Jonah. Moses. Peter. Thomas. David. All received second chances.
Last week, we saw that most Americans (84%) believe that God offers second chances. Among Christians, the percentage is higher, and in some sub-groups is nearly 100%.
But when you drill farther down into why people think God gives second chances, the research shows widely varied answers. Some of the answers do not seem to be biblical.
Some respondents indicated that God would give a second chance if the person did good enough. Others said “if a person makes restitution,” while still others said God would extend a second chance if an offending person “promises not to make the same mistake.” A few said a person would have to endure some kind of punishment first, while still more said God would give a second chance if a person depends only on God.
In all, some 44 percent of respondents believe God’s offering of a second chance depends on some kind of human action. This does not seem to rely at all upon God’s grace. This view expects a person to be victorious in gaining God’s favor, and is not dependent upon His divine blessing. This does not negate the possibility of receiving a second chance according to God’s will, but we should not live as if second chances are automatic or dependent upon ourselves.
In a new small group study from Bible Studies for Life, Ben Mandrell takes us through the Book of Romans, showing us that the apostle Paul argued persuasively that Jesus Christ alone can cancel a person’s past. Through the blood of Jesus, new mercies are available each and every day.
The problem with trusting in one’s self to gain a second chance from God is that we cannot trust ourselves to get it right. Perhaps we should remember how often we do not fulfill the commitments we make the first time. How many times do we beat ourselves up over our mistakes? Why put extra pressure on ourselves to fix things? We shouldn’t.
God is gracious in His dealings with us, and, like all His works, a second chance is an act of grace. We may get a chance to get it right, but it is not dependent on our ability to get it right. It is completely unearned and undeserved.
The most scriptural response to a failure is to ask God to intervene to accomplish His will. Sometimes that will include us, and sometimes it may not. But God’s glory is more important than any second chance we may ever get.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life