From time to time governing authorities decree a period of amnesty for certain offences. That is, there is an opportunity given for offenders to come forward and acknowledge their offences to the authority. They can make any appropriate restitution and do so without having to bear any penalty or punishment for the crimes they are acknowledging.
Authorities will offer amnesties immediately prior to a steep increase in penalties or the setting up of a special task force to find and apprehend offenders. The amnesty then is a forewarning and a sign of impending justice to come. The amnesty is a very appealing opportunity for offenders. The opportunity to own up and put wrongs right before the impending crack down occurs.
When amnesties are offered offenders have to weigh up the likelihood of them being caught post amnesty. If they think their cover is not sufficient to remain hidden or they feel they can no longer live under the burden of their guilt then the amnesty allows them the opportunity to come out and own up to their wrong. They can flee from their impending capture by owning up first. The amnesty means they are cleared of any claim of justice over them for those deeds which they acknowledge. The amnesty provides a full exemption from any penalty or punishment for their acts. As long as they never perform the deed again they will never come in to any condemnation for the wrong that they have committed.
However if post amnesty further acts of the same deed are performed and discovered then these would have to be dealt with according to the full force of the law. Such deeds having been exposed by evidence the carriage of justice must be followed through with.
Amnesties only apply for a set period of time. Confessions of wrong either before or after the amnesty are of no avail. These would require the full weight of the law to be applied to them.
Some offenders choose not to take advantage of amnesties when they are offered. They choose rather to keep their misdeeds hidden. And it is possible that these people will never be caught for their wrong. And therefore justice will never be meet out for their deeds. However should a subsequent arrest take place it could only be treated in the most serious light. When impunity was offered so graciously yet an offender chooses not to put things right, this proves an impenitent attitude toward their wrongs. The fullest penalty could only be considered appropriate in such circumstances. The offenders spurning the graciousness of the authorities offer of an amnesty.
Thankfully, to many, an amnesty is an opportunity too good to be missed. And many do take advantage of the opportunity which the amnesty provides.
The opportunity to be free from fear again. To be free from the nagging of guilt. To once again be honourable and walk with their head held tall again. To rid themselves of the deeds that have cost them fear and anxiety for many years.
To them the shame of acknowledging their wrong and being seen for who they really are is a small price to pay in comparison to achieving a better quality of life from then on. The offender who confesses knows they must never re-offend. They know this because if any acts of the same deed occur anywhere they will be the first to be approached in consideration of who did the deed. Therefore their lives must stay spotlessly clean.
While this earthly amnesty sounds generous there is a heavenly amnesty that far outshines any earthly one. The good news (gospel) brought to us by Jesus Christ is also an amnesty. Our Supreme Governing Authority is offering an amnesty gracious and wonderful beyond any. The word gospel should be spelt H .O .P . E . It is mankind's only hope of standing in a condemnation free position before God our Judge. We now have the opportunity to own up to our wrongs. The opportunity to acknowledge and never repeat again our sinful deeds and walk away free from condemnation.
THE HEAVENLY AMNESTY
As sinful mankind we need an amnesty to be offered to us.
A way out, an opportunity, a chance to get right with God for our position before Him is without any hope. God as our uncompromisingly righteous Judge who will never over look even the smallest transgression. No pedigree, bribe nor works of righteousness can withhold justices claim over our lives. There must be justice carried out for the unrighteous deeds done in our sinful states.
The word 'amnesty' and the word 'amnesia' come from the same root word. The meaning of which is 'to forget'. An amnesty therefore is a time of forgetting. A time when things are overlooked and never brought to mind again. This meaning reminds me of the scripture where God says "And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.' The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest amnesty ever. Awesome in its detail, excellent in its working. God chooses to forget our sins. He says, "They will never to be remembered against us again.'
OUR ONLY HOPE
Our only hope is from the hand of God Himself. That is, an amnesty being offered to us that we may avoid the penalty to come. Thankfully this is exactly what God has done. He has as our supreme Governing Authority decided to pronounce an amnesty. We have an opportunity to acknowledge our wrong doing and avoid our impending capture and penalty.
But why should God offer to us an amnesty?
Don't amnesties apply to offenders whose deeds lay undetected?
Why should He, when our offending is proven, daily exposed to His gaze?
Why when the books of heaven are filled with the records of our misdeeds?
Why when the court is booked, the hearing time set and the Judge has been ordained?
Why when the books can be brought out and we can be judged by those things written in the books? Judged on our every thought and deed.
Judged on every word that has proceeded out of our mouth.
Recorded so that we may give an account of every deed done in the body?
Why an amnesty? Why give the proven guilty an opportunity to go free?
Why, when the case is so clear, the evidence so compelling, our condemnation so just?
What judge on earth with such a water tight case would pronounce an amnesty just prior to the hearing? Every shred of evidence has been recorded and as defendants we stand before God with guilt so clear and our case without appeal.
Yet God has pronounced an amnesty?
No judge on earth could offer an amnesty to guilty defendants just prior to their hearing. Where their unquestionable guilt is about to be pronounced upon them and justices vengeance meted out.
Yet this is exactly what God has done.
God has said "Stop!"
God has said "Wait!"
God has said " Amnesty!".
God's mercy has cried out as loudly to Him as His righteousness has.
This is the amazing amnesty. The 'Good news' when we were without hope, with no place of hiding, no way to back out, no legal loop hole to hide from justices claim.
God has said, "I don't want to condemn the creation which I have made to love'.
God has searched throughout creation and found a way, an out, an opportunity for Him to turn His judgement aside from the ones He loves. His own arm has reached out and brought to us our salvation.
We now have a period of grace (unmerited favour) offered to us. An opportunity to acknowledge our misdeeds. An opportunity to come clean and turn from our every sin. An opportunity has come for mankind between the stating of the offences by Moses and the day of the trial, the day of judgement. An opportunity to own up and come clean.
AN AMNESTY! AN AMNESTY!
A way to go free, a way to flee all condemnation. A way to slip out from underneath the penalty due to us. A way for us to come and return to unity and intimate relationship with our Creator.
For whosoever will may come, may come and confess and forsake and know forgiveness.
No amount of purity we could work up and no amount of good works we could do can undo justices claim over our lives. Yet amnesty can make a way. An out, if we are willing to come and confess and forsake.
As long as we live on this earth we have the opportunity to take advantage of this amnesty. From the moment we are willing to own up, from the moment we decide to confess and forsake we are free from all condemnation. We can jump and leap and shout and dance and say, "I once was… but now I am….'. As we confess and turn from our vile ways then we can go free from condemnation. And while we fix our gaze firmly on our Lord and Saviour and do those things pleasing in His sight we continue to walk further and further away from a life of condemnation. We will now walk ever more closely in relationship with God as we adhere to His ways.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Earthly amnesties allow people to come forward and acknowledge their wrong doing. Where appropriate, restitution or confiscation of offending items is also required. With earthly amnesties the misdeeds have been concealed and their guilt never established. No evidence or judicial process has established a case. Because of this there is no need for justices vengeance to be executed. The amnesty becomes the end of the matter. The amnesty requires no penalty for the deeds confessed.
THE SUPERIOR AMNESTY
However with the heavenly amnesty there is a some what different approach required. Those who have done the wrong were caught at it. Their deeds were noticed and the evidence has been recorded in the books of Heaven.
And whilst for the purposes of the heavenly amnesty, confession and reformation suffice to resolve the problem of ongoing guilt. There still needs to be settlement for the guilt of the deeds that were done prior to the persons repentance/acknowledgment. As for these deeds there has been guilt established. The evidence is recorded and a judicial process is in place to mete out justice.
Because of clear and documented guilt God's righteousness demands that the penalty be borne.
God not only wants to forgive us, He also wants the penalty cleared and His righteousness requires the necessary retribution to be meted out that the offences may be erased.
God's righteousness demands that the penalty be borne. His righteousness demands that a penalty bearer suffers for the acts committed during the pre-amnesty period.
But who could clear the penalty for guilt. Who could cancel out the penalties due because of the bygone offences? No sinner of earth could. No sinner loaded with the due penalty of their own guilt could stand in. The only one who could stand in would be one who was due no penalty. Who then could stand in and bear the penalty of others that the penalty may be cleared.
Here enters Christ. Here enters our Lord.
The holy harmless Son of God. Purity and innocence incarnate. Able to bear the penalty of others thus relieving all condemnation from those to whom it should have been due. Christ stands in the gap. Christ comes as mediator. Christ comes as the Lamb without spot or blemish to die for the penalties that were recorded under the prior to acceptance of the amnesty that all penalties may be erased between man and his God. This is so the only state of relationship is unity; the only state of relationship is communion. No enmity can now exist between man and God.
The sinner has reformed and no longer transgresses.
The penalty has been handed out and cancelled any further enmity.
The sinner is free of their guilt and penalty and can now live free and at liberty.
The offence, God has graciously pardoned. God's sense of justice is satisfied and rests content.
Justices demand that wrong be judged has been fulfilled.
Not only does this process settle God's mind it settles ours also.
We could perhaps doubt that God would forgive our former ways. We could perhaps fear that God may change His mind about forgiving us even though we have reformed our ways. However we need only gaze on a crucified Christ. We need only to gaze at the lengths God has gone to, to erase any trace of a penalty being applicable for our former misdeeds. Surely there is no more penalty to be borne no further judgement could be claimed. Christ has cleared all and atoned for all. As we look and see we live and are healed of our snake bites. We can realise all is under the blood all was cleared at the cross. The penalty bearer has borne all. There are no deeds to be judged any more even if God did want to judge sin further. A life walking in the light since repentance need fear no final judgement for their former or later manner of living for all has been accounted for.
THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN
The sacrifice of Christ's pure and righteous life satisfies justices demands of a penalty bearer and that transgression be penalised. It has also had to satisfy and silence Satan too. Had there been any minimising of guilt or any perversion of justice in our redemption the accuser of the brethren would have cried foul. He would dispute (and rightly so) our redemption had God not carried out the redemptions process to the letter of the law. So in this regard to prove to the courts of heaven, to prove to the satanic realm, to prove to any voice that may ever rise that Christ was not qualified to bear the sins of many firstly God tested Him.
Christ was in all points tempted like as we are yet He was without sin. Christ was chosen to bear the sins of many because He was qualified. Because He was pure and righteous and without sin. But had He not walked on earth, had He not been tempted, had He not been tried Satan would have disputed for all eternity the efficacy of Christs atoning work. He would have disputed that Christ was not fit for the task of redeemer. He would have disputed that Christ's life wasn't an appropriate sacrifice.
So God tested Christ, God tried Christ, God has allowed Him to be in all points tempted like as we are… ………. yet He conquered and rose above all to be the undisputable candidate for our redemption. A Saviour without sin. Satan can never have any grounds to appeal. Satan cannot dispute the efficacy of Christs atoning work. Never can Satan shake our confidence in the efficacy of God 's elected Saviour. Never can he cry miscarriage of justice. Every angle has been buttoned up and done just right.
The crowning testimony that Christs life was without spot and blameless was His resurrection. Death could have no hold over the sinless. The righteous must rise. Death could not hold its prey! If there had been any sin in Christ He could not have resurrected and would have remained in death until judgement day. But He did rise from the dead; He did ascend into heaven that He may become the first of many to do so.
Here also is a marvellous thing. Not only has God cleared all offence and penalty and enmity He has also decided to change the rules. He has done away with the covenant that established law and transgression. He has now established a new agreement based on faith under which there is no transgression. So those who come into the righteousness of faith come in to a transgression-less covenant where there is no fear of condemnation because there are no laws.
In the light of these things let us come with boldness and confidence to the throne of grace. To find mercy and the grace to be overcomers in this life. That we may be clothed in white raiment and not have our names blotted out of the book of life.
The message now therefore is
Whosoever will to the Lord may come
Whosoever will to the Lord may come
He'll not turn one away
The focus of this message is not on the person of Christ Jesus our Lord. The focus is on the carriage of justice upon which our redemption is founded. This focus away from Christ as the centre piece is interesting.
Is it because the Gospel to the gentiles varies from that to the Jews?
The Jews are looking for a Christ, gentiles aren't.
To the Jews, Christ is their hope and the fulfilment of promises made long ago.
To the gentiles a Christ means nothing. But to gentiles who are burdened with guilt the offer of an amnesty causes hope to spring up within. Their hope arises from understanding that the carriage of justice enacted by a righteous God is sufficient to establish our pardon and our assurance of eternal life.
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© Richard Tilbury 2006
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