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The Believer's Challenge

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/07/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

                                                                                 

                                                  The Believer's Challenge                                                         A Sermon                                                          

                              Delivered on Sabbath Morning, June 5th, 1859, by the                                               REV. C.H. SPURGEON                                     at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.



              "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the               right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us"Romans 8:34.

                  THE PROTEST OF an innocent man against the charge of an accuser may well be strong and vehement.                   But here we have a more uncommon and a sublimer theme. It is the challenge of a justified sinner                   protesting with holy and inspired fervour that his character is clear and his conscience clean, even in the           sight of heaven. Yet it is not the natural innocence of his heart, but the perfect mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ,           which gives him this amazing confidence. May the Spirit of God enable me to expound to you this most blessed           portion of God's Word.               We have before us in the text the four marvellous pillars upon which the Christian rests his hope. Any one of           them were all-sufficient. Though the sins of the whole world should press on any one of these sacred columns, it           would never break nor bend. Yet for our strong consolation, that we may never tremble or fear, God hath been           pleased to give us these four eternal rocks, these four immovable foundations upon which our faith may rest and           stand secure. But why is this? why needeth the Christian to have such firm, such massive foundations? For this           simple reason: he is himself so doubtful, so ready to distrust, so difficult to be persuaded of his own security.           Therefore hath God, as it were, enlarged his arguments. One blow might, we should have imagined, have been           enough to have smitten to death our unbelief for ever; the cross ought to have been enough for the crucifixion of           our infidelity, yet God, foreseeing the strength of our unbelief, hath been pleased to smite it four times that it might           be razed to rise no more. Moreover, he well knew that our faith would be sternly attacked. The world, our own           sin, and the devil, he foresaw would be continually molesting us; therefore hath he entrenched us within these four           walls, he hath engarrisoned us in four strong lines of circumvallation. We cannot be destroyed. We have bulwarks,           none of which can possibly be stormed, but when combined they are so irresistible, they could not be carried,           though earth and hell should combine to storm them. It is, I say, first, because of our unbelief; and secondly,           because of the tremendous attacks our faith has to endure, that God has been pleased to lay down four strong           consolations, with which we may fortify our hearts whenever the sky is overcast, or the hurricane is coming forth           from its place.               Let us now notice these four stupendous doctrines. I repeat it again, any one of them is all-sufficient. It           reminds me of what I have sometimes heard of the ropes that are used in mining. It is said that every strand of           them would bear the entire onnage, and consequently, if every strand bears the full weight that will ever be put           upon the whole, there is an absolute certainty of safety given to the whole when twisted together. Now each of           these four articles of our faith is sufficient to bear the weight of the sins of the whole world. What must be the           strength when the whole four are interlaced and intertwisted, and become the support of the believer? The apostle           challenges the whole world, and heaven and hell too, in the question, "Who is he that condemneth?" and in order           to excuse his boldness, he gives us four reasons why he can never be condemned. "Christ has died, yea, rather, is           risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." We shall first look over           these four pillars of the believer's faith, and then, afterwards, we shall ourselves take up the apostle's challenge,           and cry, "Who is he that condemneth?"               I. The first reason why the Christian never can be condemned is because CHRIST HATH DIED. We believe           that in the death of Christ there was a full penalty paid to divine justice for all the sins which the believer can           possibly commit. We teach every Sabbath day, that the whole shower of devine wrath was poured upon Christ's           head, that the black cloud of vengeance emptied out itself upon the cross, and that there is not left in the book of           God a single sin against a believer, nor can there possibly be even a particle of punishment ever exacted at the           hand of the man that believeth in Jesus, for this reason,that Jesus has been punished to the full. In full tale hath           every sin received sentence in his death. He hath suffered, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. And now, if           you and I are enabled this morning to go beneath the bloody tree of Calvary, and shelter ourselves there, how safe           we are! Ah! we may look around and defy all our sins to destroy us. This shall be an all-sufficient argument to           shut their clamorous mouths, "Christ hath died." Here cometh one and he cries, "Thou hast been a blasphemer."           Yes, but Christ died a blasphemer's death, and he died tor blasphemers. "But thou hast stained thyself with lust."           Yes, but Christ died for the lascivious. The blood of Jesus Christ, God's own Son, cleanseth us from all sin; so           away foul fiend, that also has received its due. "But thou hast long resisted grace, and long stood out against the           warnings of God." Yes, but "Jesus died;" and say what thou wilt, O conscience, remind me of what thou wilt; lo           this shall be my sure replyin "Jesus died." Standing at the foot of the cross, and beholding the Redeemer in his           expiring agony, the Christian may indeed gather courage. When I think of my sin, it seems impossible that any           atonement should ever be adequate; but when I think of Christ's death it seems impossible that any sin should ever           be great enough to need such an atonement as that. There is in the death of Christ enough and more than enough.           There is not only a sea in which to drown our sins, but the very tops of the mountains of our guilt are covered.           Forty cubits upwards hath this red sea prevailed. There is not only enough to put our sins to death, but enough to           bury them and hide them out of sight. I say it boldly and without a figure,the eternal arm of God now nerved           with strength, now released from the bondage in which justice held it, is able to save unto the uttermost them that           come unto God by Christ.               This was my subject last Sabbath day, therefore I take it I shall be fully justified in leaving the first pointthat           Christ hath died, while I pass on to the other three. You will bear in mind that I discussed the doctrine of the           satisfaction of Christ's atonement by his death, in the sermon of last Sunday morning. I come, therefore, to notice           the second argument. Our first reason for knowing that we cannot be condemned is, because Christ has died for           us.               II. The second reason a believer hath, isthat CHRIST HAS RISEN AGAIN.               You will observe that the apostle has here prefixed the words, "yea rather!" Do you see the force of this           expression? As much as to say, it is a powerful argument for our salvation, that Christ died; but it is a still more           cogent proof that every believer shall be saved, that Christ rose again from the dead. This does not often strike us.           We generally receive more comfort at the cross than we do at the empty sepulchre. And yet this is just through           our ignorance and through the blindness of our eyes; for verily to the enlightened believer there is more           consolation in Jesus arising from the tomb, than there is in Jesus nailed to the cross. "Yea rather," said the apostle;           as if he would have it, that this is a still more powerful argument. Now what has the resurrection of Christ from           the dead to do with the justification of a believer? I take it thus: Christ by his death paid to his Father the full price           of what we owed to him. God did as it were hold a bond against us which we could not pay. The alternative of           this bond, if not paid, was, that we should be sold for ever under sin, and should endure the penalty of our           transgressions in unquenchable fire. Now Jesus by his death paid all the debt; to the utmost farthing that was due           from us to God Christ did pay by his death. Still the bond was not cancelled until the day when Christ rose from           the dead; then did his Father, as it were, rend the bond in halves, and blot it out, so that thenceforward it ceases to           have elfect. It is true that death was the payment of the debt, but resurrection was the public acknowledgment that           the debt was paid. "Now," says Paul, "yea rather, he is risen from the dead." O Christian, thou canst not be           condemned, for Christ has paid the debt. Look at his gore, as it distils from his body in Gethsemane and on the           accursed tree. But rather, lest there should be a shadow of a doubt, that thou canst not be condemned, thy debts           are cancelled. Here is the full receipt; the resurrection hath rent the bond in twain. And now at Gods right hand           there is not left a record of thy sin; for when our Lord Jesus Christ quitted the tomb, he left thy sin buried in           itonce for all cast awaynever to be recovered. To use another figure,Christ's death was as it were the           digging out of the gold of grace out of the deep mines of Jesus' sufferings. Christ coined, so to speak, the gold           which should be the redemption of his children, but the resurrection was the minting of that gold; it stamped it with           the Father's impress, as the current coin of the realm of heaven. The gold itself was fused in the atoning sacrifice,           but the minting of it, making it into that which should be the current coin of the merchant, was the resurrection of           Christ. Then did his Father stamp the atonement with his own image and his own superscription. On the cross I           see Jesus dying for my sins as an expiating sacrifice; but in the resurrection I see God acknowledging the death of           Christ, and accepting what he has done for my indisputable justification. I see him putting his own imprimatur           thereupon, stamping it with his own signet, dignifying it with his own seal, and again I cry, "Yea rather, who is           risen from the dead,"who then can condemn the believer? To put Christ's resurrection yet in another aspect. His           death was the digging of the well of salvation. Stern was the labour, toilsome was the work; he dug on, and on,           and on, through rocks of suffering, into the deepest caverns of misery; but the resurrection was the springing up of           the water. Christ digged the well to its very bottom, but not a drop did spring up; still was the world dry and           thirsty, till on the morning of the resurrection a voice was heard, "Spring up O well," and forth came Christ himself           from the grave, and with him came the resurrection and the life; pardon and peace for all souls sprang up from the           deep well of his misery. Oh! when I can find enough for my faith to be satisfied with even in the digging of the           well, what shall be my satisfaction when I see it overflowing its brim, and springing up with life everlasting? Surely           the apostle was right when he said, "Yea rather, who hath risen from the dead." And yet another picture. Christ           was in his death the hostage of the people of God. He was the representative of all the elect. When Christ was           bound to the tree, I see my own sin bound there; when he died every believer virtually died in him; when he was           buried we were buried in him, and when he was in the tomb, he was, as it were, God's hostage for all his church,           for all that ever should believe on him. Now, as long as he was in prison, although there might be ground of hope,           it was but as light sown for the righteous; but when the hostage came out, behold the first fruit of the harvest!           When God said, "Let my Anointed go free, I am satisfied and content in him," then every elect vessel went free in           him; then every child of God was released from durance vile no more to die, not to know bondage or fetter for           ever. I do see ground for hope when Christ is bound, for he is bound for me; I do see reason for rejoicing when he           dies, for he dies for me, and in my room and stead; I do see a theme for solid satisfaction in his burial, for he is           buried for me; but when he comes out of the grave, having swallowed up death in victory, my hope bursts into           joyous song. He lives, and because he lives I shall live also. He is delivered and I am delivered too. Death hath no           more dominion over him and no more dominion over me; his deliverance is mine, his freedom mine for ever.           Again, I repeat it, the believer should take strong draughts of consolation here. Christ is risen from the dead, how           can we be condemned? There are e'en stronger arguments for the non-condemnation of the believer in the           resurrection of Christ than in his precious death and burial. I think I have shown this; only may God give us grace           to rest upon this precious"yea, rather, who is risen from the dead."               III. The next clause of the sentence reads thus: "WHO IS EVEN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD." Is there           not any word of special commendation to this? You will remember the last one had, "Yea, rather." Is there nothing           to commend this? Well, if not in this text, there is in another. If, at your leisure, you read through the fifth chapter           of this epistle to the Romans, you will there very readily discover that the apostle proves, that if Christ's death be           an argument for our salvation, his life is a still greater one. He says in the tenth verse of that chapter, "If, when we           were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more"that's the word I           wanted"much more we shall be saved by his life." We may look, then, at this third clause, as having a "much           more" before it, comparing Scripture with Scripture. We cannot be condemned for "Christ hath died. Yea rather,           is risen again; (much more) is even at the right hand of God." Here is an argument which hath much more power,           much more strength, much more force than even Christ's death. Sometimes I have thought that impossible. Last           Lord's day, I thought by God's good help I was enabled to persuade some of you that the death of Christ was an           argument too potent to be ever deniedan argument for the salvation of all for whom he died. Much more, let me           now tell you, is his life, much more the fact that he lives, and is at the right hand of the Father. Now I must call           your attention to this clause, remarking that in other passages of God's Word, Christ is said to have sat down for           ever at the right hand of God. Do observe with care the fact that he is always described in heaven as sitting down.           This seems to me to be one material argument for the salvation of the believerChrist sits in heaven. Now, he           never would sit if the work were not fully done. Jesus when he was on earth, had a baptism to be baptised with,           and how was he straitened until it was accomplished! He had not time so much as to eat bread, full often, so eager           was he to accomplish all his work. And I do not, I cannot imagine that he would be sitting down in heaven in the           posture of ease, unless he had accomplished allunless "It is finished!" were to be understood in its broadest and           most unlimited sense. There is one thing I have noticed, in looking over the old levitical law, under the description           of the tabernacle. There were no seats whatever provided tor the priests. Every priest stands daily ministering and           offering sacrifice for sin. They never had any seats to sit on. There was a table for the shew-bread, an altar, and a           brazen lover; yet there was no seat. No priest sat down; he must always stand; for there was always work to be           accomplished, always something to be done. But the great high priest of our profession, Jesus, the Son of God,           hath taken his seat at the right hand of the majesty on high. Why is this? Because, now the sacrifice is complete           for ever, and the priest hath made a full end of his solemn service. What would the Jew have thought if it had           been possible for a seat to have been introduced into the sanctuary, and for the high priest to sit down? Why, the           Jew would then have been compelled to believe that it was all over, the dispensation was ended; for a sitting priest           would be the end of all. And now we may rest assured, since we can see a sitting Christ in heaven, that the whole           atonement is finished, the work is over, he hath made an end of sin. I do consider that in this there is an argument           why no believer ever can perish. If he could, if there were yet a chance of risk, Christ would not be sitting down;           if the work were not so fully done, that every redeemed one should at last be received into heaven, he would           never rest, nor hold his peace.               Turning, however, more strictly to the words of the text, "Who is even at the right hand of God"what           meaneth this? It means, first of all, that Christ is now in the honourable position of an accepted one. The right           hand of God is the place of majesty, and the place of favour too. Now, Christ is his people's representative. When           he died for them they had rest; when he rose again for them, they had liberty; when he was received into his           Father's favour, yet again, and sat at his own right hand, then had they favour, and honour, and dignity. Do you           not remember that the two sons of Zebedee asked to sit, one on the right hand and the other on the left? Little did           they know that they had already what they asked forfor all the church is now at the right hand of the Father; all           the church is now raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The raising and           elevation of Christ to that throne of dignity and favour, is the elevation, the acceptance, the enshrinement, the           glorifying of all his people, for he is their common head, and stands as their representative. This sitting at the right           hand of God, then, is to be viewed as the acceptance of the person of the surety, the reception of the           representative, and therefore, the acceptance of our souls. Who is he that condemneth, then? Condemn a man that           is at the right hand of God! Absurd! Impossible! Yet am I there in Christ. Condemn a man who sits next to his           Father, the King of kings! Yet there is the church, and how can she in the slightest degree incur condemnation,           when she is already at the right hand of the Father with her covenant head. And let me further remark, that the           right hand is the place of power. Christ at the right hand of God signifies that all power is given unto him in heaven           and in earth. Now, who is he that condemns the people that have such a head as this? O my soul! what can           destroy thee if omnipotence is thy helper? If the aegis of the Almighty covers thee, what sword can smite thee? If           the wings of the Eternal are thy shelter, what plague can attack thee? Rest thou secure. It Jesus is thine           all-prevailing king, and hath trodden thine enemies beneath his feet, if sin, death, and hell, are now only parts of           his empire, for he is Lord of all, and if thou art represented in him, and he is thy guarantee, thy sworn surety, it           cannot be by any possibility that thou canst be condemned. While we have an Almighty Saviour, the redeemed           must be saved; until omnipotence can fail, and the Almighty can be overcome, every blood-bought redeemed child           of God is safe and secure for ever. Well did the apostle say of this"much moremuch more than dying and           rising again from the dead, he lives at the right hand of God."               IV. And now I come to the fourth; and this also hath an encomium passed upon it"WHO ALSO MAKETH           INTERCESSION FOR US." Our apostle, in the epistle to the Hebrews, puts a very strong encomium upon this           sentence. What does he say upon it? A little more than he said about the others. The first one is, "Yea rather;" the           second one is, "Much more." And what is the third? Remember the passage"He is able also to save them unto           the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Lo! this is"to           the uttermost;" what we thought, perhaps, to be the very smallest matter in the recital, is just the greatest. "To the           very uttermost" he is able to save, seeing he ever lives to intercedethe strongest argument of the whole four. Let           us try to meet this question, "Why does Christ intercede to day in heaven?" A quaint old divine says, that "When           God in his justice rose from his throne to smite the surety, he would make no concession whatever. The surety           paid the debt." "Yet," said the Judge, "I will not come down to earth to receive the payment; bring it to me." And           therefore the surety first groped through death to fight his way up to the eternal throne, and then mounting aloft by           a glorious ascension, dragged his conquered foes behind him, and scattering mercies with both his hands, like           Roman conquerors who scattered gold and silver coins in their triumph, entered heaven. And he came before his           Father's throne and said, "There it is; the full price: I have brought it all." God would not go down to the earth for           payment; it must be brought to him. This was pictured by the high priest of old. The high priest first took the           blood, but that was not accepted. He did not bring the mercy-seat outside the veil, to carry the mercy-seat to the           blood. No; the blood must he taken to the mercy-seat, God will not stoop when he is just; it must be brought to           him. So the high priest takes off his royal robes, and puts on the garments of the minor priest, and goes within the           veil, and sprinkles the blood upon the mercy-seat. Even so did our Lord Jesus Christ. He took the payment and           bore it to God,took his wounds, his rent body, his flowing blood, up to his Father's very eyes, and there he           spread his wounded hands and pleaded tor his people. Now here is a proof that the Christian cannot be           condemned, because the blood is on the mercy-seat. It is not poured out on the ground; it is on the mercy-seat, it           is on the throne; it speaks in the very ears of God, and it must of a surety prevail.               But, perhaps, the sweetest proof that the Christian cannot be condemned, is derived from the intercession of           Christ, if we view it thus. Who is Christ, and who is it with whom he intercedes. My soul was in raptures when I           mused yesterday upon two sweet thoughts; they are but simple and plain, but they were very interesting to me. I           thought that had I to intercede for anybody, and do a mediating part, if I had to intercede for my brother with my           father, I should feel I had got a safe case in hand. This is just what Jesus has to do. He has to intercede with his           Father, and mark, with our Father too. There is a double precedent to strengthen our confidence that he must           prevail. When Christ pleads, he does not plead with one who is stronger than him or inimical to him, but with his           own Father. "My Father," saith he "it is my delight to do thy will and it is thy delight to do my will, I will then that           they, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." And then he adds this blessed argu

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