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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Friday, December 05, 2008
Forgiveness and the gospel.
Three men agreed to live together as roommates. One of the room mates had an extensive and costly wardrobe. Coming home one day this same roommate discovered his other two roommates robed in clothes from his collection. Being a kind and forgiving man, he offered forgiveness to both.

The first roommate when he realized that what he had done was wrong and wanting to restore the broken relationship, immediately removed the clothes, returned them, and finally asked to be forgiven. Note again: the purpose of his asking for his roommates forgiveness was to restore a broken relationship. He sought restoration through forgiveness.

The second roommate, feeling guilty at having been caught red handed, wanted to escape any sour consequences his transgression might have brought upon him. Knowing his roommate to be a kind and generous man, he also asked for forgiveness - but wasn't concerned about restoring a relationship, he just to avoid any unpleasant consequences.

Both men asked for forgiveness, but their separate requests [1] arose from entirely different motives, and [2] produced entirely different effects.

The first fellow having sought to be restored through forgiveness received just that: restoration through forgiveness. But not so with the other fellow. To use bible sounding language, "even what he thought he had was taken away from him." He didn't understand that the offer of forgiveness is an offer of reconciliation - he thought the offer had to do with getting out of the consequences. So when he was asking for "forgiveness" it wasn't actual forgiveness that he desired, his desire was simply to escape the just outcome of his unjust acts.

Consider how Peter preached the gospel to those religious Jews who were gathered in Jerusalem on Pentecost morning (c.f. Acts 3:19),
"repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away"
The gospel message is not Come to Jesus and He will deliver you from the consequences of your sin. The gospel is that Jesus died to reconcile men to God, and that anyone who believes that God has set Christ on earth for that purpose, and calls on God to be reconciled to Him - the same will be reconciled to God.

The gospel makes no allowance for those who imagine they can be saved without being reconciled. There is no salvation apart from reconciliation - and anyone who is reconciled will not go on sinning like they used to, for God will send His Holy Spirit into that "saved" person - and He will begin to sanctify them starting on that day, and on every day thereafter.

There are a few voices that reject the idea of repentance as being a necessary component of salvific faith. They try and dice up faith so that your faith is nothing more than an assent to certain truths, and if you believe those truths, you are "saved" - whether or not you repent. But such a notion betrays a rather naive comprehension of what our faith is in - our trust is in the reconciliation provided, and not in the benefits of that reconciliation. We either come to Christ for reconciliation, or we haven't yet at all - regardless of how much we believe such and such.

That's how I see it at least. We are not saved by exercising some generic faith in some arbitrary thing - we are saved by placing our faith in God to accept Christ's death in our stead for the purpose of once again bringing us into a right relationship with God. To imagine that we can reap the benefits of that relationship without ever desiring or pursuing it, both prior to, and after our "confession of faith" is (IMO) an eternally deadly mistake to make.

We don't become sinless upon our salvation, but we sure want to become sinless. Listen: Saving faith is a repentant faith - a faith that begins with a focus on reconciliation, as opposed to focused on avoiding consequences.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:30 AM  
  • At 7:50 AM, December 07, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    The one who seeks God in forgiveness has God and forgiveness is added, the one who seeks forgiveness without seeking the God who grants it, even what he thinks he has will be taken away one day - just as the truth takes away the lie.

  • At 6:27 AM, December 09, 2008, Blogger mark pierson said…

    Good thoughts.

  • At 11:55 AM, December 12, 2008, Blogger Colloquist said…

    Daniel, thank you for this post. It distills even further the inefficacy of "easy believism" - the 'raise your hand if you want to ask Jesus into your heart and go to heaven' method. The motivation of that method is not part of the glorious Gospel!

    We lead souls straight to hell when we tell them they are saved by a desire to go to heaven.

  • At 6:35 AM, December 23, 2008, Blogger Magpie said…

    Could you comment on how this translates to horizontal forgiveness? I am in the middle of a struggle to understand how to forgive my husband after an adulterous relationship, when his "asking for forgiveness" is purely of the avoiding consequences type. Some tell me that I am "withholding" forgiveness and harboring bitterness, while I believe I am ready in my heart to offer forgiveness of the right type, but it is not wanted. Are we to forgive differently than God does?

  • At 7:27 AM, December 23, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Mag, I forgave my father for ruining my life, not by working myself up into a forgiving frenzy, nor by inundating myself with enough scripture to pry open by heart by sheer guilt. I don't know if that works for anyone, but it has never been a viable source for me. Now what my father did is not germane to this discussion, but I would add it was no small thing, and there was no place in my heart for real forgiveness - I could offer lip service, but as much as I tried to deceive myself into thinking that was sufficient, it never was.

    One day, in confessing my own failures as a parent to the Lord, I was struck by the reality of sin. I hated it, I hated how I constantly obeyed it. I hated the damage it did to my own family, and I hated that I felt myself a grand hypocrite for calling myself a believer when I continued to sin in spite of all my desire not to. It was in that frame of mind - calling out for forgiveness for my own sin, when I was suddenly struck with the thought that my father was as much a slave to sin as I had been. The truth of this fell upon me like new light. How could I condemn him for obeying sin, while seek to be free of the very same kind of condemnation from God? In a moment I forgave him all he had ever done to ruin my life. I didn't think anything about it until the next day when I realized that the weight of darkness that had been with me my whole light was suddenly gone. I had never known/felt such a profound thing as that confusion as to why I was so happy and lighthearted, only to realize that I was no longer carrying a burden I hadn't even understood was there, until it was gone.

    Some say that we are to offer forgiveness to everyone, but that the offer is not the same as giving forgiveness itself - instead they reason that forgiveness is given the moment it is received by the other through an act of seeking reconciliation.

    I think those who understand forgiveness in that way do so because they believe that is how God forgives - they believe that God witholds forgiveness until they earn it by repenting, and so they translate this view to horizontal forgiveness. Since scripture has Jesus asking God to forgive those at Calvary, and the martyr Stephen asking the risen Christ not to lay the sin of those stoning him to death on their account - they have to say that we must "offer" forgiveness to everyone, but that unless and until they seek to be reconciled, we can't really "give" it.

    There is something alluring about that model because it views forgiveness as two party event - one offers reconciliation, the other desires it - and when both parts come together you have the whole. Yet as nice as it sounds, it turns forgiveness into something we can only give as long as the other person plays ball, and I am not aware of any scripture that paints forgiveness thus.

    Thus, I am not convinced that horizontal forgiveness comes from setting forth an offer, and thereafter witholding genuine forgiveness until it is purchased by a right, reconciliatory, repentance. Rather I recall my own heart when I forgave my father - I begged God to forgive him his sin, I knew he was a sinner just as I was, and I was able to call on God to forgive him in the same way I call on God to forgive me. If you can ask God to forgive your husband, and mean it, I think you have no trouble forgiving your husband, if you secretly (or openly) just want God to punish him, or can't ask God sincerely to forgive him, you yourself will not be very sincere in forgiving him.

    When we are convinced that someone is asking to be forgiven only because they want to avoid the consequences of their sin, we forgive them anyway, for it is not our job, nor do we have the ability to, make them stand upright. To their own master they stand. If they come to us seventy times seven saying that they repent, we are to forgive, for this is how our father forgives us.

    May I encourage you? God is not absent in your situation. He hates divorce, and it is his clear preference that you forgive your husband and be reconciled to him fully if he comes to you to be reconciled. You ought to forgive him regardless, and pray for him sincerely.

    This isn't the sort of discussion however that is fit for the comment sections. You can email me if you want to discuss it more deeply. My email is dvandelaar at gmail dot com.

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