Coming Judgment Of The Secrets Of Men
“The day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel.”
IT is impossible for any of us to tell what it cost the Apostle Paul to write the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. It is a shame, even, to speak of the things which are done of the vicious in secret places, but Paul felt that it was necessary to break through his shame and to speak out concerning the hideous vices of the heathen. He has left on record an exposure of the sins of his day which crimsons the cheek of the modest when they read it–and makes both the ears of him that hears it to tingle. Paul knew that this chapter would be read, not in his age, alone, but in all ages, and that it would go into the households of the most pure and godly as long as the world should stand–and yet he deliberately wrote it–and wrote it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He knew that it must be written to put to shame the abominations of an age which was almost past shame. Monsters that revel in darkness must be dragged into the open, that they may be withered up by the light.
After Paul has thus written in anguish, he reminds himself of his chief comfort. While his pen was black with the words he had written in the first chapter, he was driven to write of his great delight. He clings to the Gospel with a greater tenacity than ever! As in the verse before us he needed to mention the Gospel, he did not speak of it as, “the Gospel,” but, as, “my Gospel.” “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel.” He felt that he could not live in the midst of so depraved a people without holding the Gospel with both hands and grasping it as his very own. “My Gospel,” he says. Not that Paul was the author of it; not that Paul had an exclusive monopoly of its blessings, but that he had so received it from Christ, Himself, and regarded himself as so responsibly put in trust with it, that he could not disown it, even for an instant! So fully had he taken it into himself that he could not do less than call it, “my Gospel.”
In another place he speaks of “our Gospel,” thus using a possessive pronoun, to show how Believers identify themselves with the Truth of God which they preach. He had a Gospel–a definite form of Truth–and he believed in it beyond all doubt. Therefore he spoke of it as, “my Gospel.” Herein we hear the voice of faith which seems to say, “Though others reject it, I am sure of it and allow no shade of mistrust to darken my mind. To me it is glad tidings of great joy–I hail it as ‘my Gospel.’ If I am called a fool for holding it so, I am content to be a fool and to find all my wisdom in my Lord.”–
“Should all the forms that men devise
Assault my faith with treacherous art,
I’d call them vanity and lies,
And bind the Gospel to my heart.”
Is not this word, “my Gospel,” the voice of love? Does he not, by this word, embrace the Gospel as the only love of his soul–for the sake of which he had suffered the loss of all things and did count them but dung–for the sake of which he was willing to stand before Nero and proclaim, even in Caesar’s palace, the message from Heaven? Though each word should cost him a life, he was willing to die a thousand deaths for the holy cause. “My Gospel,” he says, with a rapture of delight, as he presses to his bosom the sacred deposit of Truth.
“My Gospel.” Does not this show his courage? As much as to say, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God onto salvation to everyone that believes.” He says, “my Gospel,” as a soldier speaks of, “my colors,” or of, “my king.” He resolves to bear this banner to victory and to serve this royal Truth even to the death.
“My Gospel.” There is a touch of discrimination about the expression. Paul perceives that there are other gospels and he makes short work with them, for he says, “Though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” The Apostle was of a gentle spirit. He prayed heartily for the Jews who persecuted him and yielded his life for the conversion of the Gentiles who maltreated him. But he had no tolerance for false gospellers! He exhibited great breadth of mind and, to save souls, he became all things to all men. But when he contemplated any alteration or adulteration of the Gospel of Christ, he thundered and lightened without measure! When he feared that something else might spring up among the philosophers, or among the Judaizers, that should hide a single beam of the glorious Sun of Righteousness, he used no measured language, but cried concerning the author of such a darkening influence, “Let him be accursed!” Every heart that would see men blessed, whispers an, “Amen,” to the apostolic malediction. No greater curse can come upon mankind than the obscuration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Paul says of himself and his true Brethren, “We are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God,” and he cries to those who turned aside from the one and only Gospel, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” Of all new doctrines he speaks as of, “another gospel, which is not another, but there are some that trouble you.”
As for myself, looking at the matter afresh, amidst all the filthiness which I see in the world this day, I lay hold upon the pure and blessed Word of God and call it all the more earnestly, my Gospel–mine in life and mine in death, mine against all comers, mine forever, God helping me. It is, with emphasis–“my Gospel.”
Now let us notice what it was that brought up this expression, “My Gospel.” What was Paul preaching? Certainly not upon any of the gentle and tender themes which we are told, nowadays, ought to occupy all our time! No, he is speaking of the terrors of the Law–and in that connection he speaks of, “my Gospel.”
Let us come at once to our text. It will need no dividing, for it divides itself. First, let us consider that on a certain day God shall judge mankind. Secondly, on that day God will judge the secrets of men. Thirdly, when He judges the secrets of men, it will be by Jesus Christ. And fourthly, this is according to the Gospel.
- We begin with the solemn Truth of God that ON A CERTAIN DAY GOD WILL JUDGE MEN. A judgment is going on daily. God is continually holding court and considering the works of the sons of men. Every evil deed that they do is recorded in the register of doom and each good action is remembered and laid up in store by God. That judgment is reflected, in a measure, in the consciences of men. Those who know the Gospel and those who know it not, alike, have a certain measure of Light by which they know right from wrong. Their consciences are all the while accusing or else excusing them. This session of the heavenly court continues from day to day, like that of our local magistrates. But this does not prevent, but rather necessitates the holding of an ultimate great assize.
As each man shines into another world, there is an immediate judgment passed upon him. But this is only the foreshadowing of that which will take place at the end of the world. There is a judgment, also, passing upon nations, for as nations will not exist as nations in another world, they have to be judged and punished in this present state. The thoughtful reader of history will not fail to observe how sternly this justice has been dealt with empire after empire when they have become corrupt. Colossal dominions have withered to the ground when sentenced by the King of kings. Go and ask, today, “Where is the empire of Assyria? Where are the mighty cities of Babylon? Where are the glories of the Medes and Persians? What has become of the Macedonian power? Where are the Caesars and their palaces?” These empires were forces established by cruelty and used for oppression–they fostered luxury and licentiousness–and when they were no longer tolerable, the earth was purged from their polluting existence!
Ah me, what horrors of war, bloodshed and devastation have come upon men as the result of their iniquities! The world is full of the monuments, both of the mercy and the justice of God. In fact, the monuments of His justice, if rightly viewed, are proofs of His goodness, for it is mercy on the part of God to put an end to evil systems when, like a nightmare, they weigh heavily upon the bosom of mankind! The Omnipotent Judge has not ceased from His Sovereign rule over kingdoms–and our own country may yet have to feel His chastisements. We have often laughed among ourselves at the ridiculous idea of the New Zealander sitting on the broken arch of London Bridge amid the ruins of this metropolis. But is it quite so ridiculous as it looks?
It is more than possible it will be realized if our iniquities continue to abound! What is there about London that it should be more enduring than Rome? Why should the palaces of our monarchs be eternal if the palaces of Koyunjik have fallen? The almost boundless power of the Pharaohs has passed away and Egypt has become the meanest of nations–why should not England come under the same condemnation? What are we? What is there about our boastful race, whether on this side of the Atlantic or the other, that we should monopolize the favor of God? If we rebel and sin against Him, He will not hold us guiltless, but will deal out impartial justice to an ungrateful race.
Still, though such judgments proceed every day, yet there is to be a day, a period of time, in which, in a more distinct, formal, public and final manner, God will judge the sons of men! We might have guessed this by the light of nature and of reason. Even heathen peoples have had a dim notion of a day of doom, but we are not left to guess about it–we are solemnly assured of it in Holy Scripture! Accepting this Book as the Revelation of God, we know beyond all doubt that a day is appointed in which the Lord will judge the secrets of men!
By judging is here meant all that concerns the proceedings of trial and award. God will judge the race of men, that is to say, first, there will be a session of majesty and the appearing of a Great White Throne surrounded with pomp of angels and glorified beings. Then a summons will be issued, bidding all men come to judgment, to give their final account. The heralds will fly through the realms of death and summon those who sleep in the dust–for the quick and the dead shall all appear before that judgment Seat. John says, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” And he adds, “The sea gave up the dead which were in it and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them.” Those that have been so long buried that their dust is mingled with the soil and has undergone a thousand transmutations shall, nevertheless, be made to put in a personal appearance before the judgment Seat of Christ!
What an assize that will be! You and I and all the myriad myriads of our race shall be gathered before the Throne of the Son of God. Then, when all are gathered, the indictment will be read and each one will be examined concerning things done in the body, according to what he has done. Then the books shall be opened and everything recorded there shall be read before the face of Heaven. Every sinner shall then hear the story of his life published to his everlasting shame! The good shall ask no concealment and the evil shall find none. Angels and men shall then see the truth of things, and the saints shall judge the world! Then the great Judge, Himself, shall give the decision–He shall pronounce sentence upon the wicked and execute their punishment. No partiality shall there be seen–there shall be no private conferences to secure immunity for nobles, no hushing up of matters that great men may escape contempt for their crimes! All men shall stand before the one great judgment Seat–evidence shall be given concerning them all–and a righteous sentence shall go forth from His mouth who knows not how to flatter the great!
This will be so and it ought to be so. God should judge the world because He is the universal Ruler and Sovereign. There has been a day for sinning–there ought to be a day for punishing. A long age of rebellion has been endured and there must be a time when justice shall assert her supremacy. We have seen an age in which reformation has been commanded; in which mercy has been presented; in which expostulation and entreaty have been used. And there ought, at last, come a day in which God shall judge both the quick and the dead–and measure out to each the final result of life. It ought to be so for the sake of the righteous. They have been slandered; they have been despised and ridiculed; worse than that, they have been imprisoned and beaten and put to death times without number–the best have had the worst of it–and there ought to be a judgment to set these things right. Besides, the festering iniquities of each age cry out to God that He should deal with them. Shall such sin go unpunished? To what end is there a moral government at all? And how is its continuance to be secured if there are not rewards and punishments and a day of account? For the display of His holiness, for the overwhelming of His adversaries, for the rewarding of those who have faithfully served Him, there must be and shall be a day in which God will judge the world!
Why does it not come at once? And when will it come? The precise date we cannot tell. Man nor angel knows that day and it is idle and profane to guess at it, since even the Son of Man, as such, knows not the time. It is sufficient for us that the Judgment Day will surely come. It is sufficient, also, to believe that it is postponed on purpose to give breathing time for mercy and space for repentance. Why should the ungodly want to know when that day will come? What is that day to you? To you it shall be darkness and not light! It shall be the day of your consuming as fully dry stubble–therefore bless the Lord that He delays His coming–and reckon that His long-suffering is for your salvation!
Moreover, the Lord keeps the scaffold standing till He has built up the fabric of His Church. Not yet are the elect all called out from among the guilty sons of men! Not yet are all the redeemed with blood redeemed with power and brought forth out of the corruption of the age into the holiness in which they walk with God! Therefore the Lord waits for a while. But do not deceive yourselves. The great day of His wrath is coming and your days of reprieve are numbered! One day is, with the Lord, as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. You shall die, perhaps, before the appearing of the Son of Man, but you shall see His judgment Seat for all that–for you shall rise again as surely as He rose! When the Apostle addressed the Grecian sages at Athens, he said, “God now commands all men everywhere to repent because He has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained; whereof He has given assurance unto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead.”
See you not, O you impenitent ones, that a risen Savior is the sign of your doom?! As God has raised Jesus from the dead, so shall He raise your bodies, that in these you may come to judgment! Before the judgment Seat shall every man and woman in this house give an account of the things done in the body, whether they are good or whether they are evil. Thus says the Lord.
II. Now I call your attention to the fact that “GOD WILL JUDGE THE SECRETS OF MEN.” This will happen to all men, of every nation, of every age, of every rank and of every character. The Judge will, of course, judge their outward acts, but these may be said to have gone before them to judgment. Their secret acts are specially mentioned, because these will make judgment to be the more searching.
By, “the secrets of men,” the Scripture means those secret crimes which hide themselves away by their own infamy–which are too vile to be spoken of–which cause a shudder to go through a nation if they are but dragged, as they ought to be, into the daylight. Secret offenses shall be brought into judgment! The deeds of the night and of the closed room; the acts which require the finger to be laid upon the lips and a conspiracy of silence to be sworn. Revolting and shameless sins which must never be mentioned lest the man who committed them should be excluded from his fellows as an outcast, abhorred even of other sinners–all these shall be revealed. All that you have done, any of you, or, are doing, if you are bearing the Christian name and yet practicing secret sin, shall be laid bare before the universal gaze! If you sit here among the people of God and yet, where no eye sees you, you are living in dishonesty, untruthfulness, or uncleanness, it shall all be known and shame and confusion of face shall eternally cover you! Contempt shall be the inheritance to which you shall awake, when hypocrisy shall be no more possible. Be not deceived, God is not mocked! He will bring the secrets of men into judgment.
Especially our text refers to the hidden motives of every action, for a man may do that which is right from a wrong motive, and so the deed may be evil in the sight of God, though it seems right in the sight of men. Oh, think what it will be to have your motives all brought to light–to have it proven that you were godly for the sake of gain–that you were generous out of ostentation, or zealous for love of praise! Or that you were careful in public to maintain a religious reputation, but that, all the while, everything was done for self, and self only! What a strong light will that be which God shall turn upon our lives, when the darkest chambers of human desire and motive shall be as manifest as public acts! What a revelation will that be which makes manifest all thoughts, imaginations, lusts and desires! All anger, envy, pride and rebellion of the heart–what a disclosure will these make!
All the sensual desires and imaginations of even the best-regulated–what a foulness will these appear! What a day will it be, when the secrets of men shall be set in the full blaze of noon!
God will also reveal secrets that were secrets even to the sinners, themselves, for there is sin in us which we have never seen and iniquity in us which we have never discovered.
We have managed, for our own comfort’s sake, to blind our eyes, somewhat, and we take care to avert our gaze from things which are inconvenient to see–but we shall be compelled to see all these evils in that day when the Lord shall judge the secrets of men! I do not wonder that when a certain Rabbi read in the book of Ecclesiastes that God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil, he wept! It is enough to make the best man tremble! Were it not for You, O Jesus, whose precious blood has cleansed us from all sin, where should we be! Were it not for Your righteousness, which shall cover those who believe in You, who among us could endure the thought of that terrible day? In You, O Jesus, we are made righteous and, therefore, we fear not the hour of trial, but were it not for You, our hearts would fail us for fear!
Now, if you ask me why God should judge the secrets of men–since this is not done in human courts and cannot be, for secret things of this kind come not under cognizance of our short-sighted tribunals–I answer it is because there is really nothing secret from God. We make a difference between secret and public sins, but He does not! All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do! All deeds are done in the immediate Presence of God who is personally present everywhere. He knows and sees all things as one upon the spot–and every secret sin is but conceived to be secret through the deluded fantasy of our ignorance. God sees more of a secret sin than a man can see of that which is done before his face. “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? says the Lord.”
The secrets of men will be judged because often the greatest of moral acts are done in secret. The brightest deeds that God delights in are those that are done by His servants when they have shut the door and are alone with Him–when they have no motive but to please Him; when they studiously avoid publicity lest they should be turned aside by the praise of men–when the right hand knows not what the left hand does and the loving, generous heart devises liberal things and does it behind the screen, so that it should never be discovered how the deed was done. It were a pity that such deeds should be left out at the great audit. Thus, too, secret vices are also of the very blackest kind and to exempt them were to let the worst of sinners go unpunished! Shall it be that these polluted beings shall escape because they have purchased silence with their wealth? I say solemnly, “God forbid!” He does forbid it–what they have done in secret shall be proclaimed upon the housetops!
Besides, the secret things of men enter into the very essence of their actions. An action is, after all, good or bad very much according to its motive. It may seem good, but the motive may taint it and so, if God did not judge the secret part of the action, He would not judge righteously. He will weigh our actions and detect the design which led to them and the spirit which prompted them.
Is it not certainly true that the secret thing is the best evidence of the man’s condition? Many a man will not do, in public, that which would bring him shame. Not because be is not black-hearted enough for it, but because he is too much of a coward. That which a man does, when he thinks that he is entirely by himself, is the best revelation of the man. That which you will not do because it would be told of you, if you did ill, is a poor index of your real character. That which you will do because you will be praised for doing well, is an equally faint test of your heart. Such virtue is mere selfseeking, or mean-spirited subservience to your fellow man. But that which you do out of respect to no authority but your own conscience and your God; that which you do unobserved, without regard to what man will say concerning it–that it is which reveals you and discovers your real soul! Therefore God lays a special stress and emphasis here upon the fact that He will, in that day, judge “the secrets” of men by Jesus Christ.
Oh, Friends, if it does not make you tremble to think of these things, it should! I feel the deep responsibility of preaching upon such matters and I pray God, in His infinite mercy to apply these Truths to our hearts that they may be forceful upon our lives. These Truths ought to startle us, but I am afraid we hear them with small result–we have grown familiar with them and they do not penetrate us as they should. We have to deal, Brothers and Sisters, with an Omniscient God–with One who, once knowing, never forgets–with One to whom all things are always present! We are subjects of One who will conceal nothing out of fear, or favor of any man’s person–with One who will shortly bring the splendor of His Omniscience and the impartiality of His Justice to bear upon all human lives! God help us, wherever we wander and wherever we rest, to remember that each thought, word and act of each moment lies in that fierce light which beats upon all things from the Throne of God!
III. Another solemn revelation of our text lies in this fact, that “GOD WILL JUDGE THE SECRETS OF MEN BY JESUS CHRIST.” He that will sit upon the Throne of God as the Vice Regent of God and as a Judge, acting for God, will be Jesus Christ. What a name for a Judge! The Savior-Anointed–Jesus Christ–He is to be the Judge of all mankind! Our Redeemer will be the Umpire of our destiny!
This will be, I doubt not, first, for the display of His Glory. What a difference there will be, then, between the Babe of Bethlehem’s manger, hunted by Herod, carried down by night into Egypt for shelter–and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords before whom every knee must bow! What a difference between the weary Man full of woes and He that shall then be girt with Glory, sitting on a Throne encircled with a rainbow! From the derision of men to the Throne of universal judgment, what an ascent! I am unable to convey to you my own heart’s sense of the contrast between the “despised and rejected of men” and the universally-acknowledged Lord, before whom Caesar and pontiffs shall bow in the dust! He who was judged at Pilate’s bar shall summon all to His bar!
What a change from the shame and spitting, from the nails and the wounds, the mockery and the thirst and the dying anguish, to the Glory in which He shall come whose eyes are as a flame of fire and out of whose month there goes a twoedged sword! He shall judge the nations–even He whom the nations abhorred! He shall break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, even those who cast Him out as unworthy to live among them! Oh, how we ought to bow before Him, now, as He reveals Himself in His tender sympathy and in His generous humiliation! Let us kiss the Son, lest He be angry! Let us yield to His Grace, that we may not be crushed by His wrath! You sinners, bow before those pierced feet, which otherwise will tread you like clusters in the wine-press! Look up to Him with weeping and confess your forgetfulness of Him–and put your trust in Him lest He look down on you in indignation! Oh, remember that He will one day say, “But those, My enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring here and slay them before Me.”
The holding of the judgment by the Lord Jesus will greatly enhance His Glory. It will finally settle one controversy which is still upheld by certain erroneous spirits–there will be no doubt about our Lord’s Deity in that day! There will be no question that this same Jesus who was crucified is both Lord and God! God Himself shall judge, but He shall perform the judgment in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ, truly Man, but nevertheless most truly God. Being God, He is divinely qualified to judge the world in righteousness and the people with His Truth.
If you ask again, Why is the Son of God chosen to be the final Judge? I could give, as a further answer, that He receives this high office not only as a reward for all His pains and as a manifestation of His Glory, but also because men have been under His mediatorial sway and He is their Governor and King. At the present moment we are all under the sway of the Prince Immanuel, God With Us–we have been placed, by an act of Divine clemency, not under the immediate government of an offended God, but under the reconciling rule of the Prince of Peace! “All power is given unto Him in Heaven and in earth.” “The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” We are commanded to preach unto the people and “to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.” (Acts 10:42). Jesus is our Lord and King! It is meet that He should conclude His mediatorial sovereignty by rewarding His subjects according to their deeds.
But I have something to say to you which ought to reach your hearts, even if other thoughts have not done so. I think that God has chosen Christ, the Man Christ Jesus, to judge the world that there may never be a quibble raised concerning that judgment. Men shall not be able to say–We were judged by a superior Being who did not know our weaknesses and temptations and, therefore, He judged us harshly and without a generous consideration of our condition. No, God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ who was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin! He is our Brother, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, partaker of our humanity and, therefore, understands and knows what is in men. He has shown Himself to be skillful in all the surgery of mercy throughout the ages and, at last, He will be found equally skillful in dissecting motives and revealing the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nobody shall ever be able to look back on that august tribunal and say that He who sat upon it was too stern because He knew nothing of human weakness. It will be the loving Christ, whose tears and bloody sweat and gaping wounds attest His brotherhood with mankind–and it will be clear to all intelligences that however dread His sentences, He could not be unmerciful! God shall judge us by Jesus Christ, that the judgment may be indisputable!
But listen well–for I speak with a great weight upon my soul–this judgment by Christ Jesus puts beyond possibility all hope of any after-interposition. If the Savior condemns, and such a Savior, who can plead for us? The owner of the vineyard was about to cut down the barren tree when the dresser of the vineyard pleaded, “Let it alone this year, also,” but what can come of that tree when the Vinedresser, Himself, shall say to the master, “It must fall; I myself must cut it down”! If your Savior shall become your judge you will be judged, indeed! If He shall say, “Depart, you cursed,” who can call you back? If He that bled to save men comes, at last, to the conclusion that there is no more to be done, but you must be driven from His Presence, then farewell to hope! To the guilty, the judgment will, indeed, be a–
“Great day of dread, decision and despair.”
An infinite horror shall seize upon their spirits as the words of the loving Christ shall freeze their very marrow and fix them in the ice of eternal despair! There is, to my mind, a climax of solemnity in the fact that God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.
Does not this also show how certain the sentence will be? This Christ of God is too much in earnest to play with men. If He says, “Come, you blessed,” He will not fail to bring them to their inheritance. If He is driven to say, “Depart, you cursed,” He will see it done and into the everlasting punishment you must go. Even when it cost Him His life, He did not draw back from doing the will of His Father, nor will He shrink in that day when He shall pronounce the sentence of doom! Oh, how evil must sin be since it impels the tender Savior to pronounce sentence of eternal woe! I am sure that many of us have been driven, of late, to an increased hatred of sin. Our souls have recoiled within us because of the wickedness among which we dwell. It has made us feel as if we would gladly borrow the Almighty’s thunderbolts with which to smite iniquity! Such haste on our part may not be seemly since it implies a complaint against Divine long-suffering, but Christ’s dealing with evil will be calm, dispassionate and all the more crushing. Jesus, with His pierced hands that bear the attestation of His supreme love to men, shall wave the impenitent away–and those lips which bade the weary rest in Him shall solemnly say to the wicked, “depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” To be trampled beneath the feet which was nailed to the Cross will be to be crushed, indeed! Yet so it is–God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.
It seems to me as if God, in this, intended to give a display of the unity of all His perfections. In this same Man, Christ Jesus, the Son of God, you behold justice and love, mercy and righteousness, combined in equal measure. He turns to the right and says, “Come, you blessed,” with infinite suavity. And with the same lips, as He glances to the left, He says, “Depart, you cursed.” Men will then see at one glance how love and righteousness are one–and how they meet in equal splendor in the Person of the Well-Beloved, whom God has, therefore, chosen to be Judge of quick and dead.
IV. I have done when you have borne with me a minute or two upon my next point which is this–ALL THIS IS ACCORDING TO THE GOSPEL. That is to say, there is nothing in the Gospel contrary to this solemn teaching. Men gather to us to hear us preach of infinite mercy and tell of the love that blots out sin–and our task is joyful when we are called to deliver such a message. But oh, Sirs, remember that nothing in our message makes light of sin! The Gospel offers you no opportunity of going on in sin and escaping without punishment. Its own cry is, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Jesus has not come into the world to make sin less terrible. Nothing in the Gospel excuses sin! Nothing in it affords toleration for lust or anger, or dishonesty, or falsehood. The Gospel is as truly a two-edged sword against sin as ever the Law can be!
There is Grace for the man who quits his sin, but there is tribulation and wrath upon every man that does evil. “If you turn not, He will whet His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready.” The Gospel is all tenderness to the repenting, but all terror to the obstinate offender! It has pardon for the very chief of sinners and mercy for the vilest of the vile if they will forsake their sins–but it is according to our Gospel that he that goes on in his iniquity shall be cast into Hell–and he that believes not shall be damned! With deep love to the souls of men I bear witness to the Truth of God that he who turns not with repentance and faith to Christ shall go away into punishment as everlasting as the life of the righteous! This is according to our Gospel. Indeed, we had not needed such a Gospel if there had not been such a judgment! The background of the Cross is the Judgment Seat of Christ. We had not needed so great an Atonement, so vast a Sacrifice if there had not been an exceeding sinfulness in sin, an exceeding justice in the Judgment and an exceeding terror in the sure rewards of transgression!
“According to my Gospel,” says Paul. And he meant that the judgment is an essential part of the Gospel creed. If I had to sum up the Gospel, I should have to tell you certain facts. Jesus, the Son of God, became Man. He was born of the virgin Mary; lived a perfect life; was falsely accused of men. He was crucified, dead and buried. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God, from where He shall also come to judge the quick and the dead. This is one of the elementary Truths of our Gospel–we believe in the resurrection of the dead, the final judgment and the life everlasting.
The judgment is according to our Gospel and, in times of righteous indignation, its terrible significance seems a very Gospel to the pure in heart. I mean this. I have read this and that concerning oppression, slavery, the treading down of the poor and the shedding of blood–and I have rejoiced that there is a righteous Judge. I have read of secret wickednesses among the rich men of this city and I have said within myself, “Thank God, there will be a Judgment Day.” Thousands of men have been hanged for much less crimes than those which now disgrace gentlemen whose names are on the lips of rank and beauty. Ah me, how heavy is our heart as we think of it! It has come like a Gospel to us that the Lord will be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:8). The secret wickedness of London cannot go on forever!
Even they that love men best and most desire salvation for them cannot but cry to God, “How long? How long? Great God, will you endure this forever?” God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world and we sigh and cry until it shall end the reign of wickedness and give rest to the oppressed. Brothers, we must preach the coming of the Lord –but preach it somewhat more than we have done because it is the driving power of the Gospel! Too many have kept back these Truths of God and thus the bone has been taken out of the arm of the Gospel. Its point has been broken. Its edge has been blunted. The doctrine of judgment to come is the power by which men are to be awakened! There is another life! The Lord will come a second time–judgment will arrive–the wrath of God will be revealed. Where this is not preached, I am bold to say the Gospel is not preached. It is absolutely necessary to the preaching of the Gospel of Christ that men be warned as to what will happen if they continue in their sins!
Wait a minute, Sir Surgeon! You are too delicate to tell the man that he is ill! You hope to heal the sick without their knowing it? You, therefore, flatter them and what happens? They laugh at you! They dance upon their own graves. At last they die! Your delicacy is cruelty! Your flatteries are poisons! You are a murderer!
Shall we keep men in a fool’s paradise? Shall we lull them into soft slumbers from which they will awake in Hell? Are we to become helpers of their damnation by our smooth speeches? In the name of God we will not! It is the duty of every true minister of Christ to cry aloud and spare not, for God has set a day in which He will “judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel.” As surely as Paul’s Gospel was true, the Judgment will come! Therefore flee to Jesus this day, O Sinners!
O you Saints, come hide yourselves, again, beneath the crimson canopy of the atoning Sacrifice, that you may be now ready to welcome your descending Lord and escort Him to His Judgment Seat. O my Hearers, may God bless you, for Jesus' sake. Amen. PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON–Revelation 20.HYMNS FROM “OUR OWN HYMN BOOK”–868, 864, 345.