I’m not the first to ask what seems like a foolish question, but when it comes to the Christian gospel the answer isn’t so simple. If you’re troubled by open-ended questions or wrinkles in the fabric of faith, it’s best not to read on.
(Spoiler alert: There are no answers at the end of this post.)
To forgive means, “to grant pardon for an offense or debt; to absolve or free from guilt.”
If I owe a million dollars and I pay the debt—or someone pays it for me—I don’t need forgiveness. My debt is paid. Likewise, if I’m convicted of a crime and I serve my entire sentence—or someone serves it for me—I don’t need a pardon. The claims of justice have been met and there’s nothing to forgive. Only if I can’t pay the debt or do the time is forgiveness an option.
You don’t forgive someone by paying their debt; you forgive when the debt remains outstanding.
If Jesus paid the debt for sin, what’s there for God to forgive?
If God forgives us, why did Jesus have to die?