"He has not dealt with us
according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. So
great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from
the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father
pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him, for He knows
our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:10-14)
We’ve been considering the character, the Person of
God, over the past few weeks, and in this sermon we are looking at what for
many is the most amazing aspect of all: God FORGIVES! He will forgive great
and horrible sinners and He forgives others, as well. Can you
imagine? When you consider the way of the world, the un-forgiveness,
lasting anger, greed and more that fills this planet, it’s almost
impossible for us to understand the grace, the unmerited favor of God expressed through
forgiveness. Paul the Apostle pointed out that “ALL
have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). He
is pure, He is holy. We have trouble forgiving one another. How can a
holy God forgive us?
Psalm 103, our Scripture for this week, is incredible.
All you have to do is read the daily newspaper or listen to the news and
you can understand that something is wrong with humanity. Awful
things are done because of selfishness. The more we know, the worse we
find that life really is. In Psalm 103, we can shake our heads at the
wonder of it all because when anyone comes into concert with the Lord,
if we entrust ourselves to Him, we receive God’s forgiveness, even
those who have done what is in the news. Our Scripture says “He
has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according
to our iniquities. So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as
far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our
transgressions from us…” (Psalm 103:10-12). The context
continues, “the mercy of the Lord is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:17).
God will forgive the sin of a repentant sinner!
My dear Mother went to be with the Lord
in the year 2005. In the years before her death, she and I discussed the
need for forgiveness on a number of occasions. She didn’t like the idea.
In her response she often used the names, “Adolph Hitler and Eva
Braun,” and she would continue by asking, “What about them? If they had
repented of their sin and trusted in the Lord during the time they were
in the bunker in Berlin during the last days of their lives, would they have been forgiven?” My answer was:
“Yes,” they would have been forgiven.
And my Mother continued, “Well
then, I don’t want the kind of God who would forgive what they did.” And that would be the
end of our conversation until the next time the subject came up. It
should be noted that during one of her hospitalizations near the end of
her life, she did trust in Jesus in a personal way, confessing her need
of Him. The subject of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun never came up again,
for she now had personally experienced the wonder of the forgiveness of
God. He is the God who forgives. I doubt seriously that Hitler and his
mistress ever sought forgiveness, but I did and my mother did, and we
Fred Bauer wrote in “Daily
Guideposts” about “a Sunday school class
made up of mostly senior citizens” in Florida, that he and his
wife have attended for a long time. He spoke of “Bill,
who taught the class for many years(and)
said... one Sunday… Someone brought
up a particularly horrendous deed and wondered if the sin could be
forgiven. ‘Of course it can,’ Bill replied. ‘We serve a God of second
chances. And remember, with Him, sin knows no size.’” Mr.
continued, “That’s a tremendous truth. Whatever our
offense, none exceeds God’s grace.” Sin indeed "knows
no size," just as Bill said.
In Scripture, glimpses are seen of the place called
“heaven,” or perhaps we should refer to it as “eternity,” the timeless
place of God. Something is seen of it in Revelation Chapter 4. John the
Apostle, who was taken to eternity in a vision, saw “a
throne set in heaven, and One who sat on the throne.” John
described the One who was on that throne as like a precious gemstone,
and he also saw a “rainbow around the throne, in
appearance like an emerald” (Verses 2-3). He also mentioned that
“before the throne there was a sea of glass, like
crystal” (Verse 6). This “sea of glass”
is also mentioned in Revelation 15:2 and John noticed that people were
standing on it. For a long time I thought it was literally a flat area
made of crystal, but then I remembered Peter in Matthew 14:28-33, who
briefly stepped on the Sea of Galilee because of his faith in the Lord,
but then began to sink due to his fear and unbelief. The Crystal Sea is
made of water so pure that it looks like the clearest glass, and the men
and women who will step on it have utter faith in the One who is on the
throne before them. They will not sink because their faith does not
waver. They have trusted in the Lord and therefore they can be in
Almighty God who is on that throne is utterly pure
like the water that is before Him. He is clear, clean and holy, unlike
anyone or anything we could imagine. Our understanding is clouded by the
sin of this world, but He is pure love, utter wisdom, and He is
absolutely honest in all of His intentions and actions. He is full of
justice like no one we have ever met or heard about. Let’s compare Him
with the Crystal Sea. If you could examine a drop of it under a microscope,
there would be no impurities in it at all. It would be perfectly clear.
Like it is pure, so is God. Since He is pure like that water, on what
ground does He touch and forgive those who place their faith
in the Lord?
John 3:16 is a famous verse that has brought
many to faith in the Lord. It says, “For
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever
believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God
the Father sent His Son, Christ Jesus, to die in our place. As it
continues in John 3:17 - “God did not send His Son
in to the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him
might be saved.” God IS our Judge, but He chooses to save us
rather than destroy us, not because we are worthy of His grace, but
He instead saves us because of His love.
And the ground, the reason that God who is holy, can
accept those who are not holy, is found in the death of Jesus Christ. Isaiah
said of Him, “He has borne our griefs and carried
our sorrows… He was wounded for our
transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for
our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like
sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way, and
the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
Jesus, the Lamb of God, died because of our need to be forgiven.
We had to be changed or we would pollute the Crystal
Sea and everything else in eternity, just like we have polluted the
earth by our sinful nature for thousands of years. Jesus spoke about
that problem – He said, “unless one is born again,
he cannot see the kingdom of God…” and He continued “…unless
one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God…
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that
which is born of the Spirit is spirit… You
must be born again” (John 3:3-7). As it says in Psalm 103, “He
has not dealt with us according to our sins” -
"great is His mercy toward those who fear Him."
Jesus bore our sins on the cross. He, the Judge,
stepped down from the bench, took off His judicial robe and set us free
by dying in our place. He fills us with His Holy Spirit and imparts the
very nature of God to us. We are “born again”...
"great is His mercy."
Lord, I confess that I am a lost sinner. I confess
my sins and trust in You now. Please save me, forgive me and fill me with Your
Spirit. I want to be “born again.”
In Jesus Name. Amen.