I Can’t Take It Anymore!

YouTubeIn 1996 we suffered a spiritual firestorm at our church that threw us into deep conflict over ministry vision, vicious personal assaults, and lack of confidence in me as the pastor. For three long years those humiliating months stayed lodged in my soul, lacing everything I did and said with caution, and causing me in my relationships to hold many at arm’s length for fear of repeating the hurt. Feeling the slide toward despair over finding freedom in ministry again, I often cried out to God, “I can’t take it anymore! Help me!”

God did send help in the blood of his Son.

At the end of 1999 churches of our community gathered in what we called a Solemn Assembly. Midway through that incredible week of sensing the nearness of Jesus, and drawn to repentance from worshiping so many things other than God, our small groups were deep in united prayer. As we prayed, someone began softly playing the hymn, “Nothing but the Blood.”

Heb 9 22_28The soft piano music brought the small groups back together in singing, except for mine. Our group stayed huddled about me, praying for me, a man deeply shattered by a vision of Jesus’ blood flowing like a river from the foot of his cross.

In that moment, the Lord reminded me of how much he had forgiven me, and then said something like this: “You don’t have to take it anymore – the offense. Let me have the offense of others against you. Simply, cast those offenses into my grace flowing from the cross.” As I knelt there in a bath of tears, I saw myself doing that very thing, and instantly felt freedom from the years of crushing hurt.

When we feel we can’t take it anymore, let’s go to Jesus. We don’t need to take offense, but can give to him and find he is able to deliver us from the burden of carrying it ourselves.

Heb 9 22_28 (2)

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You can listen to the hymn, Nothing But the Blood…

For an upbeat version, capturing how I felt after that time of prayer, listen to it in the middle of this YouTube rendition featuring Charity Gayle from People & Songs. This recording of People & Songs begins with the song Cleansed and is followed by Look at What the Lord Has Done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqnT9JRm8dA

For a traditional rendering go to this video featuring Buddy Greene on harmonica and the good folks at GaitherVEVO singing together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJnD272vmns

For a history of this hymn as used in Methodist hymnals, go to the following article by Dr. C. Michael Hawn (Distinguished professor of church music at Perkins School of Theology): https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-nothing-but-the-blood

 

Why the forever pardoned seek daily forgiveness

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit and confessing sin as a child. The Father’s bosom is the place for penitent confessions. We have been cleansed once for all, but our feet still need to be washed from the defilement of our daily walk as children of God.” [“Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. © 2003, Good News Publishers]

That may resolve quite nicely the tension followers of Christ sometimes feel between His words in the Gospels and the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans.

Paul wrote, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 NIV),” but Jesus said, “if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (Matthew 6:15 NIV).” Paul wrote in the context of praying in the Spirit, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us (Romans 8:31 NIV)?” However, Jesus said, “when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25 NIV).”

Are there two kinds of situations in which we seek God’s forgiveness?

It may not be helpful to create such a distinction, but the reality of life as a believer and the testimony of the Scriptures is that there is a distinction to be made between two different persons seeking God’s forgiveness – between the “culprit” and the “child.”

  1. The culprit seeks a forgiveness that is judicial – a pardon for sin that will free him from the sentence of death and eternal separation from God.

Slide3God’s forgiveness because of Christ’s death on our behalf “justifies” us forever. We speak of this justification powerfully moving us from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light, or lovingly moving us from being lost in ourselves to being found and made part of His eternal family, or resurrecting us from being dead spiritually to being living temples of the Holy Spirit. For the believer in Jesus Christ, the Scriptures are quite clear there will never will be any judicial condemnation that can separate us again from God and eternity with Him.

Jesus said in John 5:24, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life (NIV).” Paul echoed his Lord’s words in Romans 3:21-26 stating “all those who believe” are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” The presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is the decisive factor. With Him present, there is no possible way to fall into eternal condemnation ever again (Romans 8:1-4; Ephesians 1:13-14).

For the culprit, the essence of seeking forgiveness is a repentant heart.

Jesus, echoing the words of the prophets, came preaching repentance. Repentance is the essence of forgiveness for the penitent culprit-sinner-enemy of God seeking His forgiveness, and it still holds true today. See Isaiah 30:15; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 5:31-32; 24:46-48; and Acts 2:37-39.

  1. The child seeks a forgiveness that is “familial– an “okay” from the Spirit of the Lord.

Slide4Reconciling “hugs” from our Heavenly Father frees the child of God to thrive in God’s love. Familial forgiveness enables us to enjoy the blessing of a restored fellowship with Him free of any strain (that strain which hid God’s face for a season). The relationship after the forgiving hug from the Lord is the more intimate and deeper kind of a tested relationship that lasts forever.

For the child, prayer seeking a complete, love-saturated acceptance is the essence of seeking forgiveness.

In prayer we seek the same familial unity with Jesus that He enjoyed with His Heavenly Father (John 17). It is the basis for the Lord’s teaching on prayer, and truly the basis for humility before God in all things. The child seeking forgiveness is actually walking out the repentance that first brought him to Christ, and is finding rest in the absolute and total love of God that sent Jesus to the Cross on our behalf. See John 17:20-26; Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:24-26; and compare with 1 John 1:5-10 and Romans 6:8-19.

Jan Lievens_The-Return-of-the-Prodigal-Son-pptThe story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 illustrates why and how the believing child of God will always seek the best of relationships with his Heavenly Father. The returning son said humbly, “Father, I have sinned,” but the beauty of the story is in the healing forgiveness and grace flowing from the father’s heart of love for his son. The father’s loving forgiveness restored his son completely and represents exactly what we seek when seeking God’s forgiveness.

“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him…”

Are there two kinds of situations in which we seek God’s forgiveness? It may not be helpful to create such a distinction, but the reality of life as a believer and the testimony of the Scriptures is that there is a distinction to be made between two different persons seeking God’s forgiveness – between the “culprit” and the “child.”


Recommended resource:  https://www.truthforlife.org/?date=2/26/2018
Whether it’s accusations from the enemy or our own troubled conscience, many of us feel like we’re living under a guilty verdict. In a sermon from Romans 8:33-36 entitled “Case Closed,” Alistair Begg provides biblical evidence to set us free!