Is Jesus Able To Forgive?
Is Jesus Able to Forgive?
Luke Chapter 5. I want to read verses 17 through verse 26. Luke Chapter 5, verse 17. I want to preach, "Is Jesus able to forgive?"
"And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which WERE COME OUT OF EVERY TOWN OF GALILEE, AND JUDAEA, AND JERUSALEM: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them."
Now, think about it for a moment. This would be like having a service here this morning and groups from Dallas and the surrounding cities sent their people to pick apart your speech. That's exactly what was going on. They were looking for a reason to condemn Jesus. These guys were gathered from every city in the area and that was their purpose. "And behold men brought in a bed, a man which was taken, with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in and to lay him before Him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when He saw their faith, He said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. And the Scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering, said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things today."
Now this is a good chapter for recognizing who Jesus Christ is. And the first thing that I notice here is what Jesus said to this man, he said thy sins are forgiven. Jesus spoke these very words to him. Jesus walked up to him and said your sins are forgiven. Now, that's a powerful statement, but it might not mean anything.
I remember when I was a kid in the fifth grade. There was a boy in our school who came up to me and said, "I've got 50 cents. Let's go to the store and get something to eat." I went with him and the next thing I knew we were in the principle's office getting a spanking. He had stolen the money. Well, you see, I thought it was his money. I assumed something and that assumption was incorrect. So Jesus speaks forgiveness to this man, but is it possible that he can actually do it? That's the question. And these religious Jews questioned Jesus' right to his claim to possess the authority to forgive sins.
Notice it says here that these skeptics were doctors of the Law of Moses. These guys are teachers. They were scribes. These are experts in legal matters of the law and they were Pharisees. This was a religious sect that sprang from the scribes and they accused Jesus of blasphemy, cursing God, literally speaking evil of God.
They were saying, "You have placed yourself equal with God. That's blasphemy; a terrible thing to do. And so they made a tremendous accusation against the Lord Jesus. Jesus performed the miracle that we read about in this chapter to convince them that he was God in the flesh.
Now I have found that a lot of people say they believe in the Bible, but really don't. I believe the Bible. I don't know if you believe the miracles, but I believe they happened. I believe Jesus did them. I believe Jesus lived, that he died, he was buried, and rose again. If you don't believe the Bible, you'll never get saved. That's why one of the great attacks in our world is on the Word of God. "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." You'll never come to Christ until you believe the Bible is the Word of God and what it says is true.
Now, beginning at verse 22, Jesus performs a miracle when He perceived their thoughts. "He, answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he sayeth unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house." Now, this miracle was done that they might recognize that he had the power to forgive sins.
In our day there's a lot of television "miracles" being performed. But they are not having a big impact on the real world. They are not changing lives and people. But when Jesus did these miracles, they resulted in major things happening. He stirred a whole nation. In Acts 2:22, the Bible says concerning Jesus, "Ye men of Israel hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you as ye yourselves also know." The word "approved" literally means proof. The miracles were the proof of God. They were God's stamp on the Son of God that he was who he claimed to be.
Have you ever wondered why the Old Testament says "so-and-so beget so-and-so" and "so-and-so beget so-and-so"? The reason these things are recorded is so that we would recognize the same thing that Jesus' miracles were supposed to do for the people of his day. John 20:30 "And many other signs, miracles, truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written" -- for what purpose -- "that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ", anointed one of God; the Messiah, "the Son of God and that believing you might have life through his name." What was the purpose of God recording the miracles? So that you and I would come to faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God and believing we might have life through his name.
That's the reason they are here. These are not just absent stories about a man who lived a long time ago. Now, these things they haven't changed in our day. Religious men are still saying, Jesus, by his mere promises, cannot forgive sin. This week I had the privilege of going down to Hillsboro, and we went witnessing door to door. I went up a street I'd never been before and knocked on doors and shared Christ. I got to share Christ several times with people I had never met. But this one lady stepped to the door and one of the questions I asked her was, "Have you ever had anyone give you a clear presentation of the Gospel of Christ?" Well, as soon as I said the phrase "Gospel of Christ", she began to tell me how to get to heaven. She was a religious woman. You could see her hair was down, had a big knot on top of her head, you know, and she finally said to me that if you're baptized in the name of Jesus only, your sins will be washed away. Well, see, she didn't believe that Jesus' word could forgive sin. She believed that it took a church to baptize and then you had to be baptized in a person's -- in Jesus's name to get forgiveness of sin. She didn't believe the mere word of Jesus could forgive you.
Then I got to thinking about that, one group teaches that it has to be one of their pastors that performs your baptism, that it has to be their church that does it. There's another group that teaches that you have to not only be sprinkled, (they don't even really baptize,) but you have to keep all the rules of the church if you want your sins forgiven. You see, these religions do not believe that Jesus can forgive sins. They have the same problem that those people did in the days of Christ.
Do you think Jesus lied to this man when He looked him in the face and said your sins are forgiven? Do you think he was talking about a future event, or was he promising something that he was going to do right then? Jesus said your sins are forgiven. Does it take a church to forgive sin? Does it take an ordinance or a religious body to forgive sin? Does it take a priest to forgive sin? Does it take a preacher to forgive sin?
In Luke 5:21 they asked Jesus a question. They said, "…can anyone forgive sin but God?" Notice that Jesus never said, "You're wrong about that. I can do it." He said, "That's right." Can anyone forgive sin but God? Only God can forgive sin. Do you realize that when people place the authority to forgive sin in a church or person, they are taking God's place? Jesus never argued, He merely stood there and told them only God can forgive sin. Did you ever think about who all sin is against? When you sin, you sin against God. All sin, ultimately, is against God. It's His creation, His order, His rules, His world. And He only can forgive sin.
The real question here is whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God. If He is God, He can forgive sin. Now, I want to tell you something else; Jesus doesn't forgive sins just relatively. He forgives sins on the basis of the sacrificial payment for that sin. He doesn't just overlook sin. He wasn't just saying, your sins are forgiven. He was basing the forgiveness on His own sacrificial death for this man's sins. Jesus can forgive sins.
(John 1:1) - "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." Now, who was God? The Word. Now, remember that later, okay, "the same is in the beginning with God all things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made." Then drop down to verse 14, "and the Word was made flesh." That's Jesus. God became a man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In verse 18 it says, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." God became a man. Jesus is God in the flesh. Can Jesus forgive sin? Amen. Because He is God in the flesh.
Now, notice the basis of the offer to forgive this man's sin. Now, the basis is very important. You know, if you don't have a basis for something, you can't even have a legal agreement. In verse 20, Jesus commended their faith Who was he talking about? The men who were carrying and also the man who was being carried. He saw their faith. Amen? There's no reason to think the man who was being carried didn't have any faith. Jesus saw their faith. They tore a hole in the roof to get their sick friend down there. They believed that this was the Son of God that could heal. They had faith in him, and when Jesus saw their faith, he said your sins be forgiven you. He saw their faith demonstrated to Him.
Now it might surprise you that God knows what's going on in your heart, too. Now, Jesus Christ is the Word. He's the Son of God. He became a man and I believe my Bible is the extension of God Himself. When you attack the Word of God, you're attacking God. The Word of God, the Spirit of God, knows exactly what's going on in your heart right now.
In fact, He knows your deepest thoughts. He knows your most secretive moment. He knows those things that no one else knows but you. In Hebrews 4:12 the Bible says, "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Now listen to this next verse. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." God knows what's going on inside you. You don't have any secrets from God.
Somebody may say, "Well, everybody's got their nose in my business." Can I suggest something; you ought to clean up your business. If you'd clean up your business, you wouldn't mind so much it being known. God knows all about you and he's the one you're going to ultimately be judged by. You've never gotten away with anything. You've never been able to hide anything. You've never had a secret thought that you ever got a way with.
And, you know, things haunt people. They haunt people their whole life, things that they have done wrong haunt people down through their lives. If you don't want what you've done in your life to haunt you, bring it to God. Get forgiveness for it. If you don't want your past to haunt you, bring it to God. He can forgive your past. In fact, thank God he can forgive your future.
Let me move in a different direction. Today God is offering forgiveness of sins to those who will believe. Now, first of all, we have to come to that place where we want forgiveness and we recognize the true source of forgiveness.
Now, if you confess to a man you'll feel better, you know. Someone said I'm really bothered about something I've done, I just got to talk to somebody. Well, you can tell somebody and you'll feel better about what you've done. But you won't get forgiveness that way. The only place you can get any forgiveness is with God, because ultimately all sin is against God.
Turn with me to the book of Romans Chapter 10. Here's what the Jewish problem was. Maybe this is your problem. This is the problem that is faced by all religious people. Paul, writing in Romans 10, verse 1, said, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they, being ignorant" -- and I'd like to stop for a moment on the word ignorant. Ignorant just means you're unlearned. If somebody says you're ignorant about that, don't be offended. That just means you don't know about something. Now, I need to add one more thing. If they say you're stupid, that's another thing, okay? That goes beyond not knowing. Now they are saying you can't learn anything.
There's a lot of things we are ignorant about, okay, and so he's saying for those being unlearned of God's righteousness, ignorant and "going about to establish their own righteousness", you see instead of coming to Christ, they go to the church, they go to the baptistery, they go to the preacher. Some people think they are going to go to Heaven because they shook a preacher's hand. They got their name in a book. I had a man that actually had the nerve to pull out a slip that documented he was baptized in 1943 but he couldn't remember what happened that day. That's not the way it works. Instead of coming to the true source many go to the wrong source. The Bible says for "Christ is the end", what? What does "end" mean? It means you don't have to look any more. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness," to who? "To every one that believeth." A believer doesn't have to look any further for righteousness; it's found in Jesus Christ.
John 5:39 says, "Search the Scriptures", and literally, he's saying, you do continually search the Scriptures. Did you know that most religious people who are lost study their Bible every day? And they work at their religion a lot harder than we do because they are trying to make sure they make it. Somebody said I hope I make it. That's not in the proposition. You need to come to Christ and know you're going to make it.
Jesus went on to say here, "(you do) search the Scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life." They thought eternal life was in the Scriptures. You see people search the Bible and they think because baptism is in the Bible that it washes away their sin, that communion is in the Bible and it pictures the Christ and therefore you get to Christ through the communion. They think that God's going to come and get the church, so they want to be a church member, but that's not what the Bible is teaching. He says, For ye search the Scriptures for you think then you have eternal life and they are they which testify of me. You see Jesus is the Savior. What does the word Jesus mean? Savior. He's the Savior. There isn't any other Savior in the Word of God but Jesus the Son of God. Listen to John 8 and his discussion with the Pharisees. In John 8:24 He said, "I said, therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins." Who is "He"? Messiah, Son of God, Savior. If you don't believe I'm Him, then you're going to die in your sins. That is still true. What are you counting on?
Somebody may say, "I don't have any sin." You're worse off than these guys. Everybody sins. We've all sinned and come short of the Glory of God. This has been the plan of God all through the ages. Did you know the devil's a real smart being. He said now, after Jesus died, the plan of Salvation changed.
How many of you vote regularly? Do you feel like they want to you vote when they keep moving you all over town? I asked one lady one day, I said, "Lady, are you trying to keep me from voting?" She said, "What do you mean?" I said, "Every time it's time to vote, you move me to a different place." If you want somebody to do something, you make it simple, and make it to where they can understand it. God hasn't changed the plan of Salvation. In the Old Testament they preached the same Jesus that I believe in, they didn't know his name was Jesus. They said the Messiah was coming, the Promised One was coming, but they preached forgiveness of sin in the name of Jesus.
Acts 10:43 says so. "To him give all the prophets witness", and by the way, if you'll study the Old Testament, you can find out they did give witness to him. Isaiah and all of them preached about him. "That through his name", that is the name, the Messiah, the Lamb of God, "whosoever believeth in Him", trusteth in him, "shall receive remission of sins". How do you get remission of sins… by believing in him.
Turn over to the book of Acts Chapter 16 verse 30 for just a moment. The jailer has just seen the jail shake and the prisoners could escape and he cries out what must I do to be saved? And Paul said, now, sit down I got about 10 minutes and I'll tell you. No, he said believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Trust on him. Trust on the Lord Jesus Christ. Somebody said, well, after this though, he went in and talked to his family, and then baptized them. That's exactly right. Baptism follows faith. And you're saved at the point of faith. Exactly right. That's exactly what the Bible teaches. But he was saved at the point of faith.
Now, how many verses would it take to convince you that's what the Bible says? Turn over to the book of John Chapter 3. I haven't got time to read all these. Let me just point out verse 16. John 3:16. "Whosoever believeth in him should not perish." Now look at verse 18, "he that believeth on Him is not condemned." Now look at verse 36, "He that believeth on the Son hath", present tense, present perfect tense, means you got it already. It's completed action -- "everlasting life." Isn't that what the Bible teaches? Isn't that what it says and, you know, you could keep going on and on. John 6:47 says that, he that believeth on Him hath everlasting life. Now, belief means to put heart trust in Jesus Christ. Somebody said, well, I believed in God all my life. I have too. I can honestly say, I don't think there's ever been a time in my life that I didn't believe there was a God. But there was a day in my life when I trusted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I believed in God all my life. At the same time I was believing in God I was cussing like a sailor, too, doing everything else that I wanted to do. But there was a night when I knelt beside an old couch, and I asked God to forgive me of my sins. I changed my mind. I repented and I put my faith in Jesus Christ. Here's what the Bible says Romans 10:10 says, "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;" -- with what? With the heart, man believeth to righteousness. He becomes righteous when he believes in his heart. In verse 11, he says, "Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." Do you think that's true or not? He said to trust in Him. Verse 12 says there's no difference between a Jew and a Greek. He's Lord of all that call on him. Verse 13, "For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." You're going to call on the Master when you call on Jesus.
Someone may say, "Well, I want to get saved, but I don't want him running my life." If that's the way your thinking then you'll never get saved. That kind of salvation's not available. The only kind of salvation that is available is the kind where you surrender your life. It has to be a heart commitment to Christ. Now, I know after you're saved you have a little struggle giving it all but you have to come to him, opened up to him. You never come to him without fully just throwing yourself in his lap. Why not come to Christ today? You know, God has commanded repentance now. Acts 17:30 says, "God commandeth all men everywhere to repent." You can mark this down. God has got his finger in your nose and he's saying you better turn your life around. The Russians better turn their lives around. The Chinamen better turn his life around. Better yet, you better turn your life around because God has appointed a day out there when he's going to judge you.
Now, if you want to be saved, you want to turn to Jesus and ask him into your life. You know there's something else about this forgiveness business that I want to talk about before I leave it and that is this; the forgiveness that Jesus offers didn't just come to you before you are saved. You see, when he died for me he died for all of my sin. But now that I'm his child, sometimes I do things that are wrong and it breaks our fellowship. It doesn't break our relationship, you see. He's mine and I'm his. And so He tells me in first John 1 and by the way this is not written to everybody. It's written to believers. He says if we confess our sins. If we come it agree with God about our sins, he's what? He's faithful and just to forgive who? Us our sins and to cleanse us from what? All unrighteousness.
You see, this forgiveness that I'm talking about is continual. Now, one other thing, too. Once God forgives your sins, he doesn't bring it up before you. You know, he's not like we are. If somebody does something to us, we continually remember what they did, way back when. That isn't how God is. He forgives, he cleanses you. He forgives you. You know, literally when he looks at you He says you didn't do it. Can you imagine that? You didn't do it. That's as good as a mother with her kids. They didn't do it. I just don't think she could do it. You see that's how God cleanses us. He sees us as if we had never sinned. Never.
One other step. Once this man had his sins forgiven, he was obedient. Did you read that? Jesus said pick up your stuff and go home, pick up your couch and go on to your house. That man didn't sit there and say, well, you know, I'm going to do it on my own schedule, in my own way. He was obedient. Do you know why he was obedient? Because God had done something for him. I'm convinced that if He does something for you, you will want to be obedient too. Has he ever done anything for you? You see, obedience comes from two places. There's only two types of obedience that I know of. One comes from trying to get something from God. Well, I'll do this and God will take me. And the other comes because God has already done something for you. This man had already had something done for him. If God has already done something in your life, why not step out? Let Jesus be the Lord of your life. Yield yourself to baptism and service in the church. Why not serve him like you're supposed to? Do you believe Jesus can save? Do you believe that he can actually forgive sin? I mean, when I get down on my knees at the house, and there's no one else around; just Jesus and me, and I confess what I've done wrong; you know, those things that I don't want anybody else to know about; do you think He can cleanse that? I do.
Have you had your sins forgiven? Do you know why God convicts people of being lost? Because they have never believed. John 16. If you don't believe me, check it. Jesus is saying that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin. Why? Because they have never believed on Me. When you believe on Him, your sin is forgiven. He comes to the lost, talking to them about their sin. Drawing them on the basis of their lost condition. Somebody said, well, I can't tell whether I'm saved or lost. What's God talking to you about? You can tell.
Why not yield your life to Christ? You know, pretty soon, I don't know when it will happen, but the sun is going to come out and the sun is going to start beating down on that fog and it will lift that fog right out of here. And just as easy as that is done, if you'll let Christ come into your life he can lift the fog out of your life.
Maybe you're already saved and you've been out of the will of the Lord, you say, Preacher, I've done things I'm sorry about, but I don't know if God will forgive me -- listen, He said if we would confess -- that word confess means to come to agree with God about them -- he'd forgive us from all sin. Isn't that what it says? How many sins? All sin. Can we believe God? The Bible says we can.