We have a timeout chair in our house.
The timeout routine typically goes something like this…
- “Go to time out.”
- Wait prescribed time.
- “Why are you in time out?”
- Explanation and discussion.
- “What do you need to say?”
- “I forgive you.”
- “You may get out of time out.”
Now let me ask you something. What is the good news for our children here?
If you say forgiveness, you’re partially right. It’s definitely a wonderful thing. But forgiveness is only the beginning.
The good news for our children is they can now go and play. Life starts again. Fun returns. Fellowship is renewed. Playtime is sweeter. Forgiveness was foundational, absolutely, but as with any foundation, it’s only the beginning.
The good news of forgiveness grows in the life we find afterwards.
I sometimes hear the Gospel explained strictly in terms of forgiveness. Certainly at it’s core, the gospel is forgiveness through Jesus. I have said as much myself. But forgiveness is only the beginning. The gospel expands exponentially from there.
We often think of the Gospel as freedom from psychological and emotional guilt, and it is. But wow, if we think that’s all it is, we’re missing out!
The Gospel is huge!
We could rattle off scores of benefits that flow out of forgiveness (just look up all the “in Christ/him” benefits listed in the NT some time), but let me briefly give you three big ones I like.
- Adoption. Because we are forgiven, we can enter into a relationship with God. Christ has filled the gulf sin created between God and man. Our shame is gone, but God goes further than that. He welcomes us into his family. He calls us sons and daughters. We are part of his royal family with all the benefits that entails.
- Sending of the Spirit. Because we are forgiven, we enter into a relationship with God too deep for words. He is actually making us new from the inside out. He gives us power and joy and freedom from an inner, indefatigable source.
- Physical Restoration. Because we are forgiven, God is making all things new. He is restoring what once was broken. This includes the earth and our physical bodies. We see in the gospel, in the resurrection in particular, the guarantee of the restoration of all things.
The Gospel is the hope of the world precisely because it is more than forgiveness.
So to the man who lies dying in his bed, we do not declare forgiveness only. We say you are forgiven that you might be restored. God has removed the dividing wall between you and him. That means the blessings are flowing again. That means you need not fear. That means you can rejoice. That means one day he will fix this rotting world. And one day he will restore your broken body. No mere consolation. Restoration! And all of this is declared on the forgiveness of sins found in Christ. So now, because are sins have been removed, God is inviting us back into Eden. He’s inviting us home.
Forgiveness is only the beginning…