|Click Image To Enlarge|
Although it should be clear to believers in Christ, there seems to be much misunderstanding of what sin and salvation truly are, what Biblical repentance and forgiveness are, and what constitutes the act of repenting and forgiving. Therefore, I have written this essay to explain what Christian and Messianic sin, repentance, and salvation are, what forgiveness is, and why both repentance and forgiveness are important to our salvation in Yahshua or Jesus.
Simply put, the word in the Bible that is translated as “repent” means “to turn away from”. In addition, the biblical object of our repentance is our sins or transgressions against God's Commandments. Therefore, the Gospel of Repentance is the message that turning away from sin and asking God for forgiveness of our transgressions against Him are required for Yahweh God to forgive our sins. This is the kind of repentance that was preached by John the Baptist before Yahshua was revealed to him as the Messiah:
Mark 1:4-5 ~ “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”
Acts 5:31 ~ “God has exalted to His Right Hand (Yahshua) to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 19:1-5 ~ “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus (Messiah Yahshua).” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Adonai Yahshua).”As the above Scriptures say, John preached that people should repent of, or confess and turn away from sin or transgression against God, and make themselves holy by setting themselves apart for service to God in order to receive the remission of, or “blotting out” of their sins. John taught that this was required in order to be accepted and forgiven by the coming Messiah. However, John's Baptism of Repentance does not save people or give them the Holy Spirit, as Acts 19 shows us. Instead, to be “saved” or “delivered from condemnation and death” , we must believe in Yahshua as the Son of God and our Redeemer and Savior, as it says in John 3:16-18:
John 3:16-18 ~ “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”To truly believe in Yahshua, we need to recognize that Yahshua's perfect blood is required to wash away our transgressions against God, that we need to turn away from sin, and that we need to ask Yahshua to help us to continue repenting and fleeing from sin with the help of His indwelling Spirit. In fact, when we are participants in the act of baptism, which is an important step in the recognition of our salvation, we are giving a public statement that we want to die to the world and its lusts and sins and only wish to live for God and His Son from that moment onward. As the Apostle Paul taught:
Romans 6:1-11 ~ “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Messiah Yahshua our Adonai).”This is the kind of baptism or death to sin and repentance from sin that is required for people to be saved when believing in Yahshua. Yahshua preached the same message about salvation, repentance and forgiveness, as shown in the following Scriptures:
John 3:1-5 ~ “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
John 14:12-18 ~ “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
Luke 17:3-4 ~ “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
Luke 24:46-48 ~ “Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things.”In the quotes above from John's Gospel, Yahshua stressed that those who are saved must be born again through baptism and being imbued with the Holy Spirit. He also made it clear that - when we are truly born again - we will do the same works that Yahshua did, living holy and anointed lives dedicated to God, and doing good works in keeping with Yahshua's commandments. In the quotes above from Luke's Gospel, Yahshua taught that there is no forgiveness without repentance. He stressed that someone should repent of their sins before we give them our forgiveness, and when they do repent, we are obligated to forgive them. Yahshua also said that repentance must come before the remission of sins can be given by His shed blood. The implication is that God can only forgive us when we repent of our sins and then accept Yahshua's sacrifice on the Cross to pay for our transgressions and remove our blood guilt. This principle is also taught in the Gospel of Matthew:
Matthew 6:14 ~ “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Matthew 18:21-35 ~ The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant: “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”Matthew's recounting of Yahshua's words make it clear that repentance is required before we offer forgiveness for one's sinful offenses, and that we are obligated to forgive people when they repent. This is an important point, and suggests that we are not required to forgive those who do not repent, just as God is not going to forgive the unrepentant wicked but judge them and pour out His wrath on them:
Revelation 16:8-11 ~ “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. 10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.”
Revelation 22:14-15 ~ “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”It is clear from the preceding passages taken from the Book of Revelation that the reason that God is pouring out the bowls of His Wrath on the wicked is not simply to hurt them, but to get these people to repent of their sins and ask Him for forgiveness so that they do not have to perish forever. God does not want anyone to perish, but to give those who repent of sin and choose to love Him and follow His Commandments the priviledge of living in the paradisiacal place called the New Jerusalem with Christ forever. But the Bible makes it very clear that these wicked people will REFUSE to repent, leaving God no choice but to condemn them to the Lake of Fire:
Revelation 20:15 ~ “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”To be counted worthy to have our name written in the Book of Life, we must repent of our sins, ask Yahshua to forgive us and be our Savior, and ask Him to give us His Holy Spirit so that we will be reminded of what pleases Him and what He requires from us, so that we will not continue to sin. This is what Yahshua meant when He said to the Church in Sardis that some among them had “not defiled their garments”. He meant that they had not engaged in unrepentant sin since their baptisms, and so their names had not been blotted out, but were still written in God's Book of Life:
Revelation 3:4-5 ~ “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”When taken together, these Scriptures make it clear that we need to repent of our sins before we can be forgiven, and we are required to forgive others when they repent. However, if those who have offended God or us do not repent, we are also not called to harbor any hatred or bitterness in our hearts toward them, but to leave their judgment and punishment up to God. After all, it is God Who ultimately has the last say in where we will end up in eternity - whether that will be in everlasting bliss with Yahshua in Paradise, or in everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire.
To be found worthy to have our names in the Book of Life, we must repent of our sins and ask Yahweh God to cleanse us from sin through the shed blood of His Son Yahshua. After this, we should also forgive those who repent of their transgressions against us, just as God does for us. We should also let go of all hatred and bitterness so that we are not marred by these emotions, and to show that we trust God to be the final Judge of all sinners.
In summary then, Scripture teaches that there is no forgiveness of our sins or transgressions against God's commandments unless we forgive those who sin against us. Furthermore, there is no forgiveness of sin without repentance. We must confess our sins to God and ask Him for forgiveness when we sin, and we need to forgive others when they repent and confess their sins against us in asking us for forgiveness.