Is God's forgiveness conditional?

Are there things we must do before God will forgive us? Many answer 'yes,' often making two claims:
  1. That God, being holy, stores up wrath against the sinner (here they typically cite Rom 2:5). Moreover, God will not let go of this wrath, through forgiveness, until the sinner repents (which to them, includes asking God for his forgiveness).
  2. That God will not forgive the sinner until they forgive those who have sinned against them (here they typically cite Jesus' words in Mat 6:14-15 and 18:21-35).
I address the second claim in another post, so I'll focus here on the first. What I understand Scripture to teach (when read in the light of the gospel of grace), is that God's forgiveness of all humanity is unconditional and has already been granted.

First, I note a disconcerting paradox: Those who claim that God will not forgive us until we repent, often claim that we should forgive those who have offended us, whether they repent or not. I agree that our forgiveness of others should be unconditional; but does that mean that we are required to be more generous with our forgiveness than God is with his? How bizarre to think so!

And how untrue! To forgive others unconditionally is not to trump God, but to be like God. We forgive others unconditionally, because that is how God has forgiven us. Stated more accurately, in forgiving others unconditionally, we participate in God's unconditional forgiveness of all humanity. Conversely, when we withhold forgiveness, we block our experience of God's unconditional forgiveness. This is what I understand Jesus to mean when he instructs us to pray to our Father in Heaven, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."

Second, I note that God the Father is not one way toward sinners and Jesus another. Jesus is "a friend of sinners."  He said, "if you have seen me, you have seen the Father." Therefore, we can be assured that the Father is also a friend of sinners. His "wrath" is toward sin, not sinners - precisely because he is their friend, and knows the destruction that sin brings into the lives of his friends.

And so, in wrath against sin, and in love and friendship toward sinners, the Father, with the Son and Holy Spirit (the Trinity, which has one undivided being and thus mind and will), acted on behalf of humanity (sinners all), to bring healing through forgiveness. This was accomplished for humanity by God through the Son of God who through the incarnation became our representative and substitute. On earth he lived a perfect life while bearing our diseased nature. He then died our death, and rose to new (glorified) human life and ascended to heaven. Through Jesus, God accomplished his will to reconcile humanity to himself, forgiving all sin. That forgiveness came not by sweeping sin aside, but by decisively dealing with it, through Jesus, on our behalf.

Thus, God's forgiveness of all sin (and all sinners) is accomplished fact - granted in Jesus, unconditionally to all people. For us, it is a free gift (a gift of grace). However, for God, it is a gift bought at great price - the life of his Son, Jesus Christ.

If this gift of forgiveness is already given, why then the many scriptures calling people to repentance? Certainly not to earn what is free, rather it is to change one's mind (the New Testament word for repentance is the Greek word metanoia, meaning literally to change one's mind). Through repentance, we change our mind, agreeing with God's assessment concerning our sin (as horribly destructive). We agree as we confess our sin to God (and one another) - allowing us to appreciate and thus embrace the forgiveness that we already have from God. And this embrace is important - it makes 'real' in our personal experience what is already established in God's will and heart - our unconditional forgiveness.

Comments

  1. Anonymous8/26/2011

    What if the individual does not like to change his mind? And does not value the gift at the same time?

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  2. Ultimately, to knowledgeably reject the acceptance and forgiveness that God gives us in Christ, is to place ourselves in hell. I'll have more to say about this in a future post. Stay tuned!

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  3. Anonymous8/27/2011

    I've heard ministers justify arguments 1 and 2 by turning to what Jesus said in Luke 17:3-4: "If he repent, forgive him."

    But I was reminded during a service this weekend of how flawed that explanation can be.

    A pastor used the hypothetical example of someone forgiving John Dillinger -- only to hear the notorious gangster reply with words to the effect: "I didn't ask for forgiveness, you idiot," then shooting the forgiver anyway.

    That argument totally ignores the attitude of Stephen as he was stoned to death in Acts 7. I don't see anyplace in the N.T. where someone called Stephen a naive fool for doing that.

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  4. Anonymous9/15/2011

    I find it very interesting, the command to forgive our neighbor, or we will not be forgiven. The parable of the king throwing his forgiven servant into debtor's prison because he was unwilling to forgive one indebted to him, is illustrative. To misunderstand this is to make our forgiveness more important than God's.

    I think what is being stressed for us, is the freedom to either remain in hell, or to walk on into the glorious reality of heaven...to see that God has dealt with sin, and all are forgiven. We can continue to impose our reality over the real one, and he will allow it. Hell is only as real as we make it.

    To love those who don't deserve our love, is to live in heaven....to allow ourselves to be fully forgiven, to be fully loved, by God. We can see by our actions and attitudes whether we believe in reality.

    God doesn't throw those who cannot forgive into hell. They see that as their reality though. He is actually reaching out to them, as he always has, and always will.

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  5. Anonymous12/16/2012

    If Christ's forgiveness is unconditional and He forgives everyone if they just accept the reality that they are forgiven... then why did Jesus address each church (or His people) in Revelation 2 and 3 with the message of repentance. In Chapter 3:19 He states: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent." - It doesn't say be zealous and accept my forgiveness.

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  6. Anonymous12/16/2012

    Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" - Depart from me you who practice lawlessness, NOT reject acceptance and forgiveness.

    1 John 2:3-6

    "Now by this we know that we know Him, IF WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."

    - Again, it doesn't say, He who says he abides in Him ought to accept his acceptance and forgiveness. It says he should walk as Jesus walked, by keeping His commandments.

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  7. The evangelical call to repentance is this: "Repent because you are forgiven." Not, "repent in order to be forgiven." We must always keep in mind the *priority* of Jesus' act on our behalf, into which we are called to repent (change our thinking).

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  8. You are confusing here the issue of what God has done for all humanity in Jesus (the objective reality) with the call to personal response (the subjective reality). Indeed, to merely mouth the words "Lord, Lord" is not reflective of meaningful repentance. And refusal to follow Jesus (obeying his command to follow him) is not indicative of personal belief. What is objectively true, must be personally realized.

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  9. Anonymous12/17/2012

    The "spiritual reality" is that repentance proceeds forgiveness. If the evangelical call is as you say.."Repent because you are forgiven"...then there would be no need for repentance...b/c your already forgiven in that call. That's putting the cart before the horse. And accepting forgiveness is not repentance. Not to say that we are saved by works, but that a repentant heart is necessary in order to receive salvation. In other words, you have to recognize that your a sinner first. No one recognizes a need for a Savior if they don't see a problem in themselves.

    "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

    So, you must repent in order to be forgiven. To say that one is forgiven without repentance is not scriptual. Again, in the example I used in Revelation, Jesus wouldn't have told the churchs, or His followers to repent if repentance wasn't necessary for forgiveness. We are to take sin seriously and not be lulled into sleep as far as sin is concerned.

    "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2:12




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  10. Dear anonymous. I appreciate your concern here, but I must disagree with your conclusion, which I believe is fundamentally at odds with the testimony of Scriputre--particularly its testimony to the *finished* work of Christ, which precedes any action on our part. God reconciled the world to himself in Christ before any of us personally repented. That is the objective truth that is true for us all (in Christ). However, that is objectively true, must be personally received. And thus the call goes out, through the Holy Spirit, for all to repent (change their thinking), place their trust in Jesus who has secured their forgiveness, and pick up their cross and follow him. What we need to do is be very careful to understand the reality that all aspects of our salvation are secured in Christ, apart from our action. Then we can speak of what we are called to do personally in order to experience (and thus benefit in a personal way) from what Christ has done. Your interpretation of Acts 2:38 is an example of the very thing you are accusing me of doing, namely "getting the cart before the horse." For an detailed examination of that verse, see what I have written at http://thesurprisinggodblog.gci.org/p/q-acts.html

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  11. Anonymous12/17/2012

    Sir, you said, "Your interpretation of Acts 2:38 is an example of the very thing you are accusing me of doing, namely "getting the cart before the horse." Yet, the scripture states an order. Our repentance for salvation in the scripture in Acts. ('Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the forgiveness of your sins’)

    Scripture states in 2 Corinthians 7:10 "For godly sorrow produces repentance LEADING TO salvation..." Repentance in scripture leads to salvation. And in Acts 26:20 it goes on to say "...they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance." So, not only is repentance needed, but also the good works that follow. Our heart condition is revealed by our actions as to whether we truly repented or not. In other words, our "fruit" (Galatians 5:22-24)reveal whether we are in Christ. "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26

    You also said...
    "What we need to do is be very careful to understand the reality that all aspects of our salvation are secured in Christ, apart from our action."
    Believing in Christ is action. (Along with our confession unto salvation) We begin an “action” process of sanctification (or growing in holiness) aided by the Helper, the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2). As Jesus, has become our great High Priest (Hebrews 11) and the ("author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" Hebrews 5:9) sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. So we will sin, but we have an advocate to confess our sins too. (1 John 1:9) Those physical representations in the Old Testament that represent our spiritual truths in the New Testament are a picture of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. The general principle of salvation is secured to those who repent and walk in the Spirit. Again, scripture states, "Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart (action) from iniquity,' (2 Timothy 2:19) and "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself (action) from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.(actions)"

    If our salvation was secure, apart from our action as you say.. Then why would sanctification be necessary. As scripture states: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. (all requiring action on our behalf)” Then Peter goes on to say: “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.” There is action on our behalf that is the product of our belief in Jesus’ sacrifice. And we have to be careful to stay the course, which involves action on our behalf. Otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have repeated in Matthew 10:22 and 24:13, “He who endures till the end will be saved.”

    Action is required on our behalf… Scripture tells us in John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” Our helper, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin with the light of the Word, and it compels us to action…” “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27

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  12. Dear Anonymous,

    All the issues you raise, including the scriptures you cite, have been addressed in past posts. I wonder if you've taken time to read them.

    For example (as noted earlier in our discussion), I have provided a detailed exegesis of Acts 2:38, showing that the order of salvation, which so often is read into that verse, is not faithful to the overall faith context of Scripture, nor is it an adequate understanding of the Greek original. Perhaps you'd want to interact specifically with that exegesis; then we could have a meaningful dialog.

    Also, you are misrepresenting what has been carefully set out in this blog concerning the topic of sanctification in the life of a believer. Indeed, as we yield to the Holy Spirit who is at work in us, he conforms us to the perfect humanity of Christ, the perfectly sanctified man.

    Every aspect of our salvation--justification, sanctification and glorification is a gift of grace that calls forth from us a response--a sharing in what the God-man Jesus has done and is doing for us as our substitute and representative. But note the priority here--as I noted earlier, it is vital to "locate" all of these aspects of our salvation in Christ himself, for he is our life, and the one who acts on our behalf, enabling our participation.

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  13. Anonymous12/18/2012

    "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15.

    Sir, Jesus's work on the cross is finished, but our work is not.. as this, and many others scriptures indicate. The Holy Spirit is also still at work sanctifying those that are His John 17:17. There would be no need for a Helper, or to study scripture if no action were to be taken on our behalf. We are to grow holiness until His return.

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  14. I certainly agree, Anonymous, with what you say here. Let's leave it at that as we continue to study.

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  15. Anonymous1/19/2013

    what about punishing the 3rd and forth geeration

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  16. Anonymous, you are referencing Exodus 20:5, which in the KJV reads as follow: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me...

    This statement, of course, is part of the Ten Commandments, which it the heart and core of the Old Covenant, which was fulfilled in Christ and replaced, by Christ in the New Covenant. God no longer holds people's sins against them, but forgives sin in and through Jesus.

    Of course, in this fallen world, the consequences of sin often are felt across multiple generations (one only need look to the multi-generational devastation caused by warfare for an example). However, that is not the issue being addressed in the verse you cite, which has to do with loyalty to God's covenant under the terms of the New Covenant, which ended at the cross.

    And so your citation does not overthrow the basic point I am seeking to make in this post, namely that God's forgiveness of sin, which is part of what comes to humanity through what Jesus has done. That forgiveness is thus, from our perspective, *unconditional*--it is a gift of grace, which is received through faith, and even that faith is God's gift to us.

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  17. I have enjoyed reading through the comments between you and Anonymous. I appreciate the hard study and thought you both have put into defending your positions. I have learned from both of you. I have been trying to understand this whole grace vs works discussion for a while now. From where i see it you are both correct in a way, but are each hung up on your own position to see the full picture. To say there is nothing we must do in order to experience Eternal Life would be a false doctrine, and I don't think that is what Ted Johnston is implying. And to say that Eternal Life is gained by our actions would also be false doctrine, but I don't think that's exactly what anonymous is trying to say either. But this is what I feel you each think, about what the other is trying to say. You can't technically gain Eternal Life, because it has already been bought with the price of Christ's atonement. But the only way to experience it is to obey his commandments and to walk as he walked. Eternal Life for us was purchase by the atonement of Christ, not by anything we did, but the only way we are going to experience it is through our works. So in this regard, we are saved by grace, but can only experience it after all we can do. The Pharisees thought that they would be saved simply by following the law of Moses. That somehow through their strict obedience they would deserve to be saved. They followed the letter of the law, but failed to follow the spirit of the law. When Christ came he fulfilled the law of Moses and gave us the new testament, to follow Him. Life eternal is to know God, and Jesus Christ, and we know that we know him because we keep His commandments. We are saved by grace, through faith - not by faith. Which faith is dead without works. But it's not the works that save but Christ's grace that saves. But it is through those works that we are able to experience His grace. Thus you are both correct, Grace and Works are both necessary. Grace is free, but glory is conditional. You reap what you sow.

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  18. Thanks for this thoughtful post Rob. I agree with most all of what you say here. What is critical, both with respect to our salvation, and to our personal experience of (or one might say "participation in") that salvation, is that we understand that both occur "in Christ." He is both the basis of our salvation, and the means by which we experience it. And so we must be careful to see that it's not about Jesus taking care of part, and then the rest is up to us. Our works of faith, are our participation in Jesus own work, through the Spirit. That too, is his gift to us. Now that does not mean that we are an incidental or unimportant participant--quite the contrary, he makes our participation meaningful. As one theologian expressed it, "God's grace means all of God and all of us" (or "all of Christ means all of me").

    Thus it is not grace followed by works; or grace+works; but grace, which includes works.

    This distinction may seem to some a trivial "straining at a gnat" point. However, both theologically and in my own practical experience, it is a HUGE point that is of great consequence.

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    1. I agree entirely....grace is the enabling power that is with us from the beginning. It is that grace that beacons us to accept Christ and follow Him. It is that grace that enables us to carry out good works. Without that grace, if left to our own devices, we would not be able to do anything righteous. I like the word "participation" because it connotes that we must actively be engaged and participating in our salvation. I think of the student in class who sits quietly daydreaming of other things, not there mentally, keeping to himself, and doing the bare minimum or perhaps cheating in order to pass the course vs the student who is actively participating in the lesson being taught, and who is subsequently transformed and enlightened through his active participation. That teacher has given both students the same opportunity and has endlessly and unconditionally expressed his love for both. But it would be unwise and actually unloving for that teacher to grant the lazy, cheating, non-participant student the same grade and glory. It would be impossible for him to do so because learning and becoming is a conditional process that can only be achieved by deliberate participation. Thanks be to God that His grace beacons us from the beginning to participate and enables us to learn and grow and change our heart and minds towards him, and at the same time does not strip us of our freedom to choose for ourselves.

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  19. Anonymous2/03/2013

    Rob, I agree, and will add that repentance is not just a change of mind. Repentance is a change of heart. Proverbs 23:7 states: "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.." and Proverbs 5:23-27 "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life..." So is one truly saved that has received Christ as Savior and not as Lord? In other words commiting unto Christ his life, without obedience? One can have an intellectual understanding of sin, without corresponding actions. But saving faith is an issue of the heart, producing fruits unto righteousness. Titus 2:11-15 states:

    "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works."

    We are saved by grace through faith in Christ... This faith is what we are commended to contend earnestly for, and to watch for those that would distort the message of grace that is found (key phrase) IN Christ.

    Jude 3,4:
    "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ."

    Some may profess Christ as Savior, and He is. But without repentance, or a change of mind, heart, and soul (Luke 10:27),one is still lost; For such a one has denied Christ as Lord.

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    1. In my understanding, to believe that one will be "saved" regardless of their actions and decisions is a sad distortion of the doctrine of grace. Some have rightfully called this distortion, "Hyper-Grace". It is to believe that God will save us in our sins, because all sins are forgiven past, present, and future. And so eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, and God will save us all no matter what because His love is GREAT. A classic example of the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture - the adversaries favorite and most effective trick, to mix truth with falsehoods. I do not believe this is Ted's intentions or teaching but with this teaching one must be very careful not to be misunderstood. For the man who would like to follow God, but who is reluctant to let go of the his lust's, this doctrine is the perfect justification.

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  20. Anonymous2/03/2013

    FYI.. (There are several people commenting as Anonymous.. I posted this morning, in response to Rob and Ted..but not concerning the "generations" question brought forth by another anonymous.. My name is Chris..:-)

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  21. I think there's some confusion going on here between forgiveness versus reconcilliation (which results in salvation) -- they are two completely separate things. God's unilateral decision to forgive based on His acceptance of Jesus' atoning sacrifice is universal and unconditional. To deny that is to dimisish God's sovreignty and the power of Jesus' act. One's rejection of God's forgiveness does not alter God's fiat decision to forgive.

    That said, while we are all forgiven, it does not imply that we are automatically reconciled to God. Each person is still free to reject God (ie. remain in a state of spiritual Death) or to repent, believe and follow Jesus which reconciles us with God and we receive the gift of God's Life. It's like we've been pardoned and the door of our jail cell has been thrown open but we still need to choose whether to leave the prision and lay hold of the gift of freedom & Life.

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  22. Because Trinitarian theology is not a single "school" of theology, different Trinitarian theologians use terms in different ways. For example, some might say that, "all are redeemed but not all are reconciled." YMeister, you prefer to say that all are forgiven, but not all are reconciled".

    Note that in 2Cor 5:19 Paul writes that "in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them." Here forgiveness and reconciliation are said to be given to all by God, already, through Christ. So Paul does not divide reconciliation from forgiveness as they exist in God's mind, through his unilateral act in Christ. However, he goes on to write in vv19-20 that God has entrusted to the church "the message of reconciliation...So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

    So for Paul, humanity as a whole is reconciled and forgiven already, in Christ. This is the universal (objective) reality, which the church is commissioned to proclaim. Note, however, that it is a gift that needs to be personally (subjectively) received. Thus Paul says that the world is reconciled (i.e. already); however individuals are to "be reconciled."

    This is not double talk, but a proclamation of both what is true for all, already; and what may become the reality for each personally through faith, repentance and taking up of one's cross to follow Jesus.

    However the terms that pertain to salvation are used, there needs to be an awareness of this universal-objective reality of humanity in Christ and this personal-subjective reality as it is received by each person. One thing is clear, the personal has no meaning except that the universal is first true, and God is actively involved in both, working on our behalf in Christ, through the Spirit.

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  23. I can agree that God's forgiveness in not conditional....technically. But experiencing His forgiveness IS conditional. Therefore His unconditional love can save us from our sins, but it will not save us in our sins. We each have been granted the agency to choose for ourselves. His grace is an invitation to act and to exercise our faith, without such deliberate action, there will be no realization of the salvation granted to us, and we will remain in a state of spiritual death/prison. Whether you believe God's forgiveness is conditional or whether you believe EXPERIENCING it is conditional, should result in the same level of discipleship and subsequent fruits of repentance. The opposite belief could lead to the dangerous belief in the newly popular false doctrine of "Hyper-Grace" (http://www.michael-eaton.de/cms/front_content.php?idcat=112). If I grant you a free car, it will not benefit you until you get in it, drive, and follow the traffic laws which will safely and securely guide you from point (a) to point (s)alvation. Your intention may not be to preach Hyper-grace, but if not careful, such a teaching can lead some readers to a belief in Hyper-Grace. "The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." Charles Spurgeon

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  24. Rob, I'm not sure I'd agree with your use here of the word "technically" if by that we would think of grace as some sort of a mechanistic thing--it is not; rather it is fundamentally personal--that is, of the *person* the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, who died and now lives for us as one of us. However, I agree substantially with all the rest of your comment about the necessity of *experiencing* this grace in a deeply personal way.

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    1. Ted, I'm not sure the word "technically" was a good word either. But the point I was trying to make was that participating in our forgiveness is a conditional experience. If one misunderstands your teaching they may go on to dismiss personal accountability, misunderstanding that there is nothing they need to do. And may miss out on the blessings that come from turning to the Lord and forsaking our sins, putting off the natural man, being born again. It is a rewarding and transforming experience that indeed takes hard work on the part of the individual.

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  25. Hi Rob,
    I don't disagree with what I understand to be your essential point. The only caution I'd offer is to realize that our personal/subjective participation in our salvation, is every bit as much God's work as is what he has done for us objectively in Christ. In other words, God gets the credit and the glory for both. It is in this spirit, with this understnading, that Paul can declare that "it is I, yet not I, but Christ" (see Galations 2:20, and 1Cor 15:10)

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    1. Yes, 'Give Credit where Credit is due"..it's all through the prophets just put in different words.

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  26. Amen....I see no problem in giving Him all the credit, as long as we don't discredit personal accountability and the importance of our deliberate participation - through which of course His grace enables us, and without which we would be powerless to participate. I appreciate the open dialogue. Thank you! By the way...I don't know if this matters at all, but I wanted to share that I am a "Mormon", or a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I share that because many consider us not Christian, whereas this dialogue is at the root of my faith. Just wanted to share. God Bless

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  27. Hi Rob,
    I'm glad to have you join the dialog here.

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  28. You wrote a lot of good things...but Repentance is a different story. This is written because if one already believes in who Jesus is..it makes it all the more difficult to comprehend..Repentance comes after seeing who Jesus is, not before it. This in terms of Eternity, not time. Many are missing an Awesome Experience of the Joy that Surpasses understanding just as the Knowledg does in Ephesians 3:19 because of it. It does not make them 'a bad person' at all..but it is in offering up one's self as a living sacrifice unto God. Few know this experience - I searched for a long time and found only a few accounts of it - but one thing and since I write of it it 'might alreadly' be too late...but not necessarily - it is best explained by saying it is Undeliberate or else we will take credit it for ourselves for having the will to do it. To experience being Forgiven By God (the Word is sharpter than a double edged sword dividing even soul and spirit) You experience in GODLY SORROW not worldy sorrow by falling before him in the State of Repentance..Repentance is a state of Being today..the demand is higher now..not less than...Paul wrote; "Being Transformed by the renewing of the Mind"..and 'so that you might grow in the Full knowledge of Christ"..requires that Conidtioned state of Being...metanoia might be a better word. But this post was on Forgiveness..I was searching in Google on 'Christ is the Forgiveness of God' and found your link. From as far as I can tell.anything that is 'of God'.is Christ. The Knowledge of God..is Christ..'having the Mind of Christ"...The Love of God..is Christ..the Only Son...etc. It is not of myself by Christ who lives in me.

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  29. Anonymous1/11/2017

    Forgive me; I tend to be pragmatic, simple and blunt.

    Most of you don't understand the concepts here. I claim Christ as my Savior, and place my faith in him.

    Do not confuse the concepts of offerings with forgiveness. One is a precedent act, the other a response.

    Take ourselves out of this conversation and look into a totally different topic; that of dinner. My wife can cook a meal, and offer it to me at the table. I may or may not be hungry. I may or may not like the food prepared. I may desire it by deny myself the food because of guilt of being overweight. Yada, yada, yada ... What is offered and what is accepted are two different things. Her act and my response may or may not be congruent.


    Our Holy and Supreme God OFFERS salvation through the sacrifice of Crucifixion of Himself in the manifestation of His Holy nature in human form (Jesus). But His forgiveness comes only AFTER we ask, and then REPENT (confess, with remorse and an intent to change our hearts and actions).

    There are multiple scriptures that show this to be the case. This is not unlike, in simple terms, the concept of "BASIC" computer language. The concept of Godly forgiveness is one of a state of being, and a response to that state. It's an "If ... Then ..." statement. 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from unrighteousness". It's abundantly clear in this, and many other, scripture citations. If ... Then ...
    There is a condition to be met, prior to some form of response. "If you don't eat your meat, you can't have your pudding. How can you have your pudding if you don't eat your meat?" (pardon the Pink Floyd analogy if it offends you). If you don't study hard, you won't pass the math exam. If you don't pay the toll, you won't be allowed to cross the bridge. Yada, yada, yada ... Get the flavor here? Condition precedes response.

    You all are arguing about HOW God forgives, but the question posed is WHEN does God forgive? The question is thus:
    Is God's forgiveness conditional?
    In effect, WHEN does God forgive?
    It's not asking HOW He forgives, but WHEN?

    God forgives when we ask, and not before. Therefore it is conditional. I can read and reason. God gave me a brain to use, and the gift of discernment. HOW God forgives is not the same discussion as WHEN he forgives. Period.

    Narrow is the path and gate to enter His Kingdom of Heaven. Redemption is OFFERED to everyone, but few will understand and act upon the conditions to receive it. God OFFERED full salvation to all at the Cross, but he only FORGIVES those who both ASK *and* REPENT. You must ask to be forgiven, and you must manifest your remorse in the change of your heart/soul/mind/actions.

    In my simple minded way, it boils down to this:
    God did something for us; He gave of Himself the ultimate sacrifice. But that is not an assurance of a blanket promise without bounds. We will not be Saved without His shed blood. We will not be saved without our asking to be forgiven. We will not be saved without repentance.

    God forgives after we ask, and not before. Do not be so vain as to believe that we set the conditions; He does. If you do not understand the concept of His conditions, you're going to Hell.

    It's just that simple.

    (note - I'm not the same Anonymous as that whom presents other responses above; don't blame him/her if you disagree with me).

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  30. Well I don't know how much the article and all the comments on comments about this helped me in my present situation. Makes me want to read my Bible much more and know clearly the correct spiritual leader to sit under. My life seems bond up in addiction but I still pray. I try to seek more clarity on my faith and what's going on and more often than not I'm confused and just wish I had more help. Interesting article though, almost over my head at some points, but God bless.

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    Replies
    1. Dear SingleWhiteChristianMale. I commend you for studying the Bible and for seeking a spiritual leader to assist you in doing so. Being discipled in the way of Jesus is crucial, including finding deliverance in the battle you are waging against addiction. I just said a prayer for you, asking God to guide you in these ways. Blessings, brother.

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  31. I did really like how that last paragraph was written btw.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. And I think this paragraph has particular relevance to your personal struggle with addiction. A well-known Christian author once said to me, "In my experience working with addicts for some 40 years now, I've found that none were able to overcome the addiction without first coming to realize that God has already forgiven them." In other words, it is God's grace that first forgives, and in that state of forgiveness, sets us free. I pray that you will experience both the sense of forgiveness and the freedom from bondage it brings. I pray you will find a good Christian counselor/guide to help you on that journey. God bless.

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