Is there forgiveness for a great sinner?

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An unbelieving man had listened to a sermon. After the service he talked with the pastor. "Getting to heaven is a very simple matter if it's as you said in your sermon. You only have to believe and all your sins are forgiven," he said, belittling the pastor's sermon. "That's the way it is" replied the pastor and added: "The promise is for you too, just believe." The man promised that he would, as if in jest.

The following day the pastor met the man and asked: "Do you now believe?" The man looked serious. At home he had begun thinking about his promise. He had tried to believe, but could not. His sins had come to mind. He could not believe that God could forgive as great a sinner as he was. "I see now that believing is not such a simple matter", he confessed.

The pastor then began to tell him what the Bible says about Jesus. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). God has given His Son for sinners. His Son has suffered for our sins. God Himself loved us that much. He loves the whole world, each individual person. The world is full of great sinners. But God Himself assures us that He has given His Son for the sins of the whole world. We must not doubt Him. The Apostle John says: Jesus is "the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).

As the pastor spoke in this way, the man believed. On the basis of the Word of grace he found grace in the heart of God while his own heart accused him. We too can believe that our sins have been forgiven. No one is so great a sinner that he cannot be forgiven in the name and through the blood of Christ Jesus.