|ROMANS COMMENTARIES - PART 1||CLICK|
|ROMANS COMMENTARIES - PART 2
|ROMANS ILLUSTRATIONS - PART 2
Romans 7:1, 2, 3
He merely states this as an illustration.
There is no deliverance from its power but by death; but, blessed be God, we were crucified with Christ, and as new creatures we are under the rule of grace and. are not under the dominion of law.
Romans 7:2, 3, 4
While we were under the law, we could not come into the bonds of the new covenant, — the covenant of grace. But, through the death of Christ, we are dead to the law, and therefore we are set free from the principle and covenant of law, and we have come under the covenant of grace.
Sin is the transgression of the law. Therefore, out of the law, by reason of our corruption, springs sin. And, in our past lives, we did indeed find sin to be very fruitful. It grew very fast in our members, and it brought forth much “fruit unto death.”
Law provoked our old nature to rebel, grace impels the new nature to obey.
No longer is the message to us, “This do, and thou shalt live.” No more are we slaves under bondage; but we have come into a new state, we are free, rejoicing in the glorious liberty of the children of God; and what we now do is done out of a spirit of love, and not of fear. We are not seeking after holiness in order to be saved by it, neither do we seek to escape from sin because we are under any fear of being cast into hell. We have another spirit altogether within us.
The evil in us resented the divine command, and so the holy law aroused the enmity of our nature, and we rushed on to death. This was not the fault of the law, but of our depraved hearts; yet so it was.
Nay, so far from being sin, the law is the great detective of sin, discovering it, and letting us know what sin really is.
Augustine placed the truth in a clear light when he wrote, "The law is not at fault, but our evil and wicked nature; even as a heap of lime is still and quiet until water is poured on it, but then it begins to smoke and burn, not from the fault of the water, but from the nature of the lime which will not endure it."
Romans 7:7, 8.
Or, “covetousness.” The very fact that God said to us, “Do it not,” wrought upon our nature so that we wanted to do it, and that which God commanded, which was a matter of indifference to us while we were in ignorance of his will, became, by reason of the depravity of our hearts, a thing to be resisted just because he had enjoined it upon us. Ah, me! what wicked hearts are ours that fetch evil even out of good!
Romans 7:8, 9.
“I did not know how sinful I was until God’s commandment came to me. Sin seemed to be dead within me, and I thought myself a righteous man; but when the law of God came home to my heart and conscience, and I understood that even a sinful thought would ruin me, that a hasty word had the essence of murder in it, and that the utmost uncleanness might lurk under the cover of what seemed a mere custom of my fellow-men, — when I found out all this, sin did indeed live, but I died so far as righteousness was concerned.”
“If I sinned the more when God’s commandment was revealed to me; and if, by the light of the law, sin was made more apparent to me, and became so exceeding sinful that it drove me to despair, and so to commit still worse sin; the fault was not in the law, but in sin, and in me, the sinner.”
Paul here calls sin "exceeding sinful." Why didn't he say, "exceeding black" or "exceeding horrible" or "exceeding deadly"? Because there is nothing in the world so bad as sin. When he wanted to use the very worst word he could find to call sin by, he called it by its own name, and reiterated it: "Sin … exceeding sinful.
Romans 7:13, 14.
The law of the Lord is a far higher thing than it seems to be in the esteem of many people. Talk not of it as a mere “decalogue.” It has far-reaching hands, and it affects the secret thoughts and purposes of men, and even their stray imaginations come under its supremacy. “The law is spiritual.”
“I am carnal.” There is the source of all the mischief, — a disobedient and rebellious subject, not an irksome law. The law is good enough, it is absolutely perfect; “but,” says the apostle, “I am carnal,” — fleshly, — “sold under sin.”
The man himself does that which is evil, but his conscience revolts against it.
Such is our complex condition. We are new creatures, but the old man struggles within us to get the mastery.
This is a strange contradiction, — a man who has grace enough to will to do good, and yet does it not. There are two men in the one man, — the new nature struggling against the old nature. This must be a renewed man who talks in this fashion, or else he could not say that he hated sin; yet there must be a part of him still imperfect, or else he would not do that which he hates.
“If I do that against which and my conscience rebel, so far, the better part of me owns the goodness of the law, though the baser part of me rebels against it.”
Romans 7:16, 17
The new I sins not, but the old nature is sin, and remains what it always was.
The renewed man still stands out against sin. His heart is not wishful to sin, but that old nature within him will sin even to the end.
Romans 7:18, 19.
Oh, how often have men, who have been struggling after holiness, had to use these words of the apostle! The more holy they become, the more they realize that there is still a something better beyond them, after which they struggle, but to which they cannot yet attain; so still they cry, “The good that we would we do not: but the evil which we would not, that we do.”
The true man — the newborn man — is struggling after that which is right. The real “I “, the immortal “ego”, is still pressing forward, like a ship beating up against wind and tide, and striving to reach the harbor where it shall find perfect rest. Oh, what struggles, what contentions, what rightings, there are within the men and women in whom the grace of God is working mightily! Those who have but little grace can take things easily, and swim with the current; but where grace is mighty, sin will fight for the mastery, though it must yield ultimately, for there can never be any true peace until it is subdued.
Speaking for myself, I can say that, often, when I am most earnest in prayer, stray thoughts will come into my mind to draw me off from the holy work of supplication; and when I am most intently aiming at humility, then the shadow of pride falls upon me. Do not gracious men generally find it so? If their experience is like that of the apostle Paul, or like that of many another child of God whose biography one delights to read, it is so, and it will be so.
Romans 7:22, 23
This is the believers riddle, which only regenerate men can understand. Do we know what it means?
Romans 7:22, 23, 24
These are birth-pangs, the throes and anguish of a regenerated spirit. The Christian man is fighting his way to sure and certain victory; so, the more of this wretchedness that he feels, the better, if it be only caused by a consciousness that sin is still lurking within him, and that he longs to be rid of it.
It is some comfort when we feel a war within the soul to remember that it is an interesting phase of Christian experience. Such as are dead in sin have never made proof of any of these things. These inward conflicts show that we are alive. There is some life in the soul that hates sin, even though it cannot do as it would. Do not be depressed about it. Where there is pain there is life.
This proves that he was not attacking his sin, but that this sin was attacking him. I do not seek to be delivered from a man against whom I lead the attack. It is the man who is opposing me from whom I seek to be delivered. And so sometimes the sin that dwells in believers flies at us, like some foul tiger of the woods, or some demon, jealous of the celestial spirit within us.
I went to that same Primitive Methodist Chapel where I first received peace with God through the simple preaching of the Word. The text happened to be, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
"There," I thought, "that's a text for me." I had got as far as that, when the minister began by saying, "Paul was not a believer when he said this." I knew I was a believer, and it seemed to me from the context that Paul must have been a believer, too. Now I am sure he was. The man went on to say that no child of God ever did feel any conflict within. So I took up my hat and left the place, and I do not think I have frequented such places since.
So that on the one hand he agonizes, and on the other hand he triumphs. Loathing sin and glorying in Christ are our daily experience. Groaning after holiness, and finding it in Jesus, we both sigh and sing, repent and rejoice, fight and conquer. This is not a past, but a present experience, and he is a true heir of heaven who feels it within.
This precious chapter reminds us of the description of the land of Havilah, “where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good.”
This wonderful chapter is the very cream of the cream of Holy Scripture. What a grand key-note the apostle strikes in the first verse !
Some people talk about “getting out of the 7th chapter, into the 8th.” But who made this into an eighth chapter? Certainly, the Holy Spirit did not. There are no chapters in the Epistle as he inspired Paul to write it, the whole of it runs straight on without a break: “Therein therefore now no condemnation” — while struggling, fighting, warring, contending, —
There is no condemnation to them; that is gone, and gone for ever. Not only is part of it removed, but the whole of it is gone: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” This is their legal status before God,-in Christ Jesus, without condemnation; and this is their character:-
Their daily conversation (conduct) is according to their now spiritual nature, and according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and not according to their fleshly nature, and the guidance of self and Satan.
“No condemnation” — that is the first note of the chapter. In the last verse it is “no separation.” What glorious music there is here, — no condemnation to those who are in Christ, no separation of them from Christ! Happy are the people who have a share in this double blessing, and unhappy are the men and women who know nothing of it. We will read it again: “There is therefore now no condemnation, “There is a great deal of accusation, and a great deal more of tribulation, but there is no condemnation not the least hint of it. Some condemnation we might have expected, but “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
To my mind one of the sweetest words of that verse is that little word now. “There is, therefore, now no condemnation — at this very moment. Walking under the power of the Spirit of God in Christ Jesus, there is, therefore, now no condemnation to believers. It is a logical conclusion, too, from something that went before. You and I are not absolved from sin apart from the truth, but there is a great truth at the back of it which necessitates it.” There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.
like the old translation. There was a martyr once summoned before Bonner. After he had expressed his faith in Christ, Bonner said, "You are a heretic and will be damned."
"No," said he, quoting the old version, "There is therefore now no damnation to them that believe in Christ Jesus."
Oh, for faith to lay hold on this! Oh, for an overpowering faith that shall get the victory over doubts and fears, and make us enjoy the liberty with which Christ makes men free! You that believe in Christ, go to your beds this night and say, "If I die in my bed, I cannot be condemned!" Should you wake the next morning, go into the world and say, "I am not condemned!" When the devil howls at you, tell him, "You may accuse, but I am not condemned!" And if sometimes your sins rise, say, "I know you, but you are all gone forever. I am not condemned! "
As "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," so we may solemnly say, "There is therefore now a most weighty condemnation on you who are not in Christ Jesus, who are walking, not after the Spirit, but after the flesh."
They are not condemned and cannot be, They struggle, they mourn, they weep, but condemned they are not. These happy men are known by their character, the old nature does not rule them, the Holy Spirit guides their lives, both in their secret walk with God and in their public conversation among men.
“Hath made me free” — that is, the real “I” of which he wrote a little while before — the true man himself: “’ The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’ I have broken its bonds, I am a free man. Contending against its usurpation, I have escaped from under its yoke, and I shall yet tread sin under my feet, and God shall bruise even Satan himself under my feet shortly.”
“It cannot any longer rule me; and it cannot now condemn me. I am free from it, for I am now under the new and higher law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”
I have broken away from its thraldom; the new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, the law of grace has set me free from the domination of the law of sin and death. Happy is the free man who is thus liberated by the grace of God.
Sin and death cannot govern me — cannot condemn me — cannot destroy me. Another law has come in. The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has brought me into another kingdom wherein I cannot be affected, so as to condemn me, by the law of sin and death.
That he has done most effectually.
God has done by his grace: “ What the law could not do,” —
The law of God was a good law, a just and holy law. It was weak, not in itself, for, verily, if righteousness could have been by any law, it would have been by the law of God. But it was weak through our flesh. We could not keep it. We could not fulfill the conditions of life laid down under it. Therefore, what the law could not do, God has now done for us. He has found a way of making us righteous through the righteousness of his own dear Son, whom he has sent in the likeness of sinful flesh. He has found out a way of condemning sin, without condemning us. He condemned sin in the flesh, but we escaped. And he has found out a way of making us practically righteous, too, through the abundance of his grace, enabling us to walk no longer after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Blessed be God for this, for when we had broken his law, he might justly have left us to take the consequences; but he has stepped aside: he has gone beyond all that might have been expected of him, and brought in a law by which a remedy is applied to all our ills. Glory be to his name!
God had condemned sin be-fore, but never so efficiently as in the person of his Son.
Unregenerate men, the men who remain in the state in which they were born, the men who allow their lower nature to have the predominance, “they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.” That is all that they care about, all that they think about, all that they toil for, all that they really “mind.”
Oh, what a blessed thing it is to walk, freely, “not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” even though, all the while, there is, within the soul, this strife that the apostle has been describing!
If there are any men in the world who do keep the law of God, they are the very persons who do not hope to be saved by the keeping of it, for they have by faith found righteousness in Christ, and now by love and gratitude are put under the power of the law of the spiritual life in Christ and they so live, by God’s grace, that they do manifest the holiness of the law in their fires.
The principle of law produced no holiness in us, but Jesus has condemned sin and created a new life in our hearts, and thus he has brought forth in our lives the conformity to God which legal terrors never produced.
They care for nothing else: they are satisfied so long as their appetites are gratified. They are of this world, and the things of this world fill them to the brim.
They live to eat and drink. They live for self-aggrandizement. They live for the world and its pleasures alone. It is according to their nature. Everything acts according to its nature. The wolf devours; the sheep patiently feeds. They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.
Spiritual joys, spiritual hopes, spiritual pursuits,-these belong only to those who are spiritual.
Those in whom there is a new life begotten by the Holy Ghost — these mind the things of the Spirit. Each nature seeks its own things, — the flesh seeks the things of the flesh, the spirit seeks the things of the Spirit. Judge ye, my hearers, to which case ye belong by this test, — for what are you living? That which you live for is the true index of your nature. Do you mind spiritual things or the things of the flesh?
God has given us, then, the Spirit to dwell in us, and now I trust we can say that we desire holiness, and righteousness, and peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost, for these things are the things of the Spirit.
To be fleshly minded-
That is what it comes to, for the flesh comes to death at last, and, after death, it goes to corruption, If we live after that carnal fashion, this will be the end of our living: “death.”
The old nature never will obey the law of God; it never can do so. What then is to be done with it? Improve it? Nay, my brethren, the only thing to be done with it is to let it die, and then to bury it. In baptism you have a most significant symbol of what is to be done with the flesh; you are to treat it as a dead thing, and therefore to bury it. Let the old life be crucified and put to death with Christ, and let the new life take its place.
Romans 8:6. But to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
For the spirit will never die, and the spirit has that within it which will bring it perfect peace.
It is so deeply vitiated, so thoroughly depraved, that so long as the fleshly mind exists, it will be in rebellion against God. “Ye must be born again,” for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Unless we are renewed, then, by the Spirit of God, we never shall be subject to the law of God; neither, indeed, can we be.
Romans 8:7 The carnal mind is enmity against God
Paul uses a noun, not an adjective. He does not say thatthe carnal mind is opposed to God merely, but it is the positive enmity. It is not black, but blackness. It is not at enmity, but enmity itself. It is not corrupt, but corruption. It is not rebellious; it is rebellion. It is not wicked; it is wickedness itself. The heart, though it be deceitful, is positively deceit. It is evil in the concrete, sin in the essence. It is the distillation, the quintessence of all things that are vile.
Romans 8:7, 8.
Those who are still in the old nature, living for it, living to it, — Those that have never been born again, so as to be “in the Spirit,” are still just as they were born “in the flesh,” so they cannot please God. Do what they may, there is an essential impurity about their nature so that they cannot be well pleasing unto God. We must be born again, we must become spiritual by the new birth which is wrought by the Holy Spirit, or else it is impossible for us to please God. O you who are trying your best to please God apart from the new birth, and apart from Christ, see how this iron bar is put across your path: “they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Go then to him and ask him to give you of his Spirit, that you may be spiritual, and no longer carnal.
Men may wash this old nature, they may clothe it, they may decorate it, they may educate it, but there is no evolution which can produce grace out of nature. The child of nature may be finely dressed, but it is a dead child however gaudily it is attired. There is a vital eternal difference between the old nature and the new.
Since their mind is enmity to him, their acts cannot please him; renewed men are at peace with God, and their persons are acceptable to him, and hence their lives please him.
Christ does not own any that are not indwelt by his Spirit. They may wear the Christian name; they may perform some acts which look like Christian acts; but all this avails nothing. You must have the Spirit of God within you, or else you are none of his; and what a thing it is to be “none of his.” “Verily,” says Christ, “I never knew you.” “But, Lord, we ate and drank with thee: thou didst preach in our streets.” But he says, “I never knew you.” They are none of his. Oh! dear friends, the highest point to which human nature can reach of itself falls short of being in Christ. There must be the Spirit of God dwelling in us, or else we are none of his.
Romans 8:9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
It does not matter what he calls himself; he may be a preacher, he may be a bishop; but if he has not the Spirit of Christ, “he is none of his,” and if he has the Spirit of Christ, though he may be the most obscure person on earth, he belongs to Christ.
Ye saints of Rome to whom Paul was writing, and ye who believe in Christ now: “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.”
Romans 8:9. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
If Christ’s Spirit has not quickened you, you do not belong to Christ. Some ministers preach a very general sort of gospel in which everybody has a share, but the Bible knows nothing of that sort of gospel. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Do you know what it is to have the Spirit of Christ ? If not, my hearer, do not deceive yourself you are none of his. “If any man” — be he prince or magistrate, a member of Parliament or a doctor of divinity, — ” if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
Romans 8:9 "… the Spirit of God … the Spirit of Christ."
He is called in the first part of the verse, "the Spirit of God," and then he is styled, "the Spirit of Christ." Christ and God are essentially one. The Holy Ghost stands in intimate relationship both to the Father and to the Son, and is rightly called by either name.
Romans 8:9 If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
If it were possible (which it is not) for you to produce the same virtues in yourself which are produced by the Holy Spirit, yet even those would not suffice, for the text is absolute. It does not say, "If any man have not the works of the Spirit" or "the influences of the Spirit" or "the general character which comes from the indwelling of the Spirit." It goes deeper and declares, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." The difference between the regenerate and the unregenerate is not one of degree, but of kind.
Though our inner nature is transformed, the body still suffers and tempts us to sin; but even the body is the Lord's and is yet to be changed.
The grace of God has not changed that body; it still remains earth, dust, worms’ meat, and it must die unless Christ should come, and transform it by his coming. “The body is dead because of sin;” and hence come those aches and pains, that heaviness, that weariness, that decay, those infirmities of age which we experience so long as we bear about with us this body of death.
Hence the body suffers, the body is sick, the body decays, the body is under the dominion of death because of sin, but the Spirit is full of life because of righteousness.
There is a living power within us which triumphs over this dying, decaying body. So we rejoice notwithstanding all our afflictions, trials, and depressions.
Therefore, it suffers disease and pain, for the soul is regenerated, but not the body. If I may so speak, the regeneration of the body happens at the resurrection. It is then that it will receive its full share of the blessed work of Christ. “The body is dead because of sin.”
So there is a complete deliverance provided for body, soul, and spirit. As Moses said to Pharaoh when he agreed to let the people of Israel go, but said that they must leave behind their flocks, “Not a hoof shall be left behind,” so no particle of our real manhood shall be left under the thraldom of sin and death. The soul is already emancipated, and the body shall be, by the Spirit which dwells in you.
There is to be an emancipation even for this poor flesh, a translation and a glory for it yet in Christ.
You believers may have a good hope concerning your bodies: “He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies.” Wait a while, therefore; what God has done for your souls he will is due time do for your bodies also. This should make you long for the day of Christ’s appearing, as Paul says in the 23rd verse of this chapter, “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body,” when Christ shall appear, and we shall be raised —
“From beds of dust and silent clay,” —
the body itself born a second time, regenerate like the soul.
Romans 8:12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Certainly not, for we owe the flesh nothing. It keeps us down and hampers us, it is a hindrance to us, but we certainly owe it nothing; so let us not be subservient to it, let us not consult or even consider it, and especially let us never come under its fatal bondage.
We owe the flesh nothing; I mean the law of sin in our members, we owe nothing to that. It has been a curse and a plague to us; we are not debtors to the flesh, so we must not “live after the flesh.”
For we owe the flesh nothing by way of gratitude or service. The flesh has dragged us down. The flesh has ruined us. We owe it nothing, except mastery of it. We are not debtors to it, to live after it.
Romans 8:13. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die:
It will die, and so will you, who make it your master.
It is a dying thing, and “ ye shall die” if ye live after its dying fashion.
If you live simply to gratify your ambition, if you live for avarice, if you live to please yourself, if you live for any earthly object which can be comprised under the term “after the flesh,” you will certainly be disappointed, for you will die, and your hope will die with you.
Romans 8:13. But if ye through the Spirit-
That living, immortal poorer-
If you reek, by the Holy Spirit’s power, to kill sin, if you try to crush all sinful desires, if you keep evil with a rope about its neck, if you mortify it put it to death, then you shall live. Holiness is the mode of the Christian; life, sin is the way of the sinner’s death
Romans 8:13 If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die
If you will not have death unto sin, you shall have sin unto death. There is no alternative. If you do not die to sin, you shall die for sin. If you do not slay sin, sin will slay you.
Romans 8:13, 14. Do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God:
“Mortify,” kill, put to death.
Oh, high dignity and blessed privilege! As soon as ever we get away from the dominion of the flesh, and come to be led by the Spirit of God, and so become spiritual men, we have the evidence that we are the sons of God, for “God is a Spirit,” so his sons must be spiritual.
Romans 8:14. Wait, I say, on the LORD.
Now let us read just a few verses to remind us of our union with our suffering Lord.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
There may be a great many weaknesses and infirmities about them, but if they follow the divine leadership of the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
You can judge yourself, dear friend, by this test. Do you follow the Spirit’s leading? Do you desire continually that he should be your supreme Guide and Leader? If you are led by the Spirit of God, then you have this highest of all privileges, you are one of the sons of God. Nothing can equal that honor; to be a son of God, is more than anything of which ungodly kings and emperors can boast, with all their array of pomp and wealth.
Leading implies following; and those who are enabled to follow the guidance of the Divine Spirit are most assuredly children of God, for the Lord ever leads his own children. If, then, you are following the lead of God’s Spirit, you have one of the evidences of sonship.
Not those who say they are “the sons of God,” but those who undoubtedly prove that they are, by being led, influenced, gently guided, by the Spirit of God.
Romans 8:15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;
Is this true of you? “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Dear friends, hearing these words, can you respond to them? Are they true of you?
Ye did receive it once, and it was a great blessing to you. This came of the law, and the law brought you under bondage through a sense of sin, and that made you first cry for liberty, and then made you accept the liberating Savior; but you have not received that spirit of bondage again to fear.
We did have it once, and it wrought some good effect upon us for the time being; when we were under the law, we felt ourselves to be in slavery, and that made us go to Christ for liberty.
We did receive the spirit of bondage once. We felt that we were under the law, and that the law cursed us. We felt its rigorous taxation, and that we could not meet it. Now that spirit ’has gone, and we have the spirit of freedom, the spirit of children, the spirit of adoption. I suppose that the apostle, when he thus spake and said. “ve,” felt so much of the spirit of adoption in his own bosom that he could not talk of it as belonging to others alone. He was obliged to include it thus’, and so he puts it,
“Ye have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” He wanted to intimate that he himself also was a partaker of this blessed spirit. And woe to the preacher who can preach an adoption which he never enjoyed. Woe to any of us if we can teach to others concerning the spirit of sonship, but never feel it crying in our own souls, “Abba, Father.”
A noble cry, with far more true eloquence in it than all the orations of Cicero and Demosthenes. Can we look up to God and cry "Abba, Father"? Then are we miracles of divine grace.
Romans 8:15. But ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
We who believe in Jesus are all children of God, and we dare to use that name which only children might use, “Abba;” and we dare use it even in the presence of God, and to say to him, “Abba: Father.” We cannot help doing it, because the spirit of adoption must have its own mode of speech; and its chosen way of speaking is to appeal to the great God by this name, “Abba, Father.”
The spirit of bondage is the spirit of servants, not of sons; but that servitude is ended for us who are made free in Christ Jesus. We are no longer afraid of being called the children of God. We are not afraid of our own Father; we have a filial fear of him, but it is so mixed with love that there is no torment in it. Whether Jew or Gentile, we cry, “Abba, Father.
Romans 8:16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
Our new nature claims kinship with God, the Holy Ghost confirms the claim, and hence comes our full assurance.
Many of you make a profession of being the children of God. Can your own spirit say that it is true? And is there, in addition to the witness of the Spirit within you that it is true? If not, unless there is a witness to our testimony, it avails nothing. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true”; and if he chooses to put himself on a level, as it were, with the rest of humanity in that respect, we cannot expect that our witness will stand for ought if it stands alone. No, there must be the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
There are two witnesses, then, and in the mouth of these two witnesses the whole truth about our adoption shall be established. Our own spirit — so changed as to be reconciled to God, and led in ways which once it never trod, — our own spirit bears witness that we are the sons of God; and then God’s own Spirit bears witness, too, and so we become doubly sure.
Our spirit knows that we are God’s children and then God’s Spirit adds his testimony to the witness of our spirit that we are the children of God.
Oh, blessed, blessed state of heart to feel that now we are born into the family of God, and that the choice word which no slave might ever pronounce may now be pronounced by us, “Abba”! It is a child’s word, such as a little child utters when first he opens his mouth to speak, and it rune the same both backwards and forwards,-AB-BA. Oh to have a childlike spirit that, in whatever state of heart I am, I may still be able to say, in the accents even of spiritual infancy, “Abba, Father”!
What better testimony can we have than that of these two witnesses, first of our own spirit, and then of the Holy Spirit himself, “that we are the children of God”? Note that this is not spoken concerning everybody. The doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God in a doctrine of the flesh, and not of the Spirit; it is not taught anywhere in God’s Word. This is a Fatherhood which relates only to those who are spiritual; we are born into it by the new birth, and brought into it by an act of grace in adoption. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God,” this is a special privilege that belongs only to those who are spiritual.
It corroborates the testimony of conscience. We feel that we are the children of God; and the Spirit of God comes forward as a second, but still greater and higher witness, to confirm the testimony that we are the children of God.
Romans 8:17. And if children, then heirs;
For all God’s children are heirs, and all equally heirs. The elder-born members of God’s family, such as Abraham and the rest of the patriarchs, are no more heirs of God than are we of these latter days who have but lately come to Christ. “If children, then heirs.” Heirs of what?
Oh that if — “if children.” There are some that get over all that. They believe in a universal fatherhood, which is not worth the words in which they describe it. This is a different fatherhood altogether.
It is to be all with him. With him in the suffering; with him in the glory; with him in the reproach of men; with him in the honor at the right hand of the Father. But if we shun the path of humiliation with him, we may expect that he will deny us in the day of his glory.
This is a chain made of diamond links. It leads us from the cradle of regeneration to the perfection of glory, by sure steps, each one firm as the throne of God. Are we children? Then we shall be glorified with Christ.
Romans 8:17. Heirs of God,
Not only heirs of what God chooses to give, but heirs of himself. There need be nothing else said, if this is true: “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul.” “Heirs of God,
Romans 8:17. And joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Do you ever have in your heart a longing to behold the glory of God? Do you feel pressed down when you see abounding sin? Are your eyes ready to be flooded with tears at the thought of the destruction of the ungodly? Then, you are having sympathy with Christ in his sufferings, and you shall as certainly be an heir with him, by-and-by, in his glory.
This would not necessarily be true of any man’s family, for he might have children who were not his heirs; but, in God’s family, all who are born into it are born “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” We must take our part of Christ’s portion,— his portion here, and his portion hereafter; the rule for us who are in him shall be, “share and share alike.” He himself has said, “Where I am, there shall also my servant be;” and all that he has he will divide with us. Are you willing, dear brother, to take shares with Christ? If not, then I question whether you can be rightly reckoned among his saints.
Oh! this blessed co-partnership — this fellowship: joint-heirs with Christ: taking part in the whole heritage — as well the heritage of suffering as the heritage of glory. “It shall bruise thy heel, but thou shalt bruise his head.” There is to be the heel-bruising for the Christ, as well as for us; but there is to be the head-crushing of sin and Satan for him and for us, too.
Do we suffer now? Then let us wait for something better that is yet to come. Yes, we do suffer, and in this we are in accord with the whole creation of God, for the-whole creation is just now, as it were, enduring birth pangs. There is something better coming; but, meanwhile, it is troubled and perplexed, moaning and groaning.
Here the rule of proportion is calmly applied, and by heavenly arithmetic it is shown that our present griefs are hardly worth a thought, for eternal glory so infinitely transcends them. Blessed be the Lord God of our salvation for ever and ever. Amen.
If in my Father's love
I share a filial part,
Send down thy Spirit, like a dove,
To rest upon my heart.
Judge, count it up, and calculate. These sufferings, however, sharp, are short, compared with eternal glory, infinitesimal, not worthy to be taken account of; like one drop falling into a river and lost in it.
“Light afflictions” are contrasted with “an exceeding weight of glory.” Temporary afflictions, but for a moment, are to be followed by everlasting crowns that fade not away. What a contrast!
“Not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” That glory is not yet fully revealed; it is revealed to us, but not yet in us. What, then, shall we do in the meantime? Why, wait with patience, and bear our appointed burden until the time comes for us to be relieved of it; — wait, however, with hope, — wait, too, as we must, quietly enduring the pains and pangs which precede so glorious a birth. In this respect, we are not alone, as the apostle goes on to say, —
Paul made “the sufferings of this present time” into a matter of simple arithmetic and careful reckoning. He added them all up, and saw what the total was, he seemed to be about to state a proportion sum, but he gave it up, and said that the sufferings were “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.” Did they stand as one to a thousand? No, else they had been worthy to be compared. Did they stand as one to ten thousand, — or one to a million, — or one to a million of millions? If so, they would still have been worthy to be compared; but Paul saw that there was no proportion whatever between them. The sufferings seemed to be but as a single drop, and the glory to be as a boundless ocean.
“Not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” That glory is not yet fully revealed; it is revealed to us, but not yet in us. What, then, shall we do in the meantime? Why, wait with patience, and bear our appointed burden until the time comes for us to be relieved of it; — wait, however, with hope, — wait, too, as we must, quietly enduring the pains and pangs which precede so glorious a birth. In this respect, we are not alone, as the apostle goes on to say, —
Glory in us! Only think of that! You know the revelation that is in the book; but how grand will be the revelation that is in the man! “The glory which shall be revealed in us.” We shall be full of glory. And a part of God’s glory, which otherwise must have lain concealed, will be revealed in his people to his own praise forever and ever; but also to our own eternal joy.
The whole creation is in a waiting posture, waiting for the glory yet to be revealed.
All creation is, as it were, watching and waiting on tip-toe for the day when God shall manifest his sons who are at present hidden. In due time, they shall come forth, acknowledged of God, and then shall the whole creation rejoice.
There is something that the whole creation is waiting for, and it cannot come, till God’s children are manifested — till the glory is revealed in them.
See how it often weeps in the superabundant rain that seems like a minor deluge. Note how, at times, creation’s very bowels seem to be tossed and torn with pain and agony by volcanoes and earthquakes. Mark the tempests, tornadoes, hurricanes, and all kinds of ills that sweep over the globe, leaving devastation in their track, and the globe itself is wrapped in swaddling bands of mist, and Shines not out like its Sister stars in its pristine brightness and splendor. The animal creation, too, wears the yoke of bondage. How unnecessarily heavy have men often made that yoke!
Romans 8:19, 20, 21, 22
We live in a world that is under a curse, — a world that was made subject to bondage through human sin. What means this cold? What mean theae fogs? What mean the general mourning and sighing of the air all through the winter? What mean the disturbances, and convulsions, and catastrophes that we hear about on all hands? It is the creation groaning, travailing, waiting, — waiting till there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, because the former things shall have passed away.
There is a future even for materialism. That poor, dusky clod in which we dwell is yet to be illuminated with the light of God; and these poor bodies which are akin to the dust of the earth, and still remain as if they were not delivered, being subjected to pain, and weakness, and death — even they are yet to be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Romans 8:20, 21
Everything here is blighted, and subject to storm, or to decay, or to sudden death, or to calamity of some sort. It is a fair world, but there is the shadow of the curse over it all. The slime of the serpent is on all our Edens now. “The creation itself was made subject to vanity,” but it “also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
The birth-pangs of the creation are on it; the living creature within is moving itself to break its shell, and come forth.
“The whole creation.” It is the same word all through; so I have put the same word. The whole world is in its pangs and birth-throes, and there can never come its complete deliverance into the new heavens and the new earth, except there shall also be the manifestation of the children of God, and their deliverance from all that now hampers and hinders the divine life that is within them.
The soul has obtained its redemption. Therefore, our heart is glad, and our glory rejoicing. But our body has not yet obtained its redemption. That is to come at the resurrection. Then will be the adoption. “Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Oh I blessed fact! Though now, in common with the whole creation, the body is subjected to bondages, yet it shall be delivered, and we — the whole man, body as well as soul and spirit — shall be brought into the liberty of the children of God.
This is what we are looking for. Our manhood is not all soul: it is body, too. And here, as yet, this poor body seems to lie outside the gate, like Lazarus, while the soul rejoices in God. But its time of glorifying is coming. The trump of the archangel shall proclaim it.
We have already obtained salvation for our souls, but our body is still under bondage,— subject to weariness,— to pain,— to infirmity,— to death; but, by-and-by, with the new creation, our newly-moulded bodies shall be fit to live in the new world, and fit for our newborn souls to inhabit. This is the full redemption for which we are waiting.
That is what we are waiting for: “ the redemption of our body; “ and we shall not wait in vain for it, for Christ is the Savior of our body as well as of our soul, and the day shall come when even our bodies shall be free from pain, and weakness, and weariness, and sin, and death. Happy day! we may well look forward to it with the loftiest anticipations.
Our soul has been delivered from the curse. The redemption of the soul is complete, but not yet that of the body. That must suffer pain and weariness, and even descend into the tomb, but its day of manifestation shall surely come. At the appearing of our Lord from heaven, then shall the body itself be delivered, and the whole creation shall also be delivered, so we wait in a travailing condition; and we may well be content to wait, for these pangs within us and around all signify the glorious birth for which we may wait in hope.
That is our state now; at least, it is the condition of the most of us. Some of our brethren have gone ahead so tremendously that they have passed out of the world of groaning altogether; they are perfect. I regret that they are not in heaven; it would seem to be a much more proper place for them than this imperfect earth is. But as for us, our experience leads us, in sympathy with the apostle, to say that we are groaning after something better. We have not received it yet; we have the beginnings of it, we have the earnest of it, we have the sure pledge of it; but it is not as yet our portion to enjoy; we are “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body;” for, though the soul be horn again, the body is not. “The body in dead,” says the apostle, in the tenth verse of this chapter, “because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” There is a wonderful process through which this body shall yet pass, and then it shall be raised again, a glorious body, fitted for our regenerated spirit; but as yet it remains unregenerate.
Romans 8:24. For we are saved by hope:
Hope contains the major part of our salvation within itself.
Romans 8:24, 25
This is our present position,-patiently waiting for “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,”-patiently waiting for “the manifestation of the sons of God,” for “ it cloth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
Ah! brethren, if we could be all we should like to be, there would then be no room for the exercise of hope. If we had all that we are to have, then hope, which is one of the sweetest of the graces, would have no room in which to exercise herself. It is a blessed thing to have hope. Though I have heard that faith and hope are not to be found in heaven, I very much question it. I do not think they will ever die. “Now abide these three — faith, hope, and love”; for in heaven there will be room, surely, for trust in the ever blessed God that he will never cast us out from our blessedness — room for the expectation of the second advent — room for the expectation of the conquest of the world — room for the fulfilled promise of bringing all the elect to glory; still something to be hoped for; still something to be believed. Yet here is the main sphere of hope, and therefore let us give it full scope; and when other graces seem to be at a non-plus, let us still hope. I believe the New Zealand word for hope is “swimming thought,” because that will swim when everything else is drowned. Oh! happy is that man who has a hope that swims on the crest of the stormiest billow.
Romans 8:24, 25, 26
That same Spirit who gave us the spirit of adoption, that same Spirit who set us longing for something higher and better, “also helpeth our infirmities;” and we have so many of them that we show them even when we are on our knees.
This is our attitude and our condition now, — waiting for the glory which is to be revealed in us, and accepting the sorrow which is appointed to us as an introduction to the joy which is to come to us mysteriously, through it But while we are waiting, we are not without present comfort.
That is a grand thing. We have got the first-fruits of the Spirit to be the pledge of all the glorious harvest. The very fact that the Spirit dwells in us is the conclusive proof that our bodies shall be raised from the dead. Meanwhile, the Spirit of God is helping us, as we groan and labor, towards the complete perfection. “The Spirit helpeth our infirmities.”
Our weaknesses, our insufficiencies, our inabilities: the Spirit of God comes in to be a helper to the children of God. We do not know our own infirmities. Perhaps we think that we are strong, where we are exceedingly weak. The Spirit of God spies out the infirmities, and puts the help where the strength is required. “We know not what we should pray for as we ought.”
Those great things in prayer that we cannot ask for, which can never be expressed in human language, the Holy Ghost translates into groans, and so we are made to groan when we cannot speak; and those groanings bring us blessings which words cannot compass. Have you been into your prayer-chamber lately, pleading with God, and have you felt as if you could not pray? We often pray best when we think that we are praying worst. When there is the most anguish, and sighing, and crying in prayer, there is most of the very essence of prayer.
And especially our infirmities in prayer, for there is where infirmities are mostly seen.
I should have thought that it would have read, “But the Spirit itself teaches us what we should pray for.” But it does more than that. He goes beyond teaching us what we should pray for. He “maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Do you know what those groanings are? I am afraid that those who never had groanings which cannot be uttered will never know anything of that glory which cannot be expressed, for that is the way to it. The groanings that cannot be uttered lead on to unutterable joy.
There is much in this chapter about groaning, and that is but natural, for it so largely concerns our present imperfect state; but, by-and-by, there will be-
“No groans to mingle with the songs
Which warble from immortal tongues.”
There seems to be a good deal of this groaning; it is only in heaven that there are-
“No groans to mingle with the songs Which warble from immortal tongues.”
But down here a groan is sometimes the fittest wheel for the chariot of progress. We sigh, and cry, and groan, to grow out of ourselves, and to grow more like our Lord, and so to become more fit for the glory which shall be revealed in us.
You must, I am sure, as children of God, often have felt that Spirit within you groaning in prayer what you could not express. How often have you risen from your knees feeling the utter inadequacy of words to express the desires of your heart! And you have felt that you had larger desires than you have been able to interpret. There have been mighty pangs within you telling of the presence of this wrestling spirit.
Our ignorance shows itself in prayer, and is our great infirmity, we cannot tell what blessing we most require. What a mercy it is that the Holy Spirit knows all things, and moves us to ask for what is best. Before we pray we should wait upon the Spirit for his guidance, and then we shall go in unto the King with an acceptable petition.
Romans 8:26 The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us
It is a mark of wondrous condescension that God should not only answer our prayers when they are made, but should make our prayers for us. That the king should say to the petitioner, "Bring your case before me, and I will grant your desire," is kindness. But for him to say, "I will be your secretary. I will write out your petition for you. I will put it into proper words so that your petition shall be framed accept-ably," this is goodness at its utmost stretch. But this is precisely what the Holy Ghost does for us poor, ignorant, wavering, weak men. Jesus in his agony was strengthened by an angel; you are to be helped by God himself. Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses, but the Holy Ghost himself helps your infirmities.
The Spirit knows what we want. God knows: what the Spirit is asking for; and so our prayer makes the complete round, and God sends us the blessing.
Nor is it only the Holy Spirit who is thus helping us onward towards the grand finale.
This explains what to many is the mystery of prayer. The Holy Spirit, being himself God, knows the secret purposes of the divine will, and therefore moves the saints to pray in accordance with that will, and makes their supplications effectual through his own prevailing intercession.
That is the whole process of prayer. The Spirit of God knows the will of the Father, and he comes and writes it on our hearts. A true prayer is the revelation of the Spirit of God to our heart, making us desire what God has appointed to give to us. Hence the success of prayer is no difficulty to the predestinarian. Some foolishly say, “If God has ordained everything, what is the use of praying?” If God had not ordained everything, there would be no use in praying; but prayer is the shadow of the coming mercy which falls across the spirit, and we become in prayer in some degree gifted like the seers of old. The spirit of prophecy is upon the man who knows how to pray; the Spirit of God has moved him to ask for what God is about to give.
When you do not know your own mind, God knows the mind of the Spirit, and that is the very essence of prayer. He “knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,” —
That is the philosophy of prayer. Whatever God’s will is, the Spirit of God writes it on the hearts of praying saints, and they pray for the very thing which God intends to gave. As the barometer often foretells the weather that is coming, so the spirit of prayer in the Christian is the barometer which indicates when showers of blessing are coming. It is well with us when we can pray. If we cannot do anything else, if we feel that we can pray, times are not so bad with ,us as we might think.
So that he inclines our hearts to request the very blessings which the Father has determined to give, and hence our prayers are but the transcripts of the divine decrees.
Romans 8:27. Because he maketh intercession for (or, in) the saints according to the will of God.
Whatever the spirit of God prompts us to pray for, is according to the mind of God, for it is not possible that the Holy Spirit should ever be otherwise than in perfect accord with the Divine Father. The eternal degrees, if we could read them, would convey to us the same truth as the impulses of the Spirit in our heart. And this is the true exploration of prayer, — that what God intends to do, his spirit leads his people to ask him to do; and thus there is no conflict between the eternal predestination of God and the earnest entreaties of his people. They are, in fact, the outcome of that very predestination.
Romans 8:28 And we know-
Paul, like John, was no Agnostic; he did not even say, “ We think, we imagine, we suppose.” No; “ we know “-We know it: we are assured of it.
Romans 8:28. That all things work together for good-
We must not stop there, otherwise the statement will not be true, for all things do not work together for good to all men, but only-
Romans 8:28. To them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
How are we to know who they are who are the called according to God’s eternal purpose? The previous clause informs us, for both relate to the same individuals; “ them that love God” are “ them who are the saved according to his purpose.” We cannot peer into the pages of the Lamb’s book of life, yet we can tell by this simple test whether our names are recorded there,-do we truly love the Lord? If so, all things are working for our present and eternal good,-all things visible and invisible, all things friendly and unfriendly, all things in providence and grace.
We know this, for we have proved it in our own experience. “All things work.” There is nothing inactive in the providence of God. “All things work together.” There is a unity in providence. God sets one thing over against another. Blessed be the name of God, all things work together for good. The purpose of God to his people is good, and only good; and though this or that might be injurious, yet, all put together, they work for good to them that love God. Come, my soul, dost thou love God? Canst thou say to-night, “Thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love thee”? All things work together for thy good. Not only shall they work, but they are working, they work now, for thy good. And learn another sweet lesson. Thou art one of those whom God calls, according to the sweet purpose of his electing love, for so it stands: they that love God are the same as those who are called according to his purpose. If thou lovest God, God loves thee. Thy love to God, poor and faint though it be, is the assured token that he loves thee with an everlasting love, and, therefore, with bands of loving-kindness has he drawn thee.
Romans 8:28, 29, 30
These great truths must never be separated. Any one of these things befog true of us, it is most certain that the rest are also true. Now, my dear brother, you cannot read God’s foreknowledge, neither can you enter into the secrets of predestination; but you can tell whether you are called, or not; you can know whether you are justified by faith, or not; and if you get hold of those links, you have got a grip of that endless chain which is firmly fastened to the granite rook of eternity past, and which is also fastened to the rook of the glorious eternity which is yet to be revealed.
Romans 8:28. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
“All things.” That is a very comprehensive expression, is it not? It includes your present trouble, your aching head, your heavy heart: “all things.” “All things work.” There is nothing idle in God’s domain. “All things work together.” There is no discord in the providence of God. The strangest ingredients go to make up the one matchless medicine for all our maladies. “All things work together for good” — for lasting and eternal good, — “to them that love God,” that is their outward character, —
Romans 8:28. To them who are the called according to his purpose.
That is their secret character, and the reason why they love God at all.
“We know that all things work together for good.” That is a wonderfully positive statement, Paul. There are certain persons, nowadays, who say that we know nothing; yet the apostles constantly say, “We know this,” and “We know that.” These people tell us that there is a great distinction between believing and knowing,— but, evidently, it is a distinction of which the inspired apostles knew nothing at all. Read the Epistles of John, and note how he continually says, “We know, we know, we know,” and how frequently he adds, “We believe,” as though believing and knowing were the same thing. Agnostics may declare that they know nothing, if they please; but, as for us who do know, because we believe what we are taught of God in this Book, we will speak He who has something to say has s right to say it; we know, and therefore we speak.
Mark, brethren, how the apostle speaks here; he does not say that all things shall work together for good; no, but that they do work together, they are now working for your present good. This is not merely something which shall eventually turn out right; it is all right now, “We know that all things are working together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” No sooner does the apostle mention that word “purpose” than he must needs found a long discourse upon it. He was not afraid or ashamed to speak of the purposes of God. There are some preachers who say nothing about God’s purpose, or God’s decree; they seem to be afraid of it, they say it is “Calvinistic doctrine.” Why, it was here, in the Scriptures, long before Calvin was born, so what right have they to call it by his name?
Romans 8:28 All things work together for good to them that love God
To the sinner, however, all things work together for evil. Is he prosperous? He is as the beast that is fattened for the slaughter. Is he healthy? He is as the blooming flower that is ripening for the mower's scythe. Does he suffer? His sufferings are the first drops of the eternal hailstorm of divine vengeance. Everything to the sinner, if he could but open his eye, has a black aspect.
Did you ever hear of a man who got his health by being sick? That is a Christian. He gets rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he goes on by being pushed back, he lives by dying, he grows by being diminished, and becomes full by being emptied. Well, if the bad things work him so much good, what must his best things do? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven!
When that eminent servant of God, Mr. Gilpin, was arrested to be brought up to London to be tried for preaching the gospel, his captors made mirth of his frequent remark, "Everything is for the best." When he fell from his horse and broke his leg, they were especially merry about it. But the good man quietly remarked, "I have no doubt but that even this painful accident will prove to be a blessing."
That is, look upon with pleasure and delight from before all worlds. Whom he did love and call to be his own. Christ is the man, the archetype. He is not to be a lone man. It is not good for man to be alone, not even for the man; and there are to be other men called by God’s grace who are to be made like him, who are to be his brethren. These, whom God foreknew, with fore-love he has ordained, determined, predestinated to be made like his Son.
And you know that he is the first-born in this sense — not only as the greatest, but that as the first-begotten from among the dead, he has risen from the dead. He has risen from the dead, and in this he leads the way for us all. “That he might be the first-born among many brethren.”
Oh, what a glorious privilege is yours and mine, if we are indeed children of God! We are, in some respects, children of God in the same sense as Christ himself is; he is the firstborn, and we are among his “many brethren.”
What an eternal honor for all believers,-that they might be among the “many brethren” of Christ, God’s firstborn and well-beloved Son! Here too we see the purpose of God’s foreknowledge and predestination, that we should be “ conformed to the image of his Son.”
No breaking of these links. Where God gives one of these blessings, he gives the rest. There is no intimation of a failure somewhere in between. The predestinated are called, and the called are justified, and the justified are glorified.
Not with the common call with which he calls other men, but with the special call. The hen, when she is about in the yard, keeps on calling; but when she wants her own little ones to come and run beneath her wings, then she has a special cluck for them, and they know it, and they come, and run and hide beneath her.
Like links in a golden chain, each one of the blessings of grace draws on another. The central links are within our view, and if we know them to be ours, we may be sure that the others which belong to the past and the future are securely fastened to them. He who is called is most assuredly predestinated, and shall, beyond all question, be in due time glorified.
He regarded them as just. He made them just through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.
No slips, no gaps or chasms, by the way. The foreknown are predestinated: the predestinated are the called: the called are justified: the justified are glorified.
There is no break in this chain. The foreknown are predestinated, the predestinated are called, the called are justified, the justified are glorified. It is a wondrous chain. He that getteth a hold of it anywhere hath a hold of the whole of it, for this Scripture cannot be broken. If thou art called by grace into the fellowship of eternal life, thou shalt be justified and glorified.
There is no separating these golden links of love and mercy. That foreknowledge, to which all things future are open and present, begins the deed of love. Predestination comes in, and chooses a people for God who shall be eternally his. Upon this, in due time, follows effectual calling, by which the chosen ones are brought out, from the impure mass of mankind, and set apart unto God. Then follows justification by faith, through the precious blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ; and where this is, glory will certainly come, for “whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Notice that personal pronoun “he” — how it comes at the beginning, and goes on to the end. “Salvation is of the Lord.” This is so often forgotten that, trite as it may appear, we cannot repeat it too often: “Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” You might suppose, from the talk of some men, that, salvation is all of the man himself; — that is free agency pushed into a falsehood, a plain truth puffed into a lie. There is such a thing as free agency, and we should make a great mistake if we forgot it; but there is also such a thing as free grace, and we shall make a still greater mistake if we limit that to the agency of man; it is God who works our salvation from the beginning to the end.
You see that these great declarations relate to the same persons right through the whole series: “ Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate;… whom he did predestinate, them he also called,… them he also justified,… them he also glorified.” There is not a single link missing from the eternal purpose and foreknowledge of God to the everlasting glory in which the saints’ bliss shall be consummated. The practical question’s for each one of us to answer are just these,-have I been “called” by grace out of nature’s darkness into God’s marvelous light? Have I been “ justified “ by faith, and have I peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ? Then, being called and justified, I may rest assured that I have been predestinated, and that in due time I shall be glorified.
“There, where my blessed Jesus reigns,
In heaven’s unmeasured space,
I’ll spend a long eternity
In pleasure and in praise.”
Who shall? Who may? Who dares?
Shall we succumb under the sufferings of the body? Shall we yield to doubt because of all our heavy feelings, and the dullness that comes of the flesh? By no manner of means. We can get through all these difficulties, if God be with us.
If God is that great working One who does all this, who can be against us? “Why, a great many,” says one. But they are nothing, nor are all put together anything at all, as compared with him who is on our side.
After having given us his own Son, what is there that he can withhold from us if it is for our real good? Nay, he has already virtually given us all things in giving him to us.
I do not know what we can say. Wonders of grace, mountains of mercy mercy without limit — what shall be say to these things? This, at least we can say: — A great many can be against us, but we reckon them as nothing at all, if God be for us.
And so it was, for, as he could not travel quickly, the journey was prolonged, and he arrived at London some days later than had been expected. When they reached Highgate, they heard the bells ringing merrily in the city down below. They asked the meaning and were told, "Queen Mary is dead, and there will be no more burning of Protestants!"
"Ah," said Gilpin, "you see, it is all for the best." It is a blessing to break a leg if thereby a life is saved. How often our calamities are our preservatives!
Romans 8:31 If God be for us, who can be against us?
There is an opposite to this, and it belongs to some who are here: If God be against you, who can be for you? If you are an enemy to God, your very blessings are curses to you. Your pleasures are only the prelude to your pains. Whether you have adversity or prosperity, so long as God is against you, you can never truly prosper. Take half an hour this afternoon to think this over: If God be against me, what then? What will become of me in time and eternity? How shall I die? How shall I face him in the day of judgment? It is not an impossible "if" but an "if" which amounts to a certainty, I fear, in the case of many who are sitting in this house today.
This is the master argument in prayer. If we understand its force we shall not be afraid of asking too much.
There can be no end to the bounty of God after he has given his Son. He that has given the jewel of the universe, the very eye of heaven — what! will he not give to us all else really needed, and give freely, too?
Romans 8:32. 33
For so we think it ought to be read. That is another question. Can God lay anything to our charge after having justified us? Will he contradict himself?
No, that is impossible; and if he does not lay anything to their charge, what cause have they to fear?
Notice, it is not simply “freely give us all things;” but, “with him also freely give us all things.” You shall get all things with Christ; but you shall get nothing without Christ, for all the other gifts come in this one. God erst gave us his Son; and he gives us everything in him.
Dear children of God, feed on these words. They are like wafers made with honey, like cold waters from the rock Eat drink, and be filled. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
Well might the apostle ring out these confident challenges to heaven, and earth, and hell. As it is God that justifieth, who can bring any charge against his elect? Who can condemn those for whom Christ died, for whom he has risen, and for whom he is now making intercession at the right hand of God?
Ring out the challenge in heaven itself; trumpet it through all the caverns of hell; let the whole universe hear it: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect ?” None can, for “it is God that justifieth,” and his justification blocks every charge that is brought against his people.
Who shall the Lord’s elect condemn?
’Tis God that justices their souls;
And mercy like s mighty stream,
O’er all their sins divinely rolls.
Romans 8:34. Who is he that condemneth? Christ that died?
What, die for them, and then condemn them? Nobody can condemn them but the Judge; and if he is unable to condemn them, in consequence of what he has already done for them, then none can. But this is not all.
There is only One who can, for there is only one Judge, and that Judge is Jesus. So, the apostle puts it again in the form of a question, — shall he condemn us?
Shall he condemn us? It is altogether impossible. Will he blow hot and mild, and first intercede for them, and then condemn them? It cannot be.
Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth?
Why, Paul, Satan will bring thundering accusations against you. Are you not afraid?
"No," says he, "I can stop his mouth with this cry: 'It is Christ that died!' That will make him tremble, for he crushed the serpent's head in that victorious hour. And I can shut his mouth again: 'yea, rather, that is risen again,' for he took him captive on that day. And I will add, 'who sitteth at the right hand of God.' I can foil him with that, for he sits there to judge him and to condemn him forever. Once more I will appeal to his advocacy: 'Who maketh intercession for us.' I can stop his accusation with the perpetual care of Jesus for his people."
Romans 8:34 It is Christ that died.
if any confront you with other confidences, still keep to this almighty plea: "Christ has died." If one says, "I was christened and confirmed," answer him by saying, "Christ has died." Should another say, "I was baptized as an adult," let your confidence remain the same: "Christ has died." When another says, "I am a sound, orthodox Presbyterian," stick to this solid ground: "Christ has died." And if still another says, "I am a red-hot Methodist," answer him in the same way: "Christ has died." Whatever may be the confidences of others, and whatever may be your own, put them all away, and keep to this one declaration: "It is Christ that died."
Romans 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
All these have done their worst.
Oh, this blessed question — this touching question! It seems to come at the end of all the others,— a rear-guard which effectually prevents oar treasures from being taken from us. “Quis separabit?” “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
“Quis separabit?” That shall be our motto in every time of trial: “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
What a long list of ills! They seem to make up a Jeremiah’s roll of sorrow. Can they separate us from the love of Christ? They have all been tried; have they ever succeeded?
Well, these things have been tried. As it is written, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” In Paul’s day they were being hunted to the death, by thousands, and tens of thousands. Were they separated from Christ’s love?
The enemy grew tired of persecution before the saints were wearied by it. You remember how, in the days of the Roman Empire, the Christians came to the judgment-seat and confessed Christ, even when they were not sought after as if tempting their enemies to throw them to the lions, or put them to death. They were destitute of all fear, and though Emperors were worse than brutes, these Christians defied them, outbraved them vanquished them. They could not put down the Christians.
Romans 8:35. Shall tribulation ?
That has been tried. Have not the saints been beaten like wheat upon the threshing-floor? Has not addiction been to them a stern test of the reality of their faith? But Christ has loved them none the less for all the suffering that he has permitted to fall upon them.
Romans 8:35. Or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
When they have been in famine or poverty, has Christ ever forsaken his saints? Ah, no! he has loved them all the more. Have any of these things separated us from our Savior? No; but they have, to oar own consciousness, knitted us even more closely to our Divine Lord. Cruel men have tried every form of persecuting the saints of God; they have been more inventive in the torments which they have applied to Christianse than in almost anything else; yet no torture, no rack, no imprisonment, has ever divided them from Christ. They have clung to him still, after the manner of John Bunyan, who, when they said, that he might go free if he would promise not to preach the gospel, said, “I will lie in prison till the moss grows on my eyelids rather than I will ever make such a promise as that. If you let me out of prison to-day, I will preach to-morrow, by the grace of God.”
Romans 8:35. 36
They have all had their turn; but did any of them, or all of them put together, ever divide the saints from Christ?
But there has been no triumph over the saints in this case.
But did they succeed in separating saints from the love of Christ even in the days of martyrdom?
But have they divided the saints from the love of Christ? Have they made the saints leave off loving Christ, or Christ cease from loving his people?
Romans 8:37 We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Jesus is the representative man for his people. The head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. While a man's head is above the water you cannot drown his body.
So far from being divided from the love of Jesus, the saints were in persecuting times driven closer to their Lord, so that they enjoyed yet sweeter communion with him. No earthly trial can make Jesus forget the souls for whom he died; he changes not in the purpose of his mind or the affection of his heart.
Romans 8:38, 39 1 am persuaded, that neither death, nor life…
Someone asked me the other day, "What persuasion are you of?" and the answer was, "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37, 39
“All these things” have only made the saints cling the more closely to their Lord, instead of separating them from him. Their persecutors thought they were triumphing over them, but it was the martyrs who were the victors all the while.
Not all that men on earth can do, Nor powers on high, nor powers below, Shall cause his mercy to remove, Or wean our hearts from Christ our love.
Glory be unto his holy name! Amen.
For which blessed be the name of the adorable Trinity, world without end!
Blessed, forever blessed, be his holy name! Amen.
Paul had good reason for being persuaded that there was no separation for those for whom there was no condemnation, may we be among them by God’s grace! Amen.
“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”
The apostle began with No condemnation and he ends with No separation, filling up the space between with priceless covenant blessings. No chapter in the Bible is more crowded with sublime and consoling teaching. Lord, grant us to know and enjoy all the inestimable privileges which it reveals.
He lives, he lives, and sits above,
For ever interceding there;
Who shall divide us from his love?
Or what shall tempt us to despair?
Shall persecution, or distress,
Famine, or sword, or nakedness?
He that hath loved us bears us through,
And makes us more than conquerors too.
Faith hath an overcoming power,
It triumphs in the dying hour:
Christ is our life, our joy, our hope;
Nor can we sink with such a prop.
Romans 9:1, 2, 3
They hated Paul intensely; nothing could surpass the malice of the Jews against the man whom they reckoned to be an apostate from the true faith, because he had become a follower of Christ, the Nazarene. Yet note what is Paul’s feeling towards his cruel countrymen; he is willing, as it were, to put his own salvation in pawn if by doing so the Jews might but be saved. You must not measure these words by any hard grammatical rule, you must understand them as spoken out of the depths of great loving heart; and when such a heart as Paul had begins to talk, it speaks not according to the laws of logic, but according to its own immeasurable feelings. There were times when he almost thought that he would himself consent to be accursed, “anathema,” cast away, separated from Christ, if thereby he could save the house of Israel, so great was his love towards them. Of course, this could not be; and no one understood better than Paul did that there is only one Substitute and one Sacrifice for sinners. He only mentioned this wish to show how dearly he loved the Jews, so that on their account he had great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh. Do you, dear friends, feel that same concern about your brethren, your kinsmen according to the flesh? If they are not saved, do you greatly wonder that they are not, if you have no such concern about them? But when once your heart is brought to this pitch of agony about their souls, you will soon see them saved.
Romans 9:3 I could wish that my-self were accursed from Christ for my brethren.
I have sometimes felt willing to go to the gates of hell to save a soul, but the Redeemer went further, for he suffered the wrath of God for souls.
What would be the result, if we felt as Paul did? Likeness to Christ. After that manner he loved. He did become a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). He did enter under the awful shadow of Jehovah's wrath for us. He did what Paul could wish.
Romans 9:4, 5.
This was what troubled the apostle so much concerning the Jews, that they should have such extraordinary privileges, and yet should be east away; most of all, that Jesus Christ, the Savior of men, should be of their race, bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh, and yet they would not receive him, or be saved by him. Oh, the terrible hardness of the human heart; and what poor things the richest privileges are unless the grace of God goes with them to give us the inner secret of true faith in Christ!
Romans 9:6. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.
Paul is always jealous lest anyone should suppose that the Word of God has failed, or that the purpose of God has come to naught.
Romans 9:6, 7.
Now he goes on to show that the blessings of God’s grace do not go according to carnal descent. It is true that God promised to bless the seed of Abraham, yet he meant that word “seed” in a very special sense.
Romans 9:7. But, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
By passing over Ishmael, God showed that there was nothing of saving easy in blood or birth. Ishmael was the firstborn son of Abraham; but he was passed by, for the promise was, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.”
When there were twins to be born of her; —
Here were two children born at the same time; yet Esau was not of the true “seed.” It matters not how closely you may be connected with the people of God, unless you have a new heart and a right spirit yourself, you still do not belong to the covenant seed, for it is not of the flesh that this privilege comes, but God has chosen a spiritual seed according to his own good pleasure.
Romans 9:14. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Paul knew very well that there would always be some who would cry out against this doctrine, that men would say that God was partial and unjust. If he had not foreseen that the declaration of this doctrine would provoke such remarks, he would not have put it so: “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.”
Romans 9:15 I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.
It is equally true that he wills to have mercy, and has already had mercy on every soul that repents of sin and puts its trust in Jesus.
If there is one doctrine in the world which reveals the enmity of the human heart more than an-other, it is the doctrine of God's sovereignty. When men hear the Lord's voice saying, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy," they gnash their teeth and call the preacher an Antinomian, a High Calvinist, or some other hard name. They do not love God except they can make him a little God. They cannot bear for him to be supreme. They would gladly take his will away from him and set up their own will as the first cause.
Romans 9:15, 16
You know that the modern way of meeting objections to Scripture is to give up everything to the infidel, and then say that you have won him; but the true Christian way is to give up nothing at all, and if the truth is objectionable, to make it, if possible, still more objectionable, to turn the very hardest side it has right in front of the face of man, and to say, “This is God’s truth; refuse it at your peril.” I believe that half the attempts to win over unbelievers by toning down truth have simply been to the dis-honoring of the truth and the destruction of the doubter, and that it would be always better to do as the apostle here does, — not to disavow the truth, but to proclaim it as fully, and faithfully, and plainly as possible. Let us again read what he here says: “Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.”
Romans 9:17. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh,
Paul is now going to show the other aide of the same truth: “The scripture saith unto Pharaoh,” —
Paul knew that the doctrine would be objected to on this ground; evidently he intended to assert something which was open to this objection, which would naturally suggest itself to men: “Why cloth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Romans 9:20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
See the grand style in which God talks to men. He speaks after a royal fashion: “I will.” tie asks no man’s leave for what he will do: “I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.”
Though he himself had said it,-
Romans 9:26. There shall they be called the children of the living God.
See the splendor of this divine sovereignty, which shows itself in wondrous, unexpected acts of grace, selecting and taking to itself those who seem to be self-condemned, and even condemned by himself, of whom he had said, “Ye are not my people.”
Romans 9:27, 28, 29, 30, 31
Does it not seem strange that men who were outwardly sinful, who were utterly ignorant of any way of righteousness, and even indifferent to it, have been by the grace of God led to seek righteousness in the right way, namely, by faith in Christ, and they have found it, and God’s electing love is seen in them; while others, who seem very sincere and devout as to outward ritual, by following it and it alone, have missed their way, and never found the true righteousness? The sovereignty of God appears in the choosing of those who follow the way of faith, and the casting away of those who follow the way of mere outward righteousness. But why did Israel miss the way?
Romans 9:32, 33
I say again that there have been great attempts made, with logical dynamite, to blow up this great rock of offense, and to clear away every difficulty from the path of the man who wants to be saved by his own method, and to make everything pleasant all round for him; but against this course of action we bear our continual protest, for it is not according to the mind of God, or the teaching of his Word: “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offense.”
Romans 9:33. And whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
But if they believe not on him, they shall one day be ashamed; and, meanwhile, the eternal purpose of God shall still stand, lie shall still be glorious whatever men shall do, or shall not do.
In commenting once more upon this familiar chapter, I cannot help repeating a remark which I have made to you before — that it is very significant that this tenth chapter should immediately follow the subject dealt with in the ninth chapter. In the ninth chapter, we have the doctrine of absolute predestination proclaimed in the sternest and boldest manner, — the doctrine that God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and will have compassion on whom he will have compassion. Now, it is commonly thought, by those who do not rightly understand Calvinism, that that doctrine has a tendency to burden the heart and dry up the springs of compassion. That it was not so in Paul’s case, is very clear, for this chapter is a most affectionate one, and in it the apostle manifests a most loving spirit towards his fellow-countrymen, the Jews, and the chapter also contains the widest conceivable declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the fact being that the grand doctrine of divine predestination is by no means inconsistent with the fullest and freest preaching of the gospel of Christ.
This chapter is a gospel in itself; it very clearly points out the plan of salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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.
Desire is the mother and the soul of prayer My heart’s desire and prayer.” These Israelites had hunted Paul about, and sought to kill him. They were his deadly enemies; but the only return he made them was to pray that they might be saved. I hope you will never have a worse wish for your worst foe.
Paul is writing concerning: the Jews — the very people who had driven him from city to city, and who had again and again sought to take his life. Yet he could not forget that these men were his own countrymen; and, consequently, with a consecrated patriotism, he desired beyond everything else that they might be saved.
Paul had a tender heart towards all unconverted men and women, and he longed and pleaded with God that they might be saved. Have all of us this unselfish compassionate feeling? I am afraid that there are some Christians who are very deficient in it; yet, in the dread of an immortality to be spent in woe unutterable by all unbelievers, our hearts’ desire and perpetual prayer should be, as Paul’s prayer for Israel was, “that they might be saved.” And if there is one class among the ungodly which should touch our hearts more than all the rest, it is those who are earnestly seeking salvation, but who are seeking it where they will never find it, namely, by the works of the law.
Always see all the good that is to be seen; and, when you have to reprove and rebuke begin by admitting what is good: “They have a zeal of 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.”
The Jews of Paul’s day were zealous, but they were zealous in ignorance. And that is just what we may say, at the present time, concerning a large number of our fellow-countrymen, — those who are ordinarily called Ritualists. “They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” None can be more zealous than they are, but a grave error is at the root of their whole system, a fatal ignorance concerning the truth of the gospel.
It is not sufficient for a man to be sincere in his zeal for God; sincerity must be according to knowledge if it is to be of any value. If a man travels to the North, his sincere belief that he is on the right road will not bring him to his destination in the South. If a man, in all sincerity, drinks poison under the belief that it is a cheering cordial, it will kill him, notwithstanding his sincerity; and if a man sincerely believes a lie, it will turn out to be a lie notwithstanding his sincerity. So that it is not enough to be sincerely zealous for God, or sincerely anxious to be saved; but you must seek salvation in God’s revealed way if your search is to be a successful one.
They were so busy trying to work out a righteousness of their own that they had never accepted the righteousness as which God is prepared freely to give to all those who will receive it at his hands.
They were very zealous; but it was blind zeal. They were very energetic; but they used their energy in going the wrong way. God has a righteousness, and our wisest course is to submit to it. Our righteousness, if we set it up in opposition to God’s way of salvation, will only increase our sin. You can be ruined by your righteousness, as surely as by your unrighteousness, if you set it in the place of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
Man must have a righteousness of one kind or another; and if he has not a God-given righteousness, he seeks to have one of his own making. As the spider spinneth her web out of her own bowels, so do sinful men try to manufacture a righteousness out of that which is within them; but this they can never do. The only righteousness which will stand the test of the day of judgment is that which God bestows upon believers in his Son Jesus Christ. Oh, that all men were willing to submit themselves to the righteousness of God!
This is not an error on the part of the Jews alone; it is to be found also among many Gentiles. Such people must have a righteousness of their own; and Paul says they are continually “going about” to establish it. To do this, they will undertake any labor, endure any suffering, or perform any self-denial; but, all the while, they despise God’s righteousness, — despise it by the very act of preferring their own, or seeking another way of salvation instead of walking in the one which God has provided. How sad it is that so many, in all sincerity of blind zeal, should be dishonoring God, and virtually dethroning him by the attempt to set up a righteousness of their own, when he has already provided a perfect one which they will not accept.
Romans 10:4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
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.
If we get Christ by believing, we have the righteousness of the law. All that ever could come to us by the highest and most perfect obedience to the law, we get by faith in Christ Jesus.
“The end of the law” is to make a man righteous, and Christ does make righteous everyone who believes in him. The act of faith in Christ accomplishes what all the good works in the world never can accomplish.
Even the law itself has this for its main drift and purpose, — that it may introduce Christ. Its end, its intent, is to show to us our need of Christ, to point us to Christ, and to make us willing to have Christ as our Savior; and as even the law aims at this object, much more clearly does the gospel. Oh, that none of us might miss the aim and object of this blessed design of God, — that we might find righteousness through believing in Christ.
Romans 10:5. For Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law,
And he does it in very brief, concise, and satisfactory terms: —
And being the one through whom the law was given, he knew bow to describe it; and we may be sure that he made no mistake. This is his description of legal righteousness: —
That is the message of the law: “Do, and live.” But the message of the gospel is, “Live, and do;” — a very different thing. The law says, “Work to obtain life.” The gospel says, “You have life freely given to you in Christ Jesus; now work for him because you live by him.”
Romans 10:5. That the man which, doeth those things shall live by them.
That is it: “Do and live.” That is the law, and a very just law, too. Leave anything undone, or break the command in any respect and you die; that is the law.
That is the beginning and end of the law, “Do and live.”
Romans 10:5, 6
Is of quite another sort, for it —
Romans 10:6. But the righteousness which is of faith —
This is quite another thing; it —
Romans 10:6. Speaketh, on this wise,
And it is Moses who speaks here, as in the previous verse. This is what the righteousness of faith says: —
Romans 10:6, 7, 8, 9.
The saving, life-giving word is not to be sought above, nor below, nor afar off; it is “nigh thee.”
How simple is the divine plan of salvation, — confess Jesus Christ believing in him; — or, in the other order, believe in Jesus Christ, and then acknowledge your faith for so it is written, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” — baptism being the way of confessing the faith which you already possess.
Oh, what a blessedly simple plan of salvation is here revealed! “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt 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 so near is the gospel to every man that he has, as it were, but to drink it down, to make it his very own. It is not up there on the lofty heights, nor down there in the deeps of the abyss, but it is here and wherever else Christ is preached, and wherever his Word is read. O, sinner, the Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, “then, put it not away from thee, but hold it fast for ever!
God’s way of salvation, then, is “Believe and live.” Believe in Christ; Christ dying, Christ raised from the dead. If thou so believest, thou art saved. Thou needest not mount to heaven in rapture, nor dive to hell in remorse. As thou art, believe and live. This is the way of the righteousness of God.
Romans 10:8. Even in thy mouth, and in thy heart:
It is not a matter of doing with the hand, but of believing with the heart, and of confession with the mouth.
Romans 10:8, 9. That is, the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
The gospel’s command, “Believe and live,” is quite as clear and plain and positive as the law’s command, “Do and live.”
Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
True faith must be accompanied by an open confession. Come forward, and outwardly own what you inwardly believe. Remember those words of the Lord Jesus, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Here, as there, the confession is put after the faith, as indeed it must be. First, the reality, the thing signified, faith; afterwards, the outward and visible sign in the confession of that faith.
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 owning that Christ has saved him. If any man is ashamed of his religion, you may depend upon it that it is one of which has cause to be ashamed, but he who has true saving faith in his heart should never blush to own it. What is there to blush about in being a Christian? Let those blush who are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:10, 11, 12, 13.
What precious promises these are, and how wide they are! “Whosoever — whosoever.” That must include you, dear friend, if you believe in Jesus, and call upon the name of the Lord.
Romans 10:11. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
He need never be ashamed of his faith. It will bear him up; it will bear him through; it will bear him up to heaven.
He shall never be ashamed of having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. If he really believes on him, he shall never be ashamed of the result of so believing, for that result will be eternal salvation to him, there is no doubt about that.
Romans 10:11, 12
Whoever they may be, Jews or Gentiles, rich or poor, learned or illiterate, black or white, if they will but call upon 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.
Romans 10:12, 13
That is it wonderful sentence; catch at it. Doubting, troubled spirits, catch at it, believe it, practice it; and you shall find it true.
If there be great numbers to be saved at one time, Christ will not have to do as we do when we have too many guests at a feast, namely, cut the portion of each one smaller. Oh, no! for “the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him,” whether they are Jews or Gentiles.
I have often thought that if I had read in Scripture that "if Charles Haddon Spurgeon shall call upon the name of the Lord, he shall be saved," I would not have felt as sure of salvation as I do now, because I would have concluded that there might have been somebody else of that name, and I would have said, "Surely it did not mean me." But when the Lord says, "Whosoever," I cannot get out of that circle!
Romans 10:13, 14
They cannot rightly pray without faith, “for he that cometh to God must believe “that he is, and that he is” a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
When I hear anyone say, “I cannot believe in Christ, but I will pray to him for faith; I say, surely the prayer is more difficult than the believing: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?”
Romans 10:14. 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 seek 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.
Romans 10:14, 15.
Here you have the whole plan of salvation. Christ is preached, sinners bear the message of the gospel, they believe it, and so they are saved. What a mass of rubbish men have interjected into this blessed simple plan! What counterfeits of so-called sacraments, and what a mass of human doings and external paraphernalia of all sorts they have interjected! God requires none of their fripperies, and fineries, and ornate performances, but simply say, “Believe, and live.” How different is this from the cumbrous, complicated plan by which men would destroy our souls! Cling to the old-fashioned gospel, beloved, and never turn away from it. There is nothing that can take the place of the simplicity of divine truth. God grant that throughout England, and from one end of the world to the other, salvation by believing, the result of hearing the gospel, may be proclaimed.
We, dear friends, have had this whole process carried out in our midst. The gospel has been preached, — preached, I trust, by one who can prove, by the many seals to his ministry, that he has been “sent” by God, who has given him these confirmations of his commission in the constant conversion of those to whom he has preached. Then, many of you have heard the preaching, and have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; and, therefore, you are “saved” to all eternity. But, alas! there are some of you who have not believed in Jesus; yet you must be saved by this process, or you can never be saved at all, for God will never try any other plan. His way of saving men is to send the preacher whom he has called and qualified to preach. The preacher preaches; the people hear; by hearing, they believe; and by believing they are saved. This is God’s way of saving sinners, and he will not depart from it; so let us walk in it. May his gracious Spirit take away from us all our proud, foolish and wicked objections to his simple plan, and may we all believe and live!
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 sing 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 thine out like its sister stars in all the glory of God when once Christ is fully acknowledged here as Lord and Savior.
See here the whole machinery of salvation. God provides salvation in Christ Jesus, he sends the preacher to tell of it, men hear, they believe, and salvation is theirs. You have not to make it righteousness, you have to accept the one that is made for you. It is not what you shall do that shall save you; it is what Christ has done. You are to get out of self-confidence into confidence in him; and as soon as you do so, you are saved.
Romans 10:16. But they have not all obeyed the gospel.
All who have heard the gospel have not obeyed it.
Oh, no; all who have beard it, have not obeyed it! There are many here who have beard it from their childhood, and yet they have not obeyed it. Notice the word “obeyed”, for the gospel comes to you with the force of a 6ivino command. If you reject it, you sin against it, for it is your duty to accept it: “but they have not all obeyed the gospel.”
That is the pity of it, — that so many have heard the gospel, but have not obeyed it. This shows that the gospel comes to us as a command, because we cannot disobey where there is no order or rule. O sinner, listen to this! When you hear the gospel, it is not left to your own choice to have it or leave it, so that you are as free to do the one as the other; so if you reject it, you are disobedient to it.
Romans 10:16. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So few were the obedient, that he asked where they were.
And what Isaiah said is what we also have to say to-day, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”
So you see that even the prophet Isaiah had the idea that salvation comes to sinners by believing. He mourned and cried to his God because men did not believe the “report” which he had been sent to deliver to them concerning that Man who was “despised and rejected of men,” that Man of whom the prophet truly said, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: … He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Romans 10:16, 17, 18
Ah, that is the important question! If they had not heard it, they could not be condemned for disobeying it, for the sin lies in hearing and yet not believing. “Have they not heard?”
Romans 10:17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
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.”
With what solemnity this invests our hearing! I often hear people say, “We go to such-and-such a place of worship, to hear so-and-so preach.” That is well if the preacher is, like John the Baptist, “a man sent from God;” for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God;” only let us all so hear the Word of God that, hearing it, we believe on Jesus Christ whom God hath sent; believing on him, we confess our faith in the divinely-appointed way, devoutly worship and adore the ever-blessed God, — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, — and do all we can to make the Savior known to others.
Romans 10:18, 19.
Has he not done it? Israel is rejected, and remains without Christ, while many out of “a foolish nation” of Anglo-Saxons, who were idolaters, have accepted Christ. People who were regarded as dogs by God’s chosen nation Israel have come into the house of the Lord, and still Israel refuses to come.
Did not the Jews hear the gospel? Certainly they did, and they rejected it. Moses foretold it would be so: —
So the poor outcast Gentiles have received Christ although Israel rejected him.
These Jews for whom Paul prayed, — these people who were so zealous in seeking to establish their own righteousness, — did not they know God’s way of salvation? Did not they know Jesus of Nazareth, the divinely-appointed Savior? Yes, they did; but they refused to believe on him, they would not walk in God’s way of salvation.
Romans 10:18, 20
Is not that 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.
Hear, then, you who have never had any religion; you who seldom go to the house of God. Even you may be saved, for it is written, “I was found of them that sought me not.”
Romans 10:20. I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
Here is the manifestation of sovereign grace, God choosing and saving whom he wills, irrespective of their condition; exercising the sovereignty of his mercy in saving the most undeserving.
Romans 10:21. But to Israel —
To God’s ancient people, to whom the gospel had been preached when Paul wrote this Epistle: “to Israel” —
God grant that we may not be disobedient and gainsaying as Israel was but that we may all accept Christ at once as our only and all-sufficient Savior!
In the attitude of invitation and entreaty, and readiness to receive, —
Oh, that God would soon bring these “disobedient and gainsaying people” — whether Jews or Gentiles, — to submit themselves unto his righteousness, and so to be saved! May he graciously grant it, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.
It is strange that many, who first hear the Word, and oftenest 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 effectually that it is never a flint again, and God’s grace renews his heart there and then. It is our earnest desire, on all occasions whatever hearers are gathered here, that God’s saving power may be manifested to all present. So, may it be now, for Christ’s sake, and to God’s glory! Amen.
And that is what be has done to thee, O then careless child of pious parents, then unregenerate hearer of the Word! All day long has he stood and stretched forth his hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
The Lord forgive all such, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.
The Jews thought that God must certainly save them. They .thought they had a birth claim. Were they not the children of Abraham? Surely they had some right to it. This chapter battles the question of right. No man has any right to the grace of God. The terms are inconsistent. But that same grace delights to save and bless even the perverse and rebellious who will yield to its blessed power.
That In the very same place where their sins made it patent and palpable they were not God’s people — in that very same place shall men confess that they are the children of the living God. Oh! what has not grace done?
Romans 10:27, 28, 29.
God has a people, then, even in Israel with all its rejection; and he Always will have, for he will never make the seed of Abraham to be as Sodom and Gomorrah. He will love his own, and glorify himself in the midst of his people.
Romans 10:30. What shall we say then? Why, say this: —
SO. That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
For thousands of years they worshipped brutish idols and blocks and stones. Their philosophy was mixed with filthiness. Their lives were abhorrent to God. Even these at last have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith, for the Gospel being preached among the Gentiles, they have believed in Jesus, and they are saved.
Romans 10:31. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Israel followed after the law of righteousness with many ceremonies and external washings, and wearings of phylacteries and bordered garments. Alas poor Israel
Romans 10:32. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone;
And God is determined that they that are of the law shall not inherit it. He has made it a sovereign decree that the believer shall be justified and saved, and none else. They sought it not by faith, But as it were by the works of the law.
Personal evidence is best. Paul, as an undoubted Israelite, found in his own conversion the proof that the Lord had not utterly rejected the seed of Abraham.
Wot or know
Things are often much better with the church of God than wise and good men think they are. They are ready to give up all for lost, when it is not so. God has a remnant still.
Romans 11:5, 6
This is the gospel in a nutshell. He who remembers these distinctions is on the right road to sound theology.
Romans 11:7, 8
"It is a dreadful art that some acquire of having eyes and not seeing, of having ears and not hearing, of sleeping on when heaven, earth, and hell are making their souls a battle-field."
Though blindness has happened to Israel in part, yet not to all Israel. The Lord knoweth them that are his, and he will save them by his grace. Better times are, however, coming even for Israel after the flesh, for in the latter days they shall be converted to the Saviour.
Romans 11:28, 29
He never repents of his choice, or changes his purposes of love.
He shuts them up as condemned by the law, that he may deal with them in a way of grace.
All things are of him, as the efficient cause; through him, as the disposing cause; to him, as the final cause. They are of him, without any other motive; through him, without any assistance; and to him, without any other end.
As the pious Jew presented a bullock or a lamb upon the altar, so consecrate ye your whole selves unto the Lord, to live and to die for him. This is his due, and ought to be rendered to him.
Mark well that the only way to escape being conformed to the world is to be transformed. The customs of society will lead us away unless the grace of God rules in us with divine power. We are set to prove to the world what the mind of God is: may we have grace to accomplish our mission.
Paul writes at full length upon the doctrines, but he is very concise and pithy upon the precepts, for things of daily practice need to be short and easy of remembrance. Let us learn each one of these weighty sentences by heart and put them all in practice.
Some people will quarrel, and it is barely possible to keep upon good terms with them. In their case we must do our best, and if after all, we cannot live peaceably with them, it will be fortunate for us if we can move off and live without them.
It is recorded of a Chinese emperor that, on being informed that his enemies had raised an insurrection in one of his distant provinces, he said to his officers, "Come, follow me; and we will quickly destroy them." He marched forward, and the rebels submitted upon his approach. All now thought that he would take the most signal revenge, but were surprised to see the captives treated with mildness and humanity. "How!" cried the first minister, "is this the manner in which you fulfil your promise? Your royal word was given that your enemies should be destroyed; and behold! you. have pardoned them all, and even caressed some of them." "I promised," replied the emperor, with a generous air, "to destroy my enemies. I have fulfilled my word; for see, they are enemies no longer: I have made friends of them" This is a fit example for the Christian.
Forget not thou hast often sinned,
Receive the weak but sincere believer into fellowship, but do not at once commence discussing knotty points with him, or quarrel with him upon matters of no importance.
Matters of meat and drink are to be left to Christian liberty, and no one has any right to dictate to another how he shall act. It is, however, a good rule—"in all cases of doubt be sure to take the surer side."
Some kept the Jewish festivals and some did not.
No true Christian lives to himself, and therefore as he lives to God we have no right to judge his course of action.
Romans 14:8, 9
The very design of our Lord's work is to make us live unto him and not as the servants of our fellow men; we are therefore very wrong when we attempt to make our brethren the servants of our opinions and ideas. Let us leave them to serve the Lord as their consciences teach them.
We must not violate our conscience. We may not do what we believe to be wrong because we see others do it. We must neither judge them nor excuse ourselves.
You have liberty to do as you please, but do not use that liberty if it would be mischievous to your brother in Christ. If your action, though right in itself, would have a tendency to destroy his soul, deny yourself for love's sake.
Do you feel quite sure upon such matters?
Keep it within thine own bosom, but do not worry others with it.
And he that doubteth is damned or rather condemned
If you are not sure that a thing is right, let it alone, for it will be sin to you.
When we are free from scruples upon any point, and feel that there are things that we may do because we are strong, yet let us not do them if thereby we should grieve others who are weak. Let us think of their infirmities; and whatever liberty we may feel entitled to claim for ourselves, let us look at the matter from the standpoint of other people as well as from our Own, that we may bear the infirmities of the weak, and not seek to please ourselves.
If any course of action which would be safe to us would be dangerous to weaker brethren, we must consider their infirmity and deny ourselves for their sakes.
Romans 15:2, 3
Our Master, and Lord, and great Exemplar: "For even Christ"—
Jerome says, "Love the scriptures, and wisdom will love thee." Chrysostom says, "Is it not absurd, that in money matters men will not trust to others, but the counters are produced and the sum cast up; yet, in their soul's affairs, men are led and drawn away by the opinions of others, and this when they have an exact scale and an exact rule, viz., the declaration of the divine laws? Therefore, I entreat and beseech you all, that, not minding what this or that man may say about these things, you would consult the Holy Scriptures concerning them."
He took the most trying place in the whole field of battle; he stood where the fray' was hottest. He did not seek to be among his disciples as a king is in the midst of his troops, guarded and protected in the time of strife; but he exposed himself to the fiercest part of all the conflict. What Jesus did, that should we who are his followers do, no one of us considering himself, and his own interests, but all of us considering our brethren and the cause of Christ in general.
This is as if somebody had said, "Why, Paul, it was David who said what you just quoted" "Yes," he replies, "I know that I quoted David, but he spoke in his own person concerning his Lord, 'for whatsoever things were written aforetime were written fro' our learning.'"
Romans 15:4, 5.
"Comfort" is really the word he used, turning into prayer the thought which had been suggested by his use of the words "patience and comfort." "Now the God of patience and comfort"—
"Make you to be unanimous, not concerning that which is evil, but that you may be of one mind in your likeness to Christ Jesus." What a blessed harmony it would be if, not only all in any one church, but all in the whole of the churches were likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus! It will be so when he gathers those who are now scattered; but may we never hope to have it so here on earth? I cannot tell; but, at any rate, let us all strive after it. Let us all endeavor to pitch our tune according to Christ's keynote; and the nearer we get to that, the less discord there will be in the psalmody of the church. We shall be likeminded with one another when we become likeminded with Christ; but not till then.
Among Christians there must be unity, and especially in Christian families, so that all our powers may be undividedly employed in praising God. If we are jealous one of another, or use angry language, and quarrelsome words, we cannot glorify God as we ought.
If the Lord Jesus has indeed received us, and bears with our weaknesses and follies, well may we have patience with one another, and show pity to each other's infirmities.
Romans 15:6, 7.
Christ did not receive us because we were perfect, because he could see no fault in us, or because he hoped to gain somewhat at our hands. Ah, no! but, in loving condescension covering our faults, and seeking our good, he welcomed us to his heart; so, in the same way, and with the same purpose, let us receive one another.
It was to Abraham and his descendants that the promise was made that, in him, and in his seed, all the nations of the earth should be blessed. So our Lord came, as a Jew, to be "a minister of the circumcision." Let us never forget that he came to those whom we are apt to forget; and, peradventure, even to despise, "to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.'"
Jesus, our Lord, became the servant of the Jews, and preached among them in fulfilment of prophecy; shall we not become the servants of others for their good? Nor did his ministry end with Israel; but we, who are Gentiles, share the blessing; therefore, like our Lord, we should seek the good of all mankind and live to bless them.
And that the Gentiles might glorify God .for his mercy; as it is written: For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
There were plain indications, in the Old Testament, that the blessing was meant for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews; but, still, it was made known to the Jews first, and we must never forget that.
Romans 15:13. Now the God of hope—
Turn back to the fourth verse, and note the expression, "that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope; then read in the fifth verse," The God of patience and comfort;" and see how Paul here goes back to that last word in the fourth verse, "Now the God of hope"—
Now would have been the time for Paul to say that he had been made a minister "to offer the unbloody sacrifice of the mass," if such a thing had been right;—to offer up the daily sacrifice, as the so-called "priests" aver that, they now do; but he says nothing of the sort; and even when he represents the Gentiles as being offered up, he does not speak of any sacrifice going therewith, but says that it "might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."
Romans 15:15, 16
As Paul was peculiarly the apostle of the Gentiles, he was the more anxious that in the Gentiles the gospel should produce the acceptable fruit of mutual love. Every man should give most attention to that part of the work with which the Lord has entrusted him, with the one pure motive that God may be glorified thereby. Paul was insatiable for the glory of God and the prosperity of the church; let us be filled with the same zeal.
Lord, if thou hast made us strong,
Let us learn to help the weak;
Bearing with each other long,
While the good of all we seek.
May we with one heart and mind
Seek the glory of thy name;
In one sacred league combined,
All our aims and hopes the same.
For these Achaians and Macedonians had received the gospel from the saints in Jerusalem. The Gentiles had been made partakers of their spiritual things, so it was their duty to minister to the poor Christian Jews in carnal things.
Romans 15:27, 28.
That is, “when I have delivered the money, and obtained a receipt in full for it; when I have discharged my duty in this matter,”-
Romans 15:28, 29.
He was sure of that, but he did not know how he would go in other respects. He did not know that he would go to Rome as a prisoner; he could not foresee that he would be sent there as an ambassador in bonds; and little, I wean, did he care in what manner he would go, so long as he bad the absolute certainty that he should go “in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.”
Romans 15:30, 31.
For there were some saints in Jerusalem who were very narrow-minded, and who hardly thought it right to accept anything from Gentiles. They had not got clear of their Jewish bonds, and Paul was a little afraid lest what he was taking to them might not be acceptable, so he asked the Romans to pray about that matter. Is there anything about which believers may not pray? If there he, then we have no right to have anything to do with it. Bring everything before God in prayer, for all right thing way lawfully be prayed about. So Paul asked the Christians in Rome to pray about that matter of his journey to Jerusalem, and also to pray for his return,-