“Christ crucified and Christ glorified is all that we are to study; the one we are to study as long as we are on earth. And the other we shall be admitted to study. When we get well to heaven.
“That faith which is not built on a dying Christ is but a perilous dream: God awaken all from it that are in it!”—Robert Tkaill, 1690.
What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ? You live in a Christian land. You probably attend the worship of a Christian church. You have perhaps been baptized in the name of Christ. You profess and call yourself a Christian. All this is well. It is more than can be said of millions in the world. But all this is no answer to my question, “What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ:’ I want to tell you what the greatest Christian that ever lived thought of the cross of Christ. He has written down his opinion. He has given his judgment in words that cannot be mistaken. The man I mean is the Apostle Paul. The place where you will find his opinion, is in the letter which the Holy Ghost inspired him to write to the Galatians. And the words in which his judgment is set down, are these, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now what did Paul mean by saying this? He meant to declare strongly, that he trusted in nothing but Jesus Christ crucified for the pardon of his sine and the salvation of his soul. Let others, if they would, look elsewhere for salvation. Let others, if they were so disposed, trust in other things for pardon and peace. For his part, the apostle was determined to rest on nothing, lean on nothing, build his hope on nothing, place confidence in nothing, glory in nothing, except “the cross of Jesus Christ.”
Reader, let me talk to you about this subject. Believe me it is one of the deepest importance. This is no mere question of controversy. This is not one of those points on which men may agree to differ, and feel that differences will not shut them out of heaven. A man must be right on this subject, or he is lost forever. Heaven or hell, happiness or misery, life or death, blessing or cursing in the last day,—all hinges on the answer to this question, “What do you think about the cross of Christ?”
I. Let me show you what the apostle Paul did not glory in.
II. Let me explain to you what he did glory in.
III. Let me show to you why all Christians should think and feel about the cross like Paul.
I. What did the apostle Paul not glory in?
There are many things that Paul might have gloried in, if he had thought as some do in this day. If ever there was one on earth who had something to boast of in himself, that man was the great apostle of the Gentiles. Now if he did not dare to glory, who shall?
He never glorified in his national privileges. He was a Jew by birth, and as he tells us himself,—”An Hebrew of the Hebrews.” He might have said, like many of his brethren, “I have Abraham for my forefather. I am not a dark unenlightened heathen. I am one of the favored people of God. I have been admitted into covenant with God by circumcision. I am a far better man than the ignorant Gentiles.” But he never said so. He never gloried in anything of this kind. Never for one moment!
He never gloried in his own works. None ever worked so hard for God as he did. He was more abundant in labors than any of the apostles. No living man ever preached so much, travelled so much, and endured so many hardships for Christ’s cause. None ever converted so many souls, did so much good to the world, and made himself so useful to mankind. No father of the early church, no Reformer, no Puritan, no Missionary, no Minister, no Layman,—no one man could ever be named, who did so many good works as the Apostle Paul. But did he ever glory in them, as if they were in the least meritorious, and could save his soul? Never! never for one moment.
He never gloried in his knowledge. He was a man of great gifts naturally, and after he was converted the Holy Spirit gave him greater gifts still. He was a mighty preacher, and a mighty speaker, and a mighty writer. He was as great with his pen as he was with his tongue. He could reason equally well with Jews and Gentiles. He could argue with infidels at Corinth, or Pharisees at Jerusalem, or self-righteous people in Galatia. He knew many deep things. He had been in the third heaven, and heard unspeakable words. He had received the spirit of prophecy, and could foretell things yet to come. But did he ever glory in his knowledge, as if it could justify him before God? Never! Never! never for one moment!
He never gloried in his graces. If ever there was one who abounded in graces, that man was Paul. He was full of love. How tenderly and affectionately he used to write! He could feel for souls like a mother or a nurse feeling for her child. He was a bold man. He cared not whom he opposed when truth was at stake. He cared not what risks he ran when souls were to be won. He was a self-denying man,—in hunger and thirst often, in cold and nakedness, in watchings and fastings. He was a humble man. He thought himself less than the least of all saints, and the chief of sinners. He was a prayerful man. See how it comes out at the beginning of all his Epistles. He was a thankful man. His thanksgivings and his prayers walked side by side. But he never gloried in all this, never valued himself on it,—never rested his soul’s hopes on it. Oh! no! never for a moment!
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