Our Apostle: Paul wrote 13 epistles/books (Romans thru Philemon). These epistles are written TO us living in the dispensation of the grace of God/the age of grace, or the body of Christ program. They contain the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, not according to prophecy. Paul, on behalf of Jesus Christ, says that we have all forgiveness up-front.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19To 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.
20 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.
21For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Reconciliation is the greek word katallagē, it simply means a change in status or restoration to favor. That’s what forgiveness is all about. Reconciliation and forgiveness, where God is concerned, is of God: God accomplished it. Today it isn’t something we work for or wait for…it isn’t a future event, nor does it happen at the point of belief. It is something we already have, and by “we” I mean the world; lost or saved…makes no difference. Past, present, future. So, the issue, where salvation is concerned, isn’t sin, but belief or unbelief: believing what the cross work of the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished on our behalf. Faith is taking God at His word, taking your stand where God takes His. The Gospel (good news) of Christ is that Jesus Christ in fact was the only begotten Son of God; the sinless God-man, and that He died for ALL our sins, was buried and rose again the third day. God the Father made Christ to be sin for us; everything that sin represents, and He was judged for those sins. God the Father accepted and was satisfied with Jesus Christ’s payment of our sin debt, else He would’ve never risen him from the dead. The resurrection is a proof of that. Christ didn’t simply hide the sins of the world behind His back for future judgment, as Satan’s ministers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), in the religious system of this world, wants us to believe.
The second a lost person believes the Gospel (good news) of Christ they’re joined to and identified with the Savior himself. His test scores (His faith, His righteousness) written on their paper! God can’t dwell with someone less righteous than Him (perfect righteousness), that’s the reason why the lost will spend an eternity apart from God. The lost go to hell/the lake of fire with their sins paid for!
Now, with that in mind, let’s look at how all this relates to forgiving others, today in the dispensation of the grace of God:
2 Corinthians 2:1-11
1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.
2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?
3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.
6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.
7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.
8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
10To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Both of Paul’s epistles to the Corinthians are rebuke/re-proof epistles. Rebuke/re-proof has to do with someone behaving inconsistently with their doctrine, while correction has to do with someone thinking inconsistently with their doctrine. Galatians and Colossians are correction epistles. So you could say that rebuke/re-proof is action- or behavior-oriented, and correction mind- or thinking-oriented.
The Corinthians did a 180 degrees turn, to the better, after they had received and studied the first epistle Paul wrote to them. Now, Paul writes his second epistle to them explaining the need for his first epistle, while at the same time continuing to plead them to be followers of him, as he followed Christ. It’s interesting to see that forgiveness was to be a proof of their obedience to Paul’s words…”lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices”. Many aren’t ignorant of Satan’s existence, but they sure are ignorant of his devices/schemes!
Did they do it because they had to? No!
Did they do it to gain a righteous standing before God? No!
Did they do it to gain something? No!
8 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.
Today we’re to forgive others, as Christ forgave us:
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Colossians 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
The sin question was settled where? Calvary.
What was the verdict? Guilty.
What was the penalty? Death.
Who took it? Jesus Christ.
How much of it? All of it.
How much did He leave for you? None of it…not imputing the world’s sins unto them (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
God forgave us, not because He had to, but because it was His perfect will and perfect desire! He accomplished what we could never do on our own. He didn’t wait for us to do the first step. God had a choice, Jesus Christ had a choice, and they chose to do it. Christ believed that the cross work would settle the sin issue once and for all, and that God the Father would raise him from the dead. That’s what the faith OF Christ is all about.
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith OF Jesus Christ, even we have believed IN Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith OF Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
We all yearn for reconciliation. Next time I encourage you to take the first step, no matter how hard it may seem. Trust me, I’ve gone thru it myself. Think about what Christ did for you, and who God has made you to be in Christ, and hopefully forgiveness will become a natural part of your life.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
MORE ARTICLES ON FORGIVENESS AND THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION:
A great article & chart made by brother Scott. Deals with the dispensational differences between forgiveness: