From John MacArthur

This past Sunday evening I dealt with the Biblical reality that God desires to forgive sinners.  He takes no pleasure in the death of the unregenerate.  His desire is to forgive.

I took as one Biblical support for this truth the writing of the prophet in Ezekiel 33:11a – “Say unto them, as I live saith the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live.’”

An exact quote from my pulpit notes is, "We have no right to develop a theological construct in which God is seen as delighting in, pleasuring in, glorying in the death of the unregenerate."

99% of my congregation was looking at me like a calf at a new gate, joyfully unaware that there are people who actually believe God delights in sending sinners to eternal destruction.

This morning in studying for this Sunday's sermon in Mark 2, I came across a sermon from John MacArthur.  I had actually forgotten that his sermon manuscripts are available at http://www.gty.org/.  It's a great resource for pastors, teachers, and Bible students.  I don't agree with everything John MacArthur has ever said...but then...I don't agree with everything I've ever said either :)

From the introduction to his sermon on Mark 2:1-12, Brother John writes,

But what is man's greatest need? The greatest need of man simply put is to escape the wrath of God poured out on sinners eternally in hell. The greatest need of man is to escape the wrath of God poured out eternally on sinners in hell. Only Christianity, only the Christian gospel offers the benefit that meets that need. Only through the Christian gospel can anyone escape the wrath of God poured out on sinners eternally in hell.

What sends people to hell? You say sin. No. It's not sin alone that sends people to hell. It is unforgiven sin...it is unforgiven sin that sends people to hell. Hell is only occupied by people whose sins have never been and will never be forgiven. Heaven, on the other hand, is occupied by people whose sins have all been forgiven, therefore what causes people to escape the wrath of God in eternal hell is the forgiveness of their sins. That is man's greatest need, to move him from hell to heaven. Christianity alone offers that very benefit, the forgiveness of sins. The greatest need of every soul is divine forgiveness of all sin and the greatest benefit of Christianity then is the provision of that complete forgiveness.

God uniquely presents Himself in Scripture as a God who is willing to forgive, who is eager to forgive, who is by nature compassionate, kind, loving, merciful and seeks to save sinners from His own wrath. This is the message of the Christian gospel. [If] You have been assuming that the Christian church, or the Christian gospel, or the Christian religion has any other message than that, you've been wrong. That is the message. (emphasis mine)

In Acts chapter 13 and verse 38 we read, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you and it is granted to all those who believe.” When you believe the gospel, you receive forgiveness of sins.

In Ephesians chapter 1, that familiar statement in verse 7, “In Him,” that is in Christ, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.” That is the message of Christianity, God will forgive your sins. It is God's desire to forgive your sins. Forgiveness is consistent with His nature. (emphasis mine)

Not just in the New Testament, but in the Old as well. Back in Exodus 34 verses 6 and 7, God introduces Himself...this is God speaking about Himself and He says, “The Lord, the Lord God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness and truth, who keeps loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.” That is God introducing Himself.

What a great word.  Jesus is not only Lord of the Leper but the Savior of the Sinner.  Amen, amen, and amen.