Salvation Is of Christ, Not of Man


We should be in a bad condition indeed, if our salvation was suspended on conditions of our own performing. God's everlasting love, His decree of election, and the eternal covenant of redemption, are the three hinges on which the door of man's salvation turns. When man fell from God, infinite justice put a lock upon the door - a lock which nothing but the golden key of Christ's blood and righteousness can open. The Holy Ghost is, as it were, the omniscient keeper of the door; and He lets no souls in but such as He Himself has washed and justified and sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by His own efficacious grace. I should as soon expect to be saved by my sins as to be saved by my good works.

Augustus Toplady


The dead body of Lazarus was not more incapable of performing the functions of common life than we, by nature, are of performing one spiritual act, or even of feeling one spiritual desire; till He, who by His commanding Word, raised Lazarus from the grave, is pleased, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to raise us from the death of sin unto a new life of righteousness.

John Newton


Salvation is wholly of grace; not only undeserved , but undesired by us, till He is pleased to awaken us to a sense of our need of it. And then we find everything prepared that our wants require, or our wishes conceive; yea, that he has done exceedingly beyond what we could either ask or think. Salvation is wholly of the Lord, and bears those signatures of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, which distinguish all his works from the puny imitations of men. It is every way worthy of Himself, a great, a free, a full, a sure salvation. It is great, whether we consider the objects, miserable and hell-deserving sinners; the end, the restoration of such alienated creatures to his image and favor, to immortal life and happiness; or the means, the incarnation, humiliation, sufferings, and death of his beloved Son. It is free, without exception of persons, or cases, without any conditions or qualifications, but such as he himself performs in them, and bestows upon them.

John Newton

It Is Highly Reasonable

Is it not highly reasonable to affirm that God knows us better than we know ourselves? That what He says deserves our attention? That what He promises must be worth our while to seek in the way which He has appointed? Let reason work fairly upon these plain data, and it will confirm all that the Scripture declares concerning the guilt and depravity of man, and of the method of his recovery by faith in the blood of Jesus. That fallen man needs a Saviour: that his salvation is a work too great for a creature to accomplish; that he cannot be saved without a proper atonement made for his sin; nor unless his mind be enlightened, and renewed, by the powerful agency of the Holy Spirit. These points, reason, though unable to discover, or fully comprehend, can so far demonstrate, as to prove the impossibility of salvation upon any other grounds, if scriptural representation of the character of God and the heart of man, be admitted as a true one.

John Newton


Those passages of Scripture wherein the Gospel-truth is compared to LIGHT lead to this familiar illustration. Men by nature are stark blind with respect to this LIGHT; by grace the eyes of the understanding are opened. Among a number of blind men, some may be more ingenious and of better capacity than others. They may be better qualified for such studies and employments which do not require eyesight than many who can see, and may attain to considerable skill in them; but with respect to the true nature of light and colors, they are all exactly upon a level. A blind man, if ingenious and inquisitive, may learn to talk about the LIGHT, the sun, or the rainbow, in terms borrowed from those who have seen them; but it is impossible that he can have (I mean a man born blind) a just idea of either; and whatever hearsay-knowledge he may have acquired, he can hardly talk much upon these subjects without betraying his real ignorance. The case of one mentioned by Mr. Locke has been often quoted. He believed, that after much inquiry and reflection, he had at last found out what scarlet was; and being asked to explain himself, "I think," says he, "scarlet is something like the sound of a trumpet." This man had about the same knowledge of natural light as Nicodemus had of spiritual. Nor can all the learning or study in the world enable any person to form a suitable judgment of divine truth, till the eyes of his mind are opened and then he will perceive it at once.
Neither education, endeavors, nor arguments, can open the eyes of the blind. It is God alone, who at first caused light to shine out of darkness, who can shine into our hearts, "to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

John Newton

Job said, "I know that my redeemer liveth." Which of the two words should be of greater importance — my redeemer? The presumptuous person may claim the blessings based upon the fact that he has accepted the Redeemer as my Redeemer. The true believer embraces the promises as they are in Christ Jesus; He is my redeemer! All of the promises of the covenant are made to Christ Jesus and to His seed in Him. We claim the promises not upon the ground of anything we have done, but they are ours because of who He is, what He has done, and where He is now! There is a danger of being more taken up with the promises than the Redeemer, more interested in what was done than in Him who did it. Faith is to receive Christ; and having Christ, we have all in Christ.

Henry Mahan

My salvation never depended on my righteousness, and my assurance now does not depend on my righteousness. John Jasper, when asked, "What right do you have to be in heaven?" replied, "I am not here on my righteousness but on the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul said, "By the grace of God I am what I am."

Henry Mahan

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (Rom. 3:27)

Someone may think that the truth of election leads to pride — to teach that we are the chosen people of God will puff a man up with pride! Quite the contrary! The truth of God's sovereign grace in Christ is the very instrument which cuts out pride by the roots. It is written: "Who maketh thee to differ from another?" And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it" (1 Cor. 4:7)?

If you are a believer, look about you to those of your own family still without any knowledge of Christ, perhaps wrapped in religious tradition and darkness. Now, I ask you, who made you to differ? Look about your neighborhood and see drunkenness, profanity, drugs, and broken homes. Now, I ask you, who made you to differ? Are you by nature better than they? Or were you in heart and principle more godly than they? Look into the prisons, institutions, or upon nine-tenths of the world bound in popery, superstition, and darkness and tell me who made you to differ? How can a sinner saved by His grace be proud? Look down into the realms of darkness and see the angels that fell, reserved in everlasting chains. Look at the whole nations who, like the angels, have been passed by in God's wisdom and judgment and tell me who made you to differ? A proud believer would be totally inconsistent with free grace!

"Tis not that I did choose Thee;
For Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
But Thou hast chosen me."

Henry Mahan.

I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase (1 Cor.3:6)

No farmer can grow corn. He can plant corn; he can till corn: but only God can grow corn. In the same way, no man may "grow" a Christian. He can plant the seed of the word; he can cultivate that seed; but only God can cause it to grow and produce fruit. The means by which God "gives the increase" is called the New Birth or the Holy Spirit's calling. What Paul has written concerning this reveals several points about this aspect of a sinner's salvation: 1) That the efforts of men, no matter how zealous, are not responsible for the salvation of God's elect. None labored more zealously or more closely followed God's definition of the gospel than did Paul. Yet Paul never produced life in anyone! It is a sign of great arrogance when preachers recite the results of their ministries as though it were their accomplishment. 2) )The spiritual awakening of sinners is the work of God, for "God gave the increase." God, in whom is all power and authority, is able to give life to whosoever He wills. Furthermore, we know He is willing to give life, for He indeed "gives the increase." 3) )The work of regeneration is a work of God's grace alone, for "God gave the increase." God does not regenerate people because He is under obligation to men in any way. Neither the faithful preacher nor any who hear him can ever bring God into the position of debtor. Neither can ever obligate God to do anything. Rather, out of God's heart of free, sovereign grace, He makes His word powerful in the hearts of His people, and thus, by grace and grace alone, calls them from darkness into the glorious light of His Son. Therefore, when we go to church, let us not think for a moment that our being there or the preacher's studious labors require that God make His word profitable to us. Rather, let each of us go to church with this prayer, "Lord, make your gospel the power of God unto salvation to me!

Joe Terrell

Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? (Acts 26:8)

If someone told you that a man had raised himself from the dead, you would likely consider it a lie; a story worthy of supermarket tabloids. "That's incredible," you would think. (The word "incredible" means "unbelievable."). Yet, the "gospels" believed by many are just as incredible, for they require that one "dead in trespasses and sins" raise himself from this death, change his own nature, thus becoming suitable to approach God and find favor with Him. All who follow such "gospels" must come to despair, for they will, sooner or later, realize that such a work is beyond their abilities. Some of you may be in that condition. For many years you have sought to make yourself acceptable to God. You have outwardly acted like a Christian, gone to church, given your tithe, sought to obey the Law, and followed all the church's requirements. But in your heart you know that you are still "dead in trespasses and sins...without God and without hope in this world" (Eph. 2). I have good news for you! It would, indeed, be incredible for you to save yourself. But it would not be incredible for God to do so! Unbelief (which keeps us from God and is the evidence of an evil heart, Hebrews 3:12) arises from a dependence on the wrong person. We all, by nature, depend on ourselves. The Gospel tells us to depend on God! If I look to myself, it appears incredible that I should be raised from the dead someday and stand before God, holy and unblamable. But such a thing does not seem so incredible (unbelievable) when I look to God in Christ. Seeing that God has raised up Christ (who bore the sins of many) and seated Christ at His own right hand, it becomes a believable thing that God could do the same for even me, who bears only my own sin (that is, without Christ). Get rid of unbelief by fixing your eyes on God and His work rather than on you and your works!

Joe Terrell

If a man rose from the dead and told you that there was salvation for all who trusted Christ, would you believe him? If a man went to heaven, then returned saying that all who trust Christ go there when they die, would you believe him? If a man spoke face to face with God and told you that God said that all who trust Christ are saved eternally, would you believe him? Christ is such a man. Do you believe Him?

Joe Terrell

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)

As it was with Peter and the rest of the disciples, so it is with all sensible sinners, and true believers, who see there is no other to go to for life and salvation, but Christ; not to the law of Moses, which accuses, curses, and condemns, and by which there is neither life nor righteousness; nor to any creature, or creature-performance, for there is a curse on him that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm; nor to their own righteousness, which is impure and imperfect, and cannot justify before God, nor answer for them in a time to come; nor to their tears of repentance, which will not satisfy the law, atone for sins, or wash them away; nor to carnal descent, birth-privileges, a religious education, sobriety and civility, to trust to which is to have confidence in the flesh, which will be of no avail; nor to ceremonial services, or moral duties, or even evangelical ordinances, neither of which can take away sin. There is no other saviour but Christ to look to; no other mediator between God and men to make use of; no other physician of value for diseased and sin-sick souls to apply unto; no other fountain but His blood for polluted souls to wash in and be cleansed; no other city of refuge, or stronghold, for souls sensible of danger to flee unto and be safe; no other to come to as the bread of life where hungry souls may be fed; no other place of rest for those that are weary and heavy laden; nor is there any other where there is plenty of all grace and security from every enemy, as in Him; and therefore, to whom can they have recourse, but unto Him?

John Gill

Moses wrought wonders destructive, Christ wonders preservative: he turned water into blood, Christ water into wine; he brought flies and frogs and locusts and caterpillars, destroying the fruits of the earth, and annoying it; Christ increased a little of these fruits, five loaves and a few fishes, by blessing them, so that he herewith fed five thousand men. Moses smote both men and cattle with hail, and thunder and lightning, that they died, Christ made some alive that were dead, and saved from death the diseased and sick. Moses was an instrument to bring all manner of wrath and evil and sick. Moses was an instrument to bring all manner of wrath and evil angels amongst them, Christ cast out devils and did all manner of good, giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, limbs to the lame, and cleansing to the leper, and when the sea was tempestuous appeasing it. Moses slew their first-born, thus causing an horrible cry in all the land of Egypt; Christ saveth all the first-born, or by saving them so; for thus they are called (Heb. 12:23).

John Mayer

As the doctrines of election and perseverance are comfortable, so they cut off all pretense of boasting and self-dependence, when they are truly received in the heart, and therefore tend to exalt the Saviour. … How do our hearts soften, and our eyes melt, when we feel some liberty in thinking and speaking of him! For we had no help in time past, nor can have any in time to come, but from him alone. If any persons have contributed a mite to their own salvation, it was more than we could do. If any were obedient and faithful to the first calls and impressions of the Spirit, it was not our case. If any were prepared to receive him beforehand, we know that we were in a state of alienation from him. We needed sovereign irresistible grace to save us, or we had been lost forever. If there are any who have a power of their own, we must confess ourselves poorer than they are. We cannot watch, unless he watches us; we cannot strive, unless he strives with us; we cannot stand for one moment, unless he holds us up; and we believe we must perish after all, unless his faithfulness is engaged to keep us. But this we trust he will do, not for our righteousness, but for his own name's sake, and because having loved us with an everlasting love, he has been pleased in loving kindness to draw us to himself, and to be found of us when we sought him not.

John Newton

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psa 51:7)

In the Hebrew language there are two words to express the different kinds of washing, and they are always used with the strictest propriety; the one, to signify that kind of washing which pervades the substance of the thing washed, and cleanses it thoroughly; and the other to express that kind of washing which only cleanses the surface of a substance which the water cannot penetrate. The former is applied to the washing of clothes; the latter is used for washing some part of the body. By a beautiful and strong metaphor, David uses the former word in this and the second verse: "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin;" "Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow." So in Jeremiah 4:14, the same word is applied to the heart. (O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.)

Richard Mast

The sinner never leaves his sin till sin first leaves him. Did not death put a stop to his sin, he would never cease from sin. This may be illustrated by a similitude thus: a company of gamesters resolve to play all night; … their candle, accidentally or unexpectedly, goes out, or is put out, or burnt out; their candle being out, they are forced to give over their game, and go to bed in the dark; but had the candle lasted all night, they would have played all night. This is every sinner's case in regard of sin: did not death put out the candle of life, the sinner would sin still. Should the sinner live forever, he would sin forever; and, therefore, it is a righteous thing with God to punish him forever in hellish torments. Every impenitent sinner would sin to the days of eternity, if he might live to the days of eternity. "O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever?" (Psalm 74:10). Forever, and evermore; or forever and yet — for so the Hebrew loves to exaggerate: as if the sinner, the blasphemer, would set a term of duration longer than eternity to sin in. The psalmist implicitly saith, Lord, if thou dost but let them alone forever, they will certainly blaspheme thy name forever and ever. I have read of the crocodile, that he knows no maximum size, he is always growing bigger and bigger, and never comes to a certain pitch of monstrosity so long as he lives. Every habituated sinner would, if he were let alone, be a monster, perpetually growing worse and worse.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680)

None Other But Christ

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68)

As it was with Peter and the rest of the disciples, so it is with all sensible sinners, and true believers, who see there is no other to go to for life and salvation, but Christ; not to the law of Moses, which accuses, curses, and condemns, and by which there is neither life nor righteousness; nor to any creature, or creature-performance, for there is a curse on him that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm; nor to their own righteousness, which is impure and imperfect, and cannot justify before God, nor answer for them in a time to come; nor to their tears of repentance, which will not satisfy the law, atone for sins, or wash them away; nor to carnal descent, birth-privileges, a religious education, sobriety and civility, to trust to which is to have confidence in the flesh, which will be of no avail; nor to ceremonial services, or moral duties, or even evangelical ordinances, neither of which can take away sin. There is no other saviour but Christ to look to; no other mediator between God and men to make use of; no other physician of value for diseased and sin-sick souls to apply unto; no other fountain but His blood for polluted souls to wash in and be cleansed; no other city of refuge, or stronghold, for souls sensible of danger to flee unto and be safe; no other to come to as the bread of life where hungry souls may be fed; no other place of rest for those that are weary and heavy laden; nor is there any other where there is plenty of all grace and security from every enemy, as in Him; and therefore, to whom can they have recourse, but unto Him?

John Gill

Horatius Bonar

It is with our sins that we go to God, for we have nothing else to go with that we can call our own. This is one of the lessons that we are so slow to learn; yet without learning this we cannot take one right step in that which we call a religious life.

To look up some good thing in our past life, or to get some good thing now, if we find that our past does not contain any such thing, is our first thought when we begin to inquire after God, that we may get the great question settled between Him and us, as to the forgiveness of our sins.

"In His favor is life"; and to be without this favor is to be unhappy here, and to be shut out from joy hereafter. There is no life worthy of the name of life save that which flows from His assured friendship. Without that friendship, our life here is a burden and a weariness; but with that friendship we fear no evil, and all sorrow is turned into joy.

"How shall I be happy?" was the question of a weary soul who had tried a hundred different ways of happiness, and had always failed.

"Secure the favor of God," was the prompt answer, by one who had himself tasted that the "Lord is gracious."
"Is there no other way of being happy?"

"None, none," was the quick and decided reply. "Man has been trying other ways for six thousand years, and has utterly failed, and are you likely to succeed?"

"No, not likely; and I don't want to go on trying. But this favor of God seems such a shadowy thing, and God Himself so far off, that I know not which way to turn."

"God's favor is no shadow; it is real beyond all other realities; and He Himself is the nearest of all near beings, as accessible as He is gracious."

"That favor of which you speak has always seemed to me a sort of mist, of which I can make nothing."
"Say rather it is sunshine which a mist is hiding from you."

"Yes, yes, I believe you; but how shall I get through the mist into the sunshine beyond? It seems so difficult and to require such a length of time!"

"You make that distant and difficult which God has made simple and near and easy."
"Are there no difficulties, do you mean to say?"

"In one sense, a thousand; in another, none."

"How is that?"

"Did the Son of God put difficulties in the sinner's way when He said to the multitude, 'Come unto Me, and I will give you rest'?"

"Certainly not; He meant them to go at once to Him, as He stood there, and as they stood there, and He would give them rest."

"Had you then been upon the spot, what difficulties should you have found?"

"None, certainly; to speak of difficulty when I was standing by the side of the Son of God would have been folly, or worse."

"Did the Son of God suggest difficulty to the sinner when He sat on Jacob's well, by the side of the Samaritan? Was not all difficulty anticipated or put away by these wondrous words of Christ, 'thou wouldst have asked, and I would have given'?"

"Yes, no doubt; the asking and the giving was all. The whole transaction is finished on the spot. Time and space, distance and difficulty, have nothing to do with the matter; the giving was to follow the asking as a matter of course. So far all is plain. But I would ask: Is there no barrier here?"

"None whatever, if the Son of God really came to save the lost; if He came for those who were only partly lost, or who could partly save themselves, the barrier is infinite. This I admit; nay, insist upon."

"Is the being lost, then, no barrier to our being saved?"

"Foolish question, which may be met by a foolish answer. Is your being thirsty a hindrance to your getting water or is being poor a hindrance to your obtaining riches as a gift from a friend?"

"True; it is my thirst that fits me for the water and my poverty that fits me for the gold."

"Ah, yes, the Son of Man came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. If you be not wholly a sinner, there is a barrier; if you be wholly such, there is none!"

"Wholly a sinner! Is that really my character?"

"No doubt of that. If you doubt it, go and search your Bible. God's testimony is that you are wholly a sinner, and must deal with Him as such, for the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."

"Wholly a sinner, well!--but must I not get quit of some of my sins before I can expect blessing from Him?"

"No, indeed; He alone can deliver you from so much as even one sin; and you must go at once to Him with all that you have of evil, how much so ever that may be. If you be not wholly a sinner, you don't wholly need Christ, for He is out and out a Saviour; He does not help you to save yourself, nor do you help Him to save you. He does all, or nothing. A half salvation will only do for those who are not completely lost. He 'His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.' " (1 Peter 2:24)

It was in some such way as the above that Luther found his way into the peace and liberty of Christ. The story of his deliverance is an instructive one, as showing how the stumbling-blocks of self-righteousness are removed by the full exhibition of the gospel in its freeness, as the good news of God's love to the unloving and unlovable, the good news of pardon to the sinner, without merit and without money, the good news of PEACE WITH GOD, solely through the propitiation of Him who hath made peace by the blood of His cross.

One of Luther's earliest difficulties was that he must get repentance wrought within himself; and having accomplished this, he was to carry this repentance as a peace-offering or recommendation to God. If this repentance could not be presented as a positive recommendation, at least it could be urged as a plea in mitigation of punishment. "How can I dare believe in the favor of God," he said, "so long as there is in me no real conversion? I must be changed before He can receive me."

He is answered that the "conversion," or "repentance," of which he is so desirous, can never take place so long as he regards God as a stern and unloving Judge. It is the goodness of God that leadeth to repentance, (Rom. 2:4) and without the recognition of this "goodness" there can be no softening of heart. An impenitent sinner is one who is despising the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering.

Luther's aged counselor tells him plainly that he must be done with penances and mortifications, and all such self-righteous preparations for securing or purchasing the Divine favor. That voice, Luther tells us touchingly, seemed to come to him from heaven: "All true repentance begins with the knowledge of the forgiving love of God."

As he listens light breaks in, and an unknown joy fills him. Nothing between him and God! Nothing between him and pardon! No preliminary goodness, or preparatory feeling! He learns the Apostle's lesson, "Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 4:5). All the evil that is in him cannot hinder this justification; and all the goodness (if such there be) that is in him cannot assist in obtaining it. He must be received as a sinner, or not at all. The pardon that is proffered recognizes only his guilt; and the salvation provided in the cross of Christ regards him simply as lost.

But the sense of guilt is too deep to be easily quieted. Fear comes back again, and he goes once more to his aged adviser, crying, "Oh, my sin, my sin!" as if the message of forgiveness which he had so lately received was too good news to be true, and as if sins like his could not be so easily and so simply forgiven.

"What! would you be only a pretended sinner, and therefore need only a pretended Saviour?"

So spake his venerable friend, and then added, solemnly, "Know that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of great and real sinners, who are deserving of nothing but utter condemnation."

"But is not God sovereign in His electing love?" said Luther; "Perhaps I may not be one of His chosen."

"Look to the wounds of Christ," was the answer, "and learn there God's gracious mind to the children of men. In Christ we read the name of God, and learn what He is, and how He loves; the Son is the revealer of the Father; and the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world."

"I believe in the forgiveness of sins," said Luther to a friend one day, when tossing on a sick bed; "but what is that to me?"

"Ah," said his friend, "does not that include your own sins? You believe in the forgiveness of David's sins, and of Peter's sins, why not of your own? The forgiveness is for you as much as for David or Peter."

Thus Luther found rest. The gospel, thus believed, brought liberty and peace. He knew that he was forgiven because had said that forgiveness was the immediate and sure possession of all who believed the good news.

In the settlement of the great question between the sinner and God, there was to be no bargaining and no price of any kind. The basis of settlement was laid eighteen hundred years ago; and the mighty transaction on the cross did all that was needed as a price. "It is finished," is God's message to the sons of men in their inquiry, "What shall we do to be saved?" This completed transaction supersedes all man's efforts to justify himself, or to assist God in justifying him. We see Christ crucified, and God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses; and this non-imputation is the result solely of what was done upon the cross, where the transference of the sinner's guilt to the Divine surety was once and for ever accomplished. It is of that transaction that the gospel brings us the "good news," and whosoever believeth it becomes partaker of all the benefits which that transaction secured.

"But am I not to be indebted to the Holy Spirit's work in my soul?"

"Undoubtedly; for what hope can there be for you without the Almighty Spirit, who quickeneth the dead?"

"If so, then ought I not to wait for His impulses, and having got them, may I not present the feelings which He has wrought in me as reasons why I should be justified?"

"No, in no wise. You are not justified by the Spirit's work, but by Christ's alone; nor are the motions of the Spirit in you the grounds of your confidence, or the reasons for your expecting pardon from the Judge of all. The Spirit works in you, not to prepare you for being justified, or to make you fit for the favor of God, but to bring you to the cross, just as you are. For the cross is the only place where God deals in mercy with the transgressor."

It is at the cross that we meet God in peace and receive His favor. There we find not only the blood that washes, but the righteousness which clothes and beautifies, so that henceforth we are treated by God as if our own righteousness had passed away, and the righteousness of His own Son were actually ours.

This is what the apostle calls "imputed" righteousness (Rom. 4:6,8,11,22,24), or righteousness so reckoned to us by God as that we are entitled to all the blessings which that righteousness can obtain for us. Righteousness got up by ourselves, or put into us by another, we call infused, or imparted, or inherent righteousness; but righteousness belonging to another reckoned to us by God as if it were our own, we call imputed righteousness. It is of this that the apostle speaks when he says, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27). Thus Christ represents us: and God deals with us as represented by Him. Righteousness within will follow necessarily and inseparably; but we are not to wait in order to get it before going to God for the righteousness of His only begotten Son.

Imputed righteousness must come first. You cannot have the righteousness within till you have the righteousness without; and to make your own righteousness the price which you give to God for that of His Son, is to dishonor Christ, and to deny His cross. The Spirit's work is not to make us holy, in order that we may be pardoned, but to show us the cross, where the pardon is to be found by the unholy; so that having found the pardon there, we may begin the life of holiness to which we are called.

That which God presents to the sinner is an immediate pardon, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done," but by the great work of righteousness finished for us by the Substitute. Our qualification for obtaining that righteousness is that we are unrighteous, just as the sick man's qualification for the physician is that he is sick.
Of a previous goodness, preparatory to pardon, the gospel says nothing. Of a preliminary state of religious feeling as a necessary introduction to the grace of God, the apostles never spoke. Fears, troubles, self-questionings, bitter cries for mercy, forebodings of judgment, and resolutions of amendment, may, in point of time, have preceded the sinner's reception of the good news; but they did not constitute his fitness, nor make up his qualification. He would have been quite as welcome without them. They did not make the pardon more complete, more gracious, or more free. The sinner's wants were all his arguments:--"God be merciful to me a sinner." He needed salvation, and he went to God for it, and got it just because he needed it, and because God delights in the poor and needy. He needed pardon, and he went to God for it, and obtained it without merit or money. "When he had NOTHING TO PAY, God frankly forgave." It was the having nothing to pay that drew out the frank forgiveness.

Ah, this is grace. "This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us!" He loved us, even when we were dead in sins. He loved us, not because we were rich in goodness, but because He was "rich in mercy"; not because we were worthy of His favor, but because He delighted in loving-kindness. His welcome to us comes from His own graciousness, not from our lovableness. "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Christ invites the weary! It is this weariness that fits you for Him, and Him for you. Here is the weariness, there is the resting-place! They are side by side. Do you say, "That resting-place is not for me?" What! Is it not for the weary? Do you say, "But I cannot make use of it?" What! Do you mean to say, "I am so weary that I cannot sit down?" If you had said, "I am so weary that I cannot stand, nor walk, nor climb," one could understand you. But to say, "I am so weary that I cannot sit down," is simple folly, or something worse, for you are making a merit and a work of your sitting down; you seem to think that to sit down is to do some great thing which will require a long and prodigious effort.

Let us listen then to the gracious words of the Lord: "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water" (John 4:10). Thou wouldest have asked, and He would have given! That is all. How real, how true, how free; yet how simple! Or let us listen to the voice of the servant in the person of Luther.

"Oh, my dear brother, learn to know Christ and Him crucified. Learn to sing a new song; to despair of previous work, and to cry to Him, Lord Jesus, Thou art my righteousness, and I am Thy sin. Thou hast taken on Thee what was mine, and given to me what is Thine. What I was, Thou becamest, that I might be what I was not. Christ dwells only with sinners. Meditate often on this love of Christ, and you will taste its sweetness." Yes; pardon, peace, life, are all of them gifts, Divine gifts, brought down from heaven by the Son of God, presented personally to each needy sinner by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are not to be bought, but received; as men receive the sunshine, complete and sure and free. They are not to be earned or deserved by exertions or sufferings, or prayers or tears; but accepted at once as the purchase of the labors and sufferings of the great Substitute. They are not to be waited for, but taken on the spot without hesitation or distrust, as men take the loving gift of a generous friend. They are not to be claimed on the ground of fitness or goodness, but of need and unworthiness, of poverty and emptiness.