"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."--Eph. 1:7
Forgiveness of sins still sparkles before our eyes as purchased by a wondrous price. The immensity of the claims against the sinner has shown a giant form--except these claims be fully satisfied forgiveness has not free course. The avenue is closed--it cannot fly to earth. But satisfaction is rendered--thorough price is paid. Jesus presented His blood. Its worth prevailed--all demands are cancelled.
This price has been already viewed in some of its aspects. It has been pondered as a COVENANT price, pledged in everlasting counsels, set forth from the foundation of the world. It has been seen as FORESHADOWED; announced in no ambiguous shape by types of multiform variety, and heralded by a long train of prophecies. It has been proved to be SUFFICIENT--it reached to the length and breadth, the depth and height of every requirement. It entirely silenced each opposing adversary--it enabled every holy attribute of God joyfully to concur in pardon. Thus forgiveness strides forth arrayed in conquering garb.
But the properties of this price are not yet exhausted; indeed they are, in every sense, inexhaustible. Let it suffice to add (4) it is accepted; (5) it is peace speaking; (6) it stands alone, without a colleague. May God, the Holy Spirit, supply each word! May He send forth the Gospel sound! May willing hearts receive it!
IV. It is ACCEPTED of God. The soul which has groaned beneath the load of sin, and trembled under apprehension of divine displeasure, and been scared by the thunders of the broken law, and seen hell gaping in the front, cannot easily be persuaded that forgiveness removes all peril. It dwells among startling fears, and trembles as on haunted ground. The willingness of Jesus to bear all guilt may be allowed; the infinite worth of His offered blood may be readily acknowledged--but misgivings may arise as to the acceptance of the offering. May not the price be rejected? If so, the guilt remains uncancelled, and punishment is not averted. May not justice turn from surety-payment? May it not inexorably require personal redress for personal offence? But these tremblings quickly vanish before Gospel-statements. The evidence is absolute that the price is graciously accepted. Grace plans the saving scheme and grace receives it.
The main proof comes from Jesus' resurrection. At Calvary He dies, and the price of blood is paid. If here the scene had closed, and Jesus had lain hidden in the tomb, the balance might have trembled between hope and fear. Optimistic hope might have maintained that such wondrous blood must certainly prevail; but fears might have whispered--There is no evidence of success--perhaps some difficulty has intervened. But when it is seen that death is impotent to detain the Substitute, that the shackles are relaxed, that the prison bars fly back, that the grave restores the victim whose blood had flowed, that the Surety returns, that He who was dead appears alive--then the evidence is complete, that the price is accepted, and full acquittal is obtained. Jesus by showing Himself alive by many infallible proofs sets to His seal that perfect success crowns the gracious work, that all the stipulated terms are fulfilled, that the price is accepted, and forgiveness granted.
Faith revives and triumphs when contemplating this blessed fact. Let thought fly back then to the resurrection day. Behold Jesus standing in the midst of the disciples. Here is no imaginary vision. Here is no phantom. He appears in a body of flesh and blood. The same body which had been consigned in lifeless weakness to the tomb is now re-animate with all the faculties of life. His living voice utters words of comfort--"Peace be unto you." But what peace could guilty sinners take, if their forgiveness had not been achieved? Therefore when He had so said, "He showed unto them His hands and His side." The visible wounds prove that the payment of blood had been paid; but the wounds are exhibited by 'Jesus restored to life'. Here is proof that the payment was accepted, and the Surety was in consequence released.
Yet further apocalyptic vision opens to view the courts of Heaven. One stands in the midst of the throne, and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders. He bears the form of "a lamb, as it had been slain." What is the significance of these marks of death? The signs prove that the extremest penalties of sin have been undergone--that the Lamb has died as an atoning victim. But death has not detained Him. He is alive--alive in heaven, alive before God. The Lamb who was slain is liberated and absolved, and exalted to all heaven's glory on the right hand of the Majesty on High. Perfect is this assurance--bright is this manifestation of accepted price! Where can doubts now show their face! They vanish as mists before the orb of day. The price is indubitably accepted--sins are forgiven--blood-bought souls are fully redeemed.
V. It is a PEACE-SPEAKING price. Peace between heaven and earth--peace in the conscience--flows entirely from the work of Jesus. Remove this work, and an angry God wars against rebellious man. Obscure it, and ceaseless terrors rack the troubled mind. But Jesus has paid a price which introduces perfect peace. Hence peace is a title which He condescends to bear--the Spirit testifies, "He is our peace." Ambassadors go forth, "preaching peace by Jesus Christ." God "makes peace by the blood of His cross."
That this price secures reconciliation is sufficiently apparent from the fact of its acceptance. Let then this peace flow like a river through the soul, and exert its due influence in the courts of conscience. Let all the family of faith be wise--let them not wrong their souls, and act as enemies to their chief comfort. Let them not take part with those who plot man's misery--let them not deny to the accepted price its legitimate province of speaking peace--let them not turn from their heaven-sent privileges. It is far worse than folly to sit trembling in the shade of fear, when God opens the banqueting-house of joy. It is affront to Him, that when He so forgives, His children should mistrust His goodness. It is dishonor to the blood of Jesus, that He should effectually obliterate transgression, and the pardoned one should mourn, and sigh, and weep, as though His blood had not flowed on the accursed tree, or flowed inglorious in worth. It is unthankfulness to close the door when He is willing to enter, waving the banner of peace-speaking blood. Let the accepted price be tightly grasped, and all its benefits be enjoyed.
When SATAN reminds you of sins, and uses all devices to terrify, let this price be shown. It blunts his every weapon and silences his every charge--he flees dismayed at the sight, and peace is undisturbed. When STRENGTH declines and sickness weakens, let support be sought in the accepted price. Languor smiles when the prospect shows 'heaven opened'--all must be calm and bright when assurance whispers that sins are washed out. When the foot of DEATH falls heavily beside the bed, it comes as a welcome friend to lead to Him who paid the price. When THE GREAT WHITE THRONE is set, "Christ died" is a plea which truly will prevail. Let it be presented, and heaven's portals will fly open, and admittance will be granted to mansions of eternal peace. When faith thus acts on the accepted price, the Lord of peace Himself will give peace always, at all times, by all means. Nothing can disturb the peace of him who fully knows that God is reconciled, and heaven purchased, and glory won!
Let men hear and believe. "He who is exalted to be a Prince and a Savior to give repentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of sins," has sent forth His voice, yes, and that a mighty voice. To the loving penitent He proclaims, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you--go in peace." Expatiate in the wide domain of peace, repose under the shadow of the peace-speaking cross, glory in the accepted price!
VI. It is the ONLY price. There can be none other--a lesser payment could not avail; a greater could not be found. This conclusion is instantly apparent from the acknowledged case. It has been clearly seen that the debt is of infinite magnitude, and therefore demands an infinite equivalent. To wipe out such stains infinite sufficiency must be found. No price then can be sufficient which involves not Deity. The blood of Jesus has this inherent--and this full price has been fully paid.
Let it not be said--But sins are wrought on earth; and what earth has forged surely it may remove--debts here contracted may here be paid. It cannot be denied that earth is the scene of sin's birth and cursed course. But transgression acquires its dreadful character because it assails, and insults, and defies God. Atonement therefore must deal with God, before forgiveness can be granted. But nothing framed on earth can negotiate with heaven--earth cannot produce a heaven-reaching price. The only price must be divine in origin and essence.
The question may be asked--Can heaven present no other price but the God-man's blood? It is inhabited by a countless host of angelic beings, beauteous, holy, shining in robes of pure perfection. Is not compassion for man the glowing inhabitant of their breasts? Are they not willing to undergo all suffering to rescue the guilty from just wrath? Will not their society offer price of forgiveness?
Let the case be supposed of such willingness and such offer. It must be vain. Their collected multitude must fail to present adequate merit--they cannot rise in excellence above created beings--they cannot expand beyond the finite. If they could be permitted to assume our nature, and so to obtain blood to shed; still it would be created blood, and therefore its worth would be enclosed in small limits, and insufficient to pay infinite price. Thus neither heaven nor earth can give other price than Jesus.
The Father calls Him, Him only, to the work. He comes--He comes alone! "He treads the winepress alone--of the people there is none with Him." The conclusion is obvious, "Neither is there salvation in any other;" because no other hands hold the required price.
Such is the PRICE PAID for the forgiveness of sins. It is covenanted, foreshadowed, sufficient, accepted, peace-speaking, and there is none other! What wondrous lessons are inscribed on this display of grace! It tells what it alone can fully show--the terrible character of sin. The wail from miseries on all sides, and in all forms, and from all ages, speaks in dreadful terms. The shrieks from a drowning world--from the furnace of the cities of the plain--from the anguish of pain-stricken multitudes--from agonies of conscience, proclaim in notes of woe the fearful fruit of sin. But the cry from the Blood of the Cross is louder and far more significant. What must sin be, if no speck of it can ever vanish except when sprinkled with this expiating blood of Jesus? Let this be pondered, and the monster will be abhorred which ruins earth and peoples hell. Let this be pondered, and surely the offered pardon will be prized. The need cannot be denied--the danger is evident.
Let then the blessing of blessings, full forgiveness, be sought where only it can be found. Let all other hopes and pleas which are none, and worse than none, be totally resisted. Other course leads headlong to perdition, and rivets more tightly sin's crushing burden. Plausible cheats too often mock the world--let them be shunned, or they will lead their victims to misery's cells. Thus flowing tears may tend to effect ruin. It is indeed true that without repentance none can live; but weeping eyes buy no remission. Where is the penitence which would not awaken shame? Where are the tears which need not tears to wash them? Where are the washings which need not to be washed anew?
Outward sins may be forsaken, and life reformed, and warm desires may burn for fellowship with God. But careful walk cannot recall the past. Doubtless "without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Heb. 12:14); but the strictest service is but the bounden duty of each day. Obedience, even if perfect, has no excess of merit to overbalance previous faults.
Thus it must be granted that there is no pardoning efficacy, but in the one appointed remedy. This price is a stream from heaven flowing by each side--all who plunge therein join the blessed company, "whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sin is covered." They are the accepted of Him "in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."