Engage in God’s Forgiveness
“…the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.”
Revelation 13:8 (KJ21)
It was only in June of last year that Francis I, the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, made an appeal to people across Europe. It was to seek God’s forgiveness for refusing migrants who need our protection, not our rejection. It was an understandable request, implying that we should care more for others. Who could argue with it? Now, however, it seems that the refugee crisis is breaking Europe apart, and that compassion is on the back burner once again.
The wording of the appeal also implied something else, which is that we should seek divine forgiveness in order to receive it. This is a common thought in many faith traditions. Is it, however, true of Christianity? Do we, in fact, initiate God’s forgiveness by asking for it?
It may seem like splitting hairs but, surprisingly perhaps, the Christian message is actually quite different. The biblical view is that we have already been forgiven on the cross for past, present and future wrongdoings. The sacrifice of Christ for our forgiveness was effective from when the world began, as we note in the scripture above. It was a sacrifice of grace: not conditional on anything we do, say, think or believe, and also not conditional on our seeking it.
What the writers of the Bible urge us to do is to respond to and accept God’s forgiveness by engaging in it. It is because we have been forgiven that we can change how we think and how we act. It is because we have been forgiven that, through the Spirit of God, we can begin to forgive others and to reach out to those in distress.
Turn to Jesus, “in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). We need to allow ourselves to be forgiven, and to forgive.
Let’s engage in God’s forgiveness.
Father, thank you that you have forgiven me through the sacrifice of your Son, and help me, through the Spirit, to forgive and care for others. In Jesus’ name.
Study by James Henderson
About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland. This weekend James in speaking in our Watford congregation. You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.