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Topic: The Gospel

Conditions of Forgiveness

by Darrel Cline

We have been asking What is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ?. In the previous article we discussed the issue of conditional and unconditional promises, and we mentioned that the Gospel is a conditional promise. In this article we shall look a bit further into this.

There are two things about a conditional promise that we need to grasp. The first is that the condition must be clearly understood. The second is that a promise is a promise. These two things make it easier to answer the question What is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ?. The first issue is clarifying the conditions. When we read the biblical texts that address the question of the precise content of the Gospel, we are struck by the fact that there are but two conditions. The first is given by Jesus in Luke's account of His commission to His disciples in 24:45-47. There He said that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name among all the nations. Now the promise in this text is the forgiveness of sins. The condition? Repentance. This is not an undefined thing in the Bible, but it, being defined by the Word of God, is the condition for being forgiven. Basically it boils down to genuinely wanting deliverance from sin's power and consequences. Anyone who genuinely wants to be forgiven and have sin's power broken in his life can come to Christ and receive His forgiveness. This is the Gospel with its condition.

There is, however, another condition implied in the promise of forgiveness. We must believe that He will forgive. Otherwise we will not come. There are those who refuse to come to Christ because they refuse to admit their sin. There are those who refuse because they refuse to seek forgiveness for their sin. And there are those who refuse to come because they refuse to believe that He would forgive their sin. But, those who want to be forgiven and believe He will forgive, come to Him. This is the conditionality of the Gospel in terms of clarification of the conditions: repentance and faith.

The other issue is understanding that a promise is a promise. This is where many falter in their understanding of the Gospel. They think the Gospel is a Law in which multiple demands are made before the benefit will be extended. The fact is that a promise is a promise and the only legitimate response to it is faith. The response to Law is obedience; the response to Gospel is faith. God does not save us on the basis of our ability to do what is right and refrain from what is wrong. He saves us if we believe that He will. His willingness stems from the death Jesus died in our place to pay the penalty sin had brought upon us. Once we trust in Jesus, the penalty is paid. There is no further penalty.

The saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is this: if you want to have sin's power and consequences arrested in your life, Jesus will forgive you if you come to Him.

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This is article #216.
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