A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, July 18, 1869, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 4/4/2011*4/4/2011
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
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1. This text is exceedingly full of matter, and might require many treatises, and even multitudes of folios, to bring out all its meaning. Holy Scripture is notably rich in meaning. Human teachers are given to verbiage; we multiply words to express our meaning, but the Lord is wondrously laconic; he writes as it were in shorthand, and gives us much in little. One single grain of the precious gold of Scripture may be beaten out into acres of human gold leaf, and spread far and wide. A few books are precious as silver, fewer still are golden; but God’s Book has a banknote in every syllable, and it would not be possible for mortal intellect to calculate the worth of its sentences.
2. We have two great truths here, which would serve us for the subject of meditation for many a day: the believer’s position — he is “in Christ”; and the believer’s character — he is a “new creature.” Upon both of these we shall speak very briefly this morning, but may God grant that we may find instruction in it.
3. I. First, then, let us consider THE CHRISTIAN POSITION — he is said to be “in Christ.”
4. There are three stages of the human soul in connection with Christ: the first is without Christ, this is the state of nature; the next is in Christ, this is the state of grace; the third is with Christ, that is the state of glory.
5. Without Christ, this is the place where we all are born and nurtured, and even though we hear the gospel, and the Bible is in all our houses, and even though we use a form of prayer, yet until we are born again, we are without God, without Christ, and strangers from the commonwealth of Israel. A man may stand at the banqueting table, and may be without food, unless he reaches out his hand to grasp what is provided; and a man may have Christ preached in his hearing every Sunday, and be without Christ, unless he reaches out the hand of faith to lay hold upon him. It is a most unhappy condition to be without Christ. It is inconvenient to be without gold, it is miserable to be without health, it is deplorable to be without a friend, it is wretched to be without reputation, but to be without Christ is the worst lack in all the world. Oh that God would make all of us sensitive to it who are now the subjects of it, and may we no longer remain in the position of being without Christ.
6. The next state indicated in the text is, “in Christ,” of which I will say more by and by. “In Christ” leads to the third state, which we can never reach without this second one, namely, to be with Christ; to be his companions in the rest which he has attained, all his work and labour done; to be with him in the glory which he has gained, made to see it and to participate in it world without end. To be with Christ is the angels’ joy, it is the heaven of heaven, it is the centre of bliss, the sun of paradise. Let us seek after it, and in order that we may have it, let us labour with all our heart and mind to be found in Christ now, so that we may be in Christ in the day of his appearing.
7. Now we turn to the expression itself, “in Christ.” I never heard of anyone being in any other man but Christ; we may follow certain leaders, political or religious, but we are never said to be included in them. We may take for ourselves eminent examples and high models of humanity, but no man is said in that respect to be in another. But this is a grand old scriptural phrase in which the disciple and the follower of Christ becomes something more than an imitator of his Lord, and is said to be in his Master. We must interpret this scriptural phrase by scriptural symbols. All of us were in the first Adam. Adam stood for us. Had Adam kept the command, all of us would have been blessed. He took the forbidden fruit and fell, and all of us fell in him. Original sin falls upon us because of the transgression of our covenant head and representative, Adam the first; but all believers are in the same sense in Christ, Adam the second, the only other representative Man before God, the heavenly Man, the Lord from heaven. Now, just as in Adam we all fell, so all who are in Christ are in Christ perfectly restored. The obedience of Christ is the obedience of all his people; the atonement of Christ is a propitiation for all his people’s sins. In Christ we lived on earth, in Christ we died, in Christ we rose, and he “has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places” in himself. Just as the apostle tells us that Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Melchizedek met him, so were we in the loins of Christ from before the foundation of the world; faith apprehends that blessed truth, and so by faith we are really in Christ Jesus.
8. Noah’s Ark was a type of Christ. The animals that were preserved from the deluge passed through the door into the ark, the Lord shut them in, and high above the foaming billows they floated in perfect safety. We are in Christ in the same sense. He is the ark of God provided against the day of judgment. We by faith believe him to be capable of saving us; we come and trust him, we risk our souls with him, believing that there is no risk; we venture on him confident that it is no venture; giving up every other hope or shadow of a hope, we trust in what Jesus did, is doing, and is in himself, and so he becomes to us our ark, and we are in him.
9. Another similitude may be taken from the old Jewish law. By God’s commands certain cities were provided throughout all Canaan, so that an Israelite who should accidentally kill his companion, might flee there from the avenger of blood. The city of refuge no sooner received the manslayer than he was perfectly free from the avenger who pursued him. Once within the suburbs or through the gate, and the manslayer might breathe safely, the executioner would be kept at bay. In the same sense we are in Christ Jesus. He is God’s eternal city of refuge, and we having offended, having slain, as it were, the command of God, flee for our lives and enter within the refuge city, where vengeance cannot reach us, but where we shall be safe world without end.
10. In the New Testament the Lord Jesus explains this phrase of being in himself in another way. He represents us as being in him as the branch is in the vine. Now, the branch derives all its nourishment, its sap, its vitality, its fruit bearing power, from the stem with which it is united. It would be of no use that the branch should be placed close to the trunk, it would be of no service even to strap it side by side with the stem, it must be actually in it by a vital union. There must be streams of sap flowing at the proper season into it, life floods gushing into it from the parent stem; and even so there is a mysterious union between Christ and his people, not to be explained but to be enjoyed, not to be defined but to be experienced, in which the very life of Christ flows into us, and we by the virtue that comes out of him into us, become like him, and bring forth clusters of good fruit to his honour and to God’s glory. I trust many of you know what this means, beloved. May you live in the possession of it daily! May you be one with Jesus, knit to him, united to him never to be separated for ever. Just as the limb is in the body, even so may you constantly be one with Jesus.
11. We may be in Christ also as the stone is in the building. The stone is built into the wall and is a part of it. In some of the old Roman walls you can scarcely tell which is the firmer, the cement or the stone, for their cement was so exceedingly strong, that it held the stones together as though they were one mass of rock; and such is the eternal love which binds the saints to Christ. They become one rock, one palace wall, one temple, to the praise and glory of the God who built the fabric. So you see what it is to be in Christ: it is to trust him for salvation as Noah trusted the ark; it is to derive real life from him as the branch does from the stem; it is to lean on him, and to be united to him as the stone leans on the foundation and becomes an integral part of the structure.
12. The phrase “in Christ Jesus,” then, has a weight of meaning in it. “How do we come to be there?” one says. To whom we answer: our union to Christ is practically and by experience worked in us by faith when a man gives himself up to Christ to sink or swim with Christ, when he leans his soul completely on the Beloved, when as for his good works he abhors them, and as for his self-righteousness, he considers it dross and dung, when he clings to the sole hope of the cross, then such a man is in Christ. He is further in Christ when he loves Jesus, when the heart having trusted and reposed in the cross, is moved with deep and warm affection for the Crucified, so that the soul clings to Christ, embracing him with fervent love, and Christ becomes the bridegroom, and the heart becomes his spouse, and they are married to one another in a union which no divorce can ever separate. When love and faith come together, then there is a blessedly sweet communion; these two graces become the double channel through which the Holy Spirit’s influence flows out daily, making the Christian to grow up more fully to Christ Jesus in all things. The more mature the Christian becomes, the nearer to the glory, the closer to the perfection which is promised, the more completely he will think and act, and live and move, in Christ his Master, being one with Jesus in all things. I shall not detain you longer over that one matter, every true Christian is in Christ.
13. II. Now we survey THE BELIEVER’S CHARACTER, for it is said that if any man is in Christ he is “a new creature.” This is a great utterance. We shall not attempt to dive into it — this would be work for a divine leviathan — but merely like the swallow, we touch its surface with our wing, and are away.
14. 1. What is meant by the Christian being a new creature? Three thoughts seem to me to spring up from the words, and the first is, the believer must then have been the subject of a radical change. He is said to be a new creature, which is of all things a most sweeping change. There are many changes which a man may undergo, but they may be far from being radical enough to be worth calling a new creation. Saul is among the prophets: hear how he prophesies; if they speak with sacred rapture the secrets of God, so does he. Is not Saul converted — the Scripture tells us that God gave him another heart! Indeed, another heart, but not a new heart. A man may be changed from one sin to another, from reckless profanity to mocking formality, from daring sin to hypocritical pretension to virtue; but such a change as is very far from being saving, and not at all like the work which is called a new creation. Ahab went and humbled himself after his murder of Naboth, and God turned away his vengeance for awhile from him, but that temporary humiliation of Ahab was no sign of a renewal of his nature; it was like the changes of the sea, which today is smooth, but which immediately will be as ravenous after wrecks as ever, being still unchanged in its nature, still voracious and cruel, fickle and unstable. Ahab may humble himself, but he is still Ahab, and as Ahab he will go down into the pit.
15. Conversion is sometimes described in Scripture as healing; yet the idea of healing does not rise to the radical character of the text. Naaman went down to the Jordan full of leprosy, and he washed himself, and came up, after the seventh immersion, with his flesh clean like a little child’s; but it was the same flesh and the same Naaman, and he was by no means a new creature. The woman, bowed down with infirmity those sad eighteen years, was marvellously changed when she stood upright, as a daughter of Abraham, loosed at last from her bondage; but she was the same woman, and the description does not answer to a new creature. No doubt there are great moral changes done in many which are not saving. I have seen a drunkard become sober; I have known people with debauched habits become regular; and yet their changes have not amounted to regeneration or the new birth. The same sin has been within them, still reigning, though it has assumed a different garb, and used another voice. Ah, you may be washed from outward leprosies, and you may be made straight from your visible infirmities, but this will not suffice you; if you are in Christ you must have more than this; for “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
16. Nor will the most startling changes suffice unless they are total and deep. The Ethiopian might change his skin, the leopard might suddenly lose his spots — these would be strange prodigies, but the leopard would remain a leopard, and the Ethiopian would still be black at heart; the improvement would not amount to new creation. So may a man give up every outward lust and every crying sin which he was accustomed to indulge in, and yet, unless the change shall go far deeper than the outward life, he is not saved — he is not a new creature, and, therefore, he is not in Christ Jesus. I venture to say, that even the metaphor of resurrection, which is often applied to conversion, does not go as far as the language of the text. The young daughter of Jairus is placed upon her bed, and she dies, and our Lord comes and says to her, “Talitha cumi,” and she opens her eyes, she awakens, she lives, she eats, still she is not a new creature; her mother receives her as the very same child. Even Lazarus, who has been dead and is supposed through four days of burial to have begun to stink, when he is called from the grave by the voice of Jesus, is the subject of a remarkable miracle, but it scarcely amounts to a new creation. He is the same Lazarus restored, not a new creature, but the same creature vivified from a transient sleep of death. Do you see, then, how very searching the word is here, “a new creature,” absolutely a new creation. It is a root and branch change; not an alteration of the walls only, but of the foundation; not a new weaving of the visible tapestry, but a renewal of the fabric itself. Regeneration is a change of the entire nature from top to bottom in all senses and respects. Such is the new birth, such is it to be in Christ and to be renewed by the Holy Spirit.
17. The text says that we are new creatures through being in Christ. How does this come about? We have known people to denounce very earnestly against the doctrine that men are saved by a simple faith in Jesus Christ. That is the gospel, and nothing else is the gospel, and those who do not preach that truth know nothing about God’s gospel at all; for it is the very soul and essence of the gospel — the article, as Luther used to say, by which a church stands or falls. We are saved by a simple faith in Jesus, but these people argue against this on the basis that there must be a great moral change in man before he can be reconciled to God and made fit to be with God for ever. But, my brethren, if the text is true, that those who are in Christ are new creatures, what greater change than this can be desired? I know no language, I believe there is none, that can express a greater or more thorough and more radical renewal, than what is expressed in the term, “a new creature.” It is as though the former creature were annihilated and put away, and something altogether new was formed from the breath of the eternal God, even as in the day when the world sprang out of nothing, and the morning stars sang together over a newly made universe. Such is the fruit of being in Christ, to be a new creature. And what, you moralists, do you want more than this? What, you pretenders to perfection, what, you mystic spiritualists, who strive after a strange holiness to which you never attain, what, you who bind heavy burdens upon men’s shoulders which you do not touch with your fingers yourselves, what do you want more than this, for a man to be absolutely made a new creature by being in Christ?
18. How is this done? We reply that the man who is in the first Adam, being translated into the second Adam, becomes legally a new creature. As in the first Adam he is judged and condemned, his punishment is laid upon his substitute; but as viewed in the second representative Man, he is legally, and before the bar of God’s justice, a new creature. But this is not all: he who believes in Christ, finding himself completely pardoned as the result of his faith in the precious blood of Jesus, loves Christ, and loves the God who gave Christ to be his redemption, and that love becomes a master passion. We have all heard of the expulsive power of a new affection; this new affection of love for God coming into the soul, expels love for sin. It enters into the heart of man with such a royal majesty about it that it puts down all his predispositions towards evil, and his prejudices against the Most High, and with a real and divine power it reigns within the soul. I suppose the mode of this great change is somewhat after this manner: The man at first is ignorant of his God; he does not know God to be so loving, so kind, so good as he is; therefore the Holy Spirit shows the man Christ, lets him see the love of God in the person of Christ, and thus illuminates the understanding. Whereas the sinner thought nothing of God before, or his few stray thoughts were all dark and terrible, now he learns the infinite love of God in the person of Christ, and his understanding gets clearer views of God than it ever had before. Then, in turn, the understanding acts upon the affections. After learning that God is so good and kind, the heart, which was hard towards God, is softened, and the man loves the gracious Father who gave Jesus to redeem him from his sins. The affections being changed, the whole man is on the way towards a great and radical renewal, for now the emotions find another ruler. The passions, once rabid as vultures at the sight of the carrion of sin, now turn with loathing from iniquity, and are only stirred by holy principle. The convert grows vehement against evil, as vehement as he once was against the right. Now he longs and pines after communion with God as once he longed and pined after sin. The affections, like a rudder, have changed the direction of the emotions, and meanwhile the will, that most stubborn thing of all, that iron sinew, is led in a blessed captivity, wearing silken fetters. The heart wills to do what God wills, yes, it wills to be perfect, for to will is present with us, though how to perform all that we wish we cannot find. See then, beloved friends, how great is the change performed in us by our being in Christ! It is a thorough and entire change, affecting all the parts, powers, and passions of our manhood. Grace does not reform us, but recreates us; it does not pare away here and there an evil excrescence, but it implants a holy and divine principle which goes to instant war with all indwelling sin, and continues to fight until corruption is subdued, and holiness is enthroned.
19. I shall only pause to ask this one question — do my hearers all know what such a change as this means? Believe me, you must know it personally for yourselves, or you can never enter heaven. Let no man deceive you. That regeneration which is said to be performed in baptism, is a figment without the shadow of foundation. The sprinkling of an infant makes no change in that child whatever; it is, as I believe, a vain ceremony, not commanded by God, nor warranted in Scripture; and as the Church of England practises it, it is altogether pernicious and superstitious, and if there is any effect following it, it must be an evil effect upon those who wickedly lie to Almighty God, by promising and vowing that the unconscious shall keep God’s commandments, and walk in the same all the days of his life; which they cannot do for the child, inasmuch as they cannot even do so for themselves. You must have another regeneration than this, the work not of priestly fingers, with their hocus-pocus and superstitious genuflections, but the work of the Eternal Spirit, who alone can regenerate the soul, whose office alone it is that can give light to the spiritually blinded eye, and sensation to the spiritually dead heart. Do not be misled by the priests of this age. You profess to have cast off Rome, cast off her Anglican children. Do not wear the rags of her superstition, nor bear her mark in your foreheads. You must be born again in another sense than formality can work in you. It must be an inward work, a spiritual work, and only this can save your souls. If any man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature, that is, he has experienced a radical change.
20. 2. Secondly, another thought springs up from the expression in the text. There is divine working here. “A new creature.” Creation is the work of God alone. It must be so. If any doubt it, let us ask them to make the effort to create the smallest object. The potter places his clay upon the wheel, and shapes it after his own pleasure, he fashions the vase, but he is not its creator. The clay was there beforehand, he only changes its shape. Will any man who thinks he can play the creator, produce a single grain of dust? Call now, and see if there are any who will answer you — call to nothingness, and ask a grain of dust to appear at your bidding. It cannot be. Now, inasmuch as Paul declares the Christian man to be a new creature, it is proven that the Christian man is the work of God, and the work of God alone, “Who were born, not by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by God.” The inner life of the Christian is the sole work of the Most High, neither can any pretend to put his finger to it to help the Creator. In creation, who helped God? Who poised the clouds for him? Who weighed the hills in scales to aid his skill, or helped him dig the channels of the sea? Who aided in rolling the stars along? Who took a torch to light up the lamps of heaven? With whom did the Almighty take counsel, and who instructed him? If there are any who can stand with God in the making of the world, then may some pretend to compare with him in the conversion of souls, but until that shall be, the new creation is God’s sole domain, and in it his attributes, and his attributes alone, shine resplendent. “It is not by him who wills, nor by him who runs, but by God who shows mercy.” The sovereign will of God creates men to be heirs of grace.
21. My brethren, it was more difficult, if such terms are ever applicable to Omnipotence, it was more difficult to create a Christian than to create a world. What was there to begin with when God made the world? There was nothing; but nothing could not stand in God’s way — it was at least passive. But, my brethren, in our hearts, while there was nothing that could help God, there was much that could and did oppose him. Our stubborn wills, our deep prejudices, our ingrained love for iniquity, all these, great God, opposed you, and aimed at thwarting your designs. There was darkness in the first creation, but that darkness could not obstruct the incoming of light. “Light be!” was the eternal fiat, and light was. But, oh great God, how often has your voice spoken to us and our darkness has refused your light! We loved darkness rather than light, because our deeds were evil; and it was only when you did put on the garments of your omnipotence, and come out in the glory of your strength, that finally our soul yielded to your light, and the abysmal darkness of our natural depravity made way for your celestial radiance. Yes, great God, it was great to make a world, but greater to create a new creature in Christ Jesus.
22. There was chaos when God began to prepare this world for man; dire confusion and rampant disorder. But the Spirit of God moved on the face of the deep, and speedily brought order, for chaos could not resist the Spirit. But, alas! the disorder of our soul was stout in resistance to the order of God. We would not have his ways nor yield to his commands; but even as we could we set our faces like a flint against the will and power and majesty of the Eternal. Yet he has subdued us, yet he has made us the creatures of his mercy. To him, then, be glory and strength! To him be praise, world without end!
23. In the creation of the old world God first gave light, and afterwards he created life — the life that crept, the life that walked, the life that swam, the life that flew in the midst of heaven. So he has worked in our hearts; he has given us the life that creeps upon the ground in humiliation for sin; the life that walks in service, the life that swims in sacred waters of repentance, the life that flies on the wings of faith in the midst of heaven; and, just as God separated the light from the darkness, and the dry land from the sea, so in the new creature he has separated the old depravity from the new life. He has given to us a holy and incorruptible life which is for ever separated from, and opposed to, the old natural death; and at last, when the old creation was all but finished, God brought forth man in his own image as the top stone. He will a similar work do in us as his new creatures. Having given us light, and life, and order, he will renew in us the image of God. Yes, that image is in every man who is in Christ Jesus at this hour. Although it is not yet complete, the outlines, as it were, are there. The great Sculptor has begun to chisel out the image of himself in this rough block of human marble; you cannot see all the features, the divine outline is not yet apparent; still, because it is in his design, the Master sees what we do not see; he sees in our unhewn nature his own perfect likeness as it is to be revealed in the day of the revealing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
24. Thus, dear brethren, I have tried to show you that the work which is performed in us when we come to be in Christ Jesus, is a divine work, because it is a new creation. I shall pause here again, and say to each hearer, “Do you know what it is to be under God’s hand, and to be made by God’s workmanship?” Strangers to God must be strangers to heaven. Beloved, if you have no more religion than you have worked out in yourself, and no more grace than you have found in your nature, you have none at all. A supernatural work of the Holy Spirit must be performed in every one of us, if we wish to see the face of God with acceptance. This change is assuredly performed in every man who is in Christ Jesus. If you believe in the Lord Jesus, this work is begun and shall be carried on in you; but if you have nothing about you but your own strivings and resolvings, your own prayings and reformings, you fall short of the glory of God, and you do not have what will be a passport to the skies. May God still grant you to have it. I pray God his truth may go right through and through your souls like refining fire, and may you not be satisfied unless a true new birth, the work of the living God, is really in your possession even now.
25. 3. We shall now come to the third point which the singular expression of the text brings up. The expression “a new creature,” indicates remarkable freshness. It is very long since this world saw a new creature. If geologists tell the truth, there have been several series of creatures in different periods of time, and each race has given place to another race of new creatures fresh from creation’s mint, new from God’s hand. But it is now six thousand years at least, and some of us think many thousand years more, since the day when this last set of creatures came into this world, and started upon the race of life: all the creatures we now see are old and antiquated. The flower which springs from the soil, is the repetition of its kind which bloomed five thousand years ago. Those meadows decked with yellow king cups and fair daisies are the facsimiles of those our fathers looked upon sixty years ago. As for ourselves, removed by long lines of pedigree from the man whom Jehovah formed in the garden, we by nature show small signs of the undefiled hand and sacred finger. The world is hackneyed and stale and old. Time wearily drags on to its Saturday night; it draws near to the last of its work days with heavy footsteps. Any new creature coming fresh into the world would startle and amaze us all. What would men give if the Almighty hand would form a novelty in life, and send it among us; and yet, you Athenian wits, who are always seeking after some new thing, the text tells you that there are new creatures upon earth, positive new creations, fruits that have the freshness and bloom of Eden about them, unfaded flowers, life with the dew of its youth upon it; and these new creatures are Christian men; these new creatures fresh from the divine hand, as though just fashioned between the eternal palms, are the men who weep for sin, the men who confess their iniquity, the men who say, “God be merciful to us, sinners,” the men who rest in the blood of the atonement, the men who love Christ Jesus, and live to the glory of the Most High; these are new creatures. There is a freshness about them; they have just come from the hand of God, they enjoy nearness to God, they get to the fountain head of life, and drink where the crystal stream is cool and clear, and not muddied by long trickling through earthly channels. There is a freshness, I say, about them which is to be found nowhere else. I do believe this, believe it because I have experienced it. This world is a dream, an empty show; there is nothing lasting beneath the stars, everything of seeming joy soon palls upon the mind. Take to study, and ransack all the learned tomes, and your mind will soon be satiated with knowledge. Take to travel, and see the fairest realms, climb the summits of the Alps, or traverse the valleys with all their picturesque beauty, and you will soon say, “I have exhausted all, I know it, I am weary of it.” Follow whatever pursuit you wish, like Solomon you may acquire gardens and palaces, singing men and singing women; or you may, if your folly is great enough, give yourself to wine; or if you wish, addict yourself to commerce; but of everything you will say before long, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” The world is only a mirage; it melts, it disappears as the traveller passes on, and mocks his thirst with the deceptive image of the true. But, beloved, the spiritual life is not so. There is a freshness, a vivacity, a force, an energy, a power about it that never grows stale. He who prayed yesterday with joy, shall pray in fifty years’ time, if he is on earth, with the very same delight. He who loves his Maker, and feels his heart beat high at the mention of the name of Jesus, shall find as much transport in that name, if he lives to the age of Methuselah, as he does now. Year by year its sweets grow sweeter, its lights grow brighter, its novelties grow fresher, its joys more joyous, and its exhilarations more intense. We still dance before the ark. While heart and flesh are failing the spirit gathers new strength, and joy gathers growing force. Let us seek after this new creatureship, this new power, this fresh life, this ever vigorous youth, that laughs at decrepit earth and worn out time; this new life which considers even sun, and moon, and stars, only as dying things, like flickering lamps smoking out their lives for lack of oil; while the divine life, since it is fed by God, wears within it a secret immortality which death, and hell, and time, cannot impair.
26. Now I shall appeal to you again. Do you know anything about this freshness? If you do, you will find that the world does not understand you. A new creature put into this world, would be in a very strange position, from the mere fact of its being a new creature. Believer, you will find that the world does not suit you as it once did. You will be out of your element, pining for another world; for there must needs be a new world to suit a new creature. Do you feel pantings after the new world? God will not give you what he has not taught you to long for, but, your cravings and longings are the shadows of the coming mercy. Ask yourselves whether you know these mysteries. If you do not, may the Lord teach you; and if you do, praise and bless his name.
27. To conclude, this subject leads us to two things. It leads us to self-examination. May I press upon every one to search himself, whether he knows what this being made a new creature means! But I will not detain you on this point, lest; I weary you on this sultry morning. Pursue practically the exhortation I fail to enlarge upon verbally.
28. I would lead you to another thought, on which I will dwell for a moment. Our subject stirs up hope in the Christian. If God has made a new creature of him, which is the greatest work of grace, will he not do the lesser work of grace — namely, make the new creature grow up to perfection? If the Lord has turned you to himself, never be afraid that he will leave you to perish. If he had meant to destroy you, he would not have done this for you. God does not make creatures for annihilation. Chemists tell us that although many things are resolved into their primary gases by fire, yet there is not a particle less matter on the earth today than there was when it was created. No spiritual life that comes from God is ever annihilated. If you have obtained it, it never shall be taken from you — it shall be in you a well of water springing up to everlasting life. If when you were an enemy, God looked upon you in grace, and changed you, and made you what you are now, will he not now that you are reconciled continue to preserve and nurture you until he presents you faultless before his presence with exceeding great joy? May the Lord grant it to you.
One other word of hope, and it is this. If salvation is entirely a
creation of God, if God alone can work it, what hope this ought to
give the most forlorn sinner! Ah! my dear friend, if your salvation
rested on you, you might well despair. Chaos, if it remained with you
to make order, order could never be! Darkness, if it were yours to
create the light, light could never shine! But God’s fiat brings
forth order and light. Sinner, if it were for you to make yourself a
saint, and work out your own salvation alone, you might well despair;
but it is God’s work, and he can do whatever he wishes. He can
instantly dispel your gloom, he can immediately overcome your
unbelief. He can change your heart, he can make you, the greatest of
sinners, to become the brightest of saints. Lift up your heart to
him. He hears prayer. Heaven’s gate is open. Seek, for he who seeks
finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened; and may God bless
you, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon — 1 John 3]