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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What does it mean to forgive?

What does it mean to forgive? This is the first of several questions that I have, related to the atonement. If I were hear somebody ask this question a month or so ago I would have considered this as one of those "duh" sunday school questions. So what changed my perception of the question? It was my study of the mediator parable of the atonement. The way this parable has been explained to me is as follows, God is the creditor, Christ is the mediator, and I am the debtor. In the parable, does the creditor really forgive the debt? From what I understand, if you forgive a debt, it means that you don't get paid. But in the parable the creditor still gets paid. If God forgives (think of this in terms of sin), why does he still require payment (the atonement)? This doesn't seem to fit my understanding of forgiveness. How can you say that you forgive someone of a debt, but still require payment? So what do you think? What does it mean to forgive?


Jessica said...

The Atonement is not forgiveness, forgiveness is just a small part of the atonement. The creditor doesn't forgive the debt. It is still paid by the mediator. The debtor now owes the mediator.

God does not forgive the debt. Christ does. He paid the debt and now we owe him for the blessings we receive through the atonement.

The parable of the Mediator is almost specifically about the atonement and is not an example of how we should forgive. Forgiveness for us is a little different than the parable. It is is not just writing off a debt.

Robby C said...

Jessica, thanks for your comment. Perhaps the mediator parable was not the best way to get my point across. I still have a couple of questions though. If God does not forgive the debt, but it is Christ that does, Why do I kneel down at night and ask God to forgive me?
I'm also still confused on how forgiveness is not just writing off the debt. When somebody does something to us that offends us, whether it be physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc. it is natural to expect some sort of retribution, ie. the person has incurred a debt and it must be paid. I've always assumed that when I forgive the person that the slate is wiped clean and they don't need to "pay" me back. But if forgiving is not just writing off the debt, should I still expect payment. This seems to be a law of moses idea, an eye for an eye. If someone clunks me on the head with a stick, his debt is that I get to clunk him back. An eye for an eye. Jesus taught a better way. Forgiveness. So now when I forgive, I can't expect to still get to clunk him on the head. I write the debt off and don't collect on my clunkings. I can't see how you can forgive a debt and still expect payment. If it doesn't mean to write of the debt, then I come back to my original question, just what does it mean to forgive?

Dallas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dallas said...

I came across the a great web site. This link takes you to a minister who was born without arms or legs. But this article about 1/2 way down has the hypothetical story about Billy and forgiveness. Hope this helps to understand what forgiveness is.

Okay so this link was too long to take you directly to the article. So go to the website, click on the tab "get inspired." And read the story, "What's good about (Bloody) Good Friday?"

Robby C said...

As I've been pondering about what it means to forgive, I thought about this question. Is repentance required for forgiveness? It seems that when it comes to us and others, we must forgive others even if they don't repent or ask for our forgiveness. What about God? I know the scriptures say that God will forgive who he wants, but it is required that we forgive all men. Aren't we trying to become like God. It just doesn't make sense to me that God would teach us to behave one way while we are learning to become Gods, and then expect us to behave a different way when we do become Gods. When preparing for a game, you don't practice the plays one way, then when the game comes around run the plays a different way. You play how you practice. So what do you think? We are suppose to forgive all even if they don't repent. Does God play the same way? Does he forgive all even if they don't repent?

efrem said...

According to the bible, one must repent to receive forgiveness. That means they must first change their mind or their position which must be followed by their actions to confirm the change is genuine. The problem is how long or how many times should this be done? Well Jesus instructed christians that they must forgive other christians as many times as they ask for it but it must be from a contrite and broken "heart" or Mind which shows evidence of the correcting of the wrong they have done. the key is "christian" which suggests that the person must meet the condition of being called a "christian". Now for "unbelievers" the bible instructs us to forgive them but we dont have to deal with them or allow them the opportunity to violate us again. Jesus told christians to "be as wise as serpents but gentle as doves". We dont have to knowingly allow people to take advantage of us and simply forgive them for hurting us.