Revival and Forgiveness
We've touched upon the fact that to " ... forgive each then just as in Christ God forgave you," (Ephesians 4:32) has significant
implications to Christianity world wide, revival world wide, revival locally and revival personally! Jesus' parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35) raises a number of question which we shall wrap into three:
What happened to the unmerciful servant? (he was given to be tormented v. 34)
What did he owe to be paid back? (not the original debt for it was canceled by the king. v. 34)
What does " ... forgive from your heart" mean? (v. 35)
Remember we said that all Christ-like forgiveness has three qualities as it is:
Let's examine substitutionary and as we do so the third quality becomes self evident! Romans 5:8 "...while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." The sinless One substituted Himself, paid the price for our sin and forgave us. So, all Christ-like forgiveness is sustitutionary and this is what it means to " ... forgive from your heart." In other words, Vinny, forgiveness has nothing to do with how we feel (actually unforgiveness leaves us in the hands of the things which torment our feelings), but what we choose. Forgiveness is never based on someone acknowledging what they did to us, but on what Christ did for us! So forgiveness is not being reconciled to those who hurt us, leaving it as a "spiritual transaction" between us and the Lord alone (listen to King David in Psalm 56).
All Christ-like forgiveness is substitutionary meaning I (as in Christ, God forgave me):
Bear the consequences of what they have done (2 Corinthians 5:21 "God made Him who had no sin to be the sin offering for us ... ")
No retaliation/threats (2 Peter 2:22-23 "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate, when He suffered He made no threats.")
Transaction between you and the Lord (v. 23 "Instead, He entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly")
Speak no more of what they did to you (Heb 8:12 "For I will forgive their wickedness and remember (speak of) their sins no more.")
Pray for and bless them (Matthew 6:44 "But I (Jesus) tell you, love your enemies and pray (bless) for those who persecute (spitefully use) you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.")
Vinny, by now you may be thinking: "This is not humanly possible, surely this can't be what Scripture means by Christ-like forgiveness!" So, now we come to substance of revival and forgiveness. I am convinced there will be no sustained revival or awakening without Christ-like forgiveness. And, yes, Vinny it is impossible on any human terms you may measure.
This makes genuine Christianity (relationship with Christ, not Christian religion) supernatural or nothing at all.
Now what did the unmerciful servant owe in Matthew 18:34 if the original debt was canceled? Why to forgive the debt of his fellow servant based on the cancellation of his original debt (sin) at the hands of a generous king who paid it for him, of course. One of the main obstacles to our forgiving " ... as in Christ God has forgiven you," is our human sense of justice. (eg. "They must pay for how they hurt me!") Christ-like forgiveness requires faith that expresses itself through love (Galatians 5:6), which is the only thing that counts with the Lord. The unmerciful servant was probably thinking something like this: "If I forgive this guy what he owes then how am I going to be repaid?" The Lord will pay you back and you'll be released from the torment of unforgiveness. Vinny, read the following in the light of the revelation of Christ-like forgiveness:
Romans 13:8 "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another ... "
Genuine Christianity is supernatural, or it is not Christianity at all!