Monday, January 02, 2006

Sin, Repentance, and Forgiveness

The question is often asked, "Whom does God forgive?" While this post focuses on this question of whom God forgives, this question leads necessarily to Christ. The next (God willing) will focus on Christ as the answer to the more basic questions about forgiveness.

What does Scripture say on forgiveness and repentance?
There is no place in Scripture that suggests that God forgives the unrepentant, those who persist in rebellion against him. But Scripture does say that God forgives the repentant, even those who had deserved death. The entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 is devoted to this teaching. After a long and thorough teaching, its closing words:
"For I take no pleasue in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!" (Ezekiel 18:32)
John the Baptist taught in the same vein:
preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4)
Jesus began his preaching on the same note when he came out of the wilderness after his baptism:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17)
And again,
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)
Jesus' summary of his message and blessing to the world, recorded at the end of Luke's gospel, showed that this is the continuing message of his church for all times:
repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47)
This same message was taken up at Pentecost by the apostles, as their spokesman Peter proclaimed,
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:38)
Peter, knowing the teachings of God in Ezekiel, knowing the teachings of Jesus, explained it to those who were impatient with waiting for the last day:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
God brings people to repentance in the way he has chosen, which is exalting Christ:
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. (Acts 5:31)
Paul also taught that God's kindness and patience also lead people to repentance (Romans 2:4). Peter wrote again of God's grace, and of the humility of repentance, saying "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (I Peter 5:5). John the apostle also taught the same, that in humility and repentance we hope in God who has decreed forgiveness for those who turn to him:
If we claim we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)
God has promised forgiveness to the humble, the penitent, those who call on him and turn to him.

Conclusion and Continuation
Time and again, Scripture answers that God forgives the repentant; he lifts up the humble, those who turn to him and call on him and admit their sin are promised the goodness of God, who is faithful and just. But the conversation is very much incomplete at this point. Next, God willing, we will look at Christ and our forgiveness.

6 comments:

love said...

Shut up about forgivness. You are NOT forgiven. Stop filling the world with your lie. And don't quote scripture it's not enough to take you to heaven. You are no closer to God than I am. There is a God and Jesus Christ but you know nothing.

Weekend Fisher said...

God's forgiveness is real. God's mercy is real. Someone can have messed up more times than can be counted, can have totally written off their own lives, can imagine themselves beyond forgiveness -- and find that God still forgives. He is trustworthy, or "faithful and just" as they say.

As far as Scripture not getting you to heaven, Jesus said you're right there: Jesus does that.

Take care & God bless

Weekend Fisher said...

LOL, hey "love", charming profile you've got there. Stay tuned after I finish my bit on forgiveness here, a few more posts before I finish up. Next up after this: promiscuity viewed as sexual homelessness. But your profile hints that you're possibly into S&M ... if that's how it is then you can't even really use the "doesn't hurt anybody" defense, ey? The short version of the promiscuity article: it does too hurt people, in particular the people involved in becoming cynical and bitter and giving up hope for anything better, and treating each other like interchangeable parts, dehumanizing themselves.

But I digress. Like I was saying, forgiveness is real.

Take care & God bless

love said...

Fear only fear. Only with God. Not with you.

love said...

I just had an epiphany.

Weekend Fisher said...

You're a couple of days ahead of schedule on that epiphany there. So were you going to say what it was?