Monday, October 12, 2015
"Everybody wants to be forgiven. It's possible!
But knowing some people,
it's not always probable!"
Scratching the Surface
(A Brief & Incomplete Guide to Existential/Eternal Forgiveness)
Karen McCoy went home to Jesus on June 24, 2015; and a few days before her graduation, she said, “If people won’t forgive, hell with them…and, Pastor Bob, I didn’t say that. Jesus said that!”
He did when He taught us to pray: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
It was the only part of that prayer that He explained: “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others when they sin against you, God will not forgive you.”
Forgiving = forgiven.
Unforgiving = unforgiven.
There is a direct connection between existential forgiveness among us and eternal forgiveness from God.
In other words, grudge-holders are gravediggers; and the only graves that they dig, in the end, are theirs.
I’m reminded of a conversation between John Wesley and an unforgiving man. When Wesley asked the man to forgive someone, he snapped, “It’s no use, Mr. Wesley, You know, sir, I never forgive.” Wesley replied, “I hope you know you will never be forgiven; or else I hope you have never sinned.”
Some startling sentences from Herbert Lockyer’s Everything Jesus Taught come to mind.
He notes, “There is one sin…Jesus said a forgiving God cannot forgive. It is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit…the willful, conscious, and final rejection of the pardon God offers in Christ…God cannot forgive such a soul for such a soul is unable to receive and appreciate forgiveness. It has gone too far ever to return.”
Then he makes the existential/eternal connection: “Jesus emphasized the relationship between the two aspects of forgiveness, namely, God’s forgiveness of man, and man’s forgiveness of man…[see Matthew 6:12, 14-15; cf. 7:1-5; James 2:13]…At the heart of the teaching of Jesus was the insistence that the human who would not forgive the human could never be forgiven by God…Jesus seems to say, ‘How dare you ask God to forgive you when you refuse your forgiveness to a brother?’”
He concludes, “We must do to others as we wish God to do to us; if we refuse to forgive, our own forgiveness is denied.”
Forgiveness occurs when the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual barriers between two people come tumbling down.
Forgiveness means the past no longer influences the present or future.
That’s what God has done for us by grace through faith in Jesus.
We know God has forgiven our past, present, and even future sins by grace through faith in Jesus.
We confess ‘em, pray and labor to repent from ‘em, and experience His full forgiveness now and forever.
Read 1 John 1:5-10.
That same pattern within the practical helps provided by Matthew 18:15-20 provide the path for connecting existential/eternal forgiveness.
Jesus said, “Love each other just as much as I love you…As you do it to/for others, you do it to/for Me.”
It means the people in our lives who are truly sorry and trying to change their behaviors from naughty to nice and bad to good are to be forgiven by us just like God forgives us when we are truly sorry and trying to change our behaviors from sinful to righteous.
I have a friend who likes to say, “We sin. God saves. What a great deal!”
There is an existential/eternal connection to forgiveness.
Blessings and Love!