In Romans 1, we read how Paul unashamedly longs to preach the gospel to those in Rome, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). The message of the gospel is not only our source of salvation, bringing us out of the darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), but it encourages us daily as we long for our Savior. Charles Spurgeon was a man gripped by the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and sought to expound its truths to all who would hear.
To help us arrive at a clearer and more profound understanding of the gospel, one can look to Spurgeon as he faithfully proclaimed the gospel, along with numerous other occasions, on June 11, 1858, in a sermon titled, “A Free Salvation.” In this sermon, Spurgeon defines the substance of the gospel as the “full, free, present, everlasting pardon to sinners through Jesus Christ’s atoning blood.”
A Full Pardon
The gospel is a full pardon for sins for all those who draw near to God through Christ.
“If now, sinner, God hath put it in thine heart to seek him, the pardon which he is prepared to give thee, is a full one; not a pardon for a part of your sins, but for all at once:
“Here’s pardon for transgressions past,
It matters not how black their cast,
And, oh! my soul with wonder view,
For sins to come here’s pardon too.”
Our hope is that God in his great mercy, sent his only begotten Son into the world to become the sacrifice for the sins of all who will call upon him for salvation. Christ alone is worthy to be our redeemer because, being fully God and fully man, he lived a perfectly obedient life unto the Father and bore the full punishment of our sins which he took upon his body on the cross. Christ suffered the full wrath of God on our behalf. Why? Because of love. While we were still sinners, he died for us, bearing the wrath of God that was justly due us. He was crushed for our iniquities and finished the atoning work that he came to earth to fulfill. By his work, our sins have been pardoned in full. The record of debt that we have accumulated through our sins has been canceled through Christ, being set aside once for all and nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14).
Therefore, there is no sin greater than the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, and through his blood alone can we find a complete redemption, a full pardon. All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13), and as we call upon him, we can be sure that this saving work is done in full because “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
“Here is pardon for your drunkenness, pardon for your oaths, pardon for your lust, pardon for your rebellion against heaven; for the sins of your youth and the sins of your old age, for the sins of the sanctuary and the sins of the brothel, or the tavern. Here is pardon for all sin, for “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
A Free Pardon
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The pardon that we receive through the gospel is a gift, given to us by faith alone, through Christ alone, by the Grace of God alone.
“I have to preach to night the great fact that while all have sinned, Christ hath died, and to all penitents who now confess their sins and put their trust in Christ, there is a full, free pardon — free in this respect, that you have nothing to do in order to get it. The meanest sin-stricken sinner has simply to pour out his plaintive griefs before God; that is all he asks. There is no fitness needed; —
“All the fitness he requireth,
Is to feel your need of him;
This he gives you;
‘Tis his Spirit’s rising beam.
There is no need to pass through years of penance, of hard labor, and of trial; the gospel is as free as the air you breathe.”
Our salvation, therefore, “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:16). We also learn in Ephesians 2:8-9 that it is, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” By God’s mercy, this free pardon that only the gospel provides is available to all people, regardless of social status, ethnicity, income, or background. God shows no partiality and has provided an entrance into his kingdom that costs us nothing. All we must do is repent and believe in the gospel, and we will be saved eternally from the wrath of God.
“You do not pay for breathing; you do not pay for seeing the sunlight, nor for the water that flows in the river as you stoop to drink it in your thirst. So the gospel is free; nothing is to be done in order to get it. No merits need be brought in order to obtain it. There is free pardon for the chief of sinners through Jesus Christ’s blood.”
A Present Pardon
The time for repentance is now, and we are urged to be ready, “for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 22:44). The gospel is a present pardon for our sins. If we are convicted of our sinfulness and realize our need for a savior, then at this moment, we can call upon Christ for salvation.
“If you feel your need of a Savior, if now you are enabled to believe in Christ, you shall be pardoned now… If you will now make confession of sin, now seek the Lord, you shall be pardoned now. It is possible for a man to have come in here with all his sins hanging about his neck like a millstone, enough to sink him lower than the lowest hell, and yet to go out of this door with every sin blotted out.”
2 Peter 3:9 says, The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” We must take care not to let this day of repentance pass us by, and we are called to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)” The day of salvation has come, and 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
For all who will trust in Christ, they can know that their sins are forgiven, now and forever.
Oh! Is it not a magnificent thing for a man to be able to tread God’s earth with this for a song in his mouth, “I am forgiven, I am forgiven; I am pardoned?” I think it is one of the sweetest songs in all the world—scarcely less sweet than that of the cherubim before the throne—
“Oh. how sweet to view the flowing
Of his soul redeeming blood!
With divine assurance knowing,
He has made my peace with God.”
An Everlasting Pardon
Most importantly, the gospel is an everlasting pardon. Through Christ’s resurrection, he rose again and became the firstborn from the dead so that those for whom he laid down his life will also rise with him in glory on the last day.
“If a man believeth in Christ with all his heart, his salvation is secure beyond hazard; and I always look upon this as the very jewel of the crown of salvation, that it be irreversible. If I commit my soul into the hands of God,
“His honor is engaged to save the meanest of his sheep.
All that his heavenly father gave his hands securely keep.
Not death or hell shall e’er divide his fav’rites from his breast;
In the dear bosom of their God they must for ever rest.”
This resurrection will be enjoyed by everyone who repents of their sinfulness and places their faith in him. No longer will there be a fearful expectation of death and judgment, but the inheritance of eternal life in the presence of God where we will be holy and blameless before him, all because of Christ. Our sins are pardoned forever through his finished work and have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
“He who puts himself into the hands of Christ has a sure keeper, come what may — and there may come strong temptations and strong affections, and there may come strong pains and hard duties, but he that hath helped us bears us through, and makes us more than conquerors too. Oh! to be pardoned once, with the certain assurance that we shall be pardoned for ever, beyond the hazard of being cast away!”
Spurgeon preached this sermon over 160 years ago, but the gospel is as true today as it ever was. So what about you, dear reader? Have you come to know God’s full, free, present, and everlasting pardon?
And now again, I will just preach this salvation, for this is the wine and milk which is proclaimed without money and without price. Beloved, all this is to be gained by faith in Christ—whosoever believeth in him who died upon the tree, and groaned away his life for us—shall never come into condemnation: he is passed from death unto life, and the love of God abideth in him.