Sermon 1579. Roads Cleared

(No. 1579)




"Cast you up, cast you up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of My people." Isaiah 57:14.

(Preached on an evening when the Tabernacle was left to strangers).

WHAT is the way, the way of salvation, the way to Heaven? Jesus Christ says, "I am the way." He is the Son of God and He leftthe glories of Heaven and took upon Himself our nature and lived here. In due time He took upon Himself our sin and made Atonementfor it and now He has gone up into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God, even the Father, from where He will shortly cometo judge the quick and the dead. The way to be delivered from sin-the way to Heaven is simply to trust in Jesus Christ! Godhas set Him forth to be a Propitiation for sin and whoever believes in Jesus Christ has his sin put away at once, whateverhe may have done. Before Christ went to Heaven, He said to His disciples, "Go you into all the world and preach the Gospelto every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned."

This is the way of salvation which we preach, unaltered and unalterable, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall besaved." In other words, trust Him and you are saved! This is the entrance into the way of salvation and this is the trackof that way even to the end-trust in Christ. "Are not good works needed?" asks one. They always flow from faith in Christ.He that would be saved from sin, trusts Christ and his nature is changed-and so he hates the sin that once he loved and endeavorsto honor the Christ who has saved Him. But in the matter of our Salvation, the ground and bottom of it is not our works, ortears, or prayers, but simple reliance upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. He is A and He is Z in the alphabet of Grace.

He is the Beginning and He is the End. "He that believes in Him has everlasting life." "He that believes in Him is not condemned,"and never shall be, for he has passed from death unto life. Such being the way, it is very simple. Straight as an arrow, isit not? And yet in this way there are stumbling blocks.

I. First, LET US SHOW WHY THIS IS. The first reason is that the way of believing is such an uncommon way. Men do not understandthe way of trusting. They need to see, to reason, to argue-but to trust in "God made flesh," dead, buried, risen, gone intoHeaven-they do not like that. Man says, "I cannot trust." How very difficult it would be for a cow that has always lived bythe day, the short life that can be fed on grass, if it had to live by reason as men do! It would be a new, strange way forthe poor beast. And when man has to live by faith, he is as awkward as a cow would be at reasoning! He is out of his element.What? Am I to do nothing but trust the Savior and He will save me? Is that to be the top and bottom of it? It is so. "Then,"says the man, "I cannot get at it-there are stumbling blocks in the road."

Another reason is that men, when they are really seeking salvation, are often much troubled in mind. They are conscious thatthey have done wrong. Conscience pricks them. They feel that if God is just, He must punish them for their wrong doing. Theyare well aware that He knows the secrets of their hearts and this alarms and distresses them. And when they are told thatif they believe in Jesus Christ all manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven, they wonder, "How can it be?" If weput it very plainly and say, "However great your guilt, however black your sin, wash in the Fountain filled with blood andyou shall be clean"-it seems plain enough-but they cannot see it. A sense of sin blinds them and they grope in the noonday,like blind men, for the wall, stumbling over this and that which has no existence except in their own fears. Conscience makesunbelievers of us all and stumbling blocks are created by our trembling condition. I do not know how it is to be otherwise.

Besides this, men are often ignorant of the way of salvation. I am not speaking, now, as though I blamed them. I was broughtup, myself, to attend the House of God regularly. I do not suppose that on any Lord's Day, except through ill-

ness, I was ever absent. Yet when I began to seek the Lord, I did not know the way of salvation. I knew the letter of it,but not the real meaning-how can a man know it till the Spirit of God reveals it to him? The sun itself may shine, but a manwill never see till his eyes are open. Until Christ comes, who is the Light of the world, men will roam in darkness. Why,in this London of ours, the bulk of people are still without the knowledge that salvation is entirely of Grace-that it isan act of Divine Mercy that saves a man-that a man is never saved by his zeal, or his prayers, or his tears, or anything thathe does, but is saved entirely by the mercy of God in Jesus Christ!

The Gospel is not believed or accepted in its real meaning and so men meet with stumbling blocks. Satan is always ready toprevent souls from finding peace in Christ. He will inject all sorts of thoughts into men's minds-infernal blasphemies-incrediblethoughts he will make to pass through the minds of men who are seeking Christ. He does not meddle with some people-he knowsthey are his and will be his at last-but when a man once shakes himself up and flees for his life, then the Evil One raisesall Hell about his ears and, by his efforts, many souls are made to stumble in a way which is smooth enough to the feet offaith.

II. Thus have I shown why there are so many stumbling blocks. Now, by God's help, I am going to TRY TO LIFT SOME OF THEM OUTOF THE WAY. The text says, "Take up the stumbling block." Now for a dead lift at some of them. Here is one of them. One mansays, "I would gladly believe in this Jesus Christ of whom you tell me, but if I were to come to God through Christ, wouldHe receive me?" Yes, that He will. Here is a text-"Him that comes to Me I will in nowise cast out." In all the history ofthe human race there has never been found a man that came to Jesus Christ whom Christ rejected! If you will seek God in Christwith all your heart and He shuts the door of mercy in your face, you may turn round and say, "I am the first man that Christrefused to help and now His Word is broken, for He said, 'Him that comes to me I will in nowise cast out,' and He has castme out."

Oh, my Friends, some will not come because they are afraid of being rejected, but there is no sense in that fear! Christ cannot,will not reject a single soul that comes to Him, so, out of the way with that stumbling block! "But," says another, "I ama very peculiar person. I could very well believe that any man in the world who trusted Christ would be saved except myself.I cannot think that He would save me, for I am so odd." Ah, my Friend, I am odd, myself, and I had the same feeling that youhave. I thought that I was a lot left out of the catalog. I always had the notion that my brother and my sisters could readilyenough find mercy but I-I could not see how I could be forgiven! I knew more about myself than I should like to tell and Iknew this about myself-that there was a peculiar guilt about me, besides many odd ways that I could not well shake off.

Since then I have been the minister of a Church that numbers nearly 6,000 souls and that for many years-and I have found outthat nearly all of them are about as odd as I am! And so I have cast off the idea of my being so singular. If you knew otherpeople, you would find that there are other strange people besides yourself. And if God saves so many strange people, whyshould He not save you? "I should be a wonder," says one, "if I were saved." Then He will save you, for He delights to dowonders! He will crowd Heaven with curiosities of mercy! Heaven will be a museum of prodigies of Sovereign Grace and if youare one of that kind, be encouraged! You are the very man that is certain to be received. Go boldly to the gate-it shall notbe shut in your face. Look to Jesus and live!

But I hear another say, "Sir, I have such a horrible sense of sin I cannot rest in my bed! I cannot think that I shall besaved." Wait a bit there, my Friend, wait a bit. Let me speak to this person over here. What is your trouble? "My troubleis, Sir, that I have no sense of sin. I know that I am a sinner and a great sinner, but I do not think that I shall be savedfor I have no horrible thoughts." Will you change places with the other man? Will he change with you? I should not adviseeither of you to make any changes, for, in the first place, despairing thoughts are not necessary to salvation. And, in thesecond place, so long as you know yourself a sinner and are willing to confess it, such thoughts are untrue! Where is it writtenin Scripture that we are to despair in order to be saved? Is not the whole Gospel, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and youshall be saved"?

Where shall you find it recorded in God's Word that you are to be driven to remorse in order to find Christ? Repentance isquite another thing. To be sorry for sin, to hate sin, to wish to escape from it-this is a Gospel blessing! But remorse-thatthreatening to destroy yourself, those tortures of mind-this is not desirable and you may neither wish for it, if you haveit not, nor yet despair because you have it, for salvation lies in Christ! Despairing one, look to the Cross and live! Andyou who do not despair, look to the same Cross and live, for there is salvation for every eye that looks to

Jesus Crucified! I see another stumbling block. A trembler cries, "I am afraid to come and trust Christ because I do not knowwhether I am one of the elect." Well, I cannot tell you. I have never been to Heaven to search the roll. A young friend overyonder is starting in business. He opened his warehouse last Monday and he is in hopes that he may prosper in the world. Mydear young Man, why did you open your shop? Why did you not sit down in idleness and moan, "I would open a shop, but I donot know whether I am predestinated to prosper." If you do not try, you will never prosper-that is quite certain.

As to secret things we act upon the rule of common sense. When this service is over you will go home, will you not? But ifyou sit still and say, "I shall not go down the aisle because I do not know whether it is predestinated for me to get home,"you will not get home and some will think that you are predestinated to be a fool! Any man who talks about predestinationas if it could be an excuse for living in sin and refusing the Savior is acting like a fool! If you trust Jesus Christ I willtell you, then, that you are God's elect for a certainty, for whoever believes in Christ is called by the Spirit of God andnone are called in that way but those whom God has chosen from before the foundations of the world!

"Ah," says another person, "I think I have committed the unpardonable sin." Pray, Sir, will you tell me what it is becauseI have read a large number of books to make that discovery and I have come to the conclusion that nobody knows what it is.Yet, though I am not sure as to what the crime may be, I can tell you whether you have committed it or not within a littletime. Do you desire to be saved? Do you long to be delivered from the power of sin? Then you have not committed the unpardonablesin because it is a sin unto death-and after a man commits it, he never has a living wish or desire after God from that momenton. His conscience is seared as with a hot iron and he learns to defy God, or to be utterly indifferent with regard to eternalthings.

But as long as there beats within your breast a desire after God. As long as you can heave a sigh of regret because of a wastedlife. As long as one tear of penitence can dew your eyes, be not dismayed with the idea that you have committed the sin whichis unto death, for you have done nothing of the kind! Let us lift that stumbling block out of the way altogether. "Oh, but,"says another person, "my stumbling block is this-that the whole thing seems too good to be true- that I, by simply believingin Jesus Christ, shall be saved." I confess that it does seem too good to be true, but it is not! It is good, infinitely good,that your sin should be effectually pardoned, in a moment, freely and without price-and good as it is, it is just like ourGod! God in Christ Jesus is clearly capable of marvelous deeds of Grace.

Treat God like God and remember that His ways are as much above your ways and His thoughts as much above your thoughts asthe Heavens are above the earth! All the sins of a whole life He can strike out, as a man cancels a debt in his account book.With one single mark of red ink He can write, "paid in full," at the bottom of the tremendous bill and it is all gone andgone forever! There is none like You, O God! There is none like You! As Creator, none can make the Heavens and earth likeYou! As Redeemer, none can fetch a soul up from the Pit as You have done and none can hurl sin into the depths of the seaas You did from the Cross! Only trust the Savior, then, and you shall see His great salvation!

This stumbling block about its being too good need not remain a moment. I will not stay upon any more of these things, butwill just say that there are some stumbling blocks that I cannot remove-they must always stand there, I am afraid. An objectorsays to me, "I would believe in Jesus. I have no fault to find with Him, but then, look at His followers, many of them arehypocrites." Yes, we do look at His professed followers and the tears are in our eyes, for the worst enemies He has are theyof His own household! Judas kissed Him and sold Him. Many are like Judas. Look here, my Friend-what have you to do with that?Suppose Judas does betray Christ-is Christ any the worse for that?

You are not asked to trust in Judas, you are asked to trust in Christ. "Oh," says one, "but they are all hypocrites." No,no, that will not do. A man takes a bad sovereign-takes half-a-dozen of them in the course of his lifetime. Does he say thatall sovereigns are bad? If there were no good ones, the bad ones would never pass. The reason why it pays to make bad sovereignsis because good ones are so valuable-and that is why it pays certain people, as they think, to pass themselves off as Christians.If there were no real Christians, there would be no pretenders to that name! How, then, can you make the excuse that becausethere are some hypocrites you will refuse Christ?

"Ah," says one, "but I know a little about revival meetings and conversions. Don't you know what a lot were converted andwhat became of them?" I know what you are thinking about, but I heard a friend tell a good story in reference to that matter.He said that, notwithstanding that we have to strike off a discount from our converts of those that are not genuine, yet therevivals are worth having, for there is a real gain in them. For, he said, the objection is something like

that of an Irishman who had found a sovereign which was short in weight, so that he could only get 18 shillings for it. Thenext time he saw a sovereign lying on the ground, he would not pick it up, for, he said, he had lost two shillings by theother.

Everybody laughs at him as acting ridiculously. So it is with objectors to revivals and special services. Suppose you do haveto strike off the two shillings' worth-yet the 18 shillings are clear gain-and why should you be the bad two shillings, myFriend? Why should you? I dare say you know yourself better than I do and probably you may be the bad two shillings, but Idid not say that you were and I do not wish that you may be! Why should you not be a real convert, a true gain to the Churchof God? Because there are imposters in the world, is that a reason why I am not to come to Christ? I made you smile just now.It was that you might laugh to scorn this foolery which is so much talked of! Am I to refuse to eat bread because there arebad bakers? Will you never drink milk, again, because some milk has been adulterated? Will you never breathe the air you livein because some air is tainted? Oh, talk not so! That stumbling block ought not to need moving. If it is any hindrance toyou, I cannot help it-there it must be.

"But," says another, "here is my stumbling block-if I were to believe in Christ and become a Christian, I would have to altermy whole life." Just so. I do not dispute that assertion! There would have to be a turning of everything upside down! Butthen, He that sits upon the Throne of God says, "Behold, I make all things new." Perhaps, my Friend, you would have to giveup your trade, for there are some trades that cannot be followed by a Christian man. And, if yours is such, it is better togive it up than lose your soul! Or you might have to give up the tricks and dodges of your trade. You must give them up, then.If anything you do would keep you out of Heaven, it is better that you should become poor than that you should prosper inbusiness by doing wrong and ruining your soul. "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?"

That is putting an extreme case, for nobody gains the whole world. It is only a few fourpences or shillings that men get bycheating. What profit can there be in that, if the soul is to be lost for it? "Oh, but," says one, "I should have to run thegauntlet in my family if I became a Christian." Run the gauntlet, my Friend! It is better to go to Heaven under all oppositionthan to go to Hell with the flatteries of God's enemies sounding in your ears! If you see a fish floating down the stream,you may know that it is a dead fish. Which way does a live fish go? Why, upstream! And that is the way a man must go to Heaven."But I could not bear to be laughed at," says one. Poor Soul! I have had, upon the whole, about as fair a share of ridiculeas anybody living, but I do not remember that one of my bones ever ached a minute about it! And I think that if I can bearmy share, which is tolerably large, you ought to be able to bear yours without being quite overcome by it.

Which is the better thing, do you think-to be sneered at for doing right or to be commended for doing wrong? Surely it ismanly and honorable to say, "I will do the right and follow Christ, whoever may sneer." What does it matter? Dogs bark-letthem bark-but in God's name, let us not give our souls away to find sops for them. "But my own parents and brothers and sisterswould be against me!" Yes, Christ tells you that. He says, "He that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me:a man's foes shall be they of his own household." You will conquer them by kindness and love-but I know there will be a wrench.In the higher classes, a Christian man gets the cold shoulder and among the lower orders, our working men who talk of libertyare the biggest tyrants alive! The moment a man becomes a Christian they point him out in the workshop. They jest and jeerat him from morning to night and then call themselves true-born Englishmen!

They may swear as much as they like and use filthy talk till you can hardly go down a street without feeling sick at the languageyou hear-but if a fellow workman chooses to go to a place of worship and behave himself decently-then he is to be the buttof the workshop. This ought to come to an end and would if men were men! But, my dear Friend, I hope you are not to be cowedand kept down by opposition. If they laugh you into Hell, they cannot laugh you out again-remember that. And if to win a fewpoor smiles and escape a few silly sneers, you sell Christ, how will you answer for it when you have to stand before Him andHe sits upon the Great White Throne at the last? Look at the martyrs- how they died for Christ!

Think of Bunyan when He is brought before the judge and the judge says, "You? A tinker? To go about preaching? Hold your tongue,Sir." "I cannot hold my tongue," said Bunyan. "Then I must send you back to prison unless you promise never to preach again.""If you put me in prison till the moss grows on my eyelids, I will preach, again, the first

moment I get out, by the help of God." There is some grit in that man! Oh, that is the man that God loves-the man who againstthe whole world will do right and stand true to his Master! That stumbling block I would not move away if I could-it is goodfor us to meet with opposition. I think that even now I see the King upon His Throne at the Last Great Day-and as He sitsthere, surrounded by His courtiers and the blazing seraphim and mailed cherubim in all their brightness, He rises from HisThrone and looks afar and cries-"Who comes there?

"That is a man who suffered for Me! When I was despised and rejected of men, he was despised and rejected for My sake. Makeway, angels! Make way, cherubim! Make way, seraphim! Stand back and let him come to Me! He was with Me in My shame and sohe shall be with Me in My Glory! Come and sit here, at the right hand of God, with Me, for you dared to be despised for Meand now shall you be with Me in all the splendor of My reign." Oh, I think we can leap over this stumbling block and be gladto think that it is there, for it will bring honor and glory and immortality at the Last Great Day!

The last stumbling block which I cannot move is this. A man will say, "But all this seems so new and strange to me. You wantme to lead quite a new life. I do not comprehend it yet. I am to trust Christ whom I never saw?" Yes, that is where you areto begin. "And I am to see God whom I cannot see?" Yes, that is what you are to do. You are to live as in the daily consciousnessof God's Presence and that you will do if you begin trusting Christ. "But I cannot see what effect my trusting Christ wouldhave upon me." No, you cannot see it, but it will have a most wonderful effect upon you. You will not be the same man afteryou have trusted the Savior-the Spirit of God who gives you faith to trust Jesus will change your whole nature. You will beas though you had been born again!

"I don't see it," says one. No, but you might see it in this way. Here is a man that has a servant and that servant believeshis master to be everything that is bad. Consequently, he does all that he can to annoy him. The master tries to mend theservant. He has spoken to him and chided him, but he goes on worse and worse. Now, suppose that I could go into the houseand say, "My dear Man, I beg you to believe in your master. He wishes you well. You have misunderstood him"? Suppose thatI could induce the servant to believe in his master? Why, my Friends, he would be an altered man altogether! Don't you seethat the moment he believed in his master, he would try to please him? If he said, "My master is a noble man. I love him."From that moment the whole tenor of his life towards his master would be changed! And thus the great power of believing theLord Jesus! The moment you trust Him, you obey His commands, you imitate His example and you give yourself up to His service!

Thus have I put before you, as best I can, the way of salvation. I thank you for coming on this special occasion. I may neversee your faces again and, if I never do, this one thing is true-you have heard the way of salvation, even if you do not followit. I shall be clear of the blood of every one of you in that great day of account when preacher and hearers will have toanswer for how this Sunday night was spent. I have thought that if I could have been clearly told the way of salvation whenI was anxious about my soul, I would have gained peace long before I did-and so I have resolved that I will never let theSunday pass without preaching the way of salvation!

And it is this that for 26 years and more has held the multitude of people listening to me. I tell nothing but the old, oldstory. Why do people come? Do we deal in spiceries and knickknacks? No, but in bread-and people always need bread! I havegiven you, tonight no fineries or niceties, but the plain word of salvation. Will you have it, or not? God grant you Graceto receive salvation! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you are saved! And you may go on your way rejoicing in everlastinglife! God grant it, for Christ's sake. Amen.