There always have been, and always will be to the end of time, two classes on the earth—the believers in Jesus and those who reject Him. The truth will be a savour of life unto life to those who believe. However wicked, abominable, and corrupt he may be, the sinner will be purified by faith in Him, made clean by the doing of His word. But the same truth will be to the unbeliever a savour of death unto death.
Argument will fail to convince the sinner of his responsibility to God. Learning and talent will fail to convince the soul. But the presentation of the love of God has a convincing power above that of argument, debate, or eloquence. The love of Christ, as expressed in self-denial, self-sacrifice, and death, as He bowed low under the sins of humanity, touches the sympathies and melts the stubborn heart. The fact that the Son of God, innocent and pure, suffered for sin; that the guiltless bore the punishment of the guilty, the just endured the penalty for the unjust, breaks the heart; and as Jesus is lifted up, conviction strikes to the soul, and the love that prompted the bestowal of the infinite gift of Christ, constrains the repenting one to surrender all to God. The seed of gospel truth has been dropped into his heart; and he beholds a love that is without a parallel, pledging a personal Saviour, and with Him every needed blessing. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” [Romans 8:32]?
Those who receive Christ are melted and subdued by the manifestation of His love in His humiliation, suffering, and death in their behalf. They behold Him as their substitute and surety, as pledging Himself to accomplish their full salvation through a plan that is consistent with the justice of God, and which vindicates the honour of His law. But there are some who are stirred with strong emotion as they view the humiliation of Jesus, who shrink from following in His footsteps when they understand that they must be sharers in His humiliation and suffering. When Jesus asks the surrender of self without reserve, when He asks compliance with His government, and that they shall walk in humble obedience and implicit trust, their nature rebels. “No,” says the proud heart; “we want to keep our independence.” But this is the very thing that Jesus wants you to have. It was that you might be freed from the slavery of sin that He died on Calvary’s cross. He died that through faith in Him, you might be free indeed, and stand fast in the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Contemplate the sufferings of your Redeemer, and you will find that a check will be put upon sin. Every sin that is committed is a re-enacting of Christ’s humiliation, a re-opening of His wounds. Those who refuse to look upon Jesus lifted up upon the cross, who will not deny the inclination of their perverse hearts, who will not give up what they term their independence, their freedom to serve the author of sin as they please, will find their hearts filled with bitterness against those who accept Jesus as a personal Saviour. To them Christians will seem their enemies and injurers, and the gospel a sword.
Paul writes, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” [Galatians 6:14]. There is a mutual suffering here presented on the part of the Christian and the world. The world sees no charm in Jesus, and the Christian sees in Him matchless charms, and expresses his love, saying, “Thy gentleness hath made me great” [1 Samuel 22:36]. Christians realize the blessing that comes upon those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they are filled. The blessing comes upon those who desire entire conformity to the will of God, who desire to know Christ and to reflect His image. Through the merits of Jesus Christ, they realize that nothing is reserved in the heart of God for them but the fountain of the water of life—tender mercy, loving-kindness, infinite compassion. Jesus changes place with the sinner who believes, and the Father loves the followers of Christ, even as He loves His Son. He who receives the truth, has his heart filled with peace and joy as he contemplates Jesus.
But how different is the case of him who refuses to receive the salvation purchased at infinite cost. He refuses to look upon the humiliation and love of Jesus. He plainly says, “I will not have this man to reign over me.” To all who take this attitude, Jesus says, “I came not to send peace, but a sword” [Matthew 10:34]. Families must be divided, in order that all who call upon the name of the Lord may be saved. All who refuse His infinite love, will find Christianity a sword, a disturber of their peace. The light of Christ will cut away the darkness that covers their evil doings; and their corruption, their fraud, their cruelty will be exposed. Christianity unmasks the hypocrisies of Satan, and it is this unmasking of his designs that stirs his bitter hatred against Christ and His followers.
Satan has woven his spell even over the professed church of Christ, and many who claim to believe in Christ seem to be in the stupor of death. But the Lord has not left them to slumber on; He has sent them a message to arouse them from their carnal security. A part of these professors arouse and repent, and do their first works; but those who take comfort in their legal religion, in their form of godliness that is devoid of the power, feel that they have been personally rebuked and injured by the repentance of those who have aroused and returned unto the Lord. Instead of humbling their hearts and confessing their backsliding, they resist and oppose the message the Lord has sent. They oppose their finite wisdom against the wisdom of the Infinite. They allow their prejudices and passions to hold sway; they work on Satan’s side of the question. Thus the advocates of truth are brought into an unexpected conflict, and they are forced to bear witness to the truth, and to resist the hostility and hatred of those who would make the truth of God of none effect. Thus dissension comes in like a sword to divide believers and unbelievers.
The Bible Echo, March 26, 1894.