Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Jesus said, Father, forgive them as he was being crucified. Some wonder, does this mean that everyone everywhere is forgiven? We know from the Bible that the death of Christ on the cross provides an atonement for sin. Today, we'll explore who is covered by that atonement.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, since we're all like sheep going astray, isn't it true that none of us knows what we're doing? And so, could we see the words of Jesus here extending forgiveness to us as well? Well, you know, Dave, as I mentioned in a previous program, I don't think that this was blanket forgiveness to everyone who was around the cross, but you're absolutely right. It extends forgiveness to all those who believe on Jesus. And by the way, when the Bible says they do not know what they are doing, I think they knew what they were doing, but they certainly did not understand the full extent of what they were doing. Later on, the apostle Paul is going to say that had they known it, they would have not crucified the Lord of glory. So they were culpable, but of course, they never knew the extent of their sin, just like you and I. We don't know the extent of our sin, and we are graciously forgiven in Jesus Christ. I've written a book entitled Christ from the Cross, a Journey into the Heart of Jesus. It explores all of these themes. It goes through the things that Jesus Christ said from the cross, and it applies them directly to our own experience. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And always let us draw near to the cross. So how was this prayer answered?
Well, let me show you the different ways in which it came about. For example, in Matthew chapter 27, you need not turn to this, but I want you to listen to it very carefully. There's a very interesting statement about those who will watch Jesus die. Matthew chapter 27, I'm reading verse 54, when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake, and all that had happened, they were terrified, and they exclaimed, surely he was the son of God.
Apparently not just one centurion, but a whole group of them are saying, surely he was the son of God. To me, that's saving faith. They finally recognized who it was that they had crucified, and they acknowledged that he was the son of God. And if you confess Jesus as Lord, if you confess who he is, it shows a recognition of your own need. I expect to see some of those folks in heaven bless them, standing there at the foot of the cross. But there's another way in which it was answered, and that is found in the book of Acts. You say, well, you know, those Jews who crucified Jesus, the Sanhedrin, and those who wanted to make sure that he was put away, surely we can't say that they were ignorant.
Well, I want you to know that Peter felt differently about that than we might. Listen to what the book of Acts says in chapter 3. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the holy and righteous one and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.
We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know is made strong. It is Jesus in his name that faith comes to him who has given this complete healing.
He's talking about the healing of the man who was crippled, as all of you can see. Verse 17, now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. Isn't it remarkable that the people who cried and said, his blood be upon us and upon our children, they meant let responsibility for his death rest upon our shoulders, that Jesus would take that very blood and have it applied to their hearts so that they would be granted forgiveness? How many of them believed? Day of Pentecost, Peter preaches Acts chapter 2, 3,000 souls are added to the Lord. He preaches in chapter 3, the message that I have just read a part of, and what do we read in chapter 4 verse 4, but many who heard the message believed and the number of men grew to about 5,000, 5,000 in the city of Jerusalem, 5,000 men. Now listen to what it says in Acts chapter 6 verse 7.
So the word of God spread, the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. When Jesus was hanging there on the cross, God the Father heard his prayer and answered it. You say, well, was everyone forgiven? No, of course not everyone wasn't forgiven. There's no such thing in the scripture as those who are forgiven and they don't want forgiveness and they're ignorant and God somehow simply makes their slate clean.
There's no such thing like that in the Bible. Jesus was not praying for those who didn't want forgiveness. He was praying and saying, Father, I pray that you might forgive those who seek it and I pray that there might be many people who seek it that you might grant to them the gift of repentance because there's a part of what they knew that they were doing and they knew about, but there's another part they didn't know about. They did not understand the extent of their crime. Forgive them. And at least minimally, 5,000 were forgiven.
By the way, I'm blessed with this observation. How did Jesus Christ, how did God make them aware of the enormity of their crime? He sent them a preacher and the preacher preached Peter preached and says, you crucified the Holy One and, and soon everything began to come together in their minds and they said, Oh, we didn't know.
We knew that he was unique. We knew that he claimed to be the son of God, but we didn't believe his claims. And now we finally see the extent of our sin. What must we do to be saved? They cried up to God and Jesus Christ's prayer was answered. What observations are necessary for us to understand the import of this word, of this cry from the cross? First of all, no sin.
Listen to me carefully. No sin is too great to forgive. If they could be forgiven for crucifying the Holy One, if there can be forgiveness for nailing the son of God to the cross and jeering him and mocking him and saying his blood be upon us because we hate him. If that can be forgiven, why do you think that your sin can't be forgiven?
What sin have you committed that is greater than that? All of us know that a Japanese vessel was overturned by an American submarine was unintentional. Now, maybe there was not a lot of concern regarding safety procedures. That's another thing, but nobody there intended that nine lives would be lost. But someone in Japan said that what happened is, quote, unforgivable. Unforgivable.
We can understand how we might feel that way if it was our child that drowned in the water. But I want you to know today that what is unforgivable by men is forgivable by God. There is no such thing as a sin that is unpardonable except those sins that we commit for which we do not want pardon. The sins that we write off and we may say, as a young man wrote to me and says, I have blasphemed the Holy Spirit and because I blasphemed the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God has left me and I cannot be forgiven. I wrote back and said, how badly do you want forgiveness?
That's the key. If you want it, if you desire it, that shows that the Holy Spirit still has some ministry in your life, come to Christ, come to Christ. Those of you who are listening and some of you will listen to this message in prison. I'm speaking now to criminals, not just in prison, but possibly in this congregation today if the truth really were known and if reality became evident.
Some of you have done some very, very terrible things, but I say to you today, it's forgivable. What men cannot forgive, God can forgive. Second, Jesus died so that his own prayer could be answered. The reason, the reason he was hanging on the cross was that his prayer could be answered. Listen, if Jesus had not died, there's no way that he could have said, Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing. He couldn't have said it.
Why? Because there'd be no basis for forgiveness. God can't just wipe people's slate clean. If you wonder whether or not sin is serious, you look at the cross, you stare there at Jesus, you look at his suffering both physical and spiritual as we shall when we get into this series of messages, we will discover the excruciating agony of Jesus. That's all because of sin. The Bible says that if God offers us grace, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? If you don't accept the only way that God has provided for you, what hope is there for you?
The answer is zero hope. Just last week, I was with a friend of mine who told me this story. He was on a plane witnessing to a woman about God saving grace and she said, well, the reason that God should let me into heaven is because I'm good enough. And he says, well, what if you aren't good enough? And you know what she said? Belonging to this post-Christian self-centered era, if I'm not good enough for him, he ought to lighten up. That was her answer.
That's the modern view. If I'm not good enough for him, he ought to lighten up. That lady has not seen herself in the presence of God's holiness and she does not understand the cross.
Listen to me very carefully. God never lightens up and he never accommodates himself to our own ignorance. That's why yes, we are guilty for those things even done in ignorance without forgiveness.
Even at that point, we are lost. Jesus died so that his own prayer could be answered. Thirdly, Jesus is a model for how we should treat our enemies. I find this wonderful that Jesus said, he said, do good to those who persecute you.
Pray for them that despitefully use you. And so that's our model. And we say to ourselves, well, you know, it's one thing to say that those of us who are preachers, sometimes we're concerned about that. It's one thing to preach a message. It's one thing to tell people to do.
But what do you do when you're in the middle of the situation? Jesus says, here's the model for you folks. Throughout all generations, I am being unjustly crucified. All of my rights are being taken away.
My civil rights, my personal rights, my judicial rights, everything is being gone. Father, forgive them because they don't know what they're doing. And that's the way some of you need to talk about people who have deeply wounded you. Some of you don't forgive and I'll tell you why. First of all, you say, well, if I forgave him, it would deny the seriousness of his sin.
No, it would not. What you need to do is to let God determine the seriousness of the sin because you know, you cannot ultimately forgive somebody. You can only heal personal relationships. At the end of the day, they have to deal with God and their sin.
So, so they're not off the hook. You say, well, it places so much responsibility on me. I've had people say, why should I be the one who's forgiving? What have I done?
Look at, and then the whole list comes. Simple fact is my friend that Jesus could have done that. Why should I be the one who's asking them to have forgiveness? Because after all, what have I done? This past week I heard of, I was counseling someone who is not a member of our church, who belongs to another fellowship, but she was talking about her husband who has become evil and how she should relate to that. And I reminded her of 1 Peter where it says regarding Jesus, who when he was reviled, reviled not again. He didn't say, you throw a spear at me, I'm going to throw it back.
No, what did he do? He kept committing himself onto his father who judges righteously. He just kept saying, father, this is your situation. It's your situation. They have to deal with you.
And that's what you must do too. You must heal that personal relationship even without the cooperation of the other person by simply saying grace means I give you something you don't deserve. You don't deserve my forgiveness, but I give it to you just like I've been given grace. That was the point of the parable that Jesus told about the man who owed at 10,000 talents multiplied out about a thousand dollars of talents.
What are we talking about? 10 million dollars. And he says, oh, have mercy on me and I will pay you all. And the king knew that this man obviously had no idea what he was talking about. So he forgave him the debt. The king was out 10,000 talents when he was doing his books at the end of the fiscal year. So the man leaves the presence of the king and he finds someone who owes him what was a 20 pence.
It's about $20. Takes them by the throat, paid up. Man says, have mercy. I'll pay you.
No, I want it right now. You remember the forgiven servant was thrown to the tormentors. It doesn't mean hell.
It means that he was tormented because there's nobody who is tormented as much as someone who says, I hang on to my bitterness because I have a right to. Don't you see the justice of it all? Can't you see how I've been wounded? Can't you see that it's somebody else's fault? What's wrong with you?
And so as a result of that, all of that is held in, protected, guarded. What an awful way to live. Jesus on the cross was willing to say, father, I am going to let them deal with you about this. I die without bitterness. Forgive them for they know not what they do. It's what some of you need to say to people who are even in this room today. You need to say, forgiveness needs to be extended. And some of you have never received the forgiveness of Jesus.
Have you? There is no other way. Please don't plead ignorance. Please don't say that there's some other way. You look at the cross and you say, my Savior bled that I might be reconciled. And even throughout the ages, his prayer is still being answered by people who ignorantly turn away from him because by faith the Spirit works in their life.
And they finally say, by faith I see that Jesus is indeed the Son of God and I embrace him. And some of you have to do that today. Whatever God has talked to you about, you must do. Let's pray together. Father, we do want to thank you today for your grace that has been given to us so wondrously. We thank you for the cross. We thank you Father for the grace that was extended to us so undeservedly. Having been forgiven, teach us to forgive. In Jesus' name we pray, amen. You say today, Pastor Lutzer, how do I prepare my heart for Easter? Perhaps the best way you can do that is to forgive those who have wronged you.
Perhaps the best way for you to prepare for Easter is to contemplate the words of Jesus, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. I've written a book entitled Christ from the Cross. I wrote it to enable people to forgive but also to enable them to worship Jesus Christ in a new way. You know, when you stop to think of it, is it correct to say that thou my God shouldst die for me? What happened at the cross? How does the cross help us deal with our personal sin and our personal relationships?
These are the kinds of questions that are answered in the book, Cries from the Cross, a journey into the heart of Jesus. And especially as we approach this Easter season, we're making this resource available to you for a gift of any amount. I hope that you have a pen or pencil so that you can write this down. You can go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
Now perhaps I said that too quickly. I'm going to be giving you that info again. But meanwhile, I want to thank you so much for being a part of this ministry. And as you hear these messages, I hope that you understand that you are helping us get these messages into the hands of thousands upon thousands of people.
Simply go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. It's time once again for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Sometimes forgiving yourself can be harder than forgiving someone else. An anonymous listener told us this, I cannot forget, nor can I forgive myself for my past sins, even though I've confessed them many times.
How do I free myself from this burden? Well, first of all, what I would say is this, you need to make sure that you've accepted God's forgiveness. And based on your question, I'm not sure that you have. Because there's a key phrase in your question where you said, though I have confessed these sins many times, the devil is doing a number on you. 1 John 1-9, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every unrighteousness. Now, the question I have to ask you is this, is God faithful or isn't he? Why do you keep confessing the same sin over and over? It can only be because in your heart of hearts, you don't think God's promise is really true. What you need to do is to think and indeed believe that God's promise is true. You say, well, then how do I handle the guilt feelings?
Let me give you a suggestion. Every time those feelings come, rather than confessing your sin again, quote Psalm 32, blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord impudeth not iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. In other words, you begin to thank God for the forgiveness rather than continually wallowing in the past and believing that you are not forgiven. This is very, very important because it is Satan who keeps reminding us of sins that God has forgiven. And what we need to do, like that old expression says, Bible says that God takes our sins and cast them into the depths of the sea. And we need to know that he throws them there.
And then he puts up a sign that says no fishing. Now, I don't know what sin it is that you can't forget. But having counseled a few people in my life, I know that one of the most difficult is the sin of abortion.
I remember speaking to a woman who said that years later, when she saw a child that was perhaps three or four, she would think that if I had kept my baby, my baby would now be three or four. Constantly reminded of what she did, struggling with guilt. Even such a dear sister has to recognize that she can live free of guilt.
She can be free because of God's grace. And because God has forgiven, you can forgive yourself. You know, our standard isn't higher than God's. If the God of the universe has spoken us clean, why do we continually think that we are still dirty? One further word.
I quoted it a moment ago. If we confess our sins, he's faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us. That refers to the cleansing of the conscience so that you are not only forgiven, but you feel forgiven and the voices of condemnation stop. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago to help you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time, the second cry from the cross, as a crucified thief hears, you shall be with me in paradise. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 05:30:47 / 2023-03-22 05:39:39 / 9