|Volume 19 Number 2 February 2017||
Forgiveness is one of the great themes of the Bible. Without forgiveness from God, man would be hopeless and destined to eternal torment. Without forgiveness of each other, marriages would be destroyed, children could not be reconciled to their parents and friends would become enemies.
Why the need for forgiveness, and what is there to forgive? The answer is contained in one small but profound word with a terrible definition—sin. Man has sinned against the Holy God; he has sinned against his fellow man; he has sinned against himself. When man sins, and until those sins are taken out of the way by forgiveness, he is spiritually dead. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience…” (Ephesians 2:1-2).
Ultimately, all sin is against God. Joseph recognized this as Potiphar’s wife continued to try to seduce him into committing adultery with her. He refused her advances by saying, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). When man sins, those sins offend the holiness of God. The nature and extent of sin is seen in Paul’s statement in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death,”—spiritual death. Is it any wonder that the Jews on the Day of Pentecost cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
The very nature of sin demands that it either be punished or that atonement be made for it. It is here that John 3:16, that “Golden Text” of the Bible, applies. “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.” Forgiveness can be obtained through God’s great Gift, His Son! Sometime later Paul declared, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). As one symbolically contacts the shed blood of Christ when he is baptized into the death of Christ (Romans 6:3), he is washed clean by that blood, and then he is raised to walk in newness of life. He is now forgiven.
This is what the apostle Peter told those inquiring Jews on Pentecost: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). As one continues to live in the light of God’s Word, grow in His grace and walk in that light, he continues to be cleansed by that precious blood of the Son of God. John wrote, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Concerning forgiveness, Jesus gave a stern warning, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). He simply stated that one must forgive if he expects to be forgiven. This sets out the attitude that the Christian must possess, which is to be willing at all times to forgive with absolutely no hidden grudges or motives. To borrow and paraphrase a statement of Jesus as He sent the twelve forth to preach, “Freely you have been forgiven, freely forgive” (cf., Matthew 10:8).
Perhaps the most difficult act of forgiveness man has to make is that of forgiving himself. When we remember our transgressions against God and against men, we begin to wonder if it is actually possible for us to be forgiven, or if we can ever forgive ourselves. The biblical answer is a resounding, “Yes!” We must remember that when we have complied with God’s commandments concerning forgiveness, thus being assured of His forgiveness, we must then forgive ourselves. How can we not forgive the one whom God has so freely forgiven? “O happy day… when Jesus washed my sins away!”
Three Different Types of Sermons
Mark N. Posey
Preaching is the proclamation of the Word of God to men by men under assignment from God. It is the means for the transmission of the Word of God to a lost world; it serves also as an official means of grace for the building up and strengthening of the Church of Christ. A sermon is a form of public discourse on a religious or moral subject, usually delivered as part of a church service. Sermons come in various and sundry types. Basically, there are three types of sermons: Expository, Textual and Topical.
Expository: Expository preaching concentrates on a specific text and discusses topics covered therein. This type of sermon unfolds a paragraph or unit of thought of Scripture, generally two or more verses. The theme or overall main point of the passages formulates the proposition. The points (major or minor) are derived only from this singular section of Scripture. You may illustrate or explain by using other passages; however, the expositor digs into a paragraph from God’s Word and pulls out the significant, timeless truths.
Textual: The textual sermon is a miniature expository sermon covering a few verses, a verse, or part of a verse, but not the whole paragraph. This type of sermon usually develops a single verse of Scripture. The theme (proposition) and main points come directly from the verse, but the major points may be developed from other Scripture passages. This form of sermon is generally good for preaching “Great Bible Texts” or “Favorite Bible Verses” and will often occur in a series.
Topical: The topical sermon is usually developed from a topic that comes from a passage or passages of Scripture. This type of sermon develops a topic or subject that the preacher chooses (e.g., prayer, holiness, separation, love, commitment, priorities, etc.). This type of sermon requires the preacher to have an overall knowledge of the Bible and an ability to pull together related passages from different parts of the Bible to support the topic being preached. This skill is also used in systematic theology. The use of a concordance (e.g., Strong’s) or a topical Bible (e.g., Nave’s) is helpful in this type of sermon preparation.
The most important hour of the week in a nation is the hour when God’s men approach the pulpit and herald eternal truths.