Forgiveness: The Beating Heart of the Gospel

Jan 26, 2016 4463

Hands Holding HeartForgiveness is in the very heart of the Gospel. It is what makes it beat; it is what pumps its life–giving power throughout the world.

In fact, it would not be too much to say that the Gospel is all about forgiveness. Everything that you might say that the Gospel is about, all of it stems from forgiveness.

It’s taken me a long time to realise this truth. That’s because all of my religious experience was about the Gospel as being something difficult to understand. It’s because forgiveness is so difficult for us to do. And it’s because all my life I was taught that we get what we deserve. Well, we don’t. Not from God when we are in His grace.

I thought that the Bible was all about the grandest sweep of history, and grand philosophy, and about advice about how to live. But while all those things are there, that’s not what the Bible is all about. The Bible is all about God’s forgiving grace.

All of the stories of the patriarchs of the Old Testament teach us this truth. The climax of Abraham’s journey is at the mountain which he called Jehovah–Jireh, “the Lord will provide.” Joseph is the one who forgives his brothers and saves the world. Moses is the meekest man on earth, the good shepherd who leads his people to the Promised Land. At the foot of Mt Sinai, in the aftermath of the rebellion around the golden calf, Moses learnt that forgiveness costs.

David also typifies Christ. Here is a man who knew what it meant to have his own son rebel against him. He is a man who also learnt the hard way what forgiveness was all about.

Isaiah 53 predicted that the mission of the coming Messiah would be centred on forgiveness. John the Baptist went before Christ, preaching the forgiveness of sin (Luke 1:76–78; 3:1–3).

The Lord’s Prayer is at the heart of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, and at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer we find forgiveness – the only provision in this prayer that our Lord thought worthy to reinforce in his comment immediately afterwards. Arguably, every one of our Lord’s parables has forgiveness at its very heart.

After Christ’s resurrection, the Apostolic announcement of the Gospel is all about forgiveness. We see it over and over. See for example Acts 2:38; 13:38–40. So too, Paul’s Gospel message is centred in our forgiveness in Christ:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. – Eph 1:7–8

I know that Paul sometimes seems complicated to us. However, every single theological concept and every single theological word has its root and source in forgiveness in Christ.

Let’s not complicate the Gospel. We need to see afresh the sacrificial love of Christ. So that we can understand that what we need is forgiveness, and then we can simply accept it as God’s gracious gift. And everything else just will flow from there.

– Eliezer Gonzalez

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