Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Finality of The Cross P23 (09-28-21)
Understanding Forgiveness in Light of the Full Gospel and the New Covenant
Without understanding the New Covenant we live under today, that can hinder us from properly interpreting scriptures. It is like you are trying to understand a doctrine, such as forgiveness, in isolation, and so you have tunnel vision, and come to incorrect conclusions. For example, how do you understand a passage such as this one?
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
And then, how do you explain a passage in the New Covenant, such as this one?
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Are those passages contradicting each other? Are you forgiven of all your sins or not? If I fail to forgive my brother, then will God not forgive me today? Those are the kinds of questions commonly asked upon reading such passages in isolation.
When you understand the bigger picture of the totality of the cross, then these passages are understood. In the gospels, Jesus walked on this earth prior to going to the cross, and he taught those under an Old Covenant about a New Covenant to come, but it was not here yet. Under an Old Covenant, what Jesus said was true, because at that time sins had not yet been forgiven. Why not? Jesus had not yet gone to the cross. So in that time period, they lived under an Old Covenant still in existence. The blood of bulls and goats could cover sins until the next time, where the guilt of sin can be temporarily removed. But under an Old Covenant, such sins could not be taken away. But under a New Covenant, as we read in Hebrews 10:17-18, God says He remembers our sins no more and where these have been forgiven there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
17 Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.”[Jeremiah 31:34]
18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
Why is that? Because Jesus shed His blood on a cross, and propitiated, made complete satisfaction for the wages of sin is death by the sacrifice of himself. And the value of His blood, the blood of God Himself is of eternal value, requiring no more sacrifice, unlike that of the blood of bull and goats that had to be shed every year just to cover sin. The blood of God was shed by a person like us, except one who was without sin, who voluntarily laid down His life for us, knowing exactly what the charges were for the sins of all mankind and what the consequence of that was, death. Since He had no sin of His own, and sin had no hold on Him, He could also rise again to always live to intercede for mankind.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
That is exactly what Jesus did. He became sin for us, solving the problem of sin that caused our death, and then rose again to solve the problem of death by a life, His life, that never ends, being the eternal life of God Himself. How does Jesus intercede for mankind now that He has risen from the dead. When Satan accuses us, who are in Christ Jesus, of sin before the throne of God, we have a defense advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who says, “Tetellestai”, Or “Paid in full”, saying “He is a child of mine and his sins have been paid in full. He has a complete and forever pardon for sin by My own blood.”
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
As Bob George shared, one of the problems on this understanding of forgiveness is that we study it as just a doctrine which is like studying a gear shift and yet have no clue it belongs in a car. So we study the gear shift and our application is off because we do not see that the gear shift belongs inside of a car. This is the same thing in regard to forgiveness. You study forgiveness in and of itself and you can come up with all kinds of ideas as to what it should mean. But once you see it in the bigger picture, the issue and doctrine of forgiveness becomes very clear in regard to what it is saying. You cannot study it dangling by itself. You have to see it in its context. The context of forgiveness is in the New Covenant.
Then Bob George goes on to describe the confusion on understanding forgiveness so prevalent in the world today. So much teaching is passed on by traditions of men, whether Catholic or Protestant or some other religion, and so people merely repeat something they have heard from the pulpit as true. And this same error is propagated by the many seminaries designed to train pastors for ministry. So a person hears a pastor say something and he is merely passing on what he hears. Very rarely will someone challenge that error, and when someone does, what often happens is the person challenging the teaching is accused of causing confusion or being divisive. So instead of truth being able to make a way into the church to be received, the person is compelled to leave.
This kind of thing has happened throughout church history. Martin Luther caused confusion when he wrote the 95 theses on a wall. Wesley caused confusion when he started teaching justification by faith and faith alone. There is always confusion when taught a false doctrine and then start hearing something else as true.
In today’s world, there is this error taught that a person can be out of relationship, or out of fellowship, with God when he sins or this idea that Jesus did not really die for all of the sins of the world, but just some of them, or that “all” does not really mean “all”. Whether Catholic or Protestant, they teach that you must ask God to forgive you when you sin. In the case of a Catholic, it is those mortal sins that you have to confess to a priest to get forgiven. According to Catholic teaching, you can go to hell if you die without being in a state of grace, and of course, they say the “prayers of the faithful” is in place to supposedly get someone out of that state of not being in grace and there all these sacraments to obtain more grace. According to a Protestant, some will say that you can lose your salvation and others will say that you cannot lose your salvation, but if you sin, you are out of fellowship with God, that God is hacked off at you, and so you must ask God to forgive you when you sin so as to be restored back to fellowship with God.
And so many Protestants will go to one of the few passages memorized, such as 1 John 1:9, saying that is the basis for why believers have to confess their sins to God, and what they mean by confession is not simply agreeing with God, but asking God to forgive you when you sin. Yet, they have not understood that passage in its context. And even if that passage is seemingly unclear, they ignore the foundational truths made so clear in regard to the full gospel, the totality of the cross and of being made complete in Christ, made so clear in so many other passages of scripture, and explained so thoroughly in books such as Romans and Colossians.
Again, that goes back to tunnel vision, focusing on one verse, even, in isolation, in forming doctrinal belief systems. And that training in isolation is reinforced by church programs, such as AWANA, where the emphasis is all on memorization with a reward to persuade them to memorize, while neglecting to teach the meaning of such passages. The Church of Christ form one doctrine on one verse of scripture to justify baptism as necessary for salvation. The Catholics have their own favorite verse they use to justify baptism as necessary for salvation. All the cults do this.
As one understands the full gospel, of what Jesus accomplished by His death, burial and resurrection for mankind, with an offer of eternal life that you accepted, then such errors can easily be spotted and rejected because you can know the truth by the Spirit of God who lives in you, who reveals truth to you through His word, as read in its full context of the New Covenant you live under today.
The real essence of this confusion is double mindedness. A double minded man is unstable in all ways. What is double-mindedness? Someone saying that Jesus died for my sins, BUT. Adding anything to or subtracting from anything to the death, burial and resurrection is double-mindedness. That is serious error, compromising and watering down the gospel. Christ has taken away all of your sins. But if you add to that saying, “Christ has taken away all of your sins but if you confess, He will take them away again.” That is double-mindedness.
Listen as Bob George goes to great lengths to help people see more clearly the truth on forgiveness in contrast to this error so prevalently taught today on this area of forgiveness, of this erroneous teaching that a born again believer is in and out of fellowship with God because of sin. You are either in fellowship, saved, or out of fellowship, lost. People may refer to someone as unsaved, but that is really a softening of the real essence of the condition of mankind, which is lost. What does unsaved mean? That a person is maybe saved, or only partially lost?
From just this one passage of scripture, Romans 6:23, let us think about how people add to or subtract from the word of God, to alter its meaning.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So does scripture say that the wages of sin is out of fellowship? No. The wages of sin is death. How was the problem of sin solved? The shedding of the blood of Jesus is what took away the cause of our death, which is sin. So, if I sin again, will Jesus have to die again? What does Hebrews 9:22 say about what is necessary for sins to be forgiven? That without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Does that mean Jesus will have to die again when I do those actual sins? No. What does Hebrews say about what was accomplished when Jesus shed His blood? He ushered in a New Covenant (Hebrews 9:16-21). Consider what is written in that New Covenant in Hebrews 10:17-18. Will God remember our sins any more under a New Covenant? No. Will there ever be any more sacrifice for sins? No. Why not? Jesus blood was of sufficient value to propitiate, totally satisfy the wrath for God for sin, once and for all, to take away the sins of the entire world. What do we read about in 1 John 2:2 in the NASB? That Jesus died to propitiate for the sins of the entire world.
1 John 2:2 (NASB)
2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Now, does scripture say that the gift of God is temporal life? No. And does anyone ever work for a gift? If you work for it, is it not a wage? When Christ rose from the dead, He offered us His Holy Spirit, His life, to be placed in us. We receive that life by faith in what He alone did for us. The gospel is coming to Jesus for Him, and in that life is the forgiveness of sins. And because He lives, unlike other priests, those of the Old Covenant who died, He always lives to intercede for us. You have been complete, set apart by God as holy. You have been made into a new creation, a child of God. You cannot lose what God has secured for us by the work of His Son. The work is finished and you are made complete when you come alive in Christ Jesus. You are restored to true humanity, with the Spirit of God alive living in you.
So if I have to do something for God to give me life, then did I really receive life, called eternal life, in the first place? That certainly is a good question to ask. For scripture tells us to test and see if we are in the faith. Is Christ alive living in you?
2 Corinthians 13:5
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?
So this adding to or subtracting from the word of God is the same temptation in the garden of Eden that led to the fall of mankind. Recall how Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say?” Did not the word say that you cannot eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What did Eve say? “You should not touch that tree.”. Satan deceived Eve through her own retelling what she thought or believed she heard, that you should not even touch that tree. How easy is it for any of us to be deceived in this world today. It is good to study the word of God, to present yourself to God as an approved workman, who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.