Spiritual Blessings - Remission
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
The Apostle Paul writing to the saints at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus, reminds them that they have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. Such a position of privilege brings corresponding responsibilities and obligations. Thus the writer to the Hebrews warns us against neglecting " so great salvation," and it is the wealth and scope of these blessings and the greatness of this salvation that we desire to consider in tins and succeeding papers. We shall deal here with the blessing of REMISSION, noting first—
The price of remission. The Lord Jesus gathered with His disciples at the passover feast, revealed to them the true significance of His death, for as " they were eating, Jesus took a loaf and blessed and brake it; and He took a cup and gave thanks and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many unto remission of sins " (Matt. 26. 28, R.V.). It had always been true that apart from "' shedding of blood there is no remission " (Heb. 9. 22), and now the blood of Christ (not the bleeding, but the fact that Christ died) could bring the sinner into the blessing of perfect forgiveness and remission. " In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness (remission) of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1. 7, K.V.). To this we add the testimony of Mark : " John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto (R.V.) remission of sins " (Mk. 1.4).
The proclamation of remission. Immediately after His resurrection our Lord appeared unto His disciples and said, " Thus it is written and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead the third day ; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations beginning from Jerusalem " (Luke 24. 46, 47). " The story must be told " ; remission is of God and from God, and it must be proclaimed—proclaimed in His name. The blessing derives its value from His death, and partakes of His character and perfection. In its scope it is universal, it is to " be preached in His name among all nations." Thus in Peter's discourse with Cornelius he will not discriminate between Jew and Gentile, but " perceives of a truth that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is acceptable to Him " (Acts 10. 34, 35). This brings us to—
The promise of remission. This great blessing is not to him that worketh for salvation, but that " through His name every one that believeth on Him shall receive remission of sins " (Acts 10. 43). Remission of sins is given not to the deserving but to the believing.
Let us now consider some aspects of truth contained in this word " remission." The original Greek word " aphesis " is richly suggestive. In our English versions it is variously translated remission, forgiveness, deliverance and liberty. So that this comprehensive word expresses:
The plenitude of remission. Remission not only means forgiveness absolutely and completely on the ground of sovereign grace alone, it also includes liberty and deliverance from bondage. Our Lord Himself made this very clear and plain when He stood up in the Synagogue on the Sabbath day to read. " And there was given unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book and found the place whore it was written, the Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, wherefore He anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He hath sent Me to proclaim release (aphesis) to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty (aphesis) them that are bruised " (Luke 4. 18). For the believer in Christ there is freedom as well as forgiveness.
" He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
And sets the prisoner free."
More than this, the believer is not only forgiven, delivered and set at liberty, he is reinstated and restored. We are not only delivered out of the power of darkness, we are translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love. The blood of Christ is—
" Of sin the double cure,
Saving from its guilt and power."
Further, we may note that in remission there is not only the idea of payment, deliverance and forgiveness, but it is commonly used in a court of law by a judge discharging one from a penalty or fine and on occasions by a Sovereign in the pardoning of guilt or annulling the penalty. Herein lies the difference between pardon, forgiveness and justification. In pardoning us God acts as Sovereign, it is His royal prerogative ; in forgiving us God is acting as Father, and so it is our privilege to ask His forgiveness by confession to Him alone; whilst in justification God is acting as judge, justifying us from all our guilt—the guilty one thus leaving the presence of the Judge as if he had never sinned. " Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus " (Rom. 3. 24).
It might also be noted that the word " remission" is used in a medical sense by a Physician, meaning to abate or relax a fever or disease. Here, therefore, we have the thought of healing and enrichment. The One who pardons, justifies, forgives and delivers us, is not only our Sovereign to rule over us, our Father to bless us, and our Judge who pronounces us guiltless ; He is also our Great Physician to restore us. In the words of our Lord: " They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick; I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance " (Luke 5. 31, 32). He has not only accomplished a great work for us, He begins and continues a great work in us.
We conclude with a story from the autobiography of Dr. Guthrie, who described an old Scottish parishioner who died as he had lived, a curious mixture of benevolence and folly. The lawyer who drew his Will, after writing down several legacies, of £500 to one person, £1,000 to another, and so on to many more, at last said:" But Mr.-------, I do not believe that you have all that money to leave." " Oh I" was his reply, " I ken that as well as you, but I just want to show them my good will."
God's goodwill toward men is no mere pretence of bestowing gifts. May it be ours to discover the benefits and blessings He has left us in His will, and seek by His grace and help to enjoy them to the full.