You might ask me, how do you have the confidence to disagree with a book written by a well-known Christian authority? Or, how can a pastor help people when, in cases like Deb’s, the wounds are so deep and the questions are so complex? Where is there hope for people who get sick to their stomach when they even begin to think about the abuse they have suffered?

This brings me to the second thing I want to say about my approach to writing this book. And this is the heart of what I have to say: I write with the firm conviction that only God’s Word can unpack forgiveness. When I talk with people like Deb, what gives me confidence is to know that God is there, and he is not silent. He has spoken clearly and sufficiently through his Word. God has given us all that we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Peter 1:3). And his Word is where we find our knowledge of him. God’s Word can and does unpack forgiveness. It makes wise the simple, giving joy to the heart and light to the eyes. It is more precious than any treasure and sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:7–11).

But Scripture must be understood and applied accurately. I have been careful not to pluck verses out of context or force them into the mold of my position. I do not want to read my own meaning into the text. Rather, my goal has been to listen to the Word.

In emphasizing the authority of God’s Word, I do not mean to imply that I have not learned from others about forgiveness. Quite the opposite has occurred, in fact. A number of books on forgiveness have sharpened my thinking significantly. I also consult multiple commentaries when I study any given Bible passage. My interaction with these other sources will be evident to the reader. The Bible, however, must always have the final say.

In summary, this is a book written by a pastor who is actively involved in people’s lives. And the goal is to shine the light of God’s Word on forgiveness. Only God working in and through his Word can help us unpack forgiveness. The wounds are otherwise too deep, the problems too complex. But God working in and through his Word can answer any question and heal any hurt.

Answers to the Forgiveness Quiz

Here are the answers to the Forgiveness Quiz.

The Forgiveness Quiz—Answers

1. False

Where deep wounds are concerned, forgiveness can be unpacked in a moment.

2. True

Personal happiness and joy can legitimately motivate people to live out what the Bible teaches about forgiveness.

3. False

Most Christian pastors and counselors agree about what forgiveness is and how it should take place.

4. True

Forgiveness occurs properly only when certain conditions are met.

5. False

Jesus said little about how people should resolve interpersonal conflict.

6. True

A willingness to forgive is a test of whether or not a person will go to heaven when he or she dies.

7. False

Good people get to the bottom of all their disagreements.

8. True

There are times when it is wrong to forgive.

Your score?

If you posted a perfect score, don’t celebrate just yet. Be humble. It was true/false after all. You may have just guessed. Keep reading.

At the other end of the grading scale, if you missed several, you could interpret your score in a couple of ways. The truly humble and teachable may say, “Wow, I really need to learn more about forgiveness. I am going to keep reading.” On the other hand, if you are more like me, you will want to debate. So, let me start making my case. These are preliminary explanations for the debaters; and essentially the rest of the book will flesh out these brief thoughts.

Statement #1: Where deep wounds are concerned, forgiveness can be unpacked in a moment. FALSE.

Here is how I define “unpacking forgiveness.”