Thou Shalt Be Saved

Gospel Address at Bangor, N. Wales, on Romans 10:1-13

It may sound strange to some of you but the fact is there are a lot of people in this city who are religious, very religious, and yet not saved. In spite of their religion they are unforgiven sinners, they do not know God and are on the broad road that leads to destruction. If you challenge my statement I answer, This tenth chapter of Romans is my authority for it. Paul, the great apostle, was not the sort of man to waste his time praying for something that had already happened, and here he tells us that he was praying for Israel, that they might be saved. Then they were not saved, yet they were religious, they were zealous, they were doing their best. "They have a zeal for God," said the apostle, "but not according to knowledge," and it should be plain to everybody that the greater a man's zeal the worse it is for him if he is wrong. The more zealous a man is on the wrong road the further he is carried from the right destination. A false religion is the greatest curse a man can suffer from, for he is blinded to the truth, he is deceived, he thinks he is right when he is wrong, his ignorant zeal is his undoing.

These people were doing their best, they were going about to establish their own righteousness. Forms and ceremonies were important in their estimation, they would not miss the Temple services; they would show both man and God, and the devil too if he cared to take notice, that they were all that they ought to be, and they did not know that the devil was deceiving them all the while. And in going about to establish their own righteousness they did not submit to God and His righteousness They did not submit! What is a boy who will not submit to his parents? He is disobedient. What is a man who will not submit to the government? He is a rebel. But how shall we label the man who refuses to submit to God? By what name shall we call him? Can you find a name sufficiently strong for him in your language? and having found the name who amongst you does it describe?

Do you see what this means? Take that self-righteous lady. In the third chapter of this Epistle God says, "There is none righteous, no, not one", and she says, perhaps not with her words, but certainly by her ways. I'll show God that when that statement was made He overlooked me. God says, "There is none that does good, no, not one", and she says, If that's the rule I will show that I am an exception to it. She is making God a liar. She does not believe the word of God and refuses to submit to it.

I remember a good story. There was a man named Joe Whitbread, he was a self-righteous man, and boasted in his goodness. He was taken ill and was visited by a wise Christian. It would have been useless to tell him that he was a sinful man, it would only have provoked an argument. The visitor adopted another plan; he turned to Romans 3 and read. "It is written, there is none righteous, no, not one (except Joe Whitbread); there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeks after God (except Joe Whitbread). They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one (except Joe Whitbread)". That was enough, the word of God pierced the conscience of the self-righteous sinner, and he confessed that what was true of all was true of him. And there ended his self-deception.

The question arises, why was the law given, if we cannot gain righteousness by it? The answer to that question is here. "We know that whatsoever things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God" (chap. 3:19). That was good advice that a Christian woman, of whom our dear friend Ed White used to tell us, who gave to her loquacious husband, who was always talking of his goodness and wondering why he could not get the peace that she had. Said she, "Do you not know that it's not manners for two to talk at once, hold your voice man and listen to God." It was good advice, for faith does not come by talking, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Then shut your guilty mouth, ye self-righteous sinners; bow your heads in repentance and submission to God, and by so doing acknowledge the truth, that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, " Make the general statement particular and personal, and own like the prodigal, "I have sinned." Then say no more but hear what God will say to you, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes." What a blessed and most satisfying statement is that, it answers the deepest questions of the heart and the most poignant need of the soul. Since you are a sinner, you need forgiveness. Where will you find it? Not in the law, but in Christ. If you are to be at peace with God you need righteousness. Where will you find it? Not in the law but in Christ. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. The law pointed with a thousand fingers to Christ; its many voices proclaimed, Christ is coming. The ordinances, the sacrifices, the ritual of Tabernacle and Temple all spoke of Him; they were the shadows of the coming Saviour, and faith in those distant days perceived their meaning and rejoiced in anticipation of His day. Now He has come, and the shadows have served their purpose and disappeared, Christ has come, He is the hope of weary sinful men. O ye who are burdened with guilt and defiled by sin, to you He says, "Come to Me." Christ is your hope, Christ and His blood!

"It is not your tears of repentance or prayers,
But His blood that atones for the soul."

Of course if a man did the deeds of the law without any failure he would live by it; but can you find such a man in your city? "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Thus God's word declares and warns; and again, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." You are not a murderer but have you spoken evil of your neighbour, or hated another? You are not an adulterer but have you coveted your neighbour's goods? You are not a thief, and yet have you not robbed God of the reverence and worship and love that is His righteous due? You admit it; your conscience condemns you; you are guilty, "guilty before God." What is it you need? Salvation. And where is that to be found? In Christ: only in Christ. He is the God-provided Saviour, for such sinners as we are.

Hear what faith says. "Say not in thine heart who shall ascend into heaven? (that is to bring Christ down from above)" What does that mean? It means that if we are to be saved the Saviour must come from heaven. Then must we send a delegation to heaven to beseech a Saviour to come from thence? No. Why? Because Christ has already come. He came before we sought Him, and faith lays hold of that great fact and rejoices. The Saviour has come. The Father sent Him. "We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Faith does not say who will bring Him down, it believes that He has come down even to the cross. That is the first of the great gospel facts.

And it does not say, "Who shall descend into the deep? (that is to bring up Christ again from the dead)". Why does it not say that? Because it knows that He has come up. "God has raised Him from the dead." These are the two great gospel facts. "Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures and was buried, and was raised again from the dead, according to the Scriptures." He came down from heaven: that proves His willingness to save. He died and rose again from the dead, that proves His power to save. He is wiling, He is able.

If we are to be saved our Saviour must be both willing and able. It is not enough that He is willing. If I owed £1, 000 and was terribly distressed about it, and you came to me and said, Tom Jones says you must not worry about that debt, he will see to it, I would answer, What's the use of talking to me about Tom Jones, don't you know that I owe ten hundred pounds and Tom Jones is not worth ten shillings; he may be willing but he is not able to help me. Now Jesus, our Lord is willing to save. We cannot question that. He would not have come down from the eternal throne to the cross if He had not been willing, but is He able? Yes, thank God, He is able. How do we know? He has come up from among the dead: He has broken the power of death; He has triumphed over the grave, and best of all His resurrection is the proof that His work is indeed a finished work: the price He paid for our salvation is enough; the just claims of the throne of God have been met, and God has shown His infinite satisfaction in what He has done by raising Him from the dead. The devil is silenced and all who believe are saved.

And what now? "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." God has decreed that every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord, either now or hereafter, to do it now means salvation, to be compelled by power to do it hereafter means damnation. To believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead means that you have a personal interest in this matter; the salvation of your soul from eternal hell depends upon it; for if Christ is not raised there is no salvation, no Saviour for men, and all faith is vain. You must be sure as to this. How can you be sure? God declares it in the gospel. God says it, you believe it. What then? You cannot withhold your allegiance from Christ; you surrender to Him; you acknowledge His rights over you, you confess Him as your Lord. The love that brought Him down from heaven to suffer, the just One for you the unjust, claims you as its own, and you yield yourself to that claim.

"Just as I am, Thy love I own
Has broken every barrier down,
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come."

I can give you no better illustration than that of a young man in Bristol. On my way to the gospel meeting one week night a Christian man overtook me and said, "I wish you would speak to my son, he is a silent lad at the best of times but since Sunday we have not heard a word out of His mouth and we believe he is anxious to be saved be is coming to the meeting tonight, and I will introduce him to you." After the preaching I was duly introduced to a young fellow of twenty-three. We sat together and I talked to him and asked him many questions, but I got no answers; for thirty-five minutes I talked, but he said nothing. He certainly seemed to be all his father said he was. I got tired and rose to go, he got up at the same time and I thought he was as tired as I was. But it was not that. He stood erect and raised his right hand, and said, "I own Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour." I was thrilled by that confession, I believe heaven was thrilled by it. It was well done, it was nobly done. The young man who had kept silent so long had reached the time when it was time to speak. If you have been silent before God, conscious of your sinfulness and guilt, look up, behold the Saviour who died for the ungodly and now raised from the dead, and open your mouth and confess Him as your Lord and THOU SHALT BE SAVED.