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The Forgiveness Of God

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt
The Truth Network Radio
February 28, 2022 7:00 am

The Forgiveness Of God

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt

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February 28, 2022 7:00 am

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Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. That's what it means to be forgiven. You see, there are no strings attached in any of those verses. That's God's forgiveness.

Well then, the question is, how do we obtain the forgiveness of God? Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana.

Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's word meets our world. As most of you know, I'm from the great state of Pennsylvania, known as the Keystone State. In fact, that's been the case since 1802. At a Jefferson Republican rally in 1802, Pennsylvania was toasted as the Keystone in the Federal Union and later a newspaper referred to it as the Keystone in the Democratic Arc. The modern persistence of the designation is justified in view of the key position of Pennsylvania in the economic, social, political development of the United States. Now, for those of you who don't know what a keystone looks like, you'll find it on the label of the best ketchup in the world, Heinz ketchup. OK, that's a keystone. I looked up the definition of a keystone and one of the definitions was this, the central principle on which all else depends.

Now, I'm not sure that was ever an accurate description of the great state of Pennsylvania, but the word keystone, I believe, does describe one of the most important words ever uttered by human beings and never felt by human beings. The word is forgiveness. I believe that forgiveness is the keystone of all relationships in a fallen world. Our relationship with God, our relationship with each other and the way in which we can, whether or not we can even forgive ourselves.

Carl Menninger, the eminent psychiatrist, said that he believed that 75 percent of all the patients he ever saw in his lifetime could have got up and walked out healthy had they been able to really, truly receive and give forgiveness. Forgiveness. A biblical understanding of forgiveness is not only important for eternal life, but it's important for everyday life. How you feel about forgiveness will have a lot to do with whether or not you're a happy person.

People ask all the time, what's the key to marriage? Forgiveness. You see, we want to say, no, no, the key to marriage should be that we never do things that we have to forgive. You have to live in different homes then.

There has to be something else going on. See, forgiveness means that much. John MacArthur says this, people who come for counseling generally fit into one or both of these two categories. There are some who need to understand how God's forgiveness is extended to the sinner and there are others who need to learn to be forgiving. In other words, some people are struggling with their own guilt. Others have a sinful propensity to blame others and to withhold forgiveness for wrongs done. And many people, unfortunately, he says, struggle with both guilt and blame. Both tendencies are spiritually and emotionally debilitating.

Both are capable of making life wretched. Both can spawn a multitude of related problems and both can be remedied only by a better understanding and obedience to what the word of God says about forgiveness. And so that's the goal of the series, to give you a thorough, clear biblical understanding of what forgiveness is.

It is the keystone of all relationships. This morning what I'd like to do is I would simply like to raise four general questions about the forgiveness of God toward us. Question one, do we need to be forgiven? Question two, is God's forgiveness real? Question three, what then does God do with our sin? And question four, how do we obtain the forgiveness of God? To answer the first question, open your Bibles to 1 John chapter one.

Now that first question probably seems kind of ridiculous or absurd to you. The very first question is simply this, do we need to be forgiven? Now normally and over the history of the church this would be a question I wouldn't even raise, but we live in America.

And America really struggles with this question. You see, in America the prevailing view is we really don't have sin. In America we basically have illnesses and disorders, but not necessarily sin. In 1 John chapter one and verse eight, just that one verse, John says this, if we say that we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves. Unfortunately I think that's the description of so many that live in our country.

There's no question about it. The American Psychiatric Association publishes a very thick book to help therapists diagnose new diseases. It's called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

There's a third edition out now and they simply call it the DSM-III-R. And just a couple of the disorders that are listed as new disorders or illnesses that Americans are suffering. One is a conduct disorder. The conduct disorder is a persistent pattern of conduct in which the basic rights of others and major age appropriate societal norms or rules are being violated.

I would have loved to have that as a kid. Another is a disorder. Another is called the oppositional defiant disorder. That is a pattern of negative, hostile, and defiant behavior. So if you know someone who is negative, hostile, and defiant, they have an illness.

They have a disorder. But they surely don't have sin. The scripture is pretty clear.

If we say we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. You know, to me it's almost as though culture knows it's kind of just blowing smoke here. To me there are so many in culture that realize none of this really makes sense. Every single week or month you hear of a new disorder, a new illness, something else needs to be treated medically and pharmaceutically. Five months before 9-11, Newsweek magazine, front page, had an article called The Roots of Evil. And this is written from Newsweek's point of view.

And Newsweek wrote this. The traits of temperament and character from which evil springs are common as flies on a carcass. The capacity for evil is a human universal, says psychiatrist Robert I. Simon, director of the program in psychiatry and law at Georgetown University School of Medicine. There is a continuum of evil, of course, ranging from trivial evils like cutting someone off in traffic to greater evils like acts of prejudice to massive evils like those penetrated by serial sexual killers. But within all of us there is simply the roots of evil.

He's right. Scripture would concur. Romans 3.23, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 6.23, the wages of that sin is death or separation from God. So do we need to be forgiven?

Yes, absolutely. And if we're not forgiven we have no hope. Is God's forgiveness real?

Is that what God really does? Turning your Bibles to Exodus chapter 34. The context of Exodus 34 is Moses is getting his second set of stones. The second time he gets the Ten Commandments. You remember the first time he got the Ten Commandments and they were having a party, you know, with a golden calf and all that and Moses roamed on them.

So now we have Moses getting a second set. And we pick that up in verse 4 when it says he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones. And then in verse 5 it says the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. And in these two verses then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed this.

The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth, who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, sin. And yet he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. Hebrew rabbis call these verses the 13 attributes. In other words, they come away with their, here's the case where God reveals his essence.

He reveals his nature. And he has 13 attributes in these two verses. Ironically and paradoxically, this verse is repeated or alluded to 13 more times just in the Old Testament.

In other words, God wants to make it abundantly clear this is his nature. And you'll notice in verse 7, who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin. God says at my very heart, when you want to know what kind of God I am, I am a forgiving God. In Psalm 130 the psalmist said, if you, O Lord, kept record of sins, he says, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared or revered.

At the end of the book of Micah, Micah writes this in 718. Who is a God like you who pardons and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? Turn with me a moment to Isaiah chapter 55. In these two verses, 6 and 7, and what's good about these two verses is you have our responsibility to receive the forgiveness and God's nature to give forgiveness in these two verses. In verse 6, Isaiah writes this, seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let them return to the Lord.

There's our responsibility. And then this part, and he will have compassion on him and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. The great Baptist English preacher Charles Spurgeon on this verse writes this. That is to say he will really pardon. The forgiveness is valid.

It is valid on earth in the court of conscience and above in the court of heaven. The pardoned sinner is truly pardoned, and no one shall ever condemn him. His sin is not merely supposed to be gone.

It is gone. It is not put a little way off from him, but as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgression from us. It is the nature of God to forgive.

Some of us struggle with that. We understand that he's got great power. We understand he is just.

We fear the idea that he's holy. But by God's very nature, at his very essence, he is a forgiving God. Do we need to be forgiven? Absolutely. Is God's forgiveness real?

It's as real as his essence. Next question though is this. What then does God do with our sin? What does it look like?

How does that work? What does God do with our sin then? It's kind of interesting what the scripture says.

First let's look at a picture of it. Zechariah chapter 3. Zechariah is a postexilic prophet. He is trying to get the people to respond to God, to be back in the land, to rebuild the temple.

And so he's going to use imagery here. In chapter 3 verse 1, Zechariah writes, then he showed me Joshua. He says the high priest. Now that is not Joshua who was with Moses. This is Joshua, a very common name, Yeshua.

Joshua, the high priest. And he's standing before the angel of the Lord. Any time in the Old Testament you see the term the with the article, angel of the Lord, it's a theophany. In other words, this is the Son of God. After Jesus Christ is incarnated, once you have the Son of God being incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ, you'll never again in the New Testament see the expression the angel of the Lord.

The reason is it's in the person of Christ. But here you have the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He says standing before the angel of the Lord. And Satan was standing at his right hand to accuse him. Now notice, the Lord said to Satan, the Lord rebuke you Satan. He said, indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you.

And then he says something really interesting. He says, is this not a brand plucked from the fire? Now he's talking about Joshua. He's saying, wait, I don't even understand what a brand is.

How about kindling wood? You see, that's a brand, coal. Now I want you to think about this for a moment. That's the Lord, the angel of the Lord, or the Lord's description of Joshua. Now you're going to see here, not only does Joshua represent the nation Israel, but Joshua represents you and me.

You'll see this in just a moment. But notice his description of him. He says, is this not a brand plucked from the fire? In other words, the angel of the Lord says, I'll go into the fire, and I'll pluck the brand out of the fire. Now the fire, as you know, represents judgment in Scripture.

You see, that's the imagery that you have here. Now the description of what Joshua is really like, and unfortunately, I'll have to tell you what you're really like. Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. Now understand, Joshua was the high priest. And the high priest of Israel is dressed in very unique ways.

He has some really cool clothing. And you can read all about the high priest and his garments. But on the Day of Atonement, the time he went in to have the presence of God, the high priest wore a completely white tunic, as pure white as they could make it. In other words, he had to look as best he could in front of the Lord, as pure as possible.

Well here it says, he was clothed in filthy garments. Now that's not a bad word in English, not the Hebrew word. This word, describing the garments, is the Hebrew word so. And let me tell you what that word really means. It means excrement.

That's what the word means. Sometimes it means urine. Sometimes it means dung. Sometimes it means vomit.

Sometimes it means menstrual discharge. In Isaiah he said, a man's righteousness is as filthy rags, used menstrual cloths. That's the description of Joshua, when it says that he's filthy. Now Joshua represents the people and he also represents us. That's what we look like standing before a holy God, in filthy garments.

Maybe that's why Isaiah said, whoa, I am undone. I'm a man of unclean lips. I come from a people of unclean lips.

This is not a good place for me. You see, something that you see here is this. To God, sin is not just disappointing.

It's repugnant. And that's what you see with Joshua. Then, now Joshua is clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel.

Now watch what happens. And he spoke and he said to those who were standing before him saying, remove the filthy garments from him. And he says, and again he said to him, see, I have taken your iniquity away from you.

What's he mean by that? I've forgiven you. Does it look like Joshua had a lot to be forgiven? Yes. I mean, that's the description of the filthy garments. Do you and I have a lot to be forgiven? Yes. He said, I have taken your iniquity away from you and I will clothe you in festal robes.

Wow, it sounds like the prodigal, doesn't it? You see, the idea, get out the festive robe. Let's put it on them.

Let's make it wonderful. Notice, he says, then I said, let them put a clean turban on his head. And so they put a clean turban on his head and clothe him with garments while the angel of the Lord was standing by.

That's the transformation that takes place. That's what happens when God forgives. You say, are you really sure? I mean, so I don't ever lose these festive garments again?

No. But in case you're not really sure, let me just tell you a few other things through Scripture that happens when God forgives you. According to Micah 7, 19, he says, you will again have compassion on us.

You will tread out our sins underfoot. And he says, and you, he says, will bury all our iniquities in the depths of the sea. According to Micah 7, 19, he drowns your sins. According to Isaiah 43, 25, he erases your sins. According to Isaiah 44, 22, he dissolves your sins. According to Isaiah 38, 17, he puts all your sins behind his back. According to Jeremiah 31, 34, he says, I forget all your sins. According to Psalm 32, in verse one, he says, I cover all your sins. According to Psalm 32, verse two, he says, I do not record your sins. According to Psalm 103, verse 12, he says, I totally remove your sins. According to Ephesians 1, 7, he says, I forgive your sins.

According to Acts 3, 19, he says, I wipe them out. According to 1 Peter 2, 24, he said, I take them all on myself. According to 2 Corinthians 5, 19, he said, I do not charge your sins to your account.

According to 2 Corinthians 5, 21, he said, I charge them to Christ's account. According to Colossians 2, 13, he said, I nail your sins to the cross. According to Hebrews 1, he says, I purge you of your sins. To Hebrews 9, 26, he says, I do away or put away your sins. According to 1 John 3, 5, he says, I put your sins away from you. And according to 1 John 1, 7, he says, I cleanse and purify you from your sins. And according to Revelation 1, he said, I set you free of your sins. Why do you think he keeps telling us that?

Because we don't believe it. Some of you are guilt machines. You have a capacity to feel guilty and then just languish in it.

I mean, that's what we have a capacity to do. Hey, do we need to be forgiven? Absolutely. Is God's forgiveness real?

Yes. It's the essence of God's nature. What does God do with our sins? He drowns them, erases them, dissolves them, forgets them, covers them, puts them behind his back, doesn't record them, removes them, forgives them, wipes them out, takes them on himself, doesn't charge them to our account, charges them to Christ's account, nails them to the cross, purges us from them, does away or puts them away, cleanses and purifies us from them and sets us free from them. That's what it means to be forgiven.

You see, there are no strings attached in any of those verses. That's God's forgiveness. Well then, the question is, how do we obtain the forgiveness of God? Just think of the most famous verse in the New Testament. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. In other words, he sent him into the fire. He gave his only begotten son.

He sent him into the fire. Then our part, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life, shall be forgiven. See, that's God's part.

Our part's clear. Think about it, when Jesus hung on the cross, what was the first thing he said? Father, forgive them. Now be honest, that would have been your first words?

You went through what he went through? One last passage, the book of Acts chapter 10. Peter is giving a sermon. Verse 40 of chapter 10 of the book of Acts, Peter says this, God raised him up on the third day and granted that he become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God. That is to us who ate and drank with him after he had rose from the dead. And he ordered us to preach or proclaim to the people and solemnly testify that this is the one who was appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.

And then here it is. He says of him, Jesus Christ, all the prophets bear witness, we talked about that earlier, through his name, everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins. You receive the forgiveness of sins. That's your part. Have you done that? You see, have you done that? You see, for so many of us and especially so many of you coming out of a very different background, you live under the premise that I think Jesus was really important and that maybe what Jesus did is give me an opportunity to save myself.

But that's not it. You see, John wrote, he that believes in the Son has life. He that does not believe in the Son does not have life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

That's a fulfillment, by the way, of the Exodus passage 34 that we looked at. You see, you're going to have to make a response one way or the other to Jesus Christ. You can't get your sins forgiven. No man on earth can absolve your sins. You see, you can't do a sacrament and then say, now I'm right with God.

You can't do that. It's Christ and Christ alone. You see, it's Christ. No other name given among men by which we must be saved. It's Christ. And what Peter simply says is everyone who believes in him receives the forgiveness of sins. And you've seen what that means. They're really, really forgiven. That's what God is saying.

God offers us a tremendous amount of forgiveness, but it's always back into our court. During the presidency of Andrew Jackson, there was a postal clerk, and his name was George Wilson. And apparently George Wilson robbed a train and killed a guard. George Wilson then was captured and convicted and sentenced to hang by the neck until he was dead.

There were some who had doubts as to whether or not he was really guilty. And so President Jackson intervened. And as he looked over all the material, he offered George Wilson a presidential pardon. But George Wilson hated Andrew Jackson. He refused the pardon. He's the first person in American history to refuse a pardon of a president. And so they decided to try to challenge it in the courts.

What can we do about this? And it went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Chief Justice at that time was John Marshall. And here's what he wrote as the decision they made. Chief Justice Marshall said, A pardon is a parchment whose only value must be determined by the receiver of the pardon.

It has no value apart from that which the receiver gives it. Because George Wilson has refused the pardon, whatever his reason, he will suffer the full penalty for his crime by being hanged. I think George Wilson describes the story of many people. You're guilty. You've committed the crime. You're a sinner, just like all of us. The wage of the sin is death or eternal separation from God.

That's the penalty. But you're being offered something, not by the President of the United States, but by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The one who would pay the penalty himself, not just simply give you a pardon, but pay the penalty himself. And then he would offer it to you. And I think so many people do exactly what George Wilson did.

They refused the pardon. That's tragic. The forgiveness of God is a wonderful thing. Boy, if you've never really received it, I beg you to do so. It's a gift. And if you have received it, don't take it for granted. Don't take it for granted at all. We were just simply kented wood in a fire.

We couldn't do a thing to help ourselves. He reached in and plucked us out. I don't know about you, but I'm going to spend the rest of eternity thanking him for that. You've been listening to Pastor Bill Gebhardt on the Radio Ministry of Fellowship in the Word. If you ever miss one of our broadcasts, or maybe you would just like to listen to the message one more time, remember that you can go to a great website called That's, and you can listen to Fellowship in the Word online.

At that website, you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one-time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, That's F-B-C-N-O-L-A dot O-R-G. At our website, you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online, or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-29 07:52:22 / 2023-05-29 08:03:15 / 11

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