2017-11-02 / Milestones

Forgiveness is key

By Dave Gunderson

Dave Gunderson Dave Gunderson This year marks an important anniversary.

Do you know what happened 500 years ago on Oct. 31? You guessed it — Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

What’s the big deal with that?

The biblical truth that we are justified by God as a gift of His grace through faith in Jesus Christ was reclaimed. Wow, that sounds pretty theological. It certainly is.

But there is a problem. Many people today get the wrong idea when they hear the word “justify.” Most people think it means we try to justify our actions. Or that a person feels self-justified when they may still be in the wrong.

Jesus told a story that sheds light on this issue. In Luke 18, He spoke about two men who prayed at the temple.

One went on and on. He reminded God that he was better than other people — a really good guy. He would fast twice a week, pay his tithe, etc.

The other man was a despicable tax collector. In humility he wouldn’t even look up to heaven but bowed his head. He simply prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!”

Jesus said, this second man “went down to his house justified, rather than the other.” The first man tried to justify himself before God. Self-justification did not work for him. For that matter, it doesn’t work for anyone. The second man asked for forgiveness and received it.

This is the true nature of justification. The real issue to consider: who justified whom? Do we justify ourselves? Or, do we seek God’s forgiveness?

Dave Gunderson is pastor of the Ponderosa Basin Chapel and can be reached at pchapel@sti.net.

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