Christ The Source of Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who, of God, is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. - 1 Corinthians i:30, 31.
The Greeks, who lived in apostolic times, like their ancestors, were distinguished by a love of philosophy and eloquence. They cultivated their mental powers, and made rich acquisitions in the wisdom of this world. "Whatever subject was presented for their consideration, they submitted to the scrutiny of acute investigation. Hence, when Paul visited Corinth, and proclaimed the doctrine of Christ crucified, that doctrine was rigidly examined and pronounced foolishness - a fact which shows that there is not a necessary connection between intellectual culture and correct moral perception. A majority of the Corinthians rejected the Gospel. Some, however, gave it a cordial reception, and were organized into a church of Christ. To this church the words of the text were addressed. The object of the
Apostle was to remind his brethren that Divine agency, and not human philosophy, had effected their salvation. "Ye are in Christ Jesus." How is this? "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus." By God's power and grace you have been united to Christ. You are spiritually allied to Christ and he is made to you wisdom, righteousness, santification, and redemption. In discussing this subject I shall observe the following order:
I. Christ is to Believers the Source of Wisdom.
This implies that before they exercise faith in him they are in a state of moral ignorance. Who can dispute this? Not one. All men in their unrenewed state, are in a state of spiritual darkness. There is a recognition of this truth in the language of Jesus: "I am come as a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me, should not abide in darkness." It is said, also, "Except a man be born again he can not see the kingdom of God." Why can he not see the kingdom? Because he is in darkness. Paul was sent to the Gentiles "to turn them from darkness to light." The same Apostle said to the Ephesians, "Ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord." In these passages the term darkness is used figuratively to denote moral ignorance, ignorance of Divine things; and let me remind you that this ignorance is not confined to those who are, in other respects, ignorant. It may exist in connection with intellectual greatness and knowledge, which command
the admiration of the world. How many men of transcendent mental powers, and extensive intelligence, are rebels against God! Who has soared higher in the regions of intellectuality than Byron? And who has been enveloped in deeper moral darkness? And there is Satan, who holds a mental preeminence among the enemies of Jehovah. Though the thunders of Divine wrath are ever rolling over him, he is, intellectually considered, illustrious in his misery, and majestic in his ruin. Notwithstanding his mental superiority, he does not love God; he has no relish for spiritual objects; his moral powers are completely under the influence of the most awful depravity. You perceive that moral ignorance may coexist with every species of intelligence which involves the exercise of the intellect alone. Now, as all men are ignorant of God and Divine things, Christ, in accomplishing the work of salvation, dissipates this ignorance and communicates wisdom. The text says, "He is made to us wisdom." That is, he is the source whence we derive spiritual wisdom. He teaches:
1. By his Word. - The Bible is given us through the mediation of Jesus. He is the great Teacher, and his instructions are treasured up in his Word. By virtue of his prophetical office, "holy men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." In him are "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." From the revelation he has given us, we learn that we are in a lost condition; that God is merciful; that an atonement has been
made; that sinners can be justified and saved from the wrath to come.
2. He teaches by his Spirit. - The "Word is the sword of the Spirit - the instrument the Spirit employs. He, by means of the Word, illumines the dark mind - opens the eyes of the understanding - rectifies the will - regulates the exercise of the affections, and makes the subject of his operation wise unto salvation. He glorifies Christ; for he takes of the things that are Christ's and shows them to the soul. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in the heart to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." When this is done, moral darkness is dispelled, and Christ "is made of God wisdom" to those believing in him.
II. Christ is Made Righteousness or Justification.
This means that God regards us as righteous or justified through the merits of Jesus Christ. This implies that we ourselves are guilty - condemned. This will be admitted. There are but two kinds of justification, legal and evangelical. If a man perfectly obeys the law of God, he has a legal justification - that is, the law lays nothing to his charge. Of this species of justification, however, we need not speak, for there is no example of it to be found in the race of Adam. A violator of the law must be justified evangelically, or remain condemned. God, in his wisdom and benevolence,
has so arranged the scheme of redemption, that when a sinner believes in Christ, he is justified, or accounted righteous. Christ was "made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." He was treated for our sakes as if he had been a sinner, and we are treated for his sake as if we were righteous. "He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Those who believe in Jesus may exultingly say, "He is our rightousness - we are justified through him; on the basis of his merits we stand accepted before God." Well did Paul cry in a tone of holy defiance, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again." Justification through Christ is so complete that no charge can be brought against the justified. They are "complete in him." God, in the justification of believers, gives them a full acquittal from the condemnation of the law; and as this is done for Jesus' sake, he is made to them righteousness.
III. Christ is made Sanctification.
While justification implies previous condemnation, from which it is a deliverance, sanctification indicates previous pollution, from which it cleanses. Man is not only guilty, but depraved. He, therefore, needs to be sanctified as well as justified. To effect his salvation something must be done in him as well as for him. The term
sanctification is probably used in the text to denote the entire process by which the depravity of the heart is overcome and its defilement removed. The power which does this emanates from Jesus Christ. The grace bestowed is given through him. The blood that cleanses is his blood. I need scarcely say, that many passages of Scripture represent the blood of Christ as possessed of a purifying quality. The redeemed in heaven are said to have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." This shows that their sanctification was secured through the blood of Jesus. He was made to them sanctification. And it is a delightful thought that there is in our Redeemer's blood sanctifying virtue sufficient for all who believe in him. The process of moral purification is going on in the justified, and they will, ere long, appear before the throne as immaculate as the angels of light. Then will it be seen most clearly that Christ was made to them sanctification.
IV. Christ is Made Redemption.
We were in bondage - in bondage to sin - in bondage to our own lusts and passions. Christ redeems us from this bondage - liberates from the thraldom of iniquity - breaks the chain of our lusts, and releases us from the power of our corruptions.
We were in captivity to Satan - taken captive by him at his will. Jesus ransoms us from the tyranny of the devil - binds the strong man and
divides the spoil. We were under the curse of the law. Jesus redeems us from that curse, being made a curse for us. As rebels against God we were on the verge of perdition, exposed to everlasting burnings. Jesus interposes, and says, "Deliver them from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom."
And he will redeem his followers from the grave. Their bodies, though they return to their native dust, will be reanimated and raised up. The Omnipotent Redeemer will utter his voice at the resurrection, and forms numerous as the stars, bright as the sun and beauteous as heaven will emerge from the darkness and ruins of the grave. Then will all the redeemed exalt Christ as the source of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, etc.; and gather round the throne, and turning their admiring eyes to Christ, will say, "Thou hast redeemed us by thy blood." How clearly will it be seen in the light of heaven that Jesus is made to his disciples redemption.
V. Our Glorying Should be Only in the Lord.
This is so evident that no argumentation can make it more so. We have of ourselves no wisdom, no righteousness, no sanctification, no redemption. We find all in Christ. He is the Alpha and the Omega of our salvation. He is all in all. Contemplate him as your wisdom, and you hear a voice saying, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." Consider him as your righteousness, and the same accents fall on your
ears, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." View him as your sanctification, and still it is said, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." See in him your redemption, and the language recurs in its sublime sameness, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." The fact that Christ is "made to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption," should abase us in the dust, crucify our pride, destroy all self-complacency, and allow no words to escape our lips, but "Worthy is the Lamb."
[From J. M. Pendleton, Short Sermons on Important Subjects, 1859. This book is from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Library, Wake Forest, NC via ILL through Boone County Public Library, Burlington, KY. - Jim Duvall]
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