“Father forgive them for they know not what they do” Luke 23:34. Jesus prayed for the elect among his persecutors and killers and as a result they were forgiven and saved (many on Pentecost). Acts 5:31 “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
Who are we to forgive? Are there conditions to forgiveness? Often we hear testimonies of people whose loved ones have been butchered, murdered by Islamists who testify they have forgiven those evil men. But are they commanded to do so? There is no doubt that every believer is to forgive a brother or sister who sins against them and repents. Luke 17:4 “And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Clear examples are the incestuous Corinthian who repented: 2 Corinthians 2:7 “So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.” Paul’s teaching is clear: Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” But remember God’s forgiveness of us is, and was conditional: 1 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.”
What about enemies and unbelievers? Unconditional forgiveness? I say no! Scripture says no! Peter preached to Christ’s killers at Pentecost: Acts 2:38 “ Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Here is another clear example, the hypocrite Simon Magus: Acts 8:22 “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Repentance and confession of sin is mandatory for God’s forgiveness and for human forgiveness, whether it be for a fellow believer or rank enemy and unbeliever. Correct me if I am wrong!
3. The Dignity and Authority of Scripture a. A fundamental truth of the Reformed faith is that Scripture alone has authority over the Church’s faith and life. (1) There is one authority in the Church and over the Church, Jesus Christ. (2) Jesus Christ exercises His authority by His Word, the Scriptures, which are applied to the church by the Holy Spirit. b. By Scripture, all teachings, writings, decisions and demands of men, as well as all our actions, must be judged (cf. II Tim. 3:16,17). (1) Nothing need be believed which Scripture does not teach and nothing may be believed which Scripture contradicts. (2) The sole authority of Scripture is a truth of supreme significance for the Church. To abandon this truth is, principally, to abandon Christ Himself and to choose instead the authority of the words of men, “of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself.”
Taken from THE FAITH AND PRACTICE OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMED CHURCHES
A SUMMARY by
PASTOR STEVEN R. KEY
You can read full pamphlet Here:
A “must hear” message delivered 10 years ago when CPRC building opened. Summarised below:
Power of the Gospel Prof. Herman Hanko
Text: 2 Cor.10:4-5
Having discussed 1) peace with God and 2) peace of conscience. We now look at peace of love and unity–the blessing of the gospel.
We come now to the third kind of peace, which I called a peace of love
and unity. A heavenly grace this is, whereby the minds and hearts of men, chime all in to an harmonious consent and concord among themselves. Thus peace in Scripture is frequently taken, as you may see, Mark 9:50; Heb. 12:14; I Thes.5:13. Only the true gospel knits the hearts and minds of men together in a solid peace and love. This, next the reconciling us to God and ourselves, is especially designed by Christ in the gospel; that is, to make them friends with God and one
another. This is the natural effect of the gospel, where it is powerfully and sincerely embraced—to unite and endear the hearts of men and women in love and peace together, how contrary soever they were before. This is the strange metamorphosis, which the prophet speaks shall be under the gospel. Naturally men hate each other (Titus 3:3) ‘The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,’ (Isaiah 11:6) which may apply in the new heavens and earth where presumably there will be brute creation without predation and death! (JK) But church peace is this blessing to the gospel, that Christ appoints it for the badge e.g.John 13:35. ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’When the gospel was first preached and embraced, what a sweet harmony of peace and admirable oneness of heart was then amongst the holy professors of it, who but a while before were strangers to or bitter enemies one against another! ‘They sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need; and they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their bread with gladness and singleness of heart,’ Acts 2:46. Pagans said, ‘See how they love one another.’
The Believer’s Blessing (2)
“For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance. For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.” Psalm 21:6,7.
” Blessing is upon a man (or woman, or boy or girl) when every word of God over that man flows from God’s everlasting good pleasure unto his eternal glory, from his counsel of salvation. That blessing changes every apparent evil into an eternal good. It is the cause, the reason, that all things work together for good. It is the irresistible operation of God’s grace through every means; through all the way, through every experience, every circumstance, leading inevitably and with absolute certainty unto the joy and the happiness of God’s everlasting tabernacle! God’s blessing is singular, not plural, one, not many. To be sure, there is in that blessing of God a plurality of infinite and manifold riches. But there is only one blessing of God! It cannot be divided into a general and a particular blessing, a common and a special blessing. God is one; his counsel is one; his Word is one; and his blessing is one. Upon they people is thy blessing!”
As we look further into 2020 no matter what, “we know that God’s blessing shall be upon us, his people, in the end. It is upon us now. The word of God’s good will (Jesus Christ) proceeds toward us continuously, surrounds us, meets us, guides us, comforts us, assures us, follows us all the way to our eternal inheritance.”
The Believer’s Blessing (1)
In Numbers 23 we read the strange account of Balaam, the false prophet hired by King Balak of Moab to curse Israel. What do we read?
In the other reading for the day, Psalm 37 we read,
“For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth;
and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord:
and he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:
for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old;
yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth;
and his seed is blessed.
27 Depart from evil, and do good;
and dwell for evermore.
28 For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints;
they are preserved for ever:
but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
and dwell therein for ever.
God’s true Israel, all elect believers, are unchangeably blessed in this life and forever, as are their elect children. No force of evil, either men or devils, can curse them and their eternal future in God’s new creation is assured. (tbc)