5. Again, continuing. You would have gone a long way to see this Belgian man. You would have gazed upon him with something of reverence, certainly with admiration. You would have regarded him as one received back from the dead. You think, If all men were like that, the world would be heaven. Well, there are a great many more like that than we think, who daily imperil their life for their duty. But supposing every man and woman in the world were up to that pitch, and supposing you added them all together and took the total value of their moral heroism (if moral quantities were capable of being summed like that), would you then have the equivalent of the deed and death of Christ? No, indeed! If you took all the world, and made heroes of them all, and kept them heroic all their lives, instead of only in one act, still you would not get the value, the equivalent, of Christ’s sacrifice. It is not the sum of all heroisms. It would be more true to say it is the source of all heroisms, the foundation of them all. It is the underground something that makes heroisms, not something that heroisms make up. When Christ did what He did, it was not human nature doing it, it was God doing it. That is the great, absolutely unique and glorious thing. It is God in Christ reconciling. It was not human nature offering its very best to God. It was God offering His very best to man. That is the grand difference between the Church and civilization, even when civilization is religious. We must attend more to those great issues between our faith and our world. Our religion has been too much a thing done in a corner. We must adjust our religion to the great currents and movements of the world’s history. And the great issue of the hour is the issue between the Church and civilization. Their essential difference is this. Civilization at its best represents the most man can do with the world and with human nature; but the Church, centered upon Christ, His Cross, and His work, represents the best that God can do upon them. The sacrifice of the Cross was not man in Christ pleasing God; it was God in Christ reconciling man, and in a certain sense, reconciling Himself.

My point at this moment is that the Cross of Christ was Christ reconciling man. It was not heroic man dying for a beloved and honored God; it was God in some form dying for man. God dying for man. I am afraid of that phrase; I cannot do without it. God dying for man; and for such men -hostile, malignantly hostile men. That is a puzzling phrase where we read in a gospel: “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” There is more love in the phrase of the epistle, that a man should lay down his life for his bitter enemies. It is not so heroic, so very divine, to die for our friends. Kindness between the nice people is not so very divine – fine and precious as it is. To die for enemies – that is the divine thing. Christ’s was grace that died for such for malignant enemies. There is more in God than love. There is all that we mean by His holy grace. Truly, “God is love.” Yes, but the kind of love which you must interpret by the whole of the New Testament. When John said that, did he mean that God was simply the consummation of human affection? He knew that he was dealing with a holy, gracious God, a God who loved His enemies and redeemed them. Read with extreme care 1 John 4:10.