“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
A friend pointed me to the October 2, 2018, broadcast of Pathway to Victory by Robert Jeffress. My friend heard him say that most religions say “DO,” and Christianity says “DONE.” That is a great saying.
I found that quote at the 11:45 mark if you want to check it out. You can hear the message here.
However, as I listened to the whole message, I found Jeffress saying that repentance and remorse are necessary to receive everlasting life (9:40) and that “the Bible says your eternal destiny depends on your willingness to forgive other people” (3:28-3:35).
In Matt 6:14-15, the Lord is speaking of forgiveness, not everlasting life. Jeffress wrongly assumes that positional forgiveness is in view. However, what is actually in view is fellowship forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 makes it clear that if we confess our sins, then God forgives us in a fellowship sense. The same idea is found in John 13:10 and Matt 6:14-15.
Confession of sins as found in 1 John 1:9 is only effective “if we walk in the light as He is in the light,” as 1 John 1:7 says. Confession of sins is not magic. It works if we are walking in the light, walking in fellowship with God. If we are walking in the light, we will forgive those who sin against us. But if we are walking in the darkness, like the prodigal son of Luke 15:11-24, then acknowledging our sins will not result in fellowship forgiveness and fellowship with God. The prodigal needs to repent, turning from the darkness back to the light.
It is possible to have everlasting life and yet to be out of fellowship with God. The believer who is out of fellowship with God is not experiencing fellowship forgiveness. He remains born again. But he lacks fellowship forgiveness.
The Lord does not say that God will forgive us if we are willing to forgive others. He says He will forgive us if we forgive men their trespasses. The issue is not willingness to forgive. To have fellowship forgiveness from God we must actually forgive those who sin against us.
I hope this was just a slip of the tongue. Normally Jeffress says that to be born again one must “trust in Christ as Savior” (e.g., see 16:50). To add in a willingness to forgive others is to distort the message. Adding in repentance and remorse is confusing as well.
Your eternal destiny depends on believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for everlasting life (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-9). Keep it simple, saint.