The personal testimony of April Farmer was stirring and heart-wrenching!
It was well worth the listen and reminded me about what life is really like for many who live life outside of our awareness.
As I listened, I was moved by her aspirations to reach the place of “forgiveness.”
Nevertheless, I left her testimony with great ambivalence as to whether or not her view on forgiveness was actually biblical — once again!
The word “forgiveness” faces the same defining headwinds as other biblical words. Like the word “love,” there are those who grossly misuse that word. “Forgiveness,” like “love,” may be far removed from its biblical meaning.
Let me offer a series of 4 questions that reflect my ambivalence.
#1 – Does the word “forgiveness” have different biblical meanings?
Is it one size fits all?
The answer is obviously, “no,” and the reason is equally obvious. While Jesus was being crucified, He uttered these words — “Father, forgive (“aphiemi”) them for they know not what they do.” If the prayer of Jesus was answered, forgiveness was granted!
Does that mean all those who crucified Jesus that day had their sin of rejection and crucifixion canceled? Not according to Peter in Acts 2:23, as Peter calls on them to repent!
The word “forgive” (aphiemi)is the same word used in Matthew 6:14, 15 (“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”), Matthew 9:2, 6, 12:31, 32; 18:21, 27, 32, 35; et al! 
The word is legitimately, properly, and most often translated “suffer.” Permit it to be, suffer it to be. The words of Jesus to His Father were a call to suffer it to be. Had not Jesus prayed that, all involved might well have been struck down straightway.
The word “forgive” (in the sense that we popularly use the word) can mean that, but it does not always mean, nor should it be translated as such!
#2 – Is there “forgiveness of sin” (in the sense that we popularly use the word) without confession or repentance?
Does God “forgive” or “cancel the debt” without any confession that what was done was wrong. Does God expect a repentant heart that seeks to make it right?
The Scriptures state that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” What if we do not confess them? Are they forgiven by God? “Biblical forgiveness” requires confession.
In fact, it requires confrontation. How do you even know if someone actually sinned against you if you do not confront them? What if, in confronting them, they indicate that this-or-that is not even true! It never happened. That is why we are instructed to go to someone who sins against us. 
#3 – What is a biblical response to wrongdoing?
If confession took place, forgive!
And if it happens again, and confession is made, forgive — 70X7.
The only requirement is a confession of wrongdoing.
Without confession that any wrong was done, there is no biblical forgiveness.  Nevertheless, there is the requirement of love, and that showing “love” may look very much like forgiveness. I Corinthians 13 says you are to . . . . .
- suffer it
- show humility as an equal wrong-doer in life
- not act unseemly — inappropriately
- find no pleasure in one’s calamity
- bear it
- believe the best
- hope that one day it will be made right
- endure it
Are we to carry a grudge / offense? Are we to go through life requiring that the “debt be paid.”
We are to suffer it to be for now and maybe for all of our lives.
But there is no biblical forgiveness without confession/repentance.
Wrongdoers will have to deal with unforgiven sin in eternity, because it was never confessed to man and to God!
4 – “What does it matter? Just forgive them!”
After listening to the testimony of April Farmer (and others before her), I am primarily concerned that we are being taught to be “spiritual stoics.”  That we are to smother our sense of wrong and wrong-doing, to douse wrong-doing with the word “forgiveness” and “act like” it no longer affects us.
If you doubt me, listen to the testimony (and that of others) as April shares how she has forgiven him yet betrays that she still has those feelings of anger and hurt. Because you cannot wave the “forgiveness wand” over veritable wrongdoing.  That betrayal of one who was your friend and even closest friend (Psalm 41:9), abandonment (or worse) by your covenantal spouse (II Samuel 11:3), seeing another unfairly mistreated (and worse) (I Samuel 20:34), friends who fail to stand in the hard days (Matthew 26:40,71) hurts and hurts deeply.
While one can suffer all things, one still suffers – bears -endures it!
To deny such hurt and pain is to deny the reality of who we are, and not sinful reality, but human reality!
We have been created as social-relational-emotional beings that feel hurt, anger, betrayal, insult, exploitation, injury, and more!
That does not mean we carry it around for life, but that over time, as we suffer all things and bear all things, we work our way through it. Sometimes, working out way through it happens very slowly — and that is okay as long as we are on a path to that end.
“Just bear with me, I am trying to get there!” is real life and living, not the fake words of some kind of stoic “arrival.” Those words are the Christian’s reality in life and living in a fallen world and broken people. It is the reality that I think even April Farmer states — though unwittingly.
1 – Matt 6:9-15; 18:21-35; Luke 7:36-50; 11:1-4; Eph 4:31-32; Col 3:12-13
Two other words are translated “forgive.”
- “charizomai” – which most realize comes from the word translated “grace”
- “apoluo” – only two times translated “forgive” in one verse Luke 6:37
“charizomai” and “aphiemi” are used interchangeably in Luke 7:42, 43, 47, 48
2 – “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”
Let me assure you that one day what is going to be judged and condemned by God — is not the sins of a man, but the man for his unconfessed sins!
3 – There is a lot of self-righteous forgiveness when one states that they have forgiven another(s), or repeatedly forgiven so-in-so, when they do not even know if they have been sinned against.
4 – John Dryden:
And none can boast sincere felicity,
With equal mind, what happens, let us bear,
Nor joy, nor grieve too much for things beyond our care.
Like pilgrims to the appointed place we tend
“Accept it and take it as from the hand of God for your life. He brought this into your life, and you are to praise Him and rejoice in that He has allowed this!” — is just another one of those theological ditches that lacks the balance of Scripture!
5 – Yes, there is real/veritable wrong-doing, and there is perceived wrong-doing. All of us have been wronged — real or imagined. But when there is veritable wrong, confession is necessary for biblical forgiveness. Nevertheless, we are commanded to still love — and to biblically love even our enemies!
Audio Link: Her personal testimony