The Way Made Plain

By James H. Brookes

Chapter 11



"But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above.) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But whatsaith it? The word is nigh unto thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach,"—Romans x. 6-8.

The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."1 The law says, Do and be saved; grace says, Believe and be saved. The law says, Do and live; grace says, Live and do. The law says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die;"2 grace says, "Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom."3 The law says, "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city. This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones that he die: so shalt thou put away evil from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."4 Grace says, concerning the wretched prodigal, although "stubborn and rebellious," a "glutton and a drunkard," that "when he was yet a great way off his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."5 The law says, "Lay hold on him; "grace says, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him."6 The law says, "Stone him; "grace says, "Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet."7 The law says, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them;"8 grace, speaking only of believers, says, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."9

This shows us precisely how we are delivered from the curse of the law, for it is said, "Christ hath redeemed us, being made a curse for us." He was "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of "sons."10 The law, therefore, has not been set aside, but satisfied. It has not been trampled under foot, but it has triumphed in the infliction of the threatened penalty against sin; only the penalty has, in amazing grace, fallen upon the person of the sinner's Divine Substitute. The word penalty is defined by "Worcester as "punishment, whether in property or in person, imposed by law or by judicial decision." Webster says it means, "The suffering in person or property which is annexed by law or judicial decision to the commission of a crime, offence, or trespass, as a punishment." "When I affirm, then, that the threatened penalty of God's law against sin fell upon Christ, I wish to be understood as asserting that He endured precisely the kind and degree of suffering or punishment which the law demanded on account of sin, as necessary to procure the complete deliverance and entire redemption of all who believe on Him. He endured the penalty in the fullest and truest sense, because penalty is what the law exacts in order to vindicate its insulted majesty and meet its righteous claims, and this is what Christ did when He suffered on the cross.

If a man were put in prison for debt, and a friend should pay the full amount to the creditor, it would be impossible in strict justice to retain the debtor in confinement, because the law would be satisfied—not by anything the prisoner could do, but by what his friend does as his representative and in his place. His farther detention in prison after the discharge of the debt would be grossly illegal and tyrannical. If a monarch should condemn one of his subjects to death for treason, and then permit his own son to suffer instead of the insurgent, it would be impossible in strict justice to execute the threatened sentence upon the person of the traitor. His death under such circumstances would shake the very foundations of the government and destroy all confidence in the integrity of the ruler. A Christian teacher states in a recent periodical that there were two pupils in his school who were warmly attached to each other, and yet totally unlike in disposition and deportment. One was a model scholar, obedient, prompt, and perfect in his lessons and conduct, while the other had attained a bad distinction by his indolence and waywardness. On a certain occasion he was about to inflict punishment upon the unruly boy for some misdemeanor, when the good boy stepped forward and said in substance, "I know he deserves punishment, and your authority must be maintained and the rules of the school enforced, but please punish me in his stead, for it will answer the same purpose as if you punished him, and I cannot bear to see him suffer," The teacher, wishing to illustrate the great central truth of the Bible setting forth Christ as the Substitute for His people, bearing their sins, complied with the request; and then calling back the astonished and weeping scholar whose offence had demanded the infliction of the penalty, and whose heart seemed to be deeply touched by the generous self-sacrifice of his friend, he told him that he must endure the punishment in his own person. At once, it is said, every hand was lifted and every voice in the room was raised in indignant protest, the scholars together exclaiming, "Oh, no! that would not be just to the noble boy who has borne the punishment, and for his sake not a stroke can fall upon the bad boy."

These illustrations come far short of presenting fully the work of Christ in our behalf, because in the cases of the debtor and the traitor and the disobedient pupil there was a mere escape from punishment, with out peace of conscience, without refuge from fears of the future, without restoration to their good standing, while, as we have already seen, "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." But they serve at least to clear the point we are now considering, that Christ having been "made a curse for us," it is impossible for God, who is "faithful and just," to inflict the penalty of His satisfied law upon those in whose stead it has once been endured by His only-begotten and well-beloved Son. '' For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."11 If the phrase, to die for a righteous man and for a good man, means to die in the place, room, and stead of a righteous or good man so as to keep him from dying, then, beyond question, the distinct statement of the Holy Ghost declaring that Christ died for the ungodly and for us means that He died in the place, room, and stead of the ungodly, and the "us "who are believers. The stupendous difficulty in the way of the sinner's salvation was the claim of God's violated law, demanding by all the perfections of the Divine Being, and by all the necessities of His government, that sin should be punished; but when Jehovah (or Jahveh, the coming One), of whom the prophets sung, "He will magnify the law and make it honorable,"12 descended from the throne of universal sovereignty, and shrouded His divinity in human flesh, and bowed His head in the shameful death of the cross, the law has no further claim upon believers for whom this death was endured, but, sheathing its flaming sword, it joins with mercy in the sweet invitation, ''Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."13

It is most important in the present discussion to keep in mind that the sacrificial death of Christ has already been endured, and His atoning work already accomplished. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all."14 "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."15 "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."16 God "hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."17 He "gave himself for our sins."18 "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."19 He "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."20 "Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."21 ''Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."22 "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many."23 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree."24 "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."25 "Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh."26

You will observe that in these texts not only is the death of Christ directly connected with our sins, and described as vicarious, or endured in our stead, and represented as furnishing the only ground upon which we can be saved, but the past tense is used in every passage, to indicate that the great transaction has already taken place. More than eighteen hundred years ago our redemption was accomplished, and by the power of faith even the Old Testament saints regarded it as achieved in their day, because their impressive types daily proclaimed '' the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world."27 The Saviour in His adorable love and pity did not wait for man to seek Him, but came unasked to our lost world and undeserving race. He did not come that God might love us, but because God did love us, and love us while we were "ungodly," and "sinners," and "enemies," and so love us that He gave His only begotten Son to take our place under His dishonored law, and endure its dreadful penalty in our stead. The Father, as representing the unsullied holiness of the Divine nature, and the inviolable majesty of the Divine law, and the unspeakable interests of the Divine government, met the Son at Calvary bearing upon Him the mighty load of our iniquities; and there, amidst bursting tombs, and rending rocks, and earthquake shocks, and the indescribable sufferings of the cross that extorted the fearful cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"28 the question of sin and salvation was once and forever settled.

Since that event occurred, and even since it was announced in the first promise made to our fallen parents concerning the seed of the woman, and in the first type of the coats of skins with which God's own hand clothed them, no other atonement has been demanded, no other sacrifice has been possible, no other righteousness has been accepted; but the gracious Redeemer says in His blessed word, "I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry."29 When the dying Jesus said, "It is finished,"30 and bowed His head and gave up the ghost, He joyfully announced that all His sacrificial sufferings were past; that all the types of the law were answered; that all its rites were abolished; that all its claims were met; that all its demands were satisfied; that all its purposes were secured; that all its threatenings against His covenanted people were silenced; that all its power to injure them was ended; and that nothing more remained to be done but for the whole world, if it will, to rest upon this, finished work with the calmness of an unfaltering confidence and in the sure anticipation of eternal glory. There is nothing, then, and there can be nothing in the nature of the case, between the sinner and the Saviour—no, not so much as the thickness of the thinnest tissue-paper or the most delicate gold-leaf.

I know how common, alas! it is for the anxious soul to be put upon a course of presumptuous and profitless doing in order to be saved; as when urged to enter into covenant with God to serve Him; or to draw up a form of solemn self-surrender and self-dedication; or to be confirmed; or to be baptized; or to join the Church; or to seek religion; or to give the heart unto the Lord as the means of inclining Him to be gracious; or to keep on praying until He will be merciful and answer fervent and frequent supplications. My reader, be persuaded that such advice is not the Gospel, but the law, and you will never, never, obtain an intelligent and assured hope in this way. Under this law-preaching, as I do not hesitate to denounce the instructions too frequently given in the pulpit and in books intended for inquirers, it has come to pass that nearly every one who is awakened to consider the interests of eternity thinks of the blessed God as an unfeeling Governor whose compliance with a request is to be won by the force of importunity; or as a stern judge whose favor is to be gained by eloquent appeals and tearful entreaties; or as a fickle and foolish father who is at length overcome by the persistent pleadings of a child to give what he is not disposed to grant.

Hence, we seldom find sinners coming at once to Christ after conviction, and, through an immediate and unquestioning faith in the testimony of His word, so promptly receiving a full and finished salvation as to understand the meaning of the Bible when it says, "We which have believed do enter into rest,"31 and "rejoice evermore."32 Not only days, but generally weeks or months, and sometimes years, pass away while they are trying to be fit and to be good enough to come; and then, after making a profession of religion, as they very properly call it, their whole subsequent life is apt to pass away in uncertain hopes and vague, unsatisfying conceptions of the entire subject. They imagine that to attain salvation they must climb as it were some steep and laborious ascent or plunge into some profound abyss, not remembering that "the righteousness which is of faith," which is received through faith, which is the result of faith, which is ours by faith, "speaketh on this wise. Say not in thine heart, "Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above). Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead). But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach." Oh, if the inquirer who reads these lines only knew how nigh salvation is to him this very moment, surely he would eagerly lay hold of it without the slightest delay. Nay, he does not have to lay hold of it; he has just to receive it in all its completeness. It is nigher to you, my friend, than the door, than any article of furniture in the room where you are sitting, than any object within your reach, for it is as nigh as your mouth and your heart. You are not asked to stir from your seat, to lift your finger, to move an eyelash, to wait a single second, but now, just now, and just as you are, to believe, and to enter straightway into everlasting life. There is no need to plead with God to be merciful, for He is already merciful, and has given the most convincing exhibition of His mercy in the wonderful provisions He has made for your recovery from the dominion and ruinous consequences of sin. There is no need to beseech Him to love you, for He already loves you, and has furnished the most touching manifestation of that love of which the mind of man or of an angel can conceive. "Some years ago two gentlemen were riding together, and as they were about to separate, one addressed the other thus: 'Do you ever read your Bible?' 'Yes; but I get no benefit from it, because, to tell you the truth, I feel I do not love God.' 'No more did I,' replied the other, 'but God loved me.' This answer produced such an effect upon his friend that, to use his own words, it was as if one had lifted him off the saddle into the skies. It opened up to his soul at once the great truth that it is not how much I love God, but how much God loves me."

This is indeed the great truth, "for God so loved the world [the guilty, sinful, ruined world] that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."33 "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."34 "We love him, because he first loved us;"35 and if you attempt to reverse this Divine order so as to love Him first that He may love you in return, you will soon be involved in hopeless confusion and darkness. The devil would like to persuade you that God cannot love you as you are, and hence he is constantly suggesting to parents to tell their little children that God will not love them if they are naughty, but "he is a liar, and the father of it."36 And when he whispers to your soul that you must do something, or get to be something, different from what you now are before God can love you, he is whispering a lie; for God loves you at this very instant, and sees you afar off, and yearns over you with unutterable tenderness, and longs to take you to His heart of love and make you happy forever.



1) John i. 17.

2) Ezek. xviii. 4.

3) Job xxxiii. 24.

4) Deut. xxi. 18-21.

5) Luke xv. 20.

6) Luke xv. 22.

7) Luke xv. 22.

8) Gal. iii. 10.

9) Gal. iii. 13.

10) Gal. iv. 4, 5.

11) Rom. v. 6-8.

12) Isa. xlii. 21.

13) Isa. lv. 1.

14) Isa. liii. 5, 6.

15) Rom. iv. 25.

16) 1 Cor. xv. 3.

17) 2 Cor. v. 21.

18) Gal. i. 4.

19) Eph. v. 25.

20) Phil. ii. 8.

21) 1 Thess. i. 9, 10.

22) Heb. ix. 26.

23) Heb. ix. 28.

24) 1 Pet. ii. 24.

25) 1 Pet. iii. 18.

26) 1 Pet. iv. 1.

27) 1 Pet. i. 19, 20.

28) Matt. xxvii. 46.

29) Isa. xlvi. 13.

30) John xix. 30.

31) Heb. iv. 3.

32) 1 Thess, v. 16,

33) John iii. 16.

34) 1 John iv. 9, 10.

35) 1 John iv. 19.

36) John viii. 44.