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Archive for August, 2018

Forgiveness and Repentance

Pastor Clark,

I found your business card (“Speaking in Tongues at Spirit Baptism”) on the restroom sink of the public library in South San Francisco, California, (in case you’re curious).  I am new to your website, I am 59 years old (in the flesh), 35 years in Christ, male, and I live in San Francisco.  I have questioned Matthew 6:14-15 (and other similar verses) maybe almost as long as I’ve been a Christian:  “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.   15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”;  (ASV).  I’m sure we agree that God is perfect and righteous, and that God does not (typically, if ever) forgive a person without that person being repentant and having saving faith.  So the question arises, “Does God expect me to forgive one who is unrepentant and in bad faith?”  In other words, does God expect of me what He does not expect of Himself, which would seem peculiar?

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In short, no.  God expects us to be like Him, who has never forgiven anyone who refuses to repent.

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Of course there is no justification for my hating or having an ill heart toward anyone — I should bear my cross, and die to self, care for all people in conjunction with “the grace of God which [is] with me,” and hopefully win others over by my new godly heart and conduct.

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I disagree, a little.  God hates some people and things, and we do, as well, if we are like him (e.g., Ps. 5:5; 139:22; Rev. 2:6).  Still, as you say, ill-will is ungodly.

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We sometimes hear it said conversationally that we should (or do) “forgive and forget”:  Am I really forgiving if I do not forget?  So, maybe forgiving does not include forgetting?

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Nobody really “forgives and forgets”, unless he has a good heart and a bad memory.  God forgives, but He never forgets.

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Two verses come to my mind:  “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men,” Romans 12:18 (ASV), which suggests to me that we might not “be at peace” with some, and therefore might not be on friendly terms with some.  And if I’m not “at peace” with some, can I truly be forgiving of them?

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A right relationship with some people is to have no relationship with them at all.  After all, God did cast Satan out of heaven.  Right?  And Paul exhorted the saints to keep no company with stubbornly sinful brothers and sisters.

Romans 12:13 means only that we should do our part to be at peace with others.  People who do not repent are not doing their part, and we cannot do their part for them.

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And 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ASV) tells us, “Be not deceived:  Evil companionships corrupt good morals,” which suggests that we should not allow our “good morals” to be corrupted by keeping “evil companionships.”  If I believe someone to be “evil company” and a corrupting influence on me, and if I believe it necessary to distance myself from someone for these reasons, it seems that my “forgiveness” of that person is dependent on the person’s faith and repentance (which seems similar to God forgiving us in response to our faith and repentance).

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Amen.

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Because of my knowledge of and history with a person, I might find it difficult if not impossible to trust that person;  am I truly forgiving a person if I feel that I cannot trust that person?

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You are confusing forgiving a person with willingness to forgive.  God is willing to forgive almost anyone, all the time, but He only forgives those who come to Him for forgiveness in the name of His Son Jesus.  It would be absurd for you to trust an evil person.  The way I say it is that forgiveness is the creation of God, blending a willingness to forgive in one person with repentance on the part of the another.  If there is only repentance without a corresponding willingness to forgive (a la Judas or Esau, who repented but found no forgiveness), or if there is only a willingness to forgive without repentance, no real forgiveness can exist, even if people say that they have done it.  If God is not in it – and he is not, if there has been no repentance – then it is just another phony claim by religious men.

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When we’re told that love (agape) believes all things (1Co 13:7), does this mean that one who I believe to be untrustworthy should be treated as — and thought of as — trustworthy?

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Love believes all things that are true, not all things that anyone says, whether or not he is telling the truth.  Only the simple-minded do that, as wise Solomon once said: “The simple believe every word.”  The love of God makes us wise because it “rejoices in the truth”, never a lie.

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Or should we, on a case-by-case basis, lean on the Lord and ask for His direct guidance in answering these questions?  Pastor Clark, I expect nothing from you in the way of response to my questions, but if you don’t mind sharing relevant convictions, I Thank you very much!

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I am very impressed with your questions, and very glad that you asked them.  Good questions are as much from the Lord as are good answers.  In over 40 years of ministry, I have never met a soul who had not been taken in by the Christian myth of “unconditional love”, and by the nonsensical Christian doctrine of “we have to forgive everybody”.  If we forgive the man who does not repent for robbing our house, we are inviting him to do it again.  Such Christian teaching does not make us godly; it makes us suckers.

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I am in the process of reading your article, “Speaking in Tongues at Spirit Baptism.”  I’m sure you’ve probably received many correspondences related to your article over the years.  My first impression is of disagreement with your stance, but I’ve only read it once, and am starting my second time through.  In a couple of months or so, I want to get back to you with some thoughts related to it.  I am confident of my salvation, and I have never spoken in tongues;  however, I believe in the legitimacy of tongues as a gift.

Love your Brother in Christ,

Bill 

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That would be great.  Please do.  But I might have a better idea.  My wife and I, and another couple, will be in your area in early September, visiting friends.   Maybe we could meet and discuss these things face to face.  What do you think?

Thank you so much for writing.  God bless!  The Lord is with you.

Your servant in Christ,

John

 

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My Grandparents Had the Spirit!

Last weekend I went to a little get-together with my cousins and second cousins that I haven’t seen in decades. The eldest had done a genealogy work-up that she wanted to share with us. Anyway, over the course of visiting, she shared that my grandparent’s church was a lively church, with lively worship, and she said they spoke in tongues.  It was an Assembly of God church.  They had the holy Ghost!  I told her that I had the holy Ghost, but that was as far as the conversation went.

It has so blessed me to know that they had Jesus to comfort and guide them. They had such a hard life, but this gives me a whole different perspective. :o)

Patty

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A number of us have discovered that we have relatives who received the holy Ghost in the past, but we knew nothing of it.  Makes me suspect that many more people have the Spirit now than tell about it.

Pastor John

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Blessing Food

Hey Pastor John 🙂 

What is the reason people feel the need to “bless” their food, or rather, saying a prayer for Jesus to bless it, before they eat?  (I’m not really sure which it is).  Is there something in the Bible that mentions that people should?  I haven’t found anything. I only see Jesus blessing the food that he was about to serve, multiple times, but I haven’t seen where anyone else does it as ritual.  So, why did Jesus do it?  Why did he “give thanks” for the bread before he broke it? 

Leah

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Hi Leah.

Jesus gave thanks for the food he held in his hand because he was thankful for it. He was not, as you know, instituting a ceremony for his followers to observe. Also, Paul taught that, unlike God’s Old Testament people, we who believe are free to eat whatever we desire because the food we eat is “sanctified by the word of God and by prayer” (1Tim. 4:5).  But by that, Paul was not instituting a ceremony, either.  He was not even suggesting that “the word of God and prayer” which sanctifies our food should take place when we sit down to eat.  He was instead describing the holy kind of life that sanctifies our food and everything else in our lives.

There is nothing in the Bible, whether Old or New Testament, which promotes “saying [or asking] a blessing” before eating a meal.  To do so is just another religious act that we humans have come up with, in our frail effort to honor God.

If I am at a restaurant and see someone praying before he eats, I respect his praying, and I pray for him, that Jesus will bless his desire to honor God by revealing to him how to really do it.

Thanks for the question.

Pastor John

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