Wenden wir uns diesmal zu der
von LAD Rosary
Leverage – Socioeconomics
Leben wir “Flache Erde”? oder
leben wir in einem Wandel der Zeiten?
Kulturen, Technik, Völkervermischung-
wer blickt durch?-
Wer hat zukunftsweisende Konzeopte, die
Einen staat Trennen,
die Zusammenführen, anstatt in Parteien- und
Klientel-Proporz sich rückzuentwickeln?
Impressionen statt Depression
von Lord Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosekranz
gibt es ein LAND UNTER DEM EIS?
IST NEU-SCHWABENLAND EIN MÄRCHEN,
oder gibt es Hohlräume mit lebenswertem Klima
unter der Antarktis?
Russische Forschen bestätigen die
Süßwasserseen unter dem Eisschelf des Südpols.
Was bedeutet das evtl. bei Klimawandel?
Leverage – Socioeconomics
Leben wir “Flache Erde”? oder
leben wir in einem Wandel der Zeiten?
Kulturen, Technik, Völkervermischung-
wer blickt durch?-
Wer hat zukunftsweisende Konzeopte, die
Einen staat Trennen,
die Zusammenführen, anstatt in Parteien- und
Klientel-Proporz sich rückzuentwickeln?
Impressionen statt Depression
von Lord Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosekranz
gibt es ein LAND UNTER DEM EIS?
IST NEU-SCHWABENLAND EIN MÄRCHEN,
oder gibt es Hohlräume mit lebenswertem Klima
unter der Antarktis?
Russische Forschen bestätigen die
Süßwasserseen unter dem Eisschelf des Südpols.
Was bedeutet das evtl. bei Klimawandel?
Published: July 22, 2019, 10:37 | Comments Off on Impressionen- von LAD Rosary
Category: Rosary Bishop
Frohnleichnam – was ist das??
von Lord Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE. Rosenkranz
Published: May 28, 2018, 08:31 | Comments Off on Fronleichnam – von Lord Erzbischof Dr. Uwe AE.Rosenkranz (LAD Rosenkranz)
Category: christliche Feste
The Presbyterian Pulpit
OF GOD UNTO SALVATION
BENJAMIN B. WARFIELD, D.D., LL.D.
Professor in Princeton Theological Seminary
PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF PUBLICATION
AND SABBATH-SCHOOL WORK
Copyright, 1903, by the Trustees of
The Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-
Published April, 1903
I. THE REVELATION OF MAN
II. THE SAVING CHRIST
III. THE ARGUMENT FROM EXPERIENCE
IV. THE PARADOX OF OMNIPOTENCE
V. THE LOVE OF THE HOLY GHOST
VI. THE LEADING OF THE SPIRIT
VII. PAUL’S EARLIEST GOSPEL
VIII. FALSE RELIGION AND THE TRUE
THE SERMONS INCLUDED IN THIS VOLUME HAVE ALL BEEN PREACHED IN THE CHAPEL OF THE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AT PRINCETON
POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION
THE REVELATION OF MAN
“But one hath somewhere testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honor; Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He subjected all things unto him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we see not yet all things subjected to him. But we behold Him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.”—HEB. 2:6–9. (R. V.)
THESE words form the beginning of a marvelous passage the subject of which is “Christ our Representative.” That He might become our Representative, the inspired writer teaches, it was needful that He should identify Himself with us. Therefore it was that He became man.
Language had been exhausted to exhibit the divine dignity of our Representative. In contrast with those men of God, the prophets, in whom God dwelt and through whom God spoke, He is called a Son through whom the worlds were made and by the word of whose power all things are upheld; who is the effulgence of God’s glory and the very impression of His substance. In contrast with the most exalted of the creatures of God, the angels, He is given the more excellent name of the Son of God, His firstborn, whom all the angels of God shall worship; nay, He is given the name of the almighty and righteous God Himself, of the eternal Lord, who in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth and framed the heavens, and who shall abide the same when heaven and earth wax old and pass away.
Language is now exhausted to emphasize the perfection of the identification of this divine being with the children of men, when He who by nature was thus infinitely exalted above angels was made, like man, “a little lower than the angels … because of the suffering of death.” “It behooved Him,” we are told, “in all things to be made like unto His brethren”; and “since then the children are sharers in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same,” in order “that through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” The emphasis is upon the completeness of the identification of the Son of God with the sons of men, that by His sufferings many sons might be brought unto glory. And the implication is that as He was thus so completely identified with us for His work, so we are equally completely identified with Him in the fruits of that work. He shared with us our estate that we might share His merit with Him.
There is a great deal more precious truth in this passage than we can profitably attempt to consider in a single discourse. The whole gospel of the grace of God is in it. I have chosen its initial words for my text, and I purpose to ask you to fix your attention on its initial thought—the perfect identification of Christ with man. And even this in only one of its aspects, viz.: the consequent revelation of man which is brought us by the man Christ Jesus. Because our Lord is the Son of God, the impressed image of God’s substance—as the stamp of a seal is the impressed image of the seal—His advent into our world was the supreme revelation of God. But, equally, because of His perfect identification with the children of men, partaking of their blood and flesh, and made in all things like unto men, He stands before us also as the perfect revelation of man. It behooves us to look with wondering eyes upon Him whom to see is to see the Father also, that we may learn to know God—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” It may also behoove us to look upon Him who is not ashamed to call us brethren, that we may learn to know man—the man that God made in His own image, and whom He would rescue from his sin by the gift of His Son.
The text assuredly fully justifies us in looking upon Christ as the revelation of man. It begins, as you observe, by adducing the language of the eighth Psalm, in which God is adoringly praised for His goodness to man in endowing him, despite his comparative insignificance, with dominion over the creatures. The psalmist is contemplating the mighty expanse of the evening sky, studded with its orbs of light, among which the moon marches in splendor; and he is filled with a sense of the greatness of the God the work of whose hands all this glory is. “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth, who hast set Thy glory upon the heavens!” He is lost in wonder that such a God can bear in mind so weak a thing as man. “When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?” But his wonder and adoration reach their climax as he recounts how the Author of all this magnificent universe has not only considered man, but made him lord of it all. In an inextinguishable burst of amazed praise he declares: “Thou hast made him but little lower than the angels, and crownedst him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.” He enumerates the minor elements of man’s strange dominion, emphasizing its completeness and all-inclusiveness. “All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.” Nothing is omitted. So the praise returns upon itself and the Psalm closes with the repeated and now justified exclamation, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!” It is a hymn, you observe, of man’s dignity and honor and dominion. God is praised that He has dealt in so wondrous a fashion with mortal man, born from men, that He has elevated him to a position but little lower than that of the angels, crowned him with glory and honor, and given him dominion over all the works of His hands.
Now, observe how the author of this epistle deals with the Psalm. He adduces it as authoritative Scripture declaring indisputable fact. “One hath somewhere testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honor; Thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet.” He expounds its meaning accurately. “For in that He subjected all things unto him, He left nothing that is not subject to him.” And then he argues thus: “But now we see not yet all things subjected to him. But we behold Him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.” That is, of course, in Jesus only as yet do we see in actual possession and exercise, in its completeness and perfection, that majesty and dominion which the inspired psalmist attributes to man. God has expressly subjected all things to man; man has obviously not entered into his dominion; but the man Jesus has. Therefore it is to Him that we are to look if we would see man as man, man in the possession and use of all those faculties, powers, dignities for which he was destined by his Creator. In this way the author of this epistle presents Jesus before us as the pattern, the ideal, the realization of man. Looking upon Him, we have man revealed to us.
I beg you to keep fully in mind that our Lord’s adaptation to reveal to us what man is, is based by the author of this epistle solely on the perfection of His identification with us in His incarnation. To the author of this epistle, our Lord in His own proper person is beyond all comparison with man. As God’s own Son, the effulgence of His glory and the impressed image of His substance, He is beyond comparison even with prophets and infinitely above angels. He became identified with us by an act of humiliation and for an assigned cause, viz.: for the sake “of the suffering of death,” that is, in order that He might be able to undertake and properly to fulfill His high-priestly work—as we are immediately instructed in detail. This act of humiliation is expressed here, for the sake of giving point to the argument, in language derived from the Psalm: “He hath been made a little lower than the angels.” Observe, then, the pregnant difference which emerges in the use of this phrase of man and of our Lord. That man was made but little lower than the angels marks the height of his exaltation: “Thou didst make him a little lower than the angels, Thou didst crown him with glory and honor.” That our Lord was made a little lower than the angels, marks the depth of His humiliation: “We behold Jesus, who hath been made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.” So wide is the interval that stretches between Him and man. He stoops to reach the exalted heights of man’s as yet unattained glory.
But the perfection of His identification with us consisted just in this, that He did not, when He was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, assume merely the appearance of man or even merely the position and destiny of man, but the reality of humanity. Note the stress laid in the passage, on the reality of the humanity which our Lord assumed, when, as the inspired writer pointedly declares, He was made like to His brethren in all things. He was made “like them in their physical nature: as they were “sharers in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same.” He was made like them in their psychical nature: as they suffered and were tempted, He also “Himself hath suffered being tempted.” Jesus Christ is presented before us here as a true and real man, possessed of every faculty and capacity that belongs to the essence of our nature: as a veritable “son of man,” born of a woman, and brother to all those whom He came to succor. It is because He was in this true and complete sense what He so loved to call Himself, the Son of man—doubtless with as full reference to the eighth Psalm as to Daniel’s great apocalypse—that He reveals to us in His own life and conduct what man was intended to be in the plan of God.
We must keep these great facts in mind that we may preserve the point of view of the inspired writer, as we strive to follow him in looking upon Jesus as the representative man, in whose humanity man is revealed to us. He is not the representative man in the sense that man is all that He is. When He entered the sphere of human life, by the assumption of a human nature, He did not lay aside His Godhead. He is, while being all that man is, infinitely more. He is God as well as man. He is not the representative man in the sense that in Him the age-long process of man’s creation was first completed—that His exalted humanity is the goal toward which nature had been all through the aeons travailing, till now at last in Him the man-child comes to a tardy birth. He is the revelation of man only in the sense that when we turn our eyes toward Him, we see in the quality of His humanity God’s ideal of man, the Creator’s intention for His creature; while by contrast with Him we may learn the degradation of our sin; and happily also we may see in Him what man is to be, through the redemption of the Son of God and the sanctification of the Spirit. Let us think a little on these things.
And, first, in the quality of Christ’s manhood we may see the perfect man, the revelation of what man is in God’s idea of him, of what the Creator intended him to be.
And what is the quality of Jesus’ manhood? There is no other word to express it except the great word perfection. Sin? We cannot think of it in connection with Him. Those who companied with Him testify that He was “without blemish and without spot”; that “He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” The author of our epistle declares that He was “separate from sinners,” that He was, in the midst of temptation, “without sin.” The story of His life and sayings leaves us without trace of acknowledgment of fault on His own part, without betrayal of consciousness of unworthiness, without the slightest hint of inner conflict with sinful impulses.
And if the quality of His excellence is too positive to permit us even to speak of sin in connection with it, it is equally too universal to admit of adequate characterization. The excellences of the best of men may usually be condensed in a single outstanding virtue or grace by which each is peculiarly marked. Thus we speak of the faith of Abraham, the meekness of Moses, the patience of Job, the boldness of Elijah, the love of John. The perfection of Jesus defies such particularizing characterization. All the beauties of character which exhibit themselves singly in the world’s saints and heroes, assemble in Him, each in its perfection and all in perfect balance and harmonious combination. If we ask what manner of man He was, we can only respond, No manner of man, but rather, by way of eminence, the man, the only perfect man that ever existed on earth, to whom gathered all the perfections proper to man and possible for man, that they might find a fitting home in His heart and that they might play brightly about His person. If you would know what man is, in the height of His divine idea, look at Jesus Christ.
Is it not well for the world once to have seen such a man? How easy it is to accuse nature of our faults, to confront God with what we have wrought, and to seek to roll upon our Creator the responsibility for the creatures which our own deeds have made us. How easy to look upon corruption as the inevitable incident of existence for such beings as men; and to speak of sin as only the mark of our humanity. How easily a cynical temper waxes within us as we mix with men in the world’s marts and tread with them the devious paths of life. We mark their ways and ask, waiting, like Pilate, for no answer, Who shall show us any good? How easily our ideals themselves sink to what we fancy the level of human powers. We note the aims of those who strive about us. We note the aims of the great figures which flit across the pages of history, commanding the acclamation of all the ages. We look within at the seething caldron of passions and impulses of our own souls. Do not all these voices call us to one natural, one unavoidable issue? If in the far distance we faintly discover hanging above us the beckoning glimmer of some star of heaven—what is poor wingless man, that he should hope to rise to grasp it? Is it not the part of wisdom, as well as the demand of nature, that worms shall crawl? Is it not folly unspeakable for such as we to attempt to mount the skies? But we see Jesus, and the scales fall from our eyes; in Him we perceive what man is in his idea, and what it may be well for him to seek to become.
The man Jesus stands before us as the revelation of man’s native dignity, capacities, and powers. He exhibits to us what man is in the idea of his Maker. He uncovers to our view, in their perfection and strength, those qualities and forces of good, the ruins of which only we may see in our fellow-men, and enables us to admire, honor, love, and hope for them, because they still possess such qualities and capacities though in ruins. To look upon Him is to ennoble and elevate our ideals of life; the sight of Him forbids us to forget our higher nature and higher aspirations; it quickens in us our dead longings to be like Him, men after God’s plan and heart, rather than after our own corrupt impulses. It is well for the world once to have seen such a man.
Once and once only. Ah, there is the pity of it, and there is the despair of it! In no other than in Him has the ideal ever been realized. And the more we look upon His perfections the more we perceive, as in no other light, how far short of the ideal man have been our highest imaginations. For we need to note, secondly, that in the light of Jesus’ perfect manhood we have, by contrast, revealed to us what man is in his sin and depravity, what he has made himself in his rebellion from good and from God.
The Greeks had a proverb: “By the straight is judged both the straight and the crooked; the rule is singly the test of both.” And so it is. Wherever the straight is brought to light, there inevitably is also the crookedness of the crooked made visible. Let the builder hang his plumb-line, with whatever careless intent, over any wall; and if the wall be not straight, every wayfarer may perceive it. Let the carpenter lay his straightedge alongside of any board, and every crook and bend is brought to the instant observation of all. This is what is meant when the Scriptures tell us that by the law is the knowledge of sin. For the law is for moral things what the plumb-line and the straight-edge are for physical things: it is the rule by which our hearts are measured and in the presence of which what we really are is made manifest. We may sin and scarcely know we sin, until the straight-edge of the law is brought against us. Oh, how we fall away from its line of rectitude!
Now, our blessed Saviour, as the perfect one, full of righteousness and holiness, is the embodiment of the law in life. And more perfectly and vividly than any law—though that law be holy and just and good—does His presence among men measure men and reveal what men are. The presence of any good man in our midst acts, in its due proportion, as such a measure. And, therefore, from the beginning of the world men have been stung by the presence of a good man among them to hatred of him, and have evilly entreated and persecuted him. He is a standing accusation of their sins. “There is certainly,” says Miss Yonge in The Heir of Redcliffe—that uplifting story which has been such a factor in the lives of such men as Mr. William Morris and Dr. A. Kuyper—“there is certainly a ‘tyrannous hate’ in the world for unusual goodness, which is a rebuke to it.” But no man ever so feels his utter depravity as when he thinks of himself as standing by the side of Jesus. In this presence, even what we had fondly looked upon as our virtues hide their faces in shame and cry, Depart from us, for we are sinful in thy sight, O Lord.
Lay open the narrative in these gospels, of how the Son of man went about among men, in the days of His sojourn here below. Note on the one hand the ever-growing glory of that revelation of a perfect life. And note on the other hand the ever-increasing horror of the accompanying revelation of human weakness and human depravity. It could not be otherwise. When we see Jesus, it must be in the brightness of His unapproachable splendor that we see those about Him: as it is in the light of the sun that we see the forms and colors and characters of all objects on which it turns its beams. Especially when we see Him in conflict with His enemies, as we cannot avoid being moved with amazement by the spectacle of His utter perfection; so must we, in that light, be shocked by the spectacle of the utter depravity of men. Men are revealed in this presence in their true, their fundamental tones of nature with a vivid completeness in which they are never seen elsewhere.
Now, such a crisis as this, Jesus is bringing into the life of every man upon whom the light of His knowledge shines. No man can escape the test. Christ Jesus has come into the world and He confronts every one with the spectacle of His perfect humanity. When men are least thinking of Him, lo! there He is by their side. Every time His name is mentioned in the assemblies of men, every time His image rises in a brooding human heart, the crisis comes again to human souls. They may not realize it; they may prefer otherwise; they may determine otherwise. But they are being tried and tested against their wills every moment they live in His presence. Some, like the priests, burn with rage at every thought of the supreme claim He makes upon their homage, and refuse with all violence to have this man to rule over them. Others, like Pilate, yield a languid and chill recognition to His goodness and worth, yet choose the pursuit of pleasure or gain above the service of Him. Others, like the mob, may in easy indifference prefer some other leader, though he be a robber and a murderer. Thus a crisis is brought by His presence to every heart; and a revelation of man in his true depravity is the result. As He moves through the world the whole race lies at His feet self-condemned. We shudder as, in the light of His brightness, we see man as he is.
Yet we have the word of Jesus Himself for it that God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Let us turn our eyes away, then, from the terrible spectacle of a race revealed in its sin to observe, in the third place, that in the perfection of Christ’s manhood we have the revelation of what man may become by the redemption of the Son of God and the sanctification of the Spirit.
We observe that the element of promise is made very prominent in the text and in the wider passage of which the text is a part. Mark those words of hope, “Not yet.” “We see not yet all things subjected to him.” The psalmist’s ascription is then yet to be fulfilled in man himself. In Jesus’ dominion, and in Jesus’ perfection, we are to see only the earnest and the pledge. When He entered through sufferings into glory, it was in the process of bringing many sons unto glory. If He is the sanctifier, they are the sanctified; and He is not ashamed to call them brethren. If He became like them in order that He might die in their behalf; this death was to be accomplished in order that He might, by making propitiation for their sins, deliver them from their bondage. In a word, we are to look upon Jesus in His perfect manhood as our forerunner. In His perfection we are to see the revelation of what we too shall be when He shall have perfected His work in us as He has already perfected it for us.
Let us bless God for these precious assurances. Without them the sight of Jesus could but bring us despair. Men speak of Him, indeed, as our example; and we praise God that He has given us such an example—we bless His holy name that He has permitted the world to see one such man. But if He were only our example, as we looked upon Him and saw His perfection and by contrast saw our depravity, who would not cry that this example is too high, we cannot attain unto it!
I fear we do not always consider with what limitations mere example is hedged about. Limitations of space. How narrow a circle can really feel the uplift of even the most moving personal example. At the best, only those who cluster most nearly round the figure of a good man, however impressive, can be much affected by his example. Limitations of time. How soon the force of the mightiest personality is drowned in the stream of the years. As the flood of days falls over it how rapidly it becomes at best a story—an empty name. Could Jesus have declared that it was expedient for Him to go away, if it were only or chiefly as an example that He came into the world? Would not it have been rather expedient that He should have lived through all the ages, and kept His living example as a living force before the eyes of men for all time and in every land? Limitations of power. The most inspiring example cannot change the heart, cannot impart new life to a dead soul. At best it can but deflect the direction of powers already existent and operative. We thank God that Christ is our example, that we see in Him all that we fain would be. But we thank Him that He is much more than our example; that He is our life as well. It is only because He is our life, that as our example He can be our hope and joy.
With Him as only our example we could see in His perfect manhood only what we ought to be, ought but cannot. Hopeless gloom would inevitably settle upon our souls. With Him as our life, who has died for our sins and purchased the sanctifying Spirit for us, we see in His perfect manhood what we are to be. Do we peer into that mysterious future, with doubt if not dismay? We have the precious assurance based upon His perfected work of propitiation and purchase: “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him.” “We shall be like Him.” Our hearts take courage, and we rest on this word. We shall be like Him! “We all remember,” says Bishop Gore, “the pathetic words of Simmias in the argument with Socrates about the immortality of the soul. ‘I dare say,’ he says,’ that you, Socrates, feel as I do, how very hard and almost impossible is the attainment of any certainty about questions such as these in the present life. And yet I should deem him a coward who did not prove what is said about them to the uttermost, or whose heart failed him before he had examined them on every side. For he should persevere until he has ascertained one of two things: either he should discover and learn the truth about them; or, if this is impossible, I would have him take the best and most irrefragable of human notions, and let this be the raft on which he sails through life—not without risk, as I admit, if he cannot find some word of God which will more surely and safely carry him.’ ‘Some word of God’: it has come to us; crowning the legitimate efforts, supplying the inevitable deficiencies of human reasoning; satisfying all the deepest aspirations of the heart and conscience. It has come to us, and not as a mere spoken message, but as an incarnate person, at first to attract, to alarm, to subdue us; afterwards, when we are His servants, to guide, to discipline, to enlighten, to enrich us, till that which is perfect is come, and that which is in part shall be done away.” Aye, this is it which meets every longing of our hearts. We shall be like Him when we see Him as He is.
Oh, toil-worn pilgrim, weary with your burden, would you know the glory in store for you? Look at Jesus: you shall be like Him. Are you tempted to despair? Do you shrink from an endless future in which you shall remain for ever yourself? Look at Jesus: not as you are, but like what He is, you are to be. If we can but attain to such a hope, heaven bursts at once upon our souls. To be like Jesus! Is this not a glory, in the presence of which all other glories fade away by reason of the glory that is surpassing? When we look at Jesus, we may not—we cannot afford to—forget that we are looking at that which, by the grace of God, we may and shall become.
And you, in whose veins the pulses of youth are still beating, whose hearts are high as you look out upon the still untrodden fields of life—fields which you doubt not you are to subdue—you, all of you, no doubt, have your ideals and your heroes. Some figure rises before your eyes, now as I speak to you, whom you would fain be like—a soldier, a thinker, some master of assemblies, some leader of men, some lord of finance. Or, perhaps, your gentler blood throbs with exhilarated longing as you fancy yourself repeating in your own life the strivings or the accomplishments of some noble woman of history or of romance—some high-minded Hypatia, some patient Griselda, some devoted Saint Catharine—a Florence Nightingale, an Elizabeth Fry, a Dora Pattison, a Frances Havergal. What would it be to you to have an angel visitant stand suddenly by your side—as long ago there stood suddenly by Mary, most blessed of women, one with the greeting on his lips of “Hail Mary! thou that art highly favored!”—and say, “Your wish is granted; this—all this—you shall be!” Are we so blind that we do not see that this, and more, is just what has come to us? All these heroes of our hearts, great and inspiring as they are, are but men and women like ourselves, touched with our faults, our failings, our sins. Partial and incomplete, alike in themselves and in their accomplishments, they can provide us with but stepping-stones to higher things. The one perfect man, the one perfect model of life, stands before us in Christ Jesus. And the voice comes to us—not the voice of an angel only, but God’s own voice of power—proclaiming, Ye shall be like Him!
Could there be another proclamation of equal encouragement, of equal strengthening? Up, brethren, let us take Him, the perfect One, for our model; let us nurse our longing to be like Him; and let us go forth to the work of life buoyant with the joy of this greatest of hopes, this most precious of assurances—We shall be like Him; what He is, that shall we also become! In the strength of this great hope let us live our life out here below, and in its joyful assurance let us, when our time comes to go, enter eagerly into our glory.
THE SAVING CHRIST
“Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”—1 TIM. 1:15. (R. V.)
IN these words we have the first of a short series of five “faithful sayings,” or current Christian commonplaces, incidentally adduced by the apostle Paul in the course of his letters to his helpers in the gospel—Timothy and Titus—i.e., in what we commonly call his Pastoral Epistles. They are a remarkable series of five “words,” and their appearance on the face of these New Testament writings is almost as remarkable as their contents.
Consider what the phenomenon is that is brought before us in these “faithful sayings.” Here is the apostle writing to his assistants in the proclamation of the gospel, little more than a third of a century, say, after the crucifixion of his Lord—scarcely thirty-three years after he had himself entered upon the great ministry that had been committed to him of preaching to the Gentiles the words of this life. Yet he is already able to remind them of the blessed contents of the gospel message in words that are the product of Christian experience in the hearts of the community. For just what these “faithful sayings” are, is a body of utterances in which the essence of the gospel has been crystallized by those who have tasted and seen its preciousness. Obviously the days when this gospel was brought as a novelty to their attention are past. The church has been founded, and in it throbs the pulses of a vigorous life. The gospel has been embraced and lived; it has been trusted and not found wanting; and the souls that have found its blessedness have had time to frame its precious truths into formulas. Formulas, I do not say, merely, that have passed from mouth to mouth, and been enshrined in memory after memory until they have become proverbs in the Christian community. Formulas rather, which have embedded themselves in the hearts of the whole congregation, have been beaten there into shape, as the deeper emotions of redeemed souls have played round them, and have emerged again suffused with the feelings which they have awakened and satisfied, and molded into that balanced and rhythmic form which is the hallmark of utterances that come really out of the living and throbbing hearts of the people.
If we were to judge of the spiritual attainments of the primitive Church solely by these specimens of its Christian thought, we should assuredly conceive exceedingly highly of them. Where can we go to find a truer or deeper insight into the heart of the gospel—a richer or fuller expression of all that the religious life at its highest turns upon? Certainly not to the apocryphal fragments of so-called “utterances of Jesus” raked out of the trash-heaps of some Oxyrhynchus or other. But just as truly not to the authentic remains of the early ages of the Church; which witness, indeed, to a living, vitalizing Christianity ordering all its life, but which distinctly reach to no such level of Christian thinking and feeling as these fragments point to. We are thus bidden to remember that in these five “sayings” we have, not the total product of the Christian thought of the age, perhaps not even a fair sample of it, but such items of it only as commended themselves to the mind and heart of a Paul, and rose joyously to his lips when he would fain exhort his fellows in the gospel to embrace and live by its essence. They come to us accordingly not merely as valuable fragments of the Christian thinking of the first period—of absorbing interest as they would be even from that point of view—but with the imprimatur of the apostle upon them as consonant with the mind of the Holy Spirit. They are dug from the mine of the Christian heart indeed, but they come to us stamped in the mintage of apostolic authority. The primitive Christian community it may have been that gave them form and substance, but it is the apostle who assures us that they are “faithful sayings, and worthy of all acceptation.”
And surely, when we come to look narrowly at the particular one of these “sayings” which we have chosen as our text, it is a great assertion that it brings us—an assertion which, if it be truly a “faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,” is well adapted to become even in this late and, it would fain believe itself, more instructed age, the watchword of the Christian Church and of every Christian heart. On the face of it, you will observe, it simply announces the purpose or, we may perhaps say, the philosophy, of the incarnation: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” But it announces the purpose of the incarnation in a manner that at once attracts attention. Even the very language in which it is expressed is startling, meeting us here in the midst of one of Paul’s letters. For this is not Pauline phraseology that stands before us here; as, indeed, it professes not to be—for does not Paul tell us that he is not speaking in his own person, but is adducing one of the jewels of the Church’s faith? At all events, it is the language of John that here confronts us, and whoever first cast the Church’s heart-conviction into this compressed sentence had assuredly learned in John’s school. For to John only belongs this phrase as applied to Christ: “He came into the world.” It is John only who preserves the Master’s declarations: “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world”; “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness.” It is he only who, adopting, as is his wont, the very phraseology of his Master to express his own thought, tells us in his prologue that “the true Light—that lighteth every man—was coming into the world,” but though He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, yet the world knew Him not.
Hence emerges a useful hint for the interpretation of our passage. For in the Johannean phraseology which we have before us here—though certainly not in the Johannean phraseology only—the term “the world” does not express a purely local idea, but is suffused with a deep ethical significance. When we read accordingly of Christ Jesus coming into the “world,” we are not reading of a mere change of place on the part of our Lord—of a mere descent on His part from heaven to earth, as we may say. We are reading of the light coming into the darkness: “the world” is the sphere of darkness and shame and sin. It is, in a word, the great ethical contrast that is intended to be brought prominently before us, and in this lies the whole point of the incarnation as conceived by John, and as embodied in our passage. Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, came into “the world”—into the realm of evil and the kingdom of sin. In our present passage this idea is enhanced by the sharp collocation with it of the term “sinners.” For, in the original, the word “sinners” stands next to the word “world,” with the effect of throwing the strongest possible emphasis on the ethical connotation. This is the faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that the apostle commends to us—that “Christ Jesus came into the world, sinners to save.” What else, indeed, could He have come into “the world,” the sphere of evil, for—except to save sinners?.
Surely, there meets us here a point that is worthy of our closest attention. We might have heard of Christ coming into the world, if the term could be taken in a merely local sense, with but a languid interest. But when we catch the ethical import of the term an explanation is at once demanded. What could such an one as Christ have to do in coming to such a place as the world? The incongruity of the thing requires accounting for. It is much as if we saw a fellow Christian in some compromising position. We might meet with him here, there, and elsewhere, and no remark be aroused. But by some chance swing of the shutter as we pass by we see him standing in the midst of a drinking-saloon; we see him emerge from the door of a well-known gambling hell, or of some dreadful abode of shame. At once the need of an explanation rises within our puzzled minds, and the whole stress of the situation turns on the explanation. What was his purpose there? we anxiously inquire. So it is with Christ Jesus coming into the world; and so we feel in proportion as we realize the ethical contrariety suggested by the term. Thus it comes about that the primary emphasis of the passage is felt to rest on the account it gives of the situation it brings before us—on its explanation of how it happens that Christ Jesus could and did come into the world.
We despair of finding an English phraseology which will reproduce with exactitude the nice distribution of the stress. Suffice it to say that the strong emphasis falls on the fact that it was specifically to save sinners that Christ Jesus came, and that the way for this strength of emphasis is prepared by the use of phraseology which implies that there was no other conceivable end that He could have had in view in coming into such a place as the world except to deal with sinners, of which the world consists. He might indeed have come to judge the world; and in contrast with that the emphasis falls on the word “to save.” But He could not conceivably, being what He was, the Holy One and the Just, have come to such a place as the world is—the seat of shame and evil—save to deal with sinners. The essence of the whole declaration, therefore, is found in the joyful cry that it was specifically to save sinners that Christ Jesus came into this world of evil. And if that be true—simply true, broadly true, true just as it stands, and in all the reach of its meaning—why, then, from that alone we may learn what man is and what God is—what Christ Jesus is and His work in this world of ours—what hopes may illumine our darkness here below, and what joys shall be ours when this darkness passes away.
It would naturally be impossible for us to dip out all the fullness of such a great declaration in a half-hour’s meditation. It will be profitable for us, accordingly, to confine ourselves to bringing as clearly before us as may prove to be practicable two or three of its main implications. And may God the Holy Spirit help us to read it aright and to apply its lessons to our souls’ welfare!
First of all, then, let us observe that this “faithful saying” takes us back into the counsels of eternity and reveals to us the ground, in the decree of God, for the gift of His Son to the world, and the end sought to be obtained by His entrance into the likeness of sinful flesh. “Faithful is the saying,” says the apostle, “and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world in order to save sinners.” That is to say, the occasion of the incarnation is rooted in sin, and the end of it is found in salvation from sin. And that is to say again, translating these facts into the terms of the decree, that the determination of God to send His Son and the determination of the Son to come into the world are grounded, in the counsel of God, on the contemplated fact of sin, and have as their design to provide a remedy for sin.
This, it need hardly be said, is in accordance with the uniform representation of Scripture. Scripture always speaks of the incarnation as the hinge of a great remedial scheme. Our Lord Himself, in language closely parallel to that before us, says, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” And everywhere in Scripture the incarnation is conceived distinctly, if we may be permitted the use of these technical terms, soteriologically rather than ontologically, or even cosmologically. Under the guidance of Scripture, and preëminently of our present passage, therefore, we must needs deny that the proximate account of the incarnation is to be sought either ontologically or ethically in God, or in the nature of the Logos, or in the idea of creation, or in the character of man as created; and affirm that it is to be found only in the needy condition of man as a sinner before the face of a holy and loving God.
The incarnation, to be sure, is so stupendous an event that it is big with consequences, and reaches out on every side to relations that may seem at first glance even to stand in opposition to its fundamental principle. It is certainly true that all that is, is the product of God’s power, and, as coming from Him, has somewhat of God in it and may be envisaged by us as a vehicle of the Divine. And surely it is only true that He has imprinted Himself on the works of His hands; and that, as the Author of all, He will not be content with the product of His power until it has been made to body forth all His perfections; and it cannot be wrong to say that so far as we can see it is only in an incarnation that He could manifest Himself perfectly to His creatures. A similar remark will apply naturally at once also to the Logos as the Revealer, who must be supposed to desire to make known to man all that God is, and preëminently His love, which undoubtedly lies at the basis of the incarnation, and may be properly represented as its very principle and impulsive cause. Nor can it be doubted that only in his union with God in Christ, which is the result of Christ’s incarnated work, does man reach his true destiny—the destiny designed for him from the beginning of the world, and without which in prospect, so far as we can see, man would never have been created at all.
But it is of the utmost importance for us to observe that these truths, great and fundamental as they are, yet do not penetrate to the basal fact as to the end of the incarnation. Nor can they safely be treated atomistically as so many independent truths unrelated to one another or to the real principle of the incarnation. They rather form parts of one complete sphere of truth whose center lies in the soteriological incarnation of the Bible. And only as each finds its proper place as a segment of this sphere of truth formed about that great fact does it possess validity, or even attain the height of its own idea. It is only, for example, because Christ Jesus came to save sinners that all that God is is manifested in Him, that love finds its completest exhibition in Him, that through Him at last man attains his primal destiny. Eliminate sin as the proximate occasion and redemption as the prime end of the incarnation, and none of these other effects will follow from it at all, or at least not in the measure of their rights. So that it is only true to say that in order that each may attain its proper place in our contemplation, as we seek to gather together the ends served by the incarnation, it is essential that they be conceived not apart from salvation from sin, the primary end of the incarnation, as its substitutes, but along with it, as its complements.
But this great declaration not only takes us back into the counsels of the eternal God that we may learn what from the ages of ages He purposed for sinful man, but it also throws an intense emphasis on the nature of the work which the incarnate Son of God came to perform. We require only to adjust the stress that falls on the separate words a little more precisely to catch a new meaning in its inspiring words, which declare that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
What, after all, are we looking for in Christ? Perhaps very divergent replies might be returned to this query did we but probe our hearts deeply enough and question our hopes resolutely enough. At all events, from the very earliest ages of Christianity, men have approached Him with very varied needs prominent in their minds, and have sought in Him satisfaction for very diverse necessities. They have felt the need of a teacher, an example, a revealer of God, a manifestation of the Divine love, an unveiling of the mysteries of the spiritual world, or of the life that lies beyond the grave. Or they have felt the need of a protector, a strong governor on whose arm they could rest, a bulwark against the evils of this life, and a tower of strength for their support and safety, whether in this life or in that to come. Or they have felt the need of a ransom from sin, of a redeemer, an expiation, a reconciler with God, a sanctifier. In the opulent provision for all that man can require made in the work of the Son of man, we can find all this, and more, in Him. But it makes every difference where, amid the rich profusion of His mercies, we discover the center of gravity of the benefits conferred on us, and what we ascribe more to the periphery.
In particular, in the first age of the gospel declaration it appealed to men more especially along three lines of deeply felt needs. Some, oppressed chiefly by their sense of the ignorance of God and of spiritual realities in which they had languished in the days of their heathendom, and dazzled by the light of the glorious gospel He brought to them, looked to Christ most eagerly as the Logos, the great Revealer, who had brought the knowledge of God to them, and with the knowledge of God the knowledge of themselves also as the sons of God. Others, oppressed rather by the miseries of life, turned from the dreadful physical and social conditions in which humanity itself had nearly been ground out of them, to hail in Christ the founder of a new social order; and permitted their quickened hopes to play almost exclusively round the promises of the kingdom He had come to establish and the joys it would bring. We call the one class “Gnostics” and the other “Chiliasts”; and by the very attribution to them of these party names indicate our clear perception that in neither of these channels did the great stream of Christian faith run. For from the beginning it has been true of Christians at large that the evils they have looked to Christ primarily to be relieved from have been neither intellectual nor social, but rather distinctly moral and spiritual. There have arisen from time to time one-sided and insufficient modes of expressing even this deeper longing and truer trust in Christ. Early Christians were apt, for example, to speak of themselves too exclusively as under bondage to Satan, and to look to Christ as a ransom to Satan for their release. But, however strangely they may now and again have expressed themselves, the essence of the matter lay clearly revealed in their thought—this, namely, in the words of the text, that Christ Jesus had come into the world to save sinners; that sin is the evil from which we need deliverance, and that it was to redeem from sin that the Son of God left His throne and companied with wicked men for a season.
The two thousand years of Christian life that have been lived since the gospel of salvation was brought into the world have not availed to eliminate from His Church these insufficient conceptions of our Lord’s work. Even in this twentieth century of ours there still exist Christian intellectualists as extreme as any Gnostic of old: men who look to Christ for nothing but instruction, manifestation, revelation, teaching, example; and who still discover the essence of Christianity in the higher and better knowledge it brings of what is true and good and beautiful. And by their side there still exist to-day Christian socialists as extreme as any Chiliast of old: men whose whole talk is of the amelioration of life brought about by Christ, of the salvation of society, of the establishment on Christian principles of a new social order and the upbuilding of a new social structure; and whose prime hope in Christ is for the relief of the distresses of life and the building up of a kingdom of well-being in the world.
We shall be in no danger, of course, of neglecting the truth that is embodied in the intellectualistic and the socialistic gospels. Christ is our Prophet and our King. He did come to make us know what God is, and what His purposes of mercy are to men; and where the light of that knowledge is shut out from men’s sight how great is the darkness and how great is the misery of that darkness! He is our wisdom, our teacher beyond compare. So far from minimizing either the extent or the value of His revelations, we must rather acknowledge that we cannot magnify them enough. And Christ did come to implant in human society a new principle of social health and organization, and the leaven which He has thus imbedded in the mass is working, and is destined to continue to work, every conceivable improvement in the structure of society until the whole is leavened. In a word, Christ did come to found a kingdom, and in that kingdom men shall dwell together in amity and peace, and love shall be its law, and happiness its universal condition. It is with no desire to minimize the intellectual and social blessings that Christ has brought the world, therefore, that we would insist that the center of His work lies elsewhere. We all the more heartily hail Him as our Prophet and our King, that we must insist that He is also, and above all, our Priest. He has saved us from ignorance; He has saved us from pain; but these are not the evils on which the hinge of His saving work turns. Above all and before all He has saved us from sin. “Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
And it is only by saving us from sin, we must further remark, that He saves us from ignorance and from misery. There is a high and true sense, valid here too, in the saying that faith precedes reason: that it is only he that is in Christ Jesus who can know God and acquire any effective insight into spiritual truth. And equally in that other maxim that the regeneration of the individual is the condition of the regeneration of society: that it is only he that is in Christ Jesus who can have added to him even these lesser benefits. Apart from the central salvation from sin, knowledge can but puff up, and society at best is a whited sepulchre, full of dead men’s bones. And it is only by His prime work of saving from sin—that sin which is the root of all our ignorance and of all our bitterness alike—that He makes the tree good that its fruits may be good also. In the penetrating declaration of our text, therefore, we perceive the heart of Christianity uncovered for us. The saying that it was to save sinners that Christ Jesus came into the world is a faithful one, and worthy of all acceptation. And that means that it is not the primary function of Christianity in the world to educate men, though we shall not get along without teaching; or to ameliorate their physical and social condition, though we shall not get along without charity; but to proclaim salvation from sin. It exists in the world not for making men wise, nor for making them comfortable, but for saving them from sin. That done and all is done—each result following in its due course. That not done, and nothing is done. All the wisdom of the ages, all the delights of life, are of no avail so long as we are oppressed with sin. The core of the gospel is assuredly that Christ Jesus came to save sinners.
We need, however, once more to adjust the emphasis more precisely in order to gain the whole message of our passage. What Paul declares to be a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, is that Christ Jesus came to save sinners. Put the emphasis now on the one word “save”—Christ Jesus came to save sinners.
Not, then, merely to prepare salvation for them; to open to them a pathway to salvation; to remove the obstacles in the way of their salvation; to proclaim as a teacher a way of salvation; to introduce as a ruler conditions of life in which clean living becomes for the first time possible; to bring motives to holy action to bear upon us; to break down our enmity to God by an exhibition of His seeking love; to manifest to us what sin is in the sight of God, and how He will visit it with His displeasure. All these things He undoubtedly does. But all these things together touch but the circumference of His work for man. Under no interpretation of the nature or reach of His work can it be truly said that Christ Jesus came to do these things. For that we must penetrate deeper, and say with the primitive Church, in this faithful saying commended to us by the apostle, that Christ Jesus came to save sinners.
We must take the great declaration in the height and depth of its tremendous meaning. Jesus did all that is included in the great word “save.” He did not come to induce us to save ourselves, or to help us to save ourselves, or to enable us to save ourselves. He came to save us. And it is therefore that His name was called Jesus—because He should save His people from their sins. The glory of our Lord, surpassing all His other glories to usward, is just that He is our actual and complete Saviour; our Saviour to the uttermost. Our knowledge, even though it be His gift to us as our Prophet, is not our saviour, be it as wide and as deep and as high as it is possible to conceive. The Church, though it be His gift to us as our King, is not our saviour, be it as holy and true as it becomes the Church, the bride of the Lamb, to be. The reorganized society in which He has placed us, though it be the product of His holy rule over the redeemed earth, is not our saviour, be it the new Jerusalem itself, clothed in its beauty and descended from heaven. Nay, let us cut more deeply still. Our faith itself, though it be the bond of our union with Christ through which we receive all His blessings, is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord. Nothing that we are and nothing that we can do enters in the slightest measure into the ground of our acceptance with God. Jesus did it all. And by doing it all He has become in the fullest and widest and deepest sense the word can bear—our Saviour. For this end did He come into the world—to save sinners; and nothing short of the actual and complete saving of sinners will satisfy the account of His work given by His own lips and repeated from them by all His apostles.
It is in this great fact, indeed, that there lies the whole essence of the gospel. For let us never forget that the gospel is not good advice, but good news. It does not come to us to make known to us what we must do to earn salvation for ourselves, but proclaiming to us what Jesus has done to save us. It is salvation, a completed salvation, that it announces to us; and the burden of its message is just the words of our text—that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Now Paul could never write of this tremendously moving truth in a cold and dry spirit. There was nothing that so burned in his soul as his profound sense of his indebtedness to his Redeemer for his entire salvation. We cannot be surprised, therefore, to note that as he repeats these great words, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” his thought reverts at once to his own part in this great salvation; and he cries aloud with swelling heart, “Of whom I am chief.” Says an old Anglican writer: “The apostle applies the worst word in the text to himself.” But we must punctually note, Paul is not, therefore, boasting of his sin. He is, on the contrary, glorying in his salvation. If Christ came just to save sinners, he says, in effect, Why that means me; for that is what I am. There is a sense, then, no doubt, in which he can be said to be glad that he can claim to be a sinner. Not because he delights in wickedness, but because that places him within the reach of the mission of Him who Himself declared that He came not to call the righteous, but sinners. Paul knows there is deep-seated evil within him; he knows his own inability to remedy it—for does not that long life of legalistic struggle, when after the straitest sect of his religion he lived a Pharisee, witness to his agonizing efforts to heal his deadly hurt? In Christ Jesus, who came to save sinners, he sees the one hope of sinners like himself; and with deep revulsion of feeling he takes his willing place among sinners that he may take his place also among saved sinners. His only comfort in life and death is found in the fact that Christ Jesus came just to save sinners.
Brethren, it is there only also that our comfort can be found, whether for life or for death. Perhaps even yet we hardly know, as we should know, our need of a saviour. Perhaps we may acknowledge ourselves to be sinners only in languid acquiescence in a current formula. Such a state of self-ignorance cannot, however, last for ever. And some day—probably it has already come to most of us—some day the scales will fall from our eyes, and we shall see ourselves as we really are. Ah, then, we shall have no difficulty in placing ourselves by the apostle’s side, and pronouncing ourselves, in the accents of the deepest conviction, the chief of sinners. And, then, our only comfort for life and death, too, will be in the discovery that Christ Jesus came into the world just to save sinners. We may have long admired Him as a teacher sent from God, and have long sought to serve Him as a King re-ordering the world; but we shall find in that great day of self-discovery that we have never known Him at all till He has risen upon our soul’s vision as our Priest, making His own body a sacrifice for our sin. For such as we shall then know ourselves to be, it is only as a Saviour from sin that Christ will suffice; and we will passionately make our own such words as these that a Christian singer has put into our mouths:—
“I sought thee, weeping, high and low,
I found Thee not; I did not know
I was a sinner—even so,
I missed Thee for my Saviour.
“I saw Thee sweetly condescend
Of humble men to be the friend,
I chose Thee for my way, my end,
But found Thee not my Saviour,
“Until upon the cross I saw
My God, who died to meet the law
That man had broken; then I saw
My sin, and then my Saviour.
“What seek I longer? let me be
A sinner all my days to Thee,
Yet more and more, and Thee to me
Yet more and more my Saviour.
* * * * * * *
“Be Thou to me my Lord, my Guide,
My Friend, yea, everything beside;
But first, last, best, whate’er betide
Be Thou to me my Saviour!”