Category Archives: Forgiveness

Return of the wanderer! (part 6)

Luke 15: 20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

Return of the wanderer

I wonder what it took for the younger son to get up, make that first step and start walking? Of course, he had no assurance that the Father would accept him, or wasn’t still very angry, but, what had he to lose now anyway – he was starving and the pigs weren’t much company!

A great way off

Next though, we have a wonderful phrase: “when he was still a great way off”.

returnI mean, how far had he managed to get barefoot dressed in rags? How long had he been on the road? We don’t know, but even at the distance he was, the father saw him and had compassion. I imagine he looked a sorry sight!

This same phrase in the original greek language (G3112)  “a great way off” is used of our spiritual state in the following scriptures:

Acts 2:39: “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, G3112 even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Ephesians 2:17 “And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, G3112 and to them that were nigh.”

Coincidently, the same phrase is used in Matthew 8:30 “And there was a good way off G3112 from them an herd of many swine feeding.” Is this how Jesus, in his imagination, got the idea for this parable?

The point is though, how does God see the sinner? Is he looking at us in anger and disgust? No, he sees our broken sinful condition and has compassion on us. 

A sprint to the finish

That’s the amazing thing about the grace of God: it doesn’t matter how far away we are, or what we have done. If, we take one small step towards the father, He’s sprinting towards us!  Therefore, even before the son has arrived at the garden gate, he is met by a father who embraces him and covers him with a whirlwind of kisses!

Reconciliation

repentanceIndeed, God doesn’t wait till we’re sorted out before he accepts us or embraces us. In fact, the Father showers undeserved affectation on the son even before he’s uttered one word of repentance or confession! This mess of a son comes as he is; dressed in rags; stinking of pigs; no shoes on his feet; homeless and broke.

Without a doubt, this amazing Father has already has forgiven his beloved son long ago and before he’s even uttered one word of confession. The fact that he’s coming home is enough; he just wants his son back.

He loves, not for what the son has or hasn’t done but as in the words of Luke: “this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” 

Hours in repentance?

Likewise, God didn’t wait until anyone of us spent hours in repentance in confession. No, while we were yet sinners; while we were yet enemies he loved us! This is hyper-grace or whatever you want to call it! This son has been reconciled; he’s been brought near!

“Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”

Understandably, maybe the son was expecting anger from his Father but instead he finds that this Father is towards him, favourable and full of love. Neither is God angry with you. His love is towards you!

Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

This is a love that is worth thinking about. Did we deserve this kind of love, this kind of forgiveness, this kind of blessing? No we didn’t!

1 John 3:1 “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”

A rehearsed confession

Moving on though, the son does manage to blurt out his carefully rehearsed confession. Before he can request, “that he be made into a hired servant” , the Father interrupts and issues swift commands to his servants to shower his son with blessings!

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”

Favour

What is the Father teaching his son? What is God teaching us? Favour is not dependent on our performance; it is because of Christ in us – our identity. The Father favoured and blessed his son because he was his son.  In fact, he could never really be a hired servant! First time around, the younger son demanded his blessings because somehow he didn’t think the Father was that good or generous. This time around his performance is miserable and yet he finds out that he is still favoured and loved. He now knows who he is!

The worlds system: the  world that Cain built, is based on independence and self-sufficiency. (Cain built the first cities). It doesn’t seek or need the favour of God. Indeed, Cain murdered his brother Abel because God looked favourably on his sacrifice and rejected his! Through it he becomes a spiritual orphan – lost!

Likewise, the prodigal son tries to ‘go independent’ but learns through the school of hard knocks in the far-country or world, that he is nobody apart from his Father. His identity is based on who his Father is.

1 John 2:2 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Orphans or sons

Hence, after being embraced and kissed by the Father, the prodigal knows without a doubt that he is not an orphan ( a child without a home or a Father.) Similarly, Jesus doesn’t want us to feel like orphans and he has sent the spirit of sonship into our hearts crying abba Father!

Galatians 4:6 “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Jesus tells his own disciples two important truths in John 14: “No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” and “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”.

How can Jesus be so certain? Because, on the cross, he was abandoned or orphaned for us when he cried: “My God My God why have you forsaken me?”

Therefore, as believers we can be assured that we are not orphans we are sons and that our home is in the Father’s house!

Lavish blessings

Of course, the behaviour of the Father could be construed by some – especially the religious – as reckless. God though, if he’s going to do anything – doesn’t hold back. He is kind of reckless! He lavishes his love on us! God doesn’t just cover the cake in cream – he lavishes it with cream!

Ephesians 1:8 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished on us”

I mean, how many religious church people would accept a sinner into the community without a least first checking thoroughly the genuineness of the repentance and that he wasn’t just home for a free meal?

ringNo, a wiser solution would have be to put him to work in the fields with his brother for a few weeks – just to make sure – for all you know he might run off again into the night!

Furthermore, putting the ring on the son was basically saying: “here son is my cheque book”. Ridiculous to give this scoundrel the best robe and sandals. Why not something cheap from Asda? This Father is definitely not thinking straight. No, he’s thinking with his heart!

Spur of the moment decision?

However, I don’t think this was the spur of the moment decision. The Father had been planning this for a while. The calf had been fatted up – just for this occasion! Just imagine how good the steak of the fatted calf tasted to the starving prodigal!

1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

No more wandering

Do we really think then, that there was any danger of this son ‘ falling away,’ leaving home again – wandering? No, of course not.  Why go back to the pig pen when we’ve eaten steak for the first time in months!

If we have encountered the lavish love of the Father; the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and our empty hole in our heart is filled (the whole reason for leaving in the first place). Then why would we leave? Love and grace are the antidote to sin!

This son has found out what it means to be rooted and grounded in love. He is home!

Ephesians 3:17 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love”

The story ends with: ” and they began to make merry” …. ah, but that’s not the end. Enter the elder brother!

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Further reading:

Part 5 end of a party

Part 4 a lost son (departure)

Part 3 a lost coin

Part 2 a lost sheep

Part 1 Lost 

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New Book – Forgiven.

Forgiven – How do I know?

I’ve just finished and published my fourth kindle book on Amazon called Forgiven – How do I know?

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Endorsement

Forgiven Book CoverPaul Noble is like a stick of rock …. There is a lot of talk about values today.

Values communicate what is important, they indicate what you stand for, what really matters, what is worthwhile and you really want more than anything else.

Each one of us has own set of values.  Values such as health, friendship, success, integrity, financial independence and loyalty. These values determine our direction, behaviour and provide the basis upon which we make our decisions. Our most important value is the one which is written though us.

In this sense, Paul is like a stick of rock… and the word embedded in every fibre of being is grace.  God’s unconditional acceptance and longing for a loving relationship with us is at the heart of Paul’s writing.  Discovering grace for himself, changed everything for him.

Now, Paul has become an advocate for this kind of grace: the grace which breaks down the walls we have erected and use them to build bridges to God. Paul’s message is one worth listening to; because those who understand the truth of God’s grace experiencing what it means to be free for themselves. May we all be sticks of rock with this word of grace written through our lives.

Rev Sean Blackman, Church Leader at Freedom, (Exec) AMBA MBA, PGDipTh, BD (Hons)

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The forgiveness of all sin

The Forgiveness of all sin

hyper-graceDoes believing that God forgives future sins take the grace of God too far? Surely this is super risky on the part of God? I mean what’s to stop the believer carrying on with sinning in the knowledge that he or she is already forgiven? Look at the alternative though: If past sins are only covered, then you are forgiven up to the point of your confession or repentance only. Meaning of course, that every time you sin – you are no longer forgiven by God!

Under the OT

sacrificesUnder the Old Covenant this was indeed the case. Basically every year at the day of atonement the previous sins were covered by the blood of an animal. Atonement (which means to make amends) was made with an animal sacrifice by a priest and you were forgiven (to send away or let go.)

Leviticus 4:35 “and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.”

Three things needed:

Three things were necessary for forgiveness of the sinner: a priest, a sacrifice and a death (the shedding of blood). Jesus was all three:

Hebrews 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness)”

Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Therefore, it is very clear that the atonement of sin and forgiveness are linked together strongly. You can’t have one without the other. God doesn’t just paper over the cracks and pretend. If he is to let go (forgive) then it has to be on the basis of an atoning sacrifice.

Jesus died for the sins of people not even born yet!

are all sins forgivenWhat Jesus did at the cross then, through the once only and never to be repeated sacrifice, was that he atoned and bore the sin of believers who sinning was yet future.

Hebrews 9:28 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Therefore all my sins were future at that moment when on the cross he cried: “it is finished.”

All my sins were future when he cried out: “Father forgive them for they know what they do.”

1 Peter 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

So, if you believe in Jesus Christ you believe the fact that 2000 years ago before you were even born Jesus took all your sins (all of them from birth to death) in his own body on the cross. Hallelujah!

Forgiveness is a done deal!

If that is the case why is so hard to believe that you are forgiven all your sins past, present and future – as the price is paid?

Indeed, forgiveness is nearly always presented in the New Testament as a single event completed in the past at the cross:

Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Note: If God was still forgiving sins then this passage should say even as God for Christ’s sake forgives you.

Here are a few more instances in the New Testament of how forgiveness is a one off event in the past:

Colossians 2:13 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”

Romans 4:7 “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”

By the way, Paul only mentions forgiveness once in the whole of Romans where he quotes Psalm 32 as above.

1 John 2:12 “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”

Therefore my friend you can rejoice in the fact that your sins are forgiven!

What happens when I sin?

What happens when you do sin though? Are you still forgiven or have you notched up a debit in your account? For example, say this morning you were doing 95mph down the motorway – in a rush to get to work on time. Did heaven go into lock down and the angels on standby because of the wrath of God directed towards you. Do you need God to forgive you?

Well firstly, Jesus is not going to come back and die on the cross so that you can be forgiven. He’s died once for sin; the atonement is complete. Jesus is no longer on the cross!

1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”

Secondly, God isn’t reckoning or counting sins any more:

Romans 4:17 “blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin”

However, what you are doing (driving at 95mph) is dangerous and foolish and has potentially serious consequences: when you sin you are making it much easier for the devil to defeat you and your maybe endangering others lives also. What you need right now is an intercessor or advocate else you may get to heaven quicker than you anticipated!

The good news is that Bible tells us what happens when you sin and its not 1 John 1:9. Its 2 John 1:

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

Therefore God is not passive when you sin – Jesus is acting on your behalf. However, your coach and other advocate the Holy Spirit is going to be whispering or maybe even shouting: “slow down!”

Consequently, If you hear that voice then respond and admit or confess that what your doing is wrong – and of course slow down! That’s all you need to do – you are forgiven already. It’s that simple.

What about 1 John 1:9?

What about 1 John 1:9 which seems to imply that we only receive forgiveness when we confess?

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

The problem is that this verse has been quoted so many times out of context  that we read into it what it isn’t saying. It doesn’t say this:

if we sin and confess our sins – then he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us form all unrighteousness”. 

If we read it in the flow of 1 John 1:8 you will see that the if statement is not making forgiveness conditional but is contrasting between those in verse 8 who claim to be sinless (probably gnostics) and those in verse 9 who freely admit or confess their faults (believers).

1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins… 

Indeed, what is interesting is that the tense of the verbs to forgive and cleanse are not continuous as is confess but are in the greek aorist tense (a single event again referring back to the cross).

Summarising

Summing up then and making sure you understand the benefits of this comprehensive New Covenant agreement:

The payment for all your sins was made before you were born (1 Peter 2:24 ) around AD 30 by the Son of God Jesus Christ.

You are forgiven of all your sins of you have committed and will ever commit because forgiveness and atonement are linked together. You can’t have forgiveness without blood being shed and that has and will only happen once (Hebrews 9:22).

Note: The danger of believing that past sins are covered only by the cross: is that every time you now sin you can never be forgiven because Jesus isn’t going to die again for you.

How is all this received?  Only by faith in Jesus Christ.

Acts 13:39 “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

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A driving analogy

A driving analogy.

drivingIt’s tough passing a driving test these days. Get one major or serious fault and that’s it – your out. You failed. God’s standard – God’s law – is even harder though, and no one has ever been able to keep or attain this perfect standard without fault – except Jesus Christ. All have sinned and have come short of the glory (standard) of God.

Its a gift!

Imagine though, if you could pass the driving test as a gift – wouldn’t that be awesome! In fact, that is exactly what God has done for us spiritually through the free gift of righteousness obtained for us by Jesus Christ at the cross.

Romans 5:17 “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

Consequently, this righteousness is imputed to us by faith (we just receive it). Romans 4:22. Therefore by faith, we are qualified and licensed to live righteously. We are justified in God’s eyes – although maybe not in the sight of men!

No condemnation

As Romans 8:1 says: “There is now therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. In other words, there is no ‘driving test’ or future judgement now or ever for those who receive the gift.

Can I drive?

If we obtained a driving license like this – it’s never going to happen in the UK thankfully – imagine the chaos, as technically and legally, it would mean that you could get in a car and drive without having any lessons. Would this be a wise or safe decision on the part of the government? No of course not. God however, is prepared to take the risk, but as we shall see later on, He doesn’t leave us on our own  – we are given our own personal coach.

The analogy also differs slightly in one important regard: In my illustration you are given a license but no ability to drive! Through new birth, the believer is not only legally righteous (you have a license to live righteously), you actually have been changed at the spirit-level. In other words, you are given the supernatural ability and desire to live righteously because Christ is in you. Formally you instinct was sin, now your instinct is righteousness. Therefore, you can drive to some degree without lessons!

We still need driving lessons?

However, even though now we have some ‘natural’ ability or shall we say spiritual ability, we still need to learn how to ‘work out’  this salvation and that is why God gives us our very own instructor or coach who comes to live with and in us. He is called the Helper or Holy Spirit and his title is apt. He is there to help and encourage.

This means though, that He is not going to do it all for you. I’m afraid you are  going to have to drive this car. You are in the driving seat. You have got to steer and use the various controls. Initially, He will tell you exactly what to do and how to do it, but as you grow in faith and ability He will back off, only intervening when necessary. Most of the time he will prompt you verbally:“have you seen that child about to cross the road ahead?”  Occasionally, He may intervene with the dual controls or grab the steering – if your getting into real danger – but his goal is to get you to do it!

The good news is: He’s there every step of the way and He will never leave you.

What happens when you make mistakes?

sorryDo you make mistakes when you learn to drive? Of course you do. In fact you learn by making them. This is the same in the christian life. Yes you are born again but even though you are declared righteous that doesn’t mean everything you do and say is going to be righteous – as you will soon find out from your wife, husband or children! It follows then, that when you are born again you still sin. The difference is how you deal with mistakes and the sin.

Again, this is where the role of the Holy Spirit is crucial. As an instructor, part of my role is to help the pupil identify and correct faults. I don’t point out every  fault though as that would be discouraging! In fact, I try to spend more time encouraging and affirming the pupil – as no one enjoys correction!

Indeed, the first step in changing incorrect or bad behaviour or performance, is to firstly help the pupil identify and recognise it. What I don’t want from the pupil is an apology. I am not offended by their mistake. I expect it. What I need them to do is actually admit or confess the fault – preferably verbally. At this point I know they are conscious of it and they are on the first step.

Similarly in the spiritual life this is important, because before we got saved half the things we used to do and say we didn’t even realise were sin! Now we are saved we begin to realise that many things we were comfortable with are wrong in the eyes of God because we have a new nature.

Does God break fellowship when we sin?

Wouldn’t it be crazy though, if after every driving fault I stopped the car and refused to drive until the pupil said sorry? So, when we sin God doesn’t break fellowship with us. Sin does not separate us from him. In fact it never did, that’s a theological myth. No, sin and condemnation make us separate ourselves from God (Adam hiding in the garden). For the believer, the scriptures are clear: nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the relationship can’t be strained at times. If for example as a pupil I refused to listen to the instructors advice then he or she may take the keys off me! However, this an extreme case and most of the time all the coach is looking for is a willingness to learn. After all, the Holy Spirit is the most patient person you are likely to meet. As Graham Cooke says, if you fail the test your just take it again!

Therefore, when we have sinned that’s when we need God the most. That’s when we need to run towards him not away from him. Yes, He may speak strongly to us and correct us (if it’s a particularly serious or dangerous thing we have done) but He will never shut us out! He will never, stop the car, take the keys, slam the door and leave us immobile by the side of the road.

Is God angry when you sin?

hellGod is not angry therefore when you sin. No, the Holy Spirit is patient and is not quite as sensitive as some make out. He can handle you!  After all, when God saved you, did He know what he was getting into, what you were like? God is not angry with you because he has no false illusions about you. Do you think God is surprised that you messed up – again!

I mean, is the driving instructor really that shocked when a pupil stalls the car? No, He has seen every pupil do it! It’s when you realise that God is not shocked at your sin and that rather than wallowing in condemnation and self-pity, you can turn to your coach and ask for help to be delivered from it.

Does God correct our faults?

Graciousness on the part of the instructor though doesn’t mean overlooking everything and pretending you drive perfectly. Grace isn’t ignoring faults and sin. No, a good instructor points out faults in a kind way, the aim being to help the pupil drive better. Unfortunately of course, there are driving instructors who are impatient and treat their pupils like a sergeant major rather than a coach – berating and shouting in anger at the least little fault. You can imagine how well these pupils learn!

Indeed, If that’s how you view the Holy Spirit may I suggest that its not the Holy Spirit talking to you! What I know of the Holy Spirit is that He is not like this. He is never angry or frustrated with you. Yes you can make him sad when you ignore him and refuse to listen but if you work with him, He is an amazing kind, patient, encouraging and loving coach.

The role of an instructor then, is not to convict the pupil of their faults. I am not there to make you feel guilty for exceeding the speed limit again – but I am going to prompt you with a question. I might say the following: did you realise that your breaking the speed limit? Why should we keep to speed limit? If you refuse to slow down of course I will intervene. The only person however that is going to convict you – is the traffic police!

What happens if you crash?

Do believers mess it up really bad though – ‘say crash the car into a tree as it were? Say if they were driving too fast as in the previous example. Yes of course. Maybe we have all heard stories of ministers falling into sexual sin,  leaving the church in disgrace and so on. In these sad situations it’s right that sin is not tolerated because it’s dangerous and destructive. However, where sin abounds grace even more abounds so God’s  heart is always to redeem the individual – there is always a way back.

Would God rather you avoided your foolish choices? Yes. Does he protect you from all of them? No. I mean if you crashed your car into a tree there would be some serious consequences to pay – a ruined car and maybe whiplash or a fatality. Sin may get you to heaven quicker than you planned! However, when we crash and burn, the door to the father is always open, we haven’t lost our salvation and if we approach the throne of grace there is always grace and mercy for our time of need. God can work all things for good for those that love God and are called according to purpose.

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The law – imperfect sacrifices

The purpose of sacrifices under the law?

sacrificesWhat was the purpose of the sacrifices under the system of Mosaic Law? Why were they needed? In the book of Hebrews, which was written to Jewish believers and non-believers, the unknown author provides us with some answers: they awaited and illustrated something ‘better’, a word he loves to use to prove the superiority of Jesus Christ and the end of the Law age.

Hebrews 9:23 “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

Like the rest of the law system, the sacrifices: the burnt offering; the peace offering; the trespass offering and so on – were a shadow or outline of the perfect offering of Jesus.

A temporary fix!

These sacrifices, as laid down in Leviticus, were a temporary fix or band-aid because God  knew that Israel would break the law and sin. However, God still wished to continue in relationship with mankind, so under this temporary system, repeated every year, unintentional sin was dealt with by the sin offering, enabling the sinner to get his or her sins forgiven or covered for a whole year. What amazing grace!

A painful reminder

Unfortunately, this was all a bit like having to get an injection or immunisation every year for the rest of the your life! It wasn’t pleasant; it was a painful yearly reminder of the worshipper’s failure and sin.

Hebrews 10: 3: “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.”

A painful conscience

Another problem, was that it did nothing for the conscience; the worshipper still felt guilty. I mean, how could the sinner experience a clear conscience since the sin was covered by the blood of an animal? For example, if you spill ink all over your sofa 5 minutes before your guests turn up, you may fix it by covering it with a couple of cushions but you know that the ink is really still there!

Hebrews 10:11 “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:”

No change to the sinner

In addition, the sacrifice doesn’t change the offender. They are still flawed and faulty: sinners. No change had taken place; they are not perfected. They still feel guilty.

Hebrews 10: 1 “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”

2: For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

Not God’s best!

The sacrificial system therefore, was never God’s best. It awaited the permanent solution and offering of a perfect sacrifice and a perfect High Priest and that’s what we will look at in the next article.

Hebrews 10:8 “Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;”

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What’s all the fuss about hyper-grace?

hyper-graceI find it puzzling, that those who believe in the forgiveness of sins past, present and future (Billy Graham falls into this camp), are disparagingly labelled as being HYPER-GRACE (this is Dr Michael Brown’s definition in his book of the same title). I mean, is this to somehow differentiate between just bog-standard GRACE and HYPER-GRACE? Is hyper-grace just a little to extreme and excessive – even for God?

The big problem in the minds of the anti-hyper-grace camp, seems to be that if future sins are already forgiven then surely there is nothing to stop the forgiven taking advantage of God and sinning with impunity – so encouraging licentiousness? Isn’t this the point though? If it can’t be abused then it’s not really grace at all – it’s mercy!

And anyway, what’s the real difference? Surely, even if every sin you commit today has to be individually confessed and repented of in order to be forgiven, then you can still go out and sin, repent, confess and get God’s forgiveness anyway – because you know the outcome; you know God’s heart to forgive!

In our own experience, we know that God never turns around and says: “I’m not forgiving today, what you did is to bad, and you’ve done it to many times.” No, we know we have forgiveness because he HAS forgiven us in Christ at the cross.

hyper-graceIndeed, the fact that you might have to confess every sin doesn’t stop you sinning. It’s a fact, confessing the same sin over and over again, feeling condemned and guilty, and making promises to turn over a new leaf don’t work. Why? Because, you are focusing on the sin and applying law and your own fleshly strength to control a bad sinful habit. You are rubbing salt into a wound.

Grace is so wonderful, because like medicine it stops the infection, it breaks into the sin/confess/sin cycle: (The sin/confess cycle is exactly what Roman Catholics practice in the confession booth and Protestants do privately or at communion.) However, none of this religious performance results in deliverance or holiness, just frustration, sometimes desperation and many just give up, give in and continue to sin – they become licentious.

I believe, that because, future sins are forgiven, and there is no judgement for those in Christ Jesus (even when you sin), then the result is that the believer’s eye is off themselves and their own self-effort and onto Jesus who is the deliverer.

For example: when a non-swimmer falls into a lake and someone attempts to rescue him or her, often the drowning person grabs hold of the rescuer in panic and nearly drowns both of them. A wise life-saver will knock the drowning person unconscious so that they can safely drag the inert person to the shore!

This is what God has done for us in Christ. He’s knocked SIN (noun) on the head. We’re unconscious; we died with Christ. As the word says, God is not counting your sins any longer. No longer does he see you or relate to you in the flesh. He sees you in Christ; in the spirit. Consequently, we died to the law and sin and where there is no law there is no longer any offence!

Therefore, the work of the cross is so much more than just getting our sins forgiven, it is the execution and termination of the problem: SIN (noun) in the flesh. It’s only when you realise this wonderful truth of grace and the complete forgiveness of sins, that you stop looking at your spiritual score card and start living in the spirit as God intended!

Does this mean that you can still go out and sin without fear of judgement because you are in Christ? Yes you can, but that does’t mean that there aren’t any consequences at all to continuing to sin. For Example: if I foolishly decide not to pay my taxes I may soon find myself in jail!  If I sleep around as a married man I may find myself in the divorce court! Of course even in our stupidity, God’s grace abounds and grace will teach you, even in a jail cell, that continuing to sin is a dumb idea!

Lastly, the disparaging use of the term hyper-grace is a bit ridiculous really. It’s like saying that it’s wrong to call God’s love hyper, amazing, super, or abounding (terms that the Bible uses in fact in relation to grace).

hyper-graceSubsequently, what are the limit’s to God’s grace? Is it limited to only those who repent as (John Burton) would say. In other words, you only qualify once you repent and if you stop repenting you forfeit God’s grace. This is a horrible idea and it isn’t even grace let alone hyper-grace.

As the Bible says, God’s grace is upon all and towards all. The only restriction is that it has to be accepted; it has to be received by faith. The only way you can miss the grace of God is if you reject it,  ignore it or maybe even replace it with hyper-holiness teaching! 

P.S You will probably notice ,if you read the material from those who are attacking so-called hyper-grace, that they don’t believe in the eternal security of the believer either. Evidently, they need this big stick to keep their followers in line and they call this grace?

New Creation Church Gosport

Escape to reality – Paul Ellis

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God is not counting sins!

 

“Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute (count or reckon) sin” – Romans 4:8

counting sinsThe happiest people, the blessed people, are the ones who know the truth of this verse – God is not counting sins! In other words, God is not keeping a daily tally or record. I counted mine since Monday:  a total of twenty four and none at all on Sunday. I reckon that must be a record – well for me anyway! Oh, I did forget though, ‘what is not of faith is sin’, so there may be a few more that I missed – sorry!

Thankfully, I believe that there isn’t some divine sin chart that the angels assigned to you are examining daily. One angel turns to the other with an anxious frown: “Oh dear! February was a bad month for Paul, what are we going to do?”

Does God keep records?

I mean, does God reset the sin counter back to zero when we finally decide to list our sins and confess them before him one by one? Do the the angels breath a sigh of relief? Is that really how grace works?

Now, God does keep records – indeed there are many books in heaven:

Rev 20: 12 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

God even records your tears:

Psalm 56:6 “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

What’s more, if your are a believer your name is in the book of life – that beats an entry in Who’s Who!

Philippians 4:3 “whose names are in the book of life”

You are forgiven!

The wonderful truth of salvation by faith in Christ is: God has already forgiven all our sins past, present and future. The count stays on zero. Some people don’t like this idea, it seems a bit reckless of God, I mean surely everybody is going to abuse this hyper-grace?

Dr Michael Brown writes: “The fundamental deception in hyper-grace is that all of your future sins are forgiven in advance.”

However Dr Michael Brown, I believe that this is in fact the glorious truth of the Gospel and anything less than this is not the Gospel. If you want to call it hyper, super or exceedingly abundant, as Paul describes it somewhere, I don’t really care. The fact is, only believing that your past sins are forgiven (up to the point of confession I presume), is a much inferior message relying on the performance of the believer to somehow stay in the grace of God by the means of perfect confession and repentance.

On the other hand, if Romans 4:8 means what it says, you really don’t have to keep short records with God because – there aren’t any!

1 John 2:12 “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”

Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Our sins are forgiven. We have redemption. In other words the debt of sins in its totality has been paid for at the cross. God is not topping up the balance every time we sin to cover the sin withdrawal. No, you are declared righteous or justified – for ever and ever and ever!

What happens when we sin?

What happens though when you do sin? The Apostle John acknowledges that possibility in 1 John 2:1:

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, (aorist tense: even once)  we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

The answer, is not as some teach: you lose your salvation; you are whisked out into outer darkness until you say sorry; you are barred from the presence of God; you are marked as a naughty backslidden christian under God’s severe discipline.

No, a true believer doesn’t pretend that he or she doesn’t sin. In fact, the gnostic heretics infiltrating the early church, said heretical things like: sin doesn’t matter because it is just an illusion not reality. Of course, sin is no illusion, it’s very real. Real enough for Jesus to come in physical flesh to pay the terrible price for human sin.

The Apostle John countered gnostic teaching by saying:

1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:10: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Therefore, a believer is one who walks in the light. We admit our sins. We never hide or pretend that sin doesn’t exist!

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Come to the light of the world!

This is illustrated in the Gospels where it is seen that they who are regarded as sinners, in fact are attracted to Jesus the light of the world like moths dancing around a bright light!

John 3:20 “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

On the contrary, the self-righteous pharisees are repelled by Jesus because He reveals their hypocrisy. In Luke 18:9 Jesus pointedly tells the story of the Pharisee and the publican going up to the temple.

The Pharisee, full of himself, thinks he’s righteous and without fault before God and proceeds to read out a list of his good deeds (the religious like to reckon their own righteousness). His prayers however don’t go any higher than the ceiling! The publican on the other hand doesn’t read a list (of even his sins), he just smites his breast in anguish and says: “have mercy on me a sinner”. This is true confession and it says he goes down to his house justified. He has come to the light and the light has cleansed his heart.

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth (continually) us from all sin.”

Relationship with God is not broken when we sin

Therefore, true believers live in that light because we know that it is the light and grace of Jesus Christ that cleanses, changes and delivers us. Thankfully, when we sin, relationship is not broken;  that would be like the doctor refusing a patient entry to the hospital because they are sick!

No, it doesn’t matter whether your sin is adultery, stealing, lying, or watching pornography, it is the light not the darkness that you need and Jesus the advocate (defence lawyer not the prosecution) is already at work on your behalf (1 John 2:1).

So, when we come to Jesus he shines upon us, not to expose and shame but to cleanse, heal and deliver.

2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”

Consequently, in 1 John 1:7 (referred to earlier), it’s because we are in the light that the blood of Jesus cleanses (continually) from all sin. It’s like being under a sun lamp that erases sin (darkness).

What about others?

What about others though? When we sin against other people then maybe they are counting our sins! It’s no good saying to the police officer, when he’s caught you speeding: “It’s ok God has forgiven me so you ought to let me off”. No, when we sin against others we should seek to put things right if we can.

James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Concluding thoughts

In conclusion, God is not acting like a divine bookkeeper keeping records of every sin. Neither is the Holy Spirit checking our sin record like a divine tax inspector from HMRC sent to make sure we’re not cheating on our tax return.

No, we are free from a ‘divine tax inspection’ and this means, we are released as sons and daughters to enjoy our relationship with God and actually become children of light! Thankfully, we no longer have to tread carefully in God’s presence afraid of the next sin we may commit!

Ephesians 5:8 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

Further reading:

Holiness

Legalism

Awake to righteousness

Download my Kindle books on Amazon:

Christ the End of Law
Christ in you the hope of glory
Christ the End of Law KIndle Amazon

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