Radical Forgiveness – Get It!

The Radical Forgiveness Series
  • Forgiveness can be a difficult subject for many of us. We can find it hard to forgive others for things they have done to us. When it comes to our own past mistakes and failures, we can find it hard to forgive ourselves or to grasp that God forgives us completely. It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said His followers would actually live, and what their new counter-cultural lifestyle would actually look like. We hope that this Series helps you engage and live in freedom as we take a look at what the Bible has to say about radical forgiveness.
1. Radical Forgiveness – Get It! (Acts 3:11-26)
  • We are separated from God by sin which can only be cured by forgiveness from God.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • Humans are stained by sin and separated from God from whom they have rebelled and who they have rejected.(Acts 3:14 & 15)
  • God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior and Author of life, raised from the dead, through whom forgiveness from sin is offered. (Acts 3:13, 15 & 16, 19)
  • One can receive forgiveness by repenting of one's sin and accepting Jesus' death in his or her place by faith. (Acts 3:16, 19, 26)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • Are you aware of your sin, what it really is, and why it separates you from God?
  • Why did God have to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to deal with the human sin problem?
  • Do you confess your sins, repent of them, and ask Jesus to come into your life by faith?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • What was the effect on the crowd in the Temple of the healing of the man lame from birth?
  • Why were the people amazed at the healing?
  • How was the lame man healed, and what is the connection between his healing and what Peter had to say to the people?
  • How were the people in the crowd guilty of Jesus' death?
  • What is the meaning and purpose of Jesus' death and resurrection?
  • What was the solution to the people's sin problem that Peter proposed?
  • List the names and descriptions of Jesus that Peter used in his “message.” What do these names and descriptions mean?
  • How did Jesus fulfill prophecy about Himself?
  • What does it mean to repent from sin?
  • What does it mean to have faith in Jesus?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • What does it mean to you that a person lame from birth was healed in the name of Jesus?
  • Who is Jesus?
  • What is the result of Jesus' death and resurrection? How does Jesus' death and resurrection impact you?
  • What does it mean that God “glorified his servant Jesus?” (Acts 3:13)
  • Do you consider yourself a sinner, and are you under God's indictment for your sin?
  • How did God solve your sin problem?
  • Do you want to be forgiven from your sin? How can you “get” forgiveness from God?
  • Are you ready to confess your sin, repent of it, and turn to Jesus in faith to receive forgiveness and eternal life? If you have not done that, you can do it right now as you read these words. Just go ahead and confess your sins to Jesus, turn away from them and by faith ask Jesus to save and forgive you.
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
These Notes are the first in a three-part Series entitled “Radical Forgiveness.” As a start to the Series, we need to have an understanding of the meaning of forgiveness. From a “dictionary definition” standpoint, the word means to stop feeling anger toward someone who has done something wrong; to stop blaming someone; or to stop feeling anger about something. Suggested synonyms include absolution, exoneration, remission, dispensation, clemency and mercy. Such a definition takes us part way to understanding, but falls short of a Biblical understanding as it excludes anything having to do with sin. Scripture teaches us that forgiveness is indeed all about sin, and so the question is what is sin. Sin is our inner defilement that derives from the rebellion against God that started with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and consequently infected the entire human race (Romans 5:12). Sin is thus an inborn condition in which none of us is righteous or does good, but instead we all turn away from God (Romans 3:10-18, 23) and are thus separated from Him and His holiness, with no way to be reconciled with Him on our own. Moreover, sin carries with it a penalty, namely death (Romans 6:23a). In short, sin is a problem for all human beings; it separates us from God, from others and from self; all those relationships are broken. We can't live with God, with others or with ourselves because we all want to be lord of our own lives.

So the big issue is how can we be rid of sin? How can we be set free from the bondage of sin and have those relationships – with God, with others and with self – restored. Again, Scripture teaches that there is no way that a human can pay off this debt of sin on his or her own, whether by works or by striving in any way. No matter what we might do, we are still stained by sin. And that’s where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness correctly views sin as something that needs to be removed, and in the removal of sin, forgiveness is that which restores relationships. Thus, forgiveness removes sin (Psalm 103:12), sets sin aside (Colossians 2:14) and puts it away (Hebrews 9:26). Forgiveness hides God’s judgment from us (Psalm 51:9), sets us free from the bondage of sin (Acts 13:38 & 39), and cancels our sin-debt otherwise owed to God (Matthew 18:23-35). And forgiveness restores our relationship with God, with others and with self.

Viewed thus in the Biblical sense, forgiveness must come from outside us; it is not something we can conjure up of our own doing. And where does forgiveness come from? It comes from God, from the holy One Himself out of His mercy, grace and love (Exodus 34:6 & 7). But God’s forgiveness does not come without a cost as the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and those wages must be paid. The payment for sin is death, and that death must be of an offering that is spotless and without blemish so that the blood of that offering will cover sin and bring about the aforementioned effects. My sin requires my death; but my death will not wipe out my sin or provide forgiveness because I am not a perfect sacrifice. The beauty of God’s forgiveness is that He Himself provided the perfect sacrifice in God the Son, namely Jesus Christ, who offered Himself for sin as that perfect sacrifice such that the price of sin is paid in Him (Romans 5:8; Colossians 2:14; I Peter 2:24). God thus supplied the means by which forgiveness is available through the act of Jesus Christ whose blood covers sin (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7). Forgiveness is therefore wrapped up entirely in Jesus (Acts 5:31; Ephesians 4:32), and His death allows God to mark the sin debt as paid, and to put away sin and remember it no more (Hebrews 8:12; 9:15). And this forgiveness from God is accessed by one’s confessing his or her own sin, and turning away from it (repentance), and believing by faith that Jesus’ death and shed blood covers over his or her own sin; in other words, Jesus paid the price I owed for my sin and thus atoned for my sin (II Corinthians 5:21) to make me whole, reconciled to Him (Colossians 1:4), make alive again (Colossians 2:13), hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). In Christ, then, forgiveness brings freedom from the power and shackles of sin (Acts 10:43; Romans 6:18, 22), peace with God (Colossians 1:20), and reconciliation (Colossians 1:21 & 22). In Christ, then, forgiveness brings life both on earth and for eternity (Romans 6:22 & 23).

With the foregoing in mind as a context and understanding of both forgiveness and sin, Acts 3:11-26 is a passage that provides us with a picture of the need for forgiveness together with a focus on where forgiveness comes from. The setting for the passage is that the Apostles Peter and John had just healed a man who was lame from birth as they entered into the Temple in Jerusalem through the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:1-10). Peter and John then continued into the Temple, and the man who was healed came with them, “leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:9). All who were in the Temple recognized him as he had sought alms at the Temple Gate on a daily basis. Out text begins as these three came into the area of the Temple called Solomon's Portico, an area which ran the entire length of the eastern portion of the outer courts of the Temple. (Acts 3:11) The people in the Temple flocked to them in amazement. In terms of the time-frame, Pentecost was over and all the pilgrims had gone, so the people who were in the Temple that day surrounding Peter, John and the healed man, were all Jewish folk at the Temple for afternoon prayers. With all those people present, Peter took the opportunity to speak to them about what had happened. There are several levels to what Peter said, one of which is that he was in effect speaking to the nation of Israel via these Jewish folk. But for our purposes, Peter was speaking to the individuals he faced. And his message was rather simple: they knew who God was and had rejected Jesus the Messiah, and as such were trapped in their sin; Jesus was indeed the Messiah who came as the “Author of life” (Acts 3:15), died and rose again for the forgiveness of their sin (Acts 3:19, 26); the way to receive forgiveness is to repent (Acts 3:19); and in repenting and accepting Jesus death for them by faith, they could be made whole in the spiritual sense just as the lame man was made whole in the physical sense.

So the people Peter addressed that day in Jerusalem were in need of forgiveness, even if some or most of them did not even realize it (Acts 3:17). They were dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), though they were physically alive. They were infected with the disease of sin, as it were, for which there was no cure on earth. They needed their sin removed, and their relationship with God restored. Note that as Jews, they thought that they had a relationship with God just because they were Jews, and heirs of their Jewish “fathers,” Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In other words, they thought their birth status gave them life, when all the while they were actually dead in their sin and separated from the God of Israel as a result. (Romans 2:17-27) They didn't “get it” that they needed to “get it” meaning get forgiveness. And that is what Peter was telling them. God provided the way of forgiveness by His Son, the “holy and Righteous One,” who was rejected and killed by the very people who should have welcomed their Messiah (John 1:11). But it was Jesus whom God raised from the dead (Acts 3:15), as foretold by the very prophets of Israel (Acts 3:18, 21-24), to blot out sin because the keeping of the law would not produce that result in that they could not keep the law. This same Jesus, Peter tells them, is alive and it was Jesus who healed the lame man on the basis of his faith; and his new freedom from his lifelong lameness is a picture of the freedom and healing that comes from forgiveness of sin on the basis of faith in Jesus. Likewise, Peter called his audience to repent and turn away from their sin (Acts 3:19, 26) to receive freedom and forgiveness; and the only way they could get it was through faith in Jesus.

So forgiveness is something we humans need to be freed from the bondage of our sin and rebellion from God. And in order to “get it,” we must confess and turn away from our sin, believe in Jesus by faith for the removal of our sin, the healing of our soul, the cleansing from our iniquity, all based on His substitutionary death in place of ours, and then receive His forgiveness. Jesus, called by Peter the servant of God (Acts 3:13), the Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14), the Author of Life (Acts 3:15), the Messiah (Acts 3:20), and the One raised from the dead (Acts 3:15), is the only One by whom one can “get” forgiveness and be freed to live. This same Jesus who healed the man lame from birth through the words of Peter, is ready and able to perform the miracle of spiritual healing and the forgiveness of sin along with the restoration of relationship with God the Father as a result. Like He was calling to those Jewish people that day through Peter's words, Jesus calls today, “Come to me in faith and find forgiveness! Come today and I will in no wise cast you out.” Will you come if you haven't already? Jesus is calling.