Sermon 1961. S. S.-or, the Sinner Saved
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MAY 1, 1887,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even therighteousness which is of faith? But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law ofrighteousness. Why? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at thatstumbling stone; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense: and whoever believes on Himshall not be ashamed." Romans 9:30-33.
FOR several Sabbath mornings I have sought the comfort and edification of God's people, although I trust I have not, evenin such discourses, overlooked the unconverted. How can we forget them while they are in such peril? At the same time, themain drift of the service has been for the people of God and it will not be wise to continue long in that line. We must notforget the lost sheep-it were better that we left the 99 than that we neglected the rambler. We must this morning, therefore,seek to go after that which is gone astray until we find it. Oh, that God the Holy Spirit would make every word to be fullof His power! He can fill each sentence with a celestial dynamite, an irresistible energy which will blast the rocks of self-righteousnessand make a way for the Gospel of the Grace of God through the impenetrable barriers of sin! For that end I am anxious thatwhile I speak on God's behalf, the prayers of the faithful may bring down God's power and make the feeble voice of man tobe the vehicle for the Omnipotence of God!
It is very necessary to go over the elements often -the foundation Truths of the Gospel. Schools may rise to the classics,but they can never dispense with the spelling book. All over the country there must be the repetition of the alphabet andwords of one syllable-or there will be no scholarship. I feel that it is necessary to give line upon line, precept upon precept,as to the first principles of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Multitudes of persons are in bondage and will continueto be so until they hear a very clear and simple description of the way of salvation! This is the key of their liberty. Youthat know these first things must be willing to hear them often. Indeed, I find that you are the people that never grow tiredof viewing that stone which God has laid in Zion for a foundation, for it never becomes a rock of offense to you. To you therepetitions of Jesus are more acceptable than the novelties of human invention. The system and method of salvation, therefore,will come before you, again, this morning. Oh, that to some it may seem to be heard for the first time, though they may withthe outward ear have heard "the old, old story" a thousand times! Oh, that they may now understand it, grasp it, find theblessing of it and so rejoice in God their Savior!
Paul had two facts before him. The first was that wherever he went preaching Jesus Christ, certain Gentiles believed the doctrineand straightway became justified persons, receiving forgiveness of sin and a change of heart at once. He had been in Ephesusand Thessalonica, in Corinth and in Rome-and at his preaching of the Word of Life, the heathen who were outside of the paleof true religious profession had believed in the Lord Jesus-and so had attained to righteousness and proved that they haddone so by their righteous, pure, devout lives. On the other hand, there was the sad fact that whereas he had usually commencedhis ministry in the synagogues and so had opened his commission by addressing the seed of Abraham to whom belonged the covenantsof promise, yet they had almost everywhere rejected the Messiah and refused the Grace of the Gospel. At the same time, itwas evident that they had missed the righteousness which they conceived they had obtained, for, as a nation, they were inbondage to superstitious prejudice and were fallen low, both as to morality and spirituality, insomuch that they were correctlydescribed by the Prophet when he said, "Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom and been madelike unto Gomorrah."
There were these two facts before the Apostle 's mind-the Gentiles, who had been far off, had attained to righteousness. Andthe Israelites, on the border of it, yet perished there and did not attain to the law of righteousness. To this he calls ourattention and I shall ask you to look, first of all, at a wonder of Grace-"The Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness,have attained to righteousness." Secondly, I shall ask you to note a marvel of folly-"Israel, which followed after the lawof righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness." And when I have done that, I shall have to throw my wholestrength into a discourse of affectionate concern about those of you who, as yet, have not attained unto the righteousnesswhich is of faith. Oh that you may see yourselves and then see the Lord Jesus by the light of the Holy Spirit! Like the prodigal,may it be said of each one of you, "He came to himself," and then, "he arose, and came to his Father."
I. First, I crave your earnest attention to A WONDER OF GRACE. Certain men had attained to righteousness. They had, so tospeak, "put their hand upon righteousness." They had grasped the righteousness of faith which is the righteousness of God!They could say, "therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." These, withoutboasting, could declare that Jesus Christ was made of God unto them wisdom and righteousness. In them the righteousness ofthe Law of God was fulfilled. They were at peace, for the fruit of righteousness is peace. They were grateful, earnest, devoted,zealous-and they yielded their members as instruments of righteousness unto God. The Lord had covered them with the righteousnessof Christ and had imputed into them the righteousness of His indwelling Spirit. Saintly men and saintly women were producedamong those who once had used "curious arts" and enchant-ments-in those in whom sin abounded, Grace reigned through righteousnessunto eternal life by Jesus Christ!
There were people in the world whom God, the Judge of All, accepted as righteous. Now that, alone, is a great wonder, forwe are all sinners by nature and by practice-and it is as great a marvel as the making of a world-that anyone of our raceshould attain to righteousness! Sit down, Christian, and rejoice in the righteousness which you have received by faith andyou will be filled with amazement! The more you consider the righteousness which you have received in Christ Jesus by yourfaith in Him, the more you will cry out, "Oh the depths!" It is, indeed, a miracle of love that we, who by nature were underthe curse, have now obtained the blessing of righteousness, as it is written, "For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knewno sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
The wonder grows when we consider that these persons who had attained to righteousness had come to it under great disadvantages,for they were Gentiles. The Gentiles were considered by the Jews to be off casts, outcasts and aliens from the commonwealthof Grace. They were given up to idolatry or to atheism-and the most degrading lusts were rife among them. They had gone veryfar from original righteousness. A true picture of the Gentile world in the days of Paul would have terribly dark colors init-it would be injurious to morals to describe in public the details of the lives of the best of the heathen. If you speakof the manners of the common people, you must be prepared to hear of vices which crimson the cheek of modesty. There are virtuesfor which the heathen had no name and they practiced vices for which, thank God, you have no name! The Gentiles were filledwith all unrighteousness and, therefore, they were ignorant of the requirements of the Law and of the holiness of God.
The light which shone upon the seed of Israel had not yet dawned on them. There may have been, here and there, a chosen fewlike Cornelius the centurion, and others, who followed the light which is found in nature and in the human conscience-andso welcomed all that they learned from Israel-but, taken in the bulk, John fitly described the Gentiles when he said, "Thewhole world lies in wickedness." The strange thing is that such, originally, were those men who attained unto righteousness!The Gospel came into their streets and, at first, they heard it with opposition, saying, "What will this babbler say?" Buttheir attention was attracted and they were willing to hear, again, the preacher concerning this matter! Conscience was awakenedand soon they began to enquire, "What must we do to be saved? "Having no righteousness of their own and being convinced thatthey needed one, they fled at once to the righteousness which God has prepared in His dear Son for all who believe in Him-andmultitudes believed and turned to God. Thus those who knew not the Lord became His obedient worshippers-and those who werefar off were made near by faith!
Are there not persons here whose condition is somewhat similar to that of the Gentiles? You are not religious. You are notmembers of godly families. Neither are you frequenters of our sanctuaries. But why shouldn't you, also, attain to righteousnessby faith? Wonders of Grace are things which God delights in! Why should He not work such wonders in
you? At any rate, while I preach, I am exercising faith concerning you, that you shall at once be brought to salvation andeternal life.
The marvel of Grace in the case of these Gentiles was all the greater because, as the Apostle says, "They followed not afterrighteousness." They had originally felt no desire after righteousness before God. Some of them were thoughtful, just andgenerous towards men-but righteousness and holiness towards God was not a matter after which they labored. The Gentile mindran more upon, "What shall we eat? What shall we drink?" than upon, "What is righteousness before God?" Gold or glory, poweror pleasure were the objects for which they ran-they ran no race for the prize of holiness! They were ignorant of such mattersas salvation, reconciliation with God, the inward life, sanctification and all the other mysteries and blessings of the Covenantand, therefore, they followed not after them. They were content, most of them, to live like the cattle that plowed their fields,or like the dogs that prowled through their streets-they followed the devices and desires of their own hearts. Yet when theGospel burst in upon the midnight of their souls, they received its light with joy and accepted the good news from Heavenwith much readiness of mind! They had not sought the Shepherd, but He had sought them and, laying them on His shoulders, Hebrought them to His fold. It was a wonderful thing that, though they did not follow after righteousness, yet they found it!
They are like that Indian who, passing up the mountain side pursuing game, grasped a shrub to prevent his slipping and, asits roots gave way, they uncovered masses of pure silver-and thus the richest silver mine was discovered by a happy circumstanceby one who looked not for it! These Gentiles discovered in Christ the righteousness which they needed, but which they hadnever dreamed of finding. This reminds us of our Lord's own parable-a man was plowing with oxen and, all of a sudden, theplowshare struck upon an unusual obstacle. He stopped the plow, turned up the soil and, low, he found a crock of gold! This"treasure hid in a field" at once won his heart and, for joy thereof, he sold all that he had and bought the field. Gracefinds men who otherwise would never have found Grace! Oh, the glorious Grace of God which brings the righteousness of Christfull often to those who never sought it-to those who had no religiousness, nor even tendencies that way! Saul, the son ofKish, went to seek his father's donkeys and found the kingdom-and even thus have careless and worldly persons been made toknow the Lord when it seemed highly improbable that they would ever do so! This is a great wonder for which all Heaven ringswith hallelujahs to God!
Observe that these unlikely persons did really believe and so attained to righteousness. When the Gospel came to them, theyheard it with deep attention. There was a something about it which powerfully attracted them. You know who has said, "I, ifI am lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." This Divine charm drew them to consider the doctrine and when they came to understandit, they perceived that it suited their need as a shoe fits a foot. It revealed their secret needs and wounds, but it alsoprovided for them and so, having considered the thing, they accepted with joy the blessings brought to them in the Gospel.They at once believed in the Lord Jesus! The thing was done suddenly, but it was well done. Their first hearing of the Gospelsaved them. We read of one of them, that he had shut up the preacher in the prison and had gone to bed. But in the middleof the night an earthquake shook the prison-and that night he not only became a Believer, but he was baptized-and all hishousehold! These Gentiles did not need hammering at so long as some ofyou do. They did not require the preacher to rack hisbrains to find fresh illustrations and arguments-and then labor in vain year after year! At the first summons they surrendered!They no sooner saw the Light of God than they rejoiced in it! They rose in one leap from depths of sin to heights of righteousness!Those who had been ringleaders in the service of the devil became zealots in the service of Jesus Christ! The change was ascomplete as it was startling-"they attained unto righteousness"-they were accepted before God as righteous men.
The Apostle asks us, "What shall we say, then?" We say this-here is seen the sovereign appointment of the Lord. He will havemercy on whom He will have mercy! He will fulfill His promise to His Son, "Behold, You shall call a nation that You know not,and nations that knew not You shall run unto You because of the Lord, Your God, and for the Holy One of Israel: for He hasglorified You." Here I see the Almighty Lord of all speaking to the darkness and saying, "Let there be light," and there islight! Here I see the Word of the Lord coming forth out of His mouth and accomplishing the thing whereto He sent it. The voiceof the Lord which breaks the cedars of Lebanon also breaks the hard hearts of men- "the voice of the Lord which makes thehinds to calve"-creates new life in the minds of the ungodly! The Gospel is full of power and it works according to the eternalpurpose of God. The calling of the Gentiles in Paul's day is only one illustration of the frequent action of Sovereign Grace.
This also is according to Divine prophecy. What said the Lord by His servant, Hosea? "I will call them My people, which werenot My people and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said untothem, You are not My people, there shall they be called the children of the living God." Thus spoke the Prophet and so itmust be. The Lord has many more such chosen ones to call forth from their death in sin. I expect as I stand here that God'sinfinite power is about to save certain of you. I do not know to whom this Grace will be vouchsafed, but I know that the Wordof the Lord will not return unto Him void. He may bless the least likely of you. He may call the man who now says, "I do notbelieve a word of it." Friend, you do not know what you will believe before this day is over! I trust that God's power isgoing forth to bring you within the bounds of salvation. It may be that some persecuting Saul of Tarsus will, at this hour,cry, "Lord what will You have me to do?" And, on the other hand, it may be that some young man who lacks only one thing willthis day find it! So does God work in the majesty of His power, that persons who have not sought after righteousness, neverthelessare led to faith in Christ and by that faith they are immediately made righteous before God! This is what we have reason toexpect, for many promises declare that it shall be so. Did not Isaiah boldly say, "I was found of them that sought Me not;I was made manifest unto them that asked not after
This is, in fact, the Gospel of the Grace of God. That God smiles upon worthy people and rewards their goodness is not theGospel. The Gospel is that God has mercy upon the guilty and undeserving! The Gospel gives us this "faithful saying and worthyof all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." It is not the Gospel that you will be saved whodo your best and will, therefore, have some claim upon mercy. No, no! By such statements you sail upon quite another tack.The Gospel declares to you that though you have done your worst, the Lord will yet have mercy upon you if you believe in theAtonement of His dear Son! If you were turned upside down and shaken for a week, not even a dust of goodness would fall fromsome of you-and yet even you shall be made the children of God if you believe in Christ Jesus! Repent and be converted! Believein Jesus and live!
That the most guilty may yet attain to righteousness is the glorious Gospel of the blessed God which it is my delight to preach!Behold, I set before you an open door of Grace and beseech you to enter in just as you are. We come not to mend the garmentsof those of you who are already clothed, but to present the naked with the robe of Christ's righteousness! We come not hereto search for your beauties, but to unveil your deformities, your wounds, bruises and putrefying sores-and then to point youto the Lord Jesus who can heal you-and cause the beauty of the Lord to rest upon you. We preach not merit, but mercy! Nothuman goodness, but Divine Grace! Not works of the Law, but wonders of love! This is the Gospel of which the salvation ofthe Gentiles was a blessed result.
II. We see, in the second place, A MARVEL OF FOLLY-"Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, has not attainedto the law of righteousness." Multitudes have never yet found true righteousness. I fear that many of my present congregationare in the number. They are not righteous, though, perhaps they trust in themselves that they are. Their consciences are notat ease-they are conscious of serious shortcomings. They have not yet found a safe anchorage. I commend to their study thecase of Israel.
In Paul's day these people were, first of all, very advantageously placed. They were of the chosen race of Israel. They hadbeen born, as it were, within the visible Church, circumcised and brought up to know the Law of Moses. And yet they had neverattained to righteousness! Like Gideon's fleece, they were dry while the floor around was wet. There are those present whowere nursed in the lap of piety-from their babyhood they heard the name of Jesus! They have scarcely been absent a singleSabbath from the courts of the Lord's House. They went from the Sunday school to the Bible class and it was hoped that theywould go from there to the Church, but it has not proved so. Now that they have reached riper years, they are still hoveringaround the gates of mercy, but they have not entered upon the way of life. My Hearer, I am frightened for you and such asyou. I tremble for you who are so good, so religious, so zealous and yet are not regenerate! You are the child of Nature finelydressed, but not the living child of Grace! You look somewhat like a Christian, but as you are not converted and have neverbecome as a little child, you have not entered the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a misery of miseries that you should stand onsuch a vantage ground, as many of you do, and yet be lost! Shall it be so? Turn you, turn you, why will you die?
It was not merely that they had many advantages, but these Israelites were earnest and zealous in following after the lawof righteousness. Alas, many who have never forgotten a single outward rite or ceremony of the church and are al-
ways zealous for taking the sacrament and regular attendance at their place of worship are, nevertheless, quite dead as tospiritual things! Some even kneel down every morning and night and repeat a prayer. They pay everybody they owe. They arealways kind to their neighbors and they do not refuse their help to the subscription list! And yet they are quite out of therunning. Some of you know that it is so! You dare not die as you are-in fact, you can hardly go on living as you now feel.Nobody could put a finger upon an open fault in you and yet you are like a rosy apple which is rotten at the core. You knowit is so! At least you have a shrewd suspicion that all is not right between you and God. You have no peace, no joy-and whenyou hear others rejoicing in the Lord, you either think they are presumptuous, or else you envy them-as well you may!
Thousands of people in England are perishing in the light, even as the heathen perish in the dark! Many are wrapping themselvesup in their own righteousness and are as sure to be lost as if the nakedness of their sin could be seen by all men! I prayyou, take heed to yourselves, you that follow after the law of righteousness. It is concerning such as you that the ApostlePaul had great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart. Remember, you may be in the visible Church and yet may be strangersto the Grace of God! You may be earnestly seeking righteousness in the wrong way-and this is a terrible thing.
Notice that these people made a mistake at the very beginning-it may not seem a great one, but it was so in reality. Israeldid not follow after righteousness, but after "the law of righteousness." They missed the spirit, which is righteousness,and followed after the mere letter of the Law. To be really righteous was not their aim, but to do righteousness was theirutmost notion. They looked at, "You shall not kill," "You shall not commit adultery," "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep itholy" and so forth. But to love God with all their heart was not thought of and yet this is the essence of righteousness!They looked at the letter of the Law and were careful to pay tithe upon mint and anise and to attend to all sorts of smallpoints and niceties-but to cleanse the heart and purify the motive did not occur to them. They thought of what a man does,but they forgot the importance of what a man is. Love to God and likeness to God were forgotten in a servile attempt to observethe letter of the Law.
And so we see people everywhere, nowadays, consider what kind of dress a clergyman ought to wear on a certain day and whichposition he should occupy at the communion table! And what should be the decoration of the place of worship and what shouldbe the proper music for the hymn and so forth. But to what purpose is all this? To be right in heart with God, to trust inHis dear Son and to be renewed in His image is better than all rituals! Among ourselves there are certain people who are nothingif they are not orthodox-they make a man an offender for a word-and are never so happy as when they are up to their necksin controversy! In each case the external and the letter are preferred to the inward and the spiritual. O my dear Hearers,escape from this error! Be not so eager for the shell as to lose the kernel, so zealous for the form of godliness as to denythe power thereof!
What was the reason why these zealous Israelites did not attain to righteousness? They went upon a wrong principle. The principleof these Israelites was that of works. They said within themselves, "We must keep the Law of God and in that way we shallbe saved." In this way no man was ever saved, nor ever will be! Listen diligently to what I now say. The principle of salvationby our own works exalts man and you may be sure that it must be an error for that reason. On that principle you are your ownSavior! Everything hinges upon what you do and what you feel-and Jesus Christ is nowhere. If you were to get to Heaven bythis road, you would sing to your own praise and glory. This system puffs you up and makes you feel what an important personyou are to deserve so much of God. It smells of that pride which the Lord abhors!
While it thus lifts man up, it altogether ignores the great fact that you have already sinned. Are you going to be saved byyour works? What about the past? If I am going to pay my way for the future, this will not discharge my old debts. What haveyou to say for your former sins and follies? Do you imagine that you can make up for wasted years by using the rest of lifeas you ought to do? If you do your best in the future, you will do no more than you are bound to do! This will not removeyour old sins! Why, if you could start afresh as a new-born babe and keep God's Law perfectly throughout all time, yet thefaults of the past would remain like indelible blots. Sin is sin and God will punish it! And all your future obedience canbe no atonement for it.
Note again that this principle of salvation by works, while it makes much of man, makes nothing of God. It shuts out bothHis justice and His mercy. Do you really know what you are? You think you are somebody and can merit something
of God, but this is a delusion! I will tell you where you are. You are already convicted of rebellion! You are "condemnedalready." Nothing that you can do can reverse that condemnation which is already passed upon you! Your only hope lies in theroyal prerogative of God, who can grant a free pardon if He pleases to do so. You can never deserve pardon-it must be an actof pure Grace! Nothing but the long-suffering of God at this moment keeps you out of Hell. Yes, I mean you who think so muchof yourselves! I mean you who set yourselves down among the naturally good. I would gladly strip you of your finery and throwaway the false jewelry with which you have decorated yourselves-for a self-righteous man's religion is nothing but a paintedpageantry to go to Hell in! Oh, how I loathe to see the plumes and feathers of self-confidence which are an awful mockery-thelying ensigns of a false hope-flaunted by a soul that is on its way to sure damnation! O presuming souls, may God in His mercymake you see where you are! Let your cry be, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Until you have taken the sinner's place, youare in a false position and God will treat you as one of those liars who shall not tarry in His sight.
Moreover, dear Friends, the system of salvation by works is impossible to you. You cannot perfectly keep the Law of God, foryou are sold under sin. I remember when I resolved never to sin again. I sinned before I had finished my breakfast! It wasall over for that day, so I thought I would begin the next day-and I did, but my failure was repeated. Who can get clean waterfrom a polluted spring? You will never keep the Commandment without spot-it is so pure and you are so impure-it is so spiritualand you are so earthly. "There is not a just man upon earth that does good and sins
But suppose you could outwardly keep the Law of God out of a sense of obligation to do so, yet the work is not done unlessyou, yourself, are made right with God. Your heart must love God as well as your hands serve Him. If you only obey Him fromfear of Hell and hope of Heaven, what are you? Nothing but a mere hireling! This is not the filial nature of a child, whoseservice is all for love. As for myself, I serve God this day with my whole heart, but it is not from fear of Hell. My sinsare forgiven me and there is no Hell for me. Neither do I serve the Lord because I hope for Heaven by doing so, but becauseI love Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. There is evidence of righteousness in this, but no claim of any. Mere obedienceto the Lord, if there were no heart in it, would be a poor affair.
We have many servants who regard their work as drudgery and though they do their duties, they do them with no regard for ourinterests. But the old-fashioned servants were of another kind. If you have any such, you will prize one of such above a thousandothers! They love their master and they identify themselves with his interests. Old John did not need orders-he was a lawto himself-he served from love. When his master spoke one day about their parting, he wanted to know where his master wasgoing, for he had no idea of going, himself! He was part and parcel of the household and was worth his weight in diamonds.You may well say, "I would give my eyes to get such a servant as that." I dare say you would! Our Lord Jesus gave Himselfthat He might make such servants out of us. Mere work-mongering will never do this-it still leaves the man a self-seeker,a slave working under fear of the lash with no delight either in his master or in his work. O my Hearers, "you must be bornagain," or you cannot attain to righteousness! And there is no being born again on the principle of the works of the Law-thatmust be a gift of Grace-and it can only be given into that hand of faith which receives Christ Jesus the Lord!
Once more, the full development of the unrighteousness of these zealous Israelites came when they stumbled at Christ. "Theystumbled at that stumbling stone." Jesus Christ came among them and became to them a rock of offense. They seemed to standupright until then-but when He came among them, down they went into actual rebellion against the Lord and His Anointed! Yes,your moralists are the great enemies of the Cross. They do not need an atonement-they can hardly endure the doctrine. "Washedin the blood?" They cannot bear the sound of the word-they need no washing. They have kept the Law of God and what do theylack? Jesus came to proclaim salvation by Grace, but these men spurn the idea of Grace. When Jesus told them of a certaincreditor who frankly forgave those debtors who had nothing to pay, such parables were worthless to them, for they were notin debt to God, but quite the reverse!
The reception of returning prodigals might make a pretty picture, but it had no relation to them. They were not sinners likethe publican and they did not need to be taught, like the Samaritan woman, to look to Jesus for the living water. "He thatbelieves on Me has everlasting life" was not a doctrine that they cared to hear. They could see and needed not to have theireyes opened! They were born free and were never in bondage to any man! In fact, they were the whole who had no need of a physician.They regarded the mission of Christ as an insult to their virtues and, therefore, they cru-
cified Him. Self-righteousness is the enemy of the Cross-it does despite to the blood of Jesus. It sets itself up in rivalrywith the Divine Sacrifice and, therefore, it rejects the Gospel and rails at imputed righteousness. "They followed after thelaw of righteousness," but Christ, who was Righteousness itself, they would have nothing to do with. Their proud self-conceitthought itself above all need of Him!
III. In the last place, I am to come to close-hand fighting. I must deliver A DISCOURSE OF AFFECTION. As I love you, I wouldhave you saved at once. It is the first day of May. Londoners in the olden time used to go into the country on the First ofMay to wash their faces in the dew. Oh, that God would make His heavenly dew to wash your hearts this May morning! Oh, thatyou may enjoy the perfume of the Plant of renown at this hour! Some Gentiles have attained to righteousness by faith, whyshould not you? Believe in Jesus-and His righteousness is yours-to you, God imputes righteousness without works (Rom 4:6). Why do you not trust my Lord, my bleeding Lord, my risen Lord, my interceding Lord? There is no conceivable reason fordoubting Him! Come and rely upon Him and righteousness is yours!
Did I hear you say, "But_"? Away with your buts! Others have been just where you now are and they have believed in Jesus andhave attained to righteousness-why should not you? Try it. Believe, I pray you, and God's righteousness is yours! Why shouldyou not believe? Do I hear you say, "I cannot feel"? Did I say anything about feeling? Salvation by feelings is only anotherform of salvation by works and it is not to be thought of! Salvation is by Jesus Christ and it is received by faith, alone!It is bestowed as a free gift and it must be received as a free gift, or not at all. Trust Jesus to save you and you are saved!Believe Him and be happy. Take to yourself what is freely presented to you in the Gospel. If you can believe, you are saved!I cannot help quoting my Brother Hill's expression the other day-"He that believes on Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). You know how he put it-"H.A. S. spells got it." So it does, it is a curious but a perfectly correct way of spelling it!If you take Christ to yourself, He will never be taken from you. Breathe the air and the air is yours! Receive Christ andChrist is yours and you have attained to righteousness!
Next, see why it is that you have failed, up to now, to find rest. You have been earnest and sincere for a great many yearsand you have kept on hearing and reading and, after a fashion, you have even kept on praying. But all the while you have beenon the wrong road! Suppose yonder young man should start with his bicycle to go to Brighton and he should travel due north?He will never get there. The faster he travels, the further he will go from the place! If you follow after righteousness bythe works of the Law, the more you do, the further off you will be from the righteousness of God! It must be so.
Hear a parable. Yonder is a river, deep and broad. You imagine that the proper way to cross it is to wade or swim throughit. You will not hear of any other way. The king has built a bridge. It is open, free and without toll-the passage is as safeas it is plain. You refuse to be beholden to His Majesty. You mean to get across by your own exertions. Already you are wetand cold, but you mean to persevere. You are nearly up to your neck in the stream and the current is too strong for you. Comeback, O foolish man, come back and cross the river by the bridge! The way of faith is so safe, so simple, so blessed-do tryit! Have you not had enough of self-saving? After years of struggling, you are still standing still and have no more comfort-quitthe struggle and rest in the Lord Jesus! Give up your self-confiding folly and confide in the Son of God, the bleeding Substitutefor guilty men. May the blessed Spirit now sweetly help you to receive Jesus!
Do you not see, my Friend, that in all your selfish trusting you are really fighting against your God? Jesus says, "TrustMe, I will save you." And you reply, "I prefer my own doings." Is not that a great insult to Jesus? Have you not attackedthe great Father upon a tender point? May He not appoint His own way of saving you? He has chosen the way of Grace throughfaith. What arrogance to refuse that way! God gives without money and without price-why do you provoke Him with your fanciedmerits? You are flying in the face of the great God and, therefore, your very religion is a sin! Let me justify so stronga charge. Your very good works are evil works because you are doing them to set aside the gift of God by Jesus Christ! TheLord appoints Jesus to be your righteousness and you laboriously endeavor to manufacture a righteousness of your own! Youreject the Sacrifice of Calvary in whom you are bid to trust! You virtually say that for you it is a needless thing, for youcan reach Heaven by your own doings and feelings.
O Sirs, if you could be saved by your own works and your proud hopes could be fulfilled, then the death of our Lord wouldbe proved to be a gross mistake! What need of the Great Sacrifice if you can save yourself? The Cross is a superfluity ifhuman merit can suffice. There was no need for the Father to put His Son to grief if, after all, men can work out a
righteousness of their own. If works can save you, why did Jesus die? Do you see what you are driving at? Do you mean to trampleunder foot the blood of Jesus? I beseech you, abhor all notion of self-justification! Dash down the idol which would rivalyour Lord-
"Cast your deadly 'doing'down, Down, at Jesus 'feet! Stand in Him, in Him alone, Gloriously complete!"
"Well," says one, "you seem to know the ins and outs of a soul aiming at self-salvation." I do, for I long labored to climbup to Heaven upon the treadmill of my own works! At length I grew weary and gave myself up to Jesus, that He might bear methere in His arms. Will you not do the same?
Now, my Hearer, it will be an awful thing for you to understand this way of Grace and yet to neglect it. How long am I topreach to some of you? How long am I to wear my heart out in crying, "Come to Jesus! Believe in Jesus!? If anybody had said20 years ago that yonder seat-holder would still remain an unconverted man, he would have replied, "Impossible! I am nearto the Kingdom; I am almost persuaded and before long I shall decide." Yes, you are persuaded on Sundays, but you forget allabout it on Mondays-and all because faith is not exercised! You believe in faith, but you do not believe in Jesus! You knowthat Jesus could save you if you trusted Him, but you do not trust Him. Oh that this moment you would end this delay!
To trust in Jesus is described in Scripture as looking. As the man bitten by the serpent looked to the serpent of brass hunghigh upon the pole-and as he looked, healing and life came to him-so if you look to Jesus, now, you will be saved! I see God'sonly-begotten Son, who has deigned to become Man for our sakes and to die in our place-and from the Cross I entreat Him tospeak to you. Speak, O my Master! He does speak and these are His words-"Look unto Me and be you saved, all the ends of theearth: for I am God, and there is none else." Look, I pray you! Look and live!