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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Forgiveness of Sin

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is that act of God's free grace by which, in virtue, of the merits of Christ's atonement, appropriated by faith, he frees the sinner, who accepts Christ by such faith, from the guilt and penalty of his sins. "By the atonement of Christ," which is God's own provision, his law is vindicated, and the penalty of sin is paid. To all who will believe in Christ with the heart, God offers a free, full, and present forgiveness (Acts 5:31; Acts 13:38-39; 1 John 2:12). "Being justified freely by. his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," etc. (Romans 3:24, et seq.). By a careful consideration of this language, we see,

1. That every believer in Christ Jesus is justified or pardoned, for justification is called in Romans 3:25, "remission of sins." Yet it is not simply forgiveness: the terms justification. and justify, when applied to a guilty persons do not import his being morally just, but just with respect to law and the lawgiver; that is, placed in the position of a person who has not broken the law, both in respect to exemption from punishment, and the favor and kindness of the judge. Justification is pardon administered consistently with the requirements of justice and law.

2. That such believers are forgiven freely, as a free gift, not of right, not meritoriously and of desert. It is to grace, and not to justice, that the appeal for pardon is made; and we could ourselves have done nothing which could have legally cancelled our sins. The whole scheme is of grace, the result of the pure love of God, who compassionate our misery, himself provided the means of our deliverance, by sending his only-begotten Son into the world, who voluntarily submitted to die on the cross, that he might reconcile us to God. The whole was completed without our intervention, and the faith which is the condition of our salvation is by grace" (Farrar, Biblical Dictionary, s.v.). (See JUSTIFICATION).

The "forgiveness of sins" is one of the articles of the (so-called) Apostles Creed, as well as of the Nicene. According to the so-called sacramental theology (Acts 2:38), " forgiveness of sins" is conveyed to the penitent by the act of the priest pronouncing the absolution, making the priest the sole ordinary channel through which remission is to be obtained. But sin against God can only be forgiven by God, on the condition he prescribes, of repentance, and of this no man can infallibly. judge. See Pearson, On the Creed, art. 9; Eden, Churchman's Dictionary, s.v. (See ABSOLUTION); (See JUSTIFICATION).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Forgiveness of Sin'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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