You know what Scripture says? You know what the Gospel tells you, Christian, today as you come humbly before the cross of Christ? It says He forgives you. Sweet words of forgiveness. Hello and welcome back to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I'm Bill Wright. Today, as Don continues teaching God's people God's Word, he'll look at the complete and total forgiveness Jesus offers to those who simply place their trust in His finished work of salvation on the cross of Calvary, and how we could never do anything to earn or deserve the mercy He has shown us. Here's Don Green to continue teaching God's people God's Word in the Truth Pulpit. The Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, just like you and me. Luke 19, 10 says, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. We proclaim not philosophical speculations, we proclaim historical facts that have theological significance. We proclaim a Gospel that says in time and space Jesus Christ died on a cross, and that the Scriptures interpret the significance of that death for us by saying that He died for our sins, that the reason that He died was in order to take away our sins. 1 Corinthians 15, verses 3 and 4 say that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
He was buried and He was raised on the third day. Communion and baptism help us to remember those events. And the Gospel tells us that all of your sins can be forgiven, even today, even now, if you would repent and turn to Christ and receive Him for your salvation. 1 John 1, 9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The marvel of the Gospel, the marvel of the Biblical testimony is, is that God, while He is a holy, righteous, omnipotent God whom all the world must fear, is also a gracious and forgiving God who has made a means of reconciliation for sinners like you to come to Him in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We remember that today. We celebrate that today as we practice the two ordinances that the Lord has given to the church. And what I want to do to kind of use the pulpit to set the tone for the rest of the day that we're going to share together, I want to encourage you with a sense of the full forgiveness that you have in Christ, to give you a sense of the depth and the breadth and the height and the length of the love of Christ and how fully you have been forgiven in Christ. That there is no longer any stain on your garments before God. That there is no longer any charge against you before the court of God. That there is no debt left for you to pay to God for your sin when you are in Christ. This is the great greatest security, the greatest peace, the greatest confidence that you could possibly have.
This is the answer to every sorrow in your life. That whatever is happening on a horizontal plane, to know that you are reconciled completely to a holy God is the most wonderful news that there is to have. We're going to see this by way of an illustration in the life of Peter. I invite you to turn to the Gospel of John chapter 18 for our start here. We're going to ultimately look at the way that the Lord restored Peter, but before we get to that, I want you to remind you of the rock bottom that Peter hit in his life in his denials of our Lord in John chapter 18. And what I want you to do as we walk through this is to see in yourself, or rather I should say, to see in Peter a mirror of your own sin and failure and broken promises to Christ, and to see what Christ did with Peter as a way of seeing what he's done for you in your salvation. Let me just remind you that Peter blatantly denied Christ three times on the night prior to our Lord's crucifixion. Look at John chapter 18, verse 17.
Actually, we'll start in verse 15. Simon Peter was following Jesus and so was another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest where he was going to face charges. But Peter was standing at the door outside, so the other disciple who was known to the high priest went out and spoke to the doorkeeper and brought Peter in. Then the slave girl who kept the door said to Peter, you are not also one of this man's disciples, are you? And he said, I am not. Knowing Christ, belonging to Christ, having been on the receiving end of three years of deep personal ministry from Christ, knowing that Christ loved him, Peter said I don't know the man because he was intimidated by a slave girl who questioned him.
That was his first denial. If you look at verse 25, you'll see the second. Simon Peter was standing and warming himself, warming himself at a charcoal fire, other parts of the gospels tell us. And so they said to him, you are not also one of his disciples, are you? And he denied it and said, I am not. And then verse 26, one of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, did I not see you in the garden with him? Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. The other gospels telling us that he denied it with curses. He cursed the thought that he knew Christ, that he was associated with him, that he was one of Christ's disciples. This is the rock bottom for Peter, that he would deny Christ in that way. And you might wonder how on earth could it be possible for him to be forgiven of such a blatant lie, first of all, and then such a blatant betrayal of his relationship with Christ.
Why is he not just immediately cast away? Well, we get a sense of it in the text that we're actually going to consider now, and this was all by way of background and preparation. You know what happened, Christ went on to the cross, he was crucified, he was raised again, and the time came where he met with Peter and he restored him. Look at John chapter 21 in verse 15 now. This is our text from John chapter 21 verse 15.
We see the way that Jesus restored Simon Peter after his resurrection. In verse 15, when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? He said to him, yes Lord, you know that I love you. He said to him, tend my lambs. He said to him again a second time, Simon son of John, do you love me? He said to him, yes Lord, you know that I love you. He said to him, shepherd my sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon son of John, do you love me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time do you love me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.
Jesus said to him, tend my sheep." Now just as a preliminary matter, what I want you to notice is is that this is a conferral from Christ to Peter of complete forgiveness of those prior denials. He walks in three times through the question, do you love me, using a couple of different verbs that really mean the same thing in the context of the Gospel of John. He walks through these questions to Peter as a means of eliciting Peter's confession and restoring him. And you know that there is complete forgiveness for those denials. You know that there is complete forgiveness because the Lord sends Peter into ministry and entrusts the care of his flock to him, saying, Peter, feed my sheep, tend my lambs.
Peter, take care of the ones that belong to me. What greater sense of the free and complete acquittal of those blatant denials and betrayals that Peter spoke to unbelieving men. What greater picture of the forgiveness that Jesus gave to Peter other than the fact that he receives Peter's confession of love and then sends him out to minister on behalf of Christ to the people of Christ.
What I want you to see in this is from as we walk through these three questions and answers between Christ and Peter is I want you to see a picture of the way that you have been forgiven in Christ. I realize based on scriptural testimony that your sin against God is deep. I realize that you have betrayed Christ at various points in your life. I realize that you have broken his law, that you have lied, that you have sinned either with your eyes or with your flesh in ways that Christ has commanded you not to do. I realize even as a believer that you have failed in your faithfulness more times than you would care to remember.
Today is not our opportunity to rehearse your past sins. Rather that's simply a means of introduction to remind you of the wonderful love of Christ that he has bestowed on you to forgive you, to wash all of your sins away, and to establish you in righteousness before God. That you might have a sense of love and appreciation and gratitude that is deep as we come to the communion table, as we spend this day of fellowship together, that we would come together around the forgiveness that we all share in Christ, those of us that know him. This is a wonderful time for us as we see in Peter an illustration of the way that the Lord has forgiven us.
So we'll look at it in three points here. First of all, what can we say about your forgiveness? We can say this is that Jesus Christ has forgiven you of your failed boasts. Your failed boasts, your spiritual bragging about what a great Christian you were going to be.
And we should start with asking this question. What exactly is Jesus doing as he asks Peter these three questions, as he walks through this dialogue with Peter? Well in a negative sense, he's giving Peter the opportunity to manifest his repentance, but even before the other disciples, from each of his denials. Peter denied him three times, Jesus asks him the same question three times, and Peter is able to, as it were, disavow and repent of his prior denials.
That's in the negative sense. In a positive sense, he is also redirecting Peter and establishing for all time and for us to see going forward, establishing Peter's future commitment to be faithful, to turn away from the denials and to commit his heart and establish it in the direction of faithfulness, of love and devotion and loyalty to Christ. So let's look at this here. First of all, we see Jesus forgiving him of his failed boasts. The first question there in verse 15, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?
Who are the these that are there? Well he's referring to the disciples that are gathered around here, and Peter is before the other disciples, and Jesus asks him this question, why does this matter? Why would Jesus ask him, Peter, do you love me more than these men that are standing around? Well the problem is this, is that earlier, before his denials, Peter had boasted that he did love Christ more than the other disciples.
He would be more faithful than these other men. Look over at Matthew 26, I want you to see this. Matthew 26 in verse 31, as we see Matthew's parallel account, in Matthew 26 verse 31, Jesus said to his disciples, you will all fall away because of me this night, for it is written I will strike down the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered, but after I have been raised I will go ahead of you to Galilee. Notice what Peter says in verse 33. Peter said to him, even though all may fall away because of you, I will never fall away. Here is Peter separating himself out and in pride and boasting saying, Lord these men may be lesser disciples of yours, these men may be less committed than I am, but I want you to know you can always count on me.
I will never deny you, even if all of these men go away I will stand alone and be strong for you in the midst of it. And the subsequent hours showed the emptiness of that boast. It showed the emptiness of what Peter had earlier said. And so what Jesus is doing here in this first question to Peter, going back to John 21, in John 21 verse 15, with the other disciples gathered around, Jesus says to Peter, do you love me more than these?
Notice his response. He said to him, yes Lord you know that I love you. He drops the reference to the other disciples and simply makes a confession of his own love. Peter drops the comparison to the others and simply affirms his own love for Christ.
And what does Christ do in response to that? He said to him, tend my lambs. Peter, I receive that, I accept that, and now I'm going to send you out into service.
Notice this, beloved. The fact that Jesus commissioned him to service shows that he accepted the confession. Peter's prior boasts, which were made in haste, which were made in pride, and which he later violated. Christ says, let's wipe the slate clean of all of that.
It's a sweet picture, isn't it? Isn't it sweet to know that the Lord did not hold those prior boasts that he failed in against Peter? And wipes the slate clean and sends him into ministry. Christian, let me ask you a question. Have you exalted yourself against others, either in your mind or with your lips? Said, I'll be faithful in a way that other men aren't. I'll stand firm even if others fall away.
You'll see in me, O God, a model of faithfulness. And yet the outworking of life proved to be something less than what you boasted in. When the pressure was on, you either held silent for Christ or you twisted the truth or you backed away, and the opportunity to be faithful to Christ before men, you failed. You didn't do what you said you would do. Your vows proved to be empty because you didn't carry through.
You didn't have the power through fear of man. You walked away, and you feel the weight of that on your conscience. You know what Scripture says? You know what the gospel tells you, Christian, today as you come humbly before the cross of Christ? It says he forgives you. Sweet words of forgiveness, aren't they? Where Christ says, I don't hold that against you. I receive you as my own. I gladly own you before my father. I gladly set that aside.
It's not a barrier between us having fellowship with one another. Hebrews 10 verse 17 says, your sins and your lawless deeds I will remember no more. That's the kind of salvation that God has given to you, Christian. That's how wonderful it is to belong to Christ, that your violations of God's law are taken off the books, as it were, because of what we remember at the cross at communion, I should say, that at the cross Christ took that and paid the price for it, paid the punishment for it, bore the wrath as we saw earlier with the result that those prior sins, including your failed proud boastings, Christ says, I'm not gonna hold it against you.
I won't remember it any longer. It is not on your account because I took it onto my account, as it were, Christ speaking and saying, I paid the price for that. You see, beloved, you see that in the awful nature of Peter's denials and the treachery that was involved in that, Christ says, Peter, go tend my lambs. In response to Peter's confession, Peter's rejection of his prior denials, Christ showers him, covers him with love, covers him with forgiveness, and sends him into ministry. You see, that's what Christ does. That's what he does as our Savior. He takes our sins and pays for them on him on his own body, in his own body at the cross, and now he says, I'm not gonna hold that against you.
Go in peace and serve me well. That's a picture of the full forgiveness that you have. Scripture says your sins and lawless deeds he remembers no more. He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1 7, the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sins.
Do you see the wonderful thing that we are remembering here? That despite your guilt, despite your spiritual failures, despite your unjustified pride and boasting that came to naught, we have here a picture, a remembrance, that Christ says, my blood covers it all and I forgive you. Now secondly, in like manner, not only is Christ forgiven your failed boasts, he also forgives your failed love, your failed love. As Peter stood before that fire, he denied that he was Jesus's disciple. It was a low moment of sin, weakness, and fear that in front of the enemies of God, rather than standing up and saying, yes I am his disciple and I am glad to let you know that, Peter as it were stepped on the other side of the fire and said, no guys I'm with you. I don't know that man. I'm not one of his disciples.
Can you imagine? Do you see the treachery of that? Do you see the betrayal of that? The Lord God in human flesh, the sweet Savior who has loved Peter and forgiven him and revealed great things to him and done nothing but show him the greatness of divine love and majesty and Peter was an eyewitness to these things. Because a couple of crooks around a fire questioned him closely. Peter set the love of Christ aside, said I don't know the man, and Christ here in John 21 comes to Peter, look at verse 16, and he drops the comparison to the others and just asks Peter a one-on-one question here in verse 16. He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love me? And Peter answered him, yes Lord, you know that I love you. And Jesus said to him, shepherd my sheep. You see it again, Christian? Jesus accepted the confession and forgave Peter. Let me ask you the question again from a little different angle. As you've been out in the world, maybe out in business, maybe at school, secular setting, things of Christ come up, and have you held your tongue, laughed at the blasphemies in order to join in and not stand apart for Christ?
Do you know something about what that is like? And as you're now here with the people of God, under the Word of God, you feel the weight of that? Christian, let me tell you that if you've distanced yourself from Christ to avoid conflict or ridicule from men, and you're now feeling the pain, you're now humbled before Christ, humbled before the cross, and you're just saying, oh God, forgive me for being like that, forgive me for my own betrayal and treachery toward Christ. You know what Scripture says to you? Do you know what the Word of God says as you put your faith in Christ?
Scripture says he forgives you. You're listening to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green. And friend, if you'd like to hear this message again, or you'd like to share it with a friend or loved one, you're invited to visit thetruthpulpit.com. Once there, you'll find all of Don's Bible studies available to you 24 hours a day.
Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. And now before we go, here again is Don with a closing word. Friend, one of the things that I'm always mindful of when I'm here in studio is I'm mindful that there are people out in the audience that are like I used to be, thinking that they were Christians but not really having the life of God in their soul. You've perhaps read the Bible or gone to church, but you've never really turned your life to Christ in repentance and saving faith. I was like that. I know what it's like to be self-deceived. I just encourage you, if you've just viewed Christianity as something kind of casual and not all that important, my friend, examine yourself. See if you're truly born again, and let that work of God in your heart lead you to truth, lead you to the scriptures so that you would enter into the profound life that belongs only to those who are true Christians. Thanks, Don. And friend, join us again next time as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here in the Truth involvement.
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