#40.

When God's Word is Preached, It is a Message of Forgiveness
Acts 13:38–39 — “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. It's worth reading our text over a few times, and slowly and thoughtfully. The truths it contains are staggering, and they are addressed to you, if you have yet to turn from your sins and rest your whole hope of salvation on Jesus Christ alone. They are addressed to you by way of encouragement if you have done these things. Here are some of the key phrases: "Let it be known to you, brethren". Paul is in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch and has just preached the Gospel. He has talked about the life and ministry of Jesus and how He was the One Who came in fulfillment of the promises of God. John the Baptist pointed to Him as the Messiah. He talked also of His unjust death but then of His triumphant resurrection, again according to the promise of God. Now, in our verses, Paul comes to the stunning conclusion for his brethren - for the Jews meeting in that place. This is something they must know, and something we need to know to. It is this: "Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you". If we knew God better, and understood the magnitude of the offence we have committed against Him more fully, these words would cause us to weep tears of joy and amazement. Forgiveness of sins? Of the sins that quite rightly merited my eternal punishment? Those can be forgiven, cast into the "forgetfulness" of an all-knowing God? They can be blotted out? Though they are scarlet, they can be made as white as snow? Yes, yes and yes again! It is all "yes!" in Christ! "through Him [Jesus] everyone who believes is freed from all things". What do I have to do to be forgiven? What great work must I do to merit such a gift? There is nothing you can do. All you could manage is to add more sin to the offence you have already caused God. If you are to be saved, God must do it, and He must do it all. What we have to do is to believe in Jesus - to trust that His life and death are fully sufficient grounds upon which God can forgive those who appropriate them to themselves by faith. Salvation is free, and it brings freedom. Freedom from the guilt of sin and its condemnation, freedom from the power of sin and its pollution. You will know the Truth, said Jesus, and the Truth will make you free. "You could not be freed from these things through the Law of Moses". The Law demands perfection and our sinful hearts cannot deliver it. So without Christ, the Law points with laser accuracy to our sins and cries out for the just punishment to be applied. We need someone to keep the Law for us, and someone Who can receive its just punishment in our place. Jesus is that person, and this is what He did in His life and death. Can there possibly be a more glorious message that this? How shall we understand those who call themselves believers and yet stay away from a service where the Gospel is preached because it is "not for them"? Have they grown tired of hearing about what Jesus did to set them free? Have they "graduated" in their faith to a point where the work of Jesus no longer seems important to them? Have they minimized their view of their own sin, and therefore also of the work of Jesus for the sinner? Let us be careful of going in that direction and of thinking such things ourselves! Let us not become so familiar with the stupendous facts of the Gospel that they no longer thrill our souls. Let us also make every

effort to be present at every opportunity when forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to us in the faithful preaching of God's Word!

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