Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 17
Thesis: The focus of the prophet will be to bring about the knowledge of salvation as it relates to the issue of the forgiveness of sins.
Introduction: Last week we began to consider those words of Zacharias that have to do with the place his newborn son will take in respect to the plans of Yahweh Elohim. In that study we saw that John was going to be known as "Prophet of the Most High". We concluded from this that one of God's most fundamental works in bringing His plan of salvation to its fulness of accomplishment is to create a desire in His people to know the truths of His Word. The entire idea of "prophet" is "revelation of God by means of words"...i.e., making it possible to know God in His reality by communicating words about Him. In reality, then, the creation of a desire to know the truths of His Word is the creation of a desire to know Him coupled with an understanding that He will ultimately only be known by what He says.
Now, this raises a fairly big question: How will God create this desire?
The answer is given in the text before us: The desire to know God is created by Him in us by His bringing us to the knowledge of His willingness to "save" us by the "forgiveness" of our sins. This morning we are going to look into this issue of God's "salvation" in respect to the "forgiveness of our sins".
November 7, 2004
- I. The First Consideration is the Nature of the "Forgiveness" of our Sins.
- A. The word chosen to express what God does to us in regard to our sins is a word that contains a central concept.
- 1. Primary to the meaning of the word is the idea of the creation of a separation between two "connected" entities so that those entities can no longer make a significant relational impact upon one another.
- a. This is the creation of a great "fixed gulf" that makes impact no longer possible.
- b. This is the reason that the verbal form of this word was chosen in the New Testament to address "divorce". It is an attempt to put space between formerly united folks so that their ability to have an impact upon one another is significantly reduced. [Perhaps the greatest anomoly in our study today is the fact that the very same word was treated by the translators to describe "forgiveness" as was treated by them to describe "divorce"!]
- c. This means that God wants us to understand that He has acted to create a "great fixed gulf" between us and our sins so that our sins can no longer create their most fundamental, normal impact upon us.
- 2. Primary to the problem of the translation of the word is the necessity of using a word or phrase that communicates this core meaning.
- a. "Forgiveness" may have lost its usefulness over time by reason of the enormous confusion that has arisen regarding it.
- b. "Banishment" may be a better term for two reasons...
- 1) It is a new word to the conceptual grasp most people have of what is going on in the doctrinal area concerning "forgiveness".
- 2) It is a more picturesque word in terms of the imagery it generates.
- a) "Forgiveness" tends to bring up images of two people embracing one another...thus making the primary image one of relational harmony. This tends to remake "forgiveness of sins" into "forgiveness of a person".
- b) "Banishment" tends to bring up images of someone/thing being sent off into a far country so that he/it cannot live with the one doing the banishing...thus making the primary image one of a significant relational breech. This allows us to retain the actual wording: forgiveness is of sins, not of persons [in the 16 contexts where the word translated "remission/forgiveness" is used, it is never conclusively used of a person, and it is conclusively used of "sins" in 14 of those 16].
- B. The word chosen to express what God does to our sins is a word that has a fundamental implication.
- 1. The entire issue of "creating a great fixed gulf" between us and our sins is related to the necessities in God that have to do with how He is going to treat us.
- a. As long as "sins" are "attached" to us, God is required to treat us as "sinners".
- b. Only by separating us from our sins can God treat us as "sinless".
- 2. This issue -- how God is going to treat us -- is the crux of the entire concept of how He treats our sins.
- 3. Then, the issues of how God treats "sinners" as opposed to the "righteous" arise.
- a. God treats "sinners" as He treats "sins": He "banishes" them from His Life.
- b. God treats "saints" as He treats His Beloved: He "embraces" them into His Life.
- II. The Second Consideration is the "Why" of the "Banishment of our Sins".
- A. This "why" question is first addressed in terms of an essential characteristic of Yahweh Elohim of Israel.
- 1. The command to name John "John" was the revelation that the Prophet of the Most High was going to use his mouth to emphasize the Grace of Yahweh.
- 2. The command to name John "John" was the revelation that the exercise of Grace falls into a pretty high priority in the Love of Yahweh.
- 3. Thus, the "why" question is answered: Yahweh has banished our sins because He loved to manifest His grace.
- B. This "why" question is then addressed in terms of a second essential characteristic of Yahweh Elohim.
- 1. A primary outworking of God's work to manifest His grace is revealed in the text to be that the recipients of His grace were impressed with His Mercy. [1:50, 54, 58, 72 and 78].
- 2. This means that the Love of Yahweh puts a high priority upon the recognition by the recipients of His grace that He is merciful.
- 3. Thus, the "why" question is answered with another answer: Yahweh has banished our sins because He loved to manifest His mercy.
- C. This "why" question is then addressed in terms of a third essential characteristic of Yahweh Elohim.
- 1. Throughout the words of Luke 1 there is a continual repetition of the claim that Yahweh was acting in merciful grace because He had made some promises to some people.
- 2. This means that Yahweh's integrity is a high priority in the Love of Yahweh.
- 3. Thus, the "why" question is answered with a third answer: Yahweh has banished our sins because He told some ancient people that He would do so.
- III. The Third Consideration is the "How" of the "Banishment" of our Sins.
- A. The first part of the "how" question has to do with how Yahweh can "banish our sins".
- 1. The question is a matter of a fourth essential characteristic of Yahweh: His Justice.
- 2. The answer was given in the beginning of Zacharias' prophecy: He created a legitimate redemption price for sin.
- B. The second part of the "how" question has to do with how Yahweh gets us to permit Him to separate us from our sins.
- 1. This involves the question of how Yahweh motivates us to want to be separated from our sins. The answer is complex but it boils down to the carrot and stick of promise and warning.
- 2. This also involves the question of method: what has to happen in us to have our sins "banished"? This answer is also complex, but it boils down to the issues of John's message of "repentance": the development of humble confidence.