SERMONS FROM MTP - Vol. 37
<<==C. H. Spurgeon
Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, June 7th, 1891,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."—Ephesians 1:7.
READ THE CHAPTER, and carefully note how the apostle goes to the back of everything, and commences with those primeval blessings which were ours before time began. He dwells on the divine love of old, and the predestination which came out of it; and all that blessed purpose of making us holy and without blame before him in love, which was comprehended in the covenant of grace. It does us good to get back to these antiquities—to these eternal things. You shake off something of the dust of time, as you no longer walk adown its restless ages; but traverse the glorious eternity, where centuries seem no more than fallen leaves by the way. Thousands of years are less than a drop of a bucket compared with the lifetime of the Almighty. How sublime a thing to climb, in contemplation, to the everlasting God and the eternal council-chamber, and to see the heart of love beating towards the chosen people before all time, and the infinite mind of God devising and purposing their good! This is an exceeding great refreshment, and the wonder is that so few believers dare to ascend this sublime hill of the Lord, there to commune with him that was, and is, and is to come.
After the apostle had briefly touched upon that subject, he then began to speak of present blessings—matters of actual experience; and he commenced by saying, "In whom we have redemption." The grace of the eternal past is a matter of faith; but here is something which is within our grasp and enjoyment. The other we believe; but this we actually and literally receive. "We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins."
And here let me say what a charming thing it is to deal with experimental divinity; not with theories, but with matters of fact, great facts which are dear to you, because they have been wrought in you, and you have not been merely a delighted spectator of them, but you have been the subject and object of them. "In whom we have redemption." Whether others have it or not, we have "redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." We do not hope for it, but we have it. We do not merely think so, but we know that we have it. We are redeemed; we are free from bondage; we are forgiven, and are no longer under condemnation.
At this time, as God shall help me, I shall dwell upon the forgiveness of sins. We have not time to plunge into the deeps of the eternal purpose, nor even to dive into the full doctrine of redemption; but, as the swallow with his wing touches the brook, and then is up and away, so must it be with my thought at this time—a mere touch of the river of the water of life will be a blessing to myself; and as I cast a little spray over you, I hope it will refresh you also. May the Holy Spirit help our meditation!
I. The first observation, taken distinctly from the text, is this—THAT THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS IS A GRAND BLESSING.
The apostle has mentioned it, if you notice, amongst the great things of God—his electing love, his adoption of us by Jesus Christ, his acceptance of us in the Beloved. Side by side with these colossal mercies he puts this one, that we have "the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." This is a blessing of no mean stature, for it marches with the giants of election and adoption. Let it stand prominently out before us at this time.
What is this "forgiveness of sins"? Too often, in popular talk, it is supposed that the chief and main thought of the forgiven sinner is that he has escaped from hell. Salvation means much more than this; and what it further means is too much kept in the background, but yet I will begin with rescue from punishment; for if sin be pardoned, the penalty is extinguished. It would not be possible for God to forgive, and yet to punish. That would be a forgiveness quite unworthy of God. It would, indeed, be no forgiveness at all. We are certain that the everlasting punishment of sin declared in Scripture, will never happen to the man who is forgiven. When transgression is removed the soul stands clear at the bar of God, and there can be no further penalty. "I absolve thee," says the great Judge; and that carries with it weight, so that a man that is forgiven is cleared of the punishment which he must otherwise have borne. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."
Yet divine favor restored is a still brighter result of forgiveness to many. Speaking from my own experience, while I was under conviction of sin I had less apprehension of the punishment of sin than I had of sin itself. I do not know that I very frequently trembled at the thought of hell: I did so whenever it came before my mind; but when I was in the hand of the Holy Ghost, as a Spirit of bondage convincing me of sin, my great trouble was that God was angry with me—properly and rightly so. I mourned that I had offended my Maker, that I had grieved the living God, that I had sinned against his righteous will, and that I could not rejoice in his favor, nor sun myself in his smile. I felt that it was right on the part of the holy God to be displeased with me. I believe that the great joy of forgiveness, to the believer, is that God has taken away his anger from him. That sweet hymn, which we often sing, is a paraphrase of a passage in Isaiah—
"I will praise thee every day,
"Though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me." Forgiveness means this among men. A person has grieved and wronged me. I feel hurt in my mind about it. When I forgive him, I no longer feel grieved or angry with him: I think of him as aforetime, and we are on good terms. If my forgiveness is genuine—and in God's case it is emphatically so—then there is no resentment left. The offense is as though it had never been committed. I say to the person who did me wrong, "I take a sponge, and I wipe it all off the slate: give me your hand, let us stand as we stood before." The pardon of sin by God is after such a fashion. He blots out the sin as the Oriental erases with his pencil the record made upon his waxen tablet, so that no trace of it remains. He smiles where else he must have frowned; he gives complacent love where else there must have been indignation and wrath. Do you not think that this is the sweetest way of looking at the forgiveness of sin? If you are at this time under legal work, feeling the tortures of a guilty conscience, you will appreciate such a pardon very highly. In the case of the poor penitent prodigal, it was the kiss of his father's lip, it was his restoration to his father's heart, it was the cheering words of his father's love, that constituted to him the sweetest fragrance of the rose of forgiveness. Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ has come, that we poor, guilty ones may be restored to the favor of God, and walk consciously in the light of his countenance, because sin is removed.
This pardon of sin, being of this full and sweet character, involving both the reversal of the penalty of sin, and the ending of the distance that intervened between us and God, brings with it the removal of much distress and sorrow from the heart! I do not think that there can be any grief outside of hell that is more terrible to bear than the wounds of conscience. We read that "David's heart smote him"; and, believe me, the heart can smite as with an iron mace, and smite where the bruise is felt intensely. Give me into the power of a roaring lion, but never let me come under the power of an awakened, guilty conscience. Ay, shut me up in a dark dungeon, among all manner of loathsome creatures—snakes and reptiles of all kinds—but, oh, give me not over to my own thoughts when I am consciously guilty before God! This, surely, is the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched.
I do not speak now what I have merely heard of; though, if you will read Mr. Bunyan's "Grace Abounding," you will find a striking account of it there; but I speak of what I have felt in my own soul. No pains of body can rival, for a moment, the agonized feeling of the heart, when the hot irons of conviction burn their way through the soul. When God sets up the conscience, and makes it a target for his arrows, they drink up the life blood of our spirit, till we cry out, and wonder how such anguish can come to a creature so insignificant. Our soul seems too small a cup to contain such an ocean of misery—too narrow a field for so cruel a battle. It is not the Lord that is the author of the misery; but he is giving us up for a while, that we may be filled with our own ways, and learn the bitterness of our own sin. When the Lord comes to us with a forgiving word, these sorrows are gone, like the mists of the morning when the sun arises. We grieve still to think that we have sinned; but that gnawing remorse, that vulture eating up the liver, is smitten with death, and the man breathes hopefully again. Though the penitence remains, the torment is removed from me, when God has forgiven me.
Let me say here, that full forgiveness of sin, consciously enjoyed, will not only lift an enormous weight from off the soul, but it will breathe into the heart a great joy. When you know that sin is forgiven, you cannot be sad as before. The thought of perfect pardon, if it does but fill the spirit, will thrust out gloom, and remove apathy. It will make the lame man leap as a hart: he may still be lame, but he will leap as if he were not. And the tongue of the dumb, even though untrained to speech, shall be made to sing concerning free grace and dying love. When the thoughts are concentrated upon the enjoyment of complete forgiveness, full reception into the divine favor, and the blotting out of sin, then is the heart lifted into the suburbs of heaven.
My dear hearers, do you know what I am talking about Some of you do, blessed be the name of the Lord; but I am afraid that some of you do not; and you never can know the sweetness of mercy until you first have tasted the bitterness of sin. You will never know how grace can heal until you have felt how sin can wound. There is no clothing you till you are stripped; there is no making you alive till you are killed; there is no filling you till you are empty. The Lord filleth the hungry with good things, but the rich he sends empty away. God himself will never comfort you till you are driven to self-despair; and if you have already come to that, it is a great privilege to me to be allowed to tell you that the fact of forgiveness of sin is not only a doctrine of the creed, but it is a promise of God's Word. "I believe in the forgiveness of sins:" this is no mere formula, but a realized fact with me. Removal of the penalty, removal of God's offense against us, the clearing away of all the turbid waters within the heart, and the creation of joy and peace through perfect reconciliation to God—this is a summary account of the forgiveness of sin. It is a blessing vast and rich.
II. And now, secondly, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS IS BOUND UP WITH REDEMPTION BY BLOOD.
Take the text, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." Redemption and forgiveness are so put together, as to look as if they were the same thing. Assuredly they are so interlaced and intertwisted that there is no having the one without the other. Do you ask—"How is it that there should always need to be redemption by blood, in order to the forgiveness of sin?" I call your attention to the expression, "Redemption through his blood." Observe, it is not redemption through his power, it is through his blood. It is not redemption through his love, it is through his blood. This is insisted upon emphatically, since in order to the forgiveness of sins it is redemption through his blood, as you have it over and over again in Scripture. "Without shedding of blood is no remission." But they say—they say—that substitution is not just. One said, the other day, that to lay sin upon Christ, and to treat him as guilty, and let him die for the unjust, was not just.
Yet the objector went on to say that God forgave men freely without any atonement at all. Of this wise critic I would ask—Is that just? Is it just to pass by breaches of the law without a penalty? Why any law at all? and why should men care whether they keep it or break it? It was stated by this critic that God, out of his boundless love, treated the guilty man as if he were innocent. I would ask—if that be right, where is the wrong of God's treating us as innocent because of the righteousness of Christ? I venture to affirm that pardon is needless, if not impossible, upon the theory that the man, though guilty, is treated as if he were not guilty. If all are treated alike, whether guilty or not guilty, why should any one desire pardon? It were easy to answer cavillers, but they really are not worth the answering. It is to me always sufficient if I find a truth taught in Scripture: I ask no more. If I do not understand it, I am not particularly anxious to understand it: if it be in the Scriptures, I believe it. I like those grand, rocky truths of the Bible which I cannot break with the hammer of my understanding, for on these I lay the foundations of my soul's confidence. Redemption by blood is here linked with forgiveness of sins, and in many other Scriptures we find it plainly stated. It is so. Let that stand for a sufficient answer to all objectors.
And it is so, if we come to think of it, because this reflects great honor upon God. They say, "Let God simply forgive the sin, and have done with it." But where, then, were his justice? "Shall not the Judge of the earth do right?" He threatened sin with punishment. If he does not execute his threatening, what then? Can we be sure that he will fulfill his promise? If he break his word one way might he not break it another? If all the Lord should not execute the penalty which he has threatened to sin, would it not look as if he made a mistake in threatening a penalty at all? Would it not seem as if he had been too severe at the first, and then had to catch himself up, and revise his own judgment afterwards? And shall that be?
Might it not be supposed that, after all, God made much ado about nothing, and that he was really jesting with men when he threatened them with fearful punishment on account of sin? Shall God say, "Yea," and "Nay"? Shall he speak and unspeak? This is according to the folly of man. Sometimes it may even be wisdom in a fallible man to reverse his word, and retract his declaration; but with God this cannot be. It is needful for the vindication of his own justice, his wisdom, and his holiness, that he shall not forego one of his threatenings, any more than one of his promises; and, since it is just that sin should be punished, and that, though the sinner should in wondrous mercy be permitted to go free, it is wise and just that Another should step in—God's own Self should step in—and bear for the sinner what is due to the justice of the Most High. The substitution of our Lord in our room and stead is the central doctrine of the gospel, and it greatly glorifies the name of God.
Besides that, beloved, that sin should not be pardoned without an atonement, is for the welfare of the universe. This world is but a speck compared with the universe of God. We cannot even imaging the multitudes of beings over which the great Lawgiver has rule; and if it could be whispered anywhere in that universe that, on this planet, God tampered with law, set aside justice, or did anything, in fact, to save his own chosen, so that he threw his own threatening behind his back, and disregarded his own solemn ordinance; why, this report would strike at the foundations of the eternal throng! Is God unjust in any cave? Then how can he judge the universe? What creatures, then, would fear God, when they knew that he could play fast and loose with justice? It were a calamity even greater than hell itself that sin should go unpunished. The very reins of moral order would be snatched from the hand of the great Charioteer, and I know not what of mischief would happen. Evil would then have mounted to the high throne of God, and would have become supreme throughout his domains. It is for the welfare of the universe, throughout the ages, that in the forgiveness of sins there should be redemption by blood. Let lovers of anarchy cavil at it; but let good men accept the sacrifice of the Son of God with joy as the great establishment of law and justice.
Moreover, this also is arranged for our comfort and as assurance of heart. I protest before you all that, if I had been anywhere assured, when I was under conviction of sin, that God could forgive me outright without any atonement, it would have yielded no sort of satisfaction to me; for my conscience was sitting in judgment upon myself, and I felt that if I were on the throne of God, I must condemn myself to hell. Even if I could have derived a temporary comfort from the notion of forgiveness apart from atonement, the question would afterwards have come up—how is this just? If God does not punish me, he ought to do so; how can he do otherwise? He must be just, or he is not God. It must be that such sin as mine should bring punishment upon itself. Never, until I understood the great truth of the substitutionary death of Christ, could my conscience get a moment's peace. If an atonement was not necessary for God, it certainly was necessary for me; and it seems to me necessary to every conscience that is fairly instructed as to the absolute certainty that sin involves deserved sorrow, and that every transgression and every iniquity must have its just recompense of reward. It was necessary for the perpetual peace of every enlightened conscience that the glorious atonement should have been provided.
Besides that, the Lord meant to save us in a safe way for the promotion of our future reverence for the law. Now, if sin had been blotted out so readily, and nothing more said of it, what effect would that have had on us in the future? I think that everyone who has felt the burden of sin, and has stood at the foot of the cross, and heard the cries of the great Sacrifice, and read God's wrath against sin written in crimson lines upon the blessed and perfect person of the innocent Savior—every such person feels that sin is an awful thing. You cannot trifle with transgression after a vision of Gethesmane. You cannot laugh at it, and talk about the littleness of its demerit, if you have once stood on Golgotha, and heard the cry, "Eli, Eli, lame sabachthani?"
The death of the Son of God upon the cross is the grandest of all moral lessons, because it is a lesson that affects the very soul of the man, and changes his whole idea of sin. The cross straightens him from the desperate twist which sin gave him at the first. The cure of the first Adam's fall is the second Adam's death—the second Adam's grace, which comes to us through his great sacrifice. We love sin till we see that it killed our best Friend, and then we loathe it evermore. I say, again, that if the great Father did forgive you, and said, "There is nothing in it; go your way, it is all over;" you would have lacked that grandest source of sanctified life which now you find in the wounds of him who has made sin detestable to you, and has made perfect obedience, even unto death, the subject of you soul's admiration. Now you long to be unto the great Father, in your measure, what your great Redeemer was to him when he magnified the law, and made it honorable. This is no mean benefit.
O beloved friends, I do bless the Lord, at this time, for the forgiveness of sins through redemption by blood. There is something worth preaching in this truth. You can live on it; you can die on it. I am constantly—almost every week—at the death-beds of our members here: we are so large a church that one or two every week are going home. When we begin to talk about the precious blood of Jesus—the blood of the everlasting covenant, you should see the brightness of dying eyes! I mark the quiet of the departing spirit; and as my dear friends grip my hand, their testimony is unvaryingly, "Jesus is the Rock of our confidence, and all is well."
O Lord Jesus, hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes! O blessed Redeemer, what will a man do in death who has not thy death to be the death of his sin? How can a man live who has never seen thee lay down thy life in his stead, "the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God"? Whatever others may say, let us repeat our text, with solemn assurance, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins."
III. But now, thirdly—and the text is very clear upon this, as upon the other two points—THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN IS STILL A MATTER OF GRACE, AND OF RICH GRACE. "We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
I admit that the forgiveness of sins, on God's part, is a matter of justice, now that the redemption by blood has been completed. The man believes; the man confesses his sin; and it is written, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." The sacrifice is so great that it justly puts away the sin, and it is righteously forgiven. But observe this: the act of God in forgiving is not one atom the less gracious, because, in his infinite wisdom, he has so contrived that it is unquestionably just. If any make this assertion, they will be called upon to prove it; and they can prove it.
Pardon is the more gracious to us that it does not come to us in an unrighteous way. We see God's great prudence and wisdom in planning the method by which he may "be just, and the Justifier of him that believeth." Those thoughts and plans on God's part are all tokens of great love to us. Beloved, it is only by grace that we are justified; yet that this grace is exercised in a way of justice causes the grace to be not less, but even manifestly more gracious.
The death of Christ, the redemption by blood, instead of veiling the grace of God, only manifests it. Put the thing before your own minds. Suppose that somebody has offended you, and you say, "Think no more of it; it is all forgiven." Very well: that is kind of you, and commendable. It shows the graciousness of your character. But suppose, on the other hand, you were in office as a judge, and felt compelled to say, "I am willing to forgive you, but your offense has resulted in such and such great mischiefs, and all these things have to be cleared away. I will tell you what I will do. I will clear them away myself. I will bear the result of your sin in order that my pardon may be seen to be most sure and full. I will pay the debt in which you have involved yourself. I will go to the prison to which you ought to go, as the consequence of what you have done. I will suffer the effect of your wrongdoing instead of condemning you to suffer it." Well, now, the forgiveness that dost you so much would manifest your graciousness much more than that which costs you nothing beyond a kind will, and a tender heart.
Oh, if it be so, that God, the Divine Ruler, the Judge of all the earth, says to guilty man, "I will pardon you, but it is imperative that my law be carried out; and this cannot be done except by the death of my dear Son, who is one with me, who is very God of very God, who himself wills to stand in your stead, and vindicate my justice, by suffering the penalty due to you"—then I say that the grace of God is a thousand-fold more clearly shown than by the free forgiveness which "modern thought" pleads for! Pardon which has cost God more than it cost him to make all worlds—which has cost him more than to manage all the empires of his providence—which has cost him his Only-begotten Son, and has cost that Only-begotten Son a life of sorrow and a death of unutterable and immeasurable anguish—I say that this pardon is pre-eminently gracious. Love is more displayed in this, infinitely more, than by a mere word and a wave of the hand, which would dismiss the sinner, without any attempt at an atoning sacrifice.
Besides, beloved, be this always remembered, that it is in the application of redemption, and the personal pardon of any sinner, through the blood of Jesus, that the grace of God is best seen by that sinner. To each one pardon through the Lord Jesus comes, not only according to grace, but "according to the riches of his grace." I can understand that God should forgive you, all of you. I could hear it with full belief, and it would not astonish me. But that he should pardon me—that I should have the forgiveness of sins, and redemption by blood—that does astonish me. And I believe that any person, under a sense of sin, sees more of the grace of God in his own salvation than in the salvation of anybody else. He may be quite conscious that he has never been a thief, or a drunkard, or a murderer; and yet, when he comes to look at it, he may see reasons why the pardon of sin in his case should be more remarkable than even in the case of a drunkard, or a thief, or a murderer. There may be elements in his own case which may make him seem to have sinned even more grievously than open transgressors, because he transgressed against greater light, with less temptation thereto, and with a direr presumption of rebellion against the Most High. That Jesus died, is unutterable grace; but that he loved me, and gave himself for me, this is overwhelming grace, and makes the heir of heaven say with emphasis, Blessed be God that, in Jesus, I have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace!
Do you not feel at this time, you that have been pardoned, that nothing but the riches of God's grace could ever have pardoned you? No scanty grace could have provided an atonement equal to your iniquities. Poverty of grace would have left you ruined by your debt of sin. Riches of grace were wanted, and riches of grace were forthcoming in redemption by blood, and in the full, perfect, irreversible forgiveness which God gave you in the day when you believed on Jesus Christ your Savior. Oh, that the Holy Spirit would help you to sing of the grace of God to-day and every day!
IV. Thus far have I brought you, then, in three remarks. Kindly follow me in the fourth one, upon which I will not be long. Fourthly, THIS FORGIVENESS OF SINS IS ENJOYED BY US NOW.
"In whom we have"—we have—"redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." I remember the astonishment with which I sat in a ministers' meeting, and heard one, who professed to be a preacher of the gospel, assert that he did not think that any one of us could be sure that he was forgiven. I ventured at once to say that I was sure; and I was pleased, but by no means surprised, to find that others dared to say the same. I hope I have hundreds before me who enjoy the same assurance.
Brethren, if there be no consciousness of the forgiveness of sins possible, how can there be any rest for the conscience? Yet Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." What rest is possible to the condemned? Can you go to bed to-night with your sins unforgiven? Some of you may have the foolhardiness to do that, but I would not dare to do it. See where you are. Within a moment you may be dead. Within that moment you will be in hell, past all hope. In a single instant you may be eternally lost: can you endure the thought? Our breath has but to stop, or the heart to cease beating, and instantly life is over. How can you be at peace, while sin is unforgiven? Unless sin had made men mad, they would never rest till they were cleared from their sins. There cannot be any true rest without a consciousness of forgiveness. Yet that rest is promised; therefore the present enjoyment of an assurance of forgiveness must be possible.
And, next, where could there ever be that great love in the hearts of men and women which we read of in Scripture? She that washed the Savior's feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head—would she have done so if she had not known that she was forgiven? She loved much, because she had had much forgiven her. And the stimulus, the zeal, the fervor that spurs on a man in his service and suffering for the Lord Jesus, must arise out of the consciousness that the Lord has done great things for him, and the conclusion that therefore he must do great things for his Lord. Surely, you have robbed Christianity of its highest moral force, if you have denied the possibility of knowing that you are pardoned.
Moreover, where is there any testimony of the power of grace? We that come and preach to you may be liars unto you if we ourselves have never tasted and handled pardoning grace. We do, at any rate, but retail to you a second-hand gospel, which we have never tested and proved for ourselves. If I did not know, in my very soul, that the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin, how could I dare to face you with the gospel message? I have not impudence enough to tell you of what might be, or might not be, about which I am uncertain myself. God grant me grace to break stones, or sweep chimneys, sooner than come and tell you a cunningly-devised fable, or a tale about which I have no assured certainty, derived from personal knowledge! Could I say to you, "I dare say there is bread, but I myself am hungry, I have never eaten a mouthful of the provision which I offer you"? Think of my saying to one perishing of thirst, "There is living water flowing from the rock; but personally I am thirsty." You might say to me at once, "Then go home to your house, and next time you appear, be sure of the truth of what you tell us. If you do not believe it, how should we believe it?" Beloved, there are thousands, there are tens of thousands, on earth still who know that the Son of God has power on earth to forgive sins; and there are myriads in heaven who passed to their felicity confident that they had been forgiven, and they sang on earth the same song that they sing in heaven, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain." They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They know it, they have no doubt about it. Many of us know it here, and rejoice therein at this moment.
Dear friend, what would you give to have this assurance? Thou mayest have it—"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Whoso believeth in him is justified from all sin. "He that believeth in him hath everlasting life." Oh, that God's grace may lead you to cast away all other confidences, and to lay your guilty spirit down at Jesus' feet! Then shall you go your way rejoicing that you also, with us, can say, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins."
V. Fifthly—and this is only a brief head; but it is a point that must not be left out—THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS BINDS US TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Let us read the text again. "In whom we have redemption through his blood." We have nothing apart from Jesus. Every blessing of the covenant binds us to Christ. Covenant gifts are so many golden chains to fasten the soul of the believer to his Lord. Our wealth of mercy is all in Christ. There is nothing good outside of Christ When are we pardoned, brethren? When have we forgiveness? Why, when we are in him, "in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." O son of Adam, living without Jesus, hear and take warning! So long as thou art out of Christ, thou must bear thine own burden till it crush thee to the dust; but as soon as thou hast touched the hem of his garment, there is a link of connection; and if thou canst rise from that to holding him by the feet, the union is closer; and if thou canst from that become like Simeon, who took him up in his arms, then mayest thou cry, "Mine eyes have seen thy salvation." When thou hast Christ to the full, thou hast grace to the full. It is as you are in Christ—in connection and communion with Christ—that you receive the pardon of sin, for all the pardon is in him. Do you see that?
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." The forgiveness is not so much in his office, and in his work, as in himself. When thou gettest Christ, thou hast redemption; for he is redemption. When thou gettest Christ, thou hast forgiveness of sins; for he is the propitiation for our sins. He has put the sin away by the sacrifice of himself. Get Christ, and thou hast the proof, the evidence, the sum, the substance of perfect pardon. If thou acceptest the Beloved, thou art "accepted in the Beloved." When thou art in him, then thou art forgiven; but thy forgiveness is alone in him. In him thou hast redemption: out of him thou art in bondage.
Beloved, every day, as we go afresh to God for a sense of pardon, let us know that we can never got it except as we come still viewing Jesus. I notice that some believers, when they get rather dull and cold, begin the work of self-examination. This may appear very proper, but it is dreary work. I do not believe, dear friends, if you are very poor, that you will ever get rich by looking through all your empty cupboards. If it is very cold, and you have no coals in the cellar, you will not become warm by going into the cellar, and seeing that there is nothing below but an empty coal-hole. No, no; if our graces are to be revived, we must begin with a renewed consciousness of pardon through the precious blood; and the only way to get that sense of pardon is to go to the cross again, even as we went at the first. I sometimes wonder that you do not get tired of my preaching, because I do nothing but hammer away on this one nail. I have driven it in up to the head, and I have gone round to the other side to clinch it; but still I keep at it. With me it is, year after year, "None but Jesus! None but Jesus!" Oh, you great saints, if you have outgrown the need of a sinner's trust in the Lord Jesus, you have outgrown your sins, but you have also outgrown your grace, and your saintship has ruined you! He that has the mind of Christ within him must still come to his Lord, just as he came at the first.
I frankly confess that still I cry to my Lord Jesus—
"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Still, to this day, I have no redemption in myself, but only in Jesus. I am not an inch forwarder as to the ground of my trust. Is it not so with you? Do we not still say of Jesus—"In whom we have redemption through his blood"? To this day we find no reason for forgiveness in ourselves. The precious blood is still our one plea. Lost and condemned are we apart from the one offering of our Great High Priest. But cleansed and justified are we in him.
"Oh! how sweet to view the flowing
You know the story of the poor bricklayer, who fell from a scaffold, and when they took him up, he was so much injured that they fetched a minister to him, who, stooping over him, said, "My dear man, you have a very short time to live. I entreat you to make your peace with God." To the surprise of the minister, the man opened his eyes, and said, "Make my peace with God, sir? It was made for me nearly nineteen hundred years ago, upon the cross of Calvary, by him that loved me, and gave himself for me." Oh, the joy which this creates in the heart! Yes, it is in Jesus that the peace is made—effectually made, made for me, made for you, made for all believers. In Jesus is perfect redemption. In Jesus pardon is provided, proclaimed, presented, and sealed upon the conscience. Go and live on Jesus; live with Jesus; live in Jesus; never go away from Jesus; and may he be dearer to you every day of your lives! Blessed be his adorable name! Amen, and Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON—Ephesians 1.
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"—289, 293, 296.