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Background Considerations:

It might make some sense, in thinking about this lesson, to consult a good dictionary and a good Bible dictionary on terms like: guilt, forgiveness, justification. The latter in particular is a technical term we don’t use much in our everyday world of work and conversation. What are the risks of living with unresolved guilt? What does it demand of God to forgive? Of us?

The Old Testament is overflowing with the vocabulary of grace and forgiveness, terms which deserve further exploration in order to see their richness and redemptive value. Old Testament writers speak of God’s love (ahav, freely given); loyalty (hesed); faithfulness (amunah, firmly established trustworthiness); compassion (raham, which a mother has for a child of her own womb, rehem); mercy (hen, graciousness). They also describe God’s forgiveness with a wide variety of words and metaphors: blotting out; erasing; laundering; lifting and carrying away; covering up, painting over; throwing into the sea; tossing behind God’s back; pushing as far away as the east is from the west.

New Testament writers also speak profoundly of God’s grace (charis, favor without requirements); compassion (splangchna, or visceral feelings for); love (agape); generosity. Forgiveness, as well, is a strong component of God’s activity on our behalf. It is central to the language of God’s grace, especially in the letters of Paul where God’s mercy overrides all offenses if recognized in repentance.

Stories of forgiveness abound in the Bible and elsewhere, which remind us of the significance of this activity on God’s part and ours

Relevant Biblical Passages:

Zechariah 3 cleansing of Joshua, the High Priest
John 1:29 Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away sin
Romans 1-5 justification by faith
Galations 3 justification by faith

Contributions to Study of Assurance:

In the study of assurance and confidence in the salvation made available through Jesus Christ, how important is justification by faith? Is it the most important aspect? What would be more so? Less so? Why?

Lessons for Life:

Guilt seems to play a significant role in most people’s lives, perhaps in ways many do not recognize. How is guilt destructive to personal well being? To the relationships we have with others? Cite some examples.

What accompanies forgiveness? For the forgiver? For the forgiven? Is it too idealistic to expect people to forgive each other for any or all offenses? Is this asking too much in cases of violent abuse or damage? What about God’s willingness to forgive?

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