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Christ Hath Paid my Debt of Sin

Johann Gerhard

(Translated by Rev. C. W. Heisler, A.M.)

TRULY, Christ hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Is. liii. 4). O Lord Jesus, the eternal punishment which we deserve for our sins Thou hast transferred to Thyself; the weight of iniquity which would have sunk us down to hell Thou hast taken upon Thyself. Thou was wounded for our transgressions; Thou wast bruised for our iniquities; with Thy stripes we are healed; and the Lord hath laid upon Thee the iniquities of us all (Is. liii. 5, 6). Wonderful, indeed, is the exchange Thou dost make; our sins Thou takest upon Thyself, and Thy righteousness Thou dost impute to us; the death due us for our transgressions Thou dost Thyself suffer, and in turn dost bestow eternal life upon us. Therefore I can no longer doubt Thy grace or despair on account of my sins. The very worst that was in us Thou hast taken upon thyself, how then wilt Thou despise our body and soul, the very best that is in us and the work of Thine own hands? “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine holy one to see corruption" (Ps. xvi. 10). Holy indeed must he be whose sins have been blotted out and taken away. “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven; blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity" (Ps. xxxii. 1, 2). How can the Lord impute our iniquities to us after He hath once imputed them to another? For the sins of the people He hath smitten His dearly-beloved Son; therefore by His knowledge shall he justify many, and He shall bear their iniquities (Is. liii. 12). How shall He justify His people? Give ear, O my soul, and listen! He will justify them by His knowledge, that is by a saving acknowledgment of the divine mercy and grace in Christ, and a firm apprehension thereof through faith. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Thy Son, Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (John xvii. 3). And again, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom x. 9). Faith moreover lays hold of the satisfaction of Christ; for He hath borne their iniquities, and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressions (Is. liii. 11, 12). Few righteous souls indeed would He have had, had He not so mercifully received sinners. Few righteous souls wouldst Thou now have, O Jesus, if Thou didst not so graciously forgive the sins of the unrighteous. How, therefore, will Christ, in the dreadful day of judgment, pass sentence upon the penitent for their sins, when He hath already taken them upon Himself? How will He condemn the guilty sinner when He Himself hath been made sin for him (2 Cor. v. 21)? Will He judge those for whom He hath interceded? Will He judge those for whom He hath died?

Take courage, O my soul, and forget thy sins, because thy Lord hath forgotten them (Is. xliii 25). Whom dost thou fear as the avenger of thy sins but the Lord? And yet He Himself hath rendered satisfaction for thy sins. Now if any one else had offered a ransom for my sins, I could not but be in doubt as to whether my righteous Judge would be willing to accept such a satisfaction. If a mere man or an angel had made an atonement for me, it would still be doubtful whether the ransom offered for my redemption were sufficient. But now there is absolutely no room for doubt. How could He refuse the ransom which Himself hath offered? How could the satisfaction possibly be insufficient, when made by God Himself?

Why art thou still disquieted, O my soul? “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth” (Ps. xxv. 10). “Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and upright are Thy judgments” (Ps. cxix. 137). Why then art thou disquieted, O my soul? Let the mercy of the Lord cheer thee; let the divine justice encourage thee. For what if God is just? Yet He certainly will not demand a double satisfaction for the sins of a single person. He hath already smitten His Son for our sins, how can He then smite us His servants for the same sins? How can He inflict upon us the punishment which He hath already visited upon His Son for our sins? The truth of the Lord endureth forever (Ps. cxvii. 2). “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he may turn from his way and live” (Ez. xxxii. 11) says our God. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. xi. 28), is our Saviour’s gracious word. Shall we charge the Lord with a lie, or try to render His mercy of no effect by the weight of our sins? To charge God with a lie and to deny His mercy is one of the greatest sins we can commit; from which it appears that Judas committed a greater sin in despairing of God’s mercy, than did the Jews in crucifying Christ.

Yea, rather, where sin abounded, grace hath much more abounded (Rom v. 20). And His grace infinitely outweighs my sins; for sin is man’s act, grace is God’s; sin is temporal, but the grace of our God is from everlasting to everlasting. For my sins complete satisfaction hath been rendered; by Christ’s death the grace of God hath been restored to me and established eternally; and to it I flee for refuge, with devout and earnest supplication.

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