Forgiveness and the message of reconciliation

God has been teaching me about two scriptures regarding this. John 20:22, after giving the disciples the Spirit, Jesus then given them authority to forgive anyone their sins and, more scarily, if we withhold forgiveness of anyone, then it is withheld. And that despite Jesus never accusing anyone of their sins, but always forgiving.

So we can tell any ‘sinners’ that Jesus has given us authority on earth to forgive them, not based on their repentance or apology, but freely and without any precondition and without any care as to how bad or many the sins were. Jesus refused to accuse a woman who he knew had been caught red handed in the act of adultery, not because she apologised, but in his words because all her other accusers had left.

The bigger message is 2 Cor 5:17-21. Paul says that we regard no one according to the flesh, I other words we take no note of whatever evil things they have done, where they are living etc. God reconciled you and me to himself through Christ and has given us the message of reconciliation. (See Luke 4:18-19 anointed to proclaim the year of the he Lord’s favour and John 20:21 Jesus sends us in exactly the same way the Father sent Him.) That message is not one of conditional reconciliation subject to us turning from sins saying the traditional sinners prayer (that actually denies the gospel). It is the message that in Christ God was reconciling and therefore has already reconciled the world to himself. That God says even though unsaved, they are already reconciled to him. That God is not counting any of their sins against the and is not waiting for some prayer of apology.

We see this truth in the story of the prodigal son. Every day the father was looking out hoping that the son would one day return and, when the son arrives back, the father has no interest in the confession of sins. He ignores and and declares a celebration because the reconciled son is now living in the reconciliation that he did not realise he had.

God is making his appeal to the world through us as his ambassadors – God does not care about your sins, he dealt with them 2000 years ago. Jesus became sin for us and when he dropped down into hell he took all sin with him and left it there. In God’s sight all the sins and pains of the unsaved have been taken, carried by Jesus to hell and left there forever.

Jesus became sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. God is declaring everyone already clean. It is an unconditional gift. No repentance. No promising to make his best efforts to change. All of that is God’s job and Jesus has already done it. It is finished, not it is started, not I did my bit, now you have to do yours!

We need to bring our message of evangelism in line with Jesus’ practice and the truth of Paul’s gospel. Stop threatening the year of the Lord’s anger and start declaring that this is the time of God’s favour. Any message declaring less than God’s favour on all mankind denies the gospel and the work of Jesus.

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