The How and Why of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

When ever you talk about forgiveness, there are hundreds of "What If" Questions. "What about this situation?" "What about this?" I could never answer all these questions in a sermon. For two weeks, we've studied Matthew 18:15-37, which cover both confronting sin and forgiving sin. I could spend a month preaching on each section and never come close to teaching the full depth and breadth of God's wisdom in these verses. So to augment what I taught, I'm urging, no I'm begging, you to read the following articles by Timothy Keller. 

Tim Keller defines forgiveness this way, "Forgiveness means giving up the right to seek repayment from the one who harmed you." And he goes on to teach that forgiveness means absorbing the debt yourself through a series of payments. What I want to add to yesterday's sermon is this. Some wrongs done to you are the spiritual equivalent of stealing a pack of gum, it doesn't take much payment to forgive. BUT other sins done against you are the spiritual equivalent of burning your whole house down. These big things like divorce, adultery, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional trauma, neglect, or murder take a mortgage worth of forgiveness payments over years and years to forgive. That is ok. Forgiveness is not instantaneous, it is a repeated decision to absorb the cost rather than seek revenge. 

READ THIS ARTICLE FIRST

forgiveness

SERVING EACH OTHER THROUGH FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION

IF YOU'RE ONLY GOING TO READ ONE ARTICLE, READ THIS ONE FIRST! It is a polished version of the stuff in the other article, though they each have their respective strengths. This article is the most helpful thing I've read on forgiveness. It skillfully relates the disciplines of confronting sin and forgiving sin. It answers most questions about, "Well what about this?" "What if he did this?" 

Article: Forgiveness and Reconciliation

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Gospel Forgiveness

NOTE: If you're only going to read one of these articles, READ THE OTHER ONE. 

I'm guessing this was originally an outline for a class, Tim Keller taught for Married Couples. While the whole document is awesome for improving our communication and intimacy in marriage, the stuff on Forgiveness and Reconciliation starts on page 10, Session 3. The article gives a great theological explanation of forgiveness and reconciliation, and then a very practical how to guide for how do it in a marriage. 

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – July 17 – 24

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

Matt 18.6-9 - Reading Plan -  July 17-24.2016 - A Beautiful Mess - Stumbling Church

Questions to Guide You:

In this series, “A Beautiful Mess”, we learn the Church is a beautiful mess full of people that are simultaneously sinners and saints. We learn that the most common reasons people give up on church are the very reason church works. Jesus wasn’t surprised by any of these. This week, we’ll see that our selfish sin, even secret sin has community consequences.

  • Matt 18 started with the self-promoting question, “Who is the greatest?” and now turns to the dangers of self-pleasuring. In Matt 17, we talked about things that are not sins, but might cause others to sin (like drinking, attire, and dance). Here we’re talking about things that are sin (lust, drunkenness, adultery, etc), and cause others to sin too.
  • How can we cause others to sin? How can we put a stumbling block before them?
  • How does my sin, even secret sin, affect and infect others? What sins have you committed this week that involved others or led others astray?
  • What does Paul say should happen to those who lead others astray?
  • In Gen 20, 2 Sam 11, and 2 Kings 21 ask, “How does _____ sin? How does it affect/infect others? Why does he sin? Have you ever sinned for the same reasons? What would have happened if he acted from faith instead of fear? How does each sin replace God with something/someone else, and how is God the better option for protection, pleasure, or provision?
  • Rev 2 is two letters to churches? What is God concerned about in each church? What does he ask? What does he threaten? What does he promise?
  • How does Church community show us our sins and consequences? How is that good news for our spiritual growth? If you never saw the affect of your sin on others would you ever quit? Likewise, if there were no consequences or punishments, what sins would commit? That is why we need the church and more so repentance and Jesus.
  • What does our potential to trip others say about our potential to grow others? How does church help us mentor and influence others?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.

Weekly Bible Reading Plan – May 8-15

The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.

Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.

Matt 17.14-21 - Reading Plan -  May 15 - May 1.2016 - A Beautiful Mess - Inept Church

Questions to Guide You:

This week, we start a new sermon series called, “A Beautiful Mess”. At this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is already talking about the church. We just finished the 5 Non-Negotiables the Church believes. Now we look at the character of the Church, and what we find is that it is a beautiful mess full of people that are simultaneously sinners and saints – creating joy and disappointment. This week, we’ll see that sometimes the Church will be inept to heal, but Jesus is the solution.

  • Matt 17:14-21 is right after the Transfiguration. When have you seen great trials follow great spiritual mountain tops in your life? How can this encourage you in those times? Why does God let the trials come after the mountain top?
  • How do the disciples fail in Matt 17? How does/can the church fail similarly? Have you ever seen someone give up on church because of such a failure? What is Jesus’ solution?
  • Jeremiah 8:21-22 inspired the old spiritual “Balm in Gliead”. What should we do when it seems that there is no healing available in the church, no “balm in Gilead?” Why does Church sometime make no difference in people’s situation?
  • What signs and wonders will accompany the Church’s preaching according to Mark 16? Have you ever seen signs and wonders confirm the Bible’s message?
  • Acts 20:7-12 is a funny story about very long preaching, all night long. Reminds me that preaching is very important but should be accompanied by mercy and healing. How can Oakland do this better?
  • Luke 10 is the Good Samaritan Story, where all the religious folk are too busy to help and heal the victim. How can churches be like that – too busy to help? How can we be more like the Samaritan, putting aside our worship and religion to help needy people?
  • Each Psalm reading affirms that God heals and delivers. How should these encourage us, even when we’re in the position of the dad in Matt 17, and no healing seems to come? How can we encourage our hearts when God doesn’t do what we think God should?

If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.