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October 29, 2020 8:00 am
There are nice stories and there are not so nice stories, some of Jesus stories leave us feeling thoughtful and call others leave us feeling confused and upset this story about a man who won't forgive a small dead even after his own huge debt has been forgiven is one of those stories, we dread to hear to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly in Matthew 25 Peter asked the question, and in typical style Jesus answers the question with the story. The question is how many times should I forgive someone who sins against me. Peter wants to err on the side of compassion, so he suggests maybe as many as seven times and he's amazed when Jesus says no.
Seven times doesn't even begin to define real forgiveness. Then Jesus tells his story.
It's about a servant who owes a master a huge debt and has no hope of paying it back. The master decides to cut his losses by selling the servant in his family to recover at least some of the debt, but the servant begs and pleads and promises he'll get the money somehow in the master ends up canceling the entire debt then the servant goes out to collect a small debt from a fellow servant and you know what happens. The scene replays but this time the debtor gets no mercy and instead gets thrown in jail until he can repay every cent. And when Jesus applies this parable, we wonder if there is any hope for any of us. Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce. It's always bothered me just a little bit to have to preach a sermon on more than one occasion that is to preach the same sermon one place and then go preach it elsewhere. I've always felt that the word of God is inexhaustible and that every situation calls for its own message and therefore as much as I can, I try to do different things wherever I go, I must say, however, I'm not always able to do that.
It's not the lack of the Bible being inexhaustible. It's rather that the preacher is quite inexhaustible and there are times when I just don't have the time to do it when I'm feeling guilty about that as I do from time to time, though I try not to let on about it. I do think that I have great precedent and some of the other preachers of past days well known to many. Spurgeon, for example.
Probably was more adept at producing sermons and anyone in recent memory.
He could get more out of a person.
Anyone I've ever read, and over a lifetime. He produced so many sermons week by week morning and evening in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London that after he died. They continued publishing them for almost another 30 years.
I am told, however, that when he left the capital and went to the provinces. He sometimes repeated himself so Spurgeon did it. I'm encouraged, probably the greatest evangelists that ever lived was George Whitfield.
And yet Whitfield repeated his sermons again and again. Apparently they got better and better, which is one reason why I don't repeat my more often. I'm not sure that can be said for them but Whitfield. At any rate went up and down the American colonies, preaching the same thing again and again and again and literally thousands upon thousands of people were converted during that period. The real justification for repeating a message is found, however, not in the habits of Charles Haddon Spurgeon or George Whitfield.
However, illustrious these men may be, but in the source of all our preaching in the prime example. Namely, the Lord Jesus Christ really did repeat things we find the sayings of his repeated in the Gospels, not merely because there repeated by one gospel writer and by another gospel writer to writer there placed in such different settings that we know he simply said the same thing more and more than one occasion he did with his stories too often. He changed them slightly for whatever the situation called for the reason I mention this now is that this first of the parables of judgment to which we calm. In Matthew's Gospel. Matthew 18 beginning at verse 21 is a parable that does occur in slightly different form elsewhere is responding to a question that was asked him why the most outspoken of all his disciples, namely Peter.
Peter had been with the Lord Jesus Christ for a number of years. He obviously thought he had learned quite a few lessons. He was coming to the end of his seminary course and that obviously was no novice in theology anymore.
And besides, it wasn't much before this two chapters earlier in Matthew's gospel when Jesus said whom do ye say that I the Son of Man.
I am in Peter and answered for the rest said, thou art the Christ, the son of the living God and Jesus had commended him as one who had received that by revelation of the Holy Spirit.
Peter was really feeling pretty good in these days, so he thinks it's a good time to enter into a kind of theological dialogue with Jesus and Peter Pyxis topic. It's going to be forgiveness tonight and he begins to ask this question about forgiveness he says or how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me. I do it as many as seven times. Now I say Peter was really feeling that he'd come a long way and the reason I say that is that this was a matter not of Peter's invention or something that was debated in rabbinical circles. There's a saying by one of the rabbis.
It goes like this. If your brother offends against you forgiven the first time if he's a real brother.
The second time forgiven. The third time. Also, forgive him for the fourth time. Do not forgive it. That's in the Talmud.
Now Peter would've heard this sort of thing. So Peter now who had associated with the Lord all these years thinks he's beginning to see things the way Jesus does and he begins to ask him about forgiveness should be Lord I mean lets me I'm learning from you know you've teach us to be forgiving, nor should it really be as many as I think they now as many as seven times when the rabbis over here, only saying three Jesus really sings them. Jesus is good and that whatever you want to debate with Jesus. You gotta watch out because man's thoughts are not as God's thoughts and we always approach of the wrong way and Jesus said no many times well we 77 or 70×7. What he meant by that is far more times than you.
Peter can possibly imagine that in order to illustrate what he had in mind. He told the story had to do with this matter of people who were in debt. He said the kingdom of heaven is like this was a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants, and so he began to call the man in the first man he called and was a man gloating a very large debt. This man owed him 10,000 talents absolutely certain what 10,000 talents was worth but it was certainly a large large sum anyway. You calculated it comes out March the new international version that I am reading from has a chart of weights and measures in the back and according to the reckoning of those who put this particular chart together. A talent is worth 75 pounds now 10,000 talents would be worth 750,000 pounds so you at least have that much in terms of weight, I would probably not wrong in assuming that what Jesus had in mind was talents of gold whether 16 ounces to a pound. Here we have 750,000 pounds gold might not of been selling as much of the stock exchange in Jerusalem in those days as it was in our day. But today it's hovering around $500 an ounce. You put that altogether and you get 6000 million dollars. That is an enormous enormous debt, and whether that's the exact figure or not you get the idea here is a man who owed it impossible. Some comes in to the master. The master demands that he pay off or is going to be thrown into prison, he doesn't have a chance in the world, but he falls down in front of the king. He says all forgive me the data I'll do everything I can. Don't throw me in the prison don't imprison my family don't make me slaves why I work hard I give you every said I/O man feel so sorry for his servant that he just writes the debt off. That's just the bad loan is never going to get that money back.
What's the advantage of punishing the servant he forgives them according to our Lord story and the story continues this man goes out and he find somebody that owes him some money bouts not very much. Jesus said it's 100 denarii just the contrast between the talents and the denarii is all the difference in the world of talent awaiting measuring goal something valuable in and of itself denarii. That's like a penny is what somebody was actually paid for a day's labor. Now again, our values today are quite different from what they must've been then poor working man would hardly have any cash at all. But even if you put that into terms of our culture hundred denarii would be 100 days work approximately 1/3 of a year's wages. Here you're talking about $5000 5000 over against 6000 million dollars were told that the man who would print forgiven this great debt grabs his debtor by the throat.
I mean his master didn't even do that to him but he grabs his poor man by the throat he squeezing the life out of him.
He says pay up every cent I'm in a throw you into jail. The man can do it and so he does the other servants were around here what's going on and they go to the king and they report what's happened in the king calls the servant in and says you wicked servant, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to, shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you and then we read in anger, his master turned them over to the jailers until he should pay back all the Jesus makes this conclusion. This is how my heavenly father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. That's really sobering. This is how my heavenly father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart is so troubling that we work to see if we can get rid of its implications and all that's the way we do with difficult things in here is obviously a difficult statement. We have problems with the theologically we say love doesn't that imply that the basis of our receiving forgiveness from God's forgetting other people.
We have to go around forgiving them and by forgiving that we try to earn God's forgiveness isn't that's away or to take it is in the Lord's teaching works righteousness are we saved by good deeds rather than by the grace of God by that really is a problem we read it again and we say look. Doesn't this imply because here you have a man that has not forgiven his debtor, and is therefore thrown into jail after his debt had already been canceled.
Isn't this implying that you can lose your salvation if you don't live up to a certain code of moral behavior. All I that's a problem. So we say how in the world you treat a text is difficult is that whether different ways you can treated. One approach would be the Jesus didn't really mean what he said. Jesus said this is how my heavenly father will treat each of you and lest you forgive your brother from your heart. He didn't really mean to say that unless you forgive your brother from your heart. God is not going to forgive you what he really meant was, watch out. This is a very serious business, you really ought to forgive people, just as God has already forgiven you. Well, you know that really is a childish way of escaping what Jesus says just what children do it over the mother is about to go out to the children about straighten up their room and there therefore little bit.
She says I have to run out to the store will be gone half an hour and coming back while I'm gone. I want you to straighten up your room make the bed, put your clothes away all the toys go in the toy damper 25 minutes later she comes back.
What are they doing reading their book and watching television. She said did you do your own room yes room cleanup room make the bed goes away toys in the hamper all that you want us to do that yes I did I spell it out very clearly.
All I remember now. I thought you meant to do it tomorrow.
Well, that's the way we are. God says something and we say you can't really mean that is another dog that we use and this is a great theological escape to which one could again affix a name but I will not. This is the Dodge that says well Jesus certainly meant what he said but the words do not apply to us. These words were written for another age I'll give myself away if I say another dispensation, but certainly they don't apply for those of us who live in the age of grace. Another were justified by faith apart in the works of the law. Certainly the forgiveness that we have from God is not dependent any major upon whether we forgive our brother and is a matter of fact is not even linked to it in any way is one other escape. I will put a name to this.
This is the Dodge of liberalism this says yes, here we are getting really to the heart of that simple gospel that Jesus Christ came to bring this is the gospel not contaminated Gordon crusted over with all the barnacles of Stalinism or Johannine theology, but just that simple gospel of Jesus do on the others as you would have others do unto you, and God himself is our supreme example. All he's saying is this essence of religion is being nice to other people.
Well, he does say that if we don't do it God can send this to hell and that's not exactly the gospel liberalism we ought to think that perhaps is a little more to it than that. What is he saying Jesus is not watering down this matter. Certainly we begin at that point, Jesus is saying there is a very direct connection between what God has done with you and what you are to do with others. It is so direct that it cannot be broken. But that's not the same thing as saying the Jesus in this one story is giving the whole of New Testament theology. We are justified by faith, by all means we are saved by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, by all means that we are saved in that way forgiven that enormous debt that we have included against the mercy and holiness of God, then we must be the kind of people that forgive those who are in debt to us and if we do not forgive them we are not justified, regardless of our profession. Sita stated theologically is to say this, we are justified by faith alone and not by the faith that is alone.
We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone or if you want to use polysyllabic theological terms when we are justified by faith that is not all that happens to us what happens when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ on the salvation how is it that we were steeped in sin who do not seek God you have no spiritual understanding actually come to the point that we understand the Jesus is our Savior and commit ourselves to succumb about people like us simple as we are the biblical answer. It is the work of God in our hearts. As a matter of regeneration.
Jesus said you must be born again, he makes us alive spiritually giving us that kind of understanding when we have it by the grace of God in this renewed nature, we commit ourselves to Christ. So justification is by faith. But you don't have justification by faith without regeneration.
Regeneration means the life of God's so how are people who have the life of God within them to behave there to behave as Jesus Christ behaved because of his nature were to behave as God behaves because it's God's nature and therefore if we are regenerate and believe and are justified through our faith we will be the kind of people who forgive our brother from our hearts. We do not do it.
We do not demonstrate that life of Christ and in an increasing measure as we go on throughout life.
We are not justified.
We are not regenerate. We are not saved as a that's a hard saying, but it is intended to be hard this is to undercut presumption cannot say just because I've heard all these things from my childhood and believe them in my head I'm say what are they doing in your life. You cannot say just because I'd grown up in the church, and a never doubted this and nobody is ever really got me to become a member of another religious faith. Therefore I'm saved one of these things doing in your life.
Your life is not difference is the results of the teachings of the New Testament and Christianity as they work themselves into you by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. These are merely intellectual fantasies. You are not a child of God. So the appliance with these three final lessons what Jesus is saying here.
First of all is that there is a judgment as he talks about what the king does the sermon to his nature is unchanged.
He's talking about this wretched man who wouldn't forgive the man allowed him a tiny little bit, and he's talking about this wretched man's and this is what this man deserves God. It was a just God of the universe.
The God who forgives, is nevertheless also the God he renders justice so Jesus story tells us that there is a judgment coming we must prepare to meet our God. Secondly, the story tells us that there is nevertheless forgiveness with God. God is a God who forgives God is the God who sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die in our place that that gray data that we have against his Majesty might be wiped out. Jesus Christ is done that for all who come to him in faith. Forgiveness is there. That's the way of escaping the judgment.
Faith is the door there's that great lesson but thirdly and the chief lesson of the story Jesus is saying that the only sure proof of justification is a transformed heart and a changed life which the values of Jesus himself began to affect the way we live and move among our brother is say well I do understand that I'm afraid I haven't always lived its but I do understand it. How does this get down into the nitty-gritty of my life. So it really does determine what I do in regard other people.
The answer is there in the surface of the story, the man who was forgiven much was simply not aware of the enormity of his debt or the great grace of the king.
Hoover gave him and so we had no concern for other people. The way to overcome that basis in gratitude that spiritual insensitivity that arrogance that supposedly desire the gray forgiveness we received while others below us far less deserve nothing. The way to overcome that is to stand face to face with a holy God and see ourselves as the vile sinners, we are yet no that that holy God has forgiven us vile sinners through the death of his own beloved son and that's when we see that that we say will wonder of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of God the father. All I forgiven so much must be one who is himself, herself, the embodiment of that forgiveness as I move around among other fallen, sinful men and women as we forgive we had the chance of pointing them to him who has forgiven an order that they might find the fullness of their salvation in him as well. Let us pray our father, we can't read a story like this go away untouched because we're back with Peter.
We forgiven once or twice and then were irritated when people continue to offend. We just forgotten how much we been forgiven our father bring this nonsense to the point of standing belligerently before you head held high, but the point of kneeling there recognizing our sin. Your holiness and your grace that saved us in spite of that sin and then seeing ourselves forgiven teaches how to forgive a new grant that we might really be agents of that great message of forgiveness in the content of the gospel in an age that so desperately needs to hear these things pray in the name of our Savior, even Jesus, a man you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution.
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