January 10

Acts 10:39-43

“All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” vs. 43

The book of Acts gives us a sense of the early Christian message through sermonic vignettes from Peter and Paul. In this one, from Peter, we learn that the chief gift available to believers was the forgiveness of sins through the name of Jesus. Most of us have no problem with Peter’s proclamation. Indeed, because we are sinners and regularly wander from holiness, it gives great consolation to know that God forgives, and that forgiveness is freely available through Jesus. At times however, church leaders have regarded forgiveness as their personal treasure and have used it as a lucrative money maker. Some of the old cathedrals of Europe were built with funds raised from the sale of indulgences, a church invented scheme to absolve people of all penalties for sin through the payment of a fee. Such distortions have been an embarrassment to the church and a huge stumbling block to the spread of the gospel. It really is absurd to believe that the precious forgiveness offered by Jesus to broken and wounded people could be monetized, and then withheld at the whim of pastors or priests. Forgiveness is offered to all as a free gift from God, and those who trust that good news receive its cleansing power. The only thing that keeps anyone from enjoying that peace is lack of faith. Those who cannot trust can never know peace!

Thought for the Day: How can unbelievers receive forgiveness?

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