Paul's Passing Thoughts

We Forgive the Way Our Father Forgives Who Doesn’t Want to Condemn Anyone

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on December 17, 2015

project-2016-logo-4God doesn’t choose His enemies, he seeks to be reconciled to them.”

We have a severe identity crisis among professing Christians. Who are we and what is our specific relationship to the Father? However, there is one thing we do know that explains why we know little: the Protestant waters we swim in culturally have always been about keeping ourselves saved—not living out our true heritage.

This is why Christians live by illogical truisms. If you pay close attention, discussion and sermons will often be little more than adages strung together to make sentences. The problem with that follows: this will not bring about the righteousness that God desires. The purpose of Christ’s assembly is to create a mature body that impacts the world.

The topic of forgiveness is by no means excluded from the institutional church’s incessant pooling of ignorance leading to decadence of every sort. While stating that we should forgive others “the way we have been forgiven,” something totally different is prescribed. Per the usual with other orthodoxy as well, selected Scripture verses make the case with contradictory verses being the elephants in the room. Moreover, contradictions are trumped by the assumed authority of Protestant academics. How dare thee bring up contradictions and thereby touch God’s anointed? Thou should know that your lack of understanding only makes these deep truths appear to be contradictions!

Here is the normally accepted orthodoxy: he who is without sin throw the first stone; so, if one doesn’t forgive others unconditionally, even without repentance, we are judging ourselves sinless and qualified to judge others. Forgiveness in the church must be the norm and without any conditions. When pressed with biblical contradictions, some will make a defense for “vertical and horizontal forgiveness.” The first being a “forgiveness in the heart,” and the second being “practical forgiveness” IF one repents. The latter is nice when it happens, sort of the icing on the cake, but the former is required lest God not forgive us of our own sin. Again, you can add this to a long list of things that Protestants do to keep themselves saved, ie., forgive under all circumstances or God will not forgive you of “present sin.” This is therefore added to the Protestant Means of Grace which is salvation on the installment plan. This is why this ministry receives vitriolic pushback on this subject, we are spearing one of the sacred Means of Grace.

Presumably, this idea of heart forgiveness comes from Matthew 18:35, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” The problem with this view is the context of Matthew 18 which makes this particular heart forgiveness contingent on repentance. If the offender repents, “you have gained a brother,” ONLY then are we obligated to extend forgiveness and forgive “your brother”… “from your heart.”

Additionally, according to orthodoxy, we forgive others unconditionally because if we don’t, our anger towards the person will turn to bitterness and result in self-destruction. Hence, another popular Protestant adage is, “We don’t forgive others for them, we forgive others for ourselves.” But what is the real framework for forgiveness according to the Bible? If we don’t forgive the other person because they refuse to repent, where do we go from there?

Answer A: We forgive the way God forgives, and it’s contingent upon repentance.

Answer B: If they don’t repent, we do what God does; we seek their repentance for their sake…and ours. We seek to “gain a brother.”

This is exactly what God does. Much could be discussed here about one’s view of God, but let it be said that blank check forgiveness comes from a certain view of God, namely, that it is not God’s will or desire that all people be saved. God does good to His enemies because He wants them to know that it is NOT His desire that they perish. His constant show of goodness towards mankind as set against judgment leads them to repentance. When a professing believer sins against another Christian and refuses to repent, they show themselves as unbelievers. They are now your enemy, and God’s enemy as well. Now listen, this is all based on objective facts, not orthodox opinion.

Herein, we are like God: we now seek the repentance of our enemies. We seek their reconciliation: “be reconciled to God.” This is what God does, and we are to be like Him in the world. God doesn’t choose His enemies, he seeks to be reconciled to them.

Let me pause here and make the case. Romans chapter one clarifies God’s pending wrath against all who defy righteousness. However, let’s also clarify the context of Romans chapters one and two. The mystery of the gospel, as defined by the New Testament, is the joining together of Jews and Gentiles into one body. Jewish attitudes and traditions were mucking that up. The Jews, as God’s chosen people, refused to forgive Gentiles, considered them to be their enemies and the enemies of God as well, and therefore promoted revenge against the Gentiles whenever possible. Jewish tradition promoted “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” The Jewish sages interpreted “neighbor” as someone in good standing with the Jewish community (Luke 10: 25-37). This made the Jews little better than violent sects often found in Islam. But, “God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11).

As we will see, much of this hinges on God’s desire to see ALL people saved, and we should have this desire as well (see the historical account of Jonah). True biblical forgiveness hinges on the idea that God doesn’t predestine people for condemnation. This also answers the question of unresolved anger. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but the subjects of the kingdom of darkness that hell was prepared for. While we may be angry at those who have sinned against us, do we really want to see them suffer in hell for eternity because of what they did to us? In most cases NO, but in fact, they will if they don’t repent. This is not to say that they would go to hell simply for offenses against us, but a lifestyle of unrepentant sin is in view here. Therefore, it is our goal to “gain a brother.” The energy produced by righteous indignation is to be used in “gaining a brother.” This means we “overcome evil with good.” This is what God does, and this is what leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4). God makes it rain and shine upon the just as well as the unjust, and we are to do the same in a manner of speaking. We hold them accountable because unrepentance puts their soul in peril, but we also treat them as we would want to be treated in that situation; we would want to be reminded that we are under judgment by God who does not wish to condemn us. Because God is love, we should be love.

In the final analysis, be angry and don’t sin. Revenge belongs to God, but He desires reconciliation over judgment. All in all, we should only have two kinds of people in our lives: brothers and those we are trying to gain as brothers. Some are our enemies, most aren’t. BUT, we gain them through repentance which comes through showing God’s desire for mercy. Therefore, we do good to them, we pray for them, we bless them, but true fellowship with the Father and the Son that we enjoy only comes through reconciliation and fruits that show repentance accordingly. Those who have truly repented will want to compensate IF possible, and those who have committed crimes against us will be willing to suffer the consequences. I vaguely remember the last words of a condemned criminal before the victim’s family who reportedly became a Christian while on death row. He said he hoped his execution and the fulfilled justice thereof would give the family some relief and closure to what he had done to them. In my book, that is indicative of true repentance.

Putting feet on forgiveness towards those who have repented is fairly simple, and again, the way God forgives. It is a promise to not bring the sin up to former offenders for purposes of condemnation. Likewise, this includes others, and ourselves. Like God, we “will remember their sin no more.” By practicing this, the initial decision to forgive based on repentance/reconciliation is solidified deeply in the heart. This is the true forgiveness in the heart.

Christians have a difficult time understanding true biblical forgiveness because the debate still rages about who God is and what He wants. If man is totally depraved and unable to respond to God’s call to sinners, moral equivalency demands blank check forgiveness. Who are we not to forgive? The only apparent reason that we are forgiven is because God chose us, and also chose His enemies. Who are we not to forgive others whether they repent or not? Whether they repent or not is God’s choice, not ours. After all, it’s God’s choice to have enemies.

But that’s not God. He desires mercy and not sacrifice. Therefore, worship by those who have circumvented reconciliation is a stench before God. In this case, those who chain the temple doors are commended by him.

And this may apply to those who demand forgiveness without reconciliation as well. Remember, by no means can the idea of reconciliation be divorced from repentance, and we dare not offer at the alter without it.

paul

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5 Responses

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  1. Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on December 17, 2015 at 9:03 PM

    “We should have only two people in our lives: brothers, and those we are trying to gain as brothers.” This quotation of yours packs a boat load of truth. I also like the practical ways you explain how to “put feet to your forgiveness.” In this Church age of pithy truisms instead the meat of the Word, very little practical wisdom is taught in the Sunday School classes and from behind the pulpits. It’s a feel good, cotton candy Christianity we are served each week, Thus the false doctrine of blank check forgiveness…it supposedly feels good to forgive the unrepentant. Sin has consequences, repentance creates a right relationship with God and the offended party. But, sin has consequences. That’s justice. Susan D.

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  2. Oasis said, on December 18, 2015 at 3:49 AM

    God may seek to be reconciled to his enemies, but I sure don’t. If that makes me unloving, then so be it.

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    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on December 18, 2015 at 11:42 AM

      Oasis,

      Robin has brought me up to speed in regard to where you might be coming from with this statement based on previous comments/discussion. These posts on forgiveness deal with basic theological principles, not the full spectrum of application in every circumstance. First of all, I believe people searching for a new direction to go with God are left with a lot of baggage that shouldn’t even be in the ballpark. In attacking the basic principle of blank check forgiveness, I have been confronted in regard to propagating the repentance card which is backdoor blank check forgiveness. Nope! Most of the extreme abusers are not believers, and any repentance might be better left between them and God. The victims of extreme cases of abuse are not obligated to fellowship with such people. It may be possible over a long period of time depending on the circumstances, but in regard to rape or pedophilia, probably not realistic. In such cases, the perp would probably show fruits of repentance by staying clear of the victim and respecting the reality of what was done to them.

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    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on December 18, 2015 at 11:57 AM

      …and, I believe the basic principles are being corrected, and we have a long way to go in figuring out the rest. But, a victim finding hope in the “goodness left in the land” would not include chumming up to an abuser. Nor would that be helpful in “dwelling on good” and thereby finding peace. Also, the execution of justice tells the victim that others identify with their pain and anger–this should give some comfort. Justice is critical to any healing. The ABWE missionary kids tried the blank check forgiveness gig for 20 years. Didn’t work. So, they took matters into their own hands and were able to get a measure of justice no thanks to GARB.

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  3. Oasis said, on December 19, 2015 at 4:04 AM

    Thanks for your replies, Paul, and for your patience with me. I understand more clearly now where you stand on this issue, and can say that we are definitely on the same page. It really is refreshing and a huge relief to read this, for various reasons. Five stars and two thumbs up.

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