I received the following question on Facebook about how forgiveness works:
Feeling as if it is a fresh start and that yesterday’s mistakes aren’t part of ‘today’ have made a large difference. I ask for forgiveness and hope for the best and try not to doubt the forgiveness. I guess I sometimes wonder about that word too; forgiveness. Like, does God forgive us our sins in the fact that they are erased so much that we don’t go to hell but still receive punishment in life for the sins.. or is the forgiveness wiping away our sins entirely as long as we ask, and we suffer no punishment?
To understand what the full cost of sin is, you have to first properly understand the nature of our reward in the Kingdom. It’s not as simple as Christians generally understand it, being only about salvation. For example, Revelation says we are rewarded “according to our works” (Rev 20:12-13). How can that be when many NT passages speak of salvation being a free gift according to grace through faith?
The answer is that Revelation is not talking about salvation there but to a second component of our reward after the first component of salvation. Everyone gets eternal life in the Kingdom for having faith in the Word of God. It’s the same “one penny” reward for all by grace through faith (Gen 15:6=Lk 8:21=Mt 20:10). You can’t earn it, Jesus paid for it already so that those who turn to God can have their sins forgiven and they can enter the Kingdom and live forever.
In that eternal life there are different roles, responsibilities and brightness of bodies according to Daniel and Paul (Dan 12:3=1Co 15:40-41). Or what Jesus referred to as “riches in heaven” that come from greater sacrifice (Mt 19:21). What you get depends on your works (Jas 2:24=Mk 4:8=Rev 20:12-13). To qualify higher you need more works and less sin. Because it says love covers a multitude of sins (Jas 5:20) it seems that the equation is something like REWARD = GOOD WORKS – SINS.
So there’s no need to be in guilt on past sins or paralyzed worrying about them as Jesus paid the price to forgive them so you can still enter the Kingdom. If you instead focus on replacing them with good works, they don’t have to hurt your reward level in the Kingdom, either.