Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me. - John xiv. 6.
There is a rich variety in the metaphors the Savior employed to designate himself. On one occasion he said, "I am the bread of life." As if he said, poor sinners are perishing of spiritual starvation - let them come to me, and eat and live forever. Representing sinful mortals as tormented with thirst, he exclaimed, "If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink." Referring to the world as involved in moral darkness, he announced, "I am the light of the world!" He also said of himself, "I am the true vine - I am the door - I am the good shepherd."
In the text, we have a representation, of Christ differing somewhat from every one to which I have referred.
"I am the way," etc.
I. Let Us Contemplate Christ as the Way.
We know for what purpose a way is made - that it may lead those who travel therein to some place. As a way leads to a place, so Jesus considered
as the way, conducts his followers into the enjoyment of the rich blessings of his grace on earth, and the richer blessings of his glory in heaven.
1. Christ is the way to justification. - We are guilty and condemned. The law of God violated by us pronounces its awful curse. And can we be justified by the law? Is it the province of the law to perform the two contradictory operations of condemning and justifying? Surely not. How is justification to be obtained? Through Christ - only through him. "By his knowledge - that is by a knowledge of him - shall my righteous servant justify many." "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." "Much more being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." "By him all that believe are justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses." "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
It is manifest from these passages that justification is through Christ alone. A condemned sinner can approach the Lawgiver only through the mediator. The mediator is emphatically the way. There is no other mediator. There are neither co-mediators, nor sub-mediators. It would be a ruinous dislocation of the gospel system for man or angel to come between God and the sinner. The zealous martyr going to the stake, said, "None but Christ - none but
Christ." And so the pardoned sinner, pursued by the law and the justice of God, flees to the cross, and learning how pardon comes through the blood of its adorable victim, he says out of the fullness of his heart, "None but Christ - none but Christ."
Truly Christ is the way to acceptance with God. No man comes to the Father, but by him. No merits but his avail in justification. No blood but his expiates human guilt. No robe of righteousness but his, can enwrap the naked sinner in its ample folds. There is only one Savior.
2. Christ is the way to sanctification. - The necessity of justification originates in man's condemnation - the necessity of sanctification arises from his depravity. He is sinful as well as guilty. He is polluted as well as obnoxious to the curse of the law.
Salvation would be manifestly imperfect if it did not involve both justification and sanctification. The beginning of sanctification is coeval with regeneration. When holy principles are implanted in the soul in the new birth, the sanctifying process commences. These principles receive their full development in perfect sanctification. And there are some portions of Scripture in which the term sanctification seems to be used in an enlarged sense, as including both the principles of holiness and their development.
But how can it be made to appear that Jesus is the way to sanctification? I answer that
through his mediation is secured the agency of the Holy Spirit, who is the sanctifier. Peter connects the sanctification of the Spirit and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The blood of Christ is said to cleanse from all sin. The redeemed in heaven are represented as having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. In them the object of the Savior's death has been accomplished - they have been redeemed from all iniquity, and made a peculiar people. The Holy Spirit, in sanctifying, applies the cleansing blood of Christ. There are some scriptural expressions which indicate that the blood of atonement possesses justifying virtue; and there are others which teach its sanctifying efficacy. Jesus is, therefore, made to his followers sanctification as well as righteousness. He is the way to sanctification, as well as to justification.
3. It follows that Christ is the way to heaven. - Justification furnishes a title to heavenly glory. Those justified through the merits of Christ, are not only pardoned, but they have the promise of eternal life. A state of blessedness awaits them far preferable to that enjoyed by our first parents in the garden of Eden.
Sanctification creates a relish for heavenly bliss. It capacities for the enjoyment of celestial glory. It induces a suitable appreciation of "those things which are at the right hand of God." Wherever justification and sanctification exist, there is preparation for heaven. The justified and the sanctified, gratefully acknowledge
their indebtedness to Christ. Those who go to heaven, make their way thither through the merits of Immanuel's blood. This fact will be devoutly recognized in their songs before the throne. Turning their eyes to their great Deliverer, they will say, with deepest emotion, "Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." Those who reach the bright mansions on high, will unanimously testify that Christ is the way to heaven.
II. Christ is the Truth.
Truth is a correct representation of things. Such a representation Jesus Christ is infinitely well qualified to make; for,
1. He, is the Source of Truth. - In him, are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He knows all things, and whatsoever he reveals is in perfect accordance with truth. His words are the words of truth. He is the great Prophet who has made known the truth to the world. All the truth we have in relation to divine things, has been given through him. Paul refers to the "truth as it is in Jesus." Truth as it is in Jesus differs from truth as it is in philosophers, or even in Moses and the prophets. It appears in new relations. It is invested with new glories. Truth, always a precious jewel, is much more precious since the great Teacher came down from heaven. "Never man spake like this man." The reason was that God spoke through the
man, and truth as it proceeded from him, emanated from its source. Christ is the truth.
2. The cause of Christ is the cause of truth. - It scorns the use of all means for its promotion which are not sanctioned by truth. With energy of indignation it repudiates the Jesuit maxim: "The end sanctifies the means." All Christ's disciples are the friends and allies of truth, When standing at Pilate's bar, he said, "To this end was I born, and for this purpose came I into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth, heareth my voice." Pilate's jealousy for Caesar seems to have been excited when he heard Jesus spoken of as a King. The Savior at once relieved his apprehensions by saying, "Every one who is of truth, heareth my voice." As if he had said, Caesar's subjects are altogether different from mine. Loyalty to truth is not required in the friends of Caesar, but I am recognized as King by those only who love and obey the truth.
3. Christ is the truth, the substance, in contradistinction from the shadows of the Mosaic law.. - "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." The legal economy was an economy of types and shadows; Christ was the antitype in whom the types received their accomplishment. All shadows were lost in him as the substance, the reality. The law had only a shadow of good things to come. Its sacrifices were destitute of substantial value, and destined to be superseded in the "fullness of time," by
the one great sacrifice. When Jesus bowed his head in death, the whole sacrificial system was abolished. His sacrifice, being the substance of all patriarchal and Mosaic sacrifices, forever obviates the necessity of their farther observance.
The predictions of the prophets in reference to the Messiah, have been fulfilled in Christ. No one can look on those predictions as conjectures; for in their accomplishment in Jesus of Nazareth they assume a substantial form. In Christ we have the reality pointed to by the shadows of the law; and in him we have the substance of the predictions of the prophets. "To him give all the prophets witness." Christ is the truth, the substance, etc.
III. Christ is the Life.
"In him was life and the life was the light of men."
1. Christ is the source of spiritual life to those that believe in him. - When man sinned, the principle of spiritual life was extinguished in him. It is now characteristic of the sons of men, that they are dead in sin - dead to divine things. That this was their condition, the death of Christ irresistibly implies; for, says Paul, "We thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead." What an awful idea! All dead! A race composed of millions added to millions, and all dead! No indication of moral vitality! No spiritual pulsation! All dead! Now before any of our lost race can be restored to spiritual life,
they must be brought into union with Christ. He is the source of this life, and faith is the ligaments binding the soul to him. Christ is the Head, and from him flows life to all the members of his mystic body. His disciples derive life from him, as the branch derives life from the vine. The "lively stones," in the spiritual temple, receive their life from the "living stone," which is the foundation of that temple. "Christ is our life," "Christ liveth in me," is the language of an apostle; "and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God." It is not more evident that the Sun is the source of natural light, than that Christ is the source of spiritual life.
2. Christ will, in the last day, give life to the dead bodies of his followers. - He is the resurrection and the life. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. He shall change our vile body and fashion it like his own glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself. How cheering to the saints is the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead! How delightful the thought, that our bodies after undergoing a pulverizing process in the grave, will be reanimated and made suitable companions for our immortal spirits! Who can describe the glories of a resurrection body! How refined will be the matter of which it is formed! Wrought so exquisitely as to resemble the pure spirit and to receive the designation, "spiritual body!" With the
promise of a glorious resurrection, the believer can fearlessly meet death and say, "Rejoice not, O my enemy; for though I fall I shall rise again." He can look forward to the day, when, emerging from the darkness of the tomb, he shall exultingly inquire, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
3. Christ gives to his followers eternal life in heaven. - He says, "my sheep hear my voice; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish." According to the gospel, "grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." The great promise is eternal life. Hence, John says, "This is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life." Eternal life does not mean merely an eternal existence, but eternal well-being. It includes all that can render existence desirable. It embraces all that is meant by the bliss and the glory of heaven. Life! Eternal life! Advanced to a state in which there is no death, and no apprehension of death!
Jesus gives eternal life to his disciples. He says to them, "Because I live, ye shall live also." How satisfactory the reason assigned! Who could wish any other reason? The demands of celestial logic require no other, and no other will ever be given. Ten thousand ages hence it will be delightfully true that because Jesus lived those redeemed by his blood will live also.
1. Out of Christ as the WAY poor sinners wander. They stumble on the dark mountains. They go, they know not whither. Alas, for them! Come, ye wanderers, to Christ, who is the way.
2. Out of Christ as the TRUTH men must err. There is no preservation from error unless Christ be received as the truth. nor can the substance of religion be received without a reception of Christ.
3. Out of Christ as the LIFE men are spiritually dead, and must die eternally. The pulse of divine life will never throb in their dead souls until they are in Christ. There is no life for them out of Christ. Alas, there is present spiritual death, and this is the precursor of death eternal.
[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. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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