(From “Questions Answered,” Lipscomb & Sewell, Kurfees, pg. 260)
QUESTION: If a brother in the church offends us, is it right for us to forgive him whether he comes and ask us to or not, or must we hold it against him until he comes and asks our pardon? Would it not be more Christlike to forgive him and try to love him as much as lieth in us, whether he comes and ask us to or not?
ANSWER: Christ never forgave anyone his sins until he repented of them, nor do we see how anyone can. Christ loved them while yet sinners, was anxious for them to repent, suffered and died to bring them to repentance. We should be like him; should love men, be willing to suffer that they may be brought to repentance, and be kind, gentle, longsuffering to help them to turn; but there is and can be no forgiveness with God or man without repentance; and when a man sincerely repents, he will confess and ask forgiveness of whomsoever he has offended.
QUESTION: Brother Sewell: Does not the Bible teach us to forgive our enemies whether they repent and ask forgiveness or not? I heard a preacher of the gospel say there are no passages in the Bible where anyone ever forgave another unless he repented. I say the Bible teaches us that we must forgive whether they repent and ask our forgiveness or not.
ANSWER: Here is a passage that settles this question: “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4). There are two sides to this question. If one does us wrong, it is our duty to tell him of this wrong, and thus rebuke him for his wrong. Then, if he repents, we must forgive him; but if he will not repent, he is not worthy of forgiveness. But we have no right to hold malice against him, nor in any way take vengeance upon him. But we can follow the rule given in another passage, which is to take one or two with us; and if he refuses to hear the church, then let him be as a heathen or a publican—that is, let the church withdraw from him and leave him with other sinners. That may cause him to repent. If not, the Lord will attend to his case in due time (See Matthew 18:15-17). But no Christian has the right to punish, hold malice against or abuse another. It is a fact that God himself does not forgive sinners that will not repent. All such will be lost at last. Let a Christian in such cases do right in all things, no matter what the backslider or rebellious member may do. But if the wrongdoer will not repent, he will be sure of his deserts at last.
(From “Question and Answers, Volume II,” Guy N. Woods, Freed-Hardeman, pg. 41)
QUESTION: "Should I forgive a man even though he does not repent?"
ANSWER: Our Lord said, “If thy brother sin, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). Jesus forgives only those who repent (Acts 2:38), and He expects no more of us. It is, indeed, impossible to forgive one who does not repent since forgiveness is the acceptance of a relationship which existed before the sin. Unless the rebellious brother desires this relationship it is impossible to establish it. We must ever be ready to forgive and we must entertain no malice or bitterness in our hearts. But, we can forgive only when penitence is shown. Those who question this conclusion (and there are always those who thus do, not knowing the true significance of forgiveness), remember that the Lord's order is (1) if a brother sins against you, rebuke him; (2) if a brother repents, forgive him (Luke 17:3).