THIS IS PASTOR DAN BORGELT’S FIRST MESSAGE AS PASTOR OF KIRKMONT PRESBYTERIAN. He had one prior sermon in December 2014 “Man’s Chief End” delivered on December 14, 2015 for Congregation approval
Pastor Dan’s previous sermons at Riverside Church
405 Riverside Avenue North – Sartell, MN 56377
Go to: http://www.riversideepc.org/index.php?Itemid=131
Then FILTER by Dan Borgelt (The T.U.L.I.P Series was superb… changed it to B.A.C.O.N. 🙂 )
AUDIO – Matthew 18:21-35 I’M DEBT FREE! – Free to Forgive
Pastor Dan – Transcription
“Well Good Morning.” (loud response)
Some of you perhaps have heard of a man named Dave Ramsey–a Christian man who’s nationally known for his personal, financial advice that he gives people… and he specializes in helping people GET OUT OF DEBT… get out from underneath the burden and the weight of financial debt… and the neat thing is he does it according to Biblical principles.
So if you’ve ever listened to Dave Ramsey’s radio station every once in a while he say something like, “OK, next caller”. And then out of nowhere you’ll hear this voice just shout, “I’M DEBT FREE” … it’s someone calling in and shouting and celebrating they have finally accomplished being completely debt free; and Dave Ramsey handles it with total grace and he applauds them, cheers for them, and encourages them for the fact that they have finally gotten out from the burden and weight of financial debt.
This morning I want to talk to you about another kind of debt… one that is even more burdensome that robs our life even more than financial debt… it’s the DEBT THAT IS INCURRED FROM OUR SIN.. and the guilt and the weight that we carry in relationship to God from that.
I’m hoping, my prayer is that somebody will walk out of here today realizing maybe for the first time or like no other time before.. FULLY.. they are “DEBT FREE“.
And if that’s YOU… and you wanna shout it out loud, that’s OK… we might look at you a little weird but you can yell that out as you walk out of here… “I’M DEBT FREE” !!! … that’s our hope and our prayer.
I not only want to talk to you about the idea that we can experience forgiveness, but I also want to challenge you with the idea that FORGIVING PEOPLE FORGIVE. If there’s only 3 words that you’re going to be able to remember from our time together this morning… if you stayed up late last night… or you’re thinking about something that’s going to be happening today and you can only stay with me for another second and remember these three words it’s this:
FORGIVEN PEOPLE FORGIVE
Now we’re going to be challenging you with that side of things as well.. and my prayer for you is that someone will leave here today and they will write a LETTER, they will place a PHONE CALL, they will visit a GRAVESIDE, and they will finally express forgiveness to someone that is long over due… FORGIVEN PEOPLE FORGIVE.
Well, I want to invite you to our passage this morning; turn there with me; if you’ve got a Bible or wanna open up a pew Bible it’s in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 18. If you aren’t comfortable with navigating through a Bible or don’t have one, as always it will be on the screen as well.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
So this whole story begins with this man named Peter who asks Jesus a question. Perhaps everyone in this room knows who Peter is, but we’re never going to assume that type of thing… Peter was one of Jesus’ best friends; Peter was someone who was a disciple of Jesus; he was trying to follow Jesus; he looked up to him and looked to His leadership.. he wanted to follow in His footsteps.
And so he comes to Jesus and asks the question, “How many times do I have to communicate forgiveness to someone?” … and I think the number he throws out seems quite reasonable if you ask me… 7 times.. I mean if I watched anyone of you be wronged by the same person 7 times in a row and you forgave them I’d think, wow.. you’re pretty good at forgiveness. And if I was able to forgive someone 7 times in a row for doing something wrong to me I would think I was pretty good at forgiving.
But the problem of Peter’s question isn’t the number 7, the problem with Peter’ question is that he was trying to create a barrier… a boundary around forgiveness. He’s trying to say, “When does forgiveness come to an end?” When can we stop forgiving someone?” … and the gist of Jesus’ response 70 times 7… well we could say, “maybe it’s 490 times”… so at the 491st time you don’t have to forgive anymore… but that’s not what Jesus meant… right? … what Jesus means is,
THERE ARE NO BOUNDARIES when it comes to forgiveness.
FORGIVEN PEOPLE FORGIVE without any limitation or boundary; they are never free to say you no longer get my forgiveness. That’s a hard teaching… and Jesus knew it would be hard for Peter to grasp.. hard for you and I to grasp; so He begins to tell a parable to help plant this in our hearts and minds; He says this in Matthew 18 verse 23-27
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
So Jesus begins this parable by saying, “the kingdom of heaven is like..”. Anytime we see that expression in the Bible–it’s a confusing one–but it’s incredibly important. What Jesus is doing is giving us a window, an insight into how God operates; he’s saying this is how God’s economy functions. And so if he tells us a parable about how God operates and the first person he introduces is a king, who do you think the king represents? … GOD.
And then he tells us there’s another person, called a ‘servant’ and who do you think that person might represent? YOU and I. And he tells us that the servant is in incredible debt to the master or to the king. And he picks this number that your Bible will tell you translates into MILLIONS OF DOLLARS worth of debt. And what he’s trying to communicate to the audience it that there is no single person out there who could ever repay the debt on their own.
Because of inflation and things like that, today, if Jesus was to tell the parable again to communicate the same thing he’d have to say “TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS”. So that there’s nobody on the planet who could ever read that and say, “I could pay my way out of that”. No one.
And so he uses this large number to help communicate a couple things to us:
The first thing is that yeah… this is a number that we cannot pay back on our own. This isn’t a parable about money, it’s a parable about sin and forgiveness and debt in that regard. This is a number that no single person can pay back on his own.
From time to time I meet some very well intentioned religious people; you’ve probably met them too; maybe you’ve been that person, maybe you ARE that person, who, they feel guilty about the things they’ve done wrong; they wanna please God with their life; and so they try a little bit harder… they try to do some more good things, go to church a little bit more, sign up and volunteer, maybe even start giving a little bit more; they do some nice things for the community and other people in need; and they’ll tackle their sin and they’re trying to stop with the various sins and addictions they have in their lives… and all the while they’re doing all these things that might seem great UNLESS YOU’RE DOING THEM TO PAY OFF YOUR DEBT.
Because if you’re doing them to pay off your debt, the Scripture’s telling us “you don’t stand a chance”.
WE ARE THE PROBLEM… NOT THE SOLUTION
And sadly, often times, the harder we try to pay off our debt we just incur more and more debt. Jesus gives us a number SO LARGE that we have to stop trusting in ourselves. And we immediately need to think, “I need to be rescued; someone is going to have to show mercy and pity and compassion on me if I stand a chance because I can’t get out of this on my own.
You know the other beautiful thing about this high number he gives is because there’s the possible concern that someone might hear this passage and say,
“Oh that’s great, the pastor talked about forgiveness, Jesus talked about forgiveness, the Bible talks about forgiveness… and it was a great passage for many people in the room BUT… I’m not sure they REALLY realize what I’ve done.
Because the things I’ve done are so shameful that I can’t tell my husband, I can’t tell my wife, I can’t tell my children, I can’t tell my Pastor… I can barely, if at all, bring myself to confess them privately to God.
So you can talk about forgiveness all you want but I don’t think that satisfies my condition”.
But the beautiful thing about this high number Jesus uses is that there is no one in this room, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how awful it might be considered by man who can say that the forgiveness God is offering in this passage does not apply to you.
THE DEBT IS GREAT IN THIS PASSAGE.
And then we learn about the character of God. The Scripture tells us this wonderful verse about the character of God in verse 27 the Scripture says,
“The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.”
Notice what he does to his debt… the WHOLE debt is forgiven by the master. A lot of people think that God is someone who is forgiving and what he does is comes along and he REDUCES our debt.. he take away SOME of our debt to the point where if we TRY HARD ENOUGH we’ll be able to pay back the rest. But that’s not what the Scripture tells us. The Scripture tells us that GOD CANCELS THE WHOLE DEBT. He doesn’t refinance the debt, he doesn’t say let’s work something out here, let’s stretch out your payments a bit… we’ll lower the interest rate and you’ll be able to get out of this on your own.`That’s not what he says.
He takes pity on him and he cancels the whole debt–ALL OF HIS SIN IS FORGIVEN–and the Bible tells us this is exactly what happens when we trust in Jesus Christ for our forgiveness; when we stop trusting in ourselves and trust in what Christ has done on the cross… the Bible says this is exactly what happens in our life. Not some of your sin, not just the ones you remember, not just the ones you’ve spoken of… not just the small or light ones… ALL OF THEM, CANCELLED, WASHED AWAY.
And if there is any-one in this room who is carrying around any ounce of burden of sin in their life, it is more than you need to. Let’s not be like this woman in the video who claims to be forgiven by Christ, but cannot let it all go.
Has He taken it all… or has He taken none of it? And if you’re here this morning and you’re not sure you have a relationship with Jesus Christ… or you know you don’t.. maybe this is the only part of the parable you need to hear. This is the most important part for you then… that this is the type of forgiveness that Jesus Christ is offering you to have ALL of your debt cancelled.
But for those of you who are here this morning and you claim God’s forgiveness in your life… then you have to embrace the second part of this parable… which is a challenge… you have to embrace the idea of what Jesus is about to tell us which is:
FORGIVEN PEOPLE FORGIVE
He goes on to say this… in the Scripture in vs 28-35
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Now the language shifts dramatically… it’s no longer a relationship between a servant and a master, it’s no longer the relationship between a person and God; it’s a relationship between a servant and another servant. So that he’s shifted to the idea of our relationship now with other people. And that’s not the only thing that’s changed, the amount of debt that is incurred has drastically changed as well. It was MILLIONS of dollars and now the translation is basically a FEW dollars.
And that is so important for us to realize, the difference between the debt that we owe God and the debt that other people owe us. We’re meant to see the incredible difference that Jesus is pointing out here. We’re meant to see that no matter how much we’ve been wronged in life… (pause)
And church… I know we could fill this room with hours of stories and tears about how you’ve been wronged in life, about how your loved ones have been wronged in life… but we’re being challenged by Jesus to see that no matter how much we been wronged in life, the debt of sin that is incurred from that person is still PENNIES compared to the debt that we’ve been forgiven by God.
And until we grasp that we will always be lousy at forgiving people. Until we embrace the difference between how much God has forgiven us and how much debt other people incur in our life we will always be lousy at forgiveness… because we will always rationalize and think to ourself that THAT person has done something so wrong you are being forced to forgive them in a way that is greater than you have ever been forgiven.
But there is nothing that anyone can do to you or I that would cause us to out-forgive God’s forgiveness in our life.
To illustrate that for you… I’m convinced that the most Holy person who’s ever lived, their debt to God is greater, FAR greater than the most unholy person’s debt to mankind. Let’s fill in the blank there…
The most Holy person.. who do you want to put into that position… your SPOUSE (light laughter)… well, maybe a few of you; some people say Mother Teresa, Billy Graham is mentioned at times. I had the privilege several years ago of seeing Billy Graham speak… right down in Cincinnati at the Bengals Stadium… and I was just so in awe of how God was using him throughout all these years in his life… to bring people to the Lord. I’ve heard about the things he’s done to hold himself accountable… financially, morally and things… so if you don’t mind I’m going to plug him in.. you can plug in whoever else you want…. so…
THE MOST HOLY PERSON (Billy Graham), HIS DEBT TO GOD IS FAR GREATER THAN THE MOST UNHOLY PERSON…
Now who do you want to put in there… hopefully not your spouse (laughter). For me, the candidates for this one is a long list. But a few days ago our family had the opportunity to go to the Air Force Museum… what a wonderful museum btw… side bar… it was just a great experience and we spent a few hours there, and as you know barely scratched the surface… I mean, it was a great thing.
One of the things we walked through though was the story of the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler and the horrific acts that he committed. We moved through them quickly because of our children… we weren’t quite sure how to wrestle with that… but I’m gonna put him in there for the most unholy person if you don’t mind.
So… it goes like this, the illustration,
THE MOST HOLY PERSON (Billy Graham), HIS DEBT TO GOD IS FAR GREATER THAN ADOLF HITLER’S DEBT TO HUMANITY… because it’s not just about what we’ve done or haven’t done… it’s about who the debt is owed to. And we serve a Holy and pure and perfect God… and all of our debt to Him is far greater than any debt that any man has incurred to another person.
And until we grasp that, we will always be lousy at forgiveness. Implied in what Jesus is saying here, and what Jesus is saying here is that your forgiveness should show no limitations of any kind. SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN…. FORGIVEN PEOPLE FORGIVE.
Now look friends, we could have sermon series about what forgiveness is, and try to define it and put some parameters around it… but what’s clear from Scripture… is that whatever forgiveness is (pause), there should be no limitations on it of any kind.
When we refuse to forgive… ultimately we’re revealing our own pride, our own conceitedness aren’t we… we are communicating to the person we’re refusing to forgive that we are such a good person that we have never needed that level of forgiveness in our lives.
And there’s a dangerous reciprocal relation in the Bible when it comes to how we are forgiven by God and the forgiveness we show others.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say ‘if we don’t forgive others we WON’T be forgiven’… I think God’s forgiveness, His plan of whom he will and will not forgive is far more sovereign than any act of ours. But I cannot deny in this passage and in other Scriptures that there’s a reciprocal relationship between God’s forgiveness in our lives and us forgiving other people.
And I think in many ways it’s like some people have said with LOVE… we say things like, “If we love people, then God’s love flows through us… we experience His love more and we give it away to other people and if we’re faithful in loving then we experience more and more of GOD’S LOVE.
Some people have said the same thing about MONEY and TITHING… if you’re faithful with your money then God’s resources flow through you more. But I think the same is true of FORGIVENESS… that if we are truly forgiven and we forgive people as a result we should expect to experience the full height of God’s forgiveness in our lives.
But if we hold back and refuse to forgive other people, we should expect that bottleneck of feeling where we no longer FEEL forgiven and start to feel an increased sense of weight and debt from our own sin because we have not been faithful in forgiving others as God has been faithful in forgiving us.
There’s a story of a pastor who committed a sin… pastors do that (laughter) I don’t know if you knew that or not.
Btw… next week we’re going to start a sermon series on the Book of James so we needed sort of a filler sermon. And I thought to myself what do I want the people of Kirkmont to be really good at? (loud laughter). That’s right… so I thought as a pastor who’s going to make plenty of mistakes let’s get FORGIVENESS down and it’ll make my job a lot easier… so that’s why we’re doing this.
But there’s the story of a pastor who made a really bad mistake, a moral failure and he just felt the weight and the burden of that for years and years and years… and boy had he asked for forgiveness. I mean like some of us know what it’s like to be on our knees and to plead for God’s mercy, for Him to release us from that debt and the burden… and the pastor never felt relief.
And he had this woman in his church who was always saying things like “The Lord said to me…” and then she would finish the sentence. And most of the time he thought that was kinda neat that the Lord spoke to her so much but eventually one time he kinda got aggravated by it and he said, “If the Lord speaks to you so much, then why don’t you go home and ask Him to tell you what I did years ago that I still feel the guilt and weight from?” The woman said, “OK”
She went home and the next time the pastor saw her he kinda confronted her and said, “Well, what did God say… did God speak to you about what I did?” And she said, “Yeah, He did speak to me..” … of course he’s waiting with anticipation… she said, “God told me He doesn’t remember any more” (silence).
Now look… theologically, I’m not up here telling you that I actually think that an omniscient God forgets… but a sovereign and loving God, in ways that are beyond our human capabilities is capable of treating us as if He actually had forgotten… as if it actually had never happened. And my prayer is that someone this morning leaves this room and you are released from the burden and the guilt of a sin that you have carried for too long. “I’m debt free”… that you might know what it’s like to be forgiven in a way where red is turned white and your sin is cast as far as the East is from the West. And that someone in this room will be convinced by the Holy Spirit this morning that there is someone in your life who needs to be forgiven–living or dead. And there’s no reason to wait another day… because FORGIVEN PEOPLE FORGIVE.
Father we thank you for Your WORD; we thank you for the TRUTH of your Scripture and we pray, of course, that it resonates within our hearts as we leave this place; that we would take the truth of this parable that we would first grasp the full measure of your forgiveness in our lives and then by your mercy and grace be able to extend it to others.
Father I pray for this congregation… I pray for this new relationship among the Borgelt family here and Kirkmont Presbyterian Church and we pray for our relationship with the existing members and regular attenders that You would help everyone involved feel loved and welcomed and cared for, and that we would be a Church that excels at giving each other forgiveness. And that it would be a witness and a testimony. It’s so sad Father, as you know that that is the exact opposite of the reputation of the church. And we pray that we would be a witness to this community by our forgiveness not only for one another but to them as well. We invite you as Lord of this Church to guide and direct everything that we do to Your Glory and Honor. Amen.
All Pastor Dan Sermons:
Pastor Dan, Amanda, Caleb, Sophie, Levi