Category Archives: Forgiveness

“The heart of the gospel” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Here Mark unveils what lies at the heart of the gospel: men need forgiveness; Jesus gives it. To the degree to which you see your own need of forgiveness is the measure of how clearly you understand the gospel.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, Let’s Study Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1999), 27. Ferguson is commenting on Mark 2:1-12.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Forgiveness, Jesus Christ, Mark, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sinclair Ferguson, The Gospel

“The great mystery of the gospel” by John Owen

“This is the great mystery of the gospel in the blood of Christ, that those who sin every day should have peace with God all their days.”

–John Owen, “An Exposition of Psalm 130,” in The Works of John Owen, Volume 6: Temptation and Sin, Ed. William H. Goold (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1668/1967), 339.

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“The sea of God’s compassion can drown thy great sins” by Thomas Watson

Question: But will God be a Father to me, who have profaned His name, and been a great sinner?

Answer: If thou wilt now at last seek to God by prayer, and break off thy sins, God hath the compassion of a Father for thee, and will in no wise cast thee out.

When the prodigal did arise and go to his father, ‘his father had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him,’ Luke 15:20.

Though thou hast been a prodigal, and almost spent all upon thy lusts, yet, if thou wilt give a bill of divorce to thy sins, and flee to God by repentance, know that He hath the compassion of a father.

He will embrace thee in the arms of His mercy, and seal thy pardon with a kiss. What though thy sins have been heinous?

The wound is not so broad as the plaster of Christ’s blood. The sea covers great rocks. The sea of God’s compassion can drown thy great sins.

Therefore be not discouraged,—go to God,—resolve to cast thyself upon His fatherly compassion.

What comfort is there to such as can upon good grounds call God, Father. There’s more sweetness in this word Father, than if we had ten thousand worlds.”

–Thomas Watson, The Select Works of the Rev. Thomas Watson, Comprising His Celebrated Body of Divinity, in a Series of Lectures on the Shorter Catechism, and Various Sermons and Treatises (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 390-391.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Forgiveness, Glory of Christ, God the Father, Jesus Christ, Mercy, Prayer, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel, Thomas Watson

“The one undivided and indivisible Christ” by Herman Bavinck

“The Reformation attacked this entire nomistic system at the roots when it took its position in the confession that sinners are justified by faith alone. By this act, after all, it all at once reversed the entire order of things.

Communion with God came about not by human exertion, but solely on the part of God, by a gift of His grace, so that religion was again given its place before morality.

If human beings received the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, adoption as children, and eternal life through faith alone, by grace, on account of the merits of Christ, then they did not need to exert themselves to earn all these benefits by good works.

They already possessed them in advance as a gift they had accepted by faith. The gratitude and joy that filled their hearts upon receiving all these benefits drove them to do good works before the thought that they had to do them even crossed their mind.

For the faith by which they accepted these benefits was a living faith, not a dead one, not a bare agreement with a historical truth, but a personal heartfelt trust in the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

In Justification that faith of course manifested itself only from its receptive side because in this connection everything depended on the acceptance of the righteousness offered and bestowed in Christ.

Yet, from its very inception, and at the same time as it justified, it was also a living, active, and forceful faith that renewed people and poured joy into their hearts.

Actually, therefore, it was not faith that justified and sanctified, but it was the one undivided and indivisible Christ who through faith gave Himself to believers for righteousness and sanctification, who was imputed and imparted to us on the part of God, and whom we therefore from the beginning possess in that faith as Christ for us and in us.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, Vol. 4, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 4: 242–243.

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“He atoned for all our sins” by J. Gresham Machen

“This business of letting by-gones be by-gones has a pleasant sound. But in reality it is the most heartless thing in the world.

It will not do at all even in the case of sins committed against our fellow-men. To say nothing of sin against God, what shall be done about the harm that we have wrought to our neighbor?

Sometimes, no doubt, the harm can be repaired. If we have defrauded our neighbor of a sum of money, we can pay the sum back with interest. But in the case of the more serious wrongs such repayment is usually quite impossible.

The more serious wrongs are those that are done, not to the bodies, but to the souls of men. And who can think with complacency of wrongs of that kind which he has committed?

Who can bear to think, for example, of the harm that he has done to those younger than himself by a bad example? And what of those sad words, spoken to those we love, that have left scars never to be obliterated by the hand of time?

In the presence of such memories, we are told by the modern preacher simply to repent and to let by-gones be by-gones. But what a heartless thing is such repentance!

We escape into some higher, happier, respectable life. But what of those whom we by our example and by our words have helped to drag down to the brink of hell? We forget them and let by-gones be by-gones!

Such repentance will never wipe out the guilt of sin— not even sin committed against our fellow-men, to say nothing of sin against our God.

The truly penitent man longs to wipe out the effects of sin, not merely to forget sin. But who can wipe out the effects of sin? Others are suffering because of our past sins; and we can attain no real peace until we suffer in their stead.

We long to go back into the tangle of our life, and make right the things that are wrong—at least to suffer where we have caused others to suffer.

And something like that Christ did for us when He died instead of us on the cross; He atoned for all our sins.

The sorrow for sins committed against one’s fellowmen does indeed remain in the Christian’s heart. And he will seek by every means that is within his power to repair the damage that he has done.

But atonement at least has been made—made as truly as if the sinner himself had suffered with and for those whom he has wronged. And the sinner himself, by a mystery of grace, becomes right with God.

All sin at bottom is a sin against God. ‘Against thee, thee only have I sinned’ is the cry of a true penitent.

How terrible is the sin against God! Who can recall the wasted moments and years? Gone they are, never to return; gone the little allotted span of life; gone the little day in which a man must work. Who can measure the irrevocable guilt of a wasted life?

Yet even for such guilt God has provided a fountain of cleansing in the precious blood of Christ. God has clothed us with Christ’s righteousness as with a garment; in Christ we stand spotless before the judgment throne.”

–J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (New Edition.; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 109–110.

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“A most ordinary pastor” by D.A. Carson

“Tom Carson never rose very far in denominational structures, but hundreds of people in the Outaouais and beyond testify how much he loved them.

He never wrote a book, but he loved the Book.

He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday’s grace was never enough.

He was not a far-sighted visionary, but he looked forward to eternity.

He was not a gifted administrator, but there is no text that says, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you are good administrators.’

His journals have many, many entries bathed in tears of contrition, but his children and grandchildren remember his laughter. Only rarely did he break through his pattern of reserve and speak deeply and intimately with his children, but he modeled Christian virtues to them.

He much preferred to avoid controversy than to stir things up, but his own commitments to historic confessionalism were unyielding, and in ethics he was a man of principle.

His own ecclesiastical circles were rather small and narrow, but his reading was correspondingly large and expansive.

He was not very good at putting people down, except on his prayer lists.

When he died, there were no crowds outside the hospital, no editorial comments in the papers, no announcements on television, no mention in Parliament, no attention paid by the nation.

In his hospital room there was no one by his bedside. There was only the quiet hiss of oxygen, vainly venting because he had stopped breathing and would never need it again.

But on the other side all the trumpets sounded.

Dad won entrance to the only throne room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man-he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor-but because he was a forgiven man.

And he heard the voice of Him whom he longed to hear saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.'”

–D.A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 147-148.

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“Preach free and full forgiveness” by J.C. Ryle

“Forever let the mighty principle laid down by our Lord in this passage, abide in our memories, and sink down into our hearts. It is one of the great corner-stones of the whole Gospel.

It is one of the master-keys to unlock the secrets of the kingdom of God. The only way to make men holy, is to teach and preach free and full forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

The secret of being holy ourselves, is to know and feel that Christ has pardoned our sins. Peace with God is the only root that will bear the fruit of holiness. Forgiveness must go before sanctification.

We shall do nothing till we are reconciled to God. This is the first step in religion. We must work from life, and not for life. Our best works before we are justified are little better than splendid sins.

We must live by faith in the Son of God, and then, and not till then, we shall walk in His ways. The heart which has experienced the pardoning love of Christ, is the heart which loves Christ, and strives to glorify Him.

Let us leave the passage with a deep sense of our Lord Jesus Christ’s amazing mercy and compassion to the chief of sinners. Let us see in His kindness to the woman, of whom we have been reading, an encouragement to any one, however bad he may be, to come to Him for pardon and forgiveness.

That word of His shall never be broken, ‘Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.’ Never, never need any one despair of salvation, if he will only come to Christ.

Let us ask ourselves, in conclusion, What we are doing for Christ’s glory? What kind of lives are we living? What proof are we making of our love to Him who loved us, and died for our sins?

These are serious questions. If we cannot answer them satisfactorily, we may well doubt whether we are forgiven. The hope of forgiveness which is not accompanied by love in the life is no hope at all.

The man whose sins are really cleansed away will always show by his ways that he loves the Saviour who cleansed them.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 238–239. Ryle is commenting on Luke 7:36-50.

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