallen Christian. Mature Christians, including church leaders should shoulder the primary responsibility.

William Barclay gave three reasons why judging another can cause so many problems.

1. We never know the whole facts or the whole person. We cannot understand the circumstances or temptations.
2. It is almost impossible for anyone to be strictly impartial in judgement.
3. No one is good enough to judge another. Our own faults and our own inability to resolve them automatically disqualify us as fair critics.

The Bible not only commands us not to judge, but also commands us to discern (1 Corinthians 6:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Ephesians 5:30). Although striking a balance between sinful tolerance and sinful judgement is very difficult it must be done.

Wherever sins or misunderstandings create breaches in human relationships, someone needs to step forward to initiate reconciliation. The Bible gives us a clear mandate for:

1. The innocent person to go to the one who has sinned and offer forgiveness and reconciliation;
2. The one who has sinned to make the first move by seeking forgiveness from those harmed;
3. A third party, a peacemaker, to carefully seek to reconcile those alienated — where both the offender and the one offended stall the process.

Misunderstandings develop when we do not listen, when we interrupt others in the middle of an explanation, when we finish their sentences for them, when we stop listening in a conversation to play our next verbal gambit, when we try to read between the lines. Attentive listeners who control their tongue gain insights that inhibit outbursts of anger.

To love is to listen. Those who listen to others are saying, non-verbally, ‘I think you’re important. I want to hear what you have to say. I want to understand your side of the story.’

Augsburger: Any human understanding of another human is tainted with our own evil. None of us is good enough to be entrusted with complete knowledge of another. That’s impossible to begin with... Where we cannot understand, it is still possible to be being understanding we accept the complexity of human motivation, the contradictions in persons that are beyond our explanation.

Samuel Lopez De Victoria, pastor of Miami Grace Church...

I am so sorry that I did not understand your pain. Walking through the fire has opened my eyes.

I am so sorry that I hit you with God talk making you feel unspiritual. I misused God’s sword and hurt you instead of being an agent of release and healing.

I am so sorry that I did not pay the price to enter your world but blindly insisted mine as the only valid one. I have much to learn and appreciate.

I am so sorry that I recklessly assumed you had a bad attitude. I was masking my insecurities.

I am so sorry that I did not extend to you the same mercy and grace God has for me. Amazing grace I have not shared.

Please pray for me and if you find it in your heart to have mercy on me, a poor wretched soul...then I beg of you to please forgive me.

We must not wait until friendships lie in charred ruins at our feet before we pursue reconciliation. Whether we are the cause, the victim or a third party, we cannot afford to look the other way. You! I! Whoever we are, we must take the first step!

Among Christians this is the duty of love, a duty that calls for understanding born of an empathetic awareness of our shared humanity and a commitment to listen patiently to the parties in a dispute.

As we listen we may discover that the sin was no sin at all, but the result of a human foible, a mistake, an accident, a misunderstanding. If so, the salve we need to apply to the damaged relationship.

Individual Christians are called to demonstrate revolutionary grace. Churches must display the same radical grace, but — at times — this has to be balanced by actions of apparent severity. Otherwise the moral testimony of the church will be compromised.

On a personal level we need to show an openness to extend unlimited forgiveness. On a church level, Christ commands us to discipline the unrepentant, with a view to their restoration, by treating them ‘as you would a pagan or a tax collector’ (Matthew 18:17).

This distinction is hard to maintain in our hyperindividualistic societies. Biblical culture knew nothing of the kind of individualism we foster today.

There’s a Biblical concept of protecting, developing, rebuking and rejoicing with one another...If the church believes in repentance, it must provide a caring fellowship in which it is safe to repent.

...that which brings us together in any genuine local church is not only our faith in Jesus Christ but our shared experience of his grace. We are not theologians gathered together to debate weighty issues — although we may do that from time to time. No, we are wounded, forgiven sinners taking the cure. ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us’ (I John 1:8). When we see the church — our church — as a hospital for sinners, the conceit and self-righteousness that make restoring a fallen brother impossible dissipates. When all the members share this humble realization the church becomes open to hear confession and accept repentance.

A caring fellowship is a fragile flower. When the integrity of that fellowship is compromised by the actions of one member, the body must take action.

Undue delay in forgiving a person who has shown signs of repentance gives the devil an opportunity to insinuate that the church is a harsh, legalistic, unloving place.

...testing the sincerity of a person’s repentance requires the elapse of some time.

A sinner’s confession and repentance are prerequisites to healing and reconciliation but not to forgiveness. Forgiveness must be complete and instantaneous and unconditional.

The Biblical evidence comes down overwhelmingly on the side of lavish forgiveness.

Forgiving a person does not mean we do not confront that person [Luke 17:3].

Notorious or public sins committed by Christians can be done...Churches must withhold forgiveness until there is repentance...(Matthew 18:17). Individuals, however, do not have church authority.

...distinguishing between God’s prerogatives and our may help to clarify issues...judgement, in the sense of condemnation, is not ours to exercise...Only God know the true heart condition of those who appear repentant, or unrepentant. He alone knows the heart of a man. And thus, in a moral sense, we cannot offer a person the forgiveness that is only God’s to give. In the meantime he expects us to forgive ‘seventy times seven’, which seems to me to be an appeal for us to bend over backwards to forgive.

Dr. Archibald Hart has suggested that forgiveness is: ‘Giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me.’

...offering this kind of forgiveness does not mean that we are responsible for resurrecting a ruined relationship.

...this kind of ‘human forgiveness’ does not absolve the forgiven person from taking responsibility for his actions.

...offering abundant forgiveness to an unrepentant person may profoundly influence his subsequent attitude.

For a comprehensive study of the subject of forgiveness, I would recommend Eric Wright’s book. It can be purchased from the author at: .

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


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Understanding what God promises to do with the sin of the forgiven sinner, or recognizing how much providing for that forgiveness cost God, makes little difference if we don’t consider the missing part of the equation. And this part of the equation is the one and only piece we can actually contribute to our forgiveness.

The story of this little boy perfectly illustrates the missing ingredient.

The story is told about a little boy who dialed the telephone operator. He couldn’t speak clearly so she didn’t understand what he was trying to say. After he had repeated himself four times, the boy said: “Operators are stupid!” and hung up the phone. Hearing this, his mother got upset. She called the operator and made her son apologize. Later, when his mother wasn’t at home, the boy called the operator again. “Is this the same operator I spoke to before?” “Yes,” she replied. “Well.” said the boy, “I still think operators are stupid!”

There is something not quite genuine to this little boy's apology!

And so it is with knowing how to gain forgiveness. KNOWING all the we know about the subject isn’t enough. We have to do something about what we know. And what we do has to be GENUINE. Keep that word in mind.

First of all, let’s look at the Seven Great Truths about Salvation. These seven truths take some big words and break them down into phrases that we can easily understand.


Think about your own spiritual journey and what it was that first made you realize that you needed the forgiveness that God was offering through Jesus Christ. All of these seven great truths are important, and like facets in a diamond, all are necessary. But at different times in our lives, different facets become more important to us. When I tell the story of my spiritual journey, I say that at 11 years old I was only a little conscious of sin, but I was very conscious of avoiding hell, so probably truth number 6 was the biggie then: Accepting Christ saved me from the hell that I deserved as a sinner. Today, the aspect of salvation that is the most meaningful to me is probably truth number 4: I am loved by God as a member of His family because of what Christ did for me on the cross. The facet that is most important to you will depend on where you are in your spiritual journey right now. But they are all important—including that first step of genuine repentance.

With that first step, none of these seven great truths about salvation applies. And this isn’t a “ho-hum” moment. Perhaps the greatest danger we face today in our spiritual journeys is our reluctance to talk about genuine repentance. If we talk about repentance we have to talk about sin, and sin is something strangely avoided. We talk about getting our lives on track, turning over a new leaf, becoming more spiritual, etc. etc. I am concerned about this avoidance because I’ve read too many stories of how people came to know Christ that never once mention repentance from sin. And repentance is the foundational step to true faith.

However we package the message of Gospel somewhere in there we have to talk about  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief” as Paul wrote 1 Timothy 1:15.
So let’s go.

Genuineness is everything when it comes to repentance. It’s easy to mumble the words when we get caught, or if its to our advantage to do so, but to really mean what we say when we repent is the “cut above.”

Read Acts 3:19, 14:15, 26:20

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord..."

"...turn from these worthless things to the living God..."

"...I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds."

In two of these verses the genuineness of the repentance is characterized by that word “turn.” For repentance to be genuine, there must be a commitment to stop the sinful behaviour. When John the Baptist preached repentance, there was always this aspect of “turning.” In Luke 3:8, he tells his audience: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” If they were really repentant, their commitment to change came as part of the package. This isn’t “fire insurance”— a "get out of hell free" card. This was a changed life. In the last verse Paul repeats this: “...and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” This isn’t a works theology, this is a “show-me-the-proof” theology. Genuine repentance will be demonstrated by a changed life.

When we come to the next set of verses we add some more valuable ingredients to genuine repentance.

Acts 10:43, 26:18, 20:21.

"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

"...I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."

"I have declared to both Jews and Gentiles that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus."

To believe means, in the general sense: to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.

In the religious sense, it means:
in a moral or religious reference
1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul
2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith
3) mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith

So when that word appears it can have a variety of meanings and we can usually figure out from the context which one is being referred to. In this case Acts 26 and 20 enlighten us when it comes to genuine belief. We are talking about saving faith, the accepting of the means that God has provided for us to be saved, the repentance and trust that what Jesus did on the cross is sufficient to pay for the sins that we have committed.

Even in the Old Testament, and before the moment of salvation, there was a commitment to turning away from evil, i.e. Isaiah 55:6,7:

"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon."


Many people protest, sayng, "But I believe in God!" James 2:19 reminds us: "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." Believing is much more than head knowledge. A response is needed—and it better be more than a shudder, though that is a good start!

John 1:12: "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." The word “believe” is often connected with the name of Jesus. Why? Because the name “Jesus” had a significance in Bible times that is doesn’t have today or in our culture. Matthew 1:21: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” “Jesus” means “the Lord saves.

John 3:16-18, 5:24: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did  not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eterna leife and will not be condemned; he has passed over from death to life."

The results of saving faith are: no condemnation, no judgment, and the promise of eternal life.

The opposite of saving faith is found for us in John 3:36: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." You can accept everything about Jesus as an intellectual fact, but not have saving faith. You can believe without REALLY believing and the result will be the judgment of God. Notice the idea in the verses of a "rejection." This rejection is a refusal to believe what God says about our sin and how we can deal with that sin. It is a refusal to accept Christ's offer of salvation through an act of repentance.

One of the best illustrations comes from a simple chair. I can say that I believe that the chair in front of me will hole my weight if I sat down on it, but until I actually sit down on the chair, I cannot claim to have genuine faith in what I have said.

Psalm 32:1-5

"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged by sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'—and you forgave the guilt of my sin."

The whole of this psalm is really beautiful. From verse 6 on we are given some details on what being forgiven means. It tells us about the confidence that a person who is forgiven can have in the God who has done the forgiving. But we are only going to look at the first five verses for our present discussion.

We have here in the psalm an example of the “godly sorrow” that wasn't present in the story of the little boy. This is the same genuine repentance that Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 7. This whole chapter is precious but remember these three verses: “yet now I am happy, not because your were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us [note to the shrinks who say that we should lay guilt trips on people!]. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.” (vss 9-11).

A person who is genuinely repentant of their sin will be driven crazy by it until he confesses it and until he deal with it. That goes for any sin—as we find described for us here in Psalm 34 and described in Paul's letter to the Corinthians. David was sick, depressed, weak, because of his sin.

Eric Wright in Revolutionary Forgiveness says:

David Seamands, a counselor, writes: ‘Many years ago I was driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of most emotional problems among evangelical Christians are these: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God’s unconditional grace and forgiveness; and the failure to give out that unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people.’ In prison, Paul knelt before the Father and prayed for the Ephesians: ‘that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God’ (3:17-19).

David was unhappy because of his sin. He had to deal with because of the effect it was having on his life. The only solution to his problem was to acknowledge his sin to himself (that’s always a first step) and then to confess it to God.

The result of this acknowledging of sin, its confession to God, and receiving by faith the gift of salvation that Christ offers based on His sacrifice on the cross, was forgiveness, happiness, and the blessed relief of a restored relationship between us and God.

That same forgiveness is available to us today.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


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For many of us a discussion about the cross is old hat. We know all about it and can recite the story frontwards, backwards and in our sleep.

I remember hearing about a congregation that was annoyed with their pastor. They wanted him to stop preaching the Gospel every Sunday—they were getting tired of hearing it! The trouble is most of the time the cross is seldom mentioned from our pulpits except when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and then as briefly as possible so that we aren’t late for whatever we have planned for the rest of the day.

Am I being unnecessarily critical? Perhaps.

What I do know is that I know the story frontwards, backwards and I could probably recite it in my sleep. Most of the time, it ceases to move me when I hear it told, or when I think about it myself.

That’s not good. What Christ did to provide for my forgiveness is something that should always move me. As I worked on this study I struggled with how to make it move you. That’s a struggle I might have lost because if it doesn’t move me it will not move anyone I share it with. If it doesn’t move me, I probably won’t bother to share it.

If it doesn’t move you, neither will you share it.

But God is greater than me. He can move me again to understand in a fresh way what forgiving me cost God. He can move you to understand in a fresh way what it cost God to forgive you. I hope He moves all of us, despite me and despite our familiarity with the story.

But the cross and what Christ did there is the heart of forgiveness. Without this there is nothing. John Stott wrote: “...we have much more to receive, but God has no more to give than he has given in Jesus Christ.” (Life In Christ, John Stott, Tyndale House Publishers, 1991, page 20)


Salvation is a recurrent theme throughout the Scriptures. The Bible is a book dedicated to God’s actions in restoring a fatally damaged Creation. That story, the Gospel, is the heart of all the other teachings of God’s Word. Oddly enough, it is not a story that is often repeated by us or even in our churches. The Gospel is spelled forgiveness and forgiveness presupposes that there is something to be forgiven, that there is sin that needs to be dealt with, and that there is repentance that needs to happen. The “S” word is not popular today, and neither is the “R” word. And without those, the forgiveness we receive from God is not possible and the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from sin cannot be applied. Forgiveness is free, but it is not automatic.

2 Corinthians 7:10, 11 gives us the formula. Paul writes:

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets…See what this godly sorrow has produced in you; what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.

Paul had written a previous letter to the church in Corinth in which he had addressed some issues that needed looking after, including immorality in the church and the abuse of the Lord’s Supper. Apparently his letter caused some grief as people recognized the sins they had been guilty of. In the second letter he commended them for their attitude of sorrow and the repentance that accompanied it. Their sorrow had produced in them a heartfelt need to straighten things out with God and to correct the wrongs that had been committed.

This “Godly sorrow” needs to be our constant companion. Not that we go about with long faces and downcast eyes, burdened with the weight of our sins, but that we are sorry for the sins we commit and eager to restore the fellowship between us and God (and others) that those sins have damaged. That sorrow leads us to repentance, to forgiveness and to the restoration of the relationship. That returns to us the joy in our salvation.

David understood the meaning of this sorrow/repentance/forgiveness/restoration cycle after his confrontation with Nathan, the prophet, after David’s sin with Bathsheba. When he repented of his sin of adultery and murder, David rediscovered the joy that he had lost during the time he ignored what he had done to offend God.

He writes in Psalm 51:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquity. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (51:1-4, 7-12).

In this psalm is the formula that finds it embodiment in Jesus Christ,

It is finished” John 19:30. These are the words of Jesus just before He died. In Christ, salvation is complete.


SUBSTITUTION: Jesus died in my place
JUSTIFICATION: Jesus made me right with God
RECONCILIATION: Jesus made peace with God possible
ADOPTION: Jesus made me part of God’s family
REDEMPTION: Jesus purchased my salvation with His blood
PROPITIATION: Jesus satisfied God’s justice
FORGIVENESS: Jesus sent my sins away from me

There is nothing left for us to do but a “David.”

James Kennedy tells this story: “I remember a story about some people who moved into a new house, and they had a good friend who was a German woodworker, a master craftsman. He was invited to see the house, and as he looked around it he noticed that there was no coffee table in the living room. He never said anything, but after he left he started to work in his workshop, and he worked for two months. He built the most magnificent coffee table imaginable, with the most gorgeous curved legs and all kinds of various designs in it. He put sixteen coats of varnish on the surface until it became a veritable mirror. Finally, he wrapped it in a soft cloth and brought it over to their house, sat it down in the living room, threw off the cloth and said, ‘Voila!’ There it was. ‘Ahhhhhh...beautiful!’ It was, without a doubt, the most beautiful table they had ever seen in their lives. Then the craftsman said, ‘You are my dearest friends, and I present this to you as a gift.’ The man of the house stepped out of the living room and came back in a moment with a piece of coarse sandpaper in his hand. He said to the craftsman, ‘Oh, thank you for your gift. And now I must do my part.’ ‘Don’t touch that!’ the craftsman said. ‘If you touch it, you’ll ruin it. It is already finished. It is complete. It is done!’” (Cross Purposes, D. James Kennedy, Multnomah Publishing, 2007, page 16-17)


We are going to talk about the cost of forgiveness as it relates to Christ. Later as we develop the forgiveness theme we will talk about the human cost, but as part of our foundation we need to think about about what it cost God to restore the relationship that we damaged through our rebellion.

First of all, before we turn to all the verses we are going to look at, I want you to go back to the very first record we have of sacrifice in Scripture.

Genesis 4:1-5 describes the first family. Adam and Eve began to have children and we read about how they conducted the first worship services. We have to make a lot of assumptions here because the story by itself doesn’t tell us much but it is safe to assume that they had been instructed by God, or learned from their own painful experience, just what was required for them to approach God. As you read this account, what do you know about the sacrifice that the two brothers made and God’s reaction to those sacrifices?

We soon discover that something had to die, to spill its blood, in order to make the sacrifice acceptable to God. This particular story becomes even more important to us later when we look at other verses from the Scriptures.

Right from the beginning of history, the shedding of blood was a central part of any approach to God. The Lord Himself began the process by killing animals to provide the skins (Genesis 3:21) to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness after their sin. He could have provided in some other way, but in the death and shed blood of the animals He was illustrating what needed to happen to restore the relationship, the fellowship, destroyed by sin.

Isaiah 55:6, 7 summarizes the message of the Gospel prior to the appearance of Jesus. “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

We have to call on God. There seems to be a time limit to this calling on God, i.e. while he is to be found. We must forsake the sin committed. We have to turn to the Lord, or repent, so that He will forgive us. Jesus would become that ultimate sacrifice for sin, but these steps need to be taken by us before that “blood” can become the cleansing fountain that removes our sin and restores our fellowship with God.

We look first at the book of Acts to discover more on the steps we need to take. As the early church began to grow and flourish it was important for the new believers to understand the cycle. The emphasis is mine.

In Acts 3:19 we find Peter preaching to the group gathered in the temple for prayer. He said: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…

Later, as Paul and Barnabas traveled through Asia Minor, they encouraged their audience with this message: “…We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.

Paul, as he explains his own journey to the Lord to King Agrippa in Acts 26:20 says this: “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles, also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

Repentance means a change of direction or heart concerning our sin (Mark 1:15). When we recognize how terrible our offenses against God are, we, like the Corinthians, should experience that “Godly sorrow” and be eager to rectify the problem that has broken the fellowship between us and God. You will notice that in Acts 26, Paul adds that this repentance really does mean a change in direction in that it results in a change of life—leaving the sins behind to pursue a new lifestyle that pleases God.

So repentance and turning back to God is an essential part of our journey of forgiveness. But let’s look at some other factors mentioned in Acts.

When Peter was preaching the Gospel in the house of Cornelius, this was part of his message: “We are witnesses of everything he [Jesus] did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:39-43).

Paul, in his message to Agrippa, explained how God had called him into the ministry of the Gospel to the Gentiles. In recounting the message that he had received from Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul said, “…I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:17b, 18).

Again, in Acts 20:21, Paul says, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

Often, people mistake what is meant by “believing” and “having faith.” James 2:19 tells us that even the demons believe in God, so that, in itself, is not sufficient.

John 1:12 tells us, “Yet to all who received him [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Added to believing is receiving. Added to believing in God is believing in Jesus. It is possible to believe that God exists, that He is Who He is, and tremble (as James told us in reference to the demons), but not accept neither His forgiveness nor His Lordship. It is possible to believe in God, but not to believe in Jesus, as God and as the Saviour of mankind. It is possible to believe in Who Jesus is and in what He did on our behalf, but not to accept the salvation that He died to provide.

In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, the Gospel is presented in a nutshell along with the evidence of the reality of that Gospel in the life of an individual: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he had not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

In the original language in which the Scripture was written, the word, “believe” means:

    I. to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in

        A. of the thing believed

           i. to credit, have confidence

        B. in a moral or religious reference

            i. used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul

            ii. to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith

            iii. mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith

    II. to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity

        A. to be entrusted with a thing

(Strong’s Concordance of the Bible)

Obviously, this “belief” is more than simply the acknowledgement of facts without an application of those facts as an integral part of one’s own personal experience.

John 5:24 says: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” In the latter part of the verse we see a positional change in the circumstances of the believer’s life—from death to life. In the passage in John 3:16-22 we see an attitudinal change alongside the positional—evil deeds to good deeds; darkness to light.

The result of not believing is a brutal one. John 3:36 says: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.


This issue of “God’s wrath” is difficult for us to imagine. First of all, we are not programmed in this day and age to think of God as “wrathful.” We choose to emphasize His love and compassion, His mercy and grace. And all of these are parts of His nature and we should talk about them, experience them, delight in them. But until we understand what we escaped in coming to Christ and until we understand how God’s wrath relates to the death of Christ, we will never understand just how expensive our salvation actually was.

We can’t avoid the subject of God’s anger and His judgement on sin. There are many Scriptures that describe God’s wrath. We will only look at a few.

Directed to God’s people because of their complaining.
Numbers 11:33—“But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.”

Directed to those in spiritual leadership who were to be held responsible for the desecration of the objects of worship.
Numbers 18:5—“You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again.

Directed to God’s people because of their worship of idols.
2 Kings 22:17—“Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and not be quenched.

Directed at Babylon.
Isaiah 13:13—“Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.

Directed to the house of Israel on the subject of idols.
Jeremiah 10:10—“But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.

Directed by John the Baptist to the Pharisees.
Matthew 3:7—“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

Directed by Paul to those who don’t believe.
Romans 1:18; 2:5—“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…you are storing up for yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

Directed by Paul to the Roman church.
Romans 5:9; 9:22 (cf. Ephesians 2:3)—“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him…What oi God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction.

Directed by John concerning the end times.
Revelation 6:16, 17—“They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’

This “wrath” is real.

In various parts of the Bible, this wrath is described as something that must be drunk. In fact, in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus referred to it as such. He said: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). This imagery, connected to something drunk from a “cup” hooks onto verses such as the following:

Isaiah 51:17
Awake, awake! Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger.

When the mother of James and John begged Jesus to give her sons places of importance in His kingdom, Matthew 20:22 records this statement: “‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them, ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’”

Revelation 14:10; 15:7; 16:1; 16:19
…he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath…Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever…Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth’…The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.” This is so terrible that the next verses describe it as being so bad that even creation runs from its path. “Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible” (vss. 20, 21).

We often think the Lord was referring to the pain and suffering of the crucifixion, but in fact that would have been nothing compare with bearing the weight of the wrath of God on His soul, a weight that we deserved because of our sins. We can say it, but it is impossible to conceive of just how terrible the wrath of God is.

We can't imagine how to felt for Christ to carry the sins, past, present and future, of the whole world; to endure God's anger toward all that sin. We can't imagine how God the Father must have felt to punish His own Son in such a terrible way, not for anything He had done, but because of what we had done. This was what Christ accepted on our behalf.


There are study sheets that you can use as companions to my remarks. If you are interested in those, feel free to email me at and ask for the pdf files that are companions to them.