Christ did not relegate Christianity's 'Great Commission' to pastors only<BR>
John 20:21-23 reads, "As the Father sent Me, I send you. Jesus breathed on them and said, receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
Does the Holy Spirit in Christians empower them to forgive (set free) or retain (hold in check) the sins of other people?
As Joshua succeeded Moses, and Elisha succeeded Elijah, Christians also follow in succession of Jesus Christ. In verse 21 Jesus commissioned His followers to spread the good news about Him to everyone possible, but never expected them to perform in their own strength. Today He, by His Holy Spirit within us, is working through us to lead others to Jesus Christ, and also to sustain the abuse of rejection (2Cor 5:20-21). Both experiences come with the territory, and remember; this is known as the great commission, not the great suggestion. This commission is not relegated to pastors exclusively. According to scripture eternity is at stake for people's souls (Mat 25:46). That desire we have to speak up about our Lord, is Jesus' Spirit prompting us (Mat 28:19-20).
God does empower His children with a supernatural ability to forgive those who deeply hurt us, as Jesus forgave from the cross (Luke 23:34), but that is not the context here.
Scripture is substantiating that if someone confesses their sin and sinfulness and turns to Jesus, we can then assure them, based on this scripture, that Jesus completely forgives them. If people reject and refuse Jesus Christ's offer then we can tell them, based on this scripture, that their sins will be retained or held against them. We ourselves don't have the power to actually retain or hold sins for eternity over anyone. "When Jesus said THIS He breathed on them." What is THIS He said? He said, "I also SEND YOU."
The empowerment we receive is to go forth with the truth of God's word and warning, but not to literally hold sin over anyone. Thus your answer is no.
The bible declares, "all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Heb 9:22). The bible says believers have been transferred to the kingdom of Jesus Christ, "in whom we have redemption for the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:13-14). All the innocent sacrificial animals of the Old Testament bled and died, as they all foreshadowed Jesus bleeding and dieing for sins He never committed."
If God is fair and just then someone has to pay the right price for our sins which is death by bloodshed (Rom 6:23). The sinless Jesus bled, died and resurrected making forgiveness retained or remitted His call. The issue is the propitiation and application by faith of His blood in our lives.
The earth turned dark between noon and 3 pm. as Jesus hung crucified, when all the sins of mankind throughout history came upon the innocent Jesus (2Cor 5:21). The Father turn away (Mat 27:46). No one in history suffered more than Jesus Christ (Isaiah 52:14).
Satan kissed him in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:3, 22:48). Jesus was slaughtered slowly and butchered brutally so that we wouldn't be. Now He can rightly buy back the sinners who were lost. Hanging there shredded on the cross Jesus declared, "It is finished!" Everything necessary for a sinner to be saved is accomplished.
He then rose from His grave glorified forever. It's His call, and He is calling someone now. Tell Him, "Jesus, I am sorry enough to turn away from my sins and sinful life. Please forgive me? Will You come into my life and be my savior, master and friend (John 15:15)? Thank you Lord."
(Huck Kusner pastors the Calvary Chapel Church in Black Canyon City. To submit a question or for information, write Pastor Kusner at The Calvary Corner, PO Box 1816, Black Canyon City, AZ 85324. Email is email@example.com.)