"I Acknowledged . . . Thou Forgavest"

Next to the blessedness of forgiving, which belongs, of course, to God, comes the blessedness of being forgiven. What words can describe it? The quietness after the storm, the relief after oppression, the deep, holy peace that fills the heart as the sense of forgiveness steals over it! To sink down into the arms of a pardoning God, and to rest on His bosom, the bosom from which the pardon flows, this is a never-to-be-forgotten experience and none who have known it can ever think lightly of it.

The Pharisee cannot know it, nor any man who excuses his sins, or hides them, or refuses to admit to God and himself that he is a sinner. But those who have felt the smart and the sting of sin, those who have tried in vain to destroy the serpent that has bitten them, these will know it. Those who have discovered that their sins are neither dead nor done with, that they cannot escape them, that with persistent feet they are pursuing them, gathering round them, and crying insistently, "Thou art the man," these are on the verge of the blessing. Those whose consciences have awakened, who feel what it is to have sinned against God, and have looked into the abyss of horror into which their sins were carrying them, these will find no refuge, no relief, no hope, except in God, and to Him they will came with broken and contrite hearts and He will receive them. They cannot forgive themselves, neither angel nor man can clear them, but God can. Forgiveness is His grand prerogative, and when conscience-stricken, sin-laden, honest at last they come to Him, they find rest in what He is and what He can do for them. This is Bible truth, and the experience of multitudes has answered to it as the diamond flashes back the light of the sun.

The first mention of God's forgiveness is in the Book of Exodus. Israel had sinned, and Moses pleaded for them, "This people," he said, "have sinned a great sin; yet now if Thou wilt forgive them — ." And there he broke off his request, he did not finish the sentence. Surely it was too much to ask; it seems from the passage that the thought of his heart made him gasp by its very magnitude; how could God forgive this great rebellion, standing as He did upon the crest of Sinai? This unfinished sentence — half agonizing desire, half eager question — must be left to God to complete. And He did complete it in chapter 34. On the very spot where His holy law had thundered forth He proclaimed His Name to the wondering, worshipping Moses, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, and forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." How blessed it is for a soul, bruised and broken by sin, and lashed and seamed by an accusing conscience, and filled with fear at the thought of God's righteous judgment to learn that this is God's Name. It is a revelation, the revelation of the truth.

But the fullness of God's forgiveness could not be known until New Testament times. This awaited the coming of Christ and the doing of redemption's great work. It is in this day of grace, this day of salvation, that the method and the measure of this unspeakable blessing is revealed to us. Forgiveness is in Christ and the forgiven one is in Christ, as Ephesians 1 tells us: "He hath made as accepted in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace."

To all those who have believed in Jesus, the beloved Son of God, is this blessing given. The basis of it is the blood, and it is for Christ's sake. "God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32); "I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His Name's sake" (1 John 2:12). It is an eternal forgiveness, for it is the act of the eternal God; it is an eternal forgiveness, for it is bestowed for the sake of Him who has brought eternal glory and gives eternal delight to the heart of God. When we understand that it is for Christ's sake that we are forgiven, for the glory of His Name and the joy of His heart, it makes the blessing unspeakably blessed. We are forgiven for Christ's sake. Was there any reluctance then on God's part to forgive us, and was it necessary that the desire and glory of Christ should be brought to bear on this matter before the blessing could be bestowed? By no means. The welcome given to the prodigal shows what delight God has in forgiving; the kiss, the robe, and the merriment all show that to forgive is a necessity to Divine love; but the desire of the heart of Christ and the glory of His great and precious Name are added motives which give God a greater joy in doing that in which His heart delights. Wonderful grace! Wonderful blessing! Wonderful work and precious blood which has made it all possible! which has provided a meeting-place for a just and pardoning God and ungodly but repentant sinners. And what God is in this blessed character can never change. His very nature finds expression in His pardoning grace, in the riches of His grace. He has set us in His own favour for ever, and everything that could mar our happiness in that place or His delight in having us there has been dealt with according to His own justice, and all for Christ's sake. Now we can sing with David, "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Rom. 4:7-8).

"Who is a pardoning God like Thee,
  Or who has grace so rich, so free?"