Part 8 – The importance of forgiveness
For many Christians the forgiveness of sins has nothing to do with the setting up of God’s Kingdom on the Earth. Instead, they say, our sins are forgiven so our souls get a free ticket to Heaven. To the Jews, however, forgiveness of sins had nothing to do with saving their souls for Heaven.
To them forgiveness of their sins was totally connected to the setting up of God’s Kingdom – because who was God setting up his Kingdom through? It was through them. But Israel had sinned badly and put a halt to God setting up his Kingdom through them. For God, therefore, to continue his work of setting up his Kingdom through Israel, Israel was in desperate need of forgiveness. The future of the entire world now rested on Israel being forgiven.
Which explains why Jesus’ death was such a great victory, because it was through his death that Israel’s sins were forgiven.
But even though the Jews knew that forgiveness of their sins was the key to God’s plan getting back on track through them, they still didn’t connect it to Jesus’ death. We see that in Acts 1:6 – which is now several weeks after Jesus died on the Cross – and the main concern of Jesus’ disciples is: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom in Israel?”
They still didn’t get it, that when Jesus died to forgive their sins, it meant the Kingdom had ALREADY been restored in Israel. That’s what Jesus had died for. That’s what their sins had been forgiven for. His death meant their sins had been forgiven, and that meant they were back on the job God had called them to do, of spreading God’s Kingdom to all nations.
But it took the Holy Spirit to get that into their heads, as we see in Acts 3:17, when Peter acknowledges the Jews’ ignorance in killing Jesus, “BUT,” he adds in verse 18, “this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.”
It was the death of Christ that had flung open all those prophecies about God’s Kingdom being restored for the whole world through Israel. That’s why Christ’s death was such a victory, because the Kingdom promised through Israel had already begun…(concludes tomorrow)