- Religion and Philosophy»
- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
Mandated to Forgive Sins
Ministers of Reconciliation
Go and sin no more
"Whosever sins you forgive, will be forgiven and whosever sins you retain, will be retained." That's what Jesus said to His disciples as He sent them out to preach the gospel of the kingdom, this is recorded in John chapter 20 verse 21, here Jesus says to His disciples, "Peace be with you, as the Father has sent Me I am sending you, receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." His disciples went out to preach the remission of sins on the day of Pentecost beginning in Jerusalem as they were told to do in the book of Luke, in the recording of the great commission in Luke. Jesus said, "Go and preach repentance and the remission of sins beginning in Jerusalem."
Repentance was the repentance from being under the control of the god of this world. And the forgiveness of sins was what the disciples were empowered to declare. But isn't that just much more than we can do? After all, we didn't die on the cross for anybody's sins, Jesus did. And we were not raised from the dead as the proof that God was with us, Jesus was. Therefore how are we empowered to forgive men their sins, and furthermore how are we empowered to retain their sins? And even if we got up to that place, of believing all of that, how would we know whose sins should be forgiven and whose sins should be retained? It seems like this is asking way too much of us. Well let's wade into it and see.
Why would God send us, why would Jesus, the One who died to save us from our sins; why would He send us to make such declarations as those? This is from the book of II Corinthians. II Corinthians tells us who we are to be able to make these kinds of declarations. II Corinthians chapter 5 says this, verse 16, "So from now on we regard no one any longer from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone and the new has come!" Verse 18, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation."
So who are we, to go and tell people their sins are forgiven? Verse 20, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God Himself were making His appeal through us." That's who we are; we are ambassadors of this grace. It goes on to say, "We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, (that's our message) so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God as Gods fellow workers we urge you not to receive Gods grace in vain." Wow. Who are we to go and preach to people, or tell people who are applying to the kingdom, who are requesting of the King sanctuary within His authority, the authority that was given to Him by God. All authority in heaven and on earth being given to Jesus as King by which His kingdom is established on the earth; His kingdom being the kingdom of heaven. The reality of heaven existing on the earth for our benefit that we might be joined with Him in His body, the body which is known as the kingdom of heaven or the body of Christ. Of which He is the head and ruler over it and rules in it by all authority that exists in heaven and on earth, by which He destroyed the works of the devil. Having destroyed the works of the devil, anyone who is under the control of the devil is free to go. We remain under the control of the evil one only because we don't know we're free to go. The good news of the kingdom is what tells you you're free to go.
Who is sent to you to declare the good news of the kingdom? We are, we are Christ ambassadors. In order to be an ambassador, there must be a kingdom that you represent. An ambassador is by definition, the term means that you represent another. You're representing the One who died on the cross; you're representing the One who has forgiven men their sins. Did you hear what I said? The One who HAS forgiven men their sins. Forgiveness was accomplished when Jesus died on the cross; He died for the forgiveness of men's sins. Of whose sins? Of everyone's sins. Everyone's sins are subject to being forgiven. Why? Because He died once for all, He died one time for everyone. Is this true or not? When He died on the cross, He died for you, for whomever.
The only thing that keeps someone from benefiting from what has been done for him is knowing about it. And to that end He sends us out. But our enemy is the problem; our enemy has kept men in darkness. How does he keep men in darkness? Well, for one thing by the darkness of their traditions. Men love darkness rather than light. For one reason, for their traditions, for another, they love their evil deeds. Are you understanding what I'm saying? I'm saying that although salvation is fully and freely available to all, there are disabling restraints that keep all from benefiting. That's why you must send out ambassadors.
Now when you send someone out representing the kingdom, by definition that person is an ambassador. Whoever goes to represent the kingdom of God, in the earth, is an ambassador of the kingdom of God. What is our message as an ambassador? Our message is the message of the kingdom that we represent. And what about this kingdom we represent, what is it capable of doing? For the one who is in darkness, what is the word? The word is: Light has come; the word is that there is a greater King than the one who holds you in bondage to tradition, using the tools of tradition, just what you've been used to. Using the tools of your own desires for evil things. Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. The fact that they don't want to change even if there is liberation available but they don't want it because they like what they have. Those are not likely to come, but it's still their choice and they can choose to come into the kingdom but they don't typically come.
Who is it who comes to the kingdom of God? Why is it worth sending anyone out? Who would appeal to the kingdom for refuge in the King? The one whose conscience is not seared by his addiction to tradition or by his love for a wicked way of life. You could offer someone the kingdom of God but if they like their lifestyle, they'll look you straight in the eye and they will say, "No thank you." I had an experience like that recently, I was in a little place in a foreign country preaching the message of the kingdom. In fact I was in Cuba, preaching the message of the kingdom and it was out in a village of a small town called Morón and they didn't have many English speakers in the town. So the fellow that they found, he was a local English teacher but he was not a believer. He had great difficulty translating for me because for one he didn't understand the vocabulary and for another he didn't understand what I was saying, he didn't understand the terms I was using.
So he would hear my message and sometimes in the midst of his translation he'd stop and ask me to explain in English what I meant, so I would. At a point in the message he said, "Oh," and then he repeated back to me what it was that I said to him and I said, "Yes, that's true." He said, "I'd never heard that," and I was preaching on the kingdom. I stopped right in the middle of my message to this whole audience of people and I said to him, "Would you like to become a citizen of the kingdom, would you like to accept Jesus as your king?" He looked at me and he said, "No thank you," and went right on, translating for me.
After the meeting he engaged me again with more conversation and once again I asked him, I said, "Today it's available to you, this message of the kingdom is available to you right now, the results are available to you immediately," and he looked at me and he said, "No," and I said, "Do you understand what I'm saying?" He said, "Yes." So I said, "What prevents you?" He said, "Oh I like my life the way it is." I guess I was used to, in all the places in the world that I've gone, I've been used to people hearing the message of the kingdom and saying, "Well of course, let me in, what do I do?" And this one just said plainly to me, "No, I like my life the way it is."
You see, the fact that Jesus died on the cross to save men of their sins and to make the kingdom available to them, does not mean that everyone wants in. And even though I knew that, intellectually, I was stunned recently when I so plainly offered the kingdom and it was understood and the man just said, "My deeds are evil, I love the darkness rather than the light." Others are stuck in tradition. Many of the people who hear this message or read it on the Internet or listen to this CD; many of them have strong religious backgrounds. What I'm saying is so different from what they've been raised in. These are good people, Godly people, but they'll turn it down; they love the four spiritual laws; they love the sinners prayer, this is what they know. And even if you show them that it's the kingdom that we're sent to present and the clarity with which we've brought forth this message and others like it, they'll still go and practice the traditions, leaving off all that has been taught to them and all that they've heard.
The traditions of men, like their choices of lifestyles, are that powerful in entrapping men. So who, who will receive our embassage? We are ambassadors, we come to represent the kingdom. Who is likely to receive us? Those who are likely to receive us are those who in their hearts have sought God. God says, "If you will hunger and thirst after righteousness you will be filled. If you seek, you will find; if you knock, it will be opened unto to you; if you ask, it shall be given." One of the things that God delights in giving without measure is the kingdom; He delights in giving the kingdom to those who ask for it. And His pleasure is to give the kingdom without measure.
So it's worth it to send people out to find those who are seeking God, who are knocking, who are asking. How many of these people will there be in the world? Few. That's what the word says. It says that, "The road that leads to destruction is broad (Jesus was speaking this) and many there be that find it, but straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it." One of the reasons why our churches are populated with unbelievers and people have no strength to stand up to the least adversity is because we have not been teaching them the gospel of the kingdom, we've been teaching them the gospel of salvation. If we were to have taught them the gospel of the kingdom, we would have taught them about the order of Christ, the government of God, the rule of Christ and His kingdom, the fact that He is King and Lord and that visavee the King, no one has any authority, we are subjects of the King. We'd have been taught that and so people would have looked to the King, not only for being rescued out of the kingdom of darkness but to maintain and entire way of life based in the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ as King.
Instead what we have is the idea that God exists for your benefit, so you could do whatever you want to and just give God some acknowledgment along the way and everything is fine. Most churches are in no way related to the kingdom of God. Today we see groups of people who are ruled over by boards of directors in which people maneuver for control and it's done in the same fashion of heartless corporate maneuverings. And the people who have control over these institutions think they are serving God. Jesus said it this way, "In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." It's amazing how these groups emphasize Bible teaching. All they really are emphasizing are the traditions that they have for which they use Bible verses as support. They are clueless about the gospel of the kingdom, for the gospel of the kingdom is about the sovereign rule of the Lord Jesus Christ over you.
And there is an enemy, who is doing everything in his power to control you and to destroy you. That enemy formerly controlled you when you were in darkness but God rescued you because your heart sought God. Now you are an ambassador of this kingdom and you are sent out to teach people that if they will apply to the King for refuge, to be under His rule, if they desire to be citizens of His kingdom He will welcome them. And as the first act of their being welcomed into the kingdom of God, you're empowered as an ambassador of the kingdom to declare to them the first experiential act of the benevolence of the kingdom and that is that you declare to them their sins are forgiven.
Well are there times when you will not receive a person in this fashion? Sure there are, there are times when Jesus didn't and there times when you will. How do you know the difference? You were given the Holy Spirit; one of the gifts of the Spirit is called the gift of the discerning of spirits. What you're able to do is to discern who is truthful in their search for the kingdom and who is not. Whoever is seeking the kingdom you will see, if you're approaching it from a standpoint of an ambassador of the kingdom; you will see them the way they actually are. And you will know who to invite to come in, and correspondingly you will know who not to. Let me give you an example.
Jesus came to Jacobs well in Sychar where He met a Samaritan woman, now she was the woman who no modern day preacher would ever want to be seen with in her company. You see, she had been married five times before and now she was living with a man to whom she was not married. Now heres the thing, she came out to the well to get water and Jesus sat by the well. Now, it wasn't the woman who began the conversation, it was Jesus, Jesus started the whole thing. If He just happened to be by the well and a woman came, then perhaps we could excuse Him but He was there when she came and He said to her, He opened the conversation. He said to her, "Give me some water." That's how the conversation started. Where's Jesus going with this conversation? He was there that day for her. A woman who has been married five times, is presently living with a man, Jesus is there that day for her? Put yourself in Jesus' place; if you're a man, put yourself in Jesus' place. You're a Christian, what would you do?
Well if you didn't tell the typical preacher that this was a Bible story and you said, "You know there is this woman that I seen at the water cooler at the office, she's been married five times and living with a man to whom she's not presently married and she wants to talk to me. What's your advice?" I tell you what the advice was, "Run, do not walk, from such a woman as that!" But Jesus was there for her. Why? Because He saw her no longer according to the flesh. It's easy to see someone according to the flesh, it's easy to see someone framed against the background of their failures and their sins. That's why we go for the nice middle class folk, that's why we seek to populate our churches with those who can tithe.
We don't see the way God sees. What did Jesus see when He saw this woman? This is what He saw: If there is a woman who has been married five times and living with a man to whom she's not married, what do you know about such a woman? What's going on behind that woman's eyes, what's going on behind her actions, who is she? She's a woman who, to quote a country song, "Looking for love in all the wrong places." That's who she is. And Jesus is the lover of her soul. She's been seeking, just didn't know where to seek. Been rejected, and rejected, and rejected, and rejected, and rejected, and is about to be rejected again. But she's still looking Why would the Savior, why would the lover of her soul show up for her? The question is, why not? She is seeking to be..she has no tradition that would keep her, she has no wickedness that would keep her. She's been looking for love for her whole life and Jesus is the lover of her soul.
So when He says to her, "Woman this is who you are." The fact that the living God knew her lit her up on the inside. She turned and immediately became what she was, an evangelist. She was given permission to be who she was. Whenever the kingdom visits you you're released to be who God made you to be. You could be in deepest sin but instantly your sins are forgiven and you are released to be and to become who God made you to be. Think about the man in the tree, why would a short man, Zaccheus, a short tax collector; why would he perch himself in a tree? Because his desire to see the Lord was greater than his fear of being ridiculed for being short or hated for being a tax collector; he had already overcome that. And Jesus stopped and said to him, "Zaccheus, come down, the thing you are seeking is found, your sins are forgiven. Come, lets go home and eat a meal." How do we know that it worked? Well he offered four-to-one in rebates, four-to-one; that was proof that Jesus saw him accurately.
If we would see people the way God sees them, we would know when to extend the kingdom to them and we'd know when not to. You've been given the gift of discernment in order to be able to do that.