From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
History reveals that pardons have been given throughout time, and there are those who have actually refused a pardon. From the records of the U.S. Supreme Court comes such a story of defiance. In 1829, a man named Wilson was indicted for robbing the mail and endangering the life of a government mail carrier. Wilson was tried and sentenced to death. But President Andrew Jackson issued him a pardon. The man refused it and chose death by hanging rather than receive forgiveness.
The most profound pardon is what Jesus Christ has offered to humanity—a pardon of sin. Many refuse Him but Jesus stands ready to forgive and has paid the penalty for man’s crimes against Him. The Bible declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin (see Galatians 3:22). In the midst of all our sinning, though, God is willing to forgive us, and give us a new power to overcome that sin.
Chuck Colson, a former prisoner himself, had a tremendous ministry reaching prisoners with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people will be in Heaven whose lives have been transformed because of the message that penetrated hardened hearts. When inmates find themselves alone in their cells, the Gospel message can still continue to work in the human heart.
God’s great rescue mission brings freedom to those imprisoned, whether inside or outside prison bars. “Preach the gospel to the poor … [and] proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18).
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)