Pursuing the Simplicity of the Gospel: Part 1

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Survey of the Simple Gospel of Forgiveness of Sins in Luke's Gospel

There are four key texts in Luke which reveal and explore the simplicity of the gospel's good news of forgiveness of sins.  I will spend the next four posts discovering these texts.

Text One: Luke 5:17-25

Forgiveness of Sins is the Simplest Foundation for Faith

In this text we see the simple gospel revealed in the truth that Jesus alone has the authority to forgive.  That's great news in a world filled with "red tape" to get almost anything done.  Just the other day my wife and I were discussing the need to cancel her gym membership in order to cut expenses and save money.  

The lady in charge of the franchise where my wife attended informed her that cancelling the membership would be a three-fold process.  First, she would have to write a letter stating that she wanted to cancel, as well as why.  Second, she would have to mail that letter certified, in order to make sure the letter actually gets there and is signed for on delivery.  Third, she would have to follow up with a phone call within two or three days of the delivery of that letter, in order to talk with someone about the letter and proceed with the cancellation.  

For me that's WAY too much red-tape for something so simple.  This kind of cultural experience happens regularly for the average first-world citizen, and it makes me, for one, thank the Father that He has made forgiveness of my sins such a simple thing.  All I have to do is ask by faith for it, and then act upon it by believing my sins are forgiven.

When we come to Luke 5, we see that early on in Jesus' ministry He gets in trouble for healing a man who was paralyzed.  Here's the story from the New Living Translation:
17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord's healing power was strongly with Jesus.  18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn't reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus.  20  Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, "Young man, your sins are forgiven."  21  But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, "Who does he think he is?  That's blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!"  22  Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, "Why do you question this in your hearts?  23  Is it easier to say 'Your sins are forgiven,' or 'Stand up and walk'?  24  So I will prove to you that the Son of Man* has the authority on earth to forgive sins." Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!"  25  And immediately, as everyone watched, theman jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26  Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God,exclaiming, "We have seen amazing things today!"
Notice first in this passage that forgiveness of sins is connected with faith.  Faith believes that Jesus can and will do what He came to do, what He said He would do. These friends had heard about the works of Jesus, and had perhaps seen Him do miraculous things before, and acted on what they heard and saw by bringing their sick friend to Him. 

So right off the bat you don't want to miss the simplicity of gospel through the simplicity of faith. Faith is simple. It believes in a simple truth. It simply acts on that simple truth. And simple faith is the doorway to receiving the simplicity of the good news, which is the forgiveness of sins. 

"Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man,
'Young man, your sins are forgiven.'" 

Don't miss the fact that these men came all the way from who knows where to get their friend some help, and Jesus chooses instead to focus on the forgiveness of sins. That's what the young man needed more than he needed to walk. He needed to have his soul healed far more than he needed to have his body healed.

Notice second in the passage that Luke decides to emphasize the portion of the conversation centering on the ability and authority of Jesus Christ to forgive sins. He has the authority to forgive sins because "only God can forgive sins!" as the Pharisees themselves acknowledged. And then Jesus displays His authority to forgive sins through His ability to remove the effects of sin, by healing the man. 

"So I will prove to you that the Son of Man
has the authority to forgive sins." 

This ability is simply mercy and grace. Jesus is the kindest person I've ever met. He's the kindest person you'll ever met. And He demonstrates that kindness in His ability to heal, based on His authority to forgive.

In the next post, we'll discover the second text (Luke 7:36-50), and see that the forgiveness of sins is the simplest foundation for worship.

About the Author: Rob is a entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA, where he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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