FORGIVENESS UNTO ETERNAL LIFE
I) A MAN'S SINS ARE NEVER THE ISSUE RELATIVE TO SALVATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE SINCE GOD HAS RECONCILED THAT ISSUE WITH MAN AT THE CROSS
God's Word teaches that the issue of forgiveness of sins of an individual of any age is always settled at the point of trusting alone in Christ alone for eternal life. Since God has reconciled all men to himself by providing a way through Jesus Christ to eternal life - "not counting men's sins against them" - then the penalty for sins is not the issue, but receiving forgiveness and the gift of God's absolute righteousness, on the other hand is:
A) [2 Cor 5:18-19]:
(v. 18) "All this is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
(v. 19) that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation."
B) [Compare 1 Jn 2:2]:
"He [Christ] is the atoning sacrifice for our [believers' sins, (v. 2:1)] and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
C) [Compare Col 2:13-14]:
(v. 13) "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
(v. 14) having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."
These verses confirm that God's ministry of reconciliation encompasses the whole world such that as a result of what Jesus Christ did on the cross the sins of men of all ages of history would not be counted against them - all men, elect, non-elect, believer and unbeliever.
COMPLETE STUDY ON THE TOPIC OF UNLIMITED ATONEMENT
Scripture testifies that all individuals in the ages before the cross did not have their individual acts of sin held against them. From the time of Adam and Eve on through the time of the Mosaic Law period, believers and nonbelievers alike were credited in advance with our Lord's then future ministry of reconciliation:
D) [Ro 3:23-25]:
(v. 23) "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(v. 24) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
[Notice: The word redemption = payment for sins]
(v. 25) Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His [God's] righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed"
"Because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed" = Before the cross, God decreed our Lord's future sacrifice for sins at Calvary and permitted the sins of mankind to be "passed over" in anticipation of future payment for them.
II) THE ISSUE THEN RELATIVE TO SALVATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE IS WHETHER OR NOT ONE HAS RECEIVED GOD'S FORGIVENESS AND HIS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS
Therefore, paying the penalty for one's own sins in any age is not the issue relative to eternal life, (cp 1 Jn 2:2); But whether or not one has received God's forgiveness and the gift of His absolute righteousness is:
A) FORGIVENESS OF SINS, I.E., BEING JUSTIFIED, I.E., SALVATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE THEREFORE COMES THROUGH FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE
1) [Acts 10:43]:
"All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name."
2) [Compare Ro 4:5]:
"But to the one who does not work, [to be justified, i.e., saved] but believes in Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness."
3) [Compare Phil 3:9]:
"And be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."
Although the penalty for an individual's sins has been paid for whether one believes it or not, thus satisfying God relative to that matter, (1 Jn 2:2); God's forgiveness and therefore His eternal salvation of that individual is only received when one trusts alone in Christ alone in order to be saved.
4) [Ro 3:21-24]:
(v. 21) "But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets;
(v. 22) even the Righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
(v. 23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(v. 24) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
5) [Compare Eph 2:8-9]:
(v. 8) "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this [salvation is] not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
(v. 9) not by works, so that no one can boast."
6) Luke 24:47 and Acts 5:31 both state that repentance, i.e., changing one's mind from not believing to believing in Christ as Savior, results in forgiveness of sins.
In view of all the preceding passages and many others which stipulate a moment of faith alone in Christ alone resulting in justification unto eternal life;
And in view of the fact that the word repent and its relative repentance refers to changing your mind about something depending upon the context;
We must therefore conclude that salvation unto eternal life passages that have the word repent in them in lieu of the word believe or its relatives/synonyms can only mean to change your mind about not believing in Christ alone unto eternal life to believing in Him:
i) [Compare Lk 24:47]:
"And that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His [Christ's] name to all the nations - beginning from Jerusalem."
ii) [Acts 5:31]:
"He is the One Whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."
More on the word repent:
So the instant one exercises one's faith in Christ marks the beginning of a number of things for the new born believer, not the least of which is the reception of the gift of absolute righteousness credited permanently to his account, so that he can escape the clutches of the Lake of Fire and enter heaven's shores when his life on earth is over. So the penalty for sins is not the issue, but whether one is righteous enough to go to heaven is. Man has an inherent sin nature which produces individual acts of sin, (cp. Ro 7:14-23), which nature he must have replaced by God's absolute Righteousness before he can enter heaven's shores. This replacement is freely and permanently granted as a gift by God to anyone who chooses to receive it by faith: by trusting alone in Jesus Christ alone for providing for the redemption - the payment for one's sins, i.e., one's eternal salvation:
1) COMPARE 1 JN 2:2, ACTS 10:43, JN 3:16 AND RO 4:5
[1 Jn 2:2]:
"and He [Jesus] is the propitiation [satisfaction, the atoning sacrifice] for our [all believers' , (v. 2:1)] sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world [all unbelievers]."
"Of Him [Jesus Christ] all the prophets bear witness that through His name every one who believes in Him has received forgiveness of sins."
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes [lit., whoever is the believeing one] in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
"However, to the man who does not work but trusts God Who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as Righteousness."
So 1 Jn 2:2 states that the sins of the whole world past, present and future are paid for. This, however, does not contradict Acts 10:43 and John 3:16 which require an act of faith from an individual in Jesus Christ as Savior in order to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life, nor Ro 4:5 which speaks of God's declaration that the individual who trusts alone in Christ alone is declared as Righteous as God is.
From Acts 10:43 we have:
"every one who believes in Him has received forgiveness of sins." = Everyone who believes that Christ alone has paid the penalty for one's sins, (Acts 10:39-42, Eph 2:8-9), receives forgiveness of sins, the gift of absolute Righteousness and therefore the gift of eternal life. There is therefore a marked distinction between having ones acts of sin paid for and receiving forgiveness for one's sins and eternal life.
III) FORGIVENESS OF SINS = FORGIVENESS OF THE INDIVIDUAL HIMSELF, HIS INTRINSIC SINFUL NATURE
Since all men's sins are paid for then anyone who goes to the Lake of Fire does not go in order to make payment for his sins but because his sins were not forgiven, i.e., he was not personally forgiven by God. The phrase 'forgiveness of one's sins' is a figure of speech. An action is not something that can literally be called upon to be forgiven. It is simply an action. An event in time cannot be forgiven. It is the individual who committed those sins, i.e., his intrinsic sinful nature which is in view. His soul which generated those acts of sin needs forgiveness - the person himself needs God's complete forgiveness.
A) THE INDIVIDUAL RECEIVES FORGIVENESS PERSONALLY OF ALL SINS PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
Once that individual has expressed his faith alone in Christ alone he is forgiven of committing all acts of sin past, present and future as a result of having been declared, (but not yet made), absolutely righteous by God, (Acts 10:43, Ro 3:22, Col 2:13). Furthermore, at the time of faith in Christ, that individual is declared by God, (but not yet made, Eph 1:14), perfectly Righteous as Jesus Christ is, (Ro 3:22).
All those who believe in Jesus Christ receive forgiveness of sins. There is no qualification here of a certain number of sins being forgiven, or not all sins, hence the person is forgiven of all sins.
1) [Compare 1 Jn 2:2 with Acts 10:43]:
[1 Jn 2:2]:
"and He [Jesus] is the propitiation [satisfaction, the atoning sacrifice] for our [all believers' , (v. 2:1)] sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world [all unbelievers and believers are in view every man, woman and child from conception]."
"All the prophets testify about Him [Christ] that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name."
Since all sins have been paid for in every individual's life, past, present and future, (1 Jn 2:2);
then forgiveness of sins at the point of believing in Jesus Christ, (Acts 10:43) has all sins past, present and future in view, since all sins are in view as having been paid for, i.e., all sins have been taken into account on the cross at Calvary and forgiven at the point of believing.
2) [Compare Col 2:13]:
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins."
Notice that "all our sins" is not qualified or limited. Since there is no qualification as to particular sins forgiven, such as only those up to the point when one is "made... alive with Christ" then all sins past, present and future are in view.
Thus objectors to all sins past, present and future being forgiven have the burden of proof to provide passages that limit forgiveness to up to the point of believing and not beyond. Certainly Christ did not die for some of your sins and you are forgiven of them at the point you believed and then if you commit some more you must believe some more and get some more forgiveness - perhaps needing Christ to be crucified again for those, and again and again and again.
Since a moment of believing in Christ is what provides forgiveness of sins unto eternal life and nothing else according to Acts 10:43, then certainly all sins past, present and future are in view. This is supported by numerous salvation passages which have believe in the perfect or aorist tenses signifying a completed action of forgiveness, no longer needed to be performed by God after the first and only time for all sins.
3) [Eph 1:7; 4:32]:
(v. 1:7) "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."
(v. 4:32) "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
Notice that those in Christ, He "forgave" = "echarisato" = aorist, once for all time - not needing to be repeated.
4) [Eph 1:13-14]:
(v. 13) "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
(v. 14) Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption [i.e., the forgiveness of sins, (Col 1:13-14)] of those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory."
Notice that all sins past, present and future have been forgiven at the point of "Having believed" in "the gospel of your salvation" because at that point the individual is "marked in Him [Jesus Christ] with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption [i.e., the forgiveness of sins, Col 1:13-14)]"
All believers must be completely redeemed out of the slave market of sin at the point of believing in the gospel, i.e., forgiven at the point of believing not just in part but completely. Otherwise there could be no guarantee by the Holy Spirit of our eternal inheritance.
B) THE PERSON HIMSELF NOT HIS ACTIONS ARE FORGIVEN
Picture two human sons. One son commits crimes for which the second son is permitted by the judge to make complete and final restitution. All costs are therefore completely covered as a result of the second son's compensation to the court. So the judge does not hold the first son accountable for any of his crimes. But there remains the personal guilt for these crimes. So the second son was permitted by the judge to take upon himself the punishment for the personal guilt of the first son with the proviso that the first son must accept payment for him by the second son as a complete and final action whereupon he would gain his freedom from punishment for his personal guilt.
In the same way, picture all sons of man, (Num 23:19; Job 25:6), and the Son of Man, (Dan 7:13 = Jesus Christ). All sons of man (= all men) continually commit sins, (Num 23:19; Job 25:6; Ro 3:23), all sins of which the Son of Man was required by the Father to take upon Himself (= "the iniquity of us all," (ref. Isa 53:4-6; 1 Jn 2:2). All of these sins are therefore completely covered as a result of the Son of Man's compensation to the Father, (Heb 9:11-15; 1 Jn 2:2). So the Father does not hold the sons of man accountable for their sins, (2 Cor 5:18-19).
But there remains the personal guilt to pay for, i.e., the personal unforgiveness and unrighteousness - under which condition the sons of man remain under condemnation while they do not believe, (Ro 3:20, 23; Jn 3:18). So the Son of Man was also required by the Father to take upon Himself unrighteous natures of the sons of man, (2 Cor 5:21), so that each individual son of man who accepted what the Son of Man did for him by a moment of faith in Him would be personally forgiven, (Acts 10:43), and declared as righteous as God, (2 Cor 5:21).
Now picture a human father and his son. The son commits a crime for which the father makes restitution. The charges are dropped and the son does not have to go to jail, i.e., pay the penalty for his crime. The son, however, does not believe that he must be responsible for his actions, but maintains an ungrateful and unrighteous attitude. The father therefore cannot forgive the son which is demonstrated by the son's ungrateful attitude toward his father's payment for wrongdoing. So the father punishes his son himself; not for the crime he committed, for restitution was already made, but for his unrighteous attitude of not being willing to accept responsibility for his wrongful actions and the father's propitiating (satisfying) the justice system relative to his son's wrongdoing. The justice system was satisfied but the son's ungrateful and unrighteous attitude blocked any forgiveness that the father could personally bestow upon his son. In like manner, an unbeliever has had all of his sinful thoughts, words and deeds paid for by what Jesus Christ did for him on the cross, (1 Jn 2:2; 2 Cor 5:18-19). But as an unbeliever, until he believes, he will remain permanently unforgiven and under God's condemnation because of his unrighteous nature as a result of his unbelief, (Jn 3:18). Such an unrighteous condition bars him from entering heaven's shores. You must be as perfectly righteous in your nature as God is in order to enter heaven which is provided to the individual as a gift when he believes in Jesus Christ's sacrifice for him on the cross, (Ro 3:21-24) and becomes a believer. So the unbeliever with his sin nature fully intact after he dies retains his capability and propensity to sin. God cannot permit him to enter heaven in such a condition. That's why God must declare an individual perfectly righteous at the point of faith in Christ, (Ro 3:21-24; Phil 3:8-9), and then make that individual perfectly righteous in the future in his eternal experience in order to qualify him to enter heaven and remain with Him forever, (Eph 1:13-14). The unbeliever therefore dies in his sins - with an eternally ongoing sinful nature and consciousness, (Jn 8:24). He does not acknowledge his helpless guilt and sinful nature before God by accepting Christ's payment for him in total; thus enabling God to provide a perfectly righteous and sinless nature for him so he can qualify for eternal life in the Kingdom:
1) [Jn 8:24]:
" 'I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.' "
The unbeliever never once repented, i.e., changed his mind to accepting exclusively what Christ did for him on the cross and nothing else. The unbeliever never once believed that his actions were accountable before God and must be dealt with exclusively through what God has provided for him because he is a sinner by nature and without recourse. That individual will spend an eternity in the Lake of Fire not for paying the penalty for his acts of sin but for his unwillingness to trust alone in Christ alone to provide for his sins and unrighteous nature. So having one's sins paid for is one thing and receiving forgiveness for those sins, a perfectly righteous nature and eternal life is another.
IV) THE UNFORGIVEN INDIVIDUAL WILL THEN HAVE HIS LIFE REVIEWED NOT TO FIND SINS BUT TO SEE IF HE WAS RIGHTEOUS ENOUGH TO GO TO HEAVEN
A) THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT
On the Day of the Great White Throne Judgment, the individual unbeliever will then have his life reviewed before the Lord Jesus Christ, (Jn 5:22):
1) BOOKS ARE OPENED WHICH HAVE THE DEEDS OF THE INDIVIDUAL RECORDED IN THEM AND THE BOOK OF LIFE FROM WHICH THE UNBELIEVER'S NAME HAS BEEN BLOTTED OUT
a) [Rev 20:12]:
"And I say the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds..."
Since an unbeliever has rejected the need for receiving by faith alone the gift of God's perfect righteousness through Jesus Christ, (Ro 3:21), he has not received forgiveness of his sins, (Acts 10:43). At the end of his life, since he never chose to trust alone in Christ alone unto eternal life, his name is blotted out - erased - from the Book of Life:
b) [Ps 69:27-28]:
(v. 27) "Do Thou [God] add iniquity to their iniquity [refers to David's adversaries who are persecuting him, (v. 19)],
And may they not come into Thy righteousness.
[David is crying out to God that he wishes that his adversaries which are persecuting him mercilessly not be credited with the righteousness of God - which enables them to have eternal life in heaven. He goes on to say this in another way which includes the doctrine of the Book of Life]:
(v. 28) May they be blotted out of the book of life, and may they not be recorded with the righteous."
So since they were requested by David to never be credited with the righteousness of God, (v. 27), which is by faith alone in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, alone, (cp Gen 15:5-6); then their names would be blotted out of the Book of Life if God complied to David's request.
So in the absence of one's name appearing in the Book of Life, God then has "other books" opened to see if that individual's life was equal to that of Jesus Christ's. Since an individual's sins are paid for, then what God is looking at is the intrinsic nature of that individual as reflected in his thoughts, words and deeds. And since an individual on his own, without the righteousness of Jesus Christ credited as his own intrinsic nature, falls infinitely short of God's absolute standard of perfect righteousness, (Mt 19:17), then that individual's destiny can be nothing else but the Lake of Fire. Furthermore, the more evil that intrinsic nature of the unbeliever is, as reflected in his acts of sin, the greater the punishment in the Lake of Fire, (Lk 12:42-48).
So the issue of God's forgiveness of an individual is always settled at the point of trusting alone in Christ alone for eternal life.
V) FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND THE RECEPTION OF ETERNAL LIFE OCCURS AT THE POINT OF FAITH FOR INDIVIDUALS OF ALL AGES
A) SALVATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE =
JUSTIFICATION UNTO ETERNAL LIFE =
BEING DECLARED BY GOD AS RIGHTEOUS =
RECEIVING FORGIVENESS OF SIN
1) SALVATION FOR ABRAHAM IS THE SAME FOR ALL MEN: FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST THE MESSIAH ALONE
Scripture testifies that all men from Adam and Eve on are saved by faith alone in Christ alone:
Just as Abraham, by his simple act of faith alone in God's plan alone,
i.e., in God's plan of salvation through Abraham's seed: the Messiah Savior Jesus Christ
so all men of all ages are declared perfectly righteous unto salvation in the same way: by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone:
a) [Ro 4:1-3]:
(v. 1) "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?
(v. 2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God.
(v. 3) For what does the Scripture say? 'And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.'[i.e., Abraham was justified by faith unto salvation]
b) [Compare Gen 15:6]:
"Then he [Abraham, v.1] believed in the Lord; [relative to Abraham living eternally such that his descendants would be as innumerable as the stars, (v. 5)] and He [God] reckoned it to him [Abraham] as righteousness. [i.e., because of Abraham's believing in what God had promised, Abraham was credited by God with the perfect kind of righteousness that enabled Abraham to have eternal life, (cp Ro 3:21-22)"
c) [Ro 4:13]:
"For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world [i.e., have eternal life] was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith."
Henry M. Morris states, (The Genesis Record, Baker House, Grand Rapids, Mi, 1976, p. 325):
"This wonderful verse, Genesis 15:6, is quoted in three epistles of the New Testament (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23); and in each it is stressed that Abraham was a type of all who would ever be saved, the principle always being that of salvation through faith unto righteousness."
And what this faith results in is being declared righteous by God, i.e., being justified as one who has no guilt before God:
Compare Hebrews chapter 11 which teaches that men in history all the way back as far as Abel, Enoch, Noah, etc were saved by faith.
d) [Ro 3:21-24]:
(v. 21) "But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets;
(v. 22) even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
(v. 23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(v. 24) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus"
And this justification, being declared not guilty, results in the believer's redemption - his being brought out of the condemnation of his own sins, literally purchased by the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross, into salvation which indicates that the believer has received forgiveness of sins:
e) [Eph 1:7]:
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace"
J. Dwight Pentecost states, (Things Which Become SOUND DOCTRINE), Revell Co. Westwood, N.J., 1965, p.106):
"Before one could be accepted by God the sin question had to be settled, and when the Apostle [Paul] says that we were made righteous it presupposes that God has dealt with our sins and has granted forgiveness, that God has finished redemption, that God has accomplished the work of remission of sins so that the truth affirmed in Ephesians 1:7 may be proclaimed. There Paul says, 'In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.' In this passage Paul reiterates what we saw in Romans 3: God has given redemption: God has granted forgiveness to the one who is in Christ Jesus so that our indebtedness has been removed, for the debt has been paid. We are new creatures in Christ; we are made righteous in Christ - having received forgiveness of our sins."
VI) PASSAGES WHICH OBJECTORS FALSELY USE TO CONTRADICT THE DOCTRINE OF FORGIVENESS OF SINS BY FAITH ALONE
The following passages are often misinterpreted to contradict the doctrine of forgiveness of sins occurring at the point of faith in Christ alone plus nothing as Savior:
A) [Acts 2:38]:
B) [Acts 22:16]:
VII) ALL SINS ARE FORGIVEN PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
A) [Acts 10:43]:
"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
All those who believe receive forgiveness of sins. There is no qualification here of a certain number of sins being forgiven and not all sins, hence the person is forgiven of all sins.
The burden of proof is to provide passages that limit forgiveness to up to the point of believing and not beyond. Certainly Christ did not die for some of your sins and you are forgiven of them at the point you believed and then if you commit some more you must believe some more and get some more forgiveness - perhaps needing Christ to be crucified again for those, and again and again and again. Since a moment of believing in Christ is what provides forgiveness of sins unto eternal life and nothing else then certainly all sins past, present and future are in view - especially since numerous salvation passages have believe in the perfect or aorist tenses signifying a completed action, no longer needed.