While Mr. Colson's views are heartwarming, many of them are inaccurate (may you all have peace!). The following verses and accounts (which I offer since Mr. Colson's views are based on his understanding of what the Bible says on the subject) might help those who wish to "see" that it really boils down to a couple/few things:
“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive holy spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Now, there is NOTHING in these statements that says the one sinning against us must be repentant. Forgiveness is something we must to in order to be "like" God: perfect. As His Son, my Lord, showed, He even forgives His enemies. The man on the pole was not forgiven because of his repentance; he was forgiven... because of his FAITH... IN the One who can forgive. If we look for, indeed require repentance... then where is MERCY? Mercy is UNdeserved kindness. A repentant person deserves "another chance."
The word "forgive" means to give... BEFORE. FOR... give. It is borne of that act that God did when He gave His Son... for US... even before we came into existence. Our sins were forgiven before they were ever committed... IF, as the man on the pole... our faith in IN the One who CAN so forgive. And in return for such forgiveness he only requires one thing. Not repentance... but that WE forgive those who sin against US.
The Most Holy One of Israel knows that we will not always be able to forgive. It is hard for HIM; how much more so for US. But to not forgive... when we are sinners ourselves... is a sin. What then? We have a HELPER, Christ:
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father - [Jesus] Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
What does this mean? It means that JAH and Christ know that we WILL sin. Including being unable to forgive someone who has sinned against us. And so, there is an atoning sacrifice for such sin: the blood of Christ. That blood can COVER such sin.
True... love is the Law's fulfillment and there is no Law against love... and love covers a multitude of transgressions. But what of when we CAN'T show love... when we CAN'T forgive? When we CAN'T, on our own... turn from our error? There is a sacrifice, dear ones... that covers ALL sin (except blasphemy against the Giver of the sacrifice)... for ALL humans... for ALL time.
There is a very interesting account (Mark 8:1-11) that shows repentance was not required for forgiveness. It is the account of the woman caught in the act of adultery. And it is an account that has been removed from many Bible manuscripts/versions and it is quite understandable why that is. There, my Lord just simply showed the woman MERCY. She didn't ask for it. She didn't say she was going to stop. She didn't beg or plead. She knew she had sinned and, pursuant to the Law, was to be stoned.
My Lord, however, fulfilled the Law... indeed, SURPASSED it... when, after the woman acknowledged that none of those who accused her now condemned her (once he told them to cast the first stone if they were without sin)... HE said to her, "Neither do I condemn you." He, who could have condemned and stoned her... under the Law. Because he... WAS without sin.
But he didn't say, "Well, let's see: are you repentant?" or "Do you feel bad/regret what you have done?" "Or, yeah, you look sorry for it." Or "Do you promise not to do it again?" He told her that he didn't condemn her... that her sins WERE forgiven (as in already were and not, would BE if she did/didn't do/showed such and so)... and so to go her way.
A final note: most Bible versions conclude this account with my Lord saying to the woman, "Go and sin no more." That is NOT what he said to her. He to her the same as he said... and says... to me when I confessed... and yet confess... my sins to him: "Go. Your sin... IS NO MORE."
And he truly does not keep account of the injury... because once his blood washes you... there IS no injury.
I hope this helps and bid you all peace!
A slave of Christ,