THE BENEFITS OF BEING A CHRISTIAN #1
A New Gift: The Forgiveness of Sins
A. Colossians 1:13-14
B. The Christian is a “new creature” … 2 Corinthians 5:17
1. Notice what Jesus said… John 3:3-5
2. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, “even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).
C. There are many joyful aspects of the Christian’s new life, but the most basic benefit, the one which the new Christian is immediately aware of, is the gift of God’s forgiveness.
A. MAN’S SIN: THE ULTIMATE PROBLEM
1. Modern man has largely lost a realization of the reality and consequences of sin.
a. Many have fallen prey to:
1) Self-sufficiency … Romans 1:21
2) Self-righteousness … Romans 10:3
b. With the banishment of “sin” from our vocabulary, “forgiveness” has been drained of its meaning and attraction – the gospel can never be “joyous tidings” to a humanistic culture which recognizes no need for salvation.
2. The Christian, in contrast, has come to know sin’s true character.
a. Sin disrupts the relationship between God and man, resulting in “death,” i.e. alienation, condemnation
1) Romans 6:23
2) James 5:20
b. No greater crisis or tragedy can be imagined than to be cut off from God in sin – man’s most dire need is to be “saved”
c. The core of the message of Jesus Christ, the “gospel,” concerns the forgiveness of sins.
1) Luke 24:46-47
2) Those who heard the gospel preached on Pentecost asked… Acts 2:37 – they were told by Peter… Acts 2:38
3) Paul said while preaching in Antioch in Pisidia… Acts 13:38
4) The message of Christ is a message by which persons may be saved… 1 Timothy 2:3-4
3. Yet, even among many Christians, there is a need for renewed emphasis on salvation.
a. Many do not speak of their conversion in terms of being “saved.”
b. Too rarely is the candidate for baptism observed mourning for his past sins, from which, by God’s grace, he is being rescued.
c. What is needed is the attitude of David.
1) Psalm 25:16-18
2) Psalm 51:9
B. GOD’S NATURE: THE ULTIMATE LOVE
1. The Christian’s joy is grounded in the knowledge of God’s character and love for man.
a. God’s perfect justice is perfectly balanced with His perfect mercy… Romans 11:22 (His justice makes His mercy meaningful)
b. God has revealed Himself to be a God of lovingkindness, grace, and compassion… Matthew 23:37.
1) His character is forgiving… Psalm 86:5
2) His joy is to save the sinner… Luke 15:10
2. The joy of forgiveness is intensified knowing the immensity of the sacrifice God’s love led Him to make on our behalf
a. John 3:16-17
b. 1 Peter 1:18-19
3. Man can know no greater joy than to understand God is for him, and has in His good pleasure become man’s Savior – it is possible to say, with Mary… Luke 1:47
C. GOD’S FORGIVENESS: THE ULTIMATE GIFT
1. Ephesians 2:4-9
2. The forgiveness of sins is the central theme of the Bible.
a. It was anticipated in the Mosaic covenant (Jer. 31:31-34)
b. It was the mission of Jesus, the Messiah (Lk. 19:10)
c. It is the heart of the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17)
d. It is the intent of faith, repentance, baptism (Acts 2:38)
e. It is the defining characteristic of the church (Acts 2:41,47)
f. It is the focus of the Christian’s activity (1 Tim. 4:16)
3. On the basis of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, the Christian is able to say that he has “died” to sin… Romans 6:3-4. This includes:
a. Salvation from the guilt of past sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16)
b. Salvation from sin in the present, i.e. power to overcome sin plus cleansing from sins committed after being initially forgiven (1 Jn. 1:7, 9; 2:1).
c. Salvation eternally in the future (Rom. 13:11; Heb. 9:28)
4. The greatness of the Christian’s joy, peace, gratitude, humility, etc. is in proportion to the depth of his consciousness of sin.
a. Those who expressed the deepest love for the Lord were those who had the most honest attitude about their own sin (Lk. 7:36-50)
b. When the gospel was preached in Acts, the joy of salvation was experienced only after the godly sorrow that accompanied a genuine realization of sin (Acts 2:37-41, 46-47; 8:4-8, 38-39)
5. The forgiveness of sins is the highest and best of God’s gifts to man… Romans 6:23.
a. We need to remember our tears of joy, relief, peace, and wholeness after our baptism into Christ
b. A cleansed conscience is man’s deepest need – there is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.
c. In baptism, we appealed to God for, and received, a good conscience… 1 Peter 3:21
1) request, appeal, an earnest seeking, intense desire.
2) “Answer” (KJV, NKJV), – “appeal” (ESV, NASV)
d. The answer to the cry “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24) is “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!…There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 7:25-8:1).
e. This release from guilt, fear, and alienation is the cherished possession which God could give us only on the basis of the sacrifice of His Son.
6. We need to continue to count this among our “spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
7. We need to rejoice that our names are “written in heaven” (Lk. 10:20).
8. We need to meditate, as did David, on the blessedness of forgiveness… Psalm 32:1-2
9. We need to respond to the gift of forgiveness with:
a. Gratitude (1 Tim. 1:15-16)
b. Devoted service to God (2 Cor. 5:14-15)
c. Compassionate forgiveness of others (Eph. 4:32)
d. Diligence in sharing the gospel (Acts 8:4)
A. There are no more valued promises of God than those of His forgiveness.
1. Psalm 103:11-12
2. Isaiah 1:18.
B. The Giver makes the gift more precious