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Forgiveness and Grace
This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
Does the Assemblies of God believe God will forgive any sin regardless of the severity? Are there limits to Gods grace?
Though it is difficult for the human mind to comprehend, no sin is beyond God's ability and willingness to forgive. This confident belief is based on the inspired Word of God, which we believe and trust implicitly. According to Ephesians 4:32, God for Christ's sake has graciously forgiven us. He has also promised, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17). The gracious Father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son is a perfect example of forgiveness extended even after one has been shunned and exploited (Luke 15:11-32).
There is only one sin for which one is not promised forgiveness: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. "I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin" (Mark 3:28,29). Much has been speculated and written on the meaning of this blasphemy, but it seems certain to be some deliberate persistence in evil and a conscious rejection of God's provision of salvation after one knows the reality of redemption. God forgives any sin for which a person desires to be forgiven. He will not forgive sin for which one has no desire to be forgiven (see question 10, the unpardonable sin).
The words of a revered gospel song read, "Such love, such wondrous love . . . that God should love a sinner such as I, How wonderful is love like this." God's loving forgiveness grows out of His remarkable grace. "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more" (Romans 5:20). Faithful believers are chosen by God's grace; "and if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11:5,6). The basic meaning of grace is that God is for us. Grace is summed up in the person of Jesus Christ, Gods free gift for mankind's salvation. There is no limit to God's love and grace; it reaches beyond the scope of our comprehension.
As recipients of God's grace and forgiveness, Christians have a responsibility to do more than experience God's love for themselves. When we accept Christ, we are to participate in His love through biblical living and sharing. Just as there is no limit to God's forgiveness to us, there should be no limit to our forgiveness of those who wrong us. In response to Peter's question to Jesus about forgiving a brother who might sin against him, Jesus said, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:22). Our forgiveness of others should be as limitless as God's forgiveness is toward us. Just as God's grace and forgiveness is incomprehensible to finite mankind, so is the expectation that we can repeatedly forgive others. But when God asks us to do something, He gives the help of His Holy Spirit to do it.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching. The official delineation of this position is found in Statement of Fundamental Truths, Section 5, The Salvation of Man.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.