21 September 2017

Total Forgiveness Part 2

RT Kendall was given this message a number of years ago and has preached it all over the world since. He came to the Waterfront Hall in Belfast last year and we have chosen to print extracts from a transcription of that particular talk. Part 1 of the talk was published in the June issue and we continue here with Part 2. If you want to know more about this message it is available in the book written by RT Kendall called, Total Forgiveness.

Transcript

Belfast conference (Part 2)

If I was to ask how many people have forgiven others there would be hands go up all over the room, but I wonder if I could make a proposition? If I were to show you in this message that you haven’t totally forgiven after all, would you then do it? The question is: how do you know you’ve done it? Well, it all comes out in the story of Joseph before his brothers. (Genesis chapters 45 – 50)

Proof No. 1

You don’t tell anybody what they did to you!

Joseph said, ‘Make everyone go out from me’ (chapter 45 v1). ‘So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers.’ Here’s the prime minister speaking through an Egyptian interpreter, wearing Egyptian garb, and present are members of the cabinet, his aids and his eleven brothers. Suddenly Joseph says, “Everyone out, out!” They don’t know why but they all tip-toe out of the room, except the interpreter because he thinks he’s supposed to stay, but Joseph says, “Out!” Now behind closed doors, Joseph begins to speak in Hebrew, his shoulders shake, his lips quiver, he starts to cry as he says, “I’m Joseph, I’m Joseph, is my father still alive?” But his brothers were not able to answer him because they were terrified.

Why did Joseph make everybody leave? It’s because he’s going to persuade them to come and live in Egypt and he wants to make sure that nobody in Egypt ever finds out what they did to him. Joseph knows that he is a hero in Egypt and he wants his brothers to be heroes. He knows that if word leaks out, every Egyptian to a man will hate his brothers, which is what he used to want. There was a time when Joseph wanted everybody to hate them but now it’s a new Joseph. He’s going to protect their reputation; he won’t let anybody know. Total forgiveness – proof number one: you don’t tell anyone what they did if you have totally forgiven them.

There are two exceptions. One, you need to tell one other person for therapeutic reasons. I told Joseph Ton. You tell a friend or a pastor, but only one person. The other exception? I had a lady came to my vestry who told me they had found her rapist and that they wanted her to testify at his trial. I said, “You must!” But she said, “I can’t because you have taught me to totally forgive.” I said, “It’s good that you have forgiven him, but he is a danger to society; you must testify!” She did testify.

But what is the real reason we tell it? Because we can’t bear the thought that anyone would like them anymore, or admire them. So when they have hurt us we want to make sure the world knows what they did, so we tell it. First thing we do is get on the telephone and tell what they did. By the way, what if God were to tell what He knows about you? If your name was to appear on a screen along with everything He knows about you, would you be happy with that? If God told you everything He knew about me there would have to be screens all the way round this auditorium. Guess what? You will never know, because, ‘as far as the east is from the west so far are our transgressions removed from us,’ because the blood of Jesus Christ washes away all sin, and you will never know! But when I tell what you have done to me, when God knows full well what He has forgiven me of, He says, “Woe RT!” You violate a principle; He won’t have it!

Proof No. 2

You don’t let them be afraid of you!

Now these brothers of Joseph are scared to death. They are terrified. This is what he longed for more than anything else, but now that he’s got it, now that it’s been handed to him, he wants none of it. He says to them, “Come close to me.” Perfect love casts out fear. There is no fear in love, and when you love them you don’t want them to be afraid. You see, husbands and wives will play this little game, keep the other afraid, intimidated, in fear. Do you know, any marriage on the rocks can be healed by sun-down tomorrow, if both of you will stop pointing the finger. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Why do we keep records? To prove we’ve paid. So the husband says to the wife, “I will remember that,” and two days later he quotes it back. Your marriage can be healed, if both of you, (don’t wait for the other to do it, just you do it) tear up the record of wrongs. It’s forgotten!

Proof No. 3

You don’t even let them feel guilty!

Joseph said in verse 5:, “I’m your brother, do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here.” He’s setting them free; he doesn’t even want them to feel guilty, whereas we may have said to someone, “Well I forgive you for what you’ve done but I hope you feel bad about it!” Still you’re wanting them to be punished. Joseph is helping them to forgive themselves. He’s setting them free.

When you’ve really forgiven, you don’t go up to them and say, “I forgive you,” because the likely reply will be, “…for what?” You can’t say, “Well, you know,” because most likely they don’t know, and if you say, “You do,” and they say they don’t and you say, “Well you should,” then you’ve got a fight on your hands which is what you really wanted! Whenever you say, “I forgive you,” it’s because you haven’t! The people I had to forgive I never said a word to, ever! The funny thing is we became friends. We never talked about it. I was the one being crippled inwardly by my anger. The only time ever you say, “I forgive you,” is when the other person is begging for it. If you initiate it, then you haven’t forgiven! It’s because you want them to know how hurt you are!

Surely you don’t have to forgive them until they repent first! Where did you get that idea from? You got it from the Mosaic law: it’s titfor- tat. In the Middle East there is no concept of forgiveness; it is always, if we get hurt then you’re going to get hurt. You say you don’t have to forgive them until they repent? That’s the law… it’s tit-for-tat, or…. you can let the Lord Jesus be your role model. I recall Him saying, “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they have done.”

What gets our goat is, they don’t know how hurt we are! It takes minimal grace to forgive them if they are sorry. Even unsaved people will soften a little bit when you are sorry. That’s not a sign of grace! It takes a lot of grace to forgive them when they don’t even know what they have done, or if they do know – they don’t care! There is your opportunity to be like Jesus; there is where you can cross over into the supernatural. Give them a gift they don’t deserve and bless them! Jesus Himself says, “Your reward will be great!” You’ve no idea what is in store for you down the road: power, blessing, anointing and along with it maybe the revival we long for. Don’t be surprised if the people you have to forgive are authority figures, godly people. You’ve heard the poem, ‘Living with the saints above, O that will be glory! Living with the saints below, well that’s another story!’ Don’t wait for them – you get the victory!

Proof No. 4

You let them save face!

That expression is an oriental expression. You protect their self esteem. You cover up for their fragile ego. You give them a way out that almost makes them feel good about it! In Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he says, “Let the other person save face.” In other words, instead of rubbing their noses in it, you just set them free. Listen to Joseph. He says, “God sent me before you. The famine has been in the land 2 years and it’s going to be 5 more.

God sent me before you to keep alive many survivors. It wasn’t you who sent me here – but God!” The very man they intended to kill is saying to them, “You didn’t send me here – God did it!” Can you imagine these brothers looking at each other and saying, “Did I hear him correctly? We didn’t do it? God did it!”

Joseph says, “That’s exactly right. It’s very simple. It was predestined to grandfather Abraham 400 years ago that his seed would be coming up out of Egypt. Somebody had to get here first and God said, ‘Joseph, you go first!’ That’s all it was. I just got here first!”

They can’t believe it. This is too good to be true! The very man they wanted to kill is not only giving them a way out but is telling them this is what God has done. By the way – that’s the Gospel! When you heard the gospel and you said, “That’s too good to be true!” That’s when you heard it! When you are told that God sent His son into the world to die on a cross and that blood satisfied God’s justice: that’s when you heard it.

Here’s 2 theological words for you: expiation and propitiation. Expiation – that’s what the blood does for us – washes away our sins. Propitiation – that’s what the blood does for God – satisfies His justice. Sadly most people don’t care a bit what the atonement does for God; they’re just wondering what’s in it for us. What’s in it for us? Washes away our sins! But we need to know what’s in it for God. That’s the reason you’re saved so as His wrath is satisfied, His justice is completely satisfied so that all you do is transfer the trust that you had in your good works to what Jesus did for you on the cross. You’re saved!

Total forgiveness is where God lets us save face and He gives us a way out. In the case of the gospel, Jesus died.

Proof No. 5

You protect them from their darkest secret!

What was the dark secret of the brothers? That coat of many colours that they dipped in blood and took to old Jacob. They are scared to death that Joseph is going to make them go back and tell dad the truth. Do you know Joseph tells them exactly what to say when they go back to Canaan? He writes the speech word for word. He won’t let them tell old Jacob the truth. He knows they would rather die than have to tell that. We’ve all got skeletons in the cupboard. God does not want to embarrass anybody. He protects you from your darkest secret.

Proof No. 6

Total forgiveness is a life sentence! Possibly the most important point. What that means is – you have to keep doing it! It’s like if your doctor gives you a tablet and says, “You’ve got to take this the rest of your life.” It’s a life sentence! Total forgiveness is a life sentence – you’ve got to keep doing it! 17 years later Jacob died (Genesis 50) and the brothers are scared to death that Joseph has been waiting for the moment the old man dies and then he’s going to throw the book at them! They come to him and they make up a story. They tell him, “Before dad died he told us to tell you to please forgive us” and Joseph starts to cry. He says, “What’s the matter with you men? I told you 17 years ago I forgave you. I forgave you then, I forgive you now.” It still worked. 17 years later he was still forgiving them.

Total forgiveness is something you have to do; not just today but tomorrow, a week from now, 2 weeks from now, 2 years from now – it’s a life sentence! If you say, “I’ve done it once and that’s enough!” then you have got a faulty doctrine of sanctification. You have to keep doing it!

Proof No. 7

Total forgiveness is blessing them! That’s what Joseph did in chapter 50. They were scared to death and he says, “Don’t worry! I bless you and I will bless you. I will look after you.” So when you pray for them, you bless them. I remember coming into the pulpit one Sunday morning at Westminster Chapel and we were singing the great hymn, ‘Praise My Soul the King of Heaven’ and I saw sitting in the back of the auditorium someone who had done irreversible emotional damage to one of our children. I lost it! I could hardly sing. I just mouthed the words. Then it came to reading the Scripture and I read thinking of that person out there! How could they be here? What’s the matter? God entered into a conversation with me. This doesn’t happen to me every day. It seemed like the Lord said to me, “RT, I believe you want to see revival in Westminster Chapel?”

“Yes, Lord,” I replied.

“Which would you rather have: revival or for me to send judgment on that person out there?”

“Revival!” I replied.

“Good. Do you mean that?”

“Yes!”

“Well then, pray for that person!” I said, “I pray for that person.”

“That’s not good enough! Ask me to bless them!”

I said, “Bless them.”

“Say it again and again! Do you mean it?”

“Yes!”

“And what if I do really bless them?”

“Lord, you wouldn’t do that, would you?”

But that’s the point! I had to bless them. To prove I meant it I had to put him on my prayer list the next day and pray for him every day. I have certain people I pray for every day that have hurt me – and I mean it, God bless them! The peace that has come from this is incalculable. The way God has honoured my ministry is beyond anything I ever dreamed of. I know that’s the reason! I know that’s why! Don’t deprive yourself of doing what Jesus said to do. He didn’t even have to promise that your reward will be great – but He did!

RT Kendall