By: Undre Griggs, Jr
Throughout the New Testament, Christians are expected to “forgive as we have been forgiven”. This brings the natural question of when and how we were forgiven. Many will submit: we are forgiven when we confess Jesus is the son of God and are baptized for the remission of sin. This is often used as a justification that humans do not have to forgive unless the person does something first. Sometimes, this can be as simple as saying, “I’m sorry”; but for others, they believe there is a path of redemption that must be satisfied.
Genesis 22:8-12 (NKJV): And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
As early as Genesis, we can see the foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. What action did you take to cause God to send His son to die on the cross for your sins? At least for me, I did not do anything to deserve such an act of love and forgiveness. Many conclude that our need to be baptized for the remission of sin proves we can demand action before forgiving others. However, the fact that we find ourselves with a path to restoration before acknowledging our sinful nature reflects otherwise. If Jehovah waited for us to prove we deserve Jesus to die for us, He would still be waiting. Our death with Jesus in the watery grave of baptism is the only way for us to purify our corruptible body (1 Peter 1:23). Without it, we could not be rejoined with God, because he is the absence of evil. We see this confirmed when Jesus embodied our sins on the cross and Jehovah forsook Him (Matthew 27:46). As sinners ourselves, we do not have the same reaction or disdain for sin. Therefore, we cannot require others to perform an act of purification to interact with us. We are to do all things in love; and love requires us to be unprovoked, be patient, bear all things, believe all things, and endure all things. Can you confidently say requiring some form of penitence falls under the definition of love? I find it difficult, to say the least.