When it comes to the subject of forgiveness, faith matters. If you have been reading “Faith Matters” over the last few weeks you may be thinking, “why another article on forgiveness from the Bishop?” Answer, because as a nation and world we need the reconciling gift of forgiveness from God and between each other. The grief caused by terrorists who have no heart for forgiveness, the bitterness of those who have no love to offer forgiveness and the guilt of those who feel they have no right to forgiveness demands our focus.
You may not be familiar with the Bible and at times I shall admit, that it can be a difficult book but one worth getting your head around. As an aside, it is worth reading it with a Christian friend or group of friends. It is a book with many themes that from start to finish centre on the person and work of Jesus Christ. He, of course, plays a central part in the theme of God’s forgiveness throughout the Bible.
Prior to His nativity we are introduced to theme of God’s forgiveness in the Old Testament. I have no way of showing you how great this theme is without quoting the Bible. The quotes are limited and by no means do they exhaust the topic, but I think you will find in the quotes something quite beautiful.
In Isaiah chapter 43 verse 25 God says, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."
In Micah 7:18 19 the prophet declares, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
The song writer in Psalm 85:2 sings, “You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins.”
Note this: God keeps no memory of your sin. He hurls them into the depths of the sea. He has them all covered. But the beauty of this theme is highlighted by a promise to the undeserving of how God will do this. Isaiah 53:6 says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” It is the “him” of this verse that brings Jesus Christ into the picture. He is the one on whom our sin is laid and justice satisfied, while on us forgiveness is conferred. Indeed, the New Testament tells us that God made Him who had no sin, to be sin for us so that we might be the righteousness of God. But who are the “us” that enjoy the privilege of forgiveness? Well this is where “faith matters”. Forgiveness from God is for all who trust in Jesus Christ.
Now all of this is stunning in the beauty of mercy and love but the beauty of such mercy and love is to be lived out by its recipients.
Forgiveness is the mark of a child of God. Un-forgiveness is the sign of an illegitimate child of God. Forgiveness shares the rescuing heart of Jesus Christ. Un-forgiveness locks people into hate. Forgiveness opens doors for God's love to work. Un-forgiveness silences the love of God. Forgiveness is the humble offering of one who knows what it is to be forgiven. Un-forgiveness reveals the ugly side of pride. Forgiveness will bring you joy and freedom. Un-forgiveness is just a sad environment to live your life.
Jesus Christ said “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.”
Armidale Anglican Diocese