Vespers Prayer Service, 1-11-2012

January 11, 2012

Rev. Ross Mahan, Pastor
Luke 17:3-5

Grace mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Savior

 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

 

  1. 1.      Christians glorify Christ among men by bringing forgiveness, reconciliation and peace into the world. The Gospel is the word of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:19), the glorious message that God the Father no longer imputes our trespasses unto us because of the perfect Redemption of Jesus Christ and because God has forgiven our sins in Christ He commands us to forgive the sins of others. Forgiveness is an act of mercy and love it is also our duty and obligation.  And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins (I Pet. 4:8). Forgiveness and love are essential to any relationship for there are no perfect spouses, children or friends. But man’s natural tendency is to be unforgiving, to nurse a grudge or cherish anger. He likes to feel sorry for himself when people hurt him and write them off. This is a common temptation. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man (I Cor. 10:13a). But God commands us to forgive our brethren, family, neighbors, even our enemies. Forgiveness is no option. The people in our life have a right to our forgiveness when they repent. In our sermon text Jesus sets forth the divine Law of forgiveness. Every pastor who declares the Law of God leaves his listeners without excuse. They have been charged with the Law Word of God and cannot neglect it without sin. To hear, and to pay no heed, means that the guilt is ours, and that our own blood is on our heads. Dr. R.J. Rushdoony. Let us examine what our Lord taught concerning forgiveness.

I.

  1. 2.      A warning from our Lord. Take heed to yourselves. One of the principles of Scripture is that God deals with you the same way you deal with others. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Mt. 6:14-15). A heart of forgiveness is the evidence of true saving faith without which no one can please God (Heb. 11:6). Jesus said: And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise (Lu. 6:31). Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven (Lu. 6:36-37). God treats us the same way we treat others. With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward (crooked, perverse) thou wilt shew thyself froward (Ps. 18:25-26). What we give to other people in life will return to us. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Lu. 6:38). We must always be ready to forgive. That is God’s attitude toward us. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee (Ps. 86:5).

 

  1. 3.      When we sin God doesn’t write us off! He doesn’t rebuke us for seeking forgiveness again and again. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven (Mt. 18:21-22). Peter thought he was being generous when he offered to forgive his brother seven times, but Jesus had a different standard. Afterwards Jesus told a parable: Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

 

  1. 4.      Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses (Mt. 18:23-35). The man in the parable owed the King an astronomical debt. A talent was a sum of money, the largest weight among the Hebrews and was used for gold, silver or bronze. A talent was 3,000 Shekels, approximately 94 pounds and with current gold prices around $1,700 per ounce a pound of gold today is worth $27,200. A single talent of gold (94 pounds) would be worth $2,556,800 and this man owed the king ten thousand talents, do the math. Jesus is teaching that we are all hopeless debtors to God that sin against Him every day in thought, word, and deed. It is impossible for us to comprehend the depths and magnitude of our sin. This man failed to value the forgiveness he had received from the King which made him unmerciful toward his fellow servant. The King had forgiven him a massive debt but he was unwilling to forgive a fellow servant who owed him 100 pence, around 14-20 dollars. If you do not have a proper estimation of your own sins, you will never appreciate what Christ has done for you or understand why you must forgive your brother. The sins of other people cannot be compared to what God forgives in us each day.
  1. 5.      In the Gospel of Luke Jesus went to dinner at the home of Simon the Pharisee and while they were eating, a woman, a notorious sinner, brought an alabaster box of ointment and anointed His feet, weeping and wiping his feet with her hair. The Pharisee thought: This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. But Jesus said: Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace (Lu. 7:40-48). We love God when we realize how much He has forgiven us.

II.

  1. 6.      A Command from our Lord. If thy brother trespass against thee rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. Sin is a violation of God’s Law not simply something I don’t like or offends me personally. Jesus said: When your brother sins against you rebuke him. Rebuking someone for sins is the most loving thing you can do. The word rebuke (Grk: epitimao) means to charge, convict, or to put honor upon. When we rebuke our brother Biblically, we are actually honoring and showing love for him. The goal of all godly rebuke is restoration. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted (Gal. 6:1). Paul tells us to rebuke a fallen brother in humility and kindness with the realization that except for the grace of God we would have fallen into the very same sin. This truth is also taught in the Old Testament. Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor; I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him (Lev. 19:16-17). If a brother falls into sin don’t tell anyone else about it unless they are part of the solution, go directly to your brother and speak to him about it and if he repents you have won your brother. I need to go to my brother privately because I may have misconstrued or misunderstood his actions and by speaking to him alone I can get an explanation. 

 

  1. 7.      Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (Mt. 18:15). When we admonish our brother we are not rejecting him. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother (II Thess. 3:15). If he repents, forgive him. (Repentance: A change of mind and conduct). How do I know if someone has truly repented? At first, I take his word for it but afterwards we can look for fruits of repentance. John the Baptist said: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for (in keeping with) repentance (Mt. 3:8). Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance (Acts 26:19-20). It takes time to produce fruit therefore be patient with your brother as he amends his sinful life. After we rebuke our brother and he repents Jesus commands us to forgive him. What does it mean to forgive someone? The Greek word forgive (aphiemi) means to send forth or send away, the complete removal of the cause of offense. Once you have forgiven your brother the sin is gone; you have sent it away, allowed it to die, and it is never brought up again. This is how God forgives us, removes our sins from us and never remembers them again.

 

  1. 8.      As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Ps. 103:12). We are to forgive others in the same way our Heavenly Father forgives us. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Eph. 4:30-32). God never reminds us of our sins again but forgives and forgets them. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins (Is. 43:25). I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee (Is. 44:22). And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jer. 31:34). God will treat us the same way that we treat others and this is true in life. People will respond to us the same way we act toward them; our actions toward others will return to us whether good or bad, as people often say: What goes around comes around. We have a special obligation to forgive our family and Christian brethren. But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I Tim. 5:8).

 

  1. 9.      We owe our family physical and spiritual support. It is easy to hold a grudge toward those that have hurt us but Jesus tells us to bring the forgiveness we have received into all of our earthly realationships. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared (Ps. 130:3-4). Forgiveness and reconciliation is the secret to lasting relationships. Sin destroys marriages, divides churches, and tears at the fabric of our nation and the only answer to sin is confession, repentance, and forgiveness. Jesus taught us to pray: And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us (Lu. 11:4). The forgiveness we give to others comes from the forgiveness we receive from God. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I Jn. 1:9). Have you had to forgive anyone recently? Are you in need of forgiveness from someone else? A life of forgiveness is the secret to true worship. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.(Mt. 5:23-24). When the relationship to our brother is wrong it affects our relationship to God. Forgiveness is a command of God and Jesus said: freely you have received, freely give. Amen. 
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