Forgiven

officers_at_court_martial_ca_1835

A soldier, whose regiment lay in a garrisoned town of Old England…

…was about to be brought before his commanding officer for some offence. He was an old offender, and had been punished time after time, yet without effect.

“Here he is again,” said the officer, on his name being mentioned; “everything—flogging, disgrace, and imprisonment—has been tried with him.”

Whereupon the sergeant stepped forward, and, apologizing for the liberty he took, said, “There is one thing which has never been done with him yet, sir.”

“What is that?” was the answer.

“Well, sir,” said the sergeant, “he has never been forgiven.”

“Forgiven!” exclaimed the colonel, surprised at the suggestion. He reflected for a few minutes, ordered the culprit to be brought in, and asked him what he had to say to the charges against him.

“Nothing, sir,” was his reply; “only I am sorry for what I have done.”

Turning a kind and pitiful look on the man who expected nothing else than that his punishment would be increased with the repetition of his offence, the colonel addressed him, saying, “Well, we have resolved to forgive you.” The soldier was struck dumb with astonishment; the tears started in his eyes, and he wept like a child. He was humbled to the dust, he thanked his officer, and retired.

Do you think that he left to be the old reprobate, and incorrigible man that he had been? No!  He became another man from that day forward. He who told me this story had him for years under his command, and a better conducted man never wore the Queen’s colors. For here was a man that kindness had bent, but one whom harshness could not break. This man had been conquered by mercy, and, completely forgiven.  Ever afterwards this soldier feared to offend in even the smallest thing.

Is that not the way it is with the Christian? His heart is twisted towards hell. His mind is at war with God, and hates all things God-like.  Then a change happens. Is it because that one morning he wakes up and decides to turn over a new leaf?  Not at all, it is because one morning he wakes up and finds that he is an awful sinner, that he is completely destitute of an excuse. That he is without hope for a pardon, and that there is nothing that he can do to save himself.

Then God appears, and forgives this destitute sinner.  To say that he did anything, or earned any part of the forgiveness that he received, is ludicrous.  For this new Christian to claim that God owed him this grace, would be the thought farthest from his mind.  So what changed him?  I will tell you what, it was the forgiving and cleansing grace of God.

How did it come about? I am glad you asked.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

5 Marks of a Forgiven Soul

by J. C. Ryle

There is a clause near the end of the Apostle’s Creed, which, I fear, is often repeated without thought or consideration…

I refer to the clause which contains these words,

“I believe in the Forgiveness of sins.”

Thousands, I am afraid, never reflect what those words mean. I propose to examine the subject of them in the following statements, and I invite the attention of all who care for their souls. Do we believe in the “Resurrection of our bodies”? Then let us see to it that we know something by experience of the “Forgiveness of our sins.” I lay these things before every reader and I believe these five marks will generally be found more or less in all forgiven souls.

1st Mark:  Forgiven Souls Hate Sin.

32501_all_014_01-RepentenceThey can enter most fully into the words of our Communion Service, “The remembrance of sin is grievous unto them, and the burden of it is intolerable.” It is the serpent which bit them—how should they not shrink from it with horror? It is the poison which brought them to the brink of eternal death—how should they not loathe it with a godly disgust? It is the Egyptian enemy which kept them in hard bondage—how should not the very memory of it be bitter to their hearts? It is the disease of which they carry the marks and scars about them, and from which they have scarcely recovered—well may they dread it, flee from it, and long to be delivered altogether from its power! If you and sin are friends, you and God are not yet reconciled. You are not fit for heaven; for one main part of heaven’s excellence is the absence of all sin.

2nd Mark:  Forgiven Souls Love Christ.

images (6)This is that one thing they can say, if they dare say nothing else—they do love Christ. His person, His offices, His work, His name, His cross, His blood, His words, His example, His ordinances—all, all are precious to forgiven souls. The ministry which exalts Him most, is that which they enjoy most. The books which are most full of Him, are most pleasant to their minds. The people on earth they feel most drawn to, are those in whom they see something of Christ. He is their Redeemer, their Shepherd, their Physician, their King, their strong Deliverer, their gracious Guide, their hope, their joy, their All. Were it not for Him they would be of all people most miserable.

3rd Mark:  Forgiven Souls Are Humble.

imagesCA3SAWYPThey cannot forget that they owe all they have and hope for to free grace, and this keeps them lowly. They are brands plucked from the fire—debtors who could not pay for themselves—captives who must have remained in prison forever—but for undeserved mercy—wandering sheep who were ready to perish when the Shepherd found them! What right then have they to be proud? I do not deny that there are proud saints. But this I do say—they are of all God’s creatures the most inconsistent, and of all God’s children the most likely to stumble and pierce themselves with many sorrows. We have nothing we can call our own–but sin and weakness. Surely there is no garment that befits us so well, as humility.

4th Mark:  Forgiven Souls Are Holy.

seekTheir chief desire is to please Him who has saved them, to do His will, to glorify Him in body and in Spirit, which are His. “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits?” (Ps. 116:12), is a leading principle in a pardoned heart. It was the remembrance of Jesus showing mercy that made Paul in labors so abundant, and in doing good so unwearied. If anyone points out to me believers who are in a carnal, slothful state of soul, I reply in the words of Peter, “They have forgotten they were purged from their old sins.” (2 Pet. 1:9.) But if you show me a man deliberately living an unholy and licentious life, and yet boasting that his sins are forgiven, I answer, “He is under a ruinous delusion, and is not forgiven at all.” I would not believe he is forgiven if an angel from heaven affirmed it, and I charge you not to believe it too. Pardon of sin and love of sin are like oil and water—they will never go together. All who are washed in the blood of Christ, are also sanctified by the Spirit of Christ.

5th Mark:  Forgiven Souls Are Forgiving.

88E8607FD81A402DA620AE599CA5189AThey do as they have been done by. They look over the offenses of their brethren. They endeavor to “walk in love, as Christ loved them, and gave Himself for them.” (Eph. 5:2.) They remember how God for Christ’s sake forgave them, and endeavor to do the same towards their fellow-creatures. Has He forgiven them pounds, and shall they not forgive a few pence? Doubtless in this, as in everything else, they come short—but this is their desire and their aim. A spiteful, quarrelsome Christian is a scandal to his profession. Forgiveness is the way by which every saved soul enters heaven. Forgiveness is the eternal subject of song with all the redeemed who inhabit heaven. Surely an unforgiving soul in heaven would find his heart completely out of tune. Surely we know nothing of Christ’s love to us but the name of it, if we do not love our brethren.

jc-ryleMeet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  John Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool. Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836.  The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before choosing a path of ordained ministry. While hearing Ephesians 2 read in church in 1838, he felt a spiritual awakening and was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish priest, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical writings.

Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. He was a writer, pastor and an evangelical preacher. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856–69), Principles for Churchmen (1884). Ryle was described as having a commanding presence and vigorous in advocating his principles albeit with a warm disposition. He was also credited with having success in evangelizing the blue collar community. His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle also a clergyman, became Dean of Westminster.

Excerpts from Wikipedia