Vol.XV No.III Pg.7
May 1978

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

To what extent did some under the Law of Moses have remission of sins? Did they have to "remember" all past sins, or only those of the past year? (Heb. 10:1-f., Lev. 4: 5:) BOB


"Forgiveness" and "remission" are not uncommon in the O.T.; and for all practical purposes, could be accepted by people of that day in the most obvious sense. The life (blood) of an animal was given upon the altar "to make atonement for.... souls" (Lev. 17: 11). Just how well the Israelites understood the figurative nature of the offerings is not clear — I suspect it was with them as with us, i.e.; some did, and some did not understand. We know the animal sacrifice "pointed" to Christ on the cross, by whom the shadow found its substance; and it is clear that they knew symbolism was involved (1 Kings. 8:10-11, 27-30).

How much did they "remember"? Heb. 10:1-4 seems to refer to a consciousness of sin, generally, rather than to specific sins. (Cf. Heb. 9:7-10 and Lev. 16:32-34 "because of all their sins.") Perhaps their (general) sin offerings called for an attitude comparable to that of today's saint who "prays without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17) and manifests a humble dependence upon God by continual (present active) confession of sins (1 Jn. 1:9). The Hebrew writers seem to use this annual "remembrance" as proof that the O.T. worshipers recognized the inadequacy of animal sacrifice, and looked for "good things to come." Knowingly or otherwise, they "drank of that spiritual rock... Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4). I must conclude that those under the Old Law who were said to be "forgiven" were indeed forgiven — with the sin-penalty payment in prospect, i.e. looking to Christ (Rom. 3:25).

Dear brother:

Is there any person that has lived on this earth, NOW in the presence of God in heaven? T.B.


The scriptures cited in the full correspondence (Eph. 1:21; 4:10; Col. 3:1; 1 Pet. 3:21-22; Eccl. 5:2; Rev. 4:1-f; Heb. 11:5 and Jn. 3:13) indicate that the writer has access to the same final source of information as do I. He knows God is in heaven, Christ is at His right hand (an expression that means "favored" position, but which also puts Christ in heaven, Heb. 9:24) and, although Enoch was translated and "God took him" (Heb. 11:5), he knows "no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven" (Jn. 3:13). (A.S. footnote says many ancient authorities omit the last four words; but the whole passage is evidently prospective.)

Controversy over such matters is a vain thing, complicated by accommodative language, "heaven" used in more than one sense, "person" applied variously, etc. Far better we study and work to get to heaven, than to worry about the present state of the dead. Nor have we reason to believe that one who happens to be an editor, even of a "Question and Answer" column, knows any more about such matters than the next fellow who will read the scriptures with care.