Sermon 1868. Death and Life-the Wage and the Gift
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, NOVEMBER 1, 1885,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23.
IN the fifth chapter of this Epistle, Paul had shown, at considerable length, our justification from sin through the righteousnessof Jesus Christ our Savior. Our Apostle goes on to speak of our sanctification in Christ, that as by the righteousness ofChrist we have been delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin, so by the power and life of Christ in us we are deliveredfrom the dominion of sin, so as not to live any longer therein. His objective is to show that true servants of God cannotlive in sin-that by reason of our newness of life in Christ, it is not possible that we should continue to yield our members,instruments unto iniquity. We have passed out of the realm of death. We have come into the domain of life and, therefore,we must act according to that life and that life-being in its essence, pure, holy and heavenly-we must proceed from righteousnessunto holiness.
While he is driving at this argument, our Apostle incidentally lets fall the text which may be regarded as a Christian proverb,a golden sentence, a Divine statement of Truth worthy to be written across the sky! As Jesus said of the woman who anointedHim to His burial, "Wherever this Gospel shall be preached, in the whole world, there shall also, this, what this woman hasdone, be told for a memorial of her." And so I may say, "Wherever the Gospel is preached, there shall this golden sentencewhich the Apostle has let fall, be repeated as a proof of his clearness in the faith." Here you have both the essence of theGospel and a statement of that misery from which the Gospel delivers all who believe! "The wages of sin is death; but thegift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
First, it will be my painful duty to dwell, for a while, upon death as the wages of sin. And then, more joyfully, we shallclose our morning's meditation by considering eternal life as the gift of God.
I. First, DEATH IS THE WAGES OF SIN. The Apostle has, in his mind's eye, the figure of a soldier receiving his pay. Sin, thecaptain, pays his hired soldiers a dreadful wage. The original word signifies, "rations," or some translate it "stipend."It means the payment which soldiers receive, put in the plural as wages, because pay can be given in different forms-soldiersmight be paid in meat, or in meal, or in money, or in part by their clothing, or by lands promised when the time of servicecame to an end. Now that which sin, the grim captain, pays to those who are under him, is comprehended in this terrible term,"death." It is a word as full as it is short. A legion of terrors are found around this "king of terrors." Death is the rationswhich sin pays to those who enlist beneath its banner!
Now "sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of the Law of God." Sin is that evil power which is in the world inrebellion against the good and gracious power of righteousness which sits upon the Throne of God. This evil power of unholiness,untruth, sin, contrariety to the mind of God, holds the great mass of our fellow men beneath its sway at this hour. The rationswith which it rewards the most desperate valor of its champions is death.
To set forth this terrible fact, I shall make a few observations. First, death is the natural result of all sin. When manacts according to God's order, he lives, but when he breaks his Maker's laws, he wrecks himself and does that which causesdeath. The Lord warned Adam thus-"In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die." Dying does not mean ceasing to exist,for Adam did not cease to exist, nor do those who die. The term, "death," conveys to me no such idea as that of ceasing toexist, or how could I understand that word in 1 John 3:14-"He that loves not his brother abides in death"? How could a man abide in annihilation? A grain of wheat falls into the groundand dies, but it does not cease to be! No, rather, it brings forth much fruit. That Adam did die in the day when he ate ofthat fruit is certain, or else the Lord spoke not the truth. His nature was wrecked and ruined by separation from God andby a fall from that condition
which constitutes the true life of man. When any man commits sin, he dies to holiness and purity. No transgression is venial,but every sin is mortal and genders death.
The further a man goes in lust and iniquity, the more dead he becomes to purity and holiness-he loses the power to appreciatethe beauties of virtue, or to be disgusted with the abominations of vice. Our nature, at the very outset, has lost that delicacyof perception which comes of healthy life and, as men proceed in unchastity, or injustice, or unbelief, or sin of any kind,they enter deeper and deeper into that awful moral death which is the sure wage of sin. You can sin yourself into an utterdeadness of conscience and that is the first wage of your service of sin.
All desire after God and all delight in Him die out where sin reigns. Death is the separation of the soul from God. Alas,this death has passed upon all men! Can two walk together except they are agreed? Man may continue to believe in the existenceof God, but for all practical purposes God, to him, is really non-existent. The fool has said in his heart, "No God"-he doesnot desire God-indeed, he wishes there were no God. As for seeking after God and delighting himself in the Almighty, the sinnerknows nothing thereof-his sin has killed him towards all desire for God, or love to Him, or delight in Him. He is to God deadwhile he lives. "To be carnally minded is death."
As there is, through sin, a death to God, so is there a death to all spiritual things. "The natural man receives not the thingsof the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him. Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."The man does not perceive and discern spiritual things, for he is dead to them. Talk to him of the sorrows of the spirituallife-he has never felt them and he despises them as mean cant! Speak to him of the joys of the spiritual life and you willsoon discover that you are casting your pearls before swine-he has never sought such joys-he does not believe in them andhe thinks you a fanatic for talking such nonsense! He is as dead to spiritual realities as a mole is blind to astronomy, ora stone is dead to music! To him it is as though there were neither angel, nor spirit, nor God, nor Mercy Seat, nor Christ,nor holiness, nor Heaven, nor Hell. Giving himself up to the dominion of sin, the sinner receives, more and more, the resultof his sin, even as the Apostle says, "Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death." "He that sows to his flesh shall ofthe flesh reap corruption."
Inasmuch as in holy and spiritual things dwells the highest happiness of our manhood, this man becomes an unhappy being. Atfirst by deprivation of the joy which spiritual life brings with it and, afterwards, by suffering the inevitable misery ofspiritual death. God has justly appointed that if a man will not be conformed to God, he shall not taste of happiness. Andif a man will follow after that which is evil, that evil shall, of necessity, bring with it sorrow and unrest- Romans 2:9. Since sin as naturally brings spiritual death upon men as fire brings burning, death is spoken of as the wages of sin.
I would observe next, that the killing power of some sins is manifest to all observers, for it operates upon the body andthe mind as well as upon the spirit. This spiritual death of which I speak may not strike some of you with fear-you may thinkit a small matter, though to me, I confess that Hell, however painted, is never so terrible a thing as the death which fillsit! Some sins are murderous to a degree which is clear to all. For instance, if a man takes to drunkenness, or if he indulgesin lasciviousness, it is manifest even to the unspiritual that the wages of sin is death. See how by many diseases and deliriumsthe drunk destroys himself-he has only to drink hard enough and his grave will be dug. The horrors which attend upon the filthylusts of the flesh I will not dare to mention, but many a body rotting above ground shall be my silent witness. All know,or ought to know, the mischief which is occasioned to men and women by the violation of that Law which commands us to be pure!
I spoke, the other day, to an aged Brother who feels the result of natural decay, but is, in all other respects, sound andhealthy. I congratulated him upon retaining so much vigor at such an age. "Yes," he replied, "I owe it to the Grace of Godthat I never abused myself in my younger days and, therefore, I have a store of strength in my old age." How many, on thecontrary, feel the sins of their youth in their bones and in their flesh! We have all known that sins of the flesh kill theflesh and, therefore, we may infer that sins of the mind kill the mind. Death in any part of our manhood breeds death to thewhole. Death drags man down from the power, beauty and joy of life to the wretched existence, the feebleness, the abominablenessof death! The man is no more a man, but the wreck of a man-and his body is not the house of his soul, but a ruin in whichhis poor spirit seeks in vain for comfort. A withered heart, a blinded mind, a blasted being-such is the death which comesof sin. The wage of sin is openly death when it assumes certain forms and it is always really so, take what form it may.
Now this tendency is in every case the same. "The wages of sin is death" everywhere to everyone! It is so not only where youcan see it operating upon the body, but where you cannot see it. I may, perhaps, startle you when I say that the wages ofsin is death even in the man who has eternal life. Sin has the same deadly character to one as to the other, only an antidoteis found. You, my Christian Brothers and Sisters, you cannot fall into sin without its being poison to you, as well as toanybody else! In fact, to you it is more evidently poison than to those hardened to it! If you sin, it destroys your joy,your power in prayer, your confidence towards God. If you have spent evenings in frivolity with worldlings, you have feltthe deadening influence of their society. What about your prayers at night? You cannot draw near unto God. The operation ofsin upon your spirit is most injurious to your communion with God. You are like a man who has taken a noxious drug, whosefumes are stupefying the brain and sending the heart into slumber! If you, being a child of God, fall into any of the sinswhich so easily beset you, I am sure you will never find that those sins quicken your Grace or increase your faith-on thecontrary, they will work you evil, only evil and that continually.
Sin is deadly to any man and every man, whoever he may be! And were it not for the mighty curative operation which the indwellingSpirit of God is always carrying on upon the Believer's nature, not one of us would survive the deadly effects of even thosesins of infirmity and ignorance into which we fall. I wonder not that Paul cried aloud, "O wretched man that I am! Who shalldeliver me from the body of this death?" If a man takes poison, if it does not absolutely kill him, it injures him and thusproves its killing tendency. In certain places the air is pestilential and though a very healthy man may pass through themand seem none the worse, yet this does not disprove the general deadly tendency of the malarious district, nor does it evenprove that the healthy person is not secretly but really injured by having been there. Evils caused by sin may be too deepto be at once visible, just as the most serious of diseases have their periods of incubation during which the person affectedhas no idea of the ill which is hatching within him. Sin is, in itself, an unmitigated evil root which bears wormwood. Sinis death! Wonder not, therefore, that the Apostle says, "the wages of sin is death." As the sparks fly upward and as the rainfall to the ground, so sin leads to death. As the river takes its leap in the thundering cataract, so must the stream of sincreate the fall of death!
Moreover, when we read of anything being a wage, what does it mean? It means that it is a reward for labor. Death is sin'sdue reward and it must be paid. An employer employs a man and it is due to that man that he should receive his wages. If hisemployer did not pay him his wages, it would be an act of gross injustice. Now, if sin did not bring upon man death and misery,it would be an injustice! It is necessary for the very standing of the universe that sin should be punished. It must be so!They that sow, must reap. The sin which hires you must pay you. Wrong cannot produce right. Iniquity, transgression and sinmust, in the nature of things, become darkness, sorrow, misery, death. Every transgression and disobedience must receive itsjust recompense of reward. There is no use in attempting to alter it so long as God and justice reign-those who do sin's workmust receive sin's wages-and "the wages of sin is death."
Now, observe, that this death, this wage of sin, is in part received by men, now, as soldiers receive their rations, day byday. It is a terrible thing that they so receive it. The Scripture says, "If you live after the flesh, you shall die"-sucha life is a continued dying. Again, it is written, "She that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives." The wrath of Godabides on him that believes not on the Son of God-it is there already. I would that men here who are not converted would rememberwhere they now are-they are "dead in trespasses and sins!" O Sirs, you are not merely sick, but you are "dead in your sins!"You are already dead to the highest spiritual enjoyments and can never know them except by passing from death unto life! Youcannot rejoice in God, you cannot know spiritual Truth, you cannot taste of spiritual bliss, for your sin deadens you to thesethings every day that you live in it. To all that which is worthy of a man, to all that which is the true life of manhood,you are dead through sin!
But then a Roman soldier did not enlist merely for his rations. His chief pay often lay in the share of the booty which hereceived at the end of a war. He expected to share in his captain's triumph and to be a partaker in the spoil. Death is theultimate wage of sin. The death which is here intended is the eternal loss and wreckage of the soul, the destruction of allabout it that is worth having, the drifting of the guilty being forever upon the full tide of those evil tendencies whichcaused his sin and were further increased by sin. When all comes to all, this is where sin will drive you-it will perpetuateitself and so, forever kill the soul to God, goodness, joy and hope. You will enter upon a world in which the highest enjoymentswhich even God, Himself, can provide for men will be revealed, but they will be hidden from your eyes because you will beutterly incapable of knowing, appreciating and enjoying them!
Being under the ever-growing power of sin, it will become more and more a hopeless thing that you should escape from the deathwhich thus settles down upon you. All the agencies which could have recovered you from the clutches of death have failed tobless you in the life which has come to an end-and now, in eternity, neither the death of Christ, nor the Holy Spirit, northe ministry of the Word of God, will ever again operate upon you. Till your last moments, you chose sin, and through eternityyou will still choose it-for this death is the reward of your sin! Our Lord Himself said, "These shall go away into everlastingpunishment." Then you shall come to know to the fullest what that awful word, "death," really means as God intends it. Meanwhile,if you would escape this dreadful doom, read your Bible and see how the result of sin is expounded. As our Savior taught,that future death includes within itself the fire which never shall be quenched, the worm that never dies, the outer darkness,the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and the departure into everlasting fire which begins with a curse from the lipsof Love!
Alienation from God is death and can never be otherwise. The Holy Spirit, speaking of the ungodly, says, "In flaming firetaking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished witheverlasting destruction from the Presence of the Lord and from the Glory of His power." This will be the ultimatum of sin!As surely as rivers run into the sea, so surely must sin run into death-there is no help for it! The hard and impenitent heartheaps up for itself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God. Sin inevitably pays toall who are its servants the death by which bondage to its power is sealed forever! O my God, grant us Grace to see what awretched service this is which pays such terrible rations, now, and gives such a terrible dividing of the spoil in the end!
I shall not longer dwell upon it, the subject is so distressing to me, except that I must add a few solemn words. The miseryof the misery of sin is that it is earned. Every pang that shall fall upon the ungodly, either in this life or in the lifeto come, will have this for its sting-that it was duly earned! The sinner may well say, "I worked for this; I laid myselfout to earn this; I now feel the misery of what I willfully did." Death is the result of being out of gear with God. But thesinner puts himself into that condition. If men, in the world to come could say, "this misery of ours has come upon us byan arbitrary arrangement on the part of God, quite apart from its just results," then they would derive from that fact somekind of comfort to their conscience, some easement of their biting remorse. But when they will be obliged to acknowledge thatall their woe was their own choice in choosing sin-and is still their own choice in abiding in sin-this will scourge them,indeed!
Their sin is their Hell! The worm which gnaws at the heart of the lost soul is its own willful hate of God and love of evil.O lover of sin, you are under the power of this death-this worse than death! You are dead to God, dead to holiness, dead tolove and dead to true happiness-and you have brought this death upon yourself, every part and particle of it! You have chosenthat which has made you a wreck and a ruin-and that in the teeth of many warnings and admonitions! It must be so that "thewages of sin is death," and the terror of that death is that it comes as a wage! Why will you die? Why will you earn death?Why will you choose your own delusions? Have you wickedly determined to prove what outer darkness means? Have you turned yourback on God just to see how a man must fare who wars with his Maker? Have not enough dashed themselves to pieces on the rockof sin? Why will you do the same? If you will do so, this shall be the misery of your misery-that you brought it on yourselvesand that you rejected the one remedy provided by the Lord in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ!
Note, next-and I speak with the truest compassion-that it will be the folly offollies to go on working for such wage. Up tonow, they that have worked for sin have found no profit in it. What fruit have you had, any of you, in the things in whichyou have cause to be ashamed? Has sin ever brought you any real benefit? Come, now, and let us reason to-gether-up till nowhas doing wrong ever worked for your health, or your happiness? Are you the better for hate, or greed, or lust, or drink?Has sin ever developed your inner self into anything worth calling life? You know it has not! It has rather destroyed youthan improved you-and you know it. Why, then, will you go further in sin? Have you not learned enough, already, of the deadlynature of evil? Why will you press further into this barren region which will become more and more a howling wilderness toyou as you advance into it? Why will you go where it will be more and more difficult to return? Oh, may God's infinite mercyprevent our being such madmen as to labor in the very fire to earn nothing else but death! God forbid that we should plungefrom sin to sin by an inventiveness of rebellion-only to discover more and more what it is to be dead forever to God, Heaven,hope and everything that is to be desired!
Let me add, it ought to be the grief of griefs to each of us that we have sinned. Oh, misery, to have worked so long in aservice which brings such terrible wages! Though I have known the Lord, now, these 36 years, I still regret most deeply everysin that I have ever committed against the perfect Law of the Lord. I take it that repentance is not the temporary act ofa certain period of time, but it is the spirit of the whole life after conversion. When we know we are forgiven, we repentall the more that we ever loved that sin which is so abominable unto God and so evil in every way. Evil seems most evil whenwe have the clearest sense of Divine Goodness. Its constant wage is death and only death-and our lamentation is that we harboredthis assassin, yes, even became its slave! Let us humble ourselves before God because we have played the fool exceedinglyby sinning against Him. We have wounded, injured and destroyed ourselves-and all for nothing- our only wage being a stilldeeper destruction!
Oh you that have never repented, but are still abiding in this spiritual death, how I long that the voice of Jesus may echoin that sepulcher of sin in which you now lie asleep! May it awaken you and make you dread the death that never dies! Oh thatyou may turn over, as it were, in your grave and begin to moan, "O God, deliver me!" If there is such a thought as that inyour soul, I shall hope that the Spirit of God has begun to bring life into your spirit. But what an awful thing it is tohave spent all these days-and some of you are getting gray-in only doing that which is your undoing, in giving life to thatwhich is your death! The sole wage that some of you have yet earned is death. Is not this a poor reward for all the risk,labor and perseverance with which you have served sin? God help you to see your folly and repent of
One thought more before I leave this point, and that is it must certainly be a miracle of miracles if any sinner here doesnot remain forever beneath the power of sin. Sin has this mischief about it, that it strikes a man with spiritual paralysis-and how can such a palsied one ward off a further blow? It makes the man dead-and to what purpose do we appeal to him thatis dead? I have tried to describe what a dreadful thing it is to be dead to God, purity and happiness-but the dead man doesnot know or care for these things. Our preaching may well be called foolishness, since it is addressed to ears that cannot,or, rather, will not, hear. What a miracle of miracles it is when the Divine Life comes streaming down into the heart thatsin has chilled into death! What a blessedness it is when God interposes and finds a way by which the wage most justly dueshall not be paid!
It is a necessity that every transgression should have its recompense, but in the Person of the Lord Jesus, such an expiationis made that sin pays its wage of death to Him who did not earn it, while those who did earn it go free! O Sinner, none cansave you but the God who made you! You, as dead in sin, are in such a state that you will rot into corruption and go on foreverrotting into a yet fouler and filthier corruption throughout the ages-and none can prevent it but Almighty God, Himself! Onlyone power is capable of affording you the help you need! And that power works through the Lord Jesus, who is, at this moment,mighty to save. Oh, that the miracle of miracles might be worked upon you! But if not, there it stands, "The wages of sinis death." Alas, I fear that sin will pervert even the ministry of the Word of God and make it a savor of death unto death!This is the first teaching of the text and I pray the Holy Spirit to impress it on every conscience!
II. And now I am glad to pass into liberty and joy while I speak on the second subject-ETERNAL LIFE IS THE GIFT OF GOD.
Note well the change-death is a wage, but life is a gift. Sin brings its natural consequences with it, but eternal life isnot the purchase of human merit, but the free gift of the love of God. The abounding goodness of the Most High, alone, grantslife to those who are dead by sin. It is with clear intent to teach us the Doctrine of the Grace of God that the Apostle alteredthe word here, from wages, to gift. Naturally he would have said, "The wages of sin is death, but the wages of righteousnessis eternal life." But he wished to show us that life comes upon quite a different principle from that upon which death comes.In salvation all is of free gift-in damnation everything is of justice and desert. When a man is lost, he has earned it-whena man is saved, it is given him!
Let us notice, first, that eternal life is imparted by Grace through faith. When it first enters the soul, it comes as God'sfree gift. The dead cannot earn life-the very supposition is absurd! Eternal life enjoyed on earth comes to us as a gift."What!" says one, "do you mean to say that eternal life comes into the soul here?" I say yes, here, or else never! Eternallife must be our possession now, for if we die without it, it will never be our possession in the world to come, which isnot the state of probation, but of fixed and settled reward! When the flame of eternal life first drops into a man's heart,it is
not as the result of any good works of his which preceded it, for there were none. Nor was it the result of any feelings ofhis, for good feelings were not there till the life came. Both good works and good feelings are the fruit of the heavenlylife which enters the heart and makes us conscious of its entrance by working in us repentance and faith in our Lord JesusChrist. "Eternal life is the gift of God in Jesus Christ." By faith we come consciously into Christ. We trust Him, we restupon Him, we become one with Him and thus eternal life manifests itself.
Has He not said, "I give unto My sheep eternal life"? And again, "He that believes in Him has everlasting life"? O Beloved,you that have been quickened by the Spirit of God, I am sure you trace that first quickening to the Grace of God! Whateveryour doctrinal views may be, you are all agreed in the experimental acknowledgment that by the Grace of God you are what youare. How could you, being dead, give yourself life? How could you, being the slave of sin, set yourself free? But the Lord,in mercy, visited you as surely as the Lord Jesus Christ visited the tomb of Lazarus. And He spoke with His almighty voiceand bade you come to life-and you arose and came to life at His bidding! You remember well the change that came upon you.If any man here could have been literally dead and then could have been made to live, what a wonderful experience his wouldhave been! We should go a long way to hear the story of a man who had been dead and then was made alive again!
But I tell you, his experience, if he could tell it, would not be any more wonderful than our experience as quickened fromdeath in sin, for we have suffered the pains that come through the entrance of life into the soul and we know the joys whichafterwards come of it! We have seen the light that life brings to the spiritual eyes! We have felt the emotions that lifebrings to the quickened heart! We have known the joys which life and, only life, can bring to the entire man! We can tellyou something about these things, but if you want to know them to the fullest, you must feel them for yourselves. "You mustbe born again." We bear our witness that eternal life within our spirit is not of our earning, but the gift of
Beloved, since we received eternal life, we have gone on to grow and we have made great advances in the Divine Life-our littletrembling faith has now grown to be full assurance! That zeal of ours which burned so low that we hardly dared to attemptanything for Jesus has now flamed up into full consecration so that we live to His praise! From where has this growth come?Is it not still a free gift? Have you received an increase of life by the Law, or has it come to you as the free gift of God?I know what you will say! And if any of you have so grown in Grace that you have become ripe Christians. If any of you havebeen taught of God so that you can teach others. If any of you have been led by the Holy Spirit so that your sanctificationis known unto all men and you have become saintly men and women-I am still sure that your holiness and maturity are giftsreceived-not wages earned! I will put the question to you again-Did this abundant life come to you by the works of the Law,or by Grace through faith which is in Christ Jesus? Your instantaneous answer is, "It is all of Grace, in the latter as wellas in the earlier stages." Yes, in every degree, the gift of God is eternal life ill Christ Jesus!
Yes, and when we get to Heaven and the eternal life shall there be developed as a bud opens into a full-blown rose- when ourlife shall embrace God's life and God's life shall encompass ours; when we shall be abundantly alive to everything that isholy, Divine, heavenly, blessed and eternally glorious-oh, then we shall confess that our life was all of the Grace of God,the free gift of God in Jesus Christ our Lord! I am sure that our heavenly education will only make us know more and morefully that while death is the well-earned wages of sin, eternal life is, from beginning to end, the gift of infinite Grace.
Beloved, observe gratefully what a wonderful gift this is-"the gift of God"-the gift which Jesus bestows upon every Believer,for, "to as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on His name;which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." How express is our Lord'sstatement-"He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but thewrath of God abides in him"! What a life this is! It most be of a wonderful sort because it is called, "life," par excellence,emphatically, "life," true life, real life, essential life! This does not mean mere existence, as some vainly talk. Therenever was a greater blunder than to confuse life with existence, or death with non-existence! These are two totally differentand distinct ideas. The life of man means the existence of man as he ought to exist-in union with God and, consequently, inholiness, purity, health and happiness!
Man, as God intended him to be, is man enjoying life-man, as sin makes men-is man abiding in death. All that man can receiveof joy and honor, the Lord gives to man to constitute eternal life in the world to come. What a life is this! The life thatis imparted to us in regeneration is God's own life, brought into us by "the living and incorruptible seed which lives andabides forever." We are akin to God by the new birth and by loving union with His Son, Jesus Christ. What must life mean inGod's sense of it?
Moreover, we have life eternal, too, never ending. Whatever else may end, this never can. It can neither be killed by temptation,nor destroyed by trial, nor quenched by death, nor worn out by the ages. The gift of the eternal God is eternal life! Thosewho talk about a man having everlasting life and losing it, do not know the force of language. If a man has eternal life,it is eternal and cannot, therefore, end or be lost! If it is everlasting, it is "everlasting!" To lose it would prove thatit was not everlasting. No, if you have eternal life, you can never perish! If God has bestowed it upon you, it will not berecalled, "for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." This eternal life is evidently a free gift, for how couldany man obtain it in any other way? It is too precious to be bought, too Divine to be made by man! If it had to be earned,how could you have earned it? You, I mean, who have already earned death! The wage due to you, already, was death-and by thatwage you were effectually shut out all possibility of ever earning life. Indeed, the earning of life seems to me to be, fromthe beginning, out of the question. It has come to us as a free gift-it could not come in any other way.
Furthermore, remember that it is life in Jesus. The, "through," of our version is, "in," in the original. We are in everlastingunion with the blessed Person of the Son of God and, therefore, we live! To be in Christ is a mystery of bliss. The Apostlefelt, again, that this was an occasion for rehearsing our blessed Master's names and titles of honor-"in Jesus Christ ourLord." I noted to you on a former occasion how, at certain seasons, the various honors and titles of great men are proclaimedby heralds with becoming state and so here, to the praise of the Lord Jesus, Paul writes His full degree-"Eternal life inJesus Christ our Lord." He writes at large the august name before which every knee shall bow and he links our life with Him.Here we read the cheering and precious name of Jesus! By that name He is nearest to man- when He was born into our nature,He was named Jesus, "for He shall save His people from their sins." The life which comes in connection with Him is salvationfrom sin! In this Savior is life.
The next name is, "Christ," or, Anointed, by which name He is nearest to God being sent forth and anointed of God to treatwith us on God's behalf. He is the Lord's Christ and our Jesus. Next, He is called, "Our Lord." Herein lies the Glory of ouranointed Savior-we, through Grace, becoming servants, participate in the life and Glory of our Lord. He reigns as our Lordand by His reigning power He shows Himself to be the Lord and Giver of life. "All live unto Him." Our Lord has life in Himselfand breathes it into us! What a life this is-a life saved from sin, a life anointed of the Holy Spirit, a life in union withHim who is Lord of All! This is the life which is peculiarly the gift of God.
Thus I have set forth this doctrine and I desire to apply it by adding a little more of practical importance. First, let uscome at this time, one and all, and receive this Divine Life as a gift in Christ Jesus. If any of you have been working forit by going about to establish your own righteousness, I beseech you to end the foolish labor by submitting yourselves tothe righteousness of God! It you have been trying to feel so much, or to pray so much, or to mourn so much, forbear from thusoffering a price and come and receive life as a free gift from your God! Pull down the idol of your pride and humbly sue forpardoning Grace on the plea of mercy! Believe and live! You are not called upon to earn life, but to receive it- receive itas freely as your lungs take in the air you breathe! If you are dead in sin at this moment, yet the Gospel of Life has comenear to you. With that Gospel, there comes the life-giving wind of the Eternal Spirit. He can call you out of your ruin, wreckageand death-and make you live. This is His word, "Awake, you that sleep, and rise from the dead, and Christ shall give you life."
Will you have it as a gift? If there is any true life in you, your answer will be quick and hearty. You will be lost if youdo not receive this gift! Your earnings will be paid into your bosom and dread will be the death which will settle down uponyou. The acceptance of a free gift would not be difficult if we were not proud. Accept it-God help you to accept it at once!Even that acceptance will be God's gift, for the will to live is life-and all true life, from beginning to end, is entirelyof the Lord!
Beloved, have we accepted that free gift of eternal life? Let us abide in it. Let us never be tempted to try the Law of Merit.Let us never attempt to live by our earnings. No doubt eternal life is a reward in one sense, but it is always a re-
ward of Grace, not a reward of debt. The Lord shall give us a crown of life at last as a reward, but even then we shall confessthat He first gave us the work by which the crown was won! The Lord first gives us good works and then rewards us for them(Eph. 2:10)! The labor of love is, in itself, a gift of love! Grace reigns all along-not only in removing sin, but in working virtue.
Finally, are we now abiding in eternal life, trusting in the Son of God and clinging to His garment? Then let us live to HisGlory. Do we know that because He lives, we shall also live? If so, let us show, by our gratitude, how greatly we prize thisgift! We dwell in a world where death is manifesting itself in various forms of corruption everywhere - therefore let us rememberfrom what the Lord has delivered us! Let no man boast in his heart that he is not subject to the vile influences which holdthe world in its corruption. Let no pride, because of our new life, ever cross our spirit. Chase every such thought as thataway with detestation! If our life is of Grace, there is no room for boasting, but much space for soul-humbling. When youwalk the streets and hear the groans of the dead in the form of oaths and blasphemies, thank the Lord that you have been taughta more living language! Think of drunkenness and lust as the worms that are bred of the putridity of the death which comesof sin! You are disgusted and horrified, my Brothers and Sisters, but these things would have been in you, also, but for theGrace of God! We are like living men shut up in a morgue-wherever we turn we see the dreary works of death-but all this shouldmake us grateful to the sacred Power which has brought us out of death into spiritual life.
As for others, let us anxiously ask the question-"Can these dry bones live?" Then let us be obedient to the heavenly visionwhen the Divine Word says to us, "Son of man, prophesy upon these bones." We must cherish the faith which will enable us todo this! Moreover, a sight of the universal death of unrenewed nature should drive us to prayer, so that we cry, "Come fromthe four winds, O Breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." This prayer being offered, we should live inhopeful expectancy that the Lord will open the graves of His people and cause them to come forth and live by His Spirit. Ohfor Grace to prophesy believingly upon these bones and say, "O you dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord! Thus says the LordGod unto these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live." Beloved, we shall yet see them standup an exceedingly great army, quickened of the Lord our God! He delights to burst the bonds of death! Resurrection is oneof His chief glories. He heralds resurrection work with trumpets, angels and a glorious high throne because He delights init!
The living Jehovah rejoices to give life and especially to give it to the dead. Corruption flies before Him! Grave clothesare cut and sepulchers are broken open. "I am the resurrection and the life," says Jesus, and so He is, even at this hour!O God, save this congregation to the praise of the Glory of Your Grace, wherein You have made us to live and to be acceptedin Your well-beloved Son! Amen and Amen.