How Americans Think About God and Second Chances

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

2 comments on “How Americans Think About God and Second Chances

  1. […] This week on his blog, Bible Studies For Life General Editor Dr. Ronnie Floyd continues to reflect on how Americans think about God and second chances. While 84% believe that God gives second chances, it’s fascinating to see the kinds of conditions they perceive God places upon those second chances. Is a do-over only offered if the person does “good enough?” Or if we promise not to make the same mistake again? Does God require second-chance-requesters to endure some kind of punishment first? Drill down into the research and you find that nearly half of those who believe God gives second chances believe that it depends on some action on our part first. Is this biblical? Read more […]

  2. […] Is salvation a gift you can give yourself? And if not (hint: it’s not!), why not? Today, we return to a previous blog post from Dr. Ronnie Floyd, as he continues to ponder God, second chances, and why second chances don’t come just because we’re “good enough.” Read more…   […]

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