“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) The Power to Forgive (Tom Edwards)
2) A Blessed Rest (Mike Johnson)
The Power to Forgive
We are to be a forgiving people. Notice, for example, Paul’s motivation toward this in the following exhortations: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, JUST AS GOD IN CHRIST ALSO HAS FORGIVEN YOU” (Eph. 4:32, emphasis mine). Similarly, in writing to the Colossians, Paul also urges them to “…put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; JUST AS THE LORD FORGAVE YOU, SO ALSO SHOULD YOU” (Col. 3:12,13, emphasis mine).
What particular individual has ever sinned against us as much as we have sinned against the Almighty God? If we, therefore, have been forgiven by the Lord, of all our many transgressions and ever have trouble in forgiving anyone, then we should remind ourselves that whatever wrong or wrongs another did toward us does not even come close to the many wrongs we have committed against God — and, yet, He had forgiven us!
Jesus actually gave a parable concerning this in Matthew 18:23-35. It was in response to Peter’s question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered by using two factors to figuratively indicate “always” as the “product”: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (vv. 21-22). So even if it were the 491st time, or any number greater than that, we are still to forgive. He then proceeded with the parable of a slave who had owed his king ten thousand talents. Since he was not able to pay, the king was going to have him sold, along with his family and everything he owned. But the slave pleaded, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” On hearing this, the “lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt” (vv. 23-27). How greatly relieved the slave must have felt! “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’” This fellow slave had also pleaded in the same manner, falling to the ground, and asking that patience be granted for the repayment. But, unlike the compassion and forgiveness shown by the king to the first debtor, the creditor “was unwilling and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed” (vv. 28-31).
To better understand the above parable, what is the difference between the 10,000 talents and 100 denarii? The denarius was the equivalent of about 16 cents; but for that time, it was what a common laborer would make in a day (cf. Matt. 20:2). Since he could work about 300 days out of the year (earning $48), then 100 denarii would be 1/3 of a year’s salary ($16). But just one talent is the equivalent of 6,000 denarii. So 10,000 talents equals 60 million denarii! The common laborer would have to work 200,000 years to earn that amount!
Something else that should motivate us toward forgiving others is realizing that if we don’t, then God will not forgive us. Jesus taught this. After giving His model prayer in Matthew 6, He went on to say, “For if you forgive others of their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (vv. 14,15). The previous parable also brings this out: “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you.’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:31-35).
Though we are to forgive others, we do not have the power to blot out sin in people’s lives. That requires the atonement that Jesus made on the cross of Calvary, which He made for every sinner of all time, but is received by meeting His conditions – whether for the sinner who had never been a Christian or the backslidden Christian who needs to be restored.
Only God can truly blot out sin in one’s life because that forgiveness takes place in the mind of God. Sin is not something inherited through DNA. It is not something we are born with. As John writes, “…sin is the transgression of the law” (1 Jn. 3:4, KJV). When we commit sin, God knows — and He has no trouble in remembering. But for those who will meet His conditions for pardon, the Lord has promised, “…I will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:12).
Mark records a time when some scribes overheard Jesus tell a paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5); and they accused him of blasphemy – for, as they said, “who can forgive sins but God alone?” (v. 7). Unfortunately, they did not believe that Jesus was God. But He was actually proving, by the miracle He performed, that He did have the power to forgive because He truly was and is as much Deity as God the Father. As He states, “`Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”; or to say, “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ — He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home’” (vv. 9-11).
Jesus could back up His claims! In John 11, He refers to Himself as being “the resurrection and the life”; and that “he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (v. 25 ) — and He proved that the same day by raising Lazarus from the dead, who had been deceased for four days! (vv. 43-45).
And now in Mark 2, Jesus indicates by way of miracle that He is Deity and does have the power to blot out sin from one’s life!
Do you have God’s forgiveness in your life? Out of all the things you might have need of, nothing could ever be greater or more important than to simply have the Lord’s pardon of all your iniquities! If you have never been a Christian, then receiving God’s forgiveness requires hearing the gospel (Rom. 10:17), believing in the deity of Christ (Jn. 8:24), repenting of sin (Luke 13:5), confessing faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), and being baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21). For those who had been Christians, but fell away, there is a need to be restored by repenting and praying for God’s forgiveness (cf. Acts 8:13,18-23; 1 Jn. 1:9). These passages show that having God’s forgiveness is conditional.
Maintaining a right relationship with God is also necessary in order to continue to benefit from the Lord’s atonement at Calvary. John declares, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:6,7). To walk in the light is to live according to the gospel.
We close with the comforting and praise-worthy words of the psalmist David:
“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Psa. 32:1,2).
(All Scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise indicated.)
A Blessed Rest
Revelation 14:13 says, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
The word “blessed” means “happy.” There is an obvious sense in which death brings sorrow, but for those who “die in the Lord” it can be regarded as a happy occasion. Heaven is a place of joy, rest, and peace and we will experience this for eternity.
How do our “works” follow us? Consider two senses. First, if we live a faithful Christian life, the effects of that will be felt here upon this earth even after we are gone. “Good” will continue to be done by those whom we have influenced in righteousness upon this earth. In Hebrews 11, Abel is mentioned as one though dead continued to speak. Also, Peter spoke of his approaching death in the first chapter of 2 Peter. After pointing out he would soon die he said, “Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.” Our life on earth has an impact upon others after we die and our works do follow us. Another way to look at this passage is that the consequences of our works follow us into the next life as we will be judged on the bases of what we have done upon this earth. II Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Also, in Romans 2:6, we are told God will render to every man “according to his deeds.”
In conclusion, it is important to consider that this blessed rest spoken of in Revelation 14:13 is only for those “who die in the Lord” and those who have “labored” for Him as the text indicates. Those who “die in the Lord” will be saved eternally. What is your situation? Are you “in the Lord?” Are you laboring for the Lord? If so, your death can be a happy occasion.
— via The Elon Challenger, June 2017
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)