Sermon 3397. A Timely Expostulation
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 1914.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Why seek you the living among the dead" Luke 24:5.
This question was addressed to certain holy women who came early to the sepulcher, bringing with them the spices which theyhad prepared for embalming the body of our Lord. They were met by angels who reminded them that their Lord had promised torise again, that He had so risen and that it was in vain for them to seek in the sepulcher the living, the Immortal Christ."Why seek you the living among the dead?"
The mistake they made was that of seeking for the living Savior where He could not be found. We have, all of us, made thesame mistake. Some of us are making it now. We are seeking good things in the midst of evil-hoping to find satisfaction whereit was never yet discovered and never will be! Seeking, but seeking in the wrong place-seeking for the living among the dead.
To illustrate this, I shall first address myself to the people of God who sometimes fall into this error. And then I shallhave to expostulate with the unconverted, as well as with those who are somewhat awakened to spiritual Truth. Say, now-
I. YOU CHILDREN OF GOD, CALLED OUT FROM THE WORLD, do you not sometimes set your affections upon things on the earth and seekfor satisfaction here below? Have I not observed how some of you have tried to find comfort in your wealthand how others,in the midst of your successful efforts to extend your business, have thought to find solace on that bed of thorns, the caresof this world and the merchandise thereof? Ah, how grievous it is when the Christian becomes an idolater! Yet just as theIsraelites of old-who, though they knew the true God, were found in an emergency setting up the golden calf and saying, "Theseare your gods, O Israel"-so, in one form or another, we may be making some created good the object of our search, settingour heart upon it and indulging expectations of solace from it-forgetting that comfort can only be found in our Lord JesusChrist! "Why seek you"-why do you who know so much better-"why seek YOU the living among the dead?" Why do you come to thebroken cistern which can hold no water, when the well springing up with crystal streams is always at your feet? Why will yougo to drink of the muddy river, the Sihor, when the clear sparkling rill of the Water of Life is always accessible to you?You did once try to fill your belly with the husks which the swine eat, but you failed to appease the hunger that consumedyou. Why return to that unprofitable employment? Oh, Christian, you have sometimes said to your fellow man, "Why do you spendyour money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfies not?" I may say the same to you, if you thinkan immortal mind can be satisfied with mortal joys, or imagine that one who has been born from on high can ever find contentmentin this poor wilderness world! The pursuit itself is a folly which is sure to bring you a strong rebuke whenever you thusfall into the error of seeking the living among the dead. Your solid comfort, your real happiness and the only joy worth having-youmust find in Christ Jesus, by the power of the Spirit-and not in the things of time.
It is sadder, still, and this sometimes occurs when the professor tries to cheer his heart by the silly vanities of worldlyamusement. There are a thousand inlets to happiness which you may look upon as free to your use-you are as welcome to enjoythem as other men. Whatever it is that is pure and lovely and uncorrupted with sin is as much yours as it is the portion ofany other people under the sun. Yours are the beauties of Nature, the wonders of God's handiwork and the vast domain of Creationwherein are things innumerable to please the eye, to charm the ear and make the heart to heave with joy! Learn to use withoutabusing the bounties which Providence has placed within your reach! And pray that the delights they are capable of yieldingmay be sanctified to your good. But there are sundry amusements, so frivolous andtrifling, that if they are not, in themselvessinful, they verge upon that border where diversion is separated from dissipation by only a faint line. And as the borderis always the most infested by thieves and robbers, it is well to beware of it. If the Christian wants to be clear from opentransgression, let him eschew the place of temptation and avoid the appearance of evil-for whatever is not of faith is sin.What you cannot do with a clear conscience that it is right, let that alone with a wholesome fear of offense. You can perilno mistake by leaving it! You may cause yourself a thousand sorrows by entering upon it. Oh, shall you that have once leanedyour heads upon the bosom of Christ profane your hearts with this wanton wicked world? Shall you that have once eaten angels'food hanker after the diet of fools and drink the intoxicating wine cup of their pleasures? Shall you be seen in the assemblywhere none congregate but the lightest of the light, and the gayest of the gay? Shame upon you, Christian! You have disgracedyour profession. You have disgraced yourself. You are seeking the living, not only among the dead, but among the rotten andcorrupt! Do you expect cheer for your passions? You shall find a scourge for your soul! If you are a child of God, you shallbe driven back to the way you have strayed from with many a smarting sore and many a broken bone! If you are not a child ofGod, likely enough you will go from bad to worse, give up the profession which was but a vapor, and turn as a dog to his ownvomit, and the sow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire! Thus, Christian, while I say to you, do not seek lastingcomfort in earthly things, I am compelled to say to some who bear the name and wear the profession of Christians-do not seekyour joy at all among the unprofitable sports and gambols in which some men delight! It is seeking the living among the dead!
Further, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, there is an evil very common to the most conscientious of those who avoidall forms of outward sin. It is the insidious evil of seeking comfort when they are full of doubts and fears, by looking withinyourselves. I should think that experience might have cured us of this, for when we look into our own hearts-although I trustthe Grace of God is there-so much of imperfection, of infirmity, yes, and what is worse, of real iniquity is apparent, thata sight of the inner man is anything but likely to inspire us with consolation. What a fool is he who tries to fetch fireout of ice! But he is not much more foolish than those who try to soothe their anxieties by parleying with their feelings.Brothers and Sisters, the Christian's comfort is on the Cross. There hangs his hope! His hope must not be based or bottomedon anything he feels. It is pleasant to know that Grace reigns in one's breast. Be thankful for it. But, alas, if that isyour confidence, the next day you may doubt whether there is any Grace within! And where, then, is your confidence? It isgone! It flees as a shadow. If, however, you live depending upon the Cross of Jesus, you can walk with equable comfort atall times, for the Cross never shifts its place, the Atonement never fluctuates, it never rises or falls in value! Our unionwith Christ is not subject to degrees. We are always in Him accepted in the Beloved. Happy is the man who builds on that solidRock and not upon the treacherous quicksands of his own personal emotions! If you endeavor to draw comfort from your fickle,changeable feelings, you seek for the living among the dead. You are looking for joy where it can never be found. You willgather the thorn, but not the rose. You will endure the labor, but not receive the reward. You will suffer the burning ofthe fire, but not be enlivened by its cheerful warmth. "Why seek you the living among the dead?"
When the Believer feels that Grace is at a very low ebb with him, let him take care that he does not resort to Sinai for therefreshment of his evidences. Have you not heard of some Believers whose mournful sonnet has been-
" Tis a point Ilong to know, Oft it causes anxious thought Do Ilove the Lord or no, Am I His, or am I not?"
And in order to get out of that state they have said, "Now I will make a Covenant with God. I will chasten myself with fastingand much prayer." Or they have had recourse to vows of their own devising, instead of going straight away to Christ as sinners-withsome such language on their lips as our hymn suggests-
"Just as I am, though tossed about,
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fighting within, and fears without,
Oh, Lamb of God. I come!"
Instead of thus going to Christ, they set to work to be their own Savior! If Paul were here, he would say to them, "O foolishGalatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the Truth? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfectin the flesh?" Beloved Brothers and Sisters, make your Covenant if you like, and fast if you please, and prayif you can withoutceasing-the more you pray the better. But when a soul is hungry, it will not recover itself by bodily exercises, but by feeding!So what you need is not so much to give out something from yourselves as to get something into yourselves through Christ!And therefore, turn your eyes, as you did at the first, to the wounds, the glorious wounds, of your Substitute, and say toHim, "My Lord, if I am not a saint, I am a sinner. If I am not saved, yet will I trust in You, now, even though I never didbefore. I now cast myself on You." This will revive you, this will comfort you! You may set to work as you please after that,but do not seek for the living among the dead! Do not go to Moses, who is dead and was buried years ago! Do not bring yourselfunder the spirit of bondage, but come as a child who is not under the Law, but under Grace-and rest at the foot of the Cross!So shall you have your spiritual vigor restored and rejoice in the Lord your God!
Once more to the Believer. I do think, dear Friends, we seek for the living among the dead when we look to our fellow mento find in them some succor or support t o depend upon, or when, as the case may vary, we look to our dear children or relativesand think to find a perpetuity of comfort there. Ah, and it is very easy for some of you to think too highly of the minister.It is possible when you have received spiritual quickening and have come to be fed under some godly pastor, that you may lookno higher than the man, instead of looking to his Master! If so, if your faith stands in the wisdom of man, or in man's earnestness-youare looking for the living among the dead! Oh, beware of anything like that! Let us be held in respect by you for our office'ssake, but nothing beyond this do we crave or counsel. To the Lord Jesus we bid you look, for we preach not ourselves, butChrist Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Christ's sake! A more common evil, however, is for the wife to feelas if her husband could never be taken from her side. But he is mortal. I would not distress you with dreary forebodings,but I would have you remember that the living God is the only living One on whom your trust can be fixed. And you, Mother,do you think that your child can never be removed? Know, then, that you are in the land of the dying, and who are you, andwhat are you, that they should be beyond the reach of the arrows that fly abroad, and the diseases that work insidiously,any more than the children and the friends of others? Oh, if you begin to build your nest in these trees, which have, everyone of them, been marked by the woodman's axe-and must all come down-you are a silly bird, and your nest will be lost, andyourself suffer grievous damage! There is one Immortal Lover who shall never die! There is one Eternal Friend who shall neverdepart! There is a Father who always lives! There is a Brother who sticks close forever! Earthly kinships-value them, buthold them loosely. Thank God for them, but think not that they are your freeholds. Your tenure is but on lease and a wordshall suffice to terminate it! Walking through the fields, you might see most of them still yellow with the king-cups andblushing with all the flowers of this sweet summer month of June, but do not think these flowers shall long abide, for alreadyI hear the sound of the sharpening scythe and I know the mowers will soon be at their task-the flowers will be cut down andthe green grass shall be dry. Set not, then, your love on the fleeting bounties of kindly Providence as though you could embalmthem and make them last for years! "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grasswithers and the flower thereof falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever." Fix your love on that which is constant-noton these transient things! I leave you, my Brothers and Sisters, with the general maxim-having applied it in various ways,you can apply it to many more in your meditations-take heed lest you seek for the living among the dead, and so spend yourstrength for nothing and reap the bitter fruits of weariness and disappointment! Are there not, however, among you, my Hearers,full many of-
II. THOSE WHO ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF GOD? As the Apostle said in that 10th Chapter of Romans which we just now read to you,"They have not all obeyed the Gospel." I do not know whether the reading of that Chapter touched any of your hearts. It didmine. I could scarcely help weeping as I thought of some of you. "They have not all obeyed the Gospel"-I mean not all thosewho sit in these seats regularly, to whom we preach that Gospel so frequently. Those who come into our classes are earnestlytaught, but they have not all obeyed the Gospel. No, there is a very large proportion who have not. Oh, grievous fact-factwhich some of you will have to grieve over with terrible remorse in the Day of Judgment, unless the mercy of God preventsit! It is with you I want to expostulate. Some of you are seeking for joy in sin and you are seeking for the living amongthe dead, indeed!
Be thoughtful for a moment. God who made you has made certain laws, the observance of which is essential to your well-being.Suppose God had ordained that the violation of His law should make men happy, would that be wise? It is too unwise a thoughtfor us to entertain, much less for God to design! You are disobeying God's command-then depend upon it that is the way ofunhappiness! It must be so. "Oh," you say, "but it gives me present gratification." That may be. It is quite consistent withwhat I have said because the enchantment that allures you is the very snare that beguiles you-and then for every ounce ofjoy which sin can yield to a sinful spirit, there will be a ton of sorrow inflicted! I forbear in this place to mention thesins of the flesh but who does not know that for every snap of pleasure derived from indulgence of the passions, there areracks, tortures and agonies which the physician could better explain than myself. Such a measure of retribution is commonin this life, but as for the life to come-could you lift for a moment the thick veil that hides the unseen world from ourgaze, or could a sound pierce through the partition that Infinite Mercy has made too stout for the wailing and gnashing ofteeth to penetrate-I think the groans, the execrations, the shrieks of madness of those who lived as votaries and died asvictims of the so-called pleasure of sin would fill you with horror and wild amazement! The transgressor who eats the fruitof his own ways, fruit that once tempted his appetite-and drinks the dregs of that wine cup, the first sip of which was sosweet to his taste-is an appalling spectacle! And this is merely the awakening of a man's conscience to his folly. The punishmentof avenging Justice is in reserve! Disobedience of God must be punished by God with indignation that does not relent and painthat knows no abatement! Why seek you, then, the living among the dead?
A moment's reflection might convince a man that this final scene inevitably awaits the profligate. Who would think of makinghis child happy in the way of constant disobedience, or of encouraging his waywardness by rewarding it? You take care, asjudicious parents, that your children shall know you govern the house. And if your laws are constantly broken, you exact thepenalty and the rod is put into use-or at least the chastisement is not spared. And shall not God stand up for His Sovereignprerogative, enforce His own Law and make men feel that they cannot violate that Law without suffering the retribution Hehas threatened? You shall find it so to your cost if you will not credit it to your escape! I tell you that if you seek yourpleasure in the theater, or in the saloon of gaiety, or in what is infinitely worse, though too often in close association-inthe house of shame. If you go to the chamber of the strange woman, or spend your evenings in the tavern, inflaming yourselveswith strong drink, you court misery while you try to avoid melancholy! You render yourselves incapable of happiness whileyou strive to be merry! But ah, you might as well deliberately make a pilgrimage to the depths of Hell in quest of the joysof Heaven as to seek true enjoyment in the haunts of vice! The Lord, the Lord of Hosts will make men see that beneath thefair skin of the world's pleasures there is a loathsome leprosy that would make them heart-sick were the latent corruptionexposed! Oh, go not after such pleasures! Remember that God will require these things at your hands. Seek true pleasure, mentalpleasure that never sours! Seek pure joy which will retain its fragrance, refresh others besides yourself, haunt you withno hideous ghosts, but bear sweet reflection when you come to die! Cheer your hearts with draughts from that goblet whichwill invigorate you when your soul's pulse is beating-the cup which flows clear to the last, whereof you may be grateful tosip when your immortal spirit is about to wing its fight to worlds unknown! Seek not for living pleasure amidst the gravesand charnel houses of sin!
Let me change my tone again, for now I come to address a part of this company of people-
III. THOSE WHO ARE ANXIOUSLY CONCERNED TO BE FOUND RIGHT WITH GOD.
Some of you, dear Friends, have known the evil of sin and have turned from its evil ways. But though you are desirous of beingsaved from the wrath to come, you are very likely seeking salvation where it is not to be obtained. A few counsels and cautionsmay, therefore, be welcome to you.
Do not seek salvation by rites and ceremonies, for if you do, you are seeking for the living among the dead! The old Jewishreligion was full of types-hence the forms and ceremonials that abounded in its observance-but it did not save multitudeswho in the wilderness perished in their sins! And hundreds of thousands more, who had seen it all their lifetime, but neverseen through its externals the realities it prefigured, died rejecting the Lord Jesus, to whose mediation it bears witness.Outward pomp and ceremony are of no avail to save the soul! Would those who are as fond of vestments and rituals try the experimentof endeavoring to heal a man who was sick by such means, they would find their medicines have no effect upon the body to restoreits health. And were they to bring in a man who was sick in soul, they would soon find that all their gaudy trappings andrhythmical intonations were incapable of supplying balm to a wounded conscience! They are dead, Sirs. They are dead, everyone of them! The whole thing is death! It is nothing in all its beauty but the festering fungus that grows upon corruption.The whole system is trickery-a gewgaw to deceive. It is nothing but imposture, an artifice of Satan to lead the world astray!Were you baptized with water from the river Jordan, confirmedwith never so much pomp and took the sacrament, or, as they say,"went to celebration" on every holy day and every unholy day likewise-and were you to expire with unction on your face andwith the priest's lying absolution in your ears-you would go down to Hell despite it all, if you had no truer faith, no brighterhope than these things could inspire! For other salvation is there none but that which you can find in Christ, without anypriest to mediate, or any minister to intervene between you and Him. You are a priest, yourself, if you believe in Jesus.Christ is the one only Priest, the Great High Priest of our profession! Get pardon from Him and let other men buckle abouttheir priesthood and vaunt their succession as they may. Beware of them! To resort to these men for help is to seek the livingamong the dead!
Or, perhaps, you will go about to work out your own salvation apart from Christ. You have got the idea that you must passthrough so much experience, weep so many tears, get into such-and-such a state of heart-and then that you must reform thishabit and perform that service-and after awhile you will be saved and obtain peace. The top and bottom of it is, you thinkyou can save yourself! You would be your own Savior! Do you not know that every man, according to God's own Word, every manis accursed who does not keep the whole Law, "Cursed is everyone who continues not in all things that are written in the Bookof the Law to do them." Now, as you have not kept all things, you must be accursed! And as long as you abide under the Law,you are accursed in all that you do! If you can be delivered from the Law through Christ, then, and only then, may you escapefrom the curse, for Christ was made a curse for us by hanging upon the Cross for us-and so the curse is put away and so weare redeemed there from. But so long as you are trying to be saved by your own works, you are under the Law. And so long asyou are under the Law, you are under the curse. To try to find a blessing where everything is under God's Law, is seekingfor the living among the dead!
I know not to whom these remarks may pointedly apply, but I dare say I am speaking to some of you who pant for salvation andyou would give anything to be assured of your soul's acceptance! You have been praying, it may be, night and day for mercytill your knees seem as though they would grow to the floor. In your earnest pleadings your heart has been vehement till theflesh has grown faint. I am glad that you are pleading and agonizing in prayer, but there is no necessity for these long delaysand for these protracted prayers. Trust Christ, who hangs on yonder Cross, and you are saved! The moment you depend upon Jesus,past sin is blotted out, you are a new man as in the sight of God, your iniquity is forgiven, your transgression is coveredand you are accepted in the Beloved! Hundreds of times have I tried to bring forward this theme till I sometimes fear lestit should sound flat and fail to awaken you! Yet some of you have not believed it or received it! Yet I bear you witness thatif you receive not this cardinal Truth of God, you must perish in your sin! Our Lord did not mince matters. He offered nothree courses, but He said, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." What about those that believe not? He said,"He that believes not shall be damned." What if the man always goes to Church, or always comes to a meeting? There is no exemption-ifhe believe not, he shall be damned. But what if he always pays twenty shillings in the pound and is scrupulously honest? "Hethat believes not shall be damned." The gentle lips of the Savior spoke these words! They are not of my coining, they arenot my construction. He said it and will prove it true. Oh, that you might trust Him, for if you trust Him, you cannot becondemned! But if you go about anywhere else to find hope and comfort for your soul, you are seeking for the living amongthe dead! Why continue this foolish search? Why persevere in this bootless toil?
Yet it is very possible you are seeking for some good thing in yourselfby way of feeling and emotion. "If I felt a more brokenheart," says one, "I could trust Christ." "If," says another, "I felt the terrors of the Law, I could trust Christ." If! Yes,indeed! Why multiply your useless "ifs"? They are vain excuses. Do you mean you cannot trust Christ? That is a sad, though,perhaps, it is an honest confession. Do you not believe Him to be true? "Ah," says one, "I do believe that." Is it difficult,then, to trust an honest man? But you do not believe in the integrity and faithfulness of Christ! "Oh," you say, "but I do."Well, then, trust Him as the necessary consequence! Jesus Christ says that He came into the world to save sinners. And God'switness is that if we trust Christ, we shall be saved. If you believe that to be true, trust Him! Commit your soul and yoursoul's salvation to Him! "Oh, but I am not fit." Is there a word about fitness in the whole Gospel? As you may have come freshfrom the commission of some new sin, the Gospel does not say to you, "Stand by a while, till you are prepared." But it says,"Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." I do not find the Gospel telling you that you must first be better,but it is said that you are nowto turn to Him. "Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, andlet him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Oh, I wishyou could take my Master at His word! I wish, poor guilty One, you would have done with disputing, cling to the promises andjust drop into the arms of the Promiser! Can you venture thus? You shall never chide yourself for temerity, or repent of yourcourage! It may seem a daring thing to do, but come, and welcome! Jesus casts out none that come!
When I came-and it seems fresh in my memory tonight as I mention it to you-I came all trembling in my sin. I knew I had notone good thing that could recommend me to Christ. I thought He would have said, "Go your way, I have not loved you, nor givenMyself for you." But I did look to Him. I knew I had no other confidence. I did cast myself upon Him and He has not cast meaway. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him againstthat day." I cannot lead you to Christ-oh, that I could! There is One far mightier who can and I hope that He will do it tonight!We spoke this morning about the Holy Spirit. Oh, that the Holy Spirit might prove His own power to you now! At any rate, thisI can say and this I do say-Give up that seeking your own righteousness! Give up that struggling after emotions and feeling!It is all seeking the living among the dead! The idea of your helping Christ to save you is preposterous! What could you do?As well yoke a snail with a racehorse, that they might win a prize, as for you to help Christ! You, help Christ? You, withyour rags and Christ with His white linen? You, with your pollution and Christ with His holiness? You, with your deep condemnationand Christ with His free forgiveness? He needs no help from you! He wants your emptiness, not your fullness-your weakness,not your power- your death, not your life! When a tree is loaded, it needs baskets, but it does not need full baskets-it needsempty baskets to hold the fruit. And Jesus Christ wants sinners-not sinners having merits-a foolish pretense-but sinners whoare destitute! There is a full Christ for empty sinners, an all-bountiful Christ for you, famished Sinner, now!
Ah, some of you poor people drop in here, sometimes, on an evening, and I am glad to see you. Never be ashamed to come inyour working clothes. I know you think I am not talking to you, but you are the very people I am speaking to! Jesus Christalways had a kind word for the laboring man-"Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."Now, it is likely enough some of you are no better than you should be, though you have stepped in here in the crowd to heara word. Well, it is such as you are, Christ came to save. "Not the righteous. Sinners, Jesus came to save." Oh, you chiefof sinners! Come to Jesus Christ! This night He will receive every soul that comes to Him. Eternal Spirit draw them! EternalFather, now call them by Your power and let us meet at Your right hand, everyone of us, to see Your face and rejoice in Yourmighty love!
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ROMANS 9:1-5; ROMANS 10.
Verses 1-3. I tell the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit That I have greatheaviness and continual sorrow in my heart For I could wish that I, myself, were accursed from Christ for my brethren, mykinsmen according to the flesh. The Apostle is evidently about to make an extraordinary statement-a statement which wouldprobably not be believed and, therefore, he gives as a preface the most solemn assertions that are permitted to Christianmen declaring that he is speaking the truth, and also that the Holy Spirit is bearing witness with his conscience that itis so-that he so loves the souls of his fellow countrymen that, though the thing could never be, yet in a sort of ecstasyof love, he could devote himself to anything so long as his countrymen might but be saved. "My kinsmen according to the flesh."
4, 5. Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and theservice of God, and the promises: Whose are the fathers and of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all,the eternally blessed God forever Amen. The Apostle never omits an opportunity of magnifying his Master! Though it did notseem to be called for by the immediate subject in hand, yet he must put in a doxology to the name of Jesus. "Who is over allthe eternally blessed God forever. Amen." How any Believers in Scripture ever get to be disbelievers in the Deity of Christis altogether astounding! If there is anything taught in the Word of God, it is assuredly that Paul comforts himself, in ameasure, by the Doctrine of Election which is fully spoken to in this Chapter. My subject leads me to read again at the 10thChapter.
Verse 1. Brethren my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. The same thing over again-hisdeep concern for his countrymen.
2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. Zeal is a good thing, but like thehorse without a bit, it becomes useless and even dangerous. Knowledge is the bridle in the mouth of zeal. Zeal is like firewhich may burn the house which it was intended to warm unless it is carefully governed. There must be knowledge in zeal.
3. For they being ignorant ofGod's righteousness, andgoing about to establish their own righteousness, have not submittedthemselves unto the righteousness of God. This is a great evil in the present day. There are many persons who are evidentlyzealous for God, but they make a mistake in supposing that they are to be saved by their own works, their prayers, their Churchattendance, their Chapel attendance, or something of the sort, instead of accepting the finished righteousness of Christ,which is the righteousness of God! They are insulting Christ. They are insulting God by thinking that He would have givenHis Son to be our Righteousness if we could have made a righteousness of our own, or given Him up to die, if we could saveourselves.
4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. There is the point-to believe-to have faith.It is that which gives us the righteousness of which Christ is the sum total.
5. For Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law. That the man which does those things shall live by them. Andif any man did, or could keep the Law of God, he would live by it-but no man has ever done so, or ever will. There is no hopeof life by the Law.
6-9. But the righteousness which is of faith speaks on this wise, Say not, in your heart, Who shall ascend into Heaven? (Thatis, to bring Christ down from above). Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead).But what says it? The word is near you, even in your mouth, andin your heart that is, the word offaith which we preach: Thatif you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,you shall be saved. What a wondrous way of salvation-so near-so close to us! What an expression that is-"in your mouth." Wemust absolutely take it out of our mouths. God has put the Bread of Life so near to us that it is in our mouth! We must rejectit as a man would reject food, if we perish! But, oh, for Grace to receive it, to live upon it, to believe Christ, to trustHim and so to be saved!
10, 11. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For theScripture says, Whoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed. If, then, I base my eternal salvation upon Christ, and am trustingin Him-not in my works, or prayers, or tears, or alms, or feelings, or even in my own repentance or faith-but wholly in Him,I shall never be ashamed!
12, 13. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call uponHim. For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved What a comforting text for some of you! You want salvation,but you are afraid you cannot find it. "Whoever"-what a grand word-"whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord"-that isto say in prayer, but that prayer the prayer of faith-he "shall be saved."
14. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?That is the point-the believing is the vital matter!
14, 15. And howshall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without apreach-er? And howshall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peaceand bring glad tidings of good things. You see all the machinery of salvation here. God provides a Gospel, He sends a preacherto proclaim it, men hear it-by the Holy Spirit they believe it and they are saved. It is all in a nutshell, but oh, how blessedlysuited to poor, unworthy sinners like ourselves!
16, 17. But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our report? So then faith comes byhearing, and hearing by the Word of God. It does not ever come by seeing. Faith does not come by looking upon ceremonies-bygazing upon processions and pompous rituals! It come by the simple hearing of the Word of God. It is a matter of the understandingand the work of the Holy Spirit upon that understanding. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
18, 19. But I say, have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends ofthe world. But I say, Did not Israel know?Were they not taught that God would reject them if they were disbelievers? And thatHe would call in the heathen? Yes, they knew it, for-
19, First Moses says, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people and by a foolish nation I will anger you.Andthe heathen thus, like ourselves, were accounted dogs by the Jews, but the Lord has brought us in and made us to believe inChrist because they rejected Him! What a wonderful passage that is about the great supper which the King made, when we read,because the invited guests did not come, the King, being angry, said unto His servants, "Go you out into the highways andhedges, and compel them to come in." Even the anger of God, you see, works good to some! He was angry with the guests thatdid not come, but then He called us in! His anger against the Jewish people has turned to the salvation of the Gentiles, forwhich may God be praised! But, may Israel be gathered, too!
20, 21 But Isaiah is very bold, and says, I was found of them that sought Me not I was made manifest unto them that askednot after Me. But to Israel He says, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.