Notes of a Gospel Address on Romans 10:6-17; 1 Peter 1:3-12
In these passages which I have read in your hearing our attention is directed to a report which is in circulation in this world. It is a report concerning something that God has done on behalf of man, and that report is glad tidings. It all relates to the fact that God has asserted Himself in this corner of His creation which was in lawlessness and disorder. It speaks of the assertion of the rights of God in power for the blessing of His creature man. And as it has been in the Person of Christ that God has asserted His rights, His disposition toward man is seen in the place in which He has set Christ in heavenly glory. The Old Testament prophets testified of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. But all this is glad tidings, because the sufferings of Christ were for us, and the glory given Him is given Him on our behalf, as we are told here, that God raised Christ from the dead and gave Him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God. God would win the confidence of the hearts of men by showing them the place He has given Christ, who is placed in glory as Saviour for all. And all this is reported to us by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.
Now a report makes a demand for faith. It may be a human report, a report concerning something which has transpired in the world; or it may be a divine report concerning something in heaven; but every report makes a demand for faith, and faith could not exist without a report. We read here, “Faith comes by report.” Isaiah spoke of the glory of Christ, and said, “He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high;” but then he has to say, “Who has believed our report?” The Jews have rejected the report of the glory because of the suffering. The humiliation of Christ was a stumbling block to them; but the report had spoken of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; and by and bye they will learn that both the sufferings of Christ and His glory were on their behalf. The Spirit of God has come down from heaven to put in circulation the report. And the report is true—it is the word of God.
You may believe it or you may not. It has always been the case that some believe and some do not. But your acceptance or rejection of it does not alter the truth of it. A report must either be false or true when you hear it. If it be false, your believing it will not make it true, neither, if it be true, will your rejection of it make it false. People seem to think they can alter the report by their treatment of it. They think God will be gracious to them if they believe in Christ. But what is the report? What did the Holy Spirit from heaven inspire the apostles to preach? The report had to go forth before you could have a believer. Faith comes by report, and report by the word of God. It is God’s glad tidings to man.
What is it about? Let me try to tell you. It sets forth the fact that God has come into this world of sin and death and misery and confusion, and has asserted His rights when they were utterly disregarded by Satan and man; and He has done this in such a way that it means blessing come to all of Adam’s fallen race. It is by His Son our Lord Jesus Christ that God has asserted His rights, and hence the righteousness of God is declared in Christ risen. God has executed judgment upon everything that was liable to judgment. He has broken the power of death, annulled it; He has broken the power of Satan; He has given Himself a ransom for all men; and in His cross sin has been condemned, and the judgment which lay upon man has been executed. In His death the life of flesh, which in us was forfeited on account of sin, has been judged and ended, and His shed blood is the witness to this. God has raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand, a Saviour for all. This is how God has asserted His rights in this lawless scene, and the result of the assertion by God of His rights is this, that righteousness and every blessing that man needs is secured in that Christ who is at God’s right hand. In Him is brought to light by the gospel God’s disposition toward man, and this is seen to be grace.
What God is in grace to man is only learned in Christ, for it is in Christ this is set forth, and Christ is preached that all may know it. God has wrought in Christ for the salvation of man. He has intervened to put right what man put wrong; to judge man’s lawlessness, and to put an end to it; and yet to save man from the consequences of his folly. God has secured His rights in Christ, in man’s favour, so that His righteousness is unto all, and upon all them that believe.
The report does not direct man to the law for righteousness, but to Christ. He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes. You need righteousness, and you may find it in the risen Christ. It is the righteousness of God, and God means you to obtain it. It is by faith of Jesus Christ.
You need to know God’s disposition toward you. Salvation lies in this. He has set Christ to be a light of the Gentiles, that He should be for salvation to the ends of the earth. You have no light as to the grace of God. Perhaps you think God is against you? Look up to heaven—Christ is there. Who placed Him there? God did. What for? To be a light to you, that you might be saved. God has made Him Lord and Christ. All the authority and power of God is vested in Him; and He is administrator of all the blessing of God to man. If this be so, it means that God has placed a Saviour for you where you need one, above all the forces of the enemy.
And this Saviour is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes, and the truth is everybody needs righteousness. No one is what he ought to be. All have sinned. If this be so, where is he to find righteousness? In the law? No, he will find condemnation there. The law is the standard of conduct for a child of Adam. It would be all right enough if men could keep it. But men do not keep it; and therefore it works wrath. It will not justify you, but condemn you. By works of law shall no flesh be justified in God’s sight.
Where then is righteousness to be found? God has found it for you. Where is it? In heaven, before the face of God, where you need it, and it is testified in the gospel. It is the effect of the assertion of the rights of God by Himself. Therefore it is God’s righteousness, God has wrought for His own glory. He has vindicated Himself with regard to the rebelliousness of his fallen creature man. But He has wrought on behalf of man for his blessing. Christ risen from the dead is God’s settlement of the whole question of sin. Cleansing the universe of its presence is only a matter of detail. Everything for the perfect satisfaction and good pleasure of God is found in that risen Christ, and everything for the salvation of man is found in the same blessed Person. This report has come down from heaven, and it is the Holy Spirit who has brought it down.
Adam brought in sin and death, and you and I are under sin, and subject to death through him. But God has brought in another Adam, the last Adam, a righteous Head; and righteousness and life have been brought in by Him, and in Him they are available for all. This is God’s work and His righteousness. He has brought it near to men, to all men. It has come to the Gentiles in the risen Christ. This is the report: “Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things.”
You ask me if I can verify it. I say no; it will be verified in the world to come. It is a report. It is not display. It is not sight, it is for faith on your part. You say, “What if I reject it?” I ask you where you will find salvation. Is there anything in the wide world except this report, that can tell you where you can find righteousness and life? You say, “As a man lives he will have his heaven.” But death is upon you on account of sin, and your putrid corpse will one day proclaim your sinfulness to the world. And beyond that there is judgment and wrath. Do not allow yourself to be deceived.
And now that Christ is preached in your ears, you can never again be as if you had never heard of Him. When you meet Him in the day of His power and glory, you will meet Him as One that was preached to you as glad tidings. You must be justified by Him now, or be judged by Him then. He is going to banish into outer darkness every trace of evil, and He will bring in an order of things well pleasing to God. He is to judge the living and the dead. He is Lord of all. All must give account to Him. You cannot meet that Judge. But His desire is that you might be saved. You need a Saviour. You are no match for the devil. You are helpless in the presence of death. What will you do in the day of wrath? The report tells you of a Saviour in glory. He has all power in heaven and upon earth; all must submit to Him, and, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
You cannot escape meeting Him. In Him you must find either a Saviour or a Judge, through Him salvation or damnation must be your portion. Which shall it be? This is for you to decide. He is not asserting His authority now, but one of these days He will. He is Lord of the wide creation. The Holy Ghost testifies of this today, and bids you look to Him for salvation. His glory is about to be revealed. As sure as there are the sufferings of Christ, so sure the day of His glory will come “He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (Isa. 52:13). His visage may have been more marred than any man, and His form more than the sons of men, there may have been no comeliness in Him for the eye of flesh, He may have been despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; He may have suffered the death of a malefactor at the hands of men; He may have confessed Himself, in the midst of his sorrows, forsaken of God; and His dead body may have been taken down from the cross and laid in the sepulchre; all this may be true, and is true, infinitely true beyond all human power to describe; and many a proud-hearted Israelite may have stumbled headlong into perdition over the humiliation of that blessed Saviour: but it is also true, true to the eternal salvation of every believer in Him, that “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” (Isa. 53:5).
But there is something more than even this, for God has raised Him from the dead, and given to Him all authority in heaven and upon earth, and we await with patience the moment when He will come in the clouds of heaven, and when He will smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked, and He shall establish His own in blessing forever.
Let me ask you tonight, “How are you going to treat this report?” Do not rebel against Him, there is not the slightest hope of your rebellion being successful. Do not contend against God. Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth, but let them not come into conflict with God. Bow to Him. Acknowledge Him as your Lord. Call upon Him. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. He is rich unto all that call upon Him. Let Him hear your voice. Take your place in subjection to Him before the day comes when everything in heaven and earth and under the earth shall be compelled to submit to Him, and when His enemies shall be dealt with as such. May God so incline your heart.