Category Archives: Forgiveness

“A most ordinary pastor” by D.A. Carson

“Tom Carson never rose very far in denominational structures, but hundreds of people in the Outaouais and beyond testify how much he loved them.

He never wrote a book, but he loved the Book.

He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday’s grace was never enough.

He was not a far-sighted visionary, but he looked forward to eternity.

He was not a gifted administrator, but there is no text that says, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you are good administrators.’

His journals have many, many entries bathed in tears of contrition, but his children and grandchildren remember his laughter. Only rarely did he break through his pattern of reserve and speak deeply and intimately with his children, but he modeled Christian virtues to them.

He much preferred to avoid controversy than to stir things up, but his own commitments to historic confessionalism were unyielding, and in ethics he was a man of principle.

His own ecclesiastical circles were rather small and narrow, but his reading was correspondingly large and expansive.

He was not very good at putting people down, except on his prayer lists.

When he died, there were no crowds outside the hospital, no editorial comments in the papers, no announcements on television, no mention in Parliament, no attention paid by the nation.

In his hospital room there was no one by his bedside. There was only the quiet hiss of oxygen, vainly venting because he had stopped breathing and would never need it again.

But on the other side all the trumpets sounded.

Dad won entrance to the only throne room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man-he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor-but because he was a forgiven man.

And he heard the voice of Him whom he longed to hear saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.'”

–D.A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 147-148.

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“Preach free and full forgiveness” by J.C. Ryle

“Forever let the mighty principle laid down by our Lord in this passage, abide in our memories, and sink down into our hearts. It is one of the great corner-stones of the whole Gospel.

It is one of the master-keys to unlock the secrets of the kingdom of God. The only way to make men holy, is to teach and preach free and full forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

The secret of being holy ourselves, is to know and feel that Christ has pardoned our sins. Peace with God is the only root that will bear the fruit of holiness. Forgiveness must go before sanctification.

We shall do nothing till we are reconciled to God. This is the first step in religion. We must work from life, and not for life. Our best works before we are justified are little better than splendid sins.

We must live by faith in the Son of God, and then, and not till then, we shall walk in His ways. The heart which has experienced the pardoning love of Christ, is the heart which loves Christ, and strives to glorify Him.

Let us leave the passage with a deep sense of our Lord Jesus Christ’s amazing mercy and compassion to the chief of sinners. Let us see in His kindness to the woman, of whom we have been reading, an encouragement to any one, however bad he may be, to come to Him for pardon and forgiveness.

That word of His shall never be broken, ‘Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.’ Never, never need any one despair of salvation, if he will only come to Christ.

Let us ask ourselves, in conclusion, What we are doing for Christ’s glory? What kind of lives are we living? What proof are we making of our love to Him who loved us, and died for our sins?

These are serious questions. If we cannot answer them satisfactorily, we may well doubt whether we are forgiven. The hope of forgiveness which is not accompanied by love in the life is no hope at all.

The man whose sins are really cleansed away will always show by his ways that he loves the Saviour who cleansed them.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 238–239. Ryle is commenting on Luke 7:36-50.

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The Valley of Vision — “Pardon all my sins”

Merciful Lord,

Pardon all my sins of this day, week, year,
all the sins of my life,
sins of early, middle, and advanced years,
of omission and commission,
of morose, peevish and angry tempers,
of lip, life and walk,
of hard-heartedness, unbelief, presumption, pride,
of unfaithfulness to the souls of men,
of want of bold decision in the cause of Christ,
of deficiency in outspoken zeal for His glory,
of bringing dishonour upon Thy great name,
of deception, injustice, untruthfulness in my dealings with others,
of impurity in thought, word and deed,
of covetousness, which is idolatry,
of substance unduly hoarded, improvidently squandered,
not consecrated to the glory of Thee, the great Giver;
sins in private and in the family,
in study and recreation,
in the busy haunts of men,
in the study of thy Word and in the neglect of it,
in prayer irreverently offered and coldly withheld,
in time misspent,
in yielding to Satan’s wiles,
in opening my heart to his temptations,
in being unwatchful when I know him nigh,
in quenching the Holy Spirit;
sins against light and knowledge,
sins against conscience and the restraints of thy Spirit,
sins against the law of eternal love.

Pardon all my sins, known and unknown,
felt and unfelt,
confessed and not confessed,
remembered or forgotten.
Good Lord, hear; and hearing, forgive.

–Arthur Bennett, ed., “Sins,” in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 1975), 87.

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“The riches of His mercy” by John Newton

“The unchangeableness of the Lord’s love, and the riches of His mercy, are more illustrated by the multiplied pardons He bestows upon His people, than if they needed no forgiveness at all.”

–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton Volume 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 450.

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“God is always the most offended” by D.A. Carson

“What makes sin sin, what makes it so profoundly heinous, what makes it so deeply repugnant and culpable, is that it is offense against God. We dare not forget that the first commandment, according to Jesus, is the commandment to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength.

Thus the first sin– first sequentially, first in fundamental importance– is not to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength. It is the sin we always commit when we commit any other sin. At the most profound level, whenever we sin, God is always the most offended party.

David understands this: ‘Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight’ (Psalm 51:3). And that is why, whatever other forgiveness we try to secure, we must have God’s forgiveness, or we have nothing.

Yes, you and I need to forgive one another. Yet in the most profound analysis of what sin is, only God can forgive sin.”

–D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 159-160.


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“He is the fountain of goodness and mercy” by John Calvin

“This self-love of ours so blinds us that we make the smallest faults in the world to be akin to heinous and unpardonable sins. We have this evil so deeply rooted in our hearts that if we are told of our duty, it only half moves us.

For this reason, St. Paul sets the example of God before us here. He has forgiven us in His only Son. And without delay He adds our Lord Jesus Christ, who spared not Himself when it was a question of our redemption and salvation.

What, then, can break down all hardness in us, what can mortify all our excessive passions, what can correct all our cruelty, bring low all our pride and loftiness and sweeten all our bitterness, is this: to contemplate what God has done towards us. He has so loved the world that He has given up His only Son to death for us (John 3:16)…

What has moved God to show Himself so merciful towards us? Nothing else but our wretchedness. Seeing then that He who is so good has nevertheless had compassion on our wretchedness in which we were plunged, what shall we do?

Ought we not to have much more compassion for one another, because we find in ourselves that which we pardon in our neighbors? God can find no infirmity in Himself, and how then can He be moved to forgive us? Even because He is the fountain of goodness and mercy.

But when I see what grieves me in my neighbor, if I examine myself well, I shall find what is similar there, and much more so. Ought not all these things to lead me to show compassion, if I did not forget myself too much?

The way then to make it easy for us to forgive many faults and to bear with many vices that may displease us is to cast our eyes upon the inestimable love which God has borne us in the person of His Son.”

–John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1974), 483-485. Calvin’s sermon text is Ephesians 4:31-5:2.

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“Pardoning mercy” by Thomas Brooks

“Christ gives pardon of sin. And do you know what a mercy that is? Ask the troubled soul, ask the soul that knows what it is to lie under the wrath of the Almighty, and he will tell you that pardon of sin is a gift more worth than a thousand worlds.

Now that pardon of sin is a gift of God, you may see in Acts 5:31, ‘Him hath God exalted with His right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.’ (See also Acts 26:18). Ah, souls! of all mercies pardoning mercy is the most necessary mercy.

I may go to heaven without honours, and without riches, and without the smiles of creatures; but I can never go to heaven without pardoning mercy. A man may be great and graceless, he may be rich and miserable, he may be honourable and damnable, but he cannot be a pardoned soul, but he must be a very blessed soul (Ps. 32:1, 2).

It entitles souls to all blessedness, it puts the royal crown upon their heads. Of all mercies pardoning mercy is the most sweetening mercy; it is a choice jewel. It is a mercy that makes all other mercies to look like mercies, and taste like mercies, and work like mercies.

And the want of pardoning mercy takes off the glory and beauty of all a man’s mercies, and makes his life a very hell. Pardon of sin is a voluminous mercy, a mercy that has many, many precious mercies in the womb of it.

When you can number the sands of the sea, and tell the stars of heaven, then, and not till then, shall you be able to recount the mercies that attend pardoning mercy. He that has this mercy cannot be miserable, and he that wants it cannot be happy: get this and get all, miss this and miss all.

This is a gift conferred only upon Christ’s favourites: ‘Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee,’ (Matt. 9:2). No mercy will make a man everlastingly merry below pardoning mercy. He hath no reason to be sad that hath his pardon in his bosom, nor he hath no reason to be glad, who is upon the last step of the ladder, ready to be turned off without his pardon.”

–Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 3, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 106.

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