Missing God’s Mark

This past Saturday, I finished reading a sermon preached at the New Park Street Pulpit in London by Charles Haddon (“C. H.”) Spurgeon on March 2, 1856. His message was entitled “The Allegories of Sarah and Hagar.” It certainly prepared my heart for worship Sunday morning, as I was filled with profound gratitude for the precious gift of eternal life in Christ.

Have you ever given thought to those who believe they will enter heaven based on their own effort? Can you imagine what they will say when confronted with the truth of Christ and the error of works-based religion? How will they respond once the blood runs cold and reality sets in?

The “Prince of Preachers” goes there:1

Ah! I have often thought what consternation there will be in hell when outwardly good men go there. “Lord,” saith one as he goes in, “am I to go into that loathsome dungeon? Did not I keep the Sabbath? Was not I a strict Sabbatarian? I never cursed or swore in all my life. Am I to go there? I paid tithes of all that I possessed, and am I to be locked up there? I was baptized; I took the Lord’s supper; I was everything that ever a man could be, that was good. It is true, I did not believe in Christ; but I did not think I needed Christ, for I thought I was too good and too honorable; and am I to be locked up there?”

20160605_170901Yes, sir! And amongst the damned thou shalt have this pre-eminence, that thou didst scorn Christ most of all. They never set up an anti-Christ. They followed sin, and so didst thou in thy measure, but thou didst add to thy sin this most damnable of sins: that thou didst set up thyself as an anti-Christ, and bowed down and worshiped thine own fancied goodness.

Then God will proceed to tell the legalist, “On such a day I heard thee rail at My sovereignty; I heard thee say it was unfair of Me to save My people, and distribute My favors after the counsel of My own will; thou didst impugn thy Creator’s justice, and justice thou shalt have in all its power.” The man had thought he had a great balance on his side, but he finds it is only some little grain of duty; but then God holds up the immense roll of his sins, with this at the bottom: “Without God, without hope, a stranger from the commonwealth of Israel!”

The poor man then sees that his little treasure is not half a mite, while God’s great bill is ten thousand million talents; and so with an awful howl, and a desperate shriek, he runs away with all his little notes of merit that he had hoped would have saved him; crying, “I am lost! I am lost with all my good works! I find my good works were sands, but my sins were mountains; and because I had not faith, all my righteousness was but white-washed hypocrisy.”

Left to ourselves, we will always miss the mark—God’s mark. On our own, the good we do will never be enough because it is tainted by sin—our sin. In other words, a good man will never enter heaven on his own; he is not “good” (see Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9).

Yes, to be a Christian means that the person has received Christ. But it can’t end there. To say “I have received Christ” is incomplete until answering the second question: Received Him as what? Think about this for a moment. How would you respond?

If you are struggling for an answer, please take a moment to read Who Do You Think That I Am? (via Grace to You). Then try again: Received Christ as what? Your answer will determine your destination.


 Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume Two (Peabody: Hendrickson Publisher’s Marketing, 2011). 132.