Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Essay #3: Back to the BIG Questions

In the last essay I posted the following questions:

If you are a Christian, are all your sins forgiven?  If you die with unredeemed sins, do you go to heaven or hell?  Do you have to be “prayed up” before you die?

Here is my understanding of the answers to these questions.

First we need to understand that the original covenant (agreement) between man and God involved the blood sacrifice of animals as an atonement (payment) for man’s sins against God.  As the basic economy of the times involved the ownership of animals, sacrificing one that could have been sold at market would be a sacrifice for the ancient peoples.  We see this in the Old Testament book of Leviticus chapter 4, verse 35 “The priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he had committed, and it shall be forgiven him.”

  A covenant is an official agreement between two parties and in ancient days was sealed by blood sacrifices.  So what Jesus did was to become the atonement for the remission of man’s sins against God, and this sacrifice is an eternal agreement between man and God sealed in Jesus’ blood.

  So what does “remission” mean?  It does mean forgiveness, but it also means to send away.  So when Jesus died, he did it as atonement (payment) for humanity’s sins, and the sins that separate us from God are forever sent away in a holy covenant (agreement) between God and man. 

  Jesus explained this in Matthew 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  In this way, Jesus became the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the ultimate atonement for man’s sins.

So, was this divine atonement of God sacrificing himself as act of redemption (forgiveness) and remission, creating a new covenant only for our past sins? Future sins?  All sins? 

Ephesians 1:7 says “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”  Colossians 1:14 states that “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”  I like the God’s Word Translation of 1995 of this verse, it reads: “His Son paid the price to free us, which means that our sins are forgiven.”  Romans 3:24 states that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 2:8 states that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  This means that grace (forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice) is not something that we can earn, or be good enough to get, because God did it for man, as a gift to man.  The sacrifice proves God’s love for us.  All we have to do is to accept that gift and acknowledge Christ as our personal savior.  In this way we are “freely justified.” 

Even better is that we are eternally justified!  Hebrews 9:15 states that “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

So all sins are forgiven.  Everyone’s sins are forgiven.  We can now live in true communion with God.  Our sins no longer separates us from God’s eternal love.  We are redeemed (forgiven) and our sins are cast away (remission) so that we may receive our eternal inheritance.

So the answer is Yes, if you are a Christian all your sins are forgiven.  What do we have to do to receive this grace?  Accept Christ as our savior, understand that he died for our sins, and to adopt a spirit of repentance towards sin. 

So what does it mean to repent.  The original word meant to “turn around, or turn away from.”  So if you have not repented, are you forgiven of your sins?  See the answer to the first question, “All sins are forgiven.” 

We are called to “Repent and hear the Good News.” (Mark 1:15).  So in our actions of accepting Christ, we must first repent of our sins.  This is what it means to be “reborn” as a new person in Christ.  This is not a free pass to sin, but as a true Christian, you would not want to do these things, you would want to seek Christ and have that personal relationship with God.  Think of it as that little voice of conscience telling you that something you are doing is wrong.  If you are seeking God, preserving that personal relationship with him, than you will know.

So what about our unrepented sins?  They are forgiven too!  That’s GRACE.  We will all die with certain sins that are unrepented.  You may not even know that something you did was a sin, or perhaps you didn’t have time to repent in prayer about something before that bus hit you.  The Good News is that Christ died  for ALL our sins, that whomsoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Hope this answered those tough questions.  Remember, speak to your pastor, priest, church leader, or lay Christian, read the Bible, and pray and you will know the truth.

God bless you all,


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