The following are some thoughts I had while answering a Bible Question I
received in an email recently.
Subject: Forgiveness of sins in the Old Testament
Question: Recently, there was a heated discussion in our congregation
between two long time preachers over forgiveness of sin in the Old Testament.
One of them held to the "sins being rolled forward" view and the other saying
that sins were forgiven at that time. I am currently studying the matter and
would appreciate any material that you would be willing to share with me.
Thanks a lot!!!!
Dear Bible Student,
I scanned through some of the material you sent regarding your question and it
appears that you have a very good collection of views.
I am sure that there are many thoughts and arguments supporting the different
Let me start by saying this should not become a point of fellowship in the
If that ends up being the case then I think that those maintaining their
different views should really consider the scriptures with a new and clear mind.
All scripture should be approached with an open mind and pure heart.
Context! Context! Context!
Is the first item of consideration.
Now what are my thoughts?
Below I will outline my thinking as best I can to keep it simple.
I am a simple person and try not to think too deeply these days. ;-)
1. God is eternal.
2. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are eternal and are 100% God as is the
3. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit created time and all that it includes
4. Man was created in time.
5. Created man is limited in time.
6. Since the fall of man his days have been numbered.
7. God has an Eternal Purpose and Plan to redeem man from the consequence of the
8. God has been and continues to work out His plan of redemption in time for
9. This working will continue until Jesus comes again and there is the
(1 Cor.15, 1Thes.4:13f)
10. ALL forgiveness of sins is based upon the “death burial and resurrection” (DBR)
of Jesus in the fullness of time
11. From the beginning of time God has required faithfulness.
12 All of mankind is and has been saves by Grace through Faith.
13. Mankind can only view time and has a hard time understanding eternity.
We try to describe it in time terms but are limited.
14. In time all are saved by Grace through Faith whether before or after the DBR
of Jesus Christ.
15. Jesus was and is eternal and became flesh in time to redeem mankind.
16. All was/is in the eternal knowledge of God who knew and worked it out in
17. In eternity God saw and knew all of time for He created time, beginning to
18. So man before the Cross had faith and it was commended as righteous.
19. Man after the Cross has faith and it is commended as righteous.
20. Mankind thinks in linear terms limited by time.
Therefore to understand we use the terms before and after the Cross, the event
in History/Time (Gal.4:4)
Man tries to put the event of the (DBR) in human terms limited to time and thus
we say, rolled forward or back.
21. God is not limited to time so in the mind of the eternal God Sins are
forgiven in Eternity based upon faith.
22. Faith, Hope and Love are great motives/attributes but only Love is eternal
for God is Love.
23. When time is no more Faith and Hope will be realized and only the Love of
God will be.
1. Sins are forgiven based upon the (DBR) of Jesus Christ.
The (DBR) is shared through the preaching of the Gospel, the Good News.
(Rom.1:8-17, Eph.1:2-2:22) (Gal.3:1-4:7)
2. Is the forgiveness of sins before the Cross "rolled forward" or "rolled back"
after the Cross?
No! Sins are forgiven in eternity based upon God's Grace through our faith
provided in the redemption God provides in the (DBR) of Jesus Christ.
3. Those back to Adam forward are found righteous based upon God's Righteousness
provided though Jesus Christ.
4. Nothing rolled back and nothing rolled forward. All faith is based upon the
eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:22f)
5. Biblically based faith is a saving faith that requires obedience.
(John 3:36, Rom.1:1-7, 8-17, 16:25-27, 2Thes.1:3-12) There are many more
6. Final thought in Hebrews chapters 8-10.
I think the KEY word to consider is ETERNAL.
All the offerings of the OT were merely a shadow of the substance which was
Christ our ETERNAL sacrifice.
All was by Gods plan in eternity and carried out in time.
The "Shadow" was a focus on the flesh/material (time bound) the "Substance"
is the Spiritual/Eternal not bound by or limited in time.
Understanding the eternal nature of God is the main point.
One must see it clearly, the eternal, spiritual nature of God the Father, Son
and Holy Spirit to understand the full application of the scriptures both OT and
I think those who fail to see the full nature of God tend to have conflict in
the application of many scriptures to life. Thus they limit God and His eternal
power to forgive in time and eternity.