WITH CHRIST, YOU ARE FORGIVEN BECAUSE YOU ARE LOVED

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WITH CHRIST, YOU ARE FORGIVEN BECAUSE YOU ARE LOVED

This view greeted me this morning. A full rainbow, complete, end to end.

Now, before any of you naysayers start running the photo through a microscope, let me come out and say this. Yes, it is a stitched photo. Stitched because I didn’t know that iPhones had a pano function. And before I could figure out how to work that, the rains came and the rainbow was gone. So two photos of each end of the rainbow is all I could do. But that’s not the point.

What I really wanted to do with the photo, was to ask you; what do you see when you see a rainbow? Do you see a scientific phenomenon? Do you see the rain that caused it? Do you see the inconvenience caused to your daily commute by the rain that caused it? Or was the rainbow lost on you because you were, like me, too preoccupied with running to the toilet to answer the call of nature?

I ask because just this past weekend, the BBC did a feature on a Filipino pastor who started an outreach ministry to help meth addicts kick the habit. He was once an addict, and was on meth for 10 years, till he ‘found a church’ and ‘that was when the transformation began’.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a touching story, a heart-warming story, inspiring even. But it was what that pastor said when asked if he thought God will forgive him for what he has done. This was what he had to say. ‘I think I will be forgiven.’

Are you like that? Have you done something so terribly wrong that even you can’t forgive yourself? And so you are wondering if God would forgive you? Well, beloved child of God, wonder no more; think no further; because the answer is,

You have been forgiven.

“And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”” Genesis 9:12-16

When it comes to our Father’s love for us, and His consequent willingness to forgive our sin, we really don’t have to look very far. From Genesis 9, it is clear how our Father feels towards us what our Father intends to do with our sin.

He has made us a promise, a promise that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. And to mark this promise, our Father put a rainbow in the sky, so that not only He will remember the covenant which is between Him and every living creature that roams this earth, we too can look on and take comfort in the fact that no matter what we have done, He will never be angry with us anymore. For as it is said in Isaiah,

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me;
For as I have sworn
That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth,
So have I sworn
That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.” Isaiah 54:9

Indeed, not only will He never destroy us, He will never even be angry with us, nor rebuke us. In fact, it gets even better for is it said,

“For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10

Not only will He never be angry with us, His kindness shall never depart from us, nor will His covenant of peace be removed from us. Why? Because He has mercy on us. And that is why Paul can say,

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

You know, if you ask a theologian why God is able to forgive us so freely and why we no longer need to wonder, but can now instead be sure that we are forgiven; the reason will be long, and probably very convoluted. But our Father explains it very succinctly here;

“For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth.” Isaiah 54:5

We weren’t just bought, we weren’t just redeemed, as far as God is concerned, we; the collective union of all who have put their trust in Christ, and so therefore have become saved; we have become the bride of Christ. And we know what that means.

We are not merely given passes to reside where He is, we have been given a legal right to all that Christ has, ‘co-owners’ if you like, of Christ’s estate, which is a lot. And how did this happen?

“For the Lord has called you
Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Like a youthful wife when you were refused,”
Says your God.
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.” Isaiah 54:6-8

We were once His, but our willful natures made us turn away, run away from home, and head to the land of sin. Simply put, when given the choice, we chose to do evil instead of good, heed our carnal desires, instead of staying true to our Father’s advice. And isn’t that the reason why we find ourselves stuck in that rut that we are in?

But look at what our Father says, He has called us saying,

“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
But with great mercies I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”
Says the Lord, your Redeemer.” Isaiah 54:7-8

But wait, when did He forsake us? When did He turn His face from us? Were there times when you felt like God was absent from your life? Were there times when you felt like God didn’t care? Were those the times when He forsook you and hid His face from you? Not even close. Because this is what happens when God turns His face.

“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink.
The rest said, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.”
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Matthew 27:45-53

Did the world turn dark? I’m sure it did for you, but did it, really? Any curtains got torn? Rocks split, maybe? Graves open? I know you probably felt like you did things that would make your grandpa roll over in his grave, but clearly not enough to pop back out to give you a smack on the back of your head, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make light of your situation. Your pain is real, and good on you. Because that you feel remorse, that shows that you’re not a fan of the devil. But does remorse mean that you are not forgiven? Not at the least.

You see, when Jesus lay down His life, He did so for a reason. It was to fulfill this mission for which He came.

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28

Jesus lay down His life, He allowed His blood to be spilt, so that many could receive remission of, or as the Amplified puts it, a substitutionary atonement, for our sins. A substitutionary atonement, substitutionary because Jesus was the one who atoned for our sins for us. As it is written,

“But [in fact] He has borne our griefs,
And He has carried our sorrows and pains;
Yet we [ignorantly] assumed that He was stricken,
Struck down by God and degraded and humiliated [by Him].” Isaiah 53:4 [AMP]

We do, don’t we, ignorantly assume that He was stricken by God. But the fact is, Jesus wasn’t. God didn’t throw a lightning bolt and miss, this was all in His plan. In fact,

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our wickedness [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing];
The punishment [required] for our well-being fell on Him,
And by His stripes (wounds) we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
We have turned, each one, to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]
To fall on Him [instead of us].” Isaiah 53:5-6 [AMP]

And that is why John said,

“But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the right [the authority, the privilege] to become children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name— who were born, not of blood [natural conception], nor of the will of the flesh [physical impulse], nor of the will of man [that of a natural father], but of God [that is, a divine and supernatural birth—they are born of God—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].” John 1:12-13 [AMP]

Do you believe in Him? Have you once received Him into your life and welcome His presence in your life? Do you believe in, adhere to, trust in and rely on Him to, simply put, sort out the hiccups in your life, both big and small? If you do, then you have been given the right, the authority and the privilege; because you have been made a child of God. Not by any man’s say-so, mind you, but it is God’s will that you are spiritually transformed, renewed and sanctified. And I put it to you that that you are here today, right now, reading this, and accepting this message, the transformation has begun, the sanctification has already taken place.

But what if you have not? What if you have even rejected Christ and His message in the past? Is it too late now? Well, my friend, not at the least. Remember, Jesus says,

“Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.” Revelation 3:20 [MSG]

So if you are hearing Him knock at the door to your heart, and would like to open the door to your heart to Him right now, then say this with me.

“Jesus, thank You for dying for me. Thank You that by Your death, You have given me complete and unconditional remission of all my sins. All that I have done, all that I am about to do, they have all been borne on You. Thank You Father for giving me this path to salvation and thank You for drawing me to You. Although I may have hardened my heart to Your call in the past, thank You for being patient with me and never giving up on me. So Jesus, I heed Your call right now. Come into my life and supper with me. Guide and provide for me so that I may see the spiritual transformation that You died to give me. Amen.”

So, beloved child of God, Jesus died for our sins. That means that they have been forgiven. So as far as forgiveness is concerned, what’s there to ‘think’? Go on, be sure, have confidence, and declare that you have been forgiven, for isn’t that what trusting Jesus means? He said He’s sorted out your sins for you. And if you trust Him, should you trust that your sins are sorted?

And that’s my point.

When we open the Bible, every time we turn the page, we should be looking out for the rainbows that appear; the signs of His love, and declarations of His promise to us; the promise that He will never leave us, nor forsake us; that He will never again be angry with us because Jesus has already borne all our sins on the cross. Beloved child of God, don’t miss those rainbows in the Bible, for they are certainly so much more beautiful than those that appear in the sky.

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