Backing Out With a Long Bang


Snow!

Today we will be exploring the answer to the following question: How can I be forgiven after having sinned so much?

First of all, if you are asking yourself this question, you are not lost beyond hope. It's those who aren't even wondering about such things who are heading for disaster.

The Good News proclaimed by Jesus throughout the New Testament was not designed for those who think they are right with God, but to sinners like you and me!

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:8 NIV)

This is the immensity of God's love: He loves us so much that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners! To think that his message of forgiveness is for those who think they are goody-two shoes is a mistake! It's a message of hope for you and me, a message of love, telling us clearly that God loves us!

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst." (1 Tim 1:15 NIV)

Interestingly enough, once we get to know Jesus, we look at our past with disgust and we consider ourselves as the worst sinner that ever existed. In all truth, sin is sin, no matter how small or how big, and no matter how frequently it was committed!

"For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matt 9:13 NIV)

Sadly, many walk around with their nose in the air, thinking they are better than others. I have encountered many who boast that they are far better than Hitler or Nero. And though from human perspective, this may seem correct, it isn't correct in God's perspective: "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Matt 18:6 NIV)

Let's face it, we all have sinned and hurt "little ones" and we all deserve "to have a large millstone hung around" our neck! However "while we were sinners" Jesus died on a cross, so that we could be reconciled with God. In other words, if we accept God's forgiveness for our sins, no matter how small or big they are, we are forgiven!

Those who are not forgiven are those who think they are better than the Mussolinis and the Stalins of this world!

"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'" (Luke 18:9-14 NIV)

You know what happens in heaven when we accept God's forgiveness by faith through Jesus the Christ? There is great rejoicing! Rejoicing just for you! And what rejoicing! They have a celestial party!

"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7 NIV)

How can we know that we are forgiven?

"If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2 NIV)

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." (1 John 1:9-10 NIV)

We know we are forgiven by claiming such Bible texts by faith! Unlike us humans, God always keeps His word!

Some of us may wonder if we may have committed the unforgivable sin.

"And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." (Matt 12:31-32 NIV)

If we look at the context of this text, we quickly realize that Jesus is not talking about the quantity of sins we may have committed, but of an attitude where some who are "righteous" in their own eyes, criticize God at work!

"When the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.'" (Matt 12:24 NIV)

"But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." (Matt 12:28 NIV)

Those who have to worry about forgiveness are not those who have sinned, but those who think they are better than others, and consequently criticize others, and sometimes, even God! We will either gather with Jesus or scatter like the evil one.

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." (Matt 12:30 NIV)

It had been snowing quite a bit and the parking lot near my work was covered with a thick layer of the cold, white stuff. For some reason, many other car owners had decided to park in the very same parking lot I had chosen, and when it was time for me to go home, I didn't notice the vehicle parked directly behind me. It was in my blind spot, and it certainly didn't help that I felt exhausted!

The inevitable happened. As I backed out of my spot, I heard a loud, metallic bang. I had hit the car behind me. Oh no!!!

I quickly advanced my car and set my brake. Jumping out, I ran to the vehicle behind me to determine how much damage I had done. Only to find there was none! How was this possible?

The guy behind the wheel of the other car had jumped out of his car at the same time, and I expected some unsavoring moments. Instead, before he even knew if his car was damaged or not, I heard a cheerful greeting: "Mr. Chaffart! I am so glad to see you. I want to thank you for " and he went on to thank me for helping out one of the members of his family.

I couldn't believe my ears! With my mouth hanging wide open, I looked him in the eye and realized that I had just been forgiven. I left the parking lot astonished beyond bounds.

We may feel we don't deserve forgiveness, but God who is far greater than any of us, He, too, jumps off his throne and greets us cheerfully: "I am so glad that you have accepted my forgiveness. Welcome to my Kingdom!"

We have indeed been forgiven! Yippee! Thank you Lord!

P. S. And thank you to the one who forgave me on the spot for banging his vehicle. You showed me what grace really means.

Rob Chaffart

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