Tag Archives: The Wilds

“Pathway to Forgiveness” by Jim Newcomer (Matthew 18:21-35)

Pastor Jim Newcomer, and his wife Lorie

Last weekend, Bryan and I were able to get away and enjoy our church‘s Adult Retreat at the Wilds Christian Camp & Conference Center (where Bryan and I met). Jim Newcomer spoke on the topic of Forgiveness, and it was a refreshment to be reminded of the grace and love of Christ from His Word. My notes from the weekend are below, and if you’re interested in listening to the five lessons yourself, you can download them for free on SermonAudio.com.

Introductory Remarks

A lack of forgiveness leaves in its wake:

  1. Changed Relationships – heavy hearts (Proverbs 18:19)
  2. Destroyed Friendships (Proverbs 17:9)
  3. Ministry Casualties (Philippians 4:1-3; e.g. Paul and Barnabus over John Mark in Acts)
  4. Isolation (Proverbs 18:1; 22:24)
  5. Withered Fruit (Galatians 5:22-23)
  6. Untamed Tongues (Proverbs 12:18) – a bitter person is a scorekeeper and slanderer (can’t help talk about how they’ve been wronged)
  7. Unattractive Witness (Philippians 4)

Bitterness is a refusal to act/rely on the grace of God. This is serious stuff—serious enough for us to do something about it.

Bold Promise: If you complete the journey, you will find fresh resolve to be the forgiving disciple Christ desires.

So let’s make the first stop in our journey towards being a forgiving disciple of the King:

I. Admit Your Hesitancy

A. The Risks of Forgiveness

1. Note a couple of things about Peter which is revealed in his question to Christ:

a. He was being Generous (Rabbis said to forgive 3x in Amos 1-2; he offered to forgive 7x – more than double, Matthew 18:21).
b. He was being Hesitant (v.1-4 humble yourself like a child and stop arguing; Matt. 6:14)

2. Before we take up our hobby of “shaking our heads at Peter”…isn’t it common for us to be hesitant to forgive? Why?

3. Four Fears/Risks Surrounding Forgiveness

a. The Fear of Insincerity – how do I know they’re sincere? I “know” them; I’ve heard this 15x; predictable behavior, etc. You don’t have to answer for their heart; but you do have to answer for your obedience.
b. The Fear of Vulnerability – if I get soft, I’ll get hurt/taken advantage of (II Corinthians
12:7-10’s “thorn in the flesh”; people will take advantage of mercy, but is that all bad? Puts us in good company: Matthew 5:7-11)
c. The Fear of Change – comfortable not liking that person, feel safe with your margin between the person and self. If forgive, margin must go away completely. Patience. Don’t retaliate. Pursue reconciliation.
d. The Fear of Exposure – was your reaction sin? Were you participating in their sin too? Are you afraid of asking forgiveness for avoidance, words or lack thereof? (Proverbs
18:17)

B. The Requirement of Christ – Christ’s Key Point—“It’s not a matter of Points [keeping score] but a matter of Posture!” Like two adjoining hotel doors: you can only open your door and lean on the other till the other person opens their side. A posture of forgiveness doesn’t mean you have forgiven; just willing to do so. Luke 17:1-4: Forgiveness is tethered to the gospel of the cross.

1. It is a posture that is Commanded. (Proverbs 24:29; Ephesians 4:32; Psalm 86:5; Colossians 3:13)
2. It is a posture that is Constant – even before the offense occurs, it is a character. Amy Carmichael said, “”If I say, yes I forgive, but I cannot forget as though the God who twice a day washed all the sands on all the shores of all the world could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If the living God who made the tide and washes the shores daily cannot wash away from my mind the caustic remarks, the ugliness, the wrongs in someone else, then I haven’t even entered into Calvary love.” (Luke 6:36; Proverbs 19:11; 16:32; Romans 12:21)
3. It is a posture that is Cultivated – learned; not natural and strong at first. Only grown in the soil of trials—can’t learn without being sinned against (James 1: Romans 5)
4. It is a posture that is Christlike—II Timothy 4:16ff; Luke 23:34 – Is it possible to grow in Christlikeness if you do not possess the posture of forgiveness and grace? No. (e.g., Paul Tripp on Marriage in “What Were You Expecting?” 1. Two Sinners, 2. Fallen World, 3. Don’t
Take it Personally.)

II. Remember Your Story (Matthew 18:23-27; Proverbs 17:22)

“Bitterness is the acid that consumes its own container;” it’s like the U.S.Tang in WWII—it sinks itself.

Fact: When you are bitter/angry/unforgiving towards others (seek/desire their undoing)…you are the one that ultimately suffers. We are studying forgiveness—something that very well will set you free from self-destruction.

Objection: “You don’t know how far I have to go to forgive <<insert name of offending party>>.”  Reply: “True…but I know how you’ll get there!” At this “Stop” you will need to do 2 Things:

A. Get the point out of the parable.

1. Hopeless Accountability (18:23-25) – Gentile king had regional governors (aka “servants” in this passage). Four Realities of this debt:

a. Personal Debt
b. Incalculable Debt (10,000 talents owed: 1 talent = 6,000 denarii; 1 denarius = 1 day’s work; In one person’s lifetime, the most that could be expected to earn was 3-5 talents)
c. Unpayable Debt
d. Growing Debt

2. Desperate Agreement (18:26)

a. There was NO:

i. Denial
ii. Excusing
iii. Blaming Others (aphiami in Greek)

b. There was Only:

i. Admission of Debt
ii. Expectation of Justice
iii. Pleading for Mercy

3. Complete Acquittal (18:27) – to unworthy servant an unpayable debt

B. Put Yourself into the Parable – This parable of the Kingdom (time between Christ’s first and second advents) is about a reality today. This parable was given to Peter…and to everyone…who keeps track of points instead of having a posture of forgiveness. See Ecclesiastes 12:13-14;
Habakkuk 1:13; Romans 3:23; Exodus 34:7. Let 3 Questions serve as a reminder to you:

1. Was your Accountability Hopeless?
2. Was your Agreement Desperate?

a. Never to be Met again (Psalm 103:12; Psalm 51; Matthew 5:3-4 “poor in spirit”; Job 42:6)
b. Never to be Seen again (Isaiah 38:7)
c. Never to be Found again(Micah 7:19)
d. Never to be Read Against You again (Isaiah 43:5 – wiped out of the book)

3. Was your Acquittal Complete?

a. The difference between me and this parable is that my debt was fully paid for, not just wiped away (Isaiah 53:6; II Corinthians 5:21)
b. Only things Christ is building is His Church, heaven (II Thessalonians 1:7-9), and his wrath.

God and I Time: Isaiah 53 – Meditate on your story in the Gospel

III. Guard Your Heart (Matthew 18:21-35; Proverbs 4:23)

Dr. Jay Adams in his From Forgiven to Forgiving writes, “Forgiveness is the oil that keeps the machinery of the Christian home and church running smoothly. In a world where even those who have been declared perfect in Christ sin, there is much to forgive. Christians who must work together closely find themselves denting each other’s fenders, now and then taking out a taillight or two, and at times even having head-on collisions. Under such conditions, forgiveness is what keeps things from breaking down completely.”

Principle: Lack of forgiveness on the outside reveals a significant heart problem on the inside.

Real Question: Is it me now? 4 Characteristics of the “Non-forgiver.”

A. Mirrored Reaction of World (Matthew 18:28) – We may not “strangle” (physical assault, debt violence) but we might typically respond with:

  1. Verbal Assault (to, about)
  2. Social Assault (isolation, teams, public testimony)
  3. Motive Assault (read heart, question everything) – Any assault is always sin (Proverbs 12:16; 14:17, 29; 27:4; Eccl. 7:9; Ephesians 4). The Gospel that transferred you is transforming you.

B. Skewed Perspective of Offenses (Matthew 18:24, 28)

1. “Big is Little” (300+ lifetimes; Proverbs 17:15; Isaiah 5:20)
2. “Little is Big” (3+ months; Ephesians 4: gossip – news but timing has motive; slander – just enough truth to destroy testimony; malice – intent to injure)

C. Short Memory of Mercy (Matthew 18:29-30a) – Spurgeon said, “Just now he was a lowly suppliant, but now he is a hectoring tyrant!” What is going on here…so soon?

1. There is a Failure to Understand the Doctrine. Obviously, he has yet to grasp:

a. The Guilt that was Removed (Forgiveness)
b. The Debt that was Absorbed (Atonement)
c. The Relationship that was Restored (Reconciliation)
d. The Declaration that was Issued (Justification)
e. The Motivation that was Revealed (Grace)

2. There is a Failure to Revisit the Scene. Never get over the unpayable debt that was forgiven you, an unworthy servant. “And Can It Be?” Treasure Mercy; Honor/Remember the Forgiving King.

D. Quiet Desire for Suffering (Matthew 18:30)

1. Unreasonable Expectations
2. Undeniable Agenda – no plan to forgive at all; place self over instead of beside “fellow servant,” on level ground (Proverbs 18:23)

IV. Fear Your Lord – If you’ve come this far on your journey…and still lean towards being a non-forgiver…You better be sure to get the whole picture! Be sure you clearly see 3 Realities you must deal with:

A. You Will Face God’s People – ready to love you to whatever degree necessary (Matthew 18:31)

1. The fact is…non-forgivers (you) will Stand Out in a forgiven/forgiving community (Hebrews 13:17; I Corinthians 1:10-11)
2. The fact is… non-forgivers (you) will Show Up in believers’ prayers (concerned for a. Inconsistency of brothers, b. Burden on offender, and c. Testimony of King Himself).

B. You Will Face God’s Rebuke (Matthew 18:32-33) You can’t miss the…

1. Accountability (II Corinthians 5:9) – “the world should be impressed with my sufferings” No! They should be impressed with your God! You are only a fellow servant and you’re becoming your own “god.”
2. Accusation – you wicked servant! (II Corinthians 5:11); ponaros – evil/devil
3. Expectation – to forgive others (your story paves the way; your brother/fellow servant belongs to Me; your mercy reflects Mine).

C. You Will Face God’s Discipline/Correction (Colossians 3:13; Matthew 18:34 “jailors” = torturers; NOT executioners; NOT purgatory; NOT loss of regeneration; NOT loss of salvation; Romans 8:28-30; Hebrews 12:5-11 “sons”; I Corinthians 11:32; John 13)

1. Wiersbe – “The world’s worst prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart. If we refuse to forgive others, then we are imprisoning ourselves and causing our own torment. Some of the most miserable people I have met in my ministry have been people who would not forgive others. They lived only to imagine ways to punish these people who had wronged them. But they were really only punishing themselves” (67).

2. MacArthur, Freedom and Power of Forgiveness – “Early in my pastoral ministry I noticed an interesting fact: nearly all the personal problems that drive people to seek pastoral counsel are related in some way to the issue of forgiveness. The typical counselee’s most troublesome problems would be significantly diminished (and in some cases solved completely) by a right understanding of what Scripture says about forgiveness” (7).

3. Today’s Torturers include: guilt, illness, consequences, loss of ministry, loss of freedom, church discipline, etc.

V. Enact Your Forgiveness

A. Wisdom Needed for Forgiveness

1. Prayerfully Consider the Options (I Peter 4:8; Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 19:11; I Corinthians 13:5 “love”)

a. Lovingly Cover (you will later say, “What offense?”)
b. Lovingly Confront

2. Prayerfully Make the Decision:

a. Confrontation is needed if the Relationship is Broken (Matthew 18:15; 5:23)
b. Confrontation is needed if it is a Serious Offense against Someone Else (e.g., infidelity, etc. should not be kept from spouse, etc.)
c. Confrontation is needed if God’s Glory and/or Church are Marred (I Corinthians 10:31; Ezekiel 36:21; I Timothy 5:14)

B. Promises Made during Forgiveness

1. “I will Not Hold this in my heart.” (Luke 17)
2. “I will Not Spread this around to others.” (Proverbs 18:18; 6:16-19 “spreads strife” = “the Lord hates”)
3. “I will Not Bring this Up against you.” (Proverbs 17:9; forgetting is passive – not fixate; not remembering is active – meditate on something else, like “10,000 talents”)

C. Goals Pursued in Forgiveness

1. Put God’s Glory on Display

a. His Love towards Sinners
b. His Grace in You

2. Promote the Other Person’s Christlikeness (disciple)
3. Prove your Love for God through Obedience (John 14:15 – the harder it is to obey, the greater the opportunity to display God’s love)

D. Relationship Created after Forgiveness

  1. Beyond Restoration
  2. The Humility required on both sides Deepens the relationship (Philippians 2:3-4)
  3. You are both now Traveling Companions on this journey (Amos 3:3)
  4. If forgiveness is complete and restoration accomplished, you should both now be better Biblical Counselors (II Corinthians 1)

Concluding Questions:

  1. What about unsaved? Go as far as you can. The main offense is still against God. You can do your part: lean on the door, extend an arm, offer the gift (Romans 12:18; Galatians 6:10).
  2. What about unrepentant? How do you forgive someone who doesn’t think they’ve done wrong? How do you forgive someone who doesn’t want it? Confront. Matthew 18:15-18.
  3. What about you? Replace hostility and separation with peace and friendship.

Book Recommendations:

  • Jay Adams, From Forgiven to Forgiving
  • John MacArthur, The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness
  • Chris Brauns, Unpacking Forgiveness

God Lovingly Pursues Us When We Fail: Peter…Again

Read John 21.

I. Jesus Uses You Where You Are.

Jesus can use you where you are on this earth as long as you are honest with who and where you are and humble yourself. The most important thing on earth to Jesus is His sheep. Sometimes he has to reorient us, like he did for Peter. Every task can only be done through Christ. He doesn’t ask for perfection. He asks for humility and honesty.

II. Jesus Makes You What You Want To Be.

How? The answer: “Follow Jesus.” John 13, Peter says he would die for Christ, and though he wasn’t ready then, he would be. In the end Peter was martyred by crucifixion for Christ’s sake. Jesus says, “Follow me.” Don’t worry about the other guys; it’s not worth comparing. “The Christian life is about direction not perfection.”

Jesus looks at a “failure” and says, “I can use you now.” There may be consequences to sin and He may not use you in the same way as you were used before, but He can use any of us wherever we are physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. In I Peter 5:1-4, Peter exhorts others humbly to shepherd the flock of God, just as Christ had exhorted him to feed His sheep. At the end of the day, Christ is the Chief Shepherd; we are at best his undershepherds. God is the God of Second Chances ad infinitum. Praise be to God!

To listen to Dr. Doug Finkbeiner’s full sermon, click here.

Shared at the Heritage Bible Church Adult Retreat 2010 at the Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center.

God Lovingly Pursues Us When We Become Complacent: Peter

Read Luke 5:1-11.

Intro: In verses 1-3, Jesus preaches to a crowd in the presence of Peter, and in verses 4-7, Jesus performs a miracle for Peter. At this point, Peter had ministered with Jesus for about a year, so he knew Him, trusted Him. At the same time, Peter and his crew had been fishing all night without a bite (when was the last all-nighter you pulled for work?). He was wiped. So, when Jesus told him let down his net again, he may have been thinking that Jesus was crazy, but he was too tired to argue. He obeyed Jesus and let down the net.

I. Startled by the Greatness of God.

They caught so many fish that both boats nearly sank! What does Peter say? Not “Wow!” but “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Peter was a great fisherman. But even in regards to our gifts, talents, occupations, and greatest proficiencies, Jesus is still greater: He is Lord over all areas! Anything that I think I’m an expert in, compared to Jesus, I’m still a novice! God is supreme…in everything!

II. Surprised by the Grace of God

“Never minimize sin; always maximize the grace of God.” Isaiah 5, the prophet is pronouncing woe on everyone around him. In Isaiah 6, he sees the greatness of God and then includes himself in the “woe’d.” God is not giving up on me; He is continuing to pursue me! See Ephesians 3:8.

III. Submissive to the Call of God

Life is about more than fish; it’s about being fishers of men! It’s all work for the Kingdom, and even when we “catch fish,” it’s not us; it’s all God! Duty only goes so far; devotion picks up where duty ends.

Illustration: remember the following nursery rhyme:

“Pussycat, Pussycat, where have you been?”
“I’ve been to London to visit the Queen.”
“Pussycat, Pussycat, what did you there?”
“I frightened a mouse under her chair.”

How often am I “chasing mice” when in the presence of royalty?

To listen to the sermon by Dr. Doug Finkbeiner, click here.

Shared at the Heritage Bible Church Adult Retreat 2010 at the Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center.

God Lovingly Pursues Us When We Rebel: David

II Samuel 11:1; 12:26-31. The “5-star king” David falls.

II Samuel 11:2-12:25: Lust turned into adultery and began a rippling effect which involved a plot of lying and ended in a willingness to kill a friend to cover up sin.

When we sin, we desire a back-burner God, acting as if He doesn’t exist. In chapter 11, David “sent” for a messenger, he sent for Bathshebah, he sent for Uriah, and he sent for Joab. In chapter 12, the Lord “sent” the prophet Nathan to David. When God convicts, it hurts good. God exposes rebels, and there are always consequences to our sin.

David lusted after Bathshebah, then committed adultery with her, devised a plot of deceit to cover it up, and when that didn’t work, he murdered Bathshebah’s husband, one of David’s 30 mighty men, a friend. The prophet Nathan comes and tells him a parable about a man who had many sheep and stole the only sheep a man had to have it for himself. When asked how the man should pay, David gets furious and says he should restore fourfold. Nathan points his finger at David and says, “You’re the man.” Consequently, David did pay fourfould for his sin. The son Bathshebah bore him died, along with three other sons. Sin has its consequences.

But God forgives! In verse 8, we see an excessively gracious God. In verse 14, David despised the goodness of God, thinking he “needed” more than what God provided. We think, “I need that.” No, you don’t if God hasn’t given it!! Keep short tabs on sin. And live a life of repentance. God forgives. He forgave David. David and Bathshebah were married and had a second son, Solomon. God used this relationship that started so badly and brought the next king of Israel out of it; and that next king was part of the Messianic line (see Matthew 1)! Who says God doesn’t use broken people?! He can restore the messiest situations and bring peace and hope out of them.

For follow up, study Psalm 51 and Psalm 32. Sins are forgiven when confessed.

To listen to the sermon by Dr. Doug Finkbeiner, click here.

Shared at the Heritage Bible Church Adult Retreat 2010 at the Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center.

God Lovingly Pursues Us When We Suffer: Job

I. Introduction: We all ask, “Why God?” about something. The book of Job reveals three tensions, or tests, with two simultaneous scenes, one taking place in heaven and one taking place on earth. In the beginning of the book, Job is trusting God and living a life of blessing; he’s wealthy and has 10 great kids!

II. Rising Action

A. Tension 1: Crisis of Personal Loss, chapter 1.

  1. In Heaven: Satan comes to God and says, “Let me test Job.” He thinks Job is only trusting God because of his life of general ease. God knows that there is no one on earth that is as righteous and godly a man as Job. So, God allows Satan to test Him and remove the blessings.
  2. On Earth: Job was trusting God, then he lost everything! He lost his livestock, and thus his livelihood, along with almost all of his servants. While he’s trying to wrap his head around this, another servant comes to him and tells him that a horrible wind knocked down the house that all of his children were in having a family dinner, killing all of them. Can you imagine the grief?! And yet, Job still chooses to trust God.

B. Tension 2: Crisis of Physical Pain, chapter 2.

  1. In Heaven: Satan approaches God again, “Okay, so personal loss didn’t shake him; let me afflict his body.” God knows that Job trusts Him, and agrees, on one condition: Satan cannot kill him.
  2. On Earth: Job gets sores all over his body. He’s itching, full of pain, losing weight, has no strength or appetite. He’s already lost so much, and now he feels miserable. And on top of all of it, his wife tells him to just end it, saying, “Curse, God, and die.” Yet, Job accepts the pain and trusts God.

C. 3rd Tension: Crisis of Bad Theology (aka, “retribution theology”), chapters 3-38.

  1. In Heaven: Now the conflict is between God and Job: Job asks God, “Why?”
  2. On Earth: Job is really down. His friends come to sit with him for 7 days, which is great that he had that support; then, they start opening their mouths and feeding him “retribution theology”: good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people, so you must have done something really bad! Keep thinking; just look harder.

III. Climax: The Great Reversal: God Answers Job by asking him questions.

A. God is the all-powerful Creator: “Job, do you know how I made this or did that?”

B. God is sovereign: “Job, can you do this or that great thing?”

C. Job has no response, chapters 38-40.

D. Round 2 of God questioning Job, chapters 40-41. God humbles Job without answering his question, but by asking questions to help him realize the power and greatness of His God (of our God).

IV. Resolution: God lavishes grace on Job again! His health and livestock are restored and multiplied, and God gives him and his wife 10 more healthy children.

There are no guarantees in this life, but there is always a happy ending for those who know God. Grace is being lavished on us. Mercies are new each morning. We don’t need to know why; we only need to know Who!

“Faith is accepting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” And this is only true because of Who God is. We know so much more than Job did. We don’t have to understand. We just have to know Jesus and trust Him. “In the mystery of suffering, trust a good and gracious God. Look for the answer to ‘Who?’ and not ‘Why?’.”

Listen to the sermon by Dr. Doug Finkbeiner here.

Shared at the Heritage Bible Church Adult Retreat 2010 at the Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center.

A Weekend Away: God’s Love in Pursuing Us

This past weekend, Bryan and I got to go on an Adult Retreat with our church, Heritage Bible Church, to the Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center in Brevard, NC. The Wilds is a special place to us: it’s where we met! We each served four summers, Bryan as a lifeguard for three summers and a counselor his last summer, and I as a waitress my first summer, counselor the next two summers, and Assistant to the Manager of the Snack Shop and Store my last summer. It was this last summer that we met. I had finished one year on contract staff at the Wilds after graduating from college. My second year on contract, Bryan was on my crew! It was here that we fell in love: we became friends, and then best friends, and then decided to stay best friends for life.

Three years ago, we went on our first HBC Adult Retreat and enjoyed listening to Dr. Doug Finkbeiner of Calvary Theological Seminary in Landsdale, PA. This year, he was back! We were so excited when we heard he’d be the speaker. We arrived Friday night for dinner and the first message, then he preached Saturday morning and evening (with a long free time in the afternoon to do camp activities and fellowship), and finished on Sunday morning with a final message, followed by brunch. It was wonderful! The weather was gorgeous, the music was beautiful and the entire experience was refreshing!

The theme of the weekend was God’s love, specifically as it is shown in His pursuing us. God pursues us when we suffer, when we rebel, when we get complacent, and when we fail.

The next four posts will be my notes from the sermons this weekend. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. If you want to hear them for yourself, you can download them at Sermon Audio here.