Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dear Anonymous (26Jan2009_0533hrs)

A fellow Christian (I guess) brother or sister (I can't even guess because he/she did not leave a name) commented on my article, "Confess Your Sins To Be Forgiven (1)" on 26Jan09:

Matthew 6:14,15

18:23-35(34,35)-unforgiving servant

James 5:15.....And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; AND IF HE HAVE COMITTED SINS, THEY SHALL BE FORGIVEN HIM

1Jn 1:9 Prov. 28:13
Heb. 10:26-29 1Pet. 1:9,10

January 26, 2009 5:33 AM


Since the kind bro/sis did not say anything at all but chose to merely list those verses, I cannot reasonably know what his/her viewpoint actually is. However, after reading those verses, I think maybe he/she does not agree with I wrote in the article i.e. all our sins - past, present and future - have been forgiven and therefore we do not need to keep confessing our sins in order to be forgiven.

Nevertheless, I will try to tackle those verses listed and see how they fit into my article:

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Matthew 6:14,15 (NIV)
14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 18: 34-35 (vv23-35: parable of the unforgiving servant)
34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”


The passage of Matt 18:23-35 records Jesus' telling of the parable of the unforgiving servant, and serves to illustrate the same point made in Matthew 6:14-15, that is, you have to forgive others so that your Heavenly Father will forgive you. It should be noted that those words by Jesus were recorded in the book of Matthew which was written to the Jews who were under the Law.

The Law is all about man doing his part first and then God will do his part, therefore when Jesus spoke to the Jews before his finished work on the cross, he spoke to them in the context of the Law which means that you have to forgive others first before God forgives you.

However after his death and resurrection, Jesus taught through Paul in Colossians 3:13 that we forgive others because we have been forgiven - "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."

We are now like the debtor that Jesus mentioned in another parable in Luke 7 - we love much because we have been forgiven much.

Luke 7:41-43 (NASB)
41"A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42
"When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?"
43
Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly."

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James 5:15
(NASB)
and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.


Let's look at the above verse in its context - James 5:14-16:

14Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

15and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

I am not sure what point Ms Anonymous is trying to make by quoting James 5:15. The context of James 5:15 is about praying for the sick by the elders of the church. The verses seem to suggest that certain cases of illness may be the consequence of sins committed against others, and together with the healing, the sick person also receives his forgiveness from the elders when they pray over him. Therefore, v16 says confess your sins to one another, not confess to God as they pray over one another for healing.

I must admit that I am not totally clear about the meaning of the above verses but one thing that is clear is that v16 does not say confess your sins to God but says confess to one another.

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Prov. 28:13 (NIV)

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

The above verse does not specifically say "whoever confesses to God". I believe the verse does not refer to God because the first part of the verse says "He who conceals his sins". How can we conceal our sins from our all-seeing God who knows everything? We can only attempt to conceal our sins from our fellow humankind.

Therefore, my interpretation of the verse is that when a person who has committed wrongs against others, if instead of trying to conceal those sins, he confesses and renounces his sins to them, he will be able to obtain mercy from them.

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Heb. 10:26-29 (NKJV)

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?


The book of Hebrews is actually an epistle written to address the Jews as Hebrews 1:1 refers the reader to "our forefathers" - "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,"

The context of Hebrews 10 is the revealing of the truth of Christ’s sacrifice for sins once for all to the Jews (i.e. Hebrews).

What “sin willfully” in Hebrews 10:26 means is that after the Jews have received the knowledge of the truth of Christ’s sacrifice, they still reject this truth and stick to the animal sacrifices under the Law. By doing so, they are then sinning willfully.

Since Christ is the once for all sacrifice, the animal sacrifices cannot save them ("there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins"), what they can look forward to will then only be “a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”

Therefore, v29 in the above passage is not referring to Christians but rather the Jews who still want to cling on to Judaism and reject Christ's blood as their ultimate sacrifice for sins, and thus "insulted the Spirit of grace".

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1Pet. 1:9-10 (NKJV)
9receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,


Again, I am not sure what point Ms Anonymous is trying to make by quoting the above verses. What I can see in v10 is that our salvation is by grace. Amen!

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2 comments:

Malcolm Loh said...

Hi Stan

Excellent piece of Scripture-based response.

I have an idea of who this Mr Anonymous is because the pattern of quoting verses randomly and out of context is similar.

He used the same tactic on my blog trying to mislead my readers, and is now trying to do the same to yours.

But the grace gospel will prevail against naysayers like him because it is the only view that can piece the entire bible together in a consistent manner, without any passage contradicting another.

Angie said...

Tks for the point by point, verse by verse explanation Stan. It's very clear and easily understood and has reinforced my understanding. :)