Summary: Consider the simple and powerful truths of God’s PENALTY, God’s PAYMENT, God’s PLEA, God’s PROMISE, and God’s PARDON. But the pardon must be accepted or it is void. Link included to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint Presentation.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
A man on death row, sweating it out, hoping, praying and waiting for a word of pardon from the governor’s office, would be a fool to turn it down if it actually came.
In 1830, a man named George Wilson was convicted of killing a government employee while robbing the U.S. Mail. He was tried and sentenced to be hanged. Andrew Jackson, then President, issued a pardon for Wilson, but Wilson did a strange thing: he refused to accept the pardon and no one seemed to know what to do.
What must that warden have said when his delivery was rejected? I imagine it was something like, “Pardon me? You don’t want the President to pardon you?”
The matter went all the way to the Supreme Court…to Chief Justice Marshall, perhaps one of the greatest Chief Justices we ever had, and he concluded that Wilson must be executed. “A pardon is a slip of paper,” wrote Marshall, “the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.” And he was.
Many have said, "He was crazy!" or "What a fool!" Perhaps they were right, but there are millions of people who continually refuse God’s offer of pardon from eternal death.
A lot of people got saved thru our ministry this week. Here’s the story:
• Midday Tuesday, my wife and I went to the home of a new young couple in the church. They had some questions about the church. As always, we don’t take anyone’s salvation for granted, so I planned on eventually getting around to questioning them on that…but I didn’t have to bring it up, because the husband said, “I’ve been baptized, but as for being saved, I don’t know what that is, but I’d like to.” “Pardon me?!” is what I felt like saying…what a refreshing way of leading someone to the Lord that was…he was asking me to tell him how and help him thru it. Wow!
• Tuesday, early evening, I met w/ the family who lost their 14 year old boy in the tragic accident last weekend. It was a few minutes before the visitation was to begin. I told them about how he got saved in my office 2 years ago, and they asked me to share it at the funeral so others, themselves included, could be saved. “Pardon me?!” again came to mind! But I had planned to do just that.
• Later that evening, I went by the hospital to check on a member who had had surgery. He said the girl who was the driver in that accident was right down the hall, and he is close friends w/ the family. “Pardon me?” I thought, this family must really be hurting, and went down to the room along w/ 2 others to show them some Christian love and pray w/ them. They soaked it up like a sponge and it became apparent that the girl wanted to be saved, too. I shared the gospel and told the others in the room that if they wanted to be saved they could pray the prayer with us…and all 4 of them did. Again, “Pardon me?” came to mind.
• Wed. morning at the funeral, the funeral director came to my prayer room as it got time to start, and said there were easily over 300 people waiting. “Pardon Me?” Well, the spirit was electric. I’ve never before been applauded at a funeral for preaching the truth, but it happened several times. They were so vocal I invited them to come here and join us on a permanent basis! At the end I said they could silently repeat a sinner’s prayer if they wanted to be saved. But many repeated it out loud, dozens at least, and who knows how many in their hearts!
Should we be surprised when God pours out great blessings? Should we say, “Pardon me?” to that? No! Praise God that He pardoned so many this week, turning tragedy into triumph!!
Follow me on this simple progression:
I. GOD’S PENALTY*
There is a vast difference between the prison code and the law of God. The law says that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty. God’s law tells us that ALL are guilty, and somehow need to be found innocent. We read in John 3:18, " . . .he that believeth not is condemned already . . ."
Romans 5:12 tells us, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."