Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pentecost 16 -- Proper 19

Factors of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the theme running through the lessons for this day. God’s attitude toward sinners is shown in Jesus association with sinners and in His joy when sinners repent. If God id not forgive sinners would be destroyed by God’s wrath. In the Old Testament lesson Moses intercedes for his people who are guilty of idolatry and convinces god not to wipe out His people. The means that God forgives and accepts them as His own people. Paul tells of the mercy of forgiveness he received by his faith in Christ even though he called himself a chief sinner.

Forgiveness is the key word for today. On the one hand, forgiveness discloses the nature of God – God is merciful. On the other, forgiveness reveals the nature of humans as sinners standing in need of forgiveness. God’s act is forgiveness. Our part is repentance. How easy is it to forgive? Some consider forgiveness to be a light, easy thing to do. There is much misunderstanding of how and when god forgives and of the place of repentance. Using all three lessons as a backdrop we will consider the factors of forgiveness.

The factors of forgiveness are:

1. Our need for forgiveness. [Epistle lesson] 1 Timothy 1:12-17 “I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted Him” v. 13 “I am the foremost of sinners”– v. 15
A. He received mercy despite his opposition to Christ.
1. Paul’s opposition was intense.
a. He was injurious.
b. He was a wanton persecutor.
2. We are no different.
a. Although we probably have not engaged in the persecution of which Paul was guilty we are no better than Paul because we are born with a sinful heart.
b. We fail to meet God’s standard and God has the right to punish us.
B. Mercy comes through Christ Jesus.
1. Christ came to save us.
a. He kept God’s Law for us.
b. He suffered on the cross the punishment for our sin. By His resurrection he testifies to the completion of redemption. God is merciful through Christ, in whom alone there is forgiveness, life, salvation.
2. Christ’s mercy comes to us individually.
a. We receive that mercy at our Baptism
b. Our faith in Christ’s mercy is strengthened through contact with the Word of God and participation in the Holy Communion.

Transition: There is the need for forgiveness. God has also supplied the means.

2. Means of forgiveness. [Old Testament lesson] Exodus 32:1-7 Moses succeeds in persuading God not to destroy the Israelites for their sin. Moses intercedes for his people. Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners says St. Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15
A. The people were so quick to change their allegiance.
1. They knew the Lord had lead them out of Egypt through Moses.
2. But as soon as Moses was absent from their eyes they demanded that Aaron erect and fashion another god.
B. Moses became angry with the people.
1. But he did not allow his anger to rule the day.
2. Instead he intercedes for the people asking that the Lord would have mercy upon them to forgive and restore them. “But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God O Lord, he said, why should Your anger burn against Your people, whom You brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth? Turn from Your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on Your people. Remember Your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom You swore by Your own self: I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them and it will be their inheritance for ever. Then the Lord relented and did not bring on His people the disaster He had threatened. Vv. 11-14,
3. As Moses prayed for the people, we too are to pray for others pointing them to Jesus who was sent upon a mission to redeem and restore the people. Remember the last verse of our Epistle for this day, ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He alone has the means to forgive.

Transition: The factors of forgiveness are simple. There is our need and the means which lead toward forgiveness. There must also be a response.

3. Response to forgiveness; repentance [Gospel lesson] Luke 15:1-10 The parable of the lost sheep and coin. “One sinner who repents” – Vv. 7, 10. Mark the Scripture well. “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents then over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent…I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.”

What is repentance?
A. I take responsibility for my actions.
B. I feel remorse. I experience Godly sorrow for what I’ve done.
C. I attempt to repair what I have broken to the best of my ability. The serenity prayer helps in this respect, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change what I can the ability to know the difference.
D. I repeat not! I do not have license to go back and visit sin.

Note: These four steps; leading to repentance, come from Dr. Laura Schlesinger, she’s a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. She suggests; quite convincingly, that this is all we need to right a wrong. Yet, one component is missing. A 5th step is necessary; the final step, which separates Christians from the rest of the world; a step, which turns from following rules to establishing a relationship with the Father Himself. The 5th step necessary:

E. I receive redemption or reconciliation through Jesus Christ my Savior.

What are the factors of forgiveness? There are but three

Ø My need and God’s ability

Ø The means which come by way of the cross

Ø A response which comes through repentance and faith

To this end, help us gracious Lord!

Face of Christ

No comments: