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These thoughts from our friend Nick in an email tonight:

What an incredible time of year to be able to take stock and marvel at God’s great work for us, in sending Jesus to take the just punishment for our sins, and raising Him mightily as Lord and Ruler of all. I was reminded today of the twin aspects of the Cross. In the same act we see both God’s greatest outworking of His love for us, and His clearest verdict concerning our sin. It has been said that ‘before we can see the Cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).’ We first need to acknowledge that it is our sin driving the nails in, before we can glory in Christ’s great work of salvation.

God’s sovereign work in the Cross of Christ is expressed well by Octavius Winslow – ‘Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money, not Pilate for fear, not the Jews for envy, but the Father, for love!’

May the message of the Cross and the Resurrection reach new ears this Easter weekend.

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I’ve been encouraging people to listen to Peter Brain’s Summer School 2010 talks which are on Romans chapter 8.

– No Condemnation (no guilt anymore…who’d not want that?)

– Led by the Spirit

– Freedom in Frustration

-More than Conquerors

Enjoy!

We all know the relief of being forgiven by someone we have wronged, and the trials and burdens of bearing a grudge because we refuse to ask forgiveness, or experience the sadness when our request for forgiveness is rejected.

[A note from me: There are two purposes for these summaries. Primarily, for my own benefit; I always get more when I revise. Secondly, I wanted to give a taste so that others would be inspired to download and dig further. I feel I am failing in the second objective. I want to keep my blog posts short, but as there is so much wonderful stuff in the originals, my summaries appear superficial and dull. Please see this as a weakness of my presentation, rather than a lack in the talks themselves. They are both encouraging and meaty! So off I go:]

Forgiveness begins in the heart of God and once accepted by us (by repenting and receiving Christ) it must be repeated in our relationships (strength is given by the Holy Spirit). Peter then goes on to show systematically how forgiveness ties in with other themes in the bible.

The Lord’s prayer teaches us to say: “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” We can ask for pardon! Yet, it is challenging, since we must also forgive those who have wronged us. This challenge is further amplified by Jesus in Matthew 6:14-15, “for if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Forgiveness has a vertical and horizontal dimension; both are vital. The latter, forgiving others, brings its own blessings but not to the same extent that forgiveness from God can bring.

All sin is against God: – against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (51:4). When David wrote this he was not implying that he had not sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, his other wives, their children and the nation. He had, and although forgiven, his family and nation never recovered. But he had to come clean, he had to throw himself upon God’s mercy first and foremost.

Knowing this is life transforming for us: we experience His merciful hand in the future (hence 51:9-12), God hears our prayer (Psalm 66:18), we can deal with guilt (Hebrews 10:19-24), we can avoid both self-righteousness and despair [I say ‘Hallelujah’, God has proved this in my life…guilt just makes you either pretend you are together, or just lose heart and spiral into hopelessness. Forgiveness brings hope.]

Listed are some wonderful metaphors for our cleansed lives. See: Psalm 32:1-2, Psalm 103:12, Isaiah 1:18, Micah 7:19, Acts 3:19-20, Romans 5:1

Our response to God’s forgiveness is to forgive others. This challenge is memorably etched in our minds by the parable of the merciful servant in 18:22-35. Forgiveness, like thanksgiving, is a command not an optional extra for Christians.

The art of forgiving is nurtured as we obey Jesus and pray for our enemies. Quote: It is psychologically impossible to hate the people we are praying for.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 The notes include wonderful teaching on the purpose of the Ephesian verses, the benefits to ourselves and our fellowships and families, the effects of unresolved anger and strategies to overcome bitterness.

Forgiveness received from God is liberating, and from others, life-giving. Its display is stunning. We are given boundless opportunities to emulate God’s mercy thereby proving our own forgiveness in Christ and giving others an earthly glimpse of Divine grace.

Recommended Book: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

All the Summer School summaries in one place

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