The Person and Purpose of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 of 3)

Does this doctrine appear so strange that it cannot possibly be convincingly explained? Is it so mysterious that no practical sense can be made of it? I answer these questions by returning to C. H. Spurgeon’s sermon, “Justification by Faith.”

… It is a blessed thing never to muddle in your head the doctrine of working, and the doctrine of receiving by grace, for there is an essential and eternal difference between the two. I hope you all know that there can be no mixing of the two. If we are saved by grace, it cannot be by our own merits, but if we depend upon our own merits, then we cannot appeal to the grace of God, since the two things can never be mingled together. It must be all works or else all grace. Now, God’s plan of salvation excludes all our works. “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” It comes to us upon the footing of grace, pure grace alone. And this is God’s plan, namely, that, inasmuch as we cannot be saved by our own obedience, we should be saved by Christ’s obedience. Jesus, the Son of God, has appeared in the flesh, has lived a life of obedience to God’s law, and in consequence of that obedience, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, and our Saviour’s life and death make up a complete keeping and honouring of that law which we have broken and dishonoured, and God’s plan is this: “I cannot bless you for your own sakes, but I will bless you for his sake; and now, looking at you through him, I can bless you though you deserve it not; I can pass by your undeserving; I can blot out your sins like a cloud, and cast your iniquities into the depths of the sea through what he has done; you have no merits, but he has boundless merits; you are full of sin and must be punished, but he has been punished instead of you, and now I can deal with you.” This is the language of God, put into human words, “I can deal with you upon terms of mercy through the merits of my dear Son.” This is the way in which the gospel comes to you, then. If you believe in Jesus, that is to say, if you trust him, all the merits of Jesus are your merits, are imputed to you: all the sufferings of Jesus are your sufferings. Everyone of his merits is imputed to you. You stand before God as if you were Christ, because Christ stood before God as if he were you—he in your stead, you in his stead. Substitution! that is the word! Christ the Substitute for sinners: Christ standing for men, and bearing the thunderbolts of the divine opposition to all sin, he “being made sin for us who knew no sin.” Man standing in Christ’s place, and receiving the sunlight of divine favour, instead of Christ. …

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