Christ Seen As God’s Salvation
“My eyes have seen Your Salvation.”
THOUSANDS of times that song of Simeon has been sung by careless, thoughtless persons, but surely it is one of those songs that ought never to come except from believing lips. To make it merely a part of a liturgy and for shamelesslyliving men to say, “ My eyes have seen Your Salvation,” must be an atrocious sin before God! Let all who have venturedto use such words as these without having thought of their meaning, confess their sin before God and ask that He would make those words to be true which have up to now been so frivolously uttered and that before they close their eyes in death, they may see God’s Salvation!
- I shall, first of all, TAKE THE TEXT AS IT DROPS FROM SIMEON’S LIPS and follow his leading.
We will start with Simeon’s main idea. He came into the Temple. He saw there a little Babe and he recognized, in that newly-born Child, Jesus the promised Savior! And as he took up that Savior into his arms, he said, “Mine eyes have seen”–what? “Your Salvation,” God’s Salvation–not only the Worker of the Salvation, but the Salvation itself! From which I gather that wherever we see Jesus, we see God’s Salvation, Wherever our eyes spiritually light upon the Christ of God, there we see God’s Salvation! Whether in Bethlehem’s manger, or on Calvary’s Cross, or on yonder Throne of Glory from which He shall judge the quick and the dead–wherever we see Him, we see the Salvation of God!
Let me then take your thoughts along the history of our Savior for a few moments. Far back into the ages, when as yet this world and sun and moon were not created–when God dwelt alone–then, in the foreknowledge of God, it was apparent that man would sin–that elect men, beloved of God, would fall in the common ruin. Then came the grand debate, the mighty question to be only solved by the supreme Intellect of Heaven, “How can sinners be reconciled to God?” And the Covenant was made, that ancient Covenant of which David sang, “ordered in all things and sure.” Jesus, the Second Person of the blessed Godhead, entered into Covenant with His Father, that in the fullness of time, He would stand in the sinner’s place and pay the sinner’s debt–that He would head up in Himself as many as the Father gave Him and become the second and restoring Adam to them, though, through the first and falling Adam, they, with others, had been destroyed. Then, when the Covenant was signed and the Divine parties to that grand transaction struck hands and ratified the bond, my eyes, as they look into that vast eternity and, with holy curiosity, desire to scan that council chamber–my eyes perceive God’s Salvation in the Person of Jesus Christ!
This was all that could have been seen by faith, even after the world had been created and man had fallen, until that day when the fullness of time was come–when Jesus Christ, who had covenanted to save His people, came to perform the work. Oh, the grandeur of that day when angels came in haste to sing that the Babe was born in Bethlehem! Ah, Simeon! What you see there is not merely a Babe–a little Child hanging upon a woman’s breast–it is the Word Incarnate, the Logos, without whom was not anything made that is made! He that spoke and it was done, lies there! He that said, “Light be,” and light was–the Word that was with God when He balanced the clouds and when He fixed the sockets of the universe, even He is there in the Person of that Child! The Son of Mary is also the Son of God! And whenever you, Beloved, look to God Incarnate and understand that wondrous mystery, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” and men chosen of Him beheld His Glory, “the Glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of Grace and
Follow with the eyes of your love that Babe when He had become a Man. See Him, in the obedience of 30 years to His reputed father, handling the saw and the hammer in the carpenter’s shop of Joseph. “Being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself.” See Him in the three years of His most blessed ministry! What work was crowded into those years! How did the zeal of God’s house eat Him up! The dews fell upon Him in the night when He kept the sheep of God in the wilderness and on the mountain’s brow shepherded them in His midnight prayers. Oftentimes the sweat fell from Him in that daily service which, as the Servant of servants, He rendered to all His brethren. None toiled as He did–none so arduously, none so perfectly, none so willingly, none with so complete a bending of His whole faculties to His all-absorbing work! Behold the righteousness of the saints–this work of Christ is making a robe in which the saints shall be arrayed. His active obedience renders unto God a recompense for our breaches of His holy Law. In Christ, the actively-obedient, you see God’s Salvation!
But oh, let your eyes swim with tears as you follow Him from His active to His passive obedience. I stayed midway in a verse just now, “Being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself”–as you go on, you read–“and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.” There He is in yonder garden among the olives! Do you hear His sighs, His deep-fetched groans? Do you mark the sweat drops of His blood as they fall upon the earth? He is pleading, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” But it is not possible. Do you see Him hurried away with the felon’s kiss still upon His cheek–hurried away by traitorous hands to Caiaphas–hurried to Pilate and Herod, one after the other, scorned and scoffed everywhere? He, whose visage is bright as the morning when the sun arises, and whose Countenance is like Lebanon, comely as the cedars–He it is that they make nothing of, and laugh and scoff at! Into His face, which angels look on with hushed awe, they cast their accursed spittle! They buffet Him and cry, “Hail King of the Jews.” They mock His royalty with a crown of thorns and His priesthood by binding His eyes and saying, “Who is it that struck You?” Remember that He who is in this shame is God’s Salvation! He is made lower than earth’s basest menials that He might lift us higher than Heaven’s brightest seraphs! He came down from where He was in Heaven’s excellency to all this depth of shame–that out of all our shame He might lift us up to the supernal excellency!
Then, at length, it comes to a climax and the patient Sufferer gives His hands to the iron and His feet to the nails. They lift Him up–He must die a felon’s death! Outside the camp He must suffer. Made sin for us, He cannot be in the congregation. He must be numbered with the transgressors! Behold Him dying in bodily pains not to be readily described! But, the worst was this–God, to whom good men look for succor when they die, refused Him help! Jehovah, who never did forsake the virtuous, forsook Him, the most virtuous of all! He who is our castle and high tower, our rampart and defense in our extremity, hid as it were, His face from Him–and that bitterest of all cries, which contains in it as much grief as all the shrieks of the damned in Hell, went up, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” There He was, the forsaken One. Yet He was God’s Salvation, for He was–
“Bearing, that we might never bear,
His Father’s righteous ire”–
enduring to be cast away from Heaven that we, base as we are, might be enfolded in the Divine bosom and loved with the Divine affection!
Nor is this all. On the third day, He who on the Cross had conquered, rose to claim the victory. Behold Him! He is God’s Salvation as He rises from the tomb. Where is your sting, O Death? Where is your victory, boastful Grave? Jehovah Jesus has saved us from death! He has risen from the sepulcher. Behold Him as He ascends! Let not your eyes be too dazzled with the Glory. He rides in solemn pomp up to Heaven’s gate. Your ears can even now catch the echoes of that song, “Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be you lift up, you everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.” He that enters there has saved us and has gone to receive gifts for men. His entrance there is the entrance of all His people, for He is their Representative and takes possession of Heaven on their behalf. Being there for us, we are saved! His Presence on the Throne is the Presence of God’s Salvation!
If time did not fail me, I would like to pursue the story and point you to Him, looking still like a lamb that has been slain, pleading with His never ceasing, ever-prevalent intercession. I would like to bid your faith anticipate the day when He shall come again, with no sin-offering, but unto salvation, when you and I, seeing Him, shall see God’s Salvation–when our bodies shall be perfected, no more to be weak and suffering, but made like His glorious body! Our Brothers and Sisters that have gone before us, who at this moment sleep in their silent tombs among the purple heather, or in the crowded cemetery, or in the chill vault–they, also, shall hear the sound of His Second Advent when the herald blast shall bid the world know that the Lord has come and–
“From beds of dust and silent clay
To realms of everlasting day”–
they shall wing their triumphant way, for Jesus Christ shall be to them, as to us, God’s Salvation! That was Simeon’s idea, I think. I have but hammered out his ingot of gold a little to show you that where Jesus is, there is the Salvation of God.
II. And now, in the second place, we shall TAKE SOME LEAVES OUT OF OUR OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY.
The text says, “ My eyes have seen Your Salvation.” Simeon must not be allowed the monopoly of these words. Iclaim them, “ My eyes have seen Your Salvation.” Brothers and Sisters, many of you can, in a spiritual sense, use the samelanguage as the Patriarch about to depart uses. You too, can say, “My eyes have seen Your Salvation.” Will you turn over the book of your life awhile as I turn over mine?
Well, we need not read those early pages, the pages of our estate of sin. Drop tears and blot them out! Dear hand of Jesus stained with blood, wipe down each one of them and blot them out forever! But what is this first bright page? It is the page where we began to live,
the page that records our spiritual birth. And I think we shall find written somewhere
across it, “This day my eyes beheld God’s Salvation.” Well do I remember that day! I had looked here and looked there. This was my question–I have offended God, how can He forgive me? It was no use to tell me God was merciful–I had an answer for that–“God is just.” It availed nothing to say, “Sin is little,” I knew better! It was heavy to me–what must it do to Him? The question I wanted to have answered was–How can God in justice pass by my iniquities? Then did I learn, as in a moment, this sweet story which has been my delight to tell in various forms a thousand times–that Jesus came and said, “I will be the sinner’s Surety. I will stand in his place of curse and ruin and will bear for him the penalty of pain–for him I will even bear death.” I learned that if I looked to Jesus–just looked, that was all–that if I simply trusted in Jesus, I would be saved! I looked and, happy day, my eyes saw God’s Salvation! That blessed Doctrine of Substitution, that simple command, “Believe and live”–that was the glass through which my soul looked and saw God’s Salvation!
But if I remember rightly, a little further on–in my case it was not above a week after I had seen my sin forgiven, I felt myself in another difficulty. I found I could not do what I would. My will now was never to sin again, but I did sin. Iwilled to be holy, but I was not what I would be. I groaned and cried, “Where is salvation from this evil heart of mine, from this corruption of my nature?” And I remember well going to the same place where I had heard of the Savior and hearing the minister declare that if any man felt in himself the evil nature, he was not saved. “Ah,” I thought, “I know better than that!” I could not be persuaded of that, for I knew I was saved as I had looked to Christ, but I did find that I was where Paul was when he said, “To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” I seemed, then, to say to myself, “My will is so fickle, how can I hold on? My power is so feeble, how can I stand against sin?”
Ah, and well do I remember the day when I could say in a more emphatic sense than before, “My eyes have seen Your Salvation.” For, as I searched the Word, I perceived that as many as believed in Christ had eternal life isnot a life that lasts a little while–it is what it is said to be–everlasting life. Then I perceived in the Word that againstthis everlasting life the old body of sin and death would struggle, but that it was written that the new life was a living and incorruptible Seed “which lives and abides forever.” And I discovered the Apostle’s words, “Thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It was a grand discovery when I perceived that the life God had given me could not die any more than God could! That it was a beam from Himself! That He had made me a partaker of that Divine Nature since I had escaped the corruption that was in the world through lust. That the Spirit of the Most High was given to the Believer to dwell in him and to be with him forever! And that He who began the work had declared that He would carry it on and perfect it unto the day of the appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
When I learned those Truths of God, I felt as if I had not seen God’s Salvation before. I had seen so little of it the first time–enough to make me leap for joy, it is true–but on the second discovery, I beheld that He who redeemed me fromthe guilt of sin would quite as certainly redeem me from the power of sin! That He who set me on the rock would keep me there! That He who put me on the road to Heaven had said about all His servants, “I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me.” That was a glorious discovery! None of your two penny-halfpenny salvations that some people profess to have, that only last for a day or two, or a few weeks at most and then depart–in Christ today and out of Christ tomorrow! Christ has pardoned their sin and yet they think He has not given them salvation! But to know that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” That He has said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.” That “the righteous also shall hold on his way and he that has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.” That the Word of Christ stands sure, “I give unto My sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hands”–this is to see God’s Salvation in a broader light! I pray that every hearer who has seen Christ may go on to see more of Christ till he has seen his full security in the Person of the Well-Beloved!
But further on, (and it was with me a long time later), when I had discovered that the Christ who saved me from the guilt was also pledged to save me from the power of sin–then I found afresh that He was God’s Salvation! I discoveredpartly through thought and partly through the clear testimony of the written Word, that every soul that believes in Christ, believes in Christ because God made Him believe in Christ! That concerning that soul there was a purpose made byGod that that soul should be a Believer–and that purpose was made from all eternity, and that purpose once made could never be changed! It was like the mountains of brass which could never be moved. I say that the salvation of the Believer in Christ did not rest on his own will, but on God’s will! That the purpose that saved him was not his own purpose, even as it is written, “it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.” Why, I remember that was as good a discovery to me as the very first one that I made! It was almost like another conversion! I had been up to the ankles in the Water of Life before, but now I was up to my very neck! And what could I say but this–
“I’m a monument of Grace,
A sinner saved by blood!
The streams of love I trace
Up to the Fountain, God.
And in His sacred bosom see
Eternal thoughts of love to me”?
Here it is that “my eyes have seen God’s Salvation”–seen the source of it, the secret springs of it, the eternity of it, the immutability of it and the Divinity of it! I pray that every burdened child of God may also get to see that. Then will he indeed sing for joy of heart!
Probably, dear Brothers and Sisters, we have not all gone further than that, if as far, but it is a very blessed thing when we are led to see another Truth of God, namely, that every quickened Believer is one with Jesus Christ. “We aremembers of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” The Christ in Heaven is the same Christ who is here on earth in all of His saved ones–they are all parts of Him. There is a vital union subsisting between them so that whatever Christ is, they are. They were one with Him of old, they were one in the grave, one when He rose, one when He triumphed over His foes and they are at this day one with Him as–
“Now in Heaven He takes His seat,
While seraphs sing all Hell’s defeat.”
Every Believer is as much one with Christ as the finger is one with the body. If I lost my finger, I would not be a perfect man as to my body. And if Christ lost the meanest member of His body, it would be a part of Christ that would belost–and Christ would not be a perfect Christ! We are one with Jesus by indissoluble, vital union–and if your soul perceives that, you will clap your hands and say to the Father–“I have indeed seen Your Salvation, for now I see that I am in Heaven.” He “has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We are saved and glorified in Christ Jesus as our Representative and Covenant Head!
Not even yet have I exhausted this theme! And I only pray that you and I may go on to know yet more and more the heights and depths of God’s Salvation! I was thinking just now before I began to preach that if ever you and I should be permitted to look down upon the world of misery–if in some future state we should ever gaze into that land of darkness and despair where sinners cast away from God are suffering the due reward of their sins–if our eyes should ever see their agonies and our ears should ever hear their cries of despair, we would, among other things, say, “My God, I never knew before how great Your Salvation is, for I also should have been there, but for Your mercy. Until I saw something of what Hell is, I could not tell how much I owed You. I could not say that in its heights and depths my eyes had seen Your Salvation.”
And, Brothers and Sisters, (to put a better, a more pleasing light upon it)–
“When I stand before the Throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own”
–when I shall see Him–and see Him I shall, for I can say with Job, “Whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” When you and I shall cast our crowns at His feet, when we shall raise our voices with all the white-robed throng in the everlasting hallelujahs, then we shall say, “My God, my Father, ‘My eyes have seen Your Salvation.’”
III. Time fails me, so I must pass on to spend a few minutes in a third portion of my topic. It is this–THERE ARE SOME HERE WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN GOD’S SALVATION.
The Gospel is hid from them. And if it is hid, it is not hid because we have used hard words to hide it. “If our Gospel is hid, it is hid from them who are lost; in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not.” Blind Sinner, do you desire to see the Salvation of God? “Ah,” you say, “If I know my own heart, I do.” Why, then, can you not see it, Man? It is very plain. Ah, I see, your eyes are sealed up!
The first seal I see on your eyes, like a fixed scale, (and oh, I wish I could take it off of you), is this–you do not evenbelieve that you need any salvation. The man who does not believe he needs saving, of course will never see God’s Salvation! In your heart you say, “I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” But my poor Friend, be persuaded to take God’s opinion of you, which is much nearer the truth than yours. You are naked, blind, poor and miserable! You are lost, ruined and condemned, as it is written, “He that believes not is condemned already.” Is that scale gone?
Now I see another, (I wish that I could take that off, too), and that is, you know you are blind, but you say, “I musttry and save myself.” This is a very thick scale. You will never see while that is on your eyes! Do you not notice how Simeon put it–not, “My eyes have seen my own salvation,” that is, God'sSalvation, the Lord’s salvation! Let me tell you, poor Man, if ever you are saved, your salvation must be God’s in the beginning, God’s in the carrying on and God’s in the concluding! No salvation will ever serve your turn but one which is Divine from top to bottom! If Nature’s fingers could nimbly spin a garment that should cover human nakedness, it would be of no use. All that Nature spins, God must unravel before a soul can be clothed in the righteousness of Christ! It is not your doings, Man–it is Christ’s doings that must save you! Not your tears, but Christ’s blood! Not your feelings, not anything in you or from you! Listen you who have an ear to hear it–“Salvation is of the Lord”–from first to last!
If that scale shall come off your eyes, I know that you will say, “Now I begin to see enough to know that I cannot see. I have just enough light to discover the darkness I am in. I see that none can save me but God. He must do it–but will He save me? Will He save me?” Lend me your finger, Man. Do you see? No, you do not, but there is the hem of Jesus' garment–touch that with your finger and you shall be restored to sight at once! I mean this–Jesus died to save such as you are–trust Him and you are saved! You are saved completely and at once! A physician who was under some concern of soul, asked his patient, who was a godly man, “Can you explain to me what faith is?” “Yes,” said his godly patient, “I can let you see it very soon if God will let you see it. It is like this–I am very ill, I cannot help myself, I do not attempt to do it, I have confidence in you–I put myself into your care, I take what medicine you send me–I do what you bid me. That is faith. You must trust yourself in the hands of Christ like that.” That is it. When you, my dear Friend, wholly and entirely trust yourself in the hands of Christ–then your eyes have seen God’s Salvation!
I have no time for more. I wish I had. But I want to say this final word to everyone who has seen God’s Salvation. Perhaps one of you is poor. Well, go home tonight saying, “I am poor, but my eyes have seen Your Salvation.” One of you, perhaps, is in suffering. Then say, “I feel ill. Never mind, my eyes have seen Your Salvation.” And perhaps there are some warnings and intimations that make another of you think you will soon be called to die. Consumption is undermining your constitution–never mind, don’t fret–your eyes have seen God’s Salvation! How much better to die in an attic or in a ditch and see God’s Salvation, than be carried in the most pompous manner to your grave a soul that knows nothing of God and of the Savior! O you that are much tried and much troubled, bear up, bear up! Your sorrow will not last much longer! When you and I get to Heaven, as I trust we shall, as I know we shall if we are resting on the Atonement ofChrist, these troubles by the way will only be matter for us to talk of, and to say to one another, “How graciously the Lord has upheld us in His Providence, and how wonderfully He has brought us through every trial! Even in my poverty, my eyes saw His Salvation. In my sickness and in my death, I did but see it all the more clearly because of the clouds and darkness that were round about me!” God bless you, dear Friends! I earnestly pray that you may all see God’s Salvation! May He hear the prayer, for Christ’s sake! Amen.