A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 6, 1874, By C. H. Spurgeon. At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *2/8/2012
Christ died for the ungodly. [Ro 5:6]
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1. In this verse the human race is described as a sick man, whose disease is so far advanced that he is altogether without strength: no power remains in his system to throw off his mortal malady, nor does he desire to do so; he could not save himself from his disease if he wanted to, and would not if he could. I have no doubt that the apostle had in his mind the description of the helpless infant given by the prophet Ezekiel; it was an infant — an infant newly born — an infant deserted by his mother before the necessary offices of tenderness had been performed; left unwashed, unclothed, unfed, a prey to certain death under the most painful circumstances, forlorn, abandoned, and hopeless. Our race is like the nation of Israel, its whole head is sick, and its whole heart is faint. You unconverted men are just such! Only there in this darker shade in your picture, that your condition is not only your calamity, but your fault. In other diseases men are grieved at their sickness, but this is the worst feature in your case, that you love the evil which is destroying you. In addition to the pity which your case demands, much blame must be measured out to you: you are without will for what is good, your “cannot” means “will not,” your inability is not physical but moral, not that of the blind who cannot see for lack of eyes, but of the willingly ignorant who refuse to look.
2. While man is in this condition Jesus interposes for his salvation. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly”; “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” according to “his great love by which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses and sins.” The reason for my sermon will be an endeavour to declare that the reason for Christ’s dying for us did not lie in our excellence; but where sin abounded grace much more abounded, for the people for whom Jesus died were viewed by him as the opposite of good, and he came into the world to save those who are guilty before God, or, in the words of our text, “Christ died for the ungodly.”
3. Now to our business. We shall dwell first upon the fact — “Christ died for the ungodly”; then we shall consider the fair inferences from it; and, thirdly, proceed to think and speak of the proclamation of this simple but wondrous truth.
4. I. First, here is THE FACT — “Christ died for the ungodly.”
5. Never did the human ear listen to a more astounding and yet cheering truth. Angels desire to look into it, and if men were wise they would ponder it night and day. Jesus, the Son of God, himself God over all, the infinitely glorious One, Creator of heaven and earth, out of love for men stooped to become a man and die. Christ, the thrice holy God, the pure hearted man, in whom there was no sin and could be none, espoused the cause of the wicked. Jesus, whose doctrine makes deadly war on sin, whose Spirit is the destroyer of evil, whose whole self abhors iniquity, whose second advent will prove his indignation against transgression, yet undertook the cause of the impious, and even to death pursued their salvation. The Christ of God, though he had no part or lot in the fall and the sin which has arisen out of it, has died to redeem us from its penalty, and, like the psalmist, he can cry, “Then I restored what I did not take away.” Let all holy beings judge whether this is not the miracle of miracles!
6. Christ, the name given to our Lord, is an expressive word; it means “Anointed One,” and indicates that he was sent upon a divine errand, commissioned by supreme authority. The Lord Jehovah said of old, “I have laid help upon one who is mighty, I have exalted one chosen out of the people”; and again, “I have given him as a covenant to the people, a leader and commander for the people.” Jesus was both set apart to this work, and qualified for it by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He is no unauthorized saviour, no amateur deliverer, but an ambassador clothed with unlimited power from the great King, a Redeemer with full credentials from the Father. It is this ordained and appointed Saviour who has “died for the ungodly.” Remember this, you ungodly! Consider well who it was who came to lay down his life for such as you are.
7. The text says Christ died. He did a great deal besides dying, but the crowning act of his career of love for the ungodly, and what rendered all the rest available to them, was his death for them. He actually gave up the ghost, not in fiction, but in fact. He laid down his life for us, breathing out his soul, even as other men do when they expire. So that it might be indisputably clear that he was really dead, his heart was pierced with the soldier’s spear, and immediately there flowed out blood and water. The Roman governor would not have allowed the body to be removed from the cross had he not been duly certified that Jesus was indeed dead. His relatives and friends who wrapped him in linen and laid him in Joseph’s tomb, were sorrowfully sure that all that lay before them was a corpse. Christ really died, and in saying that, we mean that he suffered all the pangs incident to death; only he endured much more and worse, for his was a death of particular pain and shame, and was not only attended by the forsaking of man, but by the departure of his God. That cry, “My God, my God! why have you forsaken me?” was the innermost blackness of the thick darkness of death.
8. Our Lord’s death was penal, inflicted upon him by divine justice: and rightly so, for our iniquities lay on him, and therefore the suffering must also lay on him. “It pleased the Father to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” He died under circumstances which made his death most terrible. Condemned to a felon’s gibbet, he was crucified amid a mob of jesters, with few sympathising eyes to gaze upon him; he bore the gaze of malice and the glance of scorn; he was hooted and jeered by a ribald throng, who were cruelly inventive in their taunts and blasphemies. There he hung, bleeding from many wounds, exposed to the sun, burning with fever, and devoured with thirst, under every circumstance of contumely, pain, and utter wretchedness; his death was of all deaths the most deadly death, and emphatically “Christ died.”
9. But the heart of the text comes here, that “Christ died for the ungodly”; not for the righteous, not for the reverent and devout, but for the ungodly. Look at the original word, and you will find that it has the meaning of “impious, irreligious, and wicked.” Our translation is by no means too strong, but scarcely expressive enough. To be ungodly, or godless, is to be in a dreadful state, but as use has softened the expression, perhaps you will see the sense more clearly if I read it, “Christ died for the impious,” for those who have no reverence for God. Christ died for the godless, who, having cast off God, cast off with him all love for what is right. I do not know a word that could more fitly describe the most irreligious of mankind than the original word in this place, and I believe it is used on purpose by the Spirit of God to convey to us the truth, which we are always slow to receive, that Christ did not die because men were good, or would be good, but died for them as ungodly — or, in other words, “he came to seek and to save those who were lost.”
10. Observe, then, that when the Son of God determined to die for men, he viewed them as ungodly, and far from God by wicked works. In casting his eye over our race he did not say, “Here and there I see spirits of nobler mould, pure, truthful, truth seeking, brave, selfless, and just; and therefore, because of these choice ones, I will die for this fallen race.” No; but looking on them all, he whose judgment is infallible returned this verdict, “They are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable; there is no one who does good, no, not one.” Putting them down at that estimate, and nothing better, Christ died for them. He did not please himself with some rosy dream of a superior race yet to come, when the age of iron should give place to the age of gold, — some halcyon period of human development, in which civilization would banish crime, and wisdom would conduct man back to God. Very well he knew that, left to itself, the world would grow worse and worse, and that by its very wisdom it would darken its own eyes. It was not because a golden age would come by natural progress, but just because such a thing was impossible, unless he died to procure it, that Jesus died for a race which, apart from him, could only develop into deeper damnation. Jesus viewed us as we really were, not as our pride imagines us to be; he saw us to be without God, enemies to our own Creator, dead in trespasses and sins, corrupt, and set on mischief, and even in our occasional cry for good, searching for it with blinded judgment and prejudiced heart, so that we exchange bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. He saw no good thing in us but every possible evil, so that we were lost, — utterly, helplessly, hopelessly lost apart from him: yet viewing us as in that graceless and Godless plight and condition, he died for us.
11. I would have you remember that the view under which Jesus beheld us was not only the true one, but, for us, the kindly one; because if it had been written that Christ died for the better kind, then each troubled spirit would have inferred “he did not die for me.” Had the merit of his death been the prerequisite of honesty, where would have been the dying thief? If of chastity, where would the woman be who loved much? If of courageous fidelity, how would it have fared with the apostles, for they all forsook him and fled? There are times when the bravest man trembles lest he should be found a coward, the most selfless frets about the selfishness of his heart, and the most pure is staggered by his own impurity; where, then, would have been hope for one of us, if the gospel had been only another form of law, and the benefits of the cross had been reserved as the rewards of virtue? The gospel does not come to us as a premium for virtue, but it presents us with forgiveness for sin. It is not a reward for health, but a medicine for sickness. Therefore, to handle all cases, it puts us down at our worst, and, like the good Samaritan with the wounded traveller, it comes to us where we are. “Christ died for the impious” is a great net which takes in even the leviathan sinner; and of all the creeping sinners innumerable who swarm the sea of sin, there is not one kind which this great net does not encompass.
12. Let us notice well that in this condition lay the need of our race that Christ should die. I do not see how it could have been written, “Christ died for the good.” To what end for the good? Why did they need his death? If men are perfect, does God need to be reconciled to them? Was he ever opposed to holy beings? Impossible! On the other hand, were the good ever the enemies of God? If there are good men, are they not of necessity his friends? If man is by nature just with God, why should the Saviour die? “The just for the unjust,” I can understand; but the “just dying for the just” would be a double injustice — an injustice that the just should be punished at all, and another injustice that the just should be punished for them. Oh no! If Christ died, it must be because there was a penalty to be paid for sin committed, hence he must have died for those who had committed the sin. If Christ died, it must have been because “a fountain filled with blood” was necessary for the cleansing away of heinous stains; hence, it must have been for those who are defiled. Suppose there should be found anywhere in this world an unfallen man — perfectly innocent of all actual sin, and free from any tendency to it, there would be a superfluity of cruelty in the crucifixion of the innocent Christ for such an individual. What need has he that Christ should die for him, when he has, in his own innocence, the right to live? If there is found beneath the heavens an individual who, notwithstanding some former slips and flaws, can still by future diligence, completely justify himself before God, then it is clear that there is no need for Christ to die for him. I would not insult him by telling him that Christ died for him, for he would reply to me, “Why should he? Can I not make myself just without him?” In the very nature of things it must be so, that if Christ Jesus dies he must die for the ungodly. Such agonies as his would not have been endured had there not been a reason, and what reason could there have been but sin?
13. Some have said that Jesus died as our example; but that is not altogether true. Christ’s death is not absolutely an example for men, it was a march into a region of which he said, “You cannot follow me now.” His life was our example, but not his death in all respects, for we are by no means bound to surrender ourselves voluntarily to our enemies as he did, but when persecuted in one city we are told to flee to another. To be willing to die for the truth is a most Christly thing, and in that Jesus is our example; but into the winepress which he trod it is not ours to enter, the voluntary element which was unique to his death renders it inimitable. He said, “I lay down my life by myself; no man takes it from me, but I lay it down by myself.” One word of his would have delivered him from his foes; he had only to say “Begone!” and the Roman guards would have fled like chaff before the wind. He died because he willed to do so; of his own accord he yielded up his spirit to the Father. It must have been as an atonement for the guilty; it could not have been as an example, for no man is bound to die voluntarily. Both the dictates of nature, and the command of the law, require us to preserve our lives. “You shall not kill” means “You shall not voluntarily give up your own life any more than to take the life of another.” Jesus stood in a special position, and therefore he died; but his example would have been complete enough without his death, if it had not been for the particular office which he had undertaken. We may fairly conclude that Christ died for men who needed such a death; and, since the good did not need it for an example — and in fact it is not an example to them — he must have died for the ungodly.
14. The sum of our text is this — all the benefits resulting from the Redeemer’s passion, and from all the works that followed after it, are for those who by nature are ungodly. His gospel is that sinners believing in him are saved. His sacrifice has put away sin from all who trust him, and, therefore, it was offered for those who had sin upon them before. “He rose again for our justification,” but certainly not for the justification of those who can be justified by their own works. He ascended on high, and we are told that he “received gifts for men, yes, for the rebellious also.” He lives to intercede, and Isaiah tells us that “He made intercession for the transgressors.” The aim of his death, resurrection, ascension, and eternal life, is towards the sinful sons of men. His death has brought pardon, but it cannot be pardon for those who have no sin — pardon is only for the guilty. He is exalted on high “to give repentance,” but surely not to give repentance to those who have never sinned, and have nothing to repent for. Repentance and remission both imply previous guilt in those who receive them: unless, then, these gifts of the exalted Saviour are mere shams and superfluities, they must be meant for the really guilty. From his side there flowed out water as well as blood — the water is intended to cleanse polluted nature, then certainly not the nature of the sinless, but the nature of the impure; and so both blood and water flowed for sinners who need the double purification. Today the Holy Spirit regenerates men as the result of the Redeemer’s death; and who can be regenerated except those who need a new heart and a right spirit? To regenerate the already pure and innocent would be ridiculous; regeneration is a work which creates life where there was formerly death, gives a heart of flesh to those whose hearts were originally stone, and implants the love of holiness where sin once had sole dominion. Conversion is also another gift, which comes through his death, but does he turn those whose faces are already in the right direction? It cannot be. He converts the sinner from the error of his ways, he turns the disobedient into the right way, he leads back the stray sheep to the fold. Adoption is another gift which comes to us by the cross. Does the Lord adopt those who are already his sons by nature? If they are children already, what need is there for adoption? No; but the grand act of divine love is what takes those who are “children of wrath even as others,” and by sovereign grace puts them among the children, and makes them “heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ.”
15. Today I see the Good Shepherd in all the energy of his mighty love, going out into the dreadful wilderness. For whom is he gone out? For the ninety and nine who feed at home? No, but his love sends him into the desert, over hill and dale, to seek the one lost sheep which has gone astray. Behold, I see him arousing his church, like a good housewife, to cleanse her house. With the broom of the law she sweeps, and with the candle of the word she searches, and what for? For those bright new coined pieces fresh from the mint, which glitter safely in her purse? Assuredly not, but for that lost piece which has rolled away into the dust, and lies hidden in the dark corner. And lo! grandest of all visions! I see the Eternal Father, himself, in the infinity of his love, going out in haste to meet a returning child. And whom does he go to meet? The older brother returning from the field, bringing his sheaves with him? An Esau, who has brought him savoury meat such as his soul loves? A Joseph whose godly life has made him lord over all Egypt? No, the Father leaves his home to meet a returning prodigal, who has been involved with prostitutes, and grovelled among swine, who comes back to him in disgraceful rags, and disgusting filthiness! It is on a sinner’s neck that the Father weeps; it is on a guilty cheek that he sets his kisses; it is for an unworthy one that the fatted calf is killed, and the best robe is worn, and the house is made merry with music and with dancing. Yes, tell it, and let it ring all around earth and heaven, Christ died for the ungodly. Mercy seeks the guilty, grace has to do with the impious, the irreligious and the wicked. The physician has not come to heal the healthy, but to heal the sick. The great philanthropist has not come to bless the rich and the great, but the captive and the prisoner. He puts down the mighty from their seats, for he is a stern leveller, but he has come to lift the beggar from the dunghill, and to set him among princes, even the princes of his people. Sing, then, with the holy Virgin, and let your song be loud and sweet, — “He has filled the hungry with good things, but the rich he has sent away empty.” “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” “He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him, seeing he always lives to make intercession for them.” Oh you guilty ones, believe in him and live.
16. II. Let us now consider THE PLAIN INFERENCES FROM THE FACT. Let me have your hearts as well as your ears, especially those of you who are not yet saved, for I desire you to be blessed by the truths uttered; and oh, may the Spirit of God cause it to be so.
17. It is clear that those of you who are ungodly — and if you are unconverted you are that — are in great danger. Jesus would not interpose his life and bear the bloody sweat and crown of thorns, and nails, and spear, and unmitigated scorn, and death itself, if there were not solemn need and imminent peril. There is danger, solemn danger, for you. You are under the wrath of God already, and you will soon die, and then, as surely as you live, you will be lost, and lost for ever; as certain as the righteous will enter into everlasting life, you will be driven into everlasting punishment. The cross is the danger signal for you, it warns you that if God did not spare his only Son, he will not spare you. It is the lighthouse set on the rocks of sin to warn you that swift and sure destruction awaits you if you continue to rebel against the Lord. Hell is an awful place, or Jesus would not have needed to suffer such infinite agonies to save us from it.
18. It is also fairly to be inferred that out of this danger only Christ can deliver the ungodly, and he only through his death. If a less price than that of the life of the Son of God could have redeemed men, he would have been spared. When a country is at war, and you see a mother give up her only boy to fight her country’s battles — her only well beloved, blameless son — you know that the battle must be raging very fiercely, and that the country is in stern danger: for, if she could find a substitute for him, though she gave all her wealth, she would lavish it freely to spare her darling. If she were certain that in his heart a bullet would find its target, she must have strong love for her country, and her country must be in dire necessity before she would ask him to go. If, then, “God did not spare his Son, but freely delivered him up for us all,” there must have been a dread necessity for it. It must have been like this: he must die, or the sinner must, or justice must; and since justice could not, and the Father desired that the sinner should not, then Christ must; and so he did. Oh, miracle of love! I tell you, sinners, you cannot help yourselves, nor can all the priests of Rome or Oxford help you, let them perform their antics as they may; Jesus alone can save, and that only by his death. There on the bloody tree hangs all man’s hope; if you enter heaven it must be by the force of the incarnate God’s bleeding out his life for you. You are in such peril that only the pierced hand can lift you out of it. Look to him, at once, I urge you, before the proud waters go over your soul.
19. Then let it be noticed — and this is the point I want constantly to keep before your view — that Jesus died out of pure pity. He must have died out of the most gratuitous benevolence to the undeserving, because the character of those for whom he died could not have attracted him, but must have been repulsive to his holy soul. The impious, the godless — can Christ love these for their character? No, he loved them notwithstanding their offences, loved them as fallen and miserable creatures, loved them according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses and tender mercies, from pity, and not from admiration. Viewing them as ungodly, yet he loved them. This is extraordinary love! I do not wonder that some people are loved by others, for they wear a potent charm in their countenances, their ways are winsome, and their characters charm you into affection; “but God commends his love towards us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” He looked at us, and there was not a solitary beauty spot upon us: we were covered with “wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores,” distortions, defilements, and pollutions; and yet, for all that, Jesus loved us. He loved us because he would love us; because his heart was full of pity, and he could not let us perish. Pity moved him to seek the most needy objects so that his love might display its utmost ability in lifting men from the lowest degradation, and putting them in the highest position of holiness and honour.
20. Observe another inference. If Christ died for the ungodly, this fact leaves the ungodly no excuse if they do not come to him, and believe in him to salvation. Had it been otherwise they might have pleaded, “We are not fit to come.” But you are ungodly, and Christ died for the ungodly, why not for you? I hear the reply, “But I have been so very vile.” Yes, you have been impious, but your sin is not worse than this word ungodly will encompass. Christ died for those who were wicked, thoroughly wicked. The Greek word is so expressive that it must take in your case, however wrongly you have acted. “But I cannot believe that Christ died for such as I am,” one says. Then, sir, notice! I hold you to your words, and charge you with contradicting the Eternal God to his face, and making him a liar. Your statement slanders God’s character. The Lord declares that “Christ died for the ungodly,” and you say he did not, what is that except to make God a liar? How can you expect mercy if you persist in such proud unbelief? Believe the divine revelation. Accept the gospel at once. Forsake your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall surely live. The fact that Christ died for the ungodly renders self-righteousness a folly. Why does a man need to pretend that he is good if “Christ died for the ungodly?” We have an orphanage, and the qualification for our orphanage is that the child for whom admission is sought shall be utterly destitute. I will suppose a widow trying to show to me and my fellow trustees that her boy is a fitting object for the charity; will she tell us that her child has a rich uncle? Will she enlarge upon her own capacities for earning a living? Why, this would be to argue against herself, and she is much too wise for that, I warrant you, for she knows that any such statements would damage rather than help her cause. So, sinner, do not pretend to be righteous, do not dream that you are better than others, for that is to argue against yourself. Prove that you are not by nature ungodly, and you prove yourself to be one for whom Jesus did not die. Jesus comes to make the ungodly godly, and the sinful holy, but the raw material upon which he works is described in the text not by its goodness but by its badness; it is for the ungodly that Jesus died. “Oh, but if I felt!” Felt what? Felt something which would make you better? Then you would not so clearly come under the description given here. If you are destitute of good feelings, and thoughts, and hopes, and emotions, you are ungodly, and “Christ died for the ungodly.” Believe in him and you shall be saved from that ungodliness.
21. “Well,” cries out some Pharisaic moralist, “this is a dangerous doctrine.” How so? Would it be a dangerous doctrine to say that physicians exercise their skill to cure sick people and not healthy ones? Would that encourage sickness? Would that discourage health? You know better; you know that to inform the sick of a physician who can heal them is one of the best means for promoting their cure. If ungodly and impious men would take heart and run to the Saviour, and by him become cured of impiety and ungodliness, would that not be a good thing? Jesus has come to make the ungodly godly, the impious pious, the wicked obedient, and the dishonest upright. He has not come to save them in their sins, but from their sins; and this is the best news for those who are diseased with sin. Self-righteousness is a folly, and despair is a crime, since Christ died for the ungodly. None are excluded from this except those who exclude themselves; this great gate is opened so wide that the very worst of men may enter, and you, dear hearer, may enter now.
22. I think it is also very evident from our text that when they are saved, the converted find no basis for boasting; for when their hearts are renewed and made to love God they cannot say, “See how good I am,” because they were not so by nature; they were ungodly, and, as such, Christ died for them. Whatever goodness there may be in them after conversion they ascribe it to the grace of God, since by nature they were alienated from God, and far removed from righteousness. If the truth of natural depravity is only known and felt, free grace must be believed in, and then all glorying is at an end.
23. This will also keep the saved ones from thinking lightly of sin. If God had forgiven sinners without an atonement they might have thought little of transgression, but now that pardon comes to them through the bitter griefs of their Redeemer they can only see it to be an exceedingly great evil. When we look at Jesus dying on the cross we end our dalliance with sin, and utterly abhor the cause of such great suffering to so dear a Saviour. Every wound of Jesus is an argument against sin. We never know the full evil of our iniquities until we see what it cost the Redeemer to put them away.
24. Salvation by the death of Christ is the strongest conceivable promoter of all the things which are pure, honest, lovely, and of good report. It makes sin so loathsome that the saved one cannot take up even its name without dread. “I will take away the name of Baali [my lord] out of your mouth.” [Ho 2:16] He looks upon it as we should regard a knife covered with gore, by which some villain had killed our mother, our wife, or child. Could we play with it? Could we carry it around or endure the sight of it? No, accursed thing! stained with the heart’s blood of my beloved, I would gladly fling you into the bottomless abyss! Sin is that dagger which stabbed the Saviour’s heart, and henceforth must be the abomination of every man who has been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice.
To close this point, Christ’s death for the ungodly is the grandest
argument to make the ungodly love him when they are saved. To love
Christ is the mainspring of obedience in men — how shall men be led to
love him? If you wish to grow love, you must sow love. Go, then; and
let men know the love of Christ for sinners, and they will, by grace,
be moved to love him in return. No doubt all of us are required to
know the threatenings of the wrath of God; but what touches my heart
sooner is Christ’s free love to an unworthy one like myself. When my
sins seem blackest to me, and yet I know that through Christ’s death
I am forgiven, this blessed assurance melts me down.
If thou hadst bid thy thunders roll,
And lightnings flash, to blast my soul.
I still had stubborn been;
But mercy has my heart subdued,
A bleeding Saviour I have view’d,
And now I hate my sin.
I have heard of a soldier who had been put in prison for drunkenness and insubordination several times, and he had been also flogged, but nothing improved him. At last he was taken in the commission of another offence and brought before the commanding officer, who said to him, “My man, I have tried everything in the martial code with you, except shooting you; you have been imprisoned and whipped, but nothing has changed you. I am determined to try something else with you. You have caused us a great deal of trouble and anxiety, and you seem resolved to still do so; I shall, therefore, change my plans with you, and I shall neither fine you, flog you, nor imprison you; I will see what kindness will do, and therefore I fully and freely forgive you.” The man burst into tears, for he counted on a good number of lashes, and had steeled himself to bear them, but when he found he was to be forgiven, and set free, he said, “Sir, you shall not have to find fault with me again.” Mercy won his heart. Now, sinner, in that fashion God is dealing with you. Great sinners! Ungodly sinners! God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways. I have threatened you, and you hardened your hearts against me. Therefore, come now, and let us reason together: though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” “Well,” one says, “I am afraid if you talk to sinners like that they will go and sin more and more.” Yes, there are brutes everywhere, who can be so unnatural as to sin because grace abounds, but I bless God there is such a thing as the influence of love, and I rejoice that many feel the force of it, and yield to the conquering arms of amazing grace. The Spirit of God wins the day by such arguments as these; love is the great battering ram which opens gates of brass. When the Lord says, “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud, and your iniquities like a thick cloud,” then the man is moved to repentance.
26. I can tell you hundreds and thousands of cases in which this infinite love has done all the good that morality itself could ask to have done; it has changed the heart and turned the entire direction of the man’s nature from sin to righteousness. The sinner has believed, repented, turned from his evil ways, and become zealous for holiness. Looking to Jesus he has felt his sin forgiven, and he has risen up as a new man, to lead a new life. May God grant it may be so this morning, and he shall have all the glory for it.
27. III. So now we must close — and this is the last point — THE PROCLAMATION OF THIS FACT, that “Christ died for the ungodly.”
28. I would not mind if I were condemned to live fifty years more, and only be allowed to speak these five words, if I might be allowed to utter them in the ear of every man, and woman, and child who lives. “CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY” is the best message that even angels could bring to men. In the proclamation of this the whole church ought to take its share. Those of us who can address thousands should be diligent to cry aloud — “Christ died for the ungodly”; but those of you who can only speak to one, or write a letter to one, must keep on at this — “Christ died for the ungodly.” Shout it out, or whisper it out; print it in capitals, or write it in a lady’s handwriting — “Christ died for the ungodly.” Speak it solemnly; it is not a thing for jest. Speak it joyfully; it is not a theme for sorrow, but for joy. Speak it firmly; it is an indisputable fact. Facts of science, as they call them, are always questioned: this is unquestionable. Speak it earnestly; for if there is any truth which ought to arouse all a man’s soul it is this: “Christ died for the ungodly.” Speak it where the ungodly live, and that is at your own house. Speak it also down in the dark corners of the city, in the haunts of debauchery, in the home of the thief, in the den of the depraved. Tell it in the jail; and sit down at the deathbed and read in a tender whisper — “Christ died for the ungodly.” When you pass the prostitute in the street, do not give a toss with that proud head of yours, but remember that “Christ died for the ungodly”; and when you remember those who injured you, say no bitter word, but hold your tongue, and remember “Christ died for the ungodly.” Henceforth make this the message of your life — “Christ died for the ungodly.”
29. And, oh, dear friends, you who are not saved, take care that you receive this message. Believe it. Go to God with this on your tongue — “Lord save me, for Christ died for the ungodly, and I am one of them.” Fling yourself right on to this as a man commits himself to his life jacket amid the surging billows. “But I do not feel,” one says. Do not trust your feelings if you do; but with no feelings and no hopes of your own, cling desperately to this, “Christ died for the ungodly.” You shall soon know the transforming, elevating, spiritualizing, moralizing, sanctifying power of this great fact and be no more ungodly; but first, as ungodly, rest on this, “Christ died for the ungodly.” Accept this truth, my dear hearer, and you are saved. I do not mean merely that you will be pardoned, I do not mean that you will enter heaven, I mean much more; I mean that you will have a new heart; you will be saved from the love of sin, saved from drunkenness, saved from uncleanness, saved from blasphemy, saved from dishonesty. “Christ died for the ungodly” — if that is really known and trusted in, it will open in your soul new springs of living water which will cleanse the Augean [a] stable of your nature, and make a temple of God from what was before a den of thieves. The mercy of God through the death of Jesus Christ, and a new era in your life’s history will at once begin.
30. Having put this as plainly as I know how, and having guarded my speech to prevent there being anything like a flowery sentence in it, having tried to put this as clearly as daylight itself, — that “Christ died for the ungodly,” if your ears refuse the precious blessings that come through the dying Christ, your blood is on your own heads, for there is no other way of salvation for any one among you. Whether you reject or accept this, I am clear. But oh! do not reject it, for it is your life. If the Son of God dies for sinners, and sinners reject his blood, they have committed the most heinous offence possible. I will not venture to affirm, but I do suggest that the demons in hell are not capable of so great a stretch of criminality as is involved in the rejection of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Here lies the highest love. The incarnate God bleeds to death to save men, and men hate God so much that they will not even have him as he dies to save them. They will not be reconciled to their Creator, though he stoops from his loftiness to the depths of woe in the person of his Son on their behalf. This is depravity indeed, and desperateness of rebellion. May God grant that you may not be guilty of it. There can be no fiercer flame of wrath than what will break forth from love that has been trampled upon, when men have put eternal life from them, and done despite to the Lamb of God. “Oh,” one says, “I wish I could believe!” “Sir, what difficulty is there in it? Is it hard to believe the truth? Do you dare to misrepresent your God? Are you steeling your heart to such desperateness that you will call your God a liar?” “No; I believe Christ died for the ungodly,” one says, “but I want to know how to get the merit of that death applied to my own soul.” You may, then, for here it is “He who believes in him,” that is, he who trusts in him, “is not condemned.” Here is the gospel in its entirety — “He who believes and is baptised shall be saved: he who does not believe shall be damned.”
I am only a poor weak man like yourselves, but my gospel is not weak;
and it would be no stronger if one of “the mailed cherubim, or
sworded seraphim” could take the platform and stand here instead of
me. He could tell no better news to you. God, in condescension to
your weakness, has chosen one of your fellow mortals to bear to you
this message of infinite affection. Do not reject it! By your souls’
value, by their immortality, by the hope of heaven and by the dread
of hell, lay hold upon eternal life; and by the fear that this may be
your last day on earth, yes, and this evening your last hour, I
beseech you now, “steal away to Jesus.” There is life in a look at
the crucified one; there is life at this moment for you. Look to him
now and live. Amen.
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Eze 16:1-14 Ro 5:1-11]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Adoration of God — Call To Universal Praise” 174]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — Come Now” 502 (verses 4-6)]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — Jesus Died For Me” 553]
[a] Augean: Abominably filthy; i.e. resembling the stable of Augeas, a fabulous king of Elis, which contained 3,000 oxen, and had been uncleansed for 30 years, when Hercules, by turning the river Alpheus through it, purified it in a single day. OED.
God the Father, Adoration of God
174 — Call To Universal Praise <7s.>
1 Sing, ye seraphs in the sky;
Let your loftiest praises flow;
Swell the song with rapture high,
All ye sons of men below.
2 With one soul, one heart, one voice,
Heaven and earth alike we call
In his praises to rejoice,
Who is past the praise of all.
3 Night and day his goodness tell;
Earth, and sun, and moon, and star,
Winds and waves that sink and swell,
Ceaseless spread his name afar.
4 Every living thing his hands,
Which first made, sustain, supply:
Wide o’er all his love expands
As the vast embracing sky.
5 Sin, which strove that love to quell,
Woke yet more its wondrous blaze;
Eden, Bethlehem, Calvary, tell,
More than all beside, his praise.
6 Sing, ye seraphs in the sky;
Let your loftiest praises flow;
Swell the song with raptures high,
All ye sons of men below.
Thomas Davis, 1864.
Gospel, Received by Faith
553 — Jesus Died For Me
1 Great God, when I approach thy throne,
And all thy glory see;
This is my stay, and this alone,
That Jesus died for me.
2 How can a soul condemn’d to die
Escape the just decree?
A vile, unworthy wretch am I,
But Jesus died for me.
3 Burden’d with sin’s oppressive chain,
Oh, how can I get free?
No peace can all my efforts gain,
But Jesus died for me.
4 My course I could not safely steer
Through life’s tempestuous sea,
Did not this truth relieve my fear,
That Jesus died for me.
5 And, Lord, when I behold thy face,
This must be all my plea —
Save me by thy almighty grace,
For Jesus died for me.
William Hiley Bathurst, 1831.