Summary: We do not understand God, or the Gospel, until we grasp the significance of forgiveness of sin. God's plan cannot be fulfilled without it, and we cannot be saved without it, nor can we live the Christian life without it.
Charlie Brown is quite certain that Lucy's offer to hold the football for him to kick will end just
like the other attempts. She will pull the ball away just as she kicks, and he will end up flat on his
back. She assures him that she is a changed person and that he can trust her. He accepts Lucy at
her word and comes running to kick the ball. But sure enough, as he kicks she does it again and
pulls the ball away. He flies through the air and smashes to the ground, and Lucy bends over
Charlie to say, "I admire you, Charlie Brown. You have such faith in human nature."
Poor Charlie is made to look like a fool, but the fact is, followers of Christ are expected to be
fools like this for Christ's sake. Jesus made it perfectly plain that the practice of forgiveness was to
be perpetual. In Matt. 18:21 Peter comes to Jesus and asks, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin
against me, and I forgive him? As many as 7 times?" In verse 22 Jesus answers, "I do not say to
you 7 times, but 70 times 7." We can only look at such radical teaching and say in the words of
Lucy, "Lord, you have such faith in human nature."
Jesus not only taught radical forgiveness, but He practiced it. We see this in these first words
He spoke from the cross. In these first of His final words He expresses a forgiveness far greater
than the 70 times 7 that He expects us to express. Forgiving those who so cruelly crucified Him
not only revealed His faith in human nature, but it opened up to the whole world an insight into
His nature as the Son of God.
We do not understand God, or the Gospel, until we grasp the significance of forgiveness of sin.
God's plan cannot be fulfilled without it, and we cannot be saved without it, nor can we live the
Christian life without it. Forgiveness is not a subject out on the edge of Christian truth. It is at the
very center. Maybe those at the cross did not hear Jesus in His prayer of forgiveness, but they
heard the Gospel of forgiveness later. In Acts 5:30-31 Peter says to the leaders of Israel, "The God
of our fathers raise Jesus whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His
right hand as leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins."
The Gospel of forgiveness was the message of the early church. God commissioned the Apostle
Paul to preach the message of forgiveness of sin to the Gentiles also. Paul speaking before King
Agrippa tells of the message he received from Christ when He was saved. The Lord was sending
him to the Gentiles, and Acts 26:18 has Jesus saying, "To open their eyes, that they may turn from
darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins
and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." Note how forgiveness of sin is a key
factor in the Gospel. It was a major message that Jesus wanted spread into all the world.
When Paul preached in Antioch where many, both Jews and Gentiles responded to the Gospel,
he concluded that fruitful sermon with this great news in Acts 13:38-39, "Let it be known to you
therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by Him
everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of
Moses." Forgiveness of sin was the key message in Paul's preaching and writing. He writes in
Eph. 1:7, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to
the riches of His grace." In Col. 1:14 he ends his statement of things to be thankful for with, "In
whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
We could go on and on showing how the whole of Christian theology has been influenced by
the truth of forgiveness of sin. Those words of Jesus from the cross, "Father forgive them," laid a
foundation on which the church has been building ever since. We want to examine what
forgiveness means to us. First of all,
I. FORGIVENESS MEANS FREEDOM.
We just read of how Paul said that forgiveness in Christ frees us from everything from which
the law of Moses could not set us free. If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed, and the Son
makes us free through forgiveness. Where there is no forgiveness of sin, there is only bondage.
Much, if not most, of the world not only lacks political freedom, but they also lack spiritual