On another blog I follow, Jesusneedsnewpr, http://www.jesusneedsnewpr.net/forgiveness-jesus-osama-bin-laden/, a picture of Osama Bin Laden in the arms of Christ was posted. Some people have stated that we don't know if Bin Laden repented on his death bed and therefore, received forgiveness or not. I have joined the discussion in a nit-picky manner. One person stated that the picture of Christ holding Bin Laden is a great picture of what Christ is willing to do IF we repent and believe.
So here is my question: does Christ's willingness to forgive depend on our repentance and belief? Does Christ only offer forgiveness when we repent and believe? Or does Christ offer continually to forgive, and we do not receive the forgiveness until we repent and believe?
I know this is semantics. But it colors my view of God. If God does not offer forgiveness unless someone repents and believes the correct way, does God truly love and forgive unconditionally? What if I don't believe correctly or repent of a sin? If we must believe and repent for God to forgive, is this works based salvation? And when we get to Romans where Paul states "mercy leads to repentance," if God does not offer forgiveness first, how can we repent? So if Christ's offer of forgiveness depends on our repentance, then I see Christ as this judge who waits to make sure I get it right and then extends grace. But if Christ is offering forgiveness first, Christ is no longer that judge but a person coming out into the streets inviting us to a banquet. Belief is my entering the banquet hall and feasting on forgiveness.
God so loved the world he gave his only son so that whosoever believes should not perish but receive eternal life. Is the whosoever believes qualifying God's love or qualifying the reception of eternal life?