The Power of the Gospel


1. We may see that while the advocates of Universal Salvation take correct ground, in assuming it as the design of the gospel to save men from sin, they fail entirely of gaining that salvation, by leaving out of the account the work of the Holy Ghost in renewing and cleansing the heart. “Create in me” said the Psalmist “a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” TPG 13.1

Here it is recognized as the work of God to save from sin, to cleanse the heart, while the Universalist expects to cleanse his own heart, by his contemplations of the universal love of God. I know it is by the revelation of the love of God that the heart must be cleansed-but this love as I have already said, great as it is, is powerless on the hearts of men, until “shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto them.” Paul speaks of “the gift of the grace of God given unto him by the effectual working of God’s power.” It is in this way that every gift of God’s grace is communicated: only by the effectual working of God’s power. The bible represents unholy men as dead in trespasses and sins, and as having no spiritual life but in Christ. When our first parents ate the forbidden fruit they died a spiritual death, and all their posterity are under the power of that death, and will remain under it forever, unless raised by the power of God. Hence we hear Christ say “I am the resurrection and the life; be that believeth in me though he were dead yet shall he live, and he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die. I am the way and the truth and the life. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” He therefore who would have spiritual life is to look to Christ for it. He is to seek, through faith in Christ, that baptism of the Holy Ghost which will cleanse him from sin; or in other words, raise him up from his spiritual death, and make him alive to the love and enjoyment of God. That same God who first breathed into man the breath of spiritual life, so that he became a living soul-must again by the power of that same Spirit breathe spiritual life anew, or the sinner will remain dead in sin forever. All his contemplations of the love of God, without this Baptism of the Holy Ghost, this resurrection from spiritual death by the power of Christ, will avail nothing. Men will by such contemplations, become no better than whited sepulchres. If the outside is beautiful, the uncleanness will all remain within. “If ye believe not that I am he,” said Christ “ye shall die in your sins.” “And whither I go ye cannot come.” If ye believe not that I am who? Why the Savior whom God promised to send into the world; and whose “name was called Jesus, because he should save his people from their sins.” TPG 13.2

The question then, for you to settle, my hearers, is this. Have you been baptised by the Holy Ghost? Have you been raised up by the power of Christ’s spiritual resurrection from the death of sin and made alive unto God, and had that kingdom of God established within you which “is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” If not you are dead in sin, and your expectation of going where Christ is, in your present state, will avail you nothing. To the Jews, Christ said, ye will not come unto me that ye may have life. Coming to the doctrine of Universal Salvation then, will not cleanse men from sin, and give them spiritual life. They must come to Christ for it by faith, and receive it by the power of the Holy Ghost, for “the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” I beseech you therefore my hearers to abandon all hope of salvation from sin from the doctrine of Universal Salvation. “Why seek ye the living among the dead.” “Christ is not there, he is risen.” TPG 14.1

There is no spiritual life in that system. No baptism of the Holy Ghost. They know not what it means. Christ has never been revealed in them, “the hope of glory.” They know nothing about “the riches of the glory of that mystery.” They are only expecting to be saved from sin, because all will be; and are not looking to Christ by faith, hungering and thirsting after righteousness and expecting to be filled-nor do they know what it is to obtain the witness which Abel did, that they are righteous, nor the testimony that Enoch had, that he pleased God. “It is the Spirit which beareth witness because the Spirit is truth,” and when we obtain the witness of the Spirit that we are righteous, by having Christ baptize us with the Holy Ghost, then we know in our own blessed experience, what it is which makes the gospel “the power of God unto salvation (from sin) to every one that believeth;” and are prepared with Paul to say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” TPG 15.1

Let that soul who fastens his hope of redemption from sin, on the doctrine of Universal Salvation-remember that Christ has said, “if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” This dying in sin will be found fearful indeed. It will be the portion of all such as will not “receive the truth in the love of it that they might be saved” from sin. TPG 15.2

2. There is reason to fear, that very many who regard themselves as in a state of salvation, have mistaken the grand design of the gospel. They seem to suppose, that the great design of the gospel is, to save men from hell, at the close of their existence on earth, and that by looking to Christ to save them from the final doom of the wicked, when they die, they are then to live in a great measure in sin, inasmuch as their salvation is secured. Many, who say that they groan being burdened, under a sense of their vast uncleannesses, have no hope of being cleansed from sin, until death comes to their deliverance, supposing that, somehow or other, about the close of life, they shall be so cleansed, as to be meet for heaven. This is true of many who believe that the future doom of the wicked is, to be punished with everlasting destruction, and of many who rest their hopes on the doctrine of Universal Salvation. Many of both classes are supposing, that, a little before death, or in the very instant of death or immediately after death, some thing or other will transpire, that will complete in their souls the necessary work of purification, and make them fit for heaven. ‘Tis strange that such vast multitudes should have imbibed such a notion as this, and should be resting such amazing interests and expectations upon it, when the bible nowhere intimates that any such change is to take place in any soul at or about the time of departure from the world. On the contrary, the bible does teach most plainly, that Christ is the only Savior from sin, and that he came to save us while we live, and to preserve us blameless until we die. With this truth in view, we hear Zacharias, “filled with the Holy Ghost,” prophesying and saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us, in the house of his servant David, as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began; that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our Father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness, before him, all the days of our life.” Here is Christ our horn of salvation, even Jesus saving his people from their sins-but instead of saving them at death, it is “all the days of their life.” Saving them too, out of the hand of all the enemies of their souls, unto holiness and righteousness all the days of their life. TPG 15.3

With the same blessed truth in view, we hear Paul saying to the Corinthians, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ, that in every thing ye are enriched by him in all utterance and in all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you unto the end, blameless, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” Faithful to preserve blameless to the end. This same faithfulness of God in preserving his people blameless, after enriching them with the blessedness of full salvation from sin, Paul recognized again in writing to the Thessalonians. “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and your whole spirit, and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.-Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it.” He says also again, to the same church, “but the Lord is faithful who shall establish you and keep you from evil.” Thus plainly does the bible present to us the doctrine of salvation from sin through Christ-in this life, and during all this life, while it never speaks of death as the time of salvation. Its language is, “now is the accepted time, Behold now is the day of salvation.” And the bible nowhere regards any thing as salvation but salvation from sin. TPG 16.1

You must then, my hearers, have salvation from sin while you live, or die in your sins, and where Christ has gone, never go.-Any hope but this is baseless-for Christ declares that at his coming, he will give every man according as his work shall be, and that the unjust shall be unjust still, and the filthy, filthy still-while the righteous and the holy shall so remain. Revelation 22:12. O that every heart who hears me, might be brought by the Holy Ghost, to cry out, how shall this salvation from sin be obtained? TPG 17.1

In reply to such an inquiry I answer-The blessed bible tells us, “that the divine power of God hath given unto us all things, that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” These promises we are also told, are “all yea and Amen, in Christ, to the glory of God by us,” so that if we seek by earnest prayer and faith in Christ, to have these promises fulfilled in us, their fulfilment is sure.-These promises are such as the following. “Ask, and ye shall receive-seek, and ye shall find-knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth, and he that seeketh, findeth-and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone, or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent, or if he ask an egg will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, knew how to give good things unto your children; how much more shall your Father who is in heaven, give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” I have already shown that the design of this gift or baptism of the Holy Spirit, which we receive through faith in Christ, is to save from sin. To “sprinkle with clean water, and cleanse us from all our filthiness and all our idols.” This is the baptism of Christ, which cleanses from sin, or makes us dead to sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. If you would have this “gift of the Holy Ghost,” this “baptism of Christ,” this salvation from sin, seek it, with earnest prayer, and faith in Christ, and you shall find in your own blessed experience, that “all things whatsoever you ask in prayer believing you do receive.” “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after this righteousness, for they shall be filled,” and filled as we are assured, in the covenant and oath of God, “all the days of their life.” Come I beseech you, by faith, to Christ, for this salvation, and you shall find, that “the gospel of Christ” is indeed “the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.” All this hearer you must receive, or Christ will say to you at last, “I know you not whence ye are, depart from me ye that work iniquity.” TPG 17.2

O, it is a dreadful opiate to the consciences of men, to teach them, that though they sin against God every day, in thought word and deed, they may yet be saved from sin, when they die, and be received to heaven. It lulls into carnal security. It operates as a standing excuse for all the iniquities which men may chance to commit. While on the contrary, our Savior’s doctrine, that if we believe not in Him as our Savior from sin, we shall die in our sins, and where he has gone never go, tends most directly and powerfully to arouse from the fatal slumbers of worldliness and sinful pleasure, to cry mightily to God in Christ’s name, for deliverance from all our spiritual foes-and for strength and grace “to serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.” God grant that this may be the earnest cry of every soul, and be continued by every one of you until you find your feet in that “highway of holiness over which the unclean shall not pass.” He that thinks that he shall certainly be saved from sin at last, will be almost sure to be saying, “a little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep.” May the Lord save us out of this destructive snare of the devil, and bring us all to behold by faith, “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.” Then shall we “obtain the witness that we are righteous, God testifying,” within us by his spirit “of his” own “gifts,” and “then shall we not be ashamed when we have respect unto all his commandments.” TPG 18.1

3. We may see it to be a matter of unspeakable consequence, that we do not trifle with, nor resist the Holy Ghost. He trifles with the Holy Ghost, who thinks lightly of the pollutions which God charges upon him, and will not seek to be cleansed by the Spirit of God. He resists the Holy Ghost who will not yield to the motives of the gospel, and come to Christ for the Holy Spirit that he may have life. If any of you my hearers desire the salvation of God-let me say to you as did David to Solomon his son. “Thou Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy Fathers, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind. If thou seek him he will be found of thee, but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off forever.” The influences of God’s Spirit are the waters of salvation, from sin.-They can be had by being sought through faith in Christ. “Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” “If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink.” “The Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Amen. TPG 19.1