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The Free Gift

April 2, 2023

Dr. Paul Cannings

“A certain atheistic barber was conversing with a minister as they rode through the slums of a large city. The Unbeliever said, “If there is a loving God, how can He permit all this poverty, suffering, and violence amongst these people? Why doesn’t He save them from all of this?”

Just then, a disheveled homeless man crossed the street. He was unshaven and filthy, with long scraggly hair hanging down his neck. The minister pointed to him and said, “You are a barber and claim to be a good one, so why do you allow that man to go unkept and unshaven?” “Why, why…” The barber stuttered, “he never gave me a chance to fix him up.” “Exactly,” said the minister. “Men are what they are because they reject God’s help.”

God has done more. He allows us to hear the gospel on radio and television and has established churches throughout the city. Even though many people listen to Him, they do not accept His free gift.

“In the year 1829, a Philadelphia man named George Wilson robbed the U.S. Mail, killing someone in the process. Wilson was arrested, brought to trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death. Some friends intervened on his behalf and finally obtained a pardon for him from President Andrew Jackson. But, when he was informed of this, George Wilson refused to accept the pardon!

The sheriff was unwilling to enact the sentence – for how could he hang a pardoned man? An appeal was sent to President Jackson. The perplexed President turned to the United States Supreme Court to decide the case. Chief Justice Marshall ruled that a pardon is a piece of paper, the value of which depends on its acceptance by the person implicated. It is hard to believe  that a person under the death sentence would refuse to accept a pardon, but if it is refused, it is not a pardon. George Wilson must be hung. So, George Wilson was executed, although his pardon lay on the sheriff’s desk. So, too, do some of us reject the gift of salvation by refusing the pardon thereby offered (Quoted from Illustrations for Biblical Preaching by Richard Green).

Christ’s death paid the price for all our sins, and His resurrection gives us victory over sin’s power. The gift is available for all because all have been pardoned. It is a free gift available to all who accept Christ and what He has provided. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)