Posts Tagged ‘works’

NEW BOOKLET: What is the Gospel? by Harry A. Ironside

What is the Gospel? by Harry A. Ironside is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here. 

rp_BKT-GOSPEL-LG.jpgWhat is the Gospel?

by Harry A. Ironside

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

It might seem almost a work of supererogation to answer a question like this. We hear the word, “Gospel” used so many times. People talk of this and of that as being “as true as the Gospel,” and I often wonder what they really mean by it.

Our English word, “gospel” just means the “good spell,” and the word “spell,” is the old Anglo-Saxon word for, “tidings,” the good tidings, the good news. The original word translated. “Gospel,” which we have taken over into the English with little alteration is the word, “evangel,” and it has the same meaning, the good news. The Gospel is God’s good news for sinners. The Bible contains the Gospel, but there is a great deal in the Bible which is not Gospel.

First I should like to indicate what it is not.

THE GOSPEL IS…

Not The Commandments

The Gospel is not just any message from God telling man how he should behave. “What is the Gospel?” I asked a man this question some time ago, and he answered, “Why I should say it is the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and I think if a man lives up to them he is all right.”

Well, I fancy he would be; but did you ever know anybody who lived up to them? The Sermon on the Mount demands a righteousness which no unregenerate man has been able to produce. The law is not the Gospel; it is the very antitheses of the Gospel. In fact, the law was given by God to show men their need for the Gospel.

“The law,” says the apostle Paul, speaking as a Jewish convert, “was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But after that Christ is come we are no longer under the schoolmaster.”

Not Repentance

The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past.

Not Giving Up The World

Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.

There are seven designations of the Gospel in the New Testament, but over and above all these, let me draw your attention to the fact that when this blessed message is mentioned, it is invariably accompanied by the definite article. Over and over and over again in the New Testament we read of the Gospel. It is the Gospel, not a Gospel. People tell us there are a great many different Gospels; but there is only ONE.

When certain teachers came to the Galatians and tried to turn them away from the simplicity that was in Christ Jesus by teaching “another Gospel, “the apostle said that it was a different gospel, but not another; for there is none other than the Gospel. It is downright exclusive; it is God’s revelation to sinful man.

Not Comparative Religion

The scholars of this world talk of the Science of Comparative Religions, and it is very popular now-a-days to say, “We cannot any longer go to heathen nations and preach to them as in the days gone by, because we are learning that their religions are just as good as ours, and the thing to do now is to share with them, to study the different religions, take the good out of them all, and in this way lead the world into a sense of brotherhood and unity.”

So in our great universities and colleges, men study this Science of Comparative Religions, and they compare all these different religious systems one with another. There is a Science of Comparative Religions, but the Gospel is not one of them. All the different religions in the world may well be studied comparatively, for at rock bottom they are all alike; they all set man at trying to earn his own salvation.

They may be called by different names, and the things that men are called to do may be different in each case, but they all set men trying to save their own souls and earn their way into the favor of God. In this they stand in vivid contrast with the Gospel, for the Gospel is that glorious message that tells us what God has done for us in order that guilty sinners maybe saved.

The seven designations of the Gospel are called—

1. The Gospel Of The Kingdom

When I use that term, I am not thinking particularly of any dispensational application but of this blessed truth that it is only through believing the Gospel that men are born into the Kingdom of God; We sing: “A ruler once came to Jesus by night, To ask Him the way of salvation and light; The Master made answer in words true and plain, ‘ye must be born again.’ “But neither Nicodemus, nor you, nor I, could ever bring this about ourselves.”

We had nothing to with our first birth and can have nothing to do with our second birth. It must be the work of God, and it is wrought through the Gospel. That is why the Gospel is called the Gospel of the Kingdom, for, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 7). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. . . And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:23-25).

Everywhere that Paul and his companion apostles went, they preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and they showed that the only way to get into that Kingdom was by a second birth, and that the only way whereby the second birth could be brought about was through believing the Gospel. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom.

2. The Gospel Of God

It is also called the Gospel of God because God is the source of it, and it is altogether of Himself. No man ever thought of a Gospel like this. The very fact that all the religions of the world set man to try to work for his own salvation indicates the fact that no man would ever have dreamed of such a Gospel as that which is revealed in this Book. It came from the heart of God; it was God who “so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

 

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9,10)

 

And because it is the Gospel of God, God is very jealous of it. He wants it kept pure. He does not want it mixed with any of man’s theories or laws; He does not want it mixed up with religious ordinances or anything of that kind. The Gospel is God’s own pure message to sinful man. God grant that you and I may receive it as in very truth the Gospel of God. And then it is called

3. The Gospel Of His Son

Not merely because the Son went everywhere preaching the Gospel, but because He is the theme of it. “When it pleased God,” says the apostle, “who called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the nations; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Galatians 1:15,16). “We preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24). No man preaches the Gospel who is not exalting the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s wonderful message about His Son. How often I have gone to meetings where they told me I would hear the Gospel, and instead of that I have heard some bewildered preacher talk to a bewildered audience about everything and anything, but the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel has to do with nothing else but Christ. It is the Gospel of God’s Son. And so, linked with this it is called:

4. The Gospel Of Christ

The apostle Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost of the risen Savior, says, “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). And He speaks of Him as the anointed One, exalted at God’s right hand. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Risen Christ. There would be no Gospel for sinners if Christ had not been raised.

So the apostle says, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). A great New York preacher, great in his impertinence, at least, said some years ago, preaching a so-called Easter sermon, “The body of Jesus still sleeps in a Syrian tomb, but His soul goes marching on.” That is not the Gospel of Christ. We are not preaching the Gospel of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ who sits exalted at the Father’s right hand, and is living to save all who put their trust in Him.

That is why those of us who really know the Gospel never have any crucifixes around our churches or in our homes. The crucifix represents a dead Christ hanging languid on a cross of shame. But we are not pointing men to a dead Christ; we are preaching a living Christ. He lives exalted at God’s right hand, and He saves all who come to God by Him.

5. The Gospel of the Grace of God

The Gospel is also called the Gospel of the Grace of God because it leaves no room whatsoever for human merit. It just brushes away all man’s pretension to any goodness, to any desert excepting judgment. It is the Gospel of grace, and grace is God’s free unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. It is as opposite to works as oil is to water.” If by grace,” says the Spirit of God, “then it is no more works . . . but if it be of works, then is it no more grace” (Romans 11:6). People say, “But you must have both.”

I have heard it put like this: there was a boatman and two theologians in a boat, and one was arguing that salvation was by faith and the other by works. The boatman listened, and then said, “Let me tell you how it looks to me. Suppose I call this oar Faith and this one Works. If I pull on this one, the boat goes around; if I pull on this other one, it goes around the other way, but if I pull on both oars, I get you across the river.”

I have heard many preachers use that illustration to prove that we are saved by faith and works. That might do if we were going to Heaven in a rowboat, but we are not. We are carried on the shoulders of the Shepherd, who came seeking lost sheep When He finds them He carries them home on His shoulders.

But there are some other names used. It is called:

6. The Gospel of the Glory of God

I love that name. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God because it comes from the place where our Lord Jesus has entered. The veil has been rent, and now the glory shines out; and whenever this Gospel is proclaimed, it tells of a way into the glory for sinful man, a way to come before the Mercy Seat purged from every stain. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God, because, until Christ had entered into the Glory, it could not be preached in its fullness, but, after the glory received Him, then the message went out to a lost world.

7. The Everlasting Gospel

It is also called the Everlasting Gospel because it will never be superseded by another. No other ever went before it, and no other shall ever come after it. One of the professors of the University of Chicago wrote a book in which he tried to point out that some of these days Jesus would be superseded by a greater teacher; then He and the Gospel that He taught would have to give way to a message which would be more suited to the intelligence of the cultivated men of the later centuries.

No, no, were it possible for this world to go on a million years, it would never need any other Gospel than this preached by the apostle Paul and confirmed with signs following; the Gospel, which throughout the centuries has been saving guilty sinners.

THE GOSPEL DECLARED

What then is the content of this Gospel? We are told right here:

 

I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

 

There is such a thing as merely believing with the intelligence and crediting some doctrine with the mind when the heart has not been reached. But wherever men believe this Gospel in real faith, they are saved through the message.

What is it that brings this wonderful result? It is a simple story, and yet how rich, how full. “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received” (1 Corinthians 15:3). I think Paul’s heart must have been stirred as he wrote those words, for he went back in memory to nearly thirty years before and thought of that day when hurrying down the Damascus turnpike, with his heart filled with hatred toward the Lord Jesus Christ and His people, he was thrown to the ground, and a light shone, and he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And he cried, “Who art thou Lord?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” (Acts 9:4-5)

And that day Saul learned the Gospel; he learned that He who died on the Cross had been raised from the dead, and that He was living in the Glory. At that moment, his soul was saved, and Saul of Tarsus was changed to Paul, the Apostle. And now he says, “I am going to tell you what I have received; it is a real thing with me, and I know it will work the same wonderful change in you. If you will believe it. “First of all, “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Then, “that He was buried.” Then, “that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

The Gospel was no new thing in God’s mind. It had been predicted throughout the Old Testament times. Every time the coming Savior was mentioned, there was proclamation of the Gospel. It began in Eden when the Lord said, “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.” It was typified in every sacrifice that was offered. It was portrayed in the wonderful Tabernacle and later in the Temple.

We have it in the proclamation of Isaiah:

 

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

 

It was preached by Jeremiah when he said, “This is His Name whereby He shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). It was declared by Zechariah when he exclaimed, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones” (Zechariah 13:7).

All through the Old Testament, the Gospel was predicted, and when Jesus came, the Gospel came with Him. When He died, when He was buried, and when He rose again, the Gospel could be fully told out to a poor lost world. Observe, it says, “that Christ died for our sins.” No man preaches the Gospel, no matter what nice things he may say about Jesus, if he leaves out His vicarious death on Calvary’s Cross.

CHRIST’S DEATHNOT HIS LIFE

I was preaching in a church in Virginia, and a minister prayed, “Lord, grant Thy blessing as the Word is preached tonight. May it be the means of causing people to fall in love with the Christ-life, that they may begin to live the Christ-life.” I felt like saying, “Brother, sit down; don’t insult God like that;” but then I felt I had to be courteous, and I knew that my turn would come, when I could get up and give them the truth. The Gospel is not asking men to live the Christ-life.

If your salvation depends upon your doing that, you are just as good as checked for Hell, for you never can live it in yourself. It is utterly impossible. But the very first message of the Gospel is the story of the vicarious atonement of Christ. He did not come to tell men how to live in order that they might save themselves; He did not come to save men by living His beautiful life. That, apart from His death, would never have saved one poor sinner. He came to die; He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9).

Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. When He instituted the Lord’s Supper He said, “Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. . . This cup is the new covenant in My Blood” (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25). There is no Gospel if the vicarious death of Jesus is left out, and there is no other way whereby you can be saved than through the death of the blessed spotless Lamb of God.

Someone says, “But I do not understand it.” That is a terrible confession to make, for “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (2 Corinthians 4:3). If you do not see that there is no other way of salvation for you, save through the death of the Lord Jesus, then that just tells the sad story that you are among the lost. You are not merely in danger of being lost in the Day of Judgment; but you are lost now. But, thank God, “the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and seeking the lost He went to the Cross.

 

None of the ransomed ever know

How deep were the waters crossed;

Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through,

Ere He found the sheep that was lost.1

 

THE NECESSITY OF DEATH

He had to die, to go down into the dark waters of death, that you might be saved. Can you think of any ingratitude more base than that of a man or woman who passes by the life offered by the Savior who died on the Cross for them? Jesus died for you, and can it be that you have never even trusted Him, never even come to Him and told Him you were a poor, lost, ruined, guilty sinner; but since He died for you, you would take Him as your Savior? HIS DEATH WAS REAL.

He was buried three days in the tomb. He died, He was buried, and that was God’s witness that it was not a merely pretended death, but He, the Lord of Life, had to go down into death. He was held by the bars of death for those three days and nights until God’s appointed time had come.

Then, “Death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away.”2 And so the third point of the Gospel is this: He was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures. That is the Gospel, and nothing can be added to that. Some people say, “Well, but must I repent?” Yes, you may well repent, but that is not the Gospel. “Must I not be baptized?” If you are a Christian, you ought to be baptized, but baptism is not the Gospel. Paul said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17).

He did baptize people, but he did not consider that was the Gospel, and the Gospel was the great message that he was sent to carry to the world. This is all there is to it.

 

Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures . . . he was buried, and . . . he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

 

THE GOSPEL ACCEPTED

Look at the result of believing the Gospel. Go back to verse two of 1 Corinthians 15: “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” That is, if you believe the Gospel, you are saved; if you believe that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again, God says you are saved. Do you believe it? No man ever believed that except by the Holy Ghost. It is the Spirit of God that overcomes the natural unbelief of the human heart and enables a man to put his trust in that message.

And this is not mere intellectual credence, but it is that one comes to the place where he is ready to stake his whole eternity on the fact that Christ died, and was buried, and rose again. When Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED,” the work of salvation was completed. A dear saint was dying, and looking up, he said, “It is finished; on that I can cast my eternity.”

 

Upon a life I did not live,

Upon a death I did not die;

Another’s life, another’s death,

Is take my whole eternity.3

 

Can you say that, and say it in faith?

THE GOSPEL REJECTED

What about the man who does not believe the Gospel? The Lord Jesus said to His disciples:

 

Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16)

 

He that believeth not shall be devoted to judgment, condemned, lost. So you see, God has shut us up to the Gospel. Have you believed it? Have you put your trust in it; is it the confidence of your soul?

Or have you been trusting in something else? If you have been resting in anything short of the Christ who died, who was buried, who rose again, I plead with you, turn from every other fancied refuge, and flee to Christ today. “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

 

O, do not let the word depart,

And close thine eyes against the light;

Poor sinner, harden not thy heart,

Be saved, O tonight.4

 

To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here. 

Endnotes:

1. Eliz­a­beth C. Cle­phane, 1830-1869; The Ninety and Nine

2. Robert Lowry, 1826-1899; Up From the Grave He Arose

3. Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889; Upon a Life I Did Not Life

4. Eliz­a­beth Holmes Reed, 1794-1867; Oh Why Not Tonight?

Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951)

Dr. Ironside was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His writings are in the public domain. Visit www.harryironside.com to read more by Dr. Ironside. To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here. 

Ironside: What Does it Mean to Be Justified Before God?

Open Law Book With A Judges GavelBy Harry A. Ironside

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)

Justification! It is a big word, and very often people miss its true meaning. What is it to be justified? It is to be cleared of all blame, to be freed from every charge. It is the sentence of the court in favor of the prisoner. The prisoner stands there, charged with certain things; the evidence is all heart, and the jury brings in a verdict of “Not guilty.” The man is justified.

Notice a most remarkable thing in these two verses. We have two things here, which God does for the believing sinner that no man could do for anyone else. You could not both forgive a man and justify him at the same time. If you forgive him, he cannot be justified. He must be guilty, and therefore there is something to forgive. On the other hand, if you justify him, then you do not need to forgive him. Suppose, for instance, one had been charged with a certain crime, and after everything had been heard, the jury says, “Not guilty,” and the judge pronounces him free. As that man comes out of the courtroom, a friend says to him, “It was kind of the judge to forgive you, wasn’t it?”

The man replies, “He did not forgive me; I did not require his forgiveness. I was justified; I was proven not guilty and did not need to be forgiven.”

OUR RIGHTEOUS GOD IS INCAPABLE OF ERROR
Of course, human judges may sometimes make a mistake. You have heard the story of the man who was arrested, charged with stealing a gold watch and chain. After all the evidence of the complaining witness had been heard, the judge looked down at the prison and announced, “The sentence of this court is acquittal.”

The man leaned forward and said, “What was that you said, judge?”

“I said, the sentence of the court is acquittal.”

The man looked puzzled and said to the judge, “Judge, I just don’t understand what that means.”

“Well,” the judge explained, “I mean you are acquitted.”

“Well, judge, does that mean I gotta give the watch back?”

You see, the man was guilty, and the judge himself had been deceived.

But God will never be deceived. Nobody can ever put anything over on Him. He knows every sin that you and I have ever been guilty of — sins in thought, sins in word, and sins in deed; and then in addition to all of these, sins of omission. Failure to do the things that we know we ought to do is just as truly sin as to commit overt acts of evil. And God knows all about it, and “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”

But God undertakes both to forgive the sin and to justify the sinner; to clear him of every charge, when he puts his trust in His blessed Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. You could not do that for anyone, but God can and He does it because the Lord Jesus Christ in infinite grace condescended to take our place, to bear the judgment that our sins deserved, so that when we come to God confessing our sins, over against all that sin and over against all that wickedness stands the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And on the basis of that, God says, “I forgive this man, and accept him before My presence as though he had never sinned at all. I count him as righteous, and justify him fully and completely.” That is the meaning of justification.

JUSTIFICATION OFFERS A NEW STANDING
You who have just recently come to trust the Savior, I wonder if you have entered into that. I wonder if you realize that the moment you trusted the Savior, that instant God gave you a new standing before Him. You stand before Him now as if you had never sinned at all. You say, “Well, I can’t forget my sins. They come up before me when I lie down at night; they come before me when I kneel to pray; and they are before me even in the daytime. There are so many things that I wish had never happened, and I sometimes wonder, since they come crowding in upon my mind as they do, whether they are really forgiven.”

Let me assure you, if you have really trusted Christ, they are not only forgiven, but forgotten. God says, “Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more,” and if God has forgotten them, then you and I may well say, “I too will seek to forget, and say with Paul, ‘Forgetting those things which are behind, . . . I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’.”

God Himself is the author of our justification. We read in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 8, and really in one sense I am beginning at the wrong end; I am beginning where God leaves off here in the Epistle to the Romans, but I am beginning where I think you and I as sinners need to begin. In Romans 8, we read that it is God Himself who justifies. Take verse 33:

Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

We are justified by God, the source of it. It is He who has taken up this question, who has gone into it fully and completely, and He says, “Now I am satisfied to acknowledge as righteous the man who trusts My blessed Son.”

A TRULY WICKED AND VILE SINNER
Some years ago a friend of mine was preaching in a certain place, and somebody came to him one day and said, “Could you come and see a woman who is very sick? We are afraid she is dying. She is troubled about her soul and doesn’t seem to understand the way.” Of course he gladly went, as any of us would under such circumstances. As he entered the room and sat down beside the bed, the woman said, “Tell me what is necessary in order that my soul may be saved and my sins forgiven.” He told her the old, old story, the story of the Cross. He told her how God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He told her how, hanging on that cross in those awful hours of darkness, our blessed Lord Jesus as the substitute for sinners, drank the cup of wrath that we deserved, and made full satisfaction for iniquity; and now God can justify everyone that believes in Him, whom He raised from the dead.

When he finished, she said, “Oh yes, I know, I understand all that, but I don’t see how I can know that my sins are forgiven.” So again, very patiently, he went over the same story, but tried to present it in a little different light. He told her that the Lord Jesus was the one great sacrifice for sin, that He offered Himself for our sins; that He was made sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. And when he finished, she said, “Yes, I understand that, but is that all that is required?”

The evangelist sprang from his seat. He was a very fiery man by nature, and sometimes the fire came out even after he became a Christian. He said in a tone that shook the room, “You wicked woman!”

And she, lying there so sick, was almost terrified, and said to him, “Oh, sir, why do you talk to me like that?”

“You wicked woman, you vile woman! You ask me what is necessary in order that you may be saved. I tell you how God has bankrupted Heaven to save your guilty soul. I tell you how He has sent His own blessed Son to give His life for you. I tell you how He was forsaken of God upon that Tree, and you have the insolence to look up into the very face of God and say, ‘Is that all?’ What more would you want? It is all that God Himself could do.”

She burst into tears and exclaimed, “Oh, sir, I understand. I did not realize what I was saying. Oh, I thank God for what He has done. It is enough! If it is enough for God, it surely is enough for me!”

EVEN THE WICKED MAY BE JUSTIFIED
Oh, that is it! The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself.” He loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

God sent Him. God saw you and me in our deep, deep need, and He sent Him to die for us, and now it is God that justifies the ungodly. God justifies the godly, the good, the pure, the true, and the noble! No, God justifies poor, lost, guilty sinners when they “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). It is our faith in the Word of God and the work of Christ that is counted for righteousness. Read Romans 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” The basis of it all is given in Romans 5:9, where we read, beginning with verse 8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

We who believe are now justified. It is not that we may, as some people put it, have a good hope of salvation, that we may hope that we shall be justified at last, that we may hope that in the day of judgment everything will be all right; but we are now justified—every believer in Christ.

Oh, so many of our hymns were written by people who hadn’t full assurance of salvation, and they express so often the desire that they may be cleansed and justified. How many real believers sing, “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow!” And yet everyone who has truly trusted the Lord Jesus Christ is already washed, made white by the blood of the Lord Jesus, justified by God.

WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR JUSTIFICATION?
His blood! It is because of what He did. It is because of the blood He shed — the shedding of His precious blood; it is the giving up of His life. It is His life for ours; His holy, spotless life over against our sinful, wicked lives. The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me.

Somebody might say, “Well, I just do not understand what you mean. You talk about being justified by blood. In what sense could one be justified or cleansed by blood?” Let me give you an illustration. Out in the state of Washington, at the time of the first World War, four or five convicts in some way or another got over the wall of the penitentiary and escaped. After several weeks they were all captured, except one who was never located, at least not until the circumstances which I am going to mention.

He was able to get away, and eventually under an assumed name he joined the army. After a period of training, he was sent across to France. One day, however, some other soldiers were added to the number, and one of them looked at this man and said, “I remember him. I knew him back in the state of Washington years ago. That’s so-and-so. He is not going by his right name. I remember when he was condemned to the penitentiary for burglary.”

He went to the officer in charge and told him what he knew about the man. The officer in turn wrote to the War department and asked, “What am I to do with this man? He is an escaped convict.” Washington sent word back to arrest him and return him to America as a prisoner. But in the meantime something had happened which made that impossible.

THE VALUE OF A MAN’S BLOOD
One night a number of men were wanted for a very, very dangerous duty, and the Captain said, “I am not going to ask any man to do the thing that I am going to tell you about, but I hope that some of you will volunteer. I want some men to crawl out in the dark across No Man’s Land and find out what the foe is planning to do. It is a very dangerous undertaking—you may not get back—so I am not going to appoint anyone, but will ask for volunteers.”

Four men stepped right out, and among them was this convict. Under cover of darkness, they crawled out over No Man’s Land. There were shells falling all around them, but three of them got through safely. The fourth man, the convict, apparently had got clear through to the enemy and secured the information and was coming back, when a shell fell and burst so near him that he was killed. They brought his mangled body in and when the officer received the word from Washington to return that man a prisoner to this country, the officer wrote back, “He has washed out his crimes in his own blood.” He had given himself, he had given his life, and the giving of his life had washed out his crime against the government, though of course this did not touch the question of his sin against God.

JUSTIFICATION IS FREELY GIVEN
The Lord Jesus Christ was absolutely without offense. He was the holy Son of God, but He looked upon us poor sinners in our deep need and He took our place in judgment. He went to the Cross and He bore what our sins deserved. He poured out His life in the shedding of His precious blood, and when we receive Him, we can say that He has washed out our sins in His precious blood. He had no sins of His own for which to die. He was there for our sins.

Oh, why was He there as the Bearer of sin,
If on Jesus thy guilt was not laid?
Oh, why from His side flowed the sin-cleansing blood,
If His dying thy debt has not paid?

He took your place. Have you trusted Him? Do you believe God’s sure promise? If you have, you are justified by His blood.

“Well,” you say, “on what principle does God thus justify? The Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3 and verse 24, tells us:

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

God justifies men by grace, not because of merit. You and I had no merit. Everything was against us. Demerit was ours, and no merit did we have to plead. But now God says in grace, “I am ready to take up that man and save him, if he will but receive and confess My Son as his Lord.” It is so hard for people to understand this. Men always seem to get the idea that they must do something in order to merit God’s favor. It would not be grace if it were merited. Grace is unmerited favor, and it is favor to those who have merited the very opposite. That is grace.

GRACE TO THE UNDESERVING
Suppose, just to use a very hackneyed illustration, that my sons were still school boys and there is a rowdy, a regular bully in the neighborhood, and he falls upon one or the other of them and knocks him down and steals his books and his lunch basket, and then when I go out to talk to him, this bully turns on me and strikes me and stones my house, breaking my best plate-glass window. I have every reason to be thoroughly provoked with him. I would have a perfect right, you know, to go to the police and have him arrested and charged with assault and battery, and one thing or another. But suppose instead of that I wait, and on some cold winter day, I happen to see that young rowdy, and, as I am watching, I see him fall in the snow, and I run out after him. I learn that he has had no one to care for him. He is an orphan, and has no father or mother to look after him, and I find he staggered and fell because of lack of food, he was so weak. When he sees me coming, he staggers to his feet and tries to run away. But he cannot get away because I have hold of his arm. He looks up at me and pleads, “I’ll never do it again, if you will let me go.”

But I say, “You won’t get away.” I bring him into my own home, warm him up, feed him, and give him a suit of clothes belonging to one of my sons. I take care of him and show him every kindness. He can’t understand it, but his heart is won. This is grace. He merited the very opposite, did he not?

Grace is favor shown to the undeserving. If people deserved it, it would not be favor; and so you cannot deserve God’s salvation. Often when I say to somebody, “I hope you are on your way to Heaven,” I receive the reply, “Well, I am doing my best to get there.” It is not a question of doing your best. It is a question of receiving the grace of God as manifested in Christ Jesus.

HOW GOOD DOES A MAN HAVE TO BE TO GET TO HEAVEN?
I was very much struck by an incident, which I heard our friend Dr. Chafer relate. He was riding in a train going down from Kansas City to Dallas, and they were getting near to Fort Worth when he realized that he had not spoken a word to the porter about his soul. He always tries to be conscientious about speaking to those who serve him and wait upon him in restaurants, hotels, and trains. So he went to look for the porter and found him just finishing up the last of the shoes he had to shine. He sat down there beside him and said, “May I ask you a question?”

“Yes sir,” replied the porter, “what’s your question?”

So Dr. Chafer asked him, “How good does a man have to be to get to Heaven?”

“Well, I can’t tell you just how good a man has to be, but I know he has to be mighty good,” he replied.

“Well, do you ever expect to get to Heaven?”

“I don’t know. I’ve just about given up tryin’. I’ve tried and tried for a long time but it don’t seem to do no good, and I’m afraid I’ll never make it.”

Then Dr. Chafer asked the porter, “Where do you check in? at Kansas City or Forth Worth?”

“I have to check in at the Pullman office at Fort Worth half hour after the train pulls in.”

“Oh, I see,” said Dr. Chafer. “This train is due at Fort Worth at eight o’clock, and you should check in by eight -thirty. Well, we’re late now; we’ll never make it to Fort Worth by eight o’clock. Aren’t you afraid that you are going to be pretty late this morning? Don’t you think that you’d better get off at the next stop and start running for Fort Worth?”

The porter looked at him and said, “Why sir, what you talkin’ about? You trying t’ make a fool out of me? I never could make Fort Worth running for it as quick as I can make it by staying right on this train. I just trust the man who runs the train to get me there.”

And Dr. Chafer said, “My dear fellow, that is exactly how I am going to Heaven. ‘It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.’ and I am trusting the One who runs the Gospel train, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is going to get me there. I never could get there through any goodness of my own.”

The porter looked at him in amazement and said, “Tell me a little more about this. I never heard anything like this before.” Dr. Chafer explained the way of salvation to him, and then left a little booklet and a Gospel with him.

About six months later Dr. Chafer was again riding from Kansas City to Dallas, and again the thought came to him that he must speak to the porter. When he found him, he asked him the same question: “How good does a man have to be to get to Heaven?”

The porter looked at him and grinned, “You’re not going to catch me twice on that. You’re the man that asked me that question about six months ago. Well, I looked up all those Scriptures you showed to me and I’ll tell you, sir, I just found there wasn’t anything I could ever do to get to Heaven, no matter how good I tried to be, so I am trusting Him who love me and died for me, and I’m telling others about Him, and I know my soul is saved.” Well, that’s it—”Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

BUT HOW DO YOU MAKE IT YOUR OWN?
In what way is salvation applied to you individually? We read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Justified by faith!

Faith is believing God and asking no questions. It is taking God at His word. God says, “I am satisfied with the work which My Son has done. Because of that work, I raised Him from the dead and now offer to justify any poor sinner who comes to Me in My Son’s name and trusts in Him.” If you have come, you have a right to say: “Being justified by faith, I have peace with God [everything settled between me and God] through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Have you said it? If not, say it now. “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach” (Romans 10:8).

The resurrection of Christ, you know, is the declaration, the seal of it all. In the previous verses, at the end of the fourth chapter of Romans, we read, beginning with verse 22: “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” That is, when Abraham believed God, it [his faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. And then we read:

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:23-25)

That is justification by His resurrection. Why? Because His resurrection tells of God’s satisfaction in the work that His Son has done. When He hung upon that Cross He was bearing our sins, He was taking our place, dying there in the sinner’s stead. Now, if He had never come out of that tomb, it would show that redemption was never accomplished. If that tomb remained sealed and the body of Jesus remained in it, then it would show that it was all a farce, and I would not dare to trust Him as my Savior at all. But see, it is the third day, and His resurrection is the divine declaration that all who believe on Him and rely on Him are justified from all things.

ISN’T THERE ANOTHER SIDE OF ALL THIS?
But I know that some of you have been saying in your hearts, or thinking subconsciously at least, “Yes, but there is another side to it. Doesn’t the Bible say somewhere that faith without works is dead?” Yes, it does, for we read, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

“Well,” someone asks, “does not that contradict what you have been telling us?”

Not at all. You need to see exactly what it is that various writers of the Epistles are dwelling on. The apostle Paul, and practically all of our references have been from his writings, is telling how poor sinners may be justified before God. But now we turn over to the Epistle of James to find out how we who have professed to believe in Christ may be justified before men.

Suppose I say to my companions in the world, “I have just come to Christ, and I am justified from all things.” They have a right to look at me, at my life, to see for themselves whether there is any change in my life. You see, in order to be justified before them, in order to be justified before men, I have to manifest by my good works the fact that I have received a new and a divine nature. Let me read it to you.

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (James 2:14)

That is, what kind of faith? a faith that has no works? Where there is real faith in Christ one’s work will be different. His life will never again be what it used to be. Everything will be changed.

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:15-17)

REAL FAITH IS MANIFESTED BY YOUR WORKS

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (Jam. 2:18)

I cannot show my faith without works, but I can show my faith by my works. If I put my faith in Christ and have trusted Him as my Savior, I have been justified before God, justified freely, justified for nothing, justified without cost, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Now as I live for the One who has justified me, as I devote my redeemed life to the glory of the One who has saved me, my confession is justified before men. Men who get to know me will say, “That man is real; that man is genuine; he lives what he professes.” Do they say that of you? Does your life testify to the reality of the faith that you profess? If you have trusted Christ, you are complete in Him, you are justified freely by His grace. Now by a life devoted to His interests you are to prove to those around you the reality of that faith of which you speak.

(This article is taken from Dr. Ironside’s book Great Words of the Gospel, chapter 4 – in the public domain.)

A Word About Salvation Versus the Contemplative Way

cross on wall backgroundBy Ray Yungen

Knowing Jesus Christ is not merely religion or spirituality but is rather a personal relationship with Him.

Romans 10:2 speaks of those who have a “zeal for God but not according to knowledge.” Many contemplative writers describe a spiritual despondency they suffer before turning to mystical prayer as a remedy, and consequently they have an acute sense of spiritual failure that propels them into the waiting arms of the silence. In contrast, the Gospel presents a plan that is uniquely initiated by God.

Scripture clearly states that salvation depends entirely on the grace of God: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2: 8, 9). Furthermore, Christ’s death on the Cross for our sins, fully solidifies in our minds a tangible expression of the unearned and undeserved nature of our salvation. When Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30), He proclaimed in three words that our salvation depends entirely on the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

Let me therefore caution you in following any teaching that suggests that Christ’s work was incomplete or unnecessary, or that there are other paths to God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Christianity is uniquely different from all religions in that it does not contain the erroneous premise that man is basically good (or divine) and consequently can earn his way to Heaven.

If you have never found the peace of knowing Christ, I urge you to read the first five chapters of the book of Romans and allow the Holy Spirit to draw you to what is being said and offered. The only prerequisite is to recognize your inability as a sinner to save yourself. Then, in simple faith, tell God you are now trusting Christ, and Him alone, to be your Lord and Savior.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

NEW BOOKLET TRACT: REDEMPTION BY HARRY A. IRONSIDE

Redemption  is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 12 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Redemption by Harry A. Ironside, click here. You may also download a free PDF copy of this Booklet Tract here.

RedemptionBy Dr. Harry A. Ironside

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things . . . But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot . . . Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)

The word “redemption” is one that runs all through the Bible; in fact, we can say without any suggestion of hyperbole that it is the great outstanding theme of Holy Scripture. This important truth runs through the Book like the proverbial red strand that, we are told, runs through the cordage of the British navy. Everywhere, from Genesis right on to Revelation, you find God in one way or another presenting to us the truth of redemption—redemption in promise and in type in the Old Testament; redemption in glorious fulfillment in the New Testament.

THE MEANING OF THE WORD
What do we mean when we use the term “redemption”? Ordinarily, and in Scripture too, the word means to buy back, to repurchase something that has been temporarily forfeited; or, it means to set free, to liberate, as we speak of redeeming one from slavery; or, it means to deliver, as to redeem one from some grave danger.

Back in Israel in olden times, if a man fell into difficult circumstances, found himself burdened with debt, he might mortgage his entire property, and if that was not enough to satisfy the claims of his creditors, he could even mortgage his own strength, and ability, his own physical powers. He could sell himself into a kind of slavery until his debt was paid. Sometimes, he found himself hopelessly thus enslaved. Scripture says, however, “After that he is sold he may be redeemed again” (Leviticus 25:48). One of his brethren may redeem him, or, if he is able, he may redeem himself. It would be almost impossible in most instances for anyone to redeem himself. Probably, the only way would be if he suddenly fell heir to some vast estate. But on the other hand, if he had a rich relative who cared enough for him to undertake to meet the liabilities and discharge them, he might thus be set free.

THE KINSMAN-REDEEMER
The one who did this was called a kinsman-redeemer, and he was a wonderful type of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Hebrew word is goel. He comes before us in Scripture long before the time of Israel. Even in the book of Job you read of him. It was the goel of whom Job spoke when he said, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

Then one may, as I say, have forfeited his property. Well, some wealthy one could come and pay off the mortgage and thus redeem the property. We are used to such transactions today, and we attach that meaning to the word “redemption.”

Now, in thinking of man, we know he is a sinner, sold under judgment. It was his own fault. God says in His Word, “Ye have sold yourselves for naught; and ye shall be redeemed without money” (Isaiah 52:3). It is not possible for any man to redeem himself from the sad condition in which he finds himself because of sin, but that is why we need a kinsman-redeemer who is more than man, one who is divine as well as human.

REDEMPTION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
When we turn to consider this subject of redemption in the New Testament, we find it presented in three different ways: first, redemption from judgment. That is redemption from the guilt of sin, which is through the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ. But that is not all. It is not only the will of God that we should be redeemed from the judgment due to sin, but Scripture also has a great deal to say about redemption from the power of sin, so that we might be redeemed from those evil habits and unholy ways which at one time held sway in our lives. This redemption is through the indwelling Christ, through the risen Christ working in the power of the Holy Spirit, who makes Christ real to His people down here.
And then Scripture speaks of a third aspect of redemption: the redemption of the body. I have been redeemed as far as my soul is concerned if I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am daily being redeemed from sin’s power if I am walking in subjection to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But though I am thus redeemed in measure, I am made to realize every day that this very body of mine is often a hindrance instead of a help in regard to my practical deliverance; but I am looking forward to the time when the body itself shall be redeemed and made like unto the glorious body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then I shall be redeemed from the very presence of sin and from all the evidences of its corruption.

THE JEWISH FEAST OF PASSOVER
Here in the first Epistle of Peter, the apostle carries our minds back to a wonderful event that took place in the land of Egypt centuries before, that event which the Jewish people to this day celebrate annually in the Feast of the Passover. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, suffering under Pharaoh’s cruelty, and God, you remember, said, “I am come down to deliver them”  (Exodus 3:8), and He told Moses of something that was to take place whereby, He says, “And I will put a division [or literally, a redemption] between my people and thy people [the Egyptians]” (Exodus 8:23). That redemption was made by the blood of the passover lamb; and it is to this that the apostle Peter is referring typically in his first Epistle when he says, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [empty behavior] received by tradition from your fathers [ancestrally handed down]; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1: 18-19).

The blood of the lamb shed so long ago was God’s picture of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which was shed on Calvary’s cross fifteen hundred years later, but to which we now look through the mists of nearly two thousand years. How can that blood avail for our redemption today? The blood had to be sprinkled of old on the actual lintel and door posts and then they were safe inside. It is centuries since Christ has died. In what sense, then, can we be made secure from judgment through the blood that He shed so long ago?

FROM THE LINTEL AND DOOR POSTS TO THE HUMAN HEART
We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews of having our hearts sprinkled by the blood of Christ. How is that blood applied to our hearts? Through simple faith. In the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3, after dwelling on the lost condition of all men by nature and practice, the apostle says in verse 23 and on, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” and then adds:

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)

What is he telling us? That the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is all-availing, that it is sufficient for all men everywhere, that it settled for the sins of all men in past ages, who looked on to the cross in faith, and it settles now for all in the present age and in all the years to come, who look back to that cross in faith—”through faith in his blood.”

In other words, when we trust the One who shed His blood at Calvary, then we are numbered amongst those who have redemption through the sacrifice that He offered, and that means that we are secure forever from the judgment due to sin, just as Israel, sheltered beneath the blood of the passover lamb, was secure from the judgment that was to fall upon Egypt, for God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). So today, we who put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ are redeemed from the judgment that is hanging over this poor world—the judgment that sin deserves. And so we can enter into the meaning of that Scripture which says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

WHAT DOES YOUR SALVATION DEPEND UPON?
Some of you have only lately come to Christ; you have not known the Lord very long. Oh, I beg of you, do get this clear. Your salvation, your security from judgment does not depend on anything that you can be or do. It depends upon the work that the Lord Jesus did for you when He suffered in your place upon the tree, and you enter into the good of that redemption through faith in Him. When Satan comes to tempt you, when you discover things in your own heart that you did not realize were there, just meet him with this: the redemption that is in Christ Jesus has settled everything, has made me free, has given me deliverance from the judgment of a holy God.

The believer is said to be redeemed from the curse of the law. He was exposed to that curse because of sin. God has declared, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). We have failed; we have broken God’s law; we are under that curse. But our Blessed Redeemer was made a curse for us, as it is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). Redemption guarantees our safety from judgment.

REDEEMED, BUT DISOBEDIENT
When we turn to the Epistle to Titus, we have another aspect of redemption. In chapter 2, verses 11-14, we read:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

It cannot be too often insisted that salvation is not of works, that no works of ours could avail for our redemption; but here in this message we have another side of the truth emphasized, and that is that our blessed Lord not only died to redeem us from the judgment due to our sins, but He died to redeem us from all iniquity, that is, from all lawlessness. And sin is lawlessness. He died, as Mrs. Alexander’s beautiful old hymn put it, not only to save our souls, but “He died to make us good.” The Gospel has not accomplished its purpose if it only frees people from judgment. It has not completed its work until it presents every believer in the glory, fully conformed to the image of God’s blessed Son.

We have been called to holiness, to purity of life, to uprightness of behavior, and if any of us who profess the name of Christ are playing fast and loose with unholy things with worldliness, with carnality, with impurity, with things that defile these temples of the living God, these bodies in which the Holy Spirit dwells; if we are in any way living so as to bring dishonor upon the name of the One who died to save us, we are just to that extent thwarting one of the purposes for which Christ died. He died to redeem us from all iniquity. Here the word “redemption” is used in the sense of deliverance. He died to deliver us from all iniquity, to draw us away from evil things that peril our Christian experience and that would wreck and ruin our lives.
Redemption was illustrated in a stirring news article that appeared in our daily papers recently. Many read the story of those men shipwrecked in the South Pacific in connection with the world war. A number of them were huddled upon a raft and only one of them was able to swim, and he a big, burly black man. When those sailors saw nothing but death and despair before them, this black man sprang into the sea and towed that raft as he swam for over six miles through shark-infested waters, until he brought them all to a place of safety. That was redemption, and that man was a redeemer.

WHAT OF GOOD WORKS?
Our Lord Jesus not only risked His life but gave His life, not only to save us from judgment, but also to “redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Dear young Christian, I beg of you, do not allow yourself to be careless as to this aspect of redemption. Do not be content to know that you have trusted Christ as your Savior from hell, and forget that you are called upon to live a heavenly life here upon this earth. Do not be content to say that at a given time or at a certain meeting you went into an inquiry room and told the Lord Jesus you would trust Him not only as the Savior of your soul but as the One who is to be Lord of your life, the One who died to redeem you from everything that is unholy.

We read, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Do not let it ever be said of you that you are not concerned about good works, and do not ever tell people that because salvation is not works, it does not matter what kind of lives they live. Our Lord Jesus Christ says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).They cannot see your faith, but they can see your works, and if your life is not in accordance with your faith, they will soon realize it and will put you down as a fraud and a hypocrite, and instead of your influence being for good, it will be for evil.

“THIS IS A FAITHFUL SAYING”
James says in his Epistle, “Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). You cannot show your faith without works, and so in that sense faith without works is dead. Justification is by faith, absolutely without works, but the same scripture that tells us that, puts emphasis on our works as the evidence of our salvation. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 2, we read:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (vs. 8-9)

But Paul immediately adds, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (vs. 10). This is our practical redemption. If one Scripture tells me that “this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15), another Scripture says:

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. (Titus 3:8)

Our Lord Jesus, the living Savior, has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us, in order that as we walk in the Spirit we may find this practical redemption from the power of evil in the life.

WE GROAN AND TRAVAIL
But there is a third aspect of redemption, and that is brought before us in the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. In verses 22-23, we read:

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

“We ourselves groan within ourselves.” Of whom is he talking? Christians. Groaning Christians? Yes! Oh, I thought Christians were always happy; I thought they were always shouting and singing! Well, you have a lot to learn. Thank God, it is possible to joy even in the midst of sorrow, and Christians have their griefs and sorrow and trials. But they have a wonderful Savior to carry them through those trials—One to sustain and help them in every hour of distress.

One of our chief causes of groaning is that of physical infirmities, and that is what the apostle is talking about here. In our unconverted days our groaning was caused by our sins. We cried out in pain as we longed for deliverance. Then we were groaning in bondage. Now as Christians we groan in grace, because of physical infirmities that are often such a hindrance in our lives. Perhaps you were just getting ready to go to prayer meeting one night. (I hope you love the prayer meeting.) But you did not get there. You were preparing to go, when suddenly you came down with such a sick headache that you had to stay at home. When others were gathered for prayer and praise, there you were, lying on the couch sniffing at camphor, and you were saying to yourself, “What a wonderful day it will be when I get a new body and a new head that will never ache.” Well, that is what the apostle means when he says, “We that are in this tabernacle (body) do groan.” We are so often hindered by physical weakness, but we are looking on to the day of the redemption of the body. We have the firstfruits of the Spirit, but we are looking forward to the full “son placing,” for that is what the word “adoption” means. Then we shall be fully conformed to the Son of God.

“FOR OUR CONVERSATION IS IN HEAVEN”
When will that be? That “redemption of the body”? In Philippians, chapter 3, verses 20-21, we read, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body.” He is drawing our attention to that wonderful event which should now be the hope of the Christian, and I am thinking again of you young Christians. He wants you now to get before your soul as the lodestar, the blessed hope of the Lord’s return. The One who died for you on the Cross is coming again, and He is coming to receive you to be with Himself. He could not have you there in the glory as you now are. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” So in order that you might be suited for the place to which He is going to take you, He will give you a new body, a glorified body; and when you receive that, you will be fit for a place in the Father’s house.

He said before He went away, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). And we learn from other Scriptures what will take place in order to prepare us for the Father’s house. The first Epistle of the Thessalonians, chapter 4, is a wonderful passage as to this. It says:

The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. (vs. 16-17)

That is the time when the body will be changed, and our redemption will be complete. Already we have the redemption of the soul; we have been redeemed from judgment. We are experiencing day by day, as we walk in obedience to the Lord, practical redemption, redemption from the power of sin. When our blessed Savior returns, our redemption will be complete—spirit and soul and body will be fully conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To order copies of Redemption by Harry A. Ironside, click here. 

The Author:

Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951)
Dr. Ironside was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His writings are in the public domain. Visit www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog to read more by Dr. Ironside.


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