I. We have seen that man is by nature ruined. The Bible
says he is lost. Matt. 15:24; Luke 19:10; 2 Cor. 4:3. Men are
sinners, wicked, ungodly, unrighteous, corrupt, deceitful, vile, ungrateful.
The Bible calls them dross, Psalm 119:119; reprobate silver, that is, silver
rejected after trial, Jer. 6:30; they are given over to a reprobate mind,
Romans 1:28; they are the children of the wicked one, and his lusts will
they do, John 8:44; they are the slaves of iniquity, Romans 6:20; they are
in error, Jas. 5:20; in darkness, 1 John 2:11; they are out of the way,
Romans 3:12; Heb. 5:2.
II. Lost as men are, they may yet be saved. There is a
way of life, a door of hope, a scheme of mercy, a plan of salvation. Jesus
came into the world on the very errand of saving the lost. Matt. 18:11.
Christ was anointed and set apart to proclaim liberty to the captives, and
the opening of the prison to those who are bound. God's device of mercy for
rescuing the lost is set forth by various terms. Of these perhaps none is
more fit than that of a covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace.
When Jeremiah foretold gospel times, he said: "The time is coming," declares
the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with
the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their
forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because
they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,"
declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their
hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a
man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember
their sins no more." Jeremiah 31:31-34. This way of presenting the plan of
salvation is adopted by Paul also. Heb. 10:16,17.
III. The scheme for saving sinners is wholly from God. He
devised it; he executed it; he applies it. So the Scriptures teach:
"Salvation belongs unto the Lord." "The salvation of the righteous is of the
Lord." "He is the God of our salvation." "He who is our God is the God of
salvation." He says, "My own arm brought salvation." "Salvation is of the
Lord." Psalm 3:8; 37:39; 65:5; 68:19, 20; Isaiah 63:5; Jonah 2:9. Very
careful is God to let us know that there was nothing in us to merit his
esteem: "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:25. Compare Isaiah 48:9. Again,
"Thus says the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel,
but for my holy name's sake . . . Not for your sakes do I this, says the
Lord God, be it known unto you." Ezek. 36:22, 32.
IV. All this love and pity are wholly undeserved. No man
has any claim on the score of his own deservings for any good things. On
this point the Bible is very clear. It says: "But God, who is abundant in
mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the
Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! He
also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens, in Christ
Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches
of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are
saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is Godís giftónot
from works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:4-9. It is the grace of
God that brings salvation. The whole plan is "to the praise of the glory of
his grace." Eph. 1:6. Salvation is no debt due to any man. Romans 4:4, 16.
Neither is it possible for a creature to have a good standing before God,
partly on the ground of personal merit, and partly on the ground of
undeserved kindness. The two schemes are entirely inconsistent. So Paul
taught: "If by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no
more grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work
is no more work." Romans 11:6.
V. All this grace is in Christ, and in none else. God has
given him "for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to
open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and those
who sit in darkness out of the prison-house." Isaiah 42:6, 7. Nor has he
given any other to the same end and purpose. A great prophet says, "Rejoice
greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your
King comes unto you: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding
upon an donkey." Zech. 9:9. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us, in
the house of his servant David: as he spoke by the mouth of his holy
prophets, which have been since the world began." Luke 1:69, 70. "Neither is
there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven
given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. Jesus himself says,
"I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." "I am the
Way, and the Truth, and the Life: no man comes unto the Father but by me."
John 10:9; 14:6.
VI. This plan of salvation meets all the demands of law
and justice. He who is at the head of it is the Lord our Righteousness. Jer.
23:6. So that everyone who truly believes on Jesus Christ "shall receive the
blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation."
Psalm 24:5. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that
believes. God "has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might
be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. 5:21.
VII. Some deliverances otherwise great are but temporary;
but the salvation secured to believers is endless and boundless. "Israel
shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: you shall not be
ashamed nor confounded, world without end." Isaiah 45:17.
VIII. Another excellence of this whole scheme is that it
is freely, urgently, and indiscriminately offered to men, and pressed upon
their consideration. All true ministers of the gospel are clothed with
salvation. 2 Chron. 6:41; Psalm 132:16. The true heralds of the gospel
scheme are described in the most beautiful language of inspired poetry.
Isaiah 52:7-9. All sorts of men are called to embrace the gospel. Isaiah
IX. Surely men ought to rejoice in such mercy as is
offered in the gospel. Psalm 35:9; 116:13; Isaiah 25:9. The hope of this
salvation is a very important part of the panoply of God. It is the helmet
of the Christian soldier. Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 5:8.
X. The danger of despising this glorious scheme, this
plan of salvation, must be exceedingly great. The error of the Israelites
who perished in the wilderness was, that they forsook God and lightly
esteemed the Rock of their salvation. Deut. 32:15. Daniel says, "Salvation
is far from the wicked; for they seek not your statutes." Psalm 119:155. "He
who believes on the Son of God is not condemned; but he who believes not is
condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the
only-begotten Son of God." John 3:18.