Bridge Builders pt 2

Bridge Builders  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  55:07
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What is the single most difficult thing for Christians to do? (ask first)
But … Forgive is exactly what we are COMMANDED to do…
Look at Col. 3:1-17 — The Apostle Paul gives us some direction on Holy Living… Look at what he says:
Colossians 3:1 (NRSV)
1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Colossians 3:2 (NRSV)
2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,
Colossians 3:5 (NRSV)
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly [the Flesh]: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry).
Colossians 3:8 (NRSV)
8 But now you must get rid of all such thingsanger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth.
Colossians 3:9 (NRSV)
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices
Colossians 3:12 (NRSV)
12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Those are all great things, right?
— But… Look at what Paul says next:
Colossians 3:13 (NRSV)
13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Does Christ really understand how hard that is?!
— Does He really mean it?
— Do we really have to forgive someone who abused us… who mis-treated us… who wronged us… ?
— Do we really have to forgive the liar… the cheat… the murderer… the child abuser… the rapist… ?
Yes! We do!
Yes! He means it!
There is an old Spanish story told of a father and son who became estranged. As the relationship grew colder and colder… the son eventually ran away, and the father set out to find him.
He searched for months and months… to no avail.
Finally, in a last, desperate, effort to find him, the father put an ad in the Madrid newspaper. It read:
“Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.”
On Saturday, 800 Pacos showed up… looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
(adapted from “Bits and Pieces” Oct. 15, 1992.
There is a truth revealed in this story:
We ALL want forgiveness!
However, we struggle with extending it.
General Oglethorpe once told John Wesley: “I never forgive, and I never forget.”
To which Wesley replied:
“Then, Sir, I hope you never sin.” (source unknown)
Luke 6:37 NRSV
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
Now, look what Jesus says right before that:
Luke 6:27–29 NRSV
27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
Luke 6:32 NRSV
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Luke 6:35 NRSV
35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
— We are not like the world… We forgive because we are forgiven!
— It is not our place to judge… to seek vengeance… to condemn the offender…
So… Why do we?!
— Because we think we are better then they are…
— Gen Oglethorpe felt it was his right to “punish” the offender… because he was “on higher ground”… so he “never forgave and never forgot.”
“You never forgive someone to whom you feel superior.” — Tim Keller
We do not have the right to decide what someone deserves.
Only God does!!!!
— Feeling superior to someone else (even subconsciously) leads to judgment of that person… which leads to unforgiveness!
Romans 12:9 NRSV
9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
We are supposed to build bridges of Love and Forgiveness. We do not have the right to judge, and decide what a person deserves.
“Only God has the wisdom and right to know what a person deserves.” — Tim Keller
Look at:
Luke 17:3–4 NRSV
3 Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 4 And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
Matthew 5:23–24 NRSV
23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.
Jesus leaves us no room for debate!
We are not to judge and harbor unforgiveness… We are to LOVE and FORGIVE!!!
The Truth is: We EXPECT others to forgive us, but we struggle to FORGIVE them of the same thing!
So… How do we forgive when we struggle so much with unforgiveness?
— By Faith!
BUT… We can only find the Faith it takes by understanding what Forgiveness is…
“Forgiveness is the release on the part of the creditor, or offended party, of any expectation that a debt will be repaid, or that an offender will receive punishment fo the offense.” — Lexham Theological Workbook
“Forgiveness is to set the prisoner free, and to realize that the prisoner was you.” — Corrie Ten Boom
You see — Forgiveness is not about the other person, it is about YOU!
— Unforgiveness harms our relationship with God, and binds us up in chains of hate… anger… depression… vengeance…
Forgiveness sets us free…
— Think of someone who wronged you… who mistreated you… who abused you… maybe they lied about you… maybe they cheated you… or cost you something important… maybe they used you… what ever the case, you just can’t stand to be around them....
— Everyone got someone in mind?
— Now… What do you feel when you think about them? Anger? Bitterness? Resentment? Fear? Desire for revenge?
Those things imprison us… They bind us up in chains that control our lives… If you feel those things, then you have not extended forgiveness.
— When we extend forgiveness, then we are set free from those feelings… Because…
Forgiveness rolls the burden to God.
When we forgive, we are saying — “It’s not my place to judge you, God will deal with it… And you will no longer affect my life.”
But… Here’s the catch…
We can only learn to extend forgiveness, and trust God, when we truly understand the forgiveness we have received.
Colossians 3:13 (NRSV)
13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
In Richard Hoefler’s book Will Daylight Come, there is a story on how sin can enslave us but forgiveness can free us! In the story, a little boy visits his grandparents and gets his first slingshot. He practices in the woods, but he never hits his target. As he leaves his grandparent’s backyard, he sees a pet duck. On an impulse, he takes aim and lets it fly. The stone hits the duck, and it falls dead.
The boy panics. Desperately, he hides the duck in the woodpile, only to look up to find his sister Sally saw the whole thing. After lunch that day, Grandma says, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally says, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you, Johnny?” And she whispers to him, “Remember the duck!” So Johnny does the dishes. Later Grandpa asks if the children want to go fishing. Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally smiles and says, “That’s all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it.” Again, Sally leans over and whispers to Johnny, “Remember the duck.” Johnny stays while Sally goes fishing. After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, finally he can’t stand it. Johnny confesses to his Grandma. To his surprise, Grandma says, “I know Johnny,” giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”
— That is the Love that Christ shows us!
— That is His Mercy and Grace!
— We stand in our disgrace… in our shame… in our brokeness and self-disgust… knowing what we deserve…
— And Christ says to us: “I Love You!”
Do you hear Him?!?
— Jesus looks at us, and He says: “I Know.”
“I Know what you’ve done.”
“I Know who you are.”
“I Love You.”
Look what He said to the thief on the Cross:
Luke 23:43 NRSV
43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Do you hear what He said?!
“I Know what you did, and I Love You!”
I want to read to you something that Oswald Chambers wrote in his devotional, “My Utmost for His Highest”:
My Utmost for His Highest October 28th—Justification by Faith

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10.

I am not saved by believing; I realize I am saved by believing. It is not repentance that saves me; repentance is the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus. The danger is to put the emphasis on the effect instead of on the cause—It is my obedience that puts me right with God, my consecration. Never! I am put right with God because prior to all, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals I can accept, instantly the stupendous Atonement of Jesus Christ rushes me into a right relationship with God, and by the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, not because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. The spirit of God brings it with a breaking, all-over light, and I know, though I do not know how, that I am saved.

The salvation of God does not stand on human logic, it stands on the sacrificial Death of Jesus. We can be born again because of the Atonement of Our Lord. Sinful men and women can be changed into new creatures, not by their repentance or their belief, but by the marvellous work of God in Christ Jesus which is prior to all experience. The impregnable safety of justification and sanctification is God Himself. We have not to work out these things ourselves; they have been worked out by the Atonement: The supernatural becomes natural by the miracle of God; there is the realization of what Jesus Christ has already done—“It is finished.”

When Christ said “It is finished,” it was finished! Nothing more needed to be done… No more steps were needed… Forgiveness and Reconciliation had been extended!
We need to understand, just as Chambers did…
We are not saved BECAUSE of our repentance… We are not saved BECAUSE of our belief… We are saved BECAUSE of Christ’s work BEFORE we even knew Him!
Romans 5:8 NRSV
8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
We forgive because GOD forgave us!
(Altar Call)
— What is it that you need?
— Where do you need forgiveness today? (that’s where it starts)
— Who is God asking you to forgive today? (bring them to the altar)
(Lk 17:5, “Increase our Faith”)
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