The Saviour You need
“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”— Hebrews v. 9.
THE great folly of awakened sinners lies in looking to themselves. When they are convinced that they are lost, when the law condemns them, when they have the sentence of death ringing with its dolorous knell through their consciences, they nevertheless turn to themselves for help. As well might they search for life within the ribs of death, or dig for light in the drear vaults of outer darkness. First, they try what outward reformation can do, and they are amazed when they discover their own impotence; then they turn their eyes towards their feelings, and either they labour after tears and mental tortures till they grow conceitedly miserable, or else they yield to hopelessness, because they find their heart to be as an adamant stone. They frequently fly to ceremonials, and go far in formalism, but find no peace; and as often they turn to the belief of orthodox doctrines, and seek salvation in mere head knowledge of the word, forgetting that Jesus once said, “Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; but ye will not come unto me that ye might have eternal life.” In some shape or other, all natural men seek refuge in self, and fly thither again and again and again, though often driven from it. Their so doing is useless and foolish, dishonouring to God and defiling to themselves. If men would but believe the truth, they would know that they can no more save themselves than they can turn evil into good, or hell into heaven! It would be a grand thing done if they could be made to understand that they have abundant power to destroy themselves, but that all their help for salvation lies wholly in Jesus Christ; when they are convinced of this, they will cast themselves upon the Redeemer, and peace and joy would fill their spirits. This is the stem labour which utterly baffles the preacher, it is a work which only the Holy Spirit can accomplish. To wean the sinner from the breasts of self, to rescue him from his proud delusions, to make him see that salvation must come from above, as the pure gift of grace— this, though it appears simple enough, requires a miracle of grace.
God the Holy Spirit generally uses as a cure for this foolish looking to self the exhibition of Christ Jesus. Christ supplants self. Looking unto Jesus puts an end to looking to frames and feelings and workings; and I shall now endeavour to preach Jesus Christ, in the fulness of his perfection as a Saviour, that poor sinners may not look for perfection in themselves, nor search for any fitness or strength in themselves, but may flee away to Jesus, in whom everything requisite for their salvation is so richly provided.
I. Five thoughts grow out of the text, and the first is this: beloved seeker after peace, believe in THE UNDOUBTED WILLINGNESS OF JESUS CHRIST TO SAVE. Where do I find this in the text? I find it just below its surface, and here it is. As God, the Lord Jesus is and always was perfect in the most emphatic sense; as man, Christ’s character is also perfect from the first, having in it neither deficiency nor excess; but as Mediator, High Priest, and Saviour, he had to undergo a process to make him perfectly qualified; for the text says, “Being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation.” Now, if we find that he was willing to undergo the process which made him completely fit for the office of a Saviour, we may certainly conclude that he is willing enough to exercise the qualifications which ho has obtained. Suppose that we have before us a person who is anxious to wait upon the sick. She is a woman of the most excellent character, in all respects faultless, but not yet fitted for a nurse till she shall have walked the hospitals; and to do this she must give up the comforts of home, undertake a world of drudgery, and see much that will cause her pain, for she must herself see and understand what sickness means, or she will be of no use. Now, if this person be willing, for the sake of becoming a nurse, to undergo personal discomfort and physical weariness, to put herself to much self-denial, and to exercise much anxious thought, and if, indeed, all the preparatory process has been already undergone, who doubts her willingness afterwards to exercise the office of a nurse, for which she has taken so much pains to fit herself? Hoes not the case speak for itself? Then transfer it to the Lord Jesus. He has undergone all that was necessary to make him a complete Saviour, in all points qualified for his work; and none may dare insult him by saying that he is unwilling to exercise his office and save the sons of men.
Remember that what the Son of God underwent to fit him for a Saviour was extremely humiliating and painful. He left the throne for the cross, the adoration of angels for the mockery of menials. He came from yonder bright world, where they need not the light of the sun, to visit those who sit in darkness and in the valley of the shadow of death. He was so poor that he had not where to lay his head, so despised that even his own received him not, but hid, as it were, their faces from him. He endured death itself in the most cruel circumstances of ignominy and pain. All this was needful ere he could be made perfect as a Priest and a Saviour; but all this he has undergone, and has cried concerning it all, “It is finished.” What are those Bears in his hands? What but the tokens of his fitness for his office? What is that gash in his side? What but the warrant that the work is complete, which renders him a perfect Saviour? And will you tell me after this that he declines to save? that he turns a deaf ear to a sinner’s cry? that you have pleaded with him by the month together, and yet have not been answered? that you are willing to come and fling yourself at his feet, but he is unwilling to receive you? Oh, utter not a falsehood at once so groundless, so dishonouring to him, and so defiling to yourself. Jesus must be willing to save, or else he never could have submitted to so painful a preparation in order that he might be installed in his office as Mediator; he would not have toiled so sternly to reach that high position in which he is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him if he had not a hearty goodwill towards sinners, and a readiness to receive them. Trembling sinner, if you conclude that Jesus Christ is not willing to save, you must suppose that he prepared himself deliberately, and with painful cost, to do nothing; for if he do not save men, then he came without an errand, and died without a purpose; for he certainly did not come to condemn them. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” If, then, he do not save that which is lost, he has prepared himself for nothing, has lived in vain, and shed his blood without purpose. If you can thus think of him and of his work, I marvel at your unbelief, and tremble to think how fatally sin has blinded your eyes. Moreover, if you think Jesus unwilling to save, you will have to suppose that, having spent a life in obedience, and endured a death of agony, he has, after all, changed his mind, and renounced the object once so dear to him. You will have to believe that the heart which bled, and even after death poured out both blood and water, has suddenly become petrified; that the eyes which wept over Jerusalem retain no longer any pity for the sons of men, and that he who prayed for his murderers, “Father, forgive them,” has now become stem in spirit, and will bate nothing to do with sinners when they seek his mercy. Oh, do not my Lord so great a dishonour as to think thus of him! Lo, he is “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever”! Interrogate those scars and see if there be a change in him; look into his face and see if love has departed thence! He is in heaven at this day, ever living to make intercession for sinners; and I ask you would he continue to intercede if he had ceased to love? Would he not throw up the office in disgust if his nature were so transformed that he no longer cared to save the lost? Away with your dishonouring fears. Do you dream that Jesus has saved all he designed to bless, and that the full tale of his redeemed is made up? Do you imagine that the merit of his blood has come to an end, that his power and willingness to forgive have gone clean from him? It cannot be so, for is it not written, “Ask of me and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession”? and that has not been fulfilled yet. It is written “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,” but as yet the many have not been justified, for the number of the saved is small compared with the multitude that descend to hell. Will not Jesus have the pre-eminence? Will he not redeem unto himself a number that no man can number? When the whole poem of human history has been written, will it not be found to be in honour of grace abounding over sin, Christ victor over Satan, mercy triumphant over wrath? Will not Jesus and his seed outnumber the seed of the serpent? How else would it be true that his bruised heel shall break the serpent’s head? Instead of believing that Jesus has ceased to save, I look for a fuller display of his power, in glad days when nations shall be born at once. The fountain flows on with undiminished stream: O sinner, drink and live. You must not imagine, poor, trembling sinner, that the dear Redeemer has undergone all his agonies to prepare him to save men, and yet is unwilling to perform his sacred office; such a wicked fancy will be ruinous to your soul, and grievous to his Spirit. Oh, that you would go and try him, and you would find him ready to save you.
II. The second thought will bring us nearer to the text. Consider, I pray you, in the second place, THE PERFECT FITNESS OF THE SAVIOUR FOR HIS WORK. We will view the fitness both Godward and manward.
View it Godward. Sinner, if any one is to deal with God for you so as to avail on your behalf, he must be one of God’s choosing, for “no man taketh this honour upon himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee.” Christ was ordained of God from all eternity to stand as the representative of his people before the throne. “It pleased the Father to bruise him.” “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” He from old eternity was set apart to be the High Priest and the Redeemer of his people. Can you not in this see grounds for resting upon him? What God appoints it must be safe for us to accept.
In order that Jesus Christ, being appointed, should be fit for his office, it was necessary that he should become man. Man had sinned, and man must make reparation to the broken law. God would not accept an angel as a substitute, for the law had to do with man, and as the race had revolted, it must be through one of the race that God’s justice should be vindicated. But Jesus was God: how then could he become our Saviour? Behold the mystery! God was manifest in the flesh. He descended to the manger of Bethlehem, he nestled in a woman’s bosom; for as the children were partakers of flesh and blood he himself also took part in the same. Sinner, behold your incarnate God, the Eternal one, dwells among dying men, veiled in their mortal flesh, that he may save men. This is the greatest fact ever related in human ears. We hear it as a common thing, but the angels have never ceased to wonder since first they sang of it and charmed the listening shepherds. God has come down to man to lift man up to God. Surely it is the sin of sins if we reject a Saviour who has made such a stoop in order to be perfectly qualified to save.
“Being found in fashion as a man,” it was necessary towards God that Jesus should fulfil the law, and work out a perfect obedience. The obedience of an angel would not have met the case: it was from man that obedience was required, and a man must render it. Behold, then, this second Adam, this new head of our race, rendering to God the complete obedience which the law demanded, loving God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself. From the time when he said to his mother,“Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” till the time when he exultingly cried “It is finished,” he was in all things the obedient servant of the great Father, and now his righteousness stands for us, and we are “accepted in the Beloved.” The High Priest who is to intercede for us must wear upon his forehead “Holiness unto the Lord”; and truly such a High Priest we have, for Jesus is “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.”
Nor was this all towards God. The High Priest who should save us must be able to offer a sufficient sacrifice, efficacious to make atonement, so as to vindicate eternal justice and make an end of sin. Oh, hear ye this, ye sinners, and let it ring like music in your ears: Jesus Christ has not offered the blood of bullocks nor of goats, but he has presented his own blood upon the altar. “He his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” “This man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” The blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sin, but the blood of the Son of God has infinite efficacy, and for every one for whom the great surety died, all sin was put away, since he bore its penalty; the law could ask no more. Pitiful, indeed, is the man’s case who has no interest in the atoning sacrifice; his sin lies heavy upon him and wrath hangs over him. Wretched is the sinner who, being conscious of his guilt, and being bidden to believe in Jesus, yet continues to look to himself, and so does dishonour to this sacrifice, so precious in the sight of the Lord. The blood of Jesus speaks better things than that of Abel, and woe to the man who despises its gracious cry.
“How they deserve the deepest hell,
That slight the joys above!
What chains of vengeance must they feel,
Who break such cords of love.”
Godward, then, Christ became perfect as our Saviour, and when he had finished his work, the Lord certified the completion and acceptance of it, by raising him from the dead, and giving him a place at his own right hand. He who, as judge, was offended by our sin, is now well pleased in his Son, and has established a covenant of peace with us for his sake. Is God satisfied with Jesus, and are you dissatisfied? Is infinite justice content, and do your doubts and fears prevent your being reconciled? Do you stand by and say that Jesus cannot save you, when God’s word declares that he is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him? Do you set up your prejudices and unbeliefs, under the pretence of humility, in opposition to the declaration of God, who cannot lie? The Lord declares his approbation of his dear Son; why, then, do you cavil? God forbid that you should indulge in such a sin any longer. Rather end your opposition, and where God finds rest, there find rest yourself; if the Lord be content to save those who obey Jesus, be you obedient by the help of God’s blessed Spirit.
But, beloved, I have said that Christ Jesus, as our High Priest, needed to be perfected manward. O sinner, consider his perfections as they concern yourself. That he might save us he must have power to pardon, and to renew our hearts; these he has to the full, for all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth; he both gives repentance and remission. But, alas, we are afraid of him; we shrink from approaching him, and therefore to make him a perfect Saviour he must be tender of heart, willing to come to us when we cannot come to him, compassionate to our ignorance, and ready to help our infirmities. It needs one who can stoop to bind up gaping wounds which cannot heal themselves ,one who does not mind touching the leper, or bending over the fever-stricken, or going to the grave where corruption pollutes the air; one who does not ask the leper to make himself clean first, but comes into contact with him in all his foulness and abomination, and saves him. Now, brethren, Jesus bids us come to him because he is meek and lowly in heart; it is said of him, “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” He was called “A friend of publicans and sinners.” His name is love, and his heart is pity.
To make tenderness practical a man must not only have a gentle nature, but he must have undergone the sufferings which he pities, so as to sympathise with them. We may try, dear friends, to sympathise with persons in certain afflictions, but the attempt does not succeed unless we have trodden in the same paths. Now, sinner, have you a broken heart? So had Christ, for he said, “Reproach hath broken mine heart.” Are you trembling under divine anger? He also cried, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” What burden do you bear? His load was far heavier than yours. Are you wounded? He was nailed to the tree! Do you feel exceeding sorrowful, even unto death? So did he, until the bloody sweat stood on his brow. He is a brotherly Saviour, well trained in sorrow’s school, deeply versed in the science of consolation. Jesus knows the ins and outs of our nature, he knows what is in man. Now, this is a grand qualification. If you go to a physician, and yours is a very peculiar case, you are doubtful as to his skill; but when he shows that he knows all about you by describing the symptoms exactly as they occur, and adds, “I was once afflicted with this same sickness myself,” you say to yourself, “This man will suit me.” Just so is it with Jesus:—
“He knows what fierce temptations mean,
For he has felt the same.”
So far as it is possible for a sinless one to do so, he sympathises with the whole of your condition; he knows the struggles within, the fears, the bitter tears, the groanings which cannot be uttered; he knows every jot and tittle of your experience, and is, therefore, eminently qualified to cope with your case. If you were on board a vessel, and had lost your bearings, you would be glad enough to see a pilot in the offing. Here he is on board, and you say, “Pilot, do you know where we are?” “Yes,” says he, “of course I do. I can tell you within a yard.” “It is well, Mr. Pilot, but can you bring us to the port we want to make?” “Certainly,” says he. “Do you know the coast?” “Coast, sir! I know every bit of headland, and rock, and quicksand, as well as I know the cut of my face in a looking-glass. I have passed over every inch of it in all tides and all weathers. I am a child at home here.” “But, pilot, do you know that treacherous shoal?” “Yes, and I remember almost running aground upon it once, but we escaped just in time. I know all those sands as well as if they were my own children.” You feel perfectly safe in such hands. Such is the qualification of Christ to pilot sinners to heaven. There is not a bay, or a creek, or a rock, or a sand between the Maelstrom of hell and the Fair Havens of heaven but what Christ has sounded all the deeps and the shallows, measured the force of the current, and seen the set of the stream; he knows how to steer so as to bring the ship right away by the best course into the heavenly harbour.
There is one delightful thing in Christ’s perfect qualification to save, namely, that he “ever liveth to make intercession for us.” If Jesus Christ were dead and had left us the boon of salvation that we might freely help ourselves to it, we should have much to praise him for; but he is not dead, he is alive. He left us a legacy, but many a legacy is left which never gets to the legatee: lo, the great maker of the will is alive to carry out his own intentions. He died, and so made the legacy good; he rose again and lives to see that none shall rob any one of his beloved of the portion he has left. What think you of Christ pleading in heaven? Have you ever estimated the power of that plea? He is day and night pleading for all them that obey him, pleading for sinners, pleading with God that pardon may be given to the greatest of offenders. And does he plead in vain? Is he unacceptable with the Father? It cannot be imagined. Wherefore, then, O sinner, do you continue to look to yourself? How much wiser would it be for you to turn your eyes to your Lord. You say, “I am not perfect.” Why do you want to be? The perfection is in him. “But, alas, I am not this and I am not that.” What has that to do with it? Jesus is all that is wanted. If you were to be your own saviour you would be in a bad case indeed, for you are all faults and failings; but if he is the Saviour why do you talk about what you are? He is fully equipped for the work; he never asked your help, it is an insult to suppose that he wants it. What if you be dead in sin, ay, and rotten in vice and corruption? he is able to raise you from the dead, and to make you sit at his own right hand in the heavenly places, for he is perfect as a Saviour, and is able to save to the uttermost.
III. The third point is this, I want you to notice THE HIGH POSITION WHICH OUR LORD JESUS TAKES IN REFERENCE TO SALVATION. According to the text, “he became the author of eternal salvation.” He is the designer, creator, worker, and cause of salvation. By him salvation has been accomplished: “His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him the victory;” “He hath trodden the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with him.” He is the author of salvation in this sense, that every blessing comes through him. All the various departments of salvation, whether they be election, calling, justification, or sanctification , all bless us through him, according as the Father hath chosen us in him from before the foundation of the world. In him we are called, in him preserved, in him accepted; all grace flows from him. Christ is all, and in all. Salvation within us is all his work. He sought US as well as bought us. His Spirit gives us the first sense of sin, and leads us to faith; he himself draws us to himself. His name is Jesus, for he saves his people from their sins.
Let me compare salvation to a book, of which Jesus is the sole author. No one has contributed a line or a thought thereto. He has never asked any human mind to write a preface to his work, the first word is from his pen. Some of you are trying to preface Christ’s work, but your toil is fruitless, he will never bind up your wretched introduction with his golden lines of love. Come to him without a preface, just as you are, steeped up to the throat in the foulness of sin, begrimed with the slime of Sodom. Come to him without previous preparation, and lay your heart’s tablets before him that he may write thereon. He is an author so skilful that none have ever discovered the smallest errata in his work, for there are no mistakes, and no amendments are ever needed. When he saves he saves completely. He does not ask us to revise and perfect his writing, it is perfected by his own hand. He is an author to whose writing there are no addenda; it is finished, and he is accursed who shall add a line. We have to take the finished salvation and rejoice in it, but add to it we never may. Christ is an author who wants no man’s imprimatur, he himself has dignity and authority enough to make his work illustrious without the patronage of man. Christ is the author of salvation. What you have to do, sinner, is to take it; not preface it, improve it, or add to it, but to take it just as it is. There it is for you, it is to be had for the taking; hold out your trembling hand and receive it: bring your empty cup and hold it under the divine fountain, and let it be filled. Faith to accept it is all that is required. Why is it that you delay? You want to make yourself better before you believe in Jesus; that is to say, you want to be the author of salvation, and go to elbow Christ out of his place. “Oh,” but you will say, “I cannot pray as I want.” If you could pray as you ought would Christ then be able to save you? He wants your prayers to help him, does he? “Oh, but I do not feel as I ought.” Your feelings are to help Christ, are they? “Oh, but I want to be different.” And if you were different then Christ would be able to save, but as you now are he cannot save you? Do you mean that? Do you dare to say that he cannot forgive you this very moment, while the word is coming out of my mouth? Do you mean that this very instant, just as you are, a sinful, and all but damned sinner, that he cannot forgive you now, if you trust him? If you do so mean, you are deceived, for he is able now to save you. Having been made perfect, he is the author of eternal salvation to every one that obeys him, and he is able at this moment to speak peace to the conscience of any one and every one who now obeys him. God grant you grace to catch the thought which I try to make plain, but which only the Spirit of God can lead you to understand.
IV. My next thought is this. Dwell for a few minutes in devout meditation upon THE REMARKABLE CHARACTER OF THE SALVATION WHICH CHRIST HAS WROUGHT OUT. He is the author of eternal salvation. Oh, how I love that word “eternal!” “Eternal salvation!” When the Jewish high priest had offered a sacrifice, the worshipper went home satisfied, for the blood was sprinkled and the offering accepted: but in a short time he sinned again, and he had to bring another sacrifice. Once a year, when the high priest entered within the veil and came out and pronounced a blessing on the people, all Israel went home glad; but next year there must be the same remembrance of sin, and the same sprinkling with blood, for the blood of bulls and of goats could not really put away sin, it was only a type. How blessed is the truth that our Lord Jesus will not need to bring another sacrifice at any time, for he has obtained eternal salvation through his one offering.
It is an eternal salvation as opposed to every other kind of deliverance. There are salvations spoken of in the Bible, which are transient, for they only deal with temporal trouble and passing distress, but he who is once taken out of the horrible pit of unforgiven sin by the hand of Christ will never lie in that horrible place again. Being raised from the dead, we die no more. We are effectually delivered from the dominion of sin when Jesus Christ comes forth to save us.
It is eternal salvation in this sense, that it rescues us from eternal condemnation and everlasting punishment. Glory be to God, everlasting punishment shall never fall on the believer, for everlasting salvation puts it far away.
It is eternal salvation as opposed to the risk of falling away and perishing. Some of our brethren seem very pleased with a salvation of a temporary character, whose continuance depends upon their own behaviour. I do not envy them, and shall not try to rob them of their treasure, for I would not have their salvation if they were to press me ever so much. I am a great deal more satisfied to have eternal salvation, a salvation based upon a finished work, carried on by divine power, and undertaken by an unchangeable Saviour. Oh, but I hear some say, you may have eternal life to-day, and lose it to-morrow. What do words mean? How can that life be eternal which you can lose? Why, then the life could not have been eternal. Your doctrine is a solecism in language, a contradiction in terms. “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life.” “I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” “Because I live ye shall live also.” Sinner, if you believe in Jesus, he will not save you to-day and let you perish to-morrow, he will give you eternal salvation, which neither death nor hell, nor time, nor eternity shall ever destroy, for “who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?” The man who believes in Jesus is not as happy, but he is as safe from final condemnation as if he were in heaven.
“His honour is engaged to save
The meanest of his sheep;
All that his heavenly Father gave
His hands securely keep.
“Nor death nor hell shall ere remove
His favourites from his breast;
In the dear bosom of his love
They must for ever rest.”
If this doctrine be not taught in Scripture nothing is taught there at all, and words have no meaning. On the very forefront of Scripture is written, “He that believeth shall be saved.” God grant us grace to realise that promise.
When the text says “eternal salvation” it means that it will ripen into eternal bliss. You are saved from eternal misery, you are preserved by eternal life from falling back upon your old life, and you shall be brought to eternal bliss. Whosoever Christ saves shall see the face of God with joy for ever, as surely as he is born. Christ was made perfect on purpose that he might be the author of eternal salvation.
V. The last thought is THE PERSONS CONCERNED IN THIS SALVATION. “To all them that obey him.” The word “obey” here, according to Dr. Owen’s admirable translation, signifies obedience upon hearing,” and he very rightly says that this indicates faith. To obey Christ is in its very essence to trust him, or believe in him; and we might read our text as if it said, “The author of eternal salvation to all them that believe in him.” If you would be saved your first act of obedience must be to trust Jesus wholly, simply, heartily, and alone. Recline your soul wholly on Jesus and you are saved now. Is that all? Certainly, that is all! But it says “obey”? Precisely so; and do you not know that every man who trusts Christ obeys him. I gave just now the illustration of a pilot. The pilot comes on board and says, “If I am to steer you into harbour you must trust me with the command of the vessel.” That is done and he gives orders, “Reef that sail!” Suppose the captain says to the sailor, “Leave that sail alone, I tell you!” is it not clear that he does not trust the pilot? If he trusted him he would have his orders carried out. Suppose the pilot cries out to the engineer, “Ease her!” and the captain countermands the order, the pilot is evidently not trusted, and if the vessel runs ashore it will be no fault of his. So is it with regard to our Lord. The moment you put yourself into his hands you must obey him, or you have not trusted him. To change the figure; the doctor feels your pulse. “I will send you some medicine,” says he, “that will be very useful, and besides that, you must take a warm bath.” He comes the next day; you say to him, “Doctor, I thought you were going to heal me, I am not a bit better.” “Why,” said he, “you do not trust me.” “I do, sir; I am sure I have every faith in you.” “No,” says he, “you do not believe in me, for there is that bottle of medicine untouched, you have not taken a drop of it. Have you had the bath?” “No, sir.” “Well, you are making a fool of me; the fact is I shall not come again. You do not believe in me. I am no physician to you.” Every man who believes Christ obeys him; believing and obeying always run side by side. Do you not know that Christ does not come merely to blot out the past, he comes to save us from being what we are, to save us from a bad temper, from a proud eye, from a wanton look, from a corrupt heart, from covetous desires, from a rebellious will, and an indolent spirit. Now this cannot be done unless we obey, for if we are to continue to live in sin, salvation is a mere word, and to boast of it would be ridiculous. How can we be saved from sin if we are living in sin? A man says, “Christ saves me, and yet I get drunk.” Sir, you lie. How can you be saved from drunkenness when you are living in drunkenness?” But Christ saves me,” says another, “although I am worldly and gay and frivolous.” How saves you? Man alive! Do you tell me the doctor has healed you of the leprosy while yet it is white on your brow? How can you say he has healed you of ague while you are even now shivering with it. Surely you do not know what you are talking about. Christ comes to save us from living as we once did; he comes to make new men of us; to give us new hearts and right spirits; and when he does this he will not let us go back to our old sins again, but leads us onward in the path of holiness.
Mark well that every man who obeys Christ shall be saved, whatever his past life may have been. Every one of you, whatever your present condition may be, shall be saved if you obey the Redeemer, for “he is the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.” But mark, not to one more; no soul that refuses to obey Christ shall have any part or lot in this matter. Men may make what professions they please, but they shall never gain eternal salvation unless they obey Jesus. Those gates which open to let in the obedient close fast to shut out the unbelieving and disobedient. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish but have everlasting life.” The extent of God’s love to the world is this — that he loves it so as to save all who believe in Jesus; but he will never save a soul which dies unbelieving and disobedient. If you reject Christ, you shut in your own face the only door of hope, “for he that believeth not is condemned already.”
I am sometimes confronted with this statement — that faith is the gift of God, and is wrought in man by the power of the Spirit of God, and therefore I have no business to command and entreat men to believe. I am not slow to answer my opposers; for in my inward soul I know that saving faith always is the gift of God, and is in every case the work of the Holy Spirit; but I am not yet an idiot, and therefore I also know that faith is the act of man. The Holy Ghost does not believe for us. What has he to believe? The Holy Ghost does not repent for us. What has he to repent of? You must yourself believe, and it must be your own personal act, or you will never be saved! I charge you before God, do not let the grand truth that faith is the gift of God ever lead you to forget that you never will be saved except you personally believe in Jesus. If thou believest in the Lord Jesus Christ thou shalt be saved, for here is the gospel, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved”; and here is the solemn penalty appended to it, “He that believeth not shall be damned.”
Sinner, there was never such a Saviour as Christ is. He is the very Saviour for you; he is both willing and able to save, and knows how to do it. He has promised to save all that trust him. Go and try him, and if this morning you shall trust him and he repels you, come and tell me, and I will leave off preaching. When I find my Master casts out those that come to him, I will put my shutters up, and have done with the business of the gospel. I can only speak as I find. I went to him trembling and dismayed, and I thought he would never receive me; but I received as my welcome “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, wherefore standest thou without?” He washed me from my sins in the selfsame hour, and sent me on my way rejoicing; and here I have been these three-and-twenty years preaching free grace and dying love, and never have I yet lighted upon a sinner whom Jesus has cast out; and when I do meet with such a case, I must have done preaching for very shame. I am not afraid, however; for such a case shall never be heard of in this world. No, nor in the infernal deep does there lie a single soul condemned for sin who would dare to say, “I sought the Lord and he would not hear me, I trusted in Christ and he would not save me, I pleaded the promise but it was not fulfilled.” No, it shall never be; while God is true no believer shall perish. Here is the promise, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Happy is the preacher who has such a gospel to preach as I have preached to you, but I cannot make you receive it. I can bring the horse to the water, but I cannot make him drink. God must do this. Oh, that he may lead you to receive eternal salvation by Jesus Christ, to the glory of his name. Amen.