Sermon delivered August 9, 1997

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

The Four Gives of Forgiveness

There once was a little girl that went to the mall with her mother. It was Christmas time. She sat on Santa Claus' lap. And she said, "Hi." And he said, "What would you like for Christmas?" She gave him a whole list of expensive toys which she wanted for Christmas and then without a word of appreciation, she jumped off Santa's lap and ran back to her mother. And her concerned mother spoke quickly, "Honey, haven't you forgotten something?" The little girl thought for a moment, then said, "O, yes." Then turning back toward Santa, she shouted, "Charge it."

I want to tell you that God has already "charged" our sins to Jesus' account. Jesus paid the debt in full. Your debt is wiped clean. That's a beautiful thought. You can say, "Charge it" because the real Santa Claus is God. Jesus has paid your debt in full. Your debt is completely paid if you've asked Him to do that. Have you ever wished you could have all your debts paid by someone else? Every month I sit down with the bills and the checkbook and the calculator and I add up what's there. And I add up what's expected to be paid, and they rarely balance. I think, this is awful. What am I going to do? And somehow those bills keep coming in, and I don't like that. But I want to tell you that each of us owe a great spiritual debt to Jesus. Everybody here is a sinner. And Jesus Christ has erased that debt. In fact, He deletes it from our bill and marks it paid in full!

I was using the computer the other day and I had on this disk a file that I had worked about two or three hours to develop. Somehow, I deleted it. It is gone! I had to re-do it. It took me another two hours to re-do. And I thought, what is the matter? Well, you can't get it back. Once you delete it, it's gone forever. And that's exactly what Jesus Christ does to your sins. They're gone forever! Deleted, forgiven!

David said in Psalm 32:1 (NIV), "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." Also verse 2: "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him. Aren't these verses special? He doesn't count your sins against you: they're all gone, they're all forgiven, they're erased, deleted. They are totally gone; your debt is paid in full. I like that. I believe that God enjoys forgiving sin. We really serve an awesome God. Jesus covers all our debt of sin with His blood. It's a good thing He does because If God were not willing to forgive sin, heaven would be totally empty of all human occupants. None of us could be there.

How do you get forgiveness? Is there a big load of sin in your life? Is there a big load of sin in your life? There might be. All of us have a load of sin. Have you accumulated so many mistakes that you wonder if you can ever be forgiven? Can God forgive a sin that you keep doing? Suppose your problem is alcohol, or suppose it's illegal drugs, or something. If you keep doing that, and then you pray, God, please forgive me this sin. Can He forgive that sin? While you're still doing it? Would you really like to understand how to get forgiveness? How to know that you're forgiven? If so, listen to this sermon. This sermon is for you. You can have your personal sins forgiven.

Here is how Forgiveness works: There are FOUR GIVES in forgiveness, and let's go through them one by one.

1)-- God GAVE His Son Jesus Christ!

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him might not perish but have everlasting life."

So the first give was given by God Himself. God always initiates salvation. Salvation was given by Him. Thousands of years before you were born God, up in heaven, formulated a master plan to rescue the human race: to rescue you and to forgive you of your sins. God did that to reclaim the human race from the ditch of death.

Now, we have to be forgiven. Because we can't pay our debt. Nobody is so good that they can save themselves and none so bad that God cannot save them. And so we totally depend on Him for salvation.

I want to tell you here that God is really a much better God than we give Him credit for. God is an awesome, loving individual. I want to just point out: Try to grasp the enormity of His greatness by thinking about His willingness to forgive your sins.

    There are many differences between us and God.
  1. God can be everywhere at the same time. Have you ever wished you could be everywhere at the same time? We could get so much more done. We could actually keep all of our appointments. We could accomplish so much, but as we are, we can't.
  2. God knows everything. How often I have wished that I could remember somebody's name or that I could do this a little better. I don't know everything. There was a time when I thought I did too.
  3. God has all power, limitless power. How often I wished that I had more power. I don't have all power. It's obvious that I don't.
  4. God is different than we are because he can forgive the sins of somebody else. I can't forgive anybody else's personal sin. No human can forgive sin.
  5. God can forget my sin. Can you forget your sin? You know, that is a divine attribute: God can forget. No human being can do that. Oswald Chambers said: The most marvelous ingredient in the forgiveness of God is that he also forgets, the one thing a human being can never do. Forgetting is a divine attribute; God's forgiveness forgets. I find there are things I'd like to forget: the times that I have wronged someone, the times that I have hurt somebody; I can't forget those times. God has the ability to forget. Forgetting is a divine attribute, and God's forgiveness forgets.
Forgiveness means God buries our sins and does not mark the grave. He doesn't leave the hatchet out, the handle sticking out. God doesn't actually mark the grave of your sins. When God looks at a Christian, He sees you as a person who is totally covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That what He sees when He looks at you. He doesn't think of all those sins. They're all forgiven. They're all blotted out. When He sees you, He sees a forgiven person. God does not have the ability to see through the blood of Jesus. God does not forget the sinner; he forgets the sin. When God looks on a Christian He sees you standing there covered with the perfect robe of Jesus Righteousness. He does not see your sin. God can't see through Jesus' blood. The blood of Jesus blots out your sins and God cannot see through that. In fact we know that's the case because Isaiah 38:17 (KJV) says, "Behold, for my peace I had great bitterness; but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back."

Have you ever seen your back? If you've seen your back it must have been in a mirror. But we do not have the ability to see our back. God does not have the ability to see your sins that are forgiven because they are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, and they have been cast behind God's back.

So, the first step to receiving eternal life is to recognize that even though we don't deserve it--God has made full provision for it. Romans 5:8 (NIV) (This is one of the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible.) It says this: "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Now, you think about that verse. I've never died for anybody. If I did, I wouldn't be here to tell you about it. Jesus died for us, for me.

If we were willing to die for somebody else would it somebody that was hurting us? Somebody who sinning against us? Yet that's what Christ did: He died for us - while we were sinners. I think that's marvelous.

1)-- God Gave His Son, Jesus Christ!

Not only did God give His Son, but Jesus gave His life. EPHESIANS 1:7 (KJV) "In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the FORGIVENESS of sins, according to the riches of His grace."

Jesus willingly gave His life that you might receive full pardon from your most wicked, the most desperate, and the most repeated sins. That they can be forgiven. Jesus' blood can blot out the reddest, the blackest record of your sins. Isaiah 44:22 "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud your sins"

I enjoy living in Collegdale. I was out mowing my yard the other day on a hot afternoon. It was almost 100 degrees. I was miserable. Then a cloud drifted between me and the hot burning sun. It was thick and completely obscured any and all traces of the sun. You couldn't tell that the sun was in that position. And the cool refreshing that came over me just totally changed my attitude about that hot lawn mowing experience. I thought about that. And God says, "I have blotted out your sins, as a thick cloud." Now you think about that. God says He will park a huge thick cloud over your sins: they will be totally obliterated, they will be gone. I think that's good news. They are covered. Even the hottest sin, even the brightest sin is fully obscured by God.

There is amazing power in the blood of Jesus.

John 18:1 (NAS) Notice something that I had missed when I read it before. This is talking about the experiences of Jesus as He is just finishing the last supper, it's Thursday night, He's heading for the Mount of Olives and notice the route that He chooses to take. "... he (Jesus) went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron." Now that speaks a lot to me. I did a little research on this verse. You are aware, of course, that this was Passover weekend. Here the disciples are, going over the Kidron brook on the way to the Mount of Olives. The very next day the lambs would be slaughtered in the temple. In the temple court-yard there was a drain, a pipe that went down through the ground and emptied into the Kidron ravine. That drain drained the blood from the sacrifice area down into the creek. I believe that the very next day, according to what I could find out, 200,00 little lambs were going to be killed. Jesus knew that. When they walked over that creek he realized that His blood would not be the only blood that would be shed that weekend, but that His blood would be the only blood that would be able to erase your sins, and mine. And that's why He did that. Jesus knew that little creek would be red with the blood of all those lambs. He was not the only innocent lamb preparing for sacrifice. I am thrilled that Jesus chose to give His life that I may be saved.

Hebrews 9:22 (NIV) "...Without the shedding of Blood there is no forgiveness." Jesus had to die on the cross. Jesus fully provided for our complete forgiveness. Every saint has a past; a forgiven past. And every sinner has a future, courtesy of Jesus.

1)God gave His Son
2)Christ gave his life
3)We must give our life to Christ

Our part is actually threefold.

The first thing we must do to receive forgiveness is found in the Lords prayer over in Matthew. Only one petition in the Lord's Prayer has any condition attached to it. It is the petition for forgiveness. It says that if we are to be forgiven, we must first forgive others. If someone has wronged you, you must forgive them. Please forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. That's the condition. So you cannot receive forgiveness as long as somebody has been wronged by you or has wronged you and you have not forgiven him. So to receive forgiveness, we must first forgive others.

You can test the bigness of your soul by determining how willing you are to forgive somebody else. The bigness of any man is manifest in the number of little things he is able to overlook in others. Do little things bother you? The more those little things that bother you the smaller the person you are. The more you can overlook the bigger you are. God must be really big because He is able to overlook so much in my life. As we grow in Christ-likeness we become forgivers like Him. We pardon to the degree that we love. And when you have big love like God does, you are willing to pardon in a big way. And God wants to pardon you. He wants to forgive you. He wants to cleanse you from sin. Col 3:13 (NIV) "...Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you..."

The second thing we must do to receive forgiveness is found in I John 1:7 (NIV) "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." That's how forgiveness for sin, that's the technical basis of forgiveness: Jesus blood is the purification agent.

Now verse 8. "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." We are all sinners. Everyone of us needs forgiveness. And now the next beautiful verse 9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness." That's what God will do. He will take care of it. If we do what? The only "if" is our part. IF we confess our sins, He is a faithful person, H will forgive our sins. There's no question about that. The only "if" is if we do the confessing.

Christians confess their sins to Who? To the minister? To the local priest in Collegedale? Who do we confess our sins to? We confess them all the way up to God, Himself. Not to some earthly priest but to our Heavenly High Priest-Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary. Jesus Christ is our High Priest. When you kneel down in a quiet place and admit your sins to Him, you are praying directly to God Himself.

Confession in its broadest meaning includes repentance. It is more than being sorry that for your sins. To repent means to change your mind. The Greek word for repentance is "metanoia". Meta- means change; -noia means mind. It means a change of mind. When you change your thinking, you change your actions. So repentance means "to change your mind an your actions.

Now, God cannot forgive a sin that you cherish. Let's say your sin is doing something immoral. You do that, and you ask God to forgive you, and you go do it again, and you ask God to forgive you, and then you go and do it again. Is God forgiving you? You must stop that sin. He gives you, along with the package, the power to overcome that sin because it says here in verse 9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just..." He will not only forgive our sins but He will purify us, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He gives with the package not only the pardon but the power to live the Christian life. He will give you a new experience. Then with your total heart you cry out to God for deliverance and forgiveness, then forgiveness will become yours. God will give you a new heart. A new experience will become yours.

Thirdly, we must ASK God to forgive us. "Forgive us our debts..." and He will do that.

    Now let us go to the final give in forgiveness.
  1. ) God gave His Son
  2. ) Jesus gave His life
  3. ) We give forgiveness to others and give our life
  4. ) God gives His complete perfect forgiveness and salvation to us.

That's where forgiveness comes from. It's a gift. We don't earn it. We ask God to give it to us.

I used to be a Michigander. We lived in South Haven along the shore of Lake Michigan. We lived about two blocks from the beach. Every morning the beach would be calling me to come and take a walk. I enjoy a morning walk. I suppose many of you like to take a morning walk. I go for a walk on the asphalt athletic association track, which is the road around the front of my house. It's free! Well, I used to take my dog with me. I would take this dog and the dog would come flying out over and land on the beach. Amazing dog. But i would enjoy that morning walk on that beach. And I noticed several things as I walked along. Many mornings I would see sand-castles where people had been out there the day before building these castles. Other people enjoyed digging holes in the beach, some built things up, some dug things down, different personalities, I guess. You'd find all sorts of things on the beach. There was a creek going out into the lake, and people would dam this creek up and you could see little ponds there in different places where they had been. Foot-tracks, foot-prints everywhere. Other days I would come out there and the beach would be totally as if no human being had stepped on it. If fact I'd think, Here I am the first human being to ever step on this beach in the history of the world, because you couldn't see a foot-print anywhere. The difference was what happened during the night. Some nights the wind would come up, the waves would come in and wash over that beach and totally obliterate any and all traces of human activity. You could not see that any human being had ever been on that spot. All the sand-castles were levelled. All the holes were filled in. Everything was trackless, all those foot-prints. I thought many times about that. That is just like God's forgiveness. When God forgives you, you are totally free of sin. None of the traces of sin remain in your life. They're gone completely.

Micah 7:19 (NIV) "..You will hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea!" When God pardons, He pardons in a big and complete way. Our sins will be completely gone as though they never existed.

One cleansing wave will do it. And the closer you walk along the beach to the water, the sooner your marks will be erased. When you walk near the water, and look behind you, the foot-prints are already mostly washed away. The closer you walk to Jesus, the sooner your sins will be gone. Jesus is the water of life! And you can get forgiveness today. You can get total forgiveness of your sins today. That's the good news. The good news is that it's free. You can get free forgiveness for all your sins that you've ever committed. You can get it today, free, directly from the source. And the other good news is that it doesn't come by UPS (Strike is on!). You can get forgiveness straight from God Himself. There's no hindrance, it's straight from Him. I love our divine forgiver. Will you give your life to Him just now. He waits to make you as white as snow and forgive your darkest sin.

Opening Hymn- 17   
Scripture: 1 John 1:7-9  
Closing Hymn - 343 I will sing of My Redeemer

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