Thursday, September 07, 2006

Can God both forgive and repay?

How can the following verses be reconciled:

1) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:12

2) Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. Rev. 22:12.

Both these ideas are major teachings of the entire Bible, both that God forgives our sins and repays people according to their deeds.

How does this work?


Ρωμανος ~ Romanós said...

First scripture:
When we confess our sins to God, and when we turn from them, He is faithful to forgive.

Second scripture:
Reward is "misthós" (Greek: pay, recompense, in another sense, yes, punishment). There are plenty of verses scattered throughout the scriptures, that indicate that there is a consequence to every action, even every thought. All that the Word of God is saying here is, at the "finish line" we will receive in eternity what we effected in time.

These two verses, anyway, cannot be exactly compared, because they're not an exact match, close but not close enough.

An excellent topic to explore in a topical bible study, though, especially in public (like at a coffeehouse), and lots of good teaching could be elucidated in the give and take.

Ben said...

In my younger days I always assumed that the first verse applied to those who had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and the second verse applied to everyone else.

Now, I get the vague feeling that my understanding was immature, though I can't say why.

I'm no help here.

-Dave said...

Does "according to what he has done" have to be understood as a specific accounting of every word, thought, and deed?

If a judge punishes a "good" man for breaking the law, he is looking not at the whole scope of a man's life, but a specific instance. Conversely, if a foul man is rewarded for a heroic act he to is rewarded "according to what he has done" without forcing that to be a full accounting of every deed.

If, therefore, God removes a man's sin as far as the East is from the West, and then repays him according to what he has done, looking only to his "good works," it doesn't seem inconsistent with what we experience in life.

Kenny said...

Dave - if you're saying that the Christian's sins are all forgiven, but his good deeds are rewarded, then that's fine as far as it goes.

However, I think there are a number of verses that suggest that bad deeds also are recompensed. Some examples:

Revelation 2:22 "So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds."

Matthew 12:36 "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

1 Cor. 2:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

-Dave said...

Revelaton 2:22 - Most of that passage appears to address, not the church, but a wolf within the flock who will be punished.

"20Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not."

Matthew: Interesting thought. We are both acquitted and condemned by our words. On a balance, or selectively? Both?

1 Corinthians: Is it the deeds or the judgement which is referenced as good or bad? It's probably clear in the greek through the sentence structure, but I don't have that handy. If deeds, then it seems to support your point. If judgement, then it would seem to say "We will all be repaid, for good or bad, based on our deeds." But that would seem to fit into the idea advanced before - that God can judge us on selective deeds, which allows for forgiven misdeeds to be set aside.