Final Post on Forgiveness

Well, nothing is final, really.  But for now, this will be the last in this series.

Forgiveness is a layered, complicated subject because it is so closely enmeshed with our beliefs from childhood, with what we saw modeled (or not) as we were growing up. Some people apologize very easily and receive forgiveness with grace.  Others of us find it difficult to acknowledge when we have been complete jerks, and difficult to either accept or offer complete forgiveness.  There is so much pride interwoven into the whole process.

Someone asked about what to do when you don’t really want to confront the offender, or if you feel certain that person will not respond well. It seems I may have already addressed this, but maybe not.

Luke 17:3-4 does teach us to “rebuke” the offender, and I believe that when we can, we should.  Sometimes the person has died, and it is no longer possible to confront him to his face. That is when the forgiveness is between you and God, and that settles it. When you are afraid, or reluctant, to face  your offender because you are sure he won’t care, there is still the necessity to do so, and if he surprises you and repents, then forgiveness is given.

But what if he doesn’t?  Well, we spent a lot of time on this one, and I even got a good discussion going on my Facebook page. There is also a very good article here that I think answers that question very well. For me, the bottom line here is being right with God.  Holding offence in your heart, refusing to forgive when the offender has not repented, is like the old analogy of drinking poison in hopes that the other person will be harmed by your doing so.  Not much sense in that.

If you have further questions or comments, I will be glad to address them as such. Just please keep in mind that I will not publish comments that are abusive, divisive, unkind, or that use foul language. I try to keep things civil here on my blog.

Thank you for the input you have given on this topic. I love your participation.

Deceivers

Matthew 24: 4-5. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My Name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” 

In verse  three, the disciples had asked Jesus for signs of His coming, and of the end of the world. The first answer He gave them was that there would be many who would claim to be Christ; that they (we) need to all beware of deceivers.

So how can we know who is telling the truth, and who is deceiving the people?

We have to know what the Bible says about all these things. We have to sift everything we see and hear from pulpits, on the radio, on television, on the internet. We have to be discerning, to know whether or not truth is being spoken.

Never trust the person who demands absolute loyalty, unquestioning allegiance.  There is NO biblical basis for such blind followship.  Just as the Bereans searched the scriptures daily, so must we. The only way we can detect the lie is to know the truth.

An example I’ve used before is the training of a bank teller. In order to identify counterfeit money, the trainee is given the real thing to handle, to examine by touch, by sight, even by smell. The trainee is taught exactly what a real bill looks like, what is printed on it, and the fibers of which it is made.

It is very hard to fool someone who is completely familiar with the truth.

The other day, one of my sons posted a picture of my husband’s hands. I would have known they were his hands without any caption or explanation. I’ve known those hands for over 45 years. I know without doubt that I could tell his hands from all others even if I were blindfolded.  His hands are as familiar to me as my own.

If I love my husband’s hands that much, I can’t be fooled.  If I love the Word of God even more, I’m even harder for the deceivers to fool. Study, Learn. Question. Research.  Anyone who tells you that you must not question him, ever, is a deceiver. No true man of God resists having his message sifted through the Word.

Observations on the Olivet Discourse, cont.

Matthew 24

The best and most sensible way to understand this chapter is to look on these predictions about the end of the Jewish age as being still future. The first part of the discourse tells how the Jewish age will end.  It is NOT yet ended; it has only been interrupted. Daniel 9:24-27 teaches us that the 70th week of that prophecy has not yet been fulfilled.  The Church Age comes between the 69th and the 70th weeks, the period of time in which the gospel is given to the Gentiles. As soon as this age is complete. God will again turn His attention to Israel.

Again, there is much disagreement  about all this, and I have only scratched the surface here. I could write for weeks on just this one topic.

When the Church is complete and taken out of the earth, then the end of the age will follow.  What is left of the “Christian” world will be complete apostasy, joining hands with Anti-Christ.

The exhortations in this chapter concern the 144,000 Jews, the Jewish remnant, who are believers and who will bear witness during the Tribulation period.  It is very exciting to me, as I study through this passage, to go back into the Old Testament to see specific prophecies there that are confirmed by Jesus’ words in Matthew 24.

From 24:45 through 25:30, Jesus changes His approach.  He again speaks in parables that concern the judgment between true and false Christianity. He completes the Discourse  in 25:31-40, which concerns the judgment of the nations.

Tomorrow, we will begin to look at Jesus’ response to the disciples request for the signs of the end of the age, which they believed would be very soon. Their hearts were fixed upon it.

So should be our own hearts. Maybe today!

Observations on the Olivet Discourse

Matthew 24

Referring again to the record of this discourse in Luke 21, we read in verse 24 that Jerusalem will remain “trodden down of the Gentiles” until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.This period of time has not yet run out, and will not do so until Christ calls His Bride, the Church, out of the world.

The predictions in Matthew 24:4-44 are not about the 40 or so years which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, nor with that horrific event in a.d.70.  That passage refers instead to Judea and Jerusalem, and concerns Jewish disciples  in extreme distress and tribulation in the land of Israel.

It is also incorrect to try to apply these first prophecies in the Discourse to the Christian era, or the Church. Those who hold this position believe that the Church will remain on the earth during the Great Tribulation, and that the teachings are meant, therefore, for believers in this Church Age.  The best way to dispel this incorrect interpretation is to understand what the Church truly is, and what is her calling and her destiny. Also, one must understand the teaching of the prophetic word, that the Lord will call a believing Jewish remnant, which will suffer and witness in Israel at the end of the age.

There is so much study that can and should be done.  Please keep in mind, if you search out these things on the internet, that each writer has his own position and perspective on these issues.  It is easy to get bogged down in the arguments.

Perhaps it would help if you keep in mind that, at this point, the disciples had no understanding of the Christian era that was about to explode into Jerusalem.  Jesus had taught them about His Church, telling them that the gates of hell itself would not prevail against it.  But they hadn’t seen it yet, did not fully understand, and why should they?  After all, we have the whole New Testament, and we still don’t get it right!  For instance, there was a town some years ago in which a new “church” was started.  They called themselves The Remnant.  I’m not sure what they meant by that, but it certainly was not biblically named. In the first place, it wasn’t made up of believing Jews.  In the second place, they were not witnessing in Israel and it was definitely not the time of the Great Tribulation. I don’t know if they’re still in existence there.

Does that seem like a petty issue?  Maybe it is, but it goes to show that we just don’t always understand what these terms mean, and how they should be used.

The Signs of Thy Coming

Matthew 24:3.”And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? “

This chapter is the great Olivet Discourse, in which Jesus revealed important prophecy of things to come.  He started with the near-future prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem.  Now, in answer to the disciples’ questions, He talks about other, far-future events as well.

This first part of the discourse relates to disciples, which at this point concerns His Jewish disciples. Jesus speaks of the ending of the age, the great tribulation, and His coming again following the terrible days of the Great Tribulation.

Some want to interpret this part of His discourse as having already been fulfilled in the past, and that Jesus came again in the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.These people believe that the year a.d 70 was the year in which Jesus came “in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory.” I won’t take the time to deal any further with this interpretation.  If you’re interested, you can probably find information both supporting and refuting this position quite easily in the internet.  In Luke 21:20-24 you will find a more detailed description of what Jesus foretold would soon happen in Jerusalem, an event which does not include His second coming at all.

There is more to be said concerning this chapter before we actually dig into the verses. It’s a fascinating study.  Stay tuned.

Just for Fun

People are still having trouble with this link.  I’m not a techie, so I don’t know why.  Try this:  go to Godvine.com and in the search option type “they thought her prayer was over”   This worked for me.

I was just informed that the link takes you to a “page does not exist” message.  Be patient.  I’ll try something else. . . beep beep boop. . . . .

Ok, if you copy and paste the link into a new tab, it will take you to the video.  Worked for me.  Good luck.!

Please do yourself a favor and go to this link.  You’ll have a good laugh, and you’ll be glad you did :)

http://www.godvine.com/They-Thought-Her-Prayer-Was-Over-Until-She-Said-THIS-About-Getting-Old-HILARIOUS–6136.html

Counseling Issues: Self-forgiveness

“I know God has forgiven me, BUT  I just can’t forgive myself!”

I hear this one all the time, and it usually takes only one session with a client to help dispel this false concept that we must forgive ourselves before we can be truly free of whatever wrong we have done. Here is what I share with my clients:

There is no scriptural support whatsoever for the idea of self-forgiveness.  You won’t find it anywhere.

But—how can I stop feeling so guilty?  Don’t I need to forgive myself for what I’ve done?

No,  As I just pointed out, self-forgiveness is not in God’s Word.  So here’s the process.

First, we have to acknowledge our sin.  If we have hurt, offended, wronged someone else, we need to go to that person, if possible, and confess what we have done. We can’t say, “IF I hurt you, then I’m sorry.” That puts the responsibility right back on the person we offended. We must SAY the wrong we did, SAY we are truly sorry, and ASK the person for forgiveness.  This is a humbling and cleansing process, when done in sincerity.  Usually, the offended person will agree to forgive.  Don’t let him get away with “Oh, it’s ok, don’t worry about it.”  No, that’s not good enough. Tell him, “I need to hear you say you forgive me.”

If you have not already gone to the Lord about the issue, now is the time. “Father, I sinned against my friend.  I hurt her with my words.”  This is confession. to confess is to agree with God, to say you were wrong. Then, “I confessed my wrong to my friend, and she forgave me.  Lord, please forgive me for what I did, and thank You for always forgiving me when I sin.”

You will not hear Him say, “I forgive you,” except through the Word. I John 1:9 says that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  So if your confession is from the heart, if your repentance is true, then you are forgiven by the only One Who has the absolute authority over sin. You are cleansed from that sin, free of it, forgiven.

Then why do I still feel so bad?  Why does the memory surface every now and then?  Don’t I need to forgive myself?

You feel bad because you are sorry, remorseful, perhaps ashamed, regretful.  Remember that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, accusing us before God day and night (Rev. 12:10).  He is the source of this ongoing sense of guilt and shame over past, confessed and forgiven sin. When these emotions surface, you go back to God and you say, “Lord, I KNOW You have forgiven me!  Please help to know right now that I am forgiven, and help me to resist Satan’s temptation to fall into misery over what YOU have erased.”

Here’s the thing. God is the ultimate authority over everything, including my sin. He is the only One Who has the power to completely forgive me. To believe that even though He has forgiven me, I still need to forgive myself, is to believe that His forgiveness is not effective or complete until I myself have added my own forgiveness to His.

In other words, we are saying that His forgiveness isn’t quite enough.  Not quite sufficient.  My own forgiveness is needed to make it complete.

II Corinthians 12:9  tells me that His grace is sufficient. It is enough!  Grace that is greater than ALL  my sin.