But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Summary and Purpose
Summary: Governors and the President have the power to grant pardons to people who have committed crimes. These pardons are very powerful. When people receive pardons, they will not have to face any punishments and their civil liberties are restored. They re-enter society as free people.
God offers a pardon that is even better than a gubernatorial or presidential pardon. When people receive pardons from the governor or president, they still have criminal records delineating their crimes. The public stigma also remains. When God grants a pardon, however, there are no paper or computer trails reminding people of the person’s past sins. The person’s sins are totally wiped away by the blood of Jesus. They are forgotten. They will never be used against them. This divine pardon is the ultimate in forgiveness and is often referred to as justification.
When we are justified, we have a new beginning, a fresh start. We begin eternal life. This means we begin our restored, love relationship with God as His children. We enter the Kingdom of God and begin to revolve our lives around Kingdom of Heaven values rather than old worldly values. Lastly, we begin the journey of becoming more like Christ. Justification, the ‘Divine Pardon’, opens up all these doors and it’s a free gift. All you have to do is accept it through faith in Jesus.
Purpose: To help the congregation understand justification. To help those who have not yet received justification to receive it.
I. Introduction: President Gerald Ford pardons Richard Nixon
1. On 8 September, 1974, just one month after becoming President, Gerald Ford
pardoned former president Richard Nixon.
· On June 17, 1972 5 agents, hired by Nixon’s Committee to re-elect the president, broke into the Democrat National Committee Office in the Watergate Hotel.
· The Nixon administration responded to the ensuing political fallout by trying to cover-up White House sanctioned illegal political activities.
· This attempt at cover-up eventually led to Nixon’s resignation as President. He resigned just prior to a full impeachment vote in congress. He would have been the only President forced out of office through the impeachment process.
· After resigning as President, Nixon faced the possibility of facing criminal charges as a private citizen for crimes committed as President. He would have been charged with obstruction of justice.
· Before charges were brought against Nixon, Ford pardoned him.
2. Nixon’s pardon, however, was not total…let me explain
· Nixon would not face any punishment for his alleged criminal charges. His public stigma however, would remain
· History will forever remember Nixon for his involvement with watergate. His other great accomplishments, such as getting out of Vietnam and re-establishing diplomatic relations with China, will be almost forgotten in the shadow of watergate.
· The presidential pardon can not erase the public stigma because Pardons from presidents and governors are not complete.
3. The incomplete nature of gubernatorial or Presidential pardons.
· When people receive pardons from governors or presidents, they are forgiven in the sense they don’t have to face punishments and their civil rights are restored. This is the extent of a gubernatorial and presidential pardon. This forgiveness is incomplete.
· The person receiving the pardon still has a criminal record indicating they were either charged with a crime or about to be charged with a crime. This same record would also indicate any punishment they may have received. There’s still a paper or computer trail exposing their crimes. In addition, as in the case with Nixon, the public stigma remains.
· Unlike a pardon from a governor or president, God offers a ‘divine pardon’ that is complete. This ‘divine pardon’ is called ‘justification’ and it entails ‘complete forgiveness.’
II. God’s offer of a divine pardon
1. God’s ‘divine pardon’ is ‘complete forgiveness’.
· Unlike the pardons we get from governors and presidents, there is no paper trail reminding people of past sins. Criminal records are not kept in heaven. The blood of Jesus completely washes away your sins. The Book of Life will have your name in it with no indication of the sins that you received a pardon for.
· Also, unlike the pardons we receive from governors and presidents, there are no public stigmas attached to the sins.
2. God offers every person a ‘divine pardon’. We all need it.
· We all need this ‘divine pardon’ – We all ‘…have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…’ (Romans 3:23)
· Remember the bad news from the last two Sunday sermons: We sinned and this separates us from God. This separation makes death a reality.
· God commands us to love God, neighbor and self. How many people here can say they never had an unloving thought, word or deed? No one can. We are all sinners in need of God’s ‘divine pardon’.
3. How we receive God’s ‘divine pardon’
· We don’t do anything or earn it in any way. We receive it through faith in Jesus.
· Romans 3:21-25 – We could personalize this: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for me who believes. For there is no distinction; since I have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, I am justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,
· Ephesians 2:8-10 – We could personalize this: For by grace I have been saved through faith; and this is not my own doing, it is the gift of God -- not because of works, lest I should boast. For I am his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them.
· As God in the flesh, Jesus lived the perfect life and became the one necessary sacrifice for our sins. Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, we can receive God’s ‘divine pardon’ and be justified.
III. The wonderful benefit of God’s ‘divine pardon’: A new beginning
1. We begin eternal life
· Eternal life is more than going to heaven when we die.
· Eternal life begins the moment we are justified, the moment we receive God’s ‘divine pardon’.
· Eternal life is having a love relationship with God. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
2. We begin a re-stored love relationship with God as our perfect Father: “For you
did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the
spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit himself bearing
witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” (Romans 8:15-16)
3. As Children of God, we enter the Kingdom of Heaven and begin to revolve our
lives around Kingdom of Heaven values. “Being asked by the Pharisees when the
kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not
coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, `Lo, here it is!' or `There!'
for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." (Luke 17:20-21)
4. We begin the process of becoming more like Jesus Christ.
· When you receive the ‘divine pardon’ you will not remain the same.
· As we walk with Christ, the Holy Spirit will make us more and more like Christ. Becoming like Christ is our goal as Christians.
· “Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he [Jesus] appears we shall be like him [Jesus], for we shall see him [Jesus] as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
IV. Conclusion: Would you like a new beginning? Do you want the ‘Divine Pardon’? If
so, receive it through faith in Jesus.
· Go to God in prayer, admit you are a sinner. Place your trust in Jesus and receive the ‘divine pardon’
· If you have already received the ‘divine pardon’, let others know that they too can receive it.