And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
September 21-26, 2014
lessons nightly, Mon-Fri at 7:00 PM
“The Truth that Shall Make You Free”
Sunday Class: Truth Misunderstood in Bible Times
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
Joe. R. Price
The world is an unforgiving place. Worldly people view compassion as weakness and vengeance as strength. The opposite is true. On the cross the great Son of God said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Lk. 23:34). Far from being weak, Jesus showed great strength of faith and character in this extreme moment of pain. He calls on us to follow His example (1 Pet. 2:18-24).
And, we can. It is not easy to forgive those who sin against us (Matt. 6:14-15). Yet, faithful Christians follow the example of Jesus by faith, putting on a heart of forgiveness and "forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do" (Col. 3:13).
To forgive (aphiemi, Matt. 18:21; apoluo, Lk. 6:37) means "to send away, to let go, to keep no longer, to release" (Thayer, Strong's).
Understanding why we must forgive will help strengthen our resolve to be like Jesus. Why should we forgive?
We forgive because God commands us to forgive. Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (Matt. 18:21-22). We cannot be faithful disciples of Jesus and yet refuse to forgive sinners. We are living proof of God's loving forgiveness. Shall we be so unlike Jesus as to refuse to have forgiveness in our hearts and actions toward those who sin against us?
The fact that God commands us to forgive does not mean God is pressuring us to forgive. Far from it. It means forgiveness is an act of loving faith in Jesus: "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (Jno. 14:15). And again, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 Jno. 5:3). We obey the command to forgive because we love Jesus.
We forgive in order to be like God. God is "the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments" (Deut. 7:9). God's loving kindness (grace) prompts Him to forgive sinners (Eph. 1:7; Titus 3:4-5). (Truly, sinners must repent in order to receive His forgiveness, Lk. 17:3; Acts 8:22; 1 Jno. 1:9. Here we are discussing forgiveness from the giver's point of view.) Unless there is grace in the heart, forgiveness will never be extended to others.
We forgive those who sin against us because we want to be like God. We intend to forgive in the way He forgives us. The parable of the unforgiving servant teaches that our heavenly Father forgives us out of compassion, and we must do the same (Matt. 18:21-35, 27, 33). Paul wrote, "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). It is the calloused person who refuses to have compassion and forgive "from his heart" (Matt. 18:35). This person will not be forgiven. We are able to forgive by devoting ourselves to being like our Father in heaven.
We forgive so that we can be forgiven. Jesus was very plain about this. Unless we forgive others we will not be forgiven:
"Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Lk. 6:37).
"And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses" (Mk. 11:25-26).
When teaching how to pray, Jesus said to ask God "to forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" (Matt. 6:12). If we do not, then we will not be forgiven (Matt. 6:14-15). This is a clear and unambiguous standard by which to assess our own forgiveness as disciples of Christ.
It is a sin not to forgive! Christians who will not forgive others like Jesus on the cross can only expect the eternal torment reserved for sinners (Matt. 18:34-35).
We forgive because it is also good for us. Not only does forgiveness bless the one being forgiven, practicing it also frees one's heart from bitterness, malice and anger (Eph. 4:31-32). Forgiving others rejoices the heart through obeying the Lord (Psa. 19:8). Forgiveness engenders restoration and renewal, and brings refreshment to the soul.
God's forgiveness is offered to all in His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). Christ calls on us to forgive as we have been forgiven. "Be imitators of God" and forgive one another when complaints arise (Eph. 4:31-5:2; Col. 3:12-13).
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 55:6-13
Not everyone knows what the gospel of Christ is. They limit "gospel" to the news about Christ, without including His teachings given through His apostles, 1 Tim. 1:10-11; Rom. 1:15.
I. THE GOSPEL IS GOD’S MESSAGE TO MAN, Gal. 1:11-12; 1:6-9. Good news...
II. THE GOSPEL IS THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT JESUS CHRIST, 1 Cor. 15:1-4.
III. THE GOSPEL IS FOR THE WHOLE WORLD, Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 10:34-35; Matt. 28:18-20.
IV. THE GOSPEL IS NOT SHAMEFUL, Rom. 1:16; Mk. 8:38; 2 Tim. 1:8, 16; Eph. 6:19.
V. THE GOSPEL IS THE MESSAGE OF PEACE:
VI. THE GOSPEL MUST BE OBEYED, 2 Ths. 1:8.
VII. THE GOSPEL ENDURES FOREVER, 1 Pet. 1: 23-25.
VIII. THE GOSPEL WILL JUDGE US, Heb. 2:1-3.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Freedom from Religion?
The nonprofit Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) is making a lot of noise these days in their atheistic effort to deny religious people a voice in the public square. The U.S. Constitution says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (U.S. Constitution, Amendment 1). We have been blessed with a government that does not force a state religion upon us, nor shall it prohibit citizens from freely exercising their religion. We thank God for this blessing (Rom. 13:1).
Still, the FFRF is hard at work trying to prohibit the free exercise of religion in America. They are atheists and they do not want any religion in America (except their secular religion of "nontheism"). They are a nonprofit and promote their atheism with tax-exempt status -- but churches cannot promote theism without FFRF challenging their tax-exempt status. Hypocrites! "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matt. 7:2). Make no mistake. They want to eliminate God from our society (Rom. 1:18-22, 28-32).
The FFRF threatens legal action against having any sort of religious practice in the public arena. Intimidation is an evil tactic, but effective. They have pressured a Florida School District to change a long standing tradition of allowing local preachers to volunteer as high school football chaplains ("Florida School District Replaces Football Chaplains with Life Coaches", Carrie Dedrick, christianheadlines.com). (This is not an endorsement of chaplains, but an illustration of the ongoing struggle against secularism.) No more Bible, no more God. Christians must be the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). The darkness is vast, but God's light is stronger (Jno. 1:4-5; 3:19-21). Put on the whole armor of God and be strong in the Lord (Eph. 6:10-13). We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 09/01/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA