Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do You Remember Your Forgiveness?

by Larry Rouse

It is remarkable what some people can remember. Years ago when I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska I ran across a man who, when he heard that I grew up in Alabama, anxiously wanted to talk with me. Over dinner at a restaurant he relived almost every play of every Alabama football team that played under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. This man never lived in Alabama, but for whatever reason he knew more about that period of Alabama football than anyone I had ever met, even amongst those I knew in Alabama. However, when it came to talking about the Bible, my new found friend had forgotten the few things he had known about the Bible and had no interest in discussing that subject.

Over the years I have been perplexed by a growing problem that I have seen in some churches. Just like my friend in Nebraska, Christians have things they get excited about and cannot wait to discuss, but when it comes to foundational themes of Christianity they seem to have no interest. Why is this so?

The apostle Peter addresses this issue in the first chapter of Second Peter. After Peter explains the healthy steps of growth in a Christian’s life, he mentions some who did not add to their faith the components of self-control, kindness and brotherly love. Why are these people not growing? Peter through the Holy Spirit looks into their hearts and proclaims “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)

What does the thought of your own forgiveness provoke within you? King David wrote the 51st Psalm with a powerful memory of a time in his life where he lay crushed by sin and separated from his God. After committing adultery with the wife of a good friend, he then had that friend murdered at the hands of Israel’s enemies through his instructions as King. He thought he had covered up this sin for over a year. Through the agony of a guilty conscience and by having his heart opened by the rebuke of the prophet Nathan, David was crushed and turned to God with his whole heart. What did his forgiveness mean to him? Hear his words, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:7-11)

The very essence of our relationship to God, of our praises to Him and of our evangelism to others, lies in a heart that overflows with thankfulness of what God has done for us. What greater thing has our God done for us than our own forgiveness through the blood of His own Son? What is the measuring stick of God’s love for us? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Do you remember that you have been forgiven? The truth is that your life will proclaim what is in your heart. David knew that once he found forgiveness and had the firm assurance of his relationship with God, that he could not help but talk to others. “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.” (Psalm 51:12-13)

The next time you assemble with Christians you should not keep hidden within your heart the great news about what God has done for you. “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth From the great assembly. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.” (Psalm 40:10-11)

Satan is pleased when churches are filled with men and women whose hearts are hardened and cold, whose religion is nothing more than an outward pretense. There is a better way, and that way begins by asking ourselves some hard questions about our own conversion and about the present condition of our hearts. Would you, too, like to have the joy of your salvation restored within your heart? Begin at the cross and let the knowledge of what God has done for you melt your heart and your will into a humble, but fervent, disciple of the Lord.
Jesus said this to Christians who had forgotten their forgiveness: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Do you hear Him knocking?

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