Sinning against Almighty God incurs a debt too great to repay on our own. Today, R.C. Sproul communicates the need for the atoning work of Christ on the cross to save us from the eternal damnation that we deserve.
I mean, how about this: You go into a store, and you buy something, and you pay too much for it and you know it. On impulse, you go and buy something that costs $5,000, and you only have $500. So, every month, that bill keeps coming in harder and harder, and more reminders, and the bill collector’s going to come knocking at your door. Wouldn’t it be nice to say: “I don’t owe you guys anything. I don’t believe I bought a car from you. I don’t believe that I owe you $4,800.” So: “I can’t pay the debt, and the only way I can get out of this debt is to deny it.” That doesn’t work, so then you say: “I’m not the guy that bought that car. It was my next door neighbor that bought that car. Send the bill to him.” You try to transfer it. That doesn’t work because all the records are there. All the evidence is there that, in fact, you signed that agreement. You entered into that contract, and now you’re not paying the price.
Now, how would you feel if one day you got that bill, and it was written across, “Paid in full”? That’s just a lousy burden of $5,000; we’re talking about a burden of five zillion years’ worth of hell and then some. We’re talking about an indebtedness not to a bill collector, not to an automobile agency, but to God Almighty. That’s of eternal significance. And when that bill keeps coming to your door, you know, that’s going to get you mad after a while.
If God would make His life exposed and vulnerable to your hands, He would not be safe for five seconds. You can just get rid of Him: “We can get rid of the God.” You can’t. You can try—a lot of people do. You can get rid of the law. You can’t—a lot of people try. You can get rid of the sin—a lot of them have tried that and nobody’s made it. Or you can get rid of the guilt. There is a way to get rid of their guilt; it’s what the gospel’s all about.
Listen to how Paul expresses it here: “Having canceled out the certificate of debt, consisting of decrees against us, and which was hostile to us” (Col. 2:14). You think you’re mad at God. God’s law is hostile to you because you’re a lawbreaker. And the imagery here is the imagery really of a covenant contract that’s signed and sealed. There is a decree that’s hostile to you, that names you as the guilty party. And Paul’s image here is that God takes that decree and nails it to the cross of Christ. And you died on that cross in Christ.
People have said to me a million times, Why am I a Christian? Why will I fight for doctrines of the faith like the atonement of Christ? You take away the atonement of Jesus Christ, you take away my life! We’re not talking about abstract theology. But don’t mess with the cross, because on that cross is the reality basis for your forgiveness, and for your freedom, and for your peace as a human being, because without that cross, you have no ultimate basis for relief from the reality of your guilt. And I can argue at this point, not merely theoretically, but from experience.
When I came to Christ, when I became a Christian, the experience was not one of majesty, and beauty, and lights going on. The emotional experience I had was very simple: it was an experience of forgiveness. I knew I was clean. I knew I had cried out to God to forgive me, and He did.