(This is a series of addresses on CALVARY given during a week of special services in the month of February 1935 preached in the early years of his ministry)
Portion of Scripture read: Isaiah 53.
I commence these addresses with an earnest and sincere desire for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the contemplation of this wonderful fact, which is central to the universe - the fact of Calvary. I am going to ask you to consider the truth of substitution. However I may perhaps be allowed to say by way of introduction that I am not, in this series before us at present, arguing the fact of God. I do not intend to discuss the truth of the integrity of the Scriptures, nor am I discussing the moral nature of man both as to the fact of sin and the reality of conscience. All these are basic. They are taken as being fundamental, and your gathering together here tonight is an acknowledgement that you believe in God, that you accept the authority of the Word of God, that you are prepared to acknowledge the fact of a moral consciousness of sin and of conscience.
My address is to those who understand and realise these facts and to ask you to join me in a simple study of the cross of Jesus Christ. And I start, where I trust everybody here can start, because it is my earnest desire to proceed step by step, so that not even the youngest child shall misunderstand or be turned away from this moment, until we rejoice together in the doxology on Friday night at the last of these special studies. And therefore, let me start with Calvary, where you must start as a fact of history.
It is recorded in Scripture, and because it is so recorded in the Scriptures it becomes the guide to our understanding of that fact of history. We are to understand first of all, what is this fact of history, and then to ask what is the teaching of Scripture about it. Then to ask what is its experimental meaning to you and to me in the common walk of life. So I begin at Calvary, and there on the cross was Jesus, declared in Scripture to be God's only begotten Son. The Son of God - the Word made flesh, but who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, and took upon himself the form of a servant and became in the likeness of man; but who the Scriptures declare knew no sin, the prophet declaring of Him, that in Him was no deceit. He Himself could say, which of you convinceth me of sin? Satan findeth nothing in me, so that the apostle coming after Him could say He knew no sin.
These are the simple facts profound and marvellous, and I trust real to every one of us. It was this Jesus who died on the cross, judged and condemned by Pilate and the priests - God's Son brought to death by crucifixion at Calvary - a fact of history! Wrought out in the world of time, His blood shed upon the common earth amidst the oaths and curses of men, because sin was crucified, an undoubted historical fact!
You may say, "Well now, that is a wonderful example of martyrdom, or you may say it reveals the marvellous fidelity of God's Son to the obedience that God required of Him or you may say that and miss the teaching of Scripture," because where the fact is recorded, there it is well to seek its interpretation. My dear friends, if you move from that standpoint you are going to be defeated in your quest of Calvary. The Book that reveals the fact is the Book that will interpret the fact.
Now the Scriptures make Calvary central, vital and crucial.If Calvary is nothing more than martyrdom, or one blazing a trail before us as an example; if Calvary is nothing more than this, then the Scriptures are disorganised. You must individually decide for yourselves, you cannot go away without deciding what is Calvary. It is either supreme or it is nothing. Calvary will either lead us into experience of all truth, or it leads us nowhere. But, my dear friends, there is no halfway house. God is going to pour mighty power through His people when they see there is no half-way house.
St.Peter declares in his first Epistle that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets. "The Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ".......... and when Philip was taken down into the desert and joined the Eunuch in the chariot, who was reading a manuscript which was the reading we had tonight as our passage - Isaiah 53. He did not read the Bible as some of us do: he read it with interest and when Philip joined him, he said: "I would like to know, of whom doth the prophet speak?" This is a profound thing; there is marvellous news here. Of whom doth the prophet speak?"
Then Philip, coming away from that marvellous revival in Samaria, preached
unto the Eunuch, Jesus, - Jesus bearing our iniquities -" the Lord hath
laid on Him the iniquity of us all". Our Lord on the very eve of His
passion, when He saw with such clarity the death that was before Him gathered
His disciples and said: "This is my blood of the new covenant which
is shed for many for the remission of sin." The exalted Lord from heaven
having taught Paul by direct revelation, he could say; "Christ died
for our sins according to the Scriptures."
Paul wrote to the Galatians: "He gave Himself for our sins," and to the Corinthians he could say: "He knew no sin. He was made to be sin for us." Therefore God has spoken. The supreme issue in this world is sin. This is the fact, and He went to the cross concerning the issue of sin, not for Himself, but for the race, for us.
At Calvary sin is revealed, because if Jesus Christ is the Son of God and is in very truth sinless and without sin, what is the condition of the human heart that could send Him to the cross? For that is the revelation of salvation, because in God's view the wages of sin is death, and the man who is in sin is without hope. Therefore, Jesus died. If God's Spirit brings home these simple truths to you that sin is the supreme issue, you will have no appetite to talk about any other issue to the world. If God could give His Son in the issue of sin, then my dear friends, you cannot give your life for anything else.
And so Peter declares, "He bare our sins in His body on the tree." Notice this, He bore our sins in His body; as the body was placed on the cross He bore our sin in His body on the tree. He bore my sins in death and in bearing death He bore my sin. Now in the Book of Numbers, we are told about the spies when they came back from Canaan. They declared there were giants in the land. Because of their unbelief God said: you were 40 days spying out the land, and now it shall be a year for a day: for 40 years ye shall bear your iniquities in the wilderness. What did He mean? Why, you shall bear the consequences of your wickedness. You were in the spirit of unbelief for 40 days, you shall bear your iniquities for 40 years.
And so Our Lord bore the consequences of my sin in His body when it was placed on the cross. Of course, death becomes the master factor according to the plane of life, which it touches. Death for an animal is not like death for a baby; death for a baby is not like death for a man in the fullness of his prime, and death for us is not like death for Jesus Christ. He bore my sins in death. Therefore, at Calvary Jesus took my place. There at Calvary He was my substitute, the death that He died I ought to die. It is not a matter of speculation. A man may say, yes but I want to know how it is done. When I know how it is done then I will believe.
It is not a matter of speculation how it is done. The other day the Duke of Gloucester in Australia or New Zealand launched a vessel from Bury in Lancashire by pressing a button the other side of the world, and this boat here in England slipped down into the water, I do not suppose he knew how it was done, he simply accepted the truth that it was to be done and he acted upon it. I am not called upon to ask God to explain to me how it is done, nor am I to enquire into its morality. Is it right that another should bear my sin in this way? Is it a moral fact that another should take my sin? If God be righteous then there can be nothing unrighteous in God giving His Son for me, and if Jesus Christ be without sin there can be no sin in Jesus dying for my sin. If God be righteous how can He commit Himself to an unrighteous act? By His righteousness He seals the substitution. If Jesus Christ be sinless then He cannot sin in giving Himself, in being the substitution for my sin. This is a revelation of the Word of God that God has done it, so here I behold a deep unveiling. The Father sent His Son. The Son laid down His life for the sin of the world.
I suppose the most beautiful picture we have in the Bible of this is Abraham and Isaac going up the mount. Abraham knowing that his treasure was in his son and Isaac knowing that his inheritance was in his father, and I can imagine that the altar was built and the fact discussed with his son about God's profound and mysterious Will. I recall how someone has suggested that Abraham and Isaac kneeled down by the side of that altar and the father gave his son and the son gave himself to the Will of God. But God spared not His only Son, but freely gave Him up for us. And that is just the fact that God has done it all. It is finished.
I want you now to see this principle, to see what God has done and when we have seen what God has done, it will be for us to accept it. We shall see what God has done and then we shall accept it - not what we are doing, but what God has done. And here is God tonight presenting this glad fact of revelation. He has done it all. He sent His Son into the world and laid my iniquity upon Him. The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Now God wants from you and from me, if we have not done this before, a simple acceptance of what He has done. "O God I see it. I accept the truth of Thy Word that Jesus took my place at Calvary, that in very truth Jesus died in my place and was my substitute." Take hold of the fact of history and then take hold of the fact of revelation and say, "I see it, the fact of history becomes the fact for my heart. Jesus died for me, for my sins, in His body- at Calvary -and the whole work of salvation was done without my stirring a hand, and it is mine as I accept what Christ has done. Jesus died for sinners therefore Lord for me.
To accept Him like that as your substitute is to be saved. He comes and offers Himself as your substitute taking your place. I say from the bottom of my heart I thank God that by the Holy Spirit my eyes have been opened to the fact of history and the fact of Calvary and it has become the joy of my heart. Jesus died for me. No trying; no making great efforts to be a Christian, and no resolving to put your life in order. All these things come after Calvary; they never come before Calvary. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling. Jesus died for sinners, therefore Lord for me. And may God's Holy Spirit so make the heart tender and dissolve our prejudices and our pride that we shall every one of us be able to say from the heart: He took my place at Calvary and was my substitute and because He is my substitute He is my Saviour.
I trust I have made that so simple that you cannot possibly mistake it; that there shall not be one who shall not be able to say at the close of this meeting we are altogether on the first night of this series on Calvary. We have had our first view of Calvary. What a glorious one it is! The wages of sin is death and death has gone because it has been worked out in Jesus, and as God unveils it,take the place of a child in the simplicity of faith; Jesus died for sinners. Therefore Lord for me. Is He yours tonight, my dear friends? 0 that God in His mercy will grant that no one will go out of this building tonight without being able to say God's Spirit has touched my heart and Jesus is my substitute and my Saviour. That will have been a point to reach tonight of infinite worth. As God's Spirit strives with you, say now, "Jesus died for sinners, therefore Lord for me."
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