Gospel Facts

A Sunday Evening Address

"And he said to them, These are the words which I spake to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:44-47).

The time had come for us to start for our Sunday evening meeting, when the little son of my host said to me, "I hope that you will preach tonight so that I can understand." I have taken the words of that lad to heart and I am determined, by the help of the Lord, to preach the gospel so that the children of ten can understand. In doing so I shall not be insulting the intelligence of the older people, for God's gospel suits every age and class; it is simple enough for the children, yet so full and so blessed that the oldest saint on earth or in heaven cannot fathom the depths of it. It is God's spell, God's story, and he that has an ear let him hear it. The time has come for you to listen and not to talk. "Say not in thine heart …" says the Word, for faith comes not by talking or arguing, but by hearing: "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

The gospel consists of facts, and children can believe facts, and the facts are these: "It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day," and the object in view was, "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." And of such impelling and divine importance are these facts that from the time of the fall of man in Eden, God had spoken of them in type and allegory and by definite prophecy. His communications as to them are to be found in Moses, the prophets and the Psalms: in every part of the Old Testament Scriptures. "It is written," said the risen Lord, and what is written must stand — it is as impregnable as the throne of God. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one jot or tittle of it shall fail; it must all be fulfilled. What was written about the sufferings and resurrection of Christ has been fulfilled, and it is this that the gospel preacher must tell the people. Not the twelve apostles only, but Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, who had not seen the Lord on earth but who had seen Him in glory, proclaimed these facts, for "he reasoned … out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ" (Acts 17:2-3). And when allowed to explain his life's purpose before kings and rulers, he had nothing else to urge. "Having obtained help of God," he said, "I continue to this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that He … should rise from the dead, and should show light to the people, and to the Gentiles" (Acts 26:22-23). Yes, these great facts are needed by all and are preached for all: for rich and poor, for great and small, for the children who have not yet chosen the self-willed way, as well as for those who have grown hard and old in their sins.

"It behoved Christ to suffer." It was a necessity, for all have sinned, and the wages of sin is death, and after this the judgment. If sinners ever were to escape the judgment to come, and know the unspeakable blessing of sins forgiven, Christ must suffer, and this Jesus whom I preach to you is Christ; He is both Lord and Christ, and there is no salvation in any name but His. If men could have cleansed their own souls from their filth and atoned for their own sins and saved themselves from Satan's power and the just judgment of God, do you think that God would have sent His well-beloved Son to suffer? Nay, He is a just God, and while He will not give His glory to another, He will not rob others of any glory that is their due, and if men could have saved themselves He would have let them try, and when they had accomplished the work He would have said, "Well done!" and crowned them with the glory of a great achievement. indeed, for 4000 years they had their opportunities, though God well knew the result from the beginning, and they only proved that they were without strength for good, that all their righteousnesses were but filthy rags, that all the world was guilty before God.

"It behoved Christ to suffer." For God would have all men to be saved; and the Saviour of sinners must suffer the judgment that their sins demanded. None could do that but Jesus, who came to give His life a ransom for all. He came from heaven's highest glory, for He is the Word, the Creator, and He became a man to undo the works of the devil and suffer for sins — He, the Just One for us the unjust, to bring us to God. I would warn you against those who deny the Deity of our Lord. There are those who teach that He began His existence in the manger at Bethlehem. If that were so the Scripture has no meaning which says, "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." If He began His existence in Bethlehem, John's Gospel is a lie from its first sentence to its last, and Micah was a foolish dreamer when he prophesied seven centuries before the event, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth to Me, that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Our Saviour Jesus Christ is the great God, and only those who have no sense of what sin is, and how firm and unshakeable God's righteousness must for ever stand, would deny it. Without shedding of blood is no remission. Hence the Saviour must be a man or He would have no blood to shed, and He must be God or His blood could not have met the case, it would not have had atoning value.

It is written that Christ must suffer, and from the moment that His Name was called Jesus there could be no turning back, for that Name was given to Him because He should save His people from their sins. He had come to make good His title to that Name. He bore it upon the cross of Calvary encompassed by hosts of foes. He will bear it upon the throne of glory surrounded by countless friends, all ransomed from hell's deep judgment by His sufferings and precious blood. Beware of those who preach a gospel without the blood and a Christ without the cross. Their gospel is no gospel at all, but a deception of the devil. In it there is neither righteousness nor love, justice nor mercy. God is not revealed in it, nor Satan exposed, nor sin, nor the heart of man, which is deceitful above all things; and it cannot breathe into the sin-burdened soul those peace-giving words, "Thy sins are forgiven thee."

"It behoved Christ to suffer," and for such as we are He died. He passed through this world, so foul in its sin and pollution, holy, harmless and undefiled, but His path through it led only to the cross, and when we were yet without strength, in due time CHRIST DIED FOR THE UNGODLY. How wonderful is that sentence! I read it with gratitude and rapture in my heart, and I said, "Christ died for the ungodly. Why, Lord Jesus, my Saviour, that means me, Christ died for me," and as I pondered the great fact, a light above the brightness of the sun broke into my soul. I learnt that God loved me in spite of my sins, and my darkness was dispelled, the scales fell from my eyes, I was delivered from the captivity in which the devil had held me, and I saw the truth, and the truth is that God is love but I never could have known it, nor could any other sinner, if Christ had not suffered, "for herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

The remission of sins is a priceless blessing, for it cost an inconceivable price. It never could have been preached to sinners if Christ had not suffered, but now it is offered freely to all, and because it is free, some have scornfully called it cheap. It is not cheap, it is the most costly thing on earth or in heaven; the price that was paid for it was the blood of God's dear Son. If you would know its value you must penetrate the thick darkness that wrapt itself about the Saviour at Calvary; you must fathom the depths of woe into which He sank when He cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" You must know the greatness of your sin and the value of His blood.

These things neither man nor angel can measure; then neither man nor angel can tell the value of the forgiveness of sins — this first of all blessings that has come to us through the sufferings of Christ. Happy are those who can say, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God's grace."

If we who have believed can rejoice in this great salvation, it is because of the sufferings of our great Saviour, and we know that He suffered because of the great love wherewith He loved us. It is this that binds our hearts to Him with a true devotion. We love Him and follow Him, not because crowns of glory shine upon His sacred brow, but because He suffered for us, when He was made sin for us on the cross. We should not marvel that men and women have made great sacrifices for Christ's sake and have even gladly laid down their lives for Him, for it was the love of Christ that constrained them. They could say, "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me," and they could do no other than they did do. The marvel is that any who have heard the story should be indifferent to it and hold back from complete surrender to Him.

He had to rise again the third day, according to the Scriptures. This also was a necessity. Beware of those deceivers who deny the bodily resurrection of Christ, for "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." Thus it is written and thus it must be. If Christ is not raised, there is no Saviour for men and no hope, and we who have trusted in Him are of all men most miserable; for if He is not risen, then have our sins proved too heavy a load for Him, and Satan's power too great and death too strong. If Christ be not raised, then has the grave triumphed and He has failed in His mission, He has failed both God and man, and His word can no more be relied upon, for He said that He would suffer and rise again the third day. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and His resurrection is one of the great facts of the gospel, and those who deny it are ministers of Satan. I preach a risen Saviour, and none other will suit you. He died, but He lives; He suffered, but He has triumphed. Hear His own words: "I am He that lives, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." His resurrection is the proof of a work accomplished, of a sacrifice accepted, of justice satisfied, of death defeated, the power of Satan annulled, and God glorified. His sufferings upon the cross proved His willingness to save, His resurrection from the dead has proved His power to save. I proclaim to you a victorious, almighty Saviour who is willing and able to save even you.

God has put His seal upon the work of Christ, by raising Him from the dead, and now, through His Name, repentance and the remission of sins are preached to you, and these two things go together. Repentance must come first: there could be no remission apart from repentance. But what does repentance mean? Not fear of the consequences of sin, nor even sorrow for the sin itself, though that will surely go with it. Repentance is a complete turn. When God commands all men everywhere to repeat, it is as though He said, "Right about turn!" Unconverted sinner, you have turned your back upon God, and you must admit that that is a serious thing to do; it is, to say the least about it, a most discourteous thing to do. If you were admitted to the presence of His Majesty the King, you would not turn your back upon him, certainly not if he wished to speak to you. God is speaking to you, He is beseeching, entreating, commanding you, and you will not listen. You have turned your back upon Him. I call upon you at this time to "Right about turn," and hear what God is saying to you.

If you would only believe the preaching, you would turn to Him, as did a soldier friend of mine who was killed in the war. He was an old soldier, the regimental sergeant-major of a famous regiment. He was converted in South Africa during the Boer War, and this is how it came about. He was canteen sergeant at the time, and had sunk as low down in debauchery as it was possible for a man to sink. Of course, he was miserable, for how can a sinner be happy? — so miserable that on one Saturday night outside the canteen he cursed and blasphemed God as though He were the cause of his misery. He returned to the canteen with his hatred of God surging up in his heart, when he saw lying on a table a gospel tract. He picked it up and read in it: "You may be a great sinner, but God loves you." The words went right home to his soul and conscience as God's answer to his cursing. They changed his view completely and altered his whole outlook, and that very night, as a broken-hearted sinner, he turned and found himself face to face with a pardoning God. Yes, that very night at the feet of Jesus his sins were forgiven. That utter change of mind which turned the canteen sergeant to God was repentance. Will you turn as he turned? This repentance is preached to you in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and if you obey the word and turn you will meet a pardoning God.

Who can describe the blessedness of forgiveness? It is quietness after the storm, relief from the great burden. It gives a deep, holy peace to the heart as the sense of it is realized. The Pharisee cannot know this blessedness, nor the man who excuses his sins or refuses to own to God and to himself that he is a sinner. But the man who has felt the smart and sting of sin, the man who has discovered that his sins are neither dead nor done with, that he cannot escape them, that with persistent feet they are pursuing him, gathering round him and crying insistently, "Thou art the man" — that man will welcome it and value it. The man whose conscience has been awakened and who feels that he has sinned against God and has looked into the abyss into which his sins were forcing him, he will find no ease and no rest until be is assured of God's forgiveness; he cannot forgive himself, neither man nor angel can justify him, but God can, and with a broken and contrite heart he will turn to God and find that God will put upon him the kiss of forgiveness and clothe him in the best robe. Then he will take up David's song and say, "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

Who will honour God by believing His gospel? Who will bow down and bless the Saviour for His sufferings and victory? Who will confess His glorious Name and follow Him, prepared for suffering in this life, if needs be, for His Name's sake, but assured of glory with Him hereafter? If you are convinced that this is the truth that I have preached to you, you will surely bow to it, and personally accept it and give God thanks.