In trying to find a way to engage unbelievers in a religious discussion, Christians have found an effective tool in the form of a question: “If you were to die today, and God were to ask you why He should allow you into heaven, what would you say?” That is an open ended question allowing a person to respond in a variety of ways. One person might say, “I should be allowed into heaven because I was baptized as a baby.” Another person might say, “I should be allowed into heaven because I am a good person. I have not broken any major commandments.” Someone else might say, “I am a church member. I am very devout.” Each of these responses allows further dialogue about the way of salvation as revealed in the Bible. That way is through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and His death at Calvary.
For the concerned Christian looking for another excellent question to engage a person in a religious discussion, another question might be asked. “What do you do with your guilt?” This question assumes that every person is guilty of something, and they know it, if they are honest. Dr. R. C. Sproul asked this question of one man who boldly asserted, ““I do not have any guilt. I am a good guy.” The arrogance of such a response is of course an extremely grave sin, for none is “good”, but God.
So what does a person do with their guilt? One way people deal with their guilt is to suppress it. They just do not think about what they are and what they have done wrong. The guilt remains.
Another person might try to shift the blame for the wrong they have done to someone else. This is what Adam did when confronted with his sin. He blamed God, and he blamed Eve. Said Adam to the Lord, “the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Gen. 3:12).
A third way individuals deal with guilt is to boldly and defiantly say, “So what? I am guilty but that is not my problem. I want what I want, and I want it now, and there is nothing you or God can do about it.” That is the current attitude of many careless and unrepentant practioners of the works of the flesh which are these: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).
Where God the Holy Spirit is working, there are individuals who are practicing, and manifesting the works of the flesh, and feel awful about so doing. Such people are not trying to suppress their guilt. Their sin is before them every hour of the day. They do not try to excuse the evil they do by shifting blame. Nor are they defiant. They are shackled by a heavy burden. They are loaded down with guilt and shame. But they do not know how to be different. Strong impulses in their soul lead them to sexual perversion, murder, lying, stealing, gambling, and countless other self-destructive, and other destructive behavior. What do they do with their guilt?
It is at this precise moment the Christian can offer the guilty soul what it desperately needs, and that is hope, and forgiveness. The Christian can guide the guilty person to go to Jesus Christ and ask for divine forgiveness, based on the understanding that Christ receives sinful individuals.
God can forgive sins of sinners because the redemptive work of His Son at Calvary brings propitiation and expiation.
Elaboration is needed. The prefix “ex” in expiation means, “from”, or “out of”. At Calvary Jesus took the sins of those for whom He died upon Himself, and removed them from the presence of the Lord. When the redemptive work of Christ is applied to the heart of a believing sinner, God removes sins. The heart of the redeemed can say, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Jesus Christ became the sin bearer for His own. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).
Calvary was the place of reconciliation between men and God. Calvary was the place where Christ died as a substitute for sinners. The concept of substitution was essential, and so was the shedding of Christ’s blood “for without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin” (Heb. 9:22).
The shedding of Christ’s blood at Calvary was the giving of His life because the initial penalty for sin was death. The divine penalty for sin is the life of the perpetrator. All sin is capital against God. The essential point of the death of Christ was His dying. The soul that sinneth must die. But, in grace, God was willing to accept a substitute to satisfy His wrath. That satisfaction is called propitiation. In the act of propitiation the justice of God is satisfied.
The soul winners message is that by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the wrath of God has been propitiated or satisfied, and the sins of the individuals are expiated, or removed. What a person can do with their guilt is to confess their sins to God, ask for His forgiveness, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be assured that the Father is satisfied, and sin has been removed.
Apart from faith in Christ, every soul remains under the curse of the law, and the wrath of God. Only the Christian can say with a clear conscience, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
Here then, is the soul-winner’s message. It is a message about mercy and grace. It is an explanation of expiation and propitiation whereby sins have been removed, and the justice of God has been satisfied. There is no need for guilt. There is condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.