PFOA Apostles' Creed: [I believe in] the forgiveness of sins
"Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us" (â€Matthewâ€¬ â€6â€¬:â€12â€¬ NLT). These are the words in the Lord's Prayer, or more accurately, the prayer the Lord taught us. The original words used by Christ would have been in Aramaic, so what we have are translations, whether, in KJV, NIV, NLT as quoted above, or Chinese Union Version, or Akitab (Malay), etc. So we don't have to say it verbatim in any language. However, Jesus placed particular emphasis on this clause when he explained it after the prayer.
Why was this emphasised by Christ, and specifically included in the Apostles Creed? Because the forgiveness of sins is at the heart of the gospel, the purpose for which Christ came to the world as a man. God being righteous and just cannot simply forgive and forget our sins. Sin has consequence, incurring the wrath (anger) of God. There is a penalty, for the "wages of sin is death"; and this debt has to be settled. This debt of spiritual death was fully paid for by Christ who suffered death by crucifixion on the cross. On his body he bore our sins; by his blood we are cleansed. Because Jesus is God the Son, he is infinite and hence his death can settle the debt of every one who repents and receives God's forgiveness - for sins, past, present and future of every believer from history past and into the future until Jesus returns.
Stuart Briscoe helpfully reminds us of the three "R"s for the forgiveness of our sins. (a) Recognise we have sinned and continue to sin. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raised the standard to include attitude and intent. We are constantly bombarded by the world's argument that that makes light of wrong-doing, rejecting God and his absolute standard. (b) Repent of our sin. Even when we have admitted our sin, we prefer to excuse ourselves, because everyone else does it and no-one is hurt. (c) Receive God's forgiveness. Our pride gets in the way, we try to earn forgiveness, instead of humbly receiving it. Three easy steps to remember, but you may find it challenging to practise.
It is Jerry Bridges who surprised me by saying we need to "preach the gospel to ourselves daily". I began to understand what he meant. When I first received Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord, I believed that He died for for my sins, freeing me from the bondage of sin. When I was baptised, I declared publicly that my old self has been buried with Christ, and I've raised into new life with Christ. Yet I realise, and surely you observe it too, that I continue succumb to temptation and fall into sin. Daily, I need to be reminded of the gospel of Jesus Christ - that he came to save sinners, that by his blood I am redeemed from my sin, that "if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts" (â€1 Johnâ€¬ â€1â€¬:â€9-10â€¬ NLT).
We believe in the forgiveness of sins, so let us pray and ask for it daily. And when we come together, in small groups, at prayer meetings, and during congregational worship, should we not also pray for each other in the same way?