Tough Questions – Week 3
“Is it necessary to forgive others to be forgiven by Christ?”
Prepared and Presented by Titus Prevatt, Youth Group Student Leader
Today we are continuing our series where we answer tough questions about the Bible. Our hope is that this series will strengthen your faith in Christ, and give you an answer when skeptics will inevitably knock on the door of our faith. Today’s question asks if it is necessary to forgive others to be forgiven by Christ. In other words, do we have to forgive people who have wronged us in order to be genuinely saved in Christ? Let us take a look at what the Bible says about this tough question.
Whenever we get a tough question like this one, we should always see what the Bible says. For this specific question we should see first what the Bible says about salvation through Jesus. I’m sure most of you know John 3:16 from memory. This verse tells us that whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life. This verse does not mention that we have to forgive others to receive eternal life, so we’re done right? Not exactly, there are other verses in the Bible that may raise a few questions.
One verse that could be pointed to is Colossians 3:13 which reads as follows;
“Forbearing each other, and forgiving each other, if any man has a quarrel against anyone: even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
Here we are told that we must forgive others just as we have been forgiven by Christ. However, if we read the 12th verse we see this is aimed towards God’s elect. Meaning that if we are truly saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, then we should be able to forgive others. It doesn’t say we need to forgive to be saved, but that forgiveness should be something that is produced by being a Christian.
Why should forgiveness be produced when we walk with Christ? Well Christianity is so much more than praying a prayer of eternal life and continuing on with your normal life. Christianity is pursuing a relationship with God and wanting to know more about Him. When we hang out with good friends, we will pick up a few things from them. In other words we slowly become like the people we surround ourselves with. It should be the same way with Jesus. When we put God first in our lives and really spend time with Him, we should start to reflect some of His characteristics. Among these characteristics we see forgiveness. When we are actively seeking the Lord, we should be desiring to forgive people just like Jesus does to you.
Finally, I’m sure plenty of you have heard “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” This is true for our actions as well. Whatever we love the most, we will want to talk about it and do that thing. Maybe you really love wall climbing. Chances are you’ll want to do some rock climbing from time to time. The same thing is true in our walk with Christ. Jesus’ traits should fill our hearts and give us a desire to act the way Jesus would act.
Overall, the forgiveness of others is not required to be saved, only by repentance and faith in Christ are we saved. However, forgiveness should be produced in our lives as a result of being saved. If forgiveness is not being produced in your life, perhaps you should examine yourself and see where God is in your life. Are you putting Him first?