Forgiveness

Sunday, July 9, 2017, 4:15 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Songs in The Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read various scriptures (in the ESV) on the subject of forgiveness of sins.

Repentance for Forgiveness (Luke 24:44-47)

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

What is repentance? Literally it means to have “a change of mind, change in the inner man” (1). It is used almost exclusively in scripture to signify a turning away from sin and a turning to walk in obedience to God. It is a lot like making a U-turn, i.e. you were going left, and now you are going right. Only this is talking about a complete change of direction spiritually in one’s life. And, although this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, in transforming us from darkness to light, our faith in Jesus Christ involves us willingly cooperating with that work of grace in our lives.

This repentance, i.e. this forsaking of our former way of living for sin and self, and turning to God to follow him in his ways, and in his truth, is required by God for us to be forgiven of our sins, and to have eternal life with God in heaven (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24).

Turned from Darkness (Acts 26:16-18; Col. 1:13-14)

“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Paul met Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus where he intended to persecute believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus, who transformed his heart and mind, appointed him to be a minister of the gospel of our salvation. Paul’s calling also summarizes for us the gospel message, the purpose of which is to open eyes which are spiritually blinded by sin, and to turn them from sin to Christ and to his righteousness, and from the dominion of Satan over their lives to now walk in obedience to their Lord. The result is that they receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified, cleansed) by faith in Jesus Christ. So, again we have here the prerequisite of repentance prior to the forgiveness of sins.

Holy and Blameless (Ephesians 1:3-10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Those of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, who have been redeemed with his blood, and forgiven our sins, were chosen by God even before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. To be holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. Blameless means “unblemished from the marring effects of sin” (2). Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When we believe in him, his righteousness is credited to our account so that we are no longer charged as “guilty,” but we are set free from the condemnation of sin. Yet, we must also live righteously. We must walk in the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh, if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-23; Ro. 8:1-14).

We were also chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace. And, he made known to us his will, according to his plan and purpose for our lives. In fact, faith in Christ means to be persuaded of God as to his will for our lives. And, if persuaded (convinced), we will want to do his will. And, what is his will? It is that we should be sanctified and made holy, that we should forsake our sins and follow him in obedience, and that we should live holy and godly lives pleasing to him.

The reality of his grace to us is not just that we have escaped hell and that we have the promise of heaven when we die, but that he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). His grace, which brings salvation, instructs (commands) us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, if we are chosen according to the purpose of God’s will, to the praise of his grace, then our lives should reflect both his purpose for our lives, and his grace, which instructs us to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to his righteousness and holiness being lived out in our lives.

Circumcised in Heart (Col. 2:11-15; cf. Ro. 6:1-23)

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

While physical circumcision is a cutting away of physical flesh, the circumcision made without hands, which is also called “circumcision of the heart,” is a spiritual cutting away of our sinful flesh (sin nature, worldliness, wickedness). This is what takes place when we genuinely trust in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives. We die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. The old is gone. The new has come. We are given completely new lives in Christ Jesus which are created to be like him in true righteousness and holiness. We were once dead in our sins, but God made us alive in Christ Jesus! He cancelled the debt that stood against us, and he forgave our sins. Amen!

But, forgiveness alone is not the end result of our faith in Jesus Christ, for we were set free from slavery to sin, as well, so that we would no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but so we would now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit. If we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful flesh (if we keep on practicing sin), we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6). So, not only must we be forgiven our sins, but we must no longer continue in willful sin against God if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God.

Songs in the Night / An Original Work / December 18, 2013

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
And the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84

Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.

I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!

Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.

I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!

Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.

Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/3341.htm

(2) http://biblehub.com/greek/299.htm

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Comfort and Strength

Saturday, February 4, 2017, 2:49 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Lord is With You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 (NASB).

He Called Us (2:13-15)

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

Before God/Jesus Christ even created the world, he knew who we would be, because he had a plan to bring us into the world for a purpose. He chose us, who are his followers, for salvation through cleansing (purification) of sin by the Spirit of God, and by faith in the truth. So, how did he accomplish this?

God the Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ (God the Son) into the world to take on human form and to die on a cross for our sins. When he died, our sins died with him and were buried with him. When he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, death, hell and Satan, on our behalf. Through faith in him we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We are “born again” of the Spirit of God (See: Jn. 3), turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (See: Acts 26:16-18).

So, what does this faith look like? Well, for one, this faith is a gift from God, and not of ourselves (See: Eph. 2:8-10). Faith means literally to be persuaded by God, i.e. it is God’s divine persuasion, i.e. the persuasion of his will – http://biblehub.com/greek/4102.htm). It is also faith in (divine persuasion of) the truth of the gospel of Christ. This means that faith is not an intellectual assent or an emotional decision to accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and his forgiveness of sin, but it is a divine persuasion to accept, not only what Jesus did on the cross for our sins, but to adopt the purpose for which he died, into our own lives, i.e. to allow ourselves to die with Christ to sin so that we could be resurrected to new lives in Christ Jesus, i.e. born anew of the Spirit of God, delivered from slavery to sin, and set free to live to Christ as bond-servants of his righteousness (See: Ro. 6:1-23).

To this we were called of God, to be delivered from slavery to sin that we might be slaves of Christ’s righteousness. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us; and to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:14; cf. Eph. 2:10).

He also called us to holiness, which means to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into the image of Christ. In other words, faith in Jesus Christ is supernatural, it is of the Spirit, and it prefers what God prefers, i.e. if we believe in Jesus Christ it means we have been divinely persuaded to leave our lives of sin behind us and to follow our Lord in obedience to his will. So, if we claim to have faith in Christ, but we are not persuaded of God away from sin and to walks of obedience, then scripture teaches we don’t really believe in Jesus Christ.

Yet, if most of what we have talked about here does describe your faith in Jesus Christ, then this is an encouragement to stand strong (firm) on that faith, which includes a stand for righteousness, godliness, holiness, purity, obedience to Christ, and love, and a stand against wickedness and all that is falsely called knowledge, i.e. lies. It is not popular in many Christian circles here in America to take such a stance, because it is an offense to many who listen, yet the gospel of Christ is an offense to all who are perishing.

He Loves Us (2:16-17)

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.

When we believe the truth about God’s Word, and about the gospel of our salvation, i.e. that Jesus didn’t die just so we could escape hell and so we could go to heaven when we die, but that he died to radically transform our lives while we still live on the face of this earth, i.e. to make us holy, we may find ourselves in the minority, and with people forsaking us or avoiding us because all this talk about holiness just makes them uncomfortable. As well, if we are verbal about our faith, and we talk or write about what the Bible teaches on holiness and godliness, and what it truly means to believe in Jesus, as was discussed in the first section of this writing, we may be accused falsely of teaching works-based salvation, or we may be accused of being hatemongers, bigots, intolerant, and the like. And, if we are feeling people, with hearts of love and compassion, we may get emotionally hurt by it all, and need the comfort and strength of the Lord in order to persevere.

He Rescues Us (3:1-5)

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

As well, we will need prayer to have courage to keep speaking in Jesus’ name, and to keep telling people the truth, even if they fight against us. For, many people here in America have bought into a diluted half-truth false grace gospel which does not teach death to sin and living to righteousness, but which gives people free license to continue living in sin without guilt and without remorse. They don’t understand that faith in Jesus Christ means we are divinely persuaded as to the will of God for our lives, i.e. that faith is given to us by God, and as so, it is spiritual, and it believes the message of the gospel, and it applies it to our lives. It does not make excuses or allowance for sin, but it eradicates sin from our lives and it chooses to walk in holiness in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us.

Yet, we are promised in scripture that if we follow Christ that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted, so we are not promised that we will ever be completely free from mistreatment by evil and obstinate people, until Jesus comes to get us or until we reach heaven. So, being rescued from these types of people must take on various forms. In other words, the Lord may physically deliver us by moving us to another location, or by removing these people in some way or another, or he may put a roadblock to their evil paths and open doors for us and the gospel which no man can close. He may, as well, deliver us emotionally or spiritually from their persecution, i.e. to where we are not weighed down by it, but we can still rejoice in the Lord, and have courage to persevere, despite the evil treatment, and even love our persecutors in return.

I just know that my God is completely sovereign over all that he has made, and he has all things under his control, and that he will keep the door open for me, and for others who are also sharing his gospel, to keep sharing his gospel until he is finished with me (them), and then I believe he will take me home, when my job on earth is done; when my assignment is finished. Until then, I live each day to serve my Lord, and to share his Word, and to love others with his love, and to follow him wherever he leads me, even if it gets me hated in return, because I know I am here to serve God/Jesus.

Your Lord is With You
An Original Work / August 14, 2016

Based off Various Scriptures

Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.
When you walk through valleys of life’s rough ways,
You must fear no evil, for God is near.
Be of courage, then, and be not dismayed,
For your Lord is with you throughout your days.
Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.

Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.
The Lord is our helper, so we’ll not fear.
He will strengthen us. He sees all our tears.
Do not be afraid, but to God do pray,
And the peace of God will be yours today.
Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.

My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep I’d sink.
My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes, gave me sight.
My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.