Draw Near — You Can You Know!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 28

Do you know the question kids ask the most?

If you are a parent, you know the answer. It’s “Why?”

It’s a great question to ask. You can learn much about life when you are curious about the “why.” I’m not sure we ask it enough when it comes to the Gospel.

For example, why did Christ die? We know that He did, but why? What did he have in his mind as the end result?

I like what Peter wrote in his first letter: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Why did Christ die? He died to bring you to God.

God created man for relationship. When sin entered in, that relationship was broken. Our fear of God’s punishment kept us at a distance from Him. We were too afraid to get close. Jesus changed all that through His shed blood. It beckons us to draw near to God.

The writer of Hebrews put it this way: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God…” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

There is nothing to fear or worry about. Your sins are gone. Your punishment has been taken away. There is nothing standing in the way.

Because your sins have been forgiven, you can “approach God with confidence and freedom” (Ephesians 3:12).

This is good news. Draw near and enjoy your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness Challenge #28 – What does it mean to you to be reconciled to God? Is there anything holding you back from drawing near to God in full assurance of faith?

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

It’s Time to Rest!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 27

Jesus Christ finished His work.

He did everything necessary to take away your sins once and for all. Jesus put it this way in His high priestly prayer: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:4, 5).

God the Father answered Jesus’ prayer. He exalted Him to highest place – the right hand of the Father.

He is seated there now.

What does this mean for you?

First, there is nothing more to do concerning your sins. Jesus has done it all. The fact that Jesus is seated at the right hand of His Father is proof.

The writer of Hebrews didn’t want his readers to miss this point. For example, when comparing Jesus to the Levites, he explained that Jesus “has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27 ). There is no need for Jesus to get up from his seated position.

This means you can rest. Here is Jesus’ promise to all who come to Him: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29.)

All the work we do to earn God’s forgiveness and love wears us out. It leaves us weary and burdened. That’s not God’s desire for you. He wants you to rest. You can because Jesus has already done the work.

Your sins are forgiven. You are righteous in God’s sight. He loves you and accepts you. Believe it and take a rest in Him. It’s time.

Forgiveness Challenge #27 – Are you willing to enter God’s rest?

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9-10 (NIV)

Three Words That Will Change Your Life

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 26

Forgiveness ranks as the number one topic of discussion on the Basic Gospel radio broadcast. Here are three things we have learned from all the questions that have been asked about this critical issue:

  1. The forgiveness of God is greatly misunderstood,
  2. People like to argue about forgiveness,
  3. People long to have forgiveness.

You can understand why forgiveness is such a hot topic. All of us sin. This reality raises numerous questions in our minds.

  • What do I do when I sin?
  • How can I know that God has forgiven my sin?
  • If He has forgiven me, why do I keep doing the same sin over and over?

Here is the good news. All of these questions are answered by the three words Jesus uttered from the cross, “It is finished!”

Jesus paid the debt in full. Nothing more needs to be done, or can be done concerning forgiveness of sins.

I wished I had known this truth early in life.

With each sin I committed in those days, I felt I needed to do something to get it forgiven. I prayed. I promised. I studied the Bible. I made deals with God. But nothing changed.

I wanted His forgiveness so badly, but in spite of all my efforts, I never felt forgiven.  

The glorious truth is that there was nothing I could do to gain God’s forgiveness. Jesus had already done the work. He forgave all of my sins. His shed blood took them away once and for all.

When His finished work finally hit my heart, the weight of guilt lifted from my shoulders. And something even better happened. The love of God broke through to my soul.

This is what I wanted more than anything. We all want to truly know that God loves us. Forgiveness is the truth that makes God’s love real to us.

Just three simple words comprise the most powerful, life-changing phrase in the entire Bible.

It is finished!

These three words can change your life.

Forgiveness Challenge #26 — Do you fully believe that Jesus Christ finished His work concerning your sins? If so, how does change your view of God?

But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:12

 

What Happens When You Take A Wrong Turn?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 25

I love the GPS system in my car. It’s an amazing piece of technology. I have even named that friendly voice “Ethel”. Ethel calmly directs my path and gets me to my final destination time and time again.

Yet, sometimes I choose not to follow Ethel’s directions thinking I know the best way to get me where I’m going.

When I do choose to go my own way, I hear Ethel calmly saying: “Recalculating.” She knows the end destination, and knows how to get me there. Even when I take a wrong turn.

In just a few seconds, she sets me on the right path once again. The thing about Ethel is that she doesn’t condemn me or berate me for choosing to go my own way. I’ve never heard her say things like: “How could you not follow my directions? What were you thinking? I refuse to give you any more help.” No, she quickly and calmly comes to my aid, and brings me safely to my final destination.

Believe it or not, this story is a great illustration of the Christian life. All of us from time to time choose to go our own way in life. We think we know what’s best for us and what will ultimately make us happy. So off we go down the wrong path. And Jesus goes right with us.

He doesn’t condemn us, or turn away from us. By grace, he moves us in the right direction. Even my wrong turns along the way do not keep Him from getting me to my final destination.

Because of the finished work of the cross, there is no condemnation for you under the New Covenant. Sometimes you will fail to heed the leading of the Holy Spirit and give in to the desires of the flesh. When you do, the Holy Spirit will renew your mind. He will remind you of His love and grace, and set you once again on the right path.

Forgiveness Challenge #25- When you fail, as we all do, ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and remind you of the gift of forgiveness. Remember this great truth – Your sins will not keep God from completing the work He began in you!

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Repentance or Forgiveness – Which Comes First?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 24

There is always this question of what to do when we sin. Repentance normally tops the list of actions we need to take. This act, in our minds, has a number of possible outcomes. The first is forgiveness for the sin that was committed. In this scenario, repentance is first, then forgiveness. We repent, then God forgives.

The second outcome is the restoration of fellowship that was broken because of sin. Again, repentance is the catalyst, the lead act that restores the fellowship.

This is not biblical thinking. God’s plan is “by grace through faith.” Grace initiates, faith follows. An aspect of this faith is repentance. It is the changing of the mind in response to the truth of God’s grace and the forgiveness in Jesus Christ. It is the stepping right into the middle of God’s plan.

When Peter stood before the people at Pentecost, he told them about Jesus – his death, burial and resurrection. This is the story of God’s grace in action. Then he summoned the people to repentance. Three thousand were added to the church that day. The reason is that God’s grace led to repentance in the heart toward Jesus.

Here is the point. When you sin, let God’s grace take the lead. The shed blood of Christ will change your heart and mind and will deepen your spiritual instinct to trust, rely and abide in the indwelling and resurrected Christ.

Which comes first? If you are in Christ, you already have forgiveness of sins. Let this truth rest your mind solidly in His love and grace.

Forgiveness Challenge #24 – Think back to the day your mind changed concerning Jesus. What was the catalyst for your repentance toward Christ?

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

There Is No Record of Your Wrongs!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 23

“Remember 5 years ago when you did…”

“And, then 3 years ago, you hurt my feelings when you said…”

“Even last Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., you …..”

When it comes to our relationships with others, we love to keep a tally of the all the wrongs we have suffered. We have a list of all the wrongs our mates have done, one for our children, our employer, and our friends.

All it takes is one wrong word, and out comes “the list.” We remind the person of all the wrongs they have done in the past and we hold these wrongs against them.

Many times, we feel that’s how God interacts with us. As long as we’re behaving properly, He loves us. But if we mess up, out comes the list of all our past sins and we have to beg Him to stay in relationship with us.

But God isn’t like that at all. Paul made this clear in his definition of love. He wrote that God keeps no records of our wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

As we have learned in previous posts, God does not remember your sins. He nailed them all to the cross, Jesus blood washed them away. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, God welcomes you into relationship with Him with open arms.

Paul put it this way: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and He gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).

Step fully into the forgiveness of God and rest in Christ’s finished work. The ‘list’ has been destroyed and you are free to enjoy His love!

Forgiveness Challenge #23- Let the forgiveness you have received spill out to those on your list. Ask the Lord to teach you how to burn the lists of resentment and wrongs and to remember the forgiveness you have received in Christ.

I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus (1 John 2:12 NLT).

Since I Am Forgiven, How Should I Live?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 22

“Are you saying that since I am totally forgiven, I can just go out and do whatever I want to do?”

I have heard that question more times than I can count from listeners of our daily radio broadcast, Basic Gospel.

This question isn’t new. The Apostle Paul was hit with it almost everywhere he traveled. Many today are asking the same questions. Some of the questions stem from Paul’s bold claim in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “Everything is permissible to me.”

As believers in Christ, we are free. We are free to submit to the desires of the flesh. But, just like Paul, we are also free to submit to the desires of the Spirit. Both are permissible. Only one is profitable.

Knowing that we are forgiven helps us choose the profitable path.

When we give in to the desires of the flesh, we put ourselves under the control of sin. For the child of God, this doesn’t make sense. Paul understood that. He had had enough of being mastered by sin. He willingly submitted to the control of the Holy Spirit in order to experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

No, the truth of total forgiveness of sins does not lead to reckless living. God’s love as expressed in forgiveness always leads to a life of trust and dependence upon Him.

There is nothing more profitable in life than knowing and experiencing the love of Jesus Christ. That’s how you live in grace.

Forgiveness Challenge #22 – Understand that we have the freedom to choose what we will depend on at any given moment. Remind yourself that the right choice is to plant yourself firmly in the middle of the forgiveness you’ve been given.

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? (Romans 6:1-2 NLT)

The Proof That You Are Forgiven!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 21

Through Christ’s act of propitiation, God showed us that he is just. He dealt with our sin. He didn’t ignore it or sweep it under some heavenly carpet. He judged it, he condemned it, and he punished it. All obligations were fully satisfied. But that was not the end goal.

God is both just and the justifier. He freely justifies “the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). That’s you.

Not only did God take away your sins, he declared you to be righteous. This is the proof that your sins have been forgiven and that God is fully satisfied with you. This means you are in right standing with God. You didn’t work your way to that status. God justified you freely by his grace.

How does this play out in daily living? We still sin, don’t we? And each sin we commit still deserves punishment. The punishment we deserve is death.

Yet, God says to those who are in Christ, “Your sins have been forgiven.” How do we know that punishment is not waiting for us sometime in the future? What is the proof?

Justification!

God justifies sinners and declares them right in his sight on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the cross.

The work is done. Jesus wants us to trust and depend on Him. It’s in that trust that we can watch him work all things together for our good. We can trust him because he satisfied the law on our behalf. His punishment was our punishment. In exchange, His righteousness became our righteousness.

The fact that God has declared us righteous in His sight is proof that all of our sins have been forgiven – past, present and future. They have been sent away from us as far as the east is from the west and righteousness has been credited to our account. On the basis of Jesus’ shed blood, God treats us as if we had never sinned.

Forgiveness Challenge #21 – Do you believe that Jesus died for all of your sins? Do you believe that his blood satisfied the law for every sin you have committed or will commit in the future? Here is the proof:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 (ESV)

Are You Satisfied?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 20

Have you ever thought this about God: “No matter what I do, God is never satisfied with me.”

The Bible tells a different story. God is satisfied. The biblical word is propitiation. It’s not a word we hear very often, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here is what we need to know. Propitiation is a God thing. It took place between God the Father and Jesus the Son. The writer of Hebrews marks it as a heavenly transaction: “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence” (Hebrews 9:24).

The end result is this: Jesus’ shed blood satisfied the demands of God’s justice and holiness. Think about that. The wrath of God directed toward you was fully satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God accepted the blood of Jesus as complete and final payment for your sins.

This is grace. Jesus accomplished for you what you could not accomplish yourself. This means there is nothing for you to do except believe. You will know you have truly believed when you are satisfied in your heart with Christ’s death as total and complete payment for your sins.

This is “by grace through faith.”

Forgiveness Challenge #20 -God is satisfied with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on your behalf. If God is satisfied with the payment for your sins, why shouldn’t you be satisfied? Ask God to make this truth real in your heart and mind. God is satisfied. You can rest.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10 (ESV)

Why Can’t I Forgive Myself? — Reason #4

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 19

I’m Not Who You Say I Am 

We like to tell old stories, especially at family gathering. They usually start with, “Do you remember when…” Old stories are wonderful to share. And it is healthy for us to look back and see where we’ve come from.

Most of us only venture back to the past from time to time. There are others, however, who never get out of the past. They are stuck there. Time has marched on, yet in their minds, time stopped for them at some significant event that happened long ago. Have you met people like that?

If you pay attention, you’ll see this with many ex-athletes. In their minds, they are still those elite athletes who dazzled fans with their skills and talents and “super-human” abilities. They have a hard time moving past their glory years.

Those who say they can’t forgive themselves are somewhat like these ex-athletes. Except they have allowed the sins of their past to define who they are today. Rather than seeing themselves through God’s act of grace toward them, they see themselves in light of their sins.

My friend, John Lynch, says “When I wear a mask, the only thing that gets loved is the mask, not the real me.” We don’t go around broadcasting what we perceive as our identity. No one knows if we are carrying the label of adulterer, or cheater, or addict. We keep it secret because we are scared to death of how people will react if they find out the “truth.”

But you can’t hide behind a mask with God. He knows and it doesn’t change what he thinks about you and what he has recreated you to be. The Gospel changes who you are. Here is the good news. Your identity changed the moment you trusted Jesus Christ. You are brand new and bear the name, “child of God.”

Forgiveness Challenge #19 – Take off whatever mask you are wearing and let everyone see your true identity – Child of God, perfectly loved and accepted.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15, 16).