ANSWERING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS OF SCRIPTURE
Can All the Things I’ve Done Really Be Forgiven?
INTRODUCTION: Tough question! What we are really dealing with is two concepts – Guilt and Assurance. Two weeks ago we discovered that mankind is looking for a way to clear his conscience of guilt, because a guilty conscience convicts us of our guilt and in turn reveals that we are distant and under judgment. People are always looking for assurance. We want the sure thing. Assurance conquers guilt. Without assurance, we are always looking over our shoulders so to speak. Edgar Allen Poe in his story, The Tell-Tale Heart, writes this,….
“The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: - It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness - until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.
No doubt I now grew very pale; - but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased - and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound - much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath - and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly - more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men - but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed - I raved - I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder - louder - louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! - no, no! They heard! - they suspected! - they knew! - they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now - again! - hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!
"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! - tear up the planks! here, here! - It is the beating of his hideous heart!"
If there is no way to provide assurance of forgiveness, and release from guilt, we are all waiting to be judged!
Yet in order to fully answer the question of forgiveness, we must first answer the questions of my approach to God, and the validity of sufficiency of Christ.
I WHY IS JESUS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD?
A Jesus Is The Only Way To God Because He Said So!
1 Jesus describes His relationship to both us and God in the “I Am” passages of Scripture
John 6:48 I am the bread of life.
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 10:9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 Jesus makes an EXCLUSIVE claim as the only way to get to God
a Hinduism says – Do enough works, or learn enough knowledge, or give enough time to a deity and you will attain deliverance
b Buddhism says – If you understand suffering enough, suffer yourself, succeed in suppressing all desire so as to cease suffering, and follow the eightfold path, you will attain deliverance.
c Islam says – If you believe in the Iman (articles of faith) and practice the Din (religious duties):Recitation of the Kalima (there is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is His servent), Daily prayer recitation, Fasting, Almsgiving, and a Pilgrimage to Mecca you can attain heaven.
d Jesus says that He is the only way, because …
B Jesus Is The Only Way To God Because Of What Separates Us From God
1 No other religion deals with the issue of sin
2 Sin is what keeps us from God
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
a Sin cannot be erased by good morals
b Sin cannot be erased by right living
c Sin cannot be erased by heightened awareness
3 Sin is what keeps us from heaven
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
4 Nobody but Jesus settled the issue of sin
John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Mark 15:38-39 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
a The price had been paid
b There was now no separation between God and man
C Jesus Is The Only Way To God Based On The Sufficiency Of His Sacrifice
Hebrews 10:8-12 First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). 9Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
1 Jesus could sit down
2 His work was completed
3 His sacrifice was enough – no more was needed
II CAN JESUS REALLY PROVIDE A WAY TO GOD – Focus on the Resurrection
A Jesus’ Claim About The Resurrection
John 2:18-22 Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" 19Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." 20The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
Mark 10:32-34 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33"We are going up to Jerusalem," he said, "and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise."
1 Jews asked for a sign that Jesus could do what He said He would do
2 Jesus says that His resurrection IS the sign.
3 Everything Christ said, did, or asks of us HINGES on His Resurrection!
B The Evidence Of The Resurrection
1 The Empty Tomb
a The Preparation of the body of Jesus – about 75 pounds of spices and cloth
John 19:39-40 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.
b The sealing of the tomb – Solid rock tomb with a stone door approx 2 tons in weight
Matthew 27:60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.
Mark 16:4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
2 The Accumulation Of Evidence
a The Roman seal was broken! Who would break a seal when the penalty was death?
Matthew 27:66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
b The large stone was moved! Who could move it?
John 20:1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
c The tomb was empty! Could NEVER claim a resurrection if there was still a body in the tomb, or the body had been found!
d The grave clothes had been vacated
Luke 24:12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
e The Scripture recalls multiple eyewitnesses, one of more than 500 people
1 Cor. 15:6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
3 The testimony of the disciples
a The disciples fled and deserted Jesus during his trial. They believed Jesus was finished!
Mark 14:50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.
b Who would die for a lie?
1) Peter – crucified
2) Andrew – Crucified
3) Matthew – Sword
4) John – Natural death in exile
5) James, son of Alphaeus – Crucified
6) Philip – Crucified
7) Simon – Crucified
8) Thaddaeus – Killed by Arrows
9) James, the brother of Jesus – Stoned
10) Thomas – Spear Thrust
11) Bartholomew – Crucified
12) James, the son of Zebedee – Sword
The only reason people die for a lie is when they think it is true
There is no way these men could have been deceived, so either they were behind the plot and died KNOWING IT WAS A LIE, or they died fore the truth -- 1 Cor. 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
III THE SCOPE OF FORGIVENESS
A No One Deserves Forgiveness – If We Deserved It, It Would Not Be Forgiveness!
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--
B The Key To Forgiveness – To Understand That We Have Sinned!
1 We have violated our relationship with a holy God
2 What we have done does not disqualify us for forgiveness.
C The Extent Of God’s Forgiveness
1 God does not treat us as we deserve – we deserve to be punished, but God offers something different
Psalm 103:10-12 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
2 Jesus came to save those who needed to be saved – all of us!
1 Tim. 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst.
3 Jesus – the Son of God, forgave even those who crucified Him!
Luke 23:34-43 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." 36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." 38There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" 40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don’t you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." 42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
CAN ALL THE THINGS I’VE EVER DONE BE FORGIVEN? YES! BUT IT IS ALL UP TO ME!
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
There is no sin in our life that will ever be bigger than God’s faithfulness to me!
A powerpoint is available for this sermon. Please email for presentation