Forgiveness – Michael Light

Forgiveness – Michael Light

The more we read and study the Bible the more we should be impressed with it. There are many different teaching methods employed; narratives of the lives of men and women (some presented as examples of correct living; others as ow not to live); direct statements – “thou shalt” and thou shalt not” instructions; parables, poetry and prophetic material.  Texts can be studied in a host of ways; the immediate context, remote context and over all biblical context. Even the individual words of scripture themselves can reveal much truth. The word we will highlight in this article is “forgiveness.”

In essence, the entire Bible is about God’s plan and desire to forgive all men of all their sins. All men have a universal problem – sin. Romans 3:10 states, “As it is written, there is none righteous no, not one.” Again, in verse twenty three of the same chapter, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Immediately following the fall of Adam and Eve, God made the first prophecy about the One He would send to take away (forgive) the sins of men (Gen. 3:15).  Our songbooks are filled with songs about being forgiven. The joy we feel upon knowing we have been made right with God is life changing. The relief of having all the guilt of all our sins removed is one of the great benefits of being a Christian.

But what does the word “forgiveness” actually mean? The Greek word used most often in the New Testament translated “forgiveness,” is aphesis. The basic definition is: “to send away from,” dismiss, set free,” to “discharge, setting free, hence remission of debt or punishment.” In Acts 5:31 we read, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Since the work of Christ culminates in the forgiveness of all our sins we should know what the Bible says we must do to receive this forgiveness.

First, we must turn to the correct source that reveals how to be forgiven. Romans 10:17 states, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” The word of God, the Bible, is the only inspired volume on the earth (2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Pet. 1:21). Second, the logical and proper response to reading the Bible is to develop faith in the Christ based on the evidence. To be forgiven of our sins we must have faith in Christ (John 3:16; 8:24). Plenty of people read or have read, the scriptures. But if they do not have faith they cannot gain forgiveness. Third, the need for us to repent (change one’s mind and purpose (sorrow and remorse are also involved in the process). Acts 17:30 teaches us that, “all men everywhere must repent” (a universal requirement). Jesus explicitly teaches that we cannot be saved if we do not repent (Luke 13:3). Fourth, we are also taught to confess (Rom. 10:9, 10). Paul spoke of this good profession to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, in context of laying hold on eternal life. Fifth, we must be born again (John 3:3-5) baptized for remission (forgiveness) of sin (Acts 2:38). This action washes away our sins (Acts 22:16) puts us into Christ (Gal. 3:26,27) and into the church which was purchased by His blood (1 Cor. 12:13; Acts 20:28). At this point we are forgiven of all our past sins (Rom. 6:3-6). The old man is put to death and we rise from the watery grave to walk in newness of life – a having been forgiven creature.   

Finally, the Bible teaches us how to walk, live and remain in this forgiven state the rest of our lives. Basically, from Romans through Revelation we are taught how to live, worship, serve in the church and even how to die faithfully in the Lord. First John 1:7-10 will suffice as a text showing the “walking in the light” (living in and with Jesus) principle. Christians have the greatest life one can experience on the earth (John 10:10). And the forgiveness that is ours is one of the primary reasons for this.  May God helps us appreciate and rejoice in the forgiveness we have through Christ and His sacrifice.