Christ, the Justifier and Forgiver of Sinners

Jesus as a Partaker of Yahweh’s Unique Functions and Attributes

Sam Shamoun

According to the Hebrew Scriptures Yahweh forgive sins for his own sake:

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." Isaiah 43:25

The ability to pardon sinners distinguishes Yahweh from all the other so-called gods (who in reality do not exist even though their worshipers think they do) since there is no one else who can forgive iniquities:

"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:18-19

Moreover, Yahweh alone is the Savior who is able of justifying or making people righteous:

"Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other… They will say of me, ‘In the LORD ALONE are righteousness and strength.’ All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult." Isaiah 45:21-22, 24-25

Another translation reads:

"In the LORD all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory." Isaiah 45:25 ESV

If Jesus is God according to the NT Scriptures we would therefore expect to find him doing that which Yahweh alone can do, namely, pardon sinners and justify them (justify in the sense of declaring them righteous and acquitting them of their transgressions). Lo and behold, this is precisely what we find the NT teaching:

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!’" Mark 2:5-12

"Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’" Luke 7:48-49

Jesus doesn’t deny that he is able to forgive sins, which is something that only God can do, but goes ahead and performs a supernatural miracle to prove that he has the power to pardon sinners.

Jesus further taught that forgiveness of sins comes through faith in his name, by his authority, and that he is the Savior of the world:

"He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached IN HIS NAME to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Luke 24:44-47

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

"As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it." John 12:47

Even those who saw and heard him identified him as the Savior of the world:

"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’" John 4:39-42

"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world." 1 John 4:14

Moreover, the followers of Christ taught that their risen Lord is the one who justifies or declares and also makes people righteous:

"Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified BY FAITH IN ME.’" Acts 26:15-18

"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Philippians 3:8-9

The Apostles also believed that God grants saving faith and belief for the sake of Christ, on account of the righteous character and life of the Lord Jesus his beloved Son:

"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake," Philippians 1:29

"Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:" 2 Peter 1:1

They even proclaimed that only Jesus could and does save, that salvation is found in Christ alone since he is its source:

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

"Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him" Hebrews 5:8-9

Thus, the NT ascribes to Christ the very characteristics and functions which distinguishes Yahweh as the one and only true God of all. This shows that the inspired authors truly believed that Jesus Christ is Yahweh God the Son who became man for our salvation.

All scriptural quotations taken from the New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
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