The Normal Christian Faith, by Watchman Nee

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Once a man argued with me concerning this point. He said, "Mr. Nee, if God wants to forgive our sins, why can He not just say so? Why did He have to send His Son to be crucified on the cross? This is too cumbersome!" He thought that God is a nice fellow who writes off our sins unscrupulously without any concern for the law! He did not realize that God had to go through many steps before He could issue forgiveness.

A few years ago, I was preaching on this matter in a girls’ school in Nanking. However, the students could not quite grasp the idea. There was a little table before me with a beautiful vase on top. I asked the principal of the school, "Suppose someone broke this vase. According to the rule of the school, what would you do?" The principal replied that reparation would have to be made. I asked, "What would happen if one of your favorite students had done it?" She answered that the same rule would apply. I pursued on and asked, "What if she could not afford to pay?" The principal repeated that the rule would still hold.

The next day, during the meeting, the vase was gone. It was broken by one of the principal’s favorite students who also happened to be very poor. I took the opportunity to preach once more the doctrine of salvation by the death of Jesus. The principal could not release the student from her responsibility on the basis of love. Yet the student had no way to make reparation. In this dilemma there was only one way to take: the principal had to use her own money to repay for the student. On one hand, this fulfilled the law of the school; on the other hand, it showed the love of the principal for her students.

Christ came to earth to bear the judgment of our sins and suffer their consequences in order that we may be forgiven. The coming of Christ was the very coming of God Himself. He came to repay for us. By doing so, He did not degrade Himself in unrighteousness; rather, He proved Himself to be just and righteous.


I believe we have to see one more aspect of the meaning of forgiveness. Forgiveness implies bearing the transgressor’s loss by the transgressed. For example, if someone has stolen my pencil and I have forgiven him, it means that I have suffered the loss of a pencil. What then is unforgiveness? It simply means to take back the pencil from the thief in order that I may not suffer a loss. Hence, to forgive is to suffer a loss.

When the student broke the vase, she should have been the one to make reparation. Unforgiveness means that she would have to suffer a loss by payment. Forgiveness, on the other hand, means that the transgressed, who was the principal, had to take up the loss by paying for it herself. Therefore, when God forgives our sins, it means that He takes up the loss incurred by our sins. No third party can forgive our sins. Only the transgressed can suffer the loss of the transgressor. Christ is God, the One against whom we sinned. His forgiveness is the suffering of the loss of our sins.

(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)