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The full authority and the proper authority to forgive sins comes to disciples with their proper reception of the Holy Spirit, for Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”[1]

As such, there is the forgiveness of sins that can be done without receiving the Holy Spirit, and there is the forgiveness of sins that comes with receiving the Holy Spirit. Anyone who believes in Jesus and practises His words is expected, and indeed, is commanded, to forgive those who sinned against them so that their own sins may be forgiven. As such, it is easy in a way to know whom you should forgive – those who have sinned against you and who are indebted to you – that is, people who have a relationship with you. That is simple, basic teaching and practice. The failure to preach repentance and forgiveness in His Name is disobedience on our part, and the failure to practice repentance and forgiveness, if we preach it, is hypocrisy. As such, the lack of preaching of repentance AND forgiveness leaves most works that are being done in His Name in disobedience, and the lack of open practice of repentance and forgiveness exposes us as hypocrites. And to hypocrites, Jesus only has woes not blessings promised, for He said, “Woe to you… hypocrites,”[2] many times.

As such, it is not enough that we preach repentance and forgiveness because Jesus commanded us, but we must practise it constantly, without ceasing, lest we be subject to the woes of hypocrisy. In the days to come, you will see the division of those who believe in Jesus and His Name into those who repent much but forgive little, and those who repent and forgive much. Of course, there are those who are so confident of their righteousness that they do not repent anymore, but they go about forgiving sins as if it is a God-given right. Failure to repent and forgive will put you into the category of disobedience, and failure to practise both will put you into the category of hypocrisy.

What is expected of you as elect of the Holy Spirit is that you preach repentance and forgiveness as well as practise repentance and forgiveness without ceasing. It means to forgive one another of each other’s sins, especially their sins against you personally, until you are inseparable. That is, the sin of unforgiveness will not separate you from your fellow elect even for a moment, just as the sin of unrepentance will not keep you separated from God. Learning to enjoy forgiving each other is what will give us the strength to remain together, inseparable, so that like Jesus, we can say to one another, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”[3] If you have the faith for it, receive it. And although the personal benefit to you in the remarkable words of Jesus in John 20:21-23 has been revealed in the last teach that, “Whatever sins you forgive, they are forgiven,” applies to your sins, that is, whatever sins of yours that need forgiving, God will send someone to sin against you in that exact manner so that as you forgive their sins, yours are also forgiven. This is so that you might have a better attitude to the forgiveness of sins and a motivation to forgive sins and enjoy them. That, however, is not the purpose that Jesus gave the authority to forgive sins to us for.

The authority to forgive sins was given to Jesus by the Father in order to validate His ability to be an independent Judge, and not a rubber stamp of the Father’s judgement. When Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you,” He was telling us, whatever sins He forgives they are forgiven and whatever sins He does not forgive, they are not forgiven as well. Thus, the authority of Jesus to forgive sins is an independent Authority, not restricted by any decision of the Father’s and not dependant on any agreement from the Father. Christ reigns and judges in His own right and Name, just as the Father reigns and judges in His own right. When it comes to judgement and the forgiveness of sins, it does not take a consensus of agreement between the Two, but rather, a singular decision from either of Them is valid. Without the independence of His decision with regards to forgiveness, Christ would not have been an equal part in the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins with the Father. But because the Father sent Him with an independent ability to forgive sins in such a way that, “if [He] forgives anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if [He] does not forgive them, they are not forgiven,” then truly, Christ is an equal to the Father in the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins. Christ can forgive as the Father forgives, independently, without restrain or restriction from anyone, for who can restrict or restrain the Father?

Thus, in the establishment of the Covenant with Jesus Christ, the Father set Him above all men. For although God had covenanted with other men, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, Phinehas, David and Solomon, to none of them did He give equal rights.

· For Noah could not give life as God gave life.

· Abraham could not bless as God blessed.

· Isaac could not give inheritance as God gave inheritance.

· Israel could not deliver or heal as God does.

· Phinehas could not ensure peace and priesthood as God could, so that Eli, his descendant, lost that priesthood.

· David could not ensure his kingship; and

· Solomon could not enforce the temple covenant as God could.

To all other men, God’s covenant with each of them was on the basis of their dependency on God to dispense the benefits of the covenant, if they obeyed the conditions. Not one of them was allowed to dispense the benefits; they were only able to ensure that the benefits would continue as they continued to obey.

Noah could not give life to whomever he pleased, only God can, yet the covenant he had with God is the Covenant of Life. Abraham could not bless whomsoever he pleased, and they would be blessed; only God does the blessing, yet his covenant with God is the Covenant of Blessings, for God said, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on Earth will be blessed through you.”[4] He did not say, “If you bless anyone, they are blessed and if you curse anyone, they are cursed.”

Only Jesus alone did God send, and to Jesus alone did God establish a covenant with Him so that, “If You forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if You do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Thus, the answer to the Jew’s question to Jesus, “Are you greater than our father Abraham?”[5] is yes! Jesus is greater than any man, even Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Phinehas, David and Solomon, much less any prophet whom God sent, for God did not covenant with the prophets He sent, like Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, to name a few. If Jesus is greater than Abraham, then He is also greater than any child or descendant of Abraham, be they born of Hagar, Sara or Keturah.

The proof of that greatness is in the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins. Whatever sins and whoever Jesus forgives, they are forgiven, and whoever He does not forgive, they are not forgiven. That is the authority the Father sent Him with, and the extent of that authority. If God has not extended that same privilege to men He covenanted with, then lesser men than Abraham have even less authority and privilege, especially if they are only servants of God and not a friend of God as Abraham is. So, make no mistakes, no man stands equal to Jesus in His authority to judge and to forgive in God’s Name.

And as proof of that independence of His authority to forgive whomsoever and whatsoever He forgives through the covenant He has with God, and which is written in His blood, as soon as the covenant was signed and sealed, He went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water.[6] He went as soon as He was made alive by the Spirit. He preached to those God had judged and condemned to prison with the flood during the days of Noah, so that those who heard His voice would be released. He exercised His independent authority to forgive those He chose to forgive to show us that with Him alone God has a covenant with a Man, like He has never covenanted with any other man.

Through Jesus Christ, the need for judgement and punishment according to the word of the Father was overridden, for whom the Son sets free is free indeed, even if they had been imprisoned by the Father, so that the Father’s word would not be broken. We not only have an Advocate before the Father, but we have a fellow Judge, One who is equal to the Father as a Judge and One who has the authority to forgive even those judged by the Father as He showed us, by going to prison to preach specifically to the spirits from the days of Noah.

Not that I value much of special feast days, but if yesterday was the commemoration day of His sacrifice on the cross and tomorrow we commemorate His resurrection, then truly, today it should be commemorated as “Liberation Day” for those who are prisoners even in Hell.

Thus, when you see this independence of judgement that is available only to Jesus Christ in His unique covenant with God, a covenant unlike any that God has ever forged with a man, you will understand why God would cause Hades to empty itself on Judgement Day, as well as that the sea and death will give up the dead that are in them. And you will understand why another book is opened called the Book of Life even though the dead are judged by the other books, as it is written in Revelation 20:12-15, and you might now see why God has promised: “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples that all of them may call on the Name of the Lord and serve Him shoulder to shoulder.”[7]

You see, God has to judge according to His word, but in Jesus, He has One who can also judge independently of Him, for God is God and not a man, but Jesus is God and Man. That is why the Son of Man has authority to judge and to forgive as He does. Jesus the Man won for us that right to be judged by a fellow Man and not by God who is Spirit, through His sacrifice, and so great is that victory that even Hell cannot keep Him out. It is why He said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (not prove stronger than it.)”[8] That is why on Earth we celebrate and commemorate Crucifixion Day and Resurrection Day, but in Heaven and in Hell, they celebrate Liberation Day. For those in Hell now know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins, even of those judged already by God and there are those in Heaven who were liberated on that Day when those spirits from the days of Noah were led out of Hell in the triumphant procession of Christ as He ascended from Hell to Earth for His resurrection and then unto Heaven. Such is the mercy of God that has no limits.

But how would we have been able to understand the extent and the power of God’s forgiveness if we never practised it? Such a teaching as I have announced would sound like a heresy to many, and indeed, 500 years ago I would have been burnt as a heretic by the church and condemned to Hell if I did not recant. Again, I say to you, how would you know the extent of the power of the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins if you never practised it? No more than you would ever be able to appreciate the power of a race car unless you drove it, not as a Sunday drive, but as daily practice for the race it was built to run in.

Thus, to those who do not practise the forgiveness of sins fervently to master it, these hardest of teachings are no doubt, to their ears, heresy. Especially to those who are sure of their own righteousness and are eager to see others condemned, whilst they are saved without a scant regard for the price paid by Christ for His covenant with God. Put another way; if a student will not learn his ABC, how will he learn the great sciences and their benefits? He will not.

Thus, if repentance and forgiveness are not practised in His Name, how would people know that is what His Name is to stand for? And if repentance and forgiveness are not practised, how will we know how great the extent that repentance and forgiveness need to be and can be? And since the Covenant is for the Forgiveness of Sins, not repentance, then forgiveness is the higher of the two in priority.

That is why the sinful woman in Luke 7 was forgiven of her sins because she loved much, not because she repented much, for her anointing of Jesus was not the prescribed way of repentance for her kind, for she was one who was under the Law of Moses, which prescribed repentance by the making of burnt offerings, not love offerings.

So, when Jesus said to His disciples, not only the eleven designated apostles, but His disciples, for it is written: On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you. Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”[9] He was imparting into His disciples, not believers, but disciples, the full extent of the independent authority of His Covenant with the Father to forgive sins, whatever sins are forgiven in His Name, they are forgiven. Whatever sins are not forgiven, they are not forgiven. However, there is a stipulation: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Many have run away and built up a false religiosity and hierarchy, and have embellished for themselves the authority to forgive sins. This authority is not conferred by men or institutions as some have deceived themselves to believe, but is conferred by Jesus and confirmed by discipleship. A discipleship that is aimed at receiving the Holy Spirit as He received the Holy Spirit, that is, put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.[10]

But how can anyone say they have received the Holy Spirit as Christ received the Holy Spirit if they are not even aware that there is a Holy Spirit? And amongst those who claim to be aware that there is a Holy Spirit, how can you say you have received Him if you will not permit the church to listen to what He says? And how can the church hear what He says if you do not teach her to recognise His voice? Indeed, anyone who claims to be a disciple, but is unaware that the Holy Spirit must be permitted to do what Jesus sent Him for in John 14-15 is only deceiving himself or herself. And how can you say you have received Him when you have no power to be His witness, for Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you”? As Paul said about those who were arrogant, that is, those who are not what they claim to be – find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.[11] Power to say to a cripple, “Get up and walk,” so that it can be seen that the Son of Man has authority on Earth to forgive sins, and not only on Earth, but in prisons as well, be it Hades, death or the sea.

Thus, your training to recognise the Holy Spirit and to come to know Him – the teaching on Divine Life compared with eternal life – all that you have been taught so that you may receive Him as Christ received Him is to make manifest this truth of Christ: “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

If you are not sure who you should forgive and who you should not forgive, the Holy Spirit will tell you. He will convict you if you have not forgiven those you should, and He will tell you who you should forgive and who you should not amongst those who have not sinned against you but against God. And so He will train you until He considers one or ones of you to be ready and the world will be witness to witnesses of God, who can devour their enemies who try to harm them, not with fire from Heaven, but with fire from their mouths.[12]

For we are called to be witnesses of Christ, witnesses that the covenant established between God and Jesus is the Covenant for the Forgiveness of Sins, and whoever Christ forgives is forgiven; whoever He does not forgive is not forgiven, and by His word, we are made co-heirs of His covenant, even in the forgiveness of sins.

Doxology: So tremble in joy and fear, all in Heaven, on Earth and beneath the Earth. Our Christ reigns and Forgiveness of Sins is His Covenant with God. AMEN


 

[1] John 20:21-23

[2] Matthew 23

[3] Matthew 28:20

[4] Genesis 12:3

[5] John 8:53

[6] 1 Peter 3:19-20

[7] Zephaniah 3:9

[8] Matthew 16:18

[9] John 20:19-23

[10] 1 Peter 3:18

[11] 1 Corinthians 4:19-20

[12] Revelation 11:5

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