John 15:22 reads: " If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had
not had sin: but now they have a cloke for their sin."
Let us consider the question that is suggested by their statement of
Jesus--" If Christ had not come!" Think of it, what if Christ
had not come into this world? What if Jesus had not left His home in
glory and come down to this sin-cursed earth; bled and died that we might have
life. We can never thank God enough for the gift of His Son.
Have we been guilty of taking Jesus for granted? Many are the
blessings which man enjoys because Christ condescended to grace this old earth
with His presence. Have we given Him credit for these blessings; or have
we merely taken them for granted?
" If I had not come..." , said Jesus. Consider this question
He raised nearly two thousand years ago. What if Jesus had not come? Let
us try to imagine a world without Him. Have you ever really tried to
imagine the condition of this world without Christ?
Of course, there would be no Christian religion without our Savior; for He
is the founder of Christianity. To be a Christian is to believe in, obey,
and follow Christ. He is, as Paul puts it, " the author and finisher
of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Without Christ there would be no
church. " Upon this rock I will build my church..." , was a
promise Jesus made to His disciples (Matthew 16:18). That promise was fulfilled
on the day of Pentecost when the Lord's church was established. From that
day forward the Lord has been adding people to it.
The growth of the church astonished those who lived in the first century. It
grew by leaps and bounds. On the first day of its existence it brought
three thousand souls within it portals, the next day five thousand, and history
tells us that within a few weeks forty thousand people had been added to the
church. But it did not stop at that. With such men as the apostle Paul,
Peter, and other apostles to herald its message, it pushed its frontiers
forward. Within a short time the church had spread to all the civilized
world of that day. The followers of Christ preached their faith, lived
their faith, and even died for their faith. The sacrifice of Calvary
inspired thousands of Christians to suffer martyrdom, rather than prove untrue
to their Savior.
That church still exists today, and you can be a member of it. To be a
member of that church, all you must do is obey the plain, simple teachings of
the word of God. Peter opened the doors of the church on the day of
Pentecost [A.D.33]. He had the keys of the kingdom. Jesus said,
" Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it. And I will give unto thee (speaking to Peter) the
keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be
bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven" (Matthew 16:18,19). So Peter had authority to tell people
what to do to enter the church. On the day of Pentecost, after those Jews
asked, " Men and brethren what shall we do," Peter answered and
said, " Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Ghost" (Acts 2:38). We notice in Acts 2:41, " They that gladly
received his word were baptized and the same day there were added to them about
three thousand souls." So to become a member of this church, after
believing, repenting, and confessing Christ, a person must be baptized.
But if Christ had not come there would be no church in this world.
NO REMISSION OF SINS
If Jesus had not come there would be no remission of sins. The law
with its blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin. Only the
sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world,
could atone for the sins of humanity. Paul in Hebrews 10:4 says, "
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away
sins." Also in Hebrews 9:12, we read from Paul again, "
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in
once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
So there is no remission of sins without Christ.
Since we have all " sinned and come short of the glory of God,"
[Romans 3:23], if Christ had not come to take away our sins, humanity would
stagger beneath the weight of sin and never find relief. There would be no
place of rest along the highway of life where weary souls could cast their care
upon Him who careth. The course of humanity would be one long downward
trudge, toward the eternal night of despair, if Christ had not come.
WE COULD NOT KNOW GOD
If the Lord had not come to this earth, we would not have a correct picture
of God. We could never have known what God is like if Christ had not
come. The mind of man has ever turned toward the heavens in search of his
creator. Man has longed to know what God is like. For centuries prophets,
poets, and sages asked, " Canst thou not by searching find out God?"
But it was not until God gave us a full length portrait of himself in
the person of Jesus that we could know very much of the nature of the
Deity. Jesus Christ was made in the image of the invisible God, says Paul
in Colossians 1:15. Since the Son of God came to this world and declared,
" He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," man has access to a
proper conception of his Creator.
If Christ had not come, we would not have the gospel. The gospel is
God's saving power. In Romans 1:16 Paul says, " For I am not ashamed
of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one
that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." The
gospel is not all of God's power, but it is all of God's power to save a
soul. If we are ever saved, it will be by the gospel of Jesus
Christ. We must obey that gospel. Paul warns us of the destruction
of those who never obey the gospel in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8, " And to you
who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from
heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them
that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The gospel requires us to believe on the Lord, Acts 16:31; repent of our
sins, Luke 13:3; confess Jesus before men, Matthew 10:32; and be baptized, Mark
16:15-16. These commands must be obeyed if we expect to be saved.
Yes, the gospel had lifted many from the slime pits of sin to the glorious
heights of Christian living. But if Christ were taken from us we would
not have His wonderful gospel.
If Jesus had not come, you and I would have no hope of eternal life.
It was He who gave to the world a picture of the other side of death.
Until His coming, the hope of life beyond the grave was no more than a faint
glimmering ray. Humanity cried: " If a man die shall he live
again?" But man could find no answer. Finally Jesus came,
died, lived again, and answered the question that had been in the minds of
people. Yes, if men die they shall live again through Christ our
Lord. However, this assurance of immortality man could not have, if
Christ had not come. Paul says, " For as in Adam all die, even so in
Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).
In closing we turn to the thought of our text: " If I had not come and
spoken unto them they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their
sin." The coming of Jesus placed a responsibility upon us.
With the opportunity to be saved from sin, there came our responsibility of
accepting salvation on the terms of His gospel. With the door before us,
leading out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear son,
there came upon us the obligation of entering that door.
So we could not, for all earth's wealth, forfeit the duties imposed upon us
by Christ's coming. On the contrary, having tried to imagine a world into
which He had not come, we thank God that more than nineteen centuries ago,
there was born in Bethlehem of Judea a babe, who was Christ, the Lord!
Sadly we must report that brother Billy Orten passed away on August 22,
1998. He is now at rest after a tremendous struggle with several health
problems. His long illness was of great concern to a brotherhood of
Christians, here and abroad, who loved him so much. Many prayers went up
on his behalf in hope that our Lord would allow us to keep him with us for a
little while longer. There is even another request for prayer for brother Billy
in the September edition of The Christian Informer. That issue was mailed
the very morning our brother passed away. Now, of course, our prayers should be
that God's comfort will be upon his loving wife, Peggy, their dear family, his
sweet parents, his siblings, as well as, all others who loved him so much and,
through the years, depended on him.
The article above was written by our beloved friend. This sermon was
first published in the July 1959 issue of The Proclaimer of Truth. It has
been almost forty years since its first printing, but it remains a message of
great importance. The Truth so directly and soundly presented in this article
displays our great brother's ability to persuade. Billy's unending love
for the Lord and gospel message were clearly seen in his sincere
preaching. In him we also saw a life which was an adornment to the
doctrine of Christ. The words which the apostle John wrote are such a
comfort to all of us: " And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me,
Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith
the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow
I think I was about fourteen years old when I first met Billy. I admired him
as a preacher and a leader in the Christian faith. He was good company and I
had a lot of fun with him. I especially admired Billy's ability to preach. His
sermons were clear and his illustrations were memorable. There is one
illustration I heard him give in California years ago, about a person's faith
daily carrying him along, that I use to this very day. I thank God to have
known Billy Orten.