On Sunday morning we looked at the final statements in the Apostles’ Creed: : ‘I believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting’.

Forgiveness of sins

Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offence, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. Sin is at the heart of all our problems: with each other and with God. Romans 5 clearly demonstrates that our problem goes right back to the fall of man in Genesis 3 but shows us that the one man Jesus Christ makes all the difference. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.” (Eph 1:7-8) The sacrifice of Jesus has purchased salvation for us and with that comes the forgiveness of sins. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:38)

Forgiveness is available to all who believe (Acts 10:43) and brings peace with God, which leads us to serve Him out of reverence (Ps 130:3-4). It brings us hope and joy, but it also places on us a corresponding responsibility to forgive others, as Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer (Matt 6:12, 14-15). The parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18) clearly shows us that there are no limits on our forgiveness: we have to go on forgiving. Col 3:13 connects the dots between Christ’s forgiveness and our own: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Forgiveness brings freedom, but as Paul reminds us in Romans, that’s not a licence to do as we please, but rather to live like God:
“We are free to love like our God has loved;
We are free to give like He gave.
We are free from sin,
We are free to begin to forgive as He forgave
We are free.” (Aaron Shust, ‘We Are Free’)

The resurrection of the body
1 Cor 15 clearly teaches us that just as Christ was raised from the dead, so too we will all be raised. The new body that we will receive is different from the natural body, just as the seed that is sown looks different from the product which grows from it, but we will nonetheless receive an imperishable and immortal body. We wait for this with eager expectation, for we know “the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor 15:51-54) We long for that day!

Everlasting life

God is eternal or everlasting (Deut 32:27, Jer 10:10, Is 26:4), so it’s not surprising He has set eternity in the hearts of man (Eccl 3:11). Not all believe in everlasting life: the British Humanist Society dispute this fact and believe that this life is all there is and when we die, we cease to exist and that’s the end of it. Some religions believe in reincarnation, but Christianity teaches that everlasting life begins when we believe in Jesus (John 3:36, John 5:24) and will continue beyond death (John 6:40, Titus 1:2). Again, this gives us great hope:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:16-18)

We know that Christ “died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (1 Thess 5:9-10) and so we have grace for today and bright hope for tomorrow!