Home Pastor's Corner . A God of second chances?

. A God of second chances?

A GOD OF SECOND CHANCES?

The title of this devotional is well known to most, and we have often heard it. It is pasted all over Facebook, and therefore a catchy title to introduce my article. The bad news is that God does not give second chances. Let me explain and bring some balance in our thinking.

A careful study of God's Word will show us that God is a God of love, of mercy of grace and forgiveness. Sure, He is a righteous God who will not leave the guilty unpunished, but for believers their greatest joy is to know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), so there is no eternal punishment awaiting Christians no matter whether we stumble or fall. We don't need second chances; all we need is Christ. The simple reason being, that our walk in life is not based on works or the extent to which I finally achieve, but it is all based on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. Sinners don't need a second chance; we need a perfect substitute, one who gets it right the first time. Because of the forgiveness of sin and imputed righteousness, we don't have to earn redemption through a series of fresh chances, restarts, reboots, makeovers or however you want to define it. Jesus secured our redemption through his life, death, and resurrection. And his perfection is forever credited to the believer's account. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. If Christians don't understand this, the life becomes a life of 'here we go again', and we tend to feel like failures starting over and over again.

So, God does not hold our sins against us, we don't lose our standing and we don't have to have it refreshed every now and then. And we are called to be like God. The words of Jesus Christ echoes down the valleys of millenniums to every believer in Matthew 5:48 (ESV) 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. So, we can conclude that if love, mercy, grace and forgiveness are part of God's perfections it should be part of us as well. The context of the last part of Matthew 5 shouts forth these attributes. Sadly, so many Christians are unlike God. God gives us more than second chances and never hold our sins against us, but we don't. I hate qouting Mahadma Ghandi as he was not part of our faith but a Hindu. But I can never forget his statement: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

It is a pity that too many Christians are unlike God. They do not err on the side of love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. They tend to work on a basis of another chance, and then the chances run out. They have this kind of righteous anger towards fellow brothers and sisters in Christ where their fellow Christians need to beg them for love, mercy, grace and forgiveness, but it will not be granted and the reasons will be justified. We tend to become like the Pharisees who would only extend theses graces towards their own brothers. Christ however asks us to extend it to our enemies.

Of late I have been in conversation with Christians who cannot accept the fact that people change on a human level and that they can change for the good. They have this kind of attitude, that if you have played badly in the first 4 holes of a game of golf, your hole in one at hole 5 does not count, and is nullified based on your bad performance the first 4 holes. Gladly, God does not work like that. I have just these last two weeks seen believer after believer leave my office who were in desperate need of a grace, love, mercy and forgiveness. The joy was mine to tell them that God is a God who has given them more than a second chance. God is a God who forgives unconditionally because He looks at them in His Son Jesus Christ is whose righteousness they stand. Sure, Christians will stumble, but we learn from Christ. A glorious example is seen in the attitude of Christ to the adulteress woman: 'I forgive you, go and sin no more.' John echoes this forgiveness when he writes to Christians, his dear children in the faith that: 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9 (ESV) Paul writes in Romans 5:10 (ESV) 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. He echoes this again in Romans 5:20 (ESV) 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Oh, how I look forward to the day where I see pastors and Christians in general erring on the side of grace, mercy, love and forgiveness and leaving the final judgment to the great judge. They tend to forget that they themselves are sinners saved by grace, that they too do not stand in their own righteousness but the righteousness of Christ. John in the same chapter we quoted earlier says that any person who says he does not sin is a liar.

Thanks be to God for the good news of Christ's imputed righteousness. Believers shouldn't wish for second chances or thirds or more. You do not need a fresh start on life. Rather, we should proclaim with vigour that our Saviour's righteousness is perfectly sufficient to earn our Father's smile. For this very reason, we do not need a second chance but over and over again we simply deal with that which stands between us and the Father, we make dead the sin that is still alive in us, we lay down the weight that slows us down in the race, while we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.

I pray that we will start seeing one another in Christ and practise forgiveness, show mercy and grace and love unconditionally. If Christians do not need to beg God for a second chance, why should we beg one another. Who am I to condemn the one of whom Paul says is not condemned by God in Christ Jesus? So, sadly it is true that many Christians are so unlike their Jesus, but I introduce you today to a God who is a God of eternal blessings in Christ Jesus. You can come to Him with those broken lives, you can come to Him with that sin, you can come to Him with that broken marriage, those broken relationships and all you will experience is a God who offers you so much more than what you deserve, because you stand complete in His Son.

So next time when you think you need a second chance, simply continue in Christ, sort out what you need to and remember this: 'He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion on that day'. You have seen the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus and that is enough.