Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "Soteriology"
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BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
- THE MEANING OF THE WORD FORGIVENESS
- There are three OT words translated "forgiveness."
- Kaphar - "to cover"
Divine justice (always in view of the coming sacrifice of Christ, Rom.
3:25) being satisfied, God could cover the sin. By sacrificial blood the
sin was "covered," in the sense that it no longer beckoned to God to
perform righteous judgment (Dt. 21:8, read 1-9; Ps. 78:38; Rom. 3:24-26;
Jer. 18:23, also v. 11).
- Nasa - "the sin is lifted away from the sinner"
Gen. 50:17; Ex. 10:17; 32:32; 34:7; Num. 14:18-19; Josh. 24:19-27; 1 Sam.
25:28; Ps. 25:18; 32:1,5; 85:2; 99:8; Isa. 2:9; 33:24
- Salach - "to send away"
Lev. 4:20,26,31,35; 5:10,13,16,18; 6:7; 19:22; Num. 15:25-26,28; 30:5,8,12
The fundamental idea in both nasa and salach is the separation of the sin
from the sinner. It is no longer upon him. Before God the sinner and his
sin are dissociated; the man is no longer, in respect to his sins, a
"sinner" but a righteous man. This does not touch the question of his
innate sinfulness of nature, but refers to his sinful acts.
Taken together, kaphar, nasa, and salach complete the OT doctrine of
forgiveness based upon atonement. The Divine justice is satisfied and the
sin is no longer upon the sinner.
- Four NT words are translated "forgiveness."
In the NT the prominent thought concerning forgiveness is the separation of
the sinner from his sins through the sacrifice of Christ and upon the ground
of pure grace.
- Apoluo - "to set free, dismiss, send away" (Lk. 6:37;
Mt. 27:15; Mk. 6:36; Lk. 13:12)
- Charizomai - "to be gracious unto" (Lk. 7:42; 2 Cor.
2:7,10; 12:13; Eph. 4:32; Col. 2:13-14; 3:13)
- Aphiemi - "to send off or away" (verb)
This word has the same picture as salach (Mt. 4:11, 20, 22; Lk.
5:20-21,23-24; 7:47-49; Mk. 11:25-26; Acts 8:22; Rom. 4:7).
- Aphesis - "a sending away" (noun)
This word, like #3 above, has the same idea as the Hebrew word salach (Mt.
26:28; Acts 5:31; Col. 1:12-14; Heb. 9:22; 10:18). God has been satisfied
and sin has been taken away from the sinner.
- THE DEFINITION OF FORGIVENESS
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God in grace forgives the
sinner by remitting the penalty for sin through the sacrifice of Christ, and
He forever separates the sinner from his sin in the Divine reckoning.
- THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATION OF THE TRUTH OF FORGIVENESS
- Leviticus 16
Two great things were accomplished on the Day of Atonement:
- The Lord's lot (Lev. 16:8-9,15-19)
- The live goat (w. 8, 20-22)
- The people became identified with the scape-goat
- All the sins were lifted up from the people.
- The scape-goat bearing the sins was led away into a
land not inhabited (v. 30, cp. Heb. 9:11-14; Jn. 1:29).
- SOME IMPORTANT DISTINCTIONS
- The origin of forgiveness is God's grace.
- The basis of forgiveness is the sacrifice of Christ.
- The result of forgiveness is the remission of the penalty
of the sinner.
Note: The distinction between human and Divine forgiveness.
- Human forgiveness means the remission of the penalty.
- Divine forgiveness follows the execution of the penalty
(Lev. 4:35; cp. Mt. 26:28; Heb. 9:22).
- Two things are involved in forgiveness.
- Divine justice is satisfied.
- The separation of sin from the sinner.
- The sin of the believer is forgiven upon confession, but
always on the ground of Christ's once-for-all propitiatory sacrifice (1 Jn.
- As a result of the Divine forgiveness, we should forgive
one another (Eph. 4:32; Mt. 18:32-33).
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