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Simply to Thy Cross I Cling
In these words the writer reaches a landing-place. It is a landing-place not only in his argument but also in his experience. It is his own triumphant declaration of his standing before God, his liberation from the past, and his security for the future. He has passed into a new world. He has entered a new life. But his experience is not, in his view, peculiar to himself. ' We are justified,' he says, writing to men and women he had never seen. ' We have peace with God.' ' We have access into this grace wherein we stand.' ' We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.' This is the only and the universal Christian experience.
I. Every religious life begins in a sense of need. It may be, as it often has been in rare, young, unstained souls, simply a sense of the need of God.
The balsam, the wine of predestinate wills,
Is a jubilant pining and longing for God.
It may be a desire for a greater purity and simplicity of life. That is a passion which often beats in young spirits who have been saddened by the world's sin, or startled by their own tempting thoughts of evil. It may be a discontent with low and secular and frivolous customs, and a craving after a deeper, truer, braver, more chivalrous life. Sometimes a devout and attractive personality throws a selfish character into relief, and at once rebukes and charms. Sometimes a sudden sorrow quenches the garish and dazzling sunshine. The cheapness and emptiness of a worldly life are seen, and the sense of need becomes a hunger of the spirit Or it may be that some sin, either some secret habit fastening on the will, or some sudden and hateful deed of evil, rouses the soul. It fills the heart, and even the face, with shame. It brings in a sense of weakness and helplessness, and the sense of need is felt in every brooding hour. Or it may be that the passions rise again and again in flood to mock at all restraint. For as rivers in sun-smitten countries often flow far down beneath their dry beds, so this hunger and thirst persist even when the life is profligate. Yet in whatever aspect it may present itself, this sense of need, created in us by God's Spirit, is the beginning of a religious experience. 'They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
II. The second stage is the effort to satisfy this need. Some of the most striking passages in religious biography, in the records of men of all races and of all faiths, are concerned with this ardent effort to satisfy this sense of need. But this satisfaction is not enough. Setting the face Godward is not kneeling at His feet. A faith in God is not always a Christian faith. Peace of mind is not always Christian peace. Men and women who have been content with blunting the edge of their desire are not filled 'with all joy and peace in believing'. This second stage has only one sufficient ending, and that is at the cross.
III. The third decisive stage is that peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ which is given only at the Cross. There are three paths, and I believe only three paths, to the cross. The records of religious life teem with illustrations of them. They are to be found in clear survey, where everything else which is Christian is to be found, in the New Testament. There are in the New Testament Scriptures three spiritual experiences which have been disclosed in clear detail. These are the spiritual experiences of Paul and Peter and John. God's way with these three great believers was not set down simply as a study for theologians. They were 'written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope'. They declare, I believe, the three great ways, by one of which every soul enters into peace with God.
(1) When we take the experience of Paul and strip it of all that is accidental to him, his Hebrew birth and training and his peculiar environment, we find that he stands out as the type of men who have gone terribly astray. No man who has awakened to find that he has made his bed in hell, who has been haunted and tormented by the faces of those he has wronged, who has been smitten into despair by finding how far he is from goodness and from God, ever endured greater agony than Paul. He never forgot his own blasphemies. He never forgot the terrified faces of humble believers. He never forgot Stephen's seraphic peace in dying. That was one of the heaviest stones of his bruising. He never forgot the face of Jesus whom he had crucified afresh. He stands as the type of all men who have wanton lives, scarlet memories, polluted hearts and condemning consciences. From such a gate of hell it is a short step to the cross.
(2) The spiritual experience of Peter describes the case of those who find themselves at the cross at a later stage. Young men and women often profess their faith in Christ quite sincerely without realising what it should mean. As they follow Christ He discovers them to themselves, and He discovers Himself to them. By a constant rebuke of fault and by an ever keener reproach of their low ideal, by the questioning of their impure motives and a chastening of their mistakes, Christ corrects and quickens these sincere and honest hearts. To every such young and simple believer there comes the day of awakening. The more honest he is the earlier it comes. He stands like Peter when he denied his Lord, realising that his need is not only to know Christ's word, not only to adore His character, not only to follow in His steps and in moments of high elation do Him chivalrous service. He hath become conscious that his need is the forgiveness of sins. It is a short step then to the Cross. As he turns to the Cross on which his guilt has been expiated he enters into a new realm. Christ has become not only Teacher and Friend and Master, He has become the Redeemer who bore his sins 'in His own body up to the tree'.
(3) The third way to the Cross is mirrored in the experience of John. There are young and sheltered lives which have grown up amid the sanctities and in the obediences of a devout home. A godly lineage, a careful training, and the example of a winsome religious life have wrought out in them a natural piety. They grow up unspotted from the world. But as years increase, their growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ quickens their spiritual insight, and gives them keener sense of sin. The awful power of the world and the flesh and the devil dismays them as it dismays no one else. They are like John growing up in his young, unstained, moral beauty, seeing more clearly than others the glory of Christ and therefore feeling more keenly the chasm between them and Christ's perfect holiness. These are the saints whose confessions make us wonder, whose humility provokes amazement. It is a short step for these, also, to the Cross. Seeing right into the world's sin and misery, knowing their own heart and confessing its weakness and sinfulness in words that still our thoughts, they look up to find God reconciled and forgiving them in the Cross. The words of Christ are their music. The life of Christ is a solemn mystery. But the death of Christ is life and peace. With Paul and Peter they say, 'Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ'.
W. M. Clow, The Gross in Christian Experience, p. 1.
Faith the Way of Peace
Of all phrases, of all theological terms which puzzle most the ordinary layman, I believe that this phrase, 'justification by faith,' is the most puzzling. 'Why,' says the layman, 'as far as I can see, St. Paul is wrong. In the City, on the Stock Exchange, a man is considered justified by what he does.' And so, again, from another point of view, it may be urged that this faith seems a far-away, unpractical thing. Religion is in a poor and miserable place if it is to be held with the heart, but not with the mind and intellect at all. Let us see, therefore, whether such objections as these are true or not.
I. And first let us overthrow those very common and popular misconceptions about faith. Is the faith made so much of in the Bible really concerned merely with sentiment or feeling or imagination? If it has nothing to do with character or life or acts, then there are no words strong enough to be found with which to hold it up to contempt. But let us take two illustrations from real life of what faith is, and from them we shall glean some sort of idea why such a tremendous stress is laid in the Bible on the possession of it. Picture an explorer starting in his ship for the Arctic regions. He has picked his men with great care, and the great moment has come at last There is a crowd around, watching the start; the moment comes when the moorings are unloosed and the ship is launched upon her way. All this is an act of faith, and the act of faith carries whatever follows with it. Surely the whole voyage is planned in faith and worked by faith. Or, take another instance. A girl is sitting in her room on the last night before she leaves her home. She is to be married on the morrow, and all the unknown future spreads itself before her. What keeps her steady as she faces unknown duties? It is her faith in the man she loves.
II. Now, if trust in the faithfulness of nature, faith in a human personality, however fallible, is such an ennobling thing, how are we to measure the inspiring power of faith in an overruling, living God? At least we may say this, that the greater the object of faith, the more ennobling the faith becomes, and that St. Paul is justified when first among the powers which mould the Christian character he places faith.
III. But, if faith is so intimately concerned with character, and we can only know character as it is revealed in works, what is the meaning of the vivid contrast which St Paul draws between faith and works as the means of our justification before God? The answer lies in the fact that faith is the one great quality within us which is supremely capable of education, while any attempt to be justified by works is apt to lead towards a deadening satisfaction with our present condition.
Bishop Winnington-Ingram, Under the Dome, p. 3.
In his 'Notes on Art' in Horœ Subsecivœ, Dr. Brown thus describes a picture of Luther in the Convent Library at Erfurt 'It is Luther, the young monk of four-and-twenty, in the Library of the Convent at Erfurt... He is gazing into the open pages of a huge Vulgate we see it is the early chapters of the Romans. A bit of broken chain indicates that the Bible was once chained to be read, but not possessed it is now free, and his own.... Next moment he will come upon or it on him the light from heaven, shining out from the words, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, and in intimation of this, His dawn, the sweet pearly light of morning, shining in at the now open lattice, is reflected from the page upon his keen, anxious face.'
References. V. 1. F. Ferguson, Peace with God, p. 77. Bishop Bethell, Sermons, vol. i. pp. 40 and 69. W. B. Selbie, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 44. F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 1. C. Perren, Sermon Outlines, p. 321. J. Bunting, Sermons, vol. ii. p. 61. Archbishop Magee, Sermons at Bath, pp. 70 and 97. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix. No. 510, and vol. xxv. No. 1466. Expositor (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 71; ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. pp. 190, 355, 365. V. 1-5. W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 125. V. 1-11. Bishop Gore, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 175. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ii. pp. 135, 141, 257; ibid. (5th Series), vol. i. p. 227; ibid. vol. viii. p. 157; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 301; ibid. vol. viii. p. 338. V. 1-12. Expository Sermons on the New Testament, p. 178. V. 2. W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 143. V. 2, 3. Expository Sermons on the New Testament, p. 183. V. 2-6. S. A. Tipple, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 56. V. 3. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. iii. pp. 225, 234, 244. Expositor (5th Series), vol. xi. p. 286. V. 3-4. H. D. Rawnsley, Church Family Newspaper, vol. xv. p. 1104.
St. Paul has not got much credit for poetic feeling amongst the many great poets of the Bible, and no doubt the passages in which he rises into poetry are somewhat rare; but of one of them, I suspect, we miss the beauty and force rather for want of such a mental history as that of In Memoriam to explain it, than from any want of pathos, depth, and singular precision of feeling in the passage itself. It would injure In Memoriam to give it a Biblical motto, for that would tend to classify a great modern poem in that dismal category of works known as 'serious reading,' and so to diminish its just influence; otherwise it would be hard to find a more exact and profound summary of its cycle of thought and emotion than St. Paul's reason (evidently an afterthought) for 'glorying in tribulation' 'knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us'. That is a true summary of the drift of In Memoriam.
From R. H. Hutton's Essay on Tennyson.
References. V. 3-5. T. Barker, Plain Sermons, p. 123. A. M. Fairbairn, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 248. G. A. Bennetts, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xix. p. 69. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. iii. pp. 252 and 261. Expositor (5th Series), vol. x. p. 239; ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. p. 356.
Thursday, 3rd January, 1740. I left London, and the next evening came to Oxford, where I spent the two following days in looking over the letters which I had received for the sixteen or eighteen years past. How few traces of inward religion are here! I found but one among all my correspondents who declared (what I well remember at that time I knew not how to understand) that God had shed abroad His love in his heart and given him the peace that passeth all understanding. But who believed his report? Should I conceal a sad truth, or declare it for the profit of others? He was expelled out of his society as a madman; and, being disowned of his friends, and despised and forsaken of all men, lived obscure and unknown for a few months, and then went to Him whom his soul loved.
References. V. 5. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 829, and vol. xxxii. No. 1904. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. iii. pp. 271, 280, 289, 301. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix. p. 93; ibid. (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 204; ibid. (6th Series), vol. x. p. 177. V. 5-8. Ibid. vol. x. p. 324. V. 6. J. H. Jowett, Christian World, Pulpit, vol. lii. p. 230. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii. No. 446; vol. xx. Nos. 1184 and 1191; vol. xxiii. No. 1345, and vol. xxxix. No. 2341. V. 6-9. J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons (3rd Series), p. 53.
The Righteous and the Good
In this chapter the Apostle is exhibiting the greatness of the love of Christ who died not merely for the helpless, who were likely to perish, but for the guilty, who deserved to perish. The substance of the Gospel is God's love for bad men. Now, that is a sublime truth, and always an entrancing theme; but let us turn aside from it, and fix attention upon the minor truth which is contained in this verse this contrast between the righteous and the good man. It may be that in common speech we confound the two, but in real experience, and in the teaching of the Bible, there is a difference between the two known and understood.
I. The contrast here, then, is between the legally just and the humanly good, between the irreproachable and the noble, between righteousness or negative goodness and positive goodness. To the first we may pay respect to the second we are irresistibly drawn, and we cannot help it. The first we may admire, the second we love. Righteousness is a hard face, without a warm soul to soften and light it up. The righteous, like a starry sky on a December night, clear but chill, the good like June weather. There is in righteousness, perhaps, the seed-bed and promise of goodness, but we want more; we want to see the fruit in positive good-doing and warm, human well-being, for we all love the good man, and cannot well help it. In reading the New Testament we may have noticed that one of the great things that Jesus did was that He deepened the conception of goodness and illustrated it in its highest and warmest form. It is one of the main things that His Church must learn to do. Christ showed us that true goodness 'was a creature not too bright and good for human nature's daily food'.
II. This plea, therefore, is for simple, essential, goodness. We live in a superior and supercilious age, but this question of goodness as a living reality is of the utmost and most urgent importance. We want to see the testimony and the power of simple goodness, for it is the greatest evangelist the world has ever known, or will know, the most eloquent preacher that ever lifted up a voice and cried aloud among men. It is goodness that compels men to love Christ.
Sir Walter Scott had won for himself deathless fame, but as he lay dying, and his son-in-law waited by his bedside, he said to him, 'Be a good man, Lockhart, be a good man'. But how to be good, to follow the best, as we see it in Jesus Christ? It is the living Christ who makes men whole, holy, good; and simple faith that links man's weakness to His power and greatness and victory.
D. L. Ritchie, Peace the Umpire and other Sermons, p. 100.
The Cross the Proof of the Love of God
God not merely 'commends' but 'proves' His love by Christ's death. It is the one evidence which makes that often-doubted fact certain.
I. The Need for Proof that God Does Love. I venture to say that instead of the love of God being a plain, self-evident axiom, there needs very strong evidence to give it a secure lodging-place amongst our settled beliefs. (1) Do the world's religions bear out the contention that it is so easy and natural for a man to believe in a loving God? I think not Comparative mythology has taught a great many lessons, and amongst others this, that apart from the direct or indirect influences of Christianity, there is no creed to be found in which the belief in a God of love and in the love of God is unfalteringly proclaimed, to say nothing of being set as the very climax of the whole revelation. (2) If we have nothing but the evidence of Nature, it seems to me that there are two voices speaking there: one of which says, 'There is a good God'; and the other says, 'Either His power is limited, or His goodness is partial'. (3) The grim fact of human suffering, of wretched, hopeless lives, rises up to say that there is no evidence broad and deep and solid enough, outside of Christianity, to make it absolutely certain that God is love. (4) Conscience rises up and protests, when it is awake, against such a notion, apart from the cross.
II. The Death that Does Prove the Love. How do we know, in our own happy experience, that love exists in another heart to us? Surely, by acts. Now there are but two things that I wish to say about this great proof of the love of God in act. (1) Christ's death proves God's love, because Christ is Divine. (2) Because it is a death for us. That 'for us' implies two things: one the voluntary act of God in Christ in giving Himself up to the death, the other the beneficial effect of that death.
III. The Love which is Proved by the Death. (1) I look to the dying Christ, and I see there the revelation, because the consequence, of a love which is not sailed forth by any lovableness on the part of its objects. (2) That dying Christ speaks to me, too, of a Divine love which, though not turned away by man's sin is rigidly righteous. (3) I see a Divine love, which is bounded by no limits of time or place. 'Proves' is a cold word. It is addressed to the head. 'Commends' is a warmer word. It is addressed to the heart It is not enough to establish the fact that God loves. Do you look on the death of Christ as a death for your sin? Do you meet that love with an answering love?
A. Maclaren, Triumphant Certainties, p. 275.
It is not God but man that is changed by our Saviour's death; it is not necessary for our reparation that a change be wrought upon Him, but upon us, seeing that it is not God but man that has lost his goodness. Christ came into the world, not to make God better, but to make us better; nor did He die to make Him more disposed to do good, but to dispose us to receive it.
There is a common saying that it is hard to forgive those whom we have injured. Certainly we are apt to imagine them to feel unkindly towards us. A sense of ill-desert banishes men from God the more effectually because they know it to be a true and right feeling, and know that if they condemn their sin God condemns it even more. Such is the effect of the moral ideal brought within the pale of consciousness. But the law reveals man to himself; it does not reveal God to man save partially and in one relation. He is more than law and justice and holiness. There is a mercifulness deeper than all. 'God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.'
Dr. G. P. Fisher in The Century Magazine, vol. xxxix. p. 789.
See the striking illustration of this quoted by Hugh Miller in the seventeenth chapter of My Schools and Schoolmasters.
In acknowledging a copy of Max Müller's Westminster Abbey lecture on Missions, sent him by his wife, Dr. Bushnell wrote: 'I read your little book right through at once.... We are half-tempted to say, as we read, Well, what more of Gospel do we want than simply to believe in the love, and take it as our Gospel to convert the world with, joining hands with all that will join hands with us, be they called by whatever name? So I said when I came to the end. But there was an afterthought, showing a difference. What can ever make up the Gospel we want but to have the love coming in the line of a forgivingness? It really does not come to be a salvation till the love is seen making cost, and coming after us as by sacrifice. It would not be difficult for even a heathen to believe in God as love; but to believe that He comes after us through painstaking and sorrow would be very far off ah! it is impossible!'
References. V. 8. G. H. Morrison, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. p. 212. O. Bronson, Sermons, p. 216. T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iv. p. 182. D. W. Simon, Twice Bom and other Sermons, p. 94. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No. 104, and vol. xxiii. No. 1345. Expositor (4th Series), vol. vi. p. 346. V. 8, 10. W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 143. V. 9. J. H. Jellett, The Elder Son, p. 163. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 23; ibid. (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 223. V. 9, 10. Ibid. (4th Series), p. 201.
The Spiritual Biography of a Christian
Paul sketches the biography of a soul that he may show forth the love of God.
I. The Christian's Spiritual Past. 'We were enemies.' But has 'enemies' here an active or a passive meaning? Is it that we were hostile to God, or that God was hostile to us? Dean Alford declared for the latter view, and many of the best expositors concur. When the sinner, whom He loves, identifies himself with sin, then God is obliged to regard that sinner as an enemy. Angry with the wicked every day is the thrice Holy God. 'We were enemies.' The righteous hostility of God rested upon us. 'We were enemies,' too, in an active sense. And it is well often to summon that fateful past to our recollection. Now see the dawn break on the soul. 'We were reconciled.' Was the reconciliation on God's part or on ours? Grammatically, the words carry either suggestion. Sanday and Headlem, in their fine commentary on the Romans, say the reconciliation was 'mutual'. Doubtless: yet I conceive the uppermost idea to be that God surrendered His hostility. 'The death of His Son' was the death of His anger.
II. The Christian's Spiritual Present. Our estate now is rich and bright. It is described in one golden expression 'being reconciled'. Of that blissful realization I would at present say but two things: (1) It is an assured state. John Wesley, who was one of the first of Greek scholars, says that this 'if means 'as sure as'. Our 'being reconciled' is absolutely sure. (2) If our spiritual present is a state of reconciliation with God, what a compensation that is for any earthly disadvantage!
III. The Christian's Spiritual Future. We are now 'reconciled'; we shall be 'saved'. The word 'saved' carries here both an evangelical and an ethical meaning. We shall be delivered from 'the wrath to come'. Our feet shall stand within the gates of the New Jerusalem. By the risen life of God's Son 'we shall be saved 'from all moral evil, even here, and yet more abundantly in the great hereafter.
It is 'by His life' all this is to be accomplished. Really, St. Paul says, ' in His life'. And Dean Vaughan's note is 'as our place of safety'. Hidden in the life of our glorified Lord, as our place of safety, we shall be absolutely and eternally 'saved'. St. Paul argues very boldly. He says: 'As sure as we were reconciled much more we shall be saved'. Mr. Spurgeon remarks that we are apt to put a 'much less' to it, and He is right But we must put, as Paul does, 'much more' to it. The living Lord makes our eternal salvation sure.
Dinsdale T. Young, Messages for Home and Life, p. 139.
References. V. 10. H. Arnold Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. p. 164. E. H. Hopkins, The Record, vol. xxvii. p. 770. J. Bateman, Sermons Preached in Guernsey, p. 188. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliv. No. 2587. Expositor (4th Series,) vol. vi. p. 30; ibid. (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 75. V. 11. F. B. Woodward, Selected Sermons, p. 29. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii. No. 1045, and vol. xliv. No. 2550. F. B. Woodward, Sermons (1st Series), pp. 158, 174. W. M. Clow, The Cross in Christian Experience, p. 152. Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p. 450. V. 12. W. M. Sinclair, Christ and Our Times, p. 121. W. H. Evans, Short Sermons for the Seasons, p. 166. Expositor (4th Series), vol. ix. p. 199. V. 12-14. Ibid. vol. vi. p. 419. V. 12-14 and 18-21. W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 157. V. 12-18. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 134; ibid. vol. ii. p. 63. V. 12-19. Ibid. (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 335. V. 12-21. Bishop Gore, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 185. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 285; ibid. vol. viii. pp. 23, 25; ibid. (6th Series), vol. ix. pp. 49, 147. V. 14. M. W. Blagg, Christ: the Second Adam, Philippians 1:18 , 35. V. 15. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1591. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 291; ibid. vol. viii. p. 24; ibid. (5th Series), vol. iv. p. 257; ibid. (6th Series), vol. ix. p. 59. V. 15-17. Ibid. (4th Series), vol. i. p. 285. V. 16. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliii. No. 2544, and vol. xlvii. No. 2744.
Reigning in Life
I. It is possible that there is a life to be lived in the common round and the daily task, so royal, so radiant, so blessed, that those who live it may be said to reign in life. (1) When you speak of reigning in life you have a conception at once of victory. There are a good many people who exist. Do you live? Have you the abundant life of Christ, the life that is more than victorious? (2) When we speak of reigning in life, we think also of a grace in life. Some one recently put an advertisement in one of our papers: 'Wanted a Christian companion, but she must be cheerful'. As if Christian companions Were not generally cheerful people. What is your life in this respect? Is there a consciousness with those who surround you in your daily life that religion is a bright, and blessed, and beautiful thing? (3) Then I think we associate the idea of bounty with those that reign. Are you able to give away much of your religion, or are you so occupied in keeping the little spark aglow that you have none to spare for others?
II. If you are not living a royal life it is very necessary to find out the reason. (1) It may be because you do not realise that the abundance of God's grace is for you. There is no favouritism with God. Just as the spring flowers, the sunshine, and the pure air are for all as free to the beggar as to the sovereign, so God's abundant grace is for every man and woman, and there is nothing that anyone has ever had which you may not have if you will. (2) If we admit this, the reason why we do not reign in life may be because we do not distinguish between praying and taking. (3) But suppose that this yet doesn't quite touch your case. It may be that your hands are not empty. You need to have the empty hand if you would be filled.
F. B. Meyer, The Soul's Ascent, p. 221.
References. V. 17. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 203. V. 18. F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. v. p. 293. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. pp. 134, 135, 137. V. 18, 19. H. Alford, Sermons on Christian Doctrine, p. 54. V. 19. C. Perren, Outline Sermons, p. 301. Expositor (4th Series), vol. viii. p. 86; ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 124.
Sin and Grace
Sin and grace are the two great words of the Christian religion. They lie at the very heart of the Gospel of Christ. To fail in the understanding of the one is to miss the meaning of the other. Wrong views of sin always issue in false interpretations of grace.
I. The Christian Doctrine of Sin. The Bible always deals with man as a sinful being. The fact of sin explains the process of Divine Revelation and the whole economy of Redemption. What is sin? We are on sure ground when we come to the Scriptures for the answer as to its nature and consequences. St. John defines sin as lawlessness. That is the final definition. Sin is the revolt of man against the authority of God; that is the essential fact. The particular point at which we trespass is a matter of small importance; that we should defy God's boundary at all is the offence. Man is judged not by his acts but by his heart. One leak will sink a ship, and one sin, whatever its form, separates the soul from God and sinks it in degradation and death. As sin is the sum of all sins, so death is the sum of all its consequences. 'The wages of sin is death.' Guilt, disorder, and desolation are the marks of the soul's death.
II. The Christian Doctrine of Grace. Over against this terrible word 'sin' stands the greater word 'grace.' Grace goes over the trail of sin, tracks it to its innermost recesses, destroys its power, undoes its mischief, and turns its very weapons to its own destruction. What is grace? It defies definition. It is illimitable, infinite, eternal. It is illustrated but never defined. In this connection it is the overflowing mercy of God, without regard to merit on the one hand or obligation on the other. (1) The method of grace. Grace is peculiarly associated with the mediatorial work of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in the sacrifice of the cross it finds its highest expression. Grace comes to us through Him. (2) How does the grace of God operate to the abounding over sin? (a.) First of all it secures the forgiveness of sin. (b) As pardon abounds over guilt, so sanctification abounds over the presence and effects of sin in the soul. Cleansing and regeneration restore man's nature to its true order, and death is swallowed up in life. The restored order in the man secures the restoration of the true order in the world. Personal regeneration is followed by social reconstruction.
S. Chadwick, Humanity and God, p. 21.
References. V. 20. J. D. Jones, Elims of Life, p. 77. J. Bateman, Sermons Preached in Guernsey, p. 138. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i. No. 37, and vol. xxxiv. No. 2012. Expositor (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 404. V. 20, 21. Ibid. (5th Series), vol. viii. p. 370. V. 21. W. J. Knox-Little, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 254. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi. No. 330. VI.-VIII. Expositor (4th Series), vol. viii. p. 349. VI. 1. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 305. VI. 1-11. W. P. Du Bose, The Gospel According to St. Paul, p. 171. VI. 1-14. Bishop Gore, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 204.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 5". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14