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Part 2 of "The Amazing Grace" series by Don Nothnagel.

Valuable insights on the doctrine of Forgiveness and the Christian.

Published in: Spiritual
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  1. 1. Sunday June 1, 2014.
  3. 3. “Surely that order must be wrong”, some people may be thinking. Surely the correct order must be: 1. SIN 2. CONFESSION 3. FORGIVENESS
  4. 4. “Surely CONFESSION must come before FORGIVENESS?” If YOU’RE thinking that way, be patient and concentrate as we go through this presentation – your thinking may have changed by the end!
  5. 5. In our Amazing Grace Course, we looked at 6 Amazing Salvation Truths. Here’s a reminder of them:
  6. 6. 6 AMAZING SALVATION TRUTHS: 1. Two thousand years ago, Jesus paid the price for and took away all the sin of the whole world – one sacrifice for all time. 2. When we trust in Jesus, God JUSTIFIES us – He declares us to be as holy and righteous as Jesus Himself. 3. When we trust in Jesus, our perfectly holy God comes to live right inside of us!
  7. 7. 4. God can live in us because, in His sight, we do not have the slightest stain of sin, but we are perfectly holy and righteous. 5. The “sin curtain” is GONE, because God counted our sin against Jesus and is no longer counting it against us. 6. God’s amazing salvation gives us VICTORY over sin and develops righteousness in us over time.
  8. 8. We saw very clearly that In Jesus, all our sins, past, present and future have been forgiven and taken away. And because Jesus has paid the price for and dealt with man’s sin problem, God is able to GIVE LIFE to those who come to Him and believe in Him. Further, because of the finished work of Jesus, God actually JUSTIFIES the believer – He declares the believer to be totally RIGHTEOUS in His sight! This declaration is only possible because ALL sin has been judged and punished in Jesus and we HAVE BEEN totally forgiven of ALL sin.
  9. 9. Further, when we are born-again into our new life In Jesus, Jesus actually comes to live right inside of us. WE become the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. All these wonderful truths are only possible because Jesus, the Lamb of God, took away ALL sin!
  10. 10. In Jesus, we are FORGIVEN PEOPLE! ”For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1: 14)
  11. 11. Sadly, not every Christian understands these truths. And not every Christian preacher or teacher preaches and teaches them – at least not in a clear, uncompromising way. In the Bible, there are two passages in particular that can cause confusion. They are sometimes taught in a way that might make people think that all our sins are NOT forgiven – that we are NOT really forgiven people.
  12. 12. Here they are: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1: 9) ”If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6: 14-15)
  13. 13. Note that both of these passages start with the word “IF.” That word “if” implies that we have something to do FIRST, BEFORE God will forgive us our sins: 1. IF we confess our sins . . .He will forgive us our sins . . . 2. IF we forgive others when they sin against us . . . . our Heavenly Father will forgive us . . .
  14. 14. But throughout the Bible, we have very many passages that clearly teach that In Jesus, we are forgiven people! And as we saw in our Amazing Grace Course, the only way we can have LIFE is because we are totally forgiven people. And God can only declare us RIGHTEOUS because we are totally forgiven people. And God can only LIVE IN US because we are totally forgiven people.
  15. 15. So, are we forgiven people? Or does God only forgive us if we confess our sins as we commit them. AND If we first forgive other people who have sinned against us? How can we understand 1 John 1: 9 and Matthew 6: 14 + 15?
  16. 16. Let’s take a look at Matthew 6: 14 + 15 first. ”If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” To establish whether this verse of Scripture applies to Christians in the New Covenant, we simply have to ask: “Did Jesus teach like this about forgiveness BEFORE or AFTER He died on the cross?”
  17. 17. “BEFORE He died on the cross,” everyone will say. “But why does this matter? How does this answer the question about whether Matthew 6: 14 applies to Christians in the New Covenant?”
  18. 18. The answer is very simple. Many Christians think that the New Covenant started when Jesus was BORN. This is not so.
  19. 19. Jesus was born under the Old Covenant law. (Galatians 4: 4) He lived and ministered under the Old Covenant law. He taught under the Old Covenant law. And His teaching about forgiveness in Matthew 6: 14 was CORRECT UNDER THE LAW – that was how God forgave people under the law.
  20. 20. (Remember, the Old Covenant was an “IF - THEN” agreement.) God said, “IF you do this, THEN I will do that.” (In the case of forgiveness, IF you forgive others, THEN I will forgive you.)
  21. 21. The New Covenant, however, started at the DEATH of Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the law in His life and death and His death ushered in God’s wonderful New Covenant. In God’s wonderful New Covenant, we no longer have an “IF” - “THEN” agreement. In the New Covenant, God says, “ I have ALREADY DONE . . .and that enables you to do also.”
  22. 22. In the case of forgiveness, in the New Covenant, God has ALREADY forgiven us. This enables us to in turn forgive others: “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph 4: 32) “Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Col 3: 13)
  23. 23. So when we are properly taught, there is no reason for Christians to be confused by Matthew 6: 14. Matthew 6: 14 correctly taught God’s Old Covenant way for being forgiven. This does NOT apply to Christians living in God’s wonderful New Covenant! In God’s wonderful New Covenant we HAVE forgiveness, we ARE forgiven people and HAVING God’s forgiveness ENABLES us in turn to forgive those who have trespassed against us.
  24. 24. Matthew 18: 23 – 34 is a good example of how this should work. When we understand HOW MUCH God has freely forgiven US, we should be quick to forgive others for the relatively small things that they have done to us.
  25. 25. Now we take a look at 1 John 1: 9
  26. 26. What about 1 John 1: 9? Different people and denominations teach different things: Some say 1 Jn 1: 9 means just what it says, “IF we confess our sins, THEN God will forgive us our sins.” These denominations give people a regular opportunity to do just that – to confess their sins and receive absolution (or pardon) from their priest. So, these people do not live their lives as forgiven people – they believe they are only forgiven up to the last time they confessed their sins. If they die with serious (mortal) unconfessed sin, they will go to Hell.
  27. 27. Other people and denominations know very well that In Jesus, ALL our sins HAVE BEEN forgiven. So they explain 1 Jn 1: 9 by saying that God is not talking about forgiveness of sins here – He is talking about RESTORING FELLOWSHIP. They teach that our fellowship with God is broken when we sin and when we confess our sin, our fellowship is restored.
  28. 28. There is one big problem with this explanation: In 1 Jn 1: 9, John DOES NOT say that God will restore our fellowship. He clearly states that if we confess our sin, God WILL FORGIVE US our sin. Would John have mistakenly said “forgive sin” when he really meant to say, “restore fellowship?”
  29. 29. Hardly likely. It becomes even more unlikely, indeed impossible, when you consider what John was writing about in the verses just before 1 Jn 1:9. He was actually writing ABOUT FELLOWSHIP!
  30. 30. “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 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, purifies us from all sin.” (1 Jn 1: 3 – 7)
  31. 31. In these verses right before 1 Jn 1: 9, John is writing about fellowship and actually uses the very word fellowship FOUR times! How likely is it that seconds later, he intends to keep on writing about fellowship (that God will restore fellowship with us if we confess) but now he says instead that God will “forgive us our sins.” It is inconceivable that John means “God will restore fellowship” in 1 Jn 1: 9. He SAYS “God will FORGIVE US OUR SINS” and he means that God will forgive us our sins.
  32. 32. SO – If 1 Jn 1: 9 is talking about forgiveness of sins . . but Christians are forgiven people, past, present and future, HOW DO WE UNDERSTAND 1 John 1:9? John himself gives the answer when he tells us what he wrote the letter for: (1 Jn 2: 26) “I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to LEAD YOU ASTRAY.”
  33. 33. And so we’ve come right back to the never-ceasing problem of people trying to lead Christians astray with false teachings. (Satan never gives up.) The book of Galatians was written to encourage Christians to STAND FIRM in the TRUE Gospel of God’s wonderful grace. Anything else is NO GOSPEL AT ALL! And John’s first letter was written for the same reason – false teachers were trying to confuse Christians into accepting a philosophy called GNOSTICISM. This was also NO GOSPEL AT ALL!
  34. 34. What did Gnosticism teach? Among other things, two main errors: 1. Jesus did not come in the flesh. 2. People do not have a sin nature and peoples’ spirits can’t be defiled by things done in the flesh. (This led to very licentious behaviour.) Let’s see how John starts to refute the first error FROM THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE of his letter!
  35. 35. I John 1: 1 – 4: We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.
  36. 36. Notice how John repeatedly emphasizes that he and the other disciples SAW, HEARD and TOUCHED Jesus! (If you didn’t know about the first false Gnostic teaching, you might wonder why John goes on so much about this as he starts his letter.)
  37. 37. Notice also later on how John says we must test spirits: (1 John 4: 1 – 3) ”Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God.”
  38. 38. So, throughout this letter, John repeatedly refutes the Gnostic false teaching that Jesus did not come in the flesh. What about the SECOND false Gnostic teaching? (We do not have a sin nature – that sin does not “matter” – that people’s spirits cannot be defiled by things done in the flesh.)
  39. 39. Again, John starts to refute this from the very first chapter of his letter: (Chapter 1: 8 + 10): ”If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” (And throughout the letter there are further warnings about having a slack attitude towards sin and repeated calls for Christians to live righteous lives.) Can a person who claims to have no sin be saved? What is the first thing we must recognize about ourselves that will cause us to seek the Saviour?
  40. 40. We must admit that: “We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .” (Rom 3: 23) A person who does not acknowledge that they are a sinner will not seek the Saviour. A person who has not sought the Saviour is not a believer.
  41. 41. So, how can we understand 1 John 1: 9 in the light of what we have just learned? In the first chapter of his letter, John is writing about people who CLAIM to have fellowship with God, but are actually living in the spiritual darkness of Gnosticism. They are lying if they say they have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; they are not practicing the truth.
  42. 42. He is writing to them in the hope that they will see the error of their ways and DO what 1 John 1: 9 says every sinner must do – CONFESS that they have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Also, they must acknowledge that Jesus came in the flesh. IF they do this, these people will have fellowship with Christian believers and with the Father and with Jesus: “We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” (1 Jn 1: 3-4)
  43. 43. So, 1 John 1: 9 is not written for Christians! Christians have ALREADY come to Jesus, have acknowledged their sin, have received forgiveness and have been cleansed from ALL unrighteousness. 1 John 1: 9 is written to UNBELIEVERS , people who are in the church that he wrote to, but who are tied up in the false teaching on Gnosticism. His aim is that they will come to Jesus, acknowledging their sin. Then they too, will be cleansed from all unrighteousness. Then they too, will HAVE fellowship with the Christian believers and can start living their new lives In Christ, being transformed by Jesus living in them and through them.
  44. 44. An important question as we close: SHOULD CHRISTIANS CONFESS THEIR SINS?
  45. 45. YES! But NOT in order to be FORGIVEN! (Christians are FORGIVEN PEOPLE!)
  46. 46. Christians should confess their sins in order to be TRANSFORMED – CHANGED! “And we all . . are being transformed into His (Jesus’) image with ever-increasing glory . . . .” (2 Cor 3: 18)
  47. 47. The Greek word for “confess” is “Homologeo” This is from 2 Greek words: • “Homou”, meaning “together with” and • “Lego”, meaning “to say.” So, “Homologeo” means “To say together with” or, “to agree with.”
  48. 48. When we “Homologeo”, or confess our sin to God, we are AGREEING with Him, or ADMITTING that we have sinned. Can we be transformed if we do not agree with God and admit that we have done wrong?
  49. 49. NO!
  50. 50. So a Christian “homologeoes” to start the transformation process. • He agrees with God that he has sinned. • He THANKS God that he is a forgiven person and that God is not counting that sin against him. • He thanks God that God is at work in him, transforming him into the image of Jesus with ever-increasing glory and giving him VICTORY over that sin and every other sin.
  51. 51. Knowing that we are forgiven people – knowing the God is not counting our sins against us actually FREES us to be open and honest with God and with our fellow human beings about our many shortcomings and “ways.”
  52. 52. “Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” (Rom 8: 33-34)
  53. 53. When we understand that God Himself has JUSTIFIED us – has declared us NOT GUILTY of sin, but perfectly righteous in His sight – we no longer fear accusation or condemnation from God or from other people. We are FREE to openly and honestly “Homologeo” our sins to both God and to each other and from that open and honest “Homologeing” comes TRANSFORMATION and VICTORY OVER SIN.
  54. 54. So, back to the question we had at the start! NOW what do you think is the correct order for a Christian? 1. SIN 2. FORGIVENESS 3. CONFESSION 1. SIN 2. CONFESSION 3. FORGIVENESS
  55. 55. Remember: Christians are FORGIVEN PEOPLE. Forgiven people do not confess sin in order to be forgiven – they already HAVE God’s forgiveness. Forgiven people DO need to be TRANSFORMED, however, and CONFESSION leads to TRANSFORMATION.
  56. 56. The world should want what we Christians have because of our JOY
  57. 57. May we experience great JOY As we learn to REST in our wonderful New Covenant Salvation and as we see God “transforming us into His image with ever- increasing glory!”