"Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
- Romans 5:10
THE first great message of mercy to a sinner is put into four short words in the eighth verse of this chapter—"Christ died for us." A preacher can never be wrong in lifting up Christ Crucified! It is the glory of a congregation if it can be truly said, "Before your eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you." Well did the Apostle make this his boast—"We preach Christ Crucified." Still, we must always remember that there is a great deal about Christ besides His Crucifixion and, however glorious His death may be—and we are not disposed to rank it second to anything else—yet there is another glory, another form of His excellency which is seen, not in His death, but in His life! It is of this that the Apostle speaks here—"Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
Before we come to the consideration of that subject, dear Friends, let us think of what the death of Christ has done for some of us. The former part of the verse from which our text is taken says, "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son." What was that reconciliation? Of what did it consist? We will not talk so much doctrinally, as practically and experimentally. We were once enemies of God, but we are not enemies of God any longer. God was once angry with us, but God is not angry with us any more. If we have believed in Jesus Christ, a complete reconciliation has been effected between the offended God and the offending sinner. In this reconciliation, I see, first, that God, who is always Love, and has always loved His people, being just, was unable to deal with the guilty sinner except upon the footing of justice—and justice demanded that the sinning soul should die! But Christ has come that God, as the great moral Ruler, might be able, without violation of His holiness, to deal mercy with sinful men.
Let there be no mistake about the objective and purpose of Christ’s Sacrifice! John Kent’s hymn rightly says—
"‘Twas not to make Jehovah’s love
Towards the sinner flame,
That Jesus, from His Throne above,
A suffering Man became.
‘Twas not the death which He endured,
Nor all the pangs He bore,
That God’s eternal love procured,
For God was Love before."
He was always Love to His people, but, until Christ came to earth and died, the Just for the unjust, that love could not freely flow. There was a dam that blocked up the stream. There was a great rock in the channel and the rivers of love could not flow. But by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, that impediment has been removed. God can now be "just and the Justifier of him which believes in Jesus." I have already said that in His heart of hearts, there was always love towards His people, but as the Judge upon the Judgment Seat, He could not display that love—He could only manifest His indignation against every soul of man that did evil.
Now, this most righteous wrath of God was removed by the death of Jesus Christ and could not have been removed by any other manner. The sword must find its victim and Christ bared His breast to let infinite Justice spend its full force on Him. The debt had to be paid and Jesus paid it to the last penny with His own life which He poured out upon the Cross. The cup of wrath must be drained—there was no putting it aside—so Jesus took it and, after saying, "O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Your will be done." He put it to His lips and never took it away till He had drained it to its last drop. There was a necessity for Christ’s death, "it behooved Christ to suffer," and by His suffering He appeased the wrath of the great Judge of All, so that He could justly look upon guilty men with complacency. That wondrous change was worked by Christ’s death and now the very justice of God demands our salvation. It is indeed marvelous that the righteousness of God, which was against us, should be made to be for us and that the Justice of God, which pronounced the sentence of death upon us, should be so transformed that Justice, itself, now decrees our eternal life! This is a wonderful part of the reconciliation.
But the Apostle speaks of our being reconciled—our being reconciled. Well, that comes about in this way. We felt in our conscience that we had sinned against God. I am not speaking of all here present, but I am speaking of all those upon whom the Spirit of God has worked salvation—our conscience felt a secret sting, as though a burning poison had entered into the veins of our spirit. I remember when the thought that I had offended God seemed to drink up my very life. Of course I did not love Him and I could not, for it is according to the nature of our sinful heart that if we do anyone an injury, we are sure to hate him. We do not always hate the man who injures us, but if we injure him, our hatred is almost certain to follow. And inasmuch as we had broken all God’s Laws and did not wish to admit it, we hated the Law itself. We kicked against it and tried to persuade ourselves that it was the root of the offense instead of our own willful hearts being the source of the evil. We knew God to be holy, but we did not love holiness—in fact, having no holiness of our own, we could not endure even to hear or read about it! We set up a counterfeit righteousness of our own and pretended that we were good, and all the while we were despising the true holiness and the perfect righteousness of God.
But, Beloved, when we saw Christ dying in our place, "the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God," then conscience said, "God is satisfied and so am I." When we saw that God’s anger was removed because Christ had died, then our pettish, proud anger was removed, too, and we said, "Now are we reconciled to God by the death of His dear Son." Oh, with what swift feet we fled to the Mercy Seat! With what confidence, though with a holy trembling, we pleaded the merits of the dear Redeemer! And what joy and peace filled our mind! Then we no longer hated God, or hated holiness, or hated the Law of God, but we submitted ourselves unconditionally. We said, "The Law is holy and God is gracious—blessed be His glorious name." Thus, the death of Christ worked reconciliation, the anger of God was removed and so was the trouble of our conscience. Then were our hearts won! Shall I speak for all God’s people here? I think I shall if I speak for myself and say—
"Law and terrors do but harden
All the while they work alone,
But a sense of blood-bought pardon
Soon dissolves a heart of stone."
Oh, how our hearts were dissolved when we found that Christ loved us and that He had given Himself for us! When we saw God to be reconciled, how we longed for Him! Our heart and our flesh cried out for God, for the living God, and we said, "When shall we come and appear before God?" And that longing is still upon us—we delight in fellowship with Him. We are longing to be like He and we are expecting to be with Him where He is! And this is all the Heaven that we desire. Oh, blessed be God, it is a bleeding Christ who has reconciled us even on earth! It is a bleeding Christ who has put out the fires of enmity! It is a bleeding Christ who has slain forever the warfare in our spirit against God. Now are we reconciled unto God by the death of His Son.
Do not let me go a step further, dear Friends, until you can all get as far as this. If there is any man here who is not reconciled to God, let him remember what a terrible state he is in. He is God’s enemy! How would any one of you like to have that title branded on your brow tonight, "God’s enemy"? Remember that you will never be reconciled to God except through the bleeding Savior, so seek Him now! Before even a word is said about the ever-living Christ, come and put your finger into the print of the nails of the dead Christ! Come and wash in the fountain which He has filled from His own veins! Come and accept the great atoning Sacrifice now! God help you, by His Divine Spirit, to do so, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake!
This brings us to the special subject mentioned in our text. "Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." The Apostle Paul here bids us remember that Christ is still alive and that although we are reconciled to God, we reconcile us, we may be quite sure that His life will be effectual to save us. No, he says, "Much more." If the death of Christ has reconciled us, "much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
I want you, dear Friends, to do three things as you think of our text. First, consider what the life of Christ is to us. Secondly, consider why the words, "much more," may be applied to it. And, thirdly, consider how we can use this life.
I. First, then, briefly consider WHAT THE LIFE OF CHRIST IS TO US. If a man were to show me a picture of Christ on the Cross, I would say to him, "What is that?" If he were to answer, "A picture of my Lord," I would reply, "It is not a picture of my Savior as He now is. It may be a representation of Him as He once was , but not as He is now, enthroned in Glory." If a person were to carry about in his pocket the likeness of his mother taken after death, and were to draw it out, and say, "That is my mother," I would say, "I would prefer to remember her as she was at her best, not as she was in the agonies of death, or after death." So, I pray you, do not look upon any representation of Christ upon the Cross as the main representation of our Lord Jesus! He was dead but for a very little while. He was on the Cross only for a few hours. Our Savior lives, never more to die! The Christ of the Church of Rome, as I have often told you, is a dead Christ on the Cross, or else a baby Christ in Mary’s arms—but the Christ of the Church of God is a living Christ! We say of the grave, as the angel said to the women, "He is not here: for He is risen, as He said." We say of the Cross, "He is not here. He has put an end to death in making an end of sin by His own death." The main thought concerning Christ, to those of us who really know Him, should be that He is the living Christ—
"He lives, the great Redeemer lives,
What joy the blest assurance gives!"
What has Christ’s risen life to do with us? Well, first, Christ’s resurrection from the dead is to us who believe in Him the pledge that He has saved us. When our Lord Jesus Christ died, He was, as it were, put in prison as a hostage for His people. And He was kept there till Divine Omniscience had searched His Sacrifice and searched His obedience to see whether they were complete. And when it was certified that Christ had finished all the work which His Father had given Him to do, then the sheriff’s officer of Heaven, "the angel of the Lord," was sent down to roll away the stone and bid the Captive come out. And when Jesus Christ came out of the grave, all His people came out of prison with their great Representative! In His own release from the tomb there was a token given to Him from God that their sins were forgiven and that His righteousness was accepted on their behalf. "He died for our sins," says the Apostle, but He also "rose again for our justification." Therefore, wrap not your hearts in the grave clothes which He left behind, but clothe them in the golden apparel wherewith the rising Christ girded Himself, for you are justified because He has risen!
Believing in the resurrection of Christ, we view Him as living and continuing to live—"Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over Him." What has that to do with us? Why, just what our Lord said to His disciples—"Because I live, you shall live also." Beloved, because Christ has risen from the dead, so all His people shall rise. And because, having once risen, Christ dies no more, so His rising saints shall be perfectly safe through all the future—they shall live forever because they are partakers of His eternal life. Is not that a subject for great rejoicing? I live because He died, for that death redeemed me from death. But yet more, I live because He lives. "For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in Glory."
Now follow with me this living Christ. We have seen that He is risen and living, what comes next? A few days after this living Christ rose from the grave, a little throng gathered about Him on "the mount called Olivet" and, to their surprise, He began to ascend. Scattering benedictions with both His hands, He confirmed to ascend till, at last, "a cloud received Him out of their sight." What has that ascension to do with us? Why, just this. He said to His disciples, "I go to prepare a place for you." He has gone up into Glory, as our Representative, to take possession of eternal joy for us. He has gone within the veil that He may represent us before His Father’s face, that, by-and-by, we may join Him and be with Him where He is, to go no more out forever! Therefore, Beloved, let us rejoice. As the Lord our Savior has ascended into Heaven, so shall we, in His own good time. I always admire that line of Dr. Watts, where he says that our Lord, in His ascension to Heaven, has "taught our feet the way"—
"Up to our God our feet shall fly,
On the great rising day."
Earth cannot permanently hold us down now Christ has gone up into His Glory! The living Christ is a greater attraction than any other force. We who believe are one with Him and, as He has ascended, we also shall rise to Him and be forever with Him!
After He had ascended, He took His seat at the right hand of God, even the Father, clothed with honor, majesty, power, dominion and might. Listen, Brothers and Sisters! What has this fact to do with us? Why, just this—you who believe cannot perish, for Christ lives! You must conquer, for Jesus reigns! All power is given unto Him in Heaven and in earth and, "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He always lives to make intercession for them." A reigning Christ, an enthroned Christ—this is the Christ to depend upon! I can risk my whole soul upon His blood and know that there is no risk in the matter—I feel a deep and growing confidence in the life that He now lives upon the Throne of God.
But what else? Well, our glorified Redeemer spends much of His time in intercession. Up there at the right hand of God, He continues to plead for His people. He can truly say in the fullest meaning of the words, "For Zion’s sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until the righteousness thereof goes forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burns." Continually does He present the rich incense of His merit before the eternal Throne of God. And here is something more for us, for if Jesus pleads for us, we are forever safe. If He is pleading before the Throne, we may come to it with holy confidence. If Christ is there, the way is clear for you and for me to approach! We have only to get behind Him and to look through His wounds at God, as God will look through the wounds of Christ at us—and all will be well! Oh, what do we not owe to the living Christ! My theme expands as I try to handle it. How my heart rejoices in it! Do you not know, Beloved, how every part of that risen life of Jesus—His Second Coming, His final conquest of Satan and of the world, His eternal Glory—all has to do with us, for we are sharers in all that Christ has! We are joint-heirs with Him of all His glories and His triumphs!
This, then, is just a brief summary of what the life of Christ has to do with us.
II. Now, secondly, WHY DOES THE APOSTLE PUT A, "MUCH MORE," IN HERE? "Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
I think it is because we are so apt to put a, "much less," to it. It is not often that we preach and talk as we ought about this living Savior of ours. Brothers and Sisters, the great Testator is dead. That makes His last will and testament valid. Listen once more—He who made the will is alive, again, so He is His own Executor to carry out His own will! Is not that a blessing for you and for me? He made the will valid by His death, but, by rising again, He has come to see that every jot and tittle of it shall be carried out! We have not to depend upon somebody else executing our dying Savior’s will. He has risen from the dead, clothed with all power and might, to accomplish that upon which He has set His heart!
Paul says, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." How can it be much more? I answer, first, because when our Savior reconciled us by His death, it was the time of His weakness. Look, He is nailed to the Cross, the fever burns Him up, He cries, "I thirst." He says, "I am a worm, and no man." Weakness has come upon Him to the uttermost. He closes His eyes in the last dread sleep of death. They take down His poor body and wrap it in white linen, with sweet spices, and put it away in Joseph’s tomb. There could not be greater weakness, could there, than in the Crucified Christ? Yet, even then, He reconciled us! But now He is clothed with power! He is Head over all things, Lord of angels, King of kings! All Heaven resounds with His praises. Do you not see the drift of my argument? If, when He was in His uttermost weakness, He redeemed us by His death, "much more," now that He is in all His power and Glory, He must be able to save His people by His life!
Look at this expression again. When our Lord died, He was in the servant’s place. He had, for our sake, laid aside His Glory. "He made Himself of no reputation." He emptied Himself. He had become like ourselves, feeble and weak. But, beside that, He was bound to do the Father’s will and to suffer it even to the last extremity! As the Mediator between God and man, He had made Himself inferior to God. He had taken a subordinate place so that He could truly say, "My Father is greater than I." But remember, Brothers and Sisters—
"The head that once was crowed with thorns,
Is crowned with glory now!
A royal diadem adorns
The highest place that Heaven affords
Is His, is His by right,
The King of kings and Lord of lords,
And Heaven’s eternal light."
Now He wears again the Glory which He had with His Father before the earth was. Do you not see, then, that it is, "much more," that He can do for His people under such circumstances? If, when He took an inferior place and condescended for our sake to be a servant, so that—
"With cries and tears He offered up
His humble suit below"—
if then He reconciled us—"much more" can He now save us when He has taken to Himself His great power and with authority pleads before His Father’s face, "I will that they, also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold my Glory, which You have given Me: for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." If I can trust a dying Savior with my soul and feel perfectly safe in doing so, how easy it is to trust a living Savior and to roll myself upon His almighty love and feel eternally secure!
Furthermore, dear Brothers and Sisters, when our Lord took upon Himself the work of saving us, He did, in a certain sense, come under the displeasure of God. Not that He ever could be really displeasing to God, for in Him was no sin, and the Father never had a greater delight in Christ than when He hid His face from Him. Still, according to the Word of God, Jehovah bruised Him—Jehovah hid His face from Him till Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" He came under the curse, for, "cursed is every one that hangs on a tree." For your sakes and mine, He bore the scourging of Infinite Justice and the frown of the offended Majesty of Heaven! This was diving very low and if, even then, He was able to reconcile us to God, how, "much more," must He be able to save us now that the Father’s wellbeloved Son has come Home, again, and lives in the eternal sunlight of His dear Father’s smile? "Much more" now that God delights in Him, all Heaven is lit up with the gleaming of the Father’s joy, every angel bows before Him and, night and day, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" rises in perpetual waves of praise up to the Throne of Glory where He is adored and worshipped!
Yet once again, when the Savior died, there was a certain aspect of defeat about His death. He stood alone, that dreadful day, in deadly conflict with the powers of darkness. All the battalions of Hell were mustered and they made one tremendous attack upon the Prince of Life and Glory. Single-handed He fought them all and His own right hand and His holy arm gained Him the victory! But, for a while, it looked like defeat. He closed His eyes in death, saying, "It is finished," and He gave up the ghost. Those nail-prints, that gory side and that pallid Countenance looked as if Death had won the victory, though it was not really so. Yet, Beloved, He reconciled us even then! Oh, could we see Him now! I suppose we could not—our eyes are not yet formed for that Beatific Vision. But what a sight it would be if we could see Him with His eyes like a flame of fire and His feet like fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace! One said, "You cannot see Christ’s face and live," and another answered, "Well, be it so. Then let me see His face and die." And I have often felt that I could say the same and I have sung, with good Dr. Watts—
"Oh, for a sight, a pleasing sight,
Of our Almighty Father’s Throne!
There sits our Savior crowned with light,
Clothed in a body like our own. Adoring saints around Him stand,
And thrones and powers before Him fall!
The God shines gracious through the Man,
And sheds sweet glories on them all. Oh, what amazing joys they feel
While with their golden harps they sing,
And sit on every heavenly hill,
And spread the triumphs of their King! When shall the day, dear Lord, appear,
That I shall mount to dwell above,
And view Your face, and sing, and love?"
Well now, if, when He lay there, all blood-bespattered and dead, defeated as it seemed, He reconciled us to God, my Brothers and Sisters, what can He not do, now that He is in all the splendor of His majesty, the delight of Heaven and of all holy beings? He must be able to save us! Well may we entrust our souls to Him and say, with the Apostle, "I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."
III. So now I close by asking you to CONSIDER HOW WE CAN USE THIS LIFE OF CHRIST.
If Christ is still alive and if there is, in a certain sense, "much more" power to save in His life than there was of power to reconcile in His death, then, first, all fear of our being overcome ought to vanish. He is victorious! Therefore we shall be victorious! Christ was assaulted by all the powers of death and Hell, and yet He conquered and He lives. We, too, shall conquer, for He is in us, He is with us, He is over us—and we shall live though we die—and we shall win though we are apparently overcome!
How shall we use this life of Christ? Why, next, let us use it in prayer. When you feel that you cannot pray—and there are such times with all of us—then say, "He can pray, for He lives to make intercession for us."—
"Give Him, my Soul, your cause to plead,
Nor doubt the Father’s Grace."
When it goes hard with you on your knees and you seem as if you could not prevail, then remember that Jesus is pleading, and He must prevail! Put your case into His hands and He will present His mighty pleas on your behalf—and then you cannot be baffled. Is not that a sweet thought?
Another use to make of Christ’s life is this. Are you lonely? In this modern Babylon of London, there are many persons who are quite alone, and there is no solitude so terrible as that which can be found in a great city. Perhaps you live in a street where there are hundreds of Christians, but you do not know one of them. I will tell you what to do—Jesus lives, get away to Him, for there is no company like His. If He comes into that little room of yours, it will be like a temple! Solomon’s Temple, in all its glory, was never so bright as that upper room of yours will be when Christ comes there! I know how you have to stitch away all day long to earn a scanty living. I know, too, how sometimes you cannot sleep at night because of the severe pain you have to suffer. But if your Lord is there, it shall be sweet work, and sweet suffering, too, with that best of workers and sufferers to sit at your side! Jesus lives! Jesus lives! You have not to go to Calvary to think about His Cross. You have not to go to the tomb and weep because He is dead. He lives and He is with His people always, even unto the end of the world. Therefore, in your prayers, and in your solitude, comfort yourselves.
I suppose, too, that many of you are sorely tempted. Is there a Christian man or woman among us who is not tempted by the devil? Well, Jesus lives, and He was tempted in all points like as we are, though without sin! He is able to sympathize with you, for He, Himself, was compassed with infirmity. Get to your living High Priest! Tell Him what the devil is trying to do to you. It is a good thing to never dispute with the devil. I have heard that if a man brings a lawsuit against you, you had better never say anything to him, but transfer the whole affair to your lawyer. And if the man writes to you, say, "I have nothing to do with the matter. You must apply to my legal adviser, he will attend to it for me." "He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client," says one of our proverbs. So, whenever the devil comes to you, remember that he knows a great deal more than you do, and if you try to answer him, he will soon trip you up. You had better say to him, "I will have nothing to do with you, Satan. I refer you to my Solicitor, my Advocate." Then the devil will ask His name, and when you give him the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he will drop that suit, for he has suffered severe defeat many a time from that same Jesus Christ, ages and ages ago! He remembers the wilderness and how the Master soon sent him about his business. So, refer him to Christ. Do not be your own champion—let Christ be Champion for you and all will be well!
In other words, dear Brothers and Sisters, since Christ lives, let us live with Him, let us make the Lord Jesus Christ our daily Companion. I know that there are some Christians who cannot understand this advice, or cannot believe that they may put it into practice. But you will never know the very juice and marrow of the Gospel until you do understand it and get to feel that Christ is not a mere historical Person who was upon the earth hundreds of years ago, but a living, personal Christ who is, even now, accessible, who can be spoken to and who can speak to us in reply—and with whom we may live even now! Oh, if you can get into personal contact with Jesus Christ, then you have learned how to live! Then is the dying Savior inexpressibly dear to you and then, also, the living Christ is, if possible, even more dear as you live through Him—with Him—for Him—and He lives in you!