One of the things that I often look forward to is the revival season. We have one twice a year here at WMBC. It’s a time of healing, a time of refreshing, a time of growth, a time of reflection, a time of motivation, a time of salvation, a time of introspection, a time of encouragement, and a time of being challenged. It’s perhaps a bit presumptuous to just set a date for revival since revival is a movement of God, but we set the date praying for revival and all of its benefits, leaving the results up to God. He always blesses in some marvelous way.
In terms of preparing for the revival, one of the joys I have is praying through a theme for our revivals. I do a theme for a couple of reasons. One, it gives us a single promotional point to the community around us. In the past, we themed our revivals:
- Erasing Life’s Mistakes
- In Christ, There’s Treasure Beyond Measure
- Satisfaction Guaranteed
- Hope: Find It Here
- Lose Those Chains, and Be Free Indeed
These themes coupled with the promotional material are meant to catch people’s attention and inspire hope. Many times people have shared with us how our promotional material was an encouragement.
Two, a theme gives us a single takeaway idea from the revival. It’s basically the big idea of the week. Not every message will be directly related to the theme, but we stress the theme all week so that we get at least this one point drilled into our heads. That’s always a good thing!
In December, we set our Spring revival date for April 1-6, and since then, I’ve been praying about our theme. What is it specifically that God would have this revival to be about? Given that our Spring revival leads right into Easter, I began, with the Lord’s direction, to focus in on the thought of forgiveness. Jesus Christ lived and died for one purpose, and that was to provide forgiveness for all who will believe on Him. But, forgiveness doesn’t just end with us. We don’t just need forgiveness from God. We need forgiveness from each other. And, as we’ll see in future posts, our forgiveness from God and our forgiving each other are actually tied together.
So, without further adieu, the theme that the Lord has led me to for our 2012 Spring Revival is “Forgiveness: Receive It and Pass It On,” and our theme verse in 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
What I would like to do is spend the rest of my time explaining this theme and in doing so, will basically provide a systematic theology of forgiveness. Please read on because forgiveness both in heaven and on earth is eternally important!
Forgiveness is one of the primary threads in the Bible. In fact, without forgiveness, there is no overarching Bible narrative. Throughout the Scripture, we see that forgiveness is necessary on two levels. The primary level is mankind’s great need to be forgiven by God, which is the “Receive it” part of our theme. The other is mankind’s great need to forgive one another, which is the “Pass it on” part of our theme.
Before we get into the specifics of those two levels, we need to define what forgiveness actually is. Here’s my best shot: forgiveness, whether from God or man, is the release of the sinner from the condemnation, bitterness, and anger his or her sin deserves. An important part of my definition is recognizing that the person’s sin deserves condemnation, bitterness, and anger. Forgiveness doesn’t make light of sin! When we truly forgive, three things happen:
- We acknowledge a wrong has occurred.
- We recognize that the wrong has created an obligation for repayment.
- We choose to release our offender from that obligation and to cover the loss ourselves.
That’s exactly what God did through Jesus Christ and what we should do for one another.
In the next two posts, I’ll break down the two levels.