Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - No More Forgiveness?

Allen Jackson - No More Forgiveness?

Allen Jackson - No More Forgiveness?
TOPICS: Forgiveness

Do you have the imagination that it's possible that you could ever arrive in a place where there's no more forgiveness? Is it possible to arrive at a place in your life as an individual, as a family, as a community, as a nation where God would say, "I won't forgive that again"? It's a question that bears some thought and some reflection. Maybe if we stated it a different way, do you imagine that God's forgiveness is infinite, that there's no end to it? Most of us could quote someplace where Jesus said don't forgive just 7 times, but forgive 70 times 7. Or when you stand praying, forgive so that you can be forgiven. I mean, we've talked about some of those verses recently here together.

So, again, the question on the table has to do with our imagination of God's forgiveness. How many of you do the daily Bible reading? Good. I want to share a passage with you that came from our reading portion this week. This is on my mind. I was at a pastors' conference in the last few weeks and when I was done with my portion another pastor had a few minutes, and as he was sharing he said, "I want to tell you there's one thing that cannot happen to me". He said, "It's impossible to happen for me". He said, "It's impossible that I could go to hell". He said because of the blood of Jesus, it's impossible. And there was the imagined applause and kind of a celebratory attitude. And I don't want to get into the debate on the theology, but what I would submit to you is that attitude rooted in your heart leads to a presumptiveness that is destructive for any of us.

Now, remember the context of this discussion is the people of God. The portion for this week was from Ezekiel. I chose just a section from chapter 27. It's a message to Tyre, a coastal city, a merchant city, a seafaring city that had prospered greatly and now God is pronouncing judgment upon them. And it says, "When your merchandise went out on the seas, you satisfied many nations; with your great wealth and with your wares you enriched the kings of the earth. Now you're shattered by the sea in the depths of the waters; your wares and all your company have gone down with you. All who live in the coastlands are appalled at you; their kings shudder with horror and their faces are distorted with fear. The merchants among the nations hiss at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more".

If some of you will remember the chapter, it's a much lengthier pronouncement against them. I brought you kind of the punchline or at least a portion of it. And lest you think it was some isolated incident where Ezekiel was having a bad day, I brought you what Zechariah had to say. We'll read that in a few weeks. Said, "Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. But the Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she'll be consumed by fire".

Now, at least in the circumstance around that particular city, that expression of power and human organization and government, I think we have to say they came to a place where God's response to them was not one of forgiveness and mercy. But I want to look at what Jesus has to say. Now, remember Jesus's public ministry took place in a 3-year window. So it's not a big, large span of time. In fact, it's a very narrow window of time. And he spoke predominantly almost overwhelmingly to one group of people, the most godly people on the planet; the people who kept more rules, who had more expressions of faith and faithfulness than any people on the planet. They ate the menu that God wanted them to. They worshiped in the place that God wanted them to worship. They had access to the Word of God. They knew the rules that God had given to his people that would help them pursue holiness and righteousness.

That was Jesus's audience in Matthew 13 and verse 36. I'm belaboring the point a bit because I meet people all the time that say, you know, they act as if the God of the New Testament is different from the God of the Old Testament; that the God of the New Testament is somehow more passive, more peaceful, a little more warm-hearted. I mean, I've used the expression that when God got to the end of Malachi, you know, he took some mood-altering drug to help him chill out, but that really isn't the case. In fact, in some ways I think the New Testament is far more direct. In Matthew 13, Jesus left a crowd and went into the house and the disciples came and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field".

So Jesus does. He said, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom, and the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are the angels". That's the context. Jesus just gave you all the players in the drama that he just described to them and now he's going to explain it in the light of those participants.

"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They'll throw them into the fiery furnace, where there'll be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom. You who has ears, let him hear". Is it safe to say that that's a presentation of a circumstance where there's no more forgiveness? I don't think there's a plan B at that point. There's not an opportunity to circle back, to revisit, to reconsider. There's not much room for presumption in that parable, and Jesus is explaining it in private to his disciples.

They're the ones he's teaching in Luke chapter 3. The rest of these passages are all going to come from the Gospel of Luke. I think it's simpler when we can to use a consistent author because language and story and words are the same for that author. This is John the Baptist. "John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, 'You brood of vipers'", isn't that a happy introduction? You bunch of snakes. "Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that doesn't produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire".

Again, you have to intentionally miss it. Jesus is talking to the religious community. They've made their, John is talking, he made their way into the desert where he's baptizing. They've made a difficult journey. It is a very difficult area, and he starts calling them names. "You bunch of snakes, what do you think you're doing? Do you think that curiosity makes you holy? You think that a little momentary sacrifice makes you more righteous"? His words. I'm just giving you the southern interpretation. Produce fruit in keeping with righteousness. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and if you don't produce good fruit you're going to be cut down and thrown into the fire no matter your heritage, no matter how many times you've celebrated religious holidays. Is it safe to say that John is describing a scenario where there's no more forgiveness? I think so.

Let's look at another passage. Luke chapter 10. This is Jesus again. Korazin and Bethsaida are fishing villages very near Capernaum, northern end of the Sea of Galilee. There's warm springs on that end of the lake and the fishing is better. So the fishing villages are there. And because Jesus's base of operation, when he began his public ministry, he left Nazareth in the hills of Galilee and went down to Capernaum, which is on a major Roman road. The Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater source in the whole region. So he moved to a major highway where there was an exit ramp and good Wi-Fi for social media connections, and Korazin and Bethsaida were two communities very nearby. So they experienced more of the Jesus's story and more of his miracles than any other comparable places.

So Jesus says, "Woe to you, Korazin, and woe to you, Bethsaida. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes". Now, I promise you Jesus's audience knows the words that you and I read a moment ago from Ezekiel. They're familiar with the judgment God pronounced on Tyre, and he's saying you're bigger offenders than those people. That will not make your audience happy. "But it will be more bearable," verse 14, "for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies"? Jesus's hometown. Jesus ministered here. Jesus did a miracle here. Jesus preached in this synagogue. Whenever I go to Israel with a group of people, we visit Capernaum.

We stand in the place where that synagogue was literally. It's one of the few places that we can stay with historical accuracy. Jesus would have ministered in this space. You would think it would be highly celebrated, venerated. No. Jesus said, "You'll go down to the depths". It was destroyed by an earthquake. But Capernaum, Bethsaida, Korazin, they've never been rebuilt. You can visit the archaeological remains. You say, "Well, what's the big deal"? Well, there's city after city after city around the nation of Israel that's been torn down and rebuilt. Jerusalem has been destroyed 28 times, and it's still a thriving city. I think it's safe to say that in the case of those places there was no more forgiveness. You had unique opportunities. You had great blessings. You had front row seats and you've made other choices.

Look at Luke 11. "As the crowds increased, Jesus said, 'This is a wicked generation.'" I thought Jesus was always happy and all about love. I mean, I thought he was in the group hugs and kumbaya. "It's a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here".

Twice in that passage he said there's condemnation coming to that generation; and he's using pagans, ungodly people, ungodly cities, ungodly rulers as the comparison set. It's very difficult for us to understand how offensive that would be to a Jewish audience because in their worldview, even until today if you're non-Jewish, you're not first in line to be the people of God. And Jesus is confronting them. He's saying, "The people you consider to be beyond the pale are more ready to repent than you have. So you stand condemned".

So I want to come back to that question, do you think it's possible where you can come to a place where God says no more forgiveness? I would submit to you really just from the Gospel of Luke. I've only shared with you probably a fourth of the passage. We'll look at some more in the next session. I don't think there's any question. Now, I don't want you to live in fear, but the question I've been asked 1,000 times if I've been asked it once. There's the verse, many of you will know it, where if you blaspheme the Holy Spirit there's no forgiveness for that, and people want to know what that is and have I done that. Well, my answer is typically pretty much the same.

If you're worried about it I don't think you've done it, but I really think it's a misdirected question because the implication is it's not the only thing that would cause you to stand in a place where there's no forgiveness. It's just one that's highlighted. You see, you can make life choices that bring you to the place where... God's judgment is the way that God maintains his integrity and his justice, and we don't want to do that. I've taken a moment to belabor it because we're living in this precipitous decline of Christian influence. And it's not because paganism or ungodliness has gotten smarter, it's because those of us who imagine ourselves to be the people of God has stepped further and further away from the practice of seeking God.

I've stayed in Luke. I'm just going to take some coaching from Jesus in Luke's writings. I'll give you a couple real quickly. Jesus said, "Anyone who doesn't carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple". Now, that's very plain language. How do you become a disciple of Jesus? You have to carry your cross and follow Jesus. Now, I believe in being born again and I'm happy to lead people in a profession of faith at the altar of a church or have an evangelistic rally and do that or have a healing service and see it come out of that, but that's not the image that Jesus is using here. He's saying, "If you want to be my disciple; yes, you have to be born again". He's already established that.

We read it in John 3. "But once you've done that," he said, "you have to follow me. I'm the leader of this initiative," he said. "I set the priorities. I establish the criteria. I wrote the blueprint. You don't get to build it the way you want to build it". He said, "You have to build it on the rock, and the rock is obedience to my Word. If you build it any other way, it's going to crush down around your ears and you're going to look foolish. If you want to follow me, if you're going to be my disciple," he said, "you got to follow me and you got to take up your cross".

You see, that's blind to us. Fortunately, we've never stood on a public street and had to look at somebody who was being tortured to death. We never had to see crosses lined up at a major entry into the city and hear the cries of agony and the anguish of the people that were related to them or the fear and the voices of the people who were related to them. But to a 1st century audience, it was very clear that a cross was a place of suffering, humiliation, failure. And Jesus said, "If you're going to be my disciple, you have to take up your cross and follow me". It means following Jesus isn't always going to be easy, is not always going to be fun, is not always going to be happy, is not always going to be pleasant. Everybody's not always going to cheer. You'll stand in some places that feel a little odd. A crucifixion was a little bit of exposure, typically naked, always humiliating, shame-based.

You see, we've capitulated on most of our biblical worldview because we want people to like us. We don't want to forfeit an invitation. We don't want to get labeled or canceled. Look at verse 28. "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build, but he wasn't able to finish.' Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he's able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty? If he's not able, he will send a delegation with the others while he's still a long way off. In the same way, any of you who doesn't give up everything he has cannot be my disciple".

Well, do I think Jesus is saying you have to liquidate your assets and give it away? No, I don't believe that's the primary message, but there's enough suggestion that following Jesus has to have an implication for every aspect of your life. You can't hide your money from Jesus and imagine you're his disciple. You can't hide your attitudes around sexuality and whether or not you're going to embrace a biblical view of that. You can't, the Bible says it in the plainest of language you can't practice adultery, you can't be a thief, you can't be greedy, you can't be immoral and think you participate in the kingdom of God. And we have said in response to that, "Oh, God will forgive me". It's not that big a deal. I've already tagged my favorite messages on grace and kindness and mercy. God's going to grade on a curve. We're not as bad as somebody, and I believe in grace and mercy and kindness.

I stand before you as somebody who can only stand here because of the grace and the mercy and the forgiveness of God. We've talked about that in several messages in this series, but I don't want to mislead you into thinking that it's an infinite pool and we can behave any way we want to because I believe biblically you could come to a place where God said, "No, the consequences for your choices now are yours". I believe it's true for individuals. I believe it's true for families. I would know it's true for nations. Take up our cross and follow him.

Let's decide we're going to follow Jesus. Let's decide we're going to put him first. Let's just quit the argument. Let's stop the debate. Let's begin to talk to him. Let's give him permission into our lives. "Lord, show me what that needs to look like. What would that be? I want to honor you in a new way. I want people that know me to know I'm for you". Luke 21 is a prophetic passage. Jesus is talking about the end of the age. He's talking about some tough stuff. It's the parallel of Matthew 24. He's saying there's going to be wars and rumors of wars and nation against nation and ethnic group against ethnic group, and there's going to be widespread deception in the love of many use, love of many of God's people is going to grow cold.

I mean, it's a pretty tough list of stuff he says is going to happen, and right in the midst of that in verse 28 he said when these things begin to take place stand up, get ready. When you see the darkness increasing, when you see the demonic being released in ways you've never seen them before, what do you do? Do you go hide, you begin to shrink back, are you threatened? Jesus said stand up and lift up your head. Be anticipatory. Our hope is someplace else. Our future isn't secured by Wall Street, or the integrity of the Congress, or the political system, or any political party, or any political candidate, or cultural trend, or what's trending on Twitter or not. It's not going to be determined by who's broadcasting the news and whether it's done with integrity.

Our hope is someplace else. The anchor of our hope, the Bible says, is beyond the veil anchored by the blood of Jesus in the holiest place in all of creation in heaven, earth, and under the earth. We have a living hope. His name is Jesus, and he's greater than elections or parties or cultural trends or employers or schools or universities or censors. We're his people. Tiny little Israel in the Middle East occupying a strip of land that God promised to them way back in the beginning of the Book of Genesis, surrounded by hundreds of millions of people today who are sworn to their destruction and they get precious little support from the United Nations or the international community and yet tiny little Israel with about 7 million Jews in that nation flourish in spite of the hatred and the consternation and all of the belligerent bellowing about their destruction.

Now, that should encourage us. If God can cause that place to flourish, he can take care of you and me. Listen to what Jesus said. Stand up. What are you going to do when you stand up? "Follow me. Take up your cross". "Well, it's going to be hard if I follow Jesus there". Yes, it is, but what... let's go. We'll help one another. We'll encourage one another. We'll strengthen one another. I don't want to follow the wisdom of this world any longer. I don't want to follow conventional wisdom. I don't want to blend in. The trend I most want to be aligned with is the trend of following Jesus. We can do this, church.

We're at an inflection point for our culture and I believe for the church as well. It's a time for serious Christianity. We don't have to take ourselves too seriously, but we better be serious about our faith. We've spent enough time sitting in church and ignoring the real reason we're there. It's time to turn our hearts to the Lord and invite the Spirit of God into our lives. If there's anything in us hindering his best, we want to relinquish it:

Lord, we ask you for that today. Holy Spirit, help us. Help us to know our hearts. In Jesus's name, amen.

Are you Human?:*