Templeton Project: Discipleship in Matthew and Apologetics VII–Repentance and the Forgiveness of Sins
Check out the latest piece entitled “Discipleship in Matthew and Apologetics VII–Repentance and the Forgiveness of Sins.”
- Grounds for the Project
- The Biblical Foundation – Apology
- Apology in the New Testament II
- Apology in the New Testament III
- With Gentleness and Respect
- Elect Exiles of the Dispersion – the Importance of Identity
- The Present Cultural Environment in America
- Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Push Back’
- Saint Paul’s Civility
- Christ, Culture, and Christians
- Jesus and His Opponents in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew
- The Holy Spirit as Apologist
- On Listening to God and One Another
- Deep Conviction and Commitment
- Questions Unbelievers (especially Atheists) May Ask in Dialogue
- Waning Faith and Yearning Heart
- The Apostle on Mars Hill (Areopagus)
- A Fire, a World of Unrighteousness
- Civil Blood Makes Civil Hands Unclean
- Examples of Uncivil and Civil Speech
- Of Self-Control
- Humor in Dialogue
- Utopian Dreams
- Do we understand each other?
- When We Differ
- Dialogue and Personality
- Of Anger
- Discipleship and Apologetics
- Nurturing Christian Disciples
- Discipleship in Matthew and Apologetics I
- Discipleship in Matthew and Apologetics II–Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves
- Discipleship in Matthew and Apologetics III–Endurance
- Discipleship and Apologetics IV–Family Conflict
- Discipleship in Matthew and Apologetics V–Doing the Will of the Father as Peacemakers
- Discipleship in Matthew and Apologetics XII–“The Tree is Known by Its Fruit”
- Discipleship in Matthew and Apologetics VI–A Sword, Not Peace
The life of a disciple is one grounded in repentance and the forgiveness of sins. It is life in Christ that impels the believer to fulfill the imperatives of discipleship. It is life in Christ that impels the believer to defend the faith when its is challenged and to witness to others so that they too can know the joys of God’s forgiveness.
Jesus tells us that He, the Son of Man, has the authority to forgive sins on earth. One day the Lord encountered a paralytic whom some people brought to Jesus. Instead of pronouncing words of healing, Jesus said, “Take heart, my son: your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9: 2b ESV) The paralytic was healed. Christ addresses these words to every son and daughter of His.
At the very beginning of the Gospel in the narrative regarding both the location and the manner of Jesus’ birth, Joseph decides “to divorce her (Mary) quietly,” because she was found to be pregnant “before they came together.” An angel came to Joseph to announce, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 21 ESV) Jesus’ mission is one of rescue for those dwelling in darkness: ” . . . the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has shined.” (Matthew 5: 16) Then, immediately afterward, Jesus begins His ministry with the announcement, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 5: 17 ESV)
Near the end of the Gospel, where is recorded the Last Supper, Jesus says over the cup, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26: 27b-28 ESV) The forgiveness of sins is granted through the expiatory death of Jesus Christ. While Matthew contains large amounts of teaching material in five discourses, the purpose is to advise disciples on what they are called to do in their discipleship, not an encouragement to an attitude of works righteousness. The foundation of discipleship is the forgiveness of sins granted by Jesus Christ, and by Him alone.
The great irony of the crucifixion is that in not saving Himself, Jesus saves others. The religious leaders revile Christ with words that actually speak the truth, “He saved others ; he cannot save himself.” (Matthew 27: 42a ESV) Jesus will not save Himself so that He can save others. The end of the Gospel returns to the angel’s message to Joseph that the child will save people from their sins. To save the people is Jesus’ mission.
Forgiveness of sins is accompanied by repentance. At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus calls people to repentance in preparation for the coming of the kingdom of God. Participation in the kingdom now means the assurance of forgiveness of sins for those who repent and entrance into heaven.
The life of discipleship is built upon God’s granting of forgiveness. In our apology and witness we wish others, who have not known the mercy and compassion of God, also to participate in the kingdom Christ brings.
Michael G. Tavella
November 14, 2019