This Week's Focus Passage

‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins.’

Focus Passage: 1 John 1:9

‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins.’

Do we dare say that it is ‘only’ if we confess our sins? Does not God know the end from the beginning? Is it not He Himself who provides all these things? Does He not ‘give repentance to Israel’? Is it not repentance that leads to confession by the grace of God? And upon the basis of repentance and confession, is He not then faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins on the ultimate basis of Christ’s merit? Is this not what God the Holy Spirit instructed John to write to his readers in his first epistle? He declared, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins.’ Does the ‘if’ mean nothing? Since it is God who is the giver and provider of both faith and repentance, may He not give both faith and repentance in the order that He has decreed?Is it not within His rights as the wise Potter to determine the ordo salutis; the order of salvation? But is it not also logically reasonable to expect that repentance would precede forgiveness? Is the absolutely holy God even able, within the bounds of His holiness, to forgive sin without repentance and confession? John has pronounced this sentence, if you will, that God is both faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS. Is it not according to His all wise purposes, consistent with His holy hatred of sin, to require conviction, contrition, shame, repentance, and confession of sin in order to the reception of forgiveness? Yes, it is very true that God knows perfectly well those who are going to be brought to conviction, contrition, shame, repentance, and confession of sin in time; time is a creation of God, and He is not confined to time in any way. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Beginning and the End of all things; ‘one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ Nevertheless, He is a God that does all things decently and in order. Surely, He would not insist that we do all things in a decent and orderly way if it was not in order to follow His own pattern.

Jesus is extremely clear and forceful in His expostulation with Peter about the forgiveness that we should grant to a brother. In Luke 17:3-4, our Savior is adamant about the matter of forgiveness, ‘thou shalt forgive him.’ Yet we must take notice of the qualification which is also pronounced by Jesus. Twice in this dialogue with the old fisherman, He presents the prerequisite to forgiveness when He has said, ‘If thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he sin against thee seven times in the day, and seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.’ This truth should not be questioned. Why has the Holy Spirit been given? Did not Jesus Christ tell us precisely the reason for the gift of the Holy Spirit when He was promising the advent of the Comforter? Yes, He most assuredly did. He told us in John 16:7-8;

‘It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you. And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.’

You may well question how it is that the One, denominated the Comforter, should be sent to convict men of sin, and righteousness, and judgment. Where is the comfort in that? The comfort has been adduced by the apostle Paul in writing to the church at Rome. He declared that the faith in Christ was given to Abraham—and all who are children of Abraham through faith in Christ—in order that it might be reckoned unto him, and us, for righteousness, that He was delivered up for our trespasses, and that He was raised for our justification; ‘sin, righteousness, and judgment’ dealt with in His blood. The apostle declares the comfort of this in pronouncing this judicial sentence in the beginning of the fifth chapter;

Being therefore [note the therefore] justified by faith, we have peace[comfort] with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we rejoice [joy from the Comforter] in hope of the glory of God.

Because we have been convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin; because He convinced us that we stood in need of the righteousness of Another; because He convinced us of judgment to come, doing this convicting and convincing by His regenerating grace, we now have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is His agency to bring men to repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

One may as well contend that faith is not requisite for forgiveness, as to argue that repentance is unnecessary. They are both gifts of God given by God the Holy Spirit in regeneration. They are two sides of the one coin; you can’t have one without the other. This is the gospel found in the Word of God. The last of the O.T. prophets, that announcer of the Messiah, John the Baptizer, who first pointed men to the true Lamb of God, began his ministry with the words, ‘Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ The next ‘Evangelist’ of whom there is record in the gospel accounts is Christ Himself. His preaching began with the same note of repentance. We read, From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and, repent ye, and believe in the gospel—Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15. In Mark’s chapter six, after Jesus had called the twelve to Him, He sent them out to preach two by two, And they went out, and preached that men should repent. Do we not have every reason to believe that this is the very message that Jesus told them to communicate? After the day of Pentecost, we are blest to read the first ‘Pentecostal’ sermon. It was delivered spontaneously as well as extemporaneously by that unlettered fisherman, Peter. He preached a wonderful sermon concluding with these pointed words about Jesus, God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified, causing his hearers to cry out, what shall we do? We assume agreement between Peter’s Rabbi and the outpoured Holy Spirit, for Peter said, Repent ye unto the remission of your sins. That is forgiveness!

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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