On the contrary, we believe it is through the grace of the Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."
I. THE HEART NEEDS CLEANSING.
1. Of its falsehood. The heathen world a world of lies. The tendency of fallen nature to believe strong delusions.
2. Of its corrupt desires. The Fall was a lowering of the spirit of humanity to the level of the inferior races. Animalism is the characteristic of heathenism and of an unregenerate state.
3. Of its self-justification and pride. The evil holds to it. A broken and contrite heart is required.
II. THE HEART IS CLEANSED. Consider the nature of the purity bestowed.
1. The conscience, by a sense of forgiveness; "perilous stuff" cleansed away.
2. An object of love revealed to whom the heart is surrendered. "Thou knowest that I love thee." The germ of the new life in the soil of the affections.
3. Consecration. Circumcision was a covenant sign. "Out of the heart are the issues of life." A pure will is that which is pledged by a changed course of action and a new position.
III. THE HEART IS CLEANSED BY FAITH. The contrast between the old covenant and the new. The truth accepted becomes the power of God unto salvation. Spiritual cleansing differs from:
1. Mere ritual purification.
2. Mere nominal separation from the world by an external life.
3. Mere slavish obedience to the letter of the Law. A purity which rests upon faith is a purity embracing thoughts and desires, lifting the heart with joy, securing it against the temptation to self-righteousness and superficial morality. Believe; give your mind to the message; welcome the personal Savior; follow the leading Spirit. Rejoice in the liberty of God's children. Christ's yoke is easy, his burden light. - R.
We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.
I. OF PENITENCE, which rests on a clear consciousness of sin.
II. OF HUMILITY, which attests the demerits of good works.
III. OF FAITH, which has recognised the riches of God's love in Christ.
IV. OF JOY, which is founded on the peace of a pardoned heart.
(Leonhardi and Spiegelhauer.)
I. THE PECULIAR BLESSING OF THE GOSPEL. Salvation. This implies a bondage, in which the whole human race is involved. Not content with its sway in this world, sin pursues the sinner even beyond the grave. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." In the midst of this universal corruption, — the voice of the Eternal, re-echoed by the sinner's conscience, rolls — "The soul that sinneth it shall die." "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." Is not this a yoke from which deliverance is essential? Yes! and from this the gospel proclaims deliverance: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us"; and His disciples are emancipated, not only from the guilt, but also from the power of sin.
II. THE CHANNEL THROUGH WHICH THIS BLESSING IS CONVEYED. "Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Salvation is not the reward of merit, but the gift of grace; not the purchase of man's desert, but the unearned bounty of God's free favour. As it is freely offered, so must it be freely accepted. No unbelieving doubts and hesitation on account of the magnitude of the gift and our own unworthiness to receive it; no Pharisaical standing-out upon conditions which, if required, could never be fulfilled; but a humbling sense of our own unworthiness, coupled with a grateful sense of God's undeserved mercy. Free grace shines conspicuous throughout the whole plan of man's salvation. It was grace that planned the remedy ere yet the disease was felt; it is grace that renders that remedy effectual. The Church was hewn out by grace, and by grace all its members are, as lively stones, built into a spiritual temple; and when the whole edifice shall be perfected, the Headstone thereof shall be brought forth with shoutings, crying "Grace! grace!" unto it. Unhumbled men will doubtless be offended at this, and rejecting salvation as a gift, will endeavour to earn it as a reward by seeking to establish some distinction between themselves and more vulgar sinners; but this is all labour in vain. It has pleased God to pronounce, on the one hand, that "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight"; and on the other, that man is "saved by grace through faith." Salvation through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only salvation recognised in the Bible; the only salvation that will either exalt the holiness, vindicate the justice, and magnify the mercy of God, or speak peace to the sinner's conscience and assure him of acceptance with God. Such, then, is the peculiar blessing of the gospel. A salvation altogether of grace, decreed by the grace of God the Father, wrought out by the grace of God the Son, and applied and rendered effectual by the grace of God the Holy Ghost.
III. THE EXTENT TO WHICH THIS BLESSED SALVATION REACHES. "We shall be saved, even as they." There is no longer any distinction between Jew and Gentile; but "the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him." Our commission, as ministers of the gospel, is as extensive as the globe on which we live. And this is true also of the various degrees of affliction and of crime.
(W. Le Poer Trench, B. D.)
I. AN APOSTOLICAL CONFESSION OF FAITH. "We believe." We will call it the "Apostle's Creed," and it has quite as clear a right to that title as that which goes by the name.
1. The apostle did not believe in —(1) Ritualism. All his testimony is concerning the grace of Christ. He says nothing whatever about ordinances, ceremonies; and those are the true successors of the apostles who teach you that you are to be saved through the free mercy of God.(2) Self-righteousness. Peter did not say, "We believe that through doing our best we shall be saved like other people," nor even "that if we act according to our light, God will accept that little light for what it was." If we are ever saved at all we must be saved gratis, not by wages; by God's love, not by our own merits. Those who preach mere morality, or set up any way except this, preach another gospel, and they shall be accursed, even though they preach it with an angel's eloquence.(3) Salvation by the natural force of free will. He takes the crown from off the head of man in all respects, and gives all glory to the grace of God.
2. Take this creed to pieces. It implies the doctrine of —(1) Human ruin. Peter saw this most clearly, or he would not have been so explicit upon man's salvation.(2) The atonement. What does the apostle mean but the grace which came from the Cross of the Saviour? What the sun is to the heavens, that the doctrine of a vicarious satisfaction is to theology. Take away the cleansing blood, and what is left to the guilty?
II. THE CONVERTED MORAL MAN'S STATEMENT. A company of Jews have assembled to discuss a certain matter, and some of them say, "Well, perhaps these Gentile dogs may be saved; yes, Christ told us to go and preach the gospel to every creature; therefore, no doubt, He must have included them — we do not like them, though, and must keep them as much under our rules and regulations as we can; we must compel them to be circumcised." Now, you expect to hear Peter say, "Why, these 'Gentile dogs' as you call them, can be saved, even as you." No; he turns the tables, and says, "We believe that you may be saved, even as they." It was just as if you should say, "We believe that a drunkard, etc., may be saved," and I respond, "You may be saved even as these." What a rebuke that would be! This is precisely what Peter meant.
1. Now, some of us were favoured with Christian parents, and consequently never did know a great deal of the sin into which others have fallen. This is cause for great thankfulness; but if you ever are saved, you will have to be saved in the same way as those who have been permitted to plunge into the most outrageous sin. In this respect we are all alike; we are born in sin, and alike are we dead by nature in trespasses and sins, heirs of wrath, even as others.
2. Moreover, the method of pardon is the same in all cases. I never heard of but one "fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins." That fountain is for the dying thief as much as for you, and for you as much as for him.
III. THE CONFESSION OF THE GREAT OUTWARD SINNER WHEN CONVERTED. Now, I will speak for you. We shall be saved, even as the best are saved.
1. Yonder sits a very poor believer. Now, do you expect that when you get to heaven you will be placed in a corner as a pauper pensioner? "Oh, no!" you say, "we shall leave our poverty when we get to glory." Some of our friends are rich, but we believe that we shall be saved, even as they.
2. Others of you are poor in useful talent, You cannot preach, or conduct a prayer meeting, etc. Well, do you expect that the Lord Jesus will give you a second-hand robe to wear at His wedding feast, and serve you from cold and inferior dishes? "Oh, no! Some of our brethren have great talents, and we are glad that they have; but we believe that we shall be saved, even as they."
3. Most likely there is some doubting brother here — Mr. Much-afraid, or Mr. Little-faith; but, how is your heart? Do you believe that you will be put off with a second-rate salvation — will be admitted by the back door into heaven? "Oh, no!" say you; "I am the weakest lamb in Jesus' fold; but I believe that I shall be saved, even as they who are the strongest in grace."
4. I will suppose that there has been a work of grace in a prison. There are half a dozen villains there, but the grace of God has made new men of them; and, if they understood the text, as they looked across the room and saw half a dozen apostles, they might say, "We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as those apostles are."
5. I will select the three Marys whom Jesus loved and who loved Jesus. These holy women, we believe, will be saved. But I will suppose that I go to one of our Refuges, and there are three girls there who were once of evil fame: the grace of God has met with them. These three might say, humbly, but positively, "We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we three reclaimed harlots shall be saved, even as they."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. AN ANTICIPATION OF AN INVALUABLE BLESSING. "Salvation" implying deliverance from spiritual danger, the enjoyment of spiritual good, the attainment of heaven. Man's state rendered redemptive interference necessary. Law was followed by rebellion: rebellion involves penal consequences.
1. The Scriptural statements of man's guilt and danger.
2. Observation and experience verify the Word.
3. The individual involvement in guilt and danger.
4. The necessary elements of salvation. Freedom from debasement, defilement, fear of death and judgment and what lies beyond. The bestowment of life, immortality, heaven.
II. THE METHOD BY WHICH THIS BLESSING IS TO BE SECURED.
1. The Incarnation was for the purpose of securing human salvation. Determined in the councils of the Father; types prefigured it; prophecy proclaimed its approach until the fulness of the time came. The necessary proofs of His appointment were the voice from heaven, miracles, witness of Scripture to His character and mission.
2. The manner in which He met the requisite conditions of human salvation. He was a great teacher, but He was more at the last supper, in the garden, on Calvary. There salvation effected. The fire fell and consumed the sacrifice which must otherwise have consumed the world.
3. Christ's sufferings were propitiatory, and formed part of a plan essential to the manifestation of the Divine mercy. Apart from Christ's atonement there is no salvation.
4. The Saviour rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and presents there the memorials of His sacrifice.
5. The principle upon which this salvation is bestowed. Through grace, unmerited mercy. Penance and merit are excluded.
III. THE TYPES WHICH WILL BE FOLLOWED IN THE BESTOWMENT OF SALVATION AND THE EXTENT TO WHICH IT SHALL BE CARRIED. "Saved even as they." The mistake of Jewish converts that they had some advantage. Their attempt to impose circumcision.
1. This salvation is available wherever the sovereignty of God applies it.(1) This is true of the various nations. Of all to whom it has been sent we can say we shall be saved even as they.(2) This is true of all the varieties and degrees of crime.(3) This salvation binds its recipients in perfect union, "Neither Jew nor Greek."
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