40. God's forgiveness can do nothing for us unless we accept it.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. {Acts 3:19}

But, I can hear you asking, if God has forgiven everyone, then what’s the problem? Why won’t everyone be saved? These are such important questions, and that’s why it’s crucial for us to understand that getting God to forgive us is not the obstacle to our salvation!

The broken relationship is the problem.

So while God’s forgiveness is boundless and unlimited, our acceptance of His forgiveness can be quite limited indeed. What this means is that God can forgive us all day long, but His forgiveness can’t do anything for us unless we accept it. Without our acceptance, His forgiveness has no power to heal the relationship.

As you know from all your human relationships, when a person has done something wrong to you, you have two options: you can hold a grudge against them, vowing to get even at the first opportunity, or you can forgive them for what they did and open yourself back up to the relationship.

But you cannot unilaterally repair the relationship with your forgiveness. If the other person hates you and doesn’t care if you’ve forgiven them or not, there isn’t much of a future for the relationship! Thus, even when you forgive another person, it won’t necessarily repair the damage that has been done. Only if the other person accepts your forgiveness can you then begin to heal the relationship.

God’s forgiveness will do nothing for us unless we accept it. But He has been very clear that He is not holding any grudges against us for anything we have done. He has already forgiven us, and if we’re willing to accept that, then He can begin the work of restoring our relationship.

If you want to dig deeper—
Numbers 14:18
Isaiah 1:18
Matthew 6:14-15
Mark 11:25
Acts 3:19
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
2 Corinthians 5:17