Years ago, I visited a mountain town in an out-of-the-way place, with a small church hidden away. Near the church was a large cemetery. In it was a simple marker of a grave. On the marker, just one unforgettable line that said, “Forgiven by Jesus.”
Standing there, I could not help but ask questions: Who was this person? What were they forgiven for? How did they come to know forgiveness? And also, I wondered, did they request these words to be put on their simple grave marker?
All these questions may never be answered. We might say, “They are buried with this person.” But there is more to ask: Can anyone be forgiven? For some, the need to be forgiven is real and it is always with them. All of us, fall short of perfection and fail to live by what we want for ourselves. I’ve met very few people who claim, “I’ve never done wrong or made a mistake or committed a sin.”
The matter goes forward to reach God, for our sins separate us from Him (Isaiah 59:2) and He cannot even look upon sin. We have all offended God, none of us have lived by His commandments. Here is the eternal truth, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all need to be forgiven—everyone!
So, the question becomes: How can we be forgiven? If we lived perfectly from this moment on, we would still need forgiveness. God is holy and He cannot, in His righteousness just overlook our sins. The road parts in two directions—God must either forgive our sins or judge them. The issue must be settled one way or the other.
Hopeless, no! Because God acted in love and solved the impossible issue. He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to our planet as a man and He lived a life that was sinless. So that, He alone was qualified and willing to give His life for us. Here is good news, “He became sin for us, who knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God …” (I Peter 3:18) That explains the mission of Jesus.
That indicates clearly that on that cross where Jesus died, He took our judgment and the hell we deserve. He is the one and only “who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Corinthians 5:21). With confidence we can say to anyone, forgiveness is available to you. God never turned anyone away unforgiven who sincerely came to Christ asking for forgiveness.
Then, to demonstrate that the death of Christ on the cross was fully accepted by God, Jesus rose from the dead and was seen alive only three days later. He was seen alive by hundreds. (read I Corinthians 15:4-8) We focus on Christ as our living hope. Forgiveness is based totally on what Jesus did for us, so that “as many as received him, to them he gave the power (right) to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).
The words are plain, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37) Anyone can be among the “All that the Father gives” to Jesus, for those are the ones that come to Christ. We can say to anybody, because of what Jesus fully accomplished, it is possible to be forgiven without fear or doubt; forgiveness and eternal life all because of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, let anyone recognize the seriousness of their sins before a holy God, turn to Him (He will help you turn in your heart), confess their sin, and ask. God will give forgiveness as a gift which is undeserved. “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
So, here is confidence totally centered in Christ. If Jesus does not forgive you—you will never be forgiven, and if Jesus does not get you to heaven, you will never get there. There is a simple, old saying, “Lay your life at Jesus’ feet, and He will take you in His arms.” God makes all forgiveness promises based on a sincere response to Christ. Yes, all of us can know that we are forgiven. It’s available. It’s for you!
God not only wants to forgive, He puts in our hearts a desire for forgiveness, so there is a supernatural, God-given yearning to come to Christ. Forgiveness starts with God and ends in Christ. We can say to anyone, “If that desire is in your heart at this special moment, call on Him inviting Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Thank Him for loving and offering forgiveness and everlasting life.”
Lord, I pray that You will open the eyes of people to their condition so that they may repent and live in the light of God instead of in Satan’s darkness. That they may know forgiveness for their sins and God’s acceptance of them, so that they will live among God’s people who also know their sins are cleansed away. Amen.