…the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.     Amen

-An except from The Apostles Creed


Back in grade school we all had that moment when our teacher paused and informed the whole class that she wanted to hear questions—The only stupid question is the question you don’t ask—or something along those lines.  And for the most part that’s true I suppose.  Any question that’s sincere can’t be all bad.  And so to wonder about forgiveness is only to be human—even if we have experienced it’s powerful reality—we still want to understand it, as we should.

The forgiveness of sins is listed with some pretty big names there in the creed several of us would have grown up reciting—the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting are no small potatoes.

The truth is that without the forgiveness of sins the other two are a mere wish.  

The question Who gets forgiven? is easier to answer than we might guess—especially for us left-brainiacs.  Entire volumes have been written on the matter but I think it comes down to a very basic issue.  I’m not going to discuss the hot potato doctrines of election or free will and develop some sort of middle ground we can all gather around the camp fire and agree upon.  Maybe some day I will get into those views and what the Bible says—and I could—but today I will leave that to the ivory tower types.  I do have my moments I like to put on my Sunday best and present the five points of Keneism—I will spare my fine readers the agony.  But just because I’m not going to draw a proverbial line in the  sand doesn’t mean I won’t say something. 

What I fear is a say-nothing-of-substance-approach when it comes to important doctrines (in case we have forgotten, Jesus was controversial—not for controversies sake but for the sake of truth).   I’d rather stand for something than fall for anything—and I want the truth of God in any matter.  Seems to me enough of us already don’t take the Bible seriously enough at times—me included.  When it comes to our subject at hand—forgiveness—it is ever-so dangerous to take on the mind-set that much of our culture does: God just forgives every-body’s sins because he’s a nice guy.  Nothing could be further from what the Bible actually teaches.  God takes sin seriously (Jesus didn’t die a brutal humiliating death on a tree at the hands of blood-thirsty barbarians for nothing) as he also takes seriously the forgiveness of the hideous offense it represents to him.  Just because we like to remind one another that God hates the sin and not the sinner we must not forget that God hates the very hint of sin for many reasons including but not limited to what it does to debilitate and destroy the very people who commit it—namely you and I.

 1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’   (Mark 2:1-5, ESV)

Jesus went on to heal the young man of his debilitating physical condition as well—however, the healing of his soul by the forgiving of his sins was the first order of business.

It always is.

That God in the person of Jesus forgives sin shouldn’t be taken lightly or for granted. 

It’s a big deal.

Heaven and hell are at stake.