Forgiveness is a very broad subject in the scriptures, and can be looked at in five aspects:
- Eternal Forgiveness – when we receive Christ as our Savior (Acts 13:38. Col. 1:14. Eph. 4:32. 1 John 1:7)
- Restorative Forgiveness – to restore communion if we sin (1 John 1:8 – 2:2)
- Governmental forgiveness – divine exemption from the governmental consequences of our sins in this life (Matt. 6:14; 18:23. Gal. 6:7. 1 Pet. 3:12.)
- Administrative Forgiveness – to restore a person to fellowship in the assembly (John 20:23, Matt. 18:18-20, 2 Cor. 2:6)
- Personal Forgiveness – the responsibility to forgive one who trespasses against me (Matt. 18, Eph. 4:32).
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Governmental Forgiveness vs. Eternal Forgiveness. We must bear in mind that there are several aspects of forgiveness. Eternal forgiveness is not spoken of prior to the cross. It is most often governmental forgiveness that is taken up. Governmental forgiveness is divine exemption from the governmental consequences of our sins in this life. A person may remain under the government of God until death, perhaps due to an unforgiving spirit, but then go to heaven (Matthew 6:14-15).