Monthly Archives: November 2015

Is salvation dependent on being a forgiver?

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6.14-15)

I would encourage you to not move so quickly to, “this verse is not talking about works righteousness. Your salvation is not dependent on forgiving others.”

Yes, no verse in the Bible commands Christians toward works-righteousness. So you must not forgive in order to be saved. But does that automatically mean that your salvation is not dependent on forgiving? Just depends on what you mean by  “dependent” I suppose.

This text is pretty straightforward. So in order to not lose the clarity of Scripture, I would suggest hearing Jesus’ words in light of the doctrine of perseverance. Election is unconditional. But our calling is conditioned upon our election. Our justification is conditioned upon faith. Our sanctification is conditioned upon justification. And our glorification is conditioned upon perseverance. It is an unbreakable chain. It is all by grace through faith in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. But I think if we understand the order of salvation in this way, we can remain Protestant, and also give due justice to each text.

It is in this context that I can say (along with Jesus), “if you forgive–if you persevere in a life of forgiveness– your Heavenly Father will also forgive you– God will grant you access to His glory on the final day.” It is actually only those who are bent toward works-righteousness who have to understand that sentence in a works-righteous way.

So as always, I would remind you, if you remember what Christ has accomplished for you already on the cross, then you will persevere.

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You cannot understand the gospel without the OT

1 Corinthians 15.3-4: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”

When Paul reminds the Corinthians of the gospel, he includes the fact that Jesus’ death in the place of sinners and his third-day resurrection is in accordance with Holy Scriptures. Just a few implications of that:

  • Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are what the OT is about. If that is not what you are drawing out of the OT, it is your loss.
  • Jesus’ fulfillment of the OT is a part of the good news. Somehow, God comforts us by telling us that His Son’s life, death, and resurrection were all a part of His good, unshakeable, unstoppable plan from all eternity.
  • Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are devoid of a lot of its meaning if it is ripped out of the context of the entire Bible. Presentations of the gospel that do not open up how Jesus’ life is “according to the Scriptures” may not have the Spiritual power to save.

If someone shows any spiritual interest, my first thought is now to take them to the Scriptures. We should be much quicker– especially in our day, in our country– rather than to say, “would you like to ask Jesus into your heart?” we should instead ask, “would you like to have a Bible study together?”