Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forgiveness of Sins

Nothing is more precious than forgiveness. In a recent survey, one of those that asks for the top three answers for something, surveyors asked people what are the three top things that you most like to hear someone say. People who answered the survey said: I love you; I forgive you; and, come to supper.

Last Sunday we were at that point in our sermon series when we were working on “I believe in the forgiveness of sins…” What a precious phrase that is. It’s almost like the creed is saying that if you believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, if you believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered, died and was buried and on the third day rose from the dead, if you believe in the Holy Spirit, then you will believe in the forgiveness of sins.

The one part of the sermon that most people seem to have found most helpful was my point that said: “Forgive yourself…”

We, most of us, believe that God can and will forgive anything if you ask. We, most of us, believe that God forgives other people their sins and failures. But, most of us have trouble believing actually believing that god forgives me. I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because we have such high expectations of ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with high expectations of ourselves, but, let’s be honest. We all sin; we all fail. We make wrong decisions; we set the wrong priorities. The Apostle Paul says it this way: “I do the things I don’t want to do and I don’t do the things I know I should do…”

We have high expectations of ourselves. Also, maybe we get defensive and try to justify ourselves and our actions. If I did that, I had a good reason. I know people who sit at home on Sunday morning and say, “What has the church done for me?” As a good book says, “I have sinned, but I have several great excuses.” The rich young ruler came up to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to find eternal life. The scripture says that he was trying to justify himself. He was trying to justify himself rather than accept the justification and forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ.

Do you know how arrogant it is to think that God has forgiven every sin in the universe but yours?

The text for last Sunday was Matthew 18: 21-35. Peter asks Jesus: “How many times should we forgive someone? Seven times?” Seven times seems like a good number of times to forgive someone, doesn’t it? Jewish law said you should forgive someone three times. Peter doubled it knowing that he was dealing with Jesus who was always generous and always talked about going the second mile. Forgive someone seven times?

Jesus says: “No, seventy-seven times.” Some translations say: “Seventy times seven.” The Greek here is difficult to translate. But, either way the meaning is clear. There is no end to the need to forgive others.
Do you know how many divorces could be stopped if forgiveness were present? Do you know how many family squabbles could be settled with forgiveness? Do you know how many people in this world could be happier and healthier if they could receive forgiveness?

If you’re reading this, I know you need to be forgiven. Just ask. “O God, hear me now. You know me better than I know myself. You know everything about me. Yet, your Word tells me that you love me still. Forgive me of all me sins (name some). I believe that you have forgiven me and I receive it fully and wholeheartedly. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

You are forgiven and loved. Stop going around unforgiven. Go out into the world and act forgiven for a change. Act forgiving.

Dave Nichols

1 comment:

    Why do men fictionalize Scriptures rather than reading them and believing them? I will let you reach your own conclusion as to the answer. What is is purpose of water baptism according to Acts 2:38?

    1. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and each of you bebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (New American Standard Bible)

    2. Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible New International Version 1983)

    3. Acts 2:38 The Peter said unto them,Let each of of you repent and be immersed, in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ) The Better Version of the New Testament by Chester Estes)

    4. Acts 2:38 Peter told them, "You must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips)


    1. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized because your sins have already been forgiven. (Fictional Account)

    2. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized as a testimony of your faith. (Invented Version)

    3. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized as an act of obedience. (Fantasy Translation)

    4. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized because you were forgiven the minute you believed. (The Version of Unfounded Truth)

    5. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized with Holy Spirit baptism; because water baptism is not a New Covenant requirement. (The Version of Spurious and Erroneous Quotes)

    6. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, for the forgiveness of sins; but water baptism is optional, because the thief on the cross was not baptized in water. (The Counterfeit Version of Truth)

    7. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Rent and be baptized in order to join denomination of your choice. (The Creed Bible By Men)

    8. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized as a symbolic jester, pointing to the fact that your sins were forgiven when you said "The Sinner's Prayer." ( The Book of Stuff Men made-up)

    9. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized to indicate the outward sign of the forgiveness you received the very minute you believed. ( The Fabricated Book of Fantasy Verses)

    10. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and have your committed sins forgiven by faith only. And then be baptized to be forgiven of the sin Adam committed. (The Denominational Revision of Fictional Truth)



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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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