3229. The Royal Saviour

by Charles H. Spurgeon on April 29, 2021
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No. 3229-56:613. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, February 1, 1872, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, December 22, 1910.

God has exalted him to his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. {Ac 5:31}

 

For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1301, “Prince and a Saviour, A” 1292}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3229, “Royal Saviour, The” 3230}

 

1. This was part of the answer of Peter and the other apostles to the question and declaration of the high priest: “Did we not strictly command you that you should not teach in this name? And, behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood on us.” Then Peter and the other apostles replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed and hung on a tree”; and, in the verse following our text, they claimed to be witness-bearers for the risen and reigning Prince and Saviour; and, more than that, they declared that they were co-witnesses with “the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” These apostles were the representatives of Messiah the Prince, acting under his authority, and, so far as they could, filling up the gap caused by his absence. They asserted that their preaching and teaching had been done by divine command, which could not be set aside by any human authority, imperial or ecclesiastical; and that only the true Prince of Israel, the Son of David, had the power and the right to issue commissions to those who acknowledged allegiance to Jehovah. They declared that Jesus, whom the chief priests had crucified, was still alive, reigning in glory, enthroned at the right hand of God, and that they were only fulfilling his royal commands when they were “standing in the temple, and teaching the people.”

2. Moreover, when the apostles stated that, in addition to being a Prince, Jesus was also a Saviour, and that he had been exalted with his Father’s right hand in order that he might “give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins,” they gave the very best reason in the world for their preaching, for they were all engaged in preaching that sinners should repent, and in assuring those who did repent that their sins were forgiven for Christ’s sake. I cannot conceive of any better argument than this, which the apostles used when answering the high priest:—“You command us not to teach in Christ’s name; but the command of the Son of God, our Prince and Saviour, is ‘that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem’; {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 329, “Christ’s First and Last Subject” 320} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1729, “Beginning at Jerusalem” 1730} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3224, “Repentance and Remission” 3225} so, since ‘we ought to obey God rather than men,’ we have filled Jerusalem with his doctrine; and we intend to go on preaching repentance and remission until, as far as we are able, we have filled the whole world with this teaching.” That purpose of Christ was, at least in part, fulfilled by the apostles in their day. God did give repentance and remission of sins to a chosen remnant of Israel; and when the rest of the Jews rejected the testimony of Christ’s servants, they said, as Paul and Barnabas did to the Jews at Antioch, “It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you: but since you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” We must never forget, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, that we owe the first preaching of the gospel to the Jews. They were, in all lands that were then known, the heralds of Christ, proclaiming the royal proclamation far and wide. Under the old covenant, “to them were committed the oracles of God”; and the gospel of the new covenant was in the first case entrusted to them, and it was through the Jews that it was made known to us Gentiles. Let us remember this fact as we contemplate the glorious future both of Jews and Gentiles. Israel as a nation will yet acknowledge her blessed Prince and Saviour. During many centuries, the chosen people, who were of old so highly-favoured above all other nations on the face of the earth, have been scattered and dispossessed, oppressed and persecuted, until sometimes it seemed as if they must be utterly destroyed; yet they shall be restored to their own land, which again shall be a land flowing with milk and honey. Then, when their hearts are turned to Messiah the Prince, and they look at him whom they have pierced, and mourn over their sin in so long rejecting him, the fulness of the Gentiles shall also come, and Jew and Gentile alike shall rejoice in Christ their Saviour.

3. In taking such a text as this, I think it is always right to give first the actual meaning of the passage before using it in any other way. This I have already done by showing you what I suppose the apostles meant in replying as they did to the high priest; now let us try to gather other truths from this passage.

4. I. First, let us learn that ALL WHO PROPERLY RECEIVE CHRIST RECEIVE HIM BOTH AS PRINCE AND SAVIOUR. He is exalted today for many purposes,—as a reward for all the pangs he endured on the cross, as our Covenant Head and Representative, and that he may rule over all things for the good of his Church, as Joseph ruled over Egypt for the good of his family. Christ is exalted as a pledge of our exaltation, for “we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

5. But our text declares that God has exalted Jesus so that he may be to his own chosen people a Prince and a Saviour;—not that he may be a Prince only, or a Saviour only, but, that he may be both a Prince and a Saviour. He is a Prince, to receive royal honours; a Prince, to be the Leader and Commander of his people; a Prince, whose every word is to be instantly and implicitly obeyed; a Prince, before whom we who love him will gladly bow, even as, in Joseph’s dream, his brother’s sheaves made obeisance to his sheaf, and as they themselves afterwards “bowed themselves to him to the earth” when he became a great lord in Egypt. The Lord Jesus Christ is a Prince among men, a Prince in his Church, and a Prince in the highest heavens; indeed, he is more than a Prince as we understand that word, for he is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” But he is also a Saviour, to be trusted; a Saviour, to be accepted with our whole heart; a Saviour who exactly meets our need, for we feel that we need to be saved, and we recognise our inability to save ourselves, and we perceive in him the ability, the grace, the power, and everything else that is required in order to save us. So he is a Saviour to be trusted and accepted as well as a Prince to be obeyed and honoured.

6. Let us never imitate those who talk about Christ as a Prince, but will not accept him as a Saviour. There are some who speak respectfully of Christ as a great Leader among men, a most enlightened Teacher, and a holy man whose life was perfectly consistent with his teaching so that he can be safely followed as an Example; he is their Prince, but that is all. We cannot occupy such a position as that; if we were to say that Christ is our Prince, but not our Saviour, we should have robbed him of that honour which is, perhaps, dearer to him than any other. It was not simply to reign over the sons of men that he came from heaven to earth; he had legions of nobler spirits than those that dwell in bodies of clay, every one of whom would gladly fly at his command to obey his behests. Besides, if he had pleased to do so, he had the power to create unnumbered myriads of holy beings who would have counted it their highest honour to be subservient to his will. Mere dominion is not what Christ craved; from of old his delights were with the sons of men because he had covenanted with his Father that he would save them. Therefore he was called Jesus, because he came to save his people from their sins. In order to accomplish that great purpose, it was necessary for him to take upon himself our nature, and to live a life of perfect obedience to his Father’s will, and at last to die a shameful death on the cross so that he might offer the one sacrifice for sins for ever which only could bring salvation to all who believe in him. We never read that Jesus said to his disciples, “I am longing for the hour when I shall take the reins of government into my hands, and wear on my head the crown of universal sovereignty”; but we do read that he said to them, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished.” We never read that he said to the Jews, “I am come to reign over you”; on the contrary, when men would have taken him by force, and made him a king, he hid himself from them. He was a King, but not a man-made king, and his rule was to be a contrast to that of every other monarch. Christ’s own description of his mission was, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save those who were lost.” I think that our royal Saviour puts the saving before the ruling, and if I call him Prince, and deny him the title of Saviour he will not thank me for such maimed and mutilated honours. No; God exalted him, to be a Prince and a Saviour, and we must receive him in both characters, or not at all.

7. For, notice that, we cannot really receive Christ as Prince unless we also receive him as Saviour. If we say that we accept him as our Prince, but reject him as our Saviour, is there not merely disloyalty, but treason of the deepest dye in that rejection? This gracious Prince tells me that I am lost and undone, and invites me to trust in him to save me; if I practically tell him that I do not need him to save me,—and I do that by rejecting him,—I virtually say that he came from heaven to earth on an unnecessary errand, at least so far as I am concerned. If I do not put my trust in his expiatory sacrifice, I say, in effect, that his death on Calvary was a superfluity, that he foolishly threw away his valuable life in needless self-sacrifice; but that would be rank blasphemy. If I reject Christ as Saviour, I do by that very act reject him as Prince. It is sheer mockery for me to say, “I honour Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews, {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1353, “Ecce Rex” 1344} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3123, “The King of the Jews” 3124} but I refuse to be washed from my sin and uncleanness in the fountain filled with his blood; I am willing to accept the Man Christ Jesus as my Example, and I will try, as far as I can, to follow his steps, but I will not accept pardon from him.” If I talk like that, Christ is neither my Prince nor my Saviour, but I am his enemy; and, unless I repent, and bow before him in real homage, and accept him both as Prince and Saviour, he will at the last condemn me with the rest of his enemies who said, “We will not have this Man to reign over us.” You may extol him with your tongue, but the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart would be far more prized by him than all your empty praises. It is a higher eulogy to Christ to stoop to kiss his pierced feet, and find in his wounds perfect healing for all the wounds that sin has made, than to pronounce the most abundant praise for his spotless character. He does not want the meaningless flatteries of men, but he thirsts for the trustfulness of souls that are willing to be saved by him. This is the best refreshment he can ever have, as he told his disciples when he had won to himself the soul of that poor fallen woman at Sychar, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work.”

8. There are some who seem willing to accept Christ as Saviour who will not receive him as Lord. They will not often state the case quite as plainly as that; but, since actions speak louder than words, that is what their conduct practically says. How sad it is that some talk about their faith in Christ, yet their faith is not proved by their works! Some even speak as if they understood what we mean by the covenant of grace; yet, alas! there is no good evidence of grace in their lives, but very clear proof of sin (not grace) abounding. I cannot conceive that it is possible for anyone to truly receive Christ as Saviour and yet not to receive him as Lord. One of the first instincts of a redeemed soul is to fall at the feet of the Saviour, and gratefully and adoringly to cry, “Blessed Master, bought with your precious blood, I acknowledge that I am yours,—yours only, yours entirely, yours for ever. Lord, what will you have me to do?” A man who is really saved by grace does not need to be told that he is under solemn obligations to serve Christ; the new life within him tells him that. Instead of regarding it as a burden, he gladly surrenders himself—body, soul, and spirit, to the Lord who has redeemed him, considering this to be his reasonable service. Speaking for myself, I can truthfully say that, the moment I knew that Christ was my Saviour, I was ready to say to him,—

 

   I am thine, and thine alone,

   This I gladly, fully own;

   And, in all my works and ways,

   Only now would seek thy praise.

   Help me to confess thy name,

   Bear with joy thy cross and shame,

   Only seek to follow thee,

   Though reproach my portion be.

 

9. It is not possible for us to accept Christ as our Saviour unless he also becomes our King, for a very large part of salvation consists in our being saved from sin’s dominion over us, and the only way in which we can be delivered from the mastery of Satan is by becoming subject to the mastery of Christ. The “strong man armed” cannot keep us under his cruel sway when the stronger One overcomes him and sets us at liberty. In order that we may be rescued from this power of the prince of darkness, the Prince of light and life and peace must come into our soul; and he must expel the intruder, and take his own rightful place as our Lord and Master, guarding by his own power what he has saved by his own right hand and his holy arm. If it were possible for sin to be forgiven, and yet for the sinner to live just as he lived before, he would not really be saved. He might be saved from some part of the punishment due to sin, but he would still be a most wretched man; for, if there were no other punishment for sin than the slavery and tyranny of sin’s own self, that would be punishment enough to make a man’s life utterly miserable, like the poor wretch chained to a corpse, and compelled to drag it around with him wherever he went. Let a man once know what sin really is, and he needs nothing else to make him thoroughly unhappy. I was talking, only today, with a Christian brother about our crosses, and I said that I thanked God we were not left without a cross to carry. “Ah!” my friend replied, “but there is one cross we would gladly throw away if we could, and that is the heaviest cross of all,—the body of sin and death that is such a burden to us.” Yes, that is indeed a grievous burden for true Christians. That is the iron that enters into our very soul. That is the gall of bitterness, the deadly venom of the old dragon’s teeth; and therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, we do not really receive Christ as our Saviour unless we also receive him as Prince; but when he comes to reign and rule in our mortal bodies, the tyranny of the usurper is broken, and we know Jesus as the complete Saviour of our body, soul, and spirit. He would not be our Prince if he were not our Saviour, and he would not be our Saviour if he were not our Prince; but what a blessed combination these two offices make!

10. The man who is taught by God to understand this great truth will be a wise teacher of others. I believe that many errors in doctrine arise through lack of a clear apprehension of Christ’s various relationships towards his spiritual Israel. To some, Christ is only a Prince, so they have a sort of lifeless legality. Others live in Antinomian {a} licentiousness because Christ is not the Prince and Lord of their lives. But, beloved, he who receives Christ both as Prince and Saviour has the blessed and happy experience of resigning his own will and subjecting all the passions of his soul to the sacred control of his glorious Prince; and, at the same time, he daily experiences in his soul the cleansing power of the precious blood of Jesus, and so, as Mary sang, his spirit rejoices in God his Saviour. This also is the true Christian practice as well as the Christian doctrine and experience,—to be always “looking to Jesus” as my Saviour, feeling that I always want him in that capacity, and that I shall need him to save me even to my last moment on earth; yet also looking up to him as my Prince, seeking to be obedient to him in all things as far as I can learn his will from his Word, and by the teaching of his Holy Spirit, and to conform my whole life to the royal and divine commands that he has issued for my guidance. I do not have the time to enlarge on this truth, but it seems to me that there is a practical lesson to be learned from the fact that all who rightly receive Christ receive him both as Prince and Saviour.

11. There are preachers who preach mere morality. I trust their number is smaller than it used to be, but there are still too many professedly Christian ministers who are like that notable man Dr. Chalmers who said that he preached morality until there was no morality left in the place. Yet afterwards, when he imitated Paul, and preached Christ crucified, he soon found that vice hid her dishonoured head, and that all the graces and virtues flourished under the shadow of the cross. So we have found it, and therefore, whoever may preach anything else, we shall still stick to the old-fashioned theme that Paul preached, that old, old story which the seeker after novelties condemns as stale, but which, to the man who wants eternal life, and longs for something that will satisfy his conscience and satiate his heart, has a freshness and charm which the lapse of years only intensifies, but does not remove.

12. II. The second lesson we learn from our text is that REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS ARE BOTH NEEDED BY THOSE WHO DESIRE TO BE SAVED. Those needs are clearly indicated by Christ’s offices as Prince and Saviour; inasmuch as he is a Prince, we must repent of our rebellion against him; and inasmuch as he is a Saviour, he is exalted to his Father’s right hand to give us remission as well as repentance, and we must have both these blessings if we are to be saved.

13. First, we cannot be saved without repentance. No remission of sin can be given without repentance; the two things are so joined together by God, as they are in our text, that they cannot be separated. Many mistakes are made concerning what true evangelical repentance really is. Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that “repentance is only a change of mind.” It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is created by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their innermost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learned at our mother’s knee,—

 

      Repentance is to leave

      The sin we loved before,

   And show that we in earnest grieve

      By doing so no more.

 

I am always afraid of a dry-eyed repentance; and, notice that, if forgiveness should be granted to those who were not sorry for their sin, such forgiveness would tend to aid and abet sin, and would be no better than the Roman Catholic heresy that, when you have sinned, all you have to do is to confess it to a priest, pay a certain sum of money according to the regular Roman tariff, and start again on your career of evil. God forbid that we should ever fall into that snare of the devil! If I could keep on living in sin, and loving it as much as I ever did, and yet have remission for it, the accusation of the blasphemer that Christ is the minister of sin would be a just one; but it is not so. On the contrary, we must loathe sin, and leave sin, and have an agonizing desire to be completely delivered from it; otherwise, we can never expect the righteous God to say to us, “Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven.”

14. Besides, if remission could be obtained without repentance, the sinner would be left very much as he was before; indeed, he would be in a worse condition than he was in before. If God could say to him, “I forgive you,” and yet, he remained unrepentant, unregenerated, unconverted, he would still be an enemy of God, for “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Forgiveness would only make such a man a more impudent, hardened, self-righteous enemy of God than he was before. If there is not such a thorough Spirit-worked change, in him that he flings away his weapons of rebellion, and casts himself penitently at the feet of his offended Sovereign, I fail to see in what sense we can call him a saved man. No; repentance is the absolutely necessary prelude to remission.

15. On the other hand, we cannot be saved without the remission of our sins following after our redemption. God exalted Jesus “to his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Note that “repentance” and “forgiveness of sins” are separate and distinct gifts of the exalted Christ. Our repentance does not entitle us to claim from God the pardon for our sin apart from his gracious promise to give it to us. If I get into a man’s debt, and then feel sorry that I owe him so much money, that regret will not pay my debt. If I transgress the law of the land, and when I stand in the judgment dock and say how grieved I am that I have broken the law, my sorrow will not pay the penalty that I have incurred. The magistrate or judge, in passing sentence on me, may remit a portion of it because of my contrition, but I have no right to claim even that clemency on his part; and, before God, my sorrow for my sins gives me no claim on him for the remission of them. No; I must say to him, as Toplady so truly sings,

 

   Let the water and the blood,

   From thy riven side which flowed,

   Be of sin the double cure,

   Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

   Could my zeal no respite know,

   Could my tears for ever flow,

   All for sin could not atone:

   Thou must save, and thou alone.

 

Suppose I do now hate some sin that I once loved, or that I hate all sin, no credit is due to me, for that abhorrence of sin is what I ought always to have had. God had the right to claim from me the hatred of sin of every kind, but that hatred does not discharge the debt which I owe to God. I will go further than that, and say that no one ever repents of sin so thoroughly as he does when he knows that it is forgiven. Hence, when Christians begin their new life, they do not repent once, and then stop repenting; but repentance and faith go hand in hand with them all the way to heaven. Indeed, dear old Rowland Hill used almost to regret that, even in heaven, he might not still have the tear of repentance glistening in his eye; but, of course, that is not possible, for of the redeemed in glory it is expressly declared that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

16. III. Thirdly, and very briefly, BOTH REPENTANCE AND REMISSION ARE GIFTS FROM CHRIST. God has exalted him “to give repentance…and forgiveness of sins.”

17. The same Lord who gives the remission also gives the repentance. This is created in us by the effective working of the Holy Spirit, yet it is not HE who repents, he cannot do so, and he has nothing of which he needs to repent; but we repent, and though it must always be our own act, yet it is Jesus’ gift to us, and the Spirit’s work in us. Jesus bestows this gift on us in his capacity as Saviour, and we never truly repent until we recognise Jesus as our Saviour, and put our whole trust in his atoning sacrifice. Struck by the cross, our rocky heart is broken, and the streams of penitential tears gush out even as the water leaped from the rock struck by the rod of Moses in the wilderness. When Jesus grants the grace of forgiveness, at the same moment he gives the tender heart that mourns that it should have needed forgiveness. I believe that, if this truth were thoroughly understood, it would help many more to receive the Calvinistic system of theology which now puzzles them. I know that, when I first realized that my repentance was the gift of God, the whole doctrine of salvation by grace fell into my soul as by a lightning flash.

18. The other side of the truth is that the same Lord who gives the repentance also gives the remission. No one will dispute the fact that the forgiveness of sins is the free gift of the exalted Saviour. This priceless blessing could never be purchased by us, or deserved by us on account of our feelings, promises, doings, or anything else; it is a gift,—freely, totally, absolutely a gift of God’s grace. It is given with repentance, but not given for or because of repentance; and wherever remission of sin is given, it works in the soul more and more repentance for sin; but it is, in itself, a gift, independent of repentance, yet given with it, a royal gift from the royal Saviour exalted with his Father’s right hand. So that what you have to do, dear friends, is to look to Christ, and only to Christ, to give you penitence while you are impenitent, and to give you pardon when you are penitent. So, as Hart sings,—

 

   Come, ye needy, come and welcome,

      God’s free bounty glorify;

   True belief, and true repentance,

      Every grace that brings us nigh,

             Without money,

      Come to Jesus Christ, and buy.

   Let not conscience make you linger,

      Nor of fitness fondly dream;

   All the fitness he requireth.

      Is to feel your need of him:

             This he gives you;

      ’Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

 


{a} Antinomian: One who maintains that the moral law is not binding on Christians, under the “law of grace.” spec. One of a sect which appeared in Germany in 1535, alleged to hold this opinion. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ro 10}

1. Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

They had hunted Paul from city to city, but the only feeling for them that he had was a wish that they might be saved. Such a wish as that should be in the heart of every Christian; his desire for his bitterest enemy should be that he may be saved.

2. For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

We should always give people credit for every good thing that there is in them; it will often enable us all the better to point out other matters in which they are deficient. So Paul put it on record, concerning the Jews of his time, that they had a zeal for God, though it was not a zeal “according to knowledge.”

3. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1899, “Zealous, but Wrong” 1900} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2214, “Barriers Broken Down” 2215}

They were so busy trying to work out a righteousness of their own that they had never accepted the righteousness which God is prepared freely to give to all those who will receive it from him.

4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1325, “Christ the End of the Law” 1316}

This is the very essence of the gospel, that believing in Christ brings to sinners a righteousness which they can never obtain in any other way.

5, 6. For Moses describes the righteousness which is by the law, that the man which does those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is by faith—

Is of quite another kind, for it—

6-9. Speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who shall ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, “‘Who shall descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what does it say? “The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart”: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1898, “Mouth and Heart” 1899}

Oh, what a blessedly simple plan of salvation is revealed here! “If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.” The apostle says this plan of salvation is so near to men that it is in their mouth. When anything is in your mouth, how can you make it your own? Why, by swallowing it; and the gospel is so near to every man that he has, as it were, only to drink it down, to make it his very own. It is not up there on the lofty heights, nor down there in the depths of the abyss, but it is here, and wherever else Christ is preached, and wherever his Word is read. Oh, sinner, “the Word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart”; then, do not put it away from you, but hold it firm for ever!

10. For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 519, “Believing with the Heart” 510} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 520, “Confession with the Mouth” 511} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3011, “Faith First, Confession Following” 3012}

After believing in Christ, the man must confess that he does believe in him. It would be a shame for any believer to try to sneak into heaven without acknowledging that Christ has saved him. If any man is ashamed of his religion, you may depend on it that it is one of which he has a good reason to be ashamed, but he who has true saving faith in his heart should never blush to admit it. What is there to blush about in being a Christian? Let those blush who are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

11, 12. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him shall not be ashamed.” For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call on him.

Whoever they may be, Jews or Gentiles, rich or poor, learned or illiterate, black or white, if they will only call on God in prayer, he will not be miserly towards them, but he will be generous towards them in the abundance of the blessings which he will give them in answer to their cry.

13, 14. For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?

They cannot properly pray without faith, “for he who comes to God must believe ‘that he is, and that he is’ a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.”

14. And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?

Those who do not hear the gospel are not likely to believe it, and there are many unbelievers who never try to hear it, and it is always wrong for a man to refuse to believe any truth before he knows what it really is. There should at least be a sincere searching of the Holy Scriptures, and a candid listening to the preaching of the Word, before it is rejected.

14, 15. And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2327, “The Whole Machinery of Salvation” 2328}

The gospel brings gladness wherever it comes. The Word which we preach tells of joys that will last for ever. The gospel shall make the whole world ring with new music when it is received by all; and it shall roll away the mists that now swathe this poor dusky planet, and make it shine out like its sister stars in all the glory of God when once Christ is fully acknowledged here as Lord and Saviour.

16. But they have not all obeyed the gospel. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2804, “Disobedience to the Gospel” 2805}

All who have heard the gospel have not obeyed it.

16. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”

And what Isaiah said is what we also have to say today, “Who has believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”

17. So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1031, “How Can I Obtain Faith?” 1022}

Salvation comes by faith, and faith comes by hearing, but that hearing must be the hearing of the Word of God. Surely there is no great difficulty in understanding the gospel. This is no maze in which a man may lose himself. Here are no puzzling directions which only the learned can comprehend; oh, no! but here stand the plain, simple, soul-quickening words, “Believe and live.”

18-20 But I say, “Have they not heard?” Yes truly, “their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” But, I say, “Did not Israel know?” First Moses says, “I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” But Isaiah is very bold, and says, “I was found by those who did not look for me; I was revealed to those who did not ask for me.”

Is that not a wonderful text? There are some who have heard the gospel year after year, and who have refused it, and perished; and there are, on the other hand, scattered up and down this world, thousands of people who have never yet heard it, but the very first time they do hear it, they will accept it, and be eternally saved.

21. But to Israel—

To God’s ancient people, to whom the gospel had been preached when Paul wrote this Epistle: “to Israel”—

21. He says, “All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

It is strange that many, who first hear the Word, and most often hear it, turn away from it, while others, to whom it comes as a complete novelty, are blessed the first time they hear it. I sometimes say that there are some hearers, who regularly occupy these seats, who are just like pieces of india-rubber. They are easily impressed, they yield ascent to every truth that is uttered, but they soon get back into their old shape again, and they are exactly the same, after twenty years of hearing the gospel, as they were before, only that they are still more hardened. On the other hand, there will sometimes drop into this house of prayer a thoroughly irreligious man, with a heart as hard as a flint, but the very first tap of the hammer of the gospel breaks the flint so effectively that it is never a flint again, and God’s grace renews his heart then and there. It is our earnest desire, on all occasions whatever hearers are gathered here, that God’s saving power may be revealed to all present. So may it be now, for Christ’s sake, and for God’s glory! Amen.

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