Book Review – Finding Forgiveness by Stanley D. Gale

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Finding Forgiveness Book Cover Finding Forgiveness
Stanley D. Gale
Religion
November 20, 2016

If you are a Christian, you have personally experienced the joy of sins forgiven and reconciliation with God. Forgiveness, writes Stanley Gale, 'is a divine accomplishment to be savored and offered to others.' Forgiveness is the most basic of Christian graces, yet the topic raises many questions, including these:

Is it biblical to 'forgive and forget'?
Why do we need to confess our sins if they are already forgiven?
How do we actually go about forgiving someone?
Does the Bible give a place to forgiving ourselves?
What does life look like after forgiveness?

In Finding Forgiveness, you will discover practical answers to these questions and many others. With pastoral warmth, the author will help you see how the awe of the gospel dawns anew for those who apply forgiveness and experience the healing of a burdened spirit or broken relationship.

Finding Forgiveness by Stanley Gale is a new book about the nature and practical working out of forgiveness in the life of the believer. If I could summarize the book in a few words I would say that it is both wonderfully practical and profoundly theological– it is theologically pastoral. The first chapter focuses on the place of forgiveness within the big picture of the gospel. It is, as Gale describes, the “jewel of justification”. Using WCS Q33 as a basic outline, Gale demonstrates that our justification is a once and for all pronouncement of guiltlessness before God.

Q. What is Justification?

A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

 

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 33

This is an important starting point because it sets the question of forgiveness squarely within the context of gospel grace and not as a transactional and meritorious exchange with God. This is important for the reader to grasp because the following chapter (called Forgiveness as Kingdom Currency) could make any reformed reader sweat bullets if the author hadn’t already set the context within the gospel.

The second chapter is critical for the reader to understand before moving into such practical applications of forgiveness as forgiving others as well as ourselves. If you skip this chapter you will miss the theological foundation for the task of living out forgiveness. Don’t skip this chapter. I have to confess, when I first received the book in the mail and read through the chapter titles I was a bit nervous when I saw a chapter with the word “currency” in the title. I was not familiar with the author and wasn’t sure where he stood on the Reformed understanding of grace. I was comforted by the fact that Finding Forgiveness is published by Reformation Heritage Books and that held my worry at bay while I worked my way through the chapter. Having just read chapter 1 in which Gale affirmed that our justification is by grace alone,  I was confident that he would resolved the tension and end up at a theologically orthodox position — the way in which he did this was masterful to say the least.

Confession would be opening an accounts receivable ledger, looking up the debt of the sin we confess, and finding it has already been paid. We don’t draw on Christ’s blood to pay. We draw up to the ledger to discover it has already been paid by Him; the debt is wiped clean. God calls us to the throne of grace not to be forgiven but to find forgiveness.

This distinction is important because the predominant concept of how believers relate to ongoing confession is that we confess our sins in order to be forgiven all over again. In this understanding of confessing our sins, we are told that though we are made clean upon justification, we must return to the cross continually in order for God to dust off the residual sin that accumulates between confessions. In this view, confession is a currency which we pay to God in order to for Him to be able to forgive us. Gale leaves no room for this and is thoroughly Reformed in his explanation of forgiveness.

With the theological stage set, Gale rounds off the book with a brilliantly pastoral treatise on the practicalities of forgiveness. Here he deals with such issues as how to practice forgiveness with others, the “alter of forgiveness” that we have in the Lord’s Supper, and forgiving ourselves.

Finding forgiveness helps the believer understand his/her own forgiveness rooted in the gospel and understand how and why we forgive others. This book is just for a subset of Christianity- it is a book that the entire Church would benefit from reading. The grace of forgiveness and its continuing role in the Christian life is central to Christianity and the character and nature of God and the issue of forgiveness is important for us to get right. This is a  book that you will want to read, set down, and come back to after a while. Forgiveness is a life-long grace that we partake of and in. I would absolutely recommend this as a part of a homeschooling curriculum as many of the existing character formation units tend to focus more on behavior modification rather than addressing character as something that God works in us through the gospel. The questions at the end of each chapter are perfect for family discussions if this book is read as a family.


Where to purchase Finding Forgiveness

Amazon — ChristianBook.com — Reformation Heritage Books


About the Author

 

Finding ForgivenessStanley D. Gale (MEd, MDiv, DMin) has served Christ and congregation as a pastor for thirty years. He has authored books on prayer, spiritual warfare, the Christian life, evangelism, and biblical worldview (Ecclesiastes). His ministry website is www.CHOPministry.net.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Heritage Books in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

9 thoughts on “Book Review – Finding Forgiveness by Stanley D. Gale

  1. Oh this is totally what air need right now! Why is it so hard to forgive? Do you know if there is a Kindle version?

  2. Matt Sorensen

    I’m sick and tired of people trying to stick Grace into everything. What is it about you people that you don’t understand that Grace is not a free-for-all?

    “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”

    Does this sound like something God does that is not in response to something we do? What part of this verse is so hard for people to get? Yes, Grace is currency. If we forgive others God will forgive us. If we do not forgive others he will not forgive us. It’s a very clear Tit for Tat. Yes I know this makes reformed people nervous but I don’t see any way around this verse. When we forgive others we turn the right to be forgiven by God. This isn’t something that he “graciously gives us”. It is owned by us and cashed in for our own forgiveness.

    • Matt what gives? Did someone wrong you by showing too much grace? I mean really! What are you going to say to God when he let’s you into His kingdom and you see it’s by His grace alone? Will you lash out bitterly and tell him He’s wrong? We forgive because he forgave. Not so that he will forgive.

  3. Lee

    Forgiveness and grace are always free. We just fall into it by the fact that we are God’s children. It is currency by the way. It’s just that we don’t pay it. Christ did.

  4. Karl

    Lee that’s right. Christ has paid it. We don’t trade anything that resembles righteousness for favor with God. If we did it wouldn’t be grace.

  5. Donalae

    No discussion of forgiveness is complete without addressing atonement and reconciliation. “God was on the cross reconciling the world to himself”. Notice what comes first. Reconciliation precedes forgiveness. Reconciliation was happening on the cross before forgiveness you see? So no, we don’t offer forgiveness freely because God didn’t exemplify that for us. Instead his pattern is to first demand reconciliation and then forgiveness. If someone steals from me I cannot forgive him Biblically until he agrees to reconcile. Give me back my wallet with all the money you took and while you’re at it pay me interest. Then we are reconciled and I will forgive. This is what we see God doing. Reconciling on the cross and then forgiving after the price was paid. According to scripture, 1. Point out the wrong 2. Ackcowledge the wrong 3. Confess the fault 4.repent 5
    Reconcile 6.forgive 7. Restore 8. I forget the 8th but my point is forgive is not first as American Christianity teaches it is 6th as the scriptures teach.

    • Donalae, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that a discussion of atonement and reconciliation is necessary when discussing this topic. However I believe you have reversed the order. Was God unable to forgive until after Golgotha or was His reconciling of the world to Himself in Christ the expression of His already existing forgiveness for His children? Or if I can ask another way, was the cross a prerequisite of forgiveness or the ultimate expression of it?

      It seems to me that if you place forgiveness so far down the process then you end up with a convenient excuse to never have to forgive anyone. This keeps the offense front and center rather than reconciliation. Notice that 2 Corinthians 5:19 is focused on reconciling and the ministry of reconciliation. Notice also that it is not focused on a ministry of atonement. The atoning was done in Christ on our behalf because we simply can never atone for our own sins. If you reverse the order you keep the main message one of having to set every single right before forgiving. If that becomes the focus you end up with a sort of liberation theology in which the problem is a social ill rather than sin itself. Your mission then becomes one of enforcing atonement from offenders rather than reconciling people to one another and ultimately to God.

  6. Donalae

    I follow the teachings of Minister Farrakhan and he identifies with liberation theology. This is how we are to forgive. Once atonement is made we are obligated to forgive.

    • Donalae thanks for clarifying. The worldview espoused by the NOI is opposed to the worldview that I and most of my readers hold to. I’m not at all suggesting that you are not welcome here — you are. However, I am simply asking that any disagreements remain civil as they have so far. It’s good to discuss our differences and to seek truth. If you are willing to stay a while I’d like to ask a few foundational questions.

      In your worldview…

      1. What is sin? I understand that we both have an idea of what sin is as opposed to secularists who deny the notion of sin. What I want to know is what is the standard for what is sinful and what is good?

      2. Who is guilty of sin? In the orthodox Christian worldview individuals are guilty of sin. Each individuals and every individual.

      3. Is sin objective? That is, can we say that murder is sin regardless of the circumstances or person committing murder? I’m not talking about self defense.

      Thanks Donalae

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