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Life of Paul Part 6 - The Beauty of Forgiveness

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
January 19, 2020 6:00 am

Life of Paul Part 6 - The Beauty of Forgiveness

So What? / Lon Solomon

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The Bible together throughout the book of the New Testament. Acts chapter 9 Matthew Mark Luke John acts through the book in the New Testament accepting God as we continue in our study of the life of a great man. The apostle Paul that many read in the paper this week that they caught the guy responsible for that famous road rage incident that they had out in California last year and if you didn't hear about it. Here's what happened. There was a lady from Nevada who was on her way to the San Jose airport. She was traveling with her little white dog little white bichon 18 pound bichon in the front seat with her.

She was on the airport road going to the San Jose airport traffic was terrible and all of a sudden by accident, of course, she runs into this guy in front of her in a brand-new black shiny SUV while the guy leaves out of his car just runs back to her car. She's furious that she Vichy damages car.

He starts yelling at her and screaming at her and so in an attempt to calm him down. She put down the passenger window of her car and started to try to reason with the and he was so mad and so furious that he reached inside the car and grabbed the little 18 pound all and will all over top of her car into oncoming traffic. The dog was hit for five times and killed and even looking for the guy per year. They finally caught up with it know what lessons we learn from this incident is Avalon. The lesson I learned is never let your dog) well know, that's not the lesson. The lesson is that the desire for revenge is the desire to hurt people back when they heard runs very deep in the human spirit really talking about that today, as we look at an incident from the life of the apostle Paul to talk about it. First, as it applied to him and then of course were going to talk about how it applies to you and me as followers of Christ here in the 21st century.

So let's put together a little bit of background before we dig in. Remember that the apostle Paul has come into know Jesus is a real and personal way. He then has spent three years out in the desert of Arabia seeking the face of God and now he returns to Damascus as a fearless spokesman for Jesus Christ. After we pick up chapter 9 verse 22 and Paul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Messiah to stop for a moment and asked how is it that he prove this in such a way that it was so convincing that he baffled. All these Jewish people they couldn't argue with.

Well, the word translated prove here gives us a clue as to how we did this the word literally means place alongside and what happened here is that the way Paul prove the Messiah ship of Jesus is that he place the Old Testament Scriptures alongside the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. And when people compare the two.

They could see how Jesus fulfilled every single protection prophecy of the Messiah in the Old Testament. That's how we proved it. Comparing the life of Jesus to the Old Testament Scriptures putting them alongside each other so you can see how Jesus had to be the predicted Messiah of the Old Testament. Well, verse 23 and after many days the Jews conspired to kill him day after night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to do that, but his father was Tookie my night and lowered him in a basket to an opening in the city wall and now Paul heads back to Jerusalem for the very first time in three years. But let's not forget how he left Jerusalem three years earlier. Acts chapter 9 verse one and Paul was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples, we had been in Jerusalem three years before acts chapter 8 verse three and Paul began to destroy the church in Jerusalem going from house to house. He dragged off men and women and put them in prison at 20 to 3 years before acts chapter 26 first and Paul's own words.

I put many of the followers of Christ in prison and when they were put to death. I cast my vote against him. Paul said many a time I went from one synagogue in Jerusalem to another to have them punished and I tried to force them to blaspheme. This is the Paul who left Jerusalem three years before leaving in his wake up time of suffering abuse, brutalization, torture and murder.

So here he comes back to town.

Let's see what happens. Verse 26 accepting on and when he came to Jerusalem.

He tried to join the disciples but they were all afraid of him not believing that he was really a disciple.

Now it when he came to Jerusalem, though he wanted to meet up with all the apostles.

He wanted to meet up with John and James and Peter, for they want anything to do with it.

He wanted to meet up with the Christian community there in town. They didn't want anything to do with it and and they thought he was a wolf in sheep's clothing, and they wanted no part of him at all. Verse 27 but Barnabas love that. But Barnabas but Barnabas would Barnabas do Barnabas took Paul and brought him to the apostles and told them how Paul on his journey had seen the Lord and how the Lord had spoken to him and how in Damascus. He preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. Barnabas was a wonderful guy in the plot steps this wonderful soul named Barnabas what we know about this man Barnabas welder talk a lot more about them later. But what we know about Barnabas is that his real name was not Barnabas's real name was Joseph. He was a Jewish man.

He came from Cyprus on island off the coast and that and he had calmly become a follower of Christ. Come to Jerusalem to identify with the Jewish community father Christian community there in Jerusalem and as the apostles got to know him.

They nicknamed him this name Barnabas that would Barnabas mean well.

Barnabas means literally in Aramaic, the son of encouragement and the reason they nicknamed him. This is because this was the temperament of the man.

This was the nature of the man Barnabas was a natural born encourager, Barnabas was like a big old shaggy dog who just wanted to lick every body all over and just to lick every body of heat as he was one of those, people Barnabas was a guy with you messed up PB. The first person over there put his arm around you where if you let people down TB. The guy would be over there to stand up for you where if you hurt people be the first guy to forgive you and friends. If you would ravage the early church in Jerusalem and if you now came back to town claiming to be a follower of Christ.

Barnabas was a guy who would be the first one there to believe in you and reach out to you and that's what he did. So Barnabas he escorts Paul to meet Peter and James and John. He's vouches for Paul in front of them all, and you do realize the risk that he took care of me.

What if Paul really were a wolf in sheep's clothing. What if all this was a set up that you know it took a risk, but thank God for Barnabas.

Just think how much different the history of the Christian world would've been if nobody had reached out to Paul if all have left Jerusalem feeling disillusioned and upset and angry and alienated from the Christian community there. Just think how different the history of the world could've been. Thank God for Barnabas. Well, what happens next verse 28. So Paul stayed with the Christians there and come in Jerusalem.

They embraced him and he moved about really speaking boldly in the name of the Lord, and he talked and debated with the Grecian Jews. The Hellenistic Jews. These were the same people who Stephen had been speaking to an end. These are the same guys who stoned Stephen check it out. Acts six and seven and so Paul went right back to these people don't forget he was there when that happened he was watching as a stone Stephen to death. He goes right back to them and he said, guess what Stephen was right all the time he was right. You need to believe this. You think they were excited about Paul coming back new new new look what it says here and they tried to kill him and these people were nobody to be trifled with him.

He needs people like playing with cobras.

I mean, they kill Stephen they would kill Paul.

They hated Paul Larson hated Stephen because in their mind. Paul was a rabbi who became a traitor and so the brothers verse 30 when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and send them off to Tarsus and in the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace while I guess so because the one man wrecking machine is not around anymore yeah of course and the church was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, and incongruent numbers living in the fear of the Lord in order to pick up and continue on in the life of the apostle Paul in the weeks to come but we want to stop right here now because we have a very important question that we need to ask everybody here, you'll know the question right yeah yeah okay pretty deep breath ergo 123 right salon. So what Barnabas a wonderful guy.

I love him I was at 50 of them as friends but but but what differs is any of this make for my life here in the 21st century to see if we can answer that question how many of us here want Eurasian hand. How many of us here have taken those dreaded SAT test at some point you like regime all right of those things annoying or what terrible although I gotta tell you actually did pretty well on the very last when I took about 1440, which I'd like to point out to you is higher than any of my sons has ever got, and I'm very proud of that. Now they always say yeah yeah yeah but it was easier back then and I think what an easier back in August than you guys are so maybe one almost taught me, but I don't think so anyway. You know the most annoying part of this whole annoying test are those stupid things called the analogies. Remember those things are those things of miserable. This is this like this is told what remember those things and the problem is all for answer even leave all formal pride on the old formal crawl. I could never figure those things out so I just did. I just figured out when I got a 25% chance to take a shot at it and see how we do here and obviously on the last test, the figured out something right because I did okay on that one. Now, in order for us to understand the feelings about Paul in the city of Jerusalem. When he came back.

I want us to do one of these analogies because I don't know a better way to explain it in there. So here's the analogy Paul was to the Christians in Jerusalem like Hitler was to the Jews in Europe is a lawn that is an awful strong analogy of friends. There were some awful strong feelings about the apostle Paul back in Jerusalem think about remember what this guy had this guy had had carried on a program of wholesale genocide against the followers of Christ to live in the city. He arrested them.

He imprisoned him.

He tortured them he abused them. He brutalized them and friends. He killed him without pity he killed them without compassion. He killed them without remorse and he thought he was doing God a service when he quit when he when he killed these people.

Thanks to Paul when he came back to Jerusalem three years after… There were scores of disabled Christians there in Jerusalem. All because of Paul's activities. There were scores of Christian windows in town. All because of Paul's activities. There were scores of Christian orphans in town.

All because of Paul's activities.

There was some very strong feelings about this man in town so he comes back. But here's the point that I want you to see in spite of the hurt that Paul had caused in that town.

These followers of Christ, to live there, found it in their hearts to forgive him.

They found it in their hearts, not just to forgive them but to embrace him and making part of the community. So much so that when his life was threatened look verse 30 says the brothers got them out of town they looked on him as being there brother focus is a beautiful thing that happened in Jerusalem. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing because there is no greater torture in the world than the torture of unresolved relationships. There is no present more debilitating anywhere in the world than the one whose bars are made up of bitterness and hatred and revenge and rage and other people, but one doctor said and I quote he said an unforgiving spirit is a far greater threat to our overall health and well-being than all the viruses, bacteria, and carcinogenic agents in the world combined." And he's right.

This is why God calls us in the Bible as followers of Christ to a lifestyle that is characterized by forgiveness. Luke Ephesians chapter 4 verse 32. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, even as in Christ God forgave you that you know what audience the size I would be very surprised if there were a single person in this audience who is never spent time in this prison. We talked about whose bars are rage and bitterness and anger people for what they've done to us. In fact, you know there probably some people were still in the prison. Today, as you sit here prisoners of an unforgiving spirit of bitter spirit towards a dad or mom for what they did to you towards a wife, but ex-wife or an ex-husband towards an ex-boyfriend or an ex-girlfriend or a student at school or some coworker at the office or relative, or neighbor, and my friend I'm here to tell you that God wants to set you free. God wants to liberate you and the way to freedom is by the road of forgiveness. They salon understand what you're saying but I to question my questions are number one why should I fly.

Should I number two.

How can the word of the motivation come from. First of all, and what is the power come from to do this and I like to answer those two questions as we close this look at the first word of the motivation come from for us to forgive other people say yeah lawn where honey, why should I forgive after what they did to me after what they did to my family.

They don't deserve to be forgiven for can I say something to you. You are absolutely right. They do not deserve to be forgiven. I agree with you.

You think the apostle Paul deserved to be forgiven after what he'd done in Jerusalem to all the followers of Christ there. Of course, but may I point out to you. When Jesus forgave you the day you came to Christ. Did you deserve to be forgiven no all the times that the Lord's forgiven you.

Since then, did you deserve to be forgiven no and you need motivation I need motivation to forgive have got some wonderful motivation.

If you know Christ in a personal way, look what the Bible says Ephesians 432 forgive even as in Christ God forgave you.

Colossians chapter 3 verse 13.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

The Lord forgave us even though we didn't deserve to be forgiven.

God says that's the way I want you to forgive need motivation to forgive him. Got some wonderful motor. The gate motivation force that motivation is the cross. The cross what Jesus did for you and me on the cross.

Many notochord temple, but just in case you don't let me just review a little bit about her life for a Corrie 10 boom was a young lady. The group in Holland with her mom or dad and her younger sister Betsy. They were not Jewish people, but in the beginning of World War II. They hidden Jewish people from the Nazis until eventually they were caught all four of them were shipped off to concentration camp thermometer that were sent to one got the one camp she and her sister were sent to another camp. Her mom died in concentration camp.

Her dad died in the camps. Her younger sister Betsy died in the camps. Corey was the only one to survive. And while she was in the concentration camp she writes about this one guard who was just on believably brutal to hurt her sister unmerciful in his treatment of her and her sister just beyond description. The cruelty that he practiced towards the two of them. He single them out in particular was mean to them. While Ms. Smith 10 boom then goes on to say. Years later, many years after the war she was in Germany at a church she had spoken of the church and at the end of the service. She was standing down the front just talking to people and she looked up the aisle. The middle aisle of this church and coming slowly towards her with his elderly man and she said his Facebook strangely familiar but she didn't recognize until he got up close and suddenly she realized this was the prison guard that had been so incredibly cruel to her and her sister, she said as she stood there and watched him come towards her, all the feelings of pain and agony that he had caused came back in fear. She said she can begin to be gripped by fear of this man and the man walked right down to the front of the church.

According to Mr. 10 boom and stood right in front, over, and he looked her in the face and he said to her. Mr. 10 boom I've come here to ask you to forgive me for what I did to you and your sister in the camps quoting Corrie 10 boom now. She said here he stood before me seeking my mercy and forgiveness.

Just as I had stood before Jesus Christ.

One day, begging him for his mercy and forgiveness. As I looked at this man I thought. In light of what God has done for me. What else can I do but forgive." And she reached out with her arms and he reached out and they hug each other in the front of this church and she said we stood there and we both wept uncontrollably just left on one another's shoulders. I wish I'd been there to see that sexy the scene of healing that God brought to these two people both God wants to bring the county healing to your life and will the person that you forgive will they be deserving of course was what they did to you okay know it wasn't okay. But you see what we have to understand is that Jesus forgave us even though we didn't deserve it and we have the capacity not just the capacity we have the command from God to do say why should you forgive because Jesus forgave you salon understand that but you know what, that's wonderful preaching, but the truth is I'm not sure I can. The truth is I don't know if I can get there.

The truth is they hurt me so badly. The truth is they wounded me so deeply. I don't know if I can do this. Last night I had a guy come up to me after the Saturday night service and he was in tears and and I said was wrong and he said I wanted to tell you that I have tried and tried and tried to forgive my ex-wife for what she did to me and I can't and I said to them, you know you have just put your finger on the key issue you put your finger right on the problem. The problem is you been trying and trying and trying in your own energy and in your own mind to do this and you can't work the wounds to deep you can't get to it. You can't fix it the way this has to go if you're going to have success is you got to go to God and admit that you can't forget your ex-wife and is that a try and you gotta stop client in your own energy and instead you gotta start trusting God to reach down and there were only he can get to know Dr. can get to it. No therapist can get to it.

No drug can get to it. You can even get to it. Only God, you gotta trust God to get down in there and do a healing work in years. And give you the power to forgive what is the power to forgive come from number two.

A friend to come supernaturally from God himself. I love this verse of Scripture second Chronicles chapter 20 verse 12 hears what Jehoshaphat prayed he said oh God, we have no power to face the enemy attacking us. We don't even know what to do were helpless. But our eyes are upon the friends when it comes to people who hurt us deeply. This seems to be our prayer Lord, I don't have the power to forgive this person.

I don't even know how to go the Lord. My eyes are on you. Reach down inside of me were nobody else can get to and heal me so I can forgive this it will on how does this work honey with the dynamic here. How does God do this inside of us. I don't know. I don't know exactly how worse but that doesn't mean it isn't real. I mean, I don't know how penicillin works but I know if I take it long enough. My sore throat goes away, and frankly I don't care.

Penicillin works as long as it does the job and I don't really care how God does this inside of us. As long as he gets the job done. But I'm here to tell you I've been down this road and I can certify to you if you approach God like this God will heal. That hurt give you the power to forgive if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way.

May I stop for a moment say to you that friends. This is important information for you to have because what this means is when you come into a personal relationship with Christ. You don't just get forgiveness of sin. You don't just get a ticket to heaven but you get access to power that you've never experienced in your life before power that can allow you to rise above the limitations of your human capacities and live on a level above or you can take yourself with all of your trying with all of your effort. You'll never get there.

There's power available in a relationship with Jesus Christ. And if you need that power we all do, you will never get it through the power of positive thinking you'll never get it, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps but you can have access to it when you come in a personal relationship with Jesus.

Hope you think about that.

Like I said earlier I seen this work.

You know what many of you know I did my doctoral work at the Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and for four years I slept up there three days a week on the train in the car and I had a full-time job.

I just witnessed tonight a family to support, but in addition to my job.

I shall slept slept up there three days a week and went to class for four years when doctoral work past all my comprehensive exams and then went to work on my dissertation.

It was 1980 in McLean Bible church invited me to come here be the pastor. So I applied for nonresident status is you do you know when you've only got your dissertation left to go when you can move out of the year and work on your dissertation, so I got five years of nonresident status Nicanor McLean. Every Thursday I go down the Catholic University to the library and I spent the whole day Thursday, working on my dissertation 25 years at 100 pages done a one finished yet, but that's pretty good pretty good anyway and I went up to see that with my professor my advisor to ask him to extend my non-residency status.

Now if you ever been done this, you know, extending a nonresident status is cookie-cutter. I mean it's just nobody thinks about that is all the time is not a big deal, so I expected him to say sure sure if I'm not a problem.

I had my dissertation in front of me the hundred pages. We were sitting there. He walked in the room and he said to Mr. Solomon, said yesterday was Dr. Hiller suggested Dr. Hiller's. He said I know you come up you to apply to have your nonresidency extended. I suggest he so I decided not to do that one, so I decided not to do that. I was flabbergasted couldn't believe it is likely mean you decided not to do it is it will Mr. Solomon, I have come to the conclusion that you are not doctoral level material so really he said yes so so I'm not extending your your nonresidency status. He said it's over. I said well Dr. Hiller.

The show would've been nice if you told me that for five years ago that you didn't think I was Dr. level material before spent all the time coming up here and oh by the way, I passed all the comprehensive exams in 100 pages of my dissertation done and you never said a word about this. I mean how can I get all that done, and not be Dr. level material is a Mr. Solomon I do not have to explain my decision to you. Okay, you cannot appeal this is a some way I can appeal. He said yes you can assemble what I feel to be said you'd appeal to the faculty committee, the College of arts and sciences is that okay, do it and if I win. What happens then is that they send it back to the chairman of the department here fraction as well as the chairman of the department is in Ohio. No, really. He said you who that was bad news is that so I said so what you're really saying to me is it's over. He said Artie said that it's over well I had some feelings about this guy. After that, I mean they weren't good feelings of furious would be a mild word and I knew that was wrong and I would pray about this and I would go. Oh God, I know it's not right to feel this way about this man. I know I need to forgive him. But as our garage. All right… RRR would be the man's name in the paper I read on a scholarly article I need to understand what I'm saying. It was bad and I tried and tried and tried to forgive this guy and I just every time I tried I could not do it and finally I had to go to the Lord and say Lord I can't do this. I just can't. I can't do it you're going to have to give me the capacity to forgive this man and how you do it. I don't know what you're going to have to give me the power to do the frenzy didn't happen in the first 24 hours, afraid this was the first 48 hours, but I can tell you today if I met Dr. Hiller somewhere I could shake the man's hand, I could smile adding I could have a conversation with the I would not need Tom's to do it and it wasn't okay.

What he did to me that, but it's okay now God is healed is okay now. I forgiven. It's ancient history and I'm not telling you that it's okay what people did to you back in the cause that heard it is and I'm not saying they deserve to be forgiven. We Artie covered that ground.

I don't what I'm saying to you is, those things don't really matter. You can forgive anyway. And God will give you the power to forgive. Anyway, if you last. God wants to set you free. So there's a prison guard or two in your life. If there's a Dr. Hiller's or two in your life.

The good news is you don't have, to be a prisoner of bitterness and anger, malice and rage over what they did to you. You can be free, so that is all said Romans chapter 12 we can be at peace with all men. God will set you free.

If you want but you can't try, you got a trusted to do inside of you. Something you can't do for yourself but for what I heads bowed and her eyes closed. I want to give you just a moment. If you need to talk to God about beginning the process of forgiveness for some prison guard in your life for some Dr. Hiller's in your life.

The process of trusting him to heal you on the inside by his power wanted to tell God that right now or Jesus you know that in a world like ours.

People get hurt everyone of us.

Here's been hurt in some of us have been hurt in small ways where in our own energy and strength.

We just put it behind us. Go on, but some of us have been hurt so deeply that's not working force or thanks for reminding us today that if you could give power to those early followers of Christ in Jerusalem to forgive Paul you can give power to us to forgive anybody the Lord grant that we might come to you today and begin that process of letting you heal also making it okay now so that we can forgive and walk out of prison and become free God do this work in our hearts. I pray by your supernatural power and set us free to pray that we might serve you with all of our heart and we ask this in Jesus name, amen

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