Forgiveness

THE WORLD PASSETH AWAY. What then? This is the question
that so deeply concerns man. If the world is to vanish away, and
man is to live for ever, of what importance is it to know where and
what we are to be for ever! A celebrated physician, trying to cheer a
desponding patient, said to him, “Treat life as a plaything.” It was
wretched counsel. For life is no plaything, and time is no child’s toy,
to be flung away. Life here is the beginning of the life which has no
end; and time is but the gateway of eternity.

What then? Thou must, O man, make sure of a home in that world
into which thou art so soon to pass. Thou must not pass out of this
tent without making sure of the city which hath foundations, whose
builder and maker is God. When thou hast done this thou canst lie
down upon thy deathbed in peace. Till thou hast done this, thou
canst neither live nor die in peace. One who had lived a worldly life
at last lay down to die; and when about to pass away he uttered
these terrible words, “I am dying, and I don’t know where I am
going.” Another in similar circumstances cried out, “I am within an
hour of eternity, and all is dark.” O man of earth, it is time to awake!
“How can I make sure?” you ask. God has long since answered that
question, and His answer is recorded for all ages: “Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! I have never done anything else,”
you say. If that be really true, then, as the Lord liveth, thou art a
saved man. But is it really so? Has thy life been the life of a saved
man? No, verily. It has been a life wholly given to vanity. Then, as
the Lord God of Israel liveth, and as thy soul liveth, thou hast not
believed, and thou art not yet saved.

“Have I then no work to work in this great matter of my pardon?”
None. What work canst thou work? What work of thine can buy
forgiveness, or make thee fit for the Divine favour? What work has
God bidden thee work in order to obtain salvation? None. His Word
is very plain, and easy to be understood: “To him that worketh not,
but believeth in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted
for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:5.)

There is but one work by which a man can be saved. That work is
not thine, but the work of the Son of God. That work is finished,—
neither to be taken from nor added to,—perfect through all ages,—
and presented by Himself to you, that you may avail yourself of it
and be saved.

“And is that work available for me just as I am?” It is. God has
brought it to your door; and your only way of honouring it is by
accepting it for yourself, and taking it as the one basis of your
eternal hope. We honour the Father when we consent to be saved
entirely by the finished work of His Son; and we honour the Son
when we consent to take His one finished work in room of all our
works; and we honour the Holy Spirit, whose office is to glorify
Christ, when we hear what He saith to us concerning that work
finished “once for all” upon the cross.

Forgiveness through the man Christ Jesus, who is Son of God as
well as Son of man! This is our message. Forgiveness through the
one work of sin-bearing which He accomplished for sinners upon
earth. Forgiveness to the worst and wickedest, to the farthest off
from God whom this earth contains. Forgiveness of the largest,
fullest, completest kind; without stint, or exception, or condition, or
the possibility of revocation! Forgiveness free and undeserved,—free
as the love of God, free as the gift of His beloved Son. Forgiveness
ungrudged and unrestrained,—whole-hearted and joyful, as the
forgiveness of the father falling on the neck of the prodigal!
Forgiveness simply in believing; for, “by Him all that believe are
justified from all things.”

Could salvation be made more free? Could forgiveness be brought
nearer? Could God in any way more fully show His earnest desire
that you should not be lost, but saved,—that you should not die, but
live?

In the cross there is salvation—nowhere else. No failure of this
world’s hopes can quench the hope which it reveals. It shines
brightest in the evil day. In the day of darkening prospects, of
thickening sorrows, of heavy burdens, of pressing cares,—when
friends depart, when riches fly away, when disease oppresses us,
when poverty knocks at our door,—then the cross shines out, and
tells us of a light beyond this world’s darkness, the Light of Him
who is the light of the world.

Horatius Bonar, How Shall I Go to God?