Is Everyone Forgiven?

By Justin Johnson

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” – Colossians 1:14

The forgiveness of sins is made possible by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. By his grace God offers forgiveness of all sins to any man in Christ.

This does not mean everyone is already forgiven, for not all men are in Christ. Not all men have faith.

The benefits of the gospel of Christ, including benefits of the blood, are only given to those that first trust the gospel (Eph 1:13).

Even so, there is a wrong idea that sin is no longer a problem for the unbeliever, because they are forgiven even in unbelief.

The Son Problem and Sins

For centuries the true saying has been, “it is no longer a sin problem, but a Son problem.” Some preacher said this after teaching on John 8:24:

“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” – John 8:24

This statement explains that the only way to receive forgiveness is through Jesus Christ, but it does not teach that all are already forgiven without faith in the gospel.

Sin is no longer the problem, because Christ is the one who will redeem them from sins. Removing the sin problem without first faith in Christ is to ignore the second part of the bromide: the problem of the Son.

It is not that there is simply no longer a sin problem for anyone, it is that for everyone there is a problem of faith toward the Son. Without faith in the Son, the sin problem remains.

If someone has a curable disease and they resist the cure, they have a problem with both the cure and the disease. To accept the cure means there will not be a problem with the disease.

The unbeliever still has a problem with sin that can only be cured through Christ. Just because the cure exists and is available does not mean the disease is gone. They must receive the cure to remove the sin.

Still a Sin Problem

The only people in the Bible for whom all sins are forgiven are those in Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that if someone rejects the Son, they still have a problem with their sins.

Paul says in 2 Thess 1:5-8 that the unbeliever will receive tribulation and punishment for their disobedience to the gospel. Disobedience is sin, their troubling of the Thessalonians is a sin, and anything that is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23).

Hebrews 10:26 says there is no more sacrifice for sins committed after the remnant received the knowledge of the truth and fell away. They would be left to deal with their sins.

Revelation 18:5 speaks about Babylon’s iniquities being remembered by God in the future.

Forgiveness in Hell

Poor preaching propagates the problem by proclaiming “everyone in hell has their sins forgiven.” What a pitiful presentation of the cross.

If all sins are forgiven for unbelievers even in hell, then why are they there? Hell was created for the devil and his angels, because they first sinned.

Are they in hell because they fall short of the glory of God? It is a sin not to manifest God’s glory (Rom 3:23, Rom 10:3).

Are they in hell because they do not have enough righteousness? There is a word for that, unrighteousness, and all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).

Everyone in Christ will be judged according to Christ’s work on their behalf. Everyone in hell will be judged according to their works.

If their works are not good enough, it is sin (Jam 4:17). If their works are bad like in Rev 21:8 then it is most obviously a sin.

People are in hell because of their sins. There is forgiveness of sins offered through faith in the blood of Christ, but they rejected that and are left to deal with the consequences.

Believe it to Receive it

We preach the gospel so that men would hear what Christ has provided and believe it unto salvation (Eph 1:13).

Paul preached among the Gentiles that “they may receive forgiveness of sins” upon their faith in the gospel (Acts 26:18). Faith was required.

“…through this man [Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things…” – Acts 13:38-39

Salvation has been secured and assured for those that believe, but without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb 11:6).

Unbelievers need forgiveness before they die. Forgiveness is only found in Christ. Any man can be in Christ by faith in the gospel.

If someone is without faith and outside of Christ, there is no forgiveness.

God has done everything necessary for souls to be saved including providing the means for forgiveness. This gospel of grace (God’s riches at Christ’s expense) is preached unto all nations for the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5).

It is there. It is offered to you freely, but you must believe it to receive it!

Learn more about Universalist teachings for forgiveness, reconciliation, and salvation in our lesson on 2 Corinthians 5:19.

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Published: February 15, 2014
Last Modified: March 15, 2018
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