DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I know God can do anything He wants to, which means that if He wanted to, He could even forgive me for all the bad things I’ve done. But I could never forgive myself. I know I’ve hurt a lot of people, and I feel so ashamed and guilty. Is there any hope for me?— L.W.
DEAR L.W.: The most important thing you need to know is that God not only could forgive you — but He wants to! He loves you and doesn’t want you to go through life carrying a burden of guilt and shame.
That’s why God has done everything possible to make your forgiveness a reality. Yes, you have sinned; you’ve sinned against others, and most of all you’ve sinned against God. We often downplay the seriousness of sin, but sin is serious, because it cuts us off from others and from God. And we all are guilty, whether we feel it or not. The Bible warns, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).
But God has provided the way for us to be forgiven — and that way is Jesus Christ. He was without sin, for He was God, but on the cross all our sins were placed on Him, and He took upon Himself the judgment you and I deserve. Now we can be forgiven — freely and fully — by putting our faith and trust in Him. Why not ask Him to forgive you today?
Then ask God to help you forgive yourself. You can’t forget what you’ve done, but if God has taken away your sins, why act as if they were still there? And if you need to ask others to forgive you, let them know you now belong to Christ, and you’re sorry for what you’ve done and you hope they’ll forgive you.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: A couple in my apartment complex says they know they’re going to go to heaven when they die. How can they say that? They seem like good people, but I think it’s arrogant for anyone to claim they’re good enough to get into heaven. — P. McN.
DEAR P. McN.: Many people, I’m afraid, hope that God will let them into heaven, since they’ve been honest and good and kind toward others. After all, they think, isn’t this what God expects of us?
But you may be surprised to learn that the Bible tells us otherwise. The Bible says God’s standard is nothing less than perfection — and who can claim to be perfect? In other words, if you had committed only one sin — just one — it would be enough to keep you out of heaven. God is absolutely pure and holy, and we’ll never be able to stand in His presence on our own. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This is why we need Christ, for only He can forgive us and cleanse us — and He will, as we turn in faith to Him.
And this, I suspect, is what your neighbors have discovered. They know they aren’t good enough to go to heaven on their own, and they have turned to Christ for the forgiveness and mercy they need.
And this can be true of you. God loves you, and He offers you the gift of eternal life right now — a gift paid for by His Son, Jesus Christ.
Why not reach out and accept that gift today, by inviting Christ to come into your life? The Bible’s promise is true: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I believe in God because I don’t think it’s logical to think this universe just happened. But where does Jesus fit into the picture? I apologize for asking what’s probably a simple question, but I didn’t grow up in a church-going family. — H.R.
DEAR H.R.: Don’t apologize; I’m thankful you want to learn about God! As I’ve often said, the person who’s in the greatest danger spiritually is the one who never thinks about God or wants anything to do with Him.
You’re right; it’s not logical to think that the universe just “happened.” Whether we look into the heavens through a telescope or examine a droplet of blood through a microscope, we see incredible beauty and complexity that could only come from the hand of an all-wise and all-powerful Creator. As the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
But looking only at the created world doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.
For example, it doesn’t tell us if God loves us and cares about us. Nor does it tell us how we ought to live. Most of all, it doesn’t tell us what we ought to do about the sense of sin and guilt we all feel in our hearts.
And this is why Jesus Christ came into the world. He was God in human form, and He came to demonstrate God’s love to us. He did this by giving His life for us, so we could be forgiven of our sins and go to be with Him in heaven forever. God will accept you just as you are, and you can begin your journey of faith by asking Christ to come into your heart today. Your life will never be the same.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-877-2-GRAHAM, or go to www.billygraham.org.