Nurturing Revival Towards an Awakening – Part 12 Forgiveness: Limitless Restoration
1. Nurturing Revival Towards Awakening – Action steps:
a. Birthed and carried in Intercessory Prayer.
b. Create a Revival Culture.
c. Develop a life of power that is Naturally Supernatural.
d. Frequent and repeated Testimonies are a key to sustaining faith.
e. Showing the Goodness of God is the bedrock of revival.
f. Understanding our identity brings the gift of righteousness.
g. Live in expectancy with a personality of Hope.
h. The greatest of these is Love.
i. Honoring one another is the value system of Heaven.
j. Prioritize freedom over order.
k. Joy - the atmosphere of Heaven.
l. Limitless restoration is possible as believers walk in forgiveness.
m. Unity among God’s people shows the world the truth of Jesus.
2. Forgiveness: Limitless Restoration
a. Matthew chapter two verse nine: “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.”
b. Corrie Ten Boom:
i. Her family had a secret room in her bedroom where they hid Jews from the Nazi’s. ii. After some time the Nazi’s raided their home, and arrested the family.
iii. In her book she documents the horrors of life in the concentration camp where she and her sister were sent.
iv. She talked about the pain of watching her sister Betsie slowly die and the instruction in her sister’s last words.
1. “We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”
v. She tells how she was released through a paperwork error just before the rest of the women her age were put to death.
vi. Corrie believed that God had spared her life so that the world could know their story of God’s goodness in the midst of unimaginable suffering.
vii. Corrie shares a wonderful testimony of forgiveness.
viii. She writes about the time she was speaking in a church in Germany not long after the war.
1. After the service she came face to face with one of the guards from the concentration camp.
2. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time.
3. And suddenly it was all there -the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing,
4. Betsie’s pain-blanched face.
5. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing.
a. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “
b. To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
c. His hand was thrust out to shake mine.
6. And I, who had preached so often to the people in the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
7. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me,
8. I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more?
9. Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
10. I tried to smile; I struggled to raise my hand.
11. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity.
12. And so again I breathed a silent prayer.
a. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
ix. In that moment she overcame her revulsion and reached out her hand.
x. As her hand touched his, an incredible thing happened.
1. She writes: “from my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.”
xi. Corrie had discovered that when Jesus told us to love our enemies,
1. He didn’t leave us on our own;
2. He gives us the love necessary to fulfill the command.
3. And with the love, He gives supernatural forgiveness, which frees us and allows us to fully release the other person.
c. JESUS’ PRAYER
i. In His final moments of suffering He entreated the Father:
1. To forgive those who were putting Him to death.
2. They did nothing to deserve it, but forgiveness is in His nature.
ii. This kind of forgiveness was demonstrated often as He connected forgiveness with the miracles He performed.
1. The paralytic in the Temple was forgiven before he was healed
2. Jesus demonstrated both His power to heal and the authority to forgive.
3. The woman caught in the act of adultery was forgiven.
iii. Forgiving others must become a natural part of our life as we follow Jesus.
iv. Forgiveness was a theme when Jesus taught His disciples to pray,
1. Matt. 6: 12 NLT Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.
v. From childhood we are taught to ask forgiveness for our sin.
vi. 1 John 1:9 John tells us that, if we confess our sins, God will forgive us.
vii. The second half of Matthew 6: 12, tells us:
1. as we forgive those who sin against us
2. is more of a challenge.
viii. It is amazing how difficult it is for us to grasp our responsibility.
d. Forgiveness is “the central issue in maintaining unity of the Spirit.”
i. In every situation where we have seen relationships implode and the Holy Spirit quenched, unforgiveness is somewhere in the mix.
ii. In revival history, the failure to sustain has often been the breakdown of relationships, with unwillingness to forgive as the cause.
iii. To sustain revival we need a fresh revelation of forgiveness to take root in the church.
iv. This means forgiveness is a core value for a revival culture.
e. Some definitions.
i. Webster says that to forgive is:
1. to stop feeling anger toward the person or situation,
2. to stop blaming the person or situation
3. to stop requiring payment of what is owed.
4. He goes on to say that to forgive is to give up any feeling of resentment.
ii. The word pardon is a synonym, which means: to refrain from
1. imposing punishment on an offender
2. demanding satisfaction for an offense.
iii. Webster says that to forgive is:
1. to grant pardon without harboring resentment.
f. PETER’S QUESTION
i. One day when Jesus was teaching - Peter went to Jesus and asked,
1. Matt. 18: 21, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him, up to seven times?
2. On the surface this sounds good and seems noble.
3. Seven is the number of perfection or completeness.
4. It is the number of times blood is sprinkled on the altar in Leviticus.
5. Peter probably also knew that the Rabbis taught that they must forgive three times before it was alright to retaliate.
6. He knew Jesus would give more grace than the Rabbis.
7. Peter had begun to grasp the significance of forgiveness,
a. His understanding still seemed to be based on some wrong beliefs –
b. some of the same suppositions we tend to make when faced with situations in which forgiveness doesn’t come easily.
8. We see three assumptions behind Peter’s question that can profoundly affect a person’s willingness to extend forgiveness.
a. First, he is assuming that forgiveness was connected to the response of the other person.
i. By asking the question, he was assuming that at some point, if they don’t respond correctly, we have a right to withhold our forgiveness.
ii. He is implying that forgiveness can wait until the other person changes.
b. Second, he believed that there was a limit to how often we should forgive.
i. In giving the number seven times, he sought to be generous but in reality had set a limit on forgiveness.
c. Finally, he assumed that he had a right to withhold forgiveness without consequences
i. At the very least, he saw it as his choice to decide when and how much he needed to forgive.
g. CAN FORGIVENESS WAIT?
i. We want the person that has hurt us to change in order for it to be easier for us to forgive.
ii. If someone who has wronged us comes to us with a repentant heart, we find it easy to forgive.
iii. If they don’t, it gets more difficult.
iv. The truth is that many times we don’t get the satisfaction of seeing the other person change.
v. When the person remains the same, the demand for justice kicks in, and we withhold forgiveness because we want to see them pay the price for what they did. limit
vi. Many get stuck here, waiting for someone else to do something.
vii. In doing so, we become the victim -their mistake binds us in unforgiveness.
viii. To break free from this trap we must understand that withholding our forgiveness goes against the heart of the gospel.
ix. God initiated forgiveness toward us by sending His Son before we responded to Him.
x. Jesus forgave the crowd that had Him crucified before they repented xi. God asks that we do the same.
xii. There is a cost to forgiveness!
xiii. The basic meaning of the Greek word forgive is “to send away.”
xiv. The idea is that when we forgive we let something go from ourselves.
xv. When we forgive someone, we set them free; we release them and hold no power over them.
xvi. The English word forgive carries a similar meaning.
1. It is a compound word made up of:
a. the prefix “for” which means before or in advance
2. So to forgive is to “give in advance.”
3. This means that we are to give them forgiveness whether they have “earned” it or not.
xvii. At the same time, when we forgive we are giving up any resentment, bitterness or anger against the person or people involved.
xviii. We are also giving up our right to demand restitution.
xix. If forgiveness means to give in advance, then we must:
1. learn to forgive before getting a correct response from the other person.
2. forgive without making change in them a condition of forgiveness.
3. forgive in advance of getting an apology from them. Actually
4. we are to forgive them no matter what they do.
h. DOES FORGIVENESS HAVE A LIMIT?
1. The second assumption in Peter’s question. Is there a limit to forgiveness?
2. This seems really logical we think,
a. “I don’t want to make it too easy on them.”
b. It seems like there should be a limit.
c. After all, if they keep doing the same thing, we should be allowed to withhold forgiveness to make them accountable for their actions.
3. Look at Jesus’ response to Peter’s question.
a. Matt. 18: 22 ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’
b. I don’t think Jesus was saying we should forgive 490 times and then stop.
c. The idea is that there should be an unlimited flow of forgiveness.
4. Peter’s question comes after Jesus had taught the disciples to pray
5. There is a truth about the limitless nature of forgiveness that Peter had missed.
a. They were taught that there is a direct relationship between giving and receiving forgiveness.
b. The amount of forgiveness they wanted to receive was released by the amount of forgiveness they were willing to give.
c. Our receiving forgiveness is directly tied to our willingness to give forgiveness.
6. The next verse makes it clear,
a. Matt. 6: 14 For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
b. This is an “if/ then” statement.
c. If we forgive, then we are forgiven.
d. The only action demanded for us to receive forgiveness is to forgive.
7. There is no limit to the forgiveness from Christ, just as He is asking us to have no limit in our forgiveness.
8. The limitless nature of forgiveness has its source in the blood of Jesus.
a. He died once for all (Heb. 10: 10). With one sacrifice, He secured forgiveness for all time.
9. The sacrifice is limitless; therefore, the forgiveness it purchased must also be limitless.
10. The only limit is a self-imposed one.
11. Matt. 6: 15 But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
12. The only limit on forgiveness is in refusing to forgive.
13. There are times when we feel that it is some sinful act that blocks us from receiving forgiveness;
a. when actually, it is our own unforgiveness.
14. The story of Joseph (Gen. 37-50) is an example of unlimited forgiveness.
a. He was one of the younger sons of Jacob and apparently the favorite
i. a problem for his brothers.
b. Early in his life God gave him visions of his future, which he talked about constantly.
c. His brothers got so sick of hearing about his dreams that they decided to sell him into slavery; then they told their father he had been killed.
d. Over the years the brothers probably thought Joseph was dead, but God had raised him to a powerful position in Egypt.
e. During the famine when the brothers went in search of food, they came face to face with their sin.
f. Joseph had the power for retribution but chose forgiveness.
g. He ended up caring for the whole family in Egypt throughout the famine.
h. But when their father died, the brothers panicked, because they were afraid that Joseph would take his revenge (Gen. 50: 15).
i. They did not understand the depth and magnitude of the forgiveness that Joseph had extended.
j. Joseph was broken-hearted that his forgiveness had not been fully received.
k. He called the brothers together and told them that he refused to play God.
l. He had no choice but to forgive and stay in the place of forgiveness, because he was standing in his destiny as a result.
15. In 1990, Nelson Mandela had just been released after twenty years in a South African prison.
a. Many feared retribution, but he immediately began a process of reconciliation between the races in his nation.
b. At one of the rallies he made a profound statement on forgiveness.
i. “We especially need to forgive each other, because when you intend to forgive, you heal part of the pain, but when you forgive, you heal completely.”
i. THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNFORGIVENESS
i. The third implication in Peter’s question is that
1. at some point forgiveness becomes optional,
2. meaning that there are no consequences to unforgiveness.
ii. Jesus answers this in the very next parable,
1. This is a continuation of His answer to Peter’s question.
2. Matt. 18: 23-35 He told the story of a king who wanted to collect on the debts that his workers had accumulated.
3. One owed him an enormous amount of money.
4. When the worker begged for mercy, the master felt compassion and forgave the debt.
5. The servant who was forgiven then found a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount of money.
6. When he couldn’t pay, he had his fellow worker thrown into prison.
7. The king found out and was furious and he withdrew his pardon.
8. He told him “You should have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you.”
9. Then Jesus delivered the verdict on the assumption that to forgive is optional.
a. Matt. 18: 35 So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.
10. Ouch; not only do we have to say the words, they must come from the heart.
j. FORGIVE FROM THE HEART
i. So what does it mean to forgive from the heart?
1. Look back in the story we just read at the response of the king as he forgave his servant.
2. Matt. 18: 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
ii. Three distinct things in the response of the king to describe the nature of God’s forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness he is looking for in us when He asks us to forgive from the heart.
1. First, he felt compassion.
a. Compassion is God’s love in action in and through us.
b. Compassion is to be deeply touched by the love of God, causing us to respond like He would respond.
c. Compassion allows us to release mercy, which releases forgiveness.
d. Forgiveness from the heart is an extension of the love of God flowing through us as compassion toward the person who hurt us.
e. In counseling, one of the ways we know whether the person has truly forgiven is by how they feel toward the other person.
i. If they have no compassion, the forgiveness is not yet from the heart.
2. The second thing the king did was to “release him.”
a. If I forgive and then demand a correct response from the other person, I have not understood forgiveness.
b. John records Jesus statement that,
i. John 20: 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.
ii. When we don’t forgive, there is a hold we have over them.
iii. The word retained means to have power, be powerful; to be chief, be master of, to rule: to get possession of, to hold. iv. When someone owes us, we are in a position of power.
v. Literally, we hold something over them.
c. When we forgive from the heart, we release all the emotion we have been holding due to the unforgiveness and set them free.
d. As we release them, the bondage of unforgiveness is broken and we are set free, as well.
3. The final thing the king did was to forgive the debt.
a. Debt can be monetary; but more often it is our need for justice.
b. In being wronged, our desire is for vindication and it is difficult for us just to let it go.
c. Forgiveness from the heart is being willing to clean the slate and walk away.
d. When we forgive from the heart, it frees us to step into the blessings of God’s provision.
e. One of my friends got into some serious financial trouble several years ago, causing many to lose a substantial amount of money.
f. Several of those from whom he borrowed have struggled to forgive him and years later are still bound by it.
g. Others chose to forgive and treated the debt as a gift to the Lord.
h. Almost everyone who responded in that way has seen a turnaround in their finances and is living under the blessing of their forgiveness.
i. Scripture ties forgiveness and money together directly.
iii. Mark writes,
1. Mark 11: 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.
2. The fruitfulness of our offering is affected by unforgiveness.
3. If we are not right with one another, we rob the life from our gift.
4. But if we will forgive, then the blessing attached to the gift will be released.
k. THE FATHER’S HEART
i. Luke records the parable that we refer to as the “prodigal son.”
ii. It is more about the forgiveness of the father and how the older brother responded.
iii. What the son did in taking his inheritance early was:
1. a shame to the father
2. by law he could have disowned the son and even killed him.
3. But the father was not inclined to condemnation but to redemption.
4. Every day he looked down the road waiting for the son to return.
iv. The son came home hoping for a position as a servant.
v. Instead, he was treated as an honored son.
vi. This level of forgiveness is absolutely stunning.
vii. God can forgive in a moment and combine it with full restoration of benefits.
viii. Testimony of Katie:
1. Katie came from an abusive family life.
2. Her father left before she was born and she never bonded to her mother.
3. Her sister took care of her for the first 3 years of her life.
4. For years Katie was severely abused by both her mother and brother.
5. At 16 her life took a turn for the better.
6. She was kicked out of the house and a high school teacher took her in.
7. She struggled through life with a lot of pain, rage, fear, and a deep ache of emptiness.
8. Katie is now 35 and, in the last several years, God has done an amazing work in her life through forgiveness.
9. God has given her the grace to forgive and release her mother.
10. Katie had a deep father wound caused by abandonment.
11. When she forgave and released him, she was finally able to connect to Father God in a way that she had never known.
12. The ache of loneliness and emptiness vanished as she was filled with the love of Father God, her Daddy.
13. She now knows that she is absolutely complete in Him!
14. She is no longer an orphan. She is His daughter.
15. How complete is His forgiveness?
ix. The most striking example of this in scripture is:
1. God allowed Jesus, His perfect, sinless Son,
2. to be born through the lineage of David and Bathsheba.
3. To be born through the lineage of David is the fulfillment of prophetic promise,
4. but to be born though David’s union with Bathsheba is an act of forgiveness and restoration almost beyond our finite comprehension.
x. A God who is that willing to forgive and restore requires
1. that we learn and live in this same level of forgiveness and restoration.
xi. Forgiveness as a lifestyle will break down barriers of division and lead us into unity with each other