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Four Words and His Signature

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
April 24, 2023 12:00 am

Four Words and His Signature

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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April 24, 2023 12:00 am

There is an innate feeling of wrongdoing and guilt in all human beings. We all intrinsically know when we have fallen short, and we look to be freed from the guilt and shame we feel inside us. Many people will go to extreme lengths to confess their sins and make themselves feel right again. But Jesus gave His disciples a very simple task to do when they have sinned; in fact, it is only four words long.

Alan Wright Ministries
Alan Wright

The Bible puts it this way as Paul wrote to the Colossians in chapter 2, verse 13 and 14. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness which stood against us and condemned us, having nailed it to the cross. All of it, every one of our sins, beloved past, present, and still yet future, having been nailed to the cross, is already canceled. God created us with what's called a conscience. It means that there's an innate feeling of wrongdoing and guilt in all human beings. We all intrinsically know when we have fallen short, and we want to be freed from the guilt and shame that we feel inside us. Many people will go to extreme lengths to confess their sins and make themselves feel right again. And Jesus gave his disciples a very simple task to do when they've sinned.

In fact, it's only four words long. You need to know what Jesus said, and Stephen's going to teach you in this message called Four Words and His Signature. I typed into the search bar the words, how to confess your sin, and I got six billion possible sites to visit. Most of what I saw as I surfed longer than I should have had to do with penance and priests and religion and self-improvement, the ritual. I also found a number of online systems for gathering confessions from people who log on. You can now confess online.

Words like anonymous and convenient are advertised. There are sites where you can visit an online confessional portal and feel like you're going into a booth. After confessing your sin, you can use your credit card to make a small contribution to a charitable organization. It seems that how to confess your sin and get rid of guilt is a universal dilemma. These sites just kind of prove that, that sin, that this sense of guilt is not something left over from the Victorian era, that we just need to grow past.

But if you missed it earlier, when I typed in how to confess, I didn't get 6,000 sites or 6 million sites, 6 billion sites. Jesus is going to handle this with four words and help us solve the issue. I want you to take your copy, if you will, of the disciples' prayer. It's found in the Gospel by Luke and chapter 11.

We're now arriving at verse 4. While you're turning, Philip Keller wrote in his book on this prayer, these four words might be the most important words you ever learn how to pray. Do we know how to pray them and do we know how to pray them correctly? Now, to get a running start, if you're new to our study, the Lord has taught his disciples how to pray for daily bread. Praying for daily bread battles that sense of independence and arrogance. Praying for bread leads us to gratitude and the sense of all that God has created the universe.

He is literally moving heaven and earth to produce a piece of bread that we need to survive. Now, that same sense of humility is required here in the next request. Verse 4 simply states, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Now we're going to explore that second phrase next time, Lord willing, because it's most often misunderstood.

It'll take a while to clear it up. But for now, at least let me say that Jesus is not teaching his disciples that they have to earn their forgiveness by forgiving other people. He's teaching in that phrase that forgiven people ought to be forgiving people.

More on that in our next study. But for today, here are four life-changing words. Forgive us our sins. Your translation might read, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, or yours might read, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. One four-year-old girl I was reading about said it wrong.

She got the idea right. But she's being taught to quote this prayer, and trespasses isn't part of her vocabulary, of course. So anyway, the little girl said, as she quoted it back, and forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets. It's pretty profound, isn't it? Now in order to understand these four words correctly, we need to recognize immediately to whom Jesus is teaching this pattern prayer. If you've been with us in this series, you know that Jesus is teaching his disciples to begin with our Father, our Father.

The Lord is not teaching unbelievers to pray. In this context, this is not a prayer to be born again into the family of God. This is a prayer for those who are already in the family of God, who can begin by praying Father. Now although these words could be part of an unbeliever's prayer in coming to faith in Christ, in this context, this isn't a prayer for spiritual salvation. It's a prayer for spiritual communion. This is not being written to people who want to become children of God. This is written for those who are children of God.

They're praying through Christ, their Savior, their mediator to their Father who is in heaven. So this prayer is a prayer for daily cleansing, daily forgiveness. Warren Wiersbe pointed out in his commentary on this text that forgiveness in the Bible, as you study it, has several different aspects to it. First of all, you have what he called ultimate or final, complete forgiveness. That is what an unbeliever receives when they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. He forgives all of their sin comprehensively, past, present, and future.

The Bible puts it this way as Paul wrote to the Colossians in chapter 2 verse 13 and 14. He forgave us all our sin, our sins having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness which stood against us and condemned us having nailed it to the cross. All of it, every one of our sins, beloved, past, present, and still yet future. Having been nailed to the cross is already canceled out, staggering truth. Imagine how saturated was the person of our Lord on the cross with sin. That's why when we come to Christ for salvation, we are offered and must be offered ultimate, final, comprehensive forgiveness for our sin.

We can't even remember to confess everything we'll do today. There's always a conundrum of Martin Luther, the reformer that I've mentioned and I've gotten his little booklet on how to pray. When Luther entered the monastery, he was determined to pay any price necessary to arrive at a right standing with God. He found that they had a little system where you could pay another priest to do your prayers for you and so you'd have to do it. He refused to get involved in that loophole, conscientious, dedicated, in fact he nearly drove his religious mentor, his confessor mad. One day he confessed for six hours until his confessor literally became too exhausted to hear any more sin. History records that after seven years of this, his confessor put an end to his torment and sent Luther to the University of Wittenberg to teach and chided him that he was doing it to survive himself. He moved into a monastery near the university and by the providence of God, he began to teach through the book of Romans.

There the doctrine of justification by faith sort of hunted him down. He was shaken by the truth as he got into the word of Romans chapter 1 and verse 16, for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it that is in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.

Here it is. This is what God's word says. The righteous shall live by faith. You become righteous by means of faith. Luther would later write, although I was an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner, recognizing I had no merit that would satisfy God. Through his study in the scriptures, he came to realize that a person was made righteous, that simply means made right with God, not through self-denial or self-sacrifice or self-earning merit but by faith alone in Christ alone. The church wasn't teaching that, of course, the Bible was. His life would be radically changed and his world challenged by this discovery and he risked his life and his future to preach what he would refer to as sola fide, faith alone, by virtue of sola scriptura, the scriptures alone.

Maybe you've seen that somewhere before. He writes to his friend, Peter the barber, I've referenced that little book. He writes to his friend, Peter the barber, that you cannot remember every sin you commit. You must trust in the forgiveness of Christ. He was freed from guilt, recognizing he was already forgiven, past, present and future sin. Well, then why not just sin and not worry about it?

See, when the apostle Paul was teaching this doctrinal truths through Romans and you get to chapter 6 and that's exactly what the Judaizers, the religious leaders were accusing him of doing. They were saying effectively, Paul, you're giving everybody a free pass to sin. If you've got this mountain of grace, why not commit a mountain of sin and sin all the more? And then in Romans chapter 6, he says, are we going to continue sinning just because grace is continuing to increase God forbid?

We're not going to want to do that. A believer doesn't want to abuse the grace of God. A believer wants to apply the grace of God to a sinful heart and the longer we live and the more we grow in Christ, the more we recognize how utterly sinful we are. But again, to the question, if we are forgiven completely and finally and comprehensively at our salvation, why is Jesus teaching us to pray, forgive us our sins? Because there's another aspect of forgiveness that impacts the believer's life. Forgiveness isn't just final, there is an aspect of it that is daily. You see, these four words here aren't related to sonship, they're related to fellowship. This is a prayer for believers. When you sin, Christian, and this prayer assumes you will, by the way, so we're taught to pray it. You don't have to become saved all over again. You can't lose your sonship, but you can lose your fellowship. When you sin, your status in Christ, in life, doesn't change. But your satisfaction in Christ, in life, changes, doesn't it?

Think about it this way. I have been married now for 41 years. Obviously, Marcia and I were married in middle school. Let's suppose that I do something that is unkind to her. And again, I know in this message, I'm really stretching your imagination to even conceive of these things.

And I can tell you in 41 years, I have actually done that a couple of times in the same day. Suppose I tell her I'm sorry and she's willing to forgive me. Now we don't get married again.

It's a good thing because it would be very expensive, right? We don't get married again. The status of our relationship didn't change.

The spirit of our relationship did. Let me use a stronger analogy. Consider your child disobeying you over and over and over again until you finally say, that does it. Now that child doesn't stop being your child, even though the thought crosses your mind. But no, no matter what they do, they are still your child. They need to apologize.

Not so they can rejoin your family, but so they can enjoy your family. See these four words constitute the prayer of a prodigal child, a prodigal disciple, and frankly, beloved, we are prodigals every single day and throughout the day and more than we even recognize. And when we do, we come back to these four wonderful words for give us our sins.

Now these four words are based on two conditions. First, that you're willing to agree that God is right. He did something that he says not to do in his word and his word is always right.

Doesn't matter how you feel, doesn't matter what you think, it doesn't matter what everybody else says. True confession for the believer daily brings us back into alignment with the truth of God and his word and we are in order to pray this correctly, admitting that God is right. Secondly, this is a condition of being willing to admit we were wrong. It's a little easier to admit that God is right than it is to admit that we were wrong, but this is a condition. Forgive us our sins, not our reasons. God has never yet forgiven an excuse. He forgives sin. He forgives sinners. Are you a sinner?

Then you qualify for this prayer. The Bible says in 1 John 1-9, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Have you ever thought about the fact that that text is written to Christians?

That's written to believers. The word that John uses for confess is the original word that simply means to say the same thing. In other words, you are saying the same thing about what you did that God said about it. You're agreeing with God. You're confessing that he was right and that you were wrong. And you stop putting words in his mouth to justify your sin. Can a believer do that? John evidently thought so. Jesus knows so and teaches us how to correct it.

We attempt to get God on our side for the smallest of sins that we justify and even the greatest offenses. We learn early in life how to do that. The little girl I wrote about recently, her parents gave her a golden retriever for her fifth birthday.

I don't know what they were thinking, but they did. It wasn't long before she was telling all her neighbors and friends that she had been given her own pet lion. You can't tell the difference, she insisted.

It's my pet lion. Well, her mother found out about it and brought her inside and said, now I've told you plenty of times that you're not to tell a lie. Now I want you to go upstairs and I want you to get into your room and I want you to tell God you're sorry and the little girl just moped her way up the stairs. A little while later she came hopping and skipping back downstairs and her mother asked her did you confess to God that what you said was wrong and she replied, well yes ma'am I did and God told me that sometimes he can't tell the difference either.

You learn early on. That's not a genuine confession. God's right.

We're wrong. Let me reinforce our study by pointing out three opportunities that this prayer offers us just in rapid succession here. First this prayer is a daily opportunity to remind ourselves that sin didn't bring us fulfillment after all. It's a reminder.

I blew it. In fact more than that I thought that it would bring me fulfillment or satisfaction and I'm here to admit it was just sin. Secondly this is a daily opportunity to rejoice that Christ paid our debt of sin and loves us in spite of it all. And third this is a daily opportunity to return to him in fellowship not because we are worthy but because we are welcomed after all.

Dr. Harry Ironside, a beloved Bible teacher of a generation ago, I have his books, former pastor of Moody Church, repeated an account from history that illustrates this well. Many years ago Tsar Nicholas the first of Russia had a good friend whose son was in the army. Out of kindness the Tsar had him assigned to a border fortress of the Russian army appointed him an inside role, desk job so to speak, over the payroll for that entire garrison. The young man started well but he began gambling. Eventually he gambled away his own paycheck and even dipping into the money the government was sending him to pay the garrison and he went on too long then went too far. One day he unexpectedly received notice that an official from the palace would be coming to perform an audit of the books. He knew he was in serious trouble. The night before the official was to arrive he took out the ledger to find out how much money had been given from the government to cover the payroll. He totaled the amount and then he went to the safe and he took all the money out and laid it out on the desk and counted it carefully and counted it again and the difference was so great.

What was missing was so large he would never be able to explain it away. As he sat there looking at the final figures as he tallied them he picked up his pen and he wrote in large letters at the bottom of that ledger a great debt who can pay. As he thought about it in those evening hours he realized that he would not be able to face his father.

He realized the shame he would bring his family. He realized the dishonor the next day held for him he decided to take his life and he decided to do it at the stroke of midnight. Well the air was warm that night and he became drowsy at the accounting desk and as he waited his head dropped lower and lower until finally he fell asleep. His head resting with the ledger on one side and with the pistol in his hand on the other. Nicholas the first was in the habit of putting on the uniform of a common soldier and at times visiting the barracks to see how they were getting along.

He did it that very night. Coming around to the office he saw that young man whom he recognized. He walked over to the desk looked over the shoulder of that sleeping soldier and saw the books saw the ledger saw the money stacked in rows.

He read the total amount. He saw the pistol in the soldier's hand and immediately it all became clear. He was in his first thought he wanted to awaken this young soldier and arrest him and have him court-martialed. But then he happened to notice that personal note written at the bottom of the ledger a great debt who can pay and he was overwhelmed with pity and mercy and grace. Nicholas quietly leaned over picked up the pen that had fallen from the hand of that sleeping officer and he wrote one word and then quietly walked out at the break of dawn.

Sunlight this young man suddenly awoke realizing he'd fallen asleep there wasn't much time to lose before the official would arrive and he reached again with that revolver. But as he did something caught his eye and something underneath his note where he had written in despair a great debt who can pay. And that was written one word Nicholas.

He raced to the files to see where other documents were he compared the signature he realized it was the same hand he thought to himself bizarre himself has come here tonight. He knows all my guilt he's chosen to pay my debt for me and just then a messenger arrived from the palace carrying the amount of money to settle the entirety of that debt. Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray these four words all the while knowing that the basis for our ability to pay for it or even pray for this is not paying it ourselves but the fact that he was heading to a cross where he would cover it all the sins leading up to that point all the sins coming after that his sacrifice his death his payment so that he could write as it were underneath the ledger of our sinful lives not just finally but daily underneath that daily recognition of this fact that well what did we do today we added to the debt today's debt who can pay and he writes his name. So what do you need to confess your sins to be forgiven believer there are six billion sites out there who will tell you what to do but let me tell you all you really need are these four words and the signature his signature. Thanks for joining us today for this message Stephen called four words and his signature. I'm Scott Wiley. Would you be interested in receiving occasional text messages from Stephen all you have to do is send a text with the word wisdom to 833-676-4051 your message should just be the one word wisdom so do that now and then join us again tomorrow for more wisdom for the hearts. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-24 00:24:14 / 2023-04-24 00:32:58 / 9

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