|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||Crucified with Christ|
|Text||Galatians ch.2 v.20 |
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"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2, 20)
Now let us turn together to the portion of the Word of God which was read to us earlier in Galatians 2 and the text this evening is to be found in verse 20. Galatians 2 and verse 20. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2, 20)
Especially, the words, right at the end, "the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2, 20) Now then, in introducing these words, allow me to point out just two things first of all about them. The first thing we notice about these words is how sweet they are. You will recall that one of the Psalms, Psalm 19 tells us that the Word of God is like honey and the honeycomb. And here certainly is a verse of the Bible which is honey sweet - "the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2, 20) You will not find such words in all the world as words like this from the Bible. They are indeed a honey pot of sweetness for those who value Christ. Now, the second thing, I say about these words is that they are very mysterious. I mean, ask yourself, concerning verse 20. How many persons are here in this verse? And you say to me, there are two. There is the sinner, who is speaking, and there is the Saviour of Whom he is speaking. Yes, you are right. But almost wrong.
Look at this. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:" and then he goes on "and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God..." (Galatians 2, 20) So Paul is talking about two persons but almost as though he was talking only of one. It's as though he was coming and going. I live yet not I but Christ. But the life that I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God. In other words, he and Christ are so intimately connected that the two are one. It is the union of sinners with Christ by faith. It is true of Paul. It's true of all Christians. There is this mystery. Now, I want to say to you that Christ and the sinner belong together. Christ was made for sinners, if you allowed me very reverently to put it that way. Christ came for sinners. His great work is to help sinners. His great interest is in sinners. He is not so much interested in angels or demons or righteous persons, whatever they are. But Christ's great love is for sinners. Now that's obvious when you study the Bible. I want to give you two reasons for thinking so.
First of all because his very name, Jesus, means just that. When Jesus was given His name, it was because He would save His people from their sins. That's what Jesus means. The Saviour of sinners. So His very name makes it clear to us that his one supreme interest is in helping sinners. That's why He got His name. What about His other name, Christ? What does that mean? It means somebody who has received the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But why did He receive this anointing? Answer - to help sinners. From beginning to end, Christ was made for sinners. He was sent for sinners. 'I came not to call the righteous', He says, 'but sinners to repentance'. I make this point quite strongly because there are people who shy away from Christ. They feel too nervous to go to Christ. They talk like this, they say, who am I to go to Jesus Christ? I am so sinful, so unworthy, so unprofitable. Who am I to go to Him? The answer is, He was sent into this world for the express purpose of blessing sinners.
"I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2, 17) You can't be too sinful for Christ. You might be too righteous for Christ. But you can never be too sinful for Christ. Those who are righteous, at least in their own eyes, I mean, who think they are righteous. They are the ones who do not get the blessing. But the ones whom Christ blesses always are those who come to Him because they are poor sinners. If you read the Gospels again and again, you will notice that there was never an occasion when Christ refused to give help to any sinner who truly sought His help. There never was a time. They might have appeared to be occasions when He brushed people off rather brusquely. But it was only to prove their faith and to bring them in into His love all the more, like the Syrophenician woman. Even babes in arm when their parents brought them to Christ, and when the disciples said hold off, Jesus is much displeased and said Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Luke 18, 16), He said. Whether we be young sinners, old sinners, middle-aged sinners, we are all the sort of people that Christ came to bless. Now, isn't that important to know. If only people in this world knew how very ready Christ is to bless them, they would come to Christ by bus loads. They would come to Christ by their thousands and their tens of thousands. The thing that keeps people from coming to Christ, or one of them is, they do not think that they would be welcome. They suppose that He is so mighty, so high, so holy, so lofty that He wouldn't even bother to look at them,far less to help them. How very wrong they would be! Jesus Christ came for this one single purpose, to help sinners.
Listen to the way He put it Himself - "him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37) I wonder if you have ever come to Christ in your heart. I wonder if you have ever said to the Lord, "Have mercy upon me". I wonder in the secret of your own heart, when nobody is listening, and nobody can see you, have you said to this Jesus Christ, "Lord, I need Thee. I want Thy blessing." Well, that's what He invites us to do. And the apostle Paul discovered that. He talks about "the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2, 20)
Now, what was the bond between the sinner and the Saviour? We agreed there were two persons - the sinner and Christ. What is the bond that binds them together here? Is it the bond of faith? Yes, but more than that. Is it the bond of friendship? Oh yes, and more than that. Is it the bond of fellowship? Yes, and more than that. Listen, the Son of God loved me. He loved me. The bond between the sinner and Christ, mentioned here, is the bond of love. The best bond possible. The best bond in all the world. The bond of love is the bond that binds Christ to every sinner that wants Him. Now, love is the spirit of Heaven and Christianity is the spirit of Heaven come down. That's why the angels at the birth of Christ sang, "peace on earth , good will towards men". (Luke 2:14) When any sinner comes to Christ, there is joy among the angels, because Heaven has begun in some human heart here below and the bond is the bond of love. God is love, says the Bible. That means this, the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Spirit, and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son, and they all love one another. It is a perfect circle. And all these three persons in the Godhead, each love one another. When you read the Gospels, you will discover that that's the way they talk about one another and to one another.
I was speaking to one of the dear men here present we were in fellowship when we were travelling to Skye the other day. And this is one of the things we talked about. The wonderful respect and love that the Father, Son and Spirit have for one another. They talk about one another with love and respect. They honour one another because they love one another. Now this bond between the sinner and Christ is the best of bonds. It is the bond that the moral law requires. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and might and strength. Somebody has well said the soul within us is three cornered. Only an illustration but it's a meaningful one. The soul is three cornered like a triangle. And it can only be filled and only satisfied with the love of the three persons of the Godhead. The human soul is made for God and to enjoy the love of God. We all need to be loved, don't we? A child who is not loved will soon go astray. Within marriage, where there is no love, there is nothing. In friendship where there is no love, it's hollow. When there is no love in society, it becomes the law of the jungle. That's what hell is, where nobody loves anybody else. But where Christ is in the soul, there is satisfaction. Now, let's ask this question, when did this begin to happen to the sinner in this text. The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me. Now when did this Saviour give Himself for this sinner? When did this love begin? Oh, well, says somebody, I know, it was at the conversion of Paul who was writing. I know, says somebody, when Paul was on the road to Damascus and saw the bright light and fell down and was converted. When Saul of Tarsus became Paul, the apostle, at his conversion then Christ began to love him. Well, it is true that Christ loves to see people converted, that is so. But this love began before the conversion of Paul. He tells us that in this very letter in a passage we didn't read but you can find it somewhere in Chapter 1. Paul says, that "God separated me from my mother's womb and called me by His grace." (Galatians 1, 15) So somebody says I got it now, Christ began to love this man as soon as he was born. Well, it is true that Christ does love those who are His people as soon as they are born. But it goes even back before that. Christ loved this sinner in eternity before he existed. The love of Jesus for His people doesn't just begin at our conversion, it doesn't just begin at our birth. It has no beginning. Christ has loved His people from everlasting. And He loves them to everlasting. He writes their names in the book of life. He loved them from eternity past.
I am going to give you a word or two words rather to explain what I have just said. We call this unconditional election. Now what is that? It is simply this, it is the love of Christ for any sinner. His eternal love for the sinner and it's referred to us as unconditional election. Christ loves His people before they love Him. He loved His people before they knew Him. As a Christian, I am different from others, we can say, because Christ has loved me eternally. Now this is something which is extremely sweet, surely. If you are a Christian here tonight, then you can breathe the oxygen of encouragement. Christ did not begin to love you when you started to follow the Gospel. He didn't begin to love you when you were born and came from your mother's womb. He loved you when He was in the glory with His Father and the Spirit, eternally. In that eternity past, before the world was. And if that doesn't do us good, then I do not know what we are made of. We must have hearts of marble if we do not feel gratitude to Christ for that. I am going to prove that this is what the Bible teaches.
Let me use just one or two simple ways to put in this point. In the Old Testament, there were two twins born. Their names were Esau and Jacob. And because they were twins, they were both born at the same time. They had the same father, they had the same mother. But God says that He loved one of them but He did not love the other. God Himself says that. He loved Jacob but He did not love Esau. He loved one of them. Now this is what we mean by unconditional election. It is God's choice. God's love came on one of those two twins. But you say to me, that's very strange. Why should God love one but not both? And the answer is, we do not know. God is God. And He has a right to do whatever He wishes to do. And we can't quarrel with God. And that's what Paul means. The Son of God loved me. He is amazed of the thought. All the more so because he was so cruel to the Lord's people. You remember how Paul used to be before his conversion? Killing Christians. Taking them off to prisons. Speaking against them. Reasoning against them. Blaspheming Christ. And causing Christians to blaspheme Christ or else be put to death with torture. And yet says Paul, "all the time, Christ loved me."
Another way of putting it is this, the Bible says, God is like a potter. Now we know what a potter was in the Old Testament times. He had a sort of a circular table and there was a spindle through it. And then a little wheel at the bottom and he could spin this with his foot, pumping it I suppose with a little peddle and the table would go round and round and round, faster and faster like an old fashioned sewing machine or something of that kind. And then the potter would put his clay on top of this little table and it would go round and round. And his skillful fingers, practiced over many years, would run over the shape of the clay and it would become a vase or a pot. Now sometimes when the potter was doing that, he wouldn't like it, the shape wasn't right, he wouldn't want it. So he would brake it and made it again into another pot. And the Bible says that's how God is with mankind. He makes one pot to honour and another pot to dishonour. And you say, why should that be? And I say, because He is God. He is not like us, He is the potter, we are the clay. All we can do is bow down with our head and worship God. He has a right to do with you and me whatever He wishes.
Now, says, Paul, "Christ loved me" and the Christian knows that God loves Him with a personal love. And a particular love. He doesn't simply love us in the mass. Now imagine a huge football crowd of 25 or 55 thousand people. And supposing you were called on to go into the football ground and stand on the grass and look at all these thousands of people and then it was said to you, you've got to love them all alike. It's impossible. You couldn't do it. But then if you saw your mother there or your father there, or your brother, you say, ah, I love him or I love her. But you can't love all these people the same. Love is a particular thing. You don't love people in the mass. You don't love a million people. You love one here and another there. So God loves His people with a particular love. He doesn't love them all as a great lump. Like grains of rice in a packet or grains of sand on the seashore. He doesn't just look at them as being a great mass of humanity and loves them all alike. He loves them, His own people, He loves with a personal love as though there were nobody else in the world. He loves them personally and individually because He is God.
Now because Christ is God, He can do something that you and I cannot do. Sometimes, you hear of people who loves somebody but that other person doesn't return the love. We refer to this as unrequited love. A very sad thing. A young man, let us say, falls in love with a very beautiful lady. And very nervously he goes up to her and he says, 'Madam, I love you and seek your hand in marriage.' She scorns him and tells him to go away, not to talk such rubbish. She will never love him anyway. And the poor man has to go away and feed upon the ashes of disappointment for many a long days. We call that unrequited love. But Christ never has unrequited love. All those whom He loves, come to love Him, everyone of them. That's why, Paul, of all people, can say, "the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2, 20)
This is what the Psalm means, Psalm 110, when it says, 'my people shall be willing in the day of my power.' Or His people willing in the day of His power. Psalm 110 verse 3. It is that Christ can make us love Him and every Christian knows that's what happened to him. An old writer put it beautifully, Samuel Rutherford, he said, 'I used to love the world and the things of this world but then Christ came from Heaven and He stole away my heart and ran back up to Heaven with it. And I couldn't love the world anymore. I have to love Him.' We have to love Christ when He steals our hearts away. When you fall in love with somebody, you can't help loving them. You just love them because you do and that's what a Christian is. He can't help loving Christ.
Now then, this love, is distinguishing love. It marks a sinner out from other sinners. I'm going to use this word, Arminianism. We don't always use this word, but I want to say what it is. Arminianism is something that came into Holland 350 or more years ago. Nearly 400 years ago. Now you know that Holland is a great country with wonderful Christians and great churches. And it had a wonderful reformation. And we should love the Dutch people. Many of them are great servants of Christ. And I'm afraid 350 or 360 years ago, or more, this trouble called Arminianism came into their churches and did a lot of harm. Now what is Arminianism? Well, it taught things which the Bible doesn't teach. It said, first of all it said, that we are not so sinful but that if we try hard enough we can make ourselves choose Christ for our Saviour. And then it said that God chooses those who choose Him. And the next thing it said was that Christ on the cross died for everybody in the same sense and then it said that when Christ comes to touch our hearts with His grace it is possible for us to say 'No, I don't want you'. And it said a fifth thing, it said that it's possible to become a Christian and then to drop off and fall away and become a Christian no more.
All these 5 mistakes were very serious. So the churches got together, all the good churches in Holland, of course, and England and Scotland, they sent their representatives and they had a wonderful conference. We call it The Synod of Dort. Round about 1618 or thereabout, great Christian ministers and elders they came together and they said, 'is this right?' 'Is Arminianism right?' And they studied the Bible and they said, no it is wrong. And they brought out a statement which we ought to know the name of, we call it The Five Points of Calvinism. And they are all summed up in five letters, TULIP. T stands for Total Depravity. U stands for Unconditional Election. L for Limited Atonement. I for Irrestible Grace and P for Perseverance. Now what is all that about? Now it means once Christ loves a sinner, He will love him forever. Once a Christian, always a Christian. So we don't choose Christ but He chooses us. Why does He love us when we become Christians for no reason other than that He loves us.
I say to you is not this a sweet text? Is not this an encouraging text? Is not this a pot of honey? Is it not like a honeycomb to Christians? He loves us before we existed. Why did He do so? Now, because it was His good pleasure to do so. And He is God. He didn't love everybody like this, did He? What about the thousands who never come near the house of God? What about the millions in the world who never had a Bible in their own language? What about the millions upon millions who never heard of Christ? He passed them by. He left them without His love. But to you and me, He has given this wonderful knowledge. Now this is given to us so that we should never feel lonely. If we have Christ, we have no need to be discouraged. We have no need to be afraid. We have no need to be lonely. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8, 31) "The Son of God loved me," says Paul, "and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2, 20)
Now the love which is the bond between the sinner and Christ, is Christ's love, more than ours. Oh, it's true that the Christian loves Christ. But what Paul is talking about here is Christ's love for us. Christ loved me and gave Himself for me. It is love which issued in action. Now some people say they love you but they never do anything for you. Some people are fair weather friends. They only love you for what they can get out of you. Christ is the opposite. He only loves us to do us good. We can't do any good to him. He has got everything in the universe as His own. He came in selfless love to give Himself on the cross for us. On the cross He took our guilt and died to bring us to God.
Let me illustrate that. Charles Dickens, a famous writer, a hundred years ago, in England. And he wrote a famous book, called The Tale of Two Cities. It's about the French Revolution. Now right at the end of the book, something happened which is very touching. In Paris, in a huge dungeon, called the Bastille, there were many prisoners and they were all waiting to be guillotined, to have their heads chopped off. And amongst them was one particular man, now the question was, how could he be rescued? One courageous friend said, I know. He went into the dungeon as a visitor and he talked to the man in the Bastille and he said take off your clothes and I will take off mine - switch clothes. You can quietly walked out as though you were me, I'll stay there to be guillotined for you. So they did. They changed clothes. And the man who was due to be killed walked scot free and he was never discovered. I think he was an Englishman and came back to London safe. And the other one heroically died his death. So did Christ Who came from Heaven to take our clothes and give us His clothes. He took our rags, our sins and He gives us the royal robe of sonship. And He makes us the children of God.
Queen Victoria who was a great monarch in this country was one day traveling in her carriage through London. And a man drew a pistol from his hip and he pointed at the Queen in order to shoot her dead. One of the bystanders who was admiring her Majesty as she was traveling along, a great crowd you understand lining the streets. He saw this man and he threw himself in the way of the bullet and took the bullet in his head and dropped down dead, saved the Queen. So did our Lord Jesus Christ stand in the place of the curse and judgment of God against us. He took the bullet of God's judgment in Himself. He died for us. "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me."
Years ago, I used to be a teacher in a school in Armadale, near Glasgow. There is a very interesting lamp post in Armadale. It was specially ornamented, different from the other lamp posts in the corner of the street. And I once asked the question, 'why is this lamp post different?' Well, many people didn't know. But an old person said this, 'it is to mark the spot where a woman did something very brave.' 'Well, what was it?' I said, 'what did she do?' 'Well', she said, 'one day there was a child on a pavement and along came a bus and this child walked out or stepped out and come to the bus and the woman saw it and what she did was she threw herself in front of the bus and pushed the child out of the way. And of course she was killed outright herself. And the people were so impressed by her courage and her bravery, they put this lamp post there to mark the spot.' The Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us as the Great juggernaut of God's judgment was about to crush us all in hell. Christ came and He died for us.
A friend of mine, who was a preacher, used to be a strong man. He used to throw the hammer in the highland games. He had that wonderful strength to throw the hammer and he told this story. He was once at the highland games somewhere on the west coast and another hammer thrower was there. And there were ropes so the people would stay outside the line of flight of the hammer. And the man was about to sling his hammer and throw it. And again a little child went under the rope, right in the line of the hammer and the strong man saw it coming and he grabbed the child and brought him back and took the hammer himself and was killed again on the spot. Christ loved us, my friends, and He gave Himself for us. Oh, the love of Christ! No wonder Thomas Chalmers could say, the Christian has discovered the expulsive power of a new affection. What did he mean? He meant when we are converted to Christ, we can never be the same man again that we were. Something changes us. How can we live like other people when we know that the Son of God has loved us and died for us? How can we go back to the world? How can we go back to the drink and to the frivolity of this world? How can we go back to the sinful pleasures of life? How can we live like other people? We can't. It is the explusive power of a new affection. If we love Christ, we can't be in love with this world. We are crucified with Christ, says Paul.
Let me close, my time is nearly gone. An old preacher had this story which he used once to great effect in Aberdeen, preaching there. The story he said is this, there was a young woman in the prime of life. Extremely beautiful. And she was the daughter of a very rich man who lived in a great house, or palace, or castle even. I think the mother had died and she was his only child and all the more precious of course for that. The father was very concerned that his precious and beautiful daughter should marry wisely and marry a man who would love her. One day there was a knock at the door of their, let us say, castle and there was a beggar in rags. 'What do you want?' said the maid. 'May I have a word with the young lady who lives here?' Well it seemed reasonable enough. So the girl was called for and down she came. And he had a word with her. She looked at his rags and then he went on his way. And she went upstairs to her father. And he said 'Who was that?' 'That's the man I am going to marry, father', she said. 'What?' He looked at the window and saw going down the drive, this ragged man. 'You must be out of your mind, my dear!' he said, 'you are not serious?' 'Oh, yes. He is going to come back a year today to marry me.' Well, the father as you can well imagine tried every argument he knew to discourage his daughter from so unsuitable a match as he thought. But nothing would change her mind. 'I love him, my father. And he loves me. He will be a perfect husband.' The days went by, days turned to months and with the rotation of time, one year came round. She was dressed to perfection waiting for her bridegroom to come. The father sobbing his eyes out at the loss of his daughter to so unworthy a beggar. But when all were waiting, at the gates of their castle grounds, the sound of a trumpet. A man on a white charger with a retinue of servants came down the drive. He was a prince who had disguised himself in rags and spoken his words of love and the lady recognized the prince inside the rags and all lived happily ever after. And the old preacher, preaching in Aberdeen, made the point that we will all have seen by now. That is Christ and His people. O, when Jesus came the first time to Bethlehem, he came in rags. But when he comes in the end of history, every eyes will see His glory. Ten thousand times ten thousands will be with Him. No wonder the apostle said with great love and affection, "the son of God loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2, 20) I want everyone of you to love Him and to trust in Christ, to give your hearts to this great Saviour. Be married to Him now and when He comes in the end of history, He will take you at last to His mansions of glory in the sky.
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