The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

No condemnation for Raleigh

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The following extract comes from Marcus Loane’s The Hope of Glory: An Exposition of the Eighth Chapter in the Epistle to the Romans (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1968), pages 15-16.  When he faced death, Sir Walter Raleigh was already reckoning himself dead indeed to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, and therefore without condemnation in the court of heaven.

Thus the logic in St. Paul’s mind was this: there is now no prospect of that fatal condemnation in the case of those who have come into such a union with Him; God cannot pass sentence of death on those who are in Christ Jesus because that is His has been reckoned as theirs.  It is this fact that lies at the heart of the most astonishing declaration which he ever made with regard to Christ and the sinner: “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we (who have no righteousness) might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).  He was for us in the place of condemnation; we are in him where all condemnation has spent its force.  He took what was ours as though it were His, and gave what was His as though it were ours.  What He was not, that He became, so that we might become what we were not.  It was in fact because He knew no sin that He could be made sin for us; and now it is because we are in him that we have no condemnation to fear.  It is as a result of this reciprocal exchange that God clears the guilty, and this is what He does for all who are in Christ Jesus.

Perhaps the most versatile of all the great Elizabethans was Sir Walter Raleigh: courtier, soldier, sailor, explorer, scientist, poet, author, historian.  It was his misfortune that he outlived the great queen when she died in March 1603.  Four months later, he was suddenly imprisoned on a very doubtful charge of treason.  His trial took place in the following November: he was condemned to death, and the scaffold was set up in the grounds of the Tower of London.  He wrote what he believed would be his last letter to his wife; a poem followed.  He had denied the charge of high treason, and he now stands acquitted at the bar of history.  But in the Tower he could only look up to the “bribeless hall” of heaven where the King’s attorney is none other than Christ Himself:

“And when the grand twelve-million jury
Of our sins, with direful fury,
Against our souls black verdicts give,
Christ’s pleads his death, and then we live.”

Raleigh’s fate was postponed, and his execution did not take place until 1616; but when at last he was required to die beneath the axe, he met that death with an unfaltering faith and courage.  He had grasped in essence the great fundamental meaning of the Pauline theology of grace: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 8 April 2010 at 11:17

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