The Great Salvation - by CA Coates
THE GREAT SALVATION
God has provided salvation—full, free, and eternal—a salvation which is adapted to the necessities of the vilest sinner on earth; a salvation, too, which the most moral and respectable member of society cannot afford to be without; and a salvation which, while it comes down to the very lowest depths of human need, is in perfect harmony with all the high and holy attributes of God. Yea, it is a salvation which not only brings eternal blessing to the sinner, but secures eternal glory to God Himself. It is rightly called a "great salvation", Heb. 2: 3, and we may well affirm that it is so when we think of
THE GREAT NEED WHICH IT MEETS.
Nothing could be more pitiable than the condition of an unsaved sinner. His conscience is not at rest, for he cannot altogether forget his sins, and death and judgment loom darkly ahead. His heart is unsatisfied, for he has nothing but the world as his portion, and the world gives no lasting peace or joy—its sweetest cup of pleasure is soured by the dregs of disappointment. Verily it must be a great salvation which will meet all his need—which will remove his fears, give peace to his conscience before God, and satisfy his heart.
No doubt many might say, 'But I have felt no need of this kind. It is true I do not like to think of death and judgment, and I am free to admit that it makes me feel uncomfortable to hear people talk about such subjects, but at other times 1 feel quite happy and content. I am quite satisfied with the world'. My friend, I linger to have a word with you. It is fearful to be unsaved, but a sinner unsaved and unconcerned is one of the saddest and most appalling spectacles which the world can present. It is sad to be afflicted with disease, but infinitely worse to have some deep-seated malady undermining and destroying your constitution without being aware of the fact. Let your thoughts dwell for a moment on the gravity— the unspeakable solemnity—of your position. However lightly you think of your sins, and however little you are troubled about them, God declares that unless they are washed away by the atoning blood of Christ they will be your eternal destruction. If you die in your sins you will certainly spend eternity in the lake of fire. Does this disturb the peace of your mind? I hope it does. It is far better to be disturbed in this world than to be damned in the next. May God awaken you even now from your slumber of indifference, and cause you to apply yourself in right good earnest to the consideration of the all-important question—"What must I do to be saved?" Acts 16:30.
To one who has felt his need—who has groaned beneath the weight of sin —the good tidings of a great salvation is a pleasant sound; to his troubled and anxious heart it comes like balm of Gilead to soothe and heal. For, as before remarked, it is worthy to be called a great salvation because there is no sinner whose need it is not able to meet. Satan has two great lies which he uses —oftentimes, alas! with conspicuous success—to destroy the souls of men. First, he persuades them that they do not need salvation—that they are so good, their character so upright, their morality of such a high tone, and their religious profession of such a degree, that they have no need to come as lost and guilty rebels to God to receive mercy like common sinners. But by the grace of God, in spite of this satanic lie, sinners do become anxious and alarmed. God speaks to their consciences by His word and Spirit, and they become exercised about their state before Him. Then Satan has another lie ready for them, exactly opposite to the former one. He turns round and says, 'Consider what sins you have committed! Remember how you have treated God! How you have scoffed at His mercy and refused His love, and gone on taking pleasure in your sins in spite of all His warnings and entreaties! How can you expect to be saved? There may be mercy for others, but not for you'.
Thus he seeks to plunge the trembling sinner into despair. But how the 'great salvation' confronts and confounds him! There is no sinner with crimes of so deep a dye, with guilt so aggravated, with need so great, that he is beyond the reach of this great salvation. Yea, the greater the sinner, the more is God's grace magnified in saving him. Let not your heart be discouraged, then, if you have felt your guiltiness before a holy God, and have even, perhaps, been caused to doubt whether His salvation could extend to one so vile as you. A Magdalene, a dying thief, a brutal Philippian jailer, and the arch-persecutor of the saints, Saul of Tarsus—chief of sinners—bear eloquent witness to the greatness of God's salvation. If sin abounds, grace much more abounds, and those who have been brought up from the lowest depths of sin and shame will be the most bright and shining monuments of the exceeding riches of God's abounding grace.
Then, again, the salvation of which the apostle speaks is
GREAT BECAUSE OF ITS SOURCE.
It is the "salvation of God", Acts 28:28. If we would learn the full measure of its greatness, we must follow it to its source and see it flowing forth in streams of eternal blessing from the heart of God Himself. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life", John 3: 16. How these precious words unfold to us the heart of God! How they cause us to wonder at and adore the wealth of love bestowed by Him upon undeserving men! Truly "in this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him", 1 John 4:9. I should like to know the wealth of love that is wrapped up in those words—"His wellbeloved", Mark 12: 6. He it was who was given as the manifestation and expression of God's love to this world. Herein lies the glory of that salvation of which we speak. It proceeds from God Himself. It was He who loved, it was He who gave His Son, and it is He who has pledged His word for the salvation of every lost sinner who believes on that heaven-sent Saviour. It is all of God from first to last. Then cease every effort to attain salvation by doings of your own; labour not in the vain attempt to make yourself acceptable to God by moral reformation, or by attendance to religious duties, but come and learn the mighty love of God, and join with us who have known and believed it in praising Him for His great salvation.
Further, this is a great salvation
BECAUSE OF THE INFINITE COST
at which it has been procured. We do well to remember that though salvation is offered to us without money and without price, in the largeness and liberality of the grace of God, it has been procured at an infinite cost. And this we must realise if we consider that, before God could save a sinner, He must be able to do it in accordance with His own righteousness and holiness, as well as in the activity of His mercy and love. If God issued a general pardon to all sinners, irrespective of satisfaction rendered to Him on account of their sins, where would be His truth, His righteousness, His holiness?
God cannot pass over sin in the free and easy way so common among men. He must punish sin; and the grand problem which had to be solved before there could be salvation for guilty sinners was how the sin might be judged, and at the same time the sinner saved; for God loves the sinner, though He hates the sin. How could this be done? In no other way than by the Son of God going to the cross, and there bearing the judgment of God upon sin. I am bold to say, with most profound reverence, that the salvation of a sinner, consistently with divine righteousness, was a work which taxed the utmost resources of God. To accomplish this, God's Son, here in this world of sin, must be lifted up upon the cross. That blessed One must suffer, or He could not save. The throne from which God extends the golden sceptre of salvation to repenting sinners does not stand upon the ruins of justice. Grace reigns indeed, but reigns through righteousness, and God is just in justifying the ungodly sinner who believes in Jesus. The holiness of God has found that which met all its claims in the death of Christ, and divine righteousness has been fully vindicated by that one offering whereby the sins of believers are for ever put away. But think of the darkness of that midnight-noon which for three hours enwrapped the Saviour in its gloomy shades. Think of the depth of anguish which wrung from His heart that bitter wail of grief, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Matt. 27: 46. What untold travail of soul did He pass through before He could proclaim that His great redemption work was "FINISHED"!
As we contemplate that scene-—and may we stand, in figure, with unshod feet as we do so, for the ground is thrice holy—we learn something of what sin is in the sight of God. No sacrifice of meaner rank could satisfy the lofty requirements of divine righteousness; the blood of no other victim possessed the needed efficacy to cleanse the sinner from his scarlet stains of guilt.
Then, again, this salvation is great by reason of the
which it confers. I may briefly mention three. (1) "Whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins", Acts 10: 43. The believer rejoices in a present known forgiveness. He waits not for the day of judgment to be assured of full clearance; he knows that his "sins are forgiven" 1 John 2: 12; they have been cast into the depths of that sea of divine judgment whose billows rolled over Jesus at Calvary, and from those depths they can never rise. God has said, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more", Heb. 10:17. Such is the efficacy of the "one sacrifice for sins" which Christ has offered. It has secured eternal redemption and a purged conscience for every believer.
(2) "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ", Rom. 5: 1. The believer's standing with God is measured by Christ risen, for He has been "raised again for our justification", Rom. 4:25. No charge can ever be brought against Him —death and judgment can never more pass upon Him—He is in everlasting righteousness with God. And by God's pure grace we are set in His standing and acceptance. The knowledge of this fills the soul with divine and changeless peace.
(3) "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us", Rom. 5: 5. The Holy Spirit has been sent down from a glorified Saviour, and the first part of His wonderful mission is to fulfil this precious verse for the believer, and it is thus that the joy of salvation comes into the heart.
Now pause a moment and consider whether a salvation which can meet the need of the vilest—which flows from such a source as the heart of God, and through such a channel as the sufferings and death of His beloved Son—a salvation which results in such infinite blessings to those who accept it—is not worthy to be called
A GREAT SALVATION.
If we admit that it is so, with what solemn force does the inspired question come home to our souls—"How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" When such glorious provision has been made—when such unbounded stores of love and grace have been thrown open—when such appeals and invitations have been sent forth—what shall the end be of those who persist in neglecting such a salvation?
This solemn question is most wholesome to consider, but it is hopelessly unanswerable. No fiend in hell, no angel from before the throne of God can frame an answer to it. On the other hand, there is the solemn declaration of God recorded in 1 Thess. 5: "They shall not escape". How could it be possible to escape after refusing God's love, despising His grace, rejecting His Son, scorning His mercy, and defying His justice? And all this and more is involved in the neglect of His great salvation.
Think not to avail yourself of the paltry plea that you have never positively rejected salvation, and that all the time you mean to be saved some day. If unsaved at this moment you are a neglector of God's salvation, and the question before us is, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" May the Spirit of God write these words in burning letters upon your heart, and keep them ringing in your ears, until you realise in the very depths of your being that there can be no escape for those who neglect Christ.
Why should you neglect Him? He is willing and mighty to save, and has said for the encouragement of sinners, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out", John 6: 37. You hope to be finally saved—why not now? You hope that in the eternity to which we haste your voice will swell the anthems and doxo-logies of the heavenly host: why not sing the redemption song TO-DAY? "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved", Rom. 10:9.
C. A. COATES