“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew. 6:14,15.
We should not suppose there is a more plain condition in the Holy Bible. From the lips of the great Forgiver comes words that cannot be mistaken. There is no room for holding grudges, no room for a loveless attitude on the part of any professed believer in Jesus as their Savior.
Have you been forgiven of your sins? Have you experienced the peace that passes all understanding? Do you love much?
“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Luke 7:47.
Does Your Heart Break?
Is there anyone who has not been hurt by a sinner? Is there anyone who has not had their heart thrust through with words spoken without forethought as to the consequences? The pain may be even greater from a premeditated personal attack.
Every day in our world sin takes its toll. Tens of thousands die because of reckless behavior. Minds swim in a thought process of “Why?” “How could this have happened?” Thoughts of abandonment, despair, and retaliation stir the cauldron of human godlessness.
The world, of course, is going mad. Acts of hatred will increase. Words spoken in rage and acts of violence will gather a momentum that will stun onlookers, as the planet reaches its final, probationary hours.
Tested and Tried
The time is at hand when those who have not been sanctified by the truth will become bitter enemies of those loyal to God. Our spiritual lives will be tested as though there is not another being on the face of the earth, (See The Great Controversy, 608, 490.) Ponder the pressures God’s people are about to face.
Jesus “came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” John 1:11. Have you ever been rejected by those closest to you? Perhaps you have been rejected in no uncertain terms, in very emphatic, rude or crude ways. Have you been mocked, derided, scorned… hated?
“But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” John 15:25.
Cause to Hate
Think of this Scripture for a moment. Did the religious leaders have cause to hate Jesus? From a just point, no, of course not. Jesus was the spotless Lamb of God. On the other hand, from an unjust viewpoint, they had tremendous cause to hate Him, because He was toppling their entire tower of man-made authority over the people. He was a daily
threat to the established entrenchment of human power. Have we been forgiven much? Do we love much? Have we put as much energy into soul winning, especially in our own families, as those apostates put into stopping Jesus?
Have you ever noticed the number of times the word “suffer” is used in connection with Jesus, as He spoke of His own experience? Consider these two statements after His resurrection: “And He [Christ] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:” and “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” Luke 24:46, 26.
To what “things” was our Lord referring? Cleopas and his fellow traveller provide our answer; “…Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him.” Luke 24:19, 20.
Here is the sad, common thread running through the garment of Christ’s sufferings. Seven times before His death Jesus spoke of how He would suffer. The connecting link is the word “pentho,” meaning “to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful).” Strong’s Concordance, Greek Dictionary, 56.
When Jesus spoke of His suffering, He did not equate it to experiencing the loss of connection to His Father, something of which we could have no understanding. He linked it to something we can and will understand, in vivid terms, in the soon coming crisis.
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Matthew 16:21.
Too Great a Threat
Jesus stated to us His suffering came at the hands of men who should have received Him and His truth with great joy. They should have received His offers of a kingdom a thousand times greater than the one they so desired. They did not. He was too great a threat to their system of religious power and authority. So they discussed, planned, and
carried out their hatred and unjust cause. The pain Jesus experienced was tremendous. How could men be so blind? How could they refuse so great a salvation? How could they act like demons and walk in darkness while professing belief in heavenly light? Jesus knew the answer, of course, though it did not release Him from experiencing the pain of rejection.
His greatest pain was in sensing rejection from His Father as He took on the sins of the world. God be praised through ceaseless ages, we shall not have to undergo such rejection. But make no mistake; a pain is coming we may have had tastes of, yet the full flavor of rejection still awaits.
“Already the judgments of God are abroad in the land, as seen in storms, in floods, in tempests, in earthquakes, in peril by land and by sea. The great I AM is speaking to those who make void His law. When God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth, who will then be able to stand? Now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness be the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 136.
How did Jesus make it through? “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.
We Have No Excuse
Did they hate Him without a cause? Yes and no. Did they know what they were doing? Yes and no. Dear Reader, do we know what we are doing? Is our cause a just one? They could have known. We have no excuses. If there is even a hint of lovelessness in us, we shall not receive the latter rain. Whatever pain we have gone through, or will yet go through at the hands of those closest to us, it is still eternally true that love and forgiveness are more powerful than pain and rejection.
We must never forget Paul’s timely words; “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered: And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” Hebrews 5:8, 9.
As remnant believers in the work of Jesus in the Most Holy Place above, we have seen and heard much of character perfection from pen and pulpit. Have we considered what is coming that shall finish this work of the Holy Spirit within us? It is all tied in together in God’s plans of human restoration to Christlikeness.
The apostle Peter wrote more about this than any other author. Certainly he was a man who went through much emotional and physical pain and was a witness to Christ’s sufferings. His reflections, under the guidance of the Spirit, himself being a holy man of God, are to be noted.
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye shall be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously: Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:19-24.
Deserving of Death
Let us face it; as sinners we only deserve death. But as we learn obedience through the things we suffer, God is filling us with eternal life from the infusion of higher principles, something swiftly being lost in our world. God desires witnesses. Witnesses who are able to stand on high principles and carry them through in our daily lives—no small task.
In the opening of this letter Peter writes, “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:11.
The word “glory” in the Greek comes from the word “doxa” which is to make something apparent or obvious, like the noon day sun, shining in all its glory. We know by study that the word glory is synonymous with God’s character. Then behold, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12, 13.
Love and Forgive
In partaking of Christ’s sufferings, going through the dark tunnel of rejection by leaders and those who make profession of truth, our characters undergo transformation that we may be pure, even as He is pure. We have hope beyond the human struggles with kingly power and Romanism. We have hope beyond the struggles of deception in human hearts. If we do not or cannot forgive all infractions or violations of sinners against ourselves, we do not and cannot have the fullness of Christ; we will not be ready to take on the final crisis or meet Jesus in peace when He returns. We stand on principle, but we must love in Christ and be ready to forgive.
There are too many amongst God’s people who continue to grind the ax of bitterness, who cannot wait for an opportunity to tell others how they have been maligned or mistreated. Does this give glory to God or ennoble our characters? Nay. And it must cease, if we expect God to use us when He takes the reigns in the finishing thrust. Is this not just before us? The end of all things is at hand.
“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, [in His way, His truth, and His life, in His brethren preparing for translation at His return] but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busibody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:14-19.
Can we see the issues at stake for our lives? We must, or we will not see or enter the kingdom of God. Being born again is to have love to God and to our fellow men—sinners just as we are. If we believe in a truth that can sanctify fully, completely and entirely, our hearts will be perfected in love, which will cast out fear, which will leave in us only pity for those who oppose themselves, and deny the Lord that bought them. (See 2 Timothy 2:25, 26 and 2 Peter 2:1-3.)
“In the prayer that Christ taught His disciples was the request: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We cannot repeat this prayer from the heart and dare to be unforgiving, for we ask the Lord to forgive our trespasses against Him in the same manner that we forgive those who trespass against us. But few realize the true import of this prayer. If those who are unforgiving did comprehend the depth of its meaning they would not dare to repeat it and ask God to deal with them as they deal with their fellow mortals. And yet this spirit of hardness and lack of forgiveness exists even among brethren to a fearful extent. Brother is exacting with brother.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 95.
Soon God will pull together a people of one accord, a people who will have experienced the blessings of being forgiven and of forgiving others. Hearts will be joined in chords of love and expectation of God doing marvelous things for His children, as we enter the final stages of earth’s history. Learn from the past what you can, but do not hold on to its pain. Give that to Jesus.
The Enemy Within
“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Matthew 10:36. Has this happened to you? Is it happening even now? Marital pain? Family strife? Has or is the professed household of faith putting you through sore trial and grief? Then strengthen your connection with our Father in heaven, and receive the power of forgiveness that you may have the peace, the patience and the faith of Jesus.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32.
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.