Condemnation is the inexorable result of a guilty conscience. A sinner in the grip of guilt knows and feels the vast, impossible Grand Canyon between himself and the goodness of God and the goodness he was made for. In other words, condemnation underlines one reality — the reality of sinners before a just and holy God. And therefore sinners apart from the miracle of God’s saving grace can only hear condemnation. And this is true condemnation. And so when we preach against sin, all the guilty conscience can hear is judgment and guilt, and the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the preacher, the Christian is demanding that you walk that wire across the Grand Canyon, and everything inside you screams against this thought.
The problem is that when Christians talk about the problem of sin, the reality of what it means to be guilty before God, the condemnation that holds the world captive, we actually do not mean to coax you onto a wire to cross the Grand Canyon. We do not mean for you to try harder, to be better. This is precisely what the Christian gospel is not. The call to repentance is not more condemnation. The call to repentance is always accompanied by the good news that that Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, the Kingdom of Heaven is near, the Kingdom of Heaven is here. The Kingdom of Heaven is not a kingdom of works righteousness. The Kingdom of Heaven is not a game of bureaucratic chutes and corporate ladders amped up on angelic steroids unto ages of ages, amen. The Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom of Grace. The Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom of God’s Lovingkindness.
And so John and Jesus or another one of the apostles says that the Kingdom is near, so repent, and the point is that you can repent. You can chance. Because Grace is here. Right here. Right now. The condemnation of guilt feels like impossibility, feels like Grand Canyons of distance between you and goodness, between where you are now and where you want to be. And that is true from one stand point. But there is another stand point, and that is the stand point of Jesus our Savior, Jesus our Hero. Grace is not another way for you to try to undo the effects of your sin. Grace is not a different way for you to dig out of the hole you have dug. Grace is not you finding a couple of bars that you might be able to slide through.
Grace is Jesus unlocking the dungeon and letting you go free. Grace is the offer of Jesus to take the guilt for you, to take the condemnation for you, to bear the awful distance for you, to be faithful for you, and for Him to carry you home to His Father.
In the grip of sin, in the grip of guilt, it feels impossible. It feels like millions of miles between you and goodness, between you and relief, but the gospel is the good news that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, it’s near, it’s here. Repent for grace is at hand. You can turn to Him now. You can give Him your sin now, and in an instant, in a blink of an eye, it will be gone forever and you will be free. It can’t be that simple. Isn’t that cheap grace? No, not hardly. Jesus paid the infinite value of His life for this grace. There’s nothing cheap about it. Whatever you have done, whatever ditch you have fallen into yet again, why not tell Jesus that He needs to do it for you? Why not tell Jesus that you can’t cross the canyon and there is no other way but grace? Ask Him to take away your sin and guilt and all the condemnation that you feel.
As a minister of the gospel of Jesus, I am fully authorized to promise you that if you do ask, you will receive, if you knock, the door will be opened to you. The grace you need for the tangled mess that you are in is right here, right there next to you. Jesus is here with us.
So repent, Grace is at hand.