Sermon 1347. How Is Salvation Received?
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, APRIL 1, 1877,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by Grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that onlywhich is of the Law, but to that, also, which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all." Romans 4:16.
WE shall turn during yet another Sabbath morning to one of the great vital Truths of the Gospel. I feel it to be more andmore important to bring forward the fundamental doctrines since they are, in certain quarters, placed so much in the background.I met with a remark the other day that even the evangelical pulpit needs to be evangelized-I am afraid it is too true and,therefore, we will give such prominence to the Gospel and to its central Doctrine of Justification by Faith, that no suchremark shall be applicable to us. We have heard it said that if an instrument could be invented which would serve the samepurpose towards sermons as the lactometer does towards milk, you would, with great difficulty, be able to discover any traceof the unadulterated milk of the Word of God in large numbers of modern discourses.
I shall not subscribe to any sweeping censure, but I am afraid there is too much ground for the accusation. In abundance ofsermons, the polish of the rhetoric is greatly in excess of the weight of the doctrine and "the wisdom of words" is far moreconspicuous than the Cross of Christ. Besides, the Gospel is always needed. There are always some persons who urgently needit and will perish unless they receive it. It is a matter of hourly necessity! There may be finer and more artistic thingsto speak about than the simplicities of Christ, but there are certainly no more useful and requisite things.
The signposts at the crossroads bear very simple words, generally consisting of the names of the towns and villages to whichthe roads lead. But if these were painted out and their places supplied with stanzas from Byron, or stately lines from Milton,or deep thoughts from Cowper or Young, I am afraid there would be grievous complaints from persons losing their way! Theywould declare that however excellent the poetry might be, they thought it an impertinence to mock them with a verse when theyneeded plain directions as to the king's highway! So let those who will, indulge in poetical thoughts and express them inhigh-flown language-it shall be ours to set up the signposts marking out the way of salvation and to keep them painted inletters large and plain-so that he who runs may read.
There is another reason for giving the Gospel over and over, again and again. It is the reason which makes the mother tellher child 20 times, namely, because 19 times are not enough! Men are so forgetful about the things of Christ and their mindsare so apt to step aside from the Truth of God, that when they have learned the Gospel they are very easily bewitched by falsehoodand are readily deceived by that "other gospel" which is not another! Therefore we need to give them "line upon line and preceptupon precept." I scarcely remember the old rustic rhyme, but I remember hearing it sung in my boyish days when the countrypeople were planting beans according to the old plan of putting three into each hole-I think it ran thus-
"One for the worm and one for the crow, And let us hope the other will grow." We must be content to plant many seeds in thehope that one will take root and bear fruit! The worm and crow are always at work and will be sure to get their full shareof our sowing and, therefore, let us sow the more! Come we, then, to our text and to the Gospel of faith. Last Lord's Daythe theme was, "For whom is the Gospel meant?" And the reply was, for sinners. The question, today, is, "How is the Gospelreceived?" The answer is, by faith. Our first head shall be the fact- "it is of faith." Secondly, the first reason for this-"that it might be by Grace." And thirdly, the further reason- "to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed."
I. First, then, here is THE FACT-it is of faith. What does the "it" refer to? It is of faith. If you will read the context,I think you will consider that it refers to the promise, although some have said that the antecedent word or thought is, "theinheritance." This matters very little, if at all-it may mean the inheritance, the Covenant, or the promise, for these areone. To give a wide word which will take in all-the blessedness which comes to a man in Christ, the blessedness promised bythe Covenant of Grace is of faith-in one word, salvation is offaith!
And what is faith? It is believing the promise of God, taking God at His word and acting upon that belief by trusting in Him.Some of the Puritans used to divide faith improperly, but still instructively, into three parts. The first was self-renunciation,which is, perhaps, rather a preparation for faith than faith itself. In it a man confesses that he cannot trust in himselfand so goes out of self and all confidence in his own good works. The second part of faith, they said, was reliance in whicha man, believing the promise of God, trusts Him, depends upon Him and leaves his soul in the Savior's hands. And then theysaid the third part of faith was appropriation by which a man takes to himself that which God presents in the promise to theBeliever-he appropriates it as his own, feeds upon it and enjoys it.
Certainly there is no true faith without self-renunciation, reliance and at least a measure of appropriation-where these threeare found, there is faith in the soul. We shall, however, better understand what faith is as we proceed with our subject,if God the Holy Spirit will be pleased to enlighten us. Dear Friends, you can easily see that the blessing was of faith inAbraham's case-and it is precisely the same with all those who, by faith, are the children of believing Abraham! First, itwas so in the case of Abraham. Abraham obtained the promise by faith and not by works nor by the energy of the flesh. He reliedalone upon the Divine promise.
We read in the 17th verse-"(As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations), before Him whom he believed, evenGod, who quickens the dead and calls those things which are not as though they were." Abraham's faith consisted in believingthe promise of God and this he did firmly and practically. He was far away in Chaldea when the Lord called him out and promisedto give him a land and a seed. And straightway he went forth, not knowing where he went. When he came into Canaan, he hadno settled resting place, but wandered about in tents, still believing most fully that the land in which he sojourned as astranger was his own.
God promised to give him a seed and yet he had no children. Year followed year and in the course of nature he grew old andhis wife was long past the age of child-bearing-and yet there was no son born to them. When at last Ishmael was born, hishope in that direction was dashed to the ground, for he was informed that the Covenant was not with Ishmael-believing Abrahamhad stepped aside to carnal expediency and had hoped, in that way, to realize the lingering promise! But he had 14 more yearsto wait-till he was 100 years old and till Sarah had reached her 90th year! Yet he believed the word of the Lord and fellupon his face and laughed with holy joy and said in his heart, "Shall a child be born unto him that is 100 years old?" So,too, when Isaac was born and grown up, he believed that in Isaac should the Covenant be established. Nor did he doubt thiswhen the Lord bade him take Isaac and offer him up as a sacrifice! He obeyed without questioning, believing that God was ableto raise Isaac from the dead, or in some other way to keep His word of promise.
Now consider that we have multiplied promises and those are written down in black and white in the Inspired Word, which wemay consult at any time we please, while Abraham had only, now and then, a verbal promise-and yet he clung to it and reliedupon it. Though there was nothing else to rely upon and neither sign nor evidence of any offspring to fulfill the promisethat he should be heir of the world and father of many nations, yet he needed no other ground of confidence but that God hadsaid it and that He would make His word good. There was in Abraham, also, an eye to the central point of the promise-the Messiah-Jesus,our Lord.
I do not know that Abraham understood all the spiritual meaning of the Covenant made with him. Probably he did not. But hedid understand that the Christ was to be born of him, in whom all nations should be blessed. When the Lord said that He wouldmake him a blessing and in him should all nations of the earth be blessed, I do not suppose Abraham saw all the fullness ofthat marvelous word-but he did see that he was to be the progenitor of the Messiah. Our Lord, Himself, is my Authority forthis assertion-"Abraham saw My day, he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). Though there appeared to this man, old and withered, with a wife 90 years of age, no likelihood that he should ever becomea father, yet did he fully believe that he would be the father of many nations-and that upon no basis whatever but that theliving God had so promised him and, therefore, so it must be!
This faith of Abraham we find considered no difficulties whatever. "Who against hope believed in hope, that he might becomethe father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall your seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considerednot his own body now dead, when he was about 100 years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: he staggered not atthe promise of God through unbelief." Brothers and Sisters, these were, in themselves, terrible difficulties-enough to makea man fear that the promise did but mock him-but Abraham did not consider anything beyond the promise and the God who gaveit! The difficulties were for God to consider-not for him! He knew that God had made the world out of nothing and that Hesupported all things by the word of His power and, therefore, he felt that nothing was too hard for Him!
His own advanced years and the age of his wife were of no consequence. He did not take them into the reckoning, but saw onlya faithful Almighty God and felt content. O noble faith! Faith such as God deserves! Faith such as none render to Him butthose whom He calls by Irresistible Grace! This it was which justified Abraham and made him the father of Believers! Abraham'sfaith, also, gave glory to God. I stopped in the middle of the 20th verse just now, but we must now complete the reading ofit. "But was strong in faith, giving glory to God." God had promised and he treated the Lord's promise with becoming reverence.He did not impiously suspect the Lord of falsehood, or of mocking His servant, or of uttering today what He might take backtomorrow.
Abraham knew that Jehovah is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. Abraham glorified theTruth of God and, at the same time, he glorified His power! He was quite certain that the Lord had not spoken beyond His line,but that what He had promised He was able to perform. It belongs to puny man to speak more than he can do-full often his tongueis longer than his arm-but with the Lord it is never so. Has He said, and shall He not do it? Is anything too hard for theLord? Abraham adoringly believed in the immutability, truth and power of the living God-and looked for the fulfillment ofHis words!
All this strong, unstaggering faith which glorified God rested upon the Lord alone. You will see that it was so by readingthe 21st verse. "Being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able, also, to perform." There was nothing whateverin his house, his wife, himself, or anywhere else which could guarantee the fulfillment of the promise. He had only God tolook to-only, did I say?-What could a man have more? Yet so it was. There were no signs, marks, tokens, or indications tosubstantiate the confidence of Abraham! He rested solely upon the unlimited power of God! And this, dear Brothers and Sisters,is the kind of faith which God loves and honors-which needs no signs, marks, evidences, helps, or other buttresses to supportthe plain and sure Word of the Lord-but simply knows that Jehovah has said it and that He will make it good!
Though all things should give the promise the lie, we believe in it because we believe in God. True faith ridicules impossibilityand pours contempt upon improbability, knowing that Omnipotence and Immutability cannot be thwarted or hindered. Has God saidit? Then so it is! Dictum! Factum! Spoken! Done! These two are one with the Most High! Well, now, the faith of every man whois saved must be of this character. Every man who receives salvation receives it by a faith like that of Abraham, for, myBrothers and Sisters, when we are saved we, too, take the promise of God and depend upon it! To one Believer, one Word ofGod is applied. To another, some sweet Word, most sure and steadfast, is discovered upon which we fix our hope and find ananchor for our spirit. Yes, and as we search the Word by faith-we take each promise as we find it and we say, "this is true,"and, "this is true," and so we rest upon all of them!
Is it not so with all of you who have peace with God? Did you not gain it by resting upon the promises of God as you foundit in the Word and as it was opened up to you by the Holy Spirit? Have you any other ground of confidence but God's promise?I know you have not, my Brethren, nor do you desire any! And we, also, believe in God over the head of great difficulties.If it were difficult for Abraham to believe that a son should be born to him, I think it is harder for a poor burdened sinner,conscious of his great guilt-conscious that God must punish him, also, for that guilt-to believe, nevertheless, in the hopefulthings which the Gospel prophesies unto him!
Can I believe that the righteous God is looking upon me, a sinner, with eyes of love? Can I believe that though I have offendedHim and broken all His Laws, He, nevertheless, waits to be gracious to me? While my heart is heavy and the prospect is blackaround me and I see nothing but a terrible Hell to be my eternal portion-can I, at such a time, believe that God has plannedmy redemption and given His Son to die for me-and that now He invites me to come and receive a full, perfect and immediatepardon at His hands? Can the Gospel message be true to such a worthless rebel as I am?
It seems as if the Law and Justice of God set themselves against the truth of such wonderful deeds of mercy as the Gospelannounces! And it is hard for a stricken heart to believe the report-but the faith which saves the soul believes the Gospelpromise in the teeth of all its alarms and, notwithstanding, all the thunders of the Law! Despite the trepidation of the awakenedspirit, the Holy Spirit enables it to accept the great Father's promise, to rest upon the propitiation which He has set forthand to quiet itself with the firm persuasion that God, for Christ's sake, does put away its sin.
At the same time another grand miracle is also believed in, namely, regeneration. This seems to me to be quite as great anact of faith as for Abraham to believe in the birth of a child by two parents who were both advanced in years. The case standsthus-here am I, dead by nature-dead in trespasses and sins. The deadness of Abraham and Sarah, according to nature, was notgreater than the deadness of my soul to every good thing. Is it possible, then, that I should live unto God? That within thisstony heart there should yet throb eternal life and Divine Love? That I should come to delight in God? Can it be that withsuch a depraved and deceitful heart as mine should yet rise to fellowship with the holy God and should call Him my Fatherand feel the spirit of adoption within my heart?
Can I, who now dread the Lord, yet come to rejoice in Him? "Oh," says the poor troubled sinner, "can I, that have fought againstthe Throne of God. I that even tried to doubt His existence-can I ever come to be at perfect peace with Him so that He shallcall me His friend and reveal His secrets to me and listen to my voice in prayer? Is it possible?" The faith which saves thesoul believes in the possibility of regeneration and sanctification-no, more-it believes in Jesus and obtains for us powerto become children of God and strength to conquer sin! This is believing God, indeed!
Look this way, yet again, for here is another difficulty. We know that we must persevere to the end, for only he that enduresto the end shall be saved. Does it not seem incredible that such feeble, fickle, foolish creatures as we are should continuein faith and the fear of God all our lives? Yet this we must do! The faith which saves, enables us to believe that we shallpersevere, for it is persuaded that the Redeemer is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him, that He will perfectthat which concerns us, that He will suffer none to pluck us out of His hands and that having begun the good work in us Hewill carry it on! This is faith worthy of the father of the faithful!
Once again, let us behold another difficulty for faith. We believe, according to God's promise, that we shall one day be "withoutspot or wrinkle, or any such thing." I do believe that this head shall wear a crown of glory and that this hand shall wavea palm branch. I am fully assured that He will one day sweetly say to me-
"Close your eyes that you may see What I ha ve in store for thee. Lay your arms of warfare down, Fall that you may win a crown."We, all, who are Believers in Jesus, shall one day be without fault before the Throne of God! But how is this to be? Surelyour confidence is that He who has promised it is able to perform it! This is the faith which finds its way to Glory-the faithwhich expects to enter into the Redeemer's joy because of the Redeemer's love and life!
Brothers and Sisters, in this matter we see the difficulties, but we do not consider them-we count them as less than nothingsince Omnipotence has come into the field. "Thanks be unto God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."We know that our Redeemer lives and that because He lives, we shall, also-live and be with Him where He is! At the end ofthe chapter we are told that this saving faith rests in the power of God as manifested in Jesus- "If we believe in Him whowas delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." Beloved, we believe that Jesus died, as certainlydied as ever any man died-and yet on the morning of the third day He rose again from the dead by Divine power.
It is not, to us, an incredible thing that God should raise the dead! We, therefore, believe that because God has raised thedead He has raised us, also, from our death in sin and that He will raise our bodies from the tomb after they shall have slept,awhile, in the earth. We believe, also, that our Lord Jesus died for our offenses and put them away. Our faith builds uponthe substitution of the Lord Jesus on our behalf and it rests there with firm confidence. We believe, also, that He rose againbecause His substitution was accepted and because our offenses were forever put away-rose again to prove that we are justifiedin Him! This is where we stand! I expect to be saved, not at all because of what I am, nor of what I can do, nor because ofanything I ever shall be able to be or to do-but only because God has promised to save those who believe in Jesus Christ throughwhat the Lord Jesus has suffered in their place.
Because Jesus has risen to prove that His suffering was accepted on the behalf of Believers, there do we rest and trust, andthat is the way in which every Believer is saved-that way and no way else. Even as Abraham believed, so do we! Here is thefact-it is of faith.
II. Now we come to the second point. Here we are to consider THE FIRST REASON why God has chosen to make salvation by faith,"that it might be of Grace." Now, dear Friends, the Lord might have willed to make the condition of salvation a mitigatedform of works. If He had done so, it would not have been of Grace, for it is a principle which I need not explain now, buta fixed principle, that if the blessing is of Grace it is no more of works, otherwise Grace is no more Grace. And if it isof works, it is no more of Grace, otherwise work is no more work.
As water and oil will not mix, and as fire and water will not lie down side by side in quiet, so neither will the principleof merit and the principle of free favor. You cannot make a legal work to be a condition of a gracious blessing without atonce introducing an alien element and really bringing the soul under the Covenant of Works and so spoiling the whole planof mercy! Grace and faith are congruous and will draw together in the same chariot, but Grace and merit are contrary, theone to the other, and pull opposite ways and, therefore, God has not chosen to yoke them together. He will not build withincongruous materials or daub with untempered mortar. He will not make an image partly of gold and partly of clay, nor weavea linsey-woolsey garment-His work is all of one piece and that one piece is all Grace!
Again, in Abraham's case, inasmuch as he received, by faith, the blessing which God promised him, it is very evident thatit was of Grace. You never heard anyone ascribe Abraham's salvation to his merits and yet Abraham was an eminently holy man.There are specks in his life-and in whose life will there not be found infirmities?-but he was one of the grandest charactersof history. Still, no man thinks of Abraham as a self-justifying person, or as at all related to the Pharisee who said, "God,I thank You that I am not as other men." I never heard anybody hint that the great Patriarch had reason to glory before God.His name is not " the father of the innocent," but, "the father of the faithful."
When we read of Abraham's life, we see that God called him by an act of Sovereign Grace, made a Covenant with him as an actof Grace and that the promised child was born-not of the power of the flesh, but entirely according to promise. Grace reignsthrough righteousness unto eternal life in the life of the Patriarch and it is illustrated in a thousand ways whenever wesee his faith receiving the promises! The holiness of Abraham, since it arose out of his faith, never leads us to ascribehis blessedness to anything but the Grace of God!
Now, inasmuch as we are saved by faith, every Believer is made to see in himself that, in his own instance, it is by Grace.Believing is such a self-renounciating act that no man who looks for eternal life thereby ever talked about his own meritsexcept to count them but dross and dung. No, Brothers and Sisters, the child of the promise cannot live in the same housewith the son of the bondwoman. When Isaac grows up, Ishmael must depart-the principle of believing unto everlasting life willnot endure a hint about human merit. Those who believe in Justification by Faith are the only persons who can believe in salvationby Grace!
The Believer may grow in Grace till he becomes fully assured of his own salvation, yes, and he may become holiness unto theLord in a very remarkable manner, being wholly consecrated to God in body, soul and spirit. But you will never hear the believingman speak of his experience, or attainments, or achievements as a reason for glorying in himself, or as an argument for becomingmore confident as to his safety. He dares not trust his works, or states of feeling, for he feels that he stands by faith.He cannot get away from simple faith, for the moment he attempts to do so, he feels the ground going from under him and hebegins to sink into horrible confusion of spirit. Therefore he returns to his rest and resolves to abide in faith in his risenSavior, for there he abides in the Grace of God.
Through the prominence given to faith, the Truth of God of salvation by Grace is so conspicuously revealed that even the outsideworld is compelled to see it, though the only result may be to make them raise trivial objections. They charge us with preachingtoo much concerning Grace because they hear us magnifying and extolling the plan of salvation by faith. They readily perceivethat a gift promised to faith must be a gift of Grace and not a reward for services done. Only begin to preach salvation byworks or ceremonies and nobody will accuse you of saying too much of Grace! But keep to faith and you are sure to keep tothe preaching of Grace!
Moreover, faith never did clash with Grace. When the sinner comes and trusts Christ and Christ says to him, "I forgive youfreely by My Grace," Faith says, "O Lord, that is what I need and what I believe in. I ask You to deal with me even so." "Butif I give you everlasting life, it will not be because you deserve it, but for My own name's sake." Faith
replies, "O Lord, that, also, is precisely as I desire! It is the sum and substance of my prayer." When Faith grows strongand takes to pleading in prayer (and oh how mighty she is with God in supplication, moving His Omnipotence to her mind), yetall her pleadings are based on Grace-none of them upon the merit of the creature! Never yet did Faith borrow weapons fromMount Sinai! Never once did she ask as though the favor were a debt, but she always holds to the promise of the gracious Godand expects all things from the faithfulness of her God.
Yes, and when Faith grows strongest and attains to her highest stature and is most full of delight, so that she dances forvery joy, yet she never, in all her exultation, boasts or exalts herself! Where is boasting, then? It is excluded! By theLaw of works? No, but by the Law offaith! Faith and carnal boasting never yet walked together! If a man should boast of thestrength of his faith, it would be clear evidence that he had none at all, or at least that he had, for the time, fallen intovainglorious presumption. Boasting? No, Faith loves to lie low and behave herself as a little child. And when she lifts herselfup, it is to exalt her Lord, and her Lord, alone.
Faith, too, is well calculated to show forth the Grace of God, because Faith is the child of Grace. "Ah," says Faith, "I havegrasped the Covenant. I have laid hold on the promises, I have seen Christ, I have gazed into Heaven, I have enjoyed foretastesof eternal joys! But (she says) I am of the operation of God-I would never have existed if the Spirit of God had not createdme!" The Believer knows that his faith is not a weed suitable to the soil of his heart, but a rare plant-an exotic which hasbeen planted there by Divine Wisdom-and he knows, too, that if the Lord does not nourish it, his faith will die like a witheredflower.
He knows that his faith is a perpetual miracle, for it is begotten, sustained and preserved by a power not less mighty thanthat which raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead! If I met with an angel in a hovel I should know that he was not bornthere, but that he came from above. And so is it with faith-its heavenly descent is manifest to all! Faith, then, tracingher very existence to Grace, never can be anything but the friend, the vindicator, the advocate and the glorifier of the Graceof God-therefore it is of faith that it might be by Grace!
III. Now, thirdly, there is A FURTHER REASON for faith and Grace being the Lord's chosen method of salvation-"To the end thatthe promise might be sure to all the seed." Look at this, dear Friends, very carefully. Salvation was made to be of faithand not of works that the promise might be sure to all the seed, for first, it could not have been sure to us Gentiles bythe Law, because in a certain sense we were not under the Law of Moses at all. Turn to the text and you find that it runsthus-"Sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the Law, but to that, also, which is of the faith of Abraham, whois the father of us all."
That is to say, the Jew, receiving the seal of circumcision and coming under the ceremonial Law, eating its Passover and presentingits sacrifices, might possibly have been reached by a legal method. But we who are Gentiles would have been altogether shutout. As to the Covenant according to the flesh, we are aliens and have never come under its bonds or participated in its privilegesand, therefore, Grace chooses to bless us by faith in order that the Gentile may partake of the blessing of the Covenant aswell as the Jew.
But there is a still wider reason-it is of faith because the other method has failed, already, in every case. We have allbroken the Law and so have put ourselves beyond the power of ever receiving blessing as a reward of merit. Failure at theoutset has ruined our future prospects-and from now on-by the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified. What remains,then, if we are to be saved at all, but that it should be of faith? This door, alone, is open! Let us bless God that no mancan shut it!
Again, it is of faith that it might be sure. Now, under the system of works nothing is sure. Suppose, my dear Brothers andSisters, you were under a Covenant of salvation by works and you had fulfilled those works up till now, yet you would notbe sure. Are you 70 years of age and have you kept your standing till now? Well, you have done a great deal more than fatherAdam did, for though he was a perfect man without any natural corruption, I do not suppose that he kept his first estate fora day. But after all you have done for these long years you may lose everything before you have finished your next meal! Ifyour standing depends upon your own works, you are not safe and can never be safe till you are out of this present life, foryou might sin and that one offense against the conditions would destroy the Covenant!
"When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall even die thereby." But see the excellenceof salvation by Grace-when you reach the ground of faith in the promises, you are upon terra firma and your soul is no longerin jeopardy. Here is a sure foundation, for the Divine promise cannot fail! If my salvation depends upon
the Lord and is received by me on the ground that the Lord has decreed it, promised it in Covenant and ensured it to me bythe blood of Jesus Christ, then it is so mine that neither life nor death nor Satan nor the world shall ever rob me of it!If I live to the age of Methuselah, my faith will have the same promises to rest upon-and clinging there she will defy thelapse of years to change her immutable security.
The promise would not be sure to one of the seed by any other means than that of Grace through faith, but now it is sure toall the seed. Moreover, if the promise had been made to works, there are some of the seed to whom, most evidently, it nevercould come. One of the seed of Abraham hung dying upon a cross and within an hour or two his bones were broken that he mightthe more quickly die and be buried. Now, if salvation to that poor dying thief must come by works, how can he be saved? Hishands and feet are fastened up and he is in the very grip of Death-what can he do? The promise would not have been sure tohim, my Brothers and Sisters, if there had been any active condition! But he believed, cast a saving eye upon the Lord Jesusand said, "Lord, remember me," and the promise was most sure to him, for the answer was-"Today shall you be with Me in Paradise"!
Many a chosen one of God is brought into such a condition that nothing is possible to him except faith, but Grace has madethe act of believing divinely possible. Well was it for those bitten by serpents that all that was asked of them was a look,for this was possible even when the hot venom made the blood boil and scalded all the frame with fever! Faith is possibleto the blind, the lame, the deaf, the dumb! Faith is possible to the almost-idiot, the desponding and the guilty! Faith canbe possessed by babes and by the extremely aged, by the illiterate as well as by the instructed! It is well chosen as thecup to convey the living water, for it is not too heavy for the weak, nor too huge for the little, nor too small for the full-grown.
Now, Brothers and Sisters, I have done when I have said just this. I will ask you who have believed in Christ, one question-youwho are resting in the promise of God, you who are depending upon the finished work of Him who was delivered for your offenses-howdo you feel? Are you rejoicing in your unquestionable safety? As I have turned this matter over and thought upon it, my soulhas dwelt in perfect peace! I cannot conceive anything that God Himself could give to the Believer which would make him moresafe than the work of Christ has made him. God cannot lie! Are you not sure of this? He must keep His promises! Are you notcertain of this? What more do you need? As a little child believes its father's words without any question, even so shouldwe rest on the bare, naked promise of Jehovah! And in so doing we become conscious of a peace that passes all understanding,which keeps our hearts and minds by Christ Jesus.
I dare not say otherwise, nor be silent, for I am conscious of being able to say-"therefore being justified by faith, I havepeace with God." In that place of the soul, much love springs up and inward unity to God and conformity to Christ. Faith believesher God and trusts Him for time and eternity, for little things and great things, for body and for soul and this leads onto still higher results! O blessed God, what a union of desire, heart and aim exists between You and the soul that trustsYou! How are we brought into harmony with Your mind and purposes! How is our heart made to delight in You! How completelyis our soul "bound up in the bundle of life with the soul of the Lord our God"!
We grow up into Him in all things who is our Head, our Life, our All. I charge you, dear children of God, "as you have receivedChrist Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." Live in His peace and abound in it more and more. Do not be afraid of being too peaceful,"rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." When you have to condemn yourself for shortcomings, yet do not questionthe promises of the Lord! When sin overcomes you, confess the fault, but do not doubt the pardon which Jesus still gives you!When sharp temptations and severe trials arise from different quarters, do not suffer them to carry you by storm-let not thestronghold and castle of your spirit be captured-"let not your heart be troubled." Stagger not at the promise through unbelief,but hold to it whether you walk in the sunshine or in Egyptian darkness. That which the Lord has promised He is able, also,to perform. Do not doubt it! Lean hard on the faithful promise and when you feel sad at heart, lean harder and harder still,for, "faithful is He that has promised, who, also, will do it."
Last of all, you sinners here this morning who have heard all about this salvation by trusting-I charge you do not rest tillyou have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ and rested in the great promises of God. Here is one-"I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more forever." Here is another which is very cheering-"Whoever callsupon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Call upon Him in prayer and then say, "Lord, I have called, and You have said Ishall be saved." Here is another gracious word-"He that believes and is
baptized shall be saved." Attend you to these two commands and then say, "Lord, I have Your Word for it that I shall be saved,and I hold You to it." Believe God, Sinner!
Oh that He would give you Grace this morning, by His Holy Spirit, to say, "How can I do otherwise than believe Him? I darenot doubt Him." O poor tried Soul, believe in Jesus so as to trust your guilty soul with Him. The more guilty you feel yourselfto be, the more is it in your power to glorify God by believing that He can forgive and renew such a guilty one as you are!If you lie buried like a fossil in the lowest stratum of sin, yet He can quarry for you and fetch you up out of the horriblepit-and make your dry, petrified heart live! Do you believe this? "If you can believe, all things are possible to him thatbelieves."
Trust the promise that He makes to every Believer that He will save him! Hold to it, for it is not a vain thing! It is yourlife! "But what if I obtain no joy or peace?" Still, believe the promise, and joy and peace will come. "But what if I seeno signs?" Ask for no signs! Be willing to trust God's Word without any other guarantee but His truthful Character and youwill thus give Him glory. "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." Believe that Jehovah cannot lie andas He has promised to forgive all who believe in Jesus, hang on to that Word and you shall be saved!
Sinners, I have set before you the way of salvation as simply as I can, will you have it or not? May the Spirit of God sweetlylead you to say, "Have it? Yes, that I will." Then go in peace and rejoice from now on and forever! God bless you. Amen.