Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – July 17th, 2016
Theme: Standing on God’s Promises
Topic: I Will Forgive You
Main Texts: Amos 2:6-12; Jeremiah 32:30-35; 31:31-40
Key Verse: Jeremiah 31:34b – “… I will forgive their sins and I will no longer remember their wrongs. I, the LORD, have spoken.” (NIV)
Last Sunday, our brother Pastor Bankole Olusina ministered to us during the usual Bible Study hour, and continuing into the worship service. The topic “I Will Bless You” was part of our ongoing series “Standing on God’s Promises”. Key points from his ministration include:
- God’s blessings are not so much in material blessings, but in empowerment, and the empowerment is in His words. We transmit blessings to others by our words
- To get the benefit of His blessings – or even of anyone’s blessings, we must value the blessings. Esau was deemed immoral only because he did not value the blessings of his father and was willing to forfeit it just for a meal! Eventually, Isaac’s blessings on Jacob were in his words. We need to place a high value on God’s blessings to experience them.
- Every blessing we seek in life is in Christ Jesus.
- The devil does not have the power we often ascribe to him. His powers are limited to tempting and accusing people, distracting them from knowing the truth, and making them focus on things that inspire worry and fear (the conomy, etc.). Christians need to talk less of the devil!
This Sunday, we will continue the study series with a study of God’s promise “I Will Forgive You”. We note that this is one of God’s promises to the Israelites at a time they were under Babylonian siege before they were eventually taken into captivity. God, through Prophet Jeremiah, made a number promises to be actualised after their captivity. In this study, key learning points should include:
- There was a time of spiritual awakening in Nigeria when there was a much stronger sense of righteousness among Christians (and even many non-Christians) than there is today. However, the country has slid into an apostasy that could be compared to Israel of Jeremiah’s time. This makes these promises of God relevant to today’s Nigeria.
- Christians should face the fact that God punishes apostasy, in the expectation that His children who are so punished would repent, receive forgiveness, and have His blessings restored to them. Blindly claiming God’s pleasant promises without the needed repentance can only lead to frustration.
- While we often grant a guarded forgiveness to repentant friends and associates who betray or hurt us, it is not so when the offender is our child. With our children, we grant festive forgiveness and are exceedingly gladdened by the repentance. This is the way God forgives, and He never even remembers we ever did wrong!
May we, by God’s Spirit, see where we need to repent so we receive God’s forgiveness and be fully restored.
God’s promise “I will forgive you” to the Israelites may seem trivial because we are used to God forgiving us when we sin. But we need to appreciate where the Israelites were coming from, and how far they had walked away from God. Theirs was not a case of an occasional sin such as David’s case with Bathsheba. It was a case of complete apostasy at both personal and national levels. “They even placed their disgusting idols in the Temple built for my worship, and they have defiled it. They have built altars to Baal in Hinnom Valley, to sacrifice their sons and daughters to the god Molech.” (Jeremiah 32:34-35 GNB). Just about everyone – “they, their kings and officials, their priests and prophets, the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem” were involved. The passage we read in Amos shows that the apostasy did not only manifest in their relationship with God, but in the way they treated one another.
1. What are the visible and practical indicators of apostasy in your country which may be likened to Israel’s situation at the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy? God’s commitment to us as His people requires Him to correct us when we go astray. There are times when our straying is more than an occasional falling into sin. but a continuous wallowing in disobedience. Just as a parent would not leave a child that stays disobedient to his devices, God would not leave us to wallow in our sin. He would rather punish us albeit in full readiness to forgive us. Prophet Amos sums up God’s perspective in these words: “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.” (Amos 3:2, NIV). How different this is from our preferred picture of God as One who would never allow any of His children to suffer! However just as our natural parents forgive us when we are truly sorry for our disobedience, God is always ready to forgive us when we repent. The danger however is our failure to recognize the punishment as His corrective measure with a view to our repentance.
2. Give examples of punishments that God could mete out to us His children to steer us to repentance. When someone betrays our trust the way Israel betrayed God, we struggle to forgive, but perhaps with some help from God, we could get to a point where we declare “forgiveness”. However, honesty demands that we admit that the relationship is very rarely ever the same. It tends to be different when our child is the offender. The parental instinct in us gets us excited that our child has repented. We welcome him with open arms and festive feelings as illustrated by the story of the prodigal son. That is the way God forgives us when we repent. It is not the guarded forgiveness we accord a traitor friend; it is the festive forgiveness of a parent. We see this in God’s promise to a repentant Israel. However, forgiveness after repentance needs to be acknowledged and accepted in a positive way. Until we do this, we may continue to live in guilt and see every little challenge as God’s punishment for sins which He has in fact said He no longer remembers.
3. Give illustrations of betrayals and compare what our response to apologies by the betraying person might be if he were a friend and if he were our child.
4. What would you consider to be indicators that God has forgiven us our sins as (a) individuals and (b) a country?
Father, thank You for your promise of forgiveness. We ask that you forgive us our sins as a nation and turn our hearts so we begin to seek to do your will, In Jesus’ name, Amen.