A GREAT SALVATION
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power
of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Romans 1:16
In the sense of a great national deliverance, the
Israelites at Elim had lately, as we have seen, been the spectators of "the
power of God unto salvation." By Him "both the Egyptian chariot and horse
had been cast into the sea," and He had "made a way through its depths for
His ransomed ones to pass over."
Stupendous as that miracle was, there was one mightier
far, of which the other was the emblem. Fifteen centuries after these
liberated Hebrews were slumbering in their graves, the Gospel of Christ was
made known as this supreme, incomparable spiritual 'power'—"the power of
God" (or, omitting the article, which is not in the original, "power
of God"—God's own instrumental means of saving men).
We have reason to be "ashamed" of what may be called the
dominant world-power—the power of brute force—the monster-power of war—the
power associated with Paganism and the savage ages. Let us confront the
demon-power with the angel power—the power which has been earth's greatest
curse, with the power which has proved earth's greatest blessing—the power
of guilty man to destruction, with the power of Almighty God "unto
salvation." Without that Gospel of Christ, the world would have had not
one ray of light on the subject of salvation—either from the guilt or
the dominion of sin.
Oratory, poetry, philosophy, taste, intellect, reason,
were all baffled and confounded. Professing themselves on this great mystery
to be wise, they became fools. Mankind had tried for ages and generations to
solve the problem; but every oracle was dumb (silent) on the great question,
"What must I do to be saved?" The Greek might discourse on the loveliness of
nature—he might speak of the theology of mountains and groves and forests
and rivers: and we have no wish to depreciate their testimony. Paul had
none. He, surely, was feelingly alive to the glories of nature's scenery,
who, on Mars Hill, could, to the Athenians, so sublimely discourse on "God
who made the world and all things therein, who dwells not in temples" (such
temples as these!—pointing up to their adjoining Parthenon), "made with
hands" (Acts17:24); or to the Lystrians, as he spoke of "the living God, who
made heaven and earth and the sea, and everything in them; who gives rain
from heaven, and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food
and fills your hearts with joy" (Acts 14:15, 17).
But listen, you Greeks! Pile, if you will, mountain on
mountain; ransack all the glories of material nature; bring every flower
that blooms, and every torrent that sweeps in wild music to the sea; summon
old ocean from his deep caverns, and the myriad stars that gem the
firmament! They may, and do, silently and eloquently, speak on the theme of
God's "eternal power and Godhead." But there is one theme on which
"they have no speech nor language—their voice is not heard," and that is,
How is God to deal with my sinful soul? With regard to this question,
"You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep."
Is there, then, no answer elsewhere? Yes, where the
volume of Nature fails, the volume of Inspiration interposes.
The question is answered. The Gospel of Christ is "the power of God
unto salvation;" or, as it is expressed in the kindred passage, "Christ
crucified is the power of God!" He is the Power of God to atone for sin. He
is the Power of God to satisfy justice, and meet the requirements of the
law. He is the Power of God to rob death of its sting, and the grave of its
victory. We hear much of the antiquated power of man. The Nile, the
Euphrates, the Tiber are washing, to this hour, the colossal memorials of
that power. Man's control, too, in these later days, over the elements, is a
mighty thing; his making the winged lightning his ambassador, annihilating
space, converting the world into a vast whispering gallery—tidings from
battle-fields, or secrets in which the fate of empires and centuries are
suspended, transmitted by a magic touch from capital to capital; the power
of the steam-engine, too, like a fiery spirit, careering majestically over
land and ocean.
But what is man's power when brought to bear on
the soul, and the sinner, and eternity? A voice is heard saying of, and to,
all human might—"Thus far shall you go, and no further: here let your proud
waves be stayed." The world, we, repeat, had given it long eras to work out,
if it could, the problem of its own self-salvation. But after these
centuries of failure; after God had given man his own time and means to
exhaust every effort to solve himself, He says—'Now, listen to My own Divine
expedient: By lifting up My beloved Son on the cross, I intend to draw all
men unto Me!' Verily here is a new power—"a new thing" on the earth.
The world is to be conquered; society is to be remolded; time-honored
religions are to be overthrown; Pantheons are to be subverted—yes, better
than all, souls are to be saved, by the power of a silent transforming
principle. "Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled
in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire."
Ah! there is no power—no influence that can unloose the
fetters of fallen humanity like this! We are reminded of the maniac of old
who dwelt among the tombs. No man could bind him. They had tried it;
but he had burst their bonds like thread, and roamed that dark graveyard. At
last he spied, on the white strand of Gennesaret, ONE of whom he had heard.
It was Jesus! See that maniac now—sitting "clothed, and in his right
mind." So with the soul still. There are many who, in the mad fever of their
passions, have roamed for years amid the place of the dead, "crying and
cutting themselves with stones." But the Divine Redeemer, in the glories of
His person—in the completeness of His work—has stood before them.
Unreclaimable, untamable, by all human means, they have taken a child's
place at the foot of His cross; and there they now are sitting, with the
peace of Heaven mirrored in their hearts—"the joy of the Lord their
"See me, see me, once a rebel,
Prostrate at His cross I lie—
Cross, to tame earth's proudest able,
Who was e'er so proud as I?
He convinced me, He subdued me,
He chastised me, He renewed me;
The nails that pierced, the spear that slew Him,
Transfixed my heart, and bound me to Him.
See me! see me! once a rebel,
Prostrate at His cross I lie."
"Let us therefore, make every effort to enter that rest."