True repentance is indeed manifested and evidenced by confession of sin before God ( <421813>Luke 18:13), and by reparation for wrongs done to men ( <421908>Luke 19:8). But these do not constitute repentance. They are rather fruits of repentance. Between ?repentance? and ?fruit worthy of repentance,? Scripture plainly distinguishes ( <400308>Matthew 3:8).
<421813> Luke 18:13 ? ?But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast saying God, be thou merciful to me a sinner [?be propitiated to me the sinner?]?; 19:8 ? ?And Zaccheus stood, and said unto The Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wrongfully exacted ought of any man, I restore fourfold?; <400308>Matthew 3:8 ? ?Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance.? Fruit worthy of repentance, or fruits meet for repentance are confession of sin, surrender to Christ, turning from sin reparation for wrong doing, right moral conduct and profession of Christian faith.
On <421703>Luke 17:3 ? ?if thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent forgive him? ? Dr. B. H. Carroll remarks that the law is uniform which makes repentance indispensable to forgiveness. It applies to man?s forgiveness of man, as well as to God?s forgiveness of man or the church?s forgiveness of man. But I must be sure that I cherish toward the offender the spirit of love, whether he repents or not. Freedom from all malice toward him, however, and even loving prayerful labor to lead him to repentance, is not forgiveness. This I can grant only when he actually repents. If I do forgive him without repentance, then I impose my rule on God when I pray: ?Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgives our debtors? ( <400612>Matthew 6:12).
On the question whether the requirement that we forgive without atonement implies that God does, see Brit. and For. Evang. Rev., Oct. 1881:678-691 ? ?Answer:
1. The present constitution of things is based upon atonement. Forgiveness on our part is required upon the ground of the Cross which, without it, the world would be hell.
2. God is Judge. We forgive, as brethren. When he forgives, it is as Judge of all the earth, of whom all earthly judges are representatives. If earthly judges may exact justice than how much more God can. The argument that would abolish atonement would abolish all civil government.
3. I should forgive my brother on the ground of God?s love and Christ?s bearing of his sins.
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