The Grace of Christ, or,
Sinners Saved by Unmerited Kindness
William S. Plumer, 1853
"We believe it is through the grace of our
Lord Jesus that we are saved." Acts 15:11
THE DANGER OF REJECTING SALVATION
One of the most solemn appeals ever made is that of Paul:
"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" The peril of
despising the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is extreme and dreadful. Some
commit this sin secretly, others openly, some through ignorance, others
knowingly, some with daring blasphemy, others with trembling; but all
God's people are, indeed, "saved from wrath," and a great
deliverance is thus vouchsafed to them. By the grace of Christ they do
"escape the damnation of hell." But he, who rescues them from a just and
fiery indignation, also clothes them with righteousness, makes them
partakers of the divine nature, restores to them the lost image of God, fits
them for the companionship of angels, and receives them to glory. "The
attainment of a blessed and immortal state" is no less a part of the
salvation secured by Jesus Christ, than is "rescue from a penal doom."
What religion excels that which takes poor, vile,
ignorant, guilty, helpless sinners, and raises them to sonship with God, and
makes them partakers of his holiness? In the Scriptures there is no
"softening" of the words save, saved, and salvation. They occur in some
hundreds of texts, and although they are not always, yet they are often used
in the highest religious sense, both in the Old and New Testaments. Here are
a few cases.
"SAVE your people, and bless your inheritance; feed them
also, and lift them up forever." Psalm 28:9. "You shall call his name JESUS;
for he shall SAVE his people from their sins." Matt. 1:21. "The Son of man
has come to seek and to SAVE that which was lost." Luke 19:10. "It is a
faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into
the world to SAVE sinners, of whom I am chief." 1 Tim. 1:15. "He is able
also to SAVE to the uttermost, all who come unto God by him." Heb. 7:25. "'
Israel shall be SAVED in the Lord with an everlasting SALVATION." Isaiah
45:17. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be SAVED." Acts
14:31.' You are the God of my SALVATION." Psalm 25:5. "God has chosen you to
SALVATION." 2 Thess. 2:13. Many other texts might be added, but these are
sufficient. Inspired writers and converted men are not shy of these words.
They love them. They glory in them.
With the Romanist and Romanizer, baptism is regeneration.
With some, sin is a misfortune, not a crime; wrath is a fiction, hell a
chimera, damnation a fable, and even SALVATION a dream. How slow are men in
learning that spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and that the
kingdom of heaven can be entered by none but little children! "The state of
the heart has the chief influence, in the search after truth. Humility,
contrition, simplicity, sanctity—these are the handmaids of the
understanding in the investigation of religion." The pride of science, the
flippancy of self-conceit, the arrogance of spiritual ignorance are great
foes to learning the simple truth. To all who are wise in their own eyes,
even "the word salvation is not sincerely congenial." Its "direct opposition
to damnation" is clearly taught in Scripture, as in Mark 16:16. "He who
believes and is baptized, shall be saved; but he who believes not shall be
damned." To the humble such words are not offensive. They love the truth.
But that such sounds are exceedingly unwelcome to the ears of the
unregenerate, every preacher of righteousness painfully knows.
It seems to be impossible for some men to endure sound
doctrine. They have no congeniality with it, no taste for. Let such remember
who it is that has said, "He who believes on him, 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." "He who believes on the Son has
everlasting life: and he who believes not the Son, shall not see life; but
the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:18, 36. Nay, so clear is the
evidence of the truth of God's word, that men who refuse to receive it shall
still be judged by it. Christ says expressly, "He who rejects me, and
receives not my words, has one that judges him: the words that I have
spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:48. If the word
salvation is distasteful—how is the thing itself?
Do lost men have any sense of their lost condition?
Admitting human 'innocence', the offer of salvation is worse than idle; but
before a man can rest in the persuasion that he is without sin, and not
under wrath, he must renounce God's word, sear his own conscience, and be
fearfully left to himself. No man more needs the pity and prayers of his
neighbors, or the compassion of his Maker, than he who thinks he is without
sin, and has no need of a Savior. Yet there certainly is a class of men, who
dislike not only the doctrine of damnation—but salvation; not only wrath—but
grace; not only the divine severity—but also the goodness of God. A
conversion, more than the death of a sinner, a revival of religion more than
a pestilence, seem to arouse the enmity of the carnal mind. The practical
view of human nature presented by such people, is appalling proof of the
blindness and wickedness of men. When a starving man is too proud to receive
bread, when a man bleeding to death rejects the aid of a surgeon, when a
drowning man refuses the rope that is thrown him—there is in each case folly
and willfulness. But there is no such madness, no such perverseness, as when
a sinner rejects mercy, grace, salvation. "You will not come to me, that you
might have life!" "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another,
and seek not the honor which comes from God alone?" are among the kind and
solemn teachings of Christ to those who refuse his grace.
Converted men feel very differently about salvation. To
them there is no sweeter word, unless it is the name of Jesus, which means
Savior. A young Hindu convert when dying, said to his attendant: "Sing,
brother, sing." His friend said: "Of what shall I sing?" He replied; "O sing
of salvation, sing of salvation." Thousands have substantially said the same
thing. They were not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, who saved them
and called them with a holy calling, not according to their works, but
according to his own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus
before the world began.
Every redeemed sinner loves salvation, loves to sing of
it and to publish it abroad. Where is the Christian that does not unite in
Salvation, O salvation!
The joyful sound proclaim,
Until earth's remotest nation
Has learned Messiah's name.
If you love not salvation, you love not our Lord Jesus
Christ and will be accursed when he comes. He who hates salvation, loves
death. If you despise grace, you despise your own mercies. Prophets,
apostles, martyrs, and people of God of every age have not ceased to
proclaim, and upon divine authority too, that Christ is our Life. "Neither
is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven,
given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. And how dreadful it
will be to perish with the offer of mercy pressed upon us by the Lord! We
shall die without remedy because we shall then have sinned against the only
remedy. Inspired writers seem to be filled with horror, whenever they
contemplate sinners rejecting salvation.
Hear Paul: "Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died
without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more
severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son
of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the
covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For
we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge—I will repay," and again, "The
Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands
of the living God!" Hebrews 10:28-31.