DRAFT..... Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." ~Luke 23:34
What does that mean for a man or woman today? I think this is one of the most important quotes in all history, because it is one of the keys to understanding, in as much as it is possible, the “Grace of God”. In other words, His unmerited favor, extended to His broken children, in love, so that they can spend eternity with Him, without actually having to DO ANYTHING to deserve it.
When I look at my own life, from child hood until now, I think my standing before God was as follows:
Stage 1 – Conception until pre-teens: Unaccountable and loved
I was not at an age of reason to the point that I understood what is sin, and that I am accountable for my thoughts and actions inasmuch as it relates to God’s justice
Stage 2 – Circa 13yo until 28yo: Guilty, ignorant and loved
This stage was the period immediately following me coming of age and being accountable for my sin, being aware of the existence of God (although I denied it in my atheistic delusion), but not understanding the significance of these things. Just like the Roman soldier that crucified Christ, and of who He said “They know not what they do”, God wanted to forgive me, but that was only possible if His mercy was accompanied by the requirement that His judgement also be satisfied. A spiritual balancing act of sorts.
Stage 3 Circa 28.4yo to 28.7yo – Guilty, convicted and loved
This is when I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, understood to some extent its significance, and new that I had to make a choice to accept or reject His offer to pay the price for my sin, or reject it. In this time I realised that there was NOTHING I could do to earn my way into Heaven, and that religion, good works, charitable donation, sacrificial service and other warm and fuzzy feeling activities, although pleasing to God and man, counted for nothing as far as eternal life was concerned. This is when I realized that if it were possible for me to earn my way into Heaven, then Jesus would not have had to die for my sins, and that to think I was deserving of Heaven, was to rub salt into His wounds.
Stage 4 28.7yo to present- Redeemed, assured and loved
This stage began when I was “saved” by God’s free gift of faith, I did nothing other than to trust Him and believe what He said.