June 10, 2017

Robert Murray McCheyne (1813–1843) on Christ’s Sufficiency and Willingness to Save All

1. Show that it is not by reason of anything in Christ that sinners are lost.

It is not because Christ is not sufficient to save all.
The whole Bible shows that Christ is quite sufficient to save all the world—that all the world would be saved, if all the world were to come to Christ: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.’ The meaning of that is, not that sins of the whole world are now taken away. It is quite plain that the whole world is not forgiven at present. (1) Because the whole is not saved. (2) Because God everywhere calls sinners to repentance, and the first work of the Spirit is to convince of sin—of the heavy burden that is now lying on Christless souls. (3) Because forgiveness in the Bible is everywhere attached to believing. When they brought to Jesus a man sick of the palsy, Jesus, seeing his faith, said unto him: ‘Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee.’ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ The simple truth of the Bible is, that Christ hath suffered and died in the stead of sinners—as a common person in their stead; and every man that is a sinner hath a right to come.

Christ is quite sufficient for all, and I would prove it by this argument: if he was sufficient for one sinner, then he must be sufficient for all. The great difficulty with God (I speak as a man) was, not how to admit many sinners into his favor, but how to admit one sinner into his favor. If that difficulty has been got over in Jesus Christ, then the whole difficulty has been got over. If one sinner clothed in Christ may come unto God, then all sinners may. If one sinner may have peace with God, and God be yet just and glorious, then every sinner may have peace with him. If Christ was enough for Abel, then he is enough for all that come after. If one dying thief may look to him and be saved, so may every dying thief. If one trembling jailer may believe on Jesus, and rejoice believing, so may every other trembling sinner. O brethren! you may doubt and wrangle about whether Christ be enough for your souls, but if you die Christless, you will see that there was room enough under his wings, but you would not.

Sinners are lost, not because Christ is unwilling to save all.
The whole Bible shows that Christ is quite willing and anxious that all sinners should come to him. The city of refuge in the Old Testament was a type of Christ; and you remember that its gates were open by night and by day. The arms of Christ were nailed wide open, when he hung upon the cross; and this was a figure of his wide willingness to save all, as he said: ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’ But though his arms were firmly nailed, they are more firmly nailed wide open now, by his love and compassion for perishing sinners, than ever they were nailed to the tree.

There is no unwillingness in the heart of Jesus Christ. When people are willing and anxious about something, they do everything that lies in their power to bring it to pass. So did Jesus Christ: ‘What could have been done more for my vineyard, that I have not done in it?’ But if they are very anxious, they will attempt it again and again. So did Jesus Christ: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered your children as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!’ But if they are still more anxious, they will be grieved if they are disappointed. So was Jesus Christ: ‘When he came near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.’ But if they are very anxious, they will suffer pain rather than lose their object. So did Jesus Christ: The good Shepherd gave his life for the sheep. Ah! dear brethren, if you perish, it is not because Jesus wishes you to perish.

A word to anxious souls. How strange it is that anxious souls do most of all doubt the willingness of Christ to be their Saviour! These should least of all doubt him. If he is a willing Saviour to any, O surely he is a willing Saviour to a weary soul! Remember the blind beggar of Jericho. He was in your case—blind and helpless—and he cried: ‘Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me.’ And when. the crowd bade him hold his peace, he cried so much the more. Was Jesus unwilling to be that beggar’s Saviour? He stood still, and commanded him to be brought, and said: ‘Thy faith hath made thee whole.’ He is the same willing Saviour still. Cry after him; and, though the world may bid you hold your peace, cry after him just so much the more.

A word to careless souls. You say Christ may be a willing Saviour to others, but surely not to you. O yes! he is quite willing for you too. See him sitting by the well of Samaria, convincing one poor sinful woman of her sins, and leading her to himself. He is the same Saviour toward you this day. If you do perish, it is not because Christ is willing. He wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. He pleads with you, and says: ‘Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die?’
R. M. McCheyne, “42. Ye will not come unto me (John 5:40),” in From the Preacher’s Heart (Additional Remains, 1846; repr. Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1993), 294–296. Also in Robert Murray McCheyne, “Sermon LXVIII,” The Works of the Late Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, 2 vols. (New York: Robert Carter, 1847), 2:394-396.


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