In 1829, George Wilson and James Porter were convicted of robbing the United States mail and putting the driver’s life in jeopardy. They were sentenced to death by hanging.
Three weeks before the time set for Wilson’s execution, he was pardoned by President Andrew Jackson. Strangely enough, Wilson refused pardon. The case went before the Supreme Court and the court finally handed down its decision: “A pardon is a deed, to the validity of which delivery is essential, and delivery is not complete without acceptance. It may then be rejected to the person to whom it is tendered; and if it is rejected we have discovered no power in this court to force it upon him.”
Most people agree that Wilson acted foolishly by refusing to accept the pardon. Surely he should have wanted to live, but he refused.
Yet, many of these same people daily reject the pardon that God has provided for everyone. It is a pardon that gives man the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven.
Because God is just, he cannot save man in his sin. But because God is merciful, his Son died on the cross for mankind’s sin. Yet, unless one accepts the pardon, they remain condemned.
This idea of having to accept the pardon God offers seems foreign to some. They believe that no matter what, God will save them. How tragic that they have not taken the time to study God’s word, so that they can know God demands obedience.
In the Old Testament, the need for obedience is seen time and time again. In the account of the universal flood, if God will save everyone no matter what, why did all but eight souls perish?
Surely if God will save everyone who just thinks they are saved, humanity, except for Noah’s family, would not have been killed (Gen. 6-8).
Then there were the two sons of Aaron. They offered fire that was not authorized.
“Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fi e from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1, 2).
Why were they killed if everyone is alright? The reason is that God has always had laws that are not to be violated.
In the New Testament, both John the Immerser and Jesus called for the people to repent and come back to God. How could they come back to someone if they had never left?
Later in the book of Galatians, Paul told that God gave the Law of Moses because of the sins of the people (Gal. 3:1).
In the same book, the apostle told of how the people had removed themselves from the true teaching of God (Gal. 1:6-9), then later gave a list of sins which will cause one to miss heaven (Gal. 5:19).
Wilson’s case is strange, but he acted foolishly.
What about you? Have you accepted the pardon God offers by believing in Christ, repenting of your sins, confessing his name before men and being baptized for the remission of your sins?
If you have not, you need to think about what Wilson did, for you are doing the same thing. Accept the pardon offered by God. Obey the gospel.
If you are a child of God who has sin in your life, repent of those things and ask for God’s forgiveness. God loves all men, but men must be obedient to his word.