What Christ Deserves from the Redeemed
Edward Griffin, 1770-1837
"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:5-6
This was the exclamation of the beloved disciple, who had lain on his Savior's bosom, who had seen Him die, who had just sunk at His feet in Patmos, and who was then enrapt by the inspiration of God. With what inexpressible emotions did such a man, at such a time, utter this bursting praise! Could the veil of unbelief and the rock of insensibility be taken from our eyes and hearts, we would utter with the same emotions!
And the time is coming when "every creature in Heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them," shall be heard saying," Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever!"
This beloved apostle, in the view which he took, saw and felt that Christ was worthy, not only of all gratitude and praise from the redeemed, but of all "glory and dominion" from God. His wish, as expressed in this burst of feeling, was, that He might be honored by the obedience and adoration and thanks of all holy creatures, and by the kingdom and inheritance conferred by the Father. I am ready to think that you, my friends, who have so often seen Him on the cross — will echo this wish from the bottom of your hearts! And in order to lead your thoughts where such a wish would carry them, I will consider:
What Christ deserves from the redeemed. The ground of His claim against them is His dying for them and purchasing for them an inheritance. It is true that His obedience to His Father's law, as it constituted His excellence (His whole excellence, inasmuch as it involved all the love that struggled in His heart,) lays claim to the supreme respect of all creatures. But the special claim which He has against the redeemed is founded on the amazing love He bore them, and the unspeakable benefits He procured for them by bearing their sins and purchasing their inheritance. He loved them to such a degree that, rather than they should perish, He came down to all the humiliations of the manger and the praetorium; He endured that awful agony of soul for the greater part of a day; and for six hours, with His life unbroken within Him, He hung suspended on the torturing spikes.
All this to raise them, not from trifling calamities, but from everlasting fire, and the fury of rending passions, and the company of raging devils, and from infinite despair.
He came down to all the submission and toil of a servant, that by the most difficult and self-denying obedience, He might purchase for them the blessings of this life, and glory forever enduring and forever increasing. This was love. This was conferring benefits on a scale worthy of the Son of God. If ever obligations were created by kindness — then here are obligations as ponderous as the universe, and as endless as eternity! And now what do the redeemed owe to their Deliverer?
1. They owe Him love and gratitude and praise.They owe it to Him to feel just as the beloved disciple did, when His soul went out in this burst of affection: "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen."
They owe it to Him to feel just as the redeemed in Heaven do when they sing that new song: "You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof — for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood, and have made us unto our God kings and priests."
Among all the objects which engage our daily attention, the Savior of the world ought to stand pre-eminent.
We ought to ponder His infinite excellence in descending so far, in doing and suffering so much, to support the energy of a holy government and to snatch a world from eternal death; to hold out to view "the image of the invisible God" irradiated as by a thousand suns; to fill the universe with a knowledge of the glory of God, and to give complete and everlasting empire to holy order.
We ought to ponder upon His immeasurable tenderness and compassion towards a wretched race, towards a world of enemies, towards the tigers who hung Him on the spikes and laughed at His agonies.
We ought to ponder Him as the only ground of pardon, as the only ground of our present and eternal comforts, as having received (as His own reward and His own estate) the whole sum of good intended for us in both worlds.
We ought to ponder Him as the most exalted, the most holy, and the most compassionate King, raised up to suppress all insurrections, to quell all disorders, to subdue all His enemies, and to extend a scepter of righteousness over a composed and peaceful kingdom; raised up "to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins," to penetrate the mountains after the lost sheep, and to bring them home upon His shoulders rejoicing, to gather the lambs in His arms and carry them in His bosom; to extend the shield of protection over His people, to take care of all their interests, to supply them with every comfort, to support them when weary, to cheer them when faint, to wipe the tear from their cheek, and with a tenderness which another never felt, to carry forward and complete their salvation.
This wonderful Personage, who is the grand subject of the Old Testament and the New, who fills the whole field of vision (not indeed so as to hide God the Father behind the Mediator, but in a way to present the only face in which God is seen) — this glorious Sufferer, Savior, and King, ought to be the object of our highest love, gratitude, and praise. The dearest earthly friend should give place to Him. It was not too much when He required us to hate father and mother and life in comparison with our love to Him.
And as to gratitude, no attentions of the kindest mother can put in their claims by the side of His. The highest gratitude that ever throbbed in the most affected heart, should make Him its aim and scope. Every hour of the day, as often as the mind has leisure to direct an eye to Him — this gratitude ought to spring forth. And praise, sweet as the breath of love, and deep as the consciousness of our woes, and loud as the echo of His fame — should sound through the earth. The strain should be prolonged, and die away at last on our faltering tongue, only to burst with new raptures in another and better state!
2. We owe it to Him to believe in Him and to embrace Him, to approve of the way of salvation by Him, and to receive Him for our Savior.Not to do this, is to do all in our power to make it true that He died in vain. To do this is to give Him, as far as we have influence, all the reward which He ever sought. Surely after the Son of God has descended to the manger and the cross for our salvation — it is the least that we can do to receive Him to be our Savior.
3. We owe it to Him to escape from sin, and to obey all His commands.One principal end of His mediation was to save His people from their sins; and if they refuse to escape from sin — then they counteract His great design. The happiness which His benevolence sought for them is that which is founded on holy order, and connected with a union to Him in character and heart; and if they refuse to be like Him they frustrate the very end He had in view.
In reward of His labors in our service, He is made King of Zion, with authority to exercise dominion over all creatures — and how ungrateful for us not to submit to an authority thus acquired. If God will make Him a King for what He has done for us — will we refuse to own Him for a King? Will we deny Him that dominion which is His recompense for laying down His life for us?
After all the benefits which the Son of God has conferred on us — will we not render Him the respect of our obedience? Has He not deserved this at our hands? After all the miseries which our sin has caused Him, will we still roll sin as a sweet morsel under our tongue? Has not Calvary furnished a lesson to wean us forever from sin? Can we see the anguish which it cost His holy soul, can we see its horrid nature as there depicted, can we hear the firm determination of God to punish it as there pronounced — without fleeing from sin as from a pestilence — without panting with insatiable desires after universal holiness?
4. We owe it to Him to rejoice in the kingdom which He has received, and in everything which brings forward the grand consummation when He is to reign over all the earth.What friend of Immanuel, after following Him through His poverty and toils, and trembling at the insults and tortures which He endured from men — does not rejoice that He has found a throne? does not leap for joy at the decree pronounced when He escaped from Pilate and the Jews and rose from the sepulcher?
"Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. Ask of me, and I shall give you the heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession!" Who does not rejoice to know that on this earth where He wandered an exile, having "nowhere to lay his head" — he is yet to reign as the beloved and universal Monarch, and with a splendor of dominion which no potentate ever before attained? Not the splendor of Persian gold and Indian gems — but the splendor of immortal love and holiness waving its triumphs over sin and misery subdued.
Under His benignant scepter, I see the wretched prisoners burst their chains and walk forth disenthralled and redeemed. I see the throb of misery quelled and composed, as water quenches the flaming brand. I see the triumphs of the new-creating Spirit changing the face of the valley of death, and pouring upon anguish and despair His lights and consolations.
I see the wretched Hindu leaving his religion of obscenity and blood — and coming up to the dignity and blessedness of a worshiper of Jehovah. I see the poor African dropping his idols, to lay hold of the skirt of Christ. I see the South Sea islander mounting the scale of existence from the neighborhood of vegetative life, to a standing among immortal spirits. I see the poor Jew dropping the veil and tearing the rock from his breast, and weeping as he looks on Him whom his fathers pierced.
I see, from nation to nation, the angry passions hushed, the rancor of the heart extracted, the empire of crime broken, the sword beaten to a ploughshare, the night of ignorance dispersing, pardons everywhere sweeping away the sentence of death, and the general moan of misery changed to universal exultation and praise.
These are the fruits which everywhere grow up under the tread of the Savior's feet. These are the triumphs of the Redeemer's reign. Who that sees these things in prospect, does not rejoice that the kingdom was given to Christ? Who that has any other than the heart of a devil, does not rejoice at this mighty movement which is taking place on earth — does not shout for joy at the sight of every new mission sent to the heathen?
Go, you messengers of Christ, gather to Him the promised seed from the wilderness; enlarge His kingdom among the children of the forest, and translate His praises into tongues which never before contained His name. While you go, my soul shall thank you and rejoice; yes, it shall leap for joy that He who wore the thorn crown is to wear the many crowns.
5. We owe it Him to devote ourselves to His service, and to consecrate all that we are and have to the promotion of His kingdom."You are not your own," said the apostle, "for you are bought with a price." "You are bought with a price — be not the servants of men." That is, have but one master — be not in subjection to the opinions and customs of the world; attempt not to serve God and mammon; keep your eye single; have but one ultimate end; remember that you are not your own, but belong exclusively to Him who purchased you with His blood!
O what a sacred bond would a deep sense of these words impose! "You are not your own, you are bought with a price." If a man has bought a criminal from prison and from death that he may be his servant — then how reasonably bound is that man to devote all his time to his benefactor, and never to feel himself his own. Had it not been for the bitter sufferings of our divine Master, we would have been spending all these years in Hell. Surely then we are not our own, but His. And nothing that we call our own, is ours.
"Holiness to the Lord" should be inscribed on everything that we are or have. Our only business on earth should be to promote His kingdom and glory. Our time and talents should have no other appropriation. Our exertions should have no other aim. All our habits and expenses and amusements and business and calculations should be brought under this law. Every particle of our property should be disposed of in a manner which we conscientiously believe most calculated to honor Christ, and should be held ready to be given up without a struggle as fast as He calls for it, even to the uttermost farthing!
We should rack our imagination to contrive ways of doing good, and be constantly occupied in this study and work, as far as health will permit. We should be sure to bring to pass as much as possible every day. And when we find a clear opportunity to do or give something to promote the kingdom of Christ — we should rejoice in it more than in great riches.
This is certainly the least that can result from feeling ourselves not our own, but bought with a price! All this we manifestly owe to Him who left the Heaven of His glory — to die for us on a cross. Say, you redeemed of the Lord, is this too much? Ask John, while that burst of gratitude is breaking from His heart, "Unto him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood!" — and would he say that I have placed the standard too high?
My brethren, we have divided the interest with Christ long enough. Hereafter let Him have the whole. Let us look through our hearts and families, through our neighborhood and world — and see what we can give or do for His kingdom, and cast in our prayers, our efforts, our property, our all — to advance that great and only interest of the world. And when that kingdom shall be completed in Heaven, we shall find enough in it to constitute our eternal portion, without the husks which we gave for its advancement. Let that be my portion — and let the ungodly take the rest. Amen.