Michael Pearl: All right, more questions? What do you got Jared?
Bolo: Hey, my name is Bolo and I'm from Swan Desert, California. I was reading John chapter 20, verse 23. That says "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." I know that only God has the power of the remission of sins. So I was kind of wondering what this meant, literally. Thank you.
Michael: OK. That's a good question. What it means literally. Since as an entire Church and doctrine founded on that, that's a very important question. Now if that is the only verse that we had, if that was the total context of the revelation of truth, that would mean that just literally, that would mean that Christ imparted to a group of people, Peter and the Apostles, the ability to remit the sins of people or to retain the sins of people. In other words, to lead them as carrying the burden of their sins or to remove the burden and the guilt of their sins. If that were the only verse that, we had. What we have to do, we have to look at that in the entire context of all Christ teaching. The ministry of Christ was followed by the book of Acts. The book of Acts gives us about 30 years of apostolic teaching and ministry. And then following the gospels, you also have all of the epistles of Paul and Peter, and James, and John. And you have extensive teaching on the Church, forgiveness, ministry and so forth.
So what we want to do, we would want to go into the book of Acts and into the epistles and look and see how the disciples understood what Jesus said, and how that was applied. And that's going to give us their historical, their cultural, their timely perspective on what he meant when he said that. Now, what we don't find ever, anywhere in any of the teachings of the Apostles. We don't ever find any of them as individuals forgiving sins.
For instance, you've got Peter, and Paul, and Barnabas, and Silas, and Luke, and Timothy out on missionary trips. They got through preaching there in Ephesus and the people came out and began to try to worship them. And they tore their clothes and said, "We're men just like you." You never find them receiving praise, having their foot kissed or their hand kissed, or having confessions made to them. You never have them forgiving anyone sins. You always have them pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ.
So you just don't find the doctrine worked out of a human mediator between God and man. That is, some man who sits in holy designated divine spot where people come and make confession. He functions between God and man and he forgives their sins. That never happens in scripture. And so what did he mean by that?
Lets look at it. He didn't say, "Who's ever sins you forgive, they're forgiven". He said, "Who sins you remit. Their remitted or sins you retained, they are retained." Now on the day of Pentecost, you find Peter preaching a message to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles who were gathered there. And that message was, if they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ they'd be saved. And many of them were saved.
And then the Apostles were charged with the responsibility of taking that gospel. He said from Jerusalem to Judaea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world. And so they took that gospel, that message. The power to forgive sins was in the Apostle hands through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The power to retain that forgiveness was in their hands through not preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In other words, you and I have that today. Every single Christian has that commission. I can forgive sins by taking that message to people, but going out on the street or into bar, going into a mall and giving someone a gospel tract and telling them about Jesus; their sins are forgiven. Or I can stay home and watch television and their sins are retained. This is sorta an anti‑Calvinist verse, that it's in the hands of Christ's disciples to take the message that produces forgiveness, or to hold back the message and then forgiveness doesn't come.
So that is the biblical interpretation of what he said worked out in the history of the Apostles, and the history of the early church. It wasn't until about 300 A.D., and then later about 600 A.D. that the Church formulated the idea of making a man a priest to become a mediator between God and man. How has that worked out for you? Not very well.
But Jesus is still a mediator, and he still does a great job. And so we have that message, and with that message we have the power to forgive. With that message we have the power to retain.
I remember one night I was speaking to a group of sinners, and there was a bunch of military guys there. And I saw one of them sitting out there and as I was speaking he was wrestling with the truth of what I was saying. I could see the gospel was taking hold on him. And I could see his agitation, his anxiousness, he looked like he was going to jump up, he looked like he was going to run, he looked like he was going to speak, or talk, or cry, or get down on his knees.
You could just tell that something was going on. And I looked at him and I said, in the name of Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven; pointed right at him. And he said, "Whoa, whoa!" He wasn't a Pentecostal, he was some guy from New York from the Bronx that had never been in church in his life. The message was so exciting to him, and I could see that he believed it. I could see he was believing everything I said.
And he wanted some response and I just looked at him and said, in the name of Jesus Christ you're forgiven. And he began to celebrate his forgiveness in Christ. That lasted, that was a permanent change in his life. I remitted his sins by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I didn't have any power, anymore than anybody else in the room. Anymore than my dog did. If my dog could speak, or had a donkey and the donkey could speak, the donkey could remit sins.
If you can paint a red arrow and point it towards a Bible and somebody reads the Bible, there sins are remitted when they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm thankful that we have that commission to take that gospel that remit sins. So, take it, believe it, live it.
All right, lets get back to throwing some knives.
Announcer: If you would like to ask a Bible question, email us at [email protected] or call at 931‑805‑4820.