Does Your God Contradict You?

We know that in mutually loving relationships, both parties must be active agents, able to contradict as well as affirm each other. If person A is never allowed to express a contradictory opinion to person B, then person B has a power relationship with person A, but not a personal one.

Now, if you choose to believe only those things in the Bible that you agree with, in what way do you have a God who can contradict you? Only if your God can say things that upset you will you know you have a real God and not a creation of your imagination. So an authoritative Bible . . . is not the enemy of a personal love relationship with God. . . . It is the precondition.

Timothy Keller, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, p. 113

HT: @mph_II

Forgiveness Is about Us, Not Me

Forgiveness does not begin and end with the person who is forgiving, nor is its emphasis on how forgiveness can help me. Whatever benefit forgiveness may have to me personally, it is not about me – it is about us. It is about people created by God to live in relationship with him and one another. As such, we are in the depths of our identity lovers of people and restorers of broken relationships. We are indeed our brother’s keeper!

original emphasis, Alfred Poirier, The Peacemaking Pastor (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 148-149.

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Christ Has Not Dismissed Sin; Instead, He Has Paid Its Price in Full

When we call a person to forgive another who has offended him or her, we are not asking the offended person to minimize the extent to which the offender is responsible for his or her sin (“Well, everyone sins”) or to minimize the offense (“It was nothing”). True forgiveness is when the offended looks upon the offender and see the offender’s sin as justly deserving the wrath of God in light of God’s great holiness.

Christian forgiveness, then is granted from a position not of weakness but of true moral strength and clarity of vision. Because biblical forgiveness alone recognizes the heinousness of sin against a holy God, it alone understands the immensity of the gift given in uttering the words, “I forgive you.”

This gift, of course, is full payment for sin, which is exactly what the gospel declares that Christ has given us! The forgiveness that is won by Christ comes at the price of his death for real offense, for true guilt.

Christ has not dismissed sin; instead, he has paid its price in full.

original emphasis, Alfred Poirier, The Peacemaking Pastor (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 147.

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The Consequences of Superficial Repentance

In our eagerness to settle disputes, we easily are tempted to settle for superficial repentance. We rush to make the offended party forgive without equally addressing the offender’s real offenses – the outstanding issues of justice that remain in making restitution – and without recognizing the gravity of the offender’s sin.

The effect of this process is the opposite of what we intended. We get a mere apology rather than a true confession of wrongdoing. We see the offender nodding to the idea of needing to change rather than taking concrete steps to recompense the one against whom he has sinned and alter the offender’s behavior.

Alfred Poirier, The Peacemaking Pastor (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 141.
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Legalism Aborts Relationships

Legalism aborts relationships with God and others by its negative focus. The evil we seek to avoid grows — with concentration — into targets we cannot miss. Instead of limiting our sin, rules define sin, rivet our attention to it and lead us to desire it. In legalism, the flesh is in charge, taking the Holy Spirit’s place, and thus is strengthened.

Rockwell L. Dillman in K. Neill Foster & Douglas B. Wicks, eds., Voices on the Cross, p. 44