It is one thing to read the Bible as a mere history, to understand it in its allegory, in its history, and in its grammar; yea, to admire the Bible, as a carnal man may do at times, and to be struck with amazement at what the Book contains, but it is another thing to read it and to love it as the Word of God! This no man can do, except it be by irresistible, sovereign, decreeing grace. My own mind is wonderfully impressed with the striking account which the apostle Paul, in the context, gives of himself, and in this how completely does he upset and undermine all the mere formal self-righteous forms and inventions of every period and every time. Paul begins this striking chapter, (and before I begin to preach on the great text before us, I must run through the previous verses in the chapter), like a faithful under shepherd in the church, by warning, as with a trumpet tongue, the church at Philippi, against all false teachers; he warns the church in these striking terms, "Beware of dogs!" Is there no occasion to say the same in 1852, "Beware of dogs?" There never was, I think, a period when it was more needed. "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision." Concisionist! They abound! Beware of them! Be very suspicious. Ask a man for his testimonials! For his credentials! Ministers of the Gospel must have Christianity burnt into them, or they can never "rightly divide the Word of Truth!" Neither can they discriminate.
Now the apostle went on to show the grounds on which (if anyone ever could) he might have boasted. "If any man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more : circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church," (that is a sure sign of a gospel hater! And the apostle Paul was once foremost in that), "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me," mark the grammar of the Bible, "were gain," (it is in the past tense), "those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord," (mark the pronouns "I and Him!)" Paul says "for who I have suffered the loss of all things." Listen to me, dear hearers, for if your Christianity does not cost you something, I would not give a straw for it, look at Paul, "For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them dung, that I may win Christ," it is a very easy thing when a man's Christianity (so called) sits loose upon him, there is no trial in that, but when it comes in contact with him, when it demands self-denial, when he must give up something for the Saviour, it is then quite another thing! And yet the apostle says and felt too, "and do count them dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness," (he would not have that)! "Which is of the law; but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."
Mark the wonderful phraseology in these words! A man cannot fully preach on them! But they prove this, that this once notorious Pharisee, and afterwards eminent apostle and servant of the Saviour had undergone a wonderful, and entire change; and if you have not each undergone the same change, and by the same Sovereign Power, you are nothing (at present) but professors or hypocrites! Our Lord says in distinct terms, (though now I cannot fully enter into that subject), "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 1:3). And every man chosen in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, must be and shall be "born again" the means, the time, the everything is now fixed, men nor devils cannot hinder it, Pharisees cannot stop it, gossiping professors cannot imitate it, it is irrevocably fixed in the counsels of a decreeing Jehovah before all worlds, that those for whom Christ died shall be born again, and made new creatures in Christ Jesus. I know it, for I have a hope that I have experienced it in my own soul; and one thing I can say, (even what the apostle says in the passage before me), "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." I loved the world. I held Arminian errors, and preached them! Yes! "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." But there is another thing which I must refer to, (before entering upon the large subject before me), that wonderful expression "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord;" and for this, he counted the things "loss" that before were "gain" to him. Now, I take that passage, and refer at the same time to the striking words of the Saviour, in Matthew, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, the which when a man hath found he hideth, and for joy thereof, goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field." What do you know about that purchase? "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation," that is, not with outward show; and for joy thereof, when it is in a man's heart, he goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field. Have you made that purchase? Have you bought that field? You must show the title deed, you know, dear hearers, if you are really in possession.
Now I come to my text, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." First of all, you will observe the pronouns "I" and "Him," "That I may know Him," and that I may know "the power of His resurrection." Nothing will do for a sinner made sensible by the power of the Spirit, nothing will satisfy him, or meet his case, but a practical inward knowledge of Christ in his soul, "That I might know Him." The apostle has brought into a focus the things spoken of by Christ in John 17, "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." This is life eternal! This life now begun in the soul of a poor sinner. We must know this great and glorious Saviour in His Deity. We must know Him as God over all blessed for ever; that by Him, and in Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. The Deity of this blessed Redeemer! That I may know Him as my Christ, and my Saviour, as the one atonement that has been offered up and that has been accepted upon Calvary's cross, individually, for your and my sins. The only thing to give us real comfort, really to satisfy, really to give unction to the soul, is to have a personal experience that we do know this glorious and mighty Christ, "mighty to save!" "The excellency of the knowledge of Christ!" There is nothing equal to it. What are the highest attainments of scholarship or all the honors of this world, compared to a personal knowledge of Christ? Here was Gamaliel's favorite scholar, the pupil brought up at the feet of that learned doctor of the law, taught according to the perfect manner of the fathers, and zealous toward God. Here, I say, was Paul, throwing aside, giving up all else, and only valuing and only prizing in a broken heart, "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." I remember what a good man once said, that the apostle Paul, 'after he was brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus, had wagon loads of learning to throw away.' And yet I do not mean to under value human learning! But I believe it is a very great snare, (humanly speaking), often against the gospel; and hence we often see in the cottage of some poor peasant, one who cannot distinguish A from B, a better Bible scholar than the wisest and most accomplished scholar of the day. God takes the mean things, the base things, the despised things of the world to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:26-29).
Now look at what the apostle says, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings." Now, what do you know of these blessed things? Has the same change been effected in you that was effected in the apostle? Have you by grace been made to differ? As he tells the church at Corinth "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). And the burning desire of such a person is to know this blessed and glorious Saviour as his own Redeemer! As Hart so beautifully puts it:
"Help each poor trembler to repeat,
For me He died, for me!"
The personal experience!
Now then, I say, first of all, to know this blessed Jehovah Jesus in His Deity, to know Him as God-Man, "Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder" (Isa. 9:6), To know something of the power of His resurrection. Mary's babe, God over all, blessed for ever! "That I may know Him!" Do you know Him as God-Man? Do you know Him in the striking language of the Athanasian Creed, 'Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead: and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood?' And this blessed God-Man is one eternal Christ. He is made of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, unto the church, "Wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). All you want. "Wisdom!" But you must renounce all your own, and you must be content to be "a fool" (as the apostle was) "for Christ's sake;" and here is wisdom. "Made of God unto us wisdom and righteousness" You must have none of your own. You must have no self-righteousness; and yet, my hearers, this is one of the last things that is stripped off. Our self-righteousness sticks closer to us than our skin; but it must be stripped off. How did Job speak? "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6). It took a great deal to have Arminianism burnt out of me. Berridge says, "No sinner can understand anything of a Saviour till he has been taken into the stripping room, and been stripped of everything." That I may be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith;" "That I may know Him." This is the way to preach: to turn people inside out, and upside down, to see what they are. Hart says:
"Save us from the rocks and shelves,
Save us chiefly from ourselves."
Self!Self!Self! That is the great calf in Horeb!
"Wisdom and righteousness." There are two things. Do you know Christ to be such to you? Can you say before God that you boast not of your own wisdom, that you have nothing of your own righteousness? Then again, Christ is made unto His people, "Sanctification." Now, I would warn the dear people against that heresy of "progressive sanctification." There is no such thing as progressive sanctification! It is Satan's scheme to blind souls. There is a "growing in grace," but there is no progress in sanctification. Was there any progress in the sanctification of the apostle Peter, when with curses and oaths he declared, "I do not know the man?" Sanctification is an act done by God in and for His child; done eternally, done at once, and done for ever! "Sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ and called" (Jude 1). Christ is made to His Church sanctification! This is just a passing hint, for I have not time to enter into it; but I warn you against that error. A man (some will say) has no power in himself before he is converted, but he has afterwards. I tell my hearers that a man has no more power afterwards than he had before. The same Almighty power that brought him to the foot of the cross must keep him there. What did we hear in that first chapter that was read in the desk tonight? "I am this day weak, though anointed king" (2 Sam. 3:39). A man has no more power, then, (I repeat it) after his conversion, than he had before! "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure;" and if God does not give the power, you cannot move in any way towards God. Could a railway train move without the steam engine? Could the carriages stir of themselves? So with the church! If Christ is, as it were absent, if He withdraw His power then a man has no power to do anything acceptable to God! Darkness, deadness, reigns!
"That I may know Him!" Now, then, do you know Him as your Saviour? Do you know Him as your husband and your friend? "Thou shalt call me Ishi and shalt call me no more Baali" (Hos. 2:16). "Thou shalt call me Ishi!" That is husband! Do you know Him as God upon whom you depend for everything; in whom all treasure is heaped up and contained for you in whatever state God may see fit to put you? When you are in darkness of soul, when you are tried, harassed, and exercised, do you know Him as your all-sufficient Saviour, and that even though "cast down, not destroyed." you can still rejoice in Him? Nothing but a saving knowledge of Christ in the heart, burnt in there by the power of the Holy Spirit will give you power to come up to that standard, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." And the apostle says elsewhere, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God" (Col.3:1). It is the power of grace in a broken heart that discriminates and distinguishes between the Church and the world. "The kingdom of God is not in word but in power" (1 Cor. 4:20). "The kingdom of God," (says the same apostle) "is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17); hence no one can fathom this short but great text, but the poor weakly soul who is brought down to nothing, to have nothing, to be nothing, and to know nothing but Christ, who is then felt to be all in all. But we live in such an awful day of profession, such a dangerous period, when there are plenty of "pious" people as they are called, but we can hardly find a real self denying Christian, there are but a few here and a few there, and these are each and all exercised souls!
"Let us ask the important question,
(Brethren, be not too secure),
What it is to be a Christian,
How we may our hearts assure?"
"'Tis to credit contradictions;
Talk with Him one never sees;
Cry and groan beneath afflictions,
Yet to dread the thoughts of ease."
(Oh, friends, do you understand that in your own souls)?
"No big words of ready talkers,
No dry doctrine will suffice;
Broken hearts, and humble walkers,"
That is the Gospel!
"These are dear in Jesus' eyes.
Tinkling sounds of disputation,
Naked knowledge, all are vain;
Every soul that gains salvation
Must and shall be born again."
There is a couplet! "Must and shall be!" And here you will observe the particular point in the scripture upon which I am endeavoring to preach, is the desire of the soul, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." This was the burning desire of the great apostle of the Gentiles; "That I may know Him!" And in another epistle when the apostle would preach the gospel at Rome, he says, "So as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also, for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). And he warns Timothy, in that remarkable text to which I have before referred in this church, against those who have "the form of godliness," but "deny the power thereof;" from such he says "turn away" (2 Tim. 3:5). He is not merely warning Timothy to turn away from the openly profane, but gives a solemn admonition to him to turn away from those who "had the form of godliness, denying the power thereof." And this may be a word in season to some of the dear people assembled here. There is nothing more dangerous than to have anything to do with persons who have got a mere dry dead form, without the power and grace of the gospel in a broken heart.
Well, now, in order to get at these things, dear hearers, we must understand all that discipline which the Church of God has to undergo before she can in any way know these things. First, we must understand God's schooling under the law. By that says the apostle is "the knowledge of sin." "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died" (Rom. 7:9). And again: "The law was our schoolmaster unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24). Have you been in that school? Have you been thus taught really and experimentally by the eternal Jehovah? And have you come to Him who is "Mighty to save?" Who is not only Law-giver but Law-fulfiller, who has kept the law for "His own elect?"
"What wondrous love, what mysteries,
In this appointment shine,
My breaches of the law are His,
And His obedience mine."
"That I may know Him!" Oh! What a reality these things are.
Now my own mind is caught away from my text, and away from my subject, to think of that event which it has pleased God to permit, since we assembled the other Thursday, I refer to the removal of two great and eminent standard bearers of the church. God has made a gap in the ministry, but which He can, if it be His will, fill up. I cannot help this referring to these events, dear hearers, which may help, by the grace of God, to serve as a hint to us that our own dying hour must come! Think of those two individuals now in glory, taken from all the evil to come, with Christ in heaven. May it not be said of them as has been said of other saints, (I will take it individually).
"He lived a debtor to His grace,
Rejoiced in sin forgiven,
Died in his Father's fond embrace,
And fled from earth to heaven."
What a Father! I believe that our best, our most profitable preachings are often when we call upon you to think of death. Oh! Friends, amid the busy and all engrossing snares of this vast and bustling city, this city of confusion, (you men of business running about from morning till night), what grace is needed! And there seems to me to be a peculiar feeling occasioned by the fact of God's taking away a faithful pastor, and that voice shall never be heard again on earth. "It is appointed unto men once to die." Toplady, I think, has this idea, and says, that in anticipation of death God's people are, generally speaking cowards! It may be so! But God will, as one has said, give "dying grace for dying hours." "Underneath are the everlasting arms;" as one said, who is now, I believe in heaven; who died in Devonshire, and was once a hearer of mine at Winchelsea, "I am sinking low, I am getting weaker and weaker, but I cannot sink so low but that the 'everlasting arms' will not be 'underneath' me still." So you may sink almost into despair, but the everlasting arms are underneath you still, and you will be upheld. The apostle Paul may have a messenger of Satan to buffet him; and well was it for him that he had; Paul required keeping in order, the same as I do, "lest he should be exalted above measure" (2 Cor. 12:7), but the grace of God was still sufficient for him. I must just speak about that thorn in the flesh which was sent to Paul. It was a messenger of Satan allowed of God to buffet his poor servant. Now what was the effect on Paul? See what it wrought! "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me" ((2 Cor. 12:8). What do we get out of that? Why! That it sent him to God in prayer, and kept him in prayer! "I besought the Lord thrice." The answer comes, "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Cor. 12:9); and when that came, then he knew the promise in power. Now have you ever had a thorn? Have you ever had a thorn in the finger, and has it festered? You could not bear to touch it, and if it was touched you quite cried out with pain. Well, have you had a thorn of another sort? Somebody says, "Hot furnaces, deep pits, and soul exercises form the pastor;" and do not these also form the individual Christian? The Christian man is a tried man, a man exercised under the depravity of his own vile heart, one whom nothing will satisfy but an inward knowledge that Christ is his helper and his friend, together with an experimental reality of knowing "the power of His resurrection!"
But this subject overcomes me. I cannot preach on it. But I know it in my own heart, "That I may know the power of His resurrection." The charge against all free grace ministers is, that they are Antinomians! Those who use that word do not know it in its classical, but only in its vulgar acceptation. It was thrown in rebuke and contempt at Dr. Hawker. But is it not a truth, what the word in the Greek means, namely, no justification by the deeds of the law? That is the meaning of the compound word in Greek, and therefore in that sense it is strictly true, no justification by the deeds of the law! That is the true signification of the term Antinomian! But it is not thus applied to the free grace minister; for it is falsely said that we advocate the continuance in sin that grace may abound; but with the apostle we say in answer to such a charge, "God forbid!" "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein" (Rom. 6:1,2)! The Christian man abhors sin in all shapes, and would flee from the very appearance of evil.
"The law commands and makes us know,
What duties to our God we owe;
But 'tis the gospel must express,
forgiving love and cleansing grace."
And hence a knowledge of Christ in the soul keeps men from the love of sin, not mere "dry doctrine," (as Hart says), but the experimental understanding of Christ as our Saviour, that we may come to Him, consult Him in all that we do, and in everything that concerns us, that He may be our guide and guardian, and enable us to do all for His honor and glory.
Now, dear hearers, how is it with you? Ask yourselves the question
"How stands the case my soul, with thee?
For heaven are thy credentials clear?
Is Jesus' blood thy only plea?
Is He thy great forerunner there?"
Have you any other plea? Anything of self? It will not do, dear hearers!
"Is thy proud heart subdued by grace,
To seek salvation in His Name?
There's wisdom, power, and righteousness,
All centring in the Worthy Lamb."
"Who shall stand when He appeareth?" Oh! To know Him then as your God, and to be able to say (as Thomas did), "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).
But another thing. A knowledge of Christ, and the felt power within us of acceptance in Him, will raise us above every earthy thing, every earthly feeling. We shall then be as it were in the third heaven. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God; and ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God!" "When Christ our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:1,3,4). Oh! What a reality it is! We hear some talking of great people. If they happen to have fallen in with a man of distinction, they say, 'Oh, I know him, I can go and ask him anything.' There are plenty of people of this sort, who are ever found running after men with a title, and there is a great deal of pride in it. But if we know Christ, if we are acquainted with Him, we are at peace" (Job 22:21). Look at the men of the world. But do we know Christ, and can we go to Him; and are we content while on earth to be despised and forsaken of all men for His name's sake, because we have felt the power of His resurrection!
Now there is a remarkable passage in the Acts of the Apostles: "But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). Have you received that power? "Power," (saith the Psalmist), "belongeth unto God;" and that sweet passage in Samuel, "I am this day weak though anointed king." That is a sure test of discipleship.
"Weaker than a bruised reed,
Help I every moment need."
If you were to ask me what person in this Church, at this instant, understands the text that I am preaching in all its fullness, the best, I should say, the one who feels his weakness the most. "Poor and afflicted;" that is the character of the church! "I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people." They are the people. Now what do you know of these things? Has Christ been a manifested Christ to you? We live in a day of great profession! But there is only one real standard, and that standard is weakness and poverty, to be really poor and needy, and to be content to receive as a beggar everything from the hand of the King of Glory.
But the Word goes on, and I must just refer to it, "And the fellowship of His sufferings" (Phil. 3:10). There can be no understanding of the "power" unless there has first been an experience of the "suffering." There must be trial. If your Christianity does not cost you something, stand in doubt of it, dear hearers; "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes they of his own household" (Matt. 10:34-36). Why is it that God has taken you, and others in your family circle (it may be) are in a state of nature? Why is it that one shall be taken and the other left? Why is it that one man can preach the gospel, and another cannot? Why is it that you are a Christian and your father may probably never have known anything of the power that I am preaching about? It is all of free and sovereign grace! And if you can get no higher than a hope in His mercy, it is a token for good. See how sweet and encouragingly low the true standard goes, even down to this, "Hope in His mercy." "Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine!" "Our soul waiteth for the Lord, He is our help and our shield" (Ps. 33:18-20). Why, if you know the experience of that, then you know Christ, and you know the power of His resurrection, and your cry will be
"Mercy, good Lord! mercy I ask,
This is the total sum;
For mercy, Lord, is all my plea,
Oh let Thy mercy come."
But observe! "The fellowship of His sufferings" "That I may know" this, says Paul, this "fellowship" that is that I may know Christ, as sympathizing with, and feeling for me, in all my sufferings here below. What a knowledge is this, and all of grace! This is the cry of a poor soul in desperate circumstances, "I am shut up and cannot come forth" (Ps. 88:8). But deliverance shall come at the appointed time. "Who is this," says Solomon, "that cometh up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved" (Songs 8:5)? Have you ever seen a devoted wife, emphatically, "the weaker vessel," leaning upon the arm of her husband, leaning all her weight upon him? So the poor soul in the wilderness of the world leans upon Christ. Well says Hart
"My treasure is Thy precious blood;
Fix there my heart: and, for the rest,
Under Thy forming hands, my God,
Give me that frame which Thou lik'st best."
And, again, how sweet is this
"Still may I keep Thy love in view;
Lean there, nor envy those that run;
Still trust to, not what I can do,
But what Thyself hast for me done."
Oh! My hearers! We must have all Arminianism burnt out of us, and avoiding all heretics, seek to be able to say with a broken heart, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." Risen again to newness of life. You may ask me why it is that some are taught these things, and others know nothing about them. The reply is to be found in this great verse in the Revelation, "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, (that is the beast) whose names are not written in the Book of life, of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). All that worship the beast. That is sovereignty! All shall remain Roman Catholics, all shall remain Arminians, all shall remain untaught, all shall remain dead in sin, and not one shall be quickened, and taught, and made "to know Christ and the power of His resurrection," but those whose names are "written in the Book of Life, of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." That is God's decree, and it is unalterable! Do not you long to know whether your name is entered in that Book?
"'Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord or no,
Am I His, or am I not?"
It is, however, impossible to preach out fully this mighty secret. It is a secret divine and unsearchable. Revealed only by the Holy Spirit. And here I would refer to another Scripture, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still" (Rev. 22:11). The force of the word "still" is, in its fullness, this, "for ever." So, he that is "unjust," or not justified in Christ, shall be unjustified "for ever;" he that is "filthy," shall be so for ever," and he that is "righteous," shall be "righteous still," that is, "for ever;" and he that is "holy," shall be "Holy still,' "for ever," "In the place where the tree falleth, there shall it be" (Eccle. 11:3). What a stirring thought! What a scripture! Are you justified? One has well said, 'If it was not a justification from all things, it was no justification for him!' "He that is filthy, in the least thing, shall be filthy for ever." "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). Have you felt the preaching tonight? Has it been with power? Do you seem now to know anything more of the blessed Redeemer of whom I have been preaching, than before you entered this church this evening? "The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear Him" (Ps. 25:14)! That we "may know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." Paul prays for the Ephesian Church, that they might know something which, in fact, they never could fully know, for it "passeth knowledge." The love of Christ! The Holy Spirit in the Canticles said, "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it" (Songs 8:7). "Many waters!" Why all your sins, all the devil's schemes, all your own iniquities, if you are a child of God, cannot destroy the love which God in Christ bears to you. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. 31:3). Have you been "drawn" to Him? Then that is an evidence that you were loved from before the foundation of the world! O! Friends! This is a great point to get to, even to be drawn to Christ! This is a great secret to know! But a carnal man knows nothing about it. "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" (John 6:44). "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me, and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). Again! "This people have I have formed for Myself, they shall shew forth My praise" (Isa. 43:21). And I may turn to the fifty third chapter of Isaiah to show how positive it is, and that God's dear people must be saved, "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied" (Isa. 53:11). Why He would not, and could not be "satisfied" if one soul for who He travailed in pain were to be lost! There is no such thing as final falling from grace.
"More happy, but not more secure,
Are glorified spirits in heaven."
The Christian cannot fall finally!
"No absent sons, no vacant thrones,
Shall e'er be seen when Christ appears,
He'll have the purchase of His groans,
Yet from the wheat divide the tares."
"Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into My barn" (Matt. 13:30). Both are to "grow," and to "grow together." We are not to go and gather up either. "But He said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them" (Matt. 13:29). And hence we would be very tender over all, we cannot tell in this sense, wheat from tares. Remember Calvary! On either side of our illustrious dying Christ hung a convicted criminal, two thieves! Both paying the penalty due to sin, and now to illustrate the wheat and the tares! Meditate on that touching scene, the crucifixion in all its tremendous reality! O! The eternal purpose of the living God; that purpose must be now accomplished, and Jesus must not, cannot die, till His own grace and power had wrought in the soul of that one poor sufferer struggling near His side, that heartfelt cry, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom" (Luke 23:42); neither may that malefactor expire in death, until his repenting soul was gladdened with the promise from the Lord's own mouth, "Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). O! What a mighty transaction! See how grace discriminates! "One shall be taken the other left," and what an illustration is this of the text I am preaching on, (for "by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities)," "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." That knowledge was given, that power was known and felt, and thus God has visited and inflicted the punishment due to sin and sinners on His own dear Son, "in whom mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed" (Ps. 85:10).
May God bless these things, and may the ministry of this evening produce an effect through the power of grace, that the cry may be heard from many hearts, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection" and raised above the world, the flesh, and the devil, may we know that God, who is "mighty to save." "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." Do we know Him as our God and Saviour? Is "He made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that according as it is written, he that glorieth let him glory in the Lord" (1 Cor. 1:30,31).
"Boasting's by the cross excluded."
And as Paul says, "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" (Eph. 2:8,9). The salvation of the sinner is a finished work. The Magna Charta of the Church is this "By grace ye are saved." Works, either as a merit, or a procuring cause, have nothing to do with salvation!
"Cease from your own works, bad or good,
And wash your garments in My blood."
But mark what Paul says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). I will not allow you to take credit to yourselves for anything you do. It is "By grace ye are saved." This is the Gospel, and there is not another.
But the time tells me that I must stop. "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." May God in His mercy teach you these things. May the Gospel come with power to your hearts. When Nathan was sent to David, and preached by a parable, and drew the picture of the poor man who took it away, David was greatly moved with this, his anger was kindled, he vowed revenge! "The man that hath done this shall surely die." But Nathan stopped him! "Thou art the man!" The charge of sin was brought home. Remorse and sorrow ensued. Repentance and confession are the consequence, and pardon is sweetly applied. "The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die." "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Real, heartfelt confession, mark me! Is an evidence of forgiveness. We confess our sins because we are pardoned. David says, "I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid, I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah" (Ps. 32:5). But O! See how he was exercised. "For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah" (Ps. 32:4).
I must now stop, though I have not near done. May God bless the preaching. May we experimentally understand in all its deep experimental meaning, the word on which I have been endeavoring to preach, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection."