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The Gift of Forgiveness

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COMMUNION SERMON

The Gift of Forgiveness

June 18, 2006

                                                            

Scripture: Isaiah 43:25:

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.

Introduction: As we prepare our hearts to celebrate the Lord's Supper, I want us to look to the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, specifically Isaiah 43:25­­to remind us of God's wonderful, powerful, amazing grace. Let's reflect on a few truths:

1. God's Nature Is Forgiving. In these verses of Isaiah, we learn that, although God had blessed His people, they were disobedient and unfaithful. Through a series of "nots" God reminds them of how they have ignored Him or outright rejected Him. They had not called on Him in prayer, not brought to Him their tithes and offerings, not honored Him with acceptable sacrifices in worship, and not offered Him their gratitude for His many blessings. God had not asked too much of them. His burden is always easy and His yoke is light. But instead of worshipping God with their sacrifices, they had weighed down God with their sins. But just at that moment, God displayed His grace and mercy. From a heart of love

 He declared that He would blot out their sin for His sake (v. 25). How could this possibly be? Israel deserved the judgment of God for ignoring could this possibly be? Israel deserved the judgment of God for ignoring

 Him, and they deserved His punishment for burdening Him with their sins. They could never possibly earn God's favor after all their sin and rebellion. Nothing but grace, pure, undeserved, unmerited favor can explain God's forgiveness. God says in verse 25 that He forgives sins for His sake. The motive for forgiving sin is in the heart of God; He forgives not because we deserve it, but out of His sheer love and grace.

2. Salvation Is from God. Salvation is God-originated, God-empowered, and should result in praise and glory to God and God alone. Note the threefold repetition of God's name in verse 25 for emphasis. Not just anyone is declaring this gracious forgiveness and pardon; it is Almighty God! God did not have to forgive sin. He would have been completely just to let us all die in our   sin and spend eternity in hell apart from His presence, but God chose to provide forgiveness even when we were in rebellion against Him (Rom. 5:8).

 God bestows His grace upon us without any merit on our part. This wonderful truth sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world.  Every other religion approaches God through some kind of works-based system: if I will do this, God will do that. If I do enough good works, or perform enough religious ritual, or avoid enough bad deeds, then I will somehow earn God's favor. But our salvation can only come by grace through faith because even the best efforts we give God still fall short (Eph. 2:8­9).

3. God Remembers Our Sins no More. How can God remember our sins no more as verse 25 says? C.H. Spurgeon paints a masterful picture of how this might unfold at the judgment. He writes: The Christian will have many accusers. The devil will come and say, `"That man is a great sinner." "I don't remember it," says God. "That man rebelled against Thee. . ." says the accuser. "I do not remember it," says God, "for I have said I will not remember his sins." [The believer's own] conscience says, "Ah! But Lord, it is true, I did sin against Thee, and most grievously." "I do not remember it," says God: "I said, `I will not remember your sins.' "

How did He do such a thing? Colossians 2:13­14 tells us that "He has made [you] alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Scripture teaches that forgiveness is only through the blood of Christ: "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and with out shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb. 9:22).

Conclusion: Do you see why we celebrate the Lord's Supper? Do you see why it indeed is a celebration? Where else can we find such a picture of love and grace, of unmerited favor? In preparing to celebrate the Lord's Supper, it is not only a time to look back and be grateful for Christ's sacrifice, but it is also a time to look within, confess sin, and recommit to follow Him. As we prepare to receive the Lord's Supper, let's enter into a time of quiet meditation and reflection upon the truths of God's Word. If there is anything we need to confess to God during this time, let us do so to prepare our hearts.

As we prepare to partake, let’s pray for the consecration of these elements: Father, we are thankful for the bread and cup. We pray that these elements will provide more than physical nourishment. Grant us the peace, unity, and spiritual nourishment this bread symbolizes. May this cup speak again of the blood Christ shed for the forgiveness of sin. Cleanse us and consecrate us again as we partake of this token meal together. We eagerly await the day we shall eat it with you in the Kingdom of Heaven. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Please start to come forward now to receive the elements. Please hold on to your serving until all have been served so we may partake together.

(When all are ready to partake) “The Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me”  Let’s partake.

(When all are ready to partake of the cup)  “In the same way, after supper He took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

Let’s pray

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