Still more remarkable is the fact that the doctrines promulgated in his name by his followers lay stress upon the fact that his crucifixion was a part of the divine program; more than this, that his crucifixion was necessary; that by the blood of the cross, by the death of the crucified One, atonement is effected for the sins of the Church and of the world
Posts Tagged ‘ forgiveness of sins ’
The Psalm which constitutes our lesson is supposed to have been composed by the Prophet after his heart had returned to peace with God through assurance of divine forgiveness of his sins. Its opening sentence takes this standpoint. David was the blessed man who had experienced divine forgiveness and covering of his transgression, his sin. He was the man to whom the Lord no longer imputed iniquity and in whose heart was no deception, no secret longing for sin, with merely the restraints of fear, but who had a heart and mind fully turned away from sin and in absolute accord with divine justice and all of its righteous requirements.
Notice what naturally happened. The rulers of the synagogue asked the two strangers if they had “any word of exhortation for the people” and perhaps also wanted to hear any news that would be of interest to the congregation. Also, they would want to know the thoughts of others of Jewry in regard to the passage of the Law just read. Paul stood up quickly and beckoned with his hand as if to say, “I have something of significance to say.” Then he spoke courageously, feeling the importance of the situation and the message, and knowing that God had anointed him, through Jesus, to be a special ambassador to the Gentiles.
How can this be understood? How can a sin be forgiven and yet punishment be inflicted on its account? The right thought on this question is that divine forgiveness signifies that God gives over or relinquishes his indignation against the sin and the sinner and deals with the sinner henceforth from the standpoint of favor.
Paul was in prison under house arrest in Rome when he wrote this epistle, the date being about AD 64. This first imprisonment lasted for two years. Since he was executed in AD 66-68 under Nero, following his second imprisonment, the epistle was written near the close of his ministry, a ministry that lasted about 33 years. Evidently, he had inherited a lot of money and was a Roman citizen. While under house arrest, he had visitors and was able to witness, even converting some of Nero’s household.
The great danger to the churches in Asia Minor was the Eastern philosophy, part of which was the thought that Jesus was like a phantom—that he did not really die but only appeared to do so. Our redemption is not merely because Jesus was a way-shower (one who showed the way), but because he was the Redeemer in a much more realistic sense. Blood was involved. The false philosophy claimed Jesus was all spirit, not human, and that he only appeared to suffer but did not actually do so.
The philosophy gained strength that those Christians who repented for sins and suffered disease, violence, and death through persecution were not living up to their privileges. They were regarded as lesser Christians, not God’s elite. Feeling that the elite class lived above the sufferings, followers of this philosophy did not see the need for suffering and humility. They wanted all the honors, emoluments, and prestige—the future honors of the reign—without any of the suffering. Over and over Paul tried to show that his role as an apostle was made valid by his sufferings. What he suffered was a mark of his apostleship, not the reverse. Those with the wrong thinking argued that if he were an apostle, he would not suffer. By extension, then, they reasoned that Jesus could not have really suffered or died. This erroneous philosophy made tremendous inroads into the Church as time went on.
Felix had put Paul under house arrest, hoping to get a bribe, but the bribe was not forthcoming. Festus could have released Paul for lack of evidence but did not do so. Now fact gathering was again attempted, and evidence was lacking. Paul was playing into the hands of providence, which indicated he was to go to Rome. While under prison house arrest, he had had two to three years to analyze the circumstance and what God’s will was for him. In determining providence and the meaning of the experience, he realized the Lord wanted him to go to Rome, and he knew the surest way to get free passage was to appeal his case to Caesar and go as a prisoner.