There are not many second chances in the Church or in the World, as the rules apply it’s most often ‘one and done’ and then you get ‘tossed under the bus.’ Many Christians even live out of a theological framework which believes that God offers mercy and forgiveness for even the most heinous sins committed before the point of personal conversion but there are new rules that apply after conversion. The New Rules are that you are expected to get it right after that and there is no mercy for sins committed after conversion. This false system leads churches to even celebrate the most dramatic conversions of the most rebellious lifestyles before salvation but extends no forgiveness or second chance to a believer who messes up. Another problem with the aforementioned erroneous system is that it typically views sin as merely outward and tolerates the sins God despises most like pride, arrogance, harshness, selfishness, ignoring the needs of the poor while living in excess. Could it be that God offers only forgiveness to those coming out of unbelief? Is there mercy for non-Christians but not for Christians?
Thankfully Jesus is the Savior of Second Chances and the framework represented above is the opposite of the gospel of Jesus Christ who holds out mercy and forgiveness to us continuously while calling us back to a lifestyle of repentance, holiness and love. Second Chances are only possible if the mistake made during the first chance was paid for and absorbed by another. This is what Jesus does, he pays for the sin and does not make us pay. The Second Chance then becomes a new lease on life, a new freedom, a new opportunity to experience a richer sense of His grace and to live as if we have nothing to prove and nothing to lose. When living within the Second Chance, we know that at some point we will need a third chance which He will graciously extend. This is what Jesus does: He restores the fallen! This is what He did for Simon Peter, a full-fledged Christian and Church leader who denied any connection with Jesus on three occasions. He gave him a Second Chance. Remember the Prodigal Son was a “Son” when he rebelled against his Father who extended a second chance and the Wandering Sheep belonged to the Shepherd and His flock before he became disoriented and was carried back to the fold for his second chance. This is the gospel program: Jesus extends mercy to His own whom He expects will need second and even third chances.
If Christianity was illegal and you were accused of being a disciple of Christ, how would you plead? If admitting to the accusations would cost you something that you hold dear: your life, your freedom, your job, your reputation, your savings, how would you plead? Secondly, If you were accused of being a follower of Christ, would there be enough evidence to convict you in a court of law? Could the prosecution find enough evidence to support their case and bring the jury to the place of rendering a guilty verdict?
The prosecution would seek to convince a jury of the truth of the accusation that you are a True Christian by proving its certainty beyond a reasonable doubt. http://www.lectlaw.com defines reasonable doubt as:
The level of certainty a juror must have to find a defendant guilty of a crime. A real doubt, based upon reason and common sense after careful and impartial consideration of all the evidence, or lack of evidence, in a case. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, is proof of such a convincing character that you would be willing to rely and act upon it without hesitation in the most important of your own affairs. However, it does not mean an absolute certainty.
What kind of evidence would they present to prove you are a Christian? Evidence would be produced which could prove the affections of your heart: your love for Christ, your love for His Church and your love for people along with evidence that would prove your Christian virtue, morality and theological beliefs. They would present bank accounts, credit card statements, charitable giving records, personal calendars, travel and cell phone logs and even internet history. But weighing heaviest in such a case would be the witnesses they would present (remember the prosecution is seeking to prove that you are a Christian.)
Taking the stand to provide testimony would be people who knew you best: relatives, neighbors, friends, fellow church members, employers, employees and those with whom you have conducted business (your spouse can’t be forced to testify against you and it is highly unlikely that your children would be mandated- do these realities help your case or not?) To establish the credibility of a witness several criteria would be used:
- Is the witness honest?
- Is the witness able to give testimony to what he had actually seen?
- How many witnesses are there?
- Is there consistency in their testimony?
- Does the circumstantial evidence fit their claims?
- Does the witness have a bias or partiality?
But there is another type of witness who if produced, could give the prosecution the strongest case possible: Your Enemy! Your enemy is a person who hates you, he’s your #1 critic, your personal adversary, he magnifies and exaggerates your weakness, foibles and inconsistencies. He continually and cynically questions your motives. If your enemy told the whole truth and nothing but the truth about you what would he say about you?