Monday, June 24, 2013

Would Catholics go to Heaven?

Some Protestant christians are quite vociferous about the Catholics heading to hell. Is this a legitimate thought? If so, why is it legitimate?

Before we venture into this examination, let us briefly remind ourselves of some pertinent theological terms and the church history.

“Salvation postulates the spiritual; the spiritual embodied in a soul; the soul sanctified through divine grace. Grace is the unmerited interior assistance which God confers upon man in order to render him capable of supernatural acts of the soul through which he may attain salvation. Salvation presupposes a condition of sin. As sin is the greatest evil, salvation is used mainly in the liberation of the human race or the individual from sin and its consequences.” 1

The reformers were a breakaway group from the Catholic church (Catholic = Universal). Martin LutherAA (1483-1546) was a leader of this religious reform. Luther never saw a Bible until he was 20 years old.2 He was an Augustinian friar, ordained in 1507, taught at the University of Wittenberg, and was a doctor of theology. His ‘The Ninety-Five Theses’ was a seminal academic rebellion against the authority and the religiosity of Catholicism. Luther believed in salvation by grace through faith, e Heso confronted the teaching of salvation by works (sale of indulgences, purgatory, pilgrimages, compulsory confessions et al.). He said that all good works of man aimed to attract God’s favor are sins.3 He was excommunicated in January 1521 by Pope Leo, was under an imperial ban, and deemed a heretic by Emperor Charles V.4

The Catholic church, from what I have read and heard (I have not had the opportunity to worship in one), clearly promotes salvation by works, which is in total contradiction to the Bible. Other contentious practices in the Catholic church are: worship of Mary & saints, transubstantiation, sacraments, distinction between priests and an ordinary worshiper etc.5 (Please read the references if you desire a better knowledge of these terms)

Under the umbrella of “works” are the contentious practices. These contentious practices are a result of their faulty interpretation of the Bible (e.g. purgatory & 1 Corinthians 3:15). Thus, the catholic interpretation of the Bible entails salvation by works, which in turn causes contentious practices.

To complicate matters, the Catholic Bible has extra books called the Deuterocanonicals or Apocryphals or the Intertestamentals. Some of their contentious practices are an outcome of these books (e.g. purgatory and 2 Maccabees 12:43–45). We should consider two aspects when we discuss Catholicism: Catholic interpretation of the Bible and the Catholic inclusion of the Apocryphal books in their canon. These are the root of the contentious Catholic practices.

Quite similar to any believer, a grass root Catholic cannot undo his canon, but he can learn how to interpret the Bible without errors (cf. the Bible cannot contradict itself). The grass root Catholic is also flooded with teaching from his priests, which he needs to cross verify with his Bible to determine the legitimacy of the teaching. One cannot blindly follow. The buck stops with the Catholic, as it does with any believer. We read and understand many things under the sun, but one needs to rely totally upon the Spirit of God to determine the right from wrong. The ‘right’ should be integrated and practiced, and the wrong discarded.

Every contentious practice of the Catholic Church moves the believer away from Christ. Any act that moves a person away from Christ is a sin.

The error of the Catholic Church isn’t unique to them, the Protestant churches also contend with the same problem. One should accept that many Protestant denominations have practices that are contentious as well. Salvation by works is preached and imposed by many Protestant denominations.  If Catholics are guilty of venerating their priests, the Protestants too are. If Catholics are guilty of worshiping idols, Protestants too are, it is just that the idols are different (church building, people, image of the cross etc.). When we point one finger at the Catholics, we should understand that three fingers are pointing at us.

Thus, Protestant churches, by virtue of their imperfections, cannot claim superiority over the Catholic church. So the dialogue with Catholics should be built on love and respect – as one imperfection ministering to another.

With regards to practices that are an outcome of “salvation by works,” it is one’s responsibility to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28: 19-20). We are to make disciples of the Lord Jesus and not any other. When we express our convictions, the person listening may or may not accept our convictions immediately. Patience ought to be practiced when we dialogue with our Catholic brothers and sisters. Our dialogues should be soaked in prayer, so to discern the Lord’s time and will.

Thomas Aquinas and Thomas à Kempis are some of my most favorite and respected authors. These are Catholic theologians and godly thinkers. God has spoken through them and continues to speak through their writings. I cannot surely imagine them being eternally separated from God (yes, this is not a sound logic!). But from their writings, I believe that their faith in Christ was intact. All that matters for eternal security with God is belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. I will only go as far as to say that those who believe in the Lord Jesus will be forgiven of all their sins, and will inherit heaven. This includes believers of Christ from Catholicism and Protestantism.

Sole faith in Christ is the only prerequisite to gain heaven. There is no other prerequisite. The final judgment is in the hands of the Lord Jesus, so if a Catholic believes in the Lord Jesus, he will indeed go to heaven.

But what about the Catholic who believes in Christ and consciously practices deeds contrary to the Bible? Will he go to heaven?

Let us be reminded of the inherent complexities in this question. First, the presence of extra books in the Catholic canon should be acknowledged. One should understand the veracity of the Protestant elimination or the Catholic inclusion of the Apocrypha from their respective canons. The knowledge of this research would empower the researcher to eliminate blindness from his thoughts and would equip him to treat the Apocryphal teaching accordingly.

Second, the understanding of the proper biblical interpretation is mandatory for both Protestants and Catholics, for even the Protestants are guilty of contentious practices contradictory to the Bible. One can always obtain information from knowledgeable people, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the reader / hearer to discern the right from the wrong. Discerning right from the wrong is a heavyweight endeavor, for one should spend hours wrestling with the biblical text, and praying and receiving the convictions from the Holy Spirit, to understand and assimilate the truth. A common shortcut practiced is to eliminate personal labor and depend on another, who is presumably more knowledgeable. If the presumably-knowledgeable is incorrect in his thoughts, then the reader / hearer would also be sucked into his error. One should be a Berean in his biblical learning (Acts 17: 11).

Now we need to contend if conscious practices contrary to Bible would eliminate one from heaven. We could define any practice contrary to the Bible that violates God and HIS commands as a sin. So would sin eliminate a believer of Christ from heaven? The answer to this, as far as my learning and understanding goes, is an emphatic NO. If we are saved by grace through faith, then we are only saved by grace through faith. We are not saved by positive or negative works of any form or sense.

It should always be our endeavor to move away from sin (contentious practices) that separates us from God. We can and will overcome sin (not to the extent of sinless perfection) by the grace and the power of our Lord.

It is always wiser to leave all judgments related to eternity to the Lord (cf. Matthew 7: 21-23). Explaining our position with careful research, prayer, love, grace and patience is well within our reach. Transformation of hearts is only in the Lord’s reach.

Let us continue to make disciples of all nations, but let us do so in love, gentleness and respect. The good Lord will continue to bless and keep us all. Amen.

References and Notes:

1 Joseph Javorski, A Catholic's Conception of Salvation, Journal of Bible and Religion, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Winter, 1938), pp. 35-38


3 Brecht, 2:7–9; Marius, 161–62; Marty, 77–79. (Source:



AA For those unfamiliar with church history, Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr. are different people.

Useful reads:



Monday, June 17, 2013

The Church Building

On 30th March 2013, BBC reported, “…the doors of St John's Episcopal Church are open to hundreds of Muslim worshippers, arriving for daily prayers. The familiar sounds of Christian hymns have been replaced with Islamic prayer in the chapel this Friday lunchtime and the church priest with the imam from the neighbouring mosque.” 1 What’s your response to this? Some would welcome such a move, others may not have a view, and some traditional christians may express shock, disbelief, anger, and disappointment.

I once believed that ‘church’ referred to the building in which christian worship services are held. Little did I know then that the church is the community of the believers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To understand this, let’s explore the Old Testament temple, which I believe is the precursor to the modern day church worship (I will not touch upon the “tent of meeting.”). Outside of sociopolitical compulsions, David considered the temple construction as a dwelling place for God, the Ark of the Covenant and the Tent of Meeting and its sacred furnishings (2 Samuel 7: 2, 5, 13; 1 Kings 8: 3-4), but Solomon built it. The holiness was ascribed to the temple when the Ark of the Covenant, Tent of Meeting and its sacred furnishings (institutional representations) were in the Most Holy Place, and when the glory of the Lord filled the temple (1 Kings 8: 10-12; 2 Chronicles 5, 7: 1-3). There was a tangible manifestation of God in the temple. Hence, the temple, without its institutional representations and the tangible manifestation of God, would not have acquired the intense holiness.

As days passed, the temple was used as state treasury, “emptied to pay tribute or filled and decorated with booty according to the power of the land.” 2 Let us also bear in mind that the Ark of the Covenant was “presumably lost during the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 BC. There was no ark in the second temple (Josephus, BJ 5. 219).” 3 Finally this temple was destroyed by the invading Babylonians.

A vision of a new temple was given to Ezekiel, but was not built according to the vision (Ezekiel 40-43). The second temple was built, but its foundations were apparently inferior to the first temple (Ezra 3: 12; Haggai 2: 3). Antiochus IV Epiphanes set up a pagan altar or statue, which the triumphant Maccabees cleansed (1 Maccabees 4: 36-59). The institutional representations in the Holy Place were limited to the seven-branched candelabrum, the table of showbread, and the incense altar. This temple lacked the glory of the Lord that was present in the first temple. The main structure of Herod’s temple (third temple) was completed in 9 BC.4 This temple was destroyed in AD 70 by Romans. The candelabrum, the table of showbread, and other objects were carried to Rome. This temple too lacked the glory of the Lord. Thus the second and the third temples without the tangible manifestations of God lacked the intense holiness that was present in the first temple (cf. after centuries of covenant disloyalty, the Lord withdrew HIS presence - Ezekiel 8: 6, 10:18).

The Lord Jesus had two opposing views of the temple, on one hand he respected it and on the other hand he relegated the temple to a subordinate position. HE called the temple the “house of God” and considered it holy (Matthew 12:4, 23: 17, 21; John 2:16-17). On the other hand, Christ taught that HE was greater than the temple (Matthew 12: 6), and deemed the temple as an umbrella for Israel’s spiritual emptiness (Mark 11: 12-26).5 Christ also proclaimed the temple’s destruction (Mark 13: 1-2), thus indicating the unworthiness of the obstinate Judaism of the divine presence of God incarnate – the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the new temple was established in the congregation of believers of Christ (Matthew 18: 20; John 14: 23).

The Greek word “ekklesia” represents the New Testament church. Etymologically “ekklesia” means “to call out.” This supports the biblical doctrine of the church as a people called out, and separated from the world by God. “Specific Christian Assembly” is the New Testament meaning of the word “ekklesia.” The New Testament uses “ekklesia” in the sense of the ‘local church’ and ‘universal church.’ It is certainly not used for a Church building, or a particular denomination.

Christ, standing in the temple precincts called out people to HIMSELF (John 7: 37-38). HE emphatically stated HIMSELF as the temple (John 2: 21). Further, the body of the believers is also stated as the temple of the living God (1 Corinthians 6: 19; cf. Romans 12: 1-2). Therefore, the temple made of flesh and blood replaced the temple made of stones. We do not go into the temple to worship God, but we carry the temple to worship God in the community of the saints. This is the church.

So how do I respond to the sharing of the church building with the muslims? Do I vote for people or the building?

Since 2003, I did not consider the church as a building. I lived this belief and experienced the public wrath of the traditional christians. I was awarded a 6-month suspension from public worship, for providing oversight to an evangelistic hard rock concert that was held in the “church building.” The traditional christians considered this radical evangelistic event (where the gospel was proclaimed) as sacrilege, and even went to the extent of cleansing the church precincts of evil spirits.6 They disregarded people for the sake of the building!

Having been raised in the mainstream church that considers the building holy, it was initially difficult for me to comprehend such a radical deed of sharing the worship place with another faith community. But the building has lesser spiritual significance than people, so why not?

When 2 or 3 gather at my home to worship God, my home is a church building. I do have muslim friends, and would welcome any of them to stay at my home. But I would not prevent them from worshipping at my home, if such a need arises. If my muslim friend can worship at my home, then what prevents me from allowing muslims to worship from the church building?

Many christian worship services are being held in larger halls of hotels. In a hotel, there is a good possibility for a simultaneous occurrence of a christian worship, muslim worship, and even a sinful deed of a man satisfying his lust with a sex worker. Would the latter two destroy the sanctity of a christian worship? I don’t think so.

Many muslim countries have allowed the existence of churches. If such is their benevolence, why should a church close its doors to muslims? Shouldn’t the christian community also be benevolent?

These are however my secondary reasonings.

My primary reasoning is as follows:

(1) The universe is God’s dwelling place (cf. Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7: 49).

(2) The existential reality showcases God’s freedom to people to worship any entity of their choice irrespective of HIS pleasure, and that from within HIS dwelling place.

(3) If God says ‘yes’ to conflicting worship from within HIS dwelling place, why should man say ‘no,’ especially when the sacredness of worship has been taken out of building and brought into the realm of human body?

If the choice is between the building and people, my vote any day would be for the people. Do you agree or disagree? Please state your views, in case of disagreement.

May God bless us all. Amen.  

2 New Bible Dictionary, 2nd Ed, p1169.
3 New Bible Dictionary, 2nd Ed, p82.
4 But the work continued until AD 64.
5 New Bible Dictionary, 2nd Ed, p1171.
6 This christian outreach event was deemed evil, because the hard rock (performed by christians) and its elements were considered evil.

Useful reads:

2. Pagan Christianity, Frank Viola & George Barna. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Paradigm of God’s Forgiveness and the Reason to Repent

We are creatures of habit. We experience our circumstances and environment, gain knowledge, take decisions, and form our comfort zone. If I travel regularly on a particular road, I seldom ignore it, unless a diversion forces me. When I experience a better alternate, I view it with skepticism, but when I am convinced, the alternate is my comfort. This may be true to all facets of life - roads, relationships, and even theology. We could habitually think of God as if HE were human, and even find comfort in knowing HIM as one. But God isn’t human! Any thought of God as a human is assuredly erroneous. God does not forgive as humans do.

God cannot be contained in time. HIS attributes of infinity and eternality defy time. God has no ‘before’ and ‘after’ (HE is conscious of our past, present and future). We live in time; we are in the ‘present,’ reminisce the ‘past,’ and ignorant of our ‘future.’ At best, our knowledge of future may be based on educated assumptions, which could be incorrect. But God knows everything (omniscience). HE knows our speech even before that word is on our tongue (Psalm 139:4). Hence, God’s forgiveness should be seen in light of HIS attributes.

God is like a person seated on the top floor of a high rise building, observing the action on the ground. Below the high rise, in a narrow lane, the person sees two cars traveling towards each other at a high speed. The drivers cannot sight each other because of a blind curve in the road, but the blind curve does not obstruct the person on the high rise. Although the drivers are unaware of their imminent collision (future), the person on the high rise is.

Being seated high above ground, the person transcends time by observing all events on the ground. At a specific time, he sees events occurring at different places on the ground that the ground dwellers are unaware of. When one transcends time, the knowledge of various points in time is gained.

When someone repents for offending me, I forgive him in ignorance, for I am ignorant of a repeated offense. My forgiveness is based on a blind belief. But God knows our future. When we repent of our sin against God, we will repeat the same or another sin in the future.

If I truly repent of a sin, God forgives me. If I repeat the same sin after 3 days and repent, I am confident that God has forgiven me. If I repeat the same sin after 30 days and repent, I am still confident of God’s forgiveness. In reality, I am travelling through time – I commit a sin on day 1, and repeat it on day 4 and 34. We travel through time, but God is outside time. We ought to incorporate this fact about God when we comprehend HIS forgiveness.

When God forgives me, HE knows precisely when and where I would repeat that sin in the future. HE also knows what other lesser or greater sins I will commit. God is not only infinite and eternal, HE is omniscient.

When God forgives me, HE forgives me not because of what I do, but because of what HE has done through the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ died and rose again for the sins of our past, present, and future. When man repents of his sins and accepts the Lord Jesus as his savior, he is forgiven once and for all.

The repentance of a person who refuses to believe in Christ would not be forgiven in an absolute sense, for he is bound to sin again.1 He lacks the protection of Christ’s perfect sacrifice, which is through belief. Since God is omniscient of our future sins, it is impossible for us to receive absolute forgiveness without believing and accepting Christ as savior. We need absolute forgiveness for we are sinful beings.

Examine this situation from the human perspective. A person lies to his friend. After a couple of days, he lies again, repents, and his gracious friend forgives him. If he continually lies to his friend over a span of a month, the friend will refuse to take any repentance seriously, and probably won’t forgive him anymore. Even if he forgives, his forgiveness will be soaked in disbelief. On the contrary, if this individual wasn’t a perpetual liar, the friend would have considered the repentance as genuine. If the friend possesses knowledge of the person’s inability to speak the truth, his repentance will not be considered genuine and worthy of forgiveness. There is no absolute forgiveness for sins, since God knows that man is a chronic sinner. However, God’s love, grace, mercy, and compassion will never cease, hence man exists.

But why repent if God knows we are chronic sinners? For the sake of clarity, we should observe the christian and non-christian dimensions.

God has blessed us with the second person of the blessed trinity, Jesus Christ, (HIS sinless life, death and resurrection) as the only means for forgiveness of sins. Outside of Christ, there is no sacrifice for sins and hence no forgiveness (cf. Hebrews 10: 26-27).Those who believe and accept Christ as their only God and savior are forgiven of all their sins. This is the christian dimension. The non-christian dimension is that there is no forgiveness of sins, because the one who refuses Christ remains a sinner till his last breath; hence God does not forgive him. Thus repentance without believing in Christ is a futile exercise for a non-christian.

Why must a christian repent, when he has been forgiven of all his sins – past, present and future? Repentance, for a christian, is a plea to God and a volitional affirmation of his continuous endeavor, by the power of God, to overcome his sinful nature into a loving obedience to Christ. This is an on-going growth process of holiness in a christian. Both God and the christian know that sin is imminent, but there is an effort on the part of the christian, with God’s help. The effort succeeds through prayer and God’s power. Sin can be overcome, but not to sinless perfection. Moreover, holiness should not be imprisoned in time. Some, by God’s grace, discard their sins sooner, and some later. But we are so full of sins that being sinless is impossible in this time and age.

Sin separates a christian from God (Isaiah 59: 2), but not from an eternal perspective. When a christian sins, he cannot receive God’s blessings to the fullest (cf. John 15: 5). Thus a christian pleads to God for power to discard sins, the desire to love and obey HIM, and to be in constant fellowship with God. Thus repentance enhances his love for God, and the spiritual blessings of God increases in the one who depends on God for his sustenance and this man enjoys God abundantly.

Finally, will God forgive a man who genuinely repents of his sins, but hasn’t forgiven his debtor (cf. Matt 18: 35)? God will judge this man from an earthly perspective and not eternal. If I don’t forgive my debtor, I will not be a resident of hell in eternity, but I will have to face God’s judgment, whatever it may be, in this time and age.

If you disagree, then please do not hesitate to enlighten me. Amen.


1 Man is sinful from birth. No one teaches a child to lie or covet, but the child lies and covets.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Repentance in Forgiveness

Christians are called to forgive extensively (Matthew 18: 21-22). Should they forgive those who do not apologize for their offense? What does the Bible teach about forgiveness?

Gladys Staines, wife and mother of the brutally burnt husband and sons, stated, "I have forgiven the killers and have no bitterness … God in Christ has forgiven me and expects His followers to do the same.” 1 Here is a case of forgiveness where the offenders did not repent of their sin. Yet, can Christian parents forgive the killers of their brutally murdered child? I think they would struggle to forgive them – with or without repentance. Forgiveness isn’t an easy task.

Sin, repentance and punishment are the main factors involved in forgiveness. The Bible seems to state that God forgives a man under three conditions. The concern, however, is that these three conditions contradict each other:
(1) When a sinner repents of his sin (Luke 13: 3; Acts 2: 38, 8: 22 et al.).
(2) When a sinner forgives the one who sinned against him (Matthew 6: 12).
(3) When the sinner remains unrepentant (Luke 23: 34; Acts 7: 60).

Forgiving a repentant sinner is not difficult to comprehend. But (2) and (3) are difficult to comprehend. One could misinterpret the Lord’s prayer thinking God would forgive an unrepentant sinner who forgives the one who sinned against him. E.g. I don’t repent of my sins to God. But I have forgiven a person who sinned against me. Should I now expect God to forgive me – an unrepentant sinner? Is God’s forgiveness based on my forgiveness of another’s sin against me or on my repentance to God? This is the doctrinal knot we should untangle. But answering (3) would untangle the doctrinal knot of (2). If we can infer that God does not forgive an unrepentant sinner, then it would preclude every other situation that seems to indicate that God forgives an unrepentant sinner.

Does God forgive an unrepentant sinner?

Although Christ and Stephen appealed to God for the forgiveness of their enemies, the Bible does not explicitly state that God forgave their enemies. When the Bible isn’t explicit, doctrine should not be dogmatic. Thus we can reasonably infer that God does not forgive an unrepentant sinner.

However, there is a tricky situation to decrypt. Why did the Lord Jesus (God incarnate) appeal to God the Father when HE knew (through HIS omniscience) that God wouldn’t forgive an unrepentant sinner? Did Christ utter this statement meaninglessly? No! I think Christ would have forgiven those who perpetrated evil against HIM from the perspective of HIS humanity and not HIS divinity.2 (Divine forgiveness is different from human forgiveness.3) Christ forgave an unrepentant sinner to teach an invaluable lesson to mankind that those harmed could forgive the sinners, so to love them, even if they remain unrepentant. So Christ’s appeal to God does not offer us a sound proof that God forgives an unrepentant sinner. 

Would God forgive an unrepentant sinner who forgives the one who sinned against him? If this be true, we must resolve two problems about our understanding of God:

1. Is God sovereign? Is God’s forgiveness predicated on man’s forgiveness (of another)? Doesn’t God have an ability to act independently? Or is man wiser than God?

2. God cannot contradict HIMSELF. The Bible explicitly states that God forgives a repentant sinner. But if the same Bible also states that God forgives an unrepentant sinner, then it amounts to God contradicting HIMSELF i.e. God is a liar.

The sovereign God’s actions cannot be based on man, unless HE so wills it. God will not state that forgiveness of sins is only through repentance, and in the same breath forgive those who remain unrepentant.

Verses that imply a doctrine ought to be interpreted in light of the verses where the doctrine is outlined explicitly (demanding repentance for forgiveness of sins). One of the fundamental principles for biblical hermeneutic is “Sacred Scripture is its own interpreter.”

Furthermore, if God forgives an unrepentant sinner, we need to contend with more problems, for instance:

1. The many passages that teach forgiveness through repentance should be misinterpreted by employing a faulty hermeneutic.

2. Repentance loses its existence and meaning. (There is no need to repent to God.)

3. Promotes willful disobedience of man against a holy God. What holds me back from sinning willfully, if I am forgiven though being unrepentant?

Hence I submit that God will not forgive an unrepentant sinner. Therefore, we summarize as follows:

1. God forgives a repentant sinner; the forgiven person will not be punished.

2. God does not forgive an unrepentant sinner; the unforgiven person will be punished.

3. The sinner in the Lord’s prayer prays for forgiveness of his sins (repents) primarily.4 So God would forgive this sinner, since he repented of his sins.

Thus, from the divine perspective, repentance is necessary for forgiveness. If repentance is necessary for God to forgive man, how should man practice forgiveness in a human relationship? Asking a few leading questions could provide us with answers:

1. Should man forgive only those who repent? If the answer to this is ‘no,’ then how can love be ignited inside a broken relationship?

2. How do we identify a genuine repentance from false?

When a person repents of his sins, we ought to forgive (Luke 17: 3-4). We should also forgive an unrepentant sinner for love to be reestablished and for hatred and bitterness to disappear. This is in obedience to God’s command to love our neighbor as Christ loves us (John 13:34; cf. Hosea 3:1). A model for this forgiveness is provided by Hosea, Christ and Stephen. We should not speak maliciously or take revenge of any form or size against the one who wronged us. But restoration of relationship is only predicated on genuine repentance (cf. Hosea 3: 3). If someone has wronged me and remains unrepentant, I should forgive and not harbor bitterness or hatred. But unless this person genuinely repents, I cannot resume a perfectly normal relationship!5 By forgiving an unrepentant sinner, I am paving way for love to be reestablished in the relationship. Genuine repentance paves way for restoration of a normal relationship.

Distinguishing genuine from false repentance consumes time. The blessed Holy Spirit will guide us through life situations to recognize the genuineness of repentance. If someone has falsely accused me and eventually repents of that sin, I will definitely resume a normal relationship. After some time and in a similar situation, if this person makes another false accusation against me, it would prove that his/her repentance was false.

Forgiveness ought to proceed from the intrinsic to the extrinsic - from the heart to the mouth. It is quite possible to say that we have forgiven the perpetrator of evil, but to forgive the person from the heart is another spiritual battle that needs to be won through prayer (for forgiveness does not come easy to many). From this perspective, one cannot take Gladys’ words for granted, but only God knows the true state of a human heart. However, by issuing a statement that she has forgiven the killers, Gladys Staines did something extraordinary which an ordinary Christian would find very difficult to do. In Christian life, we ought to take small steps to monumental spiritual achievements.

To conclude, I submit the following:

1. God forgives a repentant sinner. HE does not forgive an unrepentant sinner.

2. A Christian ought to forgive the one who repents of his sin.

3. Even if the offender remains unrepentant, the Christian ought to forgive him for love to be reestablished in that relationship.6 However, restoration of a normal relationship is predicated on a genuine repentance. (Christian parents can forgive the killers, through prayer, and by God’s power.)

I bless you in the name of our Lord. Amen.

References & Notes:

Repentance: A heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p1253.)


2  My assumption is based on the explicit assertion of the Bible that God does not forgive an unrepentant sinner. Understanding of “Incarnation” or “hypostatic union” is mandatory to understanding the concept of Christ’s humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.

3 The divine forgiveness is an instance where the perfect God forgives an imperfect human. God forgives man from within HIS attribute of omniscience and eternality. Human forgiveness is from the perspectives of a temporal and an inadequate knowledge. This subject should be examined in isolation and not within the scope of this blog.

4 Will God not forgive a man who genuinely repents of his sins to HIM, but hasn’t forgiven his debtor? We could consider this subject at a later point in time.

5 The unrepentant man would not have changed his offensive / sinful ways. He will continue in his sinful ways.

6 In God’s perspective, this could be correlated to the “common grace” of God.