Jesus came to redeem us From the consequences of the fall – Part 8
What has Christ done for sin? Cont’
The only hope for peace to be achieved on either the personal or national level is through the Prince of peace.
What is forgiveness?
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Mat 6:14)
“Forgive,” (aphte; aphsei) Occurring over 140 times in the NT, the Greek aphiēmi sometimes means “to let go,” “to leave behind,” “to dismiss,” and even “to cancel a debt.”
It is used for the forgiveness of sins by God (implying also the canceling of the guilt). We are to forgive others who do us wrong in the same way God forgives us.
FORGIVENESS Term used to indicate pardon for a fault or offense; to excuse from payment for a debt owed.
Terminology The two main terms for forgiveness in Hebrew are nasa, “to take away (sin)” and salach, “to pardon.” God is always the subject of the latter. The LXX expands the O’I’s forgiveness vocabulary to 20 terms. The NT expresses forgiveness with a select group of words, especially aphiemi.
Old Testament God is characterised early in the life of Israel as a God Who both forgives and holds the guilty accountable (Exod. 34:7; cp. Neh. 9:17). He is the source of forgiveness for Israel at Sinai (Exod. 32:32; 34:9). He provides forgiveness for sin through the sacrificial system (Lev. 4:20,26,28,31; 5:10,13,16, 18; 6:7; 19:22). Solomon trusts God to forgive the repentant in his prayer of dedication for the temple. He utilises the formula “Then hear …and forgive,” establishing God’s sovereignty and willingness to forgive. God’s forgiveness is directed primarily to His covenant people to sustain His covenant through them. However, outsiders may also become the object of God’s merciful forgiveness (1 Kings 8:41-43; cf 2 Chron. 6:32-33). Forgiveness is tied to the cultic setting in both the 1 Kings narrative and the 2 Chronicles narrative. Thus, forgiveness is the vehicle in which God reappropriates the blessings of His gracious covenant.
The prophets hold this same covenant grace out to Israel if she would only repent from her presumption on God’s grace and her election (Dan. 9:9; Isa. 44:22; Jer 33:8; Mic. 7:8).
Social injustices that arise are often the fruit of Israel’s indifference towards God’s covenant and become the target of God’s wrath (Amos 2:6, etc.). Israel also must repent of land/covenant defiling sins such as idolatry, bloodshed, and sexual sins, before forgiveness is procured.
The Psalms reveal the God of Israel as the same God found in the Torah. He does not allow the guilty to go unpunished, yet He is a God of forgiveness. In particular, the psalmist finds God to be the only source of forgiveness (Ps. 19: 12; 25:11; 32:5; 65:3; 78:38). This reliance on God results in hymns of praise to God (Ps. 136).
New Testament Forgiveness is a vital idea for NT theology. John’s baptism was for repentance and the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4; Luke 1: 76-77). The idea is found in the confession of the Christ child’s destiny (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:77). It is the blood of Jesus’ atonement that yields eternal forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 10:11-12; Lev. 16; 17:11). Jesus places enormous emphasis on horizontal (human to human) forgiveness. Matt. 18:21-35 details the parable of the unforgiving slave, enclosed by the divine demand to forgive. In Jesus’ model prayer, the forgiveness the individual receives is dependent upon the forgiveness the individual gives to those who offend him. Jesus distinguishes His own ministry as one by which forgiveness is mediated to sinners through His blood (Matt. 26:28).
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