Majority of Protestants believe that their sins are fully forgiven - not only the ones they had committed before believing in Christ but even all the sins that they have not yet committed during their lifetime since believing in Jesus. As far as I know, the Orthodox believers strongly oppose to that idea.

What do those of Protestants who believe that all their future since have already been forgiven take as their basis for such a belief in the Scripture?

  • 1
    This is just a suggestion, but you might want to qualify/clarify your question somewhat. It might, for example, imply give the impression that there is no forgiveness of future sins in Catholicism or Orthodoxy at all, whereas it is surely meant and understood that the forgiveness is always available for future sins indeed, but that unlike Protestantism, we don't presume forgiveness, and it must simply be appropriated anew once committed—the forgiveness comes from the same source, namely, the Cross. Again, just a suggestion. Apr 23 '18 at 11:59
  • @SolaGratia: "we don't presume forgiveness" - What do you mean by that?
    – brilliant
    Apr 23 '18 at 13:42
  • We don't think it's appropriated without our consent and confession of the sins, i.e. unconditionally. Apr 23 '18 at 15:50
  • @Sola Gratia: "We don't think it's appropriated without our consent and confession of the sins" - What do you imply here by "confession of the sins"? Is it merely an act of private prayer or something more than that, say, confessing to a priest?
    – brilliant
    Apr 26 '18 at 1:52

I cannot speak for all Protestants, but I did find this quote from John Stott, which explains the past, present and future aspects of the forgiveness of sins for those who have come to saving faith in Christ Jesus:

I have been saved – in the past – from the penalty of sin – by a crucified Saviour: “For in this hope we were saved" (Romans 8:24). "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3).

I am being saved – in the present – from the power of sin – by a living Saviour: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

I shall be saved – in the future – from the presence of sin – by a coming Saviour: "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!" (Romans 5:8-9) "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

That is not to suggest that a Christian can continue to sin with impunity. First John 3:6-9 clearly states that a true Christian will not live in continual sin. In response to the accusation that grace promotes sin, the apostle Paul declared:

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" (Romans 6:11-15)

"No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him" (1 John 3:6).

When Christians sin (as we all do), we are to confess our sins before God:

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The concept of relational forgiveness is based on the fact that when we sin, we offend God and grieve the Holy Spirit:

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).

That is why we confess our sins to God, not to maintain our salvation, but to bring ourselves back into close fellowship with the God who loves us and has already forgiven us. I hope this goes some way to explaining the Protestant view of sins past, present, and future, being forgiven on the basis of the shed blood of Christ Jesus and His righteousness being imputed to us.

  • I like the quote, but I find it a little ironic. I'm pretty sure, John Stott is basing his answer on an essay that was written in the original (1980s-90s) Orthodox Study Bible, that people like myself have been quoting on message boards since the 1990s. The essay was written concerning how to respond to a Protestant when they asked you, "Are You Saved?" Apr 24 '18 at 4:18
  • @PavelMosko - Was John Scott Orthodox? As far as I can tell from wiki, he was Anglican. Did he believe that he was saved? Judging from the quote given in the answer, he did. But then, I don't understand, why would he need to write an essay on how to respond to a Protestant on the question whether you are saved or not. It looks to me like he shared the same view with Protestants here. No?
    – brilliant
    Apr 24 '18 at 5:34
  • I'm sure he is or wad Anglican. I'm just saying its likely he lifted the Past, Present, Future stance from us. Having trouble finding the Original article, but found a Protestant minister doing a book review on the Past, Present, and Future Orthodox view of Soteriology. youtube.com/watch?v=fqWFMhiwNOk Apr 24 '18 at 13:54
  • I found a Blog that gives the introduction of that original essay I mentioned. “This is why the modern evangelical Protestant question, "Are you saved?” gives pause to an Orthodox believer. As the subject of salvation is addressed in Scripture, the Orthodox Christian would see it in at least 3 aspects: (a) I have been saved, being joined to Christ in baptism; (b) I am being saved, growing in Christ through the sacramental life of the Church; and © I will be saved, by the mercy of God at the Last Judgment.“ — Orthodox Study Bible simplyorthodox.tumblr.com/post/7844045638 Apr 24 '18 at 14:16
  • While the part you quote from the Protestant preacher is a direct quote or close paraphrase of the middle part of that essay. Apr 24 '18 at 14:17


You described being "fully forgiven" as when past, present and future sins are forgiven. While I understand what you mean by this term "fully forgiven," some Christians who do not believe future sins are forgiven might actually describe the forgiveness they received as being "full" as well. It might be best to come up with a better term than "fully forgiven" since it seems that almost all Christians could describe themselves by this term in some sense.

The Answer

The strongest argument from scripture which Protestants use to prove that their future sins have been forgiven comes from Colossians 2.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Col 2:13-14)

From this point, some Protestants insist that "all" really does mean all, in the sense of all past, present and future sins.


There are other proof texts some Protestants will use, but these are usually dependent on their specific theology. For example, some will use some scriptures to argue for a Calvinistic soteriology from which it logically follows that all past, present and future sins are forgiven. I chose Colossians because it is probably the strongest verse to argue for this concept without having other theological dependencies.

Disagreeing denominations have other ways of explaining Paul's meaning here, but I will not explain those interpretations as that is outside the scope of the question.

  • Thanks for the answer, but I don't quite see how the phrase "having forgiven us all our trespasses" definitely includes the believers' future sins, too. Is there any valid argument against the idea that "having forgiven us all our trespasses" means ONLY the sins that the believers have committed before their believing into Christ?
    – brilliant
    Apr 23 '18 at 19:36
  • Well, I wouldn’t think any argument like that would be valid because I personally believe the Bible definitely teaches against “once justified always justified”/eternal security. I answered with this Colossians verse because it is the best verse eternal security believes have shown me. Apr 23 '18 at 22:46
  • If I were to get polemical, I’d say the only time “once justified always justified” is taught in the Bible comes from the serpent’s mouth in Genesis 3. “You will surely not die.” Apr 23 '18 at 22:48
  • "I wouldn’t think any argument like that would be valid because I personally believe" - Do you pronounce an argument as not valid simply on the basis of your belief? "I’d say the only time “once justified always justified” is taught in the Bible comes from the serpent’s mouth in Genesis 3. “You will surely not die.”" - How is that a talk about justification? When did the serpent talk about justification? And what did Adam and Eve need to be justified from if they were still sinless during that conversation?
    – brilliant
    Apr 24 '18 at 1:21
  • I did not let my personal beliefs prevent me from providing a good answer. I think many would say this is one of the strongest proof texts for "once justified always justified." Apr 24 '18 at 4:52

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