Some have asked me, “If we preach forgiveness as part of the finished work, isn’t there a danger of promoting apathy and indifference among the lost?” There is, but there is a far greater danger if we don’t preach forgiveness. The opposite of forgiveness or remission is sin retention (John 20:23). Although the sins of the world were taken away at the cross, many people remain chained to sin through hurt and unforgiveness…
Just this morning I heard from a young man whose friend killed himself because he could not cope with the guilt religion had put on him. This is an awful tragedy but it should not surprise us. The Bible shows us again and again that any religion of rules ultimately ministers death to those who would live by them. Grace-less religion kills people.
The only thing that can free people from the grip of sin is a revelation of God’s grace. This is why it is essential that we heed Jesus and follow the apostles’ example and proclaim the free gift of forgiveness. For some people it is literally a matter of life and death. They are dying for lack of forgiveness. The good news is that forgiveness is powerful. It heals, it restores, it liberates and brings reconciliation. Forgiveness saves lives.
The last thing this world needs is another guilt-shoveler behind a pulpit. What people desperately need to hear is the good news. They need to be told their sins have been forgiven and it is our responsibility to tell them. Indeed, this is the privilege of proclaiming the gospel.
The Gospel in Ten Words, KingsPress, 2012, 36-7.