Would You Refuse a Pardon? (NKJV)
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- Pages: 4
- Version: NKJV
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Would you refuse a pardon?
As unbelievable as it sounds, in the year 1830 a man from Philadelphia named George Wilson refused a pardon from President Andrew Jackson. The year before, Wilson and an accomplice had been charged and convicted of robbing and assaulting a mail carrier. They were both sentenced to be hanged. Wilson’s friends obtained a presidential pardon for him, but because it did not clear him of all the other charges remaining against him, Wilson refused it.
“Can a pardon be refused?” This question was rigorously debated, and eventually argued before the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Marshall delivered the court’s decision, which said in part:
“A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws, which exempts the individual on whom it is bestowed from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed. A pardon … is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him. It may be supposed that no being condemned to death would reject a pardon … but it is certain, that a man may waive the benefit of a pardon.”
And so the man was executed, even though his pardon had been granted. Would you refuse a pardon? Now remember that God Himself offers a pardon to every guilty sinner, not for time but for eternity. Most people think lightly of sin but God’s Word shows us sin’s awfulness, and proclaims the necessary penalty: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…. The wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23; 6:23). We are all guilty before God, and the sentence will be executed on that dreadful day when all unpardoned sinners will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
Scripture also tells us of Jesus Christ, the perfect and willing Sacrifice. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Because the punishment of our guilt has been borne in the death of the Son of God on the cross of Calvary, the pardon God offers is a righteous pardon. It is also a complete pardon, removing from the sinner every charge and every sentence laid against him.
God’s pardon is offered freely, but it must be received to be effective. The only condition of the pardon is the acceptance of the Saviour by each guilty soul. “Through this Man [Jesus] is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things” (Acts l3:38,39).
Many refuse and despise this wonderful pardon, but they all must bear the judgment of divine justice. Receive this pardon today by trusting in the Son of God who came down from heaven, suffered and died in our place, and rose again.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.