For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,…
How great a theme — how glorious a work is this! To redeem a few bodies from slavery, what has it cost! To effect but a partial alleviation of their suffering, a prospective and future freedom, what efforts, what sacrifices, what a hard and protracted struggle have been necessary! But we "are not redeemed with silver and gold from our vain conversation (that is, our life of iniquity), but with the precious blood of Christ."
I. WE NOTICE WHAT WAS THE IMPLIED CONDITION OF MANKIND THAT INDUCED JESUS CHRIST TO UNDERTAKE THIS ARDUOUS WORK ON THEIR BEHALF. We were under the influence of moral evil.
1. We were held under the sentence of the supreme law — a law undeniably just and pure, calculated to maintain the prerogatives of the sovereign Lord, and worthy of being feared as the expression of His righteous will.
2. The human soul, created at first in God's image, was polluted and degraded. As a temple now in ruins, desecrated, and perverted from its original purpose, no longer fit for him to inhabit.
3. The condemnation and pollution of the soul involved its ultimate, if not its present misery — the loss of all pure felicity and pure immortality. "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" — a privation of all happiness, a subjection to all suffering.
II. WE OBSERVE WHAT IT IS HERE SAID CHRIST DID FOR us — He gave Himself for us — This, under any view, was an act of stupendous goodness and compassion. But its peculiar features must be distinctly traced.
1. The Person who gave Himself. The Father's co-equal and co-eternal Son, whom angels worship and devils dread, whom the universe acknowledges as its author. He gave Himself for us, a ransom price of ineffable excellence and worth!
2. What was the deed? The most entire self-sacrifice. He gave Himself, net only to teach us, comfort us, labour for us, but to die for us.
3. The unparalleled magnanimity of the act. Who so great as He? who so mean as we? What being so glorious as He? who so worthless as we?
III. LET US DISTINCTLY APPRECIATE HIS PURPOSE, OR THE END OF HIS WONDROUS SELF-DEVOTEMENT. To redeem us from all iniquity.
1. To rescue us from the sentence pronounced upon all iniquity by the Divine law; and this by being made a curse for us. The law has no more power over you.
2. To redeem us from the dominion of sin in our hearts and minds. He designed that we should not continue slaves of iniquity, vassals of Satan, and victims of guilt. What a noble purpose, to regenerate that which was so degenerate, and restore that which was in ruins, and purify that which was so polluted!
3. His design included the recovery of our immortal life; for to redeem from all iniquity must signify to redeem from all the effects, all the consequences, all the privations and inflictions which iniquity in all its possible relations can incur.
IV. WE NOTICE HOW THIS DEED OF HIS EFFECTS THE PURPOSE HE PROPOSED.
1. His death is the moral substitute for ours; or that great moral consideration on account of which God is pleased to pardon sin, to accept the repenting sinner, and justify the ungodly who believes in Jesus. Here we can perceive that there is a reasonable foundation for the practical display of the Divine love to lost souls. It is a conception of the Divine and infinite mind, and evidently worthy of that mind, since it is "glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, goodwill towards men."
2. We may perceive, also, that the sacrifice of Christ becomes the basis on which Divine influences are granted to renovate fallen man. The Holy Spirit becomes our sanctifier, because Christ has restored us to Divine favour, satisfied the law, and removed every barrier to our adoption.
3. The discovery of this grand fact of Christ's sacrifice is found the most efficient, indeed the only successful, means of recovering us to a sincere obedience and a lively hope of glory. This works the great moral miracle of transforming a heart of stone to one of flesh, a heart of sin to one of virtue, a heart of enmity to one of love. Application:
1. Can we say, "He hath loved me, and given Himself for me"? Then let us prove our vital union by all the fruits of godliness.
2. Can we find no evidence that we are redeemed from our iniquity? then let us fear the impending issue, and flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,