I believe in the forgiveness of sins.
A lot of people have and give the impression that the Christian God has set up the universe so that everyone goes to hell, but if you say sorry and a special charm prayer you will magically go to heaven instead. That is called cheap grace – there was no cost involved to you.
Some people have and give the impression that saying sorry is the end of it. Let me give what I hope is not a too-significant example: I loathe people speaking through each other, over the top of each other, not listening to each other. If I am speaking and another person begins to speak, often I will stop. Mid sentence. When there is silence again, I will begin again – and if it has taken a moment – I will begin my sentence again – from the start. I just think this is normal, basic, human dialogue where people take turns to speak, and turns to listen. If a person says “sorry” for ignoring and talking over another person, what does that sorry mean if that same person does exactly the same again. That sorry has meant absolutely nothing. That person has merely made more noise by saying sorry.
Real apologising isn’t just adding more noise to an already noisy universe. Real apologising, really saying you are sorry is meaning it; it is a commitment that you intend, really intend, not to do it again.
So forgiveness is a process – it’s not cheap grace – as it so often appears in our culture. It is a costly process.
Firstly, what are you apologising for? What are you going to be forgiven for?
There’s a lot of talk nowadays of “an error of judgment” – people, it seems, don’t do things that are wrong – they make “an error of judgment”. Yes, at times you and I do make an error of judgment.
But read my lips – there’s more than just errors of judgment. People do things that are wrong. And if you and I intentionally do something that is wrong that is sin. I believe in the forgiveness of sin – but it takes more than a cursory, hasty, mechanical saying sorry.
So – there is the saying “sorry”. That means – really means: I am sincerely sorry
AND it means: I intend not to do this again.
AND it means: I intend, as much as is possible, to fix what I have done – to undo the wrong, to make it up, to repair the damage I have caused, and to repair the relationship I have broken.
That is what forgiveness is about. It is costly – not just saying sorry; end of story.
To God it is costly. To fix the human mess we make cost God more than a simple, “it’s fine – I forgive you”.
AND there are some things, once you have done them – you cannot fix it up. You cannot repair it. You cannot undo it.
I believe in the forgiveness of sins does not mean whatever errors of judgment we make, whatever wrong we do, whatever sin we commit can be fixed up. Some things, in this life, will never be able to be fixed up.
Some things only God and God’s future can fix.
This is the thirty-first post in a series on the Creed.
The first is Apostles’ Creed.
The second is I believe in God.
The third is a source of the Apostles’ Creed.
The fourth is I believe in the Father.
The fifth is Handing over the Creed.
The sixth is I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son
The seventh is Don’t use the creed in worship
They eighth is Truly God truly human
The ninth is Conceived by the Holy Spirit
The tenth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 2)
The eleventh is Born of the Virgin Mary
The twelfth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 3)
The thirteenth is Crucified under Pontius Pilate
The fourteenth is crucified
The fifteenth is Holy Saturday
This sixteenth is He descended to the dead
The seventeenth is on the third day he rose again
The eighteenth is Seated at the right hand of the Father
The nineteenth is Judge the living and the dead
The twentieth is I believe in the Holy Spirit
The twenty-first is But Wait, There’s More!
The twenty-second is And the Son
The twenty-third is Filioque
The twenty-fourth is Two hands of God
The twenty-fifth is Don’t believe in the Church
The twenty-sixth is I believe one Church
The twenty-seventh is I believe in holy church
The twenty-eighth is I believe in catholic church
The twenty-ninth is I believe in apostolic church
The thirtieth is The Communion of Saints