Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 14, 1962
NUMBER 7, PAGE 1,9b,12

Remission Of Sins

Robert H. Farish

The blood of Christ was "poured out for many unto remission of sins." (Matt. 26:28) The first time the gospel was preached by the apostles, in obedience to the commandment of Christ to "go ye into all the world and preach the gospel....," the people were told, "repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins." (Acts 2:38) Thus the scriptures teach that the pouring out of the blood of Christ was "unto" (in order to) remission of sins and the human actions of repentance and baptism are "unto" (in order to) remission of sins. The Greek word "eis" is the word which appears in both the above passages and is translated "unto" or "for." Those who would construe Acts 2:38 to mean that baptism is because of remission of sins already obtained before baptism, to be consistent, would have to construe Christ as saying that He was pouring out his blood because of remission of sins which had already been provided. The divine order as fixed by the Greek word "eis" is remission of sins coming after the suffering of Christ, (Matt. 26:28) and remission of sins coming after repentance and baptism. (Acts 2:38)

Christ's action of dying "with a view to" providing remission of sins shows the divine estimate of its importance. The indifference on the part of many toward the subject, remission of sins, can be accounted for on the basis of the lack of personal conviction of sin, its heinous character and its fearful consequences. It is imperative that people realize their need of remission of sins.

Sin separates man from God. (Isa 59:2) All men have sinned. (Rom, 3:9; 5:12) We therefore conclude that all of accountable age stand separated from God until the barrier of sin is removed. This removal of the guilt is remission of sins.

Different terms are used in the New Testament to express the blessing of remission of sins which the blood of Christ made possible. This study will be mainly concerned with what is involved in remission of sins. This will be learned by studying the terms used to express the idea.

Remission And Forgiveness

"Remission" is from a Greek word which means "a sending away." Remission of sins is "a sending away" of sins by God. In the New Testament the Greek word for "a sending away" is translated "remission" in Matt. 26:28; Mark 1:4; Luke 1:77; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:18 etc. It is also translated "forgiveness" in Mark 3:29; Acts 5:31; Eph. 1:7, etc. Remission of sins and forgiveness of sins express the same action. When God remits or forgives sins, he sends them away. Forgiveness of sins is an act of God. He has the power to send away sin, to put it out of his sight. The Jews correctly said, "Who can forgive sins, but God alone?" (Luke 5:21) What comfort and encouragement is derived from the realization that when God remits or forgives one's sins he sends them away out of his sight!

Azazel is the Hebrew word which is translated "scapegoat." The word means "a goat for going away." The high priest, on atonement day, would lay his hands upon the head of the "goat for going away" and confess over him all the iniquities of Israel, their transgressions, even all their sins. The goat was then sent away, unto a solitary land, bearing upon him the sins of Israel. This represents in a very impressive way the remission (sending away) of sins which was made possible by Christ shedding his blood. Read the 16th chapter of Leviticus,

Forgiveness And Redemption

Redemption is another word which tells what the blood of Christ accomplishes with reference to sin. The apostle wrote, "In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses." (Eph. 1:17) Redemption is "a loosing away." Redeem is "to loose by a price." This passage (Eph. 1:7) identifies redemption as forgiveness. When one's sins are forgiven (sent away) that one is released from the bondage of sin. He is "loosed away" by the blood of Christ. Peter reminds us of the price by which we are loosed. He wrote, "Knowing that we were redeemed not with corruptible things, with silver and gold from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers but with the precious blood as of a Iamb without blemish." (1 Peter 1:18)

Sins Blotted Out

"Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out." (Acts 3:19) The blessing to be gained by repenting and turning is here described as sins "blotted out." The expression, blotted out, occupies the same position in Acts 3:19 as remission occupies in Acts 2:38. What idea is to be gained from the expression, "blotted out"? The word from which we get "blotted out" means "to smear out." The figure under which God's action is presented is the ancient method of removing writing which had been done on a wax tablet. When a scribe wished to remove the characters which he had placed on the wax tablet, he would draw a straight-edged instrument across the tablet, thus filling in all the indentions and leaving a perfectly smooth surface, free from any marks. That is the way it is when God forgives sins. They are "blotted out" and no mark remains on the record.

Remembered No More

"And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sins." (Heb. 10:17) Where sins have been remitted there is no longer remembrance of those sins with God. Those sins which are remitted are blotted out of the record and will never be brought up against the person who has obtained forgiveness. When one has obtained remission of sins, those sins will not face him at the judgment, for God promised that one of the terms of the new covenant would be "their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." This provision of the new covenant is in contrast to the old covenant under which "there is a remembrance made of sins year by year." (Heb. 10:3)

The mental hospitals are filled and psychiatrists swamped with people who do not realize that sin is a matter of record, only so long as it is not forgiven. When God forgives, he forgets. No sin for which remission has been obtained will ever be called back. It has been sent away; the sinner has been loosed by a price, his sins have been blotted out and God will "remember no more" those sins. Personal conviction that one's sins are remitted, to be remembered no more, is vital to inner serenity. Guilt complexes cannot continue to plague the mind when the peace of God comes in to guard the heart and thoughts. But one must know when his sins are forgiven, so the question presents itself, how can a man know that his sins are forgiven?

It has already been shown that remission of sins is an act of God. None but deity can forgive sins. (See Luke 5:21; Mark 2:5-7) In order for a person to know that his sins are forgiven he must know the mind of God in the matter. The mind or will of God was spoken to those of old by the prophets, but to us by His Son. (Heb. 1:1, 2) The Holy Spirit took the things of Christ and declared it unto the apostles. (John 16;14) The apostles spake these things to men. (1 Cor. 2:13) Christ told the apostles "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name into all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47) He further told them, "ye are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:48) In fulfillment of this "repentance and remission of sins" began to be preached in Jerusalem, by the witnesses on the Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ. When the people who heard that sermon were pricked in their hearts, they said, 'What shall we do?" The apostle Peter, speaking as the Holy Spirit gave him utterance, said, "Repent ye, and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38) This is in the name (by the authority) of Jesus Christ. Remember that "repentance and remission of sins" was "to be preached in his name."

Here in Acts the second chapter is the mind of God on the remission of sins. It is the will of God that men (1) "know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified." (Acts 2:36); (2) repent;) (3) be baptized. These conditions are imposed in the name of Jesus Christ. It is by the same authority that remission of sins is promised. The promise of remission of sins for those who believe, repent and are baptized, can be relied upon to the extent of one's trust in God. If a person trusts in the Lord, he will do what the Lord says and depend upon the Lord to do what the Lord promised.

The apostle Paul was selected by the Lord and sent as a witness "to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in me." (Acts 26:18) Receiving remission of sins was conditioned upon those who heard, turning from darkness to light — from the power of Satan unto God. But what did the people do in turning to light and unto God? The detailed steps in the "turning" of those to whom the apostle Paul witnessed are revealed in the case of the conversion of the Corinthians. "Many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized." (Acts 18:8)

No one can properly claim to trust in the Lord so long as he rebels at obeying any one of the conditions of remission of sins which the Lord has authorized. The Lord through his ambassador said, "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you unto the remission of your sins...." (Acts 2:38) All who receive the Word of the Lord will be baptized for "they then that received his word were baptized." (Acts 2:41) Did these people know that their sins were forgiven? The one who honestly answers this can have knowledge of whether he, personally, has been forgiven. He can know if his sins have been blotted out, never to be brought up again by his Maker, Provider and Judge.

What about the sins committed by one after he has been baptized? Does such a one have to be baptized again "unto remission of sins"? The answer to this is found in the language of the apostle John, "....the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive 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." (1 John 1:7-10) Also, "And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2) The conditions of remission for the Christian as seen from these passages are confession and prayer. Or as stated by Peter to Simon, "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee." (Acts 8:22)

Freedom from feelings of guilt is realized by those who comply with God's conditions of remission of sins, trusting in God to fulfill his promise.

Moses Lard wrote: "These conditions are not to be regarded in the light of causes, but as conditions strictly. Still let no one suppose, because they are conditions, that they are not essential to whatever is made dependent on them....Where salvation is promised to a person, or affirmed of him, on certain named conditions, though it may depend on more conditions than those named, it can never depend on less?'

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isa. 1:18)

— 413 E. Groesbeck, Lufkin, Texas