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Nelson Mandela: a Figure of Faith                                                      

May 27, 2024 | Blog

Nelson Mandela was an amazing man. I want to honor him and recognize that he really tapped into a principle in God. You may not remember the events that took place in South Africa under the apartheid government from 1948 to 1994. These years saw tremendous civil unrest, and everyone was concerned about the bloodbath that was ready to take place. But Mandela literally performed a miracle because he stopped the bloodbath from happening by tapping into a principle of God in this idea of forgiveness. It is fantastic to realize how one man could accomplish so much. Somehow during his twenty-seven years of imprisonment, he got a revelation of forgiveness, and it changed his life. This forgiveness became the foundation of who and what Nelson Mandela was all about.

Prior to being arrested, Mandela was almost a terrorist in his attacks against the apartheid government. Then somehow in prison this angry young man got ahold of probably the greatest revelation there is about God: the revelation of forgiveness. As a result, one man was able to change the direction of a nation by receiving this revelation of forgiveness and inculcating it into his own being. Yet nothing about forgiveness changed what happened. Mandela still had to live with the results of apartheid. His years in prison and all the blood that had been spilled was not reversed. His forgiveness did not resurrect those who were killed through the process of apartheid. Forgiveness does not reverse the event; it is our repentance that reverses what has been done. It is impossible to do this in our human nature, but God is baiting us to press into Him.

We must understand how intense and ferocious God is in His Spirit to bring forgiveness. Everything God did in Christ was about forgiveness. In the Greek, aphiémi, which is often translated as “forgive,” means to remove the guilt that is resulting from the wrongdoing. Forgiveness itself is the power, the authority to remove from a person the guilt of having committed those acts. When God forgives us, He pulls off of us the guilt for what we did. When God forgives, He forgets. That is the forgiveness we saw from Mandela.

In so doing, Mandela took upon himself God’s divine nature. And it is a provision for us. God has granted to us “His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).[1] God wants us to take on His nature. So He puts us between this rock and a hard place and says, “If you’re going to be effective in your prayer, if you’re going to lay hands on the sick and expect them to recover, then you will have to know forgiveness.” We are going to have to forgive. To man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Again we have such an illustration through Nelson Mandela and what happened in South Africa. Mandela should be a figure of faith for us. If he could change the course of his nation as one man, what could the Body of Christ do if we had this same revelation of forgiveness? As sons of God, we are here to bind satan and see the Kingdom of God manifest in this earth. We are to change the history of all the nations in our lifetime. And we have such a great example in Mandela. So Father, we move into Your nature of forgiveness that is able to absolutely forgive and forget.

[1] All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).


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