A New Penny
A new penny! What lessons may it teach us?
Looking upon the one side, we find the Queen’s head is represented crowned with a laurel wreath; and that around it is written, “Victoria D: G: Britt: Reg: F: D:”—Victoria, by the grace of God, Queen of Britain, Defender of the faith. Now if we look up to heaven, “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2:9).
When you look at the face of a penny, think of the One who suffered death for us; think of Him who once was crowned with thorns, but now with glory and honour. We can say, “Victoria, by the grace of God, Queen of Britain;” but we cannot say, “Victoria, by the grace of God, my Saviour.” She rules her people well, she desires their good; but she has not died for them. The Lord Jesus Christ died for His loved ones. He not only risked His life, but laid it down for them when they were sinners. He tasted death on Calvary’s cross; but God has raised Him from the dead, and glorified Him now.
“Jesus, Thy head, once crowned with thorns,
Is crowned with glory now;
Heaven’s brightest diadem adorns
The mighty victor’s brow.”
The suffering victim when on the cross; He is the mighty victor now on the throne. Can you say of Him, “Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, my Saviour”?
Turning to the other side, we find Britannia seated. In her hand she wields a trident sceptre. This may remind us how grace is reigning now. Look at Romans 5:17, 21, and you will find three sovereigns have reigned in the world: death reigned (v. 17), sin reigned (v. 21), now grace reigns, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is clear to every one that death has held sway here. We see the graves in the cemeteries and churchyards, the funerals passing along, all proving the presence of the great monarch, death.
Why did death ever come to the throne? Because sin entered. Sin reigned, so death came in and reigned, too. Sin and death are still in the world; but for the believer their power is gone. There was a moment when they were dethroned, and a new monarch was put in their place. Sin was judged, and the power of death destroyed at the cross of Christ.
Do you notice the cross upon the shield? That reminds us of the cross of Christ, which righteously ushered in the reign of grace.
The Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross, and died there; not for good men, but for the ungodly. There was shown God’s righteousness; there His glory was upheld, and the sinner’s need met. There we see how God hated sin, and loved the sinner.
Are you looking back to the cross of Calvary? Are you resting on the finished work of Christ? The cross is vacant now, the grave empty. The One who died is now in glory, and every sinner who believes on Him is saved for ever. When Christ died, and rose again, the reign of grace began.
What is grace? It is unmerited favour, the favour of God shown, not to those who deserved it, but to those who deserved it not.
There are five things about grace, which we find in this fifth of Romans: It is God’s grace (v. 17), it is rich grace (v. 17), there is abundance of grace (v. 15), Christ is the gift of grace (v. 15), it is everlasting grace (v. 21).
The ring round the shield on our coin has neither beginning nor end: so the favour and love of God are for ever. The life which we have is eternal life. The home to which we are going is an eternal home, with the One who loved us and died for us.
Last month we saw what a penny can teach us of the Lord Jesus and His work. If we look more closely at the coin we may learn other lessons.
Britannia seated on the shield forms the central picture, on your left there is a lighthouse. Young Christians, you may all be like the lighthouse—in your homes, at school, among your friends. You are resting on the finished work of Christ; are you shining for Him? Can those around you see your lights burning? What would be the use of a lighthouse without the lights? If the Lord Jesus has set you as a lighthouse to give light to travellers crossing the sea of life, you must look to it that your lights are brightly burning. You have the oil in your lamps: see that no dust of this world hinders the rays from shining through the glasses! How easily does a Christian become soiled by the dust contracted in his daily life here! He cannot shine for Christ if there is a soil upon him. The glasses must be kept bright and polished if the lighthouse is to be of any use. How can a young Christian keep the glasses of his lighthouse bright? By not allowing one sin, however small in his own sight, to go unjudged. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
It is the Word of God, applied to the heart and conscience of a believer, that washes away the soils of every-day life, so that the light can shine forth brightly into the darkness around. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works; and glorify [not yourselves, but] your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
Who has the credit when the lights shine brightly from the Eddystone rock, the lighthouse, or the one who built it? The one who built it, surely, and the one who keeps it now in working order. So, when we have our lights burning, the Lord Jesus, who made us light bearers, and who keeps us, is glorified, and God our Father, to whom we belong, is glorified also. “Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Look again at our coin, and on your right you will see a ship in full sail. Homeward-bound she is gladly crossing the waters which separate her from her own land. The Christian is like this homeward-bound vessel; he is crossing the sea of life, and knows well the harbour to which he is hastening. He can say, “Heaven is my home, and each day as it passes brings me nearer to it.”
What makes heaven home to us? Christ is there, the One who died and lives for us; and a Christian who is longing to see Him, whom not having seen, he loves, is like the ship on our penny, with sails full set for home.
Storms there will be, rough winds and heavy seas, but the ship cannot be lost, for the Lord Jesus has ensured a safe passage. He has not promised a smooth passage, but He has promised a safe one, for He died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10).
A homeward-bound vessel does not sail aimlessly hither and thither, but is steered straight for the port. May we know more what it is to keep our port in view, and the One who is there awaiting us; to be heaven-bound vessels, making a straight course homeward, and not to be carried about by every wind of doctrine.
Does our ship carry any cargo? Certainly, and the Christian should carry cargo too: a cargo of saved souls to bring to port with him; a cargo of good works, not good works for salvation, but because he is saved. It is a sad thing for a vessel to arrive empty at the port, a sadder thing still for a Christian to travel alone to heaven. Let us each seek to win souls for Christ, and “be careful to maintain good works” (Tit. 3:8).
We have still to notice the date on our penny. What is the date now? 2 Corinthians 6:2 will tell us: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” That is the date now, dear reader, of the days in which we live, the accepted time! the day of salvation! It will not always be the day of salvation. Turn to Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” These words tell us the date of the present time. If you look at Isaiah 61:1-2, you will find another date spoken of: “The day of vengeance of our God.” The Lord Jesus did not read that, because the day of vengeance had not come then; it has not come yet, but it will come. Now it is “the day of salvation.”
May you all come to the Lord Jesus now, that you may be, like the lighthouse, shining for Him, and, like the ship, making a straight course to heaven your home.
Scattered Seed 1887, p. 172, etc.