Luke 23:34, "Then
said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted
his raiment, and cast lots."
This morning, I boldly declare that no other person has this authority (including Stephen). No man can say we are forgiven because of who we are. All we can do is pray that our sins are forgiven, but that prayer again MUST go through our Mediator to even be heard in glory. Without Him, we are but as the flower of the field that fadeth away. When we fall into error and transgression, the only hope for righting our ship is for the Lord to direct our paths. Therefore, again, Christ was and is the only One that can speak and declare such. Now, let us again examine Stephen.
His statement is one born out of hope in his Lord. "Lay not this sin to their charge." When we have acquaintances that we like who walk in ways in which they should not, our prayer (out of our love for them) is that their transgressions are not laid to their charge. We also pray that for ourselves that our faltering is not put on our slate. It is the hope of every child of grace that their sins were covered by the sacrifice of Christ. So, if we are His, our sins are not laid to our charge. Christ drank the ENTIRE cup of the bitter water for His bride. (Numbers 5) He did not shoulder part of the load and leave the rest to us. He drank it all, and our sins are not charged to us, but they are removed from us so far that the Lord remembers them no more.
This is why non-Primitive Baptists many times want a Primitive Baptist minister to preach the funeral of one of their non-religious relations. They may have never come to church, been baptized, professed their Lord and Saviour, but still given evidences of a changed heart. There is only one doctrine that I know of that could offer a grieving family member any consolation during that time, and that message is grace, grace, grace, and that not of ourselves. Therefore, our Lord beseeches the Father to forgive us, and we hope that our sins and the ones of others are not laid to our charge.