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Archive for August, 2008

Forgiveness (part 12) next to last one

August 31, 2008 Leave a comment

There are 2 types of people in this world: believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and UNbelievers. Both need repentance and forgiveness.

Believers need Fatherly forgiveness from God on a continual basis for sins. Believers must repent and believe in Christ asking God to forgive them.

Unbelievers need judicial forgiveness from God on a first-time, one-time basis for sins. Unbelievers must repent and believe in Christ asking God to forgive them.  

In summation, there are 2 types of forgiveness: (1) Fatherly forgiveness by God toward His children who are believers who will continue to sin in this life but do not lose their salvation or relationship in Christ. This is a part of the process of progressive sanctificaion. (2) Judicial forgiveness which is called justification and is a one-time event contingent upon repentance and faith in Christ.

For both types, forgiveness and repentance always go together. They are inseparable when RECONCILING a relationship between 2 people OR between a person and God the Father. Repentance is a change of mind resulting in a change of actions. Forgiveness is a PROMISE to not bring up the offense again to the offender, to oneself, or to a third party when the offender repents. God does not bring up our offenses with Him as He sees us as righteous and not as “scumbag sinners.” His forgiveness of us is based upon His justice in that we must repent and trust in Christ’s atoning blood on the cross to receive the judicial gift of forgiveness. Again, this is called justification.

Many want to separate the judicial act of granting the gift of forgiveness from repentance, but they go together. In the other type of forgiveness & repentance called sanctification, the two are inseparable, too, in order to help a Christian grow in Christ.

For example, if a professing, Christian husband were continuing to sin by committing adultery with a girlfriend, the Christian wife of that husband is commanded to call the husband to REPENT for his sins and for his own good! If the husband fails to REPENT by failing to listen to her, then she is to follow the steps of Matthew 18:15-20 and take 1 or 2 witnesses, etc. Though she may be ready and willing to FORGIVE her adulterous husband, she can only cultivate a forgiving ATTITUDE in her heart toward him during that process.

In reality, she cannot grant him the gift of forgiveness judicially speaking until he repents first- though she may want to! As a Christian, she should want to forgive (in a sense) when she understands how much Christ has forgiven her of her sins. Though she may have biblical grounds for divorce, IF he repents I always encourage a wife in this position to reconcile with her husband – with increased accountability, of course!

If she does grant forgiveness (a promise to not bring it up again) and he has NOT repented, then the two of them will live in a fantasy world where he will very likely continue to commit adultery. I’ve seen it occur MANY times. She pretends he still loves her and he continues to pretend he loves his wife – all the while living in sin. It is very sad, especially when children are involved.

It is false love on her part as this adulterous husband needs to REPENT to his wife and to God. It is loving to call him to repentance for his own good. His relationship with Christ is hindered and his relationships with others are hindered. It is a mess until he repents. Real love is holding him accountable, calling him to repent, and not “pretending” that all is well when it is not.

Again, IF he repents, I always encourage counselees to give him a second chance just as Christ forgives us and gave us a second chance. God is redemptive and they can be closer as a result.

She has done all she can do IF she goes to him alone (Matt. 18:15) and follows that whole process  in Matthew 18:15-20. The final outcome after telling the church leaders is to treat him as a “Gentile or tax collector” meaning they are to be treated as a lost person simply because they are FAILING to repent. This professing Christian husband is not acting like a believer in Christ so we are to treat him as an unbeliever. She does not pretend that he is a Christian who loves her. That is not true love. He NEEDS to repent. The church’s role in calling him to repent is LOVING. She must wait for him to repent with a forgiving ATTITUDE in her heart toward him. Our goal is for God to work through these circumstances to bring this professing believer to a right relationship with God.

How do we treat unbelievers? As Christians, we must treat unbelievers with compassion. They are lost just as we were lost until the Holy Spirit opened our blind eyes. We are to lovingly share the Gospel of repentance for sins and trusting in the forgiveness of Christ alone for eternal life. We are to continue to share these two, inseparable truths of repentance and forgiveness in the precious Gospel message so that this lost person may come to know Christ.

Our attitude toward the lost must be loving and modeled after Jesus on the cross in Luke 23:34: “Father, (YOU) forgive them for they know NOT what they are doing.” In other words, our prayer must be similar: “Father God, please forgive this lost person just as you forgave me. Call them to repentance just as you called me to repentance in Christ.” Yes, we need to have REAL compassion for this lost soul who needs Christ.

Anything less than calling for someone’s repentance is unloving as repentance in Christ is EXACTLY what a lost person must come to embrace. Anything less than forgiving a repentant person is “spiritual terrorism” and cruelty.

-Mark (I love the balanced Gospel of grace given to us by a Just and Righteous God)

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Forgiveness (part 11) rape/abuse/murder

August 30, 2008 Leave a comment

What about situations like rape, severe abuse, and murder of a child by an unbeliever? How is the offended party who has been raped, abused, or lost a dear loved one to murder supposed to respond if he/she is a Christian?

The answer: like Christ did. IN LOVE.

We’ve got to get past this tempory life. Everything in this life is temporary – except our souls and God’s Word which will live forever. 

Yes, we love our children and never want them to be murdered but if it happens, we are to respond to the offender with LOVE by PRAYING for them, witnessing the Gospel to them, calling them to repentance with God, and demonstrating love to them in every way possible. This is hard core love!

We are NOT excusing the sin or minimizing it because God is Just and will punish sins. He has punished our sins in Christ alone upon the cross and that’s what we want for the offender – not to be punished by the wrath of God in an eternity of hell. To repent to God and to trust in Christ for the remission of sins – Christ Jesus received the justice of God upon the cross as God’s wrath was poured out upon Him – for our good!

Rape is terrible but it is not an unforgivable sin. Abusing a child is horrible but it is not an unforgivable sin. Sexual sins are terrible but not unforgivable. That’s why we at TIL do not like labels like “sex addict” which label someone by their SIN for the rest of their lives! How awful that is!

Some of these situations will NEVER be able to bring reconciliation in the relationship between the offender and the offended. Therefore, the offended party must be compassionate and prayerful like Jesus in Luke 23:34 – “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

Let’s have compassion upon UNBELIEVERS by sharing the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.

-Mark (learning to be eternally-minded like Jesus in Luke 23:34)

Numbers for August 2008!

August 30, 2008 Leave a comment

In just our 4th full month of ministry at only 2 locations for 2 days per week (keep up with all of that if you can), here are our August 2008 numbers for Truth in Love Ministries, Inc.:

74 people were counseled this month in 9 days of biblical counseling

23 of those were brand new to our ministry

13 of those new counselees were referred by their PASTOR

2 NEW TIL biblical counselors volunteered with our ministry this month

50 biblical counselors worked on those 9 days of counseling – 5 per day on average – some of those were obviously repeats but that’s the most cool stat to me!!!!

80 hours of biblical counseling took place

70 counseling slots were offered; only 51 were utilized (we are correcting that problem next month with an “intake” day since most of those “no shows” would have been first time counselees)

19 of the 51 slots were MARRIAGE reconciliations

Demographically, we counseled our first persons in their 60’s and over (age)

Most counselees are in their 30’s (second place tie for people in their 20’s and 40’s)

We worked with children this month, too! We will be increasing our capacity to work with children in the coming months.

Finally, and most importantly, we trained 20 people in biblical counseling. 8 of those will be volunteering with us as we will give them an opportunity to serve Christ in this ministry!!! I can’t wait to produce more biblical counselors for the kingdom of God!

-Mark (wowzers!)

Forgiveness (part 10) repentance

August 30, 2008 Leave a comment

I think we emphasize forgiveness more than we emphasize repentance. I find that more people do not understand the gift of repentance (Rom. 2:4) that God gives us. Repentance is good.

When an offender repents, there is a total change in thinking that leads to a change in acting. The offender’s repentance demonstrates that they are thinking of others more than they are thinking of themselves. It’s the idea that “I was wrong so I am going to pay you restitution because that is the right thing to do in God’s eyes.”

I firmly believe that the church ought to be emphasizing REPENTANCE as much if not more than they do forgiveness!

Think about it: what if people were repenting more in their relationships and saying, “I’m sorry I wronged you. I plan to make it right. Will you forgive me?” What wonderful marriages, families, churches, and frienships we would all have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What was John the Baptist’s primary message? REPENT.

What was Jesus’ first message in Matthew 4:17 is “REPENT for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

-Mark (repent!)

Forgiveness (part 9) – a common error

August 30, 2008 Leave a comment

We do not realize how psychologized we are. By psychologized, I mean how affected we are by the worldly ideas of man. The Bible, rightly interpreted, must be our source of truth.

True or False: Sins are against God alone.

FALSE. We do sin against people. When someone commits murder, they are sinning against that person and the family. When someone steals, they commit that sin against another person by taking their property. When someone commits adultery, they are sinning against their spouse. When a child disobeys a parent, the child is sinning against the parent.

The sin is against those particular people – and all sins are against God, too.

Every sin is ultimately against God but that does not mean each sin is ONLY against God. When David sinned, he said that his sin was “against you and you only” directed toward God. He was meaning that the weight of his sin was so heavy that all he could see was how it offended God in that single moment! You better believe that he knew his conspiracy to murder Uriah and sexual sin with Bathsheeba was sin against them, too!

Our sins are ultimately against the Lord but they are also against people, too. Thus, we are commanded to FORGIVE others who sin against us (Eph. 4:32; Luke 17:3-4). When we are the offender, we cannot say, “I’ve only sinned against God and I’ve asked Him to forgive me” because He requires us to repent to others.

-Mark (learning to forgive others as Christ has forgiven me)

Forgiveness (part 8)

August 30, 2008 Leave a comment

Like in the Old Testament, there are 3 words for forgiveness in the New Testament. These terms suggest that forgiveness is granted based upon human repentance. 

Eph. 4:32 says: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” How did Christ forgive you? He forgave you when you repented for your sins! I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When someone truly repents for his/her sins, then the great news is that there is NO LIMIT to forgiveness according to Matthew 18:20. We are to forgive repentant sinners just as God forgives us LIMITLESSLY in Christ. We are not to withhold forgiveness from a repentant offender no matter how many times we are sinned against and asked for forgiveness!

Repentance and forgiveness go together! They are inseparable! They are essential to reconciliation whether it is reconciliation between God and mankind OR between two people. It is limitless in Christ.

-Mark (reconciled to God only by His grace)

Forgiveness (part 7)

August 29, 2008 Leave a comment

In the Old Testament, there are 3 words for “forgiveness.” Guess what? All 3 are conditional upon repentance!

This makes sense when you remember that Israelites sacrificed animals and shed their blood for the remission of their sins. God is JUST. He must punish sin and disobedience. There is no other way! We all want justice when someone murders our loved one or when someone steals from us!

We all want grace when WE are guilty ourselves. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ – not by our own good deeds of repentance. That’s why repentance apart from Christ is NOT enough! We must repent in Christ and trust in His perfect sacrifice offered for our sins.

Hebrews 9:22 states: “ Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001 (electronic ed.). Good News Publishers: Wheaton.

-Mark (forgiveness in Christ is a sweet delight for me – special thanks to Jason for the reminder of that verse)