Having known the forgiveness of God and being called of Him to forgive as He does, it is important that we be familiar with three different aspects of forgiveness. To make them easy to remember we have called them eternal forgiveness, paternal forgiveness and fraternal forgiveness.
This is the pardon that the soul receives when it receives the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior; it is a complete and eternal pardon of all our sins given in righteousness by God Who is forever satisfied by the work of Christ on the cross. This forgiveness forever shelters us from the eternal consequences which our sins deserved. It will never have to be repeated for one who has received Christ as his own personal Savior. It answers to Luke 23:34, Romans 4:7, Colossians 2:13.
Once we have received eternal forgiveness, we are in the family of God. It is possible however that, even being sons of God, we might sin. These sins do not jeopardize our eternal salvation but they do affect, each time, our fellowship with God. We then must confess to God the sin committed as a believer to receive the Father's forgiveness and be restored to the fellowship of the Father and the Son. This answers to 1 John 1:8-10, 1 John 2:1-2, see also Luke 15:11-32. Eternal forgiveness establishes our relationship with God as Father; the Fatherís or paternal forgiveness enables us to resume the enjoyment of that relationship.
There are two main aspects to brotherly forgiveness†: individual forgiveness and collective forgiveness. Is we have sinned against another believer, this failure needs to be confessed to God to obtain fatherly forgiveness and then it must also be confessed to the brother against which we have sinned in order to obtain his personal forgiveness and thus restore fellowship with him. If the two are at fault, then mutual forgiveness is in order. Fraternal or brotherly forgiveness applies to all our relationships with other believers (and even unbelievers at that), as well as our relationships in our family circle; this aspect of forgiveness presented in Matthew 5:23-26, 18:15-18, 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13 et James 5:16. A sin bringing great dishonor on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ will exercise the consciences of my brothers and sisters in the assembly. This sin is covered, as all others by the precious blood of Christ but the believer needs not only to confess this sin to the Father to be restored to His fellowship but he must also confess it to his brethren that they may also forgive him collectively and, if there is a question of discipline, he may, being restored to them, enjoy anew the full fellowship in the assembly (see 1 Cor. 5:1:13, 2 Cor. 2:5-11, John 20:23, Mat. 18:18).
Our God is a God of pardon, of forgiveness (see Neh. 9:17, Ps. 130:4, Dan. 9:9, Micah. 7:18). Consider these three aspects of forgiveness: in the first we have the forgiveness the Son has obtained for us while yet sinners, in the second we have the forgiveness the Father gives his own children and in the third, we have the forgiveness the Spirit gives between the saints themselves. May we in this be imitators of our great God, that we forgive one another also (Col. 3:13, John 15:12).
NOTE: All Bible references are from the King James Version unless otherwise specified. All unsigned material is in the spirit of Ecc. 12:11. Send all correspondence, comments, suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last update 2010/05/13