Author: Ron Graham
Christ, Forgiver of All Trespasses
—A promise for all sinners.
This is our final lesson in the “Christ is All” series studying Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
Two verses form the basis for this study: "In God’s beloved Son we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14), "When you were dead in your transgressions... He made you alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:13).
1 All Sinners Can Be Forgiven
There is not a single sin ever committed by any human being that could not have been forgiven. When any person comes to Christ in faith, that person is able to access the fullness of God’s mercy. Every trespass is forgiven.
Nowhere in scripture is a sin described as “unforgivable”. Certainly many people will never be forgiven, but that is not because Christ’s death cannot avail for them, or God’s mercy is witheld from them. Anyone who seeks forgiveness will find it. No exceptions.
The principle of fullness that Paul presses in Colossians applies to the gospel of salvation "proclaimed in all creation under heaven... teaching every person with all wisdom so that we may present every person complete in Christ" (Colossians 1:23,28).
There are those who proclaim the fullness of God’s sovereignty, but deny the fullness of his grace, because (they say) God’s grace is not available to everyone. People are like grubs. Some grubs can turn into butterflies, other grubs can't.
However, if people are alienated from God (Colossians 1:21), and he grants them no right to trust him, obey him, and enter into his kingdom (Colossians 1:13,22), how can he justly lay claim to be sovereign over them?
2 Forgiveness Makes a Complete Change
- You were under "the power of darkness" (Colossians 1:13), but now you are under "his glorious power" (Colossians 1:11).
- You were "alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works" (Colossians 1:21), but now you are "qualified to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12).
- You were "cheated through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of the world..." (Colossians 2:8,18), but now you are "brought to all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God..." (Colossians 2:2).
- You were "the sons of disobedience upon whom the wrath of God is coming because of these trespasses " (Colossians 3:6), but now you are "the chosen of God, holy and beloved... forgiven of all trespasses" (Colossians 3:12, Colossians 2:13).
3 Christ’s Death Makes Forgiveness Possible
How may we obtain forgiveness of all trespasses? We cannot be forgiven through our own righteousness. Reconciliation to God comes to us "through the blood of Christ’s cross" (Colossians 1:20). We must trust in this, not in ourselves.
"God has delivered us from the power of darkness, and conveyed us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13-14).
This is the answer to every sinner’s great predicament. This is the great escape. There is no other hope of rescue.
4 Forgiveness Demands an Appropriate Response
Paul appeals to the Colossians to "let the peace of God rule in your hearts" (Colossians 3:15), and "as you therefore have received the Lord Jesus, so walk in him" (Colossians 2:6).
Without this change of heart forgiveness is not granted. God’s grace is not a licence to sin, it is a solution for overcoming sin.
The heart change includes a willingness to forgive others on the same principles by which God forgives you "bearing with one another and forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).
The heart change also makes you "continue in the faith grounded and settled, not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard..." (Colossians 1:23).
You are in no position to argue with God. But you are well placed to obey him. Every sinner must do what God says, in order to completely escape the great predicament of all sinners. This great escape is offered to everyone by Jesus Christ the fullness of God.