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April 1, 2021 2:00 pm
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On the morning that I could see everybody here hey occupy the Bible today. How about opening it with me to the third book in the New Testament Matthew, Mark, Luke Luke chapter 23 and were to be there just a couple minutes when you got your Bible open you'll be ready and not too long ago I had the privilege of speaking at a memorial service for a wonderful godly lady and I as part of the service they read excerpts of a letter that she had written to her son while she was lying on her deathbed. It was interesting what she said to her son in this letter. It was interesting. She didn't say a thing to him in the letter about keeping his room clean didn't say a thing in the latter about him. You know, not leaving his towel on the floor didn't say anything in the letter about him turning out the lights when he left the room or watching his own dish and put it in the dishwasher would know what she had to say in this letter had substance to it. She talked to him as she was leaving this life about those things that were deepest and most precious in her life. The truth that she valued the most. Now Jesus said seven things on the cross and I believe that in doing so is he hung on the cross he was doing what every dying person does. He was telling people he loved people he knew he was leaving behind about those things that were of the greatest and most significant spiritual importance to their lot and I think that that means that the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross have profound significance for us today and so to do today is begin a little four-part series culminating up and Easter were to look at four of these sayings that Jesus said from the cross and the one were to look at today is this one father forgive them for they know not what they do first saw 32, Luke 23 why ask you to turn to other man. Both robbers were led out with Jesus to be executed when they came to the place called the skull, they crucified Jesus there along with the Roberts one on his right and the other on his left. I want to talk to you for a moment about crucifixion.
I had a friend that sent me an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association, the title of the article was on the physical death of Jesus, and it was written by Dr. William Edwards of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the thing that's interesting about this article is instead of looking at the death of Jesus from a biblical perspective or theological perspective.
He looks at it from a medical perspective very interesting article, but here's part of what he said and I quote he said although the Romans did not invent crucifixion. They perfected it as a form of capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. Dr. Edwards went on to say, the major physiological effect of crucifixion was a market interference with normal respiration, particularly exhalation. The weight of the body pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders would tend to fix the intercostal muscles in and in the elation state that you're not a doctor. What that basically means is when you're crucified, you have a tendency to hold your breath.
He goes on to say, fatigue and increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the blood would hinder normal respiration even further exhalation. He writes required lifting the body by pushing on the fee and flexing the elbows. However, if you're hanging on a cross.
This maneuver would produce searing pain. He concludes for what were going to say today by saying Christ spoke seven times from the cross.
Since speech occurs during exhalation.
These shorts terse utterances must have been particularly difficult and painful for him." Friends, the point is that these last words that Jesus spoke must have been hugely important to him, considering the amount of pain that he was going to have to go through to save and the first one today that were looking at is this one that Jesus went to paying to say father forgive them for they know not what they do is interesting if you remember back in John chapter 14, Jesus said to Philip, he said.
Philip anyone was seen me has seen the father.
When you look at my words my actions my deeds my reactions to any situation. Jesus said, what you will see is a perfect poor trait of God's heart of God's attitudes of God's value systems. Now let's bring that truth forward and applied to the cross as Jesus hung there on the cross as people stood around mocking him and taunting him and making fun of him and insulting him as he went through the excruciating pain he was going through because of their actions down there.
Jesus on the cross shows us the heart of God for the human race.
And what is that heart will what did Jesus say think about Jesus could've prayed for justice more condemned them. Jesus could've prayed for retribution against the human race. Father consume them. Jesus could've prayed for vindication against the human race.
Father reject them but he did what he Jesus prayer. He prayed for pardon for the human race.
Father forgive them. Jesus said, you know.
Father, they don't understand what they're doing. They don't realize that they're killing their Messiah. They don't realize that I'm God in human flesh.
They don't realize that I'm up here on the cross for their trying to give them access to eternal life and in them access into heaven.
Father, they just don't get it. So here's what I want you to do.
I don't want you to condemn them and I don't want you to consume them and I don't want you to reject them. I want you to forgive folks this is God's heart for the human race for you for me for every body alive above everything else God wants to grant us, not revenge, not hatred, not retaliation, not rejection above everything else God wants to grant us forgiveness is the heart of God for the human race, and we see it displayed in the Lord Jesus as he hung on the cross.
Now that's as far as we want to go in the passage because it's time to ask a question and I know it's a little early in the message today so I probably caught some of you by surprise, but I know you'll recover quickly so you ready 123 yeah is a lot. So what say you know what I've heard this before. Father forgive them, you know, I know that quote, and so when I walk out of my house on Monday morning to go to Capitol Hill to get on the Metro to drive on the Beltway so like what difference should this make to my life that we talked about that here today. What's good question to answer friends. If I want to ask you what was the most distinctive and unique message that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed. I think most of us would get it right, we'd say equality for all people and races and we knew right if I would ask you what was the most unique and distinctive message that Mother Teresa proclaim most of us would get that right.
We'd say well it's that the poor children of the world matter to God if I would ask you about Gandhi and his most unique and distinctive message you get that right you say well it was that nonviolence is the best way to bring about political change and you'd be right. So here's my question today, Jesus Christ.
What was his most distinctive and unique message to the human race. When we look in the Bible and we boil the Bible down to one single declarative sentence as its message. What is the most what is the core message of the Bible friends.
I believe it's this that through Jesus Christ God is offering to forgive our sins. That's the message that Jesus Christ through him God is offering to eradicate our guilt God is offering to take away our shame. God is offering to give us a brand-new start in life. But this offer is only available through Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the cross reference.
I believe the God's forgiveness is the most valuable commodity. Ounce for ounce anywhere in the universe that you and I may not be able to weigh God's forgiveness in a test tube and we may not be able to deposit God's forgiveness in our savings account in the bank and there may not be aligned on our 1040 for God's forgiveness but nonetheless I believe that God's forgiveness, not money, not saying not fortune, not power, not possessions. God's forgiveness is the secret.
More than anything else to our being able to live a healthy, functional life. John Stott in his book, confess your sins quotes the head of a large British psychiatric hospital and that Dr. said and I quote I could dismiss half of my inpatients tomorrow if they could be assured of forgiveness."
And let me tell you why God's forgiveness is such a valuable commodity. The reason is because it sets us free. It liberates us as human beings so that we can become everything that God designed us to be. You know when my kids were younger, we went to the beach every summer we always went to the amusement park and my favorite ride at the amusement park on the bumper cars. I love the bumper cars really put you in his big ring with the bumper cars but at this particular amusement park. They did one really annoying thing with the bumper cars and that is that governors on so the matter how hard you press on the accelerator that things just wouldn't go very fast. They limited the speed of these cars and like that and what I want.
I wanted to press that thing to the floor and get up. I had a seaman come around the corner and catch somebody from the blindside and just mortify them. I medium so hard their teeth rattled, don't say it but you couldn't do that with these bumper cars because it wouldn't go anywhere. These governors kept him from going for what you have to do is when you have somebody know you had to give it body English in a row so you got a little bit of a bump into otherwise you just politely bumped into him and they sat there while actual like what fun is that that's no fun. Now the way I look at it and you may not agree with me but the way I look at is that these governors crippled these bumper cars and kept them from rising up and being everything they could be that that's how I look at her and in the second.
In the same way when I'm trying to tell you is that unforgiven sin cripples us as followers of Christ. Unforgiven sin is like governors and like a governor in our life that keeps us from going faster and rising higher and being everything that God created us to be and use it will on. I don't understand. How does God's forgiveness. Enable me to go faster and rise higher and be everything God created me to be, well, I'd like to explain to their are three ways.
First of all number one God's forgiveness. How does it liberate us and allow us to rise. It liberates us first of all, from our bondage to the past governor number one in our lives as human beings that keep us from being all that we can be is our bondage to our sins and the guilt and the shame of what we've done in the past you know in college I was 20 years old was a student at the University North Carolina Chapel Hill and I got my girlfriend pregnant. I didn't mean to get her pregnant. I did want to get her pregnant. I wasn't happy she was pregnant. She wanted to keep the baby. I didn't, you know, I was lost spiritually. I was scared of being a parent I was irresponsible, frankly, is a human being. I was a coward and so I forced my girlfriend to have an abortion.
I gave her no option and said that's what were doing and she did. And you know after that happened the guilt of what I had done in the shame of what I had done was more than I can deal with added on top of the guilt and the shame. Everything else I done for the first 20 years of my life friends all that guilt and shame is like a big ball and chain around my life and all I could do is smoke more dope and drink more alcohol in and do more dysfunctional sort of things like that to try to drown out the pain, but I was a smart guy, I was smart enough to understand, live in life as a prisoner to my past as I was living I was never going to amount to anything and so I decided to commit suicide. I did, I was totally serious about it and it was at that point in my life that I met Jesus Christ and I asking to come into my life and I asking to forgive my sins. Now, folks. When I asked Jesus to do that. I had no idea what I was really getting this to you because when Jesus Christ forgave my sins when Jesus Christ took all of my past sins at all.
Upon past mistakes and put them under the blood and said they're gone.
He liberated me he freed me and they allowed me to start over in life this time to get it right with his help and allowed me for the first time in my life to really have some hope that I might amount to something in life and what you see upfront here today you need to understand this wouldn't be in front of you today. I wouldn't even be here today if it wasn't for the fact that Jesus Christ forgave my sin and liberated me from my past and you see this is the first great way that God's forgiveness sets us free. It takes all our past sins and mistakes and put them under the blood and it takes all our future sins and mistakes and put some under the blood they're gone for good. There forgotten their cancel. In fact, that's the word that Jesus uses here from the cross, when he says father forgive them if the word used throughout the New Testament for forgiveness. It's really a bookkeeping word. It's an accounting word that literally means to dismiss somebody's debt to remit somebody's debt to cancel somebody's debt and friends when your debt is cancel when your debt is dismissed it is gone for good. And that's with God trying to tell you and me. He does with our sin and our shame in our deal. They're gone for good. Psalm 103 verse 12. As far as the east is from the west. That's how far the Bible says God removes our transgressions, our wrongdoings from us. Micah chapter 7 verse 19 God.
The Bible says has hurled all of our sins in the depths of the sea, and as I love to say at that spot.
He puts up a sign no fish in and says don't you go down in there and read that stuff up. I buried it and you leave it where I put it you leave it at the bottom of the sea. They had about Hebrews chapter 10. This is the covenant I will make with you. God says listen to this deal. Your sins and your shameless deeds. I will remember no more. While what a deal when the missionaries first went to the Eskimos, American Eskimos, they of that a problem and the problem is there is no word in the Eskimo language for forgive. That's a big problem because how in the world you go to translate the Bible into their language and how the world you can explain the message of the Bible to people does not work for forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a central theme of the Bible. Well, after a few months as they learn the language, the missionaries discovered a one word Eskimo phrase that goes like this is see Margie Zhu John value near move because you like my Eskimo not bad.
On the one word and what this word is see Margie's usual 90 near move means is it literally means not being able to think about it anymore. And this is the word the missionaries chose to translate forgiveness because both. This is what God was offering those Eskimos and this is what God is offering you and me and every human being alive.
He's offering to is see Margie Zhu John that he now moved Garcia. He's offering not to think about it anymore not to remember anymore. He's offering to put it at the bottom of the sea and listen if Almighty God doesn't remember our sins anymore then we are free to put them behind us with the shame and the guilt and where free to move on with a new life for Jesus Christ. That's the 1st Way, God sets us free to rise and be all we can be.
There's a second way and that is second of all God's forgiveness liberates us from our fear of death.
See governor number two in our lives that keeps us from being all we can be is our fear of dying. And when we are afraid to die. I believe were afraid to really live. Now I don't know any guys watch American Idol yeah now originate watch American Idol.
I am, I didn't watch it at first because I thought it thought it was like a Chiquita. You know what you teach a television show and I want to watch us something about what I finally convinced me to watch it at home every Tuesday night we watch every Wednesday night we watched the of the follow-up show anything interesting I believe on American Idol you get an incredible insight into human nature. When you watch his program in one of the things I noticed is this. Every contestant on that show knows that tonight could be their last night on television that if they go on television and they have a bad outing and there could be gone the next week and that fear of possibly failing. It affects people in different ways. There are some people who were so terrified of losing and so terrified of failing than what they do is they tend to pick when our good friend Simon Cowell called safe song they pick songs that have no flare, no life, no excitement, no risk, and you know what they don't do so good if the people I've noticed you are afraid of losing and they're not afraid of going down in flames.
They tend to pick songs that have excitement and enthusiasm and flair and they do a lot better on the program I think likes a lot like because you know friends when we're afraid of dying. We don't tend to pick safe songs. We tend to live safe lives. Not much risk. Not much going for the gusto. Not much going for the gold. Not much living on the edge and you know what you can become everything God want you to be living like that. Look at all the great men and women of God in the Bible and all the great men and women of God. Down through history when his missionaries to China and and and in the berm on a South seas and all of everywhere who went around and preached on soapboxes and put their lives at risk. These people lived on the edge. These people push the envelope for God. These people went out and went for the gold and didn't worry about live in because they were afraid to die.
And that's how they could live like that and I maintain that when we're afraid of dying.
It keeps us back and limits us from being everything we can be for God, we gotta be able to say, God, I'm not afraid of Don. You take me wherever you want me to do whatever you want and if they kill me. So what, no big deal because on the warm go and that's how you rise to be the best you can be for God. God intended his forgiveness to fix this problem in our life. Hebrews chapter 2 verse 15 Jesus came to free those who all their lives were held in bondage. Look at that, by their fear of death, the fear of death keeps us in bondage and how does God free us from that he forgives us with a forgiveness that is a revocable irreversible. That will mean that we can never lose Romans chapter 8 verse one. Therefore there is now no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ. In the end it in a sense this one verse sums up the entire message of the Bible that for those of us who were in Jesus Christ.
There is no condemnation ever. Our past sins have been forgiven are present sins are being forgiven our future sins are already forgiven. We will never be brought into a position of condemnation before God ever again because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Now folks, when you know that you not afraid to dine and when you not afraid to die anymore you not afraid to live anymore God asked you to push the envelope. No problem because I know where I'm going and I know there can never be anyway. Am I losing it.
Sure Lord what you want and that's how you rise to be the best you can be certain.
Finally, God's forgiveness liberates us third and finally by liberating us from our slavery to our passion just to governor number three in our life that holds us back from being all we can be is our sinful human nature and all of its self-destructive passions and all of its self-destructive programming you say what you mean self-destructive programming when you talk about well when you give example years ago when my children were little. We like that you know Brendan I liked every Easter to give them present time.
He was just kind of a nice little thing that Easter and you know we give them candy in your little bit of money or stuff just for Easter. But we think out a very unique way to do it for us anyway and that is we always hold everything. Easter Sunday afternoon. We hold Easter egg hunt in our backyard for our boys. We are free of and what we got little plastic Easter eggs you know you pop them open and we put you know Hershey kisses in or quarters in immuno money in them or whatever so this one Easter we decided we were going to give each of the guys in each of the boys 20 bucks you know 60 altogether but on the way were going to do it is we put them in Easter eggs and we figured you know mathematical probability is the root of the money would probably pretty well split out and be okay. Well, as usual, Brendan I were not really prepared for the afternoon. We didn't have enough dollar bills to do this with. So I said when I got a great idea. You know I'll go out the front yard street and on the gift. 12 rocks each rock will be worth five dollars will put the rocks in Easter eggs that we had about 70 Easter eggs so we put 12 of them put a rocket east of each of these dragons that everyone of the rocks is worth five bucks.
We didn't tell the kids what the rocks were in their winnings on the rocks and there we just thought to be a wonderful surprise when they all came in and opened about thoughts, all these rocks to say what the rocks are all five dollars each so we hit him in the backyard.
We said go when my oldest son Jamie was about maybe 14 and my youngest son John was about seven maybe six or seven and we turn them loose what here's what Jamie did. He ran down in the backyard being the older brother course every time he found an Easter egg.
He opened it and peaked in, and if it had money in it. He boded ill quarters. He put it in his basket if it had candy in it he put it in his basket if it had a rock in it, he called John over anything, he said, John John John look what I got I got egg for you.
John was only six. He had trouble finding eggs. He was like all Jamie thank you so much Jamie was feeding all the eggs with the rocks and this is true.
We came in the house were sitting around the table are all open and there Easter eggs and Jamie adjusted to both got candy and quarters in money and jobs not always rock and sat there at the table started to cry about… Goodbye Jon, I got some great news for you son everything that he had 11 of the 12 rocks I said everyone he knows rocks is worth five dollars. You have $55.
I thought my oldest son was going to have coronary). He said he stood up on that to get he said is on here okay when you Jamie let me get this straight. Okay, let's reverse what happened here. You went out in the yard and you cheated and opened up the Easter egg dry and then when you looked inside and assume that the rocks were worthless under the guise of being nice to him you called your little brother over and stiffed him with the rock and now that you come inside and found out that you made a mistake. Instead of owning your stop and accepting the responsibility for what you did.
You pointed me and say I'm unfair is that right. He thought for a minute went yet.
That's basically now that is the kind of program and I'm talking about right there. Every one of us have that, programming inside of his now it looks different for everybody.
Some of us had anger problems.
Some of us have a bad temper.
Some of us have substance abuse problems.
Alcohol abuse problems eating problems, depression problems, some of us have sexual abuse problems or emotional health problems, but it doesn't matter what the problem looks like. The point is, these are all expressions of that programming those self-destructive passions that live inside of us.
We are all slaves to them and they are governors on our lives. They limit our speed for God. Now the bad news is that you can't fix this inside of you and neither cannot the bad news is no therapist in this world can fix this inside you. You and me. But the great news is Jesus Christ can fix this.
He said John chapter 8 verse 34 I tell you the truth. Everyone who sins are forgiven is a slave to those sins will Jean Jesus tell us that we don't know. But he says if I set you free. You will be free indeed. So a lot I don't understand exactly how does God for giving me set me free from all this.
Okay watch the progression here. Well number one when we embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior. He forgives our sins we seen that when God forgives our sins and their gone. We become children of God. John chapter 1 verse 12.
When we become children of God, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us. And when the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us we gain access to his supernatural power in our life. Galatians 517 16 says when we live by the power of God spirit, we will not ratify the passions of our sinful nature.
In other words, the power of the Holy Spirit released inside of us, enables us to rise above this human programming rise above the self-destructive passions enables us to subjugate them and keep them under control so that they don't throttle us back anymore, but now were free to be the best we can be for God and it all starts with God's forgiveness, because until God forgives us we can't be children of God until were children of God the Holy Spirit powers not available to us when we repeat what Jesus said anyone who sins are unforgiven is a slave to sin.
But if I set you free. Jesus said you will be free indeed. Let's summarize what we learned today what we learn that God above everything else want you and me to be forgiven and the reason is because he wants us to be free. He wants us to be free from our bondage to the past and all of its guilt and shame. Secondly, he wants us to be free from our fear of dying, which means it were were free from our fear of living and 30 wants us to be free from our slavery to our self-destructive passions free to achieve the unique individual destiny for which God created everyone of us a symbol on you know I'm here. I'm a follower of Christ today, and I know all of this I mean this is like all old news for me so I you still didn't answer my question. What difference should this make to me when I walk out of my house tomorrow morning when I got to challenges to give you if you're follower of Christ today, my first challenge is to leave here never again taking for granted what God gave you when he for gave hey David said this all 32 how blessed is the person whose wrongdoings are forgiven. Who sins are covered. How blessed is the person who sins the Lord does not count against them again. You understand the position God is giving you no condemnation, your sins my sins friends there covered the forgiven God will never count them against us ever again for eternity. Do we understand that the unbelievable position. God is given us in Jesus Christ.
I don't know about you but sometimes I'm prone to take it for granted because I've known about it for so many years but that's not appropriate every day we should wake up and say first thing in the morning, Lord. Thank you for giving me this position in Christ and the second challenge I got for you is not to misuse this freedom that Jesus gave but to use it for the reason he gave it to you. Galatians chapter 5 verse 13 for you were called to be free only. Do not use your freedom to indulge your sinful nature use and instead God goes on to say, to serve Christ and honor Christ and make sure he gets the credit in the glory and folks my second challenge today is a follower of Christ is to remember God set you free. But he didn't set you free. So you could use that freedom to exalt yourself and and many of us here today. We've risen to positions of power positions of influence positions of income, positions of notoriety that years ago, we could never ever have dreamed we'd ever be out today. Let me tell you something. Don't you ever kid yourself that you got there because you you didn't, because if Jesus hadn't forgiven you, you'd still be a slave in your past you.
Be still be a slave to your fear of death, and you'd still be a slave to the passions that live inside you. The only reason you and I've gotten where we've gotten is because Jesus forgave us and set us free. Now for us to use that freedom for any other reason than to exalt him and to give glory to him and to bring credit to him is a misuse of that freedom don't do that when somebody tries to give you the credit don't you dare take you make sure it goes where belongs, which is not to you and me, but to the one for gave us and freed us so we could get to where we are today misuse that freedom on yourself. It wasn't given to you to use for you.
It was given to you to use to exalt Jesus Christ in our world.
If you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way. Maybe you're here today and you're still in bondage to your past. Maybe you're still in bondage to the fear of death. Maybe you're still in bondage to sinful passions and are destroying your life.
I got great news for you friends Jesus can set you free. Only he can set you free.
But he can. And it all starts with you accepting his forgiveness, which is what he wants to do for you but you gotta be willing to accept in this Easter season were to be talking about this every week now for the next several weeks, and I hope to forward on your at some point gonna bow your head and say you know what I'm ready to do that are really in hope you'll think about that next week were going to talk about Jesus's statement. I am thirsty so long. I do not understand how to will you ever go to speak for 30 minutes on I am thirsty. Will you come back next week and I'll show you house the spring.
Heavenly father, thank you for talking to us today and reminding us of something we already know most of us, but it sure is good to be reminded how blessed is the person whose wrongdoings are covered who sins are forgiven.
How blessed is the person for whom the Lord will not hold their sins against an amazing thing. This position you've given us in Christ. Father my prayer today is that for those of us here who are followers of Christ, that we might leave here appreciating like we never have before. This incredible thing you did for us and then we might leave here, understanding you gave us this freedom, not for us not to use to exalt us but you gave it to us to use to bring glory, honor and credit to Jesus Christ, may we use our freedom properly. Father I pray for folks here today who have never experienced that wonderful freedom that comes from being forgiven. We pray that you would work in each of these folks hearts and get them to the place where there ready to give you this chance in their life and we ask these things in Jesus name, amen