Thursday, August 23, 2007

Repentance & Forgiveness

Repentance is God's work -- just as is faith, in the sense that God must grant them to us by His grace, since we do not inherently possess the capacity to repent or believe unto salvation apart from God's gracious work in us. But this does not mean that repentance is not something we ourselves do ... just as with faith, we ourselves must exercize it, put it into practice.

Repentance presupposes faith -- no one can repent toward someone they don't believe exists. Repentance involves turning away from an offense with the intent not to go on repeating it. Faith deals with our thinking, attitudes, and actions toward someone and what that person has done for us. Repentance deals with our thinking, attitudes, and actions towards ourselves in relation to someone else, and what we have done against that person. In faith, I trust in God for salvation through Christ from the penalty of my sins. In repentance, I turn from my sins and self-directed life and submit to God as the only rightful Director of my life.

In regards to our relationship with God, the connection between repentance and forgiveness is no different than the connection between faith and forgiveness. We cannot be forgiven by God without faith in Him, nor can we receive His forgiveness without faith in Him. Likewise we cannot be forgiven by God without repentance toward God, nor can we receive His forgiveness without repentance toward Him. This is not because God is unwilling to forgive us unless we believe and repent; it is simply that forgiveness is not real or complete until it is received by the offender, and the means of receiving it are faith and repentance.

In regards to our relationship with others, the same stands true. If you commit some offense against me, it would be quite impossible for me to forgive you if you did not believe I existed -- not because I would not want to forgive you, but simply because if you didn't believe I existed, you would never ask me for forgiveness. Few rational adults would be repentant and ask Santa to forgive them for not leaving our milk and cookies, because they don't believe in Santa. (Because Santa doesn't exist -- sorry to have to break it to you like that in a public forum, but it is time you knew anyway.)

So, is repentance required for forgiveness? Yes -- but this does not mean that we are to hold back on extending forgiveness until someone repents! The Father stands anxiously awaiting for the prodigal's return, looking for us while we are yet afar off. He holds out forgiveness, desiring to grant it, waiting for it to be accepted. But until it is accepted, there is no forgiveness. Must someone repent before we can forgive them their trespasses against us? Yes, for in order for forgiveness to be complete, it must be received. But if we are standing back, holding on to the offense, unwilling to extend forgiveness unless it is asked for, we have seriously missed the whole point of what forgiveness is all about. Are we anxiously longing to forgive those who have offended, if only they would ask? That, my friends, is a true sign of one who has some understanding of how much they have been forgiven by God.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everybody's Got a Blog

Everyone has a blog. Except me. Well, until now. Now I have one, too. I can stop feeling left out. I can be one of those people who says, "Yeah, I wrote about that on my blog the other day," or "That will make a good post for my blog," or "My blog is all about hushpuppies," etc.

I can't wait for my first response! Will it be interesting? Exciting? Will unknown persons from foreign lands suddenly discover how fascinating, witty, interesting, and entertaining I am? Will I stop asking myself questions now?

So here it is, my first blog entry. I've heard you have to make the first one really good, so folks will want to keep coming back. How'd I do?