A Sermon Delivered by DAVID B. UPDEGRAFF
Updegraff, David B. Old Corn; Or, Sermons and Addresses on The Spiritual Life. Boston: The McDonald & Gill Co., 1892, pages 13-21.
This is The Quaker Homiletics Online Anthology, Part 3: The 19th Century.
These words are ever on the lips of the redeemed in heaven, and they are also sung by the true
saints of God on earth. They are rich in comfort, commemorating as they do that love of Christ
which s the burden of prophecy, the theme of apostles, and the song of the blood-washed in every
age and every clime. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." "God commendeth his love toward
us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." "Christ also loved the church, and gave
himself for it."
Thus love is the great moving cause of all that the triune God has done for us in the work of our
redemption. Let us consider, briefly, what has been done for us, as set forth in the text.
First, He has washed us from our sins.
The original rectitude of man as he came from the hand of his Creator was forfeited by sin. "By
one man sin entered, into the world," and that man was the human head of the whole race. So that
in his offspring the first Adam is forever repeating himself, and the poison of sin is in our very
blood. "We are by nature the children of wrath," and "dead m trespasses and sins," for "all have
sinned and come short of the glory of God." To such authoritative declarations of the Word of
God, we may add the universal consciousness and confession of sin, as proclaimed by the
universal sacrifices of the heathen, as well as in the ethics of their philosophers. Thus men know
that they have sinned, and they know, too, that they are powerless to repair a damage that is so
radical. From this dilemma, an escape is found only in the religion of Jesus Christ.
"He tasted death for every man." "He is a propitiation for the sins of the whole world." And the
proclamation of infinite love has indeed become a message of good tidings. "Though your sins be
as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
The incarnate God in Christ Jesus is abundantly able and willing to make this good to every one of
us, and to "wash us from our sins." "Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise out." "Come unto
me." Come, COME, is the ever call of our loving Lord. This wonderful of cleansing from the
guilt, pollution and power of sin, accompanied with regenerating and sanctifying grace, is made
simply and solely on the conditions of repentance and faith. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
thou shalt be saved." To "believe with the heart unto righteousness" is to really trust in a personal
Savior, and is much more than an intellectual or an" historic" faith, though including both.
II. But let us particularly notice the emphasis that is laid upon the "blood" as the procuring cause,
or at the fountain head of all redemptive possibilities. Not only are we "washed from our sins in
his own blood," but all of the blessings of salvation are in an important sense attributed to the
precious blood of Jesus Christ, by the inspired writers.
(1.) "We have redemption through his blood." "Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by
thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." "Ye were not redeemed with
corruptible things, etc., but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and
without spot." "Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." The
apostle seems determined that no man should be ignorant of the amazing price paid for his
redemption. The blood of Jesus Christ was-in very truth the blood of God manifest in the flesh.
He who made the world, came to lay down His life, in order to buy our freedom from the
bondage of sin, into which we have sold ourselves. But redemption is not to be confounded with
salvation. All have been redeemed, and that without consulting our choice in the matter, but if we
are saved there must be an individual choice, and acceptance of "eternal life" as "the gift of God,"
and on His own conditions.
(2.) "We were reconciled to God by the death of his son." In every human soul there is by nature
much of enmity towards God, and holiness, and all sacred things. "The carnal mind is enmity
against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither in-deed can be." A striking proof of this
truth is found in the person of him that denies it. To insist that we are all the "children of God,"
and always were, when God's Word expressly declares that we are by nature the "children of
wrath," and of the wicked one," is to prove our non-subjection to the law of God and His
unchanging truth. To prate about the universal "Fatherhood of God," while "filled with all
unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, despiteful,
proud," etc., etc., is a climax of silly contradictions, even if it were nothing more. But it is more. It
is to teach men to believe a lie, and to lead them blindly on to perdition. We may become the
"children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," and in no other way. True, He is the "Father of all
flesh" as the Creator, but this is too wide a sense for spiritual life, as indeed it is for humanity
only, as it takes in all animate creation. Therefore to "be in Christ" is to be "a new creature," or a
new creation. Hence the words of Jesus, "ye must be born again." Hence the entreaty of the
apostle, "we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." Put away your enmity, give up
your proud, selfish, unholy dispositions, cease your warfare with God, and He will at once grant
you pardon, peace, a new nature, and "a new spirit will I put within you!" And all this through the
grace of God and "the death of his son." Before even the great God could properly extend such
wonderful clemency to condemned criminals, to hostile foes and ruined debtors, He must have a
divine ground upon which to act. The moral glory of His government, the justice, holiness and
majesty of divine law must be maintained. It is only in the atonement of Jesus Christ that these
claims are all met, and God can be vindicated as just, while exercising infinite grace, and the
justifier of the most ungodly man that truly "believeth in Jesus."
(3.) "In whom we have through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." "Through this man is
preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." "Without shedding of blood is no remission," and
without "remission" the law must take its course, and its penalty must fall upon the evil doer. In
God's way, "escape" is possible. In any other way, escape is impossible, and men ought to be
brought face to face with the only alternative--eternal misery. The reasonableness and the
necessity of expiation ought to be proclaimed with tongues of fire everywhere. God has plainly
taught it from the beginning, and there is a something in human nature that teaches the same
thing. Man craves an atonement. This is proclaimed by every tongue of flame leaping from
myriads of altars drenched with the blood of consecrated victims. True, there is no real expiation
in these sacrifices, but every gleaming knife unwittingly points to a throne, both of mercy and of
judgment. It is an acknowledgment of the justice of the "unknown God," and an attempt to avert
punishment. Under the law the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ was prefigured by the
bloodshedding of the prescribed victims.
All this was by divine appointment. And without shedding of blood, was no remission. Every
sinner had forfeited his life by his transgression. But God was pleased to accept the life of his
substitute, instead of his own, if he would repent of his sin and publicly confess it. Certainly his
sacrifice had no intrinsic merit, but it did typify the real sacrifice, and whether or not the faith of
the offerer embraced a coming Savior, as ours does a risen one. he received forgiveness on the
ground of another's death. "The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world," was indeed
already slain, "slain from before the foundation of the world," in the divine purpose, but when the
historic consummation was reached then these typical sacrifices of bulls and of goats came to an
end. The real victim was slain, and in a supremely solemn moment Jesus said, "This is my blood of
the new testament (covenant), which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Faith now need
no longer grope among the shadows, but boldly lay hold upon the substance, and we know that
"the blood of Jesus Christ, cleanseth us from all sin." The life is in the blood, and it was the life
that was laid down, and not by His life of obedience, that we are saved. "By His stripes we are
healed." "He bare our sins in his own body on the tree."
There is a class of amateur Christians who talk flippantly about "Christ crucified within us," and
seek an inward Christ, while denying Him without, and trampling under foot the precious blood of
Jesus that was shed without the gates of Jerusalem. The result is, they find neither the true work
of the Spirit nor cleansing by the blood. Under the guise of a hyper-spirituality they imagine that
since the death of Christ, (as a martyr only) the Holy Spirit has come down to be the Savior of
sinners in His stead, without reference to the work of Jesus on the cross. And this is unblushingly
put forth as a discovery of "the great central truth" of the Bible. But it is, in fact, to deny the
clearest statements of Scripture, which plainly declare that the Holy Spirit came not to assume the
place of Jesus as our Savior, but to glorify Christ. "He shall not speak of himself." "He shall
receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." His first work for unsaved humanity is to "convince
of sin" and point men to Jesus Christ as the only Savior. It is to make effective for the cleansing of
man's spiritual nature the merits of the precious blood of Christ."
The whole purport of Scripture testimony, indited by the Holy Ghost centuries before His
incarnation, was concerning the Son of God and His sacrifice. And the gospel ministry, inspired
by the Spirit, from the days of John the Baptist to the present hour, has always pointed men to
"the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Every one of the apostles, whether
they preached or wrote, proclaimed salvation through the "blood of Jesus Christ," and that it is
the sole ground of the sinner's peace with God. The Holy Ghost indited and set His seal to such
preaching then and ever since, but has never owned any other kind. It is safe to assert that
preachers of the pernicious error under consideration, neither have any satisfactory assurance of
the pardon of their own sins, nor succeed in bringing others to that assurance. While on the other
hand, a wretched jailer may "rejoice with all his house in the same hour" that he believes on "the
Lord Jesus." How blind indeed must be the man that cannot see this great central sun of divine
revelation concerning the "blood of Jesus Christ." It is the substratum of Christianity.
Some say His death is "the central truth" in regard to Jesus Himself, "just as the martyrdom of
Stephen was the center of his service!" By no means! The death of Christ was not a mere incident
in His journey. It is the great central fact of all time. It was for this that he came into the world.
All types set it forth. All prophecies looked forward to it. All Christians look back to it. Heaven
and earth bore witness to the awful grandeur of that hour, by the solemn portents of opening
graves, and quaking earth, and rended rock. True that Jesus did suffer as a faithful witness to the
holiness of God and the sinfulness of man, but more than that, "it pleased the Lord to bruise him,"
and to "make his soul an offering for sin." There is a moral theory of the death of Christ that
impeaches the divine truth about it. It is that His death is merely a manifestation of His love and
sympathy proven by suffering, and designed to attract and instruct us by example, and thus "win
our souls" to love God and man! Nothing can be more delusive than such a pseudo-Christianity,
as this theory about the doctrine of atonement, which in fact subverts that doctrine. Such sublime
self-denial may be lauded to the skies as transcending all other sacrifices" ever made, and yet it
makes nothing more of it than a sacrifice made to man, in order to draw our reciprocal love and
But Christ "hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God," rather than to man. A
real satisfaction to divine justice, of infinite merit, and vindicating as well as satisfying every
demand of law by bearing its penalty. With such a view, it is a sacrifice that never grows old. The
fountain that was then opened for sin and uncleanliness flows just as freshly and efficaciously as
when first prepared. The sacrifice of Christ is perpetuated by His intercession. No longer a visible
cross, with its agony and blood, but He lives to present the marks of His passion, and to carry
forward in heaven the work begun on Calvary. The results are all the same as though all the
scenes of the cross had been reenacted thousands of times. "By His own blood he entered in once
into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
(4.) Once more, and briefly, let us see that the blood of Jesus Christ is the only grounds of our
peace with God. In addition to our proneness to search within our own hearts for some ground of
peace, there is a class of errorists that constantly proclaim the work of the Spirit in us as this
ground, instead of the work of Jesus Christ for us. It was indeed Jesus who "made peace through
the blood of his cross." "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." We "are made
nigh by the blood of Christ, for he is our peace." Christ came "and preached peace,'/and "God
sent, preaching peace by Jesus Christ," and not by the Holy Spirit.
Now certainly no right minded person will think for a moment that we are saying aught that could
detract from the legitimate work of the Holy Spirit. God forbid. But we are persuaded of this, that
to invert the divine order of God's truth is an effectual way of denying that truth. That both the
work of Christ for us and that of that of the Spirit within us, are not only to be maintained in their
integrity, but in their integrity, but in their Scriptural order. And when we see influential teachers
directing men to an imaginary saving light or Spirit within them for "peace." instead of to Jesus
Christ, who "made peace through the blood of his cross," we must cry out against the delusion.
"Peace" will never be found on that line. Men may resort to this or that in their efforts to find
"peace with God," apart from the despised cross of Christ, but such efforts are of no more avail
than was water to cleanse the red right hand of Lady Macbeth. She could wash and wash, and yet
cry," out," "out," and the spot was still there. Her deep consciousness was, that "All the perfumes
of Arabia won't clean this little hand." But the blood of Him who gathered all the penalties of
violated law into His innocent and holy bosom can "cleanse from all sin."
The blessed Holy Ghost having reached the conscience with His awakening call, and revealed the
guilt and doom of a lost soul, directs His attention to Jesus, the sinner's friend and substitute, and
the object of his faith and hope. The Holy Spirit is here to administer God's great provision for
the salvation of every convicted, contrite and believing soul. He is the author of all conviction,
right desire, repentance, faith and spiritual life. Without His blessed light and power we should
continue blind and deaf and dead, both to the promises of God's Word, and the rich provisions of
His grace in Christ Jesus our Lord, who said to His disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I
give unto you." Even unto us whom He has loved, "and washed from our sins in His own blood."
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost!