1. Redemption or Eternal Forgiveness?

 •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 8
There are four important questions in connection with this aspect of forgiveness, which God's word clearly answers.
How is it procured for us?
How is it received by us?
How is it assured to us?
What are its effects upon us?
1. Forgiveness Procured
Many anxious souls make sad mistakes about this question. Some seem to have got an idea that earnest prayers and tears of repentance will procure it; others that amendment in the future will procure forgiveness for the past. But such souls seem to forget that when God forgives us He can only do so in righteous consistency with His own holy character. Let them listen to Scripture, and the answer to our question will be found distinct and plain enough.
It is by the blood of Christ, and by His blood alone, that our pardon is procured. Nothing could righteously procure the forgiveness of our sins, but that which makes atonement for them. Compare the following verses:
“We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:77In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:7)).
If anything else, nay, if everything else put together, could have procured it, would not God have spared His blessed Son the shame and suffering, the humiliation and judgment of the cross? When He cried in the garden, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matt. 26:3939And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matthew 26:39)), if, apart from His sacrifice and death, there had been such a possibility, would it not there and then have been manifested? Think of Him in that hour of agony, sweating, as it were, great drops of blood; think of His strong crying and tears, and let those words, “If it be possible,” sink deeper and deeper into your soul.
If our forgiveness could have been brought about by prayers and cries and tears, would not His prayers have procured it? And did they? No. All that took place in Gethsemane was but in anticipation of the atoning work of the cross. Oh, think again of those words, “If it be possible.” Think of what followed upon the tree, and never again let the thought find place in your heart, that anything but the blood-shedding of Jesus could procure your forgiveness.
If you were in a court of justice, under sentence of death, would standing to plead for forgiveness avail you aught?
Or, even suppose that your case was not so serious, and that you were only sentenced to imprisonment for debt, would trying to `beg off' discharge your account? Would all your promises for the future wipe out one item of the past? You know perfectly well that they would avail you nothing.
If, then, when justice claims that a penalty shall be inflicted, or a debt paid, pleading words, good intentions, well-meant promises, and even the most genuine contrition, will not clear you at a human tribunal, how can you expect that they will procure your pardon before the throne of God?
Beside all this, the Judge has spoken. God Himself has decided the point. In words too distinct and clear to be mistaken or reasoned away He has declared, that “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:2222And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)). NO BLOOD SHEDDING, NO REMISSION. Rest assured therefore, dear reader, that nothing short of the blood of an accepted Sacrifice will avail to secure the forgiveness of your sins before God.
But, thank God, He who claimed in righteousness has provided in grace; and the provisions of the altar are equal to the claims of the throne. He who said, “IT IS THE BLOOD that maketh an atonement for the soul,” has also said, “I HAVE GIVEN IT TO you upon the altar” (Lev. 17:1111For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)).
Thus believers can say, “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:77In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:7)). Mark well those two blessed realities. THE GRACE OF GOD the source, THE BLOOD OF CHRIST the means, of our forgiveness. The grace of God provides the Lamb; the blood of the Lamb procures the forgiveness, and the Spirit of grace proclaims it far and wide to sinful men; while the heart of God delights to bestow the forgiveness upon a broken-hearted penitent. He “abundantly” pardons, He freely forgives. “When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both” (Luke 7:4242And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? (Luke 7:42)). When the sin-offering was offered to procure forgiveness for an offending Israelite, three important things took place (Lev. 4):
The blood was poured out at the bottom of the altar (part of it having been presented before the Lord).
The body of the animal that stood in the offender's stead was burnt to ashes outside the camp; a solemn figure, pointing to the blessed Sin-bearer under the consuming judgment of God.
The fat (the excellence of the victim) went up as a sweet savor to God from the altar of burnt-offering, speaking of God's acceptance of that which had taken place in the offender's behalf; and upon this ground he was pronounced to be “FORGIVEN” (Lev. 4:3131And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:31)).
Now these three things, namely, the outpouring of the blood, the consuming of the victim outside, and the burning of its fat inside, could not possibly be repeated either in the type or the Great Antitype. That which met God's claims-the blood-shedding-and that which exhausted the wrath due to us-the victim consumed (in type)-can never take place again.
Their consequences for the believer are eternal. Because of its unchanging efficacy, the application of the blood never need be repeated; the shedding of the blood never could be.
2. Forgiveness Received
It is through the blood alone that forgiveness is procured, and through FAITH alone that we get it.
GRACE provides.
THE BLOOD procures. THE SPIRIT proclaims. FAITH appropriates.
The moment we have faith in the precious blood of Christ, its full eternal efficacy is applied to and rests upon our souls; forgiveness through that blood is from that moment ours—declared to be ours by the Spirit's testimony in the Word. “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:4343To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43)). “Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:38-3938Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38‑39)). It is not through any proved merit of the past, nor any promised merit for the future, that we get it; but simply through faith in. the work and merits of Another—of Him whom God has raised from the dead, in proof of His acceptance of what He had done. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission [or passing over] of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God... that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-2625Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:25‑26)). That is, before the death of Christ, God passed over the sins of believers on the ground of what was going to be done; and though it was “through the forbearance of God,” yet it was righteous forbearance, inasmuch as it was in view of the 'one full payment' to be made for them. Since the cross, a believer is forgiven on the ground of the value of the blood which has been shed.
3. Forgiveness Assured
We can only be unwaveringly certain of anything as we rest with unwavering confidence on reliable evidence. We must have the needed information, and we must have it from a trustworthy source. For example, you wish to go to some Continental town, but upon consulting your guide book you find (as is sometimes the case), opposite the name of the place you wish to reach, the words, “No INFORMATION,” meaning that when the Guide went to press the information had not been received from the transport office. If this is your only means of information, how are you going to make sure of the starting of your boat? It would be all guesswork. Certainty would be out of the question. Again, we will suppose that you find the needed information, but on another page of the Guide it is stated that the proprietors “do not hold themselves responsible in any way for inaccuracies.” How could you, under such circumstances, be unwaveringly sure?
But when we come to gospel testimony, we must bear in mind that God Himself is the Author of it. “God... hath... spoken” (Heb. 1:1-21God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1‑2)). “The word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:2525But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1:25)). It is the GOSPEL OF GOD, and therefore, as the apostle said to the Corinthians, “As GOD IS TRUE, our word toward you was not yea and nay” (2 Cor. 1:1818But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. (2 Corinthians 1:18)).
How distinct and clear are these divine utterances through the lips of the apostles Peter and Paul. For example, turn to Acts 10:4343To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43): “To him [Christ] give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Could anything be plainer?
If, through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and His precious blood, God declares that forgiveness is yours, “as God is true,” it is yours.
But perhaps you say, “I fear that my faith is too feeble to claim the blessing.” We only ask, “Is it strong enough to make Christ Himself the object of your trust? Is He your only confidence? Is His precious blood your only plea? Then, whether you think you can claim it or not, the word of God claims the blessing for you, and you have but to put your Amen to it.” “WHOSOEVER believeth in Him SHALL RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS.” “ALL that believe ARE JUSTIFIED FROM ALL THINGS.”
The testimony of one's feelings is as unreliable as the testimony of God's word is sure: and though it seems so natural to cling to them. One could never depend upon inward emotions for an assurance of pardon.
If I had, for the ground of my assurance, certain happy feelings and nothing else, who is to decide for me whether those feelings are those of a truly forgiven soul, or whether I am deceiving myself?
Before my feelings could give me assurance, I should first need assurance about my feelings!
Let it not be supposed by this that we wish either to ignore or make light of feelings in their right place. On the contrary, we firmly hold that every true believer experiences a feeling of joy and comfort when he is made sure of pardon—”joy and peace in BELIEVING.” It is solid comfort, too, for he has a divine ground for his assurance. But it must be remembered that it is possible to have the feelings religiously wrought upon, and yet this divine ground be lacking.
Take an illustration from history. The Duke of Somerset was one of the last men beheaded upon Tower Hill. It was in the reign of Edward VI. Just as the fatal moment was approaching, a mounted messenger in the service of the Crown—a member of the council—came riding towards the scaffold. He had followed a number of officers who had ridden through the crowd in hot haste to the same place of melancholy interest. The assembled crowd no doubt thought that this member of the council had been sent to stop the execution, and began to cry, “A pardon, a pardon!” The shout was carried forward till it reached the scaffold, causing a hectic color to mount to the cheeks of the condemned duke. How must he have felt, think you, to have heard such tidings at such a moment? How his bosom must have heaved with emotion at the welcome news! But whatever his feelings may have been, they were not of long duration. Though the news seemed good, it proved to be groundless. Popular opinion was mistaken. Though thousands of voices might have joined in the cry of “Pardon!” though the duke's own feelings may have loudly echoed the flattering report, King Edward did not send a message of pardon, so that all the rest was but cruel mockery, the fabric of human imagination. The announcement was welcome, but it lacked one thing—royal authority.
If the assurance of our forgiveness is to be solid and lasting, we must get it from the highest authority from the word of God; and when we do, the comfort of that assurance will be sure to follow. But never confound assurance with the comfort which naturally flows from it; nor imagine that any amount of comfortable feeling could give you solid assurance, though it must necessarily accompany it. Two things mark well.
Because GOD has spoken I am SURE.
Because I am sure I FEEL at rest.
4. the Effects of Known Pardon
Perhaps the most serious mistake that can be made as to the matter before us, is the notion that forgiveness can be known without its producing any effect in the life and affections of those who know it.
There are at least three great effects produced by the knowledge of forgiveness in the soul of the forgiven one.
It produces HAPPINESS. “Blessed [or happy] is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” The psalm which thus speaks of the forgiven man ends with gladness and a shout of joy (Psa. 32:1,111<<A Psalm of David, Maschil.>> Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (Psalm 32:1)
11Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. (Psalm 32:11)
).
It produces LOVE. “To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” The woman of the city who had the forgiveness of “many” sins, “loved much” (Luke 7).
It produces FEAR. Nothing can move the soul to holy, jealous care like the forgiving love of God in Christ. “If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared” (Psa. 130:3-43If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? 4But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130:3‑4)).
This is not a slavish fear. It is not a fear of losing His love, but of grieving it. It is a fear which has its very spring in the knowledge of a love that can never be either checked or changed; a love that spent itself upon me when I was utterly degraded, irrecoverably lost; that shares its all with me now that I am eternally saved.