Sermon 964. The Essence Of The Gospel
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, DECEMBER 4, 1870,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"He that believes on Him is not condemned. But he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in thename of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18.
I MAY have preached from this text before. I may have done so several times. If I have not, I ought to have. It is the wholeBible in miniature. We may say of it so many words, so many volumes, for every single syllable here is charged to the fullwith meaning. We may read it, and re-read it, and continue still to read it day and night, yet ever find some fresh instructionin it. It is the essence of the Gospel. The good news in brief. When our Lord Jesus Christ shall come a second time, beforeHim shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd divides the sheep from thegoats.
That will not, however, be the first time in which the Presence of the Lord Jesus has acted as a separator. It is always sowherever He comes. Men are as one body in their fallen condition-all alike estranged from God until He appears. But His comingfinds out the chosen and calls them apart, and on the other hand, the unbelievers are discovered. Two camps are formed outof the once-mingled multitude. Each goes to each, each one after its own kind finds its fellows, and between the two fellowshipsthere is a deep gulf which divides them as clearly as light is distinct from the darkness, or death is divided from life.
Other distinctions sink into insignificance in the Presence of Jesus-riches or wealth, learning or ignorance, power or weakness-arematters of too small account to divide mankind in the Presence of the great Discerner of spirits. Only these two characters-Believersand unbelievers-stand out in clear relief. As it is in our text, so is it as a matter of fact in the entire universe-the onlytwo really vital distinctions for time and for eternity are just these-Believers and Unbelievers, receivers of Christ andrejecters of Him.
Furthermore, as today the Presence of Christ divides the masses, and gathers men into assorted companies, so also does thatPresence ensure a present judgment. It is written that He shall say to them on His right hand, "Come, you blessed," and tothose on His left, "Depart, you cursed." And even so at this moment His Presence, with equal certainty, produces a judging.For here in the text we find Believers not condemned, or in other words, acquitted, and we find Unbelievers condemned already.
The, "Come, you blessed," is anticipated in the non-condemnation, and the, "Depart, you cursed," is, as it were, already heardin the verdict, "Condemned already." I charge you, therefore, this morning, while the Word is preached in your hearing, toremember that a clear and all-important division will be worked while this sermon is being delivered. This day the Son ofDavid holds His Throne, and in this house He sits in judgment. In the preaching of the Gospel at this moment His majesticvoice divides the sinners from the saints, and if sensitive to His Presence, we shall either tremble or rejoice.
God grant that while this division shall go on, as it must go on, for He will be this day a savor of death unto death or alife unto life to every one of our souls, we may all be found among Believers, and none of us shut out as condemned alreadyby being Unbelievers.
I. I shall ask you, this morning, first, to CONSIDER TO WHICH OF THE TWO CLASSES MENTIONED IN THE TEXT WE BELONG. "He thatbelieves on Him is not condemned." Have we a share in that character? Let us see to it. What is meant by believing on Him,or rather in Him, for the word "eis" is rather in Him than on Him. If I mistake not, the word, "believes in Him," means agreat deal more than most of us have seen in it.
I think I see many shades of believing. There are some who believe concerning Christ, that is to say, they believe that Heis the Messiah and is the Savior of men. Many accept this for a Truth of God because their fathers did so, and it is to
them a matter of unquestioned tradition. They are born in what is commonly thought to be a Christian country, and thereforehave they taken up with the Christian faith, and theoretically and notionally they believe that Jesus is the Son of God andthe Redeemer of the world. They would not hesitate to stand up and say, "I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,who was begotten of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried,"and so on.
But remember, you may believe all that is orthodox concerning the Lord Jesus, and yet it will be no token that you are justifiedin Him. No one may dare to say that a belief in the Athanasian creed will ensure us of salvation. If you reject His Deity,if you deny His Atonement, such errors will be conclusive evidence that you are not a believer in Him, because you are nota believer of the Truth of God concerning Him. Therefore you must take your place among unbelievers, who are condemned already.
But on the other hand, if you hold the Scriptural Truth, and believe accurately concerning the Lord Jesus, yet if you go nofurther, your mere faith about Him, or concerning Him, will not bring you salvation. To know Christ is of no avail, unlessit can be said, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you."
It is a step further when we have come to believing Him. This is sometimes mentioned in Scripture-believing Him. "I know whomI have believed." Believing concerning Him that He is God's Christ, His Anointed, His Sent One, His Messiah, we thereforeshould, as a matter of course, accept whatever He says as being true. And if with our hearts we do this, I think we are saved.But we may think we do this and notionally may give our assent to His teaching, and yet, notwithstanding, we may not haveattained unto His salvation. We may still be condemned Unbelievers, though we may think, and say, and profess that we believeHim.
Frequently in Scripture there is another form of the believing which clusters about the Greek word, "epi," believing uponHim. Our translators seem to have placed the word "on" here as though it were in our text, but it is hardly so in the Greek.There is a difference between believing on Him and believing in Him. To believe on Jesus is, indeed, a saving faith, for Hethat believes on Him shall not be confounded. To believe on Him is, as it were, to lean upon Him, to receive Him as God hasset Him forth, and, in consequence, to make Him the foundation of our hope.
Believing concerning Him, and believing Him, we then come to repose upon Him, and to make Him our confidence. We believe thatHe can save us, we trust in Him to save us, and this is the essence of saving faith-to believe upon the appointed Redeemer.But in this particular case our text speaks of believing in Him, and this is something more than believing upon Him. Everyman who really believes upon Christ will before long come to believe in Him. But there is a growth-believing in Him is morethan believing upon Him.
How is that? If I thoroughly believe in a man, what is the result of it? Is he an advocate, and am I immersed in law? ThenI trust my case to him-I leave the affair in his hands without fear-for I believe in my advocate. Very good. So far that maybe believing upon him. But now he gives me directions and rules of action. If I believe in him I shall certainly follow thoserules to the letter, being fully convinced that they will lead me to a right issue. I commit the matter practically as wellas theoretically to the man whom I have chosen to represent me, and I do so cheerfully, for I believe in him.
I am like a man on board a vessel-I believe in him who is the captain. What then? If he bids me do this, or that, or the other,I may hear someone call his orders foolish, but I believe in him, and I do, at once, whatever he bids me. His bidding mayappear absurd to one who has no faith in him, but to me it is wise and right. Suppose there should be raised up at this juncturefor poor unhappy France, a man of high military genius, a man who shall be capable with such material as may come to handto meet the terrible foe, and to disperse the cloud which now hangs over the capital city.
If the people shall believe in the man, what then? Why they will surrender the direction of affairs to him. They will implicitlyfollow his lead. Does he command a sortie, does he bid the army advance? They believe in him, and the sortie is made, andthe troops advance gallantly to the conflict. Should he counsel delay, and the avoidance of a great battle, those who believein him will entrench themselves, or retire before the foe.
If they are absolutely sure in their hearts that he is the man who guarantees victory, they will be certain to obey his orders.He will be their oracle, their dictator, and that most joyfully on their parts. So that to believe in our Lord means this-thatI believe Him to be the Son of God, and believe all other Truths of God concerning Him. That I also believe whatever He saysto be the Truth of God. In other words, I believe Him. Yet more than this, I cast my soul upon His atoning merits that Hemay save it, and so believe upon Him.
And furthermore, having so done I give myself up entirely to the Savior's holy guidance. I believe Him to be infallible asthe director of my spirit. I feel a union with Him. I come to be in Him-His cause is my cause, my cause His cause-I believein Him. Now this is the Man of whom the text says, "He that believes in Him is not condemned," and the question I put thismorning to myself and to you is, Have we believed in Jesus? Do we really take Him to be our All in All? Do we consent thatHe should guide and lead us till He brings us to eternal felicity?
The connection of our text will help us to form a judgment as to whether we are, indeed, Believers in Jesus. Brothers andSisters, have you realized, by a true exercise of faith, what is meant by the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of the presentchapter? "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever believesin Him should not perish, but have eternal life." As the serpent-bitten Israelite looked to the bronze serpent when it wasuplifted, have you, in the same way, looked to Jesus and found healing through looking to Him?
By this you may judge yourselves. Have you been healed of the wounds of sin and quickened into a new and heavenly life? Haveyou in very deed made the crucified Savior your soul's resting place? In the verses which follow the text, you find such wordsas these, "He that does the truth comes to the light." Do you, my Brethren, as the result of having trusted in Christ cometo the light? Is it your desire to know God's Truth, God's will, God's Law, God's Word? Are you seeking after the light, andare you desirous that the works worked in you should be seen to be the fruit of God's own Spirit? By this, also, can you judgeyourself?
It is vain to say, "I trust in Christ," if you have never looked to Him with that same childlike look with which the Israelitelooked to the bronze serpent-and equally vain for you to profess to be a believer in Him, unless you desire the light. Youmay be in partial darkness still, as doubtless you are, but are you seeking more light, seeking God, seeking Truth, seekingright? By this shall you know whether the Father has begotten you unto a new birth, whether you are to a certainty a new man,no longer a light-shunner but a light-seeker. No longer, because your deeds are evil, seeking to conceal yourself from theconvicting Word of God, but because your deeds are truthful, seeking to receive more light, that your works may be made manifestto your own conscience as being truly worked of God in your soul.
The consideration which I proposed just now has to be taken up with regard to the second class. Are we Unbelievers? It isto be feared that there are some such here. If that is so, it may be of some service to them to know where they are, and whatthey are. "He that believes not is condemned already." Some of you here are very inconsistent, because though you believenot in Christ Jesus, that is to say, do not trust your souls with Him, nor give yourselves up obediently to serve Him, yetyou believe concerning Him that He is the Christ of God.
And if He were here today and spoke to you, you would believe His Words, though I cannot say you would so believe them asto act upon them. It is so very strange that you should believe Him to be the Son of God and yet should not trust Him! Youbelieve what He speaks is true, and after He has warned you of the wrath to come you still sit down in stolid indifferenceand do not seek the salvation which He provides. Instead of looking to the bronze serpent, you act as the Israelites wouldhave done had they sought out another remedy.
You have not believed in Christ, but if you have any belief that you need a Savior, I suppose your own common reason makesyou seek one. You are evidently, therefore, seeking another salvation than that which God provides. You are refusing whatGod has ordained, that you may find something of your own. There is but one Savior-that Savior this day you will not trustin-you are refusing Him to your own destruction. You are this day shutting your eyes to the one only Light, and though youhave some desire towards light at times, yet you love darkness rather than light, and still continue as you were-dark, dark,dark-for you do not like to be reproved.
You cannot bear that the Gospel should come too cuttingly home to touch you in your conscience and rebuke you for your sins.To this day you remain an Unbeliever and a lover of the darkness. Search, I pray you, and look! While this heart which nowaddresses you will pity you, I trust God's heart may pity you, too, and may you yet escape out of the condition of the Unbeliever,and yet be numbered with the Believers in Christ.
Thus much on our first point, which I leave to your earnest self-examination, hoping that it may not be treated lightly.
II. Now, secondly, and for a very short time, let us CONSIDER THE CONDITION OF THE BELIEVER. "He that
believes on Him is not condemned." What a joyful sentence is this! Provided you have ascertained that you do believe in
Jesus, turn this sweet word over and over in your souls, my Brethren. Is it not delightful to think that you have it fromGod's own mouth by inspiration, and to note that the inspiration is of a remarkable kind, for you have it not only by theSpirit of God, but you have from Jesus Christ Himself the sweet assurance that you are not condemned!
What joy, what peace this Word should speak unto your soul! Let me show you for a minute how the Believer escapes condemnation."He that believes on Him is not condemned." One reason is because he does not offer himself for judgment. He that believesin Christ does not present himself to be tried. He says, "No, my Lord, I have no argument with You, I plead guilty, I confessthe condemnation. There is no need of trial. You are justified when You speak, and clear when You condemn." There sits theJudge, and the prisoner should stand opposite to him, for they are two parties. But behold, in this case the prisoner leavesthe place, declines a trial, falls at the Judge's feet, acknowledges that the sentence, if carried out, would be just, andpleads guilty.
Having done this the Believer sees that the sentence which he acknowledges and confesses to be right has been already laidupon his Surety-and in that Surety he believes. What does he believe about Him? Why, that God, that He might magnify His Justiceand His Grace, was in Christ Jesus! And that the Son of God did hang upon the Cross, and bleed and die, the Just for the unjust,that He might bring us to God. The Believer confesses the justice of the sentence, and therefore is at one with God. He comesto the Light, and his deeds are reproved, and he accepts the reproof, and acknowledges it to be true.
Then he looks to the Cross, and he says, "This very sentence to which I do subscribe with my own hands that it is just, hasbeen laid upon my ever glorious and blessed Surety, the Only Begotten of the Father, and He has been punished instead of me.And I am therefore free, since Christ died as my ransom." This is the way in which the Believer comes not to be condemned-heaccepts the condemnation, and then sees it laid upon his Surety! This brings him peace. The Justice of God would have disturbedhis mind. He sees that Justice satisfied, and he declares in his own heart that if God is satisfied, he is satisfied.
If God's Justice is honored, then conscience feels that all is well. And now what happens? Why this believer in Christ, notbeing condemned, seeks the light-from this day forward he desires more and more to walk in the light of knowledge, the lightof the Divine Presence, the light of Divine holiness. O my Brethren, there was a time when our souls inclined after sin! Butnow, though we sin, we mourn over it, and because we mourn it we have evidence that "it is no longer I," as the Apostle says,"but sin that dwells in me."
The very inmost I, the true, most real ego within my soul now desires holiness. If we could be as we would, we would be pureas God is pure. Our heart hungers and thirsts after righteousness. We come to the Light, and now, having believed, we arein such a condition that our deeds, though discovered, do not bring us shame and confusion. In that very Light our works aremade manifest that they are worked in God-and we rejoice that God is working in us by His Spirit holy desires, emotions, andactions-which shall go on increasing until we shall be perfectly delivered from sin.
This is the condition of the man who believes in Christ! It is a very happy condition, a very hopeful condition, a very heavenlycondition-who would not desire to be in it? It all hinges upon the believing, for with the believing in Jesus there comesthe new birth. With the new birth comes the desire after Light. With the desire after Light there arises a progress towardsit-and a manifestation of the secret working of the Holy Spirit within the soul. Happy Believers, thrice happy in what youare as well as in what you shall be!
III. And now, thirdly, and here comes our most solemn work-may God's Holy Spirit help us in it. CONSIDER THE CONDITION OFTHE UNBELIEVER. "He that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Sonof God." Observe the fact, itself, which is here stated! "He that believes not is condemned already." Let me enlarge uponthis very solemn Truth of God.
First, the Unbeliever offers himself for judgment. "He has not believed on the name"-what is the name? It is the Savior, Jesus.He who believes on Jesus, the Savior, confesses that he needs saving and declines to stand on the footing of Law. But he whorefuses the Savior does in effect say, "I do not require a Savior, I am willing to stand my trial by the Law." I tell you,every soul that declines a Savior, does, in effect, ask to be judged by the Law. There stands the alternative-are you guilty-willyou confess it? If so, accept the Savior.
But if, on the other hand, you say, "I will not accept the Savior," in the bottom of your soul there lies the presumptuousconceit, "I can stand the judgment. I do not want pardon and Grace." Then, Sir, if you ask for judgment you shall
have it! And behold the result of it-God declares you to be condemned already. You have not believed, you have asked for judgment,you shall have it, but it is your ruin.
The Unbeliever, himself, gives personal evidence to his own condemnation. Do you enquire how he does this? The text pointsus to his not believing. Is yonder person a condemned or not condemned man? Ask him what he thinks of Christ. If he replieshonestly, he says, "I do not accept God's testimony about Jesus Christ. I do not receive Jesus as my Savior." Either he claimsthat he does not need a Savior or else he does not feel that Jesus is the Savior he needs. He rejects the testimony of Godconcerning Christ-is not that enough to condemn a man? If a man, in the very presence of the judge, committed theft or murder,he would condemn himself. But is it not a still higher offense than this, in the very Presence of God to do despite to HisSon by practically declaring His work and blood to have been unnecessary?
Is it not the height of daring that a soul should stand in the Presence of the God of Mercy and hear Him say in His Word,"Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world," and that the soul should reply, "I have nothing to do withthe Lamb of God"? What further witness do we want with regard to your enmity to God? He that will not believe in Christ wouldmurder God if He could. His not believing in Christ is virtually to make God a liar.
Still further, he that believes not in Christ gives evidence against himself, for he rejects "the name." Observe the text,"He has not believed on the name." As I had already hinted, that name is Jesus, the Savior. The man says, "I will not havethe Savior." Many of you have not said so much in words, but you practically say it. For you do not believe in the Savior.You remain at this moment Saviorless-out of Christ-without hope, without pardon, without mercy. And you have continued todo so under the preaching of the Gospel now for many years.
What more evidence do you want? If a man will reject God, even as a Savior, there must be a dreadful venom in his heart againstGod. If God appoints Christ to be King, and I reject Him, that rejection shows that I dislike God. But when He appoints Himto be a Savior, the errand being one entirely of mercy and goodness, if I reject Him I must in my soul have an amazing depthof enmity against God. By this clear proof I condemn myself!
My Brothers and Sisters, if you look at the text again you will see that he who believes not, rejects a most exalted Person.For he has not believed on the name "of the only begotten Son of God." What a word is that, "On the Jesus, who is God's onlybegotten Son." I wish I had language suitable for the utterance of a thought which presses down my very spirit, as it didlast Sunday evening. That God should send a Savior, and for a Savior the Only Begotten, the Lord of Heaven and earth, withoutwhom was not anything made that is made, and that He should come with testimony of love, the love of God to sinners, and sealthat testimony with His blood. And that men should refuse to believe in Him!
It is the most monstrous iniquity that could be imagined! I cannot see that Satan, himself, with all his blasphemy, has evergone this length. He was never placed where he could reject, as a Savior, the only begotten Son of God. When men rejectedMoses they perished without mercy, for he was sent of God. But when a man despises the Only Begotten, in whom dwells the fullnessof the Godhead bodily, we may well say-"Call no witnesses against the man, rake up none of the details of his past life, thisis quite evidence enough."
If he has not believed on such a One as this, he is condemned already. There is no need of a trial. Unbelief itself is thevilest of all treasons-out of his own mouth the sinner is condemned. Do you not see, O Sinner, how the matter stands? Theinfinite Lord of Mercy, that you might not perish, has devised a wondrous way of salvation which has astonished cherubim andseraphim, and made Heaven ring with song, and this you utterly reject! The plan so stupendous in conception is briefly this-thatthe Creator should suffer that the created rebel might escape-that the Infinite should come into this world and be put toshame that the guilty might be clear! And all you are asked to do, all that is demanded of you is that you submit to be savedby this plan-that you do but trust in the Jesus who is Divine, who is also Man-do but trust Him to save you.!
Will you not? Oh, will you not? Sirs, will you spurn almighty love? Can you turn away from boundless mercy? Then what shallI say of you, but just what the text says-you condemn yourselves, you are "condemned already"? You must be infinitely wicked!You must be enormously, monstrously, diabolically at enmity with God, or else, surely, a benefit so precious you would notslight! Surely a plan of mercy so adapted to your condition you could not have the impertinence to reject! "Condemned alreadybecause he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God." Solemn words! Hear them and tremble!
From the verses following the text we gather that you Unbelievers go on to give further evidence against yourselves, for everyman who rejects Christ, the true Light, always goes on to reject other forms of the Light of God's Word, God's Spirit, andhis conscience. He loves darkness rather than light, and comes not to the Light lest his deeds should be reproved. You quenchthe Spirit, I know you do, if you reject the Savior. You turn a deaf ear to your conscience, you do violence to your own judgment.The Truth of God you do not wish to learn. It is not possible that you can be a candid seeker after light if you refuse toreceive Him who is Truth's central Sun.
Your further rejection of Light is confirmatory evidence that you are condemned already though your not believing is, in itself,evidence enough. And now solemnly, and in the name of Him that lives, and was dead, and is alive forever-more, speaking forthat Christ who, though once He was slain, now sits at the right hand of God, I ask those who are under this second characterto listen to these simple but weighty words of admonition. Consider, I pray you, O Unbeliever, that the condemnation whichis pronounced upon you already is no matter of form. Our judges sometimes read out sentences of death upon a certain orderof criminals. And the sentence is recorded though it is never intended that the sentence shall be executed.
But from God's bar there never proceeds a sentence that is meant needlessly to alarm. You are condemned already, and as surelyas you live, and as surely as God lives, He will not let His Word remain a dead letter. That sentence shall be no idle threat!In your proper person you shall be made to know what the power of His wrath is. "Who knows the power of your anger?" saysthe Psalmist. They only know it who feel it, and you will feel it before long, for the sentence will assuredly be fulfilled.
The Lord has power at this or any moment to fulfill His sentence. What power have you to resist it? Who is there that canhelp you to withstand Him? You are utterly in His hands, you cannot escape from His prison. If you climbed up to Heaven Heis there. If you dove to Hell He is there. The whole universe is but one great prison for an enemy of God. You cannot escapeHim-neither can you resist Him. If your bones were granite and your heart were steel, His fires would melt down your spirit.Against Him you can no more stand than the chaff against the fire or the dust against the whirlwind. O that you would feelthis and desist from your insane rebellion!
Remember, there is no promise given to you that He will not execute the sentence of His wrath this very day. You have no warranteither from His Word or from His angels to assure you that God has suspended the sentence even for the next hour. You areliving by His forbearance, spared by the Divine Sovereignty. Some rave against Sovereignty, but in this case it is not Justicethat spares you, it is the mere will of God that for awhile keeps you out of Hell. You tell me that nothing endangers yourlife at this moment-how do you know that?
The arrows of death often fly imperceptibly. I have stood in congregations preaching on two occasions when the unseen dartsof death struck one of my hearers, so that one died on each occasion while listening to the Word of the Gospel. God needsno miracle to put His sentence into execution at this moment. He need not disturb the natural order of affairs for you todie instantly. And if He so willed it, your soul's destruction would, without the slightest effort on His part, take placeat this very moment, even where you are.
Remember with deep concern that God is angry with you right now. This statement is no invention of mine-it is written by thepen of Inspiration that, "God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turns not He will whet His sword. He has bent Hisbow, and made it ready." God is more angry with some of you than He is with some in Hell. Are you startled by the assertion?"It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for you." The sins you have already committedare greater than those of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the anger is in proportion to the guilt.
An angry God holds you over the gulf of Hell. Justice demands that you fall into it-and it is nothing but His merciful willthat keeps you out of it. He has but to will it and you who are condemned already would be forever where the worm dies notand the fire is not quenched, before next time the clock shall tick.
Up to this time, let me remind you, you have done nothing to appease the Divine wrath. You have gone on sinning. Or if youtell me you have reformed, that you have thought of these things, that you have prayed-do you think that such things willremove the Divine wrath? The Lord has told you that the only way of salvation is to believe in Jesus, but you try to findanother. Do you think that such conduct will please Him, that such a procedure will make Him less angry
with you? You insult His Son when you suppose that you can save yourself by your tears and prayers-will this turn away theLord's anger?
When you imagine that your Church attendance and Chapel attendance will save you, you set a low estimate upon what Jesus did.You do despite to the Cross as long as you remain Unbelievers. You say, "We are doing what we can." You are doing nothing,I tell you, that can appease the anger of God! You are rather, by these very actions of yours, which you think to be good,setting up in opposition to Him an Antichrist upon which He will look with abhorrence. He says He will save by Christ, andno way else. And so long as you seek another way, you, as it were, spit into the very face of the Only Begotten by the insolenceof your self-righteousness.
Meanwhile, let me remind you that God's wrath, though it comes not on you yet, is like a stream that is dammed up. Every momentit gathers force-if it bursts not the dyke-yet every hour is swelling. Each day and each moment of each day in which you remainan Unbeliever, you are treasuring up wrath against the Day of Wrath when the measure of your iniquity is full. How earnestlywould I persuade you to escape from condemnation! If you dream that to be condemned of God is a trifle, undeceive your souls,for those who have passed where the sentence is executed, could they come back to you, need not tell the tale of woe, thevery sight of them would convince you that to be lost is an awful thing!
On their heads must fall the wrath of God, who, by softening down the punishment, become the means of hardening sinners intheir sins. It is not within the power of thought to conceive what God's wrath is. No language, even though it should makeboth ears tingle, can ever fully express it. I am not one of those who would so delude your poor souls, O Unbelievers, asto make you think it a light thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
O turn, turn, turn! Why will you die? Why will you reject Him whom you have such reasons to receive? Concerning whom His veryPerson is the best argument for love? The Christ of God must be worthy of our hearts' affections-His very errand on earth,as it seems to me, would, if we were not mad, ensure our confidence. For He came to SAVE, to PARDON, to pass by the sin ofthe past! Oh, why do you stand out against Him, and in this way pull down upon your heads the wrath of an angry God?
Let me point out to you the way to escape. The only way of escape for any man or woman here is to believe in Jesus Christ."I am praying about it," says one. My text says nothing of the sort. "I will think of it." Think of it? You will think yourselfinto Hell before long! Immediate faith is what I, as God's ambassador, demand of you in the name of the Christ of God-immediate,instantaneous faith in Jesus! Behold the emblem of the Gospel minister and of his message! Moses lifted up the bronze serpentin the wilderness upon the great central standard in the very midst of the camp where men were dying all around him. Theyare bitten with the serpent, and what has Moses to declare to them as a remedy? He bids them look and live!
Some of them will think of it, some of them will consider it, others of them will pray about it. But he has no commissionto console any of these-his one command is an immediate look-he has no promise to those who will not look. Even thus is Jesuslifted up among you. There is life in a look, life now, life at this moment. I cannot guarantee you that the serpent's biteshall not be your eternal ruin if you linger for a single hour. The Prophet's one word is, "Look now." Today, God in mercysends to everyone in this house this message-"The times of your ignorance God winked at," but now commands all men everywhereto repent. He sends His Gospel message, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."
That message I cannot be certain will ever come to you again. "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." Everymoment you do not believe, you are sinning against God by that unbelief. I cannot, therefore, tolerate that you should waita moment. Jesus is God! He became Man! He died! He lives and bids you trust Him-promising that you shall live. Trust Him now,then! He is worthy of your confidence. Sin not against Him. Sin not against your own souls by rejecting Him. Remember whatit was which Moses lifted up-it was a serpent-the image of that same serpent which bit them.
Were they healed by looking to that which poisoned them? Assuredly they were. What is that which has poisoned you, Sinner?It is the curse of sin. What is that which I hold up today in the Gospel? It is Christ made a curse for us! He takes uponHimself our sin! Though in Him was no sin, yet He was made sin for us-and if you trust Him to be the sin-offering for you,to suffer for you, to bleed for you-and so trust in Him as to take Him from now on as your standard,
resolving to follow the uplifted Crucified One throughout life, even until He brings you to God Himself in Heaven, you areNOT condemned!
But if Jesus is lifted up and you refuse to believe, on your heads is your guilt, I say, with trembling solemnity, on yourown heads is your guilt! Those words of mine, O Unbelievers, will be swift witnesses against you at the Last Great Day. Astruly as ever Christ came to Jerusalem, so truly does He come to you, this morning, in the preaching of the Word. I am a poorfeeble man, but I speak to you as best I can. Nevertheless, if you refuse my word it is not me you reject, that were nothing-youreject the Gospel which I preach to you. In the name of Him that made Heaven and earth, that made you, and holds you in life,against whom you have sinned, these terms of mercy are presented to you-will you have them?
This Grace is brought home to you, and I am bid to press it upon you, even as the Word says, to "compel them to come in."If you reject the only begotten Son of God there must still abide against you this solemn sentence, "He that believes notis condemned already, because he has not believed." Did I hear you say, "I hope I shall believe." Sir, I have nothing to dowith that, and I have no hope for you. "I hope I shall repent one day." I despair of you while you talk so. It is TODAY thatGod separates this congregation into the two parts, the Believer and the Unbeliever.
Today He blesses the Believer and testifies that he is not condemned! Today He curses the Unbeliever and tells him he is condemnedalready. My business is not with tomorrows, nor can I promise that the white flag of mercy will be hung out tomorrow. Todaythe Cross is the banner of Grace. Look to it and live! It is the ladder which reaches to Heaven. The crucified Savior is thegate of salvation. O that you would receive Him! May God grant you may, and He shall be glorified by you in this life andin the world to come. God bless you. Amen.