A few weeks ago, I blogged about forgiveness, and today I want to follow up with some further thoughts.
The email we sent out to announce that blog post caused some concern among a few of our readers, primarily because of the embedded quote by Bryant McGill. That sentence read, “Let’s face it: if you’ve ever been wronged, misunderstood, judged unfairly, cheated, or lied to, then you know that forgiving the offending party doesn’t come easily. Perhaps that’s why the ability to forgive has been called ‘one of man’s greatest achievements’ (Bryant McGill).”
The concern with the quote that says forgiveness is “one of man’s greatest achievements” is a valid one. It was a poor choice for a quote and is scripturally incorrect. I apologize for the error. Forgiveness is not one of man’s greatest achievements—it is an act of God that we can extend to each other and to ourselves only through His grace. We are forgiven through the blood of Jesus, and we forgive others because He has forgiven us.Forgiveness is an act of God that we can extend to each other and to ourselves through His grace. Click To Tweet
First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (ESV). God forgives us our sins and makes us righteous through Christ.
We did nothing to “earn” that forgiveness, for God rescued us of His own accord. Colossians 1:13-14 says, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (NASB).
We are to be a forgiving people. Christ’s sacrifice resulted in forgiveness for our innumerable sins—past, present, and future. And because we’ve been forgiven for so much, we are to extend forgiveness to those who wrong us. That includes forgiving ourselves. Matthew 6:14-15 is clear: “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (NASB).
In his book Total Forgiveness, R. T. Kendall writes, “The ultimate proof of total forgiveness takes place when we sincerely petition the Father to let those who have hurt us off the hook….” We cannot, in and of ourselves, extend this freedom to people who have wounded us. We can only do so through the blood of Jesus, because He first extended forgiveness to us.
I was in Atlanta recently with Reverend Dean Nelson, one of our National Directors of Church Outreach. We were meeting with a group of church leaders ahead of Human Coalition beginning work in the Atlanta area later this year. It was a fantastic time of fellowship, with church leaders of various races, denominations, and backgrounds brainstorming how to end abortion in the seventh-most abortion-dense city in America.
Part of our discussion centered on the Christian’s often difficult balance regarding abortion. On the one hand, Christians must aggressively and passionately work to protect babies and families from abortion. On the other hand, Christians must aggressively and passionately work to extend the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to the roughly 60 million post-abortive people in this country.Christians must aggressively and passionately work to extend forgiveness to post-abortive people. Click To Tweet
We don’t always strike this balance well. I have read and heard the words of passionate, committed pro-life people who are quick to vilify, demean, and denounce those parents who have aborted a child. I understand and share their deep desire to see all innocent humans protected from death. I truly grasp the horror, narcissism, and brutality of abortion. But to cast hate, derision, and hellfire on those who have aborted a child in this country is to ignore the cross. The cross of Christ is bigger than the sin of abortion. Christ died for sinners. And yes, He died for those who have aborted a child. Thanks be to God.
Did Christ not die for Saul who presided over the death of Christians? Did He not redeem and use Moses who killed an Egyptian in cold blood?
To extend forgiveness to those who repent of abortion does not minimize the evil nature of the act. I’m fully aware that abortion is modern-day child sacrifice. And America has sacrificed almost 60 million children over the past forty-three years. God severely judged those nations in biblical history that condoned and performed child sacrifice. So I pray regularly for God’s mercy for our nation.
However, we serve an amazing God who uses even our sins to further His will and glorify Himself. Those who suffer from the debilitating impact of abortion can be freed only by Jesus Christ. And the Church in America has an unprecedented opportunity to minister to them. How many millions of people who are now haunted by their decision to kill a preborn child, would be overjoyed, set free, and relieved to know that God has forgiven them? And how many of those people, now set upon a new path because of God’s forgiveness, would then work to rescue other babies and families from abortion? Could our efforts to end abortion be accelerated by the Church and its intentional, relational outreach to suffering post-abortive adults?
We are all sinners saved by grace. We are set free by the blood of the Lamb. While we do everything in our power to end the heinous practice of abortion, let us also do everything we can to preach the Gospel and its forgiveness to those who desperately need to hear it and receive it.