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The New Year's Day of the Soul (3 of 5)
Sermon Series: Easter
A.B. Simpson once said, "Easter is the New Year's Day of the soul." Yet, for most people Easter is a day just like any other day. Even though most Americans recognize Easter is the day that Christians celebrate Christ's resurrection, it has little bearing on their lives. Quite honestly, for most people inside and outside the church, Easter lacks significance and power. There is a reason for this: We are blocking the power flow of Christ's resurrection in our lives. But this doesn't have to be the case. Although March is nearly over, today, on Easter Sunday, you can experience the New Year's Day of the soul.
Look with me at Matthew 18:21-35. This passage is sandwiched between Jesus' teaching on church discipline (18:15-20) and divorce and remarriage (19:1-12). Both are controversial issues that involve forgiveness. In these 15 verses, we will learn that if we want to stop blocking the power flow of Christ's resurrection, we must forgive. Why is this so important? Because you have been forgiven far more than you will ever forgive. In our passage, we will find three exhortations that will encourage us to forgive and hence model the power of Christ's resurrection in our lives.
1. Grant unlimited forgiveness (18:21-22). In 18:21, Matthew records a dialogue between Peter and Jesus: "Then Peter came and said to Him [Jesus], 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'" Notice that Peter made the assumption that he should forgive. Peter had been around Jesus long enough to know that forgiveness was at the heart of His teaching. For Peter, the issue was how many times he was required to forgive. Among the Jewish rabbis, there was a consensus that a brother might be forgiven for a repeated sin three times, but not four. No doubt, Peter thought he was showing great love and generosity when he offered to forgive up to seven ti ...
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