Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bearing the Forgiveness of God

Timmy Brister brought up a great question about the place of forgiveness.

Do we forgive unconditionally?:

"Sin/Offense –> Forgiveness –>Repentance –> Reconciliation (Unconditional)"

Or do we forgive conditionally?:

"Sin/Offense –> Repentance –> Forgiveness –> Reconciliation (Conditional)"

He gave arguments for both and asked his readers for observations. Here's mine:

"Clarifying what entails forgiveness is key and the role both the human forgiver plays as well as the role that God plays in the life of the sinner. When I first started skimming through this article to determine if I should read more deeply, I thought you were talking about the forgiveness of God. When I realized that you were talking about human forgiveness, then I had to ask myself the question, “What’s the difference?”

"That is to say that true forgiveness comes from God. Inasmuch as we practice the pattern of forgiveness, we imitate God, but we cannot forgive as Christ forgave. Only Christ can pay for sin. That means that when we extend forgiveness to the unrepentant, we bring the gospel to bear on the situation. Our conscience in the matter is cleansed at that time and the rest must be according to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

"However, God can extend forgiveness himself when we have not and one can repent when no human forgiveness has been extended. At this moment it becomes incumbent on the one who has not extended forgiveness to do so lest they become the sinner and repentance can bring this about.

"At this, the two scenarios you offer break down because the true forgiveness from God logically precedes the sin. If we practice God’s forgiveness, then we must anticipate sin and be prepared to extend forgiveness where no sin has occurred yet. This is especially true for the Christian because we have already been forgiven. And if we don’t live like this, then we endanger our assurance."

Forgiveness is not a matter of whether is it conditional or not. It's a matter of whether we are prepared to live out the gospel of grace in the form of forgiveness to sinners who need Christ.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Discipling Your Children

Dr. Voddie Baucham, jr, is the pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Outside of pasturing a church, his emphasis is cultural apologetics and the development of the Christian family in general. On his blog, he’s been answering select questions from readers. This recent article of his addresses the matter of family discipleship. He offers his own personal development in this area as encouragement that it can be done even with older children.

Are you a Christian with children? Are you discipling them yourself? Feel inadequate to the task? Then you must learn – and you must take your children along on your journey to grow in the knowledge of God and his wisdom.

And where children have started late, they may begin to realize their own sin. I’ve written about “cookie-jar Christians” before. My kids are cookie-jar Christians. John Piper wrote a recent article about the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son.

With regard to discipling children who obey at a younger age, I offered a two-pronged approach in the comments:

First, when we read the Bible at home and discuss what it means, we have a method where we use simple hermeneutical principles to look for 1) what we learn about God, 2) what we can be thankful to God for, 3) what we must confess to God, and 4) what we need to pray for (and do). The confession is designed to help make them more sensitive to their own sin so that they have a sense of their own depravity before God despite a relative lack of obvious sins of commission.

The second thing is to involve them in ministry, typically evangelistic, to others who are deep in sin, not so that they can develop a sense of superiority, but because godly ministry requires love. I want my kids to learn to love people who are otherwise looked down upon by much of Christian society. In this way, they can identify through the object of love with the bearing of the sins of others in love and ministry after the pattern of Christ who bore our sins on the cross.

May you herewith be encouraged to disciple your children.

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