一切出乎神的恩典 All of Grace
繁體中文 
View:13009
一切出乎神的恩典

由 C. H. SPURGEON

在都城 Tabemacle, Newington 传讲的信息
于1915 年10月 7日,星期四出版

Evergreen 译



   “你们得救本乎恩,也因着信;这并不是出于自己,乃是神所赐的。”以弗所书 2:8

  多年来,在我向你们传讲所有的信息中,这节经文极为重要。在这段话语的范畴内包含了我的神学观点,它涉及到世人的救恩。我也会非常兴奋地回忆起我的当牧师的家人在我面前传讲这条教义,而非其他教义。我的父亲现在仍能为神作他个人的见证,他不讲解别的教义,我父亲的父亲也是这样。

  使我想到上述情况的是由于下面所发生的一件事:一件刻印在我记忆中,似乎很奇妙的事把这节经文跟我自己及我的祖父相连结一起。现在说来该是很多年以前的事了。我被告知在东部县内的一个小城镇讲道。我不大会迟到,因为我认为准时是一种美德,而微小的美德常可以阻止发生严重的过犯。但是,我们对火车行程的迟误和故障是无法控制的;因为发生了这样的情况,所以我到达目的地时大大的过了时间。他们好象感觉得到而先开始了他们的敬拜,并且已一路进行到讲台的信息。当我走进教堂时,我觉察到有人在讲道台上讲道,除了我亲爱的,可尊敬的祖父以外还该有谁在讲道?当他看到我走进正门,并步入座位走道时,他立刻就说,“我的孙儿来了!他会比我更好的传讲福音;你能吗,查儿斯?”在我边从会众中步入时,我边回答说,“你能比我讲得更好。请求你继续讲下去。”但是他不同意。必须由我来讲道,我就这样做了,当时就在他停下的地方,我接下去传讲这个题目。“瞧,”他说,“我刚才在讲到'你们得救本乎恩'我已说明了救恩的源头和源泉;并且我现在正在显示他们通达的途径,这是靠信心。现在你来接下去讲。”对此荣耀的真理我是非常熟悉的,所以我并不感到困难要把我祖父所讲的情节接过来讲,并衔结上我的情节,使讲道毫无间断的继续下去。我们对神的话语同感一灵,因此我们能很容易的在同一讲题上联合讲道。我接着讲“依靠信心,”然后继续讲到下面的要点,“救恩不是出于你自己。”对此我解说了人类本性的软弱和无能,并且肯定了救恩不可能出于自己,当我藉着祖父的传讲能力而成功地传达了这部份信息后,我亲爱的祖父又再次接过来讲道。“当我讲到人类败坏的本性时,”慈祥的老人说道,“亲爱的朋友,这是我最清楚的”;所以他就开始讲道,在以后的五分钟内,他严肃并谦卑的描述了我们所丧失的产业,原有的罪恶,以及灵魂的灭亡,因而受到审判。在他非常谦和地说完了他该说的那部分以后,他就让他的孙儿再继续讲下去,可爱的老人显得非常高兴,因为他时时会温和地说,“好!好!”一次他曾说,“再跟他们讲一遍,查尔斯,”我当然又讲了一遍。我能参舆为如此极重要的,深印在我心中的真理作见证,是一个非常喜乐的操练。在宣告此经文时,我似乎听到那亲切的,从世上消失已久的声音在对我说。“再跟他们讲一遍。”我没有背离我那现在已和神在一起的祖先的证言。如果我的祖父能够回到世上,他会发现我和他离开我时一样,在信心上毫不动摇,并且对一度传给圣徒们的那一类教义能忠实持守。

  我将以几项声明来简短地讨论此经文。第一项声明被清楚地包括在经文中:

   I. 现在的救恩

  使徒说,“你现在得救了。”他不是说,“你将要得救”,或是“你可以得救”;而是“你现在得救了。”他不说“你部分得救。”也不说“在得救的进程中,”也不说“有得救的希望”;而是“你是因着恩典得救的。”让我们和使徒一样的清楚这个要点,并且直到清楚自己得救后我们才可停歇。在这一刻我们是得救,还是没有得救。那是很清楚的。我们到底属于哪一类?我希望,得到圣灵的作证,我们可以如此肯定我们确实得救,因而能歌颂,“主是我的力量,我的灵歌;主也是我的拯救。”对这一点,我不再喋喋不休的讲下去,我要转讲下一个要点。

   II.现在的救恩必须出乎恩典

  假如我们能对任何一个人或任何一群人说,“你现在得救了,”我们必定要加上这几个字“靠着恩典。”除了开始和结束都靠着恩典以外,不再有其他现在的救恩。就我所知,我不信世界各地会有任何人能假装传讲或拥有现在的救恩,除非那些相信救恩完全是出乎恩典的人才能真正的传讲和拥有。罗马教会中没有一个人可以声称自己现在得救-完全,永久得救。这样的宣称他们认为是矣谒。有少数的天主教徒可能希望死后进天堂,但是大多数天主教徒眼前所展现的是炼狱的悲惨远景。我们不断见到他们请求为死去的灵魂祷告,但假如那些灵魂已经得救,并且和主耶酥同得荣耀,他们就不需要这样做。罗马教会为灵魂的安息做弥撒正表示救恩是不完全的。但这样做可能还不错,因为Papal的救恩是靠作工,但即使有可能靠作善工得到救恩,还是没有一个人能肯定自己已经作了足够的善工而确实得到救恩。

  在我们周围的人中,我们发现有很多人一点也不理解施恩典的教义。并且绝不梦想有现在的救恩。可能他们相信在他们死后能够得救;他们一半希望在多年的谨慎保持圣洁后他们或许最终能得到救恩;但是,要现在得救,并且清楚自己是得救的,这是超过他们所想象的,并且他们认为只是一种猜测。

  现在的救恩是不可能有的,除非是立足于“你的得救是出乎恩典。”这是一件非常奇妙的事,没有一个人能站出来传道说,现在的救恩是靠作工。我想这太可笑。如果工作没有结束,救恩也不会完全;换句话说,若得到完全的救恩,那行律法的主要动力就不再有效。

  救恩必须出乎恩典。假如人类因罪而灭亡,除了通过神的救恩以外,他如何能够得救?假如他犯了罪,并被定罪;他怎麽能靠自己来推翻所定的罪?假定在他剩馀的岁月中持守律法,那他只是做了他总应该去做的事,他将仍是一个没有赚得钱的仆人。过去的事将怎麽样?过去的罪怎麽能抹煞?过去的毁灭怎麽被挽回?按照经文,并按照常识,救恩只能得自神白白的恩 惠。

  处于现在时态的救恩必定是得自神白白的恩惠。人们可能对靠作工得到的救恩感到满足,但你听不到有人为支持自己的争点而说,“我是靠我自己所做的得到救恩。”那是过份的任性,很少人会这样做。骄傲很难靠过份的自夸来达到其目的。不,假如我们得救的话,这必定是得自神白白的恩惠。没有一个人可以宣称自己是反面观点的一个范例。

  要全然得救必须靠免费的恩惠。圣徒在死亡临到时,绝不在他们作善工的盼望中终止他们的生命。那些最圣洁和最有能力过活的人,他们在最后的时刻将不变地指望神白白的恩惠。我从来没有看到在病床上的属灵长者会把信心设立在不论是自己的祷告,还是忏悔或虔诚的信仰上。我曾经听到杰出圣洁的信徒在死时引用经句, “耶酥基督来到世上拯救罪人。”事实上,世人越接近去天家,他们就越为此作好准备,他们也越真正相信这是主耶酥的功劳,并且他们也越强烈地厌恶对自己的完全信靠。假如我们在最后一刻争论几乎结束时属上述的情况,那我们在激力争论时就更应该对此有所感受。假如一个人在心中挣扎的这一刻得到了完全的救恩,除了恩典以外怎麽会有可能。当他哀恸自己内在的罪,当他承认自己数不清的缺点和过犯,当他所做的事都掺杂着罪恶时,除了靠神白白的恩惠,他怎麽能相信自己完全得救?

  保罗讲到的救恩乃属以弗所书,“你们得救本乎恩。”以弗所人精研玄术和行邪术。因此,他们和幽暗世界的权势有关联。现在,假如象他们这样的人能得到救恩,这必定是单单靠恩典。我们的情况也是这样:我们原本的条件和品格使得我们肯定,假如一旦终于得救,我们必须归功于神白白的恩惠。我知道,我自己的情况也是如此;并且我相信这相同的规律被持为适宜于其他所有的信徒。这一点已足够的清楚,所以我要继续讲到下一个我观察到的要点:

   III. 出乎恩典的现在得救必须通过信心。

  现在的救恩必须通过恩典,而出乎恩典的救恩必须通过信心。你不能靠任何不是信心的方式来得到出乎恩典的救恩。祭坛上烧红的碳火需要用信心的金钳取下。让我假定一下,只有当神定下旨意,可以靠作工得救,那才有此可能。但仍然要靠恩典;因为假如亚当完全服从神的律法,他还是只做了他理该做的事;所以,假如神给了他奖赏,奖赏本身还是根据恩典而赐给的,因为造物主并没有欠受造的。如若受造物完美无缺,以上所述对此就很难适用;但是对我们来说,这是完全不可行的。我们得到的救恩是指从罪恶和毁灭中得到释放,并且这不可能藉着作善工而到手的,因为我们没有条件行出来。假定我不得不教导你们,作为罪人,你们必须作一定的工,然后你们才会得救,并且假定你能够作这些工,那这样的救恩就不会被看作是全然出乎恩典。这会显得象欠债。如果以这样的模式来理解,救恩临到你有几分是作为对你所作工的奖赏,而整个局面就会变得不同。出乎恩典的救恩只有靠信心来抓住:试着靠按律法而作的一些行为来得到救恩会使恩典消散。“所以,是靠着信心,才可能因着恩典得到救恩。”“假如是靠恩典,那就不再靠作工:不然恩典不再是恩典。但是,假如这是靠作工,那就不再有恩典:不然作工就不再是作工。”

  有些人试着通过用仪式得到出乎恩典的救恩;但是这是不行的。你被受洗成为基督徒,施坚信礼,并使之从传教士的手中领“圣餐”,或者你受浸参加教会,坐在神的圣餐台旁:这就带给你救恩了吗?我问你,“你得到了救恩吗?”“你不敢说。”假如你确实声称自己可以说是得救的,然而,我肯定你心中不认为是因着恩典而得救。

  再有,你不能通过你的感觉来得到出乎恩典的救恩。信心的手是被建造来抓住因着恩典而得到现在的救恩,但是感觉不是被改用于那个目的。假如你各处去说,“我必须感觉到我是得救了。我必须感到如此的忧愁和如此的喜乐,不然,我就不能承认我得救,”你将发现这个方法不会有答案。你要靠感觉来相信,就如你可以希望用耳朵来看,或用眼睛来品味,或者用鼻子来听,你用错器管了。在你相信以后,你可以靠着感觉到属天的能力来享受你的救恩;但是你幻想靠你自己的感觉抓住救恩,这和试着用你的手掌夺走阳光,或是在眼睫毛间夺走天空的气息是同样的愚蠢。在整件事中实在是可笑。

  此外,由感觉产生的确据特别易变。当你感到平安和喜乐时,它们很快会受到突然的攻击,然后你变得坐立不安和非常忧虑。最易变的要素,即最软弱的肉体和最恶劣的环境,会使你的情绪起伏不停:有经验的人,在他们反省到那被稳妥地安置在他们心中微小的信赖时,就会越来越少考虑自己目前的情绪。信心可以领受神说明赐给恩慈饶恕的方式,所以,信心会把救恩带给信的人;但是凭感觉,凭热衷于热烈的祈求,使自己迷茫地产生一种不敢省察的希望,就象是跳兴奋的狂热信徒午,必须靠它来支撑自己,这全部是一片混乱,就如波浪汹涌的海水,不能止息。感觉很容易从激昂和狂暴下降到不冷不热,消沉,绝望和所有类似的捆绑。感觉就象一片乌云和刮风的现象,在神的永恒真理中是不可被信任的。现在让我们再深入到下一步:

   IV. 救恩本乎恩,V. 是出于信心,VI. 不VII. 是出于自己。

  救恩,信心和整个恩典的工作一起,都不是出乎自己。

  首先,它们不是我们先前该得的奖赏:它们不是对过去作出努力的奖赏。没有一个非重生的人表现得如此的好,以致神就理应给他更多的恩典,并赐给他永恒的生命;不然,这不再是恩典,而是还债。给与我们的救恩不是我们赚得的。我们早先的生命徘徊远离神,而我们回到神身边的新生命永远是得自不应得的怜悯,是神为非常需要但绝不配得到的人的作为。

  这不是出于我们自己,以更深的意义,这不是出于我们原有的美德。救恩来自天父;绝不是内在发出的。永恒的生命能从死亡的枯骨发展而成吗?有人敢跟我们说,信靠基督和新生只是从我们心中本有的优良品性发展成的;但是在这方面,他们就象他们的撒旦祖先那样自讲一通。先生们,假如愤怒之子被留下培育,他们会越来越适合去魔鬼和他的天使们为他们预备的地方!你可以选择非重生得救的人,最高标准地教导他;但是他停留着,并且必定永远停留着,在罪中死亡,除非有更大的能力来到并把他拯救出来。恩典把奇异的种子放入心中。它不加增并永久存在;它毁灭旧生命,生长新生命。在本性的状态和恩典的状态之间没有连结:一个是黑暗,另一个是光明;一个是死亡,另一个是生命。当恩典临到我们时,它就象落进海洋的火把,它肯定会熄灭如果它没有这样不可思议的品质而挫败洪水的泛澜,并且甚至在海洋深处能支配火和光。

  通过信心,因着恩典的得救不是出于自己,这是指不是出于我们自己能力的结果。我们应该把救恩看作如神的创造,或旨意,或复活一样,它肯定是一件神圣的作为。在整个救恩过程的每一点,都适用这句话,“不是出于你自己。”从对追求救恩的最早的欲望到依靠信心完全接受为止,这永远是出于神而不是出于我们自己。人信神,但是这个信念只是神自己在人的灵魂内种下神圣生命的一个果子。

  甚至因恩典得救的那个愿望也不是出于自己,但这是神所赐的。论题的着重点就在这里。人应当信基督:他有责任接受基督,因为神差遣耶酥做罪人的救赎主。但是人不信基督;他宁可信别的也不愿信靠他的救赎者。除非圣灵胜过人的判断力,约束人的意旨,不然人就没有心意信耶酥而得到永恒的生命。我要求任何一位得救的人回顾自己的转变,并且解说这是如何发生的。你转向基督,并信他的名:这些是你自己的行为和事迹。但是甚麽使得你转向的?甚麽神圣的力量把你从罪转为义?你是否把这特有的奖赏归功于你存有的品性比你未悔改的邻居所显露出来的品性好?不,你坦白承认,若没有一股有权势的能力感动激发你的意志,启发你的理解,并且把你引领到十字架的跟前,你可能还是处于你邻居现在的情况。我们心中感恩地承认这个事实;它必定是这样的。通过信心而出乎恩典的救恩不是出乎我们自己,我们没有一个人会梦想我们拿到的荣耀是得自我们自己的转变,或者得到的恩典果效是从最早神圣的本源涌流出的。最后:

   VIII. “你是靠着信心因着恩典而IX. 得救的;那不X. 是出乎你自己:这是神所赐的。”

  救恩可以被称为Theodora,或神的礼物:每一个得救的灵魂可以取名Dorothea,那是同一辞句的另一形式。假如你增多你的词汇,你就会扩大你的解说面;但是真正追究到源头的救恩是包含在无法诉说的礼物中,即:免费和无限的爱的祝福中。

  救恩是神所赐的礼物,它和工价正好相反。当一个人付另一个人工资时,他只是做了他该做的事;没有人会幻想为此得到赞扬。但是我们为得到的救恩赞美神,因为这不是付钱还债,而是白白的恩典。没有一个人在地上或天上得到永生是作为他应得的:这是得自神的礼物。我们说,“没有一样东西比礼物更不需花钱”。救恩是如此的圣洁,如此绝对的来自神的礼物,没有东西比它更不需花钱。神赐给礼物是因为他选定要给,这是按照庄严的经句,“我要恩待谁,就恩待谁,要怜悯谁就怜悯谁。”这段经句曾使很多人恨得咬牙切齿。你是完全有罪并被定罪的,尊贵的君王从你们中饶恕他立意要饶恕的人。这是他的尊贵的特权。他以恩典无限大的主权来拯救世人。

  救恩是神赐的礼物:完全应这样说,这和万物生长的见解是相反的。救恩不是从内心天然产生的:它来自一个全新的境界,并由天父的手栽种在我们的心中。救恩完全是神赐给的。假如你要得到的话,它就在那里,完美无缺。你是否接受这份完美的礼物?“不;我要在我自己的工场制造它。”你不可能铸造一个如此稀罕并昂贵的工件,耶酥甚至为此洒上他宝贵的鲜血。这里有一件无缝的衣服,从头开始完整的织成。它将遮盖你并荣耀你。你要吗?“不,我情愿坐在织布机旁,织出我自己的衣服!”你是骄傲的傻瓜。你在织蜘蛛网。你织的是一个梦。哦!但愿你能白白的领受基督在十字架上宣布要成全的礼物。

  这是神的礼物:即:它是永恒不灭的,这和人赠送的礼物不同,人的礼物很快会消失。“我所给你的不是象世界所给的,”主耶酥说,假如主耶酥在此时给你救恩,你接受了,现在你就会永远拥有。他决不会再收回;假如他不向你取回,有谁能这样做?假如他因着你的信心给你救恩,那你是在这样的救恩下得到了拯救,因此你决不会灭亡,也没有人能从他手中把你夺走。但愿我们每个人都有这样的得到!阿们。

 
All of Grace
A Sermon
(No. 3479)
Published on Thursday, October 7th, 1915.
Delivered by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington


"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."-Ephesians 2:8.

OF THE THINGS which I have spoken unto you these many years, this is the sum. Within the circle of these words my theology is contained, so far as it refers to the salvation of men. I rejoice also to remember that those of my family who were ministers of Christ before me preached this doctrine, and none other. My father, who is still able to bear his personal testimony for his Lord, knows no other doctrine, neither did his father before him.

I am led to remember this by the fact that a somewhat singular circumstance, recorded in my memory, connects this text with myself and my grandfather. It is now long years ago. I was announced to preach in a certain country town in the Eastern Counties. It does not often happen to me to be behind time, for I feel that punctuality is one of those little virtues which may prevent great sins. But we have no control over railway delays, and breakdowns; and so it happened that I reached the appointed place considerably behind the time. Like sensible people, they had begun their worship, and had proceeded as far as the sermon. As I neared the chapel, I perceived that someone was in the pulpit preaching, and who should the preacher be but my dear and venerable grandfather! He saw me as I came in at the front door and made my way up the aisle, and at once he said, "Here comes my grandson! He may preach the gospel better than I can, but he cannot preach a better gospel; can you, Charles?" As I made my way through the throng, I answered, "You can preach better than I can. Pray go on." But he would not agree to that. I must take the sermon, and so I did, going on with the subject there and then, just where he left off. "There," said he, "I was preaching of 'For by grace are ye saved.' I have been setting forth the source and fountain-head of salvation; and I am now showing them the channel of it, through faith. Now you take it up, and go on." I am so much at home with these glorious truths that I could not feel any difficulty in taking from my grandfather the thread of his discourse, and joining my thread to it, so as to continue without a break. Our agreement in the things of God made it easy for us to be joint-preachers of the same discourse. I went on with "through faith," and then I proceeded to the next point, "and that not of yourselves." Upon this I was explaining the weakness and inability of human nature, and the certainty that salvation could not be of ourselves, when I had my coat-tail pulled, and my well-belovd grandsire took his turn again. "When I spoke of our depraved human nature," the good old man said, "I know most about that, dear friends"; and so he took up the parable, and for the next five minutes set forth a solemn and humbling description of our lost estate, the depravity of our nature, and the spiritual death under which we were found. When he had said his say in a very gracious manner, his grandson was allowed to go on again, to the dear old man's great delight; for now and then he would say, in a gentle tone, "Good! Good!" Once he said, "Tell them that again, Charles," and, of course, I did tell them that again. It was a happy exercise to me to take my share in bearing witness to truths of such vital importance, which are so deeply impressed upon my heart. While announcing this text I seem to hear that dear voice, which has been so long lost to earth, saying to me, "TELL THEM THAT AGAIN." I am not contradicting the testimony of forefathers who are now with God. If my grandfather could return to earth, he would find me where he left me, steadfast in the faith, and true to that form of doctrine which was once delivered to the saints.

I shall handle the text briefly, by way of making a few statements. The first statement is clearly contained in the text:-

I. There Is Present Salvation.

The apostle says, "Ye are saved." Not "ye shall be," or "ye may be"; but "ye are saved." He says not, "Ye are partly saved," nor "in the way to being saved," nor "hopeful of salvation"; but "by grace are ye saved." Let us be as clear on this point as he was, and let us never rest till we know that we are saved. At this moment we are either saved or unsaved. That is clear. To which class do we belong? I hope that, by the witness of the Holy Ghost, we may be so assured of our safety as to sing, "The Lord is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." Upon this I will not linger, but pass on to note the next point.

II. A Present Salvation Must Be Through Grace.

If we can say of any man, or of any set of people, "Ye are saved," we shall have to preface it with the words "by grace." There is no other present salvation except that which begins and ends with grace. As far as I know, I do not think that anyone in the wide world pretends to preach or to possess a present salvation, except those who believe salvation to be all of grace. No one in the Church of Rome claims to be now saved-completely and eternally saved. Such a profession would be heretical. Some few Catholics may hope to enter heaven when they die, but the most of them have the miserable prospect of purgatory before their eyes. We see constant requests for prayers for departed souls, and this would not be if those souls were saved, and glorified with their Saviour. Masses for the repose of the soul indicate the incompleteness of the salvation Rome has to offer. Well may it be so, since Papal salvation is by works, and even if salvation by good works were possible, no man can ever be sure that he has performed enough of them to secure his salvation.

Among those who dwell around us, we find many who are altogether strangers to the doctrine of grace, and these never dream of present salvation. Possibly they trust that they may be saved when they die; they half hope that, after years of watchful holiness, they may, perhaps, be saved at last; but, to be saved now, and to know that they are saved, is quite beyond them, and they think it presumption.

There can be no present salvation unless it be upon this footing-"By grace are ye saved." It is a very singular thing that no one has risen up to preach a present salvation by works. I suppose it would be too absurd. The works being unfinished, the salvation would be incomplete; or, the salvation being complete, the main motive of the legalist would be gone.

Salvation must be by grace. If man be lost by sin, how can he be saved except through the grace of God? If he has sinned, he is condemned; and how can he, of himself, reverse that condemnation? Suppose that he should keep the law all the rest of his life, he will then only have done what he was always bound to have done, and he will still be an unprofitable servant. What is to become of the past? How can old sins be blotted out? How can the old ruin be retrieved? According to Scripture, and according to common sense, salvation can only be through the free favour of God.

Salvation in the present tense must be by the free favour of God. Persons may contend for salvation by works, but you will not hear anyone support his own argument by saying, "I am myself saved by what I have done." That would be a superfluity of naughtiness to which few men would go. Pride could hardly compass itself about with such extravagant boasting. No, if we are saved, it must be by the free favour of God. No one professes to be an example of the opposite view.

Salvation to be complete must be by free favour. The saints, when they come to die, never conclude their lives by hoping in their good works. Those who have lived the most holy and useful lives invariably look to free grace in their final moments. I never stood by the bedside of a godly man who reposed any confidence whatever in his own prayers, or repentance, or religiousness. I have heard eminently holy men quoting in death the words, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." In fact, the nearer men come to heaven, and the more prepared they are for it, the more simply is their trust in the merit of the Lord Jesus, and the more intensely do they abhor all trust in themselves. If this be the case in our last moments, when the conflict is almost over, much more ought we to feel it to be so while we are in the thick of the fight. If a man be completely saved in this present time of warfare, how can it be except by grace. While he has to mourn over sin that dwelleth in him, while he has to confess innumerable shortcomings and transgressions, while sin is mixed with all he does, how can he believe that he is completely saved except it be by the free favour of God?

Paul speaks of this salvation as belonging to the Ephesians, "By grace are ye saved." The Ephesians had been given to curious arts and works of divination. They had thus made a covenant with the powers of darkness. Now if such as these were saved, it must be by grace alone. So is it with us also: our original condition and character render it certain that, if saved at all, we must owe it to the free favour of God. I know it is so in my own case; and I believe the same rule holds good in the rest of believers. This is clear enough, and so I advance to the next observation:-

III. Present Salvation by Grace Must Be Through Faith.

A present salvation must be through grace, and salvation by grace must be through faith. You cannot get a hold of salvation by grace by any other means than by faith. This live coal from off the altar needs the golden tongs of faith with which to carry it. I suppose that it might have been possible, if God had so willed it, that salvation might have been through works, and yet by grace; for if Adam had perfectly obeyed the law of God, still he would only have done what he was bound to do; and so, if God should have rewarded him, the reward itself must have been according to grace, since the Creator owes nothing to the creature. This would have been a very difficult system to work, while the object of it was perfect; but in our case it would not work at all. Salvation in our case means deliverance from guilt and ruin, and this could not have been laid hold of by a measure of good works, since we are not in a condition to perform any. Suppose I had to preach that you as sinners must do certain works, and then you would be saved; and suppose that you could perform them; such a salvation would not then have been seen to be altogether of grace; it would have soon appeared to be of debt. Apprehended in such a fashion, it would have come to you in some measure as the reward of work done, and its whole aspect would have been changed. Salvation by grace can only be gripped by the hand of faith: the attempt to lay hold upon it by the doing of certain acts of law would cause the grace to evaporate. "Therefore, it is of faith that it might be by grace." "If by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."

Some try to lay hold upon salvation by grace through the use of ceremonies; but it will not do. You are christened, confirmed, and caused to receive "the holy sacrament" from priestly hands, or you are baptized, join the church, sit at the Lord's table: does this bring you salvation? I ask you, "have you salvation?" "You dare not say." If you did claim salvation of a sort, yet I am sure it would not be in your minds salvation by grace.

Again, you cannot lay hold upon salvation by grace through your feelings. The hand of faith is constructed for the grasping of a present salvation by grace. But feeling is not adapted for that end. If you go about to say, "I must feel that I am saved. I must feel so much sorrow and so much joy or else I will not admit that I am saved," you will find that this method will not answer. As well might you hope to see with your ear, or taste with your eye, or hear with your nose, as to believe by feeling: it is the wrong organ. After you have believed, you can enjoy salvation by feeling its heavenly influences; but to dream of getting a grasp of it by your own feelings is as foolish as to attempt to bear away the sunlight in the palm of your hand, or the breath of heaven between the lashes of your eyes. There is an essential absurdity in the whole affair.

Moreover, the evidence yielded by feeling is singularly fickle. When your feelings are peaceful and delightful, they are soon broken in upon, and become restless and melancholy. The most fickle of elements, the most feeble of creatures, the most contemptible circumstances, may sink or raise your spirits: experienced men come to think less and less of their present emotions as they reflect upon the little reliance which can be safely placed upon them. Faith receives the statement of God concerning His way of gracious pardon, and thus it brings salvation to the man believing; but feeling, warming under passionate appeals, yielding itself deliriously to a hope which it dares not examine, whirling round and round in a sort of dervish dance of excitement which has become necessary for its own sustaining, is all on a stir, like the troubled sea which cannot rest. From its boilings and ragings, feeling is apt to drop to lukewarmness, despondency, despair and all the kindred evils. Feelings are a set of cloudy, windy phenomena which cannot be trusted in reference to the eternal verities of God. We now go a step further:-

IV. Salvation by Grace, Through Faith, Is Not of Ourselves.

The salvation, and the faith, and the whole gracious work together, are not of ourselves.

First, they are not of our former deservings: they are not the reward of former good endeavours. No unregenerate person has lived so well that God is bound to give him further grace, and to bestow on him eternal life; else it were no longer of grace, but of debt. Salvation is given to us, not earned by us. Our first life is always a wandering away from God, and our new life of return to God is always a work of undeserved mercy, wrought upon those who greatly need, but never deserve it.

It is not of ourselves, in the further sense, that it is not out of our original excellence. Salvation comes from above; it is never evolved from within. Can eternal life be evolved from the bare ribs of death? Some dare to tell us that faith in Christ, and the new birth, are only the development of good things that lay hidden in us by nature; but in this, like their father, they speak of their own. Sirs, if an heir of wrath is left to be developed, he will become more and more fit for the place prepared for the devil and his angels! You may take the unregenerate man, and educate him to the highest; but he remains, and must forever remain, dead in sin, unless a higher power shall come in and save him from himself. Grace brings into the heart an entirely foreign element. It does not improve and perpetuate; it kills and makes alive. There is no continuity between the state of nature and the state of grace: the one is darkness and the other is light; the one is death and the other is life. Grace, when it comes to us, is like a firebrand dropped into the sea, where it would certainly be quenched were it not of such a miraculous quality that it baffles the water-floods, and sets up its reign of fire and light even in the depths.

Salvation by grace, through faith is not of ourselves in the sense of being the result of our own power. We are bound to view salvation as being as surely a divine act as creation, or providence, or resurrection. At every point of the process of salvation this word is appropriate-"not of yourselves." From the first desire after it to the full reception of it by faith, it is evermore of the Lord alone, and not of ourselves. The man believes, but that belief is only one result among many of the implantation of divine life within the man's soul by God Himself.

Even the very will thus to be saved by grace is not of ourselves, but it is the gift of God. There lies the stress of the question. A man ought to believe in Jesus: it is his duty to receive him whom God has set forth to be a propitiation for sins. But man will not believe in Jesus; he prefers anything to faith in his redeemer. Unless the Spirit of God convinces the judgment, and constrains the will, man has no heart to believe in Jesus unto eternal life. I ask any saved man to look back upon his own conversion, and explain how it came about. You turned to Christ, and believed in his name: these were your own acts and deeds. But what caused you thus to turn? What sacred force was that which turned you from sin to righteousness? Do you attribute this singular renewal to the existence of a something better in you than has been yet discovered in your unconverted neighbour? No, you confess that you might have been what he now is if it had not been that there was a potent something which touched the spring of your will, enlightened your understanding, and guided you to the foot of the cross. Gratefully we confess the fact; it must be so. Salvation by grace, through faith, is not of ourselves, and none of us would dream of taking any honour to ourselves from our conversion, or from any gracious effect which has flowed from the first divine cause. Last of all:-

V. "By Grace Are Ye Saved Through Faith; and That Not of Yourselves: It Is the Gift of God."

Salvation may be called Theodora, or God's gift: and each saved soul may be surnamed Dorothea, which is another form of the same expression. Multiply your phrases, and expand your expositions; but salvation truly traced to its well-head is all contained in the gift unspeakable, the free, unmeasured benison of love.

Salvation is the gift of God, in opposition to a wage. When a man pays another his wage, he does what is right; and no one dreams of belauding him for it. But we praise God for salvation because it is not the payment of debt, but the gift of grace. No man enters eternal life on earth, or in heaven, as his due: it is the gift of God. We say, "nothing is freer than a gift". Salvation is so purely, so absolutely a gift of God, that nothing can be more free. God gives it because he chooses to give it, according to that grand text which has made many a man bite his lip in wrath, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." You are all guilty and condemned, and the great King pardons whom he wills from among you. This is his royal prerogative. He saves in infinite sovereignty of grace.

Salvation is the gift of God: that is to say completely so, in opposition to the notion of growth. Salvation is not a natural production from within: it is brought from a foreign zone, and planted within the heart by heavenly hands. Salvation is in its entirety a gift from God. If thou wilt have it, there it is, complete. Wilt thou have it as a perfect gift? "No; I will produce it in my own workshop." Thou canst not forge a work so rare and costly, upon which even Jesus spent his life's blood. Here is a garment without seam, woven from the top throughout. It will cover thee and make thee glorious. Wilt thou have it? "No; I will sit at the loom, and I will weave a raiment of my own!" Proud fool that thou art! Thou spinnest cobwebs. Thou weavest a dream. Oh! that thou wouldst freely take what Christ upon the cross declared to be finished.

It is the gift of God: that is, it is eternally secure in opposition to the gifts of men, which soon pass away. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you," says our Lord Jesus. If my Lord Jesus gives you salvation at this moment, you have it, and you have it forever. He will never take it back again; and if he does not take it from you, who can? If he saves you now through faith, you are saved-so saved that you shall never perish, neither shall any pluck you out of his hand. May it be so with every one of us! Amen.

View:13009
©版权所有