No doctrine has produced such mighty effects in the world as the simple proclamation, under the power of the Spirit, of the free forgiveness of sins through the finished work of Christ.
This is the glorious doctrine used by the Holy Spirit when the apostles went out to preach to the world something that was entirely new. They began, a few poor and despised individuals in an obscure corner of the globe, and they turned the world upside down. They changed the face of the Roman Empire and emptied the heathen temples of their worshippers. So what was the weapon by which they did it all? It was free forgiveness of sins through the finished work of Christ.
This is the doctrine by which the Holy Spirit brought light into Europe at the time of the Reformation, and enabled one solitary monk to shake the whole Church of Rome. Through his preaching and writing, the Spirit worked so that the scales fell from men’s eyes and the chains of their souls were loosed. So what was the lever from God that gave him his power? It was free forgiveness of sins through the finished work of Christ.
This is the doctrine by which God revived Christianity in England when Whitefield and Wesley broke up the wretched spirit of slumber which had come over the land, and roused men to think. They started a mighty work with seemingly little likelihood of success. Few in number, they were mocked and belittled by the rich and great. Yet they prospered. Why? Because they preached by the Spirit the doctrine of the free forgiveness of sins through the finished work of Christ.
So what about you? What do you preach? Or if you do not preach yourself, what do those to whom you listen preach? Morality, politics, oratory, great learning, impressive surroundings, beautiful hymn–singing and ritual––none of these will save a Church from sliding into that dreadful condition of having a name to live yet being dead (see Rev. 3: 1). Let the preaching of free forgiveness of sins through the finished work of Christ be buried or kept back, and her lamp will soon be taken away. When the Saracens invaded the lands where Jerome, Athanasius, Cyprian, and Augustine once wrote and preached, they found bishops and books, ritual and architecture, pomp and splendour, but I fear they found no preaching of the free forgiveness of sins. So the churches of those lands were swept clean away. They were a body without a vital principle, and therefore they fell. Let us never forget that the brightest days of a church are those when “Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1: 23) is most exalted. The dens and caves of the earth where the early Christians met to hear of the love of the Lord Jesus, were more full of glory and beauty in God’s sight than ever was St Peter’s Cathedral at Rome. This doctrine of free forgiveness will be derided by worldings and sneered at by modernists, but it is the only doctrine with power to change lives. God uses none other.