Several years ago Bob Sheffield of the Navigators told a moving story picturing the essence of what it means to receive God’s forgiveness.
Before he became a Christian, Bob played professional hockey in Canada. He was tough, loved to fight and found himself in jail one night after a barroom brawl. Later, Bob and his wife became Christians through the Navigator’s outreach ministry. They grew in their newfound faith and accepted a temporary assignment with the Navigators in Christian ministry in the States.
Bob had to apply for landed immigrant status, which would allow him and his wife to continue in ministry in the United States. But because he had a criminal record, his request was denied. Fortunately for the Sheffields, their daughter had been born in the U.S., and this worked in their favor. This loophole allowed them to receive the visa they needed to continue their work in the United States.
It was a troubling experience for the Sheffields. Bob realized that they would have this same problem every time the Navigators assigned them to a new ministry in another country. After much thought and prayer, they decided to apply in Canada for what is called the "Queen’s Pardon." A thorough investigation was conducted. The pardon was granted. Bob Sheffield received the following notice in the mail:
"Whereas we have since been implored on behalf of the said
Robert Jones Sheffield to extend a pardon to him in respect
to the convictions against him, and whereas the solicitor general here submitted a report to us, now know ye therefore, having taken these things into consideration, that we are willing to extend the royal clemency on him, the said Robert J. Sheffield, we have pardoned, remitted and released him of and from the said convictions, and of and from all and every penalty to which he was liable in pursuance thereof."
On any document from that time forward on which Bob was asked if he had a criminal record, he could honestly answer no. What the pardon meant was that he had been released from any possible punishment that could come from the crimes he had committed, and the record of the crimes themselves had been completely erased. When his fingerprints go to the Canadian Mounted Police and they run them through the computer, the printout comes back reading, "No record."
Author Tom L. Eisenman wrote: "This is the kind of pardon we have in Jesus Christ. When we have received forgiveness, we are set free from any penalty or possible punishment that was due us according to our crimes against God. When Satan requests from the heavenly computer our list of sins punishable by eternal death, it will always print out, "No record. Pardoned by the blood of Christ."
(Source: Tom L. Eisenman, Temptations Men Face, pp. 21-22. From a sermon by Wayne Presnell, "Sound the Alarm!" 2/10/2009)
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