Forgiveness And Remission Of Sins
By Elder G.T. Haywood
That there is a distinction between the “forgiveness” of sins, and the “remission” of sins, is a thing that has been very little considered by the majority of ministers, or students of the Holy Scriptures. But the Bible clearly teaches that there is a difference.
In looking through Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, I was astonished to find that the word, remission was not mentioned in the entire book of the Old Testament, while in the New Testament it occurs many times. The forgiveness of sins was a common thing under the old covenant. The blood of bulls and goats was offered for the FORGIVENESS of sins, but it could not “remit” or “take away” their sins. (Hebrews 10:4).
The forgiveness of sins is to “cease to hold the sins against” an offender after he has confessed and acknowledged his wrong; but the “remission of sins” is to TAKE AWAY the sins out of one’s life. Hence, the blood of the lamb under the old covenant only acted in the “forgiveness” of sins, but of Christ, it was said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which TAKETH AWAY the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).
The old method of sacrificing the life of an innocent lamb for the “forgiveness” of sins was to be changed to that of “repentance.” What God desired was not sacrifice (Psa. 40:6, 51:16-17), but, instead, He wanted “broken and contrite hearts.” His purpose in demanding the best to be sacrificed for sins was to get as near the heart of the offender as possible. He wanted them to feel the weight and sting of their sins. But failing to see God’s purpose, Israel began to offer polluted sacrifices, thereby bringing upon them the curse of God (Mal. 1:12-14). It was His desire to “have mercy and not sacrifice.”
The inauguration of repentance as a means of approaching the “new and living way” was committed into the hands of John the Baptist. They were demanded to “confess their sins” before he would baptize them “unto repentance.” A man must acknowledge his sins before he can repent, for God grants repentance (II Tim. 2:25). Until a man acknowledges his wrong he will never repent.
God forgives all who confess and repent of their sins, but it requires the blood of Jesus to obtain the “remission of sins.” The blood of Jesus was shed for both “forgiveness” and “remission” of sins. The blood of goats and bulls was for forgiveness, but the blood of Jesus does that and “much more.” (Heb. 9:13-14). It was for this cause, no doubt, that the apostle wrote these words, “In whom we have redemption (remission) through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14).
We may have our sins forgiven by confession and repentance (Luke 17:3), but the only way the Bible teaches for a man to obtain the “remission,” or “washing away” of his sins, is being baptized in water “in the Name of Jesus Christ.” (See Matt. 26:28, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16). The word of God shows conclusively that this was the apostolic method. If it was so then, why not now? Has God’s original plan lost its power? Has not the “traditions of our fathers” made void the word of God, making it of no effect, as did the elders in the days of Christ? (Mark 7:1-13).
If the Bible is right, then remission of sins is through baptism in Jesus’ Name. Surely the Lord was right when He said, “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth to life, and FEW there be that find it.” And again, “Many are called, but FEW are chosen.” The Apostle Peter says that in the days of Noah, “FEW, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also NOW save us.” (Matt. 7:14, 22:14, I Pet. 3:20-21). As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be when the Son of Man is revealed. Few will be saved by water. There are only a FEW that believe in baptism in Jesus’ Name!
It is evident that when a man is baptized for the remission of sins its effectiveness is acknowledged in heaven. It was for this cause that Jesus says to Peter and the disciples, “Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted.” The only way that the apostles fulfilled these words was by “baptizing in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” This was a fundamental doctrine of the church. In every instance that water baptism is mentioned in the book of Acts, it precedes the baptism of the Holy Ghost, with one exception. This case would no doubt have been as others, had not the six men that went with Peter forbade him to baptize the Gentiles in water. That they endeavored to hinder him is proven from the fact that when the Holy Ghost came upon them, Peter answered, “Can any man forbid water?” If water baptism in the Name of the Lord (Acts 10:36-47) was not an essential part of salvation, why did Peter “command them to be baptized in the NAme of the Lord” after they had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost?
There may be some exceptions taken to the distinction made in this article between forgiveness and the remission of sins, because the same Greek word is used for both terms (aphesis, or aphiemi, which literally means (1) deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, pardon; (2) to send forth, to cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let alone, omit, put away, remit, suffer, yield up, etc.). While all these terms are expressed by the same word in the Grecian language, yet we are aware of the fact that they are different in meaning in our modern English language. Any person may “forgive” another for their sins or trespasses, but they cannot “remit”, or take away their sins, even though the same Greek word is used in expressing both actions.
On Pentecost the people repented of their sins, but were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the “remission” or the “taking away” of their sins. Saul of Tarsus was a converted man; a chosen vessel unto the Lord, even before Annanias met him, but his sins were not washed away until he was baptized, “washing away” sins. (Acts 22:16). If such was the method in the days of the apostles, according to only authentic church history in the world, why should men be afraid to follow the same practice now?
If we are seeking for a revival of genuine apostolic power, how do we expect to attain unto it when we ignore such simple fundamental teachings? If we are going to baptize people at all in water, why not baptize them according to the record of the book of Acts?
Thank God, the time is near at hand when all God’s servants will soon see eye to eye. Surely all will agree that there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we “shall be saved,” and that is the name of JESUS. Water baptism will save all who are truly baptized in Jesus’ Name. Water baptism is generally claimed to be non-essential, and we can say also, “of a truth it is, if it has not been administered in the name of Jesus Christ, the only name that is able to make it an essential act.”
Let us rejoice that not only have we had our sins forgiven, but that they also have been remitted, or “washed away,” in Jesus’ Name.