I’ve got a lot to do today, but I just had a brief visit from one of our youth leaders who serves on our teaching team for student worship services, Robin Harper. She handed me a fat stack of slips of paper that students had written on during a response time yesterday. More than one of them essentially said that same thing; something that stopped me in my tracks. The words written by several students:
“I’m ready to be forgiven, but I don’t know how.”
My heart sank and aches to think that there are teenagers, children, or adults who want desperately to leave the burden and shame of their past mistakes behind, but don’t know how.
The great news is this: It couldn’t be simpler. But first a story…
Tony Campolo tells the story of being on an airplane and watching a fellow passenger move through the cabin asking other passengers a bold question: “Are you saved?” He got to an older gentleman seated next to Campolo and listened to his response to the man’s very direct question…
Passenger 1: “Excuse me sir, but are you saved?”
Older gentleman: “Yeah… I guess I’m saved.”
Passenger 1: “Can you tell me exactly WHEN you were saved?”
Older gentleman: “Well….not exactly….it was about 2,000 years ago. And I just found out about it recently!”
We aren’t saved because of any effort of our own here and now, we are saved, forgiven, and set free because of the accomplished mission of Jesus on the cross those 2,000 years ago! Don’t think God forgiving you is anything but your receiving of a completed work of grace and love on His part.
So…how can you be forgiven by God? It’s simpler than you may think:
1. Be honest about your need for forgiveness. (If you’ve read this far, that one’s probably already in the bag.)
2. Tell God that you want to receive the forgiveness of your sins (past, present, and future) that only Jesus made possible by taking the penalty of your sins onto Himself. God instantly removes your sin from you. (Psalm 103:12, Romans 10:13, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 1:9)
3. Live daily knowing that you are completely set free from condemnation (Romans 8:1) and are invited to live a life surrendered to God’s grace and use (Romans 12:1). In other words, “Freely you have received…freely give.” (Matt. 10:8)
You are a new creation. Everything old has passed away. All things are now new. (2 Corinthians 5:17) People will question it. Friends might doubt it. Family may turn from it. Satan will definitely attack it. No matter what: Stand on it. You ARE forgiven by the God who made you, loves you, and wants you to walk with Him right now and always.