Hebrews 9: 25-26, Hebrews 10: 10 & 14, Romans 2: 4, Hebrews 4:16, Hebrews 12: 1-3, Hebrews 7: 23-25
When I was a teenager I lived a cycle of getting drunk and thinking 'to be a Christian I had to sort myself out for God'. I told Him I wouldn't do it again. Then got drunk again, condemned myself and thought I was rejected. Then I would come back to Him to try again and the cycle would continue.
When I was 20 God broke into this cycle when one night I was in floods of tears for two hours in the early hours of the morning. I thought that because I'd drunk too much the night before, (and got a bit drunk by accident, through carelessness rather than intent), that I had blown it forever and that there was no way back to God. At the end of two hours of distraught crying I had a powerful encounter with God. The first part of that encounter was seeing Jesus get back up on the cross. As He got back on, He said to me 'I would do this again and again for you if I had to, but once was enough'.
It was 14 years after this encounter that I began to truly understand what He meant.
Jesus never has un-forgiveness towards us, not even for a moment. When we sin, He is never wounded; He never withdraws in pain and disappointment from us; we never offend Him that we have to win Him back over again. He told me 'once was enough' or as Hebrews puts it, 'He has once for all...put away and abolished sin.' His heart is in a constant state of forgiveness. Our challenge is seeing and understanding that; accepting and receiving it and then learning to walk with Him in that context.
'And in accordance with this will [of God], we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (the Anointed One)... For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.' Hebrews 10: 10 & 14.
'Nor did He [enter into the heavenly sanctuary to] offer Himself regularly again and again, as the high priest enters the [Holy of] Holies every year with blood not his own. For then would He often have had to suffer [over and over again] since the foundation of the world. But as it now is, He has once for all at the consummation and close of the ages appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice [of Himself].' Hebrews 9: 25-26.
If we can grasp this, it is truly life-changing. Jesus walks 24/7 in 100% forgiveness of us. That is why He has such a pure heart and He is able to win us over away from our sin through kindness.
'Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God's will)?' Romans 2: 4.
When someone sins against you are you able to be kind? When you forgive, you will find that love grows in your heart and you will be able to be kind.
Jesus' love is so wide, so deep; His kindness so complete; His forgiveness so permanent, that we are truly safe to always come 'boldly to the throne of grace'. (Hebrews 4:16) He is for us and not against us.
Jesus is not resentful that rescuing us was 'His lot' in life. In fact it was 'for the joy set before Him He endured the cross.' That joy was in saving us; rescuing us; doing what we couldn't do for ourselves so He could be the firstborn of many sons; so He could buy back a bride for Himself. It was His joy to do it for us - He loved being able to do it; there was no reluctance!
'Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.' Hebrews 12: 1-3.
In 2007 I wrote my first Life File on forgiveness. Since then God has deepened and widened my understanding of His forgiveness of me and therefore the type of forgiveness He looks for from me towards other people.
He wants me to consider it a joy to cancel the debts other people owe me. He wants me to have an extravagant heart like Him. That I show I love Him and understand what He has done for me, by coming to the place of complete forgiveness and the total cancelling of the debts of the people that have wounded me. How can I think anyone owes me anything when Jesus paid for it all on the cross? If I choose not to forgive, I show Him that I don't yet understand or value what He has done for me; that it's not enough. If I forgive, then I show Him I understand.
I was recently so wounded that emotionally I didn't feel like I was going to survive it. Due to the depth of how I was affected Jesus had to over a period of a few months speak a number of things to me to reposition me. The final piece to the jigsaw of my recovery was recognising that I was owed a debt and a big one; but that I had the opportunity to put into practice what He had taught me earlier in the year and so it was with tremendous joy that I prayed and cancelled all debts and so received my heart back whole. I knew I was my Father's daughter in that moment and I knew His pleasure. What did the debt matter in light of pleasing my Father?!
When I was praying recently, out of the blue I heard Jesus say and show me that He isn't on the cross anymore. It was a shock when He showed me that. The revelation went deep into my heart. I thought, 'where are you if you're not on the cross'? And then I realised that He's at the right hand of the Father.
If we're not careful, in our awareness of our sin and weakness and brokenness we can always pray imagining Jesus still on that cross, hanging there for our sins.
While we have to come to the cross and have the cross change us, we don't need to brow beat ourselves with no victory, no resurrection and no reigning at the right hand of the Father.
'Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.' Hebrews 7: 23-25.
Jesus went to the cross once and once was enough for all time to deal with my sin and yours. Jesus endured it with joy because of His great love for me and you. He remains kind to us all day everyday, winning us away from the temptation and snare of sin and because of His and our Father's resurrection power, He isn't to be found on the cross anymore. He is now reigning at the right hand of Father God still focusing on saving us completely; always interceding to ensure that we come through.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
View all Life Files by Heather Bellamy