One of the points I made at reTHINK this past September was how the Bible supernaturally changes lives. I said that when people follow biblical teaching consistently, something radical and amazing happens: People are transformed, and this impacts them and those around them.
As I prepared to make this point in the weeks leading up to reTHINK, I learned about the story of Rachael Denhollander. She pursued a career in gymnastics as a young girl but, due to injury, needed to seek the help of a physician. Unfortunately, this led her to Larry Nassar, a doctor who was a sexual predator. Instead of helping and healing Rachael, this man sexually abused her. After Rachael reported the incident, another 250 girls eventually came forward and reported being abused by this same doctor.
But here’s the amazing part. Nassar was convicted of his crimes and sentenced to 175 years in prison. Just before his sentencing, his victims were given an opportunity to make a statement. Rachael Denhollander gave an amazing speech. I want to highlight something she said directly to him in the courtroom.
In our early hearings, you brought your Bible into the courtroom, and you have spoken of praying for forgiveness. And so it is on that basis that I appeal to you. If you have read the Bible you carry, you know that the definition of sacrificial love portrayed is of God Himself loving so sacrificially that He gave up everything to pay a penalty for the sin He did not commit. By His grace, I, too, choose to love this way.
You spoke of praying for forgiveness. But Larry, if you have read the Bible you carry, you know forgiveness does not come from doing good things, as if good deeds can erase what you have done. It comes from repentance, which requires facing and acknowledging the truth about what you have done in all of its utter depravity and horror, without mitigation, without excuse, without acting as if good deeds can erase what you have seen in this courtroom today.
The Bible you carry says it is better for a millstone to be thrown around your neck and you thrown into a lake than for you to make even one child stumble. And you have damaged hundreds.
The Bible you speak carries a final judgment where all of God’s wrath and His eternal terror is poured out on men like you. Should you ever reach the point of truly facing what you have done, the guilt will be crushing. And that is what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet. Because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found. And it will be there for you.
I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so that you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me—though I extend that to you as well.
Did you catch that? After being abused for years and scarred for life, she looks this sexual predator in the eye and says, “I forgive you.” How in the world does that happen? The answer is, it doesn’t. It’s other-worldly. Only through what she learned through Scripture and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit could someone who’s been hurt so deeply be able to offer such grace and forgiveness to a man who’s committed such horrific crimes against her. That’s one example of how we know the Bible supernaturally changes lives.