when are sins forgiven?
THE CONDITIONS OF FORGIVENESS
But then forgiveness hath its conditions. God does not offer forgiveness indiscriminately; He does not say He will forgive the sins of the world, whether they take notice of Him or not. Very far from this: He restricts forgiveness to those who fear Him and submit to the conditions He has provided. The question is, what are those conditions? There are various conditions, but we look not now at subsidiary conditions, but at the one that comes before all others, as brought forward by Paul in the declaration before us — the propitiatory setting forth of Christ as an object of faith in the shedding of his blood. It is forgiveness that is offered, but not without this, — not apart from this …
This is Heaven’s etiquette, and the appointed manner of approach for sinners, combining supremacy and love. “I am a great King.” He will forgive and be forbearing if we bow down in the presence of His vindicated righteousness — a righteousness in which kindness and justice converge, which cannot be said for substitution. It would not be righteous to put to death one on whom death had no claims. It would not be kindness to say to us, “I will let you go free if that man will die.” The kindness, wisdom, and righteousness of God are all obscured by any idea of that sort; but the scriptural idea is a masterpiece, a triumph of divine wisdom.
God says now: “If you will recognise your position, repent, and come under that man’s wing, I will receive you back to favour and forgive you. My righteousness has been declared in him; I have crowned him with everlasting days; because he loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and was obedient unto death, I have crowned him with life eternal. It is in him for you if you will submit, and believe in him, and put on his name, which is a confession that you have no name of your own that will stand. Obey his commandments, and I will receive you and forgive you for his sake, and ye shall be My sons and daughters.” This is a splendid issue of kindness and wisdom. It is a different thing from the dry legality that would give us the blood of Christ as a sort of precious stuff, with which to touch ourselves and be pure. God operates in the whole transaction. We are cleansed from sin by this beautiful means, that God forgives us because of what Christ has done, if we will accept him and be baptised. In baptism we are provided with a ceremony in which we are baptised into his death, and in which, by a figure, we are washed from our sins in his blood. There is a connection in this view of the case, between what God offers us in Christ, and our own acts. That is, the cleansing result of the atonement is dependent upon our compliances. You remember the expression — “If we walk in the light the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” If we do not walk in the light, it has no power, which shows that the blood of Christ is not the magical thing represented by orthodox religion; nor the automatic legally operative thing to which it is degraded by some theories; nor the powerless thing thought of by mere moralists, who put the blood of Christ entirely to one side. It is the ritual element in the act or ceremony which the living, loving, wise Author of the universe has established as the basis of reconciliation between Himself and those who have wandered far from Him into the ways of death. It is He who applies the results on faith being exercised in His appointment. It is the expression of His justice in the process of justifying those who believe.
THE PLACE OF FORGIVENESS
The object of this sacrificial declaration of the righteousness of God is also made clearly manifest in its practical applications. It was “for (or in order to) the remission of sins that are past,” that is, where men believe — “Remission,” not as a legal right accruing, but as the gift of grace, “through the forbearance of God.” There would be no “forbearance” if a legal claim had been discharged. God “forgives for Christ’s sake” (Eph. 4:32). This is the literal issue of the whole matter. God’s supremacy having been vindicated, a foundation has been laid on which He can offer forgiveness without the compromise of wisdom and righteousness. He does not offer it, or allow it apart from submission to the declaration of His righteousness in Christ crucified. There must be the most humble identification with that declaration. Baptism in our age is provided as the means of that identification. The believer is “baptised into his death” (Rom. 6:3), and buried with him in baptism (Col. 2:12), and receives the forgiveness of all his sins “through the forbearance (the kindness, the graciousness) of God,” who is pleased with our conformity to the form of humiliation He has provided. The whole sacrificial institution and our endorsement of it in baptism is comparable to a form of apology presented by the Majesty of Heaven as the condition of our receiving His mercy unto life eternal. The object secured is the triumphant assertion and recognition of God’s supremacy and man’s abasement as a dependent beneficiary. Thus law and mercy are reconciled.
Robert Roberts, The Blood of Christ
When are Sins Forgiven?
Paul speaks of the heart being sprinkled (with the blood of Christ): when does this take place? Before Baptism or after it? MMC
Peter says “Ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth” (1 Pet. 1:22). The meaning of this is made apparent in the words addressed to the Pentecostal crowd who asked “What shall we do?” “Repent and be baptised for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38), and further illustrated in the words of Ananias to Paul: “Arise and be baptised, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16), and further in Paul’s words to the Romans: Buried with him by baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him” (see 1 Col. 2:12) to newness of life (Rom. 6:4). “Baptism doth also now save us, not by the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but by the answer of a good conscience toward God” (1 Pet. 3:21). Hence this “answer of a good consequence,” consequent on the remission of sins, is obtained in the act of baptism.
Baptism is the institution God has appointed for bringing believing sinners into contact with the benefit secured by the death of Christ. By a figure borrowed from the Law, the blood of Christ is then sprinkled upon his heart. Literally, God then forgives him for Christ’s sake. People may laugh at this arrangement, but they cannot deny that it is the way appointed, if they believe the testimony of the apostles. Their laughing may pass unnoticed now, but there is a time when “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh;” and for this time, like Felix, they would tremble if they realised the “terror of the Lord” appertaining to it for those who despise the goodness of God. It hath pleased God to make use of contemptible things, that men’s faith may be put to the test, and man’s insignificance and God’s importance made palpable to every man’s conscience in the obedience he has required.
Robert Roberts, (The Christadelphian, 1873)
XIV.- That he is a priest over his own house only, and does not intercede for the world, or for professors who are abandoned to disobedience. That he makes intercession for his erring brethren, if they confess and forsake their sins.- Luke 24:51; Eph. 1:20, Acts 5:31; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:1; Acts 15:14; 13:39; Heb. 4:14-15; Jno. 17:9; Heb 10:26; 1Jno 2:1; Prov. 38:13
Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith