Someone asked a great follow up question on Facebook, in response to my blog Will We Have Regrets at the Judgment Seat of Christ?: “Will we ask forgiveness of others in Heaven if we weren’t able to make it right here on Earth?”
I think in all probability, we might. We know for sure that will give an account of our lives to God: “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). That suggests there might be opportunities to make things right with others in Heaven.
Even in this life, the fact that our sins are covered by Christ’s blood doesn’t mean that we have no responsibility to ask others for forgiveness when we’ve harmed them through our actions. And in Heaven, we will be informed, righteous, and godly people who can take responsibility.
No one in Heaven will carry a grudge—we will be without sin—but it seems strange to imagine two people interacting without having talked about and acknowledged their past. Might the Apostle Paul have asked Stephen forgiveness for approving his murder? I expect he has. After his conversion, Paul honestly acknowledged his past sins against other believers: “And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him’” (Acts 22:19-20).
Can a perfected person ask forgiveness for something in the past? Who better to! I think there might well be opportunity to experience reconciliation with others in eternity. Reconciliation is a process that requires certain things to happen so that it takes place. I think that will still be true when we’re with the Lord. Sure, God could make everything automatic so no process is involved. But it seems much more like Him as He works in the lives of His finite creatures to let us go through a process whereby things are made right.
Now, this is speculation on my part, since there’s no Scripture that addresses this. But it makes sense to me. And if this does take place, certainly those asking for and receiving forgiveness, and those giving it, will be reminded of the far greater forgiveness Jesus has offered them through His shed blood. When we are with Jesus and see His scars, it will never be hard to ask for forgiveness nor hard to receive it.
By Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, www.epm.org. Used with permission.