77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
79 To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”Luke 1
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him andbegan to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from[ab]your heart.” Matt 18
The following truths are to be learned from the unmerciful servant:
1. The slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before his master as he considered that he could not pay his debt. He was not completely blind to his plight and was aware that he had a debt to be paid and a punishment that awaited him if he could not pay it. THE UNMERCIFUL PERSON MAY BE AWARE THAT A PAYMENT IS REQUIRED FOR HIS SIN.
2. He begged the master to be patient with him. He considered that perhaps with more time, he would be able to pay back his debt. We know that this slave's debt was so large that he had no hope of paying back even a significant portion of this debt if he worked hard for the rest of his life. THE UNMERCIFUL PERSON UNDERESTIMATES THE SIZE OF HIS DEBT OF SIN.
3. He told the master that he would would repay everything. He considered himself capable of paying back his enormous debt with the extra time that he may be given. THE UNMERCIFUL PERSON OVERESTIMATES HIS OWN ABILITY TO PAY FOR HIS SIN. THE UNMERCIFUL PERSON DESIRES TO PAY FOR HIS OWN SIN rather than to ask God to pay for him.
4. He did not acknowledge or believe in the love and grace of his master. If he did, he would have asked the master to forgive him and cancel his debt. He did not know the righteous character of his master. Or perhaps he considered that his master is righteous but did not want his master to cancel his debt and wanted to pay himself. THE UNMERCIFUL PERSON MISJUDGES OR REJECTS THE GRACIOUS CHARACTER OF HIS MASTER.
5. The slave was forgiven and his debt was cancelled. But from the perspective of the slave (in points 1-4) it is clear that the slave did not have the heart of repentance to receive the forgiveness and see the perfect goodness of the master. Thus, when the fellow slave who owed him a small debt came to his attention, HE COULD NOT FORGIVE. He could only be angry and attempt to acquire this small payment from the fellow slave. He put this fellow slave in prison.
6. Though the master had offered the slave freedom and the cancellation of his debt, the slave did not take to heart what his master had done. This resulted in his mistreatment of his fellow slave. THUS, HIS MASTER PUT HIM INTO PRISON, NOT BECAUSE OF HIS ORIGINAL LARGE DEBT, BUT BECAUSE HE NEVER RECEIVED THE MASTER's GRACE IN CANCELLING HIS DEBT. This refusal to receive the master's gift resulted in his lack of forgiveness towards his fellow slave. The slave's rejection of the grace of the master was evidenced by his lack of forgiveness for the fellow slave.
6. The slave overestimated the size of the debt of his fellow slave and threatened him violently. Though this fellow slave only owed him a small amount of money, the slave exacerbated the small debt of the other in his own mind and gave him the punishment due to those who are have much larger debts and who have committed much larger offenses. (Note that the fellow slave had the same response as the slave had in saying "Be patient with me and I will repay you", which was perhaps a reasonable response since a small debt may be paid off with time and there was no grace in the character of the slave that would make it reasonable for the fellow slave to ask him to cancel his debt.) THE UNMERCIFUL PERSON OVERESTIMATES THE SIZE OF OTHER PEOPLE'S DEBT AND DEMANDS PAYMENTS THAT ARE OUT OF PROPORTION TO THE SIZE OF THE DEBT.
The unmerciful servant had a false sense of justice. He understood neither the size of his debt nor the size of the punishment that was due him. He did not understand how futile and worthless his attempt to pay for his sin would be even if he had unlimited time. He did not understand the character of his master, the loving and forgiving master that he had who was willing to forgive him, cancel his debt, and love him forever if only he received the master. It is likely that the unmerciful servant had a deep pride that wanted to pay for his sin to satisfy his own false sense of justice rather than to receive the gift of his master. His false sense of justice and pride worked together to cause him to demand payment from his fellow slave. His heart resounded with the words "I must pay for my sin. I am able to pay for my sin. You must pay for your sin, fellow slave, just as I must pay for my sin. There is no grace in my master and if there is I will refuse it. I will not show grace to my fellow slave, for just as I have rejected the grace of my master, I have none to give to you..."
So in this parable we become aware of the divine mystery of forgiveness. In order to receive the grace and mercy of our heavenly Master, we must realize the magnitude of our offense and the magnitude of the punishment for our sin. How often have we tried to continue to bear the guilt for our sin in an attempt to satisfy our false sense of justice. We underestimate our sin and the size of the debt that must be paid to clear it. We fail to acknowledge that even if we were angry at ourselves, maimed our bodies and hearts with guilt and self-destruction for the rest of eternity, we would not close to scratching the surface or making the full payment for our sin. And when we hold onto our guilt, without receiving the gift of our Father in Jesus Christ, we expect others to hold onto their guilt. We wrongly believe that just as we cannot give up our guilt at the foot of the cross, we cannot give up the guilt of the other person at the foot of the cross. For we were meant to receive God's forgiveness for our own sin and to believe in the forgiveness of God for the one who wronged us so that we may love them as Christ loves them. Refusal to receive God's forgiveness and to acknowledge His love, mercy, and grace always translates into anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness towards others. The refusal to receive God's forgiveness shows that we have believed the devil's lie that our sin is small enough for us to pay for or that the grace of God is not large enough to cover it...this is the false sense of justice. And a false sense of justice in a person can never allow them to deliver true justice to another.
21 So Jesus said to them again, “ Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”John 20
MAY WE COME BACK TO THE ONE WHO FORGIVES AND RECEIVE HIS GRACE TO BE FORGIVEN AND TO FORGIVE. May we acknowledge the truth of the perfect justice of the Father which states that our sin is infinitely large and that the debt to be paid is infinite and only the "precious blood of a Lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:19) can serve as the complete payment for our sin and can remove our guilt. May we acknowledge that the love, mercy, and grace of our Master is infinitely high, wide, and deep...
“ Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
8 “ Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”Rom 4
And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel
For all that they have done,” declares the Lord. Jer 31:37
I wondered how a root of wickedness grew in Lucifer even when he was in heaven beholding the glory of God. Should not God's glory have humbled him and caused him to call out "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty" as the other heavenly creatures do? How could Satan conceive the sin of desiring his own glory in the presence of God's glory? We wrongly desire our own glory because the veil of disbelief and the resulting ignorance of the glory of God remains over our eyes until we come to Christ and learn to continue in Him. As Paul stated "Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. I Tim 1" And then God brought to memory the verses from 1 Peter 2:20-22 which convey that if we have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [the veil is removed and we have the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God] and are entangled in the world and are overcome, the last state is is even worse than the original. Similary in 1 John 5, sin is categorized as "sin leading to death" and "sin not leading to death". It became very clear to me that the unforgivable sin was to have had the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God and to eternally reject the Truth of God. Satan had seen the glory of God because he dwelt with God on God's holy mountain. For those among men who have tasted the Spiritual gift and deliberately reject God, there is no longer a sacrifice for sins because they have rejected not just the offer of the gift of salvation, but the Gift itself. They have scorned the essence of holiness. They have detested the gift of love and grace. They have trampled underfoot the very Son of God, God Himself after seeing His glory...
31 “ Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matt 12
If someone speaks against Jesus, then the veil of unbelief and ignorance still remains over them. Opportunity still remains for the Holy Spirit to remove the veil as they come to Christ. But someone who speaks against the Holy Spirit has tasted the gifts of comfort, grace, love, and forgiveness, THE GLORY OF GOD, and has blasphemed the very essence of the Godhead manifested by the Spirit's gift.
26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “ Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “ The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.Heb 10
Summary of the Chinese Christian Conference (6/8-6/10):
This past weekend God blessed us with the opportunity to spend time with the children (4 yrs-5th graders; ~ 70 children) attending the Chinese Christian conference with their parents. Dad and Mom met a Chinese lady, Faith Wong, a few months ago and she asked us recently to teach the children during the conference...a strange, unexpected blessing and gift for us. Rachel, Laurie, Jonathan, and David Edwards joined our team and God blessed me greatly this past weekend to see the Spirit work in our hearts and the hearts of the children. Here are some blessings:
* Dad led the weekend of 4 sections with an emphasis on the character of God: El Elyon (God Most High), Jehovah Tsidkenau (The Lord our Righteousness), The Great Commission, and Jehovah Rohi (The Lord our Shepherd). God really filled him with the Spirit to deliver the Word of God and inspire us to fear God. Mom also walked by the Spirit and was quite necessary in our mini-body of Christ.
* Several of the children showed change in their hearts within the weekend and evidence of receiving the Word with faith. You can ask Jonathan about this as he was able to spend quality time with several boys and teach them the Word of God personally. David was also a magnet and showed the love of Christ to the children. Rachel reflected the comfort, tenderness, love, and security of God and was like a mother in our midst. Laurie is blessed with a gift of grace: administration for the cause of the Kingdom and love for God's people. As dad said yesterday on our way home "Laurie is one of the most efficient people I know".
* We had small group prayer times with the children and many of them learned to pray out loud in the Name of Christ for the first time. Some children expressed that they feel convicted of their sin and want to be certain that God has forgiven them (they are surely on the right path...)
* On a personal note, I was not surprised that God ministered to my soul through these children. I could feel God's love from them as they tell me stories of people that they want to witness to, came and give me hugs, and pray according to what they learned from God's Word that day. I learned many things from them. One young fellow told me "a heart of stone cannot pump blood, but a heart of flesh can" and when I asked them if they knew what an ambassador was, a young girl answered "Someone from one country who brings a message to another country" to which we could discuss that "our citizenship is in heaven and we bring God's heavenly message to all of these countries here on earth...".
* On Sunday the other Edwards came to the conference at the end and Joshua told me about the NLC sermon that we missed.
* The Spirit was reminding me this weekend how fragile our lives are and some Truths about discipleship (the message for next week). To summarize, just as Peter said "You alone have the Words of Eternal Life", when we are doing what we are doing and saying what we are saying because Jesus alone is the Way and Word of Eternal Life and we have no other motive or purpose than the desire for Christ, that is when we are following Him as His true disciples.
LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? YOU HAVE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE. WE HAVE BELIEVED AND HAVE COME TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE HOLY ONE OF GOD.John 6:67-68