Summary: Many were present at the crucifixion of Christ, but only one received the assurance of forgiveness. Discover how to secure forgiveness from God.
Last week we looked at why Jesus had to suffer. We saw his suffering was not a tragedy but a triumph of God and a triumph for mankind. Through Christ’s suffering, God demonstrated His power, His provision and preeminence to rescue us from our sin. But for those who don’t understand mankind’s need for forgiveness of sin, Christ’s suffering appears pointless and tragic.
Forgiveness is nonetheless practiced by most on a human level in order to get along. But for us who believe in God, we are concerned with God’s forgiveness of our wrongdoings also. We realize that when we die, we will meet our Creator, Who holds us accountable for the way we lived, the way we treated others and the way we related to Him. And because none of us are perfect, God’s forgiveness of our sins in this life is vital to our standing with Him in eternity.
Someone tells the story about a pastor who hired a new associate. He wanted to build a friendship with the associate before they began working together. The associate loved hunting, so the pastor drove with him to a nearby farm to shoot rodents.
On the drive up, the pastor explained, “The owner of this farm used to be a member of our church. He left the church over a dispute with other members, but we were on good terms. But just in case, I want to talk with him before we hunt on farm.”
When then arrived, the associate stayed in the car, while the pastor walked 50 yards to the farmhouse. They greeted each other and caught up on old times. Then the pastor asked permission to hunt on his farm. The farmer agreed but asked the pastor to do him a favor.
The farm said, “I’ve got a very sick horse, and I need to put him out of his misery. But he’s been with the family for so long that I can’t do it. In fact, he is fenced right near where you’re parked. When you go hunting, can you help me put him out of his misery?”
The pastor hesitated, but agreed. On his walk back to the car, the he decided to have some fun with his associate. When he got into the car, he acted furious and said, “I can’t believe that man is still bitter. No only is he still angry at the people who was in conflict with him, but he blames me for the whole episode. I’m so mad, I can shoot his horse.” With that, he pulled out his rifle, took aim, and shot the horse dead.
Before, he could turn around to see the reaction on his associate’s face, his associate pulled out a rifle, took aim, and said, “And I’ve got his cow.” Bang!
By killing the cow, who did the associate wrong, the cow or the farmer? He killed the cow, but he wronged the owner. He needed forgiveness from the owner. And God, by right or creation, is the Owner over all. Note this: “Whenever we mistreat another person (i.e. spouse, child, coworker, classmate, etc.), we wrong God. And we need forgiveness from God!
That’s why David, who took advantage of Bathsheba and killed her husband to cover his tracks, said in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, you only, [God], have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight….” We want to say, “But David, you took advantage of Bathsheba, and you killed her husband. How can you say you only wronged God?” Because God is the Owner of Bathsheba and her husband by right of creation. In the end, all of our actions are accountable to God.
You might want to note this: “What we believe does not determine what is true. What is true determines what is true.” You don’t believe in God, and you don’t believe your actions are accountable to Him. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a God or that you are not accountable to Him. I believe in God, and I believe my actions are accountable to Him. But that doesn’t mean there is a God or that I am accountable to Him. Whether there truly is a God who holds us accountable for our actions is what determines whether there is a God and whether we are accountable to Him.
Someone asks, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does the tree make a sound?” Or, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to see it, did the tree fall in the forest?” The answer to both questions are “yes.” Whether we hear it, see it or believe it, does not change whether the tree fell in the forest.
The Bible doesn’t say that God only holds us accountable for our actions if we have heard, seen or believed there is a God. The Bible tells us, God holds us accountable for our actions. That may not be terrible news if you are someone who lives a perfect life. The problem is, no one has ever lived a perfect life. So God’s forgiveness is vital to our standing with God in eternity, since we are accountable to Him.