Redemption by Price
“Ye are not your own: for ye are bought with a price.”— 1 Corinthians vi. 19, 20.
ATTACKS have often been made upon the central doctrine of the gospel, namely, the doctrine of redemption or atonement, for it is well known to be the Redan of the gospel. These onslaughts have in many instances been very craftily made; they have professed to be mere corrections of our phraseology, but were essentially assaults upon the truth itself. We believe that in and through the blood of Jesus we have redemption, and that we have been ransomed from destruction by the Mediator’s death, the Lord Jesus having bought us by the suit and service which he rendered in our place and stead. When we speak very plainly upon this point certain pretentious divines, whose custom it is to sneer at the old theology, at once raise objections to what they are pleased to call “the mercantile theory of atonement.” With weak minds an ugly phrase stands for argument, but in this case there is really nothing horrible in the description, even if it be allowed all its force. There may have been among us certain persons who carried ideas of the shop and the counter into their notion of redemption, but we maintain that even these were nearer the truth than those who reduce the ransom paid by the Lord Jesus to nothing, and make his redemption a meaningless figure of speech. Within the idea of purchase lies hidden the essence of the Saviour’s work, and therefore it is to be adhered to. He is coming yet again to complete the redemption of the purchased possession, and we shall not forego our hope to please the squeamish. Paul, at any rate, was not afraid of the mercantile theory, if so men please to call it, for he writes, “Ye are bought,” yea, to make it still more sure he puts it, “bought with a price.” This is put very strongly, and there is no planing it down. If it means anything it must mean that a price was paid for us; instead of our being for ever captives under bondage and death, a ransom has been found, according to that ancient saying, “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.” The song of heaven is no idle rhapsody. Hark, how they chant the solemn hymn before the throne of God and the Lamb, saying, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Was it not said of him while he was here below, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” There was a substitutionary sacrifice presented on the behalf of his people by Jesus Christ, who thus redeemed his chosen from their lost estate. This was a matter of fact, and an efficacious action, actually ransoming those who were redeemed. We do not believe in a cloudy, phantom-like atonement, which did something or nothing, and was a mere exhibition without results; but we believe that Jesus did actually redeem his people by a ransom, which ransom was his suffering and death in their stead, by which the justice of God was satisfied and his law was honoured. If there were no other text in Scripture the one which is now before us would abundantly justify us in using those very expressions which have been ridiculed as mercantile— “Ye are not your own: for ye are bought with a price.” Though we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, yet the transaction was none the less real and effective. An equivalent was given, a possession was secured. The fact is, the objection is not merely to the mercantile expression: the objection is to the very idea of substitution and vicarious sacrifice. The pretence is that mistaken words are criticised, but it is a mere pretence; the gun is aimed at Christ’s bearing divine wrath in our stead— this is the doctrine which they cannot endure. They will have to aim very often, and burst their cannon before they will be able to destroy our belief in the truth of substitution while we have the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah remaining in the inspired volume, and other passages of sacred Scripture to the like effect. Even if they could disprove the doctrine of vicarious suffering, and show that substitution is an ignorant fancy, the best thing they could do would be to wring their hands in agony, because they had blotted out the brightest star that ever shone amid the storm-wrack of a tempestuous conscience. No truth within the circle of theology is so eminently consolatory to souls burdened with sin as the great fact that Jesus Christ bare the sins of many and carried away on his own shoulders the transgressions of his people. Let others believe or disbelieve, I nail my colours to the cross where Jesus my Lord paid his blood as a price for me.
It is a high honour to our poor fallen race that man is the only redeemed creature in the universe; he alone has cost the Lord his life. Rebellious angels kept not their first estate, but they are left to their doom; no price has ever been paid for them; other angels, sustained by God’s power, still keep their high position in his sacred courts, but they are not redeemed by blood. In them there is an exhibition of divine wisdom, power, and goodness, but there is no display of free grace and dying love. Man stands in this respect alone; nowhere else is the blood-mark— the blood-mark of the Son of God. We alone are the flock of God which he hath redeemed with his own blood. Hence man cost God more than the whole universe beside. The Lord could speak worlds into existence, he could mould ponderous orbs as one rolls clay between his palms, or create constellations as the smith smiteth off sparks from the anvil; but to erect the new creation of redeemed men God must endure the loss of his own Son, resign his beloved to death, and in the person of the Only Begotten he must ransom men by his own sufferings. I may not venture now to describe the agonies of the incarnate God, but all these were needful to redeem man. The Lord has given more than Ethiopia or Seba for us, for he has given himself. Think of yourself, my dear friend, then (if, indeed, you have believed in Christ), as being a singularity in the realm of beings, a special wonder in the creation. You alone can say, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Neither in the earth nor in the stars, however they may be peopled, nor in yonder golden streets, are there any beings save men who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. We are the costliest of creatures; dearest to God, for he has spent most upon us, and made us the choicest objects of his heavenly expenditure.
This work of redemption is a very marvellous one; for the more one tries to study it the more its many-sidedness appears. In what respects and under what aspects have we been ransomed? Time would fail me to recount them all. We have been redeemed, we know, in reference to divine justice. We had violated God’s law, and therefore there was a punishment to be exacted from us; this punishment the Lord Jesus has endured in our place. “The Lord hath made to meet on him the iniquities of us all.” “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
We are justified, or reckoned as just, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Our great Redeemer has done for the honour of the law more than all of us put together could have done, and this stands as a ransom for us, so that now we may go free because he has suffered in our stead whatever was due from us to the law of God. This is a blessed aspect of redemption, and one which we hope always to keep prominent in our thoughts, and in our teaching. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” May the Holy Spirit teach us to value this great redemption!
Furthermore, we are redeemed from the power of evil, even as the Holy Ghost saith in the epistle to Titus, “he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” This redemption may be said to be not so much redemption by price as by power, yet even in this there are signs of price, for the apostle says, “he gave himself for us.” It is true that no price was paid to Satan, that is not to be imagined for an instant; we were never the devil’s rightful possession, and therefore he is compelled to let go his captives not for price or reward. We have been brought out from under the power of evil even as Israel was brought out from under the tyranny of Pharaoh. No redemption money was paid to the Egyptian king, but the Lord redeemed his people with a high hand and a stretched out arm: it was a case of redemption by power, and yet that smear of blood made by the hyssop on the lintel and the two side posts still indicated that price went hand in hand with power, and the blood of atonement was needed as well as the rod of omnipotence. In our deliverance from evil it is not alone by the power of the Holy Ghost that we are delivered, but he applies the blood as a cleansing power. The Lord Jesus is “made unto us sanctification and redemption.” Of those who conquer sin and Satan it is said, “they overcame by the blood of the Lamb.” Grace breaks the yoke from off the neck of the believer, but the finger of delivering grace is dipped in blood, and leaves redemption’s token wherever it comes. Do you not
see it? Know ye not that henceforth ye are not your own, the price paid in Gethsemane and Calvary has set you apart?
Another phase of this redemption which we do not often think of seems to me to be suggested by the text. There was a time, brethren, when we thought ourselves to be our own. Now, saith my text, “Ye are not your own.” “Why?” “Because ye are ‘bought with a price.’” Bought from whom? May I not fairly say that, in one sense, ye were bought from yourselves? Where else is the force of the expression, “Ye are not your own.” Through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus a compensation has been given to you for yourselves, so that your rights to yourselves are now the property of your Lord Jesus. That independence and liberty which once you delighted in is now surrendered. You said, “Our lips are our own: who is Lord over us? Who is the Lord that we should obey his voice? As for us, we will be free, and do according to our own wills:” but the matchless ransom has been paid, and henceforth all idea of self-will and self-indulgence are trespasses upon the enclosed possession of the Redeemer. Our vested interest in ourselves, though it never was a true property at all, is once for all surrendered to him who has laid down his life for us. We have received at the Lord’s hands a thousandfold for all that we hand over to him: the price is so great, so altogether beyond all computation, that we gladly yield our unworthy selves to be the Lord’s for ever and ever. I shall want you to remember this form of redemption, and to that end I will set it first among the points to which I shall call your attention.
Dear brethren, let us try at this time to feel the force of the truth that we are bought with a price, and are not our own, for it must not remain a dead letter, it ought to affect our hearts and influence our lives. I shall try to set it forth to you in a series of contrasts, which I may compare to the double glasses of a stereoscope: they will, I trust, aid you in seeing more clearly and feeling more forcibly. We can never be too much affected by this important practical truth. O that the Spirit of God would press it home upon our hearts and consciences!
I. First, I see in the text COMPENSATION, AND YET GAIN. Compensation is intended to make good a loss, but in our case the transfer of ourselves from self to Christ is a clear gain. Compensation, then, first — “Ye are not your own: for ye are bought with a price.” You have surrendered as believers your right and property in yourselves. Have you made a good bargain? Assuredly you have; for, first of all, you five, and had you retained your supposed right to yourself you would have died. He that saveth his life in such a sense, by keeping it to himself, shall lose it. You were, in fact, already dead while you lived, because you were living in pleasure, and finding that pleasure in yourself; but now the Lord has given you a new, high, noble, divine life. Is not that a compensation indeed for giving up the grovelling life of the flesh? He has given you in addition to life peace: you are now at rest in Jesus. As a believer you know that your sins are forgiven you for Christ’s name’s sake, that the Father himself loveth you, that you are accepted in the Beloved, and safe in Jesus’s hands. You enjoy great peace; deep, lasting, ever-flowing. Is it not much better to have peace and to be Christ’s than to be like the troubled sea that cannot rest and belong to yourself? One drop of sacred peace is an abundant recompense for the yielding up of yourself to Jesus. In addition to peace you have joy. Sometimes when it is at flood your happiness is as much as you can bear: you know what it is to be carried off your feet by a whirlwind of intense delight when you are musing upon your Lord and his love to you, and the price paid to win you. Oh! the joy, the unutterable blessedness which is the fruit of the Spirit! What delights grow on the bitter tree, the cross! No clusters of the vine can equal the fruit of Calvary’s cross. I am sure that whatever earthly joys you have given up you are abundantly compensated for them all by the joy you find in the purchase-price which Christ Jesus gave for you. And then you have a grand reversion; a hope which looks across the stream of death to a better land; a hope of immortality with Christ, of likeness to him, and association with him, and glory with him for ever. Why, my friend, if there had been a kingdom to renounce, if there had been a world of self-denials, and ten thousand pleasant things to be given up, you might have been well content to be repaid by such a price. You have received for your little the fulness which is in Christ, who is all in all: yea, the polluting joys, the dangerous independence, the rebellious indulgences of sin at their best, and all put together, are not worthy to be compared with the matchless endowments which your Redeemer has bestowed upon you. To-day you possess all that the blood of Jesus confers and effects, and I cannot in a few words tell you the whole of that treasury of grace. The price which Jesus paid means cleansing: “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us. from all sin.” Is it not better to be cleansed, and to be the Lord’s, than to be filthy and be your own? The blood of Jesus brings us near to God, for we are “made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Is it not better to be near to the Lord, and belong to Jesus, than to be in the far-off country with the swine and the husks, and be your own? The blood has spoken peace: it “speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Is it not better to be God’s, and hear the blood cry “Peace,” than to be your own, and to hear a terrible sound in your ears of judgment to come? The blood has given you entrance into the most holy place, even into the very heart of God; and is it not better to be the Lord’s beloved, and to come close to him and speak with him as a man speaketh with his friend, than to be your own, and to be shut out from God, and from the glory of his presence? Until the blood is sprinkled no man may dare to approach the thrice holy God, but that once done we have access with boldness; is not this a joy? If any complain that a Christian’s life is a life of selfdenial, as indeed sometimes it is, yet the compensations are incalculably rich, for in the blood of Jesus we have had given to us ten thousand times over and above all that we ever lost for Christ’s sake. So far compensation.
But then we must not forget that the supposed loss is an actual gain. It is a fine business when a man is compensated for a loss, and yet the loss itself becomes an advantage to him; yet most emphatically this has been our case; for aught that we have lost for Christ’s sake we may truly count as clear gain. We have only lost that which dishonoured, injured, and enslaved us. Blessed loss! What were we without Christ? We were the slaves of self; but if set free from self, we are indeed set free from a worse than Egyptian bondage, whose wage is death. It was inevitable that we must have some master or other, but all our former masters were tyrants. Now, brethren, we are set free from Satan, and is not that a gain to be delivered from the prince of the power of the air? Once we served the world and it was our lord, but what gain it is to feel that we are no longer the servants of men because we are bought with a price. Instead of needing that aught should be given to us as a recompense for self-surrender, we can reply— We find our joy and our delight in being altogether Christ’s, and the very height of our ambition is that by-and-by we may live entirely according to the will of God. Oh, that this much desired were fully come, for we shall never know perfect liberty until we reach that lofty degree, and then we shall be ready to step into the glory. The Lord help us in it.
So much then on the first point:— the Lord Jesus has by his blood given us compensation, and yet there never was a loss, but an unspeakable gain.
II. Look at the text again, and you will see in it HIGH VALUE AND YET LOWLINESS:— “Ye are not your own: for ye are bought with a price.” Value is clearly here, for we are bought with an immense price. How great a store ought man to set by himself as before God, for he is a purchased possession. God thinks not lightly of man, but esteems him sufficiently in divine condescension to buy him with the richest price conceivable. He lost the angels and would not pay a penny for them, but when man had fallen he laid down his life to ransom him. You, my dear friend, should have the very lowliest view of yourself, but yet do see how God has exalted you! “What is man, that thou art mindful of him, O God? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Yet he does visit him. He has visited him so as to take his nature into union with the divine. More than that, he visited him so as to redeem him with pangs and anguish unutterable. If you want to know the value of yourself see Christ upon the cross, and mark his wounds. You are not a thing to be trifled with. Do not reckon so cheaply of yourself as to stoop to become a mere money-grubber or earthworm. You are worth more than that. Do not fancy that you ever can truly be yourself while you are living for any human object or any earthly aim: you are too precious to waste yourself on fading flowers. You are a being of God’s making, in the first place. In his own image, remember, he made you, and nothing but sin could spoil you: but now you have been bought, and therefore have become a costly thing, more costly than a mere creation. In the Lord’s house you are not a vessel to dishonour, a broken crock to be flung on the dunghill and another obtained in your place; but you are a vessel unto honour fit for the Master’s use, since he has paid for you so dearly. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” There is a sanctity about a blood-bought man or woman of the highest degree: the Lord has purchased him with his life. A sanctity surrounds even these frail bodies, for the apostle is speaking about them in the text now before us. Let me read what he says upon them— “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Never, therefore, give up your body to idleness, drunkenness, or any form of uncleanness. Paul speaks especially of fornication as a thing not to be thought of among the saints; because the body has been valued by God at a great price, and purchased accordingly, and must not therefore be defiled by an impure conversation. Though Paul in another sense called it a “vile body,” yet it cannot be vile in all respects, for even now it is a sacred thing, the shrine of the eternal Spirit. We ought to value the very dust of the departed saint. It little matters what becomes of a dead body, yet would I have it laid reverently in its last resting-place, and let its bones be undisturbed until the trump of the archangel shall sound, for every atom of a believer’s body has been redeemed with the blood of Jesus Christ, as well as his soul and spirit; yea, his entire manhood has been purchased by Christ Jesus. I want you, then, to think of yourselves, you believers, as precious things. The Lord says to each one of his own beloved, “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.” You are “the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold.” Use yourselves only for honourable purposes, for God puts honour upon you.
Now look at the other side of the picture; you are precious, but you must yet be lowly, for whatever value there is about you, you do not belong to yourself. “Ye are not your own.” Though precious enough to have been bought with a price, yet none of the preciousness is yours. Believers, you are the goods and chattels of Christ: as you were once sold under sin, so are you now “bought with a price.” We have done with slavery of men, I hope, though in a few countries it ignominiously lingers as a crime on which society has laid its ban; but the blessed bondage of belonging to Christ, I pray that it may be extended all over the world. “I bear in my body,” said Paul, “the marks of the Lord Jesus,” as if he had been branded with Christ’s name, as sheep and cattle often bear the mark of their owner. I think he alluded to the scars which had been left by the scourges, or perhaps to the water-mark of baptism which he had received in his entire body, in which some of us greatly rejoice, because it is the reminder of our being dead with Christ, and buried with him. Never can the fact of our immersion into the sacred name be reversed; once only, and that to last for ever, are we buried with Christ in baptism unto death. Into his name have we been plunged, that we may be his for ever, and no more our own. A man cannot be proud of himself, however he knows his value, when he perceives that not a hair on his head or a finger of his hand belongs to himself. In true Christian life not a pulse beats for ourselves, not a breath is breathed for ourselves, not a single part of the complex machinery of our body or of our mind or soul remains our own; we are to use all for Christ, for we are bought and sold properties, taken right away from ourselves and owned by Christ by an everlasting tenure as “a purchased possession.” I wish I could get into the mind of all here the thought which burdens my own heart, that we should esteem ourselves as blood-bought men, as being sacred things, as holy as the golden candlestick, or as the golden table of the shew-bread, and yet think of ourselves as being the very least and lowest in the Lord’s house, because we are not at all our own. Our honour lies in our owner. God forbid that we should glory in anything except that we belong to Christ. Paul cried, “Whose I am, and whom I serve;” and this we too will say with hearty exultation. We will walk with holy boldness as the Lord’s own, but yet with deep humility as not our own.
III. Thoughtfully let us consider another contrast: “Ye are not your own: for ye are bought with a price this brings before my mind SECURITY AND YET WATCHFULNESS. First, security. You will not be lost, for he who owns you is able to keep you. If you were to perish, who would be the loser? Why, he to whom you belong, and “ye are not your own,” ye belong to Christ. My hope of being preserved to the end lies in this fact, that Jesus Christ paid far too much for me ever to let me go. Each believer cost him his heart’s blood. Stand in Gethsemane, and hear his groans: then draw near and mark his bloody sweat, and tell me, will he lose a soul for whom he suffered thus? See him hanging on the tree, tortured, mocked, burdened with an awful load, and then beclouded with the eclipse of his Father’s face, and do you think he suffered all that and yet will permit those for whom he endured it to be cast into hell? He will be a greater loser than I shall if I perish, for he will lose what cost him his life: surely he will never do that. Here is your security, you are the Lord’s portion, and he will not be robbed of his heritage. We are in a hand that bears the scar of the nail; we are hidden in the cleft of a rock— a rock that was riven for us near nineteen hundred years ago. Hone can pluck us from the hand which redeemed us; its pressure is too warm with love and strong with might for that.
Now turn the picture over: look at the other side of the medal. Here is reason for watchfulness. “Ye are not your own: for ye are bought with a price,” therefore take great care of yourselves, and keep your hearts with all diligence, for you are a king’s treasure. If a thing is my own I may do what I like with it, but if it is entrusted to my care I must mind how I behave towards it, or else I shall be an unfaithful steward. Come, come, friend, you may play with yourself if you like if you are your own, but if you belong to Jesus Christ, I charge you by the love you bear him, and by the dignity of his sacred character, and by his death,— the price he gave for you— do not pollute or degrade yourself. You are not your own, therefore permit no damage to come to your Lord’s estate lest he call you to account. The prodigal away in the far country may live just as he likes if he is his own, for the citizens of that country and their swine care nothing how he behaves. Poor wretch that he is; he may destroy himself if he wills; on his own head shall come the loss, nobody will grieve over a rake and a spendthrift. But you and I are not in that condition; we have been brought home, and are our father’s own children, and we must behave ourselves according to the law of his house, and please him in all things. We have no rights of property in ourselves now that Christ hath purchased us, and it is our bounden duty to act towards ourselves as husbandmen act towards a vineyard, the fruits of which are not to be eaten by themselves, but by their lord. Let us preserve each cluster of the heart’s vine for the King to whom it belongs, and trim each walk and train each flower of the soul’s garden according to his pleasure. See ye to it then, that ye waste not and spoil not the royal estate. Ye are safe in the Lord’s hands, therefore rejoice; but mind ye take the other side of the truth, and watch so as to keep your garments white, by walking close to God, for “ye are not your own: ye are bought with a price.”
IV. A fourth contrast, well worthy to be worked out in your private meditations, is CONSECRATION AND YET PERFECT LIBERTY. “Ye are not your own: for ye are bought with a price,”— there is consecration. You are to-day to dedicate yourself wholly and entirely to the Lord, because you are not partly redeemed, but wholly redeemed. Do you make any provision for the flesh, dear friend? Do you keep back any faculty you possess from Christ? Is not this a robbery of your Lord? How would you like to think of that particular reservation as being unredeemed? Would you be content to believe that no blood of Christ has ever fallen to redeem that part of you? Which portion is it which is to be unconsecrated? Is it the body that you would pamper and indulge? What, have you an unredeemed body then? Are you satisfied that it should be eaten of the worm, and never rise from the dust? or do you give to Christ your loving heart, but reserve your thinking mind to yourself, and say, “I will invent my own beliefs, and not yield my judgment to the dicta of revelation”? What, my friend, have you then an unredeemed intellect? “What is to become of it in that day when only those things shall be gathered into heaven which have been bought with blood, and owned by Christ? In that day when he maketh up his jewels he will not put another man’s goods among them. Do not reserve from Christ even your second-class powers. Withhold not your voice, but sing for Jesus, or speak for him, if you can; write for Jesus, paint for Jesus, ay, make and mend garments for his sake. Do not reserve from Christ any minor power that you possess, but ask God to enable you to consecrate the skill of your fingers to him as well as the force of your arm, for even your least members are bought with a price. Your time is included in the purchase, for there is never a moment when you are unredeemed. Some people think, perhaps, that they are off duty now and then; let me ask them, Are you ever off the roll of redemption? Is there one St. Monday in the week in which you are an unredeemed man, and may be your own or the devil’s? Suppose you die that day? What then?
As this consecration holds good for all times, so in all manner of ways. You are consecrated to Christ to do whatever you can do to his glory; to suffer whatever you can suffer as he lays it upon you, and, above all, to be as well as to do and to suffer,— to be for ever the Lord’s. There is a great deal in actually being Christ’s, even when you are not actively engaged; when you are neither praying, nor singing, nor working, but as it were standing still, it is well to be as the sweet flowers in the garden, which exhale the perfume of their innermost hearts in silent surrender to the passing gales. O that we may be full of grace, and may the wind of the divine Spirit scatter abroad the sweetnesses of our inner life, even when we are scarcely conscious of it.
But, then, there is with this a perfect liberty. I do believe that to be consecrated to Christ is, when we come to the bottom of things, the sure way to give to all the faculties of our nature the fullest possible play. Vice is the indulgence of the passions. True. Therefore some think it joy; but if all the passions of a man of every sort were to be exercised in their right harmony and proportion, as they would have been had he remained in his first estate, then perfect virtue, and not vice, would have been the result, and in that virtue manhood would have found a delightful liberty. The propensities of our nature as nature— not as fallen nature— will have their right indulgence when they own a complete subservience to the will and law of God. Liberty to sin is slavery, liberty from sin is freedom. There is no liberty to a man like that of being under law to God. If we are encased within the compass of the law we are no more restricted than a bird which is imprisoned within the boundless expanse of air, or a fish which is shut in by the ocean. Obedience to Christ is our element. The element of a truly renewed man is holiness, and when you and I shall become perfectly consecrated to Christ, so as to live alone for him, we shall have reached that way of living which God designed us to follow, wherein we shall be perfectly filled with happiness. Do not think, therefore, that the more a Christian you become the more you will feel of restriction and bond; say rather, that you will rejoice in the more of such freedom as good men alone can understand. The fact is that self-denial itself will become no self-denial, but a supreme joy, when once the heart is perfectly loyal to its Lord.
V. To close, I will mention a fifth pair of contrasts:— SUBMISSION AND EXPECTANCY. These are both suggested by my text. Submission: “Ye are not your own,” and therefore God has a right to do whatever he wills with you. We cannot tell what he may do with us yet, but if we must suffer week after week of pain upon our bed, he has a right to lay us there and chasten us in every limb. If the Lord says, “Go into your room and cough all the winter through, and then melt away with decline,” we must bow before his decree, remembering these words, “Ye are not your own.” Or if he says, “Come down from your position of comfort into hard work and poverty,” again you must remember “ye are not your own.” Or if he says, “Migrate across the seas; go to a new country, cut every tie and break the fondest connections,” you must cheerfully obey, for “ye are not your own.” If the call of duty should be “Go, preach the gospel among the heathen; go and die among them; find a grave where malaria shortens life, or cruelty brings sudden death you must go without a question, for “ye are not your own.” Ours not to raise questions or debates, for those can only be legitimate among persons who are their own.
“Ours not to reason why:
Ours but to dare and die,”
for we are not our own. Submission, absolute submission, is the rightful position of the blood-bought.
Side by side with that comes expectancy, I could not do much for myself if I were my own, but if I am Christ’s I expect that he will do great things for me. Do you see those two boys? neither can do much for himself, but one of them has great expectations. And why? Because he has a kind and wealthy father, of whom he expects great things. He says, “I am my father’s son, and he will take care of me.” It is the same with us, our great Owner’s goodness and power have raised our expectations. Look at this body of mine, it must decay, and become mere dust; but my Lord has bought it, and be sure he did not purchase it to let it end in corruption. It is not my own, therefore I feel sure that he who owns it will fit it up again in nobler form than it now wears, and make it bright and glistening like his own, not liable to pain, or sickness, or decay. I know he will. If this body were only mine I should expect there would be an end of it when the grave-digger hides it in the earth; but if it be my Lord’s, he has paid so much for it that he must have some grand intention concerning it. He sees in this body the raw material out of which his grace and power can make something that shall glorify himself. Is there not warrant for great expectations in our belonging to Christ?
We are not our own: then these minds of ours,— depend upon it he will enlarge them : he will increase our mental calibre, and make his property more worthy of its owner. You say, dear brother, “I shall never be much of a man; I have but small capacity for learning.” Well, what you have belongs to Christ, and he will sanctify your talents and increase them, and give you wisdom to use them for his honour. You do not know what you may yet become. You will know more after you have been in heaven five minutes than all the doctors of divinity on earth; for there you shall know even as you are known. You shall know Christ, and see him and rejoice in him beyond all that you can now conceive. You are not your own, but he who owns you means to make something out of you; he bought you at too great a price to let you run to waste. As for your entire being, rest assured that he intends to reflect his own glory by means of it throughout eternity. I never knew Christ act unwisely yet, and though sometimes it seems to me as though I could have forbidden the cross and his sacrifice, as though his death was too dear a price to redeem such insignificant beings as we are, yet he must have seen in our poor, fallen nature, in its very sin and misery, room for his grace, room for his power, and, therefore, the opportunity for a grand display of his power and love, to the amazement of angels, and principalities, and powers throughout eternity. At any rate, a piece of clay that lies in the pit all its own has no destiny before it, but when it has been purchased by the potter, and beaten and prepared, and when it feels itself revolving on the wheel, it has just reason to believe that it will bear a useful part in time to come. It might say, if it could speak, “I am not my own lump of clay; I have been bought with a great price, and therefore something is to be made of me. It doth not yet appear what I shall be, but when he that fashioneth hath finished me I shall, no doubt, be worthy of the hand that has wrought this upon me.” Raise your expectations as high as ever you will, God meaneth to do for you exceeding abundantly above what ye can ask or even think: according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus he will show the exceeding greatness of his power in you that believe in Jesus Christ. Blessed are the men, then, of whom it is true, “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price.”
Now, I finish by this question: “Are you your own, dear hearer?” I can imagine some sitting here saying, “Of course lam; I do not believe in surrendering myself to God.” Well, then, if you are your own you will go to your own place, and where your own place is read the word of God and discover. There shall you find that those who know not God shall be driven from his presence: if they are their own they must be their own comforters and their own helpers, but far off from God shall they be driven for evermore.
Are you anxious to be saved, my dear hearer? Then the way of salvation is, that you believe in Jesus Christ: but it is an essential part of that believing that you do surrender yourself to Christ. If he will save you, shall he have you to be his possession? If he will buy you, will you be his? If he will redeem you, will you confess that you are not your own? Many a man is unable to find peace because he wants to be independent, and demands to have his own will and way. Surrender! That is a necessary exhortation to every revolted one who would be restored. Surrender! Surrender at discretion. God cannot treat with rebels while they carry their weapons in their hands. Down with your weapons: cry to him, “Lord, I am dying, starving, perishing; wrath is upon me: only let me live and be cleansed, and I will be thine for ever, as thy grace shall help me to be.” He will accept you: he does accept you now if that is the utterance of your heart; and you, too, may go away and sing,
“I am thine, and thine alone,
This I gladly, fully own.”
God grant it, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.