Does Jesus forgive all our sins: past, present and future?

Question:

Dear Brother in Christ,

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I went through your website and especially the questions and answers, I want to say that by God's grace and His enabling you have done a good job.  The answers to most of the questions are apt and scripture based.  I read about women's role, gift of tongues and so on and can only say well done in answering so correctly.

I am writing this email to you because of one main concern.  In questions about salvation, you have taught and tried to convey that a Christian can lose his salvation.  Based on my studies and understanding of the scriptures, I believe with conviction that it is not possible for a truly born again Christian to lose his salvation.  People who think that the salvation can be lost support their belief by saying that any unconfessed sin by a Christian can make him lose his salvation.  

Now concerning the unconfessed sin, it is still not possible for a child of God to lose their salvation.  For example, we Christians, even after getting saved, continue to sin (we don't become perfect).  We sometimes sin in our thoughts, sometimes through our words and sometimes in our actions.  Our sinning becomes less and less as we grow in the Lord, but we still continue to sin as long as we are in this sinful body and world. Also it is important to note that when a person is saved, all his past, present and future sins are forgiven at the point of his salvation.  Colossians 2:13 says that God forgave all our sins. This means Jesus has paid and forgiven him for the sins he may commit until the last breath of  his life. If this is not true, then after a person his saved, he will lose his salvation after committing every single sin.  For example, if a Christian commits a sin in his thoughts three times a day and then later confesses his sin sometime after committing them, that means that person has lost his salvation three times a day and also regained his salvation three times upon his confession.  This means, he was lost three times a day and was again born again three times a day, so he has to be baptized every time after being saved upon confessing his sin.  But this is absurd because we are born again only once and our baptism is only once.

If a saved person has to lose his salvation every time they sin and regain it every time after they confess their sin means, God has to delete and rewrite that person's name numerous times in the Lamb's Book of Life.  Probably if a Christian sins 10 times a week, then his name has to be deleted 10 times and rewritten 10 times in the Lamb's book of life upon his confession of sin.  This is again absurd and Bible doesn't say that God keeps doing this because once God has foreknown a person before the foundation of the world and He has written his name in the Lamb's Book of Life, it will never be erased.

Another example, when a person is saved, He is born of God from above.  He becomes the child of God and that person never ceases to be God's child, even if he sins or sometimes backslides later. Consider, you are a child of your earthly father, you rebel against him, you grieve him and go far away from him, but by doing this, do you cease to be his child?  Never!  You never cease to be his child and never lose your relationship with your earthly father (our relationship with God is our salvation) no matter how much you grieve or sin against him, but what will definitely affect is your fellowship with your earthly father because of your sin and rebellion against him. The same goes with our Heavenly Father, if a believer sins, his fellowship with God is affected until the time he confesses his sin to God, but his relationship with God remains intact because it is by the virtue of he being born of God.  That is why I John 1:6-7 says that if we walk in darkness (sin), we have no fellowship with God.  The apostle John has not used the word 'relationship' saying we don't have relationship with God because our relationship will continue forever because we are saved by the precious blood of Christ, and Christ has paid for all our sins, past, present and future and because we are born of God.  We are purchased by God at the point of our salvation by He paying a full price.  This purchase and transaction cannot be reversed and God will not every time sell us into the market of sin and purchase us back every time, we sin and confess our sin.  

Even take an example of two brothers, one brother fights and sins against his brother, but will they cease to be each other's brothers due to this?  Absolutely not, because they are not each other's brothers by the virtue of being in good terms with each other but they are brothers because both of them are born of same parents and nothing can undo that fact.  Due to one brother's fight and sin against his brother, their fellowship with each other will be affected but not relationship.  When their fellowship is affected, there won't be any communication and sharing between them but relationship will continue.  Later when one brother who sinned, goes back to his brother and says sorry and accepts his fault, their fellowship with each other is restored.  This is what happens when a Christians sins and later confesses his sin to God.  His fellowship with God is restored and not relationship which is already in tact.

The Bible says that salvation is a gift of God. Gift is not earned by what we do or not do, we get it by accepting it from the giver.  For example, there are two friends, and one of them invites the other friend to his birthday party.  The other friend gives a watch as a birthday gift to his birthday celebrating friend.  After two years, these two friends fight and their friendship with each other is affected, so do you think that one of the friend who had given him the gift of watch for birthday, will ask his gift back?  I don't think so, This doesn't happen even in earthly scenarios, gift is not taken back, so how can God take back the gift, which He firstly gave to the person for no merit of that person?  God won't take back and give back the gift and do this repeatedly, every time a Christian sins and confesses his sin.

Another problem with the belief of Christian losing his salvation is, Jesus said in John 6:39, "And this is the will of Him, Who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day." Suppose a Christian loses his salvation then Jesus has lost that person and then Jesus  has failed to fulfill the will of His Father that He should not lose anyone (we know Jesus will never fail in fulfilling the will of His Father).  The truth is that Jesus will never lose anyone who is truly saved by Him.  A person who comes to Jesus and later denies him is a person who was never saved at all in the first place.  He never knew the Lord and His salvation. (Salvation is also called as knowing the Lord in John 17:3). There are so many professing Christians today, but we cannot conclude that all those are saved.  A person doesn't become a Christian by simply calling himself to be one or he doesn't become a Christian by joining some church, taking part in church activities and acting like a Christian.  A person becomes a Christian by truly knowing the Lord  and His Salvation in his heart and accepting these with all His heart with all seriousness.  Such person will never depart from the Lord.  He may have ups and downs in his Christian life, he may sin and rebel against the Lord but he will return to God after sometime confessing his sin.  These are the true marks of a truly saved Christian but a person who continues and enjoys sin and never thinks of returning to God was never saved in first place and never knew the Lord.  I John 3:6 says - No one who lives in Him, keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.  This shows that a person who continues in sin without returning to the Lord has never known the Lord in first place or was never saved.  Take the example of Judas and Peter.  Judas acted as one of the apostles, he continued with twelve apostles for sometime and later he left the Lord, betrayed Him and even sold Him.  He never returned to the Lord later confessing and repenting for his sin because he was never truly a saved person.  In fact the Bible calls him 'thief' and Jesus called him 'son of perdition' and we know that a true believer cannot be a thief and son of perdition because both are contradictory terms.  We see Peter, who was truly saved and belonged to the Lord, later denied the Lord for three times but  he returned to the Lord with all repentance for his sin, because he was truly saved.  A true child of God may sin but he will never leave the Lord or never depart from the Lord forever.

The last thing I would share is, a person is saved only by his faith in Jesus Christ as his savior and by the virtue of he being born of God.  He is not saved or by any of his good works or abstaining from bad works.  Let us take the example of a person born naturally to his sinful parents (descendants of Adam).  Now we know that, we are born sinners because we are children of Adam.  A person born of Adam, no matter how much he tries to live righteously by his self efforts, doing lot of good works, abstaining from sin etc. (which the people of other religions of the world do), will all these make him saved or take him to heaven?  No.  He will still go to hell because he was born of Adam and never chose to be born of God by placing His trust in Christ as his savior.  So he goes to hell because he was not born of God and was never a child of God.  In the same way, a person who is born  of God can never undo his salvation by doing anything wrong, He will still go to Heaven by the virtue, he was born of God.  His status of being saved never changes by his good and bad works in his life but he goes to heaven because he is born of God,  Christ paid for all his sins and nothing can separate him from God.  Salvation is such a wonderful gift and hence the Bible calls it as an indescribable gift of God (II Corinthians 9:15).  It's an eternal salvation and not temporary salvation.  It's a full salvation and not a partial salvation (only forgiveness of past sins).  Hebrews 10:14 says: By one sacrifice, He has made perfect forever, those who are being made holy.  If you still have any questions or comments, you can feel free to write me back.

Thanks and God bless you.


Answer:

I usually don't post such long arguments and this one contains a lot of repetition, but since some interesting points are raised, let's address them.

Does God Forgive Sins Before You Commit Them?

The claim is that a Christian cannot lose his salvation because he is forgiven of all his sins: past, present and future! This is not how we normally use the word "all." If I appeared before a bankruptcy court and the judge releases me from all my debt, I would not assume he is talking about my future debts. I would not have a pass to spend as much as I want and never worry about paying off my debts again. Thus, we need to see from the Scriptures if "all" means the present or includes the future ones yet to be committed.

When we are baptized into Christ, we are freed from our sins. "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin" (Romans 6:3-7). But this does not mean that sin will never happen again. As you noted, sin should become less frequent as we mature in the faith, but we can never say that sin will never happen again.

"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" (I John 1:5-2:2).

Jesus' death was not just for the Christian, he died on behalf of the whole world (I John 2:2). Yet, we know that the whole world will not be saved (Matthew 7:13-14). Why? Because most of the world will not believe and follow the Lord. Thus, while salvation is available to anyone, everyone will not accept the offer. There are conditions placed on that salvation.

The Christian has accepted the offer of salvation, but John points out that this does not give us the right to sin. John is not talking here about one time sins that are quickly repented of and apologized for, he is talking about Christians who walk in sin -- that is, people who return to sin and stay there. You know about this problem because you left yourself some wiggle room by saying: "it is not possible for a truly born again Christian to lose his salvation;" thus, if someone does return to sin to remain it it, you would simply change history and say that he was never truly saved in the first place. But John doesn't say this. Instead, he says "If we confess our sins" (I John 1:9). There is a condition, just as there is for the whole world. For a Christian who was caught up in sin, if he repents and admits his error, God offers forgiveness. The potential for forgiveness remains, but only if the condition is met. Notice that for a Christian the return to God does not require another baptism because he is already in a covenant with God. I agree that he remains a child of God, even if he stays in sin; but where you assume that he remains saved, I do not.

When you say "saved" from what are we saved? Are we not saved from our sins? If a Christian returns to sin, can he be saved from the very sins he remains in? "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). So what happens to those who continue to sin, even after becoming a Christian?

"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is min, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:26-31).

The writer of Hebrews is quite clear that remaining in sin means you cannot take advantage of Jesus' sacrifice; instead, you can expect judgment and God's wrath. The whole point is to urge Christians to stay out of sin and not remain in it.

"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:35-39).

Because the warning is given, the potential for some to return to sin and remain in it exists. If it was not possible, as you claimed, then there would be no need for the warnings. There will be those who shrink back into sin and that will result in their destruction. All the warnings that we must remain steadfast are there for a reason. "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). What happens if you don't remain faithful? You won't receive the crown of life.

Therefore, the Bible answers the point originally made: "all sins" does not include future sins, though those sins can also be forgiven if the person does not remain in his sins.

Will God Take Back a Gift Already Given?

You noted that God's gift has to be accepted. So what happens if the receiver later rejects the gift? Actually, we have examples. God gave Israel the land of promise, but that gift came with conditions. God also promised to destroy Israel if they forsook Him (Leviticus 26:27-39). He promised to drive them from the land. "When you beget children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, and act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything, and do evil in the sight of the LORD your God to provoke Him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess; you will not prolong your days in it, but will be utterly destroyed. And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. And there you will serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell" (Deuteronomy 4:25-28). They would cease to be a nation. "Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God" (Deuteronomy 8:11-12).

All of these things happened, just as God promised. Israel sinned grievously against God, despite God's longsuffering. The northern tribes were removed from the land (II Kings 17:7-18). When the remaining tribe also sinned, it too was removed (II Kings 23:26-27).

Yet, God in His mercy promised that the second captivity would only last 70 years. The whole nation would not be restored, but a remnant would return to the land (Jeremiah 25:8-13; Isaiah 10:20-23). This, too, was fulfilled as Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah returned the people to Israel. Like a broken jar, it would be repaired, but it would never be whole like it once was (Jeremiah 19:7-13).

When God places conditions on receiving a gift from Him, those conditions don't just have to be met once. They have to be kept on a permanent basis, or God removes the gift.

We can see this happened with Alexander and Hymenaeus. "This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme" (I Timothy 1:18-20). I would hope you would not argue that people in the clutches of Satan would still reach heaven while they remain there. As far as we know, Alexander never did come back to Christ. Several years later Paul wrote, "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching" (II Timothy 4:14-15). I'm positive the repayment is not going to be heaven.

But Jesus Won't Lose Any Given to Him

In the context, Jesus is stating that he will not cast off those who should be saved. "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:37-40). Jesus also said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (John 10:27-29). In other words, there is absolutely nothing men or Satan can do to prevent a faithful follower of Christ from being saved. "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). However, not one of these passages state that a follower of Christ cannot change his mind and walk away.

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1). The key to understanding this verse is found in the last half of the verse. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh. A person who is in Christ and who is currently not living a sinful life has no condemnation. But the promise doesn't apply to those who have gone back to walking according to the world's standard.

Are We Saved by Faith Only?

It is amusing that you state that people are saved by faith only and by being born again. That is not "only." The claim that faith alone saves is proven false by "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24). You can also see that salvation involves a variety of responses by examining all that God says is connected to salvation. Faith is a critical element, but it is not the only element involved in our salvation. See: What Saves a Person?

Are We Born Sinners?

Here you make an assertion without evidence. See: