Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Forgiveness, there is nothing more wonderful, more beautiful!

Yet forgiveness is impossible for us to believe. We look at our lives and see actions that deny God’s forgiveness. We look at our own thoughts, words, and deeds and we see actions of rebellion and overthrow of God’s lordship in our lives.

Forgiveness is divorce from sin. When God declares us to be forgiven He divorces us from our sin. He separates us from our sin. He puts our sin away from us.

The actual time and place of this was at Golgotha, the place of the skull, also called Calvary. The day was Friday. On this day the Lord took our sin, all of our sin, our collective sin, the sin of the world, and declared it to belong to the only Man who lived His life entirely free of sin. He had no sin of His own, but received our sin into His own body on the tree. He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us. He received the condemnation of both God and men. He was crucified, dead and buried. God declared, “It is finished.”

This is something truly too good to be true, at least according to what be can observed by our own reason and strength. We do not see “It is finished.” We still see the effects of sin in the world. We still see the effects of sin in our own bodies. We still see the effects of sin in our own thoughts, words, and deeds.

We simply cannot believe what we do not see.

This is why God gives us His signs by which the divorce is made believable. This is why He gives us His means of grace by which we know that this divorce is by His doing and not by ours.

In the Old Testament He gave the sacrifices so that the people could see that the divorce was accomplished by someone other than the sinner who needed to be set free. By the blood of animals God showed that His decree is real. Through the blood of animals God showed that the payment for sin was not required of those whom He pronounced to be freed from sin. Through the blood of the animals, through the separation of the lifeblood from the animal, God made His promise to be real in the sight of all. But since animals could not serve as a true substitute, these divorces had to be repeated over and over until the true substitute should be separated from His lifeblood. Then the sacrifices would be finished. Then the divorce could be declared finalized.

Now, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are given as the signs by which God unites us with His bloodbath. Now we receive upon and into our own bodies the proof that God’s declaration is real. The divorce has been enacted, even though we cannot perceive it according to our own reason and strength. But God joins us to Himself in the holy divorce from sin through Baptism and keeps the new marriage alive through the Holy Communion.

Through these God gives and sustains the faith that we cannot believe by our own reason and strength. By our own reason and strength we cannot even believe that we believe! Therefore, God has supplied us with the means by which this faith is not our work but His. Since He works this faith in us through means that are entirely not our doing, we do believe. Through these means we see what cannot be seen and we hear what cannot be heard and we believe what cannot be believed.

In Christ we are forgiven. We are set free from our sin to live in the purity of God’s sons forevermore. In Baptism, the death and resurrection of Jesus is given and sin is forgiven. In the Supper the very blood of forgiveness is given as oft as we drink of it. The proof is in the means by which it is given.

Forgiveness is ours. The pure life is restored. We are free to live again! What more wonderful and beautiful good news could ever be told?

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