“The Problem of Forgiveness”—Chapter 4

“Forgiveness is the very opposite of anything which can be taken for granted. Nothing is less obvious than forgiveness.”

The question isn’t so much why it would be difficult for God to forgive us, but how it’s possible for him to forgive us at all.

So John Stott writes chapter 4—“The Problem of Forgiveness”—in The Cross of Christ.

To understand the cross, we first need to understand ourselves as we are (sinful, responsible, guilty, lost) and God as he is (holy).

Quotes below from John Stott:

1. The Gravity of Sin

Every sin is a breach of what Jesus called “the first and great commandment,” not just by failing to love God with all our being but by actively refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Creator and Lord.

We have rejected the position of dependence that our createdness inevitably involves and made a bid for independence.

2. Human Moral Responsibility

Are we responsible for our actions any longer? Yes, we are.  “Man never sins purely out of weakness, but always also in the fact that he ‘lets himself go’ in weakness. Even in the dullest sinner there is still a spark of decisions,” indeed of defiant rebellion against God.

3. True and False Guilt

How could anyone imagine that Christianity is about sin rather than about the forgiveness of sin? How could anyone look at the cross and see only the shame of what we did to Christ, rather than the glory of what he did for us?

...Decision making belongs to the essence of our humanness. Sin is not only the attempt to be God; it is also the refusal to be human by shuffling off responsibility for our actions.

4. God’s Holiness and Wrath

God’s holiness exposes sin; his wrath opposes it. So sin cannot approach God, and God cannot tolerate sin.

When we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely “hell-deserving sinners,” then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.

Grasping both the gravity of our sin as well as the majesty of God is how we begin to understand the beauty of the cross.

May we never lose sight of it.

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More from Chapter 4 at Challies

Previous chapter summaries

1 comment:

Barbara H. said...

These are all very instructive and convicting.


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