Forgiveness

Throwback Thursday ~ Taking Offense

Originally published July 2, 2015

PicsArt_1468429056806

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11

Have you ever noticed how easily people get offended these days? We have to watch what we say, wear, and display. We have to be careful about how (or if) we express our political and religious views. A mere, “you look nice today” can be the beginning of a lawsuit.

Even as Christians, it’s easy to get sucked in to wearing our feelings on our sleeves and taking offense to everything that rubs us the wrong way. Certainly, there are important, biblical issues that we need to take a firm stand on in society, in the church, and at home, but for those of us who follow Christ, most personal offenses do not require a confrontation. Most personal offenses demand that we extend grace and love to the offender.

That’s a bitter pill for the flesh to swallow if you’re anything like me. My flesh wants revenge. My flesh wants justice and retribution to immediately prevail. My flesh wants that person to grovelingly admit he or she was wrong and beg for forgiveness. And I know it’s my carnal nature that wants those things because both Jesus’ teachings and His life stand in direct opposition to such desires:

The Pharisees insinuated that Jesus was of illegitimate birth and that his mother was promiscuous.  They called Him a Samaritan – a racial epithet which, in that time, would have been on par with calling someone the “n-word” during the Civil Rights movement. And they called him demon-possessed – which called his mental health and intelligence into question. And all of these insults carried with them the overriding weightiness of calling Him unclean; someone under God’s judgment who deserved to be an outcast.

What did Jesus do? He didn’t retaliate. He used the offensive remarks to keep on trying to reach the hearts of the Pharisees – the offenders – with the gospel.

Jesus taught us to…

…love our enemies

…do good to those who hate us

…bless those who curse us

…pray for people who abuse us

…turn the other cheek

…give to those who want to take from us

…treat others the way we want to be treated.

Even on the cross, after being falsely accused, verbally abused, wrongly arrested, hauled in front of a kangaroo court, and illegally put to death, Jesus’ words for His foes were not pronouncements of judgment and wrath, but, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

That’s a pretty tough act to follow. But then, the calling of Christ is not a calling to “be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease” but a calling to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and give up our lives for Him. That precious calling may not end up with you being crucified for your faith, but surely it can start by ignoring that tiny arrow whizzing past your head as you love the person aiming the bow at you.

Take the offense. Overlook it. Extend grace. Forgive. Bless. Walk in the way of your Master.

 

What are some good ways to extend grace
when someone offends you?


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST. 
Easter

Throwback Thursday ~ The Daily Wonder of Easter

Originally published April 1, 2014

“What should I preach about on Easter Sunday? Help me out, here.”

That’s the gist of a tweet I saw recently from a pastor. It caught me quite off guard, and it must have had the same effect on many others who punctuated their excellent advice –“preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins”- with lots of “duh’s” and other indications that this should be a no-brainer for a Christian pastor.

Traditionally, the prevailing line of thought about Easter (and Christmas) services has always been, “This is one of the two times a year that a lot of lost people go to church. It might be our only chance to reach some of them. Let’s make sure we give them the gospel.” Maybe after so many years of that, some pastors feel that their church members have heard it all before and they need to move on to something else in order to keep people’s attention. Sometimes, as a pastor, it’s tough to know just what to do to best reach people for Christ.

559197_439100116151470_344850853_n-300x225

But, see, the thing is, Christians never move past our need for hearing the gospel again and again. Young or old. Newly saved or seasoned saint.

We need the gospel.

We need it because we forget. We forget that we are great sinners in need of a great Savior. We forget to slow down and pour out our gratitude and worship for the sacrifice of our beautiful Savior. We forget to bask in our wonder, our amazement, at His glorious and triumphant resurrection.

As Christians, every day our sin sick souls need to bow at the cross and be washed afresh in the precious, atoning blood of Christ. What can wash away my sin? Nothing –nothing– but the blood of Jesus. Daily, we must approach the tomb, see the massive stone rolled away and shout with joy over its emptiness. Hallelujah! Death has lost its victory and the grave has been denied! The very reason we worship on Sunday instead of Saturday is the celebration of an empty tomb. Every Sunday is Easter Sunday.

Remember, and rejoice!


Originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ.
Forgiveness, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Can unforgiveness cause you to you lose your salvation?

 

Can unforgiveness cause me to lose my salvation?

Forgiving (or refusing to forgive) others as it relates to our salvation is such an important issue. I’m so glad you asked!

Let’s break this question down a bit.

Can you lose your salvation?

The first thing we need to tackle is whether or not someone whom Christ has genuinely saved can lose her salvation – for unforgiveness or any other reason. And the answer to that question is no.

Why? The short answer is that if God saves someone, and that person can subsequently “unsave” herself, that makes her more powerful than God, which, as we know, can’t happen. You can’t save yourself, and you can’t unsave yourself. Salvation is all of God.

When God saves you, you are His new creation in Christ. You can’t “uncreate” your new spiritual life any more than you can “uncreate” your body, or a tree, or a planet. You can kill or do damage to those things, but you cannot reverse God’s creative process. To use another example, oh so relevant to today, God created you female. You can mutilate your body til kingdom come trying to appear male, but that will not change the fact that at your genetic level – the very essence of your being – you are female. And you can’t undo that because God created you that way, and you’re not more powerful than God. If you can’t even change God’s creation of your physical body, how in the world can you change God’s creation of your spiritual being?

In addition to the fact that you can’t uncreate the new creature God has created you to be, you need to remember that the moment God saves you, He forgives all your sins, past, present, and future, and robes you in the righteousness of Christ. That swear word you’re going to say next week? Already forgiven. That lie you’re going to tell five years from now? Already forgiven. And if you decide to commit the sin of refusing to forgive someone, that sin has already been forgiven too. (So since all our sins are already forgiven, we can just commit as much sin as we want and we don’t have to worry about it, right? Wrong.) We still need to confess those sins to God and be cleansed from them because they disrupt our fellowship with God, but in His accounting office, that sin debt has already been marked “paid in full”.

Furthermore, Jesus tells us plainly that if He’s got you, He’s got you:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

No one. That includes you and your sin. The power of your sin is not greater than God’s power to forgive that sin.

They will never perish. To say that a person about which Jesus Himself has said, “I give them eternal life,” can lose her salvation is to call Jesus a liar. He says that person “will never perish.” End of story.

Still not convinced that someone whom Christ has genuinely saved can’t lose her salvation? Try these passages on for size.

Now the reason it can look to us like someone can lose her salvation comes from two places: experience and misunderstanding the Bible.

Experience:
It’s happened plenty of times in the past, but in the last few weeks, we’ve seen two high profile evangelicals “walk away from the faith,”: Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson. Maybe you know someone personally – a friend, a loved one, even a pastor – who gave every appearance of being a Christian and then suddenly left Christianity, and the church, behind.

How does this compute when the Bible teaches that genuinely born again Christians cannot lose their salvation? Well, we need to remember something else the Bible teaches that’s very important:

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian actually is one.

Some people consciously know they’re not really saved and are just trying to pull the wool over the eyes of others. But many (my guess is “most” – these days there’s not a lot of social cachet in calling yourself a Christian) are deceived into believing they’re saved. Maybe they heard some sort of unbiblical gospel presentation and have put their faith in a decision they made in response. Maybe they just assume they’re saved because they’re good church-going people and their church doesn’t teach them otherwise. Who knows? It could be a lot of things. But we know for sure that there are many people who call themselves Christians and believe they are Christians who aren’t. Why? Because the Bible says so:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21-23

Many will say”…False converts are common, not few and far between. And it’s not just your average Joe or Jane in the pew, either. People who “prophesy…cast out demons…do mighty works” under the auspices of Christianity? They’re pastors, elders, deacons, Bible study teachers, seminary professors, “Christian” authors, evangelical celebrities. And Christ does not know them, because they don’t know Him. They talk the talk, and might even look like they walk the walk, but they’ve never truly believed the biblical gospel, repented of their sin, and trusted the Jesus of Scripture to save them. First John 2:18-19 puts it this way:

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.

People whom Jesus has genuinely saved may fall into sin for a season, but they do not fall away from the faith. Those who leave the faith were never part of it in the first place, despite appearances or their claims to the contrary. It might be difficult, but this is one of those occasions when we have to believe what Scripture says over what we can see.

Jesus also tells us in the parable of the sower that there will be be “rocky ground” folks who will appear to be Christians, but because they have no root, they “endure for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.” Jesus follows up this parable with the parable of the wheat and tares which further drives home His point that there will be impostors in the visible church.

So even though we observe people who appear to be Christians “falling away from the faith,” through unforgiveness or any other sin, we know that what’s really happening is that a lost person got tired of pretending to be saved and went back to being a lost person. Second Peter 2:22 puts it this way:

What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

If Christ has never fundamentally changed your spiritual nature from dog or pig into a new creature in Christ, you’re still a dog or a pig. And even if you manage to clean up on the outside you’ll eventually return to the vomit of being a dog and the mud of being a pig because that’s your nature.

Misunderstood Scripture
There are passages in the Bible that, when misunderstood, when taken out of their immediate context, or when taken out of the overall context of Scripture can seem to teach that a person can lose her salvation. But as we’ve seen, there are way too many rightly handledin context passages of Scripture that refute that idea.

Can you lose your salvation by refusing to forgive someone?

You mentioned in your original question that you believe unforgiveness can cause someone to lose her salvation because, “It is so clear in so many ways in Scripture, even parables that Jesus told.” But, you did not mention any of the Scriptures you think teach this. My guess is that one of the Scriptures you’re thinking of is Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

In context, we can see that these two verses come at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. In verse 12, Jesus has just taught us to pray that God would “forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors,” and He’s giving us a little addendum on this in 14-15.

Remember, even though all our sins from birth to death were forgiven at the moment of our salvation, we still need to confess our sins in prayer and ask God to cleanse us from our wrongdoing to bring us back into right fellowship with Him. But if you’re willfully in the middle of committing the sin of unforgiveness against someone, you’re still actively sinning. You haven’t turned from that sin in order to be cleansed. You’re essentially rolling around in the mud and asking God to cleanse you while you have no intention of getting out of the mud. How is that supposed to work? It doesn’t make any sense. If you want to get cleaned up (“forgiven”), you have to get out of the mud (stop committing the sin of unforgiveness – “forgive”). Otherwise, you’re asking God to restore the fellowship you’re still actively damaging with your sin.

Another passage you might be thinking of is the parable of the unforgiving servant. The takeaway from this passage is not that God will rescind the salvation of Christians who commit the sin of unforgiveness. This passage doesn’t say that and we already know that idea conflicts with what Scripture teaches about the security of the Believer.

The takeaway from this passage is that God has forgiven us a sin debt that is incomprehensible. Knowing and having experienced that forgiveness, how could we not forgive some paltry little sin another human commits against us? First John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us,” and the way He loved us was to forgive us our sin. So we also forgive because He first forgave us. And if we can giddily and unrepentantly harbor unforgiveness in our hearts against someone else, we’d better start testing ourselves against Scripture to see if we’re really in the faith. Because that kind of unforgiveness is not the fruit of a redeemed life, it’s the fruit of someone who’s unsaved.

 

No, a genuinely regenerated Christian cannot lose her salvation by committing the sin of unforgiveness. But if she is genuinely regenerated, she will repent of that sin and forgive.

Additional Resources:

Walking Away from Faith? at A Word Fitly Spoken Podcast

Am I Really Saved? A 1 John Check Up


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Easter

Throwback Thursday ~ The Daily Wonder of Easter

Originally published April 1, 2014

“What should I preach about on Easter Sunday? Help me out, here.”

That’s the gist of a tweet I saw recently from a pastor. It caught me quite off guard, and it must have had the same effect on many others who punctuated their excellent advice –“preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins”- with lots of “duh’s” and other indications that this should be a no-brainer for a Christian pastor.

Traditionally, the prevailing line of thought about Easter (and Christmas) services has always been, “This is one of the two times a year that a lot of lost people go to church. It might be our only chance to reach some of them. Let’s make sure we give them the gospel.” Maybe after so many years of that, some pastors feel that their church members have heard it all before and they need to move on to something else in order to keep people’s attention. Sometimes, as a pastor, it’s tough to know just what to do to best reach people for Christ.

559197_439100116151470_344850853_n-300x225

But, see, the thing is, Christians never move past our need for hearing the gospel again and again. Young or old. Newly saved or seasoned saint.

We need the gospel.

We need it because we forget. We forget that we are great sinners in need of a great Savior. We forget to slow down and pour out our gratitude and worship for the sacrifice of our beautiful Savior. We forget to bask in our wonder, our amazement, at His glorious and triumphant resurrection.

As Christians, every day our sin sick souls need to bow at the cross and be washed afresh in the precious, atoning blood of Christ. What can wash away my sin? Nothing –nothing– but the blood of Jesus. Daily, we must approach the tomb, see the massive stone rolled away and shout with joy over its emptiness. Hallelujah! Death has lost its victory and the grave has been denied! The very reason we worship on Sunday instead of Saturday is the celebration of an empty tomb. Every Sunday is Easter Sunday.

Remember, and rejoice!


Originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ.
Women of Genesis Bible Study

The Women of Genesis: Lesson 35

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34

📖📖📖📖📖

Read Genesis 47:27-50:26

📖📖📖📖📖


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly summarize, in your own words, Joseph’s story and how Jacob and his family came to live in Egypt, reviewing previous lessons (links above) if necessary.

2. Compare 47:27 with Jeremiah 29:4-7 and these New Testament passages. Think about the concept of God’s people living among pagans, displaced from their Promised Land, and waiting for the day when they can enter and possess it. Describe how this concept fleshes itself out in each of these passages. What is the Christian’s “Promised Land“? How does God want His people to live during the time of their exile? In the Genesis and Jeremiah passages, are there any general principles for godly living that you can apply to your life in “exile” on this earth today?

3. Examine 47:29-31 and 49:29-32. Where did Jacob (Israel) want to be buried? Why was it so important to him not to be buried in Egypt but to be buried in Canaan? Consider family/tribal bonds, the Abrahamic Covenant, and God’s promise to Jacob in 46:4 as you answer.

4. Explain 48:5-6 as it pertains to the establishment of twelve tribes of Israel (49:28, 49:1-27). What group do Israel’s twelve sons point ahead to in the New Testament?

5. Compare Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh (48:8-20) to Isaac’s blessing of Jacob and Esau. What are the similarities? The differences?

6. Consider Jacob’s blessing of Ephraim, Manasseh, and each of his sons. (48:15-49:28) What was the significance of the patriarchal blessing of the sons? Was it prophecy? Good wishes for a bountiful posterity? Instructions for the future? Information on the inheritance? Examine the cross references for each of the people Jacob blessed. How did his predictions for the future come true for each?

7. Which of the twelve tribes of Israel was Jesus descended from? Examine 49:9-12 as well as the cross-references. What do these verses call to mind about Jesus?

8. Revisit your answers to question #2. What was the result of Jacob’s and Joseph’s godly living while in “exile”? What sort of impact did these men have on the Egyptians? (50:2-3,6-7,9-11)

9. Examine 50:15-21. How is this a picture of the permanence of God’s forgiveness and of salvation? What was Joseph’s reaction (50:17) when he realized his brothers didn’t trust his forgiveness?

10. Compare Joseph’s request about his remains (50:24-25) to Jacob’s (47:29-31, 49:29-32). What were the similarities? The differences? How did Joseph’s request demonstrate his faith that God would keep His promises of the Abrahamic Covenant and serve as an introduction to Exodus? Where did both Jacob’s and Joseph’s remains eventually end up?


Homework

Compare 50:20 to Romans 8:26-30 and James 1:2-4. How does God’s ability to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” demonstrate His sovereignty? What are some of the ways God can bless and grow us during times of difficulty? How can these passages inform our prayer lives when God allows or causes difficult circumstances in our lives? Write out a prayer that lines up with these passages that you can pray the next time you face a trial or tribulation.


Suggested Memory Verse

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Genesis 50:20