AGCC Sun. a.m. 12/7/97

(see also: 1/22/89)



TEXT: Heb. 7:23-25; Psalm 32:1-5

INTRO: What does this world really need? That is a question that is pondered over by governments and people everywhere. The kind of programs that are developed tell you what a particular country believes the needs to really be. Some of these programs do address needs, but what is the greatest need?

The greatest need of humanity is the need to be forgiven. Sin is the reason for all human suffering...somewhere in the human heart there is a yearning to be free from this sin and to know forgiveness...take the following story:

ILLUS: The story is told in Spain of a father and his teenage son who had a relationship that had become strained. So the son ran away from home. His father, however, began a journey in search of his rebellious son. Finally, in Madrid, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in the newspaper. The ad read: "Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father."

The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office 800 "Pacos" showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness and love from their fathers. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 218.

How can this problem be solved? Since man has the problem, he cannot solve it, but GOD IS ABLE TO SAVE!

PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God is able to save, that He will save those who come to Him. He is able to save us from (1. the Penalty of sin, (2. the Power of sin, (3. the Presence of sin!

I. ALWAYS A SAVIOR! Heb. 7:23-24,25c

A. Priesthood Secured! 7:23-24

1. Jesus ended the up and down nature of the priesthood.

a. There were approximately 83 high priests since Aaron (1657 B.C.) to Phannias (70 A.D.) These men came and went through death.

b. Some were godly, others not so godly.

c. The constant changing of these men often had consequences in the Nation.

d. The level of spirituality in the nation was often reflected by which High priest was leading at the time.

2. Jesus however puts an end to the constant changing of this role.

a. Because death ended the ministry of one man and thereby broke the continuity of his ministry, the Old Covenant had many drawbacks.

b. Since Christ does not die he can continue in this office.

c. Christ ended the weakness of man's needs...he is a perfect high priest!

B. Permanent Situation 7:25c

1. Christ now constantly intercedes for us...this was the role of a high priest, to stand between God and man and bridge the bring them together.

2. The sin issue needed to be dealt still does!

3. Christ offers Himself as our high office He will hold forever!

4. No longer depending on a human being to bring us to God, we come directly to Christ who is our high priest He will receive us!

II. ADMISSION OF SIN Psalm 32:1-5; Heb. 7:25b

A. Peace of Salvation Psm. 32:1-2

1. Notice how David begins this Psalm, "Happy is the man whose sins are forgiven!"

a. The word used for "happy" is not just the usual kind of happiness, it is the Hebrew word for "exuberant happiness", being in the plural it means literally, "Oh, how very happy!"

b. Extreme joy is the state of the forgiven sinner!

2. This Psalm may well have been written after David's sin of adultery and murder...a man who knew the depths of sin and now knows the depths of forgiveness!

3. Forgiveness literally can change a person's life...the power of forgiveness is the power to transform what was once useless to that which can now bring honor to God!

ILLUS: A man came back to work in a place from which he had been fired several months previously. His work was superior. A fellow worker remembered how inconsistent he had been in the past and asked, "What happened to make such a difference in you?" The man told this story: When I was in college I was part of a fraternity initiation committee. We placed the new members in the middle of a long stretch of a country road. I was to drive my car at as great a speed as possible straight at them. The challenge was for them to stand firm until a signal was given to jump out of the way. It was a dark night. I had reached one hundred miles an hour and saw their looks of terror in the headlights. The signal was given and everyone jumped clear--except one boy. I left college after that. I later married and have two children. The look on that boy's face as I passed over him at a hundred miles an hour stayed in my mind all the time. I became hopelessly inconsistent, moody, and finally became a problem drinker. My wife had to work to bring in the only income we had. I was drinking at home one morning when someone rang the doorbell. I opened to find myself facing a woman who seemed strangely familiar. She sat down in our living room and told me she was the mother of the boy I had killed years before. She said that she had hated me and spent agonizing nights rehearsing ways to get revenge. I then listened as she told me of the love and forgiveness that had come when she gave her heart to Christ. She said, "I have come to let you know that I forgive you and I want you to forgive me." I looked into her eyes that morning and I saw deep in her eyes the permission to be the kind of man I might have been had I never killed that boy. That forgiveness changed my whole life. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 221-222.

4. Forgiveness is a gift that frees the heart from sin's power and its penalty!

5. The forgiven man or woman is set free to love, to forgive others, to be productive in this world unburdened by the sins that bear down on the souls of those who have yet to experience God's love and cleansing power.

6. To know the forgiveness of sins is to know the presence of God.

B. Personal Sin Psm. 32:3-5; Heb. 7:25b

1. David now recounts life before forgiveness came...notice the affect of unforgiveness on the whole being of his life, physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

a. Physical problems that were noticeable.

b. lack of energy, lack of sleep.

c. exhaustion emotionally and psychologically.

2. The sorry state of life with sins that are not dealt with play out havoc in our lives in many ways.

3. It is often little sins that damage our lives until there is a major collapse.

ILLUS: R.G. Lee once quoted a Memphis paper concerning a mole which tunneled into the base of a rebuilt levee in Arkansas. The mole's "underground work" caused the only break in the levee system during the high water period that year, resulting in the crumbling of fifty feet of the Red River levee system.

Randall Broome observes, "Little things can make a difference in life. As the mole caused the collapse of the levee, so does sin in our lives. Sins, even small sins, left unchecked and unconfessed can cause the crumbling of the spiritual foundations necessary to live a victorious Christian life." -- Randall Broome, Pastor of Oconee Baptist Church, Commerce, GA

4. The anguish of David's life wasn't the fault of anyone else...and he finally takes responsibility for his own choices and sin...only after he confesses and accepts responsibility does he find the forgiveness and release his soul aches for.

a. We cannot blame others for our sins...we must assume responsibility for our own choices!

(1. David does not blame Bathsheba for what happened

(2. David does not try and cover the blame by explaining his circumstances that night he noticed here bathing.

(3. David makes no excuses for the sins he did, didn't blame his childhood or position...just accepts responsibility for his sins!

b. As we confess our sins we will find God's forgiveness poured out on us!

5. Only when we quit blaming everyone and everything else for our sins can we truly find freedom from its pain and its power over our lives!

6. It is a personal decision that we must each make!

7. Remember the statement in Heb. 7:25b that God is "able to save completely THOSE WHO COME TO GOD THROUGH HIM...."

a. There is a responsibility on our part in come through Christ!

b. No one else can make that decision for us, it is ours to make.

III. ABLE TO SAVE! Heb. 7:25a

A. Penalty of Sin 7:25a

1. The statement in the beginning of Heb. 7:25 is a wonderful statement of how great God's forgiveness really is! "He is able to save COMPLETELY those who come to God..."

a. The idea here is of absolute confidence in the work God!

b. It won't be just a partial forgiveness, complete now and in eternity!

2. God is able to save us from the PENALTY OF SIN!

a. We are no longer held guilty of past sins covered by the blood of Christ!

b. It is only us who remembers them, God does not!

ILLUS: Bruce Larson tells the true story of a Catholic priest living in the Philippines, a much- loved man of God who once carried a secret burden of long-past sin buried deep in his heart. He had committed that sin once, many years before, during his time in seminary. No one else knew of this sin. He had repented of it and he had suffered years of remorse for it, but he still had no peace, no inner joy, no sense of God's forgiveness.

There was a woman in this priest's parish who deeply loved God, and who claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Christ, and He with her. The priest, however, was skeptical of her claims, so to test her visions he said to her, "You say you actually speak directly with Christ in your visions. Let me ask you a favor. The next time you have one of these visions, I want you to ask Him what sin your priest committed while he was in seminary."

The woman agreed and went home. When she returned to the church a few days later, the priest said, "Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?"

She replied, "Yes, He did." "And did you ask Him what sin I committed in seminary?" "Yes, I asked Him." "Well, what did He say?" "He said, 'I don't remember.'"

This is what God wants you to know about the forgiveness He freely offers you. When your sins are forgiven, they are forgotten. The past--with its sins, hurts brokenness, and self- recrimination--is gone, dead, crucified, remembered no more. What God forgives, He forgets. --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988)

3. Once forgiven, our sins are gone ... forever as far as God is concerned!

a. He does not continue to punish us for sins He has cleansed!

b. We practice poor theology when we think God is getting even with us because of some past sin we committed long ago that has been forgiven!

c. God erases the event from His memory, if He forgets it so should we!

4. The fact that our past sins are gone should be a freeing experience!

a. one that should restore confidence

b. one that should restore joy

c. one that should restore productivity

5. If these things are missing in our lives than we need to ask ourselves if we have forgiven ourselves even as Christ has forgiven us?

B. Power of Sin 7:25a

1. God not only saves from the penalty of sin...but also the power of sin!

a. Not only does He remove from us the penalty of our sins when we confess them, but He also removes the power of sin from us.

b. sin's power tries to keep us in misery, to continue to control our lives.

c. God's cleansing however also gives us power over sin, we need not be a slave to sin anymore.

2. The purpose of sin is to destroy us, to not only make us guilty and thus separated from God, but to destroy and make us separate from others also.

a. The power of sin destroys love and joy.

b. The power of sin keeps pain alive in our lives.

c. God's forgiveness however can break this pain and separation.

ILLUS: On a cold winter evening a man suffered a heart attack and after being admitted to the hospital, asked the nurse to call his daughter. He explained, "You see, I live alone and she is the only family I have." The nurse went to phone the daughter. The daughter was quite upset and shouted, "You must not let him die! You see, Dad and I had a terrible argument almost a year ago. I haven't seen him since. All these months I've wanted to go to him for forgiveness. The last thing I said to him was 'I hate you."' The daughter cried and then said, "I'm coming now. I'll be there in thirty minutes."

The patient went into cardiac arrest, and code 99 was alerted. The nurse prayed, "O God, his daughter is coming. Don't let it end this way." The efforts of the medical team to revive the patient were fruitless. The nurse observed one of the doctors talking to the daughter outside the room. She could see the pathetic hurt in her face. The nurse took the daughter aside and said, "I'm sorry." The daughter responded, "I never hated him, you know. I loved him, And now I want to go see him." The nurse took her to the room, and the daughter went to the bed and buried her face in the sheets as she said good-bye to her deceased father. The nurse, as she tried not to look at this sad good-bye, noticed a scrap of paper on the bed table. She. picked it up and read: "My dearest Janie, I forgive you. I pray you will also forgive me. I know that you love me. I love you, too. Daddy." --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 201.

3. The power of sin can be broken, He is able to save from the power of sin!

C. Presence of Sin 7:25a

1. The ultimate joy of forgiveness will be God's salvation from even the presence of sin!

a. One day we will enjoy a time when sin has no presence!

b. This is where God's salvation is moving the universe!

2. A time will come when there will only be His glory, His presence, His perfect plan finally expressed throughout the universe...and sin will have no place there, only God's presence!

3. God's forgiveness even now can banish the presence of sin, especially where an entire group finds His forgiveness!

ILLUS: At a missionary meeting on the island of Raratonga, in the Pacific Ocean, an old man, who wished to join the Church, rose and said, "I have lived during the reign of four kings. In the first we were continually at war, and a fearful season it was watching and hiding with fear.

"During the reign of the second we were overtaken with a severe famine, and all expected to perish; then we ate rats and grass and this wood and that wood.

"During the third we were conquered, and became the peck and prey of the two other settlements of the island; then if a man went to fish he rarely ever returned, or if a woman went far away to fetch food she was rarely ever seen again.

"But during the reign of this third king we were visited by another King, a great King, a good King, a peaceful King, a King of love, Jesus, the Lord from Heaven. He has gained the victory. He has conquered our hearts; therefore we now have peace and plenty in this world, and hope soon to dwell with Him in Heaven." -- R. Brewin

4. While the presence of sin might not disappear completely while we live on this side of eternity, the place that knows God's salvation is a place where the presence of sin will be diminished greatly!

a. One of the great evidences of God's power in forgiveness has been seen in great revivals in history...when crime rates nearly disappeared in whole communities that experienced an outpouring of God's spirit.

b. This is still happening in areas that are undergoing revival now, places like Brownsville, Florida where their crime rates have drastically gone down as the revival has spread into the community.

5. With all these benefits of forgiveness what is holding you back from finding God's salvation...HE IS ABLE TO SAVE!, GIVE HIM THE OPPORTUNITY!

CONCLUSION: God is both anxious to save and able to save us! What He needs from us is an invitation and an acknowledgment of our need. When we do experience His saving grace we can be sure it is complete and permanent, so take a load off your soul and know the joy of Christ's saving power today!