Thrust Statement: The sin of willfulness is associated with the rejection of Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity.

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:26

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins[1]

            This Scripture alarms many Christians because they know that they have sinned many times “willfully.” Is the author of Hebrews advancing the concept that if one sins willfully and knowingly that one cannot be forgiven? What is the writer intending to convey by this warning? If one prunes this text from its context, one might draw a conclusion that is not the intent of the author, who ultimately is the Holy Spirit. If one wishes to grasp the significance of this painful statement, one must seek to understand the concrete meaning of this text within its background. When one wrenches this passage from the entire Book of Hebrews, this separation from its environment makes it almost impossible to read correctly.

            If one does just surface reading of this often-misunderstood Scripture, one discovers that this first superficial impression contradicts other Scriptures about forgiveness. Insight into this obscure citation must be gained from a wider reading. When one fails to treat a passage within its full unit, one can arrive at unsound teaching. One’s understanding and application of a text is a historical process, a process that results in sound hermeneutical principles. When one examines Hebrews 10:26 as a fragment from the entire book, one incurs the risk of diametrically opposing the teachings of Jesus and His apostles as well as the intent of the author of Hebrews..

            This text does not teach that if one wilfully (῾Εκουσίως Jekousiws) sins, that is to say, he or she backslides or is overtaken in a fault then there is no hope for forgiveness. The meaning of the author of Hebrews deals with a deliberate apostate decision, a decision that rejects Christ and His atonement and continues in this apostasy—a denial of Jesus and His vicarious suffering for the sins of humanity; in other words, this author is calling attention to those who renounce the Gospel and deny the Lord that bought them with His blood. If one deliberately gives up Jesus, who is the Gospel, for fear of persecution, then this individual has no other recourse for amnesty. The ones that the author of Hebrews is dealing with refer to those who had “received the knowledge of the truth” (10:26), that is, the Gospel of the kingdom. Jesus came not only proclaiming the Gospel, or Good News, of God’s kingdom, but He Himself is the Gospel.

            Just a perusal of this Book reveals that the writer is not discussing one overtaken in a fault (Galatians 6:1), or one who deliberately sins as in 1 Corinthians 5:1; that is to say, one who has not rejected God’s Gospel nor denied the Lord Jesus. For example, Paul, as just mentioned, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, addressed a willful and deliberate sin on the part of one of the brothers in Corinth—“ a man has his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1). The congregation was told not to associate with such a one (5:9). Apparently, this believer refused to cease his incestuous relationship with his father’s wife, described as “sexual immorality among you” (5:1). Did this person use up his chance of forgiveness if he changed his ungodly behavior? No! In Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians, he addresses forgiveness to the sinner, especially this willful sin on the part of the saint in 1 Corinthian 5:1. Listen to Paul as he sets forth his case about forgiveness of this strong-willed person:

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:5-7).[2]

Undoubtedly, some did not want to extend the “right-hand of fellowship” to such a scoundrel, one who slept with his father’s wife—a behavior that was so atrocious that even the heathens did not practice such conduct (1 Corinthians 5:1). Later, in his Second Epistle, he writes: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). The author of Hebrews is not calling attention to this kind of deliberate sin, but rather he is discussing one who alienates himself or herself from Christ, which also includes the Christian community (Hebrews 10:25-26). For Paul, there is a difference between a particular falling (such as set forth in 1Corinthians 5 and Galatians 6:1) and a complete defection from the Christian faith—faith in Jesus as the Savior of the world. Just a casual reading of the Book of Hebrews reveals that this author is focusing on one who renounces the death of Christ, which is not done by a particular offense. The sin that is committed ἑκουσίως [Jekousiws, “deliberately”] (Hebrews 10:26) concentrates on the total renunciation of faith in Jesus as the final and ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. This rejection of Jesus leaves one without hope of the removal of sin.

Unfortunately, Hebrews 10:26 is misread by many Christians.  With surface reading of this controversial text, some have assumed that there is no forgiveness of deliberate sins, sins committed after one becomes a Christian. The inspired writer of this text is directing his attention to apostasy, not backsliding. The context of this most debated Scripture focuses on those who apostatize from their profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. In other words, if one turns from Calvary’s atoning sacrifice and returns to Judaism, this one forfeits his or her forgiveness and bars himself or herself from access to God’s throne of grace. Christ’s sacrifice is the only means of sin’s removal and access to the Throne of Grace. If one throws out Christ’s atoning sacrifice, then only God’s judgment of wrath remains. When one continues in this rejection of Jesus’ sacrifice as a ransom to set him or her free from sins committed, one has no other means of forgiveness, or redemption.

On the other hand, if one casts off Christ and His atonement and later repents, one can still approach God’s Throne of Grace. But if one steadfastly holds to his or her rejection of Jesus as the Messiah, then that person comes under God’s condemnation. If any individual permanently repudiates Jesus as the one final sacrifice for sins, there is nothing left for the sinner. One cannot find safety in sacrifices in Judaism. It is in this vein that the author of Hebrews writes:

For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Hebrews 9:24-28).

 Following the word wilfully is the word sin. What does this word sin convey? One should not interpret this word apart from its context. In other words, a single word has no meaning until it is put into a sentence context. Also, one’s knowledge of the Greek word for “sin” employed by the author helps to clarify his intent. For example, the word for sin (ἁμαρτανόντων Jarmartanontwn) in the Greek text is a present active participle, which describes continuous action. In other words, the inspired writer is addressing not so much an act of apostasy as he is a state of apostasy.

Again, this idea of the present active participle centers on continuing in apostasy, not just the act of sinning. This individual’s continuous action of apostasy centers on one who abandons Christ and turns away from God. This act of rebellion was a fixed and final departure from Jesus as God’s Anointed One. The NIV captures this continuous action of unbelief: “keep on sinning.” This sin is deliberate and continuous, no repentance—no turning back to Jesus. This sin is not sin in general, but rather it is a specific sin; it is an abandonment of faith. This sin is a conscious attitude that parades disapproval for Jesus as God’s Anointed One. This sin involves one’s total denial of Peter’s statement in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost concerning Jesus’ mission and the Father’s activity: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

The adverb “willfully” grabs one’s attention. This word willfully is first in this sentence, which position places emphasis. The adverb “willfully” (ἑκουσίως, Jekousiws, “willingly,” “voluntary”) is emphatic by its position, or word order (Hebrews 10:26), which is then followed by the present tense of the participle (ἁμαρτανόντων Jamartanontwn) for “sin,.” which tense, as stated above, sets forth the habit of repeating the sin. This offence of desertion from Christ occurred after the reception of “the knowledge of the truth” (10:26). The word for knowledge in the Greek is ἐπίγνωσις (epignwsis, “full,” “mature”) rather than γνῶσις (gnwsis, “knowledge”).

These individuals had been exposed to the “full knowledge” of the truth (ἀλήθεια, alhqeia) of the Good News of God’s plan of salvation, which “truth” refers to the Jesus as the final atonement for the sins of humanity.  In other words, this ἀλήθεια (“truth”) is the saving truth of God’s provision of salvation in and through Jesus by faith.  In Greek, the word truth is in the genitive case (ἀληθείας, alhqeias). The genitive specifies the kind of quality of knowledge. This “truth” is not just truth in general, but the “truth” as embodied in Christ. These apostates renounced the whole Gospel system of salvation—Jesus alone sets one free (John 14:6).

John, one of the twelve, sets this “full knowledge of the truth” in his Gospel as he seeks to call attention to the uniqueness of Jesus as the Savior of the world. He records a conversation of Jesus in which Jesus explains His teaching about Himself, which explains this “full knowledge of the truth” that the author of Hebrews alludes to.  Jesus makes clear to the Jews who believe on Him that “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). What is this “truth” that will set one free? It is Jesus! Listen once more as Jesus explains this statement: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (8:36).

What is the “teaching” that Jesus speaks about? Within this context, Jesus states emphatically: “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be,a you will indeed die in your sins” (8:23-24). Again, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12). John the Baptist, as reported by John, one of the apostles, also gives testimony to this same teaching that Jesus later asserted:

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for Godc gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on himd  (3:31-36).

The warning in Hebrews 10:26 is addressed to Jewish Christians who were tempted to reject Jesus as the Messiah and return to Judaism, which involved the Temple with its animal sacrifices. These same Jews had earlier understood the Gospel message—“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). By returning to Judaism, these individuals were trampling the Son of God and treating the blood of Christ as an unholy thing. The author of Hebrews expresses Himself this way in a question: “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29)? When one rejects Jesus, there is no further remission.

If one wishes to understand the warning in Hebrews 10:26-31, one must consider the counterpart found in 10:19-25. In this section, the author presents the proper response to the sacrifice of Jesus as Lord. In this section, the writer calls attention to (1) “Let us draw near to God” [10:22], (2) “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess” [10:23], and (3) Let us not give up meeting together” [10:25]. If one turns his or her back upon the finished work of Christ, one cannot approach the Throne of Grace; it is only through the “blood of Jesus” that one can approach this Throne (10:19). Unlike the Temple veil that separated the Holy from the Most Holy Place, Jesus has launched “a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body” (10:20). Jesus is now the “great high priest over the house of God” (10:21). This is the Good News of God that Jesus announced during His ministry. Christians can now, through Jesus, approach God with “boldness” (KJV) [παρρησία, parrhsia, “openness,” “frankness,” “confidence,” “assurance”]; this is the privilege of the Gospel of God that all believers share.

The “blood of Jesus” took away all causes of distance between God and believers. The “blood of Jesus” made atonement for sins; the “blood of Jesus” removed the curse of the Law; the “blood of Jesus” removed the partition wall that separated both Jew and Gentile. The “blood of Jesus” removed all the prohibitions of approaching God with “boldness.” Those who apostatized, as reported in 10:26, rejected Jesus and His blood atonement. The death of Jesus signaled the death of the old way. Matthew reports: “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51). This tearing of the veil in the Temple signified that by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ that one now has full entrance into the Most Holy Place, God’s Throne of Grace. It is only through faith in Christ that one finds boldness, or confidence, to draw near to God.

The second admonition in this triad is: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). There is to be a constant perseverance on the part of the believer in his or her reaching out to others. When Christians meet together, this should be a time in which believers are to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (10:24). A sharing of the full knowledge of Christ and His sacrifice will spur one toward faithfulness in love and works. The writer of Hebrews had just called attention to the fact that the blood of Jesus is the answer to one’s redemption (9:12). Again, he calls attention to the truth that there is power in the blood of Jesus. This blood makes one complete. The blood of Christ opens the way to heaven, and it is the blood of Christ that opens the grave. When Jesus took the third cup in the Passover, He identified this Cup of Blessing as representative of His blood: “This is my blood of theb covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

The third caution in this trilogy is: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (10:25). Christians cannot mature in isolation from other Christians. Failure to meet together with the saints resulted in apostasy. One’s adherence to this trilogy of admonitions will prevent one from going back into Judaism. This is the sin of apostasy. The Hebrew believers were told not to “forsake” (ἐγκαταλείτω, egkataleipw, “desert,”  “abandon”) the gathering of themselves with the saints. This Greek word is a very strong and emphatic word. Apparently some were abandoning the assembly in the face of danger. The context appears to deal with one’s complete and absolute rejection of one’s public faithfulness to Christianity. This desertion is what Paul warns against. After having set forth one’s proper response to God’s grace in and through Jesus, this inspired writer issues his warning: “ If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (10:26-27).

As stated earlier, if one discards the “knowledge of truth” concerning Jesus and His sacrifice, then God’s judgment falls upon this individual. This sin is the sin of apostasy; it is not sin in general, but it is the sin of apostasy from the faith and profession of the truth concerning Jesus—a truth once known and now rejected. This particular sin of apostasy discussed by the author of Hebrews represents a deviation from what these believers had heard from the beginning. John, in his first Epistle, writes of this same scenario concerning those who deny the Father and the Son:

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. 20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.a 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. 24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. 26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him (1 John 2:19-26).

            This particular truth that John writes about concerns the identity of the Son of God. If one rejects Jesus, one rejects the Father who sent Him. Some were dismissing Jesus and returning to Judaism. Some were even renouncing that Jesus had come in the flesh. For example, John writes with penetrating conciseness:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world (4:1-3).

Many believers were denying the confession that Peter made many years earlier in response to Jesus question about His identity: ““You are the Christ,a the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). At Christ’s baptism, God gave His testimony concerning the identity of Jesus. Matthew writes: “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (3:16).  Toward the end of Jesus’ public ministry, God, on the Mount of Transfiguration, identifies Jesus once more. Matthew reports this episode with God’s reaction to Peter’s request: “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (17:5). Even in His final moments upon the Cross, a centurion and those with him cried out: “Surely he was the Sonc of God!” (27:54). Apparently, some of these Jewish Christians were on the verge of reverting back to Judaism—a turnaround that denied that Jesus was the Son of God. The author of Hebrews warns:

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will (Hebrews 2:1-4).

Because of persecution against Christians, many were turning back to the old dispensation, which dispensation was about to end (Hebrew 10:25; 1 Peter 4:7; Matthew 24; Luke 21; Mark 13; Book of Revelation). Both John and the inspired writer of Hebrews call attention to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70—“This is the last hour” (1John 2:18) and “as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25). Remember, the sin of apostasy is not regular sin in general (1 John 2:1-2). If one does not remain in apostasy and repents of this particular sin, one can still find forgiveness. One cannot and will not find forgiveness if one continues in the denial of Jesus’ function as High Priest and His Atonement (Hebrews 9:11-15). In John’s short Epistle, he draws attention to sin and forgiveness. Pay attention to John as he captures the very essence of Christianity:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also forb the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).

When one denies Jesus as the “atoning sacrifice for our sins,” there is no forgiveness. For one to retrograde back into Judaism would be to go back into darkness. Some, apparently, were relapsing into Temple worship with its rituals from which they had been converted. In the Book of Hebrews, the author exalts Christ’s sacrifice. With the sacrifice of Christ, the constant sacrifices of the Old Testament are no longer needed. Why? The answer lies in the one sacrifice that granted the forgiveness of sin—namely, Jesus (Hebrews 10:11-18). Jesus is the only answer to the sin problem. The whole administration of Christ had to do with abiding realities, not with the passing shadows portrayed in the Old Testament (9:1-14). 

Nothing can save civilization, but the incoming rule of the unseen and eternal Kingdom of God, which is about Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:8). The Gospel of Jesus offers redemption (Colossians 1:14). The Gospel is a word from the beyond for the predicament of lost men and women—a word of sovereign grace. The Gospel is the Word of God coming from eternity into time (John 1:1-4; Hebrews 1:1-2). The author of Hebrews warns against the sin of unbelief, unbelief concerning Jesus as the Way to God. Listen to the writer of Hebrews as he issues his caveat, or warning:

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”a 12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion”b (Hebrews 3:7-15).

Forgiveness through Jesus is what the Gospel (Good News) is about—justification by faith in and through Jesus. If one accepts the belief that sin in general cannot be forgiven, this belief system of God’s failure to forgive deliberate sin denies the whole of the New Testament teaching about forgiveness. One’s reading of the Book of Revelation reveals the gift of repentance from God. The letters to the seven churches in Asia—not all the churches in Asia Minor—reveal the forgiveness of God in spite of the so-called willful sins of Christians in the various congregations.

CONCLUSION

            If one forsakes, or discards, Jesus as God’s Way of salvation, there is no hope for this person. If one continues in the sin of apostasy, there is no hopefulness for eternal life. The author of Hebrews is addressing the frame of mind that denies Jesus’ sacrifice. This sin is the sin of utter abandonment of God’s Anointed One—the One whom God made both Lord and Christ. As stated above, the present tense of the participle (ἁμαρτανόντων, Jamartanontwn, “sin” KJV or “keep on sinning” NIV) conveys the idea that the sin involved is not a single act or backsliding in general, but a continuing negative response toward Christ. In other words, this “sin” is the sin of apostasy, that is, the total dismissal of Jesus. Again, the author is not dealing with the weak backslider or the penitent offender. When one rejects God’s Way of forgiveness by abandoning the One He gave to take away the sins of the world, one insults God’s Spirit of Grace; thus, this makes pardon impossible. If one rejects Christ’s sacrifice, there is no other offering that can avail and atone for one’s sin of rebellion.

Even with the sin of apostasy, there is forgiveness if one ceases to remain in that denial of Jesus as God’s final and ultimate sacrifice for sin. If one is a backslider, God still holds out to the penitent His forgiveness. The seven letters to the churches of Asia Minor demonstrates God’s forgiveness when repentance is exhibited.  For instance, Jesus, after issuing some praise for the church at Ephesus, issues a strong warning against their having left their “first love” (Revelation 2:4). Even though they sinned in their actions, Jesus offered a way of reinstatement through repentance: “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place (2:5). The third letter addresses Christians in Pergamum (2:12-17). Some believers were involved in sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols. In spite of these sins, God did not just wipe them off, so to speak. He warned: “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (2:16). The church at Thyatira was also guilty of the same sins, but she was unwilling to repent (2:21). Christ gave her time to change her behavior, but to no avail.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew preserves one of Christ’s parables about forgiveness—The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:21-35). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches His disciples about prayer. In this prayer He also focuses upon the need to forgive since God forgives (6:5-14). The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is another example of forgiveness (Luke 18:9-14). Forgiveness is extended to anyone who repents. Even the scenario in Hebrews 10:26 is not irreversible if one repents. The sin of apostasy in 10:26 is the sin of continuing in one’s rejection of Jesus as the atonement for the salvation of Adam’s race. John, as he closes his Apocalypse, writes with urgency in his voice: “17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life (Revelation 22:17).  

In conclusion, one needs to reflect upon the resurrection and forgiveness of sins in and through Jesus. When the apostles appeared before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:27), the apostles, in response to questions asked by the ruling body, addressed the benefits of the resurrection in these words: “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel” (Acts 5:31).  For the believer, the resurrection is the seal of God’s acceptance of the sacrifice Jesus made for sin.  Forgiveness of sins is not difficult to receive; it is simply a matter of faith in Jesus.  Peter says, “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).  The act of believing involves repentance and baptism on the part of the one who wishes to possess eternal life.

      On the day of Pentecost, Peter, in response to the crowds questioning him and the other apostles about what to do to be saved, responded by asserting, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  If you wish to experience “forgiveness full and free,” you must repent of your sins.  Repentance is more that just regret over your past actions; repentance involves a total change of heart, mind, and will concerning sin.  Repentance means that you are no longer a servant of sin, but rather a servant of righteousness.  The Scriptures assert, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).  John also proclaims the same thing: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  Forgiveness is available to anyone who believes in Jesus and repents of his/her sins.  Once you have repented of your sins, then you need to respond to baptism that is in the name of Jesus—“repent and be baptized,” announced Peter.

There is only one Person in the universe who can set you free from sin, and that One is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord. “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43), said Peter to Cornelius and his household.  Paul expresses it this way: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).  Here it is—forgiveness full and free.  Do you want forgiveness in your life?  You would do well to listen to Peter as he speaks about the forgiveness of sins to Cornelius: “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:42-43). 

Paul, in Pisidian Antioch, calls attention to the “good news” about forgiveness (Acts 13:32).  He also calls attention to the Holy Scriptures to give validity to his conclusions: “What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm” (Acts 13:32-33).  Again Paul declares, “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses”  (Acts 13:38-39).  In conclusion, I remind each of you that if you wish to possess “forgiveness full and free,” the condition is: a total repentance of sin and a total reliance on Christ. Do you want eternal life? If so, remember the words of the Master: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:19-20).



[1]The Holy Bible : King James Version., Heb 10:26. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.

[2]All Scripture citations are from the New International Version, unless stated otherwise.

            a Or I am he; also in verse 28

                c Greek he

                d Some interpreters end the quotation after verse 30.

            b Some manuscripts the new

            a Some manuscripts and you know all things

            a Or Messiah; also in verse 20

                c Or a son

            b Or He is the one who turns aside God~s wrath, taking away our sins, and not only ours but also

                a Psalm 95:7-11

                b Psalm 95:7,8