Monday, August 30, 2010


Being notes for a sermon 12.7.98 IPC Ealing

Matt. 18:15-35

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. Be patient with me,' he begged, and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. You wicked servant,' he said, `I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Introduction- Corie ten Boom and the Ravensbruck guard.

1. An obligation to forgive and to keep on forgiving.

Matt. 6:12-15 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

To forgive is to let go, not to keep hold. Literally in English the for prefix means a negative. To forgive is not to give, not to give the blame, the punishment, the consequences.

When someone sins against you there are rules laid down by the Lord. But what if someone keeps on sinning and supposedly repenting? Note this is not about overlooking sin and not dealing with it. It is about forgiving when someone repents. The Bible always links forgiveness with repentance. Now tis is misunderstood and controversial, we shall return to it later, but I mention it now to put this parable in context.

Peter wants to know how often he has to forgive, 7 times? No 490 times says Jesus, there is a continual obligation to forgive those who offend against us.

Jesus told the story of a king settling accounts with his servants. One owed an enormous sum. 10.000 talents may be calculated at 30,000 years wages for a labourer. Say £300M. An impossible debt to repay. So the debtor and his family were to be sold into slavery so that the king got something against the debt. No income support or welfare benefits in this kingdom. The man makes a quite unreasonable response. he asks the king to be patient and he will repay all. Pigs were flying low that day. But instead of being a cynic the king was gracious. Taking pity on the man, he forgave the debt. He wrote it off. he would not call him to account for it any more. The man was free. What did he do when freed. Was he grateful, a better man. Not at all. He found a man who owed him a small sum, insignificant by comparison with his indebtedness to the king. This was not £300M but £2000. He grabs the man and throttles him demanding his money. The poor man begs the creditor to be patient but he reuses. He imprisons the debtor. The king hears and orders the man to be brought to hear that because he was unmerciful he would have to repay his enormous debt. He had been shown mercy but showed none himself. So his mercilessness would return on him. Prison and torture was his fate, Torture was used to obtain disclosure of hidden sources of money.

The lesson is that unless you are forgiving people, God will call in our debt to him.

The sum is enormous. No-one can pay. For the unforgiving there is no hope, only a prospect of eternal torture.

2. How can our debt be forgiven?

Matt. 9:2-6 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." Which is easier: to say, Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."

Jesus can forgive sins.

Matt. 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

He gave his life so we can be forgiven. In him is forgiveness now.

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

Note he gives us repentance and forgiveness. Turning from sin is not something we can do of ourselves, We are dead in trespasses and sins. Dead men do not rise and walk, only those whom Jesus raises to new life. He can and does give repentance and forgiveness.

Acts 10:43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

Acts 13:38 "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

Eph. 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

So enjoying the remission of our huge unpayable debt through the gift of God, his only Son, we are obligated to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

Eph. 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Col. 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Matt. 10:8 . Freely you have received, freely give.

3. Forgiveness defined

A promise not to bring the sin up to the sinner, others or yourself.

Forgiveness breaks the chain of causality because he who 'forgives' you - out of love - takes upon himself the consequences of what you have done.- Dag Hammarskjold

Once a woman has forgiven a man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast.

Marlene Dietrich

4. Grace is the key

If we do not forgive it shows we have not been forgiven. Unless grace received is shown in gracious living, we have no grace, only a prospect of judgement ahead,

He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; for everyone has need to be forgiven. Lord Herbert

Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Jay Adams says this is fatherly forgiving not a judicial pardon that brings initial justification. Be than as it may, we are under obligation.

5. What about forgiving the unrepentant?

We mentioned this before. it is common evangelical teaching that we are just to forgive unconditionally. After all did not Jesus do that when he prayed, Father forgive?

No, he did not. he prayed that God would forgive them . Praying for someone's forgiveness is not the same as declaring them forgiven. We should indeed follow Christ example and pray for their forgiveness, or that of Stephen, 'lay not this sin to their charge'. Now he did not say that killing did not matter. He called it sin. He did not say he forgave them. He prayed for God to be gracious to the sinners killing him. Grace is the key. The verses in Mark talk of forgiving while you pray. This is not declaring them forgiven but telling God you want to forgive them. You do not want to hold onto their sin. But until they repent and let go, you cannot have that letting go in real forgiveness which results in true reconciliation. Peace only comes when sin is dealt with. The blood of Christ deals with our sin. We must repent and confess for reconciliation with God and man. When there is repentance there will be forgiveness, then sin can be forgotten, not brought up again.

Of course, we are not God. God cannot merely overlook sin, His infinite majesty is infinitely offended by our unwarranted rebellion. He must deal with sin and he has made gracious loving forgiveness free to all who rust in Christ. But we do not have the dignity of God. We can and should overlook trivial offences. but serious matters, one's we cannot, should not let go unremarked lest their repetition cause trouble again, these we must deal with. Go tell your brother his fault. I can expect feedback after this sermon.

Forgive from the heart. Even if your brother is unrepentant you are not I believe free to call down wrath from heaven upon him . You are not to,make a lectionary of imprecatory Psalms to sort out those who offend you. you are to pray for their forgiveness,. More than that, go and ask them to repent.

Story of the old Yorkshire farmer and Hitler. Save Hitler, and if Thoo wont save him, take him home.

6. Conclusion

Are you forgiven? Do you forgive? Have you anything to put right now?

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