Forgiveness, Conditional versus UnConditional
By Arthur J Licursi
Three quarter of the Bibles consist of that which applies to the Nation Israel only as described under it's Mosaic Law system as well as the words of Jesus spoken to Israel concerning. Only the thirteen epistles of the Apostle Paul, as “the Apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13) uniquely apply to the Gentile church that Paul calls “the body of Christ,” describing a different gospel and different relationship with God. In our study of the Scriptures, it is vitally is important to maintain these distinctions if we are to “rightly divide the word of Truth,” so as not to misapply Israel’s Scriptures to us today.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
Paul in the verse above is not saying we divide Bible truth from error, but rather divide Bible truth that is applicable to Israel from Bible truth that is applicable to “the body of Christ.”
Nowhere is this distinction more important than when we consider the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of our sins is something that all humans, at least subliminally, realize they need. The fact is:
10 … There is none righteous, no, not one: Romans 3:10 (KJV)
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23 (KJV)
Therefore, the forgiveness of sins is a central teaching of the Bible and in Biblical Christianity.
- At the beginning of the Bible the first man, Adam, sinned against God and brought the viral sin-infection into the line of humanity as his lineage.
- At The end of the Bible describes the final judgment and “everlasting destruction” (2Thes. 1:9) towards sinners who have rejected God’s offer of FREE salvation based solely upon ‘faith in Christ’ alone.
- But, in the middle time of the Bible, cognizant people who recognize their own sinfulness… seek the “forgiveness” that will afford them “salvation.”
But how exactly do we receive God’s forgiveness and salvation? What are the ‘requirements’ for one to receive God’s forgiveness of our sins?
This is where it becomes extremely important to “rightly divide” the Bible. Buy this I mean we must note the standard of ‘forgiveness’ as it applies to the Nation Israel versus … that which applies to the members of the ‘Gentile’ church that the Bible call “body of Christ,” which has no other name. (Note: There are No manmade hierarchical religious organizations that can offer salvation in any age to anyone.)
The so called ‘Lord’s Prayer’ was given by Jesus only to His Jewish disciples while preaching ‘CONDITIONAL Forgiveness.’ But most of man’s church organizations of Christendom ignore the fact that Jesus Himself said that He had come to Speak ONLY To and Concerning The Nation Israel.
“… he [Jesus] answered and said, I [Jesus] Am Not Sent But [Except] Unto The Lost Sheep of The House Of Israel.” Matthew 15:24 (KJV)
Therefore, many religious organizations of Christendom and Christians today mistakenly try to apply Jesus’ words that were spoken to and for Israel alone… as if they apply to the members of the Gentile church called “the body of Christ.”
But as we will see there are in fact words in the Bible that do apply to us Gentiles today, during this age called “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2).
We will now compare the terms of forgiveness as applies to Israel versus that of the “body of Christ.” Let us consider and compare the two points below.
- Jesus of Nazareth instructed Israel as to the basis available To Israel for the ‘forgiveness of their sins.’ Jesus said;
14 For [only] IF ye forgive men their trespasses, [then] your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But IF ye forgive NOT men their trespasses [first], neither will your [heavenly] Father forgive your trepasses. Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV)
This above we call ‘CONDITIONAL forgiveness’ – whereby one must earn their forgiveness by performing and forgiving first, only then does God forgive!
- By contrast, Paul, who is “the [singular] Apostle to the Gentiles” of this Gentile age was given a ‘new gospel’ based solely upon “God’s grace,” meaning a ‘free gift.’ Paul wrote as follows what the resurrected Jesus From Heaven had given Paul to write to the Gentile believers of the church called “the body of Christ” at Ephesus.
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as [or, in the same way as] God for Christ’s sake HATH [already] Forgiven You. Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as [or, in the same way as] Christ [already] forgave you, so also do ye. Colossians 3:13 (KJV)
Now, “Do you see any difference in these contrasting verses concerning forgiveness?”
Some may say, “No, in both the offenders are forgiven, and are told to forgive.”
That’s true, but HOW is the forgiveness granted in each case – is there a necessary requirement?
Read the above two verses again, carefully, to note ‘Who Exactly Is The One Who Forgives FIRST?’
Do you see the difference? In #1, the Aspirant Must Forgive First, but in #2 God has Already Forgiven first.
Since “words” mean something and the Bible uses “words” that are “the truth,” we can forget what ‘man’s religion’ and their ‘denominational hierarchies’ teach and rather cling to the “words” of God in the Bible.
‘Forgiveness’ Under the Nation Israel’s ‘Law Program’ Comes Only WITH CONDITIONS!
Forgiveness is something only God can give. It is not something we can claim for ourselves by ourselves or through our effort to earn forgiveness. Under Israel’s ‘law program’ God gave forgiveness ‘conditionally.’
God could not just forgive unrighteous faithless sinners. This would be unjust and unholy. Justice must be served by ‘the Only Just One – God Himself, in the person of Jesus as ‘the Christ.’
So, for Israel to receive forgiveness, it required the Nation and its individuals to confess their sins and perform as God instructed. Only at that time did forgiveness require priests, sacrifices, and confession as seen in Leviticus 5:5-6; Lev 6:7.
- What if they did not offer the sacrifice, or sacrificed without the priest, or would not confess their sins?
- Answer: They did not receive forgiveness. This Forgiveness was then ‘CONDITIONAL.’
God required humble hearts, obedience, and prayer in 2 Chronicles 7:14 in order to forgive Israel (2 Chron 7:14). If a man said he had faith in God to forgive him, but did not humble himself, pray, or turn from his wicked ways, then his faith is in vain [useless].
In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus teaches his Jewish disciples how to pray according to “the law” for Israel (Matt 5:17). In this popular prayer pattern Jesus says forgiveness comes by forgiving other people FIRST: forgiveness was conditional.
“For IF ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: BUT IF ye forgive Not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:14-15
As you see Jesus was simply upholding the Moses Law for all of Israel. Jesus then said “IF” they did NOT forgive others first, then they would NOT be forgiven. Their faith in Jesus for forgiveness would be vain if they did not first forgive other people their trespasses. This is also in accord with what James later wrote to ‘the twelve Tribes of Israel’ saying, “Faith without works is dead [in vain]” (James 1:1, 2:17).
Today, we do not need a priestly religious system at all. Since the Cross, we see Jesus Christ in Scripture as our One and Only ‘intermediary.’ He alone is our “mediator” and He sacrificed Himself for our sins.
5 For there is one God, and One Mediator Between God and Men, the man Christ Jesus; 1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV)
26 … but now once in the end of the world [Grk. aion, age] hath he [Jesus Christ] appeared [on earth] to Put Away Sin By The Sacrifice of HIMSELF. Hebrews 9:26 (KJV)
In Contrast with Israel … Forgiveness Under Paul’s Grace Gospel is WITHOUT CONDITIONS.
Under today’s “the dispensation [age] of the grace of God” Israel’s Old requirements for forgiveness have changed. “… old things are passed away; behold, all things are become New.” 2 Cor. 5:17b (KJV)
Since the meaning and scope of Christ’s substitutionary death of the Cross was kept secret, hid in a “mystery [as the secret plan of God],” the revelation of the “mystery” CHANGED HOW FORGIVENESS IS NOW GRANTED BY GOD.
Forgiveness before today’s “the dispensation of the grace of God” was conditioned upon performance under its requirements requiring men to perform per God’s instructions under “the law.” But Paul tells us today, we “are NOT under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14). God’s forgiveness today is granted according to God’s Unconditional grace.
According to “the mystery [secret] of Christ,” salvation today is offered FREELY through the finished Cross-work of Jesus Christ to all who BELIEVE His death was for them.
“Even [that is] the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and UPON ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified [declared righteous] FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [the sacrificial payment] through faith in his [shed] blood, to declare His Righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” Romans 3:22-25 (KJV)
FREE Salvation includes FREE Forgiveness by God’s grace through faith alone … without any precondition for us to perform (Eph 1:7; Rom 4:5). This is “the mystery [secret]” of the “gospel of the grace of God” for all men today... if they will simply believe [trust in Christ].
“For by Grace are ye Saved through Faith; and that NOT of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: 9 NOT of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
God’s justice does require performance to forgive, but NOT of us. God’s Grace Required The Performance Of Jesus Christ At The Cross in order to justly forgive those who will believe. (Rom 5:8).
God did NOT require our performance in order to give us forgiveness, nor do we require the performance of others to grant forgiveness to them.
“… forgiving one another, even as [in the same manner as ] God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” – Eph. 4:32
Our motivation to forgive under grace is for Christ’s sake, who died and forgave us freely. This motivation is one of genuine love that is completely without condition. Forgiving others was not a precondition for our own forgiveness.
Both the Israel’s law and Paul’s grace gospel offer forgiveness and instruct God’s people to forgive …with a difference.
- According to Israel’s law, forgiveness is granted upon performance.
- According to Paul’s grace gospel for the Gentile “body of Christ,” forgiveness is freely offered and freely received through ‘faith in Christ‘… before we ever do anything else.
There are two major items that keep people from coming to know the truth of God’s Free Gift Salvation.
- Many people wrongly depend upon their own assumed self-ability to offer forgiveness or kindness toward others in order to receive God’s forgiveness for their own sins. This is a misplaced hope and a vain faith. Our faith should be in Christ’s Cross-work and not our own feeble capacities.
- Then also there’s ‘man’s unbiblical religions of Christendom with their rituals, creeds, prayers, confessions, and rites, all of which conflicts with and gets in the way of the ‘truth’ of the Bible “rightly divided.” Christendom’s contradictory teaching largely blurs what actually applies to us today when it draws its dogma and tradition from what applies only to Israel.
Thus, man’s religion gets in the way of men hearing and receiving the simple truth of ‘God’s Free Gift Salvation’ and thereby coming to rest in salvation and forgiveness that is based solely upon God ‘s pure grace and ‘faith alone’ in ‘Christ alone.’
Praise God, that according to His grace, Jesus Christ died for our sins, and Forgiveness is now given FREELY by grace through 'faith' to as many as will receive it - without condition.
(Note: Emphasis has been added to many of the KJV Bible verses above for