God's Glad Tidings

CHAPTER 1—God's Love Revealed in Christ
GLAD tidings were announced to Abraham when it was said to him, "In thee shall all nations be blessed." Glad tidings were also announced when the angel proclaimed to the watching shepherds the birth of a Savior, Christ the Lord, and the praises of the heavenly host rang through the heavens: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." In a fuller way still, glad tidings were preached after Jesus died, and rose, and ascended, as we have it in 1 Cor. 15. "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you.... For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve," etc. There is also the gospel, or glad tidings, of the glory of Christ, which Satan labors to obscure, as it is written: "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 4:4-64In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4‑6).
What was announced to Abraham was something to take place in the future. It was not an accomplished fact. It was something he could look forward to as a hope-a sure hope, no doubt, but only a hope. To us-to you, reader-something better is announced. It is the blessed fact of a present salvation, through Him who died on the cross, and who rose again for our justification. The facts announced in the gospel of our salvation are: 1. Christ died for our sins.
2. He was buried.
3. He rose again the third day.
4. He was seen by many witnesses after His resurrection.
5. He is now a Man in the glory of God.
Blessed facts announced to those who are lost! Facts of eternal importance to every ruined child of Adam!
Reader, are you a child of Adam? Then know that these are facts which deeply concern you for time and eternity. Let me ask you to look at that blessed, lowly, obedient Man, who walked down here among men thirty-three years, in absolute grace and goodness and love. Look at Him as disease of every kind vanishes at His touch, and demon-tormentors of wretched men leave their victims at His command! Look at Him as poor sin-laden wretches come into His presence, and find in Him One who has power on earth to forgive sins! Who is this blessed One? this Friend of sinners? It is the eternal Son of God. Hear the Father's voice saluting Him, as the heavens open over Him at His baptism in Jordan: "Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Here, then, we have God's beloved Son down here among men, the perfect expression of all that God is. He was "the exact expression of His substance," the One who, made flesh, came, full of grace and truth, to present God to men, and of whom the Apostle could say, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." But now that blessed One has gone back to the Father, and is now in the glory of God, the glory which He had with the Father before the world was. He has gone back as Man, and is now a Man-the God-man-in the glory of God. In Him man has a place in the presence of God, according to divine righteousness. Is there no good news in this for poor sinners? Is it nothing to know that there is now really a Man in the glory of God? Sinner, it is this that opens the door of hope for guilty man. It is Christ having gone in there as Man that has opened the way for you also to enter in.
But wait a little. We have said that Christ the Son of God has gone back to the Father. How did He go? What road did He take? He went by the way of death and resurrection. He passed through death's dark, raging river, and dried up its waters of judgment, that others might pass over. That One, at whose word all diseases vanished, and whose authority demons were forced to own, must die upon the cross, or the door of mercy must be closed forever against the guilty. Look at the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, as He hangs upon that middle cross between two thieves! Why did He hang there? Why did He give Himself up to be crucified and slain by wicked men? Were not legions of demons subject to His word, and had He no power to save His own life from those who sought it? Why did He cry out on the cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Why did God allow Satan to lead on the world against Him at the cross, and why was His hand against His own Fellow, and His face hidden from Him who had ever been His delight? Why did darkness envelop Him, and the waves of divine wrath close over His soul in that hour of unparalleled sorrow and anguish? Was it an accident? Was there some mistake? Listen to God's answer: "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:2121For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21). He "died for our sins." He "bare our sins in His own body on the tree." He suffered once for sins, "the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." He took the place of His guilty people, and bore their sins in God's presence, draining for them the bitter cup of God's judgment, in order that they might be saved, and drink the cup of eternal joy and blessing as His companions in glory. Oh! what a Savior!
And now, my reader, let me ask you a plain question. Have you in God's presence bowed to the fact that you are a lost sinner-not merely a sinner, but a lost sinner-one whose wretched case nothing could meet but God's spotless Lamb, going to that cross to bear your sins there? You say, Yes. Then know assuredly that Christ's death applies itself to you, and gives you full clearance from guilt in the presence of God. Look up into the glory of God, and behold that Man there! He is there because He has most perfectly met the whole question of sin which shut you out from God. He has glorified God as to sin, and God has opened the heavens to receive Him, and to receive in Him all who believe in His name. Do you believe in Him? Then your sins are gone, and you are one with Christ in glory. Gaze into His blessed face there! Behold the glory of the Lord! Let your eye ever rest there! Beholding, you will be changed into the same image from glory to glory. And, what is more blessed still, you will soon be there with Him, and with all the ransomed of His blood. Blessed, glorious prospect! Surely it is glad tidings to a poor sinner to hear from God Himself that there is absolute and eternal forgiveness of sins, simply through faith in the name of Jesus, and that he who believes is one with Christ-one with that accepted Man in the glory of God.
But what I would especially press here is that these glad tidings are the glad tidings OF GOD. They came from One whose very name, whose very being, is LOVE. GOD IS LOVE. The blessed Lord Jesus was the expression of this down here among men: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Behold the eternal Word made flesh, the only-begotten Son of the Father, dwelling among men, full of grace and truth! "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!" GOD WAS MANIFEST IN THE FLESH. Do you want to see Him? Do you want to know Him? "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." 2 Cor. 5:1919To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19). Look at the Lord Jesus in His ministry down here-His ministry of grace and love. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Himself the Truth, the Light, the poor sinner was manifested in His presence a loathsome picture, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores; a mass of corruption, ruined by sin, and covered with guilt. But oh, amazing grace! God was not imputing sins. He sent not His Son to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved. The sinner's terrible ruin and need were brought out in His presence; but it was in the presence of One who was able to meet the sinner's utmost need. He could touch the unclean without being defiled. Himself the mighty God, the power of evil vanished at His touch. And He was the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. O sinner, behold Him! One real, true look of faith will bring life and salvation, and dispel every doubt and fear.
Satan has perhaps filled your heart with wicked thoughts about God, destroying all your confidence. Do not, I pray you, take Satan's thoughts about God. Satan is a liar from the beginning. If you want the truth, look at Christ. The truth, as well as grace, came by Him. He was God-God manifest in the flesh. Look then at Him, and you will see what God is. The deaf, the dumb, the halt, the maimed, the lame, the blind, the afflicted, the sorrow-tossed, and the sin-laden came to Him for help. Was ever one of these needy ones sent away without help? Not one. And now look at Him on the cross. Why was He there? He hung there for the guilty. God gave Him up to that. He spared not His Son. He gave Him up to that bitter death of darkness and indescribable sorrow. Why was it, sinner? Did God delight in the sufferings of His Son? Ah! no, surely not. But there was no other way by which He could get you and me, and lost men everywhere, into His own presence, to enjoy His love, and dwell with Him in eternal blessedness and glory. Surely God is love, and Satan, with all his lies, cannot hide it from those who gaze upon the Lord Jesus, His blessed Son, on the cross, giving His life a ransom for all.
Let me say to you again, poor, needy, anxious soul, in the words of Scripture, "God is love." God gave His Son for you. God made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. God raised Him again from the dead, as the everlasting Witness that His work on the cross was finished, and that divine justice was satisfied. He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. He has gone into "the holy place"-the presence of God-"by His own blood." And today-this day of grace-God announces from a blood-sprinkled throne, unconditional forgiveness to every one who believes; and not forgiveness only, but eternal acceptance in His beloved Son. The tidings are GOD'S glad tidings to LOST MEN. Reader, have you taken the place of being LOST? Then be assured the good news is for you, for Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. The gospel applies itself fully to those who in truth plead guilty before God, the Savior-God.
GOD'S GLAD TIDINGS—CHAPTER 2—the Gospel of God Concerning His Son the History of Man Under Trial As a Child of Adam Has Closed in Death. "If One Died for All, Then Were All Dead." 2 Cor. 5:1414For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (2 Corinthians 5:14). the Cross Was the Sad Proof That All Were "Dead in Trespasses and Sins." in Every Way Man Has Been Tested-Without Law, Under Law, by Priesthood, by Kings, by Prophets. What Was the Result? He Was Lawless, a Lawbreaker, Sacrilegious, Idolatrous, a Murderer of the Prophets. a Final Test Was Given. "Last of All He Sent Unto Them His Son, Saying, They Will Reverence My Son." Instead of Reverencing, They Murdered Him. God Was Manifest in the Flesh; but Man Hated God, and, Being Unable to Endure His Presence, Sought to Put Him Out of the Scene. "God Is Light"; but Man Was Full of Darkness, and Could Not Bear the Light. Men Loved Darkness Rather Than Light Because Their Deeds Were Evil. "God Is Love"; but Man's Proud Self-Righteous Heart Turned Away From the Grace Which Had Its Spring in That Love. "God Was in Christ Reconciling the World Unto Himself"; but the World Refused All Proposals of Peace. During a Ministry of More Than Three Years Christ Was Presenting God to Man in Grace. God Himself Was in Christ Among His Own Creatures, Pleading With Them, Beseeching, As It Were, That They Should Be Reconciled. but Man Would Not Be Reconciled; His Heart Was Cold in Moral Death. There Must Be Redemption and New Creation, Else Man's Heart Could Not Be Turned Back to God.
God's Christ was rejected, and a murderer chosen—NOT THIS MAN, BUT BARABBAS! This was the end. Christ went to the cross, and died for all; and the solemn verdict God has written against man in the death of His Son on the cross is—DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND IN SINS! Awful state into which man has fallen! Oh, sinner, ponder it deeply. Is this your state before God? Has sin shut you up in the prison house of death? Has death closed his awful door upon you, and bound you as his captive? Oh! Remember this is the state of every unsaved sinner. God has spoken it. "Dead in trespasses and sins" are the words He utters. What do you say? What is the answer of your heart and conscience? Do you bow to the truth of God? Are you vainly hoping to better yourself? Or do you bow to the solemn truth of that word by which God describes your moral state-DEAD? Do you think to find your way back to God as best you can? or do you bow to the truth of that word by which God describes the condition of the prodigal in the far-off country—LOST? Do you indeed own the truth of these two words—DEAD, LOST?
Now let me tell you why I am pressing this question. It is that you may cease to have any confidence in yourself; for if God says you are lost and dead, what can you do? There is but one answer—nothing. Is there no hope then? Yes, but not in yourself. God announces glad tidings; but they are not concerning the sinner. God has but one verdict concerning the sinner—dead in trespasses and sins. No good news in this! But there are glad tidings, and God Himself announces them. They are CONCERNING HIS SON. When man's ruin was thoroughly brought out, God's Son wrought deliverance, and the glad tidings of God are concerning Him, "concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Rom. 1:3,43Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:3‑4).
Let me, then, dear reader, ask you to cease all confidence in yourself, and turn your eye wholly to this blessed Person, the Son of God. He is the only One who can save the "lost," or quicken the "dead." And He is the One whom God has sent for this very purpose. He is worthy of your confidence. He is able to meet all your need. He has already done everything for the sinner's deliverance. Nothing remains. The Savior's work for the sinner is done, and He has gone on high, having accomplished redemption, and risen from the dead, victorious over all the power of evil.
Look, sinner, at that mighty Savior. There is life in a look. Look, and live. Look at Him in His spotless life clown here; look at Him in His death on the cross; look at Him in His resurrection; look at Him now as He sits in triumph at God's right hand in glory!
1. Look at Him in His life on earth. He was in the midst of a scene of universal ruin and death, and the mighty power of sin was pressing Him on every hand; yet, amid all this, He was the "holy, harmless, and undefiled" One. He knew no sin. Not only so, but He was One in whom there was a power before which the effects of sin disappeared. Disease of every kind vanished at His touch. He touched the bier where lay the dead, and at His word the dead sat up, and began to speak. At the grave of Lazarus, too, He stood as the resurrection and the life, and at His command he who had been dead four days came forth from the grave. Such was He in His life, the One who lived by the Spirit in the perfection of divine holiness, proof against any taint of sin, and before whom the power of evil was forced to give way at every step. He was in the midst of a scene of death, but He was the resurrection and the life, and hence He could say, "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." John 5:24,2524Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. (John 5:24‑25).
2. Look at Him on the cross. There He meets not only the effects of sin, such as disease and physical death, but sin itself as that which has dishonored God, and ruined man. He was "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," and He was "the Son of the living God" who came to destroy the works of the devil, and deliver those whom he had ruined through sin. He entered the dark chamber of death for the deliverance of those whom sin had bound there in hopeless ruin. In the power of the life of God He entered those gloomy chambers and grappled with the foe in his last stronghold, and took from him who had the power of death, the keys of death and hell. Accordingly when Peter confessed Him "Son of the living God," He said, "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." And why should not the gates of hell—the powers of the unseen world—prevail against His assembly? Just because that power was no longer wielded by Satan. All was now in the hand of "Christ, the Son of the living God," who in death had grappled with death, and destroyed him who had the power of death. Though He passed through death, it was in the power of a life which death could not touch, and in resurrection He became the foundation, the living Rock, beyond the power of death, on which He raised a temple of living stones, a living sanctuary for God and the display of His glory, which He calls "My assembly."
"His be 'the Victor's name,'
Who fought the fight alone;
Triumphant saints no honor claim,
His conquest was their own.
"By weakness and defeat
He won the mead and crown,
Trod all our foes beneath His feet
By being trodden down.
"Bless, bless the Conqueror slain,
Slain in His victory:
Who lived, who died, who lives again-
For thee, His Church, for thee!"
3. Look at Him in His resurrection. This is the proof of His power and triumph over sin and death, and proof, moreover, that God had been glorified in His death, for He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father. Rom. 6:44Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4). God who made Him to be sin for us, and who delivered Him up for our offenses, raised Him up again from the dead. This was proof that God was satisfied and glorified in His death. On the other hand the Son of God had power to lay down His life, and He had power to take it again. He entered in at death's door, and destroyed Satan's power. He
fought the battle, won the victory, took the keys of death, opened the door, and came forth, "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Thus resurrection was the proof of His victory over sin, death, and Satan's power. No man had ever entered death's door, and come out again in his own power. Here is One who did. He brought Lazarus forth, too; and thus He was declared the Son of God with power.
4. And now look at Him as the One now seated in the glory of God. He has taken His seat in heavenly glory, and this, too, when He had purged our sins, and overthrown our enemies in the depths of the sea of judgment. He ascended, leading captivity captive; and thus He has opened a pathway out from the very chambers of death to the glory of God!—a pathway for the sinner—for every one who believes in His name.
This, dear reader, is the One concerning whom God has announced glad tidings. And is it nothing to know God has announced such a Savior in His glad tidings to ruined man? Have you heard "the glad tidings of God concerning His Son Jesus Christ"? Do you believe on the name of the Son of God? Have your eyes been opened to see that One who descended into death, who rose again, and is now seated in glory? Have you heard Him saying, "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment; but is passed from death unto life"? Have you heard this word of His? It is life to him who hears. "Hear, and your soul shall live." Believe God when He announces His Son as the Savior of the lost; and if you believe, know assuredly that the Son of God has taken up your cause. He has gone into the prison house of death to release you, He has borne your guilt, He has triumphed over death for you, He has struck off your chains, He has opened the door and He bids you go free. Yes more, He has gone into the presence of God for you, and has linked you with Himself there. He has not only delivered you from death, but He has made glory sure. He has not only opened the gates of death, but He has opened the gates of heaven. He is not restoring man to the place from which he fell, but He has opened heaven for him, the paradise of God. He has gone down to man in his ruin, laid hold of him (He took hold on the seed of Abraham, that is, those who believe—Heb. 2:1616For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:16)), and borne him up into the glory of God, for He Himself is Man, the Leader of a chosen race, and is now in the glory of God the expression of the place God has given to man. In Him man stands accepted in the presence of God—accepted in the perfection of His Person and work. Heaven is no longer closed against man; He has opened it, and in Him man has entered in. Every one who believes is one with Him in His heavenly position. He is the measure of the believer's acceptance; He presents man to God in Himself; and He is the pattern according to which He is going to fashion every one He receives to dwell with Him in that glory! What a Savior! What a salvation! What a hope! Out of the prison house of death, and up into the glory and paradise of God! Such are God's glad tidings to the sinner concerning His Son Jesus Christ. Do you believe? Then all is yours.
GOD'S GLAD TIDINGS—CHAPTER 3—the Wrath of God From Heaven It May Be Asked: "Why Speak of God's Wrath in Connection With Glad Tidings?" Just This: It Is the Fact That God's Wrath Against Sin Has Been Revealed That Makes the Revelation of God's Righteousness Necessary. God's Righteousness Revealed in the Gospel Is the Door of Escape From Infinite and Eternal Wrath, for It Is by God's Righteousness That the Sinner Is Justified Through Faith in the Lord Jesus. the Gospel Addresses Itself to Those Who Are Exposed to Divine Wrath, and Hence the Necessity of Speaking of the Revelation of Wrath, in Order That Those Who Are Under It May Be Awakened to a Sense of Their Danger, and See Their Need of Deliverance Which the Gospel Brings.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." Rom. 1:1818For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18). In these words the truth comes out as to what the nature of God is toward sin. His nature is against it. He can deal with it only in unsparing judgment. He cannot pass it by. His wrath from heaven is revealed against it, revealed alike against all ungodliness in the Gentiles, and unrighteousness in the Jews, who had the truth, but held it in unrighteousness. The moment sin, in whatever form, no matter where or in whom, is brought face to face with God, His holy nature can only be against it. And it is because Jews and Gentiles-all men are alike involved in sin, against which the wrath of God from heaven is revealed, that the righteousness of God, on the ground of the blood-shedding of Jesus, is revealed in the gospel on the principle of faith, and to faith, thus opening the door of salvation to all who believe.
Let us look a little at the expression, "wrath of God revealed from heaven." Again and again in the Old Testament we see God's wrath, but never, I think, the same as here. We see His wrath in sending the flood and destroying the world of the ungodly; again, when He confounded the tongues at Babel; again, when He delivered Israel, and the hosts of Pharaoh were swallowed up in the sea; again, when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and all pertaining to them, went down alive into the pit; and the two hundred and fifty princes were consumed by fire coming out from the presence of the Lord. And so we might go on and state a multitude of cases of a similar character. But all these were only the display of God's governmental wrath in His ways and dealings with men in this world. When evil became bold and defiant, God dealt with it in His government, putting a check upon it by earthly judgments.
But now it is no longer a question of God's government on earth: it is a question of His nature, for God is now acting according to what He is, and not merely putting a check upon evil in a governmental way. Of old, God dwelt in the thick darkness. His hand was seen in His governmental ways and dealings with men, but He had not revealed Himself in the fullness of what He is in His own nature and character. But now God is revealed. He no longer dwells in thick darkness. The veil is rent. The whole truth has come out. We see this in the cross. There we see what God is, and in the light of His presence we see what man is, and what sin is. We see what He is in His nature toward sin, and what He is toward the guilty sinner who bows to the truth. By the cross the truth is revealed that "God is love" in providing a sacrifice for the guilty. But the same cross also shows that the only thing in His nature toward sin is wrath. And here it is not merely governmental wrath displayed in earthly dealings with men, but it is wrath according to what He is in His holy nature against sin—wrath from heaven. "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven," etc.
But how is this seen in the cross? It is seen in the cross, because God there had to say to sin according to His own majesty, and the holiness of His own nature. When Christ was made sin on the cross, God forsook Him, and the sword awoke against Him who was Jehovah's Fellow. There never was anything like it before, nor will there ever be again. At the river Jordan, the heaven opened upon Him, God anointed Him with His Spirit, and proclaimed His delight in Him; tempted in the wilderness, and an hungered, an angel ministered to Him; on the mount of transfiguration, the voice of God from the glory-cloud declared Him His beloved Son; in Gethsemane, sweating as it were great drops of blood, in view of drinking the dreadful cup, an angel strengthened Him. Thus all along the earthly path of ministry, and up to the hour when He was made sin on the cross, He was in the enjoyment of uninterrupted communion with God, His Father. On the cross all was changed. There all was darkness—waves from beneath, and waves from above—unmingled wrath and judgment His portion, and His cry, "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" More than anything else this shows what sin is as measured and dealt with by God. In His nature there is absolutely nothing but wrath toward sin.
"Wrath of God revealed from heaven" does not mean God's dealing with sin on the cross: it is not wrath executed, but wrath revealed. He will execute wrath by-and-by -divine, eternal wrath—upon the wicked; but this is not what we have in Rom. 1:1818For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18). Here it is the statement of a truth that has come to light—a truth that we read in the light of the cross. Now that He has dealt with sin on the cross, we can say that His nature, as against sin, has been revealed. It is wrath from heaven.
This, dear reader, is a most solemn truth, for if now the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against sin, what are you and I to expect, if we have to say to God about our sins? Christ, bearing not His own sins but the sins of others, met with unmingled judgment and wrath. If we have to meet God in our sins, can we expect less? If God's Son had to cry out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" surely that, too, must be our wail forever in the lake of fire, if we have to bear our own sins, for we can never expiate our guilt. What think you, reader? If you are an unbeliever, you are covered with guilt, and have no righteousness. And you must meet God, and meet Him, too, according to His own nature. His wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. How then will you meet Him? It is because the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all sin, and the sinner needs justification that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel. And this righteousness is revealed, not to any special class or nation, but to faith. Hence it avails for you, if you believe the gospel. The precious blood of Jesus is the basis of it. Through faith in that blood the sinner obtains forgiveness of sins, and God justifies him in righteousness. The moment the perishing sinner believes in Jesus, the same righteous hand that administered the stroke of justice to his Substitute is on his side. And if God be for us, who can be against us? O sinner, linger not. Take shelter by faith under the blood of Jesus, and righteousness will take the place of wrath. Believe in Jesus, and God is on your side. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:3636He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36).
GOD'S GLAD TIDINGS—CHAPTER 4—Every Mouth Stopped the Apostle Has Declared That "the Wrath of God Is Revealed From Heaven Against All Ungodliness and Unrighteousness of Men, Who Hold the Truth in Unrighteousness." and Now He Proceeds to Show That the Gentiles, to Whom Were Manifest the "Eternal Power and Deity" of God Through the Things That Were Made, Were "Ungodly"; and That the Jews, to Whom Were Committed "the Oracles of God," Were Unrighteous. Both Had Sinned Against the Light They Had; the Gentiles Without Law; and the Jews Under Law. Both Jews and Gentiles Were Guilty. Every Mouth Was Stopped; the Whole World Was Guilty Before God. Such Is the Solemn Truth Contained in the First Three Chapters of the Epistle to the Romans.
The Gentiles were without law, but they had the knowledge of God as Creator, and they sinned against that, and were "without excuse; because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." Rom. 1:20-2320For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:20‑23). Such was the downward course of the Gentiles in their departure from God, when they knew Him as Creator. "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever." Rom. 1:24,2524Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 1:24‑25). Sad result of departure from God! Not only most fearful guilt, but most terrible corruption, and most deplorable degradation! And if any one will read through the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, he will see more in detail the Gentile character and condition delineated in the most fearful colors. And yet this is just what is true of man as an apostate from God. There might have been philosophers among them, teachers and reformers and philanthropists, perhaps less degraded outwardly, but they too were inexcusable, for, while they judged others, they did the same thing. There was not one to help another. All were overwhelmed in one common ruin.
Was the Jew better? In no way. The Jews had the law, and through breaking the law dishonored God. They had the oracles of God, and obeyed them not, and through them, while they professed to be teachers, the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles. Thus Jews and Gentiles were alike under sin. The Jew had no room to boast, for the very law in which he boasted condemned him as a lawbreaker: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes." Such was the testimony of the law. To whom did the law thus speak? It spoke to those who were under it, the Jews: "We know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law." Thus every mouth is stopped. The Jew cannot boast more than the Gentiles. If the Gentile was lawless and ungodly, the Jew was a law-breaker and unrighteous. The whole world was brought in guilty before God, and the solemn conclusion reached, that "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight."
Reader, do you think to be justified by the deeds of the law? Then let me say to you, that you deny that you are now a sinner, and thus nullify the Word of God, and make Him a liar, for He says, "All have sinned." Rom. 3:2323For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23). "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." 1 John 1:1010If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10). Besides. you think to accomplish a task that not one of Adam's race has ever performed, or can perform. The Word of God distinctly teaches that righteousness cannot be had by the law. "There is none righteous, no, not one." "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Gal. 3:1010For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10). "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." Gal. 2:2121I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Galatians 2:21). Let him who thinks to be justified by the law ponder these solemn declarations of God's Word. Instead of getting righteousness by the law, he who is under it only gets the knowledge of sin by it, "for by the law is the knowledge of sin." The law is a righteous plummet by which man's moral condition is measured, and which proves the presence of sin in him, and declares him a sinner.
When the law is applied to man, and its spirituality is known, the exceeding sinfulness of sin is discovered. It causes the offense to abound. It does not create sin, but it provokes it; because it forbids the will of the flesh-forbids the working of sin. So it was with Israel. They thought to do whatever the Lord said. Did they keep the law? The first of the ten words the Lord uttered was, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." How did they keep this commandment? They made a golden calf, offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, danced around it, and sang its praises, saying, "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." And such it was to the end, for the bright days of Solomon's reign were scarcely passed, till they were sunk with the nations around them in the grossest idolatry. So it is always, whether with the individual, the nation, or the race. The law knows the presence of sin, but can never remove it, or give righteousness. Man is a sinner, and only a sinner before God. From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot there is no soundness, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; and for this condition there is no help in the law. The law only shows more fully that the evil is there, and instead of removing, provokes it by forbidding its workings.
Reader, do you still expect to get righteousness by the law? Then you expect something contrary to the Word of God. If God's Word be true, righteousness does not come in that way. The law will give you the knowledge of sin, but that will not heal your malady. If a man is dying of consumption, knowing it will not cure him. It was never God's mind that the sinner should be healed by the law. It was His mind by it to let man know that he is a sinner; and he who has not discovered this has read the Word of God to little purpose. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." "The law entered that the offense might abound:" "that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful." "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions till the Seed should come." It was not given to hinder transgressions, for there were none before it was given; for where no law is, there is no transgression (Rom. 4:1515Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (Romans 4:15)): but it was given for the sake of transgressions, that is, to prove that man who was lawless without law, is a transgressor under law. Thus law brought out sin in the character of transgression, and proved man a lost sinner without righteousness and without strength.
The whole scenery of Mount Sinai, too, falls in with this truth. God kept Himself there shut up in the enclosure of His own holiness. The law was given by the disposition of angels. It was not God coming down to meet man's need, but sending him a law demanding righteousness, while He Himself remained at a distance and unrevealed. But man had no righteousness and so the law was only condemnation and death to him. God shut Himself up in the midst of the fire, and man was held at a distance. There was no approach to God at Sinai. Barriers were placed around the mountain, and not even a beast was to touch it. Man or beast touching it was to be stoned, or thrust through with a dart. The mountain too, was all in a flame; it burned with fire, "because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly."
Sinner let me lead you into the presence of this scene.
Gaze upon that burning mount, and tell me, Do you think you can meet God on that ground? Can you pass these barriers? Can you ascend through the "blackness and darkness and tempest"? Can you, a sinner, meet the "great and mighty and terrible God" in that pavilion of fire that covers the mountain, while He utters a "fiery law," demanding absolute obedience on pain of death? Ah! no. Your mouth is closed. God is walled around with fire, and you are shut out from His presence. There is no approach on that ground. It could only be death. Who can speak in the presence of such a scene? Not man, surely. His mouth is closed-every mouth. Man is shut up to condemnation and death, and has nothing to answer, his lips are sealed because he is guilty.
But, oh! sinner, before closing this little word, let me tell you this: if God as a Lawgiver has closed your mouth, He has opened His mouth now in grace from a blood-sprinkled throne in heaven, and utters these wondrous words: "Be it known unto you... that through this Man [Christ Jesus] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." And how different the two! When God gave the law, He kept Himself in the distance, and gave it by angels in the hand of a mediator (Moses); but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. It was the Son declaring the Father-the One who dwells in the bosom of the Father, laying bare the Father's heart, and telling out all its fullness. God has come near in Christ. He has come to man in all his need, has met that need, and has taken up man in Christ, opened heaven for him, and received him in. In Christ man has now a place in the Father's bosom, dwelling in love; for God is love. Wondrous thought! Oh, sinner, let this take hold of your heart. Would you dwell in love? Believe in the Son of God, and that becomes your dwelling place, too. Would you have a place in the Father's heart? His heart is going out after you. It is not Sinai's thunders; it is grace proclaimed from the throne of God-forgiveness and salvation through the blood of Jesus. Look up at that throne of grace. See! the blood is there! the blood that has glorified God, and that "cleanseth from all sin." That blood has met your need as guilty, and through faith in it you are washed, and made whiter than snow.
GOD'S GLAD TIDINGS—CHAPTER 5—the Righteousness of God the Word of God Pronounces Man a Sinner, and Declares That Between Jew and Gentile "There Is No Difference." "There Is None Righteous, No, Not One," Is a Sweeping Statement: It Makes No Exception. I Have Sinned, You Have Sinned, "All Have Sinned, and Come Short of the Glory of God."
The Word of God also declares that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Put these two solemn truths together, and what do you see? All guilty, all condemned, all under God's wrath, and every mouth closed.
Does the unsaved reader bow to these truths? Do they put you in your true place before God as a child of Adam? Then you know, that as a child of Adam, you are lost! You are utterly undone! But, blessed be God, though man's resources fail, His never fail. God's resources are inexhaustible. Hear Him tell out His own blessed resources for the poor lost sinner who is utterly destitute of righteousness: "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God, by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare at this time His righteousness; that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3:21-2621But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:21‑26).
Here we have the announcement of divine righteousness, righteousness of God manifested as His blessed answer to the precious bloodshedding of His own spotless Lamb. The Lamb was the provision of His love and sovereign grace, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." Through the sacrifice of this Lamb, God was perfectly glorified. His majesty and glory vindicated, the manifestation of His righteousness is the blessed answer to the delight He has found in that sacrifice.
What then is this righteousness? What is its basis? What is its scope? To whom and on what principle is it applied? Let us examine God's Word as to these questions.
1. What is this righteousness? The Word of God clearly shows that it is a different order of righteousness from that which is by law-keeping. If it were righteousness of law it would be man's righteousness, for the law is the measure of human righteousness. But man has utterly failed as to righteousness, and hence something else was needed; and that is what we have here-God's righteousness. It is another order of righteousness, and contrasted with man's, as Paul says: "Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." Phil. 3:99And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9). Here the contrast is plain. It is not accomplished by lawfulfilling at all. It is not on that principle. It is not a superior coming and saying, I must have so and so, and the demand met. It is not something wrought out for God because due to Him. This is what would have been by law, but in this, man failed. What then is it? It is God's consistency with His own nature and character in His dealings with others; first, with His own Son; second, with those who believe in Him. It is what God has done for man, not what man has done for God. It is God's righteousness man-ward, not man's righteousness God-ward. If man had been righteous toward God, it would have been only what was due to God. But God's righteousness toward a poor sinner who believes in Jesus is something entirely unmerited. It is not earned or deserved. Instead of righteousness, wrath was deserved. Wrath was revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Man was ungodly and unrighteous, and so God's wrath was upon him. But now, through grace, "righteousness of God" takes the place of "wrath of God" in the case of all who believe in Jesus. How, then, is this? It is by grace. "Being justified freely by His grace." In God's wondrous grace, the wrath which overhung the guilty sinner is replaced by righteousness in the case of every one who believes the gospel, and this is not the sinner's righteousness, but God's. We shall see by-and-by, the basis on which this takes place; but it is important to see just now that it is not human, but divine righteousness, which has its source and character in God, not man; and if it is God's, surely it must be perfect, making the sinner on whom it rests an object in which God Himself delights. God cannot reject or deny it, for it is His own, perfect, divine, according to His own nature. God is just, and the justifier, justifying consistently with His own character.
2. What is the basis of this righteousness? We answer, The precious sacrifice of Christ. "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare at this time His righteousness: that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
God acted in forbearance toward the Old Testament saints, passing over their sins. His righteousness in doing so was not then manifested. It is manifest now through the cross. The blood of Christ declares it. God has set forth Christ as a propitiatory or mercy seat, presenting His blood as an object for faith, for this very purpose. God's righteousness in passing over the sins of saints before the cross is no longer a dark question. The blood of Christ declares it.
But this is not all. God is-not now passing over sins, but -justifying sinners who believe the gospel. How is He righteous in doing so? Through the blood of Christ. Through the blood of His own spotless Lamb, He is just in justifying him who believes. His righteousness in justifying is thus declared. The blood of Christ is the basis of all God's dealings in grace with sinners; and through that blood, His dealings in grace are declared righteous. God has found an adequate motive in the blood of Christ for showing grace to sinners, and justifying those who believe; and He is righteous in doing this, in virtue of the blood. The display of His righteousness in justification in His blessed answer to the bloodshedding of Christ. How is this?
Let me ask the reader's earnest attention to this question. Mark this: God is justifying sinners, not righteous people. And if God is justifying sinners, it cannot be on the ground of their works. Their works have only been sin, and for this very reason they need justification. God's motive in doing so, then, must be found in something altogether outside of the sinner. It is found in Christ and His blood. Again I ask, How is this? It is because Christ has perfectly glorified God as to the very thing by which the sinner dishonored Him, and on account of which he needed justification. This He has done through the shedding of His blood on the cross. God has been dishonored by sin. His law has been broken, His justice despised, His majesty and glory set at naught, His love and grace trampled under foot. Yes, reader, this is the part, and the only part, you and I have had in bringing about the stupendous work of redemption. Our wretched guilt only created the need for it. Blessed be God, this need has been met by Another. The Lord Jesus Christ has glorified God in every way in the very scene where He has been dishonored. He gave Himself an offering for sin, gave Himself freely, and drank the cup of judgment to the dregs, leaving not one drop for us to drink. He went down into a fathomless abyss of suffering. Waves from beneath, and waves from above rolled in upon His holy soul; and out of the depths He cried-depths of darkness and sorrow and anguish unutterable-depths which He alone could fathom-out of the depths He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Of sorrow's cup He had drunk before, He was the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; but what is this cry we hear from this unsounded abyss of suffering? His path down here was indeed a path of sorrow, and lay through a scene where His God was dishonored, and where man was suffering from his own sin, and yet hating and despising the One who came to give relief. Such was His path, a sorrowful path indeed, and sorrow deepening at every step as the hatred increased, and the snares set in His path multiplied. There was nothing around Him, nothing in all this sin-stricken, sorrowful scene, to comfort His weary, suffering heart. But He could always look up, and always find comfort there. The beams of a loving Father's face, and the radiancy of heavenly glory always shone upon Him; and thus He trod His sorrowful path, for while all was dark below, all was light above.
A MORE terrible hour awaited our Lord, the last in His earthly path and life of sorrow. As the end drew on, it cast its dark and gloomy shadow over His soul, and He uttered such words as these: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." And when the horrors of that hour were pressed upon His soul by the power of the adversary, we find Him sweating as it were great drops of blood, and crying with strong crying and tears to Him who was able to deliver. Even then He was heard-heard for His piety-and an angel sent to strengthen Him. He was still in the enjoyment of unbroken communion with His Father: the light was still shining down upon Him from above. But the hour of deeper sorrow came, and with fixed purpose He met it. He gave Himself up into the hands of men, and presented Himself to God, to be made sin for us, a curse for those under the curse, a victim to bear the judgment of God against sin. Thus He offered Himself to God, was made an offering for sin though He knew no sin. And now the light which hitherto shone full upon Him all along His path was withdrawn. Darkness covered the land at midday, and His holy soul, shut out from the light of God's presence, was wrapped in the mantle of night. As a sin offering, accursed of God, He underwent divine judgment, judgment measured by the inflexible holiness of God's nature, holiness too pure and bright to endure a single stain of sin: the light of God's face was withdrawn, and He was plunged into an abyss of infinite wrath, out of which He cried in His deep agony of soul: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" O blessed Son of God! Thou didst give Thyself up to all this for Thy Father's glory, and that poor, vile worms of the dust might be lifted up to be Thy companions in eternal glory and blessedness! O Lamb of God, slain for us! we adore Thee, and bless Thy holy name forever!
Yes, reader, the blessed Son of God underwent all this, and far more than tongue or pen can describe, in order to glorify God about man's sin so that God might be just, and justify the sinner who believes in Jesus. Having accomplished redemption, the Son of God has passed through the heavens to the very throne of God, having eternally vindicated the righteousness and holiness and majesty of that throne in the shedding of His blood, so that the justified sinner can stand in the unveiled presence of God, and behold His glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and praise and worship the Lamb that was slain, but who now lives, and is enthroned at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
"O Lord, we adore Thee,
For Thou art the slain One
That livest forever,
Enthroned in heaven;
O Lord! we adore Thee,
For Thou hast redeemed us;
Our title to glory
We read in Thy blood."
Such is the basis on which God's righteousness is displayed, and announced in the gospel for the salvation of sinners. Such a work, and such devotion of heart to the glory of God on the part of Christ, could not go without a divine answer; and that answer was righteousness.
Let us look for a moment at God's righteous answer to the work of Christ. First of all, we see God raising up Christ from the dead, then setting Him in glory at His own right hand, and then justifying sinners, to bring them into the same glory. All this is righteousness on the part of God. God was glorified in Christ as Man down here, and He has glorified Christ as Man in heaven. This was God's righteous answer to the work of Christ. But there is more than this, for Christ's work in glorifying God was on behalf of the sinner, and so God justifies the sinner. This, too, is righteousness. Having been glorified in Man, God has glorified Man: this is in Christ. But the same righteousness that raised Christ from the dead, and set Him in glory, justifies the sinner, and sets him in Christ. The work of Christ deserves it, and God answers that work in righteousness. Blessed work! blessed answer! In the Man at God's right hand, we see God's righteousness completed. It was completed in setting Him there. It is righteousness accomplished for man according to the value of the Person and work of Christ. Without the blood of Christ it could not have been. By that blood God was glorified about sin: it was the ransom paid-paid to God-paid for the sinner-the redemption price. We have redemption through His blood. God has set forth Christ a mercy seat through faith in His blood. Through this redemption God justifies freely, without price at the sinner's hand. Christ has paid the price, the redemption money, His blood; and the blood on the mercy seat declares God's righteousness in justifying freely. The blood alone declares God's righteousness in justifying a sinner. Yet the whole life of Christ went up as a sweet savor to God, and if we speak of the measure of the believer's acceptance, it is according to all the sweet savor that went up to God from Christ, both in His life and in His death. Only we must not forget that it was in His death, in which alone was displayed the full measure of His infinite devotedness to God, that God was glorified in all that He is, and in every attribute and moral perfection of His being, whether in the display of His righteous and holy majesty as against sin, or the maintenance of His truth and display of His love to the sinner. And it is according to the measure of this infinitely perfect work of the Lord Jesus that God's righteousness is displayed in glorifying Christ, and justifying the sinner who believes in Him.
3. What is the scope of God's righteousness? It is universal. It is not applied to all, but its bearing is toward all. It is as broad as the foundation on which it rests. The blood of Christ has glorified God in His whole character. The whole question of sin, as it affected God's character and throne, has been met-fully and blessedly met—by the blood of Christ. Because of this the righteousness of God is "unto all." This is its scope, or bearing. It is revealed in the gospel, and revealed for man. The gospel was to be preached to every creature, and where it goes, tidings of God's righteousness are announced. The claims of God have been so fully met that He declares it everywhere. It is toward all, free to all, sufficient for all. Sin is no barrier now. God has been glorified, and in virtue of the blood of Jesus He announces His righteousness for justification through faith in that blood-righteousness toward all.
4. To whom, and on what principle, is God's righteousness applied? It is the "righteousness of God, by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe." Here we have its scope, its application, and the principle on which it is applied. Its scope is "unto all." It is applied to believers-"upon all who believe." The principle is, "by faith of Jesus Christ." Let us look at these last two. It is "revealed from faith to faith," or "on the principle of faith to faith." It is not on the principle of works. Had it been so, it would have been man's righteousness. But it is God's righteousness, and available for us on the principle of faith, not of works. And if it is on this principle, it is to faith; that is, wherever faith exists, there the righteousness of God is applied, whether it be to Jew or Gentile. "On the principle of faith" shuts out law and works as a means of attaining to this righteousness. "To faith" lets in the Gentile, if he has faith, as well as the Jew. If a Jew was on the principle of law and works, he was not submitting to God's righteousness, and consequently missed it. If a Gentile came "on the principle of faith," he was justified as truly as a believing Jew. It is "by faith of Jesus Christ," not "by works of law." These two expressions are the contrast of each other. "Faith" is contrasted with "works"; "Jesus Christ" is contrasted with law." "Works" take their measure and character from the "law"; "faith" takes its measure and character from "Jesus Christ." (See also Gal. 2:1616Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16).) Faith takes its character from its object; if its object be man, or man's word, it will only be human; if its object be Christ, its character will be divine. "Faith of Jesus Christ" is divine faith. It is by this faith that we have part in the righteousness of God; it is "upon all them that believe." Be it Jew or Gentile, high or low, rich or poor, the most moral, or the most degraded, there is no difference as to their standing before God. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God; but now God's righteousness is toward all; and it is upon all who believe. Does any poor sinner (no matter what has been his previous character), believe in Jesus? The righteousness of God is upon him. He is justified freely by God's grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God has set forth Jesus a propitiatory, or mercy seat, through faith in His blood, to declare His own righteousness in justifying the guilty one who believes. The blood is on the mercy seat and the moment the perishing sinner believes God, his sins are forgiven, and he is justified, and that blood declares that God is righteous in doing it.
Reader, is God's righteousness upon you? Have you been justified? If not, what hinders? Do you say, your sins? Your sins are no barrier now. Through the blood of Christ, God's righteousness is toward you, ready to justify, the moment you submit to have righteousness in this way. The only thing that hinders is your unbelief. God tells you the blood is on the mercy seat. Believe God, and your sins are gone, and His righteousness takes their place. It is upon all who believe. Do you believe in Jesus? Then you are justified. And remember, It is God who justifies. Who shall condemn? It matters not who. He who condemns the justified sinner condemns God's righteousness. You can therefore challenge the universe. God has glorified Christ on high, and in Him, man has a place in that glory. This is righteousness. God has accomplished His righteousness in setting Him there, and in Him the believing sinner. He is the measure of the believer's standing and acceptance before God. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new; and all things are of God. What is the ground of this? He hath made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5:17,18,2117Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (2 Corinthians 5:17‑18)
21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
. Christ is in glory, the Head, the beginning of the new creation, and we, through grace, a new creation in Him. And this is righteousness on the part of God. The old creation has met its judgment in the cross: all things are new, all things are of God, who has set Christ there, and us in Him. This is the accomplishment of divine, eternal righteousness. This righteousness will have its eternal display in Christ glorified, and in a justified and redeemed race brought to God in Him. This is what God has wrought; and it may well bow our hearts in worship before Him forever.
GOD'S GLAD TIDINGS—CHAPTER 6—Christ: a Propitiation, and the Bearer Away of Our Sins the Terrible Effect of Sin Is to Shut the Sinner Out From the Presence of God. He Is the Holy One. What Is Unholy Can Have No Place in His Presence. Without Holiness No Man Shall See the Lord. Not Only Is There No Place in His Presence for What Is Sinful, but He Can Only Deal With It in Unsparing Judgment. Thus Has He Dealt With Sin at the Cross, and so Will He Deal With the Rejecters of His Grace by-and-by. He Will Judge the World by That Man Whom He Has Appointed. "the Lord Jesus Shall Be Revealed From Heaven With His Mighty Angels, in Flaming Fire Taking Vengeance on Them That Know Not God, and That Obey Not the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ; Who Shall Be Punished With Everlasting Destruction From the Presence of the Lord, and From the Glory of His Power." 2 Thess. 1:7-97And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thessalonians 1:7‑9). Solemn Testimony As to Judgment! Wrath Alone Is the Response of His Nature to Sin. Man Is a Sinner, and Therefore Unfit for God's Presence, and Not Only Unfit for His Presence, but Under His Wrath. From This the Believer Has Redemption. but "He That Believeth Not the Son Shall Not See Life, but the Wrath of God Abideth on Him." Awful State! Unconverted Reader, It Is Your State. What Do You Think of It? How Will You Meet That Savior Whom You Have Long Slighted and Rejected, When He Comes "in Flaming Fire, Taking Vengeance"? a Slighted and Rejected Savior Taking Vengeance! Terrible Thought! Oh, How Will You Meet Him Before the Great White Throne, When Heaven and Earth Have Fled Away, and There Is Neither Rock nor Mountain to Hide You From the Fire of His Wrath? Dear Reader, Your Sins Must Be Blotted Out by the Blood of the Lamb Now, While God Reveals Himself in Grace, or Else Inevitable, Unsparing, Eternal Judgment Must Be Your Portion-the Lake of Fire! the Undying Worm! the Smoke Whose Torment Ascends Forever and Ever! No Rest Day nor Night! Oh, the Anguish, the Indescribable Anguish of a Lost Soul! Perhaps, Reader, You Have Experienced the Sufferings of a Burning Fever, With Its Restless Tossings, for a Few Days and Nights. How at Night You Longed for the Morning, and When Morning Came There Was Still No Rest, and You Thought the Weary Hours Would Never Pass! but What Is This in Comparison? Only a Moment; No, Not Even That, for Time Is Not Even a Drop in the Shoreless Ocean of Eternity. When Countless Ages Have Come and Gone, Hell Is but Begun; the Weeping and Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth Find No Answer; the Tossings of the Lost on the Fiery Billows Approach No Nearer an End; IT IS ETERNAL! Such Is the Doom of Those Who Reject God's Gracious Remedy for Sin, and Whom Sin Shuts Out From His Presence. Oh! Unsaved Soul, How Awful Must Be Your State If You Can Pursue Your Path Unconcerned, to Such a Doom! May God in Mercy Arouse Your Conscience, and Arrest You in Your Fatal Course.
But do you say, I know I am a poor wicked sinner, and the judgment of God is only what I deserve; but how can such a sinner escape that judgment, and get clear of all his sins? Let us look then for an answer to this question in God's blessed Word. You have sinned against God, and you need forgiveness and justification. But these you cannot expect at the expense of God's character-His justice and holiness. You have dishonored God, and ruined yourself; and you can neither undo the dishonor, nor repair the ruin. Here then are two things to be provided for, the dishonor done to God, and your need as a guilty ruined sinner. God in His free and boundless mercy has provided for both. If the sinner's resources were at an end, this only became the occasion for the rich display of inexhaustible resources in God Himself. His eternal fullness has been displayed in Christ, His Son, the gift of His love to a lost world. Most blessed God! most precious gift!
The sacrifice of Christ answers every question that can be raised, whether as to the character of God, or the sinner's need. He has more than blotted out the dishonor done to God by sin, and He has more than answered for the sins of those who believe on His name. "Whom God hath set forth a propitiation [or propitiatory] through faith in His blood" declares the one; "Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification" declares the other. One of these texts declares that God is satisfied as to the whole question of sin; the other declares that our need is met—met fully and forever. Happy those who have received into their hearts these two blessed truths.
Dear reader, let me call your attention to a blessed and beautiful picture of these two things. You will find it in Lev. 16. It is the great day of atonement. The sins of a whole year have been accumulating against the children of Israel. The day has come when Jehovah makes provision for the people in a way suitable to Himself. Two goats were chosen one for Jehovah, and one for the people. These were both types of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first goat was killed, and the blood was carried by the high priest within the veil of the tabernacle into the most holy place, and sprinkled on the mercy seat. Then the blood was applied to the holy place, and to the tabernacle of the congregation, and to the altar. Almost all things were purged by blood. When this part of the work was done, the high priest came out again to the people, and taking the other goat alive, confessed on its head all the sins of the people, and sent it away by a fit man, into a land not inhabited.
The holy of holies behind the veil, was the presence chamber of the divine majesty. The mercy seat was His throne. Jehovah said, "I will appear in the cloud on the mercy seat." His dwelling place was between the cherubim; and the Shekinah, or glory cloud, was the symbol of His presence. Here the high priest approached on behalf of a sinful people. How could he stand in the presence of that glory as the representative of a sinful people? Israel had sinned, and the high priest, being one of themselves, was also a sinner. How then could he enter the presence of that glorious and holy majesty? There was a prescribed way. He came with blood in his hand, and with sweet incense on his censer, burning with coals from the altar—the holy fire. And while the perfume of that burning incense (the sweet savor ascending out of the death of Christ, under the testing of divine judgment, of which the holy fire was a type) ascended between him and that cloud of glory, he sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat and before it. The inflexible justice and holy majesty of the throne were thus vindicated. The blood had made propitiation; Jehovah was satisfied; and He could now send out blessing to the people. Peace having been made by the blood, the high priest retraces his steps outward toward the people, reconciling the holy place, the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar—everything defiled by a sinful people. The waiting people see their high priest coming out again. How do they know that his work has availed for them? Because he has been in the presence of Jehovah on their behalf, and has come forth again without being consumed. The blood which he carried within, has settled all; and not only this, but the high priest comes forth, and, in the name of Jehovah, sends away the sins of the people on the head of the live goat, to be remembered no more. Thus Jehovah is satisfied, the sins of the people are gone, and their relationships with Jehovah are maintained in righteousness.
Now, dear reader, all this is a blessed picture of what the Lord Jesus has done for those who believe on His name. Through the eternal Spirit, He has offered Himself without spot to God. "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption." 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). By His blood, the truth and righteousness, holiness and majesty of God's throne have been established forever. As a sacrifice for sin, He bowed His head on the cross under the wrath of God. There He drained the cup of divine judgment, and there He cried, "It is finished." God's immediate answer was the rending of the veil of the temple from the top to the bottom. God has set forth Christ a mercy seat, or way of approach into His presence. It is "through faith in His blood." God's righteousness in remitting sins is declared through the blood of Christ. God is now just in justifying the sinner who believes in Christ. God has been so perfectly glorified about sin, that now, in virtue of the blood of Jesus, from a throne of mercy He extends the arms of mercy, and invites the sinner to come. To every sinner in the wide, wide world God's gracious call is, "Come."
But this is not all. To every sinner who does come—to every one who believes His gracious message—He says: "Your sins and iniquities I will remember no more." He, of whom the scapegoat was the type, has borne them all away into the land not inhabited, where they are eternally forgotten.
Dear reader, do you believe in the sacrifice of Christ? Do you believe that sacrifice has gone up as a sweet savor to God? Do you believe the blood of Jesus has met every claim of God's throne? Do you believe God is now saying, "Come"? Does your heart utter its "Amen" in response to all this? Then your sins are gone—gone forever—gone never to be remembered more.
You say, "Well, I do believe in Christ, and I do believe God has found satisfaction in His sacrifice, and that He is inviting sinners to come, but I do not quite see how it applies to me and that my sins are gone." Come, then, and let me point out to you another side of this truth as to the blessed work of Christ. You will find it in the end of Rom. 4.
We have been looking at the work of Christ. His sacrifice has glorified God. It has met every claim of His holy nature. In this sacrifice the veil was rent. The veil was Christ's flesh. Heb. 10:2020By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (Hebrews 10:20). Through this rent veil God has been revealed revealed in Christ providing a sacrifice for the guilty. You look through the rent veil, and you see Him sitting on a throne of mercy, sitting between the cherubim, as it were, over the mercy seat, and addressing Himself to the world as a Savior-God, and saying to sinners: "I have provided a sacrifice for your need, My own holy Lamb; in the presence of your sin I have been glorified by the shedding of His blood; I am satisfied; come to Me, and be ye saved." Thus, God addresses Himself to a world of sinners. You say, you believe it. This then is the God you have found through what Christ has done. Yes, I say this is the God you have found, for you have been looking at the work of Christ, and it has rent the veil, opened the way right through to the mercy seat, and brought you face to face with God, the Savior-God, and you hear Him saying, "Come."
But now, this God in whose presence you stand, and whom you hear beseeching you to come—has He done nothing? Has He had nothing to do in the wondrous transaction of the cross? Ah! yes, reader, this is the God who gave His only begotten Son for you, and who did not spare, but delivered Him up to death for you. He delivered Him up for your offenses, and raised Him again for your justification. Fix your eyes for a moment upon this blessed God of all grace. See Him bring forth His own holy Lamb. See Him lay your sins on the spotless Victim. He made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin. The cross is the scene of action, where Christ, the Son of God, is nailed to the tree, numbered with the transgressors. There He "bare our sins in His own body." There He suffered, the Just for the unjust. There, reader, the Holy One of God "was delivered for our offenses." He died, and was buried. Was that the end? No, thank God, that was not the end. Had that been the end, hope would have found its grave in the sepulcher of Christ. "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." "But now is Christ risen from the dead." 1 Cor. 15:1717And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17) and 20. Yes, reader, the same God who delivered Him for your offenses, also raised Him again for your justification.
But you were looking at God as the One who brought forth His holy Lamb, and laid your sins upon Him, and delivered Him up to death because of them. Did God raise Him up again with your sins upon Him? Impossible! If God could do that, He never would have delivered Him to death. It was for your sins He died; and by His death He paid the penalty. It was because He was under the judgment of God for your sins, that He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" If He had not gone to the end of that judgment—exhausted it—God could not have turned His face toward Him again. But the Son of God could not fail, blessed be His name! He took from the hand of God the cup that was yours, and drank it, until not a drop was left for you to drink. God poured out His judgment upon Him till not a drop of judgment remained for you. Then the darkness was past; the heavens were clear again; and God raised Him up from the dead. Thank God, your sins are gone! Him who bore them God has raised from the dead raised Him for your justification. It is God's own word. The offenses are gone, and justification takes their place. As surely as He was delivered for your offenses, so surely is your justification a consequence of His death and resurrection. It was God who delivered Him; it was God who raised Him again, and "it is God who justifies." And this is our God, the God we have found, and to whom we have access by Jesus Christ. It is the God who has taken our sins, and buried them in everlasting forgetfulness in the grave of Jesus, and who has brought us face to face with Himself with purged consciences, washed in the blood of Jesus, and made whiter than snow. God Himself has settled the question of our guilt—settled it with Christ, on whom He laid our sins. The question is settled, never to be reopened. The resurrection of Christ proves it, and has secured our justification. All is bright now in the presence of God. All is peace. All is love.
Reader, is it all bright with you?
God's Glad Tidings—Chapter 7—Peace With God
"Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." He was reckoned righteous on the principle of faith. What gave character to his faith was divine—the Word of God. "The word of the Lord came unto Abraham... and he believed." So when his faith was put to the test it was found to be divine. He offered up his only begs-I—ten, accounting that God was able to raise him up from the dead. Here was simple faith, and divine. It was faith in "God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were." He received promise of a seed innumerable as the stars of heaven when nature's resources were at an end; he received promise of a son when he and Sarah were as good as dead, and he believed the word of the Lord. "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was reckoned to him for righteousness." Rom. 4:20-2220He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (Romans 4:20‑22).
But why was this written? Not for his sake alone, "but for us also, to whom it shall be reckoned, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification." Just here, however, there is an immense difference as to what "the word of the Lord" communicated to Abraham was, and what is presented to us by the same word. What Abraham received was a promise—something to be fulfilled by-and-by. What is presented to us is an accomplished fact. Of course Abraham's faith rested in God, and so must ours; but with this difference, that his had to wait for fulfillment of the promise, while ours joyfully receives the word which announces the fulfillment already accomplished. God promised, Abraham believed, and waited; now God has wrought, we believe, and rejoice.
And how blessedly God has wrought! Look at it! God spared not His Son, but gave Him up to be a sacrifice. The sacrifice has been offered, and the blood is on the mercy seat. The veil is rent, and the sinner can approach in virtue of the blood. But more, God has raised up from the dead the One who bore our sins. He delivered Him for our offenses, and in proof that our offenses have been canceled, He has raised Him for our justifying. All is accomplished. We do not await the fulfillment of a promise. We believe God's testimony to a work which He Himself has accomplished, and accomplished for all who believe. Do you believe that Christ died for sinners? Do you believe that God raised Him again from the dead? Do these truths find a place in your heart? Be assured, then, that through Christ Jesus, you have found God as your Justifier. As truly as Christ's death has canceled the guilt of His people, so truly His resurrection secures their justification; and "being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." If God has justified, the question of guilt cannot be raised again; it is settled forever. God says: "I will remember no more." "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Rom. 4:7,87Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:7‑8). "Will not impute!" What a word! Yet God has said it, that He will not impute sin to the believer, that He will not remember sins against them any more. The reason is plain. Our sins were all laid on Jesus; God laid them on Him; and He died, the Just for the unjust, to put these sins away. His blood which puts them away speaks on the mercy seat. God sees the blood. Guilt for the believer He sees no more. He sees only the blood that put it away. With this He is satisfied. And if He is satisfied, why should not I be satisfied? Every claim of His holy nature has been met. He says, It is enough, and in proof has raised up Christ for our justification. He is just, and the Justifier. I believe in Jesus; I believe He died for me, a poor sinner. But more, I believe God gave Him for me, and laid my sins on Him when He hung on the tree, and because of my sins God brought Him down into the dust of death. What is the result? My sins are gone. God has dealt with them in righteousness in the Person of my Substitute, and they are put away forever.
What is the proof? How do I know? The answer is simple. God has raised up from the dead His Son Jesus Christ who bore them, and His Word tells me I am justified. Once my conscience told me God was against me because I was a sinner. Now I know God is for me. In Christ He has shown me this. In Christ I have seen Him against my sins, but for me the sinner. He has dealt with my sins in unsparing judgment, and that judgment fell on His holy Lamb; but He has dealt with me, the sinner, in absolute grace, and has set me in His own presence in Christ according to divine righteousness where sin cannot be imputed. My sins He remembers no more—imputes no more. I cannot be charged with guilt, because the blood of my Redeemer is on the mercy seat, the witness of eternal redemption. There might be redemption in Israel by the blood of goats and calves for a year; but Christ by His blood has entered into the holy place, having obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION (Heb. 9).
Here, blessed be His name, my guilty conscience, weary with its burden, has found rest! It is purged forever! No burden of guilt to carry any more! No more dread of eternal judgment! The cup of judgment has been drained by another. The wrath which conscience dreaded has all been spent on Him who cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"—the God whom I have found, and whom I now know, is a Savior-God. In His unclouded favor I stand, and into His blessed face I look, and gaze in perfect peace. Heaving’s and tossings there may have been, fearful forebodings, dread of an angry God, and of judgment to come, but now the storm is hushed, the sky is bright, and all is peace. Peace has been made through the blood of Jesus' cross. Glorious basis! The blood of the cross answers every question that can be raised as to God's character, and on that basis God is reconciling sinners to Himself. God was the offended and injured One, not the sinner; and the sinner is the enemy, not God. God, therefore, was the One who needed satisfaction, not the sinner; and the sinner was the one who needed to be reconciled, not God. God Himself has provided satisfaction according to the requirements of His own nature, and has found it in the blood of the Sacrifice His own heart provided, and His own hand led to the altar, and the holy fire of His own judgment consumed. And now God is the reconciler. It is not war that He now announces, but peace. The message the gospel contains is a message of peace from the reconciler of guilty men; and the word is: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:15,1615And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15‑16).
Thus the message runs. Blessed message to every one who knows himself a lost sinner and bows to the truth of God. Believing, we are justified; and "being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Enemies afar off we were, but now reconciled and brought nigh. He who has done this is the One who gave His Son for us, and who by the blood of Jesus has cleared us of every charge, and justified us in His righteousness. The distance gone, the enmity abolished; we are in the presence of Him who is love; and this in divine righteousness.
God's own presence fills the scene. His peace, His love, eternal and divine, are shed on all around. Blessed scene! Reader, are you in it? If not, why not? God, whom you offended, has provided the satisfaction you could not make, and now He stoops to beseech. His call from the mercy seat is, "Be ye reconciled." Do you refuse? are you resolved on warfare? Does, the message of peace find no response in your heart? Is your puny arm still raised against God? Well, you shall meet Him by-and-by, not in peace, but in judgment. Poor worm of the dust, "PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD," prepare for war with thy Creator. Alas! alas! poor blinded mortal! One look from His holy eye in that day will pierce you through and through! Oh! let me beseech you now by the mercies of God, by His infinite love and grace, by His patience and long-suffering, by the agony and bloody sweat, by the cross and passion of His dear Son, be ye reconciled to God! Dear reader, the issues are eternal, eternal either in joy or sorrow, in heaven or hell. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
But do you say, "As a lost sinner, I know I have no hope of salvation except through Christ, but somehow I do not get this peace you speak of"? Well, why do you not get it? Perhaps you think you have some condition to fulfill; or perhaps you are trying to get it by feeling it. This is all wrong. There is no meritorious condition to fulfill, and it is not gotten by feeling. Do you believe that God has found satisfaction in the sacrifice of Christ? Do you believe that God raised Him up from the dead? You say, "Yes." Well, how do you know? By fulfilling some condition? Or because you feel it? You say, "No, but God's Word declares it." Well, God's Word also declares that, on believing on Him who raised up Jesus from the dead, you are justified. How do you know, then, that you are justified? By feeling it? Certainly not; you cannot feel it, but you know it because God's Word declares it. Well, God's Word also declares that "being justified by faith we have peace with God," and you know it simply because God's Word declares it. Faith receives the Word of God, and there it rests with divine assurance, and the peace which the gospel announces fills the soul.
And now let me lead you back to a little company that followed the Lord Jesus during His ministry in the flesh. Foolish they were, and slow to take in their Master's thoughts, and words, and ways. Nor is it otherwise with man still. Well, Jesus set His face to go up to Jerusalem the last time; the cross is in His thoughts, and He speaks of this to them, but they understand not; and while He is on the way to that, they are thinking about the best place in the kingdom. He passes on with fixed purpose. Nothing can turn Him aside. In Gethsemane all the horrors of the cross are pressed upon His soul, and in His agony of prayer He sweats as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. The disciples all go fast asleep. A band of soldiers come to take Him, and He gives Himself into their hands. The disciples all run away. He goes to the cross, and dies, and is buried. All their hopes are buried with Him. Early in the morning, the first day of the week, the sepulcher is found empty. Angels announce His resurrection. He appears to Mary, to Peter, and to others. The news is spread abroad among the disciples, and all are filled with wonder. Up to this point all is darkness. They understand not the strange things that happened. You wonder, perhaps, at their stupidity. But such is man. Light and love had begun to shine in the Person of the Lord Jesus, yet He was straitened up to the time of the cross. "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" The pent-up ocean of divine love could break forth, and flow unhindered only through the cross. It is in Jesus Christ, through the cross, that God has given the full revelation of Himself-Light and Love-to man. In the cross sin was judged, and God was glorified, and after the cross the darkness broke. If the earthly hopes of that little band were all blasted by the death of Christ, it was only that brighter hopes might soon dawn. If His resurrection was at first a cause of wonder to them, it was indeed life out of death to them, and the bringing in of a hope that cannot die. Let us follow them a little further. In the evening of the resurrection day they are all gathered together in an upper room, with bolted doors, and as one and another tell what they have seen and heard, He appears in the midst of them. And now, as all eyes are turned upon Him, He greets them with these blessed words-words never uttered before, and now uttered. as the fruit of His blood-shedding on the Cross-"PEACE BE UNTO YOU." And then (oh wondrous grace!) to confirm His words He shows them "His hands and His side." Out of those hands, and out of that side, had flowed the blood by which He had made peace; and having made peace, He announces it as theirs, as soon as He is risen from the dead. Was ever anything more sweet and blessed than such grace as this on the part of the Lord Jesus in telling out the love of God to those He had drawn around Himself? Weak, foolish, halting, doubting, understanding nothing aright, what pains He took to lead them into the enjoyment of that peace which was the fruit of His blood-shedding on the cross! "Peace be unto you. And when He had so said, He showed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord."
And now, doubting one, put yourself in that little company in that upper room. Fix your eyes on Jesus in the midst, and listen to His assuring words, as He says to all around, "PEACE BE UNTO YOU." His word to all such is the same now; and those hands and that side tell the same blessed story of peace to all who believe. Jesus has made peace, and now preaches it. The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord; and there is gladness still for those who believe His blessed Word. Oh! what gladness! Gladness in the presence of God, in a cloudless scene of light and love, where grace reigns through righteousness, and where divine love delights in those brought nigh through the blood of Jesus.