“Jesus Offers Forgiveness”
Welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. Something many people struggle with today is the problem of sin. They're looking for a solution to the sin in their life, but do not know where to find it. Some feel as if they are trapped by Satan, as he has a hold on them. Others may not even know they have a sin problem, nor a need to eliminate it. And yet the problem of sin is real. It stands in the way of us having a right relationship with God. It prevents us from living the free and abundant life Jesus wants us to enjoy. However, God's son, Jesus Christ, came to offer the solution. He left His home in heaven and came to rescue the world from sin, from Satan, and from separation from God; and that is what we call Good News. It is based on Jesus' love for all people everywhere, as He gave His life for the salvation of mankind. Yes, Jesus died so that we can receive His offer of forgiveness of sin. Today on "Key to the Kingdom," our study takes us to some statements found in the Bible about what Jesus did. We will notice, from the New Testament, several stories which remind us of the purpose for which He came to this earth. In each one, the idea of salvation is connected to the forgiveness of sin. Oh, I don't know where you are today in your walk with the Lord. I have no way of knowing whether or not you're sin is forgiven; but, I do know Jesus loves you and wants you to receive what He so freely offers. I invite you to stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes as we open the Bible and study together.
A number of years ago, I met a man who by his own admission was a sinner. He came into my office one day and he began to share with me some things he had done in the past that were not right; some crimes he had committed, some sin, some mistakes, even time he had spent in prison. Then he asked me a very important question. He asked, "Do you think Jesus would forgive my sin?" And he was serious in asking that question. I thought to myself, “Indeed, this is a sinful man, but yes, God would forgive him.” On the other hand, I know a man who told me one time, "I don't have any sin in my life. I read the Bible on a regular basis. I go to church and pray and I help lots of people. No, I don't have any sin." And I thought to myself, Maybe you do, maybe you don't: I don't know. But yet, whether or not we see ourselves in one of those two categories, sin affects all of us. Sin is a problem that we all experience, whether we recognize it or not. The Bible reminds us of the fact that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, Romans chapter 6 verse 23. We know from Romans chapter 3 verse 23, there was no one righteous, not a single one. Yes, we all miss the mark. We all stumble along the way. We all make mistakes that prevent us from having that right relationship with God. We find these words in 1st John chapter 1 verse 8: <If we claim to be without sin, then we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.> That's true, isn't it? We have sin in our life. Well, because of those statements we recognize that indeed there is a need to find a solution to that sin problem. And yet we find also, in the Bible, that the only way to do that is through God's son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is willing and able to forgive our sin, and in fact He has already done so through the sacrifice He made up on the cross. And it does not matter how many times we commit sin, or the same sin over and over, Jesus is in the business of forgiving sin; and, that's good news, isn't it? For the next few minutes, I want us to notice some passages that include that wonderful announcement. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 1, God speaks through an angel to a man by the name of Joseph; and this is what he tells him, beginning with verse 20. <"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save people from their sins."> Even before Jesus arrived in this world, He was destined to forgive the sin of people; and that was one of the primary purposes for which He came. He came to offer a solution. He came to save people from sin to remove the stain, or the guilt, which sin causes. When Jesus was born, His parents took Him to the Temple in Jerusalem for the purpose of dedicating Him to God; and as they entered they met a righteous, devout man, named Simeon. And God had promised Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he passed away, and this was that occasion. And so Simeon, overwhelmed with joy, took baby Jesus into his arms; and we find these words in Luke chapter 2: <"For my eyes, have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations. A light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory for Your people. Israel."> Simeon, along with many others, was looking for the Messiah. He knew from the Old Testament prophets, One was coming who would bring salvation to the world; and, now He had come. This was a special day, and Simeon said, "Now, Lord, I am ready to go home to see You." As Jesus arrived on the scene and began His public ministry, He followed in the footsteps of a man named John the Baptist. Now John's role was to prepare the way for Jesus. He went throughout the land proclaiming a Good News message, asking the people to prepare their hearts and to be ready for One who was coming after him. And this One would increase, as John himself decreased. Notice what happens in the Gospel of John chapter 1, beginning with verse 26: <"I baptize you with water, but among you stands One you do not know. He is the One who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan where John was baptizing. The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."> Oh, many people were questioning the role of John the Baptist. They wanted to know what his purpose was here upon the earth, and so John told them: One is coming after me, who is special, He is important. I'm not even worthy to untie the straps on His sandals. And then, he sees Jesus coming toward him and he says, "Look, there He is, the One who has come to take away the sin of the world. He has come to take away to remove, to forgive people's sin." And that's exactly what Jesus did. There is a debate among some scholars as to the actual author of the words that are found in John chapter 3 verse 16. Some say that John, the one who wrote that Gospel, simply inserted these words in verse 16. Others say that Jesus actually stated these words. And you know the words of John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Now, whoever is to be credited with those words is irrelevant, but the message is true. The message is important. And those words are perhaps the most often quoted and memorized words in all of the Bible; but, sometimes we stop right there. Think about verse 17 of John 3, <"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him."> In this world today, we live with all kinds of condemnation, don't we? People condemn us and they judge us. They point their finger at us for doing something that may not even be wrong. We bear the burden and the way to that condemnation. But Jesus doesn't come into this world to condemn us any further. He comes into this world to save us, to save us from that condemnation, to save us from sin, to save us from Satan, to save us from an eternal separation from God our Father. And that's special. That's important. Throughout His ministry, Jesus ministered to both Jews and non-Jews, or Gentiles, alike. And even though Jesus was a Jew himself, He did not overlook those people who were not like Him. But Jesus demonstrated His love for all people everywhere, just like He does still today. On one occasion, Jesus was going from Judea, in the South, up to Galilee, in the North, but He had to pass through Samaria. Now, many Jews did not do that. They went around Samaria as they went from North to South. And the problem was, the Jews and the Samaritans did not like each other. In fact, they hated each other. Well, Jesus decided to go right through that country one time, and that scared the disciples. They didn't know what to think about that. But as Jesus went through Samaria, He sat down one day at a water well, about noon. While He was sitting there resting, a woman came up to draw water. And the disciples saw all of that taking place and they were afraid, on two different accounts. Number one, Jesus was a Jew in the land of a Samaritan. But then secondly, He was a male talking with a woman, and that was not something you would do in the middle of Samaria. Well, Jesus asked for a drink of water, and she was amazed that He had nothing with which to draw; and Jesus talked about living water. She then asked some questions about, "Where are we supposed to be worshiping? Here in Jerusalem?" And Jesus had a conversation about that. And then Jesus said, "Why don't you go and bring your husband so I can visit with him?" And she said, "I don't have one." And Jesus said, "Well, you're right. You've had five, and you don't have one even now." Well, the woman was amazed with the conversation that took place with Jesus, the Christ. So she ran back into her village and she told other people living there about what she had experienced. And notice the response of those people, in John chapter 4 beginning with verse 39. <Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed two days. And because of His words, many more became believers. And they said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this Man really is the Savior of the world."> After spending time with Jesus, the Samaritans recognized a very important fact, Jesus really is the Savior of the world; and that is one of the greatest statements that has ever been recorded about Jesus from non-Jewish people. Yes, they recognized Jesus was someone special. He even stayed two days with them, to teach them further about the Kingdom of God. One of Jesus' disciples was named Peter. He identified Christ as the Son of God, one day, and that story is found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16. Jesus took His disciples to an area called Caesarea Philippi, near the headwaters of the Jordan river. And this was an evil place, it was a spooky place. There were idols and images all throughout that region where the people had come to worship their false gods. And Jesus asked His disciples a question, "Who do people say I am?" They responded by giving a number of names, from one of the Old Testament prophets to even John the Baptist. But then Jesus said, "Well, what about you?" And it was Peter who spoke up on that occasion, and he said, "Well, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Oh, Peter made that great confession as to who Jesus was. And then Jesus stated, upon that statement, "I will build My church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it." And indeed, that was the case. Well, Peter went on to be a great leader in Jesus' early church, but many people did not like Peter's message about Jesus and about the church and they persecuted him. But one day Peter had enough and he stood up to a group of people. And this is what he said about Jesus, it's found in Acts 4 verse 12: <"There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."> When Peter made that statement, he lets the whole world know there is forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ, and in Him alone. No other source, no other person, no other way can people be forgiven of the sin in their life except through Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God. The apostle Paul knew Jesus quite well. He experienced Jesus' salvation and the forgiveness of his sin, according to Acts chapter 9. One day Saul, as he was called then, his Jewish name, was traveling on the road to Damascus. He and his friends were on the way to persecute people who belonged to the way of Jesus. As they were traveling, there was a great light from heaven that shined down up on him, and it knocked Saul to the ground, and he was blinded by that light. Then he heard the voice of God speak to him, and he recognized that he was headed in the wrong direction. And for three days, Saul did not eat or drink. He thought very carefully about what he heard on that occasion. And Saul was taken by his friends into the town called Damascus. There he met a man by the name of Ananias, and Ananias taught him more about Jesus. And it was then that Saul was convinced he was going in the wrong direction and he needed to go in the right direction. And so he got up, he took food and nourishment, and he was baptized into the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. And that's what Ananias told him to do, "Arise and wash away your sin, calling on the name of the Lord." And from that moment on, Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, was a great evangelist, was a great proclaimer of God's truth to both Jews and Gentiles. One day near the end of his life, Saul was reflecting upon all of that, and he wrote these words to his good friend Timothy, in 1st Timothy chapter 4 and verse 10: <That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the Living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.> God, through His son Jesus Christ, saves people who believe in Him. And as we've already seen, that is the only way according to the Bible that a person can be saved, through Jesus, as we are brought into God's family. Wherever we look in Scripture, we find Jesus connected with the forgiveness of sin and salvation. An angel, Peter, John the Baptist, the apostle Paul, they all tell us Jesus came to forgive sin. Jesus even did that throughout His public ministry. He forgave the sin of a paralyzed man, in Luke chapter 5, before He healed him. While Jesus was dying upon the cross, He looked out on all of those people who were guilty of putting Him there, and He offered this prayer to His Father, in Luke 23 verse 34: <"Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing."> Even while He was dying, Jesus was concerned about people receiving God's free gift of salvation and for them to have their sin forgiven. Yes, Jesus came to offer a solution for our sin problem. He died upon the cross to eliminate the curse of sin. And through that sacrificial love, Jesus offers forgiveness and salvation to each and every one of us, still today. But there is something else we need to know. There is a statement in Romans chapter 8, verse 34. It's one of my favorites, written by the apostle Paul: <”Christ Jesus who died, more than that, who was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”> Have you ever thought about that? Have you thought about the fact that Jesus Christ who died and Rose again and is now reigning at God's right hand is interceding for us? He's praying for you. He's praying for me that we would recognize our need for Jesus and our need to be forgiven of the sin in our life. Another similar passage is found in Hebrews 7 verse 25: <”Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them.”> That's good news! Jesus is interceding. He is praying for us so that we will be saved completely. He's praying that our sin will be forgiven as we receive that gift of salvation by identifying ourself with Jesus, putting our faith in Him, turning away from our sin; and then, as Saul did in Acts 9, being buried with Christ in baptism so our sin is washed away. Yes, Jesus saves us from sin and from Satan and from eternal separation. You know today, whether or not we see ourselves being full of sin or absolutely free from it, we recognize that we have a sin problem, but thanks be to God that through His son Jesus Christ, we have an answer. Jesus himself is the solution to the sin in our life. He forgives us, He saves us completely and He is even praying on our behalf that we receive that free gift of love, forgiveness and salvation. Now I trust that each and every one of us today can simply say, “Thank you Jesus for loving me. Thank you for forgiving my sin,” and that we recognize we are a part of God's family, when we do as the Scriptures teach us. And we don't have to deal with the guilt and the burden of sin any longer because Jesus forgive your sin, and mine.
One of the things I do when I come into a church building like this one is to pray. And yet, we do not need to be in a church building to pray, do we! Perhaps you have a special place where you like to talk with your Father in heaven. Maybe you have certain passages of Scripture that you pray. Well, prayer is important. A number of books have been written on the subject of prayer. There are prayer guides and prayer journals and prayer studies. Yes, prayer is important, and that is our communication with our Father in heaven. But did you realize that Jesus prays for you, also? Not only do you pray for yourself, but Jesus is praying for you, according to Romans 8 verse 34 and also Hebrews chapter 7 and verse 25. He is at the right hand of our Father and He sees what's going on in your life and He prays for you. As Jesus was on the cross of Calvary, He looked out about the multitude of people and He said, “Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing.” You know, sometimes we don't know for sure what we are doing and we need help. We need someone to pray on our behalf. Well, just as Jesus prayed for those people, so too, He prays for us. Maybe He is praying that we are forgiven for the sin in our life. Maybe He prays that we will have a closer walk with Him and enter into that relationship with our Father in heaven. But isn't it good to know that Jesus prays for us? As you spend time praying today, about various things in your life or even in the lives of your loved ones, remember that Jesus is praying for you, as well. And isn't that a comforting thought, that He goes to the Heavenly Father on your behalf, and He intercedes in prays for you.
Thank you for tuning in to today's program. It is good to be reminded of Jesus’ love and sacrifice, and indeed we can be most thankful for His offer of forgiveness. This lesson is available to be heard or viewed again on our website keytothekingdom.com. Feel free to download it without any cost or obligation. Many other lessons are also on the website and perhaps there are some which might be of particular interest. In addition to these messages, we offer one minute devotional thoughts for your daily consideration. Short two minute videos, applying God's Word to everyday life, are available as well. If you would like to call the number on the screen with specific thoughts or questions, please feel free to do so. Leave your name and number and we'll be happy to return the call just as soon as possible. A convenient way to access this ministry is through a free phone app, which can be downloaded onto your smart phone. Or, maybe you would like to follow us on Facebook®. Every week new messages are uploaded there, and I hope you will like and share them with others. Oh, these various aspects of our ministry are all designed to be a blessing in your relationship with the Lord. Thank you again for being our guest today, and I hope you will join us again next time, as we continue to study the Bible at "Key to the Kingdom."