Archive of Pastor Darby's Sermon Notes, transcribed from his original typewritten documents
THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT IN THE WORLD!
Sep 20, 1950
Good afternoon friends, today we are going to study from the Epistle to the Galatians, verses 13 and 14 of chapter 3.
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree . . . That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
We have here a declaration of the most important fact in the World. "Christ hath redeemed us form the curse of the law,"
What law? The ten Commandments? Yes, and every other commandment written in the Scriptures which belongs to us to keep.
And not only the commandments written in the Scriptures, but those inscribed on the fleshly tables of our heart as well. The law of conscience as well as the law of Holy Spirit.
"Christ bath redeemed us from the 'curse' of the law." Curse means penalty, and it is the penalty which gives significance to law. Where there is no penalty there is no law.
And what is the curse of the law from which Christ bath redeemed us?
The Scriptures answer: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), "The soul that sinneth it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20). Nor is this death merely the separation of the soul from the body and the complete end of existence. The impenitent sinner might wish that this were so. But death is more serious than this. Death is a continuance of existence on the part of the soul, but in conscious, and woeful separation from God. Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) ought to satisfy as to this. And if that were not enough, His own death on the cross might be convincing. Can anyone believe that the death He came into the world to die for sinful man, the cup whose contemplation in Gethsemane caused Him to sweat great drops of blood, and the essence of those agony was heard in the cry: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me,” - can anyone believe that this meant only the end of existence of the soul and the body? If death is just an endless sleep, then why do men fear death? A strange conception of the divine curse on sin must the person have who believes that death ends everything.
But Christ hath redeemed us from the curse. Redeemed! We know the meaning of the word, to ransom or buy back again. You are in tight financial circumstances, let us say, and must have a certain sum of money at once and the pawnshop is your only hope. And yet you have nothing to hock except something which in a sense is not yours- a precious ring, an heirloom which must be handed down to another generation. But you have a friend who understands your circumstances and sympathizes in your distress. He enters the pawn shop at that moment and places upon the counter the sum asked for the ring. He redeems it, he buys it back again.
Now there is not one of us who has now pawned his soul to Satan, or sin. It was not ours to pawn, but pawned it we have. But there is a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother, who knows all about our circumstances, and sympathizes with us in our distress. At the critical moment He has appeared and laid down the price of our redemption. It is not corruptible things such as silver and gold He has paid, but His own precious blood “as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:18,19)
Christ hath redeemed us. The past tense is so important. It is not something Christ will do in the future, or is even doing at the present time, but something He has done. This man, by one sacrifice for sins hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). This work has never to be done again. 0, the preciousness of that thought that Jesus' work for us is a finished work, once and forever.
For "us".- "Christ hath redeemed us." Of course, this pronoun applies to Christians, and in the first instance, to those at Galatia. But in the last analysis it means all, not only all Christians but all men. the whole world has been redeemed by Jesus Christ. His atoning sacrifice is sufficient for all ( I John 2:2), and "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).
But this is not to say that all are saved. The friend may have redeemed your ring and handed it back to you again, and you may have declined to take it. Bought back it is, but still not yours. Your will alone stands in the way of its being yours because you are too proud to accept the gift.
It is so in the case of the lost soul. All are redeemed, but only they are saved who receive the redemption in receiving the Redeemer. “To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). Have you yet received Him? Have you yet believed on His name? Have you yet taken from Him by a definite act of faith that redemption which He purchased and which He offers you? Do this, for nothing else or other than this will save you.
“Being made a curse for us.” This is what Christ became on our behalf. He was not merely accursed from God, but He became a curse bearing the universal curse of the whole race. As another scripture says, “He hat made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin” (II Cor 5:21). He was made not a sin-offering merely, but sin, the representative sin-bearer of all the sin of all men, past, present, and future. The sin of the world is one, though its manifestations are many, and because of that it is said of Jesus that He is the “Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.” It is difficult, if not impossible, for our finite mind to take this in, but it can be taken in far enough to make it plain that there is no sin on him, and no penalty to be exacted from him who has found shelter under this atoning sacrifice.
But the object and scope of our redemption what is that?
“That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
The blessing of Abraham! What was his blessing? And what has he to do with us or we with him? Abraham was the founder of the Jewish race, and he lived in Asia 4,000 years ago, and it seems so unlikely that he should have any blessing to be coveted by us in these modern times. And especially a blessing of such prime importance that it were worth the sacrifice of the Son of God to make it ours!
The man who sawed off the limb of the tree on which he himself sat is the proverbial fool; but close kin to him is that professedly Christian teacher who in light o this declaration about Abraham’s blessing will try to make us believe that Abraham was a myth, and that the story of his life in Genesis is an allegory. If there are any historic facts on earth we need to be sure about, it is these of the Old Testament, on which in a real sense our hopes of heaven depend. And if there are any parts of the Bible as to whose inspiration we need to be the more clear, it is these parts which both support and explain the most vital doctrines of the Christian faith.
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF ABRAHAM’S BLESSING?
The blessing of Abraham was justification before God. He was a sinner by nature like all the rest of us. He was born into a state of wrongness, and needed somehow to get into a state of rightness if he were to enjoy God’s fellowship either here or hereafter. And how did he get there? Simply by faith, simply by believing the testimony of God on a certain matter.
And what was that matter? It concerned the son and heir that should be born to him. God had promised this heir a long while before, and had said that in his seed should all the families of the earth be blessed.
But Abraham was an old man, and Sarah his wife long bast the natural time of child-bearing, and yet the heir was not born. Was there some mistake about it? Had Abraham misunderstood? He seized upon an occasion to but that inquiry to God and he was once more assured of it.
Let us paraphrase what God had said to him in Genesis: “Abraham, look up into the heavens tonight. Canst thou count the stars for multitude? Even so shall thy seed be, the seed that shall come out of thine own self, the seed born of Sarah thy wife. Canst thy faith measure up to that promise, my child?” (Genesis 15.) “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness (Romans 4:20-22.)
This is not to say that Abraham in that moment was made righteous as to his personal experience or character. There are many things thereafter for which he needed to be rebuked of God. But he was made righteous in point of law, and so far as his judicial standing before God was concerned he was made righteous.
When in a conflict of arms, an enemy surrenders on the terms of surrender offered, no change may have taken place in his character, but a tremendous change has taken place in his relation to the foe, and vice versa. and on the basis of this relationship they can get together on a new plan which will work a quiet but thorough revolution in other respects. Something like this was true of Abraham after he became righteous by faith, an something like this is true of every man who receives the blessing of Abraham in the same way.
THIS BLESSING BELONGS TO US.
For as Paul says, continuing his words in his letter to the Romans just quoted: “It was not written for his (Abrahams) sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to him it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:23-25 .)
Now, as a matter of fact, Abraham knew nothing about Jesus our Lord. Jesus, indeed said, in John 8:56: “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and he was glad” But this can hardly mean that Abraham knew the person of Jesus or understood about his atoning worked as we do. The name or the work of Jesus was not so much as mentioned or proposed to Abraham. In God's mind that name and that work were all powerful as the reason for the justifying of Abraham or any other man from the days of righteous Abel until now (Romans 3:25); but that name and that work have only been fully revealed to men as the real an ultimate ground of their justification in our time. That which was required of Abraham to justify him was his belief in God's testimony period in this case it was a testimony merely about his (Abraham's) son and heir.
In like manner God now comes to us. We are concerned about a greater and deeper matter than the earthly heirship that troubled Abraham. It is the question of eternal life that concerns us. Our cry is: “How may a sinner be just with God?” And God reveals a way. He gives us His testimony about His Son, He of whom the Son, an heir of Abraham was the type. He says: “My Son was delivered for your offenses and the token of the completeness of His work on your behalf was His resurrection from the dead. Will you accept my testimony concerning Jesus as Abraham accepted my testimony concerning Isaac? If so, it shall be imputed unto you for righteousness, as the like faith was imputed unto him.”
This is what Paul means when he adds: “that we might receive the promise of the spirit by faith.” That Abraham should have this heir was the promise of the Spirit of God to him, and he received it by faith. He believed it before it was actually realized in his history. His faith grasped the promise.
That Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification is the promise of the same Spirit, and if we receive it by faith, the righteousness imputed unto Abraham, or the position of rightness which God accorded him will be imputed or accorded unto us in like manner. That is, we will be made just in a legal sense, the sense that God will have no charge of sin to lay against us forevermore. Is this not simple enough for even a child to grasp? Would to God that some of us were again children that we might grasp it!
CAN WE HAVE FAITH WITHOUT FEELING?
The difficulty with the average adult is that he cannot be satisfied without what he calls feeling, something different from faith. But a very simple illustration may serve at once to show how unnecessary such feeling is, and how really dishonoring to God it is, to say nothing even of its harmfulness to our own peace.
General McClellan wrote his wife that he had been commissioned as a Major General of the army. “But,” said he, “I do not feel any different than I did yesterday. Indeed, I have not yet donned my new uniform. I am sure that I am in command of the army, however, for the President's order to that effect is now before me. Would the general have suffered disobedience to his command or dishonor to his position for the lack of this feeling? Was not the president's order sufficient for him to act the part? How foolish it would have been for him to wait for anything further, and how disrespectful to his superior! This is not to say that the conviction, or the feeling, of his being the commanding officer may not have grown upon him as he did act the part from day to day, but was not the fact as true on the first day of office as the last?
It is just so with the man who is justified by faith. He is at peace with God in that moment, and the peace of God follows in due time. The first represents his state or position before God, the second the experience or realization of it. Whether the second ever becomes his or whether it does not, truth of the first named fact is not affected period let us praise God for this, and not dishonor His word by doubting it.
Let us again glance at the scriptures concerning this promise in Galatians 3:13; “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law.”
Why were the holy scriptures given to us? Why do we have so many churches today? Why do we have men who have dedicated their lives to the spread of the gospel? The scriptures themselves give us the answer in plain words that can be understood by all. John 20:31 “That ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing ye might have life through His name.”
Will you have faith in God this hour? Will you trust him for your salvation? Will you dedicate your life to that faith which God offers to you? Do so now! Remember - tomorrow may never come for you. Trust God today.