“Thou art a God ready to pardon” (Nehemiah 9:17).
An item in the May 2, 1985, Kansas City Times reminds us of a story you may be able to use in an evangelistic message. The item had to do with the attempt by some fans of O. Henry, the short-story writer, to get a pardon for their hero, who was convicted in 1898 of embezzling $784.08 from the bank where he was employed. But O. Henry had died in 1910, 75 years before this attempt to get a pardon for him, you cannot give a pardon to a dead man. A pardon can only be given to someone who can accept it.
Here’s a different story illustrating a similar point. Back in 1830 George Wilson was convicted of robbing the U.S. Mail and was sentenced to hang. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall, who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. “A pardon is a slip of paper,” wrote Marshall, “the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.”
For some, the pardon comes too late. For others, the pardon is not accepted. God is ready and able to pardon you now! “For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).