Christ's Answer to God's Charge Against Man

Romans 3:23; John 17:4
A Ritualist! my friend, art thou? Well, but I need not be surprised; there are many such now-a-days; and they are rapidly increasing; and not infrequently, the most fascinating piety is found underneath the most slavish formality. This makes ritualism most deceiving, dangerous ground; though, alas, popular. Rites and ceremonies are a virtual denial that the work of redemption is finished. It will matter little whether thou art Roman, Greek, Anglican, or Dissenter, nothing short of the finished work of Christ can save from the flames of hell thy precious soul. That work is finished now—finished for thee to rest upon—but not for thee to supplement by either thy doings or thy feelings. Yes, glorious news! finished, perfect. Lean thy whole weight upon it, it is a sure foundation; and be thou of the priesthood or the laity, thou art safe forever. But seek not, as thou wouldest not cast contempt on that finished work, to add, by rites or ceremonies, a feather's weight to its value. God is jealous for the glory of His Son. But let me explain -Man's lost condition is briefly summed up in these few words: " All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans hi. 23.) To meet this sad condition, Jesus came; and ere He left the scene of His humiliation and suffering, He could, and did say, " I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." (John 17:44I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4).) Infinitely precious! Transcendently blessed words! The mighty work is done! God is glorified! man's condition fully met! and all who believe it are complete in Christ—perfect in Him, and eternally saved. Could anything be simpler or plainer to the meanest capacity?
Well, it does not appear plain to me; it is quite different to what I believe and teach. It sounds to me like boasting. Do you mean to say you are perfect—that you never sin? Hear me -1. In Col. 2, where the apostle is warning the Church against mere forms; he says, " And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." We are in no way complete in ourselves; but we know that we are complete—lacking nothing—in Him, as risen, exalted, and glorified. The word of God says so.
2. Every believer is perfect in Christ, though far from perfect in himself. " For by one offering he [Christ] hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." Not only "perfected," observe, but "perfected forever." Neither need there be any difficulty as to the word " sanctified" here. It simply means, in this connection, a vital work of the Holy Spirit, by which the sinner is separated from the world to God; which Peter calls " sanctification of the Spirit." Heb. 10:1414For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14) Pet. 1:2.
3. We are told that Christ obtained eternal redemption, by the blood of His cross. Heb. 9:1212Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:12). Thus, you see, the words complete, perfect, eternal, are God's own words; blessed be His name. But to return -God charges man, thou wilt see, with two things; having sinned, and having come short of His glory. And these are just the two things that man cannot remedy. He cannot put away sin; he cannot glorify God. But Christ comes in grace and love and does both. And now, what is the plain duty and glorious privilege of man? Why, surely, to believe it; to thank the Lord for it; to praise Him; to delight our souls in His love, to glory in the cross where God was glorified and sin put away. Believest thou this, my dear friend? If thou art free to say in faith, Yes, I know I am lost; I know I have sinned and robbed God of His glory, then listen to the life-giving words of Jesus; " I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." But for whom? thou mayest ask. For those who have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Art thou one of these? then thy title is clear, thy plea is heard, the salvation of God is thine.
But, oh! remember, I pray thee, that it must either be glorying in the finished work of Christ, or tormented in the depths of hell forever. Trifle not, I beseech thee; delay not; thou knowest not how near thy end may be. Why then put thy trust in mere observances, in place of, or in addition to, the finished, all-sufficient, glorious work of Christ? why abandon a reality for a form, a substance for a shadow, a priestly absolution for the eternal efficacy of the blood of Christ? Oh. then, give thy heart to Him who gave Himself for thee; who put away sin and glorified God for thee, who waits in patient grace to reveal all His love to thee, and who longs for thee to share His throne, His crown. His glory forever.