You Are Forgiven. Believe it!
There is no way you, or anybody else, can fully comprehend God’s love. It truly is incomprehensible.
One result is that our Bible study will always be exciting. As we study God’s Word, we will regularly encounter new and spectacular aspects of God’s love. I often equate Bible study with driving through the mountains. Around every curve, magnificent new scenes confront us. So also with the Bible. On every page, we see wondrous sights of God’s amazing love.
This happened to me this week. I read the remarkable story of Jesus forgiving the sinful woman recorded in Luke 7:35-50. I don’t know how many times I have read it in the past but that doesn’t make it boring. There is so much to ponder! Today, I want to zero in on the little story Jesus told Simon, the Pharisee, before he forgave the woman. Here it is.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:41-42).
That’s it. A few short sentences. In them, however, lies an earth-shattering truth. Did you catch it? The moneylender forgave the debts of both persons, BEFORE they did anything for him. In fact, Jesus doesn’t even say they asked him to forgive the debt. He just did it.
This is a picture of what God has done for absolutely everybody. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The people whose sins are not counted against them are the “world”. Like the moneylender in Jesus’ story, God didn’t wait to see how people would react. No, BEFORE they did anything, he reconciled them to himself by not counting their sins against them. The message of these verses is not, “God will forgive you, if you believe”. Rather, it is “God has forgiven you, believe it!” Faith is not the reason why God forgives us – it’s a reaction to his forgiving us.
He did it all “in Christ”. Jesus came at Christmas not to make it possible for us to be forgiven IF we do this or that. He came so God could and would forgive us. When were you forgiven? About 2,000 years ago.
Friends, this is not a minor point. As soon as you introduce any “if” into the equation, you give an opening for doubt to squirm in. I can’t tell you how many people I have spoken with who wonder if they are forgiven because they question whether they truly believe. (By the way, just asking the question indicates faith. Unbelievers don’t worry whether or not they believe.)
As you celebrate Christ, think of the moneylender forgiving the debt proactively. Think of God initiating reconciliation with you unilaterally. See that, because Jesus came, God’s forgiveness for you is a done deal. See all this and rejoice! May you be filled with awe and gratitude for God’s incomprehensible love.