Questions About Forgiveness

Psalms 130

“If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” — Psalm 130:3-4

Satan is a master deceiver. He is such a subtle, crafty deceiver that he often uses the Word of God itself to confuse people. He is particularly good at using Scripture texts as stumbling blocks, which he piles in the path of sinners seeking the Lord, or to trip and harass God’s pilgrims as they seek to follow Christ through this world. In this study, I hope to clear away some of those stumbling blocks, by answering some questions about forgiveness. I cannot here answer all the questions people have asked me about the forgiveness of sins. It would be futile for me to attempt that. However, I have carefully and prayerfully chosen seven questions which I want to answer.

1 Are there varying degrees of sin, of guilt, and of punishment?

Without question, the Word of God clearly teaches that there are no varying degrees of innocence, righteousness, or holiness, and no varying degrees of reward for the righteous in heaven. The teaching of decrees of reward in heaven is totally contrary to the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. However, the Scriptures do teach us that there are varying degrees of sin, of guilt, and of eternal punishment. Continue reading

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THE CHURCH OF GOD

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Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”                                                                                                                                         — Acts 20:28

Believers cannot exist in this world in spiritual health without the strength, ministry, support, and help of a local church family. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that every child of God know the purpose and value of the church of God in this world and commit himself to it.

The text, which heads this page, is taken from the Book of Acts. One great purpose of that book, which is really a brief history of the early church, is to show us how God works in this world through his church. It is the inspired record of the progress of the church during its first thirty years of existence in this world. The most prominent figure in the church during those first thirty years was the Apostle Paul. It is this man, Paul, who is speaking in chapter 20. He is giving a solemn charge to the elders at Ephesus regarding their responsibilities as the servants of God. He says, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

What is the Church of God? Continue reading

What is it to preach the Gospel?

 PrairieChurchBaja

 Reading: Romans 10:1-17

Introduction:

I received a letter from a preacher yesterday. I want to read a portion of it to you, because it is directly related to my message this morning.

“Dear Pastor Fortner,

I really appreciate being able to come to you with some questions that have arisen in my spiritual life and ministry. I really have no pastor to ask these things. They have somewhat disowned me. When you have time could you please help me with the ending of a message, preaching the gospel, compelling men and women to come to Christ? Do you have an inquiry room such like Spurgeon did? Do you ask troubled souls to maybe seek you out?

I know for sure we can’t save them nor make them. I am totally against this ‘soul winning’ foolishness. I do believe we are to witness and warn sinners of the wrath of God and plead to men and women to flee to Christ our hiding place. Do you wait until the sinner receives assurance from the Lord that they have been saved, then make that profession public?

Thanks for any help you may be able to give. S___ B_______”

This is what I wrote in response.

“Every faithful Gospel preacher is troubled by these matters of great importance. The great problem is in us. We have a great desire, inspired of God, to see sinners converted by his grace. Therefore we pray and study with diligence, and ardently devote ourselves to the preaching of the Gospel. We have another fleshly, carnal lust for success, desiring to see things happen. Therefore we are tempted to employ the use of carnal pressures to get people to make a profession of faith. We need to remind ourselves incessantly, asking God the Holy Ghost to burn it in our hearts, that it is Christ who builds his Church and adds to it daily such as should be saved. This he does by the preaching of the Gospel. Continue reading

The Apostle Paul: a product of Free-willism, or saved by Sovereign Grace?

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Grant Swart

If God hides our sin or lessens it, He is faulty; if He leaves it still upon us, we die. He must then take our iniquity to Himself, make it His own, and so deliver us; for thus having taken the sin upon Himself, as lawfully He may and lovingly He does, it follows that we live if He lives; and who can desire more?

 – John Bunyan

These represent a few notes from my evening of contemplating the biblical attitude which should be adopted toward the free-will worldly attitude of those advocates trying to  impress God. 

I certainly did not “choose”, summon or influence Christ, nor did I ever make a decision “for” Him. I never did anything good and, according to my own ability, I never will. I can never be a better person “for” Christ. I never sought God, I never understood God (Rom 3:11). I never called out to God in a way which could have encouraged Him to come running to my eternal aid. He reached out and grabbed me when I was dying, because He willed it to be so.

I am and will always be a sinner, I am worth no more today than I was before God called me to Himself, save for the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am satisfied, humbled and overjoyed at what Christ did for me, when I least of all people deserved to be saved. I desire nothing more, I require nothing more, I do not need to, nor can I ever,  convince anyone of the facts. I have Christ, God Himself, who gave Himself for me. I did not pay for my salvation in part, I did not work for it, it was given freely to me by my Christ, who paid for it in full. There are no refunds, what is finished (John 19:30), cannot be made unfinished.

Throughout all of the Apostle Paul’s post- salvational life, he never denied nor tried to deny the truth of what he was. He consistently referred to his previous self-righteousness, opposition and hatred toward God (1 Tim 1:13). He made it clear that, even after his salvation, he remained just as wickedly sinful and incapable of doing enough to please God, as he had been before the day on the road to Damascus. He referred to that by saying: “O wretched man that I am” (Rom. 7:24). Continue reading

‘By grace are ye saved’

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2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

The entire work of salvation, all that is involved in bringing a sinner from the dungheap of fallen humanity into the eternal glory of heaven, is accomplished by the free and sovereign grace of God. ‘Works’ is a dirty word among believers. And ‘merits’ is a foreign word to God’s church, not found in our vocabulary. From the foundation stone to the top stone, we cry nothing else but ‘Grace, grace unto it.’

Language could not be clearer. Paul tells us that if any man is saved it is altogether by grace. It is written in the Word of God: ‘God hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.’ In Ephesians 1 Paul ascribes our salvation entirely to the three persons of the sacred Trinity. Continue reading

WHAT IS IT TO PREACH THE GOSPEL?

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  To preach the gospel is SIMPLY TO DECLARE IT AND DECLARE IT SIMPLY. God never called a preacher to defend the gospel, apologize for the gospel, explain the gospel, or adorn the gospel. It is my job to declare the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4) in such plain, simple terms that its doctrine cannot be mistaken.

 

To preach the gospel is to DECLARE IT AS GOD’S MESSAGE. Our gospel is the gospel of God, not the gospel of the Reformers, the gospel of the Puritans, the gospel of the Calvinists, or even the gospel of the Baptists. If the message I preach to you is just my message, then you may hear it or not hear it without consequence. But if the message I deliver to your soul is God’s message, then you must hear and heed it, or suffer the consequences of ignoring and disobeying God. Continue reading

What is it to Preach the Gospel?

Charles Spurgeon

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! — 1 Corinthians 9:16

The greatest man of apostolic times was the apostle Paul — no question about that. Paul was the greatest man in everything he did and if you go back to the time when his life was not lived in Christ, through Christ and for Christ, he was even great in what he did then. Someone said Paul was great in everything he did whether it was good or whether it was bad because he did nothing half way. If you consider him as a sinner, he was exceeding sinful — that’s what he said, ‘exceeding sinful.’ If you consider him as a persecutor, he was mad against Christians — he persecuted them even in strange cities. He was not content to persecute those at home — he had to travel even to Damascus with letters giving him permission to destroy the people of Christ. If you consider the apostle as a convert, his conversion was remarkable; he met Christ in a real and personal way on the road to Damascus, blinded by the light, falling into the dust, looking up into that light, crying, ‘Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?’ If you consider this man as a preacher of the gospel, he stands out as the prince of preachers, the greatest of them all, crying, ‘I am ready to preach the gospel to them that are at Rome also; I am determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.’ ‘God forbid,’ he said, ‘that I should glory save in the cross of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.’ Whatever Paul did, he did with all his heart; he did nothing halfway. if he was rebelling, he was rebelling; if he was bowing, he was bowing; if he was worshipping, he was worshipping; if he was preaching the gospel, he was preaching the gospel. There was no nonsense in anything he did when it came to speaking about God. When he wrote this text, ‘for though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of, for necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel,’ he writes it with an unshaking hand; he writes it with a firmness, with a dedication and with a determination! ‘I preach the gospel. Yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.’ No nonsense in anything connected with the praise of God, with the worship of God, with the glory of God, or with the gospel of God. Now we need to learn this.

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