I just want to share a brief message of the Gospel (which means “good news” by the way), for any who have never heard or never come to Christ for salvation. When Christians speak of ‘salvation’ or use the terminology ‘being saved’ they are talking about the Bible’s teaching of how sinners (those who have transgressed the laws of God—and that’s all of us) can nevertheless become rightly related to God again—how we can have forgiveness of our sins. This is a very full and rich story (the whole Bible is about it), and it can be approached from many different passages of Scripture, but I want to approach it from the standpoint of our guilt.
When I was in seminary, one of our professors who had done a lot of ministry on college campuses told the story of one day out on a large secular campus when their team was having a hard time getting anybody to talk to them, that one of the team members just stood up on a bench in the quadrangle and said, “You know the problem with all of you guys is you’re all dealing with guilt.” At that point a crowd began to form. Why? Because it’s true. Guilt is something we all have to deal with. In many cases it includes the feeling of guilt, but whether we feel it or not does not change the fact of our guilt before God. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We all in ourselves stand condemned by God’s law which not only includes our actions, but even the thoughts and intents of our hearts. One of Christ’s most lengthy recorded sermons deals with the inner spiritual nature of sin and that it does not merely include the things that we do, but even how we think. Wow. Understanding that, we must all cry, “Woe is me!” So, how do we deal with guilt? There are basically three ways.
First, for those whose conscience has not been so seared that they don’t feel guilty anymore, many try to deal with guilt by ignoring it. They try to look around and say, “well everybody else acts this way, so it must be okay for me to act this way. I’m just as good as the next guy and a lot better than some people. God must be happy with me.”This is a dishonest way of dealing with guilt. It’s actually almost an attempt to go ahead and sear our consciences. But the Scripture says, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13). It takes a while for someone to be satisfied with this method of dealing with guilt, and if they can be satisfied with this, it frankly is a frightening condition to be in.
The most common method of dealing with guilt is for the one feeling guilty to try to find some way of working off the guilt. This is the religious method. It may seem strange for a preacher to tell you this, but religion is not the answer to guilt. The Bible talks about some people in this category when it says, “for they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3). You see the problem is that God’s law demands perfect obedience. Once you have disobeyed, you no longer qualify to earn your own way to heaven by perfect obedience, no matter how good you may try to be or even succeed in being the rest of the way out. (All the while remembering that obedience includes thoughts as well as actions). Once somebody understands what God really requires, they understand that any attempt for sinners to meet that standard themselves is hopeless, and an insult to God and His law is offered even in the attempt.
One could then cry out like the Lord’s disciples did on one occasion and say “who then can be saved?” The true path of salvation and God’s method of dealing with guilt and cleansing the sinner is found in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Very simply and briefly put, the Lord Jesus, the eternal second Person of the Triune God, took into union with Himself our nature and became incarnate in human flesh. He is described in Scripture as the Second Adam, or the Second Man (Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15). You see, our guilt didn’t just come about when we first did something wrong as a child (although we all did). We were born guilty (see Psalm 51, Romans 5, etc.). The sin of the first Adam was imputed to us because we were “in him.” It’s true that an inbred corruption followed this, and we all commit our own sins too, but in the legal sense we were all born guilty. We sinned in the person of our representative. Christ came to be another representative for those who would believe on Him. Christ’s work meets the sinner’s need with reference to the perfect law that we have broken. He took the penalty of the broken law by bearing our sins upon the cross. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). It is important to realize that Jesus was not just suffering the rejection of the Jews and the cross of the Romans (with all the humiliation and physical suffering that those really included), but He was actually suffering the wrath of God against our sins. “It pleased the Lord to bruise him” (Isaiah 53:10). “All we like sheep have gone astray… and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6). God punished Him instead of believers! But this is only half of the good news. The other part of the gospel is that Christ lived a life of obedience to God’s perfect law in our place too. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). He earned the reward of perfect obedience which is eternal life with God. These are the two sides of Christ’s work for believers. “For he hath made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). That, friends, is a real answer to guilt—coming to be “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6)! Believers are accepted “in Christ!” Just like when God looked at Christ on the cross and saw guilty believers and punished their sins in Him, when He looks on believers He sees the perfect righteousness of Christ and accepts them in Him. This is the good news, and the only answer to the problem of our guilt.
How then can you make it yours? The call of the Gospel is to repent of your sins and believe on the Lord Jesus. In repentance we recognize that we are sinners and that we cannot do anything to save ourselves. In faith, we accept the work of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way we can be reconciled to God. This is the only way to really deal with our guilt. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).
If we can help you more, please feel free to contact us. We also encourage you to come out and be under the preaching of the gospel. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). Thanks for reading.