By Lewis Willis
No doctrine of the Bible is more ignored or misun- derstood than God’s law of pardon. Too many people are totally indifferent to the subject — they could care less. To those who are concerned, the truth must be known. That is the mission of this article.
What Does Pardon Mean?
The word translated “pardon” is from a Hebrew word, selichah, which means “a passing over, forgiveness” (Young’s 730). Job asked, “And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity?” (Job
7:21). His inquiry was to God. Why? Because it is God who does the pardoning: “. . . but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, . . .” (Neh. 9:17). Also, Micah wrote: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Mic. 7:18). The good news is that God is willing to pardon; that there is a law of pardon. When the Hebrew writer spoke of the new covenant God would make with man, one of its greatest effects would be, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:12; 10:17).
Pardon From What?
What do we need God to pardon? Job said we need pardon from transgression or iniquity. “Iniquity” is from a Greek word, anomia, which means lawlessness, wicked- ness, or unrighteousness (Vine 260). In a word, iniquity is “sin.” Isaiah said, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Consider these verses also: “Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
. .” (Ps. 6:8); “. . .destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity” (Prov. 21:15); “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds!” (Mic. 2:1).
Who Needs Pardon?
Obviously, all need pardon who are guilty of iniquity or sin. What this says is that we all need pardon, because we all have sinned. Paul wrote that, “. . . we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
. . . As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
. . . They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one . . . For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:9, 10, 12, 23). There is not, therefore, an accountable adult who does not need pardon. The question today is the same as it has always been: What must I do to be saved?
Who Has God Authorized To Answer?
I know that men are ready to give their answers about the requirements for salvation. However, would we not be wise, since God is the one who pardons, to inquire of him who he has authorized to answer? After promising to build his church, Jesus gave binding and loosing authority to the apostles (Matt. 16:18-19; 18:18). Just before Jesus went away, he told them: “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:23). The Apostle Paul affirmed that God made them ambassadors (official representatives) to announce his terms of pardon: “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
What Did God Authorize Them To Say?
He told them to go teach, or preach the gospel to all nations. Those who believed were to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47). Men today do not seem to understand or respect this, but that is exactly what these passages authorized them to say.
What Did They Answer?
On the Day of Pentecost, in the city of Jerusalem, when the gospel was first preached by the apostles, thousands of Jews finally believed in Jesus. They were cut to their hearts with the knowledge that they had murdered the Son of God and they asked the apostles, “What shall we do?” They needed pardon and the apostles were the ones appointed by God to tell them how to receive it. When Peter answered the question, he told them what God had authorized them to say. He said, “. . . Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). These people heard the gospel, believed it, repented of their sins, and were baptized. They met all of God’s requirements for pardon. One has to wonder how modern preachers can tell people to do something different than the apostles required. Does modern man know better? Were the apostles wrong? Did God change his mind?
Have You Complied With God’s Law Of Pardon?
Remember now: All of us have sinned; God is willing to pardon; he told the apostles to tell us what to do to be pardoned; they told us to hear the gospel, to believe, to re- pent and to be baptized for the remission of our sins. Have you done what God requires you to do for the forgiveness of your sins? If not, do so today! We are ready to assist you in your obedience.