The One And The Many
“The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.”
I am not going to speak at length about the Doctrine of the Federal Headship of the first Adam and of the second Adam, which is, to my mind, indisputably taught in this chapter. I have heard a great many objections to that Truth of God which appear to me to be plainly revealed in Scripture, namely, that we were all represented by Adam in the Garden of Eden and that when he sinned, he so sinned as to sin representativelyby virtue of his disobedience. Certain it is that we all come into a world that is adapted to sinners–where the babe is no sooner born than it begins to suffer pain–where winter’s frosts, summer’s heats and changes of all kinds constantly try us–a world not at all adapted for perfect beings. God regards us from our very birth as sinful and He treats us as such. Now, whatever quibbles there may be about that Doctrine of Representation and Federal Headship, it is a fact, and I would remind objectors that it is, under many aspects, a very blessed fact! When the angels fell, keeping not their first estate, there was never any proposal to ransom them, for each of those spiritual beings fell in his own individual capacity and fell hopelessly. But the human race was a unit represented by the one head, Adam.
And though to us it is a most unhappy thing that we should all have fallen by virtue of our being represented by Adam, yet here is the mercy of it–it left a way open by which we might be restored, for, if we fell by one Adam, there remained a possibility of our rising by another Adam! If the disobedience of one representative was the first cause of our being regarded as sinners, then it became possible that the obedience of another and still greater Representative might enable God to regard us as righteous and treat us as such! I shall not quibble at what is so greatly to my own personal advantage–I rather bow before what I cannot understand and accept it because I see how it is now possible for me to be saved forever and ever! “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” I dare not question the perfect justice of my fall in Adam. I should be most unwise if I did, for by so doing I might cast some doubt upon the justice of my rising in the second Adam–and what other way of rising is there possible for me, or possible for any of us?
Entering not, however, into any of the disputes that have arisen around this Truth of God, I simply allude to the fact, most dreadful and terrible, that in Adam we died, because in Adam’s sin we were regarded as sinners. And I rejoice in that second fact which covers and meets the first, that in Christ we live, inasmuch as Christ’s righteousness is the property of all who are truly in Him. He was righteous on their behalf and they find in Him wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption!
Our text alludes to certain differences between the consequences of Adam’s representation and that of Christ–“The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.” I shall speak about four things as the Holy Spirit shall graciously guide me.
- the first is, THE VENON OF SIN–“The judgment was by one to condemnation.” By one man, by one sin, by one act of transgression, “The judgment was to condemnation.”
Notice, dear Friends, that Adam’s offense was one. True, there were a great many sins wrapped up in that one–itwould be almost impossible to mention any sin which did not lie asleep, or which was not found in embryo, within that one act of tasting the forbidden fruit. Yet it was but one offense. It is looked at by those who have no spiritual understanding as a very small matter, just as at this day men still make light of sin and regard disobedience to the will of God as being a mere trifle. Yet that one offense has ruined us all. When he, who committed it, fell–
“Then I, and youand all of us fell down.”
Inasmuch as he was the parent of us all, he communicated to all his offspring a tendency to sin. And all his descendants became subject to the weary woes of life and to the sure penalty of death. Think of the mischief that one sin can do–Adam’s disobedience was but one offense, yet some of its consequences will remain forever!
Note, next, that one offense brought with it condemnation. Such is the Law of God–that it does not need to bebroken many times to bring condemnation–one breakage of it and the dread sentence is passed. Had you and I committed only one solitary sin–I scarcely like to utter the supposition, for it is so far remote from the truth–but if it were so, he who breaks the Law in any one point has broken it all. It is like a chain and if you file through a single link, you have broken the whole chain. It is like a vase of purest alabaster, of matchless workmanship–if you break it anywhere, you have spoiled it and it can never be offered unto God. One offense brings condemnation! The verdict of, “Guilty,” upon one solitary count of the indictment brings upon the convicted criminal the death sentence from the Throne of God. Let no man object to this. If he does, his objecting will not alter the fact. It still stands as a necessary consequence of the righteous Law of God that He will, by no means, spare the guilty, and even one offense brings judgment unto condemnation!
But what I want you to especially think of is that this one sin has such venom in it that it has brought condemnationand suffering and death upon the whole race of mankind. Oh, what myriads of men there are in the world! When I traverse this city of five million souls, it appalls me! It can scarcely be called a city–it is a province, it is a nation! There are two or three nations which, if put together, would not make up as many inhabitants as the population of this wonderful city! Yet, over all this vast population the taint of sin has spread. But what is London compared with all the nations of the globe, the almost innumerable hosts that people this round world? Yet there is not one who bears the countenance of a man upon whom the shadow of the curse has not fallen. Each man must toil for his bread with the sweat upon his brow and, in due time, it must be said to each one of us, “dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.” What has caused all this? It is the one offense which has brought judgment unto condemnation upon all!
Just think, for a moment, that this has been the case, not merely with the populations of today, but with all whohave ever lived upon this earth. Can you count them? As well might you try to number the drops of the morning dew! The world is one vast cemetery–in many places, an Aceldama–a field of blood where men have slaughtered one another even by the thousands! But in peaceful times the people have still died! As surely as the leaves fall from the trees in autumn when no rough wind or frost drives them from the bough, so do men die in due season. “Man goes to his long home and the mourners go about the streets.” My imagination would aid my understanding, but, together, they fail to comprehend the hosts on hosts of men and women and children who have died and whose bodies lie buried in the earth, or cover the bottom of the sea. “Who slew all these?” the answer is, “Sin, which brought death into the world.”
It was but a woman’s finger that lifted the latch, but in came that which cannot be expelled till the greater Man shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of the archangel and with the voice of God! Death, with all his train of sickness, disease and woe, came in among us by the sin of our first parents. Oh, the venom that there must be in sin! Oh, think not little of it! Children of God, by the blood of the Atonement, I beseech you, think not lightly of sin and, by the terror of that curse which came by one act of rebellion, I entreat you, never trifle with sin! There is a ship lying outside a certain harbor. It has come front Marseilles, but it must not enter the port. There is a panic on the land, the whole town is up in arms, the people will not let the cargo be unloaded, nor allow the mariners to tread our English shore. Why? Because there is cholera on board!
And what is that? Can it be seen with a microscope? I do not know. Perhaps one day the germ of it may be discovered and it may be sufficiently large to reach the human understanding. It may be but a puff of putrid air–a something unseen which lingers in a bale of dirty rags. But will you bring it on shore? No, unless you hate your fellow men and wish to murder them! And every sin contains within it a pest, a plague, an evil a thousand times more terrible than the black death of olden times–and more awful than the cholera of today! Oh, flee from sin as from a cobra, lest a single look at it should fascinate you and its sting should have envenomed your veins before you are aware of it! O young men and fathers, you who have children, I beseech you, especially, to remember how your sins will be transmitted from generation to generation!
Before I leave this point, I must also remind you that the sin of a single moment is the sin of eternity. Mark that well.A man drops a stone into the ocean and, by wondrous perceptive organs, the effect might be discovered on every shore and in every sea. Such is the power of mechanical motion, that the least movement in one place must affect the entire world. But sin has an all but boundless influence. There may be some erroneous teaching that may be spoken to but halfa-dozen people, but you can never recall it. It has gone forth forever and, by that one sin you may have impregnated one person with evil and that one may pass on the error to another–and that one to a thousand–and so mischief is done which only a miracle of Grace can undo! Oh, the horrible nature of sin! I pray you, let your horror of sin make you love that Redeemer who bore its curse in His own body on the tree and who has saved from it you who are Believers in Him! It is no trifle from which Christ has saved you! Sin is a worse disease than leprosy, it is something more than death, for it brings the death that never dies. O Sirs, with tears of penitence, turn your backs on sin! And turn those eyes, yet filled with tears, upon your Savior’s bleeding body, and adore and magnify Him that He has delivered you from sin!
II. the second Truth of God in our text which I want to bring before you is concerning the freeness of salvation–“The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.”
I like that expression, “the free gift.” Somebody asked, the other day, why we talk about “Free Grace.” Of course, that is a redundant expression, for Grace must be free, but there are so many people about, nowadays, who will not understand us if they can help it, so we like to speak, not only so that they can understand us, but so that they cannot misunderstand us if they try! It is for this reason that we say, “Free Grace,” that they may have it twice over and hear it with both ears. If we only speak to one of their ears, it may, as men say, go in that one and out the other–but if we speak to both their ears at once, perhaps the Truth of God may meet somewhere in the center of their brain and remain there. We delight to speak of salvation as Paul puts it here, “the free gift.” Nothing can be freer than a gift, but, lest there should be any mistake about the freeness, it is spoken of as “the free gift.”
What is this free gift? It is, first, the original gift of Jesus, God’s unspeakable Gift. Surely, nobody can ever be sofoolish as to dream that men deserve to have Jesus Christ as their Savior! That is a notion which, I should think, would berepudiated by every man who gave it half a thought–that ever fallen men could deserve that God should give up His only-begotten Son to bleed and die for them. No , Jesus must be a Gift, and He must be a free Gift.
And when our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world and gave Himself for us, this, also, was a free and undeservedgift of Grace. Does any man think that he has any merit by which he could claim that Christ should assume human form and should live and suffer and, at last, die for him? You must be mad, man, if you harbor such a thought for a single instant! Your pride must have made you insane if you can think that you deserve yon Cross and all that it meant to the glorious Victim who was nailed to it! What? Can you see His hands and feet pierced with the cruel iron and His heart divided by the soldier’s spear–and then talk of your own meritChrist–that would be quite impossible! His death must be a free gift, for none could ever deserve it. So that, on the part of the Father, and of the Son, salvation is a free gift.
It is also as a free gift that the Holy Spirit applies this salvation to the hearts of men. You dream, perhaps, that youare to pay to God so much prayer, so much repentance, so much faith, so much promise and resolve, so much reformation and so much future holiness. I tell you, Sirs, you know not God, nor His ways, while you entertain such a foolish notion! Until such talk as that is driven far from you, you do not stand upon ground where God can meet you. He comes not to sell the priceless blessing of His love for your paltry pence of supposed merit and obedience! It must be a free gift if it is to be yours at all.
Salvation is a free gift bestowed upon men without anything on their part to deserve it. When God saves a sinner, it is simply as a sinner that he is saved–not as one who has any point about him that can commend him to God’s love. He is just a lost, ruined, undone, condemned soul, apart from the mercy of God! When the Lord comes to deal with a sinner, it is not upon conditions and terms. If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, God saves you–and saves you wholly, completely and unconditionally. I have read that Queen Elizabeth was once asked to pardon a person who had made an attempt upon her life, but who had done it out of loyalty to the Queen of Scots. She felt that she could forgive the man, but she said to him, “Now, if I pardon you, must it not be upon certain conditions?” He answered, quoting from a good, sound Divine, “Grace upon conditions, your Majesty, is no grace at all.” He spoke well, and the Queen recognized that it was so, for she said to him, “I pardon you at once without any condition,” and she, thereby, made a loyal subject of him for the rest of his life. So the Lord forgives you, poor trembling but trusting soul, without exacting anything of you of any sort whatever!
Further, if you do come just as you are, empty-handed and foul, and receive what He is prepared to give, He does not ask you to give anything of your own in return for His free gift. “But I must be holy,” says one. You shall be holy andthat very holiness will be God’s gift to you! “But I must repent.” Yes, and you will repent, but that penitence will beGod’s gift to you! “But I must leave my sin.” Yes, and you will leave your sin, and be glad to leave it, yet that, also, willbe God’s gift to you–not your gift to God. You are simply to be a receiver all the way along. You are a prisoner at thebar, you have not any plea to urge why the judge should not put on the black cap and condemn you to death. If you should search through Heaven, earth and Hell, you could not find one valid reason why God should save you except this one–that He wills to do it by a free gift of His pure, unmerited Grace. He can justly do it through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, for He is both “just and the Justifier of him that believes.”
If any of you desire to know how you are to be saved, I tell you again that there is nothing for you to do in order to merit salvation–you have rather to leave off your own doing and to rest in what Christ has done! Have I put the matter plainly enough? No, I have not, for who can make it so plain that a blind man can see it? God must open the blind man’s eyes and then he will see it! Yet there it stands, clear and plain–salvation is the free gift of God! It is all of Grace fromfirst to last!
III. now, in the third place, I must speak upon THE LARGENESS OF GOD’S PARDON–“The free gift is of many offenses.”
I would like to stand here and preach, not merely for seven days, or seven weeks, but for seven years, upon thosewords which I have just repeated–“The free gift is of many offenses.” You would be worn out, I daresay, with listening, but I would let you go home and invite another congregation to fill the house to hear this wondrous story, which can never be fully told!
Think of the many persons that Free Grace has saved–the many who are still upon the earth. But, if you are heavyof heart, I ask you to look up beyond that gate of pearl and gaze by faith into Glory. Oh, the myriads, the innumerable myriads, that my spirit eyes behold clustering around the eternal Throne of God! They are as bees that throng about the hive and hang in clusters around the queen bee–or stars that stud the firmament of Heaven, or as the drops of spray that leap from the unnumbered waves in the hour of a great Atlantic storm! Of things impossible to count, I speak no longer! Who shall tell the thousandth part of the stars of Heaven that once were darkness, or of the children of God who once were heirs of wrath?
Think, next, of the many offenses which all of these saved sinners must have committed, yet the free Gift has blottedthem all out. Turn your mind to contemplate the many kinds of sin that there are in the world and then remember the text–“The free gift is of many offenses.” I will not try to go through the black list. I will not begin with the least and mount up to the highest, but this I will say, if you have been a blasphemer, if you have prostituted your body, if you have defiled your soul, if you are covered with scarlet sin from head to foot till not a spot is left clean upon you, still is my text true–“The free gift is of many offenses unto justification.” “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,” for, “the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” That is a wonderfully sweet, “all!” It includes many kinds of sin–yes, every sort of offense against God.
Think, dear Friends, of the number of times that you have committed any of these sins. I will not ask you to count them, for they are greater in number than the hairs of your head, or the sands on the seashore. You have sinned once, twice, three times–begin with
millions–and you will be nearer the mark! There are men who seem to make every
breath a sin. They breathe out iniquity and every pulse beats in rebellion against the Most High. They are always sinning and yet they are never satisfied–their appetite grows with that it feeds upon. Yet in this text there is hope, even, for such sinners as they are! “The free gift is of many offenses.” Poor blackamoor sinner, where are you? This message is meant for you–for you who drip with filth as you go along–you whose speech would make the cheek of modesty to blush! The free gift is for you whose hearts must be a very morgue–a reeking sepulcher of iniquity! Yet even to such as you is my text sent to declare that “the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.”
IV. there is sufficient sea room there for us to sail on as long as we please, but I must come to my last point which is–THE PERFECTION OF GOD’S GRACE–“The free gift is of many offenses unto justification.” I have time only to say a very little upon that wonderful theme. May the Holy Spirit, Himself, teach you what it means!
What is justification? You have, perhaps, heard of, “justification by faith,” till you scarcely attach any meaning to that familiar phrase. Well, first, justification is the reverse of condemnation. Do you know what condemnation is? I suppose that you never were condemned in a court of law, but were you ever condemned in the court of conscience? Did all your thoughts sit, like a jury, to try your whole life? And did they, with one consent, by the mouth of the foreman, say, “Guilty”? I tell you, Sirs, you do not know how to spell, “justification,” till every letter of the word, “condemnation,” has burnt itself into your soul. These two things must go together–the condemnation, like a harrow, tearing up the earth, or, like a great sub-soil plow, cutting up everything as it runs along. And then comes justification, like a sweet, gentle shower, softening the clods and preparing for the precious grain that shall produce a harvest of glory. Condemnation on account of sin is a very real thing–those who have felt it know that it is. Many a man has been ready to lay violent hands upon himself when he has been under sentence of condemnation! And justification is quite as real.
Justification further means actual acquittal. I want you to get that Truth of God into your mind, dear child of God.If you ever were as I was for five long years, as a child, condemnation was very real to you. It was no dream, it was an awful reality. You knew that you were condemned, and your own conscience said that it was so. Well, now, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you may just as certainly and as truly know that you are acquitted and justified–and conscience, taught by the Spirit of God, will confirm the verdict! You are no longer guilty–God regards you, in Christ, as righteous. He pronounces you just and if God says you are just, let not the devil be listened to when he declares that you are unjust! The great work of salvation is fully accomplished! Your chastisement has been borne by Another and your sin is put away forever. “It is finished,” is Christ’s own declaration! The righteousness that God required of you is perfected by Another, even by your great Substitute, and He has wrapped that robe around you and you may wear it. If you are a believer in Jesus, what we sang just now is true concerning you–
“In Your Surety you are free,
His dear hands were pierced for thee!
With His spotless vesture on,
Holy as the Holy One.”
“The free gift is of many offenses unto justification.” If you were as guilty as the greatest sinner out of Hell, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, that guilt is all gone! The righteousness of Christ is yours, you are justified before God and, therefore, you are in perfect security and safety now and forever! And you shall forever adore the Divine Grace that has saved such a sinner as you feel yourself to be! God bless you all, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.