01 Aug.  2003         
of Jesus  
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

A. Tell me about Christian forgiveness?

My Answer
Please permit me first to present a reservation.  What I have to discuss is not "Christian forgiveness."  

Christian forgiveness is like this:
1. Person "A" offends Person "B" by not repaying a loan when due.

2. Person "B" takes Person "A" to court to force payment.

3. Person "A" pleads for mercy and promises to pay.

4. The court rejects the plea and assigns all of Person "A's" possessions to Person "B" as necessary for payment.

A wealthy friend of Person "A" comes forward and offers to pay.

6. The court approves and Person "B" accepts payment.

7. Person "A" is forgiven by Person "B?"  I don't think so!

In Christian forgiveness, Person "A" is the sinner, Person "B" is God, and the friend is Jesus. There is no forgiveness in this case, or in any case in which the debt is paid.  Therefore, "Christian forgiveness" is no forgiveness, for it posits forgiveness on Jesus having paid the sinners debt at Calvary.

To speak of forgiveness of a paid debt is an oxymoron!

The forgiveness of which Jesus speaks is differently founded.  He told a parable, different from this, to illustrate divine and merciful forgiveness and the fact that it is contingent on the sinner's merciful forgiveness of others:


[23] "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
24] When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents;
25] and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26] So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.'
27] And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
28] But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.'
29] So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.'
30] He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.
31] When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
32] Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me;
33] and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?'
34] And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.
35] So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

Verse 35 explains that this is a story, not about the forgiveness from some lord on the earth, but about the forgiveness, or lack thereof, of the heavenly Father.  Within the Word of Jesus we see it to be solely dependent on the attitude of mercy toward others that gladly extends forgiveness to the penitent.  And so Jesus commands us:


[36] Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
There are two conditions for forgiveness to be extended: 1) one must extend mercy to others under the same or similar circumstances and 2) the offender must be repentant.  Here is another utterance that illustrates the latter:


[3] Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him;
Jesus applies this to offenses from a "brother."  There seems to be no reason within the application of mercy that he would not have us apply the same procedure to anyone.  We must tell the person what has been done and how we feel about it (rebuke him) and (if he repents), forgive. You will see that you are under no obligation to forgive one who, having been advised of the offense, does not repent.  The Father does not forgive us until we repent; he surely does not expect us to do more.  Indeed, forgiveness is not possible in the absence of repentance.

To speak of forgiveness of an unrepented offense is an oxymoron.

However, once the offender has repented, we must forgive, otherwise the Father does not forgive us our offenses.
This is forgiveness according to Jesus that depends solely on mercy towards the offender and repentance towards the offended.
B. How does one who has been wronged and hurt manage the act of Forgiveness?

My Answer

Let us pose an hypothetical but very common circumstance: A husband has been cheating on his wife and she has discovered it quite accidentally.  She confronts the husband, he is adamant, in denial, or unmoved.  She can have no further fellowship or consort with such a person who has shown no repentance.  She cannot forgive him and is foolish to try.

But, in another case, the husband comes to the wife with tears in his eyes and she, totally unsuspecting, stands aghast while he confesses what he has been doing and pleads for her forgiveness. She must forgive him, otherwise her sins will not be forgiven.

How do we manage it?  

We can't do it on our own.  It is foolish to attempt it apart from a prior commitment to the Truth enshrined in the utterances of Jesus.  It is only when we, through that Word, have been born from above that we are able to address such things according to the principles of Jesus.  

While our treasures are all earthly ones and our values consist of temporal things, we are compelled to respond according to the threats we perceive to those values.  We are emotionally attached to our treasures, and so we become emotional when they are threatened or damaged.  This condition begins to end when we take up a cross to follow him, and we learn to treasure things in heaven, the true values according to his counsel:


[21] For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
As the heart goes, so go the emotions!  Even the grievously wounded wife described above can find it in her heart to forgive when her treasure is in heaven, for she knows that her sins will not be forgiven so as to claim those treasures for eternity unless she finds it in her heart and will to forgive.
C.  What if my forgiveness releases one to prey on others?

My Answer
This question is itself an oxymoron, because you cannot forgive the offender who has not repented, and so the offender you forgive will have repented.  An offender who has repented will not go forth to similarly offend others.

Nevertheless, let us consider that someone you have forgiven has lapsed and offended others. Your forgiveness in no case relieves the offender of personal responsibility. It is the offenders responsibility, not yours.

The following is true as to the effect on society when such a person continues to offend others. However, society is another word to express what Jesus meant in speaking of the world.


[14] I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
16] They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
That being the case, we see that this society pertains to another world that rules, and is ruled, by its own set of principles, fully distinct from those of the disciples of Jesus.  The Father has his own way of dealing with the world's wrong doers and we must leave that to Him.  It is not our concern.

There is one accommodation that the child of God can make to the assistance of the world and that is to tell the world that such and such a party has done such a thing.  

Someone has defrauded you?  Sold you an auto -- a lemon -- under false pretenses?  Tell about it so that others will be wary.  But it stops there for the disciples of Jesus.  Love for your neighbor requires it be published. Love for the offender (the enemy) requires that it stop there.

It is not possible that the world -- society -- abide by the principles of the kingdom of God as presented by Jesus.  It is far too great a threat to the things the world values. The treasures of the worldly are not in heaven! Therefore we cannot approach these things as do the children of this world, including the Christians, but must see how Jesus looks on them and then follow his example:


[34] And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
You will recall, I think, that when Jesus offered up this prayer, they were putting him to death!  If he can do this, so can we, but only if we ingest his Living Bread and imbibe his Living Water.

This example of Jesus does not imply that those who crucified him were forgiven by the Father.  We have no evidence that they repented, therefore it was not possible for the Father to forgive them.  When we see what the Father used the Romans to do to their beloved Jerusalem in 70 AD, we know with certainty that they were never forgiven.

Jesus exemplifies from the cross the attitude of forgiveness, which is the desire to forgive, out of love for even ones enemies.  The child of the Father will, like Jesus, be possessing of this attitude of forgiveness, as was Jesus on the cross.  

Peace to you,

Brother Ed

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