Romans 5:6
It is a most remarkable phrase, this description which is given in the eighth verse, of God commending his own love. We have, indeed, in other portions of Scripture, the Divine Being represented as a heavenly Merchantman, setting forth the blessings of the gospel as a merchantman might set forth his wares. "He, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And again in the Book of Revelation, "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; ... and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see." But here God is represented as commending, not merely the blessings of the gospel, but his own love, to human observation and admiration. Yes; but this is for no selfish end. God's object in commending his love to us is for our sakes. He sets it before us in all its matchless tenderness and grandeur, that by means of it he may melt our hearts. He sets it before us in all its attractive power, that he may draw our hearts to holiness and our souls to heaven. He sets it before us in order that we may yield ourselves to its influence, and that thus, by what Dr. Chalmers calls "the expulsive power of a new affection," sin and the love of it, with all its withering blight and fatal grasp, may be driven out of our natures.

I. THE LOVE OF GOD IS COMMENDED BY ITS OBJECTS. We have set before us in these verses a description of those who are the objects of the love of God, as shown in the death of Jesus Christ his Son. Was it the angels that were the objects of God's redeeming love? Was it for the angels that Jesus died? No. They did not need his death. Was it for the good men and women of the world that Jesus died? If it was only for the good, then the love of God would be very limited in its range, and the great mass of humanity would be still helpless and hopeless. But one perfectly good person it would be impossible to find. "All have sinned." Who, then, are the objects of the love of God? Just those very men and women of whom it is said that "there is none righteous, no, not one."

1. The apostle describes us as being in a state of helplessness. "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (ver. 6). Surely here is a commendation of God's love. Very often in this world the weak are left to shift for themselves. But if any of us were left to our own unaided efforts, what would become of us? Are we not all glad, no matter how strong we are, of the assistance of others? if any of us were left to our own unaided efforts to get to heaven, which of us could hope to get there? The gospel is a gospel for the weak - that is to say, for the very strongest of us, physically, morally, and spiritually. In regard to God and eternity, how weak we are in all these aspects! We cannot stay the hand of disease or death; we cannot in our own strength maintain a life of an unswerving moral standard; we cannot work out a salvation for ourselves. But listen to this message: "When we were yet without strength,... Christ died for us."

2. But God loves more than the weak. He loves the ungodly. "Christ died for the ungodly" (ver. 6). The word here used expresses the indifference of the human heart to spiritual things. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit." If God only loved those who turned to him of their own accord, who then could be saved? If any of us have an interest now in spiritual things, was it not because God, in his mercy, laid his hand upon us, and awakened our minds to serious thought about him and our own souls? If there are those who are godless, ungodly, any who have no interest in spiritual things, to whom God's service is a weariness, let us say to them, "God loves even you." "Christ died for the ungodly."

3. But God goes a step lower than even the ungodly and indifferent. He goes down into the depths of sin. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (ver. 8). And not merely sinners, but enemies. "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (ver. 10). Here is the greatest of all commendations of the Divine lore. It was a love, not for the deserving, but for the undeserving; not for the obedient, but for the disobedient; not for the just, but for the unjust; not for his friends, but for his enemies. If you have ever tried to love your enemies, those who have done you an injury, you know how hard it is. But God loved his enemies - those who had broken his Law and rejected his invitations - God loved them so much that he gave his own Son to die for their salvation, in order that he might bring those who were his enemies to dwell for ever with himself. What a description it is of the objects of God's love! "Without strength;" "ungodly;" "sinners;" "enemies." Surely this ought to be enough to commend the love of God to us. Surely, then, there is hope for the guiltiest. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

"In peace let me resign my breath,
And thy salvation see;
My sins deserve eternal death,
But Jesus died for me."

II. THE LOVE OF GOD IS COMMENDED BY ITS OPERATION.

1. On God's side it involved sacrifice. God's love did not exhaust itself in profession. It showed itself in action. It showed itself in the greatest sacrifice which the world has ever seen. That was a genuine love. How it must have grieved the Father to think of his own holy, innocent Son, being buffeted and scourged and crucified by the hands of wicked men, in the frenzy of their passion and hatred! What a sacrifice to make for our sakes, when God gave up his own Son to the death for us all! Herein is the proof of the reality of God's love. Herein is its commendation to us.

"Love so amazing, so Divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."

2. And then look at the operation of this love on our side. Look at the results it produces in human hearts. "Hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (ver. 5). "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (ver. 11). What confidence it produces, what holy calm, what peace, what hope, what joy for time and for eternity, when we know that God loves us! Oh! there is no power like it to sustain the human heart. Temptations lose their power to drag us down, when that love is bound around us like a life-buoy. Hatred and malice cannot harm us, hidden in the secret of his presence. Sorrow and suffering can bring no despair, when the Father's face is bending over us with his everlasting smile, and his arms are underneath us with their everlasting strength. His love is like a path of golden sunlight across the dark valley. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Thus God commends to us his love. He commends it to us by showing us our own condition - what we are without it. He shows us the character of the objects of his love - "without strength;" "ungodly;" "sinners;" "enemies." He shows us the operation of his love. He points us to the cross, and bids us measure there the height and depth of his marvellous love. He shows us the operation of his love in human hearts - what peace, what confidence, what hope, what joy unspeakable and full of glory, it produces. For all these reasons it is a love worth yielding to. For all these reasons it is a love worth having. Christians should commend the love of God. A consistent Christian life is the best testimony to the power of the love of God. By loving even our enemies, by showing a spirit of unselfishness and self-sacrifice, let us commend to those around us the love of God.

"When one that holds communion with the skies
Has filled his urn where those pure waters rise,
And once more mingles with us meaner things,
Tis e'en as if an angel shook his wings;
Immortal fragrance fills the circuit wide
That tells us whence his treasures are supplied? C.H.I.







For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Utter condemnation and loss lies in that little word "not." "Ungodly," or not godly, is to be strengthless, condemned, and lost.

I. BY NATURE ALL MEN ARE UNGODLY. Ungodliness takes a great many forms.

1. In some it is lawlessness. It is seen in the breach of every Divine commandment.(1) Idolatry is the sin of hundreds of thousands during every hour of time.(2) Swearing and impiety load every gale.(3) Sabbath breaking is, wherever there is a Sabbath to break.(4) Parents are disobeyed and neglected.(5) Murder: does it not come to our very doors, and shock the city with its terrors?(6) Adultery: is not that one of the sins which is fed by our wealth and the artificial state of society? and is it not preying on the very vitals of the nation's life?(7) Dishonesty: Diogenes would still need his lantern in some places of the city and the world if he would find an honest man.(8) False witness, slander: what society is free from these? What man or woman is safe from them?(9) Covetousness: no man has anything which is not apt to be desired unlawfully by another. All these commandments are broken because men are ungodly. If men were godly they would see the excellency and the beauty of them. They do see this when they become godly.

2. But ungodliness may exist in strength where there is little or no outward violation of the commandments. A man may keep them all in the letter, and not one of them in the spirit; he may still have the "carnal mind which is enmity against God." Suppose a child of yours were to forget your name, or to show indifference about you when named, or coldness and dislike, although veiled under the form of politeness, could anyone persuade you that all that was consistent with loving you? And is not God forgotten? Disliked? Treated like a stranger, like an enemy? Ungodliness — that is the great sin.

II. THE AFFECTING CONCOMITANT OF THIS STATE OF THINGS.

1. Ungodliness brings of necessity many evils in its train, condemnation, banishment from God, the wild passions and the miseries of life, gloomy, dismal prospects; but perhaps the most affecting thing of all is moral paralysis, "without strength."

2. The meaning is this — that there is in ungodly human nature no recuperative power, no blessed gracious recoil in itself, back again to goodness. We may look up, but we cannot rise. A tree may be bent almost to breaking, but in a day it is erect again. There are some trees which do more than recover! The prevalent winds in Mexico which split the plantain's leaves and warp the mango tree, give the cocoanut tree a permanent inclination towards the winds. This result arises from the rebound of the stems after being bent by the wind. Did you ever hear of any man having such a spring in his own nature, that the more he was pressed down by evil the higher he would rise in goodness? Is not the process rather "waxing worse and worse" — going away backwards? "Not liking," and liking less and less, "to retain God in their knowledge."

3. Without strength —

(1)Of reason, to find the lost God.

(2)Of wisdom, to discover the right plan of life.

(3)Of conscience, to see and testify for true morality.

(4)Of will, to do the duty that is apparent.

(5)Of affection, which has all been squandered and lost, to love God even when He reveals Himself!

4. This is a very sad condition. If you saw a man who, by his self-will and over-confidence, had brought on himself some terrible disaster, you would yet pity him, and help him out of his difficulty. And do you think that God will not pity a whole world of immortal creatures made in His own image? True, He condemns. But He also sorrows, over our fall, and yearns for our salvation.

III. SEASONABLE INTERPOSITION. "In due time." As "for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven," so there was a ripe and full time for the manifestation of God in the flesh.

1. This manifestation was not made too soon. Suppose it had been made very soon after the fall, men might have said, "We got more help than we needed — we were not fully proved — we had no chance to try our powers." If Christ had come sooner —(1) The Jewish priests might have said, "We are sent away from the altar too soon; perhaps the blood of bulls and of goats might take away sin in the end."(2) The heathen philosophers might have said, "We are superseded too soon. The World by wisdom might know God, if time were given."(3) The great conquerors, Nimrod, Cyrus, Alexander, etc., might have said, as representing kings and all civil governments, and the whole doctrine of force in this world, "The sceptre is wrested from us too soon; a few more battles and the world would have been one empire of far-stretching righteousness and peace." But no such protest was raised. They were all silent, priest, and sage, and conqueror.

2. The Divine interposition did not come too late.(1) Not after the world had grown so old in sin that it had lost in its wanderings the very faculty of hearing the recalling voice.(2) Not when even the salt of the earth, the chosen people, had lost their savour, worn out their own beliefs, and lost, as they might have done, the knowledge of God.(3) Not when all the continents and islands of the earth were full, and no fresh tracts remained to be claimed and peopled by races baptized into a nobler faith. Not too soon, and not too late, but when the world was weary of waiting, like a sufferer worn out with a long sickness, in this "due," "full" time, the Saviour came.

IV. HE CAME TO DIE.

1. The fountain and spring of our salvation is the death of Christ —(1) One might have said when the angels sang, "Unto you is born this day a Saviour," — that will be humiliation enough — will have virtue enough to save us. No; incarnation is the foundation fact, but something more must be built on it.(2) Is life enough? Working, sleeping, passing up and down Nazareth for thirty years? No; this is not redemption. It brings us nearer to it, year by year. But life like this forever would not have saved us.(3) Is teaching enough? No; that had great power, but was like God's law: it made sin more exceeding sinful, but did not take it away.(4) Would translations to heaven, then, have been enough? No; nothing will do but this.

2. "Christ died for us," as our Ransom and Substitute, not merely for our benefit and advantage. All the explanations of this truth, with which we are familiar, have force in them, although they all come short of the great and blessed meaning. He died —(1) To satisfy justice. Not only would it be impossible for God to save in any violation of that attribute, but men themselves could not (for their own moral nature would not allow it) accept a salvation that did not consist with the integrity and clearness of that attribute.(2) To honour the Divine law, which is the visible strength and protection of the universe, the wall of heaven and earth.(3) To procure for us a righteous forgiveness, a peace — calm, and deep, and pure — like the very peace of God.(4) To cancel guilt, to cleanse us by His sacrificial blood.(5) To express Divine grace and boundless favour.

3. And this great act is brought before us here, and everywhere, as the most wonderful proof that could be given of the love of God. In the whole course of human history there has been nothing like it (ver. 7). Who ever heard of anyone dying for a worthless man? But this is what God does. "He commendeth," makes very conspicuous and great, His love to us, in sending Christ to die for us, "while we were yet sinners." Take away the love; make the death only a great historical fact, necessary to the accomplishment of God's purpose in the development of this world; make it a contrivance in moral government, and although it will still be an impressive fact, you have shorn it of its glory. It is no longer the loadstone that draws all hearts. The death without the love might still be the wonder of angels, and the political admiration of the universe, but would be no longer the joy and rest of humble souls. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." How? By the subtle, mysterious power of all-conquering love. Do you see it? Are you drawn by it? I long to lead you to the "large and wealthy place," to which you have right and title.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

I. THE CONDITION WHEREIN WE ARE BY NATURE "without strength." This will appear if you consider man's condition —

1. With respect to the law (Galatians 3:10). Consider —(1) The duty it exacts; universal, perpetual, perfect obedience. If man fails in one point, he is gone (Ezekiel 18:4; Ezekiel 20:11). Now if God should call us to an account for the most inoffensive day that ever we passed over, what would become of us? (Psalm 130:3). So that we are "without strength" to conform to the law's requirements (chap. Romans 8:3).(2) The penalty it inflicts: "Cursed is everyone."(a) In all he hath (Deuteronomy 28:15-18).(b) In all he doeth (Proverbs 21:27).(c) For evermore (Matthew 25:41). We are "without strength," because we cannot satisfy the justice of God for one sin.(3) Its operation. Consider how all this works.(a) Sometimes it terrifies (Hebrews 2:15; Acts 24:25).(b) Sometimes it stupefies the conscience so that men grow senseless of their misery (Ephesians 4:19).(c) Sometimes it irritates inbred corruption (Romans 7:9). As a dam makes a stream the more violent or as a bullock at the first yoking becometh the more unruly.(d) Sometimes it breeds a sottish despair (Jeremiah 18:12). It is the worst kind of despair, when a man is given up to his "own heart's lust" (Psalm 81:12), and runs headlong in the way of destruction, without hope of returning. Thus as to the law man is helpless.

2. With respect to terms of grace offered in the gospel. This will appear —(1) By those emphatic terms by which the case and cure of man are set forth.(a) His case. He is born in sin (Psalm 51:5), and things natural are not easily altered. He is greedy of sin (Job 15:16). Thirst is the most implacable appetite. His heart is a heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:26), and deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), and the New Testament is no more favourable than the Old. There you will find man represented as a "child of wrath by nature" (Ephesians 2:3), a "servant of sin" (Romans 6:17), "alienated from God" (Ephesians 4:18). An enemy to God (Romans 8:7), "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1-5). Certainly man contributeth little to his own conversion: he cannot "hunger and thirst" after Christ that "drinks in iniquity like water." If the Scripture had only said that man had accustomed himself to sin, and was not "born in sin"; that man was somewhat prone to iniquity, and not "greedy" of it, and did often think evil, and not "continually"; that man was somewhat obstinate, and not a "stone," an "adamant"; if the Scripture had only said that man was indifferent to God, and not a professed "enemy"; if a captive of sin, and not a "servant"; if only weak, and not "dead"; if only a neuter, and not a "rebel"; — then there might be something in man, and the work of conversion not so difficult. But the Scripture saith the quite contrary.(b) The cure. To remedy so great an evil requires an almighty power, and the all-sufficiency of grace; see, therefore, how conversion is described in Scripture. By enlightening the mind (Ephesians 1:18). By opening the heart (Acts 16:14). God knocks many times by the outward means, and as one that would open a door — He tries key after key, but till He putteth His fingers upon the handles of the lock (Song of Solomon 5:4, 5), the door is not opened to Him. If these words are not emphatic enough, you will find conversion expressed by regeneration (John 3:3), resurrection (Ephesians 2:5), creation (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Psalm 51:10), victory (1 John 4:4), the beating and binding of the "strong man" by one that is "stronger than he" (Luke 11:21, 22).(2) By those assertions whereby all power is denied to man to convert himself to God, or to do anything that is spiritually good. As when it is said he cannot know (1 Corinthians 2:14), believe (John 6:44), obey (Romans 8:7). Nay, to instance in single acts: he cannot think a good thought of himself (2 Corinthians 3:5), speak a good word (Matthew 12:34), do anything (John 15:5). Surely, then, man is "without strength," to turn himself to God. But here are objections —(a) How can it stand with the mercy, justice, and wisdom of God to require of man what he cannot pay? Answer first — God doth not lose His right, though man hath lost his power; their impotency doth not dissolve their obligation; a drunken servant is a servant, and it is against all reason that the master should lose his right to command by the servant's default. A prodigal debtor, that hath nothing to pay, yet is liable to be sued for the debt without any injustice. And shall not God challenge the debt of obedience from a debtor that is both proud and prodigal? Answer second — Our natural impotency is voluntary. We must not consider man only as impotent to good, but as delighting in evil: he will not come to God (John 5:40). Our impotency lies in our obstinacy, and so man is left without excuse. We refuse the grace that is offered to us, and by continuing in sin increase our bondage, our inveterate customs turning to another nature.(b) If man be so altogether without strength, why do ye press him to the use of means? Answer — Though man cannot change himself, yet he is to use the means. First, that we may practically see our own weakness. Men think the work of grace is easy, till they put themselves upon a trial: the lameness of the arm is found in exercise. Whosoever sets himself in good earnest to get any grace, will be forced to cry for it before he hath done. When a man goes to lift up a piece of timber heavy above his strength, he is forced to call in help. Second, the use of the means we owe to God as well as the change of the heart. God, that hath required faith and conversion, hath required prayer, hearing, reading, meditating; and we are bound to obey, though we know not what good will come of it (Hebrews 11:8; Luke 5:5). Our great rule is, we are to do what He commandeth, and let God do what He will. Third, to lessen our guilt. For when men do not use the means, they have no excuse (Acts 13:46; Matthew 25:26). Fourth, it may be God will meet with us. It is the ordinary practice of His free grace so to do; and it is good to make trial upon a common hope (Acts 8:22).

II. SOME REASONS GOD PERMITS THIS WEAKNESS.

1. To exalt His grace.(1) Its freeness; for God hath shut up all under the curse, that there may be no way of escape but by His mercy (Romans 11:32; Galatians 3:22).(2) Its power (Ephesians 1:19). When we consider it, we may wonder at it that ever such a change should be wrought in us that are so carnal, so obstinate (1 Peter 2:9). It is indeed marvellous that ever we should get out of the prison of sin; more miraculous than Peter's getting out of prison.

2. To humble the creature thoroughly by a sense of his own guilt, unworthiness, and nothingness (Romans 3:19).Conclusion: The subject is of use —

1. To the unconverted — to be sensible of their condition, and mourn over it to God. Acknowledge the debt; confess your impotency; beg pardon and grace; and, in a humble sense of your misery, endeavour earnestly to come out of it. By such doctrines as these men are either "cut at heart" (Acts 7:54) or "pricked at heart" (Acts 2:37).

2. To press the converted to thankfulness. We were once in such a pitiful ease.

3. Let us compassionate others that are in this estate, and endeavour to rescue them.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. THE MORAL PROSTRATION OF HUMANITY. "When we were yet without," not muscular or mental, but moral "strength."

1. To effect the deliverance of self. The souls of all were "carnal, sold under sin." Man, the world over, felt this profoundly for ages. His cry was — "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?" etc. Philosophers, priests, poets, tried to deliver the soul, but failed.

2. To render acceptable service to the Creator. "Wherewithal shall we come before the Lord, and how shall we bow before the Most High God?"

3. To face the future with calmness. Deep in the hearts of all men was the belief in a future life, but that future rose before them in aspects so terrible that they recoiled from it. No weakness so distressing as this; moral powerlessness is not only a curse, but a crime. Yet all unregenerate men are the subjects of this lamentable prostration.

II. THE REINVIGORATING POWER OF CHRIST'S DEATH. "In due time Christ died for the ungodly." Christ's death enables man —

1. To deliver himself. It generates within him a new spiritual life, by which he throws off its enthrallments as the winged chrysalis its crust. Christ's death is the life of souls.

2. To render acceptable service to God. It presents to him —

(1)The right motive.

(2)The right method.

3. To calmly face the future. Christ's death reveals a bright future, and furnishes the means for attaining it. Christ's death is the moral power of the world. It inspires men with love — love is power; with faith — faith is power; with hope — hope is power; with courage — courage is power.

III. THE SEASONABLE PERIOD OF THE REDEEMER'S MISSION. "In due time," i.e.

1. When the world was prepared to appreciate it. Mankind had tried every means they could invent to deliver themselves from the power of sin, to attain the approval of their Maker, and to win a bright future, but had failed. Four thousand years of earnest philosophisings and sacerdotal labour, legislative enactments, and moral teachings, had signally failed. "The world by wisdom knew not God." The intellect of Judaea, Greece, Rome, all failed. The world was prostrate in hopelessness.

2. The time appointed by Heaven. The time had been designated by the prophets (Genesis 49:10; Daniel 9:27; John 17:1).

3. The time most favourable for the universal diffusion of the fact.(1) There was a general expectation of a Great Deliverer.(2) The world was at peace, and mainly under the control of one government — Rome.(3) The Greek language was all but universally spoken.(4) Communications were opened up between all the villages, towns, and cities of the world. "In due time Christ died."

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

? — The human race is here described as a sick man in an advanced stage of disease; no power remains in his system to throw off his mortal malady, nor does he desire to do so. Your condition is not only your calamity, but your fault. Other diseases men grieve about, but you love this evil which is destroying you. While man is in this condition Jesus interposes for his salvation.

I. THE FACT. "Christ died for the ungodly,"

1. Christ means "Anointed One," and indicates that He was commissioned by supreme authority. Jesus was both set apart to this work and qualified for it by the anointing of the Holy Ghost. He is no unauthorised, no amateur deliverer, but one with full credentials from the Father.

2. Christ died. He did a great deal besides dying, but the crowning act of His career of love, and that which rendered all the rest available, was His death. This death was —(1) Real, as proved by the piercing of His side, and His burial.(2) Acute. "My God, My God, why," etc.(3) Penal; inflicted upon Him by Divine justice; and rightly so, for on Him lay our iniquities, and therefore on Him must lie the suffering.(4) Terrible. Condemned to a felon's gibbet, He was crucified amid a mob of jesters.

3. Christ died, not for the righteous, but for the ungodly, or the godless, who, having cast off God, cast off with Him all love for that which is right. He did not please Himself with some rosy dream of a superior race yet to come, when civilisation would banish crime, and wisdom would conduct man back to God. Full well He knew that, left to itself, the world would grow worse and worse. This view was not only the true one, but the kindly one; because had Christ died for the better sort, then each troubled spirit would have inferred. "He died not for me." Had the merit of His death been the perquisite of honesty, where would have been the dying thief? If of chastity, where the woman that loved much? If of courageous fidelity, how would it have fared with the apostles, who all forsook Him and fled? Then, again, in this condition lay the need of our race that Christ should die. To what end could Christ have died for the good? "The just for the unjust" I can understand; but the "just dying for the just" were a double injustice.

II. PLAIN INFERENCES FROM THIS FACT.

1. That you are in great danger. Jesus would not interpose His life if there were not solemn need and imminent peril. The Cross is the danger signal to you, it warns you that if God spared not His only Son, He will not spare you.

2. That out of this danger only Christ can deliver the ungodly, and He only through His death. If a less price than that of the life of the Son of God could have redeemed men, He would have been spared. If, then, "God spared not His Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all," there must have been a dread necessity for it.

3. That Jesus died out of pure pity, because the character of those for whom He died could not have attracted Him. "God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."

4. That the ungodly have no excuse if they do not come to Him, and believe in Him unto salvation. Had it been otherwise they might have pleaded, "We are not fit to come." But you are ungodly, and Christ died for the ungodly, why not for you?

5. That the converted find no ground of boasting; for they were ungodly, and, as such, Christ died for them.

6. That saved ones must not think lightly of sin. If God had forgiven sinners without an atonement they might have done so, but now that pardon comes through the bitter griefs of their Redeemer they cannot but see it to be an exceeding great evil.

7. This fact is the grandest argument to make the ungodly love Christ when they are saved.

III. THE PROCLAMATION OF THIS FACT.

1. In this the whole Church ought to take its share. Shout it, or whisper it; print it in capitals, or write it in a large hand. Speak it solemnly; it is not a thing for jest. Speak it joyfully; it is not a theme for sorrow. Speak it firmly; it is an indisputable fact. Speak it earnestly; for if there be any truth which ought to arouse all a man's soul it is this. Speak it where the ungodly live, and that is at your Own house. Speak it also in the haunts of debauchery. Tell it in the gaol; and sit down at the dying bed and read in a tender whisper — "Christ died for the ungodly."

2. And you that are not saved, take care that you receive this message. Believe it. Fling yourself right on to this as a man commits himself to his life belt amid the surging billows.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE CONDITION OF THOSE FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED.

1. They were "without strength."(1) Legally. Before God's bar man had a weak case.(a) We could not deny the charge that we had broken the law.(b) We could not set up an alibi.(c) We could not make apologies, for we have sinned wilfully, repeatedly, without any necessity, with divers aggravations, deliberately and presumptuously, when we knew the penalty. So weak was our case that no advocate who understood it would have ventured to plead it, except that one glorious Advocate who pleaded it at the cost of His own life.(2) Morally. We are so weak by nature that we are swayed by every influence which assails us. At one time man is driven by fashion; at another he is afraid of his fellow men. Then the evil spirit comes upon him, or if the devil should let him alone, his own heart suffices. The pomp of this world, the lust of the eye, the pride of life — any of these things will drive men about at random. Nothing seems to be too wicked, too insane, for mankind. Man is morally weak — a poor, crazy child. He has lost that strong hand of a well-trained perfect reason which God gave him at the first.(3) Spiritually. When man disobeyed he died spiritually. The blessed Spirit left him. Man is dead in sin. He cannot rise to God any more than the dead in the grave can come out of their sepulchres of themselves and live.

2. They were "ungodly," i.e., men without God. God is not —(1) In their thoughts.(2) In their hearts. If they do remember Him, they do not love Him.(3) In their fears.(4) In their hopes. Christ came to save the very vilest of the vile.

II. WHEN CHRIST INTERPOSED TO SAVE US. In "due time," i.e., at a proper period. There was no accident about it. Sin among mankind in general had reached a climax.

1. There never was a more debauched age. It is impossible to read chap. Romans 1. without feeling sick at the depravity it records. Their own satirists said that there was no new vice that could be invented. Even Socrates and Solon practised vices which I dare not mention in any modest assembly. But it was when man had got to his worst that Christ was lifted up to be a standard of virtue — to be a brazen serpent for the cure of the multitudes who everywhere were dying of the serpent's bites.

2. Christ came at a time when the wisdom of man had got to a great height. Philosophers were seeking to dazzle men with their teaching, but the bulk of their teaching was foolishness, couched in paradoxical terms to make it look like wisdom. "The world by wisdom knew not God."

3. But, surely, man had a religion! He had; but the less we say about it the better. Holy rites were acts of flagrant sin. The temples were abominable, and the priests were abominable beyond description. And where the best part of man, his very religion, had become so foul, what could we expect of his ordinary life? But was there not a true religion in the world somewhere? Yes, but among the Jews tradition had made void the law of God, and ritualism had taken the place of spiritual worship. The Pharisee thanked God that he was not as other men were, when he had got in his pocket the deeds of a widow's estate of which he had robbed her. The Sadducee was an infidel. The best men of the period in Christ's days said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth!" Now, it was when men had got to this pitch that Christ came to die for them. If He had launched His thunderbolts at them, or swept the whole race away, none could have blamed Him. But, instead of that, the pure and Holy One came down to earth Himself to die, that these wretches — yea, that we ourselves — might live through Him.

III. WHAT DID HE DO FOR US?

1. He made the fullest degree of sacrifice that was possible. He made the heavens, and yet He lay in Bethlehem's manger. He hung the stars in their places, and laid the beams of the universe, and yet became a carpenter's son; and then when He grew up He consented to be the servant of servants. When at last He gave His life, "It is finished," said He; self-sacrifice had reached its climax; but He could not have saved us if He had stopped short of that.

2. In the fact that Christ's self-sacrifice went so far I see evidence of the extreme degree of our need. Would He, who is "God over all, blessed forever," have come from the height of heaven and have humbled Himself even to the death, to save us, if it had not been a most terrible ruin to which we were subject?

3. This death of Christ was the surest way of our deliverance. The just dies for the unjust, the offended Judge Himself suffers for the offence against His own law.

IV. WHAT THEN?

1. Then sin cannot shut any man out from the grace of God if he believes. The man says, "I am without strength." Christ died for us when we were without strength. The man says, "I am ungodly." Christ died for the ungodly.

2. Then Jesus will never cast away a believer for his after sins, for if when we were without strength He died for us, if, when we were ungodly, He interposed on our behalf, will He leave us now that He has made us godly (ver. 10)?

3. Then every blessing any child of God can want he can have. He that spared not His own Son when we were without strength and ungodly, cannot deny us inferior blessings now that we are His own dear children.

4. Then how grateful we ought to be!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. GOD'S LOVE TO US. Note —

1. The condition in which it found us. We were —(1) Without strength. Let this be viewed as —(a) Moral impotence; and is it not true that we were unable to do that which is good? When we wished to do it, we could not will it. We felt ourselves captives of the devil, sold and bound under sin.(b) Helplessness in the time of danger; and is it not true that we were without strength to defend ourselves against the condemnation of the law, and the righteous anger of Jehovah?(2) Ungodly, that is, destitute of true righteousness. We were not only weak, but unwilling to do good.(3) Sinners; transgressors of God's law in act and deed. Being corrupt trees, we brought forth evil fruit.(4) Enemies to God. We did not love Him, or care for Him. Nay, we insulted Him, fought against Him, silently or violently, and so lived as to counteract and oppose all His purposes, so far as we had the power.

2. What that love has done for us. When we were in this state of helplessness and rebellion against God, He gave His Son to die for us. By that death believers are justified and reconciled to God.

3. The comparison of this love with the behaviour of men to each other (vers. 7, 8). The righteous man is a man of correct and irreproachable behaviour; but the good man is a man of generosity and kindness, who wins the hearts of his friends, and for whom friends have been willing to die. But for a merely just man, you would scarcely find any willing to lay down his life; while certainly for the base and mean of mankind, or for his personal enemies, no man has been found willing to die. "But God commendeth His love toward us in that, while we were wickedly His enemies, He gave His Son to die for us."

4. That this love was manifested in due time (Mark 1:15; Galatians 4:4; and Ephesians 1:10). This time seems to have been determined by the stage arrived at in history when man's utter helplessness was fully demonstrated. Many centuries were allowed for the world to exhaust every device, to accomplish its own moral renovation. War and peace had been tried, together with every possible form of civil government. Philosophy and science, civilisation and religion, literature and art, had been carried sufficiently far to prove how utterly powerless they all were to accomplish the end designed. It was impossible for anyone to say, If He had waited a little longer, we should have found out some other plan, and been able to do without Him. How this enhances our conception of God's love! He patiently tarried to see what mankind could achieve for themselves; and He beheld them at length entirely helpless, hopeless of self-restoration, and callously indifferent to the interposition of Heaven, Then it was that God sent His Son to die for the ungodly.

II. OUR HOPE IN GOD. Look at —

1. The salvation of which we are so sure. It is a salvation from wrath; and it is a salvation to heaven (ver. 9).

2. The grounds of this confidence. The apostle argues from the greater difficulty to the less. For —(1) We were reconciled when enemies; how much more, being now the friends of God, shall we enjoy the full blessings of His grace?(2) We were saved from guilt by His death; how much more shall we be sanctified and prepared for heaven by Him living for us.

III. OUR GLORYING IN GOD. If such be our apprehension of God's love to us, and such the confidence of our hope and trust in Him for the future, it is not hard to see how we must "joy," or rather make our boast in Him through Jesus Christ, by whom this blessedness of reconciliation with God has been secured. Think of —

1. The greatness of our heavenly Friend. In nature how noble! In attributes how august!

2. His goodness. Many rejoice in the friendship of the great and powerful, while they cannot boast of the goodness and integrity of their patrons. But here it is permitted us to glory in the perfect rectitude and moral loveliness of Him in whose name we make our boast.

3. His riches. We might have a kind and good friend, whose ability to help us might fall far short of his disposition. But it is not so with God.

4. His love. The great ones of the earth bestow their friendship on inferiors in a cold and meagre manner. But God gives us and shows us all His heart.

5. His purposes concerning us. It is impossible to exaggerate the value of the good things which He hath prepared for them that love Him.Conclusion:

1. How happy should believers be, rejoicing, as they are privileged to do, "with a joy unspeakable and full of glory."

2. How humble, when they remember their unworthiness, and their inability to render back any sufficient return to God.

3. How holy and diligent in their endeavour to walk worthily of so high a calling, and so great a Friend.

4. How thankful, when they consider what they owe unto God.

5. How ready to praise Him for all His goodness toward them.

6. How willing to trust Him with all the issues of their salvation in the time to come.

The apostle establishes this point by means of two reasons —

I. THE GREAT LOVE WHICH GOD HAS ALREADY BESTOWED ON MAN. This is seen in —

1. The unworthiness of the object.(1) "Without strength." In this expression the apostle is probably accommodating himself to the natural disposition of the Romans. Rome was a mighty empire, and its motto was "power." Their highest notion of goodness, as the word "virtue" indicates, was strength. Hence Paul represents the gospel as "the power of God." Nothing was so detestable in their eyes as weakness. And what a helpless man was in the estimation of the Roman, that — universal man — was in the sight of God. There was nothing to evoke the Divine complacency, but everything to repel.(2) "Ungodly." There was not only the destitution of what was holy, but also the absence of desire for any good.(3) "Sinners." When God is banished from the thought, as suggested by the word "ungodly," His place is usurped by unworthy rivals. The higher principles of the soul are made subordinate to the lower. Disorder prevails; and to God, who in the beginning commanded the chaotic earth to wear its present aspect of beauty, nothing could be more repelling than the huge disorder reigning in the human soul bent on fulfilling the desires of the flesh.(4) "Enemies." Here the apostle reaches the climax of his reasoning. All the unworthiness of man must be attributed to his enmity against God. In this man is a sad exception to everything else Which God has made. In nature, God's will and power are coextensive. But man disobeys and resists his Maker. The very power which was given him to hate sin is so perverted that it is used against God Himself.

2. The greatness of Christ's sacrifice. With reverence we would say, that to redeem man was not easy even to God. It required an infinite sacrifice to remove the curse connected with sin. And for this purpose "God spared not His own Son." Now, if God bestowed such an incomparable love upon man when he was "without strength," "ungodly," sinful, and inimical towards Him, surely He will not withhold any blessing from man when he is reconciled to Him, and adopted to His family again.

II. WHAT CHRIST'S LIFE IN HEAVEN IS DOING, CONTRASTED WITH WHAT HIS DEATH HAS DONE.

1. However important we may regard the death of our Lord, we must not consider His life in heaven of secondary moment. Apart from this life His death would not avail us. But the apostle asserts that the death of Christ effected our reconciliation to God. And shall we doubt the power of His life? Nay; the good work which He hath begun on our behalf will be fully consummated.

2. Besides, the nature of Christ's work in heaven is a pledge for the final safety of the believer, "He liveth to make intercession for us." His intercession is the completion of His sacrifice, and perpetuates the efficacy of His atonement.

(H. Hughes.)

American Youth's Companion.
One of the most hopeless cases ever brought into the Moyamensing Prison in Philadelphia, U.S., was a negress, who was convicted of a crime of violence. She was a huge, fierce animal, who had been born and had lived in the slums of Alaska Street. She was a drunkard and dissolute from childhood. The chaplain, after she had been under his charge for six months, shook his head hopelessly and passed by her cell without a word. One day the matron, taking a bunch of scarlet flowers from her hat, threw them to "Deb" carelessly, with a pleasant word or two. The woman started in astonishment, and then thanked her earnestly. The next day the matron saw the flowers, each leaf straightened and smoothed, pinned up on the wall of the cell. Deb, in a gentle voice, called attention to them, praised their beauty, and tried, in her clumsy way, to show the pleasure they had given her. "That woman," said the matron to the chaplain, "has the rarest of all good qualities. She is grateful. There is one square inch of good ground in which to plant your seed." The matron herself planted the seed. Every day she showed some little kindness to the poor, untamed creature, who was gradually softened and subdued simply by affection for this, her first friend, whom she followed like a faithful dog: By and by, the matron took her as a helper in the ward, a favour given only to the convicts whose conduct deserved reward. The matron's hold upon the woman grew stronger each day. At last she told her the story of the Saviour's love and sacrifice. Deb listened with wide, eager eyes. "He died for me — me!" she said. The matron gave up her position, but when Deb was discharged she took her into her house as a servant, trained, taught her, cared for her body and soul, always planting her seeds in that "one inch of good ground." Deb is now a humble Christian. "He died for me," was the thought which lightened her darkened soul.

(American Youth's Companion.)

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