Forgiveness and Restoration

Sandeep Poonen

I have been meditating on the forgiveness of God and true repentance. What happens when we sin? Or even when we intentionally disobey God? How do we find full restoration with God?
If we’re born again, we will feel sorry for what we have done. And we can ask God to forgive us. But it can feel hollow, because we are not sure if we are truly sorry. We can be unsure if we have truly repented, or if it was only superficial. What we want is a full restoration with God, back to full fellowship and intimacy with Him.
I want to look at some things from Scripture to see what this would look like. This is what Peter says in his first sermon after Jesus had ascended to heaven. Act 2:37-39 – Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart (wounded in their conscience), and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
Peter says two things here:
  • Repent of your sins ·
  • Be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ.
These are the two things that I must do to receive forgiveness from sins, and to receive the Holy Spirit. If I receive the Holy Spirit, I can be sure that I have full intimacy (fellowship) with Jesus.


The first thing I need to do is repent. Repentance is not simply feeling sorry for my sin. It means changing my mindset about the sin I just committed. It means “turning around” in how I view my sinful behavior. Proverbs 28:13 – He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
So repentance is confessing where I have sinned PLUS forsaking those sins.
This is not a complicated truth; it is very simple to understand. But it is very difficult to do. What separates true Christians from the rest is not intelligence but courage. The courage to do that which is not always easy, but which they know to be right. Many of us need the courage to admit where we have sinned, as well as to utterly forsake those sins.


To be baptized is to be immersed. When we are not born again, we must repent and proclaim our allegiance to Jesus Christ through the external act of baptism, which is immersion in water.
For those of us who are born again, we do not have to be baptized in water again and again. We only do this once physically. But we must never lose the underlying spiritual reality.
And this spiritual reality of being immersed into Christ must be repeated whenever we sin. This is a KEY step in our restoration to Christ. We must immerse ourselves completely into the Name of Jesus Christ, where He and His Name is most important to us. By immersing ourselves into the Name of Jesus, we are telling Jesus that He will be our only biggest of joy and happiness.
A story that illustrates well is the story of Peter in John 21.
  • Peter had shamefully denied Jesus 3 times, right before His crucifixion (John 18:17-27)
  • But Jesus had risen from the dead, and had appeared to Peter to comfort Him (John 20:19)
  • Jesus had breathed on them for Peter had received the Holy Spirit (John 20:22)
But despite all of this, Peter was not restored in his relationship with Jesus. Despite being forgiven and even receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter still did not have intimacy with Jesus. This nagging lack drove him to go back to his fishing (John 21:3).
Jesus didn’t give up on Peter. He reserved His last miracle on this earth for Peter, to fill his boat once again with fish. Then, after they had breakfast together, Jesus asked Peter just one question, “Do you love Me more than everything else?”
This was the only question that Peter needed to answer. And Jesus repeated the exact same question three times, to tell Peter that there was nothing else that was required of him. Peter just needed to settle one thing to be restored to full intimacy with Jesus: Do you love Me (Jesus) more than everything else?
This is what it means to be disciple (Matthew 10:37). Once we settle this question, we can be confident that we have full intimacy with Jesus. The Apostle John calls this walking in the Light as He is in the Light (1 John 1:7). Imagine walking in the same Light of God, who is Light! This is truly unbelievable access. Praise God, this access is available to all who are immersed in the name of Jesus.

The End of Repentance

In the story of the lost sheep, Jesus talks about 99 sheep who need no repentance (Luke 15:7). Who are these 99 sheep who need no repentance? I believe they are those who have repented of all sins that they are aware of (confessed and forsaken them), and who desire Jesus more than anyone or anything else (they are immersed with the Name of Jesus).
  • I need no repentance when I can honestly say that God is my number one and only priority
  • I need no repentance when I can honestly say that Jesus is my most favorite Person
  • I need no repentance when Jesus and His approval is the ONLY thing that matters to me
This is to be the steady-state position of the Christian. This must be the home and constant place of rest for every Christian. Whenever I don’t have this simple and pure devotion to Jesus – where He is most important to me, I am under a cloud of deception (2 Corinthians 11:3), and I am in need of restoration.
When I come to the end of my repentance, then I’m ready to understand the full lesson in the story of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). Because that is when I can understand the heart of the Good Shepherd (Jesus), and even share His heart. I can tell the Good Shepherd, “There’s one of us that’s lost. Please, dear Shepherd, go get that one lost sheep. And don’t worry about me. I’ll be waiting here for you. I choose to always make my home in You. Because You are the Only Person who matters to me”
What a blessed life this is to live. May God make this a reality for us.