SERVICE SUMMARY: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18 asks. It’s a good question. I wonder if you have ever asked it. God created the universe out of nothing with a word (John 1:1). He split the Red Sea (Exodus 14:22). He brought bread from the sky (Exodus 16:15) and water from a rock (Numbers 20:11).He caused a virgin to conceive a child (Luke 1:31) and gave sight to the blind (Matthew 9:30). He even raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43). But what about forgiveness? Can God just forgive? And if he can, doesn’t that make light of the very real consequences of our actions on those around us? How can God both graciously forgive and yet still treat evil as evil? It is precisely this question that lies at the heart of Christianity. Come this week as we consider it.
If we sin against one another, we are required to forgive one another. We are even warned of dire consequences if we refuse. Why can’t God practice what he preaches and be equally generous?
O Love incomprehensible
That made Thee bleed for me
The Judge of all has suffered death
To set His prisoner free
—Anne Steele, Augustus Montague Toplady
2 Corinthians 3:4-8a; 12-13; 18
4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?
12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that theIsraelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end.
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
The Lord said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3 No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4 So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. 5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 8 And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.
CONFESSION OF SIN– In confession, we admit our faults before a God who loves to forgive. Let’s spend a moment in silence, admitting our faults and confessing the ways we’ve sinned against God.
Lord, hear our sins and have mercy on us. Amen.
SONG TO CONSIDER