The Way of Salvation
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record, that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge; for they being ignorant of God’s righteousness have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God; for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth; for Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:); or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:1-9).
We propose to take these verses which we have read together, one by one, and seek by the Spirit’s help to press home their plain, searching truths upon each one present. Now let us look at verse No. 1. We read:—“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that the might be saved.” Now see, the apostle Paul—the writer of these words—is bending his knee, and praying for his own nation. He prays for something definite—their salvation. When he prays that they may be saved, is it not a proof that they are lost? Of course it must be. It is only lost people who need salvation. Was he praying then for a nation of cut-throats, drunkards, and reprobates? No; he was praying for a nation of religionists. They were religious in the extreme, but they we not saved. Think of that! We learn very plainly, then, from this first verse—
religion cannot save the soul.
Only Christ can do it. Some people are sound asleep in a religious cradle, and the devil, well-pleased, rocks them to and fro.
I said to a lady in this building last night, “Are you saved?”
She replied, “I have been confirmed.”
I said, “I don’t ask if you are confirmed, but are you saved? Lots of confirmed people are lost.”
“But I belong to the Lutheran Church,” she said, with a self-satisfied air, as if that settled the question. beyond all doubt.
I replied, “You may belong to a hundred Lutheran Churches, and still go to hell.
Do you belong to Christ?
Nothing short of that will do for the sinner.” Oh! it is a great thing to get people to understand that they are lost. Are you lost, or saved? There is no middle ground—only two classes of people in God’s sight—those, who are lost in their sins, on the broad road going straight to hell; and those who are saved by the precious blood of Jesus, on the narrow road that leadeth to heaven. We press home the question, Are you lost or saved? Many people think they are only lost when they get to hell, but every sinner out of Christ and in his sins is lost this moment—not lost for ever, thank God, but still lost. He may be religious, but lost. A church-member, but lost. A choir-singer, but lost. A preacher, but lost. When a man finds out he is lost, it is a great step in the history of his soul. For when he discovers that he is lost, he is then deeply anxious to be saved. But be honest with ourself, and confess the truth.
Look at the Philippian jailer. He took the apostle Paul, and his companion, Silas, and thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks; he probably took a good supper, and went sound asleep; he didn’t care how he had treated God’s servants. At midnight he was
awakened by an earthquake,
the prison-walls rocked to and fro, and the doors were opened. It was death, under the Roman law, to allow a prisoner to escape; he knew that death stared him in the face. He was just about to plunge his hapless soul into eternity by committing suicide, when Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.” These words saved him from bodily death, yet the jailer had now a far deeper question agitating his breast. With the drawn sword in his hand he had stood upon the very verge of eternity—his slumbering soul had awakened to its desperate need. A question not of Roman law, but of God’s favour or frown was demanding an immediate answer. He cried out as, trembling, he fell before the feet of his erstwhile prisoners, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
We would to God that some of you here were awakened to your awful condition, rendered still more awful because you are not aware of it. Some of you need an earthquake to awaken you.
A very eloquent preacher in England was preaching one evening, when all of a sudden he lost the thread of his discourse. He couldn’t gather himself together, and for a whole minute he stood looking at his audience. It seemed like an age to him. Finally he recovered himself, regained the thread of his discourse, and finished his preaching. When he left the place that night he was greatly distressed as he thought of how he had broken down. A year or two afterwards, a lady came up to him, and said, “Do you remember preaching some time ago, and making an awful pause?”
He replied, “Yes, I well remember it—it was a terrible experience to me.”
“Well,” she said, “I remember it, too. When you paused you looked straight at me, and I felt as if the seat underneath me were giving way, and I was dropping right into hell. That pause was used to my conversion.”
If your seat were to give way underneath you tonight, and you dropped into eternity, where would your soul be?
The first verse of our chapter tells us, then, that religion cannot save. The very hardest people to reach with the gospel are not the drunkards, or the harlots, but those self-satisfied professors, who are, encased in
the triple steel armour of a Christless religion,
who are wrapped up in forms and ceremonies, and ritual and church-going. You cannot get at them. Nothing but the mighty power of God can reach them.
A celebrated English evangelist some years ago was going to preach to some hundreds of prisoners in a jail. Just as he advanced to the platform a friend of his came up, and whispered in his ear, “Harry”—(Henry Moorhouse was his name)—“shake them over hell.”
Moorhouse replied, “No, I won’t—they have all lost their character. Jail-birds have no self-righteousness, they are not religious, they have no character to lose. I will preach to them the love of God.”
If we had this room filled with the out-and-out sinners of Baltimore, drunkards, harlots, and the like, it would be our great delight to preach to them of the love of God, which can reach the very vilest, and save them from their sins. But we have to talk straight, and speak plainly, and say hard things to you self-satisfied religionists. We have never read of the blessed Lord saying hard things to the publicans and sinners, but how scathingly He often addressed the Scribes and Pharisees. There fell, for instance, from the lips of
the Lover of men’s souls
such withering words as these: “Ye servants, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” At a preaching, a few months ago in England, a young lady came up one night with the tears rolling down her face. She had a lovely voice. We had noticed her singing the hymns at the meetings. She said, “What must I do? I have been a regular chapel-attender, have been the leading choir-singer for a long time, have passed as a Christian for eleven years, and thought I was one, and all that time I have been without Christ. I have never been converted, I have never been saved. What must I do?” She had discovered that she was unsaved, and very soon that religious young lady was saved.
Another in the same village came up, and said, “It is a terrible thing, but since you have come to this village I have found out that though I am religious, I have been deceiving myself, I am not a Christian.” She, too, got peace to her troubled soul.
Religious sinner, I would we had a thousand of you here to tell you the truth. Verse 1 of our chapter plainly tells us that religion cannot save the soul. Don’t forget that. What does it matter how correct your creed is, how many sacraments you have taken, how gorgeous your ritual is, how magnificent your places of worship are, if you are without Christ? You are on your way to hell, and lost as you sit there upon your seat. May God open your eyes.
Look at verse No. 2.—“For I bear them record, that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” Now the apostle Paul adds that these religious people were sincere people, really sincere, in earnest, and yet they were not saved. Verse 1 tells us plainly that religion cannot save; verse 2 tells us as plainly that
sincerity cannot save the soul.
People commonly say—“You’ve got your religion, and I’ve got mine, and so long as we are both sincere, we will both get to heaven at last.” That language is of the devil, it simply deceives people. Suppose two friends want to walk to Washington. One determines to go south, and the other north, and they say on parting, “Well, it doesn’t matter whether we go south or north, as long as we are sincere; we both want to go to Washington, and we shall both land there.” Wouldn’t you think the men, who talked in such a manner, lunatics? and yet people talk like that when it is a question of heaven, with its eternal song and light, or hell with its everlasting anguish and darkness. What profound folly!
Look at that captain! It is a black night. There is a fearful storm at sea. He has lost his reckonings. The sky is beclouded, and there is not even a solitary star to shed its friendly ray amid the darkness. He does not know which way to steer. He is at his wits’ end. He must do something. He is steering most sincerely straight for the jagged rocks on that treacherous coast. Will his sincerity save his vessel from being broken like matchwood on that rock-bound coast?
Take another case. Your child is ill. You send for a doctor. The case is very serious. Most sincerely he administers the wrong remedy. Will your child live? Will the doctors sincerity save it?
We don’t care whether the speaker be preacher or priest, if he tells you that you can get to heaven by being religious, or being sincere, he tells you
an abominable lie.
He does! He does!
On the broad road there may be magnificent choirs, and organs, and priests in robes and what not, but, mark you, hell is at the end of it—only Christ can save. Don’t misunderstand me. We are not running down what is of God, God forbid, but we are running down, and will continue to do so by the grace of God, that kind of preaching that puts religion in place of Christ, creed in place of the Saviour, ordinances in place of the atoning blood. There is many an earnest preacher today who preaches the good old gospel. Would there were ten thousand more of them! But those men who tickle people’s ears, and tell them the broad road lead to heaven, and that religion will do instead of Christ and the waters of baptism instead of the blood of Jesus are like the blind leaders of the blind, deceived themselves, and deceiving others. We implore you not to be deceived by them.
Now if verse 1 tells us that religion cannot save, and verse 2 tells us that Sincerity cannot save, verse 3 as plainly tells us that
good works cannot save.
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” It is hard to knock the idea out of people’s heads that good works can save the soul—people will cling to this mistaken thought. The turning over of new leaves, the saying of prayers, the doing of penance and good works, their churches and their chapels; they think these will save their precious souls. They cannot. Why, one of the Old Testament prophets knew better than that, and said, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Suppose you were to clothe yourself with filthy rags, and visit a dear friend of yours, wouldn’t he think you were insulting him? Of course he would. Yet that is just what you are doing when you are bringing your good works to God. There are people going about to establish their own righteousness. Going about! How busy they are with so-called good works! Our verse says, they “have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” They have not bowed to Christ. What is the righteousness of God?
Verse 4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” If you want righteousness, you must have it in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christianity does not consist of well-formulated creeds and philanthropic doctrines, but of the living Person of the Son of God—the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the righteousness of every one that believeth. On Calvary’s cross He did the mighty work of atonement; and the sinner, trusting in that once crucified, but now glorified Saviour, is
in God’s sight—a righteousness different in quality, and exceeding any that the law demanded--a righteousness only measured by the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.
Let me give you an illustration. Two men are charged with the crime of theft. They are brought up before a petty court, their case is gone into, and it is clearly proved that one man is guilty, and the other innocent. We will suppose, further, that the judge discovers that the guilty man is the son of a personal friend, and he determines, out of respect to his friend, to pay the fine, and forgive the guilty man. But in the case of the innocent man, what can he do for him? Forgive him? No, because there is nothing to be forgiven. He is innocent. What is the righteous course, then, for the judge to take in his case? He cannot forgive him, for there is nothing to forgive. The judge must clear him in the court where the charge has been made against him, clear his character, and justify him before the eyes of all.
Let me repeat: What can the judge do? Forgive THE GUILTY—justify THE INNOCENT. Another question: can he justify the guilty man? No. Why? Because he has lost his character.
Now for our point. Fellow-believer, how can God justify you and me, for we were guilty? He can, blessed be His holy name, He does forgive us,
guilty as we were,
because of the atoning merit of the death of the Lord Jesus. But can He justify us? That is the question. Illustrations on this point all fail. We are guilty, yet if we believe on the Lord Jesus, God, by virtue of the finished work of Calvary, freely forgives. But more, God imputes righteousness to us—divine righteousness—His own righteousness; we stand before God with a new character, we are justified by God. It is not that we regain our character, for we never had one to lose, not even the character of Adam innocent, for it was after the fall that Adam became the head of his race, and hence we were never yet, representatively, in Adam innocent.
God imputes righteousness to us,
because of the work of the Lord Jesus, which gains infinitely in value by what He is, and the resurrection proves all this. But it is through Christ’s death that all this comes to us, not by His life on earth. His life could only have thrown into the shade of a deeper condemnation, our position as sinners before God. It is through His death and resurrection all these blessings accrue to the believer.
I ask you, believers, tonight, do you know what it is to be justified by faith? Do you know what justification means? To know it, you must have faith. There are a couple of verses which put the whole thing into a nutshell. Speaking of the Lord Jesus we read, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 4:25-5:1). You cannot know justification, and consequently enjoy peace with God, unless you know Christ risen, and what His resurrection involves. He died for our offences—in other words He met at the cross in His own blessed Person the liabilities of the guilty sinner, who believes. But, further, He was raised for our justification. It has been well remarked lately, that He died representatively, and rose representatively—that is, as I understand it, the believer can see in faith the blessed Saviour dying as his representative—in his room and stead, and he stands or falls with Christ. The Saviour glorified God about his (the believer’s) sins to the full, and Jesus is raised by
the glory of the Father,
and the believer sees Christ risen as his representative, and thus faith appropriates the meaning of the resurrection. The believer knows he is as clear before God, as Christ risen. This received in faith in the soul gives me, not merely the assurance that clinging to the written word gives, blessed as that is, but PEACE WITH GOD; I know how I stand before Him on the ground of righteousness, even as Christ stands. Before God, therefore, can bring one single charge against the believer, He must banish Christ from the place He is in at this moment, and
replace him in the grave.
Has not Christ glorified God on the cross? Has He not done a mighty work? Has not that blessed Jesus come out of that terrible ordeal a triumphant, risen Saviour? It is a question of the deepest moment for each one, How does He stand with God? In cloudless favour, and absolute righteousness. And God imputes to the believing sinner’s account, righteousness—righteousness only measured by Christ in glory, known there as the One, “who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ is the measure of my acceptance, and before my acceptance before God can alter, Christ must alter.
“My love is ofttimes low,
My joy still ebbs and flows
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change Jehovah knows.”
What does the 5th verse say? “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” Some people talk about the law, and say they are going to keep it. They put the ten commandments up on their walls, and are trying to get to heaven by making it the rule of life. Mark you, if you don’t keep the law thoroughly, fully and completely in every particular,
it can only curse you.
The law falls into two sections: Your duty God-ward, and your duty manward. It demands that you should not merely conform to it in the outward observance of morality and uprightness, etc., but it demands that you should love God with ALL your heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). Now you don’t do it. No, you don’t do it.
You are something like a little Scots lad, who said, “I don’t think I should like to go to heaven. The Sabbath is a very dull day with the psalm-singing, praying, and long sermons. Heaven will be one long, dreary Sabbath, I don’t think I should like heaven.” This is like you, you don’t love God with ALL your heart. If you did, the idea of always being in God’s presence in glory would be a most welcome thought to your soul. If you love God with all your heart, would you rather go to a preaching like this, or to the theatre? Which now? If you would not most decidedly rather come here, it is proof that you don’t keep the law, because you should love God with all your heart. People like to love Him on Sunday, and themselves the other six days of the week. Now you must love Him with
all your heart.
But, what about your duty—manward? Listen The law says, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” You don’t do that. The face you see in the looking-glass every morning, is the one you love best. You don’t need any proof of this. Selfishness is an ingrained quality in the human heart. The law curses it. No one, save the Lord Jesus Christ, has ever fulfilled the lofty requirements of the law. Moses, David, Elijah, nay, the most exalted of the human family have all come short. You are no exception to the truth of this. The terrible indictment is true of all. To keep the law is an impossibility. Why, then, was it given? To convict man of sin and helplessness—“that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful”—“that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
Moreover the law was never given in order that men might gain heaven. It distinctly says, “That the man which doeth those timings shall LIVE by them.” If you can keep the law all your days, you will never die. All must die, from the Queen of England on her throne and the President of the United States in the White House, down to the meanest of mankind, all must die, a proof that all are sinners, and that all have failed to keep the law. What you need is a salvation outside of yourself altogether, for your case is hopeless. You are shut up to God. He is willing to bless. Thank God the next two or three verses prove to us that salvation, as far as the sinner is concerned, is the simplest thing in the world. Verses 6 and 7 plainly mean this—It is not required of a sinner, who wants salvation, to pray to God to send the Lord Jesus Christ into this world. There is no need for anyone to go up to heaven to bring Christ down.
“His errand to the earth was love,
To wretches such as we
To pluck us from the jaws of death,
Nailed to th’accursed tree.”
He came of His own accord. No one prayed that He might come. Man would never have known that
“God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” were it not a fact, that Christ came into the world to save sinners—what a blessed errand!—to be nailed to the cross, and to die in His deep love for those who were His enemies, to shed His precious atoning blood and to be put into the grave! Oh! we don’t need to pray for Him to come. Nor do we need to pray that He may be raised, to ask the question: “Who shall descend into the deep (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” No, the work is complete. The death and resurrection of Jesus are accomplished facts. We had no hand in them, though the blessings of both are all for us, and faith appropriates them, and both are necessary for us.
For instance; the boards of the tabernacle in the wilderness were each supported in place by two silver sockets—illustrative of redemption—the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are lots of Christians today, as it were, with but one socket, and they are
shaking backward and forward.
When death comes, they are often full of doubts and fears, not knowing whether they are going to heaven or not. There is little soul-stability about them. They know to some extent the meaning of the death of Jesus, but know nothing of the resurrection, save as an historical fact. They have never got beyond the cross. They don’t know Christ risen. Just as the board needed the two sockets for stability, so the believer requires the two facts of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus; he needs to know their meaning in God’s sight. We, believers, have all got as far as the cross, but what is the meaning of the resurrection?
Let me seek to illustrate it. In England, years ago, people were thrown into prison for debt. The Fleet Street prison in London had a world-wide notoriety as a debtors’ prison. Suppose you are a man with a large family, and heavy business responsibilities, and unfortunate enough to get hopelessly into debt, and about to be thrown into prison. A friend of yours comes forward and says, “I will go into prison instead of you,” and away he goes. This is like the Lord Jesus Christ coming down from heaven. We owed a mighty debt to God, and nothing but the prison-house of hell lay before us. The blessed Saviour came as our substitute, taking upon Himself all our liabilities to God. On the cross He died, shedding His precious blood which cleanseth from all sin, to pay the mighty debt. He went to prison. the prison-house of the grave, the door was locked, the sepulchre was sealed, and a Roman watch guarded it. But the grave could not hold Him. He rose triumphant on the third day, the mighty Victor over sin, the Despoiler of Satan—“that great Shepherd of the sheep.”
What does the resurrection prove? For in truth it is the very
keystone of the gospel.
The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in you sins.”
Let us return to our illustration. One day while walking down Fleet Street you see your friend on the opposite side of the street. You are greatly surprised, and exclaim, “Why, the debt is paid!” How do you know that? Because your friend is out of prison. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is out of the grave. He is risen. How do we know that our debt to God is paid, that all our sins are for ever gone? Because He is out of the grave, risen from the tomb.
But, still further, as you are about to go up to your friend, to congratulate him that he is out of prison, you see your creditor coming along the road. You begin to tremble as you see him approaching your friend, and ask yourself the question, “Will he hail the nearest policeman, and send my friend back to prison again?” Whilst you are wondering, he comes up to your friend, and greets him with a smile. You exclaim in blank astonishment, “Wonders will never cease.” Then you see him grasp his hand, and give it a hearty shake, and the two enter into friendly conversation. Now you are doubly sure that the debt is paid. First, your friend is out of prison; second, he is friends with the creditor.
To complete the illustration: the Lord Jesus Christ is out of the grave; we are sure our sins are put away. First, because He has risen from the dead; and, secondly, He has gone to glory. Forty days after He rose from the dead, “He led them (His disciples) out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up to heaven.” The eye of faith can follow Him. With His hands outstretched in blessing, they see Him leave this earth, and pass upward to heaven. He passes through yon gates, the angels fall back, and worship their Creator, as they see Him, a real Man, with the marks of His sufferings upon His holy person. He comes to the eternal throne, effulgent with supernal light, sits down upon it, and
God crowns Him with glory.
He is received in honour by the Creditor, even God. Yes, God is satisfied with what Jesus has done, and the believer can look up through the open heaven and say, There is my peace with God. “He is our peace.” We are doubly sure that the debt is paid, that God is satisfied, because Christ is risen from the dead, and is received up into glory. And He is there as our Representative—we are accepted before God in Christ.
Now let us read verse number 8: “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.”
Salvation is so near to you that you don’t need to rise from your seat to get it; it is in your heart, and in your mouth, that is it is not dependent upon works, or prayers, or tears, but simple belief in the heart, and confession with the mouth.
For, listen to verse number 9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” There it is—it comes right down to you. If your mouth will confess Jesus, that earth-rejected but glory-crowned, heaven-accepted Saviour, as Lord, and your heart believes that God hath raised Him from the dead,
GOD SAYS clearly and distinctly,
“thou shalt be saved.” Now it comes very close to you, it could not come closer. Without moving an eyelash, without rising from your seat, you can be saved. In this blessed gospel verse there are three shalts which go together—if thou shalt confess with thy mouth, and shalt believe in thine heart, thou shalt be saved. An old lady in England, who had been saved for fifty years and more, said to me the other night—“Thank God, Mr. Pollock, for those three shalts.” That dear, aged saint, just waiting at any moment to go home, found her joy and comfort in those three immutable shalts. God has linked them together—a three-fold cord, which cannot easily be broken. Again let me repeat the golden text. “If thou SHALT confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and SHALT believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou SHALT be saved.” God grant some here the simplicity of faith, to believe, to confess, and to rejoice on the authority of God’s word in a known salvation.
Now some may think we have been running down good works tonight. We will tell you where they come in, in case a wrong impression is left on your minds. A good many years ago a handsome slave was put up for auction in the neighbouring State of Virginia. An Englishman, who happened to see her, was filled with pity, and determined to buy her. The buyers came and eyed her up and down, and presently the auctioneer got behind his desk, and the bidding began very briskly, for this poor woman was a valuable piece of property. This gentleman continued bidding, until he had nearly reached the end of his money. At last he secured her. When he went to claim her, she turned upon him in fierce anger. Her indignation knew no bounds that an Englishman, of all people, should buy a slave. But in one minute her hatred turned to the very deepest love. He said to her, “I have bought you to set you free. Here are your papers.” She dropped down at his feet, and said, “Sir, I am
your slave for ever.”
One of his friends, who came to his beautiful home in Virginia, said to him, “Wherever did you get that slave? She is most attentive. I never saw anybody like that; she seems to anticipate your every want, her whole soul seems wrapped up in your welfare.”
The gentleman replied, “She is not my slave; I bought her, and set her free, and since that day she has been the most faithful servant I ever had.”
That is it, she didn’t serve to get her liberty, nor to keep her liberty, but because she had received her liberty. As Christians, it is our privilege to go in for good works out of love to the One who has saved us. We don’t go in for good works to get saved, nor to keep saved, but because we are saved. And the Christian, who is not filled with good works, is simply an advertisement for the devil. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people,
zealous of good works.”
Every follower of the Lord Jesus should be filled with good works.
But never forget that salvation is free, on the ground of pure sovereign grace. Religion, sincerity, good works cannot save. Only Christ can. May God give some sinner here to believe with his heart, confess with his lips, and go out of this building with the knowledge of salvation. May He grant it for His name’s sake. Amen.