And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?…
I. TO EVERY MAN IN HIS SERIOUS MOODS THE SENSE OF SIN IS A GENUINE HUMAN EXPERIENCE which no reasoning can reason away.
1. It is not a remnant of savagery, but the sign of a spiritual nature; growing with our growing power of moral sympathy and insight.
2. The Christian revelation quickens and deepens the consciousness of sin. In the presence of Jesus Christ all our self-complacencies vanish.
3. The reality of sin is increasingly felt as we realise its consequences; how it darkens and disorders human life and human society. The sense of sin is a pain, but in such pain there is hope; it is the beginning of all redemption and all progress.
II. THE CHRISTIAN IDEA OF SALVATION IS A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ONE.
1. It is a certain severance from the shame and guilt of transgression. The sense of dissatisfaction with sin is not healthy in its influence unless it receives a hopeful interpretation and leads to hopeful endeavour. It may also, according to our training, assume the form of a fear of God and the hereafter. But the removal of our distress concerning ourselves, and our ignorant and guilty dread of God and fate, is only clearing the ground for Christ's great salvation.
2. There is evil working within, and from its presence and dominion in the heart and life we need to be delivered. "What must I do to be saved?" is but a poor and petty cry when it only means "What must I do to escape from the discomfort, the fear, the natural penalty of sin?" That is the cry of a man who cares more for his ease and happiness than for eternal truth and good. We are not to speak of being saved if we are not being saved from the sins we are tempted to commit daily.
3. Salvation is character and the perfection of character, the realisation of the ideal life for which we were created. The obligation is laid upon everyone to come to his best, and we are called not to repress but to cultivate all our human faculties. The saved man is the whole man, the full-grown, healthily and harmoniously developed man.
4. Salvation means a life lived not for self but for God. Religious selfishness is just as bad as any other kind of selfishness. Man's chief end is to save himself that he might glorify God, live for Divine ends, and give himself as the Lord did fur the redemption of mankind.
III. HOW BELIEVING IN JESUS CHRIST ENABLES A MAN TO REALISE THIS IDEAL OF SALVATION. Christ saves not by any single method, but by whatever He was and is, did and does, by all the influences of His life and Cross, truth, and spirit; saves not by any arbitrary and magical efficacy, but precisely to the extent in which He is known and understood, loved and obeyed; saves by inspiring right thoughts, right feelings, right motives; saves by giving new trusts, new hopes, new sympathies, new affections; saves by His revelation of the Divine mercy and by bringing men into direct communion with the eternal grace and power.
1. To believe in Christ as the revelation of God to man is to believe in redeeming mercy and grace, and to be delivered thereby from the fear which weakens and the despair which kills.
2. To believe in Christ is to have evil affections conquered and displaced by the growth of a new and holier and more masterful love.
3. In our Christian believing and loyalty are all the elements required for the development of the most complete and finished type of human excellence. To believe in Christ is to believe in ourselves, and to see in Him the man we are each called to be, ought to be, and can be; His righteousness is, indeed, our righteousness — ours to love and live. Faith in Christ is not a substitute for personal obedience, but it is vital with quickening power to make us obey as He obeyed. He changes character by imparting His own character sympathetically to all who enter into real sympathy with Him.
4. To believe in Christ is to be brought out of the circle of our selfish affections, aims, and interests into communion with mankind. His spirit is a social spirit, drawing and binding men together in mutual love and helpfulness, and, through individual influence, producing its effect on the families and generations of men, making possible and actual, as the text suggested, a Christian heredity. It is in the way of the spread and triumph of the Christian spirit we are to look for the coming of the Christian order of society, which is the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Parallel VersesKJV: And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?