LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

Home   About Us   Holiness Library   Bible Prophecy   Listen to Sermons  History of the Holiness Movement   Early English Bibles   Bible Studies   Links

 

 

 

 

DISCOURSE VI.  

 

SPECIAL REDEMPTION.

 

“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.”—1 John 4:16 .

 

“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”—Galatians 2:20.

 

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.”—Hebrews 2:9.

 

 

[The last clause of this passage might more properly have been rendered thus:—“Because that he, by the grace of God, has tasted death for every man.”]

“And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”—1 John 2:2 .

 

THERE are three positions, which have been taken by different classes of Christians, in respect to the nature and extent of the redemption of Christ.

1. Christ died for a part only of the human race—the elect. This is called limited redemption, or atonement. This doctrine, I would simply remark, is positively contradicted by the passages cited above, and stands opposed to the whole aspect of the Gospel, as presented in the Scriptures.

2. Christ died for no individuals of our race in particular, but for all in general. This is called general atonement or redemption. This doctrine embodies one important and fundamental element of the grace of the Gospel—the universality of its provisions. It fails, however, to present one of the most interesting and important features of the provisions of Divine grace, as we shall see, when we contemplate,

3. The third position which has been taken in respect to the subject under consideration, which is this, that Christ, instead of dying for no one in particular, died for every man in particular. This is positively affirmed in the text—“He tasted death for every man;” “He loved me, and gave himself for me.” The redemption of Christ had as special a regard to each individual, as if that one individual was alone concerned in it. This is what is called special atonement or redemption. I use the term “redemption” here, not in its strict theological sense, to designate the accomplishment of the provisions of mercy in the actual salvation of the sinner. In this sense of the term, “redemption” is limited by the reception of grace by the sinner. I use the term to designate the full and special provisions which Christ has made for the salvation of every individual of our race.

My object in the present discourse is, to present to the contemplation of the reader the special redemption of Christ; to show what is implied in the fact that Christ, as explained above, “has by the grace of God tasted death for every man.” We will then inquire, What is implied in “knowing and believing the love that God hath to us?”

I. What is implied in the fact that Christ has tasted death for every man? It implies,—

1. That, in assuming the work of our redemption, Christ had our entire condition and necessities, as sinners and as creatures, distinctly before his mind. Otherwise he could not, with propriety, be said to have tasted death, “specifically, “for every man.” The same truth is also implied in the fact, that Christ is omniscient, and must have had his contemplation turned with perfect distinctness upon the entire condition and necessities of every individual, for whose redemption he died.

2. That the object of Christ, in thus tasting death for every man, was, to provide a redemption specifically adapted to the special condition and necessities of each individual for whom he died. For what reason should he taste death particularly for each individual, if this was not his object?

3. That Christ has provided for each individual of our race all the good that infinite wisdom could devise and infinite love desire. In short, he has accomplished a redemption for us, which covers our entire necessities in time and eternity. This he was able to accomplish, when he assumed the work of our redemption, and his infinite love would not permit him to accomplish less than this. This was the work, reader, which Christ undertook for you and me; and having assumed it, he never ceased to travail in the greatness of his strength, till he could say, “It is finished.” If you will believe it, such is the “fulness” which you have in Christ.

4. That Christ has rendered the attainment of all this good practicable to us; that is, he has not only provided it for us, but proffered it to us, upon conditions with which we can comply. To suppose that he has offered it upon other conditions, is to accuse him of mocking our misery in the most flagrant manner conceivable, i.e., providing for creatures blessings infinite, and then proffering them upon impracticable conditions. Instead of doing this, Christ has presented the blessings of his redemption to us upon such conditions, that there is an infallible certainty, “ that every one that will ask shall receive, that he that will seek shall find, and that to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

The attention of the reader is now invited to a few particular examples, designed still further to illustrate the fulness and specialty of Christ’s redemption.

1. He has made full provision, reader, for the entire pardon of every sin that you ever committed. As your mind ranges over the dark catalogue of past transgressions, remember that those particular sins he “bore in his own body on the tree.” For all those sins which rise up in appalling remembrance before you, he was “wounded and bruised,” so that by “his stripes you may be healed.” He has made such perfect provision for the forgiveness of each and every sin of your entire past existence, that there is no more necessity that you should be excluded from the presence and favour of God, on account of those sins, than there is that the purest spirit before the throne of God should be excluded.

2. Christ has provided means specifically adapted to secure your entire perfection in holiness. He perfectly understood your case when he undertook the work of your redemption. Every obstacle that lies in the way of your perfect sanctification was distinctly before his mind; and he has provided means fully adequate, and specifically adapted, to remedy all the consequences of your sins. However low you may have sunk in sin, he is able to lift you out of the “horrible pit and miry clay.” However hard your heart may be, he can take it from you, and give you a heart of flesh in its stead. However firmly fixed your habits of sin may be, he can break them all up. However strong the power of your carnal inclinations, he can subdue them all, and give you a perfect victory over them. Whatever temptations to sin beset you, from within or around you, he can give you strength to endure them. The means to accomplish all this, and specifically adapted to your particular case, are all provided by his infinite love. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Why, then, should you remain under the power of sin? Why should you be appalled by the fixedness of your habits of sin, by the strength of your carnal inclinations, or the multiplicity and power of the temptations which beset you? Christ saw all these when he assumed the work of your redemption. For all these he has provided a specific and all-powerful remedy. Go to Christ, and you will find that in him there is redemption in readiness for you, to render you “perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Clad in the armour of righteousness, which he has provided for you, you will find yourself able to stand against all the wiles of the wicked one.

3. In the redemption of Christ, there is special consolation provided for all the particular afflictions which come upon you. “In all your afflictions Christ was afflicted.” If you will carry your wounded spirit to him, he will bind it up, however deep and multiplied the wounds may be. No one of them was forgotten by your Saviour, when he undertook the work of “bearing your griefs, and carrying your sorrows.” Balm specifically adapted to heal all those wounds is in readiness for you. Whatever the particular affliction may be, which falls upon you at any particular time, remember that that affliction, with all its peculiarities, has been specifically provided for by the love of Christ.

4. Whatever the sphere in life may be, in which you may at any time be called to move, for you Christ has provided special wisdom to meet all the exigencies and responsibilities that fall upon you in that sphere. When you lack wisdom, go to him, and he will “give liberally and not upbraid you.” The means to do it are all provided.

5. Christ, in short, has made ample provision for every particular necessity which may come upon you in time and eternity. There is not a solitary want of yours, throughout the endless future beyond you, for which a special supply is not made in the redemption of Christ. For you there is provided a seat in heaven, a robe of righteousness, a harp of gold, a crown of glory, and a special place in the centre of God’s heart of eternal love.

Such is the redemption of Christ. I might have illustrated the sentiment of this discourse by referring to other particulars. These are sufficient, however, to present the subject with entire distinctness to the contemplation of the reader. We will now inquire,

II. What is implied in our knowing and believing the love that the Father hath to us. This implies three things,—

1. That we apprehend that love as it is, i.e., the infinite love of God in giving his Son to make, by his incarnation and death, such full and special provisions for our necessities.

2. That we credit this love as a reality; in other words, that we give the Lord Jesus Christ full credit for being such a full and special Saviour as he represents himself to be.

3. That we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as such a Saviour, and yield up our whole being to his control, that he may accomplish in us all the purposes of his infinite and special love.

And now let me ask you, reader, do you believe with all your heart, that Christ is in reality such a Saviour as he has here been represented? Do you give him full credit for having “loved you and given himself for you,” for the purpose of making such full and special provisions for your entire necessities? Do you believe that for you he tasted the bitter cup of death? In every special exigency of your being, can you look to him with the full assurance that this particular exigency, with all its peculiarities, was remembered and provided for by him, when he was “wounded for your transgressions, and bruised for your iniquities? “Can you reckon yourself among the number, who can say, “We have known and believed the love that the Father hath unto us?” Do you believe that Christ has provided redemption for you—a redemption so perfectly and specifically adapted to your particular case, that you can now go to him, and be cleansed from all that is impure and unholy, and so transformed into his likeness that your entire character shall hereafter present a pure reflection of his image. Do you believe that you may bring to him your temper, your appetites, your propensities, your entire habits, and have them all brought into sweet subjection to the will of God? Do you believe that, in him, there is a special balm for every wound; relief from every care; consolation for all affliction; a remedy for every ill; and a full supply for every specific necessity of your entire existence? Unless you believe all this, and your heart is all melted into love and tenderness under the influence of that belief, you have yet to learn the breadth, and depth, and length, and height of the love of Christ.  

 

REMARKS.  

 

I. We may now understand the nature of what may be called appropriating faith. It consists in receiving Christ, and relying upon him as our Saviour, in reference to all our particular necessities as individuals. As the creatures of God, as sinners against his holy law, we have our particular duties, spheres of action, temptations, trials, afflictions, and necessities. Now, when Christ is contemplated as having provided a redemption for us, specifically adapted to our special exigencies, and is received as a Saviour to meet these exigencies, then we exercise towards him appropriating faith. Then we appropriate to ourselves the special redemption that he has provided for us.

II. Here I may be permitted to allude to a very common mistake among Christians, in looking to Christ as a Saviour. They appear to look to him as a Saviour in general, without any reference to their particular necessities. How seldom do we meet with a Christian, for example, who carries to Christ his temper, his appetites, his habits, and propensities of every kind, which lead him into sin, to have them all corrected and subdued! Where is the Christian, who is accustomed to go to Christ, to be rendered by him all that he requires him or her to be as a father, a mother, a child, a brother, or sister, or in special reference to the business transactions of life? Now, until our faith fastens upon Christ, with reference to specific objects such as these, the power of his redemption will never be experienced. From our sins Christ does not and cannot save us, unless by faith we thus appropriate the provisions of his redemption.

III. In the light of this subject, we may also learn what Christ requires and expects of us as Christians. To present this part of the subject distinctly before the reader’s mind, I remark,

1. That Christ designs and expects that our religion shall be carried out, and influence us alike in all the scenes and transactions of life; that we shall eat, drink, dress, spend our time, talents, and property, transact our business, and move in every sphere in life, with exclusive reference to the same identical objects for which we pray, worship God on the Sabbath, warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, or partake of the symbols of the body and blood of our Lord. “Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” That you may all do this; that Holiness to the Lord may be inscribed upon all that you have, and all that you are—full provision is made in the redemption of Christ. Hence,

2. He requires and expects that you will believe that special grace to do all this is provided for you, and that you will look to him to be rendered thus “perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

3. When you are called in providence to move in any particular sphere, he requires and expects that your first object will be, to understand clearly the particular responsibilities, trials, temptations, &c., incident to you in that particular sphere.

4. He requires and expects that you will believe that he, as your Redeemer, has made full and special provision for all your exigencies in that particular sphere; and that, in the exercise of full and implicit faith, you will look to him for grace to meet those exigencies.

Such are some of the requirements and expectations of Christ from us as Christians. Here let me add, that if we do not look to Christ to be saved by him, in every sphere, and in respect of every transaction in life, our faith does not fix upon him at all as a Saviour from sin. I would also add, that if Christ does not save us by subduing our tempers, controlling our appetites and propensities, by rendering us in our spheres, as husbands and wives, parents and children, in every sphere, and in all the particular transactions of life, what he requires us to be, he does not save us at all. The man who expects to be a Christian in his closet, and upon the Sabbath, and a man of the world behind his counter, in his shop, or on his farm, will find at last that he has failed of the grace of God.

We also learn the nature of unbelief, in its most common form in the Church. It is withholding from Christ implicit confidence, as a Saviour, who has provided special means to do it, and is now able and willing to meet all our particular necessities as individuals.

V. We will now consider some of the most common indications of unbelief. Among these I notice,

1. The impression which individuals have, that there are peculiar difficulties in their case. The redemption of Christ appears fully adequate to the exigencies of every other individual but themselves. Did Christ, reader, in tasting death for you, overlook the special peculiarities of your condition? Or had he, when he cried, “It is finished,” failed to make full provision for those peculiarities? Why, then, permit your unbelief to put far from you all the endless provisions of Christ’s redemption? If you withhold confidence from Christ as an ever-present Saviour, able and willing to meet all the peculiarities of your condition, you do it at the peril, yes, to the certain loss, of your eternal interests.

2. I believe, says another, that Christ has provided full redemption for me—a redemption which perfectly covers all my necessities; but I cannot exercise faith in Christ. Christ, then, has purchased full and special redemption for you, but proffered it to you upon conditions with which you cannot comply.

Why let unbelief thus fasten a millstone about that deathless soul of yours?

3. My heart, says another, is so hard and insensible, that nothing in the universe will move or melt it. Did Christ, in tasting death for you, overlook that heart of stone in your bosom? and has he made no special provision to take it out of your flesh, and give in its stead a heart of flesh? Remember, that if you do not carry this very heart to Christ, that he may take it from you, and if you do not exercise special faith in him to do it, he will be no Saviour to you in any sense whatever.

4. Another individual complains that his natural temper is so ungovernable, and his habits of sin so omnipotent in their influence over him, that it appears to him that there can be no redemption for him, at least in this life. If Christ has not provided a special and adequate remedy for these evils, and if your faith does not fasten upon that particular remedy, then there is no salvation for you. Christ will “save you from your sins,” or not at all. Why let that temper, and those habits, drag you down to death, when Christ has made full and special provision for their perfect subdual?

5. Another individual feels that he cannot be preserved in his particular sphere. “How can a person be kept perfectly free from sin,” says one, “in the midst of the numberless temptations incident to a residence in a great city?” If this were so, I would say, “Up, get ye out of this place.” It is better for thee to “enter into life,” from the obscurest and most barren spot on earth, than to descend into the lake of fire, from the most splendid palace or city. But who is it that has promised that he will not “suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but with the temptation will make a way for your escape, that ye may be able to bear it?” Who is the strongest, Christian; “he that is in you,” or he “that is in the world?”

“Do you believe,” said a mother, “that I can be preserved in a state of perfect peace, in the midst of all the cares and perplexities of this great family?” Christ, according to the suggestions of unbelief in the mind of that individual, had, in the special provisions of his grace for her, overlooked the fact that she was to be the mother of a large family, and had failed to provide a special remedy for all the cares and perplexities incident to her lot in that particular sphere. Sad indeed was her condition, if that were really the case.

6. It does not appear, says another, possible that creatures sunk so low in sin as we are, should be raised to a state of perfect purity. Did you acquire that sentiment, brother, through a full and careful inquiry into the nature and power of the grace of Christ? Did you learn it from a prayerful investigation of the extent of the provisions and promises of Christ’s redemption, and of the power of Christ himself as a Saviour? Is that grace, which has the power to change a rebel into a friend, insufficient, if applied by Christ himself, for the purpose, to change partial into perfect love? What is there to appall us, however deep and settled our habits of sin, if Christ has provided the means, and has undertaken to accomplish a full redemption from all iniquity?

7. If I could only see some one who had attained to a state of entire sanctification, then I would believe the doctrine. It is very doubtful whether, if such a case were actually presented to a person in this state of mind, God would not have occasion to say unto him, “I work a work in your day, which ye will in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” Or if he should believe it for that reason, the fact itself would show that his faith rests, as said in a former discourse, upon what he sees, and not upon the Word of God. Which, reader, have you taken “as the only infallible rule of faith and practice,” the Word of God or the attainments of men?

8. It does not appear to me, that by simply believing in Christ, says another, I could be saved from all sin. In other words, the declaration of Christ, “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” does not appear to be a reality. Such an individual ought to learn another fact—that he has as yet experienced but very little of the power of faith in his own heart. “Now, the just shall live by faith.” “We also believe, and therefore speak.”

VI. We may also learn the influence of unbelief. It annihilates wholly the saving influence of the Gospel upon the heart. It places the subject in the same state of absolute hopelessness that he would be in, had no salvation been provided. “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” Whatever necessity presses upon us, that necessity remains for ever unsupplied till faith fastens upon the special redemption of Christ, as an ever-present and all-powerful remedy.

VII. We may now understand the true remedy for spiritual pride. I recollect having once heard a preacher, in a public address, give this as the all-powerful corrective,—“Let a person keep perpetually before his mind the standard of absolute perfection required by the law of God, and let it be his constant aim to ascend to a full discharge of every duty required of him. Now, if, while he is ascending from one degree to another toward the point of perfect holiness, he looks down and reflects upon the attainments he has already made, he will be lifted up with pride. If, on the other hand, in his perpetual ascent, he keeps his eye steadily fixed upon the point above him, he will be kept perpetually humbled in view of constant shortcomings.” The remedy was received by the audience with unbounded applause. This reflection, however, forced itself upon my mind, that if the speaker was in the same state of mind in which Christians generally are, he was not a little elevated in his estimation of himself by the beautiful remedy which he had proposed for spiritual pride. And what a thought is this—that a Christian must not obey the commands, “Search your own hearts,” “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves,” lest, if he should find that he had attained to any real holiness, he would be lifted with pride, and not exclaim, with adoring gratitude, “By the grace of God I am what I am! “

Now, the apostle has proposed a very different remedy for spiritual pride, from the one under consideration, which is the one commonly proposed, “Where is boasting, then? It is excluded. By what, law? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith.”

Suppose that an individual becomes fully conscious that, in consequence of his own reckless folly, he has involved himself in infinite guilt and hopeless bondage under sin; that Christ, of his self-moved goodness and mercy, has made full provision to meet all his necessities as a sinner; that, by implicit faith in Christ, he enjoys full redemption from the power and consequences of sin; and that the moment his faith loses its hold of Christ, he falls into the same hopeless guilt and bondage as before. When the man finds himself rising in spiritual attainments, under the influence of such a principle, to whom will he spontaneously ascribe the entire glory of his salvation? “To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” The fact that Christians generally cannot conceive themselves to have ascended in spiritual attainment, at all above the common level, without pride of heart, is to my mind full demonstration of the fact, that they yet need to be taught what are the “first principles” of holy living. “The righteousness which is of faith” excludes all boasting, of every kind.

VIII. You learn, Christian, to what to attribute every act of sin, and all your care, and trouble, and perplexity about the “many things” of this life. All these, together with every wrong feeling which arises in your mind, have their origin in one source exclusively—unbelief—a want of confidence in that special redemption of Christ, which, but for unbelief, would meet every possible exigency of our whole existence.

IX. We see, also, how it is that most Christians lose the presence of Christ under the pressure of business, when on a journey, or when brought into any scenes to which they have not before been accustomed. In such circumstances, they do not look to Christ for the special grace which he has provided to meet such exigencies. O that Christians would take this promise with them everywhere,—“As thy days, so shall thy strength be!” “Then would their peace be like a river, and their righteousness as the waves of the sea.”

X. We also understand the secret of always having a heart melted with love and tenderness. It consists in a full sense of our own infinite guilt and vileness of the boundless love of Christ, in making such full and perfect provision for our entire necessities, and as being ever present in our hearts, to confer upon us the full benefits of this eternal redemption. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!” Such a thought, when it once takes possession of the mind, has omnipotent power to melt the heart, and cause its purest, sweetest, and best affections to roll for ever around one “blissful centre.”

XI. We now understand the reason why the Lord Jesus Christ declared “the kingdom of heaven to be like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole were leavened.” The thought here presented, in its application to Christians, is this: When the kingdom of heaven is once set up in the heart of an individual, it will lead directly on to an entire subjection of all the powers and principles of his being to its Divine control. The reason is this: For our entire redemption from sin, into a state of perfect moral purity, the Gospel has made full provision. For every sinful habit and propensity, for every incentive to sin, it presents a specific and all-powerful remedy, through faith in Christ. Who that hates sin, and loves holiness supremely, will remain under the power of the former, and destitute of the fulness of the latter, under such circumstances?

XII. We see also the reason of Christ’s declaration,—“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” Suppose, Christian, that you could apprehend the excellence and love of Christ, as fully as your capacities will permit; suppose you could apprehend the fulness of his special love to you, and to every other individual of our race; that you could apprehend him as ever present with you, to meet your entire necessities in time and eternity; suppose you could apprehend him in all his relations to you, as your God and Saviour, and you could be fully assured that, through his love, every attribute of the Godhead stands pledged for your present and eternal well-being: to know Christ in this manner, and to have all the powers of your being moving perpetually under the influence of his infinite love,—this would indeed be life eternal. To be in this state is your high and blessed privilege. To present this love to you in all its fulness, God has given you his Holy Spirit. If you will look to that Spirit to be “strengthened with might in the inner man,” for this specific object, “that the love of Christ may dwell richly in your heart by faith,” you will then be able to “comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God.”

XIII. Finally, we may, in the light of this discourse, understand the secret of the pre-eminent piety of Paul and of primitive Christians. It is all explained in one single expression of the sacred writer—“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” At all times, and under all circumstances, they “knew nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” They literally “counted all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord.” He was their wisdom,” their “righteousness,” their “sanctification,” and “redemption.” He was their consolation in every affliction. He was their perfect pattern, their sole leader and guide. He was their certain victory, in every conflict with the “world, the flesh, and the devil.” He was their joy, their hope, their inheritance, their shield, and their “exceeding great reward.” He was their “bright and morning star,” the magnet of their souls, which held all the powers of their being in a blissful fixedness to one changeless Centre.

Now, Christian, if you will believe it, Christ will be to you all that he was to them. “He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;” and you may share as fully as they did in the infinite fulness of the love and grace of Christ. If, however, you would enjoy this full redemption, all the powers of your being must be brought under the perpetual influence of this one principle—“Looking to Jesus.” Do your sins rise up before you, and fill you with apprehensions of coming retributions, “Look to Jesus.” Do you desire to be wholly freed from the power of sin, and to have your entire character presented to God, “without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing,”—“Look to Jesus.” Are you burdened with care, or do the storms of affliction gather round you,—“Look to Jesus.” Is your temper unsubdued, do your appetites and propensities rebel, and call for unhallowed gratification,—“Look to Jesus.” Do temptations beset you, from within or around you,—“Look to Jesus.” Do you need wisdom and grace for any exigency whatever,—“Look to Jesus.” Whatever your condition or necessities may be, hear his gracious voice,—“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.”  

 

“Jesus, we come at thy command,

With faith, and hope, and humble zeal,

Resign our spirits to thy hand,

To mould and guide us at thy will.”