Forgiveness


nature%203 Past, Present and Future Forgiveness

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

1 Peter 3:18

Doctrine affects our behavior. Right doctrine promotes, supports, and strengthens the life of holiness. Wrong doctrinal beliefs deceive, mislead, and burden the Christian life. What we believe about God shapes our choices and actions. We must think rightly and Biblically about God or we may mislead ourselves and others concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement.

Several years back, I worked with a ministry that taught that our past sins were covered by the Cross, but our present and future sins were not. This teaching was intended to promote personal holiness by making our behavior a condition for acceptance with God. However, their teaching caused me to lose my joy: the joy of knowing that my salvation was complete in Christ (Gal. 4:15 NIV).

However, I soon discovered that classic Christian doctrine taught otherwise. All my sin and all your sin is forgiven, put away, and overcome in the Cross. “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Every sin committed whether in our past, present, or future is forgiven as we look to Christ in faith. All our present struggles and unknown failures are covered by the blood of Christ. We rejoice for the finished work of Christ on the Cross has met our past, present, and future need for forgiveness (Heb. 10:20-21).

There at Calvary the sin of the world is gathered by the Father, who purposes to save sinners; yes, the sins of the past and the present and the future–because He wants to include you and me who are saved in this great transaction–the sins of the past, present, and future are swept by Almighty power, and as the prophet says, they are caused to meet on the head of His only-begotten Son. The Lord caused to meet upon Him the iniquity of us all. This salvation is rooted in the will of God. We can have boldness to enter into the Holiest through the blood of Jesus, and we can come into the presence of God in the full assurance of faith in the Christ of Calvary.

J. A. Motyer, “One Sacrifice for Sins Forever,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 358.

Repentance+ +505+Blog Repentance: The Door to Being a Great Receiver

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. . . . He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 1:9, 2:2

Repentance is not turning inward, but turning around. Repentance is not self-condemnation, but Holy Spirit conviction. Repentance is grace in action: Jesus points out the areas in our lives that are wrong and he then releases, restores, and renews. Repentance is a change of mind that by God’s grace leads to change of heart which creates a change in behavior.

Repentance begins as a work of the Holy Spirit; he changes our minds convincing us that our actions are wrong and hurtful. The Holy Spirit’s conviction leads to brokenness over our failure resulting in an admitting of that wrong to the Lord (and to others, if necessary). Our confession opens the door of our hearts for the receiving God’s great forgiveness. The overwhelming love, mercy, and grace of God pours out into our lives bringing about a change in our behavior.

Repentance is the recognition that God is right and that we are wrong. We are wrong because we have broken God’s law; and as a result, our selfish actions have wounded God’s heart and hurt others. Repentance is not trying to prove to God our sincerity, nor is it a mechanism for earning God’s pardon. Repentance allows you and me to receive the forgiveness that was accomplished for us on the Cross two thousand years ago.

Repentance does not twist God’s arm to give us a forgiveness that he would otherwise be reluctant to release. Repentance is opening the door to a joy and a freedom that has already been given in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Repentance says, “Yes, Lord, your work on the Cross was for me and I receive it now without any qualification or hesitation.”

Jesus earned our acceptance before God, now receive it, and walk in it (Rom. 3:21-26). Be a great receiver!

Repentance in the Christian sense is not primarily concerned with doing ‘better’ from now on; it means returning home to him who has done all things ‘well.’

Helmut Thielicke, Being a Christian When the Chips Are Down (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), 43.

 

forgiveness Forgiveness: Another View

Forgive If He (or She) Repents

So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Luke 17:3-4 NIV

Forgiveness is a controversial subject in today’s psychologized world. You would not think it would be, but it is. Two views of forgiveness are predominant: therapeutic or biblical.

The modern therapeutic approach states that we are obligated to forgive even if the person who wounded us shows no remorse over their actions. It is said that as Christians, we must automatically forgive every offense. Modern psychology says that forgiveness is about releasing the anger caused by the unjust action, letting go of the resentment caused by the emotional pain, and eliminating the desire for tit-for-tat retribution. Forgiveness is privatized and personalized. Forgiveness is about resolving our internal conflicts and dealing with our negative feelings over others’ hurtful actions.

The biblical view of forgiveness is different. Yes, we should maintain an attitude of forgiveness no matter who it is or what they have done and we should give to God our pain and disappointment. But primarily, forgiveness is about two parties. Forgiveness is about releasing the debt caused by others’ sinful actions. The Bible speaks of sin creating a debt and a forgiveness which releases that individual from that specific debt (Matt 6:12). Forgiveness given is dependent on repentance offered. Forgiveness is not just about me and my feelings, but it is also about the offending party’s relationship with God and their acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Forgiving in this privatized, automatic kind of way has become far less than what the Gospel requires . . . . Automatic forgiveness packs unforgiveness. It redefines forgiveness as far less than what it means biblically. It hardens hearts with bitterness, isolation, and pessimism. In contrast, conditional forgiveness centers on the Cross. It offers the Gospel to all, recognizes that because of Christ any offender can be forgiven, believes that all relationships can be redeemed, and rests knowing that justice will be served.

Chris Brauns, “Packing Forgiveness” reformation21 website (August 2009).

Biblical forgiveness is a conditional: forgiveness is released dependent on true repentance (Luke 17:3-4). Christians are called to forgive others as God has forgiven us (Matt 6:12; Eph. 4:32). By example, God forgives those who confess their sins and repent of their actions (1 John 1:9). The forgiveness of God is not unconditional: God requires faith and repentance. Like God, we should be ready to offer forgiveness to all, yet also require genuine remorse and a change in behavior. Therefore, we should only forgive those who truly repent and look to the Cross for grace and help in their time of moral failure (cf. Psalm 51:4).

One last observation remains: forgiveness of an unrepentant person doesn’t look the same as forgiveness of a repentant person.

In fact I am not sure that in the Bible the term forgiveness is ever applied to an unrepentant person. Jesus said in Luke 17:3-4, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” So there’s a sense in which full forgiveness is only possible in response to repentance.

But even when a person does not repent (cf. Matthew 18:17), we are commanded to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27).

The difference is that when a person who wronged us does not repent with contrition and confession and conversion (turning from sin to righteousness), he cuts off the full work of forgiveness. We can still lay down our ill will; we can hand over our anger to God; we can seek to do him good; but we cannot carry through reconciliation or intimacy.

John Piper, “As We Forgive Our Debtors” Desiring God website.

Modern psychology defines forgiveness narrowly as the personal release of anger and resentment. However, Biblical teaching combines both a heart of forgiveness with the release of the debt of sin. Biblical forgiveness is public between two or more persons and is released under the shadow of the Cross.

Grudge-bearing and a clenched-fist refusal to grant forgiveness to the repentant knows nothing of the mercy and grace of God in the gospel and has no acceptable place in the household of God. Likewise, profligate forgiveness without repentance knows little of the gravity of sin’s offense to God and the eternal anguish Christ suffered on account of sin and must be purged from Christ’s people.

We debase the cross of Christ by petty refusal to forgive the sins of those who repent, but we also debase and cheapen the death of of Christ by unprincipled granting of forgiveness to individuals who remain unrepentant for sins they have committed against us. We prize the cross and live out the gospel when we bestow forgiveness of sins only to those who confess and repent and when we do not diminish the grace of forgiveness by granting it to the unrepentant but instead beckon them to repent lest they perish.

A. B. Caneday, “A Biblical Primer and Grammar on the Forgiveness of Sin”

Conclusion: As Christians, we should always have an attitude of forgiveness, but having this attitude this does not mean that we automatically forgive (i.e., release the debt of sin). The release of forgiveness is dependent on true repentance.

adultery1 Is the Woman Caught in Adultery Story True? (John 7:53 8:11)

Is the Story Scriptural or Not?

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

John 8:8 (NKJV)

This Sunday, the Gospel reading in the Roman Catholic Lectionary will be the famous story of “The Woman Caught in Adultery” (John 8:1-11). Some scholars and a few pastors, both liberal and conservative, have questioned the veracity of this unique and beautiful story of God’s mercy and love. This blog post is my feeble attempt at defending the historical truthfulness and canonical faithfulness of this encounter between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.

You will notice in your modern translations that brackets have been placed around the text with some type of footnote. The note explains that early Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of John do not contain this story and that this narrative when found is placed in different sections of the Gospel. The note seems to cast doubt on the reliability of “The Woman Caught in Adultery Story” causing many readers confusion.

To add to the confusion even some Bible-believing pastors have stopped preaching this famous story of testing, hypocrisy, and forgiveness. In another state, a pastor was teaching through the Gospel of John, as he worked through the text, the pastor came to the “Woman Caught in Adultery” story found in 7:53-8:11. He wrote in the church newsletter that this famous story was not reliable and should not be considered inspired of the Holy Spirit: “Why are we skipping over this passage? Simply put, because it is my suspicion, based on the evidence given by numerous textual scholars, that this story is not part of the inspired canon of Scripture.” Therefore, the pastor concluded that he would not be teaching this famous story. To say the least, the pastor’s decision caused no small stir within that congregation.

Below, I list several reasons for the continued inclusion of the “Woman Caught in Adultery” story (John 7:52-8:11) in the canon of Scripture. Consequently, the story should be understood as inspired by the Holy Spirit and worthy of being taught to the Christian faithful.

1. Church Tradition: The Church has accepted the woman caught in adultery story for two thousand years, why stop teaching the passages now? “Throughout the history of the church, it has been held that, whoever wrote it, this little story is authentic.” [Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, Revised, NICNT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 779]. The story resonates with the spirit and attitude of the Ancient Church toward those who have fallen and need Christ’s mercy and grace.

2. Attestation: Contrary to this pastor’s newsletter article, writings during the Patristic period do refer to this story: Papias (Eusebius, HE 3.29.17), Apostolic Constitution (2.24), and Didymus the Blind. The woman caught in adultery story is not cited in the writings of the Greek fathers, but in the West, Ambrose (397), Ambrosiaster (350) and Augustine (430) refer to the pericope, or story-unit, in their sermons and commentaries. Jerome found the text in early Greek codices and thus translated the story into the Latin Vulgate (fourth century).

Also, during the fourth century, the woman caught in adultery story was accepted into the Sunday lectionary of the Greek East.

“It is plain enough that this passage was unknown anciently to the Greek Churches; and some conjecture that it has been brought from some other place and inserted here. But as it has always been received by the Latin Churches, and is found in many old Greek manuscripts, and contains nothing unworthy of an Apostolic Spirit, there is no reason why we should refuse to apply it to our advantage.”

[John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, 284.]

3. Reliability: The text may not be the actual writing of the Apostle John, but the story does reflect the writing style of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Many scholars acknowledge that adultery story does not belong at the end of chapter seven, but the passages do reflect the concerns, attitude, and teaching of Jesus.

“On one hand it seems clear that the weight of evidence mitigates against the originality of the story. That is, this brief account is probably not original to the Fourth Gospel. On the other hand, the story has every suggestion of historical veracity, suggesting that it was indeed an event that occurred in the life of Jesus and was a story worthy of collection and recitation.”

[Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary: John (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 238].

4. Complexity: “Although this narrative is included in the sequence of the outline, it can hardly have belonged to the original text of this Gospel. It is absent from most of the oldest copies of the Gospel that precede the sixth century and from the works of the earliest commentators. To say that it does not belong in the Gospel is not identical with rejecting it as unhistorical. Its coherence and spirit show that it was preserved from a very early time, and it accords well with the known character of Jesus. It may be accepted as historical truth; but based on the information we now have, it was probably not a part of the original text.”

[Merrill Tenney, John, Expositor’s Bible Commentary [CD-Rom] (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984).]

Even though a problem exists with the manuscript history of the story of the woman caught in adultery, that complex history is not enough to deny its truthfulness.

Conclusion: Regardless of whether the Apostle John wrote this story or an editor added it later, there is every reason to believe that the story was an actual event in the life of Jesus. No suspect doctrine is present in this text, and the story is certainly represents the manner in which Jesus dealt with Pharisees and sinners.

power of forgiveness For give ness

Giving Away the Right to Get Even

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Col 3:12-14 (ESV)

For-give-ness is not getting even: it is giving away the right to get even. [John Piper, The Passion of Jesus Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 36.] We have committed grave injustices in the world. In fact, we have acted in such a way that we place ourselves above all others. By our behavior, attitudes, and actions we have turned the world upside down by making ourselves the center of attention instead of God and his glory. When God forgives us, he chooses to forget all the wrongs that we have done to him and all damage that we have done to others. Because of Christ’s awesome and bloody sacrifice, God himself gives away the right to get even with us.

Nothing could be worse than refusing to forgive our neighbor of even the smallest wrongs when Christ died for us.

Gregory Nazianzen, Orations, 33:14.

I can never gain greater victory over the enemy than when, in the full tide of love, I forgive. There is nothing the devil hates more than a man who can forgive, because that man is acting in the very power of the life of God, which is triumph over evil.

G. Campbell Morgan, Petition in Prayer (iii), Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Year’s Daily Readings, ed., Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 297.

repentance 300x231 Oh No, Not Me! I Didnt Do It.

The Human Heart (Chapter Ten)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9 KJV).

Our Hearts

Chapter ten of Roy Hession’s’ The Calvary Road addresses the human heart. A heart affected by the Fall is deceitful, conniving, prideful, and defensive (Mark 7:21-22). We protest as innocent when God reveals, convicts, and corrects the foolishness conceived within our hearts. We deny, obfuscate, and protest when our actions manifest our selfishness to others. “How often have not we, too, protested our innocence on the many occasions when God has been convicting others, and when He has wanted to convict us too” (pg. 108). We cover up our sinful struggles assuming that if we do not confess our moral failings, then God will not know about our sinful indiscretions (Ezek. 21:24).

Cover-Up

We do not confess our failures. We worry that if others know, then God will know, how terrible we really are on the inside. We assume that God will reject us if our secret sins are exposed. We avoid being honest with God and ourselves for fear that love and forgiveness will not be found if the true condition of hearts were known. We wrongly assume that God’s love is conditional based on our good behavior. Therefore, we do not call sin, “sin.” We protest our innocence even though we know that our lives do not measure up to God’s holy standards. One more sin, one more failure, one more shortcoming, we cannot and will not admit. Our failures overwhelm us for we did not have the willpower or the energy to fix it (1 John 1:8).

Defensive

God has said that we are self-centered, prideful, and dishonest, yet we continue to defend ourselves. Not only are we dishonest with God, we defend our friends, and loved ones from the Holy Spirit’s conviction as well.

There is yet another error we fall into, when we are not willing to recognize the truth of what God says of the human heart. Not only do we protest our own innocence, but we often protest the innocence of our loved ones. We hate to see them being convicted and humbled and we hasten to defend them. We do not want them to confess anything. We are not only living in a realm of illusion about ourselves, but about them too, and we fear to have it shattered. But we are only defending them against God – making God a liar on their behalf, as we do on our own, and keeping them from entering into blessing, as we do ourselves (pg. 110).

Righteousness of Christ

We assume that our performance of the Christian life is the measure by which God accepts us into his kingdom. We are sure that we have forfeited God’s acceptance by our disobedience. Our hearts condemns us, therefore we assume that we are condemned by God. However, one truth stands forth above all others for us as believers: the only righteousness that exists in our lives is the righteousness of Christ. Christ’s righteousness was imputed (and imparted) to us when we believed that Christ’s terrible death on the Cross was punishment for our sin (Gal. 3:10-14).

Christians are not made righteous by doing righteous things, but being made righteous by faith in Christ, they do righteous things.

[Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, CD-Rom (Simpsonville SC: Christian Classics Foundation, 1996), 3:11.]

The Great Exchange

We received God’s forgiveness and Christ’s righteousness not based on our personal performance, but because of Christ’s beautiful performance on the Cross. This beautiful exchange of my sin for his righteousness is the Gospel (2 Cor. 5:21).

The simple truth is that the only beautiful thing about the Christian is Jesus Christ. God wants us to recognize that fact as true in our experience, so that in true brokenness and self-despair we shall allow Jesus Christ to be our righteousness and holiness and all in all – and that is victory (pg. 107).

This wonderful exchanged is the one-sided trade of my sins, inadequacies, and numerous failings for Christ’s forgiveness, life-sufficiency, and overcoming victory. Ultimately, the greatest of all exchanges is Jesus Christ, the one who is fully man and fully God, truly innocent and without sin, taking upon himself at Golgotha all my selfishness, rebellion, brokenness, and hatred by substituting his righteousness, forgiveness, restoration and love. We can live the exchanged life because Christ by his gracious grace made the Great Exchange of my sin for his righteousness on the Cross (Gal. 2:20).

Abundant Grace

Because of the Cross, our lives are lived in a state of grace. We receive all the blessings of Christ’s obedience as if these great acts were our own. Because of grace, the Christian life is not a performance based on moralism and legalism, but a life lived in God’s acceptance.

No one can understand the message of Scripture who does not know the meaning of grace. The God of the Bible is ‘the God of all grace’ (1 Pet. 5:10). Grace is love, but love of a special sort. It is love which stoops and sacrifices and serves, love which is kind to the unkind, and generous to the ungrateful and undeserving. Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor, loving the unlovable, seeking the fugitive, rescuing the hopeless, and lifting the beggar from the dunghill to make him sit among princes.

[John Stott, Understanding the Bible, Revised (London: Scripture Union, 1984), 127.]

Since we are saved by grace and not by our performance, we are now free to be brutally honest with God (Eph. 2:8-9). We can say with David,

Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight, that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest and be clear when Thou judgest” (Psalm 51:4 KJV). Let us not fear then, to make such a confession where God convicts us that we must, thinking that it will “let Jesus down.” Rather the reverse is true, for out of such confession God gets glory, for we declare Him to be right (pg. 112).

The Gospel for Everyday

We learn to apply the gospel not only to my salvation experience, but also to my on-going growth in Christ (Rom. 8:1-4). As Jerry Bridges has noted,

The gospel applied every day to our hearts, frees us to be brutally honest with ourselves and with God. The assurance of His total forgiveness through Christ’s blood means that we don’t have to play defensive games anymore. We don’t have to rationalize and excuse our sins. We can say that we told a lie instead of continuing to blame others for our emotional distress. We can call sin exactly what it is, however ugly and shameful it may be, because we know Jesus bore that sin in His body on the cross. We have no reason to hide from our sins anymore.

[Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day by Day (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2008), 25.]

Brokenness Though the Cross

Thank God, we know longer have to pretend, cover up or hide from our sins and failures. We no longer have to fake a victory that does not exist. We no longer have to act holy when we know that we are behaving badly. Because of the Cross, we can come to a place of brokenness–a place where all my sins can be washed away by the blood of the Lamb.

A man never comes to this position of brokenness, but God shows him the Divine Lamb on Calvary‘s Cross, putting away his sin by the shedding of His Blood. The God who declares beforehand what we are, provides beforehand for our sin. Jesus was the Lamb slain for our sins from the foundation of the world. In Him, who bore them in meekness, my sins are finished. And as I, in true brokenness, confess them, and put my faith in His Blood, they are cleansed and gone. Peace with God then comes into my heart, fellowship with God is immediately restored, and I walk with Him in white (pg. 113).

With this post, we conclude our study of personal revival as taught by Roy Hession in his classic work, The Calvary Road.

christ on the cross 400 229x300 Lose All Your Guilty Stains

There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood (Chapter Nine)

The soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20 ESV).

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 6:23 ESV).

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21 ESV).

The biggest problem to experiencing personal revival is sin, individual and corporate. My sin and your sin grieve the Holy Spirit and prevent him from blessing our lives and our ministry efforts on his behalf. Our relationship with God remains in tact, but our fellowship with each person of the blessed Trinity suffers. In chapter ten of The Calvary Road, Roy Hession explains the simplicity of “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25) and maintaining on-going fellowship with God:

The message and challenge of Revival, which is coming to many of us these days, is searching in its utter simplicity. It is simply that there is only one thing in the world that can hinder the Christian’s walking in victorious fellowship with God and his being filled with the Holy Spirit – and that is sin in one form or another (pg. 97).

We all sin and we know that our behavior disappoints God and hurts others. I am wrong because I have broken God’s law; my selfish actions have wounded God’s heart and hurt others. Sin turns the world upside down: it says that everyone and everything should revolve around my desires, needs, and wants. My sin is rebellion toward God and unbelief in his plans and purposes. Sin came into the world through Adam’s fall and continues through my willful rebellion and unbelief.

I have failed as a Christian so what do I do? I try harder. No, I look to the same grace that saved me to forgive me. I must remember that I am accepted by God not based my personal performance, but based on Christ’s infinitely beautiful performance on the Cross. “But  if we walk in the light,  as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and  the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7-8 ESV). I run to the blood of Christ to find forgiveness, cleansing, and renewal.

There is only one thing in the world that can cleanse him from sin with all that that means of liberty and victory – and that is the power of the Blood of the Lord Jesus. It is, however, most important for us that we should see what it is that gives the Blood of Christ its mighty power with God on behalf of men, for then we shall understand the conditions on which its full power may be experienced in our lives (pg. 97).

The blood of Christ is clear confirmation that Christ died a sacrificial death to pay for our release from the captivity of sin and bondage to Satan’s schemes. In other words, we owe our salvation to the death of Christ. His blood removes our guilt before God (1 Pet.1:18-19), cleanses ours stricken consciences (Heb. 9:14), gives us bold access to the Father (Heb. 10:19), on-going cleansing from our sin (1 John 1:7) and conquers all of Satan’s accusations (Rev. 12:10-11). We sinned, the penalty of our sin is death, Christ took our place, and died so that we might live. Jesus’ blood condemns death and in that death, the penalty of our sin was paid in full. In short, the blood of Jesus is the virtue of his death for our sins. That virtue continues to flow even after we become Christians.

How many achievements and how many blessings for men the Scripture ascribes to the power of the Blood of the Lord Jesus! By the power of His Blood peace is made between man and God (Col 1:20). By its power there is forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus (Col 1:14; John 6:54). By the power of His Blood Satan is overcome (Rev 12:11). By its power there is continual cleansing from all sin for us (1 John 1:7). By the power of His Blood we may be set free from the tyranny of an evil conscience to serve the living God (Heb 9:14). By its infinite power with God the most unworthy have liberty to enter the Holy of Holies of God’s presence and live there all the day (Heb 10:19) (pg. 98).

How do we experience the full power of the blood of Christ in our lives? Repentance. Repentance is simple, but not easy. It is a change of mind and heart which affects my attitude and alters my conduct. Repentance is not turning inward, but turning around. It is the recognition that God is right and that I am wrong. Repentance renews my fellowship with the Lord that was lost through sin. Repentance opens the door to the forgiveness that was already bought for me on the Cross. Repentance is not trying to get God to forgive, but receiving the forgiveness that Christ released two thousand years ago on Calvary’s hill. That forgiveness, that blood, that joy is flowing, always flowing from Golgotha.

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,

Lose all their guilty stains.

Forgiveness is not getting even: it is giving away the right to get even. We have committed grave injustices in the world. In fact, we have acted in such a way that we place ourselves above all others. By our behavior, attitudes, and actions we have turned the world upside down by making ourselves the center of attention instead of God and his glory. When God forgives us, he chooses to forget all the wrongs that we have done to him and all damage that we have done to others. Because of Christ’s awesome and bloody sacrifice, God himself gives away the right to get even with us. Forgiveness is always found in the blood of Christ.

Lord, teach us to run to the foot of the Cross that there we might repent and receive the forgiveness bought for us by the blood of the Lamb.

david wells Forgiven of Who We Are

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved (Eph 2:4-5).

“The Majesty of God’s Forgiveness”

The majesty of God’s forgiveness is lost entirely when we lose what has to be forgiven. What has to be forgiven is not just what we do but who we are, not just our sinning but our sinfulness, not just our choices but what we have chosen in place of God. . . . When we miss the biblical teaching, we also miss the nature of God’s grace in all its height and depth. In biblical faith it is God’s grace through Christ that does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 167.

HT: Of First Importance

foxes 300x215 The Little Foxes that Ruin the Vineyard

Respectable Sins that Quench the Anointing of the Holy Spirit (Chapter Two)

Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!

Song of Songs 2:15 NLT

In Chapter Two of The Calvary Road by Roy Hession, Hession furthers his discussion of personal revival by examining the “little or respectable” sins (i.e., foxes) that inhibit the Holy Spirit from blessing our lives and ministries (i.e., vineyard).

Self-pity in trials or difficulties, self-seeking in business or Christian work, self-indulgence in one’s spare time, sensitiveness, touchiness, resentment and self-defense when we are hurt or injured by others, self-consciousness, reserve, worry, fear, all spring from self and all are sin and make our cups unclean (pg. 29).

Jerry Bridges calls these sins, “respectable sins” in that there is no law against them. In fact, many believers would consider these sins harmless. Our friends will not shun us for committing them, and in many instances, no one ever knows that we failed the Lord. However, the sins of self-centeredness: pride, fear, worry, anger, anxiety, discontentment, pride, etc. steal our joy in God and inhibit the Holy Spirit from blessing our work for his kingdom. Instead of a sweetness of spirit, we minister to others a hardness of heart and an emptiness of soul. These “little” sins keep us from enjoying the continual on-going presence of the Holy Spirit: the Lord cannot bless us with his constant, conscious presence because our attitude does not honor his character or his Word. Our failure causes our Christian lives to feel empty and our ministries to lack power and authority.

However, there is hope:

If we are to know continuous Revival, we must learn the way to keep our cups clean. It is never God’s will that a Revival should cease, and be known in history as the Revival of this or that year. When that happens it is due to only one thing – sin, just those little sins that the devil drops into our cup. But if we will go back to Calvary and learn afresh the power of the Blood of Jesus to cleanse moment by moment from the beginnings of sin, then we have learnt the secret of cups constantly cleansed and constantly overflowing. The moment you are conscious of that touch of envy, criticism, irritability, whatever it is -ask Jesus to cover it with His precious Blood and cleanse it away and you will find the reaction gone, your joy and peace restored and your cup running over. And the more you trust the Blood of Jesus in this way, the less will you even have these reactions (pg. 30).

The Word of God reminds us that the blood of Jesus is constantly and continually available to not only cleanse us from sin and cancel the guilt of sin, but also to free us from the power of that same sin (Heb. 9:14, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 1:9-10).

God wants to show us our reactions, and only when we are willing to be cleansed there, will we have His peace. Oh, what a simple but searching thing it is to be ruled by the peace of God, none other than the Holy Spirit Himself! Former selfish ways, which we never bothered about, are now shown to us and we cannot walk in them without the referee blowing his whistle. Grumbling, bossiness, carelessness, down to the smallest thing are all revealed as sins, when we are prepared to let our days be ruled by the peace of God. Many times a day and over the smallest things we shall have to avail ourselves of the cleansing Blood of Jesus, and we shall find ourselves walking the way of brokenness as never before. But Jesus will be manifested in all His loveliness and grace in that brokenness (pg. 32).

Lord, we pray, continually bring us to the Cross that fountain filled with blood where sins are forgiven and our relationship with you is restored.

087508236x01lzzzzzzz 180x300 The Inward Content of Revival

Revival Begins on the Inside of Each of Us (Preface)

Over the next several weeks, I will be blogging my thoughts on the book, The Calvary Road, written by noted speaker and author, Roy Hession. The Calvary Road was written over fifty years ago, but the book’s sales never diminish. Why the lasting impact? Hession speaks to the great need of every believer’s heart–personal revival. Sin darkens my spirit. My selfishness steals away my joy in God and stifles my on-going experience of the presence of the Lord. I need healing, restoration, forgiveness, and renewal. Hession’s book brings me to the foot of the Cross, where Christ’s blood is ready and available for cleansing and heart-change.

I read Hession’s book many years ago (July 1979 to be exact) at Crystal Springs Institute, the training school for Agape Force ministries, Lindale, Texas. However, I have been asked to read the book again. Bishop Chuck Jones, Diocesan Bishop, Central Gulf States Diocese, C.E.C., has directed the presbyters and deacons of our diocese to read The Calvary Road as preparation for our up-coming clergy Lenten retreat. The retreat is scheduled for the first week of March, so I thought I would get started reading Hession’s book now.  I am excited about what God will do in my heart, as well as, the change that the Holy Spirit will bring in all our clergy’s lives.

I begin this series with Hession’s definition of revival. Hession’s definition is important because we often confuse revival with excitement, falling out, dramatic healings, and/or powerful worship. All these outward manifestations can and do occur during a genuine revival, but these outward signs are not necessarily a sign of revival. Revival is personal heart change: confession, repentance, joy, Spirit-baptism, and gospel-driven evangelism. Revival is the restoration of God’s glory in his church. Revival is the manifested presence of the kingdom of God in and among his people actively bringing the lost to salvation and the lukewarm to renewed passionate devotion in Christ.

The outward forms of such revivals do, of course, differ considerably, but the inward and permanent content of them all is always the same: a new experience of conviction of sin among the saints; a new vision of the Cross of Jesus and of redemption; a new willingness on man’s part for brokenness, repentance, confession, and restitution; a joyful experience of the power of the blood of Jesus to cleanse fully from sin and restore and heal all that that sin has lost and broken; a new entering into the fullness of the Holy Spirit and His power to do His own work through His people; and a new gathering in of the lost ones to Jesus.

[Roy Hession, The Calvary Road (Fort Washington, Penn., Christian Literature Crusade, 1950), 11.]

John Piper has a similar definition of revival that is also helpful:

Revival is the sovereign work of God to awaken his people with fresh intensity to the truth and glory of God, the ugliness of sin, the horror of hell, the preciousness of Christ’s atoning work, the wonder of salvation by grace through faith, the urgency of holiness and witness, and the sweetness of worship with God’s people.

[John Piper, A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Sisters, Ore: Multnomah Books, 1997), 111.]

Dear Lord,

We ask that you would change our hearts: convict us of our sins, forgive our many transgressions, and renew your Holy Spirit in us. We beg you to use The Calvary Road to bring us into personal revival.

Amen.