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God of second chances?

The phrase “God of second chances” is one that I’ve been thinking a bit about lately. Is this really an accurate way to describe our God?

After all, accurately explaining God to others is very important. This is our job, bringing the Gospel to others; introducing people to God and what he has done for us. Even if one ultimately rejects God, we’ve done our job if they have an accurate understanding of God and his works. It’s when people reject a misrepresentation or caricature of God that we really fail.

This is what I wonder about with the term God of second chances; can it paint an incorrect picture of God?

A second chance is something you get when you fail at something but are then given the opportunity to succeed by trying again.

But is this really what God gives us?

Are we like the pardoned prisoner given another chance to be a good citizen and follow the laws from here on out?

In one way this is accurate, we are forgiven of all we’ve done like the pardoned man. But I think this is where the idea of a second chance breaks down.

We aren’t simply forgiven of past sins; we are forgiven of all sins past, present and future. Regarding our standing with God, we are supernaturally given the righteousness of Jesus so that when God the Father views us, he sees Jesus’ sinless life, not our sin-stained deeds. This is the great exchange that occurred at the cross.

If all God gave us was a second chance, we’d still be in a hopeless state. We’d as certainly fail the second time as the first; none of us can live lives which are completely righteous and honouring to God. We cannot live sinlessly, even if given the chance to start again.

For that, I am glad we don’t simply get a second chance; we are given so much more.

This doesn’t mean that this phrase is necessarily wrong, but maybe it’s one we need to be careful with; ensuring we aren’t leaving people with the impression that God is just giving them another shot at earning their way to heaven.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t heard that term in a while but I think you brought out a good point. The true nature of redemption. Due to our fallen state, if God only “wiped the slate clean” and left it at that, our slate would fill up again very quickly. That’s why God always cleans our slate. Just as God activly sustains the universe, He also sustains our salvation. Does this include sins that we do not ask forgivness for, lets say, sins you didn’t know you committed?

  • Justification does not demand us recalling and specifically asking for forgiveness for each and every sin we’ve committed. This would put salvation well out of our reach.

    We don’t need to know everything that we’ve done wrong, but we do need to understand that we have done wrong and that it is indeed sinful.

    Without necessarily making out an exhaustive list, we need to recognize and agree that Hell is the rightful and just consequence for the sinful acts we have committed and then put our complete trust in Jesus for deliverance from this rightful punishment. This is how we receive salvation.

    When we ask for forgiveness after becoming a Christian, it is a way to maintain and strengthen our relationship with God, not a way to maintain or otherwise add to our salvation.