Monthly Archives: August 2015

Unpacking Forgiveness

A really helpful book I’ve found on forgiveness is Chris Brauns, Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds, Crossway Books, 2008.

The big idea is that we are to ‘forgive as God forgave us.’ And so the answers to our issues of forgiving others are found in the Bible.

What I like about this book is that it keeps sending the reader to the Bible for answers. As Brauns shows, too often even Christians have non-biblical understandings of forgiveness.

For example, I’ve been challenged to reconsider the Bible’s teaching of forgiveness needing repentance, and also that forgiveness pardons guilt but does not eliminate consequences for our sin.

The book is full of powerful examples of the cost, pain, and difficulty of forgiveness. If you love moving illustrations then this is the book!

Can I suggest this book go on your reading list?!

In Christ, Tory.

A Debt We Can’t Repay

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant is outrageous (Matthew 18:21–35). Jesus wants us to realise the outrageous debt we each have to God; and the even more outrageous grace God offers to forgive that debt.

Until we accept the outrageous debt we have to God, we will struggle to forgive others. In fact, not forgiving others is a sign that we don’t realise our debt to God, and so have not asked for God’s forgiveness.

Everybody in our district has a debt to God so large that nobody can repay it. The only hope is accepting forgiveness through Jesus Christ, the only one who can repay it.

As we gather today and have our AGM, let’s remember this is all to introduce people to Jesus and help them home to heaven by sharing God’s offer to cancel the debt in Him. It’s our only hope.

In Christ, Tory.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is so good and, I think, is the best thing about being a Christian. Yet, even though it is so basic to Christianity, there seems to be many ideas of what it is and actually requires.

Some people say we must always forgive, and it must be automatic and unconditional. Interestingly, though, God does not forgive in that way.

God’s forgiveness is conditional. He only forgives those who accept his gift of forgiveness by repentance and faith.

God certainly loves all people, and offers forgiveness to all – even his enemies – but only those who accept his offer are forgiven.

In his book Unpacking Forgiveness, Chris Brauns uses the helpful illustration that forgiveness is like a wrapped present. We only receive the gift inside if we accept the gift and open it. Similarly, the gift of God’s forgiveness is only accepted on the condition of our repentance and faith.

As we forgive others it’s important that we model God’s forgiveness: forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).

Let’s pray that our forgiveness is shaped by God’s, and that we can help each other apply that to our lives as we delve into forgiveness over the next 4 weeks.

In Christ, Tory.

You Can Change!

There are many things we’d all love to change about ourselves. Sadly, we often try to make these change ourselves, and so fail.

The Christian gospel is about change. The Christian life is a life of continual repentance, that is, putting to death the old way of living so that we can live the new life in Jesus.

Christian change is done by the Holy Spirit in us. All we have to do is trust Him as He works in us killing the sin in our lives and replacing it with His new way of life, so that we can truly live.

The key is knowing who you are.

My prayer is that today from Romans 8 you see your new identity in Jesus. Know who you are – a child of God – and change will follow!

If you want to read more about this, here are some helpful books that see our identity as a child of God as the key to Christian living:

You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power For Our Sinful Behaviour and Negative Emotions. Tim Chester. Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

Victory Over Darkness: Realising the Power of Your Identity in Christ. Neil T. Anderson. Regal, 2000.

Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long For God Alone. Elyse Fitzpatrick. P and R Publishing, 2000.

How People Change. Timothy S. Lane and Paul D. Tripp. New Growth Press, 2006.

In Christ, Tory.