Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Forgiveness of Sins

I believe in the forgiveness of sins

This the core of the Gospel- the good news. God has sent His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to give His life for us that we could be forgiven and reconciled to Him. This is what makes it good news. It's not that we're sinners deserving God's wrath. It's not that we're going to hell. That's not good news. Rather it is that while those things would have been true were it not for Christ, now we can be forgiven and restored.

In the Nicene Creed this is broadened to be, "I believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." Baptism is important. It is not merely a ceremony or a sentiment. It is a sacrament. That is to say it is something tangible that God uses to communicate His grace to us. Christ has died and risen again. Whoever believes in Him will receive the forgiveness of sins. Baptism is the means God has provided to complete that transaction.

When our Lord Himself received baptism from John, He blessed the water by His presence. Baptism did not affect Jesus, rather He affected baptism. In doing so He provided for water to be the means by which new birth could take place. Thus He says, Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven (Jn. 3:5).

When we are baptized, we enter into Christ's death and resurrection. It is as if we step out of time for that moment and find ourselves placed into Christ at the moment of His death and resurrection. Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Ro. 6:3,4).

Baptism washes away all sin. We are completely clean, even cleaner than when we were born, for baptism also washes original sin with which we were born. For those who receive baptism later in life, there is the joy of knowing that they are indeed clean. They have been forgiven. What a joy! What peace this brings to our life.

We also believe that infants can receive baptism. That is because our Lord told us to let the little children come to Me and do not forbid them (Mt. 19:14). Baptism of infants is for Christians. It is done with the idea that the parents will raise the child in the Faith so the child will come to personal belief at the appropriate age. In the Scriptures we are told of a number of occasions when entire households were baptized. This would include any children of any age.

But what if we sin after baptism? Is there no hope? There is! Christ has also given us the sacrament of reconciliation. People commonly refer to this as Confession. It is a wonderful time when we go to unburden our souls. The priest serves in the place of Christ who is always ready to grant forgiveness. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 Jn. 1:9).

The Gospel is all about the forgiveness of sins. This is why Christ came. This is what it's all about. Too many people focus on the negative aspects of Christianity. But it's really about something positive. It's about freedom; freedom from sin and freedom to live in holiness as is our call from the creation.

Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest (Mt. 11:28). Wherever you find yourself today, come to Jesus, confess your sins, receive His forgiveness and be made free.

No comments: