How to Experience Forgiveness

While the title indicate our desire to experience forgiveness, the point is how to release those who have offended us. Our passage is from Luke 17:1-10, and the key verses are Luke 17:3, 10.

Purpose of This Study: The purpose of this study is to determine our willingness to grant forgiveness to an offending brother who repents. God wants us to forgive as He has so graciously forgiven us. The commands of Christ in this passage are found in Luke 17:3 – “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” Obedience to this command requires a forgiving heart that is willing to restore relationships that have been broken by sin.

Historical Background: Jesus spoke these scathing words in His denunciation of the attitudes of the Pharisees, but a word of caution to the disciples was necessary so that they would not despise the Pharisees themselves. They could hate Pharisaism without hating the Pharisees. In order to teach the disciples this lesson, Jesus warned them that it would be easy for them to give offense by their attitude toward people. He said that it would be better for them to die physically than to repel some from coming to Him because they had shown the wrong attitude toward those who are coming. The “little ones” to whom the Lord referred would be those who were forsaking Pharisaism and coming to Christ. If the disciples looked down on such ones because they were so slow in coming to a decision concerning the person of Christ, they might be turned away from Him. Therefore, Christ commanded the disciples to be careful about their attitudes so that those who desired to come to Him may not be tripped up. (Pentecost)

The disciples might not only cause a hindrance for those coming to Christ but also toward other believers in Christ. When a believer is sinned against, and the sinning brother requests forgiveness, it is the duty of the disciple of Christ to forgive him.

Other passages to consider: Mark 11:25 (Forgive), Luke 17:3 (be on your guard, forgive), Luke 17:4 (forgive), Acts 7:60, 2 Corinthians 2:7, 10, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is a stumbling block? (Luke 17:1-2) A “stumbling block” (scandalon) literally referred to a “trap or snare” used to catch animals but symbolically whatever causes people to be tripped up and fall into sin. The text says, “It is inevitable” that these stumbling blocks will come. The word inevitable means unavoidable. It is impossible that these offenses won’t come but Jesus says make sure they don’t come through you.

2. What are the consequences for placing a stumbling block in front of one of these little ones? (Luke 17:1-2) The consequences are not stated but contrasted to a better way to end one’s life. Jesus warns that it would be better to take your own life than be judged for this offense. He is not suggesting suicide but sternly warns everyone with the word WOE to stay clear of tripping up one of these “little ones,” who seem to be either young or new believers coming to Christ or people of whom the world takes little notice. In the story it probably refers to those who were forsaking Pharisaism and coming to Christ. A “millstone” was a heavy stone that rotated in a mill for grinding grain.

3. Does every sin against us have to be rebuked and forgiven? (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 19:11; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Colossians 3:13; 1 Peter 4:8) The Bible teaches “it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11). If we had to confront every sin against us we would have little time for anything else.

  • Proverbs 10:12 says,”Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all transgressions.”
  • Proverbs 17:9 says,”He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.”
  • 1 Corinthians 13:7 says love “bears all things.”
  • Colossians 3:13 teaches “forbearance.”
  • 1 Peter 4:8 tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins.”

If you are sinned against and cannot let it go (forbear, cover, overlook) then you are commanded to rebuke (confront) the sinning brother. If the sin is small enough to remember, it is big enough to confront.

4. What are the three commands of Christ in Luke 17:3? We are commanded to 1) “Be on your guard” (present imperative); 2) “rebuke’ (aorist imperative); and 3) “forgive” (aorist imperative).

5. Why does Jesus say “Be on your guard?” (Luke 17:3) Jesus warns: “Be careful of yourselves.” This warning is necessary because there are many ways to err about forgiveness. The warning is pertinent to many Christians who are caught up in the easy rationalizations by which they try to excuse themselves from the obligation to forgive their brothers.

6. What does it mean to rebuke our brother? The word “rebuke” means to “adjudge, to find fault with, rebuke; hence to charge, or rather, to charge strictly.” An offended brother must approach the offender and seek to bring him to repentance and attempt to bring about reconciliation. It’s much easier to keep still when someone sins against us, and to try to hide the pain. We sometimes even think we’re being “spiritual” by trying to ignore the wrong, but failure to be honest, trying to give the “outward show” of nothing wrong when there is something wrong, isn’t God’s way. The loving thing to do is to rebuke the person who sins against you, for he needs the cleansing that forgiveness can bring as much as you need the barrier of hurt removed. So Jesus said, “Rebuke him.”

7. What does Jesus command His disciples to do when a sinning brother repents? (Luke 17:3) Luke 17:3 says, “forgive (aorist imperative) him.” The aorist tense denotes urgency. We must not withhold forgiveness or delay in granting it. This is often easier said than done. Our old self dwells on slights and hurts and takes a perverse pleasure in self­-pity and in “righteous indignation.”

8. What is forgiveness? (Jeremiah 31:34) Bill Gothard defines forgiveness as “healing others by using their offenses as a means of expressing to them Christ’s love.” When Christ granted forgiveness in the Gospels He realized He was going to have to pay for these sins on the cross. When we forgive others we have to pay for their sins not in a redemptive sense but in a practical sense. When we forgive a gossiper who has marred our reputation, his slanderous words can never be retrieved so we chose to pay for his sinful talk in a practical sense.

Jeremiah 31:34 says, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Based on this verse “Forgiveness” could be defined as “a promise not to bring the sin up to the offender, tell others about it, and not dwell on it ourselves.”

There are two Greek words in the New Testament for forgiveness.

  • The word charizomai means, “to bestow a favor unconditionally” and is used of the act of “forgiveness,” whether divine, (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:13; 3:13) or human, (Luke 7:42, 43 [debt]; 2 Corinthians 2:7, 10; 12:13; Ephesians 4:32).
  • The second word used in the original language is aphiemi, which means, “to send forth, send away,” “to send,” and denotes “to remit or forgive” debts (Matthew 6:12; 18:27, 32, these being completely cancelled) and sins (Matthew 9:2, 5-6; 12:31, 32; Acts 8:22; Romans 4:7; James 5:15; 1 John-1:9; 2:12). This word “to send from or away” is wonderfully pictured in the scapegoat of the Old Testament. Once a year the priest would transfer the sin of the people symbolically onto a scapegoat and send him away into the wilderness to never be seen again (Leviticus 16:20-22). In the same way when Christ forgave us or we forgive others – the sins are sent away to be remembered no more.

9. Does the word “if” in Luke 17:3 make granting forgiveness conditional? The word “if” makes granting forgiveness conditional on repentance. Jesus taught that you forgive when a brother repents. In the same way before we came to faith in Christ, Jesus doesn’t forgive us until we repented of our sins and accepted the free gift of eternal life (Luke 24:47).

10. Does withholding forgiveness from an unrepentant brother give us the right to be full of bitterness and malice? (Ephesians 4:31) This verse says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

11. Are we to withhold forgiveness from unbelievers who are not repentant? (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60) Luke 23:34 says, “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.” Acts 7:60 says, “Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.”

12. How often are we responsible to forgive a brother who sins against us? (Luke 17:4; Matthew 18:21, 22) Jesus teaches us to forgive “seven times in a day.” The number “7” was not to set a limit on the number of times to forgive but precisely the opposite. Christ meant that forgiveness should be granted unendingly. Seven here signifies’ ‘times without number.” A believer is to put no limit on the forgiveness he extends to another believer who has injured him and then seeks forgiveness.

On an earlier occasion Peter’s question concerning the number of times we must forgive an offending brother brought Christ’s answer “seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'”

Peter suggested a limit of “seven times,” which was more than twice that allowed by Jewish tradition. Using references in the book of Amos (Amos 1:3, 6,9, 11, 13; and Job 33:29), the rabbis had taken a repeated statement by God against neighboring enemies of Israel and made it into a universal rule for limiting God’s forgiveness and, by extension, also man’s. If God forgives men only three times, they spuriously reasoned, it is unnecessary and even presumptuous for men to forgive each other more times than that.

Rabbi Jose ben Hanina said, “He who begs forgiveness from his neighbor must not do so more than three times.” Rabbi Jose ben Jehuda said, “If a man commits an offense once, they forgive him; if he commits an offense a second time, they forgive him; if he commits an offense a third time, they forgive him; the fourth time they do not forgive him.”

Peter probably thought Jesus would be impressed with the seemingly generous suggestion of “up to seven times.” Compared to Jewish tradition, it was generous and no doubt was based on Peter’s growing understanding of Jesus’ teaching and personal example of compassion and mercy. Realizing that the Lord’s graciousness was in marked contrast to the self-centered legalism of the scribes and Pharisees, Peter doubled their narrow limit for forgiveness and added one more time for good measure.

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” The Lord was not extending the legal limit of forgiveness. He was not speaking of law or limits at all. By seventy times seven He did not mean 490. He simply picked up on Peter’s number and multiplied it by itself and then by ten, indicating a number that, for all practical purposes, was beyond counting (MacArthur). If you took it to refer literally to 490 times a day, that would mean in a 16-hour day (waking hours) it would require forgiving every 1.9 minutes. The point is innumerable times.

13. Should there be the “fruit of repentance” before we forgive someone? (Luke 17:3-4) It is clear from the text that we must grant forgiveness merely on the basis of one’s statement that he repents. There could be no clear evidence of change within the hypothetical time period that Christ suggests: “seven times in the same day!” Indeed, if a brother does the same thing seven times in the same day, the only evidence that you could have would be entirely negative. Fruit takes time to grow. It also takes care and nourishment. A person unfamiliar with a citrus tree may be unable to identify it but if he waits long enough, he will know when the fruit appears whether it is an orange or … a lemon! By their fruit shall you know them, has nothing to do with the truth that is taught in Luke 17.

Jesus does not condition the granting of forgiveness upon the behavior of the offender after forgiveness, but rather hangs the granting of forgiveness upon the brother’s verbal testimony alone: “and seven times in a day should return to you saying, ‘I repent.”‘ It is the saying, not subsequent doing on his part that should activate the offended one to grant forgiveness. Jesus said he should grant that forgiveness even if it should be requested seven times in one day.

14. Why are sins sometimes so quickly repeated? There are several reasons sins are often so quickly repeated. First, it takes time to change. Second, forgiveness merely clears away the rubble so the relationship can be rebuilt. Jay Adams points out that “If a new relationship based upon biblical change and help is not established, then it is likely that one or more of the parties will revert to his old ways again. If so, again an unreconciled condition will develop. This failure frequently results in a kiss-and-make-up pattern. The same old problem is never really settled but becomes the reason for continued and repeated confrontation, confession, and forgiveness.”

15. How can the forgiven person help the forgiving person forget the sin? If forgetting in time does not follow forgiving it’s important to look for a reason. You may find that the offended party has been brooding over the offense in self-pity. Such brooding is decidedly unscriptural and does not fit into the biblical concept of forgiveness. Forgiveness means no longer continuing to dwell on the sin that was forgiven. Forgiveness is the promise not to raise the issue again to the offender, to others, or to himself. Brooding is a violation of the promise made in granting forgiveness.

The biblical concept of forgiving and forgetting often has been misrepresented. The Bible speaks of “fruit appropriate to repentance.” One forgives, but he does not immediately forget; rather, he remembers and looks for the fruit or the results that eventually accompany true repentance. It takes time for fruit to grow. When fruit is discerned, forgetting then becomes possible.

16. Does Scripture instruct a repentant brother to forgive himself? The Bible never teaches that we need to forgive ourselves. At times people complain over an inability to forgive themselves after having received forgiveness from God or others. The problem of continued guilt is not a question of inability to forgive oneself. To view it as such is to cloud the real issue and to miss the path that leads to a solution. The real difficulty usually stems from the fact that the person feels guilty because he knows that, although the sin has been forgiven, he is still the kind of person who did it. The guilt will not fully disappear until he knows that his old patterns of life have been destroyed and new habit patterns have been established.

17. Why should we be willing to forgive our brother? (Matthew 18:22-33) We should forgive our brother because of the great sin debt that we have been forgiven by Christ.

18. What happens when we refuse to forgive a brother from our hearts? (Matthew 18:34-35; 6:14-15; 2 Corinthians 2:7, 10-11) Three things occur when we are unwilling to grant forgiveness and hold a grudge.

  1. We are turned over to the torturers of bitterness and resentment (Matthew 18:34-35).
  2. God will not grant us parental forgiveness to maintain fellowship with Him if we withhold forgiveness from others (Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25).
  3. If we withhold forgiveness from one who has repented of his sins and requested forgiveness we may cause him to be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” and Satan would then be given an advantage in his life (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).

19. What excuse do the disciples give for not being able to forgive? (Luke 17:5-6) Jesus addresses three excuses for not forgiving your brother.

  1. “Why should I forgive I don’t see the fruit of repentance” (Luke 17:3-4)
  2. “We don’t have enough faith” (Luke 17:5-6)
  3. “I don’t feel like I can forgive him” (Luke 17:7-10).

At first the disciples’ request for greater faith sounds quite reasonable and even pious. The Lord took a dim view of their request and treated it as an excuse rather than as a sincere plea. The problem is not lack of faith as they alleged. It does not take much faith to do great things. Even a small amount (as small as a tiny mustard seed) could do wonders. What they needed was not more faith; they simply needed to exercise the faith that they had and stop making excuses.

In the Jewish idiom the phrase “as small as a mustard seed” represented the smallest conceivable amount of something.

20. What is the point of the story Jesus tells in Luke 17:7-10? The point of this parable is twofold:

  1. Granting forgiveness doesn’t require feeling like it. It could not have been easy for the tired, hungry servant to prepare a meal for his master when he, himself, was so hungry. His feelings, as he savored the aroma of the food that he was preparing, told him to forget the hard task of feeding his master and urged him to eat the food himself. But he had been ordered by his master to prepare and serve the meal, so hard as it was, thankless as the task might be (Luke 17:9), and against his feelings, he did what was commanded. It is now clear that forgiveness is a “duty.” It is “commanded.” It is no more hypocritical to obey the Lord in granting forgiveness against one’s feelings than for the slave to prepare and serve the meal against his feelings.
  2. A servant should expect no special reward for doing what was his duty in the first place. The demanding standards Christ set (Luke 17:1-4) may have seemed too high to the disciples, but they represented only the minimal duties for a servant of Christ. Those who obey are not to think their obedience is meritorious or worthy of any special honor. We can never draw back from doing God’s revealed will because we feel we lack the faith or sufficient feelings to obey Christ. As servants of Jesus Christ, we are to obey when He speaks. Obedience is nothing out of the ordinary for a slave.

The fourth command of Christ in this passage is the word “Say” in Luke 17:10. “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say (present imperative), ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'” Forgiving someone is not something heroic, it is simply fulfilling our Christian duty. In the same way a slave discharges his duties whether he feels like it or not. The word “unworthy” is common in Greek literature, but in the N.T. only here and Matthew 25:30 where it means “useless” or “unprofitable.” The slave who only does what he is commanded by his master to do has gained no merit or credit. “The profit does not begin until the servant goes beyond his obligation” (Meyer).

21. Isn’t it hypocritical to forgive someone when you don’t feel like it? “But suppose I do not feel like forgiving my brother, am I supposed to do so anyhow? Won’t doing so without feeling forgiving make me a hypocrite?” This objection is frequently raised by sincere Christians who become perplexed over hypocrisy by wrongly equating hypocrisy with acting against one’s feelings. This objection also is used hypocritically by others who wish to excuse themselves from the hard (but Christian) duty of granting forgiveness.


  1. Is there anyone from whom you are withholding forgiveness? If yes, what is your next step?
  2. Have you or are you struggling to forgive someone?


  1. Serendipity Bible for Groups by: Serendipity House, Zondervan Publishing House, 1998
  2. The Christian Counselor’s Manual by: Jay E. Adams, pages 63-70, Baker Book House, 1973.
  3. The Christian Counselor’s New Testament by: Jay E. Adams, pages 726-727. Baker Book House, 1977.
  4. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 by: Frank E. Gaebelein (General Editor), Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.
  5. New Testament Commentary by: William Hendriksen, Baker Book House, 1978.
  6. Word Pictures in the New Testament Vol. 2 by: A. T. Robertson, Broadman Press, 1930
  7. The MacArthur Study Bible by: John F. MacArthur,Jr., Word Publishing, 1997.
  8. Teachers Commentary by: Lawrence O. Richards, Victor Books, 1987
  9. Improving Your Serve by: Charles R. Swindall, Word Books, 1981
  10. The Words and Works of Jesus Christ by: J. Dwight Pentecost, Zondervan Publishing House, 1981
  11. Character Clues: Character Bookshelf Series 1 by: Bill Gothard, IBYC
  12. Vines complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by: W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Thomas Nelson, 1985.

© Copyright 1994, Richard D. Leineweber Jr.

Additional Commentary: 1

This section consists of five units tied loosely together by the theme of faith:

  1. A warning against causing someone to stumble (Luke 17:1–3a)
  2. A saying on forgiveness (Luke 17:3b–4)
  3. A saying on faith (Luke 17:5–6)
  4. A saying on duty (Luke 17:7–10)
  5. The cleansing of ten lepers (Luke 17:11–19).

When the concept is broadened in terms of faithfulness it becomes more apparent that the idea of faith runs throughout the section. Only the first six verses are paralleled in the other gospels (Matthew 18:6–7, 15, 21–22; 21:21; Mark 9:42; 11:22–23).

Luke 17:1–3a / Jesus turns his attention away from the Pharisees and speaks to his disciples. The first saying is a warning against causing one of these little ones (disciples) to sin (lit. “to stumble”). The idea is not simply to cause someone to sin, but rather to become less faithful disciples, or to stop following Jesus altogether. Jesus recognizes that such things will happen, but woe to that person through whom they come. In what sense is it terrible for the disciple who causes another to stumble? In Luke 17:2, Jesus states that it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one to stumble. Elsewhere Jesus states that it would be better to lose an eye or a limb in order to gain heaven than to go to hell (see Mark 9:43, 47). Although this language may be hyperbolic, Jesus warns of the danger of judgment upon anyone who would destroy the faith of the one who believes in him. The final warning of Luke 17:3a, so watch yourselves, probably concludes the stumbling-block saying and is not the introduction for the saying on forgiveness that follows (though it may have been intended as a transition linking the sayings.

Luke 17:3b–4 / This saying, coming as it does immediately after the frightening warning above, may point to the way out of some of the problems associated with causing someone to stumble. The person who is sinned against (offended, or possibly caused to stumble) is to forgive his errant brother. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, he is to be forgiven. (See Matthew 18:22 where Jesus tells Peter to forgive the sinner seventy times seven. Although this saying is addressed apparently to the stronger disciple who does not falter in his faith on account of some offense, the idea of forgiveness is, nevertheless, relevant to the above warning against causing someone to stumble. But the saying also applies to the weaker disciple as well. God expects everyone to be forgiving toward another who repents.

Luke 17:5–6 / The faith that the disciples (or here, apostles) wish Jesus to increase is the kind of faith that will not waver in the face of opposition but is a faith that will expect great things from God (such examples can be seen in the Book of Acts). It may be that in light of the saying’s context, Luke understands this faith as the kind of faith that will not cause other disciples to falter (Luke 17:1–2), but it is a faith that will readily forgive those who sin and then repent (Luke 17:3b–4). What is curious is that Jesus does not actually grant the request of the apostles. They have asked for an increase in faith, but in response Jesus merely describes what great faith is. Even a little genuine faith can do mighty things (see Matthew 17:20). Jesus does not miraculously strengthen the faith of his disciples on the spot (which is clear by their fear, betrayal, and denial of Jesus when their master is arrested).

Luke 17:17:7–10 / This saying suggests that in serving God, God’s people have only done what is expected; just as a servant does not deserve thanks for doing his duty, so the disciples of Jesus should not expect special reward for being obedient. Jesus does not mean to rule out heavenly reward for faithful service, but he means only to instruct his disciples as to how they should think. The point of the saying is concerned with attitude. An arrogant attitude views God as fortunate for having people like us in his service (perhaps this was a Pharisaic attitude). The proper attitude, however, is thankfulness for having the privilege and opportunity to serve God. What reward we have for serving God is not earned, but is given because God is gracious. No Christian can boast before God (see Romans 3:27). Faithful servants understand this and go about their work for God, motivated by love for God and not by a sense of self-importance or by a sense of greed for reward.

Luke 17:17:11–19 / Another aspect of faith, or faithfulness, is thankfulness. This idea is seen clearly in the episode of the cleansing of the ten lepers. In Luke 17:11, Luke notes that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee. This introduction not only reminds the reader of the journey to Jerusalem, originally announced in Luke 9:51, but sets the stage for the appearance of the Samaritan leper. Jesus is met by ten men who had leprosy. According to custom and law they stood at a distance and cried out to Jesus for help. Jesus makes no pronouncement of healing, but commands them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” (Jesus had given the same command to the leper in Luke 5:14.) This command alludes to the wording of Leviticus 13:49 (see also Leviticus 14:2–4), where one whose leprosy or skin disease has cleared up must be inspected by a priest in order to be readmitted into society.

In obedience the ten lepers depart, but while going they discover that they had been cleansed (or had been healed. One of them returns praising God, and thanked Jesus.

Jesus’ first question (Were not all ten cleansed?) implies that there should be ten, not one, praising God and giving thanks.

His second question (Where are the other nine?) sets up the contrast between the one who returned, who was a Samaritan, and the nine (who presumably were Jews) who did not return to give praise and thanks.

Jesus’ third question (Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?) implies that the least religious or, to put it differently, those presumably most deserving of judgment, are often the ones most thankful to God for his mercy (Luke 7:36–50). The Samaritan is a foreigner (lit. “a stranger”), one who is not a pure descendant of “Father Abraham” (as the rich man of Luke 16:19–31 had been). Jesus’ question summarizes one of the major themes of Luke–Acts. It is the Gentile, the Samaritan, the outcasts and sinners, who respond enthusiastically to the offer of the Good News. Unlike the religious and proud, who assume that their piety guarantees their salvation, the outcasts and sinners assume no such thing (see Luke 18:9–14) and eagerly accept God’s gracious invitation (see Luke 14:15–24).

The foreigner is the only one who came back to give thanks to God, because only he recognized his sin and his need to repent. Unlike others whose hearts are hardened (another theme in Luke–Acts; see Acts 28:25–28), the Samaritan is receptive. Jesus then pronounces that it is his faith that has made him well (lit. “has saved you”). Although the “salvation” here may refer to no more than the leper’s physical healing (which would then be true of the other nine lepers who had been healed), it is more likely that Jesus (or, if not Jesus, then very likely Luke) has understood his expression of gratitude as indicative of conversion. The leper has not only been healed from his dreaded leprosy, but he has gained entry into the kingdom of God.

1 Evans, C. A. (1990). Luke (pp. 253–256). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[Questions and responses by Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]


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The Joy of Restoration

Restoration is a very powerful byproduct of a life well-lived in Christ. Define reconciliation and restoration in your own words. Sometimes we use them interchangeably, because being made right with God involves both words. Change that happens to a life is summed up in these two words.

  1. Describe how you came to know Christ.
    1. What was your life like before you received Christ?
    2. How did your salvation story happen?
    3. What is your life like now that you have Christ?
  2. Put into words the feeling you have about forgiveness and the newness you have in Christ.

Video Questions:

  1. How is forgiveness a necessary step toward restoration?
  2. In what area of your life do you need to experience restoration or new birth?
  3. Standard definitions:
    1. Reconciliation: From the Greek meaning to change or exchange; literally to change in one’s relationship to God (from enemy to friend).
    2. Restoration: synonymous with renew, best described in David’s use in Psalm 51, to restore is to make right (after a sin against God). New birth can be described as restoration.

Bible Study: John 21:15-19

  1. Peter understood the concept of restoration. He was outspoken and said he would never deny Christ… but he did, and Jesus came to him and offered restoration.
  2. Jesus repeatedly asked Peter if he loved him (agape-unconditional God-like love) and Peter responded with phileo (a brotherly love). We wonder if Peter really understood the depth of Love that Jesus had for him.
  3. Peter affirmed the Lordship of Jesus (John 21:17) and that Jesus knows all things. The response ultimately is NOT in Peter’s response to Jesus but in God’s knowledge of Peter’s heart. The instruction is for Peter to do the work of a shepherd (feed, shepherd and tend his sheep).

Bible Study: John 21:1-4, 22

  1. Notice where Jesus encounters his disciples in this post-resurrection appearance. What are they doing?
  2. Peter had gone back to where he had started, on a boat doing what he was doing when Jesus first called him.
  3. When Jesus asked if Peter loved him more than these (John 21:15) he could have meant the FISH.
  4. Peter is concerned about what will happen to John (what about this guy?) but Jesus hammers on the call he cave to Peter, “You follow me.”

Bible Study: Acts 2:36

  1. Peter goes from a denying, fearful man to a person with power and authority, and confidence.
  2. He is so different here than back in Mark 14:66-27.
  3. So, does Peter now appear affectionate toward Jesus (phileo) or passionately committed to him (agape)?
  4. How have you experienced God using you in light of being forgiven and restored?
  5. Restoration involves allowing God to do a work of renewal in our lives. Christ did the work of restoration by his work on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
  6. Restoration takes time, and we may not see the lasting effects until we get to heaven. Where do you need to do the hard work of restoration in your life?

At the end of the film, we see Cindy’s redemption but Hannah does not. We are left to wonder whether the relationship ever went beyond the written note.

A Guide to Biblical Restoration: *

Failure among God’s people is nothing new; biblical history is filled with failure. Samson failed. Abraham failed. Solomon failed. Jonah failed. The Hebrews failed. All twelve of the disciples of Jesus failed; Even King David, who was a man after God’s own heart failed; “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27). So all of these committed willful disobedient sin after having once pledged fidelity to God. In both Testaments, the evidence of failure is both overwhelming and sobering.

There is the overwhelming evidence that God is also in the restoration business. The Bible is the astonishing record of the God’s effort to reclaim and to restore those who are his, but who in a moment of weakness betrayed their allegiance to him. The potential for restoration plainly exists. In Galatians 6:1 we are told “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” Needless to say, there are verses that mention restoration, and these verses outline a process and responsibilities that if embraced, have the potential of releasing the believer from their bondage and restoring them to God.

What are Steps of Restoration?

1. Confession:

Restoration hinges on the honest and straightforward admission of failure. Sin can never be addressed if it is not named. It cannot be purged if it is not identified. It cannot be cleansed if it cannot be seen.

Occasionally we comprehend our sin alone, without the help of an outside voice. Guilt, shame, and loss of peace all creep into our souls and remind us of our error. Others may not be aware of their error, but we know. We fear discovery. We comprehend the enormity of our sin, as did David in Psalm 51.

More often than not, however, we rationalize our sin, deluding ourselves into believing that our behavior is acceptable or not that serious. We refuse to look at ourselves honestly, we ignore the stirrings in our conscience, and we avoid responsibility. We become defensive when questioned and find ourselves postponing the inevitable.

In either case, confession must take place, either at the prompting of the Spirit or by the approach of another believer, following the commands of (Matthew 18:15) and (Galatians 6:1).

Confession is the cleansing of the wound. It forces to the surface of the infection that has festered and stained us. It can be painful and humbling, but there is no other way for restoration to begin. Confession must be clear and straightforward. It cannot be couched in excuses or minimized by stubbornness. This confession must be made to God first, but it should also be made publicly to the church if the sin is publicly known. However, if the sin is unknown publicly then it should be properly dealt with privately. As a general rule, confession should be made to anyone directly injured by our sin. Confession of sin is a necessary step toward restoration and renewal. Confession to God opens the door for his forgiveness. Confession to the one offended opens the door for the victim’s forgiveness. Confession to the offended opens the door of opportunity for the church to demonstrate forgiveness.

2. Repentance:

To repent is to change course, to reverse direction. Once confession has been made and forgiveness received, repentance must be demonstrated. A firm commitment to turn away from the offending behavior must be made. According to Proverbs 28:13, God’s mercy is extended only to those who confess and forsake their sinful practices.

As with confession, the commitment to repent is most effective when rendered first of all to God and then secondly to the one injured by our offense. One’s confession of guilt to those sinned against accelerates the healing process for all involved in ways which secret promises cannot. In the same way a marriage vow is made before witnesses, a renewed commitment to walk with Christ is best made before witnesses.

Even when the sin is private, a specific plan outlining how the penitent person will make spiritual corrections will maximize success. An accountability system has great power to guard our steps. A spiritual mentor can help identify weaknesses, circumstances, and vulnerabilities and help steer a clear course. Enlisting a spiritual member of the church to work with us in being faithful is wise. Such “repentance plans” may be necessary for months or years, depending on the nature of the infraction and personal history, but every effort at restoration needs such a plan.

3. Restitution:

Some sins require restitution, the attempt to restore the loss someone else has suffered by our sin. Restitution typically involves a formal apology to the injured party and evidence of the offender’s intent to repent. The spiritual intent is to “gain the brother,” not to lose him. Restitution helps the wounded person understand that restoration is possible.

4. Discipline:

Establishing an accountability partner and disciplinary policies for restoration can be of great benefit. If the sin was public enough to require church discipline, it requires a commitment on the part of the church’s leadership to stand fast and consistently in implementing church discipline procedures.

Those representing the church must confront sin in the spirit of meekness and sincere humility, with each one acknowledging their own vulnerability to the enticements of sin. Discipline must be redemptive, not punitive. It must be forgiving and not judgmental.

5. Restoration:

When honest and straightforward confession has been made, repentance has been acknowledged and demonstrated, restitution has been pursued and completed, and a structure of loving discipline has been enforced, a formal end to the process should be recognized. The memory of the sin should be sealed and removed from all conversation, and a celebration of the Lord’s goodness and mercy should be enjoyed. After a proper time-frame, the wounded person may take his or her place back in service, free of the past and empowered spiritually to face the future.

No two circumstances are alike, but biblical guidelines are always valid helpful. Many wounded saints can be honorably returned to worthwhile service, if the appropriate steps are taken over a sufficient period of time.

When we come to our senses as did the prodigal in Luke 15, we can step back into the purposes for which God originally created us.

 * [ Adapted from Gantt Street Baptist Church ]

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The Power of Forgiveness

I always heard this quote but only recently discovered it’s origin: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” It is almost given Scripture status although it does not come from the Bible… it comes from Alexander Pope, 1711. He is also the guy who said, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” So, let’s look at forgiveness.

  1. What is the world’s opinion about forgiveness?
  2. How does that differ from scriptural teaching?
  3. What do you find most difficult, to seek forgiveness, to receive forgiveness or to offer forgiveness?
  4. Describe the last time you needed forgiveness.
  5. Describe a time when someone need forgiveness from you.

Video Questions:

  1. Would forgiveness be an automatic response, a delayed reaction or a withheld virtue for you in a similar situation?
  2. Do you feel that you have the power to choose to forgive?
  3. Hatred is a burden we don’t need to carry, and freedom is found only in forgiveness. How can you relate to the difficulty of forgiving others?
  4. Based on your own experiences, is the previous statement comforting or challenging?

Bible Study: Matthew 18:21-35

  1. How often are we to forgive someone? (Matthew 18:21-22)
  2. What is significant about the forgiveness the king offered compared to that which the slave withheld?
  3. Do you ever feel the weight of sin from which you have been forgiven?
  4. When we withhold forgiveness, what do you understand about the consequences? (Matthew 18:35)

Peter, wishing to appear especially forgiving and benevolent, asked Jesus if forgiveness was to be offered seven times. The Jewish rabbis at the time taught that forgiving someone more than three times was unnecessary, citing Amos 1:3-13 where God forgave Israel’s enemies three times, then punished them. By offering forgiveness more than double that of the Old Testament example, Peter perhaps expected extra commendation from the Lord. When Jesus responded that forgiveness should be offered 490 times, far beyond that which Peter was proposing, it must have stunned the disciples who were listening. Although they had been with Jesus for some time, they were still thinking in the limited terms of the law, rather than in the unlimited terms of grace.

By saying we are to forgive those who sin against us seventy times seven, Jesus was not limiting forgiveness to 490 times, a number that is, for all practical purposes, beyond counting. Christians with forgiving hearts not only don’t limit the number of times they forgive; they continue to forgive with as much grace the thousandth time as they do the first time. Christians are only capable of this type of forgiving spirit because the Spirit of God lives within us, and it is He who provides the ability to offer forgiveness over and over, just as God forgives us over and over.

Jesus answered that we must forgive as many times as necessary. His illustration is about a man who, although forgiven by his master of an overwhelming debt, refused to forgive another for a meager debt. When this man’s master heard about his ingratitude and injustice, he was outraged and had him thrown to the tormentors. “This is how My heavenly Father will treat each one of you, unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).

Surely, by receiving such a massive pardon, we should not be so mean-spirited as to withhold forgiveness from others. Rather, we should emulate the example of Jesus. In truth, offering forgiveness is an act of will, and failure to acknowledge this will only encourage us to justify our own disobedience. Forgiveness is not a fruit that needs time to grow in our lives. It is not a result of some special encounter with God. Jesus makes that clear in Luke 17:4 when He commands that if someone sins against another seven times in one day and repents as many times, that person should be forgiven. Forgiving someone for the same offense several times in one year would be a major test of sanctification, so seven times in one day drives Jesus’ point home.

Bible Study: Luke 6:37-38

  1. What do these verses teach about forgiveness?
  2. How often have we granted forgiveness only because we feel we will one day seek forgiveness?
  3. If we refuse to forgive, we must take a look at our own heart, have we received the forgiveness from God?

Bible Study: Colossians 3:12-13

This letter is a warning against heresy and false teaching that had become a threat to the believers. They are to abandon certain things (listed in chapter 2) and then a list of how they were to conduct themselves. This verse on forgiveness is listed within the foundational teaching of the church.

Pray that God will help you live in Christ to the fullest, like this…

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Why Forgive?

There is something strangely sweet about holding a grudge. The ability to withhold forgiveness and indulge in self-righteous feelings is a sense of power. God is the God of justice. Wrongs should be righted. And we deserve to feel contempt for those who hurt us. Except that it’s all a lie.

Refusing to forgive doesn’t grant us power, it enslaves us to sin. And feeling contempt for others very rarely makes a significant difference in their lives. Absolutely no good whatsoever comes from refusing to forgive. This is why Jesus said we are to forgive one another seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). We should forgive so much that it becomes second nature—our automatic response to offenses.

God gives us two very good reasons in Scripture for why we should forgive.

  1. God commands us to forgive others. God forgave us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10), and we should do likewise with one another.
  2. Those who forgive others indicate that they themselves have not been forgiven because a truly regenerated heart is a forgiving heart (Matthew 6:14-15). If we are filled with resentment and bitterness, we are exhibiting the “works of the flesh,” not the fruit of the Spirit which is evidence of true salvation (Galatians 5:19-23).

Most importantly, when we disobey one of God’s commands, such as the command to forgive, we sin against Him. In refusing to forgive another person, we sin against that person, but also against God. Considering that God puts our transgressions as far from Him as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), He expects us to extend this same grace to others. Our sin against God is infinitely more egregious than anything another person can do to us. Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35) illustrates this truth. The servant had been forgiven a massive debt—symbolic of the debt of sin we owe to God—then refused to forgive a minor debt of a friend. The lesson of the parable is that if God’s forgiveness toward us is limitless, so should ours be limitless toward others (Luke 17:3-4).

Withholding Forgiveness:

The Bible teaches us that God withholds forgiveness towards people who are not repentant (2 Kings 24:4 and Lamentations 3:42). God is able to do this because of His very nature: He is sinless. He is perfect. He is holy. He simply will not tolerate sin. Paul warns those who choose to transgress God’s law in Romans 2:5, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.”

As Christians we are certainly obligated to forgive others who sin against us when they are repentant if we are to expect God to forgive us when we sin against Him (Matthew 6:14-15, 18:23-35; Mark 11:25, Luke 17:3-4, Ephesians 4:31-32, Colossians 3:13). This holds true even if someone sins against us repeatedly (Matthew 18:21-22). However, this does not give us license to withhold forgiveness in the same way. The key to remember is this: God can judge a person’s intentions because He knows what’s in a person’s heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Hebrews 4:12-13), whereas we don’t. We are not God. We are not the Judge. For us to play God by refusing to offer forgiveness is an act of judgment on our part, and Jesus tells us that God will judge us according to the way we’ve judged others (Matthew 7:2).

What if There is No Indication of Repentance?

The law given to ancient Israel is similar to the New Testament teaching: “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:17-18). An unforgiving spirit leads to bitterness, anger, and seething resentment against another. Such a heart attitude cannot have true fellowship with God. Not holding grudges allows a state of mind that is ready and willing to forgive. Reconciliation is the goal, and if there cannot be reconciliation, an attitude of willingness to forgive must be maintained. There can be no excuse for withholding a forgiving spirit towards others (Matthew 5:22–24).

What About Forgive and Forget?

The phrase “forgive and forget” is not found in the Bible. However, there are numerous Scriptures commanding us to “forgive one another” (Matthew 6:14; Ephesians 4:32). A Christian who does not forgive can reap bitterness and the loss of eternal rewards (Hebrews 12:14-15; 2 John 1:8). Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to forgive. This frees the forgiving one from the past. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not change (Matthew 5:44). Ideally, the offender will seek reconciliation, but if not, the one wronged should still make known his decision to forgive.

In one sense, it is impossible to truly forget sins that have been committed against us. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. The Bible states that God does not “remember” our wickedness (Hebrews 8:12). Since God is all-knowing, he knows that we have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, having forgiven us, He treats us as if the sin had not occurred. If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not hold our sins against us. In that sense we must “forgive and forget.” If we forgive someone, we must act as if that sin had never occurred. We remember the sin, but we live as if we did not remember it. Ephesians 4:32 tells us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”


Human forgiveness and God’s forgiveness have differences. The Lord’s Prayer teaches that we are to ask for God’s forgiveness regularly, just as we are regularly to forgive others who have sinned against us. But human nature fights against this. As Paul said, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me” (Romans 7:21). Like Paul, we must know that we are powerless in our own strength to do the right thing. But as Christians who possess the Holy Spirit, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

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The Truth About Secrets

Everyone has a story to tell, and every part of our lives make up that story… victories, successes and the mistakes. Author Jeannie St. John Taylor wrote a book called “You Wouldn’t Love Me if You Knew” where a boy did something wrong and is afraid he can never be forgiven. He tries to replace the mistake with a series of good deeds but he never feels good enough. Once he comes clean, he learns a powerful truth about forgiveness.

  1. When was the last time you felt unforgivable? What did you learn?
  2. How often to you feel like that little boy… if we only knew your deepest and darkest most private secrets of your life?
  3. If you are currently keeping a secret, why do you think you are afraid to be honest?
  4. When was a time where you came clean with a secret, how did the most important people in your life respond?
  5. How do relationship suffer or benefit from being vulnerable?

Video Questions:

  1. How did you feel after seeing this scene in the film?
  2. How do you think Hannah felt when Cindy denied her the truth she was seeking? How can you relate?
  3. Has someone close to you ever kept a secret (the truth) from you? How did you feel? How did you respond when you learned the truth?
  4. How can you relate to Cindy’s response in this scene?

Bible Study: (2 Samuel 12:1-17) David is a man that has all of his ups and downs record for the world to see, throughout generations of time. The man after God’s own heart, the adulterous murderer king.

David was a giant among godly leaders, but he remained human as his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah showed. He spied Bathsheba bathing, desired her, and engineered the death of her faithful warrior husband, after committing adultery with her (2 Sam. 11).

Nathan, the prophet, confronted David with his secret sin, and David confessed his wrongdoing. The newborn child of David and Bathsheba died. David acknowledged his helplessness in the situation, confessing faith that he would go to be with the child one day. Bathsheba conceived again, bearing Solomon (2 Samuel 12:1-25).

  1. How is it easier to see the sin in someone else but not see it in ourselves? (2 Samuel 12:5-6)
  2. What did Nathan say would be the result of David’s sin? (2 Samuel 12:10-14)
  3. How did David respond when his sin was uncovered? (2 Samuel 12:16-17)
  4. How are you impacted by knowing that David was forgiven but still had to endure the consequences of his sin?

For the rest of the story: Able to rule the people but not his family, David saw intrigue, sexual sins, and murder rock his own household, resulting in his isolation from and eventual retreat before his son Absalom.

  • David grieved long and deep when his army killed Absalom (2 Samuel 18:19-33).
  • David’s kingdom was restored, but the hints of division between Judah and Israel remained (2 Samuel 19:40-43).
  • David had to put down a northern revolt (2 Samuel 20).
  • The last act the books of Samuel report about David is his census of the people, bringing God’s anger but also preparing a place for the temple to be built (2 Samuel 24).
  • The last chapters of 1 Chronicles describe extensive preparations David made for the building and the worship services of the temple.
  • David’s final days involved renewed intrigue among his family, as Adonijah sought to inherit his father’s throne, but Nathan and Bathsheba worked to ensure that Solomon became the next king (1 Kings 1:1-2:12).

Take a look at Psalm 32:

  1. David writes these psalms as confession of his sin. Psalm 32:3 mentions that he kept silent about his sin, how did that make him feel physically and emotionally? (Psalm 32:3-4)
  2. What are some ways that you see sin and guilt affecting people?
  3. According to Psalm 32:5, what did David do and what did God do?
  4. What lessons did David learn about sin and secrets (Bathsheba, Uriah, the front lines)? (Psalm 32:6-11)

A baby lost his life, a warrior lost his life, a woman lost her husband… but don’t judge David too harshly. How have you been like David the sinner?

Take a look at Psalm 51: this is a deeper confession of David’s sin

How have you been like David the forgiven?

The fact is that we have all done horrible things and we try to put on the false face to hide the truth from other people. Here are a few truths about secrets:

  1. Secrets birth other secrets.
  2. Secrets make us lonely.
  3. Secrets disconnect us from other people.
  4. Secrets are not secrets from God, while they do strain our relationship with him.
  5. Secrets prevent us from being fully alive in Christ.
  6. Secrets lose their power when they are shared.

Assignment and Challenge:

  1. What is there about your personality that not many people know?
  2. What is something you have overcome that not many people know?
  3. What is something with which you struggle that not many people know?

What Does the Bible Say About Keeping Secrets?

A secret can be difficult to keep and equally difficult to share, yet life seems to run on secrets, from concealing birthday presents, to obscuring a difficult past, to protecting the whereabouts of an important political figure. The Bible teaches, indirectly, that secrets can be either good or bad, but it does not clearly delineate the right and wrong uses of secrets.

Throughout the history of Israel, political and military secrets are mentioned without pronouncing any moral judgments for or against them (e.g., 2 Samuel 15:35-36). However, in the story of Samson and Delilah (Judges 16:4-22), Samson reveals the source of his strength, an act which, based on the aftermath of his admission, was awfully stupid. It was a secret he should have kept.

Esther’s story provides a positive example of someone who kept a secret. Her decision to hide her nationality (Esther 2:20) became an integral part of God’s plan to save His people (Esther 4:13; 7:3-6). The same story also supports the morality of revealing a secret that, if kept hidden, would cause great wrong or serious harm (Esther 2:21-23).

Proverbs, the central book among the “wisdom literature” of the Bible, is the most explicit about secrets. Chapter 11 says that “a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” (Proverbs 11:12-13). So, keeping a secret can be noble, but secrets kept for the wrong reason earn a person the title of “wicked,” for “a wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice” (Proverbs 17:23), and “whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence” (Psalm 101:5).

One type of secret is always wrong: trying to hide sin. “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). When it comes to our sin, God wants full disclosure, and He grants full forgiveness (Isaiah 1:18).

Of course, there’s no use trying to hide our sin from God. Nothing can be kept from Him. He is “the God of gods . . . and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel 2:47). Even our “secret sins” are exposed in His light (Psalm 90:8). “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17).

God Himself keeps some things—likely many things—hidden from us: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Jesus asked several people to keep miracles He had done secret. For example, Jesus healed two blind men and told them to “see that no one knows about this” (Matthew 9:30). When Job realized the immensity of God’s knowledge, he spoke of “things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3).

We can conclude that God does not consider keeping a secret to be sinful in and of itself. There are some things that people should know and some things they should not. God’s concern is how secrets are used, whether to protect or to hurt.

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What is the Gospel?

There is talk about the actual definition of the gospel.

Briefly, the true gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. Man is by nature and by choice sinful, and is separated from God with no hope of fixing his situation or standing before God. But God, by his power, provided for our redemption in the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

The word “gospel” literally means “good news.” To truly appreciate how good this news is, we must first understand the bad news.

  1. As a result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6), every part of man—his mind, will, emotions and flesh—have been corrupted by sin.
  2. Because of our sinful nature, we do not and cannot seek God. We have no desire to come to God and, in fact, our mind is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7).
  3. God has declared that our sin dooms us to an eternity in hell, separated from God.

It is in hell that man pays the penalty of sin against a holy and righteous God. This would be bad enough news if there were no remedy.

But God, in His mercy, has provided the perfect remedy, a substitute for us—Jesus Christ—who came to pay the penalty for our sin by His sacrifice on the cross. This is the essence of the gospel that Paul preached to the Corinthians.

  1. In 1 Corinthians 15, he explains the two elements of the gospel, the death and resurrection of Christ.
    1. Jesus died for us, the proof being that he was buried (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
    2. Jesus rose from the dead, the proof being the post-resurrection appearances (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)
  2. Anything added to this “first creed” of the church is not defined as the gospel:
    1. Not the plan of salvation
    2. Not liberation theology
    3. Not a social gospel
    4. Not justification, sanctification or glorification
    5. Not bearing fruit or good works or evangelism
    6. Not what one believes about the virgin birth or the end times
    7. Not humanitarian causes done in Jesus’ name
    8. Not even letting your light shine before men
  3. For us, our old nature died with Christ on the cross and was buried with Him. Then we were resurrected with Him to a new life (Romans 6:4-8).
  4. Paul tells us to “hold firmly” to this true gospel, the only one that saves.
    1. Believing in any other gospel is to believe in vain (Romans 1:16-17, Galatians 1:6).
    2. Paul declares that the true gospel is the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” He means that salvation is not achieved by human effort, but by the grace of God through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Because of the gospel, those who believe in Christ (Romans 10:9) are not just saved from hell. We are given a completely new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a changed heart and a new desire, will, and attitude that are demonstrated through good works. This is the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us by His power (Galatians 5:22-23). Works do not bring salvation, but they are the proof of it (Ephesians 2:10). Those who are saved by the power of God will always show the evidence of salvation by a changed life.

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