January 11, 2012

A Pardon for the Taking

One of the prayer requests of an inmate in my Sunday School class at the jail this Sunday was this,

“Pray that God would select me. That I would be found among His selection.”

Coming from a group of women who pray unanimously for a speedy court date, a merciful judge and a mild sentence, one can understand why a pardon from their sin isn’t easy to believe. Hearing this misunderstanding about God’s mercy triggered a detour of our lesson to the topic of Acceptance.

Blessed as we are in the United States in 2012, every one of my eight students had a free copy of the Bible in her hands. It takes my breath away to witness such unhindered favor, and yet, even with doors wide open to my visitation and a free copy of God’s Word in each hand, we still can’t believe that God desires us.

We think, “Something as valuable as salvation should be complicated”, but the truth is, salvation boils down to two simple things:

1. the FACT that God’s Word is true which conveys the ACT of Jesus’ sacrifice

2. and the ACCEPTANCE of that fact which is called “FAITH”.

Doubting God’s promise of a pardon from sin is not exclusive to individuals with criminal records. Sin’s last ditch effort to resist salvation is coddling the doubt that God’s Word is not 100% true. We admire humility even when it is founded on shame; then by preserving that shame, indirectly deny the grace which Jesus died to grant. The requirement upon our shoulders is to accept forgiveness with such trust that it slaughters shame and renews our lives.

Do you realize when you doubt the written Word of God, that you are calling God a liar? I do not excuse myself from this exhortation. There are times when reading the Psalms over my life that the devil has whispered to me, “Aren’t those pretty words. Too bad they are only pretty words.” Yes, I understand doubts. But I also see them for what they are, lies spoken from the lips of the devil.

Hebrews 6:18 reads, “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.”

Do you ACCEPT that by nature God can not lie? Jesus is so faithful and true that these titles even replace his first name in Revelation 19:11 which reads, “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider [Jesus] is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.”

We may accurately refer to Jesus by name as “Faithful and True”. What a glorious reality to dispute doubt when the devil suggests that we second guess the infallibility of scripture.

Every single script documented in God’s Holy Word is true. If He said that He came to save sinners, then He came to save you (Luke 5:32). If He said that He desires all to come to repentance, then He desires you (2 Peter 3:9). God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), meaning, He does not discriminate. He knows that all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23), therefore he compensated for all sin, no exceptions. Allowing yourself to doubt God’s Word is an offense to God’s gift and a hindrance to salvation. Acceptance is key.

Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Grace is imperative for the penalty Jesus paid to reach over and cover my sin. My acceptance of that gift (faith) completes the transfer of ownership. Faith is imperative for the gift to become more than a pretty promise on a shelf, but an unwrapped, fully enjoyed gift transferred to me upon my taking claim of it.

Can you imagine your daughter refusing to open gifts at her birthday party because she insists they belong to the boys and girls who brought them? How heart wrenching. Yes, Jesus brought the gift to the party, but that He may give it away not to keep it for Himself. Jesus doesn’t need forgiveness, we do.

There is a vial of Jesus’ blood portioned out with your name on it. Have you taken the gift in hand?

Herein lies the secret to God’s selection which my student prayed for:

God selects those who accept His gift of grace.

Where are you along the path of acceptance? One foot out the door? Half way around the block? Or have you crossed the finish line, completely and irrevocably convinced of God’s Word as true, the unshakable bedrock of your life?

Your pardon is prepared for the taking. Accept it without reservation that you may give proper homage to the power of the blood of Jesus.

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