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    In 1830, George Wilson was convicted of robbing the US mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but Wilson refused to accept it. Rejecting a pardon was unheard of and many didn’t know what to do, but the matter was eventually considered by the Chief Justice Marshall who passed the decision that Wilson would have to be executed. The reality was, the pardon was just a slip of paper that carried no value until it was accepted. When that pardon was refused, there was no other source of mercy and execution for the crime then became necessary.

    God has issued a pardon for our sins. Acts 5:30-31 says, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Jesus is our pardon. His sacrifice allows for our sins to be forgiven. His sacrifice is a gift (grace) to us. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” God has paid for our sins by the blood of Christ and granted us this gift of pardon.

    However, this gift of pardon is only valid if we are willing to accept it. Jesus said in John 8:24, “for if ye believe not that I am he , ye shall die in your sins.” This pardon is not unconditional. It requires that we believe in Jesus. It requires that we believe what Jesus has taught and commanded. Jesus also taught that we must be baptized. Mark 16:15-16 says, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” If we believe what Jesus has spoken, then we also believe that our pardon is dependent upon our willingness to believe and be baptized.

    Jesus also made an interesting Statement in Matthew 5:20. It says, “except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” This again showing that our pardon is conditional. It is conditional upon our willingness to live righteous, good lives. Matthew 5-7 Jesus describes the importance of having a righteous mind which leads to a righteous life.

    The price for our sins is completely paid. The pardon is written and has been handed to us. We don’t deserve forgiveness. We could never “make up” for the wrong we have done. We could never be right in the eyes of God without this pardon. However, Jesus paid the price and God has offered this pardon to us...if we will only accept it. We have free will. God created us with the ability to make our own choices. We can choose to reject Christ, reject His teachings, and in doing so reject the pardon. Or we can believe and trust in Christ, obey His teachings and thereby accept His pardon. The choice is completely our own.