I wanted to write a pastoral letter of sorts to Donald Trump regarding comments after being asked by Frank Luntz at the FAMiLY Leadership Summit on Saturday whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness. I am not so arrogant to think that he will read this, I hope that he will, but I also hope that others reading this letter will benefit as well.
Dear Mr. Trump,
Whether one has asked God for forgiveness is not a difficult question. It is black or white, either you have or haven’t. It may require one to give a difficult answer and that is something you provided. Admitting that you haven’t asked God for forgiveness to a group of largely evangelicals was a brave thing to do.
I am not disappointed, angry or even surprised. I appreciate your honesty.
Whether or not that answer disqualifies you to be President, I’ll leave for individual voters to decide. To me there are more important matters than who wins the White House.
I was confronted with this question myself once in basic training, and then again as a college student at Drake University. Both times I concluded I needed God’s forgiveness, on the second occasion I was ready to receive it.
You see Mr. Trump we all need forgiveness. Our offenses may differ in number and perceived severity, but as we stand before a holy and just God none of us measure up. The natural reaction is that we try to balance the ledger so to speak with doing good things. You mentioned going to church and making things right, and those are not bad things.
They in themselves will not pay for our sin and satisfy God’s justice. Our human activity can never make up for our sin.
The Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). There is no one walking this planet that truth doesn’t apply to. The book of Isaiah tells us that “our sin separates us from God,” (Isaiah 59:2). What we earn from our works as we try to work to earn God’s forgiveness? Death. “For the wages of sin is death,” the Apostle Paul rights in Romans. All of our work, without God’s forgiveness, will just earn us death. We simply can’t pay for our own sin even if we have billions of dollars. Those wages is paid in eternity – eternal death as we are eternal beings. The penalty for sin is death.
Fortunately, the good news is that we don’t have to pay for our sin. That verse in Romans I just shared is only the first half. Yes “the wages of sin is death,” but there’s more. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Romans 6:23).
You see, Mr. Trump, the Bible tells us that God loved the world so much that He sent His one and only Son that who ever believes in Jesus, the Son of God, shall not perish (meaning shall not experience eternal death), but have eternal life, (John 3:16).
Mr. Trump, Jesus Christ came to earth in the form of man, but being fully God lived a sinless life on earth, and since Jesus was without sin (and the only One who has walked this earth without sin) He could fully pay the penalty for our sin. Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sin and my sin, and He did so willingly because He loves us and He wants a relationship with us. It’s just that our sin is getting in the way of that. After dying Jesus rose from the grave as a conquering King over sin and death.
So we can have forgiveness Mr. Trump, Jesus paid the price so we can, and it is free. It’s the best deal you’ll ever make.
The Bible says all we have to do is confess. The Bible tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9, ESV). He wants us to ask. As we confess our sin we need to repent, that just means to turn around, turn around from your sin and turn to Jesus. We then receive Him by faith as our Lord and Savior believing that Jesus died and rose again for our sin. The Bible says it this way, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
It is my prayer and hope that you do just that. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and that account may come due. There is more to this life than accumulating wealth and power. You yourself said that you’ve noticed people are happy when they have a great family. You also must realize that the wealth and power you accumulate on earth, you can’t take it with you. I’m reminded of a story Jesus told in the Gospel of Luke.
“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God,” (Luke 12:16-20, ESV).
At the end of this earthly life Mr Trump “being rich toward God” is all that really matters.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I know I needed to hear it several times before God opened my eyes to the truth of my condition.
If you (or anyone else) have questions about this I can be reached at shane(at)caffeinatedthoughts.com.
Shane Vander Hart
Mr. Trump’s comments about forgiveness can be watched here or below: