The New F Word in Church
November 08, 2011 by Pastor Jeremiah
I’ve been reflecting this week on the scope of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ. In Christ God has forgiven all of our sins (Heb. 10:11-18). As I consider the implications of this, I can’t help but recognize how scandalous the gospel really is. All of my sins? Does this include the sins of my past, present, and future? What about major sins? I can’t help but thinking that I’m going to find the conditions in the fine print somewhere. After all, that’s a lot of sin for one man’s death to atone for. So, what is the scope of God’s forgiveness? Does it come with limits, pre-conditions, or disclaimers?
The offer of forgiveness is what makes the gospel so compelling. “Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, and you will receive the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). This is God’s gift offered to a world that suffers from a guilty conscience and the shame of sin. For those who have received God’s salvation, the forgiveness of all their sins, God gives the gift of His Holy Spirit and a new identity in Jesus Christ. Paul calls believers in Jesus Christ “new creations.” In Christ, believers are no longer identified as “sinners”, but rather, “saints” – the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
The writers of the New Testament took great pains to describe this “new identity” in Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews explained that believers have been made perfect (Heb. 10:14). Obviously, this does not mean that a Christian no longer sins. Unfortunately, the flesh and its’ desires will always be with us in this life. However, since we have already been made perfect in Jesus Christ, every effort on our part to secure God’s forgiveness is futile. No righteous act, no amount of confession, no spiritual discipline will make us more acceptable to God than we already are. When Jesus said “it is finished” on the cross, he really meant it.
In Hebrews 4 we are encouraged to come boldly before the throne of grace not because of our excellent performance, or religious piety, but because of Jesus finished work (Heb. 4:16). We can come boldly because we know that we have been made perfect. This does not generate arrogance, or give us an air of entitlement; after all, we are entirely dependent on Jesus. This produces within us a sense of humility and gratitude overflowing within us even as we are receiving God’s abundance and goodness.
The next time you find yourself buried by the weight of your sin (I think you know the feeling I am talking about) remind yourself of this, “In Christ God has forgiven all of your sins.” God is not employing his angels in heaven to tally your sins on a chalkboard in preparation for judgment day. On the contrary, God is “in Christ not counting people’s sins against them.” (2 Cor. 5:19) If only we could see others and ourselves the way that God sees us. If only we could forgive with the same capacity our God has forgiven us. It starts with fully recognizing the scope of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ!
For another pastor's take on the subject check out the video below.