Q. I just heard a prominent TV preacher say that if we do not forgive others, God cannot forgive our souls. So, I submit that millions of people who believed that Jesus Christ died for their sins, have died resenting the actions of another person and hold that person in a condition of unforgiveness. So according to this TV preacher, there souls are not forgiven and eternally separated from God’s presence. What say you, Jack?
A. This pastor has proven himself to be wrong on several important issues, and if you understood him correctly this is another one. He has misinterpreted the Lord’s comment that if we don’t forgive each other God won’t forgive us (Matt. 6:15). Otherwise Jesus would have contradicted several other clear statements He made to the effect that belief in the Son is all the Father requires of us (John 1:12-13, 3:16, 6:28-29, 10:37-40) for salvation.
The belief that brings us salvation is a gift from God (Ephes. 2:8-9) to all who ask and protects us eternally (John 6:40).
Forgiving someone who sins against us keeps us in good standing with God in the here and now. That’s because failure to forgive each other is a sin that can cause our relationship with God to become estranged. It doesn’t impact our salvation, which was guaranteed when we believed, but it could deprive us of blessings in this life and the loss of rewards in the next one.
Jesus said once we’re saved no one can take us out of His or His Father’s hands (John 10:27-30), and Paul said nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).