Christ for the Saint and Christ for the Sinner: Part 1

Revelation 22:17
“And the Spirit and the bride say. Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
There is a great deal more, in this verse than most are apt to find, even though they may be dear, and even intelligent, children of God. Yet it is also remarkable that, although the depth is uncommon in presenting the brightest hope of the church, as well as encouraging the simplest individual believer, there is likewise the most ample expression of sovereign grace to the neediest of sinners, in whatever state he may be found. What can be more open than saying “He that will, let him take the water of life freely?” There is no more unrestricted invitation to perishing souls in any part of the Bible. Yet what grace shone when the Lord spoke to the woman of Samaria and announced—what man's hard heart is so slow to believe—the Father's love in seeking worshippers to worship Him. And the Son was there to manifest that He did not disdain, but even sought, that poor woman without a character. Some may have thought she avoided going at the hour when other women went to the well. If she had obvious reason for shunning them, they had not a kind word to say about her. But Christ made God known in love, even to one so wretched through sin. Yet He who thus loves is holy, whereas those who despised her were not.
Those who set up and cultivate sanctimonious expression of speech and ways have rarely any real sense of sin in themselves, any more than of grace in God. They make a fair show in the flesh, and have never learned their own ruin as sinners. They desire to feel and appear holy, and fear to find out and own what they really are in God's sight. But is it not always the greatest weakness to wish to appear anything? The believer has no reason to hide when he is assured of the grace that forgives all his sins. If God justifies him, who is he that condemns? He can afford to appear what he really is. “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from every sin.” “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God,” says the apostle Paul to the Corinthians, who had been amongst the most dissolute of mankind. Greece as a country was full of immorality; and there was no city in all that land so proverbially bad as Corinth. Yet the Lord, to encourage His servant in the face of opposing and blaspheming Jews, said, “Be not afraid but speak, and hold not thy peace... for I have much people in this city.” It required a word by a vision at night from the Lord to the apostle to keep up his courage in continuing in a place so full of corruption as Corinth.
Ever bear in mind that in the gospel it is what the Lord brings to us, and not what we offer to Him, when received in faith, which is the turning-point and the substance of the soul's salvation. God has, and freely, given a perfect Savior in Christ for the lost. Does any one of you doubt that His heart is so ready to forgive, even you, notwithstanding your sins which are many and great? You do Him a heinous wrong in doubting His word and His love. Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, not only can He afford to save you on believing, but He gives all with the freeness and fullness that becomes the God of all grace. “He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all: how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
The figure employed, in the Revelation, is “the water of life;” as the Lord spoke of giving “the living water” in John 4:1010Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10). The two books, the Gospel and the Revelation, are as different in character as can be; but who does not see how thoroughly the words tally, and how one Spirit reigns throughout Scripture? The book of Revelation is as full of judgment, as the Gospel of John teems with grace; but it is the same Lord Jesus Christ, whatever the distinctness of design may require in each case. The prophetic visions vindicate His rights over all the universe, and therefore over all nations as well as Israel. Before they begin in chap. 6 we are given to see the bright result of grace in the glorified saints gathered on high around the throne, under the symbol of the twenty-four crowned and enthroned elders in chapters 4, 5. But the book could not close without the words read in the text, which put the church and the believer in their present place of hope, and which continue to invite the sinner, whatever his state, to receive His grace as freely as ever. First of all, we hear “the Spirit and the bride” saying to Christ, “Come.” For He loved the church and gave Himself for her; and she knows from His own lips that He is coming to receive her to Himself. Therefore we can understand how proper are the words, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.” To whom does the Spirit animate the bride thus to speak? To the Bridegroom. It is indeed much to be noticed, and full of instruction.
Earlier in the book (chap. 3:11) the Lord says “I come quickly”; but the Spirit and the bride do not add “quickly” now they join in crying to Christ, “Come.” Those who compose the bride had already each submitted to the righteousness of God; they knew for their own souls that they were saved by grace through faith; and they were waiting in assured hope of Him to bring them into the Father's house, where He Himself now is, and whence He had promised to come and fetch them there. Remark then how important and how suited are the words, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.” Men, and even saints, are all liable to mistakes. Who, that knows himself or others, could rest his hope on the creature in its best estate? As we need Christ's work for saving us, so we cannot do without God's word for any appearance of solid worth, whether for faith or hope, for walk or worship. Therefore does the Spirit—that is, the Holy Ghost—prompt the word. He and the bride are represented as saying, “Come.” Can anything be more comely or in character?
The Spirit of God has His place as directing and strengthening the heart of the church, the bride. He dwells in the believer as well as in the church. As this privilege never was enjoyed before redemption, so it never will be given in the same power and way again. Ample blessing awaits Israel and the nations by and by. The Spirit will be poured out again when the Lord reigns. It will be “the regeneration” for the earth, as the prophets predict, in the millennial day. But Scripture indicates again remarkable differences as compared with His presence now. And no intelligent soul can be surprised; for on the bright day that approaches for the world, there will be sight; and no such tests of faith as there are now. Everything will be Joyous, peaceful, and prosperous in righteousness. Satan will be shut out from tempting and seducing; and Jehovah shall reign over all the earth without a rival or a rebel, His name one. But now the present is the evil age from which grace has delivered the Christian who has to make his way by faith and suffering for his Master's sake.
We ought to be like the fish swimming against the stream as living fish do: the dead ones are carried along with it. The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that ever works in the sons of disobedience is still directing the many evil currents of the world; but every one is dead against the Lord Jesus, as Scripture warns us. Constantine did not alter that; and the Papacy only added another evil. There cannot be a better proof of the world's enmity to God than that it all, civil and religious, cast out and crucified His Son. For who were those who did the deed? Not Hottentots or Tartars, or Chinese. The Roman power of that day was misled by His own ancient people, the Jews. Herod was content with mockery. Even the ruthless Pilate wanted to let the Lord off, because he knew it was for envy, He was victimized; and by whose envy? The priests', the High Priest's—the very men set up of God to intercede for others. How evidently they were fallen under the power of Satan, and were interceding for his will and victory when they crucified the Son of God! Such was the real character of their persistent outcry. And so it is that the world treats His name and truth. It may go on in apparent quiet for a time; but what brings its enmity to a head? Christ. As then, so ever and so now, it is Christ that Satan always opposes, drawing in his train the enmity of the world.
The judge of quick and dead is a reality they cannot stand. And so they gnash, not perhaps with their teeth, but in their hearts. They accordingly cannot, as they are now, but hate those identified with His truth, as they will hate you if you are faithful, but not if you compromise. Compromising is an insidious and especial danger for a Christian. The new nature he has in Christ makes him abhor sin, and just because he is born of God, he turns away from it and prays to God His Father to be delivered from all evil by virtue of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. The Holy Spirit was sent from heaven in manifested power after our Lord died, rose, and ascended. It is well to remember the words in John 7:3939(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:39), “The Holy Ghost was not yet [given] because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” Is this the doctrine you usually hear? Alas! very commonly it is not, and this among the saints and the excellent of the earth. Let me speak of one no longer alive, an eloquent and celebrated preacher, a pious and prayerful man (a former dean of Ripon), who wrote a book to prove that the Holy Ghost's presence and action did not differ at Pentecost from what it was before. But this idea contradicted flatly the words cited and the truth generally in the New Testament. For the Gospels all look forward to that great gift as an immense and new privilege. When Jesus took His seat on high, the Holy Ghost came personally, and came to abide forever. This had never been before, and never will be again in the same peculiar way. For the kingdom by-and-by there will be a larger work. The Spirit will be poured on all flesh; so that the extent will be far greater. “My people (Israel) shall be all righteous” in that day; and vast too will be the blessing among all the nations of the earth. How striking and how general the work of divine grace when the idols shall utterly pass away, and Jehovah alone shall be exalted in that day!
But what the Holy Spirit occupies Himself with now is a most special work of concentration, rather than of world-wide action, though the testimony of the gospel is preached to every creature. And why? Because He is gathering souls in spiritual power round the true center, the Lord Jesus. And this survives all man's failure and defection. “For where two or three are gathered together to my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Christ's name was the center at Pentecost when the church began; and so it is still. When the Spirit is poured out at the coming of the Lord's world-kingdom (Rev. 11). He will adapt Himself to the work in hand. He will, for instance, enable God's people to walk according to God s laws under the new and divine government of the earth. For Israel it will be the new covenant, and a Messiah reigning in open power; and the Spirit will strengthen in that way. But what an enormous difference there will be when the Lord visibly governs, reigning as a king in righteousness, with princes that rule in judgment, and the vile shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful! How will not the presence of the Lord as a priest on His throne make everything to be in holy order and peaceful happiness in that day!
So He says, in the verse before the one read, “I [Jesus] am the root and the offspring of David.” He will then assuredly accomplish all the old and glorious predictions for the earth. He will bless Israel to the full, and, after Israel, all the nations in general. Israel behaved shamelessly, and the other nations (previously rebellious) found no deliverance, no help, in a people that sinned along with them. In due time the gospel came in and lifted the believer above nationality, whether Jewish or Gentile. The gospel has for its aim to save the believer, and unite him to Christ in and for heavenly glory. Thus is the church formed by the present Holy Spirit. It is the richest expression of divine grace. Those who believe are called to be, and even now are, God's children, as they also are by one Spirit baptized into one body.
Do you ask, What of ourselves and our sins? I ask in reply, For what did Christ die? Did not His death effect for the believer what God intended? Was He not offered for the remission of sins? Does He not blot them out before God for each believer, as in the type of the scape-goat (only a great deal better) they were borne away to a solitary land, where nobody would hear of them more? Remember there were two goats. There Was one goat for Jehovah, and the other was for dismissal into the wilderness. The first was sacrificed for a sin-offering. The essential thing where sin is in question is, first of all, to vindicate God. If we are to have His grace, He must have His rights in order that His grace may flow without a jar or an obstacle. The first goat was therefore offered as a sin-offering to Jehovah. The second goat could have no efficacy save in virtue of the first; but after that offering, how invaluable its testimony that “all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins” were sent away expressly to a land of forgetfulness! Such was the solemn type on the day of atonement (Lev. 16). And the Lord Jesus more than made it good, as all can find who receive Heb. 9; 10 from God. On His work are founded the blessed words, “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
Do we, my friends, for ourselves believe these words? How few comparatively in this land of religious profession really believe? How many flatter themselves that they do, while manifestly unconverted I If you believe God's testimony to you as a guilty person, it would mark that His grace has awakened your soul. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Have you bowed in faith to the truth and the grace so plain in the gospel? Do you not see that God could afford to justify you righteously through Christ's blood, and in no other way? Till our Lord died, not a single sin was taken away; when He died and rose, a work was accepted by God which would leave not a single sin on any believer. But even God's children for the most part are only half-believers. They have generally slipped back to the condition of Jews before the Lord came. They think the efficacy is lost every time they break down, and that they must begin over again.
How sad to be in a measure always learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth The Jew, under law, could not avoid this constant need of renewal; but what are Christians about, who so forget the gospel? It is unbelief of what grace now gives through Christ Jesus. What can more evidently weaken and darken the glad tidings God sends us? All spring is gone for a holy walk; and you cannot worship in the Spirit unless you know that all is clear between Him and you. Far am I from saying that you are to gloss over any failure. Confess all fully, and at once; but go to Him with the certainty that He welcomes you to His presence which you must have slighted when you sinned. But are you not in living relationship with Him, and with the Lord Jesus, His Son? You have dishonored Him; but if He denies not your relationship, you should not, who need it more than ever for the restoration of your soul. Perhaps you may have said, or done something wrong this morning. But is there no appointed remedy, no adequate way, of getting practically clear? Certainly there is. Retire into your closet, shut the door, and have it out with God. It is not that He revokes His grace, and that you are back in the world, but that having partaken of His grace in the gospel, you should humble yourself deeply for any sins into which carelessness has let you slip.
(To be continued)