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Author Topic: Forgiveness of Sins and Salvation  (Read 19019 times)
airIam2worship
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« on: October 13, 2006, 10:52:00 AM »

FORGIVENESS OF SINS

By Henry Law, 1875

The NEED of Forgiveness (part 1)

"But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving,
even though we have rebelled against Him." Daniel 9:9


Such is the utterance of prophetic lips. Daniel here speaks, wrestling with God, and valiantly refusing a repulse. The words sparkle as a bright gem in his diadem of prayer. Their testimony has this exceeding value--in brief space they reveal our God as glorious in mercies and forgivenesses, and show in terrible contrast the rebel character of man. Thus the blessing of blessings--the essence of the glorious Gospel of our God--the forgiveness of sins, appears in bold relief.

It is superfluous to state that this proclamation is not limited to supplicating Daniel--it pervades the book of Revelation as fragrance the sweetest garden. Echoing texts reverberate the note that our God is "ready to pardon." Witness the answer when Moses prayed, "Show me Your glory." The glories of His name resound; but the bright chain was incomplete without the link, "forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." (Ex. 34:7.)

Thus the ambassadors of Christ repeat the call, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts--and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:7.) And again, "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins--and by Him all who believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38, 39.)

Our sublime services, also, insert this truth in a most touching prayer--"O God, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive, receive our humble petitions." And worshipers are taught individually to profess, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins."

It is not irrelevant here to state that the noble Reformer of Germany was fast bound in the dungeons of doubts and fears, sinking in the mire of despondency, and stumbling in the deepest gloom of darkness, when an experienced friend reminded him of this frequent avowal. Then light and peace enlivened his soul, and he went forth rejoicing and achieving wonders. He found God in Christ and triumphed in the strength of recognized forgiveness.

To this grand subject attention is now invited. May our forgiving God, by His enlightening Spirit, suggest each thought, supply each word, and grant a blessing according to His gracious will!

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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2006, 10:53:49 AM »

To estimate forgiveness rightly, its must be distinctly seen. It will be poorly prized, unless its value be weighed in balances of truth. It will not be sought, as surpassing all worlds in worth, until there be adequate knowledge of the miseries which it averts, the wounds which it heals, the joys which it kindles, the wrath which it quenches, the rescue which it achieves, the depths from which it raises, the heights to which it exalts. When sickness comes, a remedy is valued--shelter is entered, when storms impend.

What then is forgiveness as appertaining unto sin? What is the blessing implored in the petition--"Forgive us our trespasses"? It is remission of due penalties, the obliteration of incurred guilt, the withdrawal of just displeasure, the blotting out of accusing handwriting, the burying all offences in oblivion, the hushing of the loud thunder of the law, the canceling of its tremendous curse, the consigning to a sheath the sword of justice. It is the frown of Jehovah softening into eternal smiles. It encounters sin, and strips it of its destroying power.

Hence evidently forgiveness implies that sin has preceded. It can only effect its wonders in the element of transgression--there must be sin before there can be remission. Where no offence exists, no pardon can be needed--they cannot be restored whose feet are always in right paths.

Thus we reach the fundamental position that sin gives occasion for forgiveness. Sin is the need which calls for its intervention. Let then this monster now be boldly faced; let its hideous features be narrowly scrutinized; let it be stripped of its deceiving mask; let the cheating tinsel disappear; let it be viewed in its naked deformity; let its essence and character, and work, and guilt be traced unsparingly.

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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2006, 10:55:09 AM »

I. SIN'S ESSENCE. What constitutes its character? No unanswerable question is here asked as to the parent of its birth--here is no search into its originating cause. The simple inquiry is--Where is its sphere of work, and what is its distinctive nature? Supreme authority replies. Scripture states in terms intelligible and incontrovertible, "Sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4.) Violation then of God's holy rule introduces sin--it breathes in the province of transgression.

God, as supreme in all His universe, fixes His mode of government. Accordingly He issues His commands--if these be outraged, the outrage is sin. Its essence is disobedience to God's law.

This essence appears in frightful enormity, when the purpose of this law is viewed. The sum of its requirements is worthy of the great Lawgiver. In divine simplicity it only requires Love. Its statute book enforces Love. It demands that the heart should beat in one pulse; the affections flow in one channel; the will be bound by one fetter; the desires burn in one flame; the actions move in one path--Love. The whole inward man must be bright in one complexion--Love. Any deviation from this course constitutes sin.

This sublimity brightly shows the origin of the law to be divine. As a mirror it reflects Jehovah's excellence--it is the transcript of His glorious being; it is holiness on its highest throne; it is purity in its loveliest form; it is perfection without one alloy. How abominable then is that principle which hates and resists such code, and strives to crush it beneath insulting steps! How incontrovertible is the position that they need forgiveness who fight against God under the banners of this monster!

It follows that the need of forgiveness is universal, for sin exercises a sway co-extensive with all human life. It grasps each mother's son in its vile arms, and stops not its assaults while time endures. It moves with the mind's first movement--in the cradle it begins to stir. It grows with man's growth; it walks beside him in his every path; it adheres as the very skin, and lingers in each dying chamber. There is no lofty dwelling and no lowly hut which it frequents not. There is no period of day or night which can repel its step. It is a universal and life-long plague; for where is the man whose career is not continual deviation from the rule of love? Hence the need of forgiveness of sins is world-wide. Hence is the preciousness of the testimony, "To the Lord our God belong mercies;" in the plural, "and forgivenesses;" in the cumulative, "though we have rebelled against Him."

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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2006, 10:57:42 AM »

II. This need becomes more apparent, as advance is made from SIN'S essence to some of its DEVELOPMENTS. Here it appears a many-headed hydra, a fiend of various forms. Its outbreak towards God, towards the soul within, towards the world around, betray it.

(1) Let diverse instances show its conduct towards GOD. Its feelings may be thus classed.

Alienation. Whatever departs from God's rule departs from Himself. Contrariety to His law separates from His mind. Disinclination to His will moves altogether in an adverse course. It flees His face--it establishes an opposing interest. Far as the east is from the west, so far it is estranged from all that is divine. Sin is such alienation. They who are its slaves need to be forgiven, before they can see God's face and live.

Hatred. "The carnal mind,"--and every mind is such in which the Spirit dwells not--"is enmity against God--for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." (Rom. 8:7.) By nature's instinct the secret chambers of imagination swarm with thoughts tainted with dislike of God, His name, His nature, His perfections, His cause, His people, His Word, His scepter, His kingdom, His Christ. Sin has strong inclinations, and they all are arrayed against His righteous ways. It has ungodly bias towards the abominable things which God hates. Surely the victims of this passion need to be forgiven, before they can be one with God.

Contempt. With haughty look it sneers at sacred precepts. It scorns them as weak precision. It spurns the restrictions of godly walk as derogatory to man's liberty. In the swellings of pride it tramples on the barriers which heaven has erected. Except forgiveness comes, the consequence is appalling woe.

Defiance. It raises an insulting head. It braves God's displeasure. It ridicules all penal consequences. It mocks at the thunder-bolts of threatened wrath. It regards the right hand of the Lord as impotent to strike. It boldly asks, "Who is the Lord that I should serve Him?" Unless forgiveness intervenes what will be the doom!

Rebellion. It shatters the yoke. It breaks restraining bands. It ignores submission. It boasts, "We will not have this man to reign over us." If power were equal to the will, it would invade the heaven of heavens, and hurl God from His throne. If forgiveness lingers, how terrible must be the end!

Treason. It enters into conspiracy with all heaven's foes. It joins hands with every adversary. It combines with all dark plots. It betrays the citadel of God's government. It opens the portals to admit all traitors. Without forgiveness, vengeance will be sure and just.

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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2006, 10:59:12 AM »

Robbery. God, as Sovereign, has a right to exact obedience. Sin defrauds Him of this due. It refuses payment of just demands. It withholds the allegiance of rightful service. It wantonly misuses every talent entrusted to its care. If not forgiven, how can it escape!

Such, and many more, are the developments of sin in reference to God. Thus the position is established, that vast is the need of vast forgiveness. How enchanting, now, is the sweetness of the words, "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him!"

(2) The picture darkens when the developments of sin in reference to the SOUL are seen. It changes this garden of the Lord into a waste howling wilderness. Fragrant flowers cease to bloom; thorns and briers usurp their place. It dims the noblest jewel of God's creation. It tears away its robe of righteousness, and casts it forth to face the world naked, impoverished, impotent--without one sheltering rag--with no possession but ignominious shame. It weakens every spiritual faculty. It so blinds, that the eye sees as through a glass, most darkly. It so impairs the ear, that the voice of truth is not discerned. It cripples every energy. The feet are powerless to climb the upward path of life. It infuses moral leprosy. It renders earth a spiritual charnel-house--men live the tabernacles of dead souls. Behold this fair vessel a wreck on evil's rocky coast, and then ponder the work of sin! Will not the cry ascend--What need of forgiveness for such wrong! Will not the tidings be prized--"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him!"

(3) The case assumes more frightful hue when sin's inroads on the WORLD around is added. Doubtless sin is inborn. It is a hereditary disease--the seeds of every evil are innate in each heart. Unaided by contagion it would universally exist; but yet by contact, influence, example, it multiplies, and becomes more rampant. A spark from without kindles the dry stubble--bad men wax worse by bad fellowship. As Christ's disciples never move towards heaven alone, so evil beckons and decoys a multitude. Sin is a ready teacher, and has ready pupils. Let it be repeated, that each natural heart is from the cradle a hive of sin; but through evil suggestions and evil associations, evil broods swarm abroad on quicker wing. Tempted Eve becomes a tempter. Of Achan we read, "that man perished not alone in his iniquity." (Josh. 22:20.) Jeroboam the son of Nebat is branded, as the man "who made Israel to sin." Hence reproaches will embitter the miseries of the lost. Children will loathe misleading parents; companion will revile companion, as the first to lure to headlong fall.

When sin is contemplated running its infectious course--sowing universally the seeds of woe--ruining individuals, nations, generations--spreading a fatal plague--it cannot be denied that its course is ruinous. Perilous is the condition of man infected by it. Forgiveness must come, or sure and dreadful consequences ensue.

Why is this dark picture thus exhibited? There is no intent to leave any trembling, dismayed, cast down, fast-bound in shackles of despair. The true desire is to show in lovelier form the Gospel's smile--and to win readier acceptance for the tidings, "To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him."

Let it be repeated, that none can claim exemption from sin's grasp! "All we like sheep have gone astray." "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves." Sin's vile brand is upon all--but to all the Gospel comes, with cheering voice. It sweetly proclaims, the case is not hopeless--to perish is not inevitable--deliverance is provided--remedy is at hand--rescue opens large arms. God extends a cup overflowing with forgivenesses. A way is opened, in which, without infringement of any holy attribute, He can pardon, restore to favor, and remit sin's curse. Full, free, complete, everlasting forgivenesses have come forth from the courts of heaven. They stand ready to spread their saving mantle round the sons of men. Who will not bless God for His revealed and unalterable property--"But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him." Let no one rest until he can say, "I acknowledged my sin unto You, and my iniquity have I not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." (Psalm 32:5.)

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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2006, 11:01:58 AM »

The NEED of Forgiveness (Part 2)

"But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him."--Daniel 9:9

To the forgiveness of sins attention now reverts. The subject justly claims large share of pious thought. This mercy showers saving blessings from its wings; it blots out transgression and hides all iniquity in its sheltering arms. Hence no words can fully tell its worth.

Angels may gaze and marvel, but they have no experience of its joys; for none of that pure company exult in pardon. It is solely the heart-felt property of the redeemed. It will be the hymn of heaven; but its first notes must be learned on earth. To learn it well, there must be commencement in the rudimentary volume of its need. Portions of this dark book have been perused--sin's essence and its main developments have passed in review; and at frequent pauses the dreadful need was solemnly deduced. This need is prelude to the tidings--"But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him."

The subject pursued leads to (1) sin's guilt; (2) sin's final doom.

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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2006, 11:05:15 AM »

I. SIN'S GUILT. Guilt is that property of sin which links it to God's wrath. It constitutes its criminality, and forbids immunity. That sin has this property is clear--it stands confessedly a convict. It is undeniably a transgressor of the law of heaven. It cannot plead that it is guiltless; therefore avowedly it merits punishment.

Thus in reference to GOD it has been proved to be alienation, hatred, contempt, defiance, robbery, treason, rebellion. Can such be its guilty state--can it evidently work havoc throughout all creation, and shall God sit indifferent, as though He saw no evil? The very thought strips Him of the glories of His holiness, and misrepresents Him as erecting a platform on which sin shall have free scope to act rebellion, and then be spared as innocent. Holiness ceases to be holy, except it inflict on sin the penalties of its guilt. Righteousness is no more righteous, if it withholds the righteous condemnation. Truth lies low in ignominious shame, if the words be not fulfilled, "The wages of sin is death." (Rom. 6:23.) "Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal. 3:10.) The arm of Omnipotence is a broken reed, if it wield no sword to vindicate the honor and the majesty of God's kingdom. Thus the guilty cannot be screened as guiltless.

Doubtless God is rich in mercy--His mercy endures forever--His mercy reaches unto the heavens. "To the Lord our God belong mercies." If compassion were not a bright beam in heaven, there could be no remission of offence, no substitutionary offering, no transfer of guilt to a Surety, no Gospel, no Christ, no cross, no reconciling blood.

But mercy cannot annihilate the attributes which sit as compeers on the glorious throne. It lives co-equal with them. Its delight is to exalt, to magnify, to glorify them. Patience may wait long, until settled purposes are fully ripe; forbearance may forbear, until the cup of wrath at last overflows; patience may endure, until the extremest limit be attained; but their honor must be maintained, and guilt not screened in Christ must encounter the just woe. The interceding voice, "Let it alone" at last will cease. God can by no means clear the guilty. Guilt then must receive its penal wages, unless some scheme be found to intercept the terrible result. Who now can fail to feel that the guilty sinner needs mercies and forgivenesses?

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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2006, 11:08:07 AM »

Let the page of EXPERIENCE be next read. It is written throughout with testimony that tremendous indications of divine displeasure pursue guilt. Amid sweet rays of mercy striving to break forth, big drops of wrath often descend. The present appearance of earth is mournfully significant--the whole creation groans and travails together. What is inscribed on all the tears and travail? These dark evidences proclaim that sin has polluted earth, and that guilt is the accompaniment of sin, and that penalty adheres to guilt.

Tears and sighs and anguish in multiform misery tell what sin has brought into this earth--sufferings and agony point to their prolific parent. Mourners ever mourning, the afflicted ever wailing, the bereaved ever disconsolate, sickness ever weakening, pains ever torturing, death ever doing its relentless work, graves insatiable, loudly tell that God has a controversy with earth. Thus the wide spread of misery proves that the guilt of sin awakens just displeasure.

Mark, next, the terrors of CONSCIENCE when aroused from apathetic slumber by the Spirit. See the man awakened to the real perils of his guilty state. He is brought into a new world, where all is dismay. He perceives that his feet totter on the brink of a terrific precipice. He sees an abyss yawning in his path. He trembles, lest the next step may plunge him into bottomless perdition. He looks back, and shudders at his past career--he looks above; the sight is blackness of darkness--he looks onward, and hopelessness affrights him. All within stirs up remorse--all around is terror. The past cannot be recalled--the present must move onward--the future cannot be escaped.

In what mirror are these terrors seen? Surely in the mirror of sin's guilt. Conscience, in the Spirit's light, convicts of sin. Guilt is its inseparable companion--vengeance from heaven closely follows. The awakened conscience knows this and quakes.

Annals of the past confirm this statement--they exhibit terrific outbreaks of divine wrath. Let the old world tell its dreadful tale. Its wickedness exceeded all that is denounced as wicked--its trespass grew up unto the heavens. Enormity of evil cried aloud, and enormity of vengeance slumbered not. God opened the sluices above, and called the waters from their lowest caverns; billows upon billows swelled; one vast flood cleared the polluted earth, with the exception of one family. Each drop of that overwhelming deluge proves that sinful earth is guilty earth; and guilty earth cannot but call down wrath.

Let another instance lend corroborating aid. Omitting the cities of the plain--a smoking furnace, a flood of flame--let the miseries of Jerusalem in her final siege be pondered. Where can horrors be found like unto those horrors! The sword, the pestilence, the famine, the fire, the signs in the heavens, the wails of earth, surpassed all former prophetic indications. Vengeance sharpened its every fang to mangle and to torture. Jerusalem drank a brimful cup, and drank it to the very dregs. Whence comes this unparalleled anguish? Sin stands out as the guilty cause. Enormous guilt brought down enormous wrath.

Here let a shuddering glance look INWARD. Is not every child of man deeply immersed in guilt? "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way." (Isaiah 53:6.) "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23.) How then shall the guilty escape, if no forgiveness hold back the arm of wrath! How precious now are the tidings--"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him."

Thus far the guilt of sin has been viewed, as exhibited in time, and as endured on the little space of this passing scene. But sin's results end not with earth's brief moment. Here is only the opening of the sluice--the stream flows onward into the ocean of eternity, and there the billows find no shore, no bottom.

It requires no small effort to proceed; but to pause here would leave the subject only on the threshold of its magnitude. Progress must be made--time's flimsy veil must be withdrawn; realities beyond must be distinctly faced.

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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2006, 11:27:18 AM »

II. SIN'S FINAL DOOM now meets us. Scripture abounds in warnings--their plainness is only equaled by their awe; their terrors are all faithfulness and truth. They speak loudly that men may ponder and escape. Blessed be the Holy Spirit for this arresting voice! He uncloaks the approaching day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God--"when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ--who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." (2 Thess. 1:7-9.) Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, are denounced on every soul of man that does evil. (Rom. 2:8, 9.)

There is no negative in this catalogue of woes. It is the aggregate of every form of positive endurance. Who can gaze with firm eye on the pictures of the Apocalypse! But they are portrayed for our admonition. Behold! He who is announced as the Word of God appears treading "the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." (Rev. 19:15.) Here the omnipotence of God is exhibited not only mighty in wrath, but fierce in wrath, infuriate to execute vengeance. What must that vengeance be!

Tremendous terms exhaust the powers of imagination. The voice thunders, "Depart from Me, you cursed ones, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Again the sound is heard of "blackness of darkness forever;" "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth;" "the worm that dies not, the fire that is not quenched." No drop of water cools the parched tongue, and these torments are to endure forever and forever. No hope of deliverance sustains the lost. No respite ever relieves. Intermission never brings a momentary ease. No glimpse of dawn gives prospect of a better day. What was, still is, and forever shall be. It is all pain without release, all misery for everlasting ages. It is the woe of an eternal night.

Such is the endless end of sin. Such are the penalties to which its guilt is righteously consistent. Such is its sure condemnation.

This picture is no fable; no fiction; no hyperbole. No color is inscribed too darkly. These are the true sayings of Him who is the Truth. But pictures, however vivid, fail to give exact idea. The painted flame shows not the sting and biting pungency of fire. They know little of the angry ocean's swell--of the agonies of a wrecked crew--of the strength of the infuriate lion--of the devastation of the volcano, who only see these images portrayed on canvas. As heaven to be really known must be attained, so sin's wages must be received before the fruit of its guilt can be conceived.

It will be happy if through this dreary passage a glorious prospect is attained. It will be so to all who now clasp to grateful hearts the good news--"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him." Let then the reviving truth now have free course and be glorified. A remedy is provided. A refuge is erected. A fortress of escape is near. A rescue is at the door. "God is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." (2 Cor. 5:19.) Christ comes to the blessed work in obedience to the heavenly call, and the dictates of His love. He vicariously endures all these penalties. Hence "repentance and remission of sins are preached in His name among all nations."

Let the tidings be devoutly prized, "Christ has suffered the just for the unjust." In Him all manner of sin is forgiven to the children of men. This forgiveness of sins is the corner stone and glory of His Gospel. Gaining validity through Christ's blood, it remits all penalties to the believer, abrogates all demands, relaxes all bonds, cancels all debts, blots out every accusing charge, silences all threats, blunts every weapon of wrath, extracts the sting of vengeance, averts all miseries, removes all apprehensions, opens the prison-doors, loosens all chains, closes hell, makes a straight path to heaven, and crowns an innumerable multitude with blessings of celestial favor.

Let men be wise to seek in an accepted time this inestimable gift. Let them, the Spirit helping, secure this prize, and turn not from the Father of all mercies, heaping on Christ the outpourings of His wrath, that He may heap infinities of bliss and glory on pardoned guilt.

Let not the only hope be slighted. It shines in Christ and in Christ alone. He is the treasure-house in which forgiveness is stored. Let not the multitude, or magnitude, or heinousness of transgressions deter. "A fountain is opened for all sin and uncleanness." They who cast themselves therein are whiter than the whitest snow. Their blessed experience may truly testify, "But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him." "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1.)

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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2006, 12:25:35 PM »

The Originating CAUSE of Forgiveness

"In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."--Eph. 1:7

Forgiving mercy abounds in aspects which only vary to increase delight. These aspects are ever fresh joy in the days of earthly pilgrimage. They will not weary throughout eternity. What will prompt the ascription of glory and dominion "unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood"? (Rev. 1:5.) Surely it will be a realized pardon. To swell this chorus will be pleasures at God's right hand for evermore, and happiness in its fullest flow, and bliss on its highest pinnacle, and delight in its supreme perfection. The more this song is practiced now, the more will earth assimilate to heaven, and fitness ripen for eternal and divine worship.

Let then this theme be now contemplated from another stand-point. By gradual steps a position has been reached from which the expansive plan of forgiveness may be largely and intelligently surveyed. With this purpose the valley of humiliation has been entered--the urgent need has been portrayed. With open eye the truth has been contemplated that guilt is linked to sin, and guilt awakens God's wrath.

The fact, also, has been established that this tyrant enslaves each child of man and entwines adamantine fetters of condemnation. What condition can be more appalling! Sinners are righteously obnoxious to God's vengeance and must eternally endure the penalty, unless some way be found for the entrance of forgiveness. But while the death-knell sounded, the reviving note was heard--"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him." "In Christ Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace."

The question now occurs, Whence springs forgiveness? Where is the birth-place of this friend to sinners? Here the Word gives distinct reply--"In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Precious and abundant is the revelation--a full cup of mercy is presented to our lips; Christ's blood is announced as the purchasing price; God's grace is added as the originating source. Let thoughts of the price at present be postponed; the origin and fountain-head claim first attention; and may the God of all grace send out His light and truth to guide and teach! For as the sun is only seen through solar light, so grace cannot be visible except grace lends enlightening rays.

To exclude misapprehension, it is well at the outset closely to scan GRACE. In its objective sense, as a heavenly attribute, it exhibits God in loveliest view. It is a bright jewel in the crown of His glory; it sits high on the throne of His perfections; it is love flowing in the deep channel of freeness. It finds its sphere of action not only in compassionating misery, wretchedness, distress, anguish, agony, woe; it looks tenderly on such sufferers in their most repulsive condition of undeserving and guilty; it yearns with pitying eye over the extremities of demerit--over those who are obnoxious to His wrath--under just condemnation--utterly without the slightest ray of excuse--righteously doomed to penal vengeance.

Misery may exist with no fault as its occasion--mercy may hasten to soothe and to allay it; but grace is more than mercy; it melts with pity over sinners in the lowest cells of guilt. It flies to avert execution when just sentence has gone forth. When no cause exists to soften, when every motive seems to steel the heart, grace freely loves, because it will love. Such is grace in Scripture statement; such is grace as the originating cause of the forgiveness of sins.

When the Spirit lends illuminating aid it is evident that unless grace had thus intervened no sinner could escape the wrath denounced. That this conclusion may be more deeply impressed let thought confront earth's final day. This day comes on apace. All who have ever breathed the breath of life must meet it. Suppose the great white throne to be now fixed, the judgment to be set, and the books opened. What do they show? Page upon page appears black with recitals of transgression.

When the record of daily life is publicly proclaimed, who among the children of men can lift up the head and boldly aver--These doings are not sins? Immunity is their due. This cannot be said. Truth now reigns. Fallacies have vanished; self-deceit no longer blinds; the light of heaven has dissipated all mists. "Every mouth must be stopped, and all the world must become guilty before God." (Rom. 3:19.) No flesh can seek acquittal on the plea of innocence.

But while guilt is acknowledged, are there pleas which can restrain the merited penalties, or can avail to win forgiveness? Let the examination advance as if the tribunal were some earthly bar, and the proceedings were conducted "after the manner of men."

Shall it be said--These sins are small in magnitude and trifling in importance? What, is not every deviation from the perfect law of love an offence of infinite amount? It must be so when measured by the majesty of the infinite Lawgiver. There is no little sin, because there is no little law, no little God. Can that be small which is allied to eternal wrath? No plea is valid which ignores the nature of offence.

Shall any plead the scanty number of their sins? Be it so, that in some cases through short time or restricted opportunities sins are comparatively few. There will be stripes more, and stripes fewer. But in what instance have they not been commensurate with the moments of life, and as swarming as the multitude of thoughts! Let it never be forgotten that if there were only one sin, it would be violation of the law, and as such would call for penalty. It must obtain forgiveness or wrath must be outpoured.

Shall thoughtlessness and ignorance be pleaded? Perhaps awakened conscience may disdain such weak excuse; but if it be made it cannot extenuate, but rather it aggravates the guilt. Is thoughtlessness, with eternity at the door, no fault? Is ignorance excusable, with the Bible in the hand or within reach? Is not the Gospel within hearing? What more could God have done to awaken, to instruct, to guide? Account is due, not only for what is known, but for the knowledge within grasp. Escape is vain when based on willful blindness.

Where now shall the guilty flee? Shall penitence, contrition, shame, and tears be offered in arrest of judgment? What is their worth when weighed against God's just demands! Besides, when penitence, contrition, shame, and tears are real, they are evidence that grace exists. They are divinely genuine only in the territory of experienced pardon.

Such reasoning might be extended until imagination's inventions failed. But enough has been said. No ingenuity, apart from Christ and irrespective of God's grace, can fabricate one bar to check guilt's punishment. No urgency, no potency of pleas can claim remission.

Is then the sinner's case beyond all hope? Far otherwise. It is bright as the brightest rays of heaven. "But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him."

Whence then springs this reviving light? No reply except from heaven can satisfy. But the Word announces that from the fountain of free grace streams of forgiving mercy flow! "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Blessed be God, forgiveness flies swiftly from the heaven of heavens, speeded by the wings of grace. It makes large strides to blot out sin, but every step moves in the path of grace. On every feature in the scheme of forgiveness the lineaments of free grace beam.

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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2006, 12:26:37 PM »

(1) Investigate the first conception of pardon. Here steps must move with meekest reverence. No advance can be safe except in the footsteps of the Spirit's teaching--but Scripture is not silent concerning counsels of grace. It is written with unmistakable intent, "He works all things after the counsel of His own will." Thus forgiveness is the result of deliberate resolve. The purchasing blood is declared to be "the blood of the everlasting covenant." (Heb. 13:20.) Jesus is announced as the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 12:24); and among the articles of this better covenant it is stipulated, "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Thus forgiveness emanates from deliberate eternal counsels in which free love reigns. In accordance the sound is heard of "God's great love with which He loved us, when we were dead in sins," and again, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." These counsels consult for the sinner not as pardoned and restored, but that he may be pardoned and restored; not as extricated from the pit of guilt, but as lying helpless in its mire. Thus forgiveness originates from grace.

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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2006, 12:27:38 PM »

(2) Next, the prominent feature in the scheme of forgiveness manifests free grace. This feature is willingness to accept a substitutionary payment, to inflict vicarious punishment, to transfer guilt from the personally guilty to one capable to represent them. It consents to regard those in whose stead the Surety stands, as liberated, absolved, acquitted, justified, blameless, innocent. Hear the grand announcement, "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him,"--His beloved Son, our Surety--"the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6.) A glorious note confirms the truth, "He has made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." Our God takes off sin from the actual perpetrator, removes the crushing burden, transfers the guilt, and consequently the penalty and wrath. But nothing of merit on the sinner's part, nothing out of Himself moves God to this act. Grace calls and grace accepts a Substitute. Thus again, forgiveness springs from grace.

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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2006, 12:28:33 PM »

(3) What but grace induces Christ to undertake the Surety-place? Grace leads Him so to humble Himself as to put on the prison garb, and to represent the vilest prisoners. He, the all holy and all just, presents Himself as responsible for all iniquity, and appropriates to Himself all guilt. With no reluctant step He ascends the altar of the cross, He lays bare His heart to bury the sword of justice. He receives as His own due every vial of God's wrath, and drinks them to the very dregs. No merit in the sinners, for whom He thus endures, could move Him. In them everything is most vile, unlovely, repulsive--they are laden with abominations most abhorred. It is vain then to seek any moving cause, but free grace. Let then the song of praise be heard--through grace His people are vicariously punished; through grace they are most graciously forgiven.


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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2006, 12:38:19 PM »

(4) It is most pertinent to add that this forgiveness only works in the sphere of Christ. It is the property and privilege of those only who are one with Him, the members of His mystic body, the spouse of His heart, the branches of the true vine, the living stones annexed to Him the true foundation. The link which constitutes this union is FAITH. Faith sees Christ in all His beauty, glory, power and willingness to save. It recognizes Him as wholly suitable, supremely capable, divinely sufficient, infinitely willing. As such it flees to Him, embraces Him, cleaves to Him and becomes identified with Him forever. Whence arises this faith? Scripture decides, "therefore it is of faith, that it might be BY GRACE." (Rom. 4:16.) Faith is a free-grace gift. The Holy Spirit in love descends, bringing this seed from heaven, and implants it in the heart. Without faith there is no forgiveness through the work of Christ--and without grace there is no faith. Hence forgiveness is interwoven with grace.

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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2006, 12:40:18 PM »

(5) The Spirit in the plenitude of His love preserves, guards, waters, nourishes this plant, until mortality is swallowed up of life, and the headstone of redemption's pyramid is brought forth "with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it." (Zech. 4:7.) Thus from foundation to completion every stone in the fabric of forgiveness is laid and cemented by free grace! "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace."

It is thus apparent that the scheme of forgiveness is heaven-born and worthy of its Author. It seats God on His high throne, and crowns Him with His eternal glory. It sinks man into the depths of his own nothingness and exhibits him as fast bound in fetters of helplessness; exposed to storms of wrath and unable to devise a shelter. It kindles in the redeemed heart flames of adoration praise and love. It awakens the only motives for grateful service and holy living. They who would work out their own forgiveness work as slaves, and fail and perish. They who work because they are through grace forgiven, work as happy and beloved sons. They fit to reign with Christ in glory forevermore.

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