Jesus Offers God’s Forgiveness

MEMORY VERSE: “If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their Land.” —II Chronicles 7:14

LUKE 7:36-50

IT WAS difficult for the Pharisees of Jesus’ day to appreciate the spirit of forgiveness. Their attitude as a whole is well indicated by Jesus in his illustration of the two who were forgiven their debts—one owing five hundred pieces of silver, the other fifty. The Pharisee in whose house Jesus was taking dinner seemed unable to comprehend this spirit of forgiveness and generosity. The consistent practice of the rank and file of the Pharisees of that time was to heap heavy burdens upon the people, apparently without consideration of their ability to pay. But this was not the attitude of Jesus, neither of the Heavenly Father whom he represented.

To be worthy of forgiveness the Lord’s people must not only desire it, but also be in the proper heart condition to receive and appreciate it. These and related conditions of forgiveness are beautifully set forth in our memory verse: “If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves.” This shows that the application of the text is to the Lord’s people; those who are called by his name. Here we are reminded of James’ statement, recorded in Acts 15:14, where he explains that beginning shortly after Pentecost God visited the Gentiles “to take out of them a people for his name.”

These are the faithful followers of the Master. No natural Israelite is turned away from this glorious opportunity; but because of their blindness concerning Jesus, very few since the days of the Early Church have accepted the invitation and met the terms of discipleship. The vast majority of those even today who become true followers of Jesus are from the Gentile world.

Since, by nature, all of us are members of the sinful and fallen race, we frequently do those things which cause us to stand in need of forgiveness. But to obtain this forgiveness we must humble ourselves by acknowledging our need. If we are proud, and pretend that we do not need God’s mercy, his grace will not be extended toward us.

Another condition of forgiveness, according to our memory verse, is that we pray. The Lord has made a wonderful provision through Christ whereby we might approach him in prayer to seek forgiveness. Paul speaks of this as going to “the throne of grace.” We quote, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”—Heb. 4:16

Our memory verse also emphasizes that we must seek our Heavenly Father’s “face” if we would obtain his grace and forgiveness. There is no richer experience for the Christian than for the Father to lift up his countenance upon him and give him peace.—Num. 6:24-26

But this experience is ours only if we diligently seek for it, and our memory verse suggests one of the ways in which we are to seek: it is that we turn from our wicked ways which caused the Father to hide his face from us in the first place. The Lord does not forgive willful sin—for these we must atone through stripes. But our unwilling imperfections are covered by the robe of Christ’s righteousness, and if we seek the Lord’s face through prayer, and earnestly endeavor to keep our imperfections under control, we will enjoy his grace and fellowship at all times.

The Lord had “a people for his name” in ancient times and, as we have seen, he also has a people for his name at the present time. And we thank God that provision has been made in his plan of salvation also to have a people for his name in the ages to come. These, however, will be dealt with upon a different basis, for upon conditions of obedience they will be restored to actual human perfection. We read of that time, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God.” As a result, there will then be no more pain and death, and all tears shall be wiped away.—Rev. 21:3,4


Upon what basis may God’s people obtain his forgiveness?

Who will be the people of God in future ages?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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