I. CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR.
"And they cried with a loud voice, saying, salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb." Rev. vii. 10.
This is the cry of the ransomed around the throne when the universe is dissolving in wreck, and terror is filling the hearts of men. It is the first cry of the ransomed after they reach their home and have seen all that it means to be lost and to be saved, while the earth is reeling, and the elements are melting, and all things are quaking and trembling in the first approaches of the great catastrophe. They see behind them all the way through which the Lord has led them; down that long vista they behold the toils they have come through and the perils they have escaped, and they recognize how tenderly the grace of God has led them on and kept them safe. They see the robes and crowns that are prepared for them, and all the joy of the eternal future which is opening before them. They see all this, and then they behold Him whose hand has kept it all safely for them, and whose heart has chosen it for them. They look back upon all the past; they look forward into all the future; they look up into the face of Him to whom it was all due, and then they lift up their voices in one glad exultant cry, "Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb." This is what salvation means; this is what they have believed for; this is what He died to give them. They have it all. They are saved, and the full realization of it has come home to their heart at last.
Let us look a little at what it means to be saved. It is not at all a little thing. We sometimes hear that certain Christians are only justified. It is a mighty thing to be justified. It is a glorious thing to be born again. Christ said it was greater to have one's name written in heaven than to be able to cast out devils. What does salvation mean?
1. WHAT IT SAVES US FROM.
It takes away the guilt of sin. It frees us from all liability and punishment for past offences. Sin deserves punishment. Salvation takes this all away. Is it not glorious to be saved?
Salvation saves us from the wrath of God. God hates evil and must punish it somehow. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness of men. But from this salvation delivers us.
Salvation delivers us from the curse of the law. We can recall the terrors of its revealing, the lightnings and thunder that surrounded the mountain, and the terror of Israel before it was given at all. They could not bear that God should speak to them thus, and they entreated Moses, "Speak you with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die." But if the giving of the law was terrible, more terrible was the breaking. It is perilous to break the law of the land. The most tender appeal of affection did not avail to save those condemned anarchists in Chicago recently. The 'hand of the law was on their throats, and to the gallows they must go. I remember the days when the assassin of President Lincoln was stalking through the land. The law would have searched the world to find him out. How terrible it must have been for him to feel that the eye of justice was looking for him, and sooner or later would surely find him! The circle narrowed and narrowed around him, till at last he was grasped in the cordon. So the cordon of law tightens around the sinner who is under its power. Salvation delivers us from this curse through Him who was made a curse for us.
It delivers us also from our evil conscience. There is always a shadow left on our hearts by sin, and a feeling of remorse. It is the black wing of the raven, and its hoarse voice is ever whispering of despair. The memory of past guilt will follow people so that after many years they tell of crimes committed, the punishment for which they escaped, but the burden never left their conscience. Sometimes it seemed to slumber for a while, and at last it sprang upon them like a lion. Salvation delivers from our evil conscience. It takes the shadow from the heart and the stinging memory of sin from the soul.
It delivers from an evil heart, which is the source of all the sin in the life. It is natural for men to sin even while they hate it. The tendency to evil is in every nature, chained to it like a body of death, so that when we would do good evil is present with us. It takes possession of the will and heart like a living death. It is offensive, it smells of the sepulchre, it is full of the poison of asps, it putrefies the whole moral being and bears it, too, down to death. Salvation frees us from its power and gives us a new nature.
It frees us from the fear of death. It takes away the sting of that last enemy, through fear of whom we would otherwise all our lifetime be subject to bondage. I remember when I was a child what a shock a funeral bell would give me. I could not bear to hear of some one being dead. The love of Christ has taken this all away. The death-bed of God's children is to them the portal of heaven.
Salvation delivers us from Satan's power and kingdom. God has "delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." We are saved from the ills and the serpent and the bonds of sin, and the devil is for us a conquered foe. Salvation delivers us from much sorrow and distress in life. It brings a glorious sunlight into the life and drives away those clouds of depression and gloom which overwhelm us.
Beyond all else, salvation delivers us from eternal death. We are not going down into outer darkness and the depths of woe. Christ has unlocked the fetters of the pit and saved us from endless death. We are delivered from that terrible agony which the kindest lips that ever spoke has called "the worm that dies not and the fire that is not quenched."
These are some of the things that salvation has delivered us from. Is it not indeed glad tidings?
2. WHAT SALVATION BRINGS TO US.
It brings the forgiveness of all our sins and entirely removes them. They are blotted out as completely as though we had paid all that was due for them, and they can never appear against us again.
It brings us justification in the sight of God, so that we stand before Him as righteous beings. We are accepted as though we had done everything He had commanded, and had perfectly kept the law in every particular. With one stroke of the pen He erases the account that was against us; with another stroke He puts there all the righteousness of Christ. We must take both sides of this. The spotlessness of Jesus is put to your account as if it were your own. All His obedience to the Father is yours. All His patience and gentleness are yours. Every service that He has rendered to bless others is put to your account as if you had done it all. Every good thing you can discover in Him is yours, and every evil thing in you is His. That is salvation. Is it not wonderful?
It brings us into the favor and love of God, and secures us full acceptance in the person of Jesus. He loves us as He loves His only begotten Son. The moment we are presented in the arms of Christ, we are accepted in Him. Dr. Currie, a brilliant writer connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church, has left a beautiful incident in his own life. He was the editor of one of the best journals of his church, and in many ways he was closely connected with its work. He dreamed one night, a little before his recent death, that he died and went up to the gate of heaven. There he met an angel and asked to be allowed to enter. The angel asked him who he was. He answered: "I am Dr. Currie, the editor of the Quarterly Review of the Methodist Episcopal Church." The angel answered: "I don't know you, I never heard of you before." Soon he met another angel and told 'him the same story, and received the same answer: "I don't know you." At last one of the angels said: "Let us go to the Judge and see if He will know you." He went before the throne and told the Judge about his life and the 'work he had done for the church, but received the answer from the Judge: "I don't know you at all." His heart was beginning to gather the blackness of despair, when suddenly there was One at his side with a crown of thorns upon His head, who said: "Father, I know him. I will answer for him." And instantly all the harps of heaven began to sing: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain," and he was ushered into all the glory of the celestial world. Not all the preaching we have done, or all the service we have rendered will amount to anything there. We must be identified with the Man who wore the thorns; we must be accepted in the Beloved, and then the Father will love us even as He loves His Son. We shall stand with Him even as Christ does.
Salvation gives us a new heart. It brings to us regeneration of the soul. Every spark of life from the old polluted nature is worthless, and the divine nature is born in us as a part of our very being.
Salvation gives us grace to live day by day. A prisoner may be pardoned and so get out of prison, and yet have no money to meet basic needs. The prisoner is pardoned, yet is starving. Salvation takes us out of prison, and provides for all our needs besides. It enables us to rejoice in the glory of God, which is "able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."
It brings to us the help of the Holy Spirit, who is ever at our side as a gentle mother, helping our infirmities and bringing grace for every time of need.
It brings to us the care of God's providence, causing all things, to work together for our good. This is never true until we are saved; but when we are the children of God all things in earth and in heaven are on our side.
Salvation opens the way for all the blessings that follow it. It is the steppingstone to sanctification and healing, and the peace that passes understanding. From this first gateway the prospect opens out boundlessly to all the good land we may go on to possess.
Salvation brings to us eternal life. It is, of course, only the beginning, but the heavenly, land has its portals open even here, and when we at last reach the throne and look out and see all the possibilities that yet lie before us, we shall sing with the ransomed, "Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb."
3. THE PROCESS BY WHICH THESE BLESSINGS COME.
They come through the mercy and grace of God. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Salvation comes to us by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He perfectly fulfilled for us every requirement of the law. Had He faltered in one temptation we could not have been saved. Think of that when you are tempted to speak a hasty word, and you almost give way for a moment. Suppose Jesus had done so, we should have been lost forever. Every moment He held steadfastly in the path of obedience, and His perfect grace and obedience are the price of your salvation.
Salvation comes to us through the death of Christ. His obedience is not enough. He must die. His crucifixion is the atonement for our sins.
Salvation comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which was God's seal of His accomplished work and the pledge of our pardon.
Salvation comes through the intercession of Jesus at the right hand of the Father. He is our Great High Priest there, where He ever lives to make intercession for us, and thus keeps us in continual acceptance.
Salvation comes through the grace of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God is sent down, through the intercession of Christ, to carry out in our hearts and lives His work. He keeps our feet in the way, and He will never leave His work until He has put us forever into the bosom of Jesus.
Salvation comes to us by the Gospel. It is presented to us through this message, and our refusal to accept it, or our neglect to do so, fixes irrevocably, by our own act, our eternal condition. If we are saved, we become so by accepting the Gospel, which is, therefore, called "the Gospel of your salvation."
4. THE STEPS BY WHICH IT IS RECEIVED.
Conviction of sin. We must first see our need and our danger before we can be saved. The Holy Ghost brings this to our heart and conscience. Until there is this knowledge of the need of Christ, He cannot of course be received; but when the heart is deeply impressed under a sense of sin, Christ is precious indeed.
There must be next an apprehension of Jesus as our Saviour. The soul must see Him as both able and willing to save. It will not do merely to feel and confess your guilt. What is needed is to get the eye on Jesus. So Christ says to every seeking soul, "Look! Look! Look to Me and be saved !" "Every one which sees the Son, and believes on Him, may have everlasting life."
Salvation comes by repentance. There must be a turning from sin. This does not consist in mere emotional feeling, necessarily, but it does mean to have the whole will and purpose of heart turned from sin to God.
Salvation comes by coming to Jesus. The soul must not only turn away from sin. That alone will not save it. Lot's wife turned away from Sodom-but she was not in Zoar. There must be a turning to Jesus as well as a turning from sin.
Salvation comes by accepting Jesus as a Saviour. This does not mean merely crying out to Him to save, but claiming Him as the Saviour, embracing the promises He has given, and so believing that He is your personal Redeemer.
Salvation comes by believing that Christ has accepted us, and counting Him faithful who has promised. This will bring the sweetness of assurance and peace, and as we believe the promise the Spirit will seal it to the heart and witness that we are the children of God.
Salvation comes by confessing Christ as the Saviour. This is a necessary step. It is like the ratification of a deed or the celebration of a marriage, and stamps and seals our act of committal.
Salvation involves our abiding in Jesus. Having taken it for granted, once for all, that you are saved, never do the work over again. "As you have, therefore, received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in Him."
5. THINGS THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT SALVATION.
It is called God's salvation. It was not invented by people. God alone is the author of it, and He is the only Saviour.
It is also called "your own salvation," because you yourself must appropriate it.
It is called "the common salvation," because it is free to all who will accept it.
It is called a "great salvation," because it is full and infinite in its provisions. It is large enough for all your needs.
Christ is called the "mighty to save," because no matter how weak or how wicked the sinner may be, He is able to save him to the uttermost.
It is called a near salvation. "Say not 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 Christ again from the dead.) But what said it? The Word is nearly 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." We do not have to get up into some exalted state to find Christ, nor down into some profound and terrible experience, but we can find Him everywhere we are. Salvation is at our door. We can take it as we find Him very near to us. No steps were allowed to God's ancient altar, for then some poor sinner might not be able to get up to it. Jesus is on the very plane where you are this moment. You can take His salvation here now. Take Him as you are, and lie will lead you into all the experiences you need.
6. WHY IT IS CALLED THE GOSPEL OF GOOD NEWS.
Because of its value. It comes laden with blessings to him who receives it.
Because of its freedom. It may be taken without money and without price.
Because of its availableness. It is easy of access, being on the level of the worst sinner.
Because of its universality. Whosoever will may take it and live.
Because of the security of its blessings. They are given forevermore. "Verily, verily, I say to you, he that hears My Word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not perish."
Because of the eternity of its blessings. The sun will have burnt itself into ashes, the earth will have been destroyed by volcanic heat, the heavens will be changed When salvation has only begun. Then thousand times ten thousand years shall pass away, and we shall have only begun a little to understand what salvation means. Blessed be God for the Gospel of Christ's salvation.
7. CONSIDERATIONS WHICH SHOULD URGE US TO TAKE AND GIVE OUT THIS SALVATION.
Because of the fact that the salvation is hinged upon our own choice and free will. It is an awful thing to have the power to take salvation and to throw it away. And yet it is left to our choice. We are not forced to take it. We must voluntarily choose it or reject it.
Because of the tremendous responsibility to which we are held accountable for the salvation of our soul. God has put it into our hands as a jewel of inestimable value, and He will hold us to a strict account for the way we treat this precious thing. If we destroy it, how fearful will be our doom when we meet the Judge of all the earth, and hear the stern question from His lips,
"Where is your soul?"
Because of the guilt which will rest upon us for neglecting and despising the precious blood of Christ, which was shed for our salvation. To neglect it is to throw it away. He has provided a great salvation. If it is worth so much to us, if it has cost God so much to provide it, what can be thought of him who makes little of it? Jesus suffered intensely to bring it to us, and shall we stumble carelessly over it? Oh, let us be more concerned than we are, both for the salvation of our own souls and for those around us who are not saved.
Because the little word "now" is always linked with it. It must be taken now or never. The cycle of life is very narrow. We do not know how soon it will end.
"Behold now is the day of salvation."
Because its issues are for eternity. The decisions there are not reversible. The soul cannot come back when once it has left the body, and have another chance to secure its salvation. When once the Master has risen up and shut the door, the soul will find it has been left out for ever. The cry will then be, "I have lost my chance; it is too late." God's Word holds out no second chance to any human soul.
Because if salvation is missed there will be no excuse for it. Not one thing has been left undone in presenting it to men. God's best thought and Christ's best love have been given to it. All has been done that could be done. Salvation has been brought down to human's level. It has been placed where all can reach it. God has provided all the resources, even the grace, repentance and faith, if we will take them. If you lack anything, God will put His arms around you and lift you up to Him, breathing His faith into you, and carrying you Himself until you are able to walk. Salvation is brought to every sinner. If the soul is lost it is because it has neglected and defied God's love. I am glad to bring you this salvation, but eternity will be too short to tell it all. Take it and then go out and gather others in to share it. You will receive a glorious crown, but the best of it all will be that men will be saved.
In this city there is a picture hung up in a parlor and expensively framed. It is a very simple picture. It has just one word on it. On a little bit of paper-a telegraph form-is the one word,
It was framed by the lady of that mansion, and is dearer to her than all her works of art. One day when the awful news came to her through the papers that the ship on which her husband had sailed was a perfect wreck, that little telegram came to her door and saved her from despair.
It came across the sea. It was the message of that rescued man by the electric wire, and it meant to two hearts all that life is worth.
Oh, let such a message go up to-day to yonder shore. The Holy Ghost will flash it hence while I am drawing the next breath. The angels will echo it over heaven, and there are dear friends there to whom it will mean as much as their own very heaven.
I have seen another short sentence in a picture, too.
It came from one who had been rescued from a ship where friends and family had all perished. Those dear little ones were in the slimy caves of the cruel sea. Those beloved faces had gone down forever, but he was saved, and from yonder shore he sent back this sad and weary message:
So I can imagine a selfish Christian entering yonder portals. They meet the person at the gates, "Where are your dear ones?" "Where are your friends?" "Where is your crown?" "Alas, I am saved alone." God help you, reader, to so receive and give, that you shall save yourself and others also.
"Must I go, and empty handed,
Must I thus my Saviour meet,
Not one soul with which to greet Him,
Lay no trophy at His feet?"
From the Fourfold Gospel by REV. A. B. SIMPSON, D.D. with an Introduction by REV. FREDERIC H. SENFT, D.D. Published by CHRISTIAN PUBLICATIONS INC. in 1890. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
Insights of the past for the present
Fourfold Gospel - A.B. Simpson
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.