Simple Forgiveness

I am not preaching from Psalm 13 and have chosen to study that Psalm this upcoming Wednesday. I encourage all of you to be here for study and small group prayer time.

I will be preaching on the subject of Forgiveness this morning. This will be a different type of sermon, but has a simple outline. Point 1: We know that God forgives our sin initially. Point 2: Repentance is not a one time event. Point 3: We must forgive one another.


Point 1: We Know that God Forgives our Sin Initially

Text: Romans 3:23-26

There was a time that all of us who have made a commitment to Christ cried out with the Psalmist (51:1-17).

After John the Baptizer was put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Do you know what He said? “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel!”

We did repent didn’t we? We turned to Christ more so than from our sin and when we did we received forgiveness of our sins. God calls all people, everywhere, to repent and call on the name of Jesus Christ because He has appointed a Day when He will judge the world in righteousness. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved other than Jesus Christ.

Text: Titus 2:11-14

Christ gave Himself for us and thus forgave our sins.

We know that He has forgiven our sins initially when we first came to Christ, but what about now? Does repentance have a place in our Christian lives years from the time we were born again or are we automatically forgiven for everything? This leads to Point 2.

Point 2: Repentance is Not a One Time Event

Text: 1 John 1:8-2:2

We must continue to repent of sinful behavior; continually turn to Christ by confessing our sins to Him. Why should we do this? 1 John 1:9-2:2 supplies the answer. God says that we are sinners and when we confess our sins we agree with Him.
Confession is an Amen.

I believe that confession of sin is naming our sins. We should not pray in general with some kind of formulated prayer. We should pray from the heart, naming our blessings one by one and naming our sins one by one. That is confession. Forgiveness and cleansing are sure things because God is faithful to His promises.

Forgiveness is not a two-way street. It is actually a triangle. God forgives us, we continually confess our sins to Him, and most certainly the NT teaches that we must forgive one another.

Point 3: We Must Forgive One Another

In Matthew 6:12 Jesus taught us to pray for forgiveness and to state in our prayers that we will forgive others. I never really looked at that second part so clearly until this week.

Text: Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-22

We can not earn forgiveness, but there is something we must do to be a candidate for it. We must forgive others for their trespasses against us and God will forgive us our trespasses against Him. This principle is taught throughout the Bible: “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” and another good reference comes from this same Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. Look at 5:23-26. God has shown us the importance of forgiving one another.

Text: Colossians 3:12-17

This Colossians text is a fitting way to lead to a conclusion of this sermon. We are told to forgive one another and then it goes on to say “But above all these things put on love.” Forgiveness is like love- God loves first, we love Him second, and then we love others which demonstrates our love for Him. Love covers a multitude of sins.

James 1:12-20 Blessed is the Man who Endures Temptation

Last week James told us that the one who perseveres through various trials will be made stronger- perfect and complete. Now he will tell us that the one who endures temptation is blessed and will receive the reward of the crown of life.

Internal Preview: We will cover the issue of temptation including where it originates and where it doesn’t originate, we will gain a better understanding of what desire leads to, and lastly we will be reminded that every good and perfect thing comes from above.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Blessed is the Man who Endures Temptation (v12)
Verse 12 connects this section with verses two through eight. We are to consider it pure joy when we face various trials and now we are told that the one who endures temptation is blessed. Remember that a beatitude has many ideas bundle into that one word blessed: Happy, Satisfied, To be Envied, Approved of God (Christian Joy: v2). There is also a reward identified here for every person who endures temptation, who faces various trials with joy. After we have stood the test we will be given the crown of life. We usually picture a crown of royalty that is gold and has precious stones. But James probably had the picture of a Greco/Roman crown which is simple. This type of crown was given to an athlete who had been victorious in one of the local games. It represented victory, endurance, honor, strength, etc.

God has promised the crown of life. This is a reward for those who have lasted, those who have endured. We must endure to the end to be saved. Those who love God are given more than eternal life. If we were promised the type of life that we experience now for eternity, it probably wouldn’t be that great of a promise. But no, we have been promised a higher quality of life. We will experience an excellent existence with Christ in the new heaven and new earth. We will reign with him, inherit what the Son of God inherits, not have physical trials nor experience the temptation of sin and its destructive effects. This crown of life that is promised to the ones who endure testing and continue to love God allows for a more excellent life. Key Note: the crown of life is presented to believers because of the victory Christ has obtained for us.

Each one is tempted by his own desires (v14). We have already been alerted that there will be various trials to face; our faith will be tested. One of those trials is temptation and the question that many will ask is- where does temptation originate? Let me start with the answer to the question that James gives and then work our way to the wrong answer- Temptation originates in our own desires. This is a crucial point. If we want to be Biblical people (for God’s people are people of the Word) then we must have a Biblical answer to this question. The source of temptation is within each of us. (1) Our evil desire attracts us to an undesirable and then persuades us to approach (2) Then we are lured in; forced to yield. One person has titled verse fourteen “Snared by One’s Own Bait.”

God does not tempt anyone (v13). We are the problem which means that we can not blame the object of temptation, we can not blame Satan, and we can not blame God. The trouble lies in our sinful desires which is why James says that when you are tempted do not say “I am tempted by God.” Three notes are given for not blaming God:
1. Temptation originates in our sinful desires.
2. God can not be tempted by evil.
3. God does not tempt anyone.

There is not even the slightest crack of moral depravity in God that would allow any sort of influence of temptation. Temptation is an impulse to sin and God does not have that impulse. That is why in verse seventeen God is called the “Father of lights” and there is “no shadow of turning” in Him. He is light with no darkness at all.

Desire > Sin > Death (v15)
James now uses an illustration of birth. He says that desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin grows up into an ugly young man- DEATH. The illustration can not be pushed too far like any other illustration, but is a great picture of what desire turns into when we yield to it. The phrase “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” introduces the next major point yet it refers to the fact that God is not the author of temptation. It is almost as if the readers of this letter were guilty of such thinking and James is saying “Stop being deceived.”

Everything Good and Perfect Comes from God (v16-18)
Why should they stop being deceived by the notion that God tempts people? Because everything that is good and perfect comes from God. (The complete opposite of tempting.) The goodness of God rules out the option of Him tempting with evil. That God sends perfect gifts allows no room for moral evil. Light often indicates moral perfection in the Bible especially when said of God. He is the Father of lights meaning He is the creator and sustainer who does so because of His fatherly attributes. There is no shadow of turning in Him- though the sun, moon, and stars cause shadows where light does not penetrate, it is not like that with God. There are no variations or shadows of turning with Him. V18 is the kicker for me. God has brought us forth of His own will. He has created mankind from nothing, He has sustained us to this point, and He has provided a way of salvation bringing life to all who are dead when they believe in Christ. Why would He do this if He did not care for us or if He wanted evil for us? He wouldn’t and so Christ loved us and gave Himself for us.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation because he will be given the crown of life. We must endure temptation knowing that it does not come from God, but from within ourselves. If we allow desire to be conceived then sin will be birthed and will grow into death. We must lean on God who gives good and perfect gifts to His children who call on the name of Jesus Christ.

Let’s conclude with verse nineteen. After all that has been said in the past two weeks we should conclude by saying, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

Take note of those exhortations- this is James’ outline for the remainder of the letter. As Christians, we want to please God and produce righteousness but it can not come by wrathful behavior. We need to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. If we can accomplish those three things then we will be rather far down the road to spiritual excellence.

We have been born again by the word of truth now let’s live by the word of truth. That is how we will face various trials with joy and how we will endure temptation. The crown of life awaits us at the end of the lengthy race.

James 1:2-8 Brethren, Your Faith Will Be Tested

Since the foundation of the church, Christians have faced various trials. Our founder, the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ was first persecuted and then murdered. Christ fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They hated Me without a cause” and He warned His disciples ”If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”

It is clear then that our faith will be tested. There will be seasons that are lighter than others, but make no mistake, brethren, your faith will be tested. Testing produces patience which has a perfect work to complete and we should ask for wisdom from God when we are tested.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Brethren, Your Faith will be Tested (vv2-3)

“Brethren” is a Christian term of endearment that refers to the entire church including men, women, and children. It conveys a sense of closeness that Christians have with one another. There is no question that we will fall into various trials; as a church, as families, and as individuals. The real question is how you will handle these various trials. James says that we should count it all joy, but not without reason. Various trials will test your faith making it solid. The phrase “Various Trials” tells us that there are all sorts of unexpected struggles in this life, and plenty of them, that Christians must face with joy. Trials will come from the inside and on the outside:
1. Outside- can be social and economic persecution, financial hardships, illness, relationship problems, etc.
2. Inside- Moral temptations to sin, a struggle with the old you

Joy is more than a smile on your face, it is something that is known in the soul/mind.
That is why you can face various trials with joy. It is because you know what you have in Christ and what the future will bring!

Patience’s Perfect Work (v4)

Trials will come and they will test your faith. If you persevere through them then the testing produces patience. An old preacher has said, “Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience, and not passion, is set to work in us.” Patience will make you perfect and complete and you will not lack any good thing that you spiritually need. When patience has done its work everything that is needed both in our Christian race and in our spiritual warfare will be supplied. Patience carries the idea of perseverance and so the real question in the midst of testing is “Will your faith persevere (be patient)?” We are talking about spiritual stamina. It is not how long you can actively resist or passively submit to circumstances though, it’s a strong, active, challenging response in which the principles of your spiritual, Christian life are exercised and thus strengthened.

Persevering is about strengthening the faith you already have, not testing the genuineness of your faith. This patience that is produced is going to do something. It is not an end in itself but is going to have its work. This work is a process that leads to maturity or should we say spiritual excellence. By saying that the Christian will be “perfect and complete” is to say that person will be mature and well-rounded (thoroughly equipped). Patience (Perseverance) produces sound character. Our goal is spiritual excellence. Therefore, we must have patience, knowing that all trials and sufferings are under the providential reign of God Almighty who is our Father.

Asking of God (vv5-8)

During testing there is a time when we lack wisdom. Wisdom is one of the most valuable virtues that we can lack. And it is God-given wisdom that is needed. Wisdom is understanding the nature and purpose of trials and knowing how to successfully challenge them. The grammar of the original language teaches us that we must ask repeatedly. We should not pray as much for the trial to be removed as we should for wisdom so that we can make good use of the trial. We must pray!

Proverbs 2:2-5 “So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.”

There is nothing in God that keeps Him from giving generously. His practice is to give without finding fault. His children are not rebuked for asking nor demeaned for needing Him.
God gives to His children when they ask. Proverbs 2:6 “For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

You must ask in faith and not doubt. If you doubt then you are like a wave that is controlled by external forces and pushed here and there with no say in the matter. There is no stability and there is no satisfaction. If we ask and don’t receive it’s not b/c of God but because of our unbelief (doubleness). Matthew 21:21-22 “if you have faith and do not doubt…whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Our soul must be steadfast, grounded, truly anchored by trust in God. God rewards faith, which is non-meritorious b/c it is God who works while we trust.

The one who doubts is double-minded. The “double-souled” person is torn and unstable when he prays and in fact in everything he does (“all his ways”). Double-souled shows the depths of the division within the doubter. James does not describe a person who has a rare, brief sniff of doubt, but the one who lives a life full of instability, incompleteness, and indecisiveness. God seeks single-minded devotion. Jesus said, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” It is obvious that God seeks single-minded devotion. Even the Psalmist says, “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!”

Brethren, your faith will be tested, but count it as pure joy because patience is being produced. Patience is not an end in itself because it will have its perfect work which is to make you spiritually mature and of sound character, and you will lack nothing that you spiritually need.

If you lack wisdom then ask God to give it to you because He knows how to give good gifts to His children. When you ask of God do not be double-minded, one moment patiently enduring and the next passionately sinning. There is no way that attitude will allow you to receive anything from the Lord

There is no doubt that we will fall into various trials that will test our faith. This is what is needed to strengthen our faith. It is not about validating our faith, it is about reinforcing our faith in Jesus Christ. So count it as joy going into it and ask for wisdom during it!

The Word - James 1:21-24 The Implanted Word

[Sermons on the Word of God from the Word of God]

During the series “Sermons on the Word of God from the Word of God” we have already covered three text teaching us that the Word must find a place in our lives, we are born again by the Word of God, and that the Spirit of God works in us by the authority of the Word of God. Today, we turn to James C1 and we will look at VV21-25. James is straight up when he writes instruction to believers. Here he forcefully writes, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”

This is a lively phrase that we should reiterate time and again, but it links back to what our main focus is for the sermon. In V21 James will write, “Receive with meekness the implanted Word.”
This focus will allow us to answer the question “How do you receive something that’s already implanted?” Second, we can have an understanding of being doers of the Word and not hearers only and lastly we will learn that there is a blessing that accompanies this command.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

How do you receive something that’s already implanted?

This Word is the proclaimed Word of God that is received from the mouth a Gospel preacher. It is not something already buried deep inside of us that we need to rediscover, but first came to us by the message of the Gospel  That is how it is implanted. We must continue to receive the Word much like oxygen. You breathe in initially yet you instantly have the need to breathe yet again. It keeps you alive! Breathing gives you the strength to breathe again. Receiving the Word from a Gospel preacher replenishes the energy of the implanted Word and the implanted word creates the hunger to continue to receive God’s Word. So the Word is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to “Receive with Meekness?”
Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” We should be living in meekness already and we are told to receive the Word in meekness. Meekness is humility. Therefore receiving with meekness the Implanted Word simply means that we are to continuously receive it knowing that we are not worthy. We are not worthy of this life-sustaining Word and it comes by nothing that we have done. All the riches of God are given freely by Grace through Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. So humbly accept the Word of God as necessary, and binding.

Be Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only

What will receiving the word look like? People doing the Word and not merely listening. Hearing is important. It is the First Step because even James tells us in v18 that we are born again by the Word of Truth (the Gospel message). And the Apostle Paul tells us, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Yet it is foolish to hear only and not do something with the message.

If we think that we are not accountable for a proper response to the Gospel then we are only deceiving ourselves. There is a certain obedience that is the proper response to the Grace of God found in Jesus Christ. In the Gospel there is saving power AND a call to obedience. We can not submit to only one. Salvation comes by Grace, through faith that evidences itself in Works. We do not produce those works, the Spirit does according to the Word, but don’t make a mistake, there will be God-glorifying works! The Bible is a book of grace but not of a lawless grace.

Who is blessed? The one who is a Doer of the Perfect Law of Liberty

Hearer Only: looks in a mirror and quickly forgets what he saw
Doer: looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and continues in it

A person can intently look in a mirror all day at his/her face and possibly memorize every wrinkle and hair, but that is not lasting. The memory will soon fade and your appearance will soon change. A person who looks into the Word sees something that is perfect, liberating, and worth devoting a lifetime. It is lasting and unchanging. “The Word of God lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23). “Forever, O Lord, Your Word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

Galatians 5:13 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

A blessing: we will be happy and satisfied but this is what saves our souls (v21). The implanted word which we receive saves our souls. There is nothing more serious. What is the soul? It is who we are; all that is within you faces destruction outside Christ. In Luke 11:28 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” Remember what Psalm 1:1-2 says, “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

So we must “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness” v15 teaches that desire gives birth to death. James talks about an “overflow of wickedness.” There are all sorts of evils (and plenty of them) that Christians must fight against. “Lay aside” is a clothes imagery of “taking off filthy clothes." Thus we are instructed, “Let us lay aside every weight and sin that so easily ensnares us.”

Here and in 1 peter 1:23-2:2 New Birth by the Word of God is followed by the command to put away evil and then a call to embrace a Word-led life. The argument becomes the same as the Spirit argument in Galatians 3. The Spirit/Word has birthed this saving work in you, now allow the Spirit/Word to finish it.

Your soul depends on receiving the implanted Word. If you think that you do not need the Word of God then you are like someone that decides that they do not need to breathe in oxygen.
Psalm 19:7-10

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Psalm 119:98-103

You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
I understand more than the ancients,
Because I keep Your precepts.
I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.”

The seed of the Word has been planted in you and it must continue to be received in order to grow to its potential which is to bear the fruit of salvation. You can not bear the fruit of salvation, only the Word can by the Spirit. Your soul depends on the Word!

The Word - John 14:19-26 The Cooperation of the Spirit with the Word

[Sermons on the Word of God from the Word of God]

Today we are going to cover a text which teaches us something of value for our Christian life. There is a balance that must be maintained if we are to remain in God’s will and if we are to reach our full potential in Christ. This balance has been altered by many of our Christian brethren across the board, but we will see in Scripture the importance of keeping this balance.

I would like to go through the text and conclude with two major points.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God (John 14:19-26)

Verses 19-20

“But you will see Me” = Jesus would manifest Himself to His disciples after the resurrection.

It is on that day that the disciples will truly understand what Jesus began to teach them about the unity between Himself and the Father.

Verse 21

This verse now turns to a broader manifestation of Jesus to His disciples. Remember Matthew 28:20 “I am with you to the end of the age.” So it is now not just the immediate resurrection appearances but also many other manifestations of Jesus among His disciples in later times.

Love for Jesus is expressed in devotion to His Word, trustingly obeying it.

“Has My commandments” = doesn’t simply mean to have heard them or possess them, but means to mentally grasp the Words that He has taught. It is to take hold of a message and count it as truth.

Verse 22

Judas (not Iscariot) is probably the one that Luke calls ‘Judas of James.’ When he asks this question it sparks an even greater explanation of what Jesus has been teaching. It is certainly a good question. How will the disciples’ experience of Jesus be different from that of the world? In Judas’ mind the kingdom that was to come would be undeniable and evident to all. How will that happen if the world does not see Jesus?

There are two distinct groups identified here-
Us (Jesus’ disciples) and the World (everyone else).

Verse 23

Let me point out that “Word” is singular, referring to the whole of the Lord’s teaching.

This language is very familiar to us because we know verse two of this chapter very well. There Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions (dwelling places)… I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus says that it is His work to prepare the dwelling places in His Father’s house, yet here we learn that the Father and the Son co-equally and simultaneously come to the believer and make a home. “WE will come to him and make OUR home with him.” This is where we find the may point for today’s sermon because it forces us to ask the question- How do the Father and Son come to the believer? Let us cover a bit more before we return to this subject.

Verse 24

If you do not love Jesus Christ then you will not keep His teaching and if you do not keep His words then you do not love Him. Look what Jesus has already demanded in verse 15.

Duty can only get a person so far. Someone may obey the Lord Jesus for a time merely out of duty, but that cannot sustain them forever. Only Love for the Lord can sustain obedience to Him.

Point 1: Jesus’ Word is the Father’s Word (v24)

A. After Jesus describes what happens for a true believer, He then makes a point that He has continuously made throughout His ministry:
1. He can do nothing of His own
2. He works in accordance with the Father
3. If you have seen Him you have seen the Father
B. Father and Son simultaneously, mutually, and perfectly cooperate for every work.
C. Thus Jesus can and should say, “The Word that you hear from Me is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”

The second point that I would like to make is my primary point.

Point 2: The Spirit and the Word Never Work Apart (vv23-24)

A. In these verses we see that there is some connection between the Father and Son coming to a believer and the Word of God to a believer. How does the Father and Son come make a home in the believer? It must be by the Spirit!

B. Context of this part of John-
a. Throughout these chapters Jesus repeatedly refers to His teaching.
(1) 14:23 (2) 15:7 (3) 16:1 (4) 16:12 (5) 16:25 (6) 16:33
b. These chapters also have five “Spirit Coming” passages.
(1) 14:16-17 is one example

C. Last week was another good example of the Spirit and the Word’s co-dependency.
a. In 1 Peter 1:23 the Apostle says, “having been born again, not of corruptible seed but
incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”
b. We know from John C3 that it is the Spirit’s work to bring about the new birth in a person,
yet here we find that it is also the work of the Word of God.
c. What does this tell us? The Spirit and the Word work together in the New Birth.

D. The Apostle John maintains this teaching throughout. See 6:63 and 68.

E. The Apostle Paul also shows us the cooperation of the Spirit and Word.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
1 Corinthians 3:16 “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

The Christian life must have a balance between the Spirit and the Word. This is what God has ordained. If we attempt to lean more one way or the other we are outside of God’s will.

We can not focus more so on the Spirit’s work in us as we emotionally experience the work of God and neglect the Word of God. On the flip side, we can not focus to much on the Word as we intellectually experience the work of God and neglect the Spirit of God.

God seeks to work in us by His Spirit according to the authority of His Word. The Spirit does not function outside of the Word. Therefore, in order for us to grow to our potential in Christ and to remain fully in God’s will we must not be too emotional or too academic. There must be balance in the Christian life. This means that no matter how young or old that we are, no matter if age takes away good sight or our memory we will learn and be changed because it is the Spirit of God that teaches us the Word of God. The Spirit carries the Word into our hearts. Romans 5:5 says, "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." What is the love of God? It is the message that Christ died for us! Who is it that delivers this message to our hearts? It is the Spirit! No matter how young or old a Christian is the Spirit will declare this Word to our hearts day after day, moment after moment. That is how we know God's love- the Spirit working in cooperation with the Word to manifest Christ Jesus in our lives!