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It’s His Job to Forgive!

Ancient paganism thought of each god as bound to his worshippers by self-interest because he depended on their service and gifts for his welfare. Modern paganism has at the back of its mind a similar feeling that God is somehow obligated to love and help us, even though we don’t deserve it. This was the feeling voiced by the French freethinker who died muttering, “God will forgive—that’s his job.” But this feeling is not well founded. The God of the Bible does not depend on his human creatures for his well-being (see Ps. 50:8-13; Acts 17:25), nor, now that we have sinned, is he bound to show us favor. We can only claim from his justice—and justice, for us, means certain condemnation.

God does not owe it to anyone to stop justice from taking its course. He is not obligated to pity and pardon; if he does so it is an act done, as we say, “of his own free will,” and nobody forces his hand. “It depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy” (Rom. 9:16). Grace is free because it is self-originated and proceeds from the One who was free not to be gracious. Only when one realizes that what decides each man’s destiny is whether or not God resolves to save him from his sins, and that this is a decision which God need not make in any single case, can one begin to grasp the biblical view of grace.

Your Father Loves You by James Packer, (Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986), page for May 4