"Repentance and Forgiveness"
Category: Sermons
Tags: Sermon - 4/15/2018
Luke 24:44-49
“Repentance and Forgiveness”
April 15, 2018
            Someone who was once trying to weasel out of a situation where he had been caught cheating on his wife found himself being questioned intensely and publicly.  Somebody pointed out that he had denied activities that were pretty clearly substantiated, saying, “There’s nothing going on between us.”  He insisted he had been truthful because when he was asked the affair had already been cut off.  It would have been different if he had said that nothing ever had gone on.  In his own words, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
           I’m also about to make – for better reasons – the point that the word “is” is important.  In this case, I’m looking at one verse at the end of Luke where Jesus tells his disciples
“that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.” [Luke 24:47]
Shouldn’t that be: “repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed”?  The verb is “to be”.  Conjugate that as the rare grammatical form called a circumstantial participle: “I am to be/ You are to be/ He, she, or it is to be/ We are to be/ You are to be/ They are to be”.  Here that is used as the auxiliary to the main verb, which is “to proclaim”.  
            “To proclaim” is what I won’t get around to doing if I get tangled up in this stuff any longer, so back to the real point:
“that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.” [Luke 24:47]
That “is” tells me that what looks to me like two items, “repentance” and “forgiveness”, are one item, not two.  They are a package deal.  I can look at the car and the tires separately, but I am not going to buy one without the other.  When I talk about the car, the tires are understood.
            Repentance and forgiveness are two sides of what we call people to experience, and of what we experience in our own lives.  To turn away from evil opens us up for God’s forgiveness, and God’s forgiveness leads us to turn away from evil.  It works both ways.  The old life has come and gone.  Something new has begun.  If you would experience the new, you have to leave the old behind, and if you are feeling the tug to start over, you should know that the hold of the former ways is broken, and its power is gone.  Sometimes the two parts of that are working simultaneously.  The Holy Spirit can do things however it chooses, and always knows best.
            One of the best preachers – and by “best” I mean most effective in calling people to new life in Jesus – in the United Methodist Church today is a man down in Houston whose name is Rudy Rasmus.  He shares the story of his life pretty freely, and does it best in his own voice, so here is the version that is on YouTube.
            Did you hear in that how the repentance and the forgiveness go together?  Be sure that they always do.  It took him years to extricate himself from the life that he had actually grown up in, but once the process began it rolled on and on.  It took five years of his wife praying simply for God’s love to show itself in him.  When that began to show itself, it happened in fits and starts.  Repentance and forgiveness were both there.  Together they came to lift him out of what he called “some dark places”.
            Jesus told his disciples to let people know about that freedom, that it can be theirs.  If God can (and he did) raise Jesus out of the dark grave, you can be sure that God can (and he will) raise us out of the dark places our sins lead us, and take away the sin that leads us there in the first place.
            That is the power of the cross and the power of the resurrection.  My prayer today is for each of us to know both.  Consider this, if you will, an altar call.  Consider this an opportunity to let the Spirit of Christ find just the right place within your heart to begin the process of renewal that begins and never ends, that lets you say with the apostle Paul,
“by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain” [I Corinthians 15:10]
and to assure others that, wherever they may be on the path,
“the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” [Philippians 1:6]
and to share what you have seen Jesus do in this world that he loves so deeply, because
“You are witnesses of these things.” [Luke 24:48]


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