Tag Archives: Grace

Primary Boast Must Be Foremost


But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.  ─Galatians 6:14

Whatever we do not know, my brethren, let us know the cross; whatever subject may have a second place in our estimation, always let the ransom price paid on Calvary be first and foremost. I would have you study much the four records of the evangelists. Dwell upon them.
Christians ought to be familiar with every little incident of their Savior’s death: there is teaching in every nail; the sponge, the vinegar, and the hyssop all have a meaning in them, and the spear that pierced his side is full of instruction. We ought to study them— study them again, and again, and again. Here is the very essence of our confidence; this is the pillar upon which our souls lean. If there be any hope for sinners; if there be any consolation for sufferers; if there be any cleansing for the guilty; if there be any life for the dead, it is here…. O, dwell at the cross, then. Whatever your minds may forget to consider, let them never lose the savor of this, or leave the meditation of Christ crucified.
—C. H. Spurgeon
“A Holy Celebration”
Sermon 1092
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 19
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Gospel Tracts


For the past several months we’ve been writing and printing our own gospel tracts; frankly, because we’re a very small congregation. Some of the tracts we are printing are edited from the sermons or writings of others, much in the same way that Chapel Library does.  Some of the tracts come from the sermons and writings of Mr. Spurgeon. We will post them here. The first should be posted later today.

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Oratory Not Enough


“Alas, we know well enough that sinners have been dazzled a thousand times by all the pyrotechnics of oratory, and yet have remained as spiritually blind as ever they were. A notion has been held by some that you must argue the truth into men’s minds; that if you can put the doctrines of the gospel before them in a clear, logical, demonstrative form they must give way. But, truly, no man’s eyes are opened by syllogisms. Reason alone gives no man power to see the light of heaven. The clearest statements and the most simple expositions are equally in vain without grace.”

–Charles Spurgeon
“The Healing of One Born Blind” from text, John 9:32
Sermon No. 1065, August 11, 1872

HT: The Daily Spurgeon

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All of Grace 4


All of Grace

written by Charles H. Spurgeon
edited in modern English by  Jon J. Cardwell

4. IT IS GOD WHO JUSTIFIES
Romans 8:33

It’s a wonderful thing, this being justified, or being declared righteous. If we had never broken the laws of God we would not have needed it, because we would have been just in ourselves. He who has done the things that he should have done all of his life, and has never done anything that he should not do, is justified by the law. But you, dear reader, are not that kind of person; of that, I’m quite sure. You have too much honesty to pretend to be sinless, and therefore you need to be justified.

Now, if you justify yourself, you will simply be a self-deceiver. Therefore don’t try it. It’s never worthwhile.

If you ask your fellow human beings to justify you, what can they do? You can make some of them say good things about you for small favors, and others will backbite you for less. Their judgment is not worth much.

Our text says, “It is God who justifies,” and this is a great deal more to the point. It is an astonishing fact, and one that we should consider carefully. Come and see.

In the first place, nobody else but God would ever have thought of justifying those who are guilty. They have lived in open rebellion; they have done evil with both hands; they have gone from bad to worse; they have turned back to sin even after they have been punished for it, and therefore, have been forced to leave it for a while. They have broken the law, and trampled on the gospel. They have rejected proclamations of mercy and have persisted in ungodliness. How can they be forgiven and justified? Their fellowmen, despairing of them, say, “They are hopeless cases.” Even Christians look upon them with sorrow instead of with hope. But not so with their God. In the splendor of His electing grace, having chosen some of them before the foundation of the world, He will not rest until He has justified them, and made them to be accepted in the Beloved. Isn’t it written in the Bible, And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:30)? Thus you see that there are some whom the Lord determines to justify: why shouldn’t you and I be of counted with them?

No one but God would have ever thought of justifying me. I am surprised with myself. I don’t doubt that grace is equally seen in others. Look at Saul of Tarsus, who foamed at the mouth against God’s servants. Like a hungry wolf, he worried the lambs and the sheep right and left; and yet God struck him down on the road to Damascus, and changed his heart, and so fully justified him that in no time, this man became the greatest preacher of justification by faith that ever lived. He must have marveled often that he was justified by faith in Christ Jesus, because he was once so unwavering in his determination to cling to salvation by the works of the law. No one but God would have ever thought of justifying a man like Saul the persecutor; but the Lord God is glorious in grace.

But, even if anybody had thought of justifying the ungodly, no one but God could have done it. It is quite impossible for any person to forgive offenses that have not been committed against himself. A person has greatly injured you; you can forgive him, and I hope you will; but no third person can forgive him apart from you. If the wrong is done to you, the pardon must come from you. If we have sinned against God, it is in God’s power to forgive; for the sin is against Himself. That is why David says, in the fifty-first Psalm: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Psalm 51:4); for then God, the One who was offended, can put the offense away. That which we owe to God, our great Creator can forgive, if it pleases Him to do so; and if He forgives it, it is forgiven. No one but the great God, against whom we have committed the sin, can blot out that sin; let us, therefore, see that we go to Him and seek mercy at His hands. Do not let us be led aside by those who would have us confess to them; they have no authority from the Word of God for their claims. But even if they were ordained to pronounce pardon in God’s name, it must still be better that we, ourselves, go to the great Lord through Jesus Christ, the Mediator, and seek and find pardon at His hand; since we are sure that this is the right way. Proxy religion involves too great a risk: you had better see to your own soul’s matters yourself, and not trust them to another man’s hands.

Only God can justify the ungodly; but He can do it to perfection. He casts our sins behind His back, He blots them out; He says that although they seek them, they shall not be found. With no other reason for it but His own infinite goodness, He has prepared a glorious way by which He can make scarlet sins as white as snow, and remove our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west. He says, “I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). He goes as far as to make an end of sin. One person in the old times called out in amazement, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18).

We are not speaking of justice at the moment, nor of God’s dealing with men according to what they deserve. If you profess to deal with the righteous Lord on terms of law and judgment, everlasting wrath threatens you, because that is what you deserve. Blessed be His name, He has not dealt with us according to our sins; but now, He treats us on terms of free grace and infinite compassion, and He says, “I will receive you graciously, and love you freely.” Believe it, because it is certainly true that the great God is able to treat the guilty with abundant mercy; yes, He is able to treat the ungodly as if they had always been godly. Read the parable of the prodigal son carefully (Luke 15:11-32), and see how the forgiving father received the returning wanderer with as much love as if he had never gone away, and had never defiled himself with prostitutes. He carried this out so far that the elder brother began to grumble about it; but the father never withdrew his love. Oh my brother and oh my sister, however guilty you may be, if you will only come back to your God and Father, He will treat you as if you had never done anything wrong! He will regard you as righteous, and deal with you accordingly. What do you say to this?

Don’t you see¾ for I want to bring this out clearly, what a wonderful thing it is¾ that as no one but God would think of justifying the ungodly, and no one but God could do it, yet the Lord can do it? See how the apostle puts the challenge, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). If God has justified a man it is well done, it is rightly done, it is justly done, and it is eternally done. I read a statement in a magazine that is full of poison against the gospel and those who preach it; that we hold some kind of theory that says we imagine that sin can be removed from men. We believe no such theory. We publish a fact. The grandest fact under heaven is this¾ that Christ, by His precious blood, actually does put away sin, and that God, for Christ’s sake, in dealing with men on terms of divine mercy, forgives the guilty and justifies them, not according to anything that He sees in them, or foresees will be in them, but according to the riches of His mercy which is in His own heart. This we have preached, do preach, and will preach as long as we live. “It is God who justifies”¾ that justifies the ungodly; He is not ashamed of doing it, nor are we ashamed of preaching it.

The justification, which comes from God Himself, must be beyond question. If the Judge acquits me, who can condemn me? If the highest court in the universe has pronounced me not guilty, who shall lay anything to my charge? Justification from God is a sufficient answer to an awakened conscience. The Holy Spirit by His means breathes peace over our entire nature, and we are no longer afraid. With this justification we can answer all the roarings and railings of Satan, and also of ungodly men. With this we shall be able to die: with this we shall boldly rise again, and face the last great court of justice.

Bold shall I stand in that great day,

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

While by my Lord absolved I am

From sin’s tremendous curse and blame.

Friend, the Lord can blot out all your sins. I’m not shooting in the dark when I say this. “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people” (Matthew 12:31). Though you stand up to your neck in crime, He can remove the defilement with a word, and say, “I will; be clean” (Mark 1:41). The Lord is a great forgiver.

“I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” Do you?

Even at this very moment, He can pronounce the sentence, “Your sins are forgiven… go in peace” (Luke 7:48, 50); and if He does this, no power in Heaven, or earth, or under the earth, can put you under suspicion, much less under wrath. Do not doubt the power of Almighty love. You could not forgive your fellow man if he had offended you in the same way that you have offended God; but you must not measure God’s corn with your basket; His thoughts and ways are so much higher than yours just as the heavens are high above the earth.

“Well,” you say, “it would be a great miracle if the Lord were to pardon me.” It is. It would be a supreme miracle, and therefore He is likely to do it; for He “does great things and unsearchable” (Job 5:9), which we didn’t even look for.

I was myself stricken down with a horrible sense of guilt, which made my life miserable; but when I heard the command, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22). I looked, and in a moment the Lord justified me. What I saw was that Jesus Christ was made sin for me and that sight gave me rest. When those who were bitten by the fiery serpents in the wilderness looked to the serpent of brass they were healed at once (Numbers 21:5-9); and so was I when I looked to the crucified Savior. The Holy Spirit, who enabled me to believe, gave me peace through believing. I felt as sure that I was forgiven, as before I felt sure that I was condemned. I had been certain of my condemnation because the Word of God declared it, and my conscience bore witness to it; but when the Lord justified me the same witnesses made me equally certain. The Word of the Lord in the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned” (John 3:18), and my conscience bears witness that I believed, and that God in pardoning me is just. Thus I have the witness of the Holy Spirit and my own conscience, and these two agree as one truth. Oh, how I wish that my reader would receive the testimony of God upon this matter, and then very soon he would also have the witness in himself!

I will be so bold as to say that a sinner justified by God stands on more solid ground than a righteous man justified by his works, if there were such a person. We could never be more certain that we had done enough works; conscience would always be uneasy for fear that, after all we have done, we should come short, and we could only have the trembling verdict of a fallible judgment to rely upon. When God Himself justifies, however, and the Holy Spirit bears witness to that justification by giving us peace with God, then we will feel that the matter is certain and settled, and we enter into rest. No tongue can tell the depth of that calm which comes over the soul, which has received the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

 [“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The King James Version is in the Public Domain.]

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Expectant Grace


So shall we ever be with the Lord.”1 Thessalonians 4:7

Even the sweetest visits from Christ, how short they are— and how transitory! One moment our eyes see him, and we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, but again a little time and we do not see him, for our beloved withdraws himself from us; like a roe or a young hart he leaps over the mountains of division; he is gone to the land of spices, and feeds no more among the lilies.

“If today he deigns to bless us
With a sense of pardoned sin,
He tomorrow may distress us,
Make us feel the plague within.”

Oh, how sweet the prospect of the time when we shall not behold him at a distance, but see him face to face: when he shall not be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night, but shall eternally enfold us in the bosom of his glory. We shall not see him for a little season, but

“Millions of years our wondering eyes,
Shall o’er our Saviour’s beauties rove;
And myriad ages we’ll adore,
The wonders of his love.”

In heaven there shall be no interruptions from care or sin; no weeping shall dim our eyes; no earthly business shall distract our happy thoughts; we shall have nothing to hinder us from gazing for ever on the Sun of Righteousness with unwearied eyes. Oh, if it be so sweet to see him now and then, how sweet to gaze on that blessed face for aye, and never have a cloud rolling between, and never have to turn one’s eyes away to look on a world of weariness and woe! Blest day, when wilt thou dawn? Rise, O unsetting sun! The joys of sense may leave us as soon as they will, for this shall make glorious amends. If to die is but to enter into uninterrupted communion with Jesus, then death is indeed gain, and the black drop is swallowed up in a sea of victory.

Morning & Evening
December 10
C. H. Spurgeon

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John Ploughman’s Pictures 4


John Ploughman’s Pictures
by Charles H. Spurgeon

IT IS HARD FOR AN EMPTY SACK TO STAND UPRIGHT.

Sam may try a fine while before he will make one of his empty sacks stand upright. If he were not half daft he would have left off that job before he began it, and not have been an Irishman either. He will come to his wit’s end before he sets the sack on its end. The old proverb, printed at the top,[1] was made by a man who had burnt his fingers with debtors, and it just means that when folks have no money and are over head and ears in debt, as often as not they leave off being upright, and tumble over one way or another. He that has but four and spends five will soon need no purse, but he will most likely begin to use his wits to keep himself afloat, and take to all sorts of dodges to manage it.

Nine times out of ten they begin by making promises to pay on a certain day when it is certain they have nothing to pay with. They are as bold at fixing the time as if they had my lord’s income: the day comes round as sure as Christmas, and then they haven’t a penny-piece in the world, and so they make all sorts of excuses and begin to promise again. Those who are quick to promise are generally slow to perform. They promise mountains and perform mole-hills. He who gives you fair words and nothing more feeds you with an empty spoon, and hungry creditors soon grow tired of that game. Promises don’t fill the belly. Promising men are not great favorites if they are not: performing men. When such a fellow is called a liar he thinks he is hardly done by; and yet he is so, as sure as eggs are eggs, and there’s no denying it, as the boy said when the gardener caught him up the cherry tree. People don’t think much of a man’s piety when his promises are like piecrust, made to be broken: they generally turn crusty themselves and give him a bit of their mind. Like old Tusser, who said of such an one:

“His promise to trust to is slippery as ice,
His credit much like to the chance of the dice.”

Creditors have better memories than debtors, and when they have been taken in more than once they think it is time that the fox went to the furrier, and they had their share of his skin. Waiting for your money does not sweeten a man’s temper, and a few lies on the top of it turn the milk of human kindness into sour stuff. Here is an old fashioned saying which a bad payer may put in his pipe, and smoke or not, as he likes:

“He that promiseth till no man will trust him,
He that lieth till no man will believe him,
He that borroweth till no man will lend him,
Let him go where no man knoweth him.”

Hungry dogs will eat dirty puddings, and people who are hard up very often do dirty actions. Blessed be God, there is some cloth still made which will not shrink in the wetting and some honesty which holds on under misfortune; but too often debt is the worst kind of poverty, because it breeds deceit. Men do not like to face their circumstances, and so they turn their backs on the truth. They try all sorts of schemes to get out of their difficulties, and like the Banbury tinker, they make three holes in the saucepan to mend one. They are like Pedley, who burnt a penny candle in looking for a farthing. They borrow of Peter to pay Paul, and then Peter is let in for it. To avoid a brook they leap into a river, for they borrow at ruinous interest to pay off those who squeeze them tight. By ordering goods which they cannot pay for, and selling them for whatever they can get, they may put off one evil day, but they only bring on another. One trick needs another trick to back it up, and thus they go on over shoes and then over boots. Hoping that something will turn up, they go on raking for the moon in a ditch, and all the luck that comes to them is like Johnny Toy’s, who lost a shilling and found a two-penny loaf. Any short cut tempts them out of the high road of honesty, and they find after a while that they have gone miles out of their way. At last people fight shy of them, and say that they are as honest as a cat when the meat is out of reach, and they murmur that plain dealing is dead, and died without issue. Who wonders? People who are bitten once are in no hurry to put their fingers into the same mouth again. You don’t trust a horse’s heel after it has kicked you, nor lean on a staff which has once broken. Too much cunning overdoes its work, and in the long run there is no craft which is so wise as simple honesty.

I would not be hard on a poor fellow, nor pour water on a drowned mouse: if through misfortune the man can’t pay, why he can’t pay, and let him say so, and do the honest thing with what little he has, and kind hearts will feel for him. A wise man does at first what a fool does at last. The worst of it is that debtors will hold on long after it is honest to do so, and they try to persuade themselves that their ship will come home, or their cats will grow into cows. It is hard to sail over the sea in an eggshell, and it is not much easier to pay your way when your capital is all gone. Out of nothing comes nothing, and you may turn your nothing over a long time before it will grow into a ten pound note. The way to Babylon will never bring you to Jerusalem, and borrowing, and diving deeper into debt, will never get a man out of difficulties.

The world is a ladder for some to go up and some to go down, but there is no need to lose your character because you lose your money. Some people jump out of the frying pan into the fire; for fear of being paupers they become rogues. You find them slippery customers; you can’t bind them to anything: you think you have got them, but you can’t hold them any longer than you can keep a cat in a wheelbarrow. They can jump over nine hedges, and nine more after that. They always deceive you, and then plead the badness of the times, or the sickness of their family. You cannot help them, for there’s no telling where they are. It is always best to let them come to the end of their tether, for when they are cleaned out of their old rubbish they may perhaps begin in a better fashion. You cannot get out of a sack what is not in it, and when a roans purse is as bare as the back of your hand, the longer you patch him up the barer he will become, like Bill Bones, who cut up his coat to patch his waistcoat, and then used his trousers to mend his coat, and at last had to lie in bed for want of a rag to cover him.

Let the poor, unfortunate tradesman hold to his honesty as he would to his life. The straight road is the shortest cut. Better break stones on the road than break the law of God. Faith in God should save a Christian man from anything like a dirty action; let him not even think of playing a trick, for you cannot touch pitch without being defiled therewith. Christ and a crust is riches, but a broken character is the worst of bankruptcy. All is not lost while uprightness remains; but still it is hard to make an empty sack stand upright.

There are other ways of using the old saying. It is hard for a hypocrite to keep up his profession. Empty sacks can’t stand upright in a church any better than in a granary. Prating does not make saints, or there would be plenty of them. Some talkatives have not religion enough to flavor soup for a sick grasshopper, and they have to be mighty cunning to keep the game going. Long prayers and loud professions only deceive the simple, and those who see further than the surface soon spy out the wolf under the sheepskin.

All hope of salvation by our own good works is a foolish attempt to make an empty sack stand upright. We are undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinners at the best. The law of God must be kept without a single failure if we hope to be accepted by it; but there is not one among us who has lived a day without sin. No, we are a lot of empty sacks, and unless the merits of Christ are put into us to fill us up, we cannot stand in the sight of God. The law condemns us already, and to hope for salvation by it is to run to the gallows to prolong our lives. There is a full Christ for empty sinners, but those who hope to fill themselves will find their hopes fail them. 

From a Henry Altemus edition, published in Philadelphia, 1896.

 


[1] As this was written by Mr. Spurgeon to be published as a book, the proverb to which he refers is the chapter title above the engraving in the original work, “IT IS HARD FOR AN EMPTY SACK TO STAND UPRIGHT.”

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All of Grace 3b


ALL OF GRACE

written by Charles H. Spurgeon
edited in modern English by Jon J. Cardwell

3b. GOD JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY

It is truly so, that Jesus seeks and saves that which is lost. He died and made a real atonement for real sinners. When men are not playing with words, or calling themselves “miserable sinners,” just out of common courtesy I feel overjoyed to meet with them. I would be glad to talk all night to bona fide sinners. The hotel of mercy never closes its doors upon such people, not on weekdays nor Sunday. Our Lord Jesus did not die for imaginary sins, but His heart’s blood was shed to wash out deep crimson stains, which nothing else can remove.

He that is the filthiest sinner— he is the kind of man that Jesus Christ came to make clean. A gospel preacher on one occasion preached a sermon from, “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees” (Matthew 3:10), and he delivered such a sermon that one of his hearers said to him, “One would have thought that you had been preaching to criminals. Your sermon should have been delivered in the county jail.”

“Oh, no,” said the good man, “if I were preaching in the county jail, I would not preach from that text. There, I would preach The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost’ (1 Timothy 1:15).” Rightly so. The law is for the self-righteous, to humble their pride: the gospel is for the lost, to remove their despair.

If you are not lost, what do you want with a Savior? Should the shepherd go after those who never went astray? Why should the woman sweep her house for the bits of money that were never out of her purse? No, the medicine is for the diseased; the quickening is for the dead; the pardon is for the guilty; liberation is for those who are bound: the opening of eyes is for those who are blind. How can the Savior, and His death upon the Cross, and the gospel of pardon, be accounted for, unless it be upon the supposition that men are guilty and worthy of condemnation? The sinner is the gospel’s reason for existence. You, my friend, to whom this word now comes, if you are undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving, you are the sort of person for whom the gospel is ordained, and arranged, and proclaimed. God justifies the ungodly.

I would like to make this very plain. I hope that I have done so already; but still, as plain as it is; only the Lord that can make a man see it. At first it seems most amazing to an awakened man that salvation should really be for him as a lost and guilty one. He thinks that it must be for him as a penitent man, forgetting that his repentance is a part of his salvation. “Oh,” he says, “but I must be this and that,” —all of which is true, for he shall be this and that as the result of salvation; but salvation comes to him before he has any of the results of salvation. It comes to him, in fact, while he deserves only this bare, base, beggarly, abominable description, “ungodly.” That is all he is when God’s gospel comes to justify him.

May I, therefore, urge upon any who have no good thing about them— who fear that they have not even a good feeling, or anything whatsoever that can recommend them to God— that they will firmly believe that our gracious God is able and willing to take them without anything to recommend them, and to forgive them spontaneously, not because they are good, but because He is good. Doesn’t He make His sun to shine on the evil as well as on the good? Doesn’t He give fruitful seasons, and send the rain and the sunshine in their time upon the most ungodly nations? Yes, indeed, even Sodom had its sun, and Gomorrah had its dew. Oh friend, the great grace of God surpasses my understanding and your understanding, and I would have you think worthily of it! As high as the heavens are above the earth; so are God’s thoughts high above our thoughts. He can abundantly pardon. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners: forgiveness is for the guilty.

Do not attempt to touch yourself up and make yourself something other than what you really are; but come as you are to Him who justifies the ungodly. Some short time ago a great artist had painted a part of the corporation of the city in which he lived, and he wanted, for historic purposes, to include in his picture certain characters well known in the town. A street-sweeper, unkempt, ragged, filthy, was known to everybody, and there was a suitable place for him in the picture. The artist said to this ragged and rugged individual, “I will pay you well if you will come down to my studio and let me paint your portrait.” He came round in the morning, but he was soon sent immediately out the door and on his way because he had washed his face, and combed his hair, and put on a respectable suit of clothes. He was needed as a beggar, and was not invited in any other capacity. Even so, the gospel will receive you into its halls if you come as a sinner, not otherwise. Don’t wait for reformation, but come at once for salvation. God justifies the ungodly, and that takes you up where you are now: it meets you in your worst condition.

Come in your disorder. I mean, come to your heavenly Father in all your sin and sinfulness. Come to Jesus just as you are, leprous, filthy, and naked, neither fit to live nor fit to die. Come, you that are the very rubbish of creation; come, though you hardly dare to hope for anything but death. Come, though despair is sitting on you, pressing upon your chest like a horrible nightmare. Come and ask the Lord to justify another ungodly one. Why shouldn’t He? Come for this great mercy of God is meant for someone just like you. I put it in the language of the text, and I cannot put it more strongly: the Lord God Himself takes to Himself this gracious title, “Him who justifies the ungodly.” He makes those just who are by nature ungodly, and causes them to be treated as just. Isn’t that a wonderful word for you? Reader, do not delay until you have considered this matter well.

[“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The King James Version is in the Public Domain.]

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All of Grace 3a


ALL OF GRACE

written by Charles H. Spurgeon
edited in modern English by Jon J. Cardwell

3a. GOD JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY

This message is for you. You will find the text in the Epistle to the Romans, in the fourth chapter and the fifth verse,

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”

I call your attention to those words, “Him who justifies the ungodly.” To me, they seem to be very wonderful words.

Isn’t it surprising that there should be an expression like that in the Bible, “who justifies the ungodly”? I have heard that men that hate the doctrines of the Cross bring it as an accusation against God, that He saves wicked men and receives to Himself the vilest of the vile. See how this Scripture accepts the charge, and plainly states it! By the mouth of His servant Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, He takes to Himself the title of “Him who justifies the ungodly.” He makes those just that are unjust, forgives those who deserve to be punished, and favors those who deserve no favor. You thought that salvation was for the good, didn’t you? You thought that God’s grace was for the pure and holy, who are free from sin? It has fallen into your mind that, if you were excellent, then God would reward you; and you have thought that because you are not worthy, there could be no possible way for you to enjoy His favor. You must be somewhat surprised to read a text like this: “Him who justifies the ungodly.” I’m not surprised that you’re surprised; because as familiar as I am with the great grace of God, I never cease to marvel at it. It does sound surprising, doesn’t it, that it should be possible for a holy God to justify an unholy man? According to the natural legality of our hearts, we are always talking about our own goodness and our own worthiness, and we stubbornly hold to it that there must be something in us in order to have the attention of God. Now, God, who sees through all deceptions, knows that there is no goodness in us whatsoever. He says that “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). He knows that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6), and therefore, the Lord Jesus did not come into the world to look after goodness and righteousness with Him, and to bestow them upon persons who have none of them. He comes, not because we are righteous, but to make us so: He justifies the ungodly.

When a lawyer goes into court, if he is an honest man, he desires to plead the case of an innocent person and justify him before the court from the things laid falsely to his charge. It should be the lawyer’s purpose to justify the innocent person, and he should not attempt to protect the guilty party. The attorney has no right, nor is it in his power to truly justify the guilty. This is a miracle reserved for the Lord alone. God, the infinitely just Ruler, knows that there is not a righteous man upon earth that does good and doesn’t sin; and therefore, in the infinite sovereignty of His divine nature and in the splendor of His indescribable love, He take on the task, not so much of justifying the just as of justifying the ungodly. God has devised ways and means of making the ungodly man to stand justly accepted before Him. He has set up a system where He can treat the guilty with perfect justice, just as if he had been free from offense all his life; yes, can treat him as if he were completely free from sin. He justifies the ungodly.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is a very surprising thing— a thing to be marveled at most of all by those who enjoy it. Even to this day, I know that it is the greatest wonder I have ever heard of, that God should ever justify me. I feel myself to be a lump of unworthiness, a mass of corruption, and a heap of sin, apart from His almighty love. I know with full certainty that I am justified by faith, which is in Christ Jesus, and treated as if I had been perfectly just, and made an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ; and yet by nature I must take my place among the most sinful. Although I am altogether undeserving, I am treated as if I had always been deserving. I am loved with as much love as if I had always been godly, whereas I was previously ungodly. Who can help being astonished at that? Gratitude for such favor is dressed in clothes of utter amazement.

Now, while this is very surprising, I want you to notice how available it makes the gospel to you and to me. If God justifies the ungodly, then, dear friend, He can justify you. Isn’t that the very kind of person that you are? If you are unconverted at this moment, it is a very proper description of you; you have lived without God, you have been the reverse of godly; in one word, you have been and are ungodly. Perhaps you have not even attended a place of worship on Sunday, but have lived with disregard toward God’s day, and house, and Word— this proves that you have been ungodly. Sadder still, it may be that you have even tried to doubt God’s existence, and have gone to the extent of saying that you did doubt. You have lived on this fair earth, which is full of the signs of God’s presence, and all the while you have shut your eyes to the clear evidences of His power and Godhead. You have lived as if there were no God. Indeed, you would have been very pleased if you could have demonstrated to yourself with some certainty that there was no God whatsoever. Possibly you have lived a great many years in this way, so that you are now pretty well settled in your ways, and yet God is not in any of them. If you were labeled UNGODLY it would be just as fitting to describe you in that way as it would be for the sea to be labeled salt water. Wouldn’t it?

Possibly you are another kind of person; you have regularly attended to all the external forms of religion, and yet you have had no heart in them at all, nonetheless, you have been really ungodly. Though you meet with the people of God, you have never met with God for yourself; you have been in the choir, and yet you have not praised the Lord with your heart. You have lived without any love toward God in your heart, or given any regard to His commands in your life. Well, you are just the kind of man to whom this gospel is sent— this gospel, which says that God justifies the ungodly. It is extremely amazing, but it is happily available for you. It just suits you. Doesn’t it? How I wish that you would receive it! If you are a sensible man, you will see the remarkable grace of God in providing for you and others like you and you will say to yourself, “Justify the ungodly! Why, then, shouldn’t I be justified, and justified at once?”

Now, observe further, that it must be so— that the salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it, and have no preparation for it. It is reasonable that the statement should be put in the Bible; for, dear friend, no others need justifying but those who have no justification of their own. If any of my readers are perfectly righteous, they want no justifying. You feel that you are doing your duty well, and almost putting heaven under an obligation to you. What do you want with a Savior, or with mercy? What do you want with justification? You will be tired of my book by this time, for it will have no interest to you.

If any of you are giving yourselves such proud airs, listen to me for a little while. You will be lost, just as sure as you are alive. You righteous men, whose righteousness is all because of your own working, you are either deceivers or deceived; for the Scripture cannot lie, and it says quite plainly, “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). In any case I have no gospel to preach to the self-righteous, no, not a word of it. Jesus Christ Himself came not to call the righteous, and I am not going to do what He did not do. If I called you, you would not come, and therefore, I will not call you, under that character. No, I ask you to look instead at that righteousness of yours until you can see what a delusion it is. It is not half as significant as a cobweb. Have nothing to do with it! Flee from it! Oh believe that the only persons that are in need of justification are those who are not self-righteous! They need to have something done for them to make them righteous before the judgment seat of God. Depend upon it; the Lord only does that which is needful. Infinite wisdom never attempts to do what is unnecessary. Jesus never undertakes that which is superfluous. To make him righteous who is already righteous is no work for God— that is labor for a fool; but to make him just who is unjust— that is work for infinite love and mercy. To justify the ungodly— this is a miracle worthy of a God. And it is certainly so.

Now, look. If there is a physician anywhere in the world who has discovered precious and effective medicines, to whom is that physician sent? Is he sent to those who are perfectly healthy? I think not. Put him down in a community where there are no sick folks and he feels that he is not where he should be. There is nothing for him to do. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Mark 2:17). Isn’t it equally clear that the great remedies of grace and redemption are for the soul that is sick? They cannot be for those who are in good health because they cannot be of any use to them. If you, dear friend, feel that you are spiritually sick, the Physician has come into the world for you. If you are utterly ruined because of your sin, you are the very person the plan of salvation is directed toward. I say that the Lord of love had just such a person as you in His eye when He arranged the system of grace. Suppose a man of generous spirit decided to forgive all those who were indebted to him; it is clear that this can only apply to those really in his debt. One person owes him a thousand dollars; another owes him fifty dollars; each one has only to have his bill discharged, and the liability is wiped out. But the most generous person cannot forgive the debts of those who do not owe him anything. It is out of the power of Omnipotence to forgive where there is no sin. Pardon, therefore, cannot be for you who have no sin. Pardon must be for the guilty. Forgiveness must be for the sinful. It is absurd to talk about forgiving those who do not need forgiveness— pardoning those who have never offended.

Do you think that you must be lost because you are a sinner? This is the reason why you can be saved. Because you know that you are a sinner I would encourage you to believe that grace is ordained for those like you. One of our hymn writers even dared to say:

A sinner is a sacred thing;
The Holy Ghost hath made him so.

[“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The King James Version is in the Public Domain.]

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All of Grace 2


All of Grace
written by Charles H. Spurgeon
edited in modern English by  Jon Cardwell

2. WHAT ARE WE DOING?

I remember hearing a story. I think it came from the North Country. A minister called upon a poor woman, intending to help her because he knew that she was very poor. With his money in his hand, he knocked on the door; but she didn’t answer. He figured that she wasn’t home, and went away. A little later he met her at the church and told her that he had remembered her need: “I went to your house and knocked several times; and I supposed that you weren’t home because there wasn’t an answer.”

“When did you come, sir?”

“It was about noon.”

“Oh, dear,” she said, “I heard you, sir, and I’m so sorry I didn’t answer; but I thought it was the landlord looking for the rent.”

Many poor women know what this means. Now, it’s my desire to be heard, and therefore I want to say that I’m not coming for the rent. Certainly, it isn’t the purpose of this book to ask for anything from you, but to tell you that salvation is all of grace, which means, free, gratis, for nothing.

Often, when we’re anxious to have attention paid to us, our hearer thinks, “Ah, now I’m going to be told my duty! It’s the man coming to collect what is owed to God, and I’m sure I have nothing to pay with. I just won’t answer the door.” No, this book doesn’t come to make a demand upon you, but to bring you something. We’re not going to talk about law, and duty, and punishment, but about love, and goodness, and forgiveness, and mercy, and eternal life. Therefore, don’t act as if you were not home: don’t turn a deaf ear, or a careless heart. I’m asking nothing of you in the name of God or man. It’s not my intent to make any requirement of you; but I come in God’s name, to bring you a free gift, which shall be for your joy now, and also your joy for eternity, if you receive it. Open the door, and let my pleadings enter.

“Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). The Lord Himself invites you to a conference concerning your immediate and endless happiness, and He would not have done this if He did not mean to do you well. Do not refuse the Lord Jesus who knocks at your door; for He knocks with a hand that was nailed to the Cross for someone just like you. Since His sole purpose is for your good, open your ear and come to Him. Listen carefully, and let the good Word sink into your soul. It may be that the time has come in which you shall enter that new life which is the beginning of heaven. Faith comes by hearing, and reading is a sort of hearing: faith may come to you while you are reading this book. Why not? O blessed Spirit of all grace, make it so!

[“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The King James Version is in the Public Domain.]

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