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PROMISE AT THE CROSS
By G. CAMPBELL MORGAN — 1863-1945
He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?—Romans 8:12.
WE NOW COME TO THE LAST OF THESE STUDIES AROUND THE Cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, a series in which we have attempted to deal with some of the rich and gracious provisions of the Cross; here we shall consider some phases of that all-inclusive and plenteous redemption which God has provided for us through the Son of His love by the way of the Cross.
We have seen the Cross of Christ standing amidst human rain and helplessness at the very center of redemption, and as the channel of power.
We have endeavored to watch the progress of its work in the experience of the soul who surrenders to Christ.
We have first seen how pardon is ours, that we "have redemption through His blood . . . the forgiveness of . . .trespasses"; we have seen how purity comes to us by the way of the Cross, seeing that our consciousness may be "purged from dead works to serve the living and true God" by that same most precious blood; we have seen how peace comes to us by the way of the Cross, for He "has made peace" by the blood of His Cross; and, last, we have considered how power comes to us, for "the Word of the Cross," the Logos of the Cross, "is the power of God to such as are being saved."
Let us once more take our stand by this selfsame Cross, and observe how it'flings its light out on all the future, and on all possible needs and contingencies that may arise.
This is an aspect full of value to us. We are all growingly conscious of our limitation, of the fact that there are more things in heaven and earth than have been dreamed of in our philosophies. This growing consciousness very often affects our thought of, and relation to, spiritual things, the things of the soul, the things of redemption. There are moments when the trusting soul trembles through its own limitation of knowledge and vision.
Have there not been moments in your own Christian life when the very consciousness of the unending ages has been almost too great a burden to bear, when the consciousness of the illimitable spaces that lie unmeasured and immeasurable around you has almost crushed your spirit? We have all had such moments, in which we have asked questions about those ages, those spaces, those infinite things round about us, and there have been moments when we have asked questions about our own relationship to God in the light of these things.
Let us go back to the eighth chapter of Romans, and if there has seemed to be something of the nature of speculation in my introductory words, I want you to listen to Paul. These are some of the questions he asked: "Who is against us?" "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" "Who is he that shall condemn?" "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"
It is impossible for any who know the Lord Jesus, and have come into the blessings that have lately occupied our attention to read those questions without the tone of challenge creeping into the very reading of them. I am perfectly sure that this was in the mind of Paul when he wrote them. "Who is against us?" "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" "Who is he that shall condemn?" "Who shall separate us?"
Remember where the great questions occur in the scheme of this epistle; they do not come in the early part in which the Apostle is dealing with the need for salvation, nor in the central part in which he is laying down the plan of salvation, but in chapter eight, the chapter of the final triumph, in which life in Christ is so wonderfully described, life by the Spirit, which is life in Christ; the chapter which, as so often has been said, begins, "no condemnation," and ends, "no separation." Beyond the first part of the chapter, beyond the present experience of the power of the Cross, these questions occur. To pardoned, purified souls, at peace and having power, all these questions come sooner or later. Happy and blessed indeed are the men and women who can face them as Paul faced them, so that in the asking of them there is a tone of challenge, the great ring of a sure triumph.
"Who is against us?" What attack may be directed against our souls? "Who shall lay anything" to our charge? Can any other accusation be brought against us? "Who is he that shall condemn?" "Who shall separate us?" They are all questions born of the soul's consciousness of limitation. We are coming day by day to have a widening conception of life; we are living in an age in which the universe is a great deal larger than it seemed to our fathers. The discoveries of science—I say nothing of their speculations, I am always willing to wait while they speculate-have put the horizon back much further than it seemed to be. Theories which sounded like speculations to them are now ascertained facts; indeed, so great has the universe become that some men deny the relationship of the individual to God. All this is born of the ever enlarging sense of the universe.
These widening conceptions of life, this deepening sense of personal frailty, lead us to ask such questions. Can anyone be against us? I know some of the foes, but are there others of whom I know nothing? I read in my New Testament of "principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world," and all this phraseology has grown in meaning with the passing of the years. I do not say it means more essentially, but it means more to us than it did.
As one in this little planet, one in this ever widening universe, ever widening to human conception, how do I know what lies beyond in the dim distances? Who can be against us? Is there some spiritual antagonism I have never yet faced, ready to attack me? Is there some accuser who will rise up and set my life in relation with other laws? Shall I find myself a sinner in some deeper sense? Is there any accuser? And the final throbbing, agonizing question, until we come to the Cross for an answer, is, "Who shall separate?" Can anyone?
Every question is in itself a demand, a reverent demand, the demand of the soul; and when I ask, "Who is against us?" I am asking for defense against all possibility of attack. When I ask, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" I am asking that my justification shall be a justification in the presence of any and every possible accusation. When I ask, "Who is he that shall condemn?" I am asking that my acquittal at the bar of Infinite Holiness shall be from any possible condemnation that may arise. When I ask, "Who shall separate us?" I am asking that my communion with God shall be so arranged that all need arising from the new nature and the new conditions and the new demands shall be met.
I tremble on the verge of the eternal, I am, in my own poor personality, afraid in the presence of the immeasurable and the infinite that stretches out beyond. I stand, a man, a speck amid immensity, and I do not know what cohorts are hidden behind the distant hills ready to come against me. I do not know what traducers may yet bring charges against me. Can anything separate me from the love of God?
These are great questions. They do not always take this form, but they come to us all, sometimes very simply, and perhaps, therefore, the more subtly, with more far-reaching and deep-searching agony of soul.
In view of such questionings the greatness of my text is revealed. It is an answer to one of the questions, but I take it because out of it come the values that answer all the questions. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things."
I suppose every man who preaches the Word sometimes feels as though there is nothing more to say when he has read his text. That is certainly how I feel about this. Note its historic basis, "He spared not His own Son." Notice its logical conclusion, "Shall He not freely give us all things?"
When God gave His Son, He gave His best; and now human language must be imperfect. He emptied heaven of its richest; He had nothing more worth the giving. He gave in that moment not something better than the rest by comparison, but something that included all. The Apostle here says, in effect, when God gave His Son, with Him "He freely gave us all things." It is not merely that if He spared not His Son He will give other things. It is really that when He gave His Son He gave all. Take another statement of this same Apostle, from his Colossian letter, which deals with the glorious Christ, and remember his words about Jesus, "Christ, Who is the Image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in Him were all things created . . . and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." There is no far distant part of the universe of God that is not held together in orderly array by Christ. No mystic secret of the Divine procedure is unknown to Christ. No foe of humanity lurking in any of the infinite spaces that baffle and affright me is hidden from Christ. God gave His Son, and when He gave His Son, He gave the One in Whom all things consist, from Whom all things came, to Whom all things proceed. In originating wisdom and creating force and upholding power, He gave the sum total of everything when He gave Christ, so that when I ask a question about the infinite spaces I am asking a question about the things that are as familiar to Jesus as are the few grains of sand that I can hold in my hand and look at, and far more familiar, for I cannot tell you the deep- est mystery of the grains of sand, and He knows the last mystery of all the universe. When I ask my question about the days that are coming, I am asking a question about things that He will make, for He it is Who fashions not only the worlds of matter, but the worlds of time, the rolling ages as they come. God has given this Son of His love—Framer of the Universe in infinite wisdom, Upholder of it on its onward course to the final goal—given Him freely for us all.
Now, the Apostle says, "Who is against us?" "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" "Who is he that shall condemn?" "Who shall separate us?" Notice the questions again, and notice them as they are set against the great declaration.
First, "If God is for us, who is against us?" How, do I know God is for me? He gave His Son. There is no other demonstration. If you doubt the Cross you have no proof that God is for us. If you lose the sight of the Cross, and do not hear its message of the Divine good will and favor' there is nothing in Nature to show you God is for you. Nature is red in tooth and claw. We are told sometimes that it is kind, and so it is if we are kind to it; but offend it, break its laws, and it will crush you with merciless severity.
And this also is a merciful provision, for the crushing of anything effete is good for the things that remain. God by salvation has not come to save effete things as effete things. He has come to save things from effeteness and make them new. Nature will laugh in sunshine on the face of your dead child; there is no message in Nature that tells you that the God behind it cares for you.
But this man, weak and frail, suffering the loss of all.
G. CAMPBELL MORGAN — 1863-1945
The Westminster Pulpit, Hodder and Stoughton, London
VOLUME VI — CHAPTER IX
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