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


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 through unbelief.

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 this song?

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.