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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

11 April 2005

Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Christ

Q: I know God is our healer. I have a question about sin. The Bible says we all have sin. Does it matter what we sin about and will he forgive all of our sins? Even if it is adultery? Thank you for your time. Also I would like to know if you ask God to forgive you of all your sins and you don’t do it again will you go to heaven?

A: King David recognized our sinful natures. Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The apostle Paul reminds us that no one is excluded from sin’s stain: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)” Thus all are in need of God’s forgiveness.

All who believe in His promises receive this forgiveness. You specifically mention adultery. The superscription of Psalm 51 says, “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” It is a full confession of David’s guilt over committing adultery with Bathsheba, then deceiving and murdering her husband Uriah to cover up his deeds. The account of this adultery and its aftermath are in 2 Samuel 11:1-12:23.

After catching the king’s attention with the parable of the poor man’s sheep (2 Samuel 12:1-6), Nathan passed God’s judgment on David (vv. 7-12). David confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord.” The prophet then declared God’s mercy and forgiveness: “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. (v. 13)”

God still allowed certain consequences to stand. The child conceived in the adultery died on its seventh day, before it could be named. Yet the Lord also used David and Bathsheba, these two weak and sinful people, for His holy purposes. She remained as wife of David “and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. (2 Samuel 12:24)” This name in Hebrew means “His peace” and must have expressed David’s confidence that the sin was, indeed, forgiven and he was at peace with God. The Lord emphasized this even more by sending word through the prophet Nathan (vv. 24-25), prompting David to call the child Jedidiah, which means “beloved of the Lord.”

Finally, we see God“s hand undoing sin and its effects through Christ. Jesus offered reconciliation to people guilty of sexual sins, including adultery (see John 4:16ff, Luke 7:36-50, John 8:1-11). In His flesh, He took on all sins that He might do away with them on the cross. His genealogy testifies to this, where, among the Savior’s ancestors Matthew includes “David,” who “was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah. (Matthew 1:6)” Thus God undoes all sinful deeds in Christ and forgives all who believe in Him.

If you believe in His sacrifice for you, then all your sins are forgiven and you will live with Him forever in heaven.

Q: If Jesus is God’s reconciliation, then how did people get into Heaven before Jesus was born?

A: Before the Christ was born, eternal life was still dependent upon Him. Prior to His suffering, death, and resurrection, His sacrifice on the cross was already accepted by the Father for all who believed the promise of His coming. Thus, those who looked forward to His coming received the same blessings of salvation as do we who know his passion as an historic fact. You can read an an exposition of these saints’ faith in Hebrews.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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