Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Power of Forgiveness

The message God gave the world is the promise of forgiveness. The fall of man brought sin into the human race and it brought God's curse on the earth. Death and decay became standard fare. Struggle and sweat is now the lot of man. However "Where sin abounds grace does much more abound." David rejoiced when he penned, "If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared." (Psalm 130:3-4). The truth is when we come to the cross the record of our sin is wiped away, it is blotted out, gone. I have been forgiven, stand forgiven and will remain forever forgiven because of the blood of Christ. I believe the Evangelical Church has the message of grace in salvation down pat. We preach that by grace through faith is the only way to get to heaven. We would scorn any teaching that added anything to the Gospel. We also are quite accurate on grace getting us to heaven. When a believer dies we assure his or her loved ones that this saint went into the arms of Jesus because of the grace of God. However, I have a lot of evidence that we don't always do so well in between salvation and heaven concerning the message of grace. One of the first things we do to a new convert is to tell them how to dress, act, live, think, talk, who to hang out with, where to go, how often to read the Bible etc. I remember many years ago I led a man to Christ who had waist length hair and huge hoop earrings. He came to church and a couple of weeks later asked to be baptized. I baptized him with waist length hair and hoop earrings. He had an insatiable hunger for the Scriptures. He told all of his friends about Jesus. In time, he took out the hoop earrings and replaced them with crosses. One Sunday he came to church with short hair and the earrings were gone. Nobody said a word to him about these external things. How he looked did not make the man, what was in his heart did. He later told me that he believed the Lord was telling him his witness would be greater if he dressed more like others around him. Early in his Christian life he grabbed hold of grace. Do you really believe you have been forgiven. You and Jesus can work on your sinful habits and tendencies together, and the process is much easier when you know you have been forgiven. There is a positional holiness which we have in Christ. There is a practical holiness that is worked out in our lives as we walk in the Spirit. The Bible tells us as we "walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Have you accepted God's forgiveness? Do you believe you have been forgiven? Do you live a life that extends forgiveness to others? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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