Can We Ask God to Forgive Someone Else?

Can We Pray for God to Forgive Others?

From Alex via email:

Hi pastor Guzik. One thing I wanted to know- and you could answer this in your Q&A video if you want.

Can you pray for God to forgive someone else? Like when Jesus said, “Forgive them, Lord; they know not what they do.” Thanks for your time.

Here’s the passage Alex referred to:

Luke 23:33–34

And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

There are a few principles at work here.

  1. When Jesus prayed that God the Father would forgive the sin of those nailing Him to the cross, it was consistent with His teaching that we should love our enemies and those who persecute us.

Matthew 5:44

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.

Matthew 5:46

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

  1. Forgiveness is one part of a multi-faceted work in those who believe.

The question Alex asked was more about forgiveness in general – like, “Should we pray that God would forgive the sins of others? Would a prayer like that do any good?”

Because salvation – including the forgiveness of sin – happens at God’s initiation, we can pray for God to work that way in the lives of others. In the big picture, the forgiveness of sin – as part of the new covenant – isn’t isolated. It’s connected with election, with repentance, with regeneration (being born again), with being declared righteous by God, with the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit, and more. So to truly pray, “Lord, forgive their sin” is to pray, “Lord, bring salvation to them in the fullest sense” – and that’s a prayer we can always pray.

  1. Because God alone can forgive sins, and because Jesus was and is God, Jesus prayed this from a different place than we and other believers do.

How Jesus prayed is seen in Luke 23:33–34

And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots.

How believers can pray is seen by Stephen’s example in Acts 7:59–60

And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Do you see the difference? The words of Jesus are more a formal request, based on His knowledge of their hearts and minds. Jesus knew that they didn’t know all they were doing.

The words of Stephen were a recognition of the sin of his persecutors, but that God would not charge them with this sin. It’s a beautiful expression of the heart of Jesus but expressed in words appropriate for the believer.

Yet, the prayer of Jesus and the prayer of Stephen were in complete accord with what Jesus said about loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us.

When it comes to praying that God would forgive the sins of others in general, we understand that forgiveness is one important part of a much larger work of God’s grace, including the believer’s response of faith, that we can and should pray for.

If no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them, how should we pray and share our faith (John 6:44)?

In John 6:44, Jesus says the Father has to draw someone to come to Jesus, meaning the initiative comes from the Father. Could you advise how to pray/ share our faith in light of this verse?

John 6:44 – No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

That’s a great question. I think this verse can inform our prayers in a few ways. We can just simply ask God to draw that person to Himself. You might wonder, “What if it’s not God’s will to draw them?” We can leave that up to God. We can say, “Lord, I want that person to be saved. I want that person to come to faith. Whether or not that is in the council of Your will, known from all eternity, that’s Your business. It’s not my business. It’s my business, as Paul said in 1 Timothy, to pray for all men. Everybody should have somebody praying for them to be saved. We can very simply and straightforwardly pray, “Lord, would You please draw that person?”

Here’s another way that I use this principle in prayer. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about those who are perishing because the god of this age has veiled them from understanding. So, I will often pray, “Lord, take away the veil which prevents that person from seeing and understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ.” I think that’s a valid prayer to pray.

E.M. Bounds was a great writer who wrote very eloquently about prayer, so I would assume he was also a great pray-er. He said that it’s more important to talk to God about men (in prayer) than it is to talk to men about God (through evangelism). In the work of evangelism, prayer is often neglected. So, it’s more important to talk to God about men, and to pray for them, “God, draw them. God, take away the veil. God, work in them by Your Spirit. God, convict them by Your Holy Spirit, as You said You would.” It’s more important to pray those prayers even than it is to speak to that person about God and about Jesus Christ.

Now, we’re in the blessed position where we do not need to choose between the two; we can do both. But if you had to choose between one or the other, it could rightly be said that it’s more important to talk to God about men than it is to talk about men about God.

Should Christians keep the Old Testament holy days?

Should Christians keep the Old Testament holy days? Why should 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Zechariah 14:16-19, Ezekiel 44:24, and Ezekiel 45:21 NOT be taken as proof that Christians must keep the feasts today?

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 – Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 is talking about keeping the Passover. But please notice, Paul is very plainly saying that Christ is the new Passover. He’s not recommending keeping the old Passover, but he’s using Passover as an analogy for how we should follow Christ.

I don’t think the passages from Zechariah and Ezekiel require that believers today observe the feasts of Israel. I believe they describe what will happen in the Millennial age, when the nations will be required to keep the feasts of Israel. Christians differ on this; there are different perspectives on the End Times and the coming of the Kingdom of God. In my understanding of eschatology, I would say that these things belong to the Millennial age to come. Since we aren’t yet in that age, these things don’t apply to us in our present age. Instead, the things belonging to us now are what Paul talked about in Colossians 2:16-17 – “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have perfect freedom to observe these feasts. If you want to observe them, you have freedom in Jesus Christ to observe them. Praise the Lord for that. Don’t feel that there should be any restriction on you. The feasts were part of the Mosaic economy and the Old Covenant, but now we live under a New Covenant. It’s a better covenant which does not include the required observance of those things.

Would concepts like Christianity or the Trinity still exist without The Fall, if Adam & Eve had never sinned?

Thank you for your question. I’m happy to address it, but it is pretty speculative.

The concept of the Trinity would definitely still exist because it’s key to the nature of God, and who He is. That would still have been known and revealed to Adam and Eve and their descendants, assuming that sin never came into the human race. So, the Trinity? Yes.

Christianity? I would say no, because a key component to the Christian faith is dealing with the sin problem. And you are supposing a universe which doesn’t have a sin problem. So, Christianity as we know it wouldn’t exist in a world that had never fallen.

We need to remember that God’s strategy was to allow the Fall to happen. It’s not as if Adam and Eve messed God’s plan. No, not at all. Instead, God wanted to bring forth something greater than innocent men and women who had never sinned: redeemed men and women. Biblically speaking, I can say to you with great confidence that the status of redeemed men and women is higher in God’s plan and economy than the place of innocent men and women. We gain more in Jesus than we ever lost in Adam.

What was the reason why ​Jews were to have no dealings with Samaritans?

Great question. A superficial answer would be that it was racism. The Jews didn’t like the Samaritans, and the Samaritans didn’t like the Jews. It was a mutual dislike or hatred. But that’s a very superficial glance.
The Jews looked at Samaritans as people who corrupted the true religion. People who are zealous to keep the true faith very often regard people who corrupt the true faith to be even more dangerous than people who don’t believe in the true faith. Here’s how it would work in the mind of a first century Jew. They would consider the Samaritans as even more dangerous than Gentiles.

The Gentiles denied the validity of the God of Israel altogether. But the Samaritans corrupted the idea of the God of Israel. They introduced strange ideas and strange idolatrous things into the whole equation. Therefore, that was the great reason why Jews didn’t like the Samaritans.

The Samaritans came from the people who were left over after the conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. After the reign of Solomon, the son of David, the twelve tribes of Israel divided into two kingdoms. The ten tribes of the north were called the Kingdom of Israel, and the two tribes of the south were called the Kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Israel was much more corrupt than the kingdom of Judah. It was conquered by the Assyrians more than 130 years before the fall of the southern kingdom to the Babylonians. The Assyrians depopulated the Kingdom of Israel, and then brought in people from other areas of the Assyrian Empire. The Samaritan people developed from the mixture of the few remaining extremely poor Jewish people who were left behind, and the imports from other parts around the Assyrian Empire. They were named after the city of Samaria, which was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

As believers, we still sin. Should we ask God for forgiveness every day?

Even after God comes into our life, I know we can’t live a perfect life: so, when we sin in our life, are we supposed to ask God for forgiveness every day?

God bless you for your question. I think the best wisdom for your question comes from this passage:

1 John 1:8-9 – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

The basic answer is yes. As these verses indicate, when we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we define sin like the Bible does, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, how can we not sin against God a hundred times a day? We can’t confess a hundred sins a day. The real secret is allowing the Holy Spirit to bring to our mind the sin that needs to be dealt with. I think this is what God wants us to do. The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin.

I think it’s a good and a valid thing to pray every day, “Lord, I confess my sins. Forgive me of my sins.” That’s not a bad thing to pray every day, as long as it’s not done with a lack of confidence concerning what God has done in your life in the past. But especially when the Holy Spirit highlights a particular sin, we should come to the Lord and ask for forgiveness, confess our sin, and ask Him to cleanse us of our sin, because He has promised to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

What was your initial motivation for taking on the huge task of creating a Bible commentary? What continues to motivate you?

I never intended to write a Bible commentary. I never sat down and said, “I want to write a Bible commentary.” I never thought myself qualified. I thought that a Bible commentary would be a project for someone with way more academic credentials than I had. I was just a pastor doing the job of preaching and teaching, and I found out that the teaching notes I had prepared for myself were helpful for other people as a Bible commentary. That’s how simple it was for me.

One thing that really keeps me going is my love for the Lord and His word. I experience rich and meaningful fellowship with God through His Word. I hope you do, too. I want for every believer to have that great fellowship I’ve experienced with God. Jesus meets me in His Word. For me, studying deeply and meditating deeply on the Word of God is not just to amass knowledge, or to answer Bible trivia questions. It’s so that I can know Him. I understand that the Word of God is not the only place where God meets His people in fellowship. He also meets us in worship, prayer, service, and the community of the saints. I have experienced God’s presence in all of those spheres as well, and I praise the Lord for them. Yet there is something wonderful and enduring for me in the fellowship that I have with God in His word. It’s not the only place where I fellowship with God, by any means, but that’s what motivates me and keeps me going. I just love talking to people about God’s word and making it as plain as I can.

1 Timothy 3:2 says that a deacon should have only one wife. If a deacon remarries, can he no longer serve in ministry?

Can you explain 1 Timothy 3:2, “a deacon should have only one wife”? If a deacon remarries, can he no longer serve in ministry or as a minister?

1 Timothy 3:2 – A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.

In the original ancient Greek language, the idea behind that phrase is simply that a leader in the church should be a “one-woman man.” In other words, his romantic and sexual attention should be focused on one woman, his wife. And if he’s single, he shouldn’t be a flirt or a playboy. He certainly shouldn’t be involved in pornography that’s putting romantic or sexual attention on many women. He is to be a one-woman man.

I do not think that this excludes people who are single from ministry or service. A person can be very faithful to the spirit of this command, not a playboy, not a flirt, not inappropriate romantically or sexually with others. Somebody can fulfill that and be single. The focus and attention of the bishop or overseer in the church should be either on his wife or be reserved for the woman who will be his wife. This command does not exclude a person who is single or widowed and remarried. A person could be a widower who marries a second time and still could be a one-woman man. If we replace the idea of “the husband of one wife” with being “one-woman man” I think the concept gets communicated most clearly.

Am I less spiritual if I find the KJV or NKJV Bible difficult to understand? Are other Bible versions equally good? Should any versions be avoided?

Is there something missing in me spiritually if I find it difficult to understand the KJV, or even the NKJV Bible? Are there other Bible versions that are as good? Or are there versions I should definitely avoid?

The King James Version was written in very archaic English. You shouldn’t feel bad if it’s difficult for you to understand. I love the New King James Version. It’s the Bible translation that I use in all my commentary work. I find it to be a wonderful translation. Some people like the ESV, which is very similar to the New King James. To me, it’s so similar that I don’t see any need to change.

For a simpler version, I would recommend the New Living Translation. It’s not perfect, but it’s a solid translation. But I don’t know of any Bible translation that’s perfect. The New Living Translation is very helpful for a lot of people.

One Bible translation to watch out for would be The Passion Translation. My friend Mike Winger has done a wonderful examination of The Passion Translation, and just how bad it is. It’s not a good translation. The Message by Eugene Peterson is not in the same category as The Passion Translation at all, but it is more of a commentary than it is a strict translation. As long as you read it with that in mind, it’s okay. It’s Eugene Peterson waxing poetic on the thoughts of Scripture. Of course, there are also Bibles put out by aberrant groups that try to identify themselves as Christians, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who publish the New World Translation. That’s rubbish.

My top preference is the New King James Version, and I find it very meaningful. But a great simpler translation for people to use is the New Living Translation. I think it’s pretty solid.