In his sermon “Sovereignty and Salvation,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon exhorts his hearers to turn and to trust in God as the source and originator of salvation.
With flourish, he concludes the sermon:
‘Look unto him, and be ye saved;’ and remember that ‘he is God, and beside him there is none else.’ And thou, poor trembler, what sayest thou? Wilt thou begin the year by looking unto him? You know how sinful you are this morning; you know how filthy you are; and yet it is possible that, before you open your pew door, and get into the aisle, you will be as justified as the apostles before the throne of God. It is possible that, ere your foot treads the threshold of your door, you will have lost the burden that has been on your back, and you will go on your way, singing, ‘I am forgiven, I am forgiven; I am a miracle of grace; this day is my spiritual birthday.’ O, that it might be such to many of you, that at last I might say, ‘Here am I, and the children thou hast given me.’ Hear this, convinced sinner! ‘This poor man cried, and the Lord delivered him out of his distresses.’ O, taste and see that the Lord is good! Now believe on him; now cast thy guilty soul upon his righteousness; now plunge thy black soul into the bath of his blood; now put thy naked soul at the door of the wardrobe of his righteousness; now seat thy famished soul at the feast of plenty. Now ‘Look!’ How simple does it seem! And yet it is the hardest thing in the world to bring men to. They never will do it, till constraining grace makes them. Yet there it is, ‘Look!’ Go thou away with that thought. ‘Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.’
I read this sermon three Sundays ago. Spurgeon’s text is Isaiah 45:22. And his theme is critical. Christianity’s claim on reality is particular as well as peculiar. Humanity is wayward and lost, in need of redemption. God is a God who saves. God’s salvation has come to us in Jesus Christ, which is peculiar. And each person, individually and uniquely, is called to respond to God’s particular and peculiar salvific action, revealed fully in Christ, in faith.
Many modern people are slow to identify with Spurgeon’s intended hearer: the trembler, the sinful person, the poor and distressed, the guilty, dirty, naked, and famished soul. But for the one who believes, that person is elevated to equal standing with the apostles, deemed righteous, cleansed, clothed, and fed. The experience of redemption involves a dreadful awareness of one’s own spiritual poverty, yet includes a pull toward the goodness and grace that has been revealed in abundance through Christ.
My Baptist heritage compels me to announce the bad news along with the good. Salvation comes from God, and cannot be obtained under our own power. But the good news is so incredibly good, that not only does God redeem us, but calls into into a relationship of grace whereby we are conformed into the likeness of the Son, Jesus Christ. Through God's saving action, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."
Death precedes resurrection. But to enter newness of life we must look, not unto ourselves, but unto the Lord.