This Week's Focus Passage

Seven Sayings from the Cross

Focus Passage: Matthew 27:50

‘And Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit.’

The common arrangement of the seven sayings from the cross is suggested in the writings of Arthur W. Pink. This is also agreeable with most writers commenting upon the gospel records of the New Testament. The order may be set down as follows:

(1) Father, forgive them. Luke 23:34. (2) Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43. (3) Woman, behold thy son. John 19:26. (4) My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Mt. 27:46. (5) I thirst. John 19:28. (6) It is finished. John 19:30. (7) Into thy hands I commend my spirit. Luke 23:46.

While Matthew relates only the cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,’ and none of the other seven listed above, it is very noteworthy that he says in verse 50, ‘and he cried again with a loud voice’ before yielding up His spirit. Can it be that the ‘again’ has reference only to the cry of dereliction? That is difficult for us to imagine. It seems much more likely that it refers to other of the cries and that Matthew simply did not record those other cries.

We are focusing this week upon that ‘first cry,’ the word of forgiveness:

When they came unto the place which is called The skull, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.—Luke 23:33-34.

If we were to employ the ‘Harmony of the Gospels’ of Lorraine Boettner, [harmonies are simply attempts to put narratives in a chronological order] the order above would be somewhat altered. Nonetheless, he suggests in his harmony the priority of ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

Arthur Pink in his writings, which have been compiled into a book form under the title of ‘The Seven Sayings of the Saviour from the Cross,’ speaks to this matter of forgiveness. He raises, among other questions, the following:

‘Does Scripture teach that under all circumstances we must always forgive? I answer emphatically, it does not. The word of God says, “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him.” (Luke 17:3, 4). Here we are plainly taught that a condition must be met by the offender before we may pronounce forgiveness. The one who has wronged us must first “repent”, that is, judge himself for his wrong and give evidence of his sorrow over it. But suppose the offender does not repent? Then I am not to forgive him.

‘But let there be no misunderstanding of our meaning here. Even though the one who has wronged me does not repent, nevertheless, I must not harbor ill-feelings against him. There must be no hatred or malice cherished in the heart. Yet, on the other hand, I must not treat the offender as if he had done no wrong. That would be to condone the offence, and therefore I should fail to uphold the requirements of righteousness, and this the believer is ever to do. Does God ever forgive where there is no repentance? No, for the Scripture declares, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). One thing more. If one has injured me and repented not, while I cannot forgive him and treat him as though he had not offended, nevertheless, not only must I hold no malice in my heart against him, but I must also pray for him. Here is the value of Christ’s perfect example. If we cannot forgive, we can pray for God to forgive him.’ —A. W. Pink

The verse from the pen of the apostle to the Gentiles which may be brought in at this point is, ‘Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God in Christ also forgave you.’ Ephesians 4:32. It is emphasized ‘even as God in Christ also forgave you.’ Of course, the question which needs to be asked at this very place is, ‘what did Paul mean by the language, ‘even as God in Christ also forgave you’? Or to put it another way, how is God able to forgive a sinner? Christ has paid the penalty for the sinner who is in Him from before the foundation of the world. In having done so, what gifts are to be granted unto the elect sinner? Is forgiveness the only gift provided, as some seem to imagine? Have not both faith and repentance also been merited by Christ for His people? No one seems to question the necessity of faith unto salvation, but many would suggest that repentance is not necessary, as though repentance is some work that the sinner brings into the equation. If repentance is a work, then so also must faith be a work. ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent,’ that is, Jesus. Repentance is also the work of God. Faith and repentance are both gifts from God granted to all those for whom Christ satisfied the justice of God. This is why Paul can say to Timothy—2 Timothy 2:25—‘if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth.’

God has given to Christ’s people, on the behalf of His Son, all things that are necessary unto salvation, including both faith and repentance. Are ‘repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,’ not equally required unto forgiveness of sin? Christ’s own teaching to the two on the road to Emmaus, is, ‘and he said unto them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all the nations.’ This is how God forgives, and how we should forgive. Sin is primarily against God. Is it just to forgive sin which is against God when there is no repentance toward God? Is not A.W. Pink’s understanding of this matter biblically balanced, and true?

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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