Lewis Sperry Chafer.

Salvation online

. (page 3 of 10)
Online LibraryLewis Sperry ChaferSalvation → online text (page 3 of 10)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

His own sinfulness or weakness. This problem
does not remain a mere abstract riddle. The
death of Christ is explained in the Scriptures and
the personal acceptance or rejection of that divine
explanation is declared to be the point which de-
termines the destiny of each individual. Men are
said to stand, or fall, not by their moral, or re-
ligious standards, but by their personal choice in
relation to the death and saving grace of Christ.
The question is as important, therefore, as the
destiny of man.

The Scriptures know but one solution to the
problem of the death of Christ one, and only one,

32 Salvation

whether it be in type in the Old Testament, or
in the exact unfoldings of the history and doc-
trine of the New Testament. The Bible lends
no sanction to differing human theories on this
point. Such speculations are but shadows of the
divine revelation and their promulgation is, like
any counterfeit, a misleading substitute for the
real Gospel of saving grace.

Almost every passage related to the cross could
be called into evidence in determining the divine
reason for the sacrifice on the part of the Son
of God. In these divine records two great truths
are evident: He died as a substitute for some
one else, and that some one else is each and every
individual in all the lost world of mankind. "But
he was wounded for our transgressions, he was
bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our
peace was upon him ; and with his stripes we are
healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we
have turned every one to his own way; and the
LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all"
(Isa. 53 : 5, 6) ; "Behold the Lamb of God, which
taketh away the sin of the world" (Jno. 1: 29) ;
"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" (Jno.
3: 16) ; "Because we thus judge, that if one died
for all, then were all dead" (2 Cor. 5 : 14) ; "Who
will have all men to be saved, and to come unto
the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1); "That
he by the grace of God should taste death for
every man" (Heb. 2:9); "And he is the propi-
tiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but.

also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jno. 2:2).

In the clearest terms this death is here said
to be a substitution. He did not die to show men
how to die gracefully, or bravely: He died that
they might not die. What He did, therefore, does
not need to be done again. It is something ac-
complished for every person and in such perfec-
tion as to be fully satisfying to the infinite God.
In like manner these passages are characterized
by such universal words as "all," "every man" and
"the whole world." From this it must be be-
lieved that the death of Christ has already pro-
vided a great potential and provisional value for
every guilty sinner, which is now awaiting his
personal recognition.

Preceding the dismissal of His spirit as He
hung upon the cross Jesus said, "It is finished."
This could hardly have referred to the fact that
His own life or sufferings were at an end. It
was rather the divine announcement of the fact
that a complete transaction regarding the judg-
ment of sin and the sufficient grounds of salva-
tion for every sinner was accomplished. It is im-
portant to consider what, according to the Scrip-
tures, was then finished.

To know the meaning of three Bible words
which relate the cross of Christ to the sinner will
throw some light upon the character and extent
of the work that is said to be "finished" for the
whole unsaved world.

First Reconciliation: This word, or the doc-
trine it represents, does not directly appear in the
Old Testament. There the thought is always of

34 Salvation

an immediate and personal atonement by shedding
of blood. In the New Testament its meaning
is that of a complete and thorough change ac-
complished by the actual removal of the cause of
enmity, so making reconciliation. The most illu-
minating passage on this truth is found in 2 Cor.
5 : 14-21 E. V. "For the love of Christ constrain-
eth us; because we thus judge, that one died for
all, therefore all died; and he died for all, that
they that live should no longer live unto them-
selves, but unto him who for their sakes died and
rose again. Wherefore we henceforth know no
man after the flesh: even though we have known
Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so
no more. Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he
is a new creature : the old things are passed away ;
behold, they are become new. But all things are
of God, who reconciled us to himself through
Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of recon-
ciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ recon-
ciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto
them their trespasses, and having committed unto
us the word of reconciliation. We are ambas-
sadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though
God were entreating by us: we beseech you on
behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him
who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf ;
that we might become the righteousness of God
in him."

The subsequent truth in this passage grows out
of the primary statement of verse 14, wherein
it is said that the death of Christ was for all, and,
therefore, in a legal sense, all have died in that

Present Values of Cross to Unsaved 35

death. The logic is irresistible. If it be admitted
that He died for all (and the Scriptures know
no limitation in the universal provision in that
death), then the value of that death has been se-
cured and provided for all, and since this is an
undertaking which began in the councils of God
and was ordained to meet the righteous require-
ments of His own Being, these values have been
secured on a plane which answers the highest de-
mands of the Infinite.

That Jesus died for an individual constitutes
the greatest thing that can be said of that per-
son, and, to a truly spiritual understanding, the
minor classifications of the human family cease
before the overwhelming revelation. "Henceforth
know we no man after the flesh." He is only to
be known as one for whom Jesus died. In like
manner, on the ground of the perfect divine provi-
sion and accomplishment in the cross it is added :
"If any man be in Christ he is a new creature
(creation) : old things have passed away ; behold,
all things are become new. But all things are of
God, who reconciled us (or thoroughly changed us
in relation) to himself through Christ." The
Apostle then adds, "God was in Christ reconciling
the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them
their trespasses." The world is thus thoroughly
changed in its relation to God by the death of His
Son. God Himself is not said to be changed : He
has thoroughly changed the world in its relation
to Himself by the death of Christ. God Himself
has undertaken the needed mediation between His
own righteous Person and the sinful world. The

36 Salvation

provision of a Mediator an*d the grounds of medi-
ation for the whole world does not save the world,
but it does render the salvation of the individual
possible in the righteousness of God.

Those who are thus saved have received a min-
istry from God. "We are ambassadors, there-
fore, on behalf of Christ, as though God were
entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of
Christ, be ye reconciled to God."

From this Scripture we may conclude that there
is a two-fold aspect of reconciliation: first, that
which God hath already wrought in Christ by
which He has thoroughly changed the relation of
the whole world to Himself so that He does not
reckon their trespasses unto them, and, second, a
reconciliation for which we may plead and which
must take place in the attitude of the unsaved in-
dividual through the revelation given to him in
the Gospel concerning the sacrifice of Christ.
Salvation is made to depend upon such a personal
response to this appeal from God. Blessed indeed
is the one who can say, "the love and grace of
God, in removing forever my judgments and doom
by the sacrifice of His Son, are wholly satisfying
to me and I rest only in the Saviour thus given."
The fact of the universal divine reconciliation may
remain unappreciated and unconsidered, but when
its eternal riches dawn on a sin-blinded soul that
one, in his attitude and experience, is thoroughly
changed toward God and finds a wholly new joy
and peace through believing what God has already
done in His boundless grace.

Second Redemption: Divine redemption,

Present Values of Cross to Unsaved 37

whether in the Old or the New Testament, is to
deliver by paying the demands of the offended
righteousness of God against sin. The price of
such redemption is always blood alone. "When I
see the blood, I will pass over you" (Ex. 12 : 13) ;
"It is the blood that maketh an atonement for
the soul" (Lev. 17:11); "This is my blood of
the new testament, which is shed for many for the
remission of sins" (Mt. 26:28); "Ye were not
redeemed with corruptible things * * * but with
the precious blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:18);
"The blood of J.esus Christ his Son cleanseth us
from all sin" (1 Jno. 1:7); "Thou wast slain,
and hath redeemed us to God by t"hy blood" (Rev.

The full redemption by blood has been paid in
the death of Christ and so in a provisional way
has affected the estate of the whole world. "Who
gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in
due time" (1 Tim. 2:6); "Even the Son of Man
came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mt.
20 : 28) ; "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world" (Jno. 1: 29).

Redemption is also by power. This was seen
in the redemption of Israel from Egypt and is
equally true of all redemption. The price may
be paid for the slave, but he must be taken out
of the slave position and set free. This is indi-
vidual and such redemption by blood and power
is the blessed experience of all who put their trust
in the divine Redeemer.

Forgiveness, which in the Scriptures is indi-

38 Salvation

vidual, is made possible through the blood of re-
demption. "The priest shall make an atonement
for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall
be forgiven him" (Lev. 4: 35) ; "This is my blood
of the new testament, which is shed for many for
the remission of sins" (Mt. 26 : 28) ; "Without
shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb.
9:22); "In whom we have redemption through
his blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Eph. 1:7).

Redemption, then, may also be considered in
these two aspects: that which has been already
accomplished through the blood of the cross, and
that which may yet be done for the one who be-
lieves, through the immediate power of God. The
ransom price has been paid for all; yet for the
one who believes there is a further work of re-
demption which is manifested in the transform-
ing and sanctifying power of the Spirit.

Happy is the individual who believes what God
has written, and rests in the redeeming work of
Christ as his only deliverance from the hopeless
estate of the lost.

Third Propitiation: The meaning of this
word is inexpressibly sweet. It refers to a di-
vinely provided place of meeting, a place of pro-
pitiation. The mercy-seat of the Old Testament
is spoken of in Heb. 9:5 as a place of propitia-
tion. There, covering the broken law, was the
blood-sprinkled mercy-seat, and there was the She-
kinah light which spoke of the presence of God.
There, too, because of the blood and what it
typified, a holy God could meet a sinful man
without judgments and, in turn, a sinful man

Present Values of Cross to Unsaved 39

could meet a holy God without dread or fear. So
we find in Kom. 3: 25, 26, that Christ was "set
forth" by His Father God to be a propitiation
through faith in His blood. So, also, in 1 Jno.
2 : 2, "And he is the propitiation for our sins :
and not for ours only, but for the sins of the
whole world." The very blood-sprinkled body of
the Son of God on the cross has become the di-
vinely provided place of meeting where now a
guilty sinner can come to God without fear, and
the righteous God can receive that soul apart from
all judgments and condemnation.

The publican who went up to the temple to
pray, according to Lk. 18 : 9-14, would not so
much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smote
on his breast, and said : "God be thou propitiated
to me the sinner." The significance of the Greek
text is not "God be merciful to me a sinner," but
is more correctly expressed by the R. V. marginal
rendering, "God be propitiated to me the sinner."
There is a most vital distinction here. It is one
thing to call on God for an exercise of immediate
mercy: it is quite another thing to ask to be
covered by atoning blood. How different the
issue is before the unsaved now since the
atoning blood has been shed ! Certainly it is not
a matter with them of securing some special
leniency from God: it is rather a matter of be-
lieving that every needed grace has been already
exercised. On the ground of a divinely provided
propitiation the publican went down to his house
justified, which was vastly more than being for-
given. In like manner, every soul has been as

40 Salvation

freely justified who has believed. It is a question
of intelligently electing to receive and stand in the
saving work of Christ which is simply to receive
the Christ as a personal Saviour. The sinner thus
acknowledges Christ as the divinely appointed pro-
pitiation and there in confidence rests his case
before the righteous throne of God.

From these three Bible words we may conclude
that there is a work now fully accomplished in the
cross for every unsaved person. Such have been
thoroughly changed in their relation to God by
His great act of reconciliation, and He is said
to be waiting for them to be thoroughly changed
by the message of the Cross in reconciliation
toward Him. He has redeemed them by the blood
of Christ Who was "the Lamb of God that taketh
away the sin of the world," but is now awaiting
their act of faith toward the Christ that He might
with the power of the Spirit transform them into
the very sons of God. He has been propitiated
toward "the whole world," but must await the
willingness of the individual to stand only on
the fact that the righteous judgments for sin have
already been accomplished in the cross of Christ.
That cross was a propitiation toward God ; a rec-
onciliation toward man ; and a redemption toward
sin. And this in relation to every member of the
fallen human race. If men go to perdition it will
be because every possible mercy from God has been

"God so loved the world that he gave his only
begotten Son" this much is universal and so is
true of all "that whosoever believeth in him

Present Values of Cross to Unsaved 41

should not perish but have everlasting life" is
individual and personal. No one is saved by these
universal things alone; but because of these uni-
versal things any one who believes may be saved.
To every unsaved person, therefore, the mes-
sage may be given in the full confidence in its
truth that God has already completed the grounds
of salvation, and they are but to believe on Him
through Whom all this grace has been so per-
fectly wrought.



NOTWITHSTANDING all that has been divinely ac-
complished for the unsaved, they are not saved
by it alone. Salvation is an immediate display
of the power of God within the lifetime and ex-
perience of the individual, and is easily distin-
guished from those potential accomplishments fin-
ished nearly two thousand years ago in the cross.
As has been stated, salvation is a work of God
for man, rather than a work of man for God. No
aspect of salvation, according to the Bible, is made
to depend, even in the slightest degree, on human
merit or works. Great stress is laid on the value
of good works which grow out of a saved life, but
they do not precede salvation or form any part of
a basis for it. It, therefore, is revealed that the
first issue between God and an unsaved person in
this age is that of receiving Christ, rather than
that of improving the manner of life, however
urgent such improvement may be. This insistence
seems to mere human reason to be an indirect,
if not aimless, means of obtaining the moral im-
provement of men. The need of moral improve-
ment is most evident, and simply to try to help
men to be better would seem to be the direct^and
logical thing to do. However, the divine program
strikes deeper and purposes a new creation out
from which good works can flow and apart from
which there can be no acceptable works in the


The One Condition of Salvation 43

sight of God. Unsaved men are thus shut up to
the one condition upon which God can right-
eously make them to be new creatures in Christ

With regard to the necessity of a new creation
the unregenerate are blind in their minds (2 Cor.
4 : 3, 4) . So also about this need a multitude of
professing Christians are poorly taught, result-
ing in a well nigh universal misconception of the
demands of the gospel. When dealing with the
unsaved, false issues are often raised and these
unscriptural demands appear in many forms.
Satan's ministers are said to be the ministers of
righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14, 15). They waive
aside the Bible emphasis on a new birth, which
is by the power of God through faith and which
is the only source from which works acceptable to
God can be produced, and devote their energy to
the improvement, morally and righteously, of the
individual's character. Such workers, in spite
of their sincerity and humanitarian motives, are
by the Spirit of God said to be "the ministers
of Satan."

The fact that the unregenerate are blinded by
Satan in regard to the true gospel of grace is the
explanation of the age-long plea of the moralist:
"If I do the best I can God must be satisfied with
that, else He is unreasonable." Granting that
anyone has ever done his best, it would still be
most imperfect as compared with the infinite
holiness of God. God cannot, under any condi-
tions, call that perfect which is imperfect, and
He is far from unreasonable in demanding a per-

44 Salvation

feet righteousness, impossible to man, while He
stands ready to provide as a gift all that His holi-
ness requires. This is exactly the offer of the
Gospel. The Scriptures do not call on men of
this age to present their own righteousness to God ;
but invite unrighteous men to receive the very
righteousness of God which may be theirs through
a vital union with Christ. The appeal is not self-
improvement in the important matters of daily
life, but that "the gift of God which is eternal
life through Jesus Christ our Lord" might be
received. When this eternal issue is met the
more temporal matters of conduct are urged;
but only on the grounds of the fact that divine
salvation has been wrought for sinful man wholly
apart from his own works.

The question confronting each individual,
therefore, is that of the basis upon which this new
creation can be gained. In such an undertak-
ing man is powerless. All his ability must be
forever set aside. It must be accomplished for
him, and God alone can do it. He alone can
form a new creation; He alone can deal with
sin ; He alone can bestow a perfect righteousness ;
He alone can translate from the powers of dark-
ness into the kingdom of His dear Son.

If it were only a question of power to trans-
form men the creative power of God has always
been sufficient; but there was a greater difficulty
caused by the fact of sin. Sin must first be judged,
and no favor or grace can be divinely exercised
until every offense of righteousness has been fully
met. God cannot look on sin with the least

The One Condition of Salvation 45

degree of allowance, and so He can grant His
favor only by and through the cross wherein, and
only wherein, the consequences of sin have been
forever met in His sight. Thus salvation can be
accomplished, even by the infinite God, only
through Jesus Christ. Hence it is that a simple
trust in the Saviour opens the way into the in-
finite power and grace of God. It is "unto every
one that believeth," "For there is none other name
under heaven given among men whereby we must
be saved."

This one word "believe" represents all a sin-
ner can do and all a sinner must do to be saved.
It is believing the record God has given of His
Son. In this record it is stated that He has
entered into all the needs of our lost condition and
is alive from the dead to be a living Saviour to
all who put their trust in Him. It is quite pos-
sible for any intelligent person to know whether
he has placed such confidence in the Saviour.
Saving faith is a matter of personal conscious-
ness. "I know whom I have believed." To have
deposited one's eternal welfare in the hands of
another is a decision of the mind so definite that
it can hardly be confused with anything else.
On this deposit of oneself into His saving grace
depends one's eternal destiny. To add, or sub-
tract, anything from this sole condition of salva-
tion is most perilous. The Gospel is thus often
misstated in various and subtle ways. The more
common of these should be mentioned specifically :

First, The unsaved are sometimes urged to pray
and hope for an attitude of leniency on the part

46 Salvation

of God toward their sins : whereas they should be
urged to believe that every aspect of favor and
expression of love has already been wrought out
by God Himself. They are not believing God
when they beseech Him to be reconciled to them,
when He is revealed as having already accom-
plished a reconciliation. The Gospel does not
inspire a hope that God will be gracious: it dis-
closes the good news that He has been gracious
and challenges every man but to believe it. A
criminal pleading for mercy before a judge is not
in the same position as a criminal believing and
rejoicing in the assurance that a full pardon is
granted and that he can never be brought again
into judgment.

Second, It is a most serious error to intrude
any form of human works into a situation wherein
God alone can work. People are sometimes led
to believe that there is saving value in some pub-
lic confession of Christ, or profession of a deci-
sion. "With the heart man believeth unto righ-
teousness." This is salvation. "With the mouth
confession is made unto salvation." This is the
voice of the new-born child speaking to and of its
Father. The only condition on which one may
be saved is to believe.

Third, It is equally as great an error to give
the unsaved the impression that there is saving
virtue in promising to try to "lead a Christian
life." No unregenerate mind is prepared to deal
with the problems of true Christian living. These
problems anticipate the new dynamic of the im-
parted divine nature, and could produce nothing

The One Condition of Salvation 47

but hopeless discouragement when really contem-
plated by an unregenerate person. There is dan-
ger, as well, that by forcing the issues of future
conduct into the question the main issue of re-
ceiving Christ as Saviour may be submerged in
some difficulty related to the proposed standards
of living. There is an advantage in a general
morality, "Sabbath observance," temperance and
attendance on public and private worship; but
there is no saving value in any, or all, of them.
It is true that a person who enters into these
things might be more apt to hear the saving
Gospel of grace than otherwise; but on the other
hand, the sad fact is that these very things are
often depended upon by the religiously inclined
to commend themselves to God. A clear distinc-
tion is found in the Bible between conversion and
salvation. The former is there found to indicate
no more than the humanly possible act of turning
about, while the latter refers to that display of\
the power of God which is manifested in the
whole transformation of saving grace.

Fourth, A person is not saved because he prays.
Multitudes of people pray who are not saved.
Praying is not believing on the Lord Jesus
Christ; though the new attitude of belief may be
expressed in prayer. "Without faith it is im-
possible to please God." In no Scripture is sal-
vation conditioned on asking or praying. It is
faith in the Saviour Who gave His precious blood
a ransom for all. The publican, living and pray-
ing before the cross, pleads that God would be
propitiated to him a sinner. The issue now can

48 Salvation

only be one of believing that God has been so

1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10

Online LibraryLewis Sperry ChaferSalvation → online text (page 3 of 10)