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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 22 October 2012

The forgiveness of God (4:31-32)

When we think of God’s forgiveness, we have to distinguish between two ways in which he forgives. God forgives as a Judge and he forgives as a Father: under the first he deals with sinners as criminals who deserve punishment; under the second, he deals with his people as children who received chastisement. Today, we will think of God’s forgiveness as Judge and tomorrow of him as Father.

God’s forgiveness was costly. In order for him to forgive us, he had to send his Son as the sinbearer. The cost to God was great. .

God’s forgiveness is comprehensive. There are some sins that are more heinous in God’s sight than other sins. Yet he does not only forgive the lesser sins, he forgives them all.

God’s forgiveness is continual. Once he has forgiven a sin, he does not mention it again. They are cast behind his back. He does not make them barriers to future blessing or reasons for preventing a relationship with him. These aspects show us the greatness of God’s grace.

God’s forgiveness is conditional. Before we can receive God’s forgiveness, we have to confess our sins. Until we do so, we will not be forgiven. This is a reminder of the necessity of repentance, which is the twin of faith in Christ.

God’s forgiveness is complete. When a person trusts in Jesus, all his sins, past, present and future are forgiven as far as God’s justice is concerned. It is true that failure to confess sin affects the Christian’s enjoyment of God’s blessings, but even such a sad attitude does not negate God’s complete forgiveness as judge. As his children, we lose much when we are disobedient, but we never lose the declaration of pardon. This is connected to our justification. Remember the Shorter Catechism definition of justification: ‘Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, and received by faith alone.’

When we see the greatness of God’s forgiveness, we should have certain responses. First, we should rejoice. Our sins were the greatest barrier to our entrance into heaven. We could not remove them. But God has done so. We are pardoned. Second, we should respect such a great God. One way in which we do so is by refusing to take part in sin. Forgiveness obligates us to fight with sin. Third, we should retell to others the story of God’s great forgiving mercy.

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