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Grace and Forgiveness
The first time I listened to the People to People broadcast, I was blown away. The host, Bob George, would take questions from the audience that usually were about some scheduled theme.
The topic was on grace and forgiveness. Having attended church growing up, I’d heard these words tossed around but really did not know what they meant. I knew that Jesus died on the cross for our sins so we could have a relationship with God and eventually make it into Heaven. That was about it.
Most of the time, I thought that God was angry or indifferent towards me. Because I was constantly screwing up, He had to be fed up or disgusted with me. The words,You have to get right with God, echoed in my mind all the time. How does anyone even do that? Humans sin all the time and we can never be perfect. Almost every decision I’d made up to this point had been wrong or resulted in some serious consequences.
And then I heard Bob say something like, “You don’t have to keep asking for forgiveness, you have been forgiven. Just say, ‘Thank you.’ and accept it.”
This was new; I’d never heard it put that way before. How many times had I tried to bargain with God and let Him down? How many times had I begged for forgiveness, thinking that God was still disappointed with me? How many times had I asked Him to come into my heart just to make sure it stuck this time, hoping it would change my self destructive behavior?
In conversation with another caller, Bob asked, “How many of the sins, that Jesus died for, were in the future?” The caller replied, “All of them, since Jesus died 2000 years ago.” This meant He shed His blood on the cross to forgive us for all the sins we would ever commit, before we were ever born. With every conversation, I was hearing a new message. My entire life, I must have been going to church spiritually deaf because, I couldn’t recall hearing any of these things.
Bob also explained that when we accept this forgiveness, God completely removes sin from us and that He can’t even see it anymore. We are considered perfect and holy in His eyes.
All of this was too much to handle. It was as if some kind of blindfold was ripped off and I could see everything in a new light. Bob backed everything up with scripture and I heard what he was saying but it was overwhelming. It didn’t occur to me to take notes. Because I was so absorbed by what I was hearing, I couldn’t go back and revisit any of this information. Fortunately, Bob had written a book called, Classic Christianity. Knowing that I needed more of this message about grace, I wrote a letter to the radio show and asked for a copy.
I did catch a verse, either at the beginning or the end of the show, that became a call to action for me:
John 8:31-32 (NLT)
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Bob George said that if the truth sets you free then the opposite is true, error will keep us in bondage. Not only was I physically in bondage because I was in prison, but it seems I was spiritually in bondage as well. Since the Word of God is truth, I needed to read it to break free. So, I grabbed my Bible and started digging in. This time, I wasn’t reading it just to get through it. This time, it was speaking directly to my heart.
The words began to chisel away all of the self-imposed ideas I’d ever had about my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I’d swear, it was like someone had come in overnight and re-written the whole Bible. Every verse I digested pointed to not just what Jesus did for me, but why He did it as well as what stood to gain from it.
Grace and Forgiveness
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