Salvation By Repentance and Belief: Did Christ provide for the forgiveness of sins on the cross?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published March 25, 2023
  • Word count 2,247

PART 8 THE SPIRITUALITY PUZZLE

8      

Salvation by Repentance and Belief: Did Christ Provide for the Forgiveness of Sins on the Cross?

Most will agree that Christ died on the cross as mankind’s substitute to pay the debt owed to the justice of God for sin. But what about forgiveness? Were all of these sins forgiven at this time?

Let’s begin by looking at the ultimate example of expressing forgiveness, i.e., of Christ on the cross toward His persecutors.

 

Suggested Reading: Luke 23:33-46  

Christ and two others were hanging on a cross at a place called Calvary (kranion), the Greek word for Golgotha - the place of a skull. He was placed between two thieves as if to imply that He was the worst of the three transgressors. The superscription above His head, which indicated His crime was, “This is the King of the Jews.” It was written in the three learned languages of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

During the time when the Jews entered the Promised Land, the land of Canaan while operating under the institution of the Mosaic Law, it was common for an executed person to be publicly displayed by hanging him from the stakes of a stockade wall. This was done to discourage civil disobedience and mock defeated military foes. Another method that the Jews employed for carrying out a death sentence was stoning. After someone was killed in this manner, the person was placed on a tree “hanging” for public display. People so shown after execution by stoning for breaking Israel’s Law were said to be cursed of God. Later, the stake or cross came to be used as a means of civil and military punishment for persons convicted as enemies of the state (foreign soldiers, rebels, spies, treason, desertion in the face of the enemy, robbery, piracy, assassination, sedition, etc.).

When Christ lived on the earth, the Sanhedrin (judicial system of the Jews) had four forms of capital punishment: stoning, burning, beheading, and strangling. However, the Roman judicial system took away from them the power of inflicting capital punishment. (Sanhedrin, 1, beginning; 7,2, p.24). This simply meant that without the confirmation of the sentence on the part of the Roman procurator, the Jews had no power to carry out the sentence of the court. And, by the way, Roman citizens were exempt from crucifixion, the use of which was abolished under Emperor Constantine in about 300 AD.

Regarding the coming Messiah, the Jews were looking for someone who would deliver them from Roman rule. If Jesus were who He said He was, He’d not only deliver Himself from the Romans that had Him now in their hands, but He’d also deliver the Jews from Roman rule. Obviously, He did neither. Therefore, they prosecuted Him under the misplaced notion that He was a pretended Messiah. He was placed on a cross and sentenced to die for blasphemy, i.e., for claiming to be someone that, according to the Jews, He was not.

Luke 23:33-34, 44 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.  And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.              

Jesus, along with two others, were placed on crosses. In pertaining to forgiveness, at some point, He made this statement, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. The word forgive means to give up a debt. It also means not exacting punishment with the view toward salvation. Some would say that this prayer was not referring to the sin whose debt was paid for on the cross, but an attitude expressed toward both the Jewish high priests and Roman soldiers, who ignorantly falsely convicted and physically abused Him, and as such, were themselves accountable for the prescribed penalty under the Mosaic Law. According to this perspective, Jesus was asking the Father not to inflict punishment on them concerning their transgressions.

Jesus, later in the day, would die for all sin on the cross. However, this prayer for forgiveness, they would argue, didn’t pertain to all of these sins for which He would die, but only for the sins of those who falsely accused and convicted Him. Is this true? Let’s find out.

Please go to the book of Colossians.

 

Colossians 2:13

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

If you read this verse without Greek glasses on, it would say something like this. And you, the believers at Colossae, who were at one time spiritually dead in your sins and the uncircumcision (sin nature) of your flesh (body) of which uncircumcision is a sign, he (God the Holy Spirit) has quickened (made alive) them together with him (Christ), having forgiven (wiped away) all of your trespasses (all deviation from truth). This appears to be saying that when you were made alive with Christ, your sins were forgiven.

Some would infer that this occurred at salvation when they, as unbelievers, were baptized in water. Others would say that this occurs following repentance of one’s sins and belief in Christ as to who He is and what He has accomplished. By the way, neither is the case. Huh?

As I said initially, you need to have Greek glasses on to understand what is meant by the words having forgiven. Here’s what I mean. Most of the original New Testament manuscripts were written in what was called Koine Greek, the common language of the people at that time, with a small amount expressed in Aramaic. These words, by the way, having forgiven are classified as being an Aorist Middle Participle.

When a verse was translated into English, sometimes the structure of the sentence appeared to be saying one thing when it actually wasn’t. This is particularly the case when a participle appears in Scripture in the aorist tense. First of all, what is a participle? We looked at this earlier in this study but I’m going to repeat it here because it provides clarity in respect to this topic.

A participle is known as a verbal noun and denotes why someone is doing something or why something is being done. What is meant by the aorist tense? The aorist tense tells us what kind of action is being expressed by the verb. In this case, the Aorist tense denotes action as occurring at a point in time. The middle or middle voice means that the subject isn’t only an agent of the action of the verb but also receives the results.

In a scriptural verse, if we can identify these two things happening together, i.e., what is known as an Aorist Participle (as a verbal adjective), then what this is telling us is that the action of the minor verb precedes the action of the main verb or verbs in the verse of Scripture. Thus, we’ll be brought to an awareness of something happening before something else has taken place that we weren’t able to tell from the English translation. Make sense?

So, the minor verb, having forgiven, you guessed it, is an Aorist Participle, which tells us that this action occurred before the action of the main verb, quickened. And here is the wowza. I know it’s not a real word, please excuse me. All of the sins of the Corinthian believers were forgiven before they were quickened (made alive) with Christ. Another way of saying this is that it was on the basis that the sins of the Colossian believers were already forgiven (by inference at the cross) that they were allowed to be quickened (made alive) with Christ. Therefore, what we could deduce from this is that if the sins that Christ bore on the cross weren’t forgiven, then no unbeliever would be allowed to be quickened with Him. Did you get that? If this were the case, then no one could be saved.

Please go to the book of 2 Corinthians, and we’ll take a look at another Scripture in this regard.

 

2 Corinthians 5:19

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

God the Father reconciled the world (everyone) unto Himself by the death of His Son on the cross. Reconciliation in this context doesn’t imply universal salvation. It means that the enmity between God and man, sin, which began the instant when Adam ate of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, was placed on His Son, who became a sin offering for all mankind (the sin of the world, past, present, and future were placed on Him meaning that He bore the punishment due to them in His body).

Furthermore, we’re told that God the Father did not impute the trespasses of sins against anyone of the human race. The words not imputing with respect to transgressions (sins) have a few meanings. It means to not punish them with unmitigated severity for their crimes;76 to not count against … not keeping of records of commercial accounts,…not to keep a mental record of; …not keep an account of human failings.77 To sum this up, God the Father, through Christ’s suffering and death on the cross, obtained pardon and forgiveness of sin for everyone. This is called the unlimited atonement. 

Are there any other verses that indicate that the forgiveness of sins took place on the cross?

    

Hebrews 9:24-26

24-25 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

These verses contrast the Old Testament animal sacrifices with the one sacrifice of Christ. And what they convey to us is this. Christ isn’t entered into the man-made place, i.e., the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the tabernacle or temple. This is simply the antitype or copy of the true sanctuary, the heavenly sanctuary where He presented Himself before God the Father on our behalf. He didn’t act as an earthly high priest who offered himself for sin over and over again with sacrificial blood once a year on an annual basis. But, at the conclusion of the Jewish dispensation, He appeared on earth to put away sin by allowing Himself to be put to death on the cross once and for all.

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

We’re told what His sacrifice or death on the cross accomplished, i.e., to put away sin. This signifies a few things: He bore all sins of every person; the sin-offerings under the Mosaic Law were to be no more, and the sins of all mankind have been forgiven.

Is it true that His sacrifice was for all, both believers and unbelievers?

To address this, please go to 1 John 2.

 

1 John 2:1-2

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

If any of us sin, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who pleads our case by speaking on our behalf as to our character. He goes between us and God the Father to restore friendly relations. And He is also the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, having paid the penalty attributed to them of the whole world, thus appeasing or satisfying the wrath of God whose standard had been violated. 

Wow! What we can conclude from the verses we’ve studied is that Christ’s death on the cross satisfied God’s justice, paid the penalty for sin, and forgave sin for both believers and unbelievers. What does this mean? It means that sin is no longer the issue as to whether or not an unbeliever will enter heaven. Is what I just said a shocker to you? Entering or not entering heaven isn’t based on sin, but according to this gospel, repentance and belief.

So, what do you think? Was sin forgiven at the cross for all mankind? The answer is yes. Therefore, the forgiveness of all sin has been taken care of once and for all. Right? So, where does water baptism fit in? Some believe that it’s necessary in the salvation process for many reasons. One of them is that it forgives sins. Well, does it? Let’s take a look at this in the next chapter.

Endnotes

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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