Adapted from a Sermon

Delivered On Lord’s-day Evening, March 13TH, 1870 By


Separated From Christ.” — Ephesians 2.12.

Verse 12 of the passage we read contain the striking phrase ‘Separated From Christ.’ the meaning of which we will consider this morning.

In this chapter Paul does his very best to magnify the exceeding riches of the grace of God. So jealous was he of the glory of free grace, that he laid the axe at the root of the tree of human pride with a ringing stroke. He shows the members of the church at Ephesus how entirely dependent they were for their salvation on the full, free, sovereign favour of God. He reiterates over and over again the fact that they were saved by grace through faith, and that that faith was not of themselves, but it was in itself a pure gift of God. “Not a result of works, so that no one may boast,” Eph 2.9 was the apostle’s much-loved teaching and often-repeated assertion.

Having magnified the grace of God as demonstrated in the salvation of the sinner, he tries next to stir up the hearts of the members of the church to abounding and overflowing gratitude for that grace having ever touched them, and embraced them in its loving arms; for he says, “remember what you once were; turn over the pages of your memory; go back just a few years; think of what you were before mercy met with you. If grace had never magnified itself in you, what would your career have been, what would be your present position? Let the past rise up before you. Remember, he says, “that you were at that time separated from Christ.”

But now see the wonderful difference; “you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Will such a marvellous act of God’s grace be done in you, and yet your hearts remain cold, and still, and lifeless, frozen in a sad, unworthy ingratitude? Strive then to awake! Sing from your heart, a song of flowing praise to Him who by His sovereign grace has brought about such a change in you.

Now, in Paul’s description of the sinner before conversion, you will notice he uses several negatives; and through negatives it is sometimes possible to get striking insights into a given object. The descriptions we have of heaven for example are mainly negative; we are told of what there is not in heaven far more than of what there is.

All we know of heaven (speaking generally) is what it lacks. We know that in heaven there is no sorrow, no pain, no sickness, no curse, no night. Multiply the number of negatives — tell me what there is not, and I will perhaps get a clearer idea of what there is.

Now, as in the case of describing heaven by negatives, so is it in the picture of the sinner’s condition. Paul tells me here what the sinner does not have, and then by finding what he fails to possess I can more clearly find out what he actually has. He is a man without Christ, separated from Christ; he is one who is a stranger and a foreigner to the grace of God; one without God in the world and without hope.

Often, as we have already seen, you can best find out what a man has by describing what he does not have. As a practical illustration, in describing the plight of someone in some poor country as lacking such basic necessities as a blanket to keep himself warm at night, or shoes for his children, the basic comforts in life, no friends; we could form some opinion of the little that he does possess.

Now you have here the picture of the sinner drawn in the negative. In a word, he is a man without Christ. Now there is no doubt that if the Holy Spirit will only give life to the words I am speaking to bring out in some small measure the real teaching of the text, and if that same Holy Spirit will but give power to the word, and apply it to every hearer, so that we may in some small measure understand what it is to be separated from Christ, hearts will surely be affected and moved.

Separated from Christ.” Let us notice first of all, what is the state described here? or in other words, what is it for a man to be separated Christ? And then, when we have tried to describe that state, we will notice secondly, the horror of the state; for the most awful thing that can be said of any man or woman is: he is a man separated from Christ, or she is a woman separated from Christ.

Now in order that none may escape, let us be honest in dealing with our own hearts, and with each other, on this point. What is the state described here — what is it to be separated from Christ, to be without Christ?

Let me first tell you what to be without Christ is not.

i) It does not necessarily mean to be without any knowledge of Christ.

When we quoted the words “separated from Christ,” some no doubt had immediate visions such as these before your eyes; you thought of foreign lands where the gospel has never been preached; you thought of the heathen dwelling in thick darkness, and of those who still sojourn in the land of the shadow of death; you pictured to yourselves the deluded masses living in darkness; and conjured up before your eyes a miserable multitude of men and women who had never heard the name of Jesus, who are perhaps at this moment effectively bowing down to stocks of wood and stone; and you said with pity, ‘they are the people separated from Christ.’

And some may think of the inner-city and slums, reeking with foulest vice, and dark as heathendom itself, that are to be found not far off from your own homes; But that is not all, we have to come nearer home.

ii) Without Christ does not necessarily imply that a man is without a certain knowledge of Him.

It is possible for a man to live in a blaze of gospel light, and yet be as much separated from Christ as the heathen who has never heard the name of Jesus breathed. It is possible to be brought up from infancy with the name of Jesus sounding in your ear more frequently than any other; to come and hear a rough but faithful and plain preacher week by week; and although surrounded by gospel privileges you are as much without Christ as if you had never heard the name of Jesus in infancy, or been brought in early years to hear the gospel truth, but had been cradled in heathenism and brought up in the blackness of ignorance.

No indeed, we can go further and say, there are many persons who know a great deal of Christ, and yet they are without Him, separated from Him. It is possible for a man to know the history of Christ, and yet be without Him. There is the one who knows perhaps far more of this book than some of us do, who we trust can truthfully call ourselves God’s children. He knows the life and history of Christ, and can recount it without turning to a single page. His sermons, His life, His bloody sweat, His cross, His passion, His death. All these things the man has at his fingertips, and roll easily off his tongue. He could stand up and talk fluently from any pulpit of the life and death of Christ, and perhaps draw a picture of Christ’s present glory; and yet the man himself is without Christ.

There is a vast difference between knowledge and possession. I may know a great deal about a thing, but that does not in any way prove that I possess it. Why, a man may know all about the coinage of this country — the manufacture of bank notes — all about gold and silver refining — and yet the man himself may be utterly destitute and without a penny. He may be able to detect the genuineness of a twenty dollar bill by its sheen, and yet perhaps not have a penny with which to buy a loaf of bread for himself or his children.

It is possible for a man to be so well versed in the history of Christ — to be so well taught in the externals of religion — that we may scarcely be able to detect whether he is a genuine Christian or an impostor, and yet he is not in possession of Christ. Imagine a man who is a chemist, who may be able to tell you all about the properties of water — he knows its component parts, and could lecture about its wonders for hours, and yet the man dies on the arid desert for lack of a single drop. And do you not think there are many who know much of the Bible in their head — much theoretically of Christ — but who are dying for lack of Him? Sadly, tragically, yes, thousands upon thousands. Without Christ does not therefore necessarily mean, you see, a man without any knowledge of Him.

iii) But let us go a step further. To be without Christ does not necessarily mean to be without any respect for Him. A man without Christ need not necessarily be the bold, blasphemous, profane swearer, who only mentions the holy name to mock it.

There are men without Christ who bow their knee every time the name of Jesus is mentioned; there are many without Christ who walk with the most sedate solemnity to their places of worship, with the Bible, the Prayer Book, and Hymn Book in their hands. They are horrified if they hear an irreverent word spoken of Christ. There are multitudes of men who pay all the outward decorum, and a superabundance of it, to the religion of Jesus, and yet who lack just this one thing — Christ Himself. There are respectful knee-bending, psalm-singing heathen, as well as blasphemous heathen.

iv) Remember too, that to be without Christ does not necessarily mean to be without the name of Christ.

No, there are many who bear the name of Christ that do not have Him, Himself. You may go to Church to find men without Christ — you may go to your Baptist Chapels, or any other denominational sanctuaries you please — and in those buildings you will find men who, although members of the respective churches, and bearing the Saviour’s name, are yet without Christ. You may sadly go in any protestant church in this land and find men, such as Dr. Guthrie describes, “like skeletons holding out in their bony hands a flaming torch.” Like sign posts, they direct others to the road, but never move a foot along it themselves. Like church bells, they ring others in, but they themselves remain outside. A means of life to others, they are yet spiritual corpses themselves.

What is it then to be without Christ, separated from Christ? Here it is in a few words.

i) To be without Christ means first, to be without any faith in Him. It is faith that gives possession.

I cannot say Christ is mine until by simple faith I have stretched out my hand and laid it upon Him, and so take hold of Him. The moment, as a sinner, I trust Jesus, that moment he becomes mine. A man who is without Christ, is a man who has Christ standing outside, knocking at the door of his heart. It is when He is outside, that we are without Him.

Someone might be thinking, “that is very simple; but how am I able to tell whether I have faith or not?” Here is a test which will come home to every heart. The man without Christ is a man who is without love to Christ. Faith works by love; and if there is faith in a man’s soul, it will not be long before it shows itself in love. A man without Christ is one who has never sung in a heartfelt way: —

My Jesus I love You, I know you are mine,

For You all the pleasures of sin I resign;

My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour are you,

If ever I loved You, my Jesus, ’tis now.”

The man who is without Christ is an utter stranger to that sweet experience which makes us sing, —

Jesus, the very thought of You

With sweetness fills my breast;

But sweeter far your face to see,

And in Your presence rest.”

Come now, have you ever felt that love? Can you say — “Lord, you know that I love You?” Many an honest reply must be “no, I have never felt that yet.” Then, if you have never felt it, you are still without faith in Christ; and those who are without faith in Christ are without Christ Himself.

Just let me for a few moments hold up the mirror before some of you; and as you look into it and see the character of the man without Christ reflected, may you be led to exclaim — “It is I.” Here is the mirror then.

The man we have attempted to describe is the man who possesses almost everything but Christ; he has health, and has never perhaps been laid aside a day from his work; but he is without Christ. He is surrounded by friends; there are many who will speak a good word for him and do a kind action; and it is his boast that he has never lost a friend he has ever made; but he is without Christ. He has respectability and good standing in society; his name would be taken anywhere for any amount; but he is without Christ. Number up all his possessions — count up the sum total — he has this and that, and the others; but in all his possessions he does not have Christ.

Have you among your possessions, a Saviour? When you lay your head down on your pillow, can you say, I have not only this and that, not only a loving and caring wife or husband, and dear children, and a happy home, and the various comforts of this life, but best of all, I have got my Saviour. Can you say, I fall asleep this night with a Saviour in my arms?

There you have the character described. A man not perhaps without a knowledge of Christ, not without a certain respect for Christ, not without the name of Christ, but one that has never trusted Christ — that does not love Christ; and among all his possessions, cannot truthfully say that he has his Christ.

And now may the Holy Spirit be with us for a few minutes while we try to consider the horror of this state.

The only goal of looking into the blackness of the picture, is to cause anyone outside the fold to see their unhappy state and flee from it. From no mere love of the horrible do we dwell upon it. “Separated from Christ.” This is indeed a dreadful “separation,” a deficit that no words can properly describe. There are many things thousands of us are compelled to dispense with, without our being actually one bit the less happy or one iota the worse off.

But to “lack” Christ is an awful emptiness, one for which the possession of the universe would be a poor and despicable compensation. You do not perhaps yet feel it so, but the time is fast coming when the hour will chime, in which you would be perfectly willing to throw to the winds all that you ever had if you could say, “I have Christ.”

If you do not have Christ, remember you have no hope of salvation. There is no other way of salvation but by Christ. If you are without Him, you are without the only one who can bring you to heaven; if you are without Christ you are without the only passport that will cause the gates of heaven to be thrown open to you.

Let us try and drive home the meaning of this by way of an illustration.

Imagine a man at sea who, having fallen overboard, is battling for dear life with the deep green waves.

A rope is flung to him — he sees it — believes it is strong enough to bear him — but never lays hold of it. All he lacks to save him is union with the rope, and he does not have that; so with a suffocating gasp, he sinks like lead in the waters. What the lack of that rope was to the man, the lack of Christ is to the sinner.

To be without Christ is to be without the only thing that can satisfy the heart.

There is no satisfaction in the things of earth. Let the thirsty man drink the sea water, and when it satisfies his thirst, it will be time enough for you to expect the world to satisfy you. An old writer says “man’s heart being a triangle, it can never be filled by a round world; there will always be some empty corners left.”

Are there not some here this morning who have learned by bitter experience the truthfulness of this statement. The soul’s restlessness until it finds the Saviour has been well described by another of the “Fathers” in language something like the following: “The needle’s point in the mariner’s compass never rests, but quivers and shakes till it comes right against the North Pole.”

The wise men of the east never stood still, till they were right under the star which appeared to them; and the star itself never stood still till it came right against that other Star which shone more brightly in the manger than the sun did in the firmament. And Noah’s dove could find no rest for the sole of her foot, all the while she was fluttering over the flood, till she returned to the ark with an olive branch in her mouth. So the heart can find no rest until with the wings of faith it flies to the true Noah, which is a picture of Rest, till Christ stretches his hand out of the ark and, taking it in, receives it to Himself. But sadly, the man “without Christ” is the compass needle without a pole; a fluttering, weary, dove, with no ark of rest to fly to.

To be without Christ is to be without the only solace that will make up for the loss of everything else. A man who has Christ, can never be poor, nor lack a subject for a song.

Though vine nor fig tree neither

Their wonted fruit should bear

Though all the fields should wither,

Nor flocks nor herds be there;

Yet God the same abiding,

His praise shall tune my voice;

For while in Him confiding,

I cannot but rejoice.” (Hymn 621)

To have Him is to have a portion that can never be stolen away. In the words of one martyr: “You may take away my life, but you cannot take away my comfort; you may remove my head, but not my crown.” This is a noble reply, which finds its source in a firm taking hold of Christ. But the man that is without Christ, is without any true wealth, whatever earthly possessions he may have; the poorest child of God is better off than he is.

Said a gentleman to his friend as he was showing him over his estate, “Do you see that farm over there?” “Yes.” “Well, that is mine.” “Do you see that house?” “Yes.” “That is mine, also.” “Do you see that plantation?” “Yes.” “That too, is mine.” “Do you see that meadow in the distance?” “Yes.” “Well, that belongs to me beside.” The friend, who was a Christian, answered, “Do you see that village — do you see that house with the little gate?” “Yes,” “Well, there is a lowly woman living there, so wealthy, who has far more than you altogether,” “How is that?” “Why, that poor woman can say, Christ is mine; and he that has Christ, has more than all the world massed together.”

But alas, there are many, to this day, who do not have this great possession, that in itself is boundless wealth, for they are without Christ. And now in order, in some humble measure, to grasp the horror of the position, let us look at the man in three different aspects.

Look at the man bereft of everything.

Imagine a man who once had all the comforts which a moderate income could afford; he is now compelled to move from house to house, each lower in rent than the last. Sadly contemplate the man as he goes down step by step; see now how downcast he appears as he walks the streets. He hardly knows how to find support for his children; his heart is well-near broken as he thinks of the happy days he once enjoyed; and still down, down he goes; and perhaps other men rise to fortune by treading him still lower in the dust. And now as he looks round at his shattered fortune, what has the man to run to for solace? Nothing! For worst of all, he is without Christ. If he only had Christ, he could say with the nobleman, “When I had all, I found my God in all, but now that I have nothing, I find my all in God.” But a man without earthly comforts and without Christ is in a piteous state indeed.

Let us look at the man without Christ in another aspect; at the time when he has to die.

We see him as he trembles at the water’s brink — those waters that run so still and strong, so deep and dark. An unseen power pushes the man forward; he shrinks back but the man is pushed on and on, and just as the waters rise to his lips, there is this one horrid thought which haunts him like a nightmare, “I must die, and I am without Christ.” Follow the man to the judgment bar of God, and then you will know what it is to be without Christ. The blast of the archangel’s trumpet fills his heart with terror; and as the Judge’s eye fixes itself upon the trembling wretch, a shriek escapes his lips, “Mountains, fall upon me; hills, cover me! Why? Because the man feels “I stand before the great white throne, and — Alas — I am without Christ.”

Please take a moment to consider this. Can you bear the thought of a judgment day without Christ?

Last of all, follow the man in imagination throughout eternity.

Age after age passes, and yet without Christ. Perdition, but no Christ. The bitterest drop in the cup of the lost may well be this — that forever and forever they are to be without Christ. Can you bear the thought of never having a glimpse of Jesus, never seeing the face of Him who is the joy of many of our hearts, and the subject of every angel’s song?

Listen to Archibald Browns moving words as he reflects on his own congregation: “God knows, as I turned down the road leading to this chapel and beheld you pouring along in such a black stream, there was one question that kept recurring to me over and over again; it was this — “Great God, how many in this multitude are now without Christ?” How many of those who are now trooping into that tabernacle will be without Christ when they die — will be without Christ when the judgment day has dawned, and without Christ as the eternal ages roll?

And now, here this morning, for your own soul’s sake, consider whether you can, whether you dare be without Christ any longer. Listen but to this truth: Christ is willing to be yours this morning — yes, at this moment. Lift up your eye and cry, “Lord Jesus, I have been without You, alas, too long. And now in this morning, as a poor, lost rebel sinner, I accept You to be my only Saviour.”

The Lord grant that if any of you came in here without Christ, you may go to your homes with Christ. The Lord grant it for Jesus’ sake.