Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
~ Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:35, Luke 2:11, John 1:14
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
~ John 3:16-17, Romans 8:32
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
~ 1 John 4:10-14
A Christmas Question, by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
~ Isaiah 9:6
Upon other occasions I have explained the main part of this verse–“the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” But this morning the portion which we will focus our attention on is this, “To us a child is born, to us a Son is given.” This is a double sentence, but it has no redundancy. The careful reader will soon discover a distinction; and it is not a distinction without a difference. “To us a child is born, to us a Son is given.” Jesus Christ was a child in His human nature–He was born, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary. He was truly born, and was certainly a real child, as real as any other child that has ever lived on the face of the earth. Thus, in His humanity He was born a child. But as God’s Son, Jesus Christ was never born, for He has eternally existed, He is simply a gift of the Father, given before the beginning of the world, given–not made, being of the same essence as the Father.
The doctrine of the eternal union of Christ in the Trinity must be received as an undoubted truth of our holy Christianity. No one should even try to explain it, for it remains among the deep things of God–one of those solemn mysteries into which the angels dare not look, nor do they desire to pry into it–a mystery which we must not attempt to fathom, for it is utterly beyond the grasp of any finite being. It would be like a gnat trying to drink the ocean, as a finite creature trying to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could fully understand would be no God. If we could grasp Him then He could not be infinite: if we could understand Him, then He would not be divine. Jesus Christ then, is not born to us, but given to us. He is a blessing bestowed on us, “God so loved the world that He ‘gave’ His one and only ‘Son,'” to the world. He was not born into this world as God’s Son, but He was “sent,” or was given, so that we could clearly perceive the distinction–“To us a child is born, to us a Son is given.”
This morning, however, the principal object of my discourse, and indeed, the sole purpose, is to bring out the force of those two little words, “to us.” For you will perceive that here the full force of the passage lies. “To us a child is born, to us a Son is given.” The divisions of my sermon are very simple ones:
I. “Is it true?”
II. “If it is true, what then?”
III “If it is not true, what then?”
I. “Is it true?”
Is it true that “to us” a child is born, “to us” a Son is given? It is a fact that a child is born. Upon that I have no argument. We receive it as a fact, more fully established than any other fact in history, that the Son of God became man, was born in Bethlehem, wrapped in cloths, and laid in a manger. It is also a fact, that a Son is given. About that we have no question. The atheist may dispute, but we, professing to be believers in the Scripture, receive it as an undeniable truth, that God has given His one and only Son to be the Saviour of men. But the question is this. Is this child born to us? Is He given to us? This is the most important question.
Have we a personal interest in the child that was born at Bethlehem? Do we know that He is our Saviour? That He has brought good news to us? That He belongs to us? And that we belong to Him? I declare that this is a matter that requires very serious and intense investigation. It is a very obvious fact, that the very best of Christians are sometimes troubled with questions with regard to their own relationship with Christ, while those who are never troubled at all about the matter are very often simply arrogant deceivers, who have never known Christ nor His salvation. I have often observed that some of the people about whom I felt the most sure of their salvation, were the very persons who were the least sure themselves.
It reminds me of the story of a godly man named Simon Brown, a minister in the olden days in the City of London. He became extremely sad in his heart, so depressed in his spirit, that at last he conceived the idea that his soul was destroyed. It was all in vain to talk to the good man, you could not persuade him that he had a soul; but all the while he was preaching, and praying, and working, more like a man that had two souls than none. When he preached, his eyes poured forth floods of tears, and when he prayed, there was a divine fervor and heavenly power in every petition. Now it is the same with many Christians. They seem to be the very picture of godliness; their life is praiseworthy, and their conversation heavenly, yet they are always crying–
“This is a point I long to know,
Often it causes anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I His or am I not?”
So it does happen, that the best of men will question while the worst of men will presume. Yes, I have seen persons about whose eternal destiny I had serious doubts, whose inconsistencies in life were evident and glaring, yet who talked with assurance of their infallible hope in Christ, as though they believed others were as easily duped as they were. Now, what reason will we give for such foolishness? Learn it from this illustration: You see a number of men riding horses along a narrow road, on the very edge of cliffs overlooking the sea. It is a very dangerous path, for the way is rugged and a tremendous cliff borders the road on the left. But just let the horse’s foot slip once and they drop downwards to their death. Notice how cautiously the riders travel, how carefully the horses place their feet. But do you notice in the distance another rider, and at what speed he races along at, as if he were riding in race with Satan? You hold up your hand in an agony of fear, trembling for at any moment his horse’s foot may slip, and he would plunge down the side of the cliff; and you say, why is he such a careless rider?
The answer is simple–the man is a blind rider on a blind horse. They cannot see where they are. He thinks he is on a safe road, and therefore that is why he rides so fast. Or to vary the picture; sometimes when persons are asleep, they begin “sleep-walking,” and they will climb where others would not think of venturing. Dizzy heights that would cause us to faint seem safe enough to them. In the same way, there are many spiritual sleep-walkers in our midst, who think that they are awake, but they are not. Their very presumption in venturing to the high places with self- confidence, proves that they are not awake but men who walk and talk in their sleep. It is, then really a serious matter to carefully answer the question whether this child is really born to us, and this Son really given to us?
I will now help you to answer the question.
1. If this child who now lies before the eyes of your faith, wrapped in cloths in Bethlehem’s manger, is born “to you,” then “you are born again!” For this child is not born to you unless you are born to this child. All who belong to Christ are, in the day of God’s favour–the day of His salvation–converted by grace, aroused in their spirit, and made new creatures. All the redeemed (elect) are not yet converted, but they will be. Before the hour of death arrives their nature will be changed, their sins washed away, and they will pass from death to life. If any man tells me that Christ is his redeemer, although he has never experienced regeneration, that man does not know what he is talking about; his Christianity is useless, and his hope a delusion. Only those who are born again can claim the baby in Bethlehem as being theirs.
“But,” one says, “how do I know whether I am born again or not?” The answer to this question is a series of questions:
— Has there been a change in your life by the divine grace “within you?”
— Are the things that you love in life the very opposite of what they were? — Do you now hate the vain things you once admired, and do you seek after that precious pearl which once you despised?
— Is your heart thoroughly changed within?
— Can you say that the bent of your desire is changed?
— Is your face heavenward, and your feet set upon the path of grace?
— Does your heart that once longed for deep dosages of sin, now long to be holy?
— Have the pleasures of the world, that you once loved, become as debris and waste to you?
— Do you only love the pleasures of heavenly things and are you longing to enjoy more of them on earth, that you may be prepared to enjoy the fullness of them in heaven?
— Are you renewed within?
Mark this, my hearers, the new birth does not consist in washing the outside of the cup, but in cleansing the inner man. It is all in vain to wash the outside of a sepulchre (vault, mausoleum), to make it pure white, and garnish it with fresh flowers; the sepulchre itself must be cleansed. The dead man’s bones that lie within that vault of the human heart must be cleansed away. No, they must be made alive. The heart must no longer be a tomb of death, but a temple of life. Is it so with you, my friend? For remember, you may be very different on the outside, but if you are not changed on the inside, this child is not born to you.
But I state another question. Although the main matter of regeneration lies within, yet it manifests itself on the outside. I say, then, has there been a change in you on the exterior? Do you think that others who look at you would be compelled to say, this person is not what he used to be? Do you friends see a change in you? Have they laughed at you for what they think is your fanaticism, your strictness, and your firmness? Do you think that if an angel should follow you into your secret life, into your place of seclusion and see you on your knees, that he would detect something in you which he could never have seen before? For, mark this, my dear friend, there must be a change in the outward life, or else there is no change within.
The proof of the Christian is in the living. To other men, the proof of our conversion is not what we feel, but what we do. To you your feelings may be good enough evidence, but to the minister and others who judge you, the outward walk is the main proof. At the same time, let me observe that a man’s outward life may be very much like that of a Christian, and yet there may be no Christianity in him at all. Have you ever seen two jugglers in the street with swords pretending to fight with one another. See how they cut, and slash, and hack at one another, till you are half afraid there will soon be a murder executed. They seem to be so serious and real in their actions that you are about ready to call the police to the scene. See with what fury that one has aimed a terrific blow at the other one’s head, which his comrade expertly warded off by keeping a well- timed guard. Just watch them a minute, and you will see that all these cuts and thrusts come in a prearranged order. There is no heart in the fighting after all. They do not fight so roughly as they would if they were real enemies.
In the same way, I have seen a man pretending to be very angry at sin. But watch him a little while, and you will see it is only a fencer’s trick. He does not give his cuts out of order, there is no earnestness in his blows; it is all pretence, it is only a mimic stage-play. The fencers, after they have ended their performance, shake hands with one another, and divide the money which the gapping throng have given them: and this man does the same thing, he shakes his hands with the devil in private, and the two deceivers share the plunder. The hypocrite and the devil are very good friends after all, and they mutually rejoice over their profits: the devil leering because he has won the soul of the one who professed to be a Christian, and the hypocrite laughs because he has made his gain. Be careful then, that your outward life is not a mere stage-play, but that your hatred of sin is real and intense; and that you strike right and left, as though you meant to kill the monster, and toss its limbs to the winds of heaven.
I will just ask one more question. If you have been born again, there is another way to test your salvation. Not only is your inward self altered, and your outward self too, but the very root and principle of your life must become totally new. When we are in sin we live to please ourselves, but when we are made new through Christ we live to please God. While we are unregenerate, our principle is to seek our own pleasure, our own advancement; but that man is not truly born again who does not live with a far different aim from this. Change a man’s principles, and you will change his feelings, and you will change his actions. Now, grace changes the principles of a man. It lays the ax at the root of the tree. It does not saw away at some big limb, it does not try to change the sap; but it gives it a new root, and plants us in fresh soil. The man’s inmost self, the deep rocks of his principles on which the topsoil of his actions rest, the soul of his manhood (or her womanhood) is thoroughly changed, and he is a new creature in Christ.
“But,” someone says, “I see no reason why I must be born again.” Oh, poor creature, it is because you have never really seen yourself. Did you ever see a man in the mirror of the Word of God–what a strange monster he is. Do you know, a man by nature has his heart where his feet ought to be–that is to say, his heart is set on the earth, and stranger mystery still, his heels are where his heart should be–that is to say, he is kicking against the God of heaven when he ought to be setting his affections on things above. Man by nature when he sees clearest, only looks down, can only see what is beneath him, he cannot see the things which are above; and strange to say the sunlight of heaven blinds him; he does not look for light from heaven. The earth is to him his heaven, and he sees suns in its muddy pools and stars in its filth. He is, in fact, a man turned upside down. The fall has so ruined our nature, that the most monstrous thing on the face of the earth is a fallen man. The peoples of long ago used to paint monsters, dragons, ghosts, and all kinds of hideous things; but if a skilful hand could paint man accurately, none of us would look at the picture, for it is a sight that none ever saw except the lost in hell; and that is one part of their intolerable pain, that they are compelled always to look at themselves. Now, don’t you see that you must be born again, and unless you are, this child is not born “to you.”
2. But I go forward. If this child is born to you, you are a “child,” and the question arises, are you one? Man grows from childhood up to manhood naturally; in grace men grow from manhood down to childhood; and the nearer we come to true childhood, the nearer we come to the image of Christ. Brothers and sisters, can you say that you have been made into children? Do you take God’s Word just as it stands, simply because your heavenly Father says so? Are you content to believe mysteries without demanding to have them explained? Are you ready to sit in the infant class, and be a little one? Are you willing to hang upon the breast of the church, and suck in the unadulterated milk of the Word–never questioning for a moment what your divine Lord reveals, but believing it on His own authority, whether it seemed to be above reason, or beneath reason, or even contrary to reason?
Now, “unless you change and become like little children,” this child is not born to you; unless you are humble like a little child, teachable, obedient, pleased with your Father’s will and willing to devote everything to Him, there is serious doubt whether this child is born “to you.” But what a pleasing sight it is to see a man converted and made into a little child. Many times my heart has leaped for joy, when I have seen a giant agnostic who used to reason against Christ, who used to speak the most evil words against Christ’s people, then come by divine grace to believe the gospel. That man sits down and weeps, feels the full power of salvation, and from that time forward drops all his questionings, and becomes the very opposite of what he was. He thinks of himself as the lowest of the lowest believer. He is content to do the lowliest work for the church of Christ, and takes his place–not with the great godly men, as a mighty Christian thinker–but with Mary as a simple learner, sitting at Jesus’ feet, to hear and learn of Him. If you are not children, then this child is not born to you.
3. And now let us take the second sentence and ask a question or two. Is this Son given to us? I pause a minute to beg your personal attention. I am trying, if I may, so to preach that I may make you all question yourselves. I pray that you none of you exempt yourselves from the ordeal, but let each one ask himself, is it true that “to me a Son is given?” Now, if this Son is given “to you, you are a son yourself.” “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” “Christ became a Son so that in all things He might be made like His brethren.” The Son of God is not mine to enjoy, to love, to delight in, unless I am a son of God too. Now, my friend, do you have a “fear” of God–a respectful fear, a fear which a child has or else it would grieve its parent? Do you have a child’s “love” of God? Do you “trust” Him as your father, your provider, and your friend? Do you have in your heart “The Spirit of sonship. And by Him do you cry, Abba, Father?” Are there times when you are on your knees that you can say, “My Father and my God.” Does the Spirit bear witness with your spirit that you are born of God? And while this witness is being confirmed in your heart, does you heart fly up to your Father and to your God, in ecstasy of delight to embrace Him who long ago has embraced you in the covenant of His love, in the arms of His wonderful grace? Now, listen, if you do not sometimes enjoy the spirit of sonship, if you are not a son or daughter of God, then don’t deceive yourself, the Son is not given to you.
4. And, then, to put it another way, if to us a Son is given, then “we are given to the Son.” Now what do you have to say to this question? Are you given completely given to Christ? Do you feel that you have nothing on earth to live for except to glorify Him? Can you say in your heart, “Great God in heaven, if I am not deceived then I am wholly Yours.” Are you ready today to renew your vow of commitment to Christ? Can you say, “Take me! All that I am and all that I have, will be forever yours. I give up all my possessions, all my powers, all my time, and all my hours; and I will be Yours–absolutely and unconditionally Yours.” “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” And if this Son of God is given to you, you will have consecrated yourself wholly to Him; and you will feel that His honour is your life’s goal, that His glory is the one great desire of your panting spirit. Now is it true, my friend? I pray that you would ask yourself the question, and do not deceive yourself with the answer. I will repeat the four different proofs again:
— If to me a child is born, then I have been born again.
— As a result of my new birth I am now a child.
— If a Son has been given to me, then I am a son.
— I am given to that Son who is given to me.
I have tried to put these tests in the way that the text would suggest them. I pray that you carry them home with you. If you do not remember the words, yet please remember to examine your heart, and see whether you can say, “To me a Son is given.” For indeed, if Christ is not my Christ, He is of little worth to me. If I cannot say He loved me and gave Himself “for me,” then what use is the value of His righteousness, or all the fullness of His atonement (redemption) on the Cross? To have food at the store does me no good if I am hungry and can’t get it, I will starve although the stores are full of food. It is good that the rivers are overflowing with clear water, but if I am in a desert and can’t reach the stream, if I can hear it in the distance and are lying down dying of thirst, the rippling of the brook only helps to tantalise me while I die in dark despair.
It would be better for your, my hearers, to have perished as pagans, to have gone to your graves in some far off godless land, than to live where the name of Christ is continuously sung in the churches, and where His glory is exalted, and yet to go down to your tombs without any interest in Him, unblessed by His gospel, unwashed by His blood, unclothed with His robe of righteousness. God help you, that you may be blessed in Him, and may sing sweetly, “To us a child is born, to us a Son is given.”
II. “If it is true, what then?”
This brings me to my second principal, upon which I will be brief. Is it true? If it is true, what then? If it is true, why am I doubtful today? Why is my spirit questioning? Why don’t I realize the fact? My friend, if the Son is given to you, how is it that you are today asking whether you are Christ’s or not? Why do you labor to make your calling and election sure? Why do you remain in the plains of doubt? Get up, get up to the high mountains of confidence, and never rest till you can say without a fear that you are mistaken, “I know that my Redeemer lives. I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him.” I may have a large number of persons here today that are uncertain as to whether Christ is theirs or not. Oh my dear hearers, do not rest unless you know positively that Christ is yours, and that you are Christ’s.
Suppose you should see in tomorrow’s (Christmas day) newspaper a notice that some rich man had left you an immense estate. Suppose, as you read it, you were well aware that the person mentioned was a relative of yours, and that it likely was true. It may be you have planned for Christmas day to be a family gathering, and you are expecting your brother John and his wife Mary and their little ones to dine with you. But I would guess that you would rather miss the Christmas dinner in order to go and determine whether the fact were really true. “Oh,” you would say to John and Mary, “I am sure that I would enjoy my Christmas dinner better if I were quite sure about this matter of the inheritance;” and all day, if you did not go, you would be on pins and needles until you knew whether it was a true fact or not.
Now there is a announcement made today, and it is absolutely true, that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners. The question for you is whether He has saved you, and whether you are entitled to share in His offer of salvation. I beg you, not to allow yourself to rest until you have read the proclamation of salvation to see if you have been given clear title to a permanent home in heaven. Will you allow your eternal destiny to be a matter of uncertainty to you? Is heaven or hell involved in this matter, and will you rest until you know which of these will be your everlasting destiny? Are you content while there is a question whether God loves you, or whether He is angry with you? Can you be at ease while you remain in doubt as to whether you are condemned to sin, or justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus?
Get up, I beg you by the living God, and for your own soul’s safety, get up and read the records. Search and look, and try and test yourself, to see whether it is true or not. For if it is true, why wouldn’t we know it? If the Son is given to me, why wouldn’t I be sure of it? If the child is born to me, why wouldn’t I know it for certain, that I may even now live in the enjoyment of my privilege–the value of which I will never know completely, until I arrive in glory?
Again, if it is true, let me ask another question. “Why are we sad?” I am looking on faces right now that appear to be full of smiles, but perhaps the smile covers an aching heart. Brother and sister, why are we sad this morning, if to us a child is born, if to us a Son is given? Listen, listen to the cry! It is, “It is harvest time! It is harvest time!” See the young maidens dance, and the young men rejoicing. And why all this celebration? Because they are storing up the precious harvest of the earth, they are gathering into their barns wheat which will soon be consumed. And what about us, brothers and sisters, we have the bread which gives us eternal life and are we still unhappy? Doesn’t the world rejoice when it has harvested its corn, then why don’t we rejoice when, “To us a child is born, and to us a Son is given?”
Listen, to the distant sounds. Why all this ringing of the bells in the church steeples? There is a prince born; therefore there is this salute, and therefore the bells are ringing. Yes, Christians, ring the bells of your hearts, fire the salute of your most joyous songs, “To us a child is born, to us a Son is given.” Dance, O my heart, and ring out peals of gladness! You drops of blood within my veins, dance every one of you! Oh! All my nerves become harp strings, and let gratitude touch you with angelic fingers! And you, my tongue, shout–shout to His praise, who has said to you–“To us a child is born, to you a Son is given.” Wipe that tear away! Come, stop that sighing! Hush your murmuring. What does it matter that you are poor? “To you a child is born.” What does it matter that you are sick? “To you a Son is given.” What does it matter that you are a sinner? For this child will take the sin away, and this Son will wash and make you fit for heaven. I say, it is true,
“Lift up your heart, lift up your voice,
Rejoice aloud! You saints rejoice!”
But, once more, if it is true, what then? “Why are our hearts so cold?” And why is it that we do so little for Him who has done so much for us? Jesus, are You mine? Am I saved? How is it that I love you so little? Why is it that when I preach I am not more passionate, and when I pray why am I not more fervent? How is it that we give so little to Christ who gave Himself for us? How is it that we serve Him in such a mediocre way, when He serves us so perfectly? He consecrated Himself wholly; why is it that our consecration is imperfect and incomplete? We are continually honouring ourselves and not Him?
O beloved brethren, yield yourselves up this morning. What have you got in this world? “Oh,” says one, “I have nothing; I am poor and penniless.” Give yourself to Christ. You have heard the story of the pupils of a Greek philosopher. On a certain day it was the custom to give to the philosopher a present. One came and gave him gold. Another could not bring him gold but brought him silver. One brought him a robe, and another some delicacy of food. But one of them came up, and said, “Oh, sir, I am poor, I have nothing to give to you, but yet I will give you something better than all these have given; I give you myself.” Now, if you have gold and silver, if you have plenty of the world’s wealth, then give to Christ in proportion as you have received; but take care, above all, that you give yourself to Him, and let your cry be from this day forth,
“Do I not love you dearest Lord?
Oh search my heart and see,
And turn each cursed idol out
That dares to rival Thee.”
III. “If it is not true, what then?”
Well, now I am almost done, but please give me your solemn, very solemn attention, while I make my last point–If Christ is not yours, what then? Dear hearer, I cannot tell where you are–but wherever you may be in this building, the eyes of my heart are looking for you, that when they have seen you, they may weep over you–miserable wretch, without a hope, without Christ, without God. To you there is no Christmas joy; for you no child is born; to you no Son is given. It is a sad story of the poor men and women, who the week before last, fell down dead in our streets because of the cruel hunger and bitter cold. But far more tragic is your fate, far more terrible will be your condition in the day when you will cry for a drop of water to cool your burning tongue, and it will be denied you; when you will seek for death, for the cold grim death–seek for him as for a friend, and yet you will not find him. For the fire of hell will not consume you, nor its terrors devour you. You will long to die, yet you will linger in eternal death–dying every hour, yet never receiving the much coveted release from your suffering.
What will I say to you this morning? Oh! Master, help me to speak the right words for this occasion. I beg you my friends, if Christ is not yours this morning, may God the Spirit help you to do what I now command you to do. First of all, confess you sins; not in my ear, nor into the ear of any living man. Go to your bedroom and confess that you are a vile person. Tell Jesus you are a condemned sinner without His sovereign grace. But don’t think there is any merit in confession. There is none. All your confessions can’t earn forgiveness, though God has promised to forgive the person who confesses his sin and abandons it (turns away from it).
Imagine that some creditor had a debtor who owed him five hundred thousand dollars. He calls on him and says, “I demand my money.” But the debtor says, “I owe you nothing.” That man will be arrested and thrown into prison. However, his creditor says, “I wish to be merciful to you; make a frank confession, and I will forgive you all the debt.” “Well,” says the man, “I do acknowledge that I owe you two hundred dollars.” “No,” he says, “that will not do.” “Well, sir, I confess I owe you two hundred thousand dollars;” and by degrees he comes to confess that he owes the five hundred thousand. Is there any merit in that confession? No; but yet you could see that no creditor would think of forgiving a debt which was not acknowledged.
It is the least that you can do, to acknowledge your sin; and though there is no merit in the confession, yet true to His promise, God will give you forgiveness through Christ. That is one piece of advice. I pray that you take it. Do not throw it to the winds; do not leave it as soon as you leave this place. Take it with you, and may this day become a confession- day to many of you. But next, when you have made a confession, I beg that you renounce yourself. Perhaps you have been resting in some hope, that you would make yourself better, and so save yourself. Give up that mistaken fantasy. You have seen the silkworm: it will spin, and spin, and spin, and then it will die where it has spun itself a shroud. And all your good works are but a spinning for yourself a robe for your dead soul. You can do nothing by your finest prayers, your finest tears, or your finest works, to merit eternal life.
The Christian who is truly converted to God, will tell you that he cannot live a holy life by himself. If the ship in the sea can’t steer itself, do you think the wood in the carpenter’s shop can put itself together, and make itself into a ship, and then go out to sea and sail across the ocean? Yet this is just what you imagine. The Christian who is God’s workmanship can do nothing, and yet you think that you can do something. Now, give up “self.” God help you to strike a black mark through every idea of what you can do.
Lastly, then, I pray God help you hear, my dear friends, when you have confessed your sin and given up all hope of salvation, go to the place where Jesus died in agony. Go then in meditation to Calvary. There He hangs. It is the middle cross of the three. I think that I see Him now. I see His poor face gaunt, and His face more marred than that of any other man. I see the drops of blood still standing around His pierced temples–marks of that rugged crown of thorns. Yes, I see His naked body–naked to His shame. We can count all of His bones. See His hands ripped open with the rough iron, and His feet torn with the nails. The nails have ripped through His flesh. There is now not only the holes through which the nails were driven, but the weight of His body has fallen on his feet, and see the iron is tearing through His flesh. And now the weight of His body hangs on His arms, and the nails there are severing through the tender nerves.
Listen! The earth is startled! He cries out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Oh, sinner, was the ever a shriek like that before? God had forsaken Him. His God had ceased to be gracious to Him. His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. But listen, again He cries, “I am thirsty.” Give Him water! Give Him water! You holy women let Him drink. But no, His murderers torture Him. They thrust into His mouth the vinegar mixed with gall–the bitter with the sharp, the vinegar and the gall. At last, hear Him, sinner, for here is your hope. I see Him bow His injured head that drips with blood. The King of heaven dies. The God who made the earth has become a man, and the man is about to die. Listen to Him! He cries, “It is finished!” And He gives up His spirit. The atonement is finished, the price is paid, the bloody ransom acknowledged, the sacrifice is accepted. “It is finished!”
Sinner, believe in Christ. Throw yourself at His feet. Take Him to be your all in all–submit your will to His–He is your King! Throw your trembling arms around that bleeding body. Now sit at the foot of that cross, and feel the dropping of the precious blood. And as each one of you go out of this place today, say in your hearts,
“A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On Christ’s kind arms I fall,
He is my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus, and my all.”
God grant you grace to do so for Jesus Christ’s sake. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all, for ever and ever. Amen and Amen.