I believe in the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins.

Psalm 32        Matthew 5:21-26, 6:9-15      Ephesians 2:13-22    August 18, 2013

In my lifetime, I have heard many negative words said about the church and about Christians.  I know that as we serve God, the world will not like what we do.  However, there is some truth to what we hear about the church and Christians. 

 We people in the church do gossip.  We are judgmental – pretty much about everything.  We don’t know how to forgive.  We call each other names.  We can be tight-fisted when it comes to giving what God has given us.  We are no different than the rest of the world!

 I don’t know about you, but it really bothers me to hear these truths spoken about the church and Christians.  It needs to bother us.  When we are doing what the world sees us doing, then we are not living as saints.  Sometimes we act as if there is no connection, no communion between us.  The Holy Spirit didn’t bring us together for us to fall apart. 

 Once we accept by faith the forgiveness God has for us through Jesus Christ, we need not turn from our decisions.  It is not a matter of repenting once and that is all we do as a believers in Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit will not let us only repent once.  “Through the action of the Hoy Spirit in whom we believe, the church is the community of those who have experienced – and continue experiencing – the forgiveness of sins.”[1]

 Yes, being in the communion of saints and experiencing the forgiveness of sins do go together.  It helps to understand that all believers in Jesus Christ can work together in forgiving each other and extending the forgiveness of sins to the world.  Why would we do this work?  “The church is, at its best, God’s forgiveness in search of those who need it.”[2]  What is the process of forgiveness?

 

  1. Jesus Christ has brought us together (Ephesians 2:13-22)
    1. Jesus’ blood gets us together with God
    2. Jesus’ body makes us one
    3. Jesus makes peace & reconciles us to God
    4. We have access to the Father through the Spirit
    5. We are members of the household of God
    6. Joined together and we grow into a holy temple for the Lord
    7. God is not done with the household of God.  He is going to be adding people until Jesus returns.  It is Christ’s body and blood that make us one body.  How does this building of the body, the communion of saints work?

 

  1. God forgives us (Psalm 32)
    1. Sin is heavy (v. 1-4)
    2. Confess your sins – repent of what you are doing
    3. God forgives
    4. Trust in the Lord for deliverance (v. 10-11)
    5. John Brokhoff describes the process of receiving forgiveness as these steps
      1. Be conscious of sin
      2. Become contrite
      3. Be honest – confess your sins
      4. Change your ways (repent) – with the Holy Spirit’s help
      5. Receive God’s forgiveness
      6. Make restitution – bear fruits worthy of repentance
  2. God knows that we sin.  He has created us to be with him.  But we choose, in many ways, not to be with God. Alas, God also chooses to get things right with us.  His Holy Spirit lets us know of our sins.   God is willing to forgive us.  We can be as willing to forgive others.

 

  1. We forgive one another (Matthew 5:21-26, 6:9-15)
    1. Anger gets in our way of living
    2. We can be reconciled with other Christians
    3. Jesus taught us to pray about forgiveness from God & to each other
    4. “As” – being forgiven & being forgiving – same time!
    5. If we don’t forgive, then God won’t forgive us!
    6. Forgiveness is important to our life of faith.  We gain power of living when we forgive and as we are forgiven. God’s grace is the power that enables us to forgive.  As we forgive, we realize that “The church is the channel through which the grace of God (forgiveness) comes to us.”[3]  Forgiving other people is a demonstration of your baptism. The Nicene Creed says, “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”[4]  Let us forgive one another quickly!

 

The communion of saints is directly affected by the forgiveness of sins.  When we forgive as God forgives us, then the union among Christians grows stronger.  I can tell you what it looks like when we don’t forgive.

 Mervin was a good man.  Mervin enjoyed singing.  He lived just up the hill from my home church.  The story goes that he and some others were singing a special song during worship.  After worship, someone told him that he could not sing.  So, Mervin did not sing anymore in the church.  It was well over 30 years that he did not sing any special hymns in church.  Then one Sunday, Mervin got up to sing a special song.  I guess the person who had hurt him had died. 

 Just think the good that could have happened if Mervin had forgiven the person who had hurt him.  There could have been more years of special songs to the Lord.  It helps our church as we forgive one another.  It helps each individual as we forgive.  Jesus brought us together.  Let us not cause any to separate from the church!


[1] Justo L. Gonzalez, The Apostles’ Creed for Today, (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville; 2007), p.  84

[2] John A. Ross, This We Believe, (Abingdon Press, Nashville; 1966), p. 136

[3] John R. Brokhoff, This You Can Believe, (C.S.S. Publishing Co., Lima, OH; 1987), p. 140

[4] Nicene Creed, United Methodist Hymnal, p. 880

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