The Power Of Forgiveness

Forgiveness brings healing to some of the deepest places in our lives. If you’re in need of forgiveness, or you struggle with forgiving someone else, join me for a message that could heal the hurts you never thought could be healed. (Recorded January 10, 1999)

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Message Notes

Matt 6:9-15

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Luke 23:34

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Mark 11:25

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”


Need forgiveness?

Receiving forgiveness from God

– God can forgive the worst of sins (I Timothy 1:16-17)

– Jesus forgave you while you were still sinning (Romans 5:8)

– Jesus forgave you even when you didn’t know you were sinning (Luke 23:34)

– What can you do to receive God’s forgiveness? (Acts 2:38)

Need to forgive someone?

Offering forgiveness to others

For your sake

– you must forgive if you want God to forgive you as well (Matthew 6:9-15)

– it’s not easy to do, but you can ask for help like the apostles did (Luke 17:3-6)

– God will turn you over to the torturers if you don’t forgive after he has forgiven you (Matthew 18:21-35)

For their sake

– forgiveness is one of the greatest expressions of love (John 3:16, John 15:13)


– to help you receive forgiveness from God and offer forgiveness to others.

Further Reading

Luke 17:3-6

So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

Matt 18:21-35

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”   Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“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 talents 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.

“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.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. 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 you 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 greatly distressed 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 turned 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 from your heart.”


Hi, this is Eric Elder broadcasting from Illinois where it is cold, wintry, and it’s below zero temperature and the snow is a foot high outside. But it is going to be a warm night in here and a warm broadcast for you as well.

Tonight we are going to talk about the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness has an incredible power to melt your heart. It has the power to melt the heart of others. It is really one of the greatest expressions of love that God can show to us and that we can show to others.

If you are in need of forgiveness tonight I just want to encourage you that God can forgive you of whatever you have done. I am going to walk you through how that can happen. If you need to forgive some other people but you are having trouble bringing that forth and really being able to forgive them, I’m going to talk about that a little bit as well. And how God really can encourage you to forgive others and He can increase our faith to help us to forgive others when we may not want to do it. I will give you some of those tips and just some words from the Bible that will help you and I believe that will encourage you to forgive others and receive the forgiveness of God.

Before we start I would just like you to take a look at your Message Notes on your screen. There are some passages there that I would just like you think about and meditate on as we go into this topic of Forgiveness. I believe that it will help you focus your mind and just bring you into what God says about forgiveness and how it can impact your life and how it can free you from some of the things that are hindering you and blocking you.

I am going to play a little bit on the piano while you read those passages from the Bible. Then I will join you back in a few minutes and we will go through the outline and share how God can free us through forgiveness.

Need Forgiveness?

The other day my son came up to me and he was holding something in his hand and he said, “BINGO!” I said, that’s strange that he would have such an expression, what is he talking about. I looked in his hand and there in his hand was a bingo chip from a game that he had. I said, “Wow, that’s funny!” Then I thought about something he said a few weeks earlier and it made me really laugh because I had seen him in the basement. I went down and to see him and he said, “Dadgum!” I said, “What is he talking about?” I had never heard him say that before, we don’t say that and I don’t know why he would say “Dadgum!” And then he holds out his hand and says, “Dad, gum!” He had found some gum and he was coming to tell me. Just thinking of those exclamations that he had reminded me of the Batman shows with the “POW!” and the “WOW!” I thought about in the Bible there are some points that God really emphasizes. They are just exclamation points in the Bible – exclaiming what God wants to says.

One of those is FORGIVENESS! Forgiveness just permeates the Bible and it especially permeates the cross of Jesus Christ. The whole cross, the whole message of the cross, is one big exclamation point with a cross through it that Jesus declares that we are forgiven. By that power and by that Holy Spirit process of receiving that forgiveness from God – we can be so cleansed and so freed up that we can then extend that forgiveness to others. It is a great privilege we have and also a responsibility that we carry.

Let me walk through some passages about forgiveness and if you are need of forgiveness tonight, God really wants to speak to your heart and let you know that forgiveness can be yours. If you need to forgive someone else, I want to encourage you tonight too, that God can increase your faith to forgive others just as Jesus forgave you.

Receiving Forgiveness from God

We are going to walk through those two points starting first with a passage in 1Timothy that talks of this great forgiveness of God. Maybe you feel like you need forgiveness and what you have done has so scarred you and scarred others that you can’t possible be forgiven. I want to tell you that it is a lie from the enemy. Satan is lying to you and he is trying to cloud your mind with those things. I do believe that we do things that are terrible that are hard to imagine that God can forgive them.

But look at what Paul says about how we can be forgiven from even the most terrible of things. This is a passage in 1Timothy 1:15-16

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Here is Paul, a man who went to the extent of murdering someone else, breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Murdering specifically Christians, people who believed in Jesus Christ. He killed such people and he gave approval to killing many people like that. In fact, he was on a mission to kill people when Jesus himself appeared in a vision to Paul. Paul realized what he had done was wrong. He repented of what he had done and it changed his whole life. God forgave him, and it says here, “He felt he was the worst of sinners. But for that very reason he was shown mercy.” So that you and I could have confidence and encouragement that even thought we have done terrible things and we may think we are the worst of sinners – God can still forgive us.

The Bible is full of people who have committed murder, adultery, sexual sins, lying, stealing, etc… and who have been forgiven from such things. They have been redeemed; they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. This is possible only through the power of Jesus Christ. Only through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit as He convicts us of our sins, we repent, turn from our sins, and believe in Him. Believe that we can have eternal life and we can have forgiveness.

You may say, “If Jesus really knew me he wouldn’t forgive me. If He knew what was going on, He wouldn’t have died on the cross for me. He only died for the good people.” Well, Jesus Himself said, “I haven’t come for the righteous, I have come for the sinner.” Jesus went on to say, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, it is the sick.” He said, “I came for the sick. I came for the sinner.” Jesus talked to prostitutes and forgave them. He talked to tax collectors and forgave them of the things that they were stealing. He talked to many people and forgave them of their sins.

In fact, look here at what happened on the cross. In Romans 5, Jesus very much knew what you were going through and He was still willing to die for you. Look at Romans 5:8 it says this,

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

While we were still in our sins, while we were still doing the sinful acts, Christ died for us. He didn’t even wait until we were cleaned up. He died for us while we were still doing it, while we were still involved in it. Sometimes we think that sin those things – but I didn’t realize what I was doing, I was just ignorant of what I was doing. Can Christ forgive those things, even when I didn’t know what was happening? Well, Christ did that from the cross to the people who were killing him. He said this in Luke 23:34

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive the, for they do not know what they are doing.”

He said this to the very people who had put Him up on the cross. He said, “Forgive them God, they don’t know what they are doing.” He said the same for YOU. He said on the cross, “I forgive you.” They didn’t even know what they were doing. Even while they are still sinning, I forgive them. One day, I (Jesus) pray, that they will realize that they will be able to repent and receive this forgiveness.

If you are in that situation and you need that forgiveness, you may be wondering, “So what do I do? How do I get free from this? How do I get that forgiveness that you are talking about?” Well, the people in Acts asked the same thing of Peter after he explained all of these things. The people said, “Brothers, what should we do?” They were cut to the heart. They said, “Wow, I can’t believe I have done these things, what can we do about it?”

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

This is what Peter said, “Repent”, that means turn from your sins. “Be baptized” that means be baptized “for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This is exactly what you are supposed to do, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

That is the whole point of the cross. That is the whole exclamation point that I talked about earlier. That is the whole crux of the gospel. In fact, Christianity is different from every other religion in the whole world because of the cross, because of this forgiveness – not only in concept but also in practice. That is what distinguishes it from Krishna, or from those that follow Mohammed and Islam, or Buddhism.

Buddha never died for my sins. As good as he was, as good a teacher as he was, he had some good ideas, he never died for my sins. He never offered me forgiveness through the shedding of his own blood. The Bible says without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness. Somebody has got to spill some blood. In the Old Testament it was a lamb that had to be sacrificed. When Jesus came He fulfilled that as He was the Lamb of God and He was sacrificed and His blood was shed for us. Buddha never did that.

Mohammed maybe had some good teachings, but he never died for me, he never died for you. Krishna, did he die for you? No. This is a distinguishing factor of the entire Christian message rest on this concept of forgiveness. So it is central to everything we do as a Christian and it is central to what makes this and gives us eternal life. That this debt has been paid and we can now come freely to God.

If you would like to pray with me at the end of the show, I’m going to pray a prayer here as we speak. I will just ask God along with you that He would forgive you of any sins and that you would receive that gift of eternal life and receive the freedom that comes with it.

Need to Forgive Someone?

Now, the second point tonight. Many people have received this forgiveness and you may be watching and saying, “Yes, I have received that forgiveness. But now I am really struggling with forgiving someone who has really hurt me, or a few people that have hurt me. In fact, maybe a whole bunch of people that have hurt you.”

There is a way that you can be free from that as well. I just want to walk through a few passages and if you think it’s hard to forgive other people you are in good company – the apostles thought the same thing. I will take you to a passage there where they said, “Wow, this is impossible for us!”

Forgiveness For your Sake

I want to start first with what is a central concept of Christianity, after we’ve been forgiven, is to forgive others. Remember the words in “The Lord’s Prayer”, you know that it says, “forgive us our trespasses (debts) as we forgive those who have trespassed (debtors) against us.” That means forgive us from our sins as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

Now I got an email from someone this week that said a little four year old was trying to memorize “The Lord’s Prayer” and this is how she came out with it, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from email.” That is something that maybe we understand in the Internet generation, but that is not what the prayer says. It goes on to say, “we are to forgive others as He has forgiven us.” Look with me at this special passage in Matthew 6:9-14

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” For if men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

If you forgive someone else, God will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive someone else, God won’t forgive you of your sins. IT is pretty clear. God wants to forgive you, very much. But unless you are willing to forgive others God cannot forgive you.

Let us look again at how difficult this is because it is not easy to forgive other people and yet it will free you. In Luke 17:3-6 Jesus said this to his disciples

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him. The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

That passage where the apostles say, “Increase our faith!” has to do with someone who has offended you, even many times over. Jesus says, this is possible, and He answers them when they say, “Increase our faith!”

Jesus replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

Now if Jesus can give you the power to raise a mulberry tree and uproot it and throw it into the sea He can give you the power to forgive someone who has hurt you, even if there are terrible hurts.

I can say this because I have seen it in action. I have seen it happen. The apostles are good company for you if you don’t believe it can happen. I just want to encourage you to call out to God and say, “God, I can’t do it! Increase my faith!” God will be faithful, HE WILL INCREASE YOUR FAITH FOR YOU. You will be able to forgive that other person and you will receive that forgiveness and you will be free.

Let’s look at one more passage about the self-freedom you can get. Back in Matthew 18, you can get freedom by forgiving someone but you can also be tortured and tormented if you don’t forgive someone.

There is a story about a man sitting on the edge of the bed and the psychologist came in and said, “Well, what is your problem?” The man said, “This guy really hurt me and I can’t seem to forgive him. I don’t know what to do. I am so angry at him.” The psychologist said, “Well, you will need to forgive him for what he has done.” The man answered, “Well, I can’t. I can’t do it.” The psychologist asked, “Where is that man now?” The man answered, “Well, he’s out there free just running around doing everything that he was always doing.” The psychologist said, “Where are you?” The man answered, “I am here in my bed, stuck here and I can’t do anything or move anywhere. I am so eaten up with it.” The psychologist said, “Well, if you want to free from it you need to forgive him, FOR YOUR OWN SAKE. He’s out there free and you are bound up by it.”

Here is why – in this parable in Matthew 18, called the parable of “The Unmerciful Servant”. This is a good passage to read it is on your screen, for later after the broadcast you can read it. Let me summarize – there was a servant who owed a king a lot of money, 10,000 talents which is equivalent to several million dollars of our money. (Jesus was telling this parable, saying this is a story of what God is like.)

This servant came before the king that he could not in any way pay this back. The king had mercy on him and said, “Not only will I not make you pay it back, but I’m going to cancel it altogether. I won’t throw you in jail. I won’t do anything, you don’t ever have to pay this back.” He cancelled the debt the servant went free.

Then the servant went to another fellow servant, which owed him a few denarii, which is equivalent to a few dollars. He demanded the money from the fellow servant. The fellow servant said he couldn’t pay it back. The first said to the second servant that he was going to throw him in jail and he did that, until he could pay it back.

Well, the king found out about this and he was enraged. He came to the servant and said, “I forgave you of over a million dollars worth of debt and here you held your fellow servant and put him in jail for a few dollars. Because of your unwillingness to forgive that debt, I am going to put you in jail and you will not get out until you have paid back every penny.” In fact, it ends like this,

“In anger his master turned 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 FROM YOUR HEART.”

Jesus said that God would do the same thing to you after you have been forgiven of all the sins that you have ever committed and that Jesus died for. If you are still going to hold some grudge against some fellow brother, some fellow servant here on earth, for some possibly even smaller sin that they have committed against you. You are going to hold that against them – well, then you are going to be turned over to the torturers, turned over to the jailers, to be tortured, is what He says – just like the heavenly Father will treat you. Just like the king treated the servant.

This is a pretty bad punishment – it is not something I would want, something that I would desire. Forgiveness is a good thing and it’s a good thing to give quick forgiveness for someone else. You need to forgive your brother from your heart, is what it says. I will encourage you to do that at the end of the broadcast we will pray about that.

That to me is one of the more self-serving reasons to forgive. It is a good reason to forgive, yet it is for your own self, for your own good.

Forgiveness for Their Sake

Now I want to look at the final thing tonight. That is the reason to forgive for the other person. As I was praying to God about this and listening to what He wanted me to say about the power of forgiveness. I said, “Wow, God, forgiveness is really at the heart of this. Forgiveness is at the crux of everything You are about and everything the Bible says.”

God said, “It’s important Eric, but it’s not the most important thing. What I am about is love. Forgiveness is one of the best ways you can express love to someone else. When My Son died on the cross, that was the best way I could demonstrate to you of how much I love you. That was one of the best ways I could communicate to you my love for you.”

God was telling me that the same thing applies to us. When someone has hurt us, maybe someone we loved very much in the past. If we still love that person, forgiveness is the best way that you can demonstrate love to that person. Forgiveness will melt their heart. Forgiveness will win them over. Forgiveness, when Jesus forgave Paul – when he was murdering Christians – it won Paul over. Paul went on to serve Jesus with his own life. For the rest of his life, he wrote much of this Bible that we have today. Much of the New Testament was written by Paul.

When Jesus forgave Peter when he denied that he even knew Jesus, Peter denied him three times, he said, “I don’t know who you are talking about. I don’t know Jesus.” When Peter realized that Jesus died for him and forgave even for that – Peter turned into one of the greatest evangelist – one of the greatest apostles. On the foundation of Peter the rest of the church was built.

God can really melt people’s hearts by forgiving them. Making them tender and soft in a way that is not possible any other way. You also, have that power, to melt people’s hearts, to win them over. To win them back to God and win them back to what you are trying to do. You do it through the demonstration of forgiveness. This is one of the most selfless ways you can approach forgiveness – the same way that Jesus approached it on the cross. He wasn’t doing it for himself – He had no sins that He needed forgiving from God – He did it for us. He said, “I want to express my love to these people. I want to demonstrate and Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Then He died. This is what we can do.

“Greater love has no one than this than he lays down his life for his friends.”

We need to express our love to others. I need to express it to others. Lana needs to express it to others. You may need to express it to others through this message of forgiveness. There is great power in it and God can free you, free the other person, and we can all live in a much better life. We can also receive forgiveness that will free us from all kinds of things.

I want to pray with you in just a minute for some of these issues of forgiveness. 1) For people who need forgiveness, who don’t feel like they can have it or deserve it; and 2) I want to pray for people who just don’t have the inner strength within them to forgive someone else – I’m going to pray that God will give you that power.

I am going to play a song; I’m not going to sing or anything. I just want you to sit before the Lord and say, “Is there anything that I need to know? Is there anything that you want to speak to me about on this topic of forgiveness? I’m open, I’m ready, I want to hear it.” The song I’m going to play is called “Clear My Mind”. Sometimes we know we are forgiven but we can’t clear our minds of it. God has cleared our name but we need Him to clear our minds as well – and that is what this song is about. I pray that God will clear your mind as I play and that these notes would even bring healing to you.


Let us pray,

Lord, I know that there are people watching and listening who have done some major things wrong. They have messed up Lord. God, I know that because I have really messed up and I have done some major things wrong for which I have deserved death according to Your word. And yet You have forgiven me and freed me. I pray that You would give that same forgiveness and freedom to others as they call on Your name right now –

Just say this after me,

“Jesus, I am so sorry. I have sinned and I know it. I know the penalty for it Lord, I don’t want the penalty. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me so that I could have eternal life, so that I could be forgiven. I pray you would forgive me. I pray that you would help me know what to do next. I pray that you would fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I could live a life of service to you that would bring me joy unending and bring joy to your heart as well God. In Jesus name AMEN.”

I want to pray to for the people that need to forgive others but can’t bring themselves to do it.

Lord, the apostles set the example for us when we can’t imagine even forgiving once, let alone seven times or seventy-seven times. They said, “Increase our faith.” And You promised that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed that we can do it. Not only can we forgive but also we can move a tree. Lord, certainly You can move our hearts within us.

God, by faith, I believe that You will work on people’s hearts, even as they listen to this and read these words later, even if they hear this rebroadcast later. I believe You can melt a heart in an instant Lord and bring a person to a point where they can truly say – from their heart, “Brother I forgive you.”

“Sister I forgive you.” “Dad I forgive you.” “Mom I forgive you.” “My son, I forgive you.” “My wife I forgive you.” “My husband I forgive you.” “My friend I forgive you.” “Fellow believer I forgive you.”

God, You can do this and I pray that You would increase our faith that we can believe it and we can watch the power of forgiveness in action and watch hearts melt before our eyes. God I pray that You would melt our hearts again and anew. Just like that as that same burst of melting happened when You forgave us of our sins Lord. I pray that we would have that same melting. Even though it’s cold outside Lord Your forgiveness can warm our hearts and renew our faith in You and in our fellow man. We pray this all in Jesus name. AMEN.

How to Get in Touch with Us

I would love to talk with you after the broadcast. You can find me on the Internet at – you can also email me We will chat after this broadcast (the live version) in the Chat Room at The Ranch. You can look for it on the Talk to Someone page.

About Our Ministry – Music and Support

Can I also add that some of this music that we are playing on the program we would like to make it available to you in the form of a CD or a tape. We can let you know how you can get a copy of that. We are still in the process of putting that together. If you would like some of that music, just to bring healing to your own hearts. God has said that He uses music to free people and heal people’s minds and hearts and bring joy to their hearts. If you would be interested in receiving some of this music for your own use just to have that at to let God minister to you, just email me at and we will let you know how to do that when it’s available.

Also, these shows are free to you. We do this as a free service to reach out to you and yet they come at a very great cost. Just like Jesus offers his salvation free to us – it doesn’t come without a price. That price as already been paid by Christ, He paid with His life, but it’s free to us.

The same way these programs are brought free to you and we are glad to offer them free to you. Yet it does come to a great cost to us personally as well as to many people who support this ministry, who put these shows on the air and put this website together and help us to do this kind of ministry. It is a new outreach and it’s reaching many people. If you would like to be a part of that would you let us know as well so we can offset some of these costs and continue to bring this to you.

We would just love to have you do that so we can reach out to more people. Again, that is only if God puts it on your heart that it is something you would like to do. Otherwise, this is just our gift to you and we would just love for you to be blessed by this site and blessed by these messages.


Thanks again for coming to The Ranch. I hope you will join me next week when we will be broadcasting another message of hope and faith live from The Ranch.

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