GET ACQUAINTED: What are you most thankful for?
SCRIPTURE: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28 )
Open your time together with prayer. NOTE: This is only a guide! Feel free to select the points you want to discuss and adapt them to your needs.
The Bible never gives a “dictionary” definition of forgiveness, but it shows us many examples of it. The greatest of all examples is the forgiveness of God. Although the following passage does not use the word forgive, it describes the concept of God’s forgiveness perfectly: Psalm 103:8 –12: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” It is important to note that forgiveness operates in the realm of sin. In the majority of the passages in the Bible that contain the word forgive or forgiveness, sin is mentioned. The following are typical examples: (Matthew 12:31 ) “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Luke 5:20 ) “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” For a person to find true forgiveness, he or she must admit the sin. This is called confession. If a person tries to pass off sin as a mere mistake, human failing, or temporary lapse of judgment; or if he or she simply denies the sin altogether, it is a barrier to forgiveness. (1 John 1:8 –10) “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
God forgives sin, yet this does not mean that He simply “looks the other way” or “sweeps it under the rug.” The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23 ), and that penalty must be paid. In the Old Testament, God allowed for a sacrificial animal to take the place of the sinner.
(Leviticus 5:15 –16) says, “When anyone is unfaithful to the Lord by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord’s holy things, they are to bring to the
Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering. They must make restitution for what they have failed to do in regard to the holy things, pay an additional penalty of a fifth of its value and give it all to the priest. The priest will make atonement for them with the ram as a guilt offering, and they will be forgiven.”
The writer of Hebrews observes, “The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22 ). However, the blood of sacrificial animals did not actually pay for sin. It simply postponed the judgment until a better sacrifice could be offered to pay the full penalty of sin and make forgiveness possible. Hebrews 10 explains this in depth, but the following excerpts from that chapter outline the flow of the argument: “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:1 –4)
“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:11 –12) “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. (Hebrews 10:16 –18) In order for God to forgive us, Jesus gave Himself as the sacrifice for sin. Jesus alluded to that sacrifice at the Last Supper when He told His disciples, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28 ). After the resurrection, the apostles carried the message of forgiveness through Jesus Christ throughout the world, preaching to both Jews and Gentiles: “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43 ) Portions Excerpted from gotquestions.org
- Share a brief testimony of when you came to know Christ as your personal Savior. (3 minutes max)
- How faithful are you at carrying the message of forgiveness to others? Share the last time you shared the Gospel with someone, not talked about God, but actually shared the Gospel. (3 minutes max)
Prayer of commitment: Father, thank You for forgiving me. I pray that You would give me boldness that to share this forgiveness with others. I ask that You would place someone in my path this week that I could share the Gospel with. Amen.