Spurgeon Thursday

CHRIST’S LOVE FOR HIS VINEYARD

NO. 2785

A SERMON

INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, JUNE 29, 1902.

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK,

ON A THURSDAY EVENING, DURING THE SUMMER OF 1860.

My vineyard, which is Mine, is before Me: you, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.”

Song of Solomon 8:12.

Spurgeon Pen & InkYou are aware that these Canticles are responsive songs—that  one sentence is uttered by Solomon and the next by Solyma, his spouse. We believe that in this “Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s,” we also hear Christ speaking to His Church, His bride, and the Church responding to His words of love in tones which His love has suggested to her. The fact that it is a responsive song sometimes renders it the more difficult to understand because it is not easy, in every case, to discover whether it is Solomon or Solyma—Christ or His Church—who  is speaking. The first sentence in our text is just of that character. It may be Christ who says, “My vineyard, which is Mine, is before Me.” Or it may be His Church, who is saying, “My vineyard, which is mine, is before me.” With regard to the latter part of the verse, we have no difficulty, for we can see, upon the very face of it, that it is addressed by the spouse, the bride, to her Divine Bridegroom, to whom she says “You,  O Solomon,  must have a thousand.”

I. Let us look at the first sentence: “My vineyard, which is Mine, is before Me.” We have no difficulty in understanding that this vineyard is Christ’s Church. She is not compared to a grove of trees—even of fruit-bearing trees—because there are many trees which are valuable, not only for their fruit, but also for their timber. And should they bring forth no fruit, they would still be of some value. Not so is it with the members of Christ’s Church—they  are like the vine, for the vine, if it brings forth no fruit, is fit for nothing, it cumbers the ground. The Lord said to the Prophet Ezekiel, “What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest? Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? Or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?  Behold,  it is cast into the fire for fuel: the fire devours both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?” No, if it is fruitless, it is useless. It must bear fruit, or it is of no value whatever. Hence the Church is always compared to a vineyard because if she does not bring forth fruit to the Lord Jesus Christ,  she is less useful even than an ordinary mercantile and commercial community. That mercantile community, or corporate body instituted for wise purposes, may further  some useful design, but the Church is of no use whatever unless she brings forth the fruits of holiness and of gratitude  to her Lord, her Divine Vinedresser. Better that she be not called a church at all than that she should pretend to be the Church of Christ and yet bring forth no fruit to His praise.

So we have no difficulty in understanding  that the vineyard mentioned in the text is Christ’s Church because it is so significantly a symbol of the body of Believers banded together  in love to their Savior—and known by the name of “the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  We must, therefore, consider Continue reading

Spurgeon Thursday

FOUND BY JESUS—AND  FINDING JESUS

NO. 2375

 A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S DAY, AUGUST 26, 1894.

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 24 ,1888.

“The day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and said to him, Follow Me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida,  the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip

found Nathanael,  and said to him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

John 1:43-45.

spurgeon5FOR a soul to come to Jesus is the grandest event in its history! It is spiritually dead till that day, but it then begins to live—and a saved man may reckon his age from the time in which he first knew the Lord. That day of first knowing Christ is important  in the highest degree because it affects all the man’s past life. It sheds another light on all the years that have gone by. If he has lived in sin, as no doubt he has, the transaction  of that day blots out all the sin. The day in which a man comes to Christ—that  very day—his transgressions and iniquities are blotted out, even as the thick clouds are driven from the sky when God’s strong  wind chases them away! Is not that a grand day, in which our sins are cast into the depths of the sea so that from then on it can be said of them, “They may be sought for, but they shall not be found; yes, they shall not be, says the Lord”?

I say that the day in which a soul comes into contact with Christ is the greatest day of its history because all the past is changed by it! And, as for the present, what a different life does a man begin to live on the day in which he finds the Lord! He commences to live in the Light of God instead of being dead in the darkness! He begins to enjoy the privileges of liberty, instead of suffering the horrors  of slavery! He is started on the way to Heaven, instead of continuing on the road to Hell! He is such a new creature that he cannot tell how changed he is. One said to me, “Sir, the change in me is of this kind—either  the whole world is altered, or else I am.” So is it when we are brought  to know Christ—it  is a real, total, radical change.

With many, it is a most joyous alteration. They feel like the man who had been lame, and who, when Peter spoke to him in the name of Jesus, and lifted him up so that his feet and ankle bones received strength,  was not satisfied with walking, for we read, “He, leaping up, stood and walked, and entered with them into the Temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.” He was walking, leaping and praising God! Do you wonder at it? If you had lost the use of your legs for a while, you would feel like leaping and praising God when you had them all right,  again! And thus is it with a soul when it first finds the Savior. Oh, happy, happy day when the miraculous hand of Christ takes away the infirmities of the soul and makes the lame man to leap as a hart,  and causes the tongue of the dumb to sing!

The day in which a man comes to Christ is also a wonderful day in its effect upon all his future.  It is as when the helm of a ship is put right about—the  man now sails in a totally different direction. His future will never be what his past was. There may be faults. There may be infirmities and shortcomings, but there will never be the old love of sin any more. “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” This is God’s own promise to us, given through  His servant, Paul. When Christ comes to our soul, He so breaks the neck of sin, that though it lives a struggling,  dying life and often makes a deal of howling in the heart, yet it is doomed to die. The Cross of Christ has broken its back and broken its neck, too, and die it must! Henceforth the man is bound for holiness and bound for Heaven!

Now, dear Friends, have any of you come to Christ? I know that you have, the great mass of you, and I bless God, and so do you, that it is so with you. But if there are any of you who have never come to the Savior, I wish that this might be the night when you should find Him. I am but a poor lame preacher—you are not often troubled with the sight of one sitting down and preaching—yet I think that if I had lost my legs and had always to lie on my back, I would like, even then, to preach Christ Crucified, and to—

“Tell to sinners round,
What a dear Savior I have found.”

I do pray that some of you, tonight,  made to think all the more by the infirmity of the preacher, may be led to seek and to find the Savior. And then it shall be a happy day, indeed, for you, as it has been for so many more.

I am going to talk to you about Philip’s conversion and first, I ask you to notice, in our text, the convert’s description of it— “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, We have found Him, of whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets,  did write, Jesus of Nazareth,  the son of Joseph.” That is Philip’s description of it—“We  have found Jesus.” It was a true description, but it was not all the truth,  so, in the second place, we will notice the Holy Spirit’s description of it—“The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip.”  Philip’s account of the incident is that he found Christ, but the Holy Spirit’s record of it is that Christ found Philip. They are both true, however, although the latter is the fuller. We will talk a little about both descriptions of Philip’s conversion.

I. First then, THE CONVERT’S DESCRIPTION OF HIS COMING TO CHRIST is given in these words, “We have found…Jesus,” and what he says is perfectly true.

If any of you is saved, it will be by finding Christ—by  your personally making a discovery of Him, as that man did who found the treasure that was hid in the field. There must be a search for Christ, but if there is a search for Him, we may be certain of this one thing—there  will first be a consciousness of needing Him.

Philip had sought Christ, or else he would never have said that he had found Him, but, before that, Philip knew that there was need of a Messiah. When he looked round about on the world and on the Church, he said to himself, “Oh, that the promised Messiah would come! There is great need of Him. The people need Him, the Church needs Him, the world needs Him.” When Philip looked into his own heart, he said, “Oh, for the coming of the Messiah! I feel that I need Him! I have urgent need of Him.”

Dear Hearer, do you feel that you need a Savior? You never will seek Him until you feel your need of Him. You must recognize that there is sin in you, sin for which you cannot make Atonement, sin that you cannot overcome. You must realize that you need another and a stronger arm than your own, that you need Divine help, that you need One who can be your Brother to sympathize with you, and be patient with you, and yet who can be the Mighty God to conquer all your sin for you! You need a Savior—that  is the first thing that will prompt you to search for Him.

Needing a Messiah, Philip read the Scriptures concerning Him.  He speaks about  Moses and the Prophets  and of what they had written concerning the promised Deliverer. O my dear Hearers, if you need to find Christ, you must search the Scriptures, for they testify of Him! Oh, that you did search the Scriptures, more, with the definite objective of finding the Savior! Probably the great majority of unconverted people never read their Bibles at all, or they read only just enough to satisfy their curiosity, or their conscience. Perhaps they read the Bible as a part of literature  which cannot be quite ignored, but they do not take down the Holy Book and read it carefully and prayerfully, saying, “Oh, that I might find holiness, here! Oh, that I might find Christ, here!” If they did, it would not be long before they found Jesus. Well does Dr. Watts sing—

“Laden with guilt and full of fears,
I fly to You, my Lord,
And not a glimpse  of hope appears
But in Your written Word!
The volume of my Father’s Grace
Does all my griefs assuage,
Here I behold my Savior’s face
Almost on every page.”

He who reads the Bible with the view of finding Christ will not be long before some passage of Scripture  will seem to leap up to attract his attention, as though it were set on fire—and then it will speak to him of Jesus, whispering to him of the great Sacrifice on Calvary and speaking to his heart of Divine Love and Mercy. Philip was a searcher after Christ in the place where Christ loves to be—in the pages of Scripture—and  you must be the same if you desire to find Jesus!

But then Philip also gave himself to prayer. We are not told so, but we feel sure of it. He asked the Lord to reveal Christ to him, to guide him to where the Christ would be, to let him know the Christ. Oh, if you want to be saved, be much in prayer! I do not mean merely saying prayers—what  is the good of that? I do not mean simply saying fine words of your own, merely for the sake of uttering  them. Prayer is communing with God! It is asking the Lord for what you really feel that you need. What wagon loads of sham prayers are shot down at God’s door,  as if they were so much rubbish thrown away! Let it not be so with your prayers, but speak to the Lord out of your very soul when you come to the Throne of Grace. I cannot give you a better prayer than the one we have been singing—

“Gracious Lord, incline Your ear,
My requests vouchsafe to hear! Hear my never ceasing  cry— Give me Christ, or else I die!
Lord, deny me what You will, Only ease me of my guilt. Suppliant at Your feet I lie, Give me Christ, or else I die! You freely save the lost.

Only in Your Grace I trust: With my earnest suit complyGive me Christ, or else I die!
You have promised to forgive All who in Your Son believe— Lord, I know You cannot lie Give me Christ, or else I die!”

With the open Bible before you to guide your understanding, kneel down and say, “O God, graciously reveal Christ to me by Your Holy Spirit. Bring me to know Him! Bring me, this day, to find Him as my own Savior!”

It is certain, also, that Philip realized that he might claim the Messiah for himself. One of the things that every man, who would find the Savior must do is to make sure of his right to come and take the Savior. The question that puzzles many is, “May I have the Savior?” My dear Friends, every sinner in the world is permitted to come and trust the Savior, if he wills to do so. “Whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” “But,”  asks some troubled soul, “will Christ have me?” That is not the question—the  question is, “Will you have Christ?” He says, “Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.”  It is you who cast out the Savior, not the Savior who casts you out! The bolt to the door is on the inside—it is you who have bolted it and it is you who must undo the bolt and invite the Savior to enter your heart. He is willing enough to come in—wherever  there is a soul that wants Him, He comes at once! Therefore, do not raise any quibbling questions about whether a sinner may come to Christ, or may not come! Is he not commanded to come? We are told to preach the Gospel to every creature, and He who gave us our great commission also added, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.”

Philip accepted Christ as the Messiah.  Do you ask, “What  am I to do that I may find the Savior?” Well, what you have to do is, practically, this—accept Him! If you were sick and the doctor stood before you with the medicine ready prepared, you would not say, “What am I to do with this medicine, Sir? Am I to rub my hand on the outside of the bottle?” You know very well that there are certain directions as to how much is to be taken and how often. What you have to do with the medicine is to take it! “But I cannot make that medicine work for my restoration.”  Who said you could? All you have to do is to take it. It is just this that you have to do with Christ—take Him, accept Him, receive Him. Remember the 12th verse of this chapter out of which our text is taken—“As  many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

That is it, you see, receive Him, believe on His name. “But  surely I am to do some good works.” Certainly, you will do good works after you have received Christ. But for your soul’s salvation, you are to do no good works, but simply to receive Christ. “Oh, but I must lead a holy life!” Yes, and you will lead a holy life after you have received Christ. But in order to the leading of a holy life you must have a new heart—and  to get a new heart—you  have to receive Christ! He will change you, He will renew you, He will make you a new creature in Himself! What you have to do is to receive Him and to believe on His name. O my dear Hearers, I trust that I am speaking to some, this evening, who will understand what I am saying! I fear that I am addressing many who will not believe, though I may put the Truth of God as plainly as it can be preached. You know that you may hold a candle right against a blind man’s eyes and yet he will not see, even then.  The Holy Spirit  must open your eyes to see what is meant by this receiving Christ,  or else you will not understand what you are to do. You are not to give anything  to Christ—you are to take all from Him! You are not to bring anything to Christ—you are to come to Him just as you are—and  He will bring to you everything that you need. Then, when you have accepted Him by the simple act of faith, you will say with Philip, “We have found Jesus!” That is the convert’s description and a very good one, too—“We  have found Jesus.”

II. But now, secondly, what is THE HOLY SPIRIT’S DESCRIPTION? I will read to you the very words again. Here they are—“The  day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip.”  Jesus finds Philip before Philip finds Jesus. Philip finds Jesus because Jesus has found Philip.

Now, notice, that this is the previous work. It came before Philip’s own finding. Jesus would go forth into Galilee to find Philip. Dear Friends, I remember very well that after I had found the Lord, I did not, at first, fully understand the Doctrines of Grace. I had heard them preached, but I had not comprehended them. I think at the time I would have been very much puzzled with the Doctrine of Election if anybody had spoken to me about it. But I was sitting down, one day, gratefully reflecting on what God had done for me. I knew that my sins were pardoned,  I knew that I was accepted in Christ Jesus and I knew that I was renewed in heart—and in one moment the revelation came to me—“All this is the work of God!” The instant I saw that Truth of God, I said to myself, “Yes, that is the fact, and God be glorified for it! But why has this great work been worked in me?”

I knew that there was no merit in me before the Lord had dealt in mercy with my soul, so I said to myself, “This is the effect of Sovereign, Distinguishing  Grace.”  Then I understood in a moment how it is that God begins with us and that it is God’s will and God’s eternal purpose, which, after all, lie deeper down than our will or our purpose—and God’s will and God’s eternal purpose must have the Glory! What a revelation it was to me! I saw the Doctrines of Grace immediately and I think that anybody who has been brought to find the Savior and who, prayerfully studies the reasons for his salvation, can see the same Truths of God that the Lord revealed to me.

Because, first of all, you began to be thoughtful,  did you not? Who made you thoughtful? You would never have found the Savior if you had not become thoughtful  instead of careless and indifferent. Who made you think of Divine things? What influence was it which worked upon you and caused you to feel that you must think about eternity, and Heaven, and Hell? Surely it was God the Holy Spirit going forth,  in the name of Jesus Christ, and dealing with you in mercy!

Then you had a sense of your need and of your sinfulness. There was a time when you had no such sense. Who gave it to you? Where do you think that repentance, that sorrow for sin, that desire after Christ came from? Did all that grow in your own fallen human nature? Ah, believe me, that dunghill never brought  forth such fair flowers as these! No, it was Christ who sowed the good Seed in your soul—it was He who made you feel your need of Him!

Next, when you read the Bible, you understood it. You perceived that Jesus was the only Savior of sinners. You saw His fitness to meet your case and you understood  the plan of salvation. Who made you understand  it? I know that it is plain enough for a child to comprehend, but no one ever understands  spiritual  things except by the operation  of the Spirit of God! It was the Holy Spirit who gave you the spiritual power by which you were able to grasp the simple Truth concerning the way of salvation.

Then you began to pray. I have already spoken of that matter. But who taught you to pray? You had not been accustomed to real prayer—you had often had great mouthfuls of words—that  was all. But now you began to cry, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” Oh, the groaning of your spirit and the anguish of your heart as you cried to God! Who gave you that anguish? Who broke you all to pieces and made every broken bone cry out for mercy? Who, indeed, but Christ who worked mightily in your soul by the power of the Holy Spirit?

And when you yielded yourself up to Christ, when you believed in Jesus and found salvation, where did that faith come from? Is it not always the work of the Spirit  of God? Is not faith the gift of God and do you not confess that  it is so in your case? Once, when I was a little child, I thought I saw a needle moving across the table and I would have been wondering who made the needle march as it did, but I was old enough to understand that somebody was moving a magnet underneath the table and the needle was following the magnet which I could not see. Thus the Lord, with His mighty magnet of Grace, is often at work upon the hearts of men, and we think that their desire after God and their faith in Christ are of themselves. In a sense, the desire and the faith are their  own, but there is a Divine Force that  is at work upon them, producing these results! It is Jesus finding Philip,  though Philip does not know it. Philip thinks that he is finding Jesus, but behind the veil it is Jesus finding Philip! This was the previous work.

And, dear Friends,  this was very delightful work for the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice how it is put—“The  day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip.” O my blessed Lord, how He will go forth to find a soul! A journey is never too long for Him and He never wastes a day. “The day following Jesus would go forth, and He found Philip.”  Oh, may my Lord delight to come forth and find some of you! You are, tonight,  in a place where He has found a good many. I pray that He may find some of you. Perhaps you do not know how it was that you came here. You did not mean to come out, tonight, but here you are in this crowd, in the thick of this great throng. My Lord has found many a precious jewel here—to  itself it seemed nothing  but a poor pebble, but to Him it was a diamond of the first water! O my Master, find some more of Your jewels tonight!  Lord Jesus, come and find Philip,  and find Mary, and then let Philip  and Mary declare that they have found You!

When our dear Master goes forth to find a soul, it is very effectual work. He said to Philip, “Follow Me,” and Philip at once followed Him. Christ did not need to preach a long sermon. His discourse contained only two words, “Follow Me.” I will gladly end my sermon here if my Master will preach to some of you His two-worded sermon, “Follow Me,” “Follow  Me,” “Follow  Me!” “Come, poor Soul, you do not know the way! ‘Follow Me.’ You need someone to go before you, to be your leader, ‘Follow Me.’ You need someone to be your shelter, your companion, your all, ‘Follow Me.’” That is what you have to do, good woman. You have been worrying about what you have heard from different preachers. Christ says to you, “Follow Me.” That is what you have to do, young man! You have been reading those modern thought books till you do not know whether you are on your head or on your heels. Burn them! Jesus says, “Follow Me.” I know that some of you have been distracted with all sorts of silly talk—let that go to the dogs. Jesus says, “Follow  Me.” The crucified Savior says, “Follow Me.” Take Him for your Atonement! The risen Savior says, “Follow Me.” Take Him for your life! The Savior on the Throne of God says, “Follow Me.” Take Him for your joy! The Savior coming in Glory hereafter says, “Follow Me.” Take Him to be your hope! “Follow Me.” “Follow Me”—that  is the text for tonight—and that is the sermon, too! Jesus said to Philip, “Follow Me,” and Philip followed Him, directly. And he not only followed Christ, but he immediately began to try to get others to follow Him!

Please notice, also, that Philip was found by Christ in a very different way from the other disciples. Two of them had been found through the teaching of John the Baptist, but Philip had apparently had no teaching. Another of the little company had been found through the private call of his brother.  Philip may not have had any relative or friend to speak to him, but the Savior just said to him, “Follow Me,” and he followed Him! Dear Friends, do not begin comparing your conversion with somebody else’s. If the Lord  Jesus Christ calls you and says to you, “Follow Me,” and you follow Him, if there never was another  soul converted in exactly the same way, it does not matter at all! If you have come to Him, if you have trusted in Him, you are saved.

The pith of all that I have to say is this. Do not get to worrying yourselves, as some of you do, about God’s eternal purpose and about the secret working of the Holy Spirit—and  about how this can be consistent with your following Christ when He bids you. They are perfectly consistent! Some persons have asked me, at times, to reconcile these two things, and I have said to them, “Very well, tell me the difficulties, and I will reconcile them.” It would be quite as easy to state them as to meet them, for, in fact, there are none! “Oh, but,”  says one, “you tell me to believe in Christ and yet you constantly preach that faith is the work of the Spirit of God!” I know that I do. “You say that God has a chosen people.” Yes, I do. “And yet you say that men are to choose Christ?” I do. “Well, how do you reconcile those two things?” Show me that there is any difficulty about the two things and then I will reconcile them. You imagine the difficulty, for there is none in reality! There does not exist any in practical life!

I believe that God has predestinated whether I am going down to the Lord’s Supper at the close of this service, but I shall go down as well as my legs can carry me. “Oh,” you say, “you make it out to be a matter of your own free will?” Yes, I do. “And yet you believe it to be God’s eternal purpose?” Yes, I do. “Well, then, reconcile the two things.” Again I say that there is no difficulty in the case! There is nothing  to be reconciled, for both statements are true! You might as well ask me to reconcile the land and the water, or to reconcile the dog-star, Sirius, and a farthing rushlight. There is no quarrel between them and I have no time to waste on needless argument.  Come to Christ! And if you do, it will be because the Holy Spirit draws you! If you find the Savior, it will be because the Savior first found you! Perhaps, in Heaven, you may see some difficulties and get them explained. Down here you need not see them and you need not ask to have them explained. Salvation is all of God’s Grace, from first to last—yet  is it true that the Grace of God leads men to do what Moses did, according to our subject this morning  [See Sermon #2030, Volume 34Moses—His Faith and Decision— Read/download entire sermon at http://www.spurgeongems.org  .] to make a choice and to choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. God grant  that you may make an equally wise choice!

I have done when I have said this one thing more. Philip, Peter and Andrew were all of Bethsaida—“Now  Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.” These three good men, these three Apostles, were all of Bethsaida. That ought to be some comfort to many of you, my dear Hearers, because there are numbers of you who are here, tonight, who are of Bethsaida. Sitting all round me, I see people who, I believe, are of Bethsaida. “Oh,” you say, “we were never there in all our lives!” Listen. Bethsaida was one of the places in which Christ had done many of His mighty works and you remember that when the people repented not, Jesus uttered over them that sad lamentation, “Woe unto you, Chorazin! Woe unto you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the Day of Judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, which are exalted unto Heaven, shall be brought down to Hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment, than for you.”

Now, there are some of you here who have heard the Gospel for many years and have seen the power of the Grace of God in your families—and it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, and for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgement, than it will be for you, inasmuch as you have rejected the Savior! But, as there were these three men—Philip and Peter and Andrew who were of Bethsaida—and I should think that the home of James and John was not very far off from the same place—why should you not come to Christ? Why should you not become members of His Church and, if it is the Lord’s will, preachers of His Word? God grant that it may be so!

Oh, how I long in my soul for the salvation  of every one of you! Many of you who have come here, tonight,  are strangers to me. I trust that you will not be strangers to my Master! Tonight,  I pray you, here in the very heat of midsummer, before the harvest shall be past and the summer shall be ended, “Seek you the Lord while He may be found! Call you upon Him while He is near! Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts,  and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”  Receive Christ! Trust in Him! God grant  that  you may do so, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

Spurgeon Thursday

 THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH

NO. 2195

 A SERMON DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, AUGUST 21, 1890,

BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went.” Hebrews 11:8.

 THE part of the text to which I shall call your attention  lies in these words, “By faith Abraham obeyed.” Obedience—what a blessing it would be if we were all trained  to it by the Holy Spirit! How fully should we be restored if we were perfect in it! If all the world would obey the Lord, what a Heaven on earth there would be! Perfect obedience to God would mean love among men, justice to all classes and peace in every land! Our will brings  envy, malice, war—but the Lord’s will would bring us love, joy, rest, bliss. Obedience—let us pray for it for ourselves and others!—

“Is there a heart that will not bend
To Your Divine control?
Descend, O Sovereign Love, descend, And melt that stubborn soul.”

Surely, though we have had to mourn our disobedience with many tears and sighs, we now find joy in yielding ourselves as servants of the Lord—our  deepest desire is to do the Lord’s will in all things. Oh, for obedience! It has been supposed by many ill-instructed  people that the Doctrine of Justification by Faith  is opposed to the teaching of good works, or obedience. There is no truth in the supposition!  We preach the obedience of faith.  Faith  is the fountain,  the foundation and the fosterer of obedience! Men will not obey God till they believe Him. We preach faith in order  that  men may be brought to obedience. To disbelieve is to disobey! One of the first signs of practical obedience is found in the obedience of the mind, the understanding and the heart—and this is expressed in believing the teaching of Christ, trusting  to His work and resting in His salvation.

Faith  is the morning star of obedience. If we would work the work of God, we must believe on Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Brothers and Sisters, we do not give a secondary place to obedience, as some suppose. We look upon the obedience of the heart to the will of God as salvation! The attainment  of perfect obedience would mean perfect salvation. We regard sanctification, or obedience, as the great design for which the Savior died. He shed His blood that He might cleanse us from dead works and purify unto Himself a people zealous for good works. It is for this that we were chosen— we are “elect unto holiness.” We know nothing of election to continue in sin! It is for this that we have been called—we are “called to be saints.” Obedience is the grand objective of the work of Divine Grace in the hearts of those who are chosen and called—they are to become obedient children—conformed  to the image of the Elder Brother, with whom the Father is well pleased.

The obedience that comes of faith is of a noble sort. The obedience of a slave ranks a little higher than the obedience of a well-trained horse or dog, for it is tuned to the crack of the whip. Obedience which is not cheerfully rendered is not the obedience of the heart and, consequently, is of little worth before God. If the man obeys because he has no opportunity of doing otherwise and if, were he free, he would at once become a rebel—there is nothing in his obedience. The obedience of faith springs from a principle within and not from compulsion without. It is sustained by the mind’s soberest reasoning and the heart’s warmest passion. The man reasons with himself that he ought to obey his Redeemer, his Father, his God and, at the same time, the love of Christ constrains him to do so, and thus, what argument suggests affection, performs!

A sense of great obligation, an apprehension of the fitness of obedience and spiritual  renewal of heart work an obedience which becomes essential to the sanctified soul. Therefore, it is not relaxed in the time of temptation, nor destroyed in the hour of losses and sufferings. Life has no trial  which can turn  the gracious  soul from its passion for obedience! Death, itself, does but enable it to render an obedience which shall be as blissful as it will be complete. Yes, this is a chief ingredient of Heaven—that  we shall see the face of our Lord  and serve Him day and night  in His Temple. Meanwhile,  the more fully we obey at this present, the nearer we shall be to His Temple gate. May the Holy Spirit work in us, so that, by faith—like  Abraham—we may obey!

I preach to you, at this time, obedience—absolute obedience to the Lord God! But I preach the obedience of a child, not the obedience of a slave; the obedience of love, not of terror;  the obedience of faith, not of dread. I shall urge you, as God shall help me, in order that you may come to this obedience, that you should seek after stronger faith—“For by faith Abraham obeyed.” In every case where the father of the faithful obeyed, it was the result of his faith—and  in every case in which you and I shall render true obedience—it will be the product of our faith. Obedience, such as God can accept, never comes out of a heart which thinks God a liar, but is worked in us by the Spirit of the Lord, through our believing in the Truth, Love and Grace of our God in Christ Jesus. If any of you are now disobedient, or have been so, the road to a better state of things is trust in God. You cannot hope to render obedience by the mere forging of conduct into a certain groove, or by a personal, unaided effort of the resolution. There is a Free-Grace road to obedience and that is receiving, by faith, the Lord Jesus who is the Gift of God and is made of God unto us, sanctification.

We accept the Lord Jesus by faith and He teaches us obedience and creates it in us. The more of faith in Him you have, the more of obedience to Him will you manifest. I was about to say that that obedience naturally  flows out of faith—and I would not have spoken amiss—for as a man believes so is he—and, in proportion to the strength and purity of his faith in God, as He is revealed in Christ Jesus, will be the holy obedience of his life. That our meditation may be profitable, we will first think a little  of the kind of faith which produces obedience. And then, secondly, we will treat  of the kind of obedience which faith produces. And then we will advance another  step and consider the kind of life which comes out of this faith and obedience.

I will be as brief as I can upon each point. Let us look up to the Holy Spirit for His gracious illumination.

I. First, consider THE KIND OF FAITH WHICH PRODUCES OBEDIENCE.

It is, manifestly, faith in God as having the right to command our obedience. Beloved in the Lord,  you know that  He is Sovereign and that His will is law. You feel that God, your Maker, your Preserver, your Redeemer and your Father should have your unswerving service. We unite, also, in confessing that we are not our own, we are bought with a price. The Lord our God has a right to us which we would not wish to question. He has a greater claim upon our ardent service than He has upon the services of angels, for, while they were created as we have been, yet they have never been redeemed by precious blood! Our glorious Incarnate God has an unquestioned right to every breath we breathe, to every thought we think, to every moment of our lives and to every capacity of our being! We believe in Jehovah as rightful Lawgiver and, as most fitly, our Ruler. This loyalty of our mind is based on faith and is a chief prompter  to obedience. Always cultivate this feeling. The Lord is our Father, but He is, “our Father which are in Heaven.” He draws near to us in condescension, but it is condescension and we must not presume to think of Him as though He were such a one as ourselves. There is a holy familiarity with God which cannot be too much enjoyed, but there is a flippant familiarity with God which cannot be too much abhorred! The Lord is King. His will is not to be questioned. His every Word is Law. Let us never question His Sovereign right to decree what He pleases and to fulfill the decree—to  command what He pleases and to punish every shortcoming.  Because we have faith in God as Lord of All, we gladly pay Him our homage and desire in all things to say, “Your will be done in earth, as it is done in Heaven.”

Next, we must have faith in the rightness of all that God says or does. I hope, Beloved, you do not think of God’s Sovereignty as tyranny or imagine that He ever could or would will anything but that which is right.  Neither will we admit into our minds a suspicion of the incorrectness of the Word of God in any matter whatever, as though the Lord, Himself, could err. We will not have it that God, in His Holy Book, makes mistakes about matters of history, or of science, any more than He does upon the great Truths of salvation! If the Lord is God, He must be Infallible! And if He can be described as in error in the little respects of human history and science, He cannot be trusted in the greater matters!

My Brothers and Sisters, Jehovah never errs in deed, or in Word—and when you find His Law written either in the Ten Commandments, or anywhere else, you believe that there is not a precept too many, or too few. Whatever may be the precepts of the Law, or of the Gospel, they are, altogether, pure and holy. The Words of the Lord are like fine gold—pure, precious, and weighty—not one of them may be neglected! We hear people talk about, “minor points,”  and so on, but we must not consider any Word of our God as a minor thing, if by that expression is implied that it is of small importance. We must accept every single Word of precept, or prohibition, or instruction as being what it ought to be—and neither to be diminished nor increased. We should not reason about a command of God as though it might be set aside or amended. He bids—we obey. May we enter into that true spirit of obedience which is the unshaken belief that the Lord is right! Nothing  short of this is the obedience of the inner man—the  obedience which the Lord desires.

Furthermore,  we must have faith in the Lord’s call upon us to obey. Abraham went out from his father’s house because he felt that whatever God said to others, He had spoken to him, and said, “Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house.” Whatever the Lord may have said to the Chaldeans, or to other families in Ur, Abraham was not so much concerned with that as with the special word of command which the Lord had sent to his own soul. Oh, that we were, most of all, earnest to render personal obedience! It is very easy to offer unto God a sort of “other  people’s obedience”—to fancy that we are serving God when we are finding fault with our neighbors and lamenting that they are not so godly as they ought to be!

Truly, we cannot help seeing their shortcomings,  but we should do well to be less observant  of them than we are. Let us turn  our magnifying glasses upon ourselves. It is not so much our business to be weeding other people’s gardens as to keep our own vineyard. To the Lord each one should cry, “Lord, what will You have me to do?” We, who are His chosen, redeemed from among men, called out from the rest of mankind, ought to feel that if no other ears hear the Divine call, our ears must hear it and, if no other heart obeys, our soul rejoices to do so. We are bound with cords to the horns of the Altar! The strongest ties of gratitude hold us to the service of Jesus—we must be obedient in life to Him who, for our sakes, was obedient unto death. Our service to our Lord is freedom—we will to yield to His will! To delight Him is our delight! It is a blessed thing when the inmost nature yearns to obey God; when obedience grows into a habit and becomes the very element in which the spirit breathes.  Surely it should be so with every one of the blood-washed children of the Host High—and their lives will prove that it is so. Others are bound to obey, but we should attend most to our own personal obligation  and set our own houses in order. Our obedience should begin at home—it will find its hands full enough there.

Obedience arises out of a faith which is to us the paramount principle of action. The kind of faith which produces obedience is lord of the understanding,  a royal faith. The true Believer believes in God beyond all his belief in anything  else and everything else. He can say, “Let God be true, but every man a liar.”  His faith in God has become to him the crown of all his believing, the most assured of all his confidences. As gold is to the inferior metals, such is our trust in God to all our other trusts.  To the genuine Believer, the eternal is as much above the temporal as the heavens are above the earth. The Infinite rolls, like Noah’s flood, over the tops of the hills of the present and the finite. To the Believer, let a Truth of God be tinctured with the Glory of God and he values it. But if God and eternity are not there, he will leave these trifles to those who choose them. You must have a paramount faith in God, or else the will of God will not be a paramount rule to you.

Only a reigning  faith will make us subject to its power, so as to be in all things obedient to the Lord. The chief thought  in life with the true Believer is, “How can I obey God?” His great anxiety is to do the will of God, or acceptably to suffer that will. And if he can obey, he will make no terms with God and stand upon no reservations. He will pray, “Refine me from the dross of rebellion and let the furnace be as fierce as You will.” His choice is neither wealth, nor ease, nor honor, but that he may glorify God in his body and his spirit, which are the Lord’s. Obedience has become as much his rule as self-will is the rule of others. His cry unto the Lord is, “By Your command I stay or go. Your will is my will. Your pleasure is my pleasure. Your Law is my love.”

God grant  us a supreme, over-mastering  faith, for this is the kind of faith which we must have if we are to lead obedient lives! We must have faith in God’s right  to rule, faith in the rightness of His commands, faith in our personal obligation to obey and faith that the command must be the paramount authority of our being. With this faith of God’s elect, we shall realize the object of our election—namely, that we should be holy and without  blame before Him in love.

Dear Friend, have you this kind of faith? I will withdraw the question as directed to you—and I will ask it of myself—Have I that faith which leads me to obey my God? Obedience, if it is of the kind we are speaking of, is faith in action—faith walking with God, or, shall I say, walking before the Lord in the land of the living? If we have a faith which is greedy in hearing,  severe in judging and rapid in self-congratulation, but not inclined to obedience, we have the faith of hypocrites. If our faith enables us to set ourselves up as patterns of sound doctrine—and qualifies us to crack the heads of all who differ from us—and yet lacks the fruit of obedience, it will leave us among the “dogs” who are “without.” The faith that makes us obey is the only faith which marks the children of God. It is better to have the faith that obeys than the faith which moves mountains.  I would sooner have the faith which obeys than the faith which heaps the altar of God with sacrifices and perfumes His courts with incense. I would rather obey God than rule an empire, for, after all, the loftiest sovereignty a soul can inherit is to have dominion over self by rendering believing obedience to the Most High.

Thus much upon faith. “By faith Abraham obeyed.” And only by faith can you and I obey.

II. Let us consider, secondly, THE KIND OF OBEDIENCE WHICH FAITH PRODUCES. This I shall illustrate from the whole of the verse.

Genuine faith in God creates a prompt obedience. “By faith Abraham,  when he was called, obeyed.” There was an immediate response to the command. Delayed obedience is disobedience! I wish some Christians,  who put off duty, would remember this. Continued delay of duty is a continuous sin. If I do not obey the Divine Command, I sin—and every moment that I continue in that condition—I repeat the sin. This is a serious matter. If a certain act is my duty at this hour and I leave it undone, I have sinned. But it will be equally incumbent upon me during the next hour—and if I still refuse, I disobey again—and  so on till I do obey. Neglect of a standing command must grow very grievous if it is persisted in for years. In proportion as the conscience becomes callous upon the subject, the guilt  becomes the more provoking  to the Lord! To refuse to do right is a great evil, but to continue in that refusal till conscience grows numb upon the matter  is far worse.

I remember a person coming to be baptized, who said that he had been a Believer in the Lord Jesus for 40 years and that he had always seen the ordinance to be Scriptural. I felt grieved that he had so long been disobedient to a known duty and I proposed to him that he should be baptized at once. It was in a village and he said that there were no conveniences. I offered to go with him to the brook and baptize him, but he said, “No, he that believes shall not make haste.” Here was one who had willfully disobeyed his Lord—for  as many years as the Israelites in the wilderness, upon a matter so easy of performance and yet, after confessing his fault, he was not willing to amend it, but perverted a passage of Scripture to excuse him in further  delay! David says, “I made haste and delayed not to keep Your Commandments.” I give this case as a typical illustration—there  are a hundred spiritual,  moral, domestic, business and religious duties which men put off in the same manner—as if they thought  that any time would do for God and He must take His turn with the rest.

What would you say to your boy if you bade him go upon an errand and he answered you, “I will go tomorrow”? Surely you would “morrow”  him in a style which would abide upon his memory! Your tone would be sharp and you would bid him go at once. If he, then, promised to run in an hour’s time, would you call that obedience? It would be impudence! Obedience is for the present tense—it  must be prompt,  or it is nothing.  Obedience respects the time of the command as much as any other part of it. To hesitate is to be disloyal. To stop and consider whether you will obey or not is rebellion in the germ! If you believe in the living God unto eternal life, you will be quick to do your Lord’s bidding, even as a maid hearkens to her mistress. You will not be as the horse, which needs whip and spur—your love will do more for you than compulsion could do for slaves. You will have wings to your heels to hasten you along the way of obedience. “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”

Next, obedience should be exact. Even Abraham’s obedience failed somewhat in this, at first, for he started at once from Ur of the Chaldees, but he only went as far as Haran, and there he stayed till his father died. And then the precept came to him again and he set off for the land which the Lord had promised to show him. If any of you have only half obeyed, I pray that you may take heed of this—and do all that the Lord commands—carefully endeavoring to keep back no part of the revenue of obedience.

Yet the error of the great Patriarch was soon corrected, for we read that, “Abraham, when he was called to go out . . . went out.” I have only omitted intermediate words which do not alter the sense—and that is exactly how we should obey. That which the Lord commands we should do—just  that, and not another thing of our own devising. How very curiously people try to give God something else instead of what He asks for! The Lord says, “My son, give Me your heart,” and they give Him ceremonies! He asks obedience of them and they give Him will-worship. He asks for faith, love and justice—and  they offer 10,000 rivers of oil and the fat of fed beasts. They will give all except the one thing which He will be pleased with! “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” If the Lord has given you true faith in Himself, you will be anxious not so much to do a notable thing as to do exactly what God would have you to do. Mind your jots and tittles with the Lord’s precepts. Attention to little things is a fine feature in obedience—it lies much more as to its essence in the little  things  than  in the great  ones. Few dare rush into  great  crimes and yet they will indulge in secret rebellion, for their heart is not right with God. Hence so many mar what they call obedience by forgetting that they serve a heart-searching,  rein-trying  God who observes thoughts  and motives. He would have us obey Him with the heart and that will lead us not merely to regard a few pleasing commands, but to have respect unto all His will. Oh, for a tender conscience which will not willfully neglect, nor presumptuously  transgress!

And next, mark well that Abraham  rendered practical obedience. When the Lord  commanded Abraham  to quit his father’s house, he did not say that he would think it over. He did not discuss it pro and con in an essay. He did not ask his father, Terah, and his neighbors to consider it, but, as he was called to go out, he went out. Alas, dear Friends, we have so much talk and so little obedience! The religion of mere brain and jaw does not amount to much. We need the religion of hands and feet! I remember a place in Yorkshire, years ago, where a good man said to me, “We have a real good minister.” I said, “I am glad to hear it.” “Yes,” he said, “he is a fellow that preaches with his feet.” Well, now, that is a capital thing if a preacher preaches with his feet, by walking with God, and with his hands by working for God. He does well who glorifies God by where he goes and by what he does—he  will excel 50 others who only preach religion  with their tongues. You, dear Hearers, are not good hearers so long as you are only hearers—but  when the heart is affected by the ears and the hands follows the heart,  then your faith is proven! That kind of obedience which comes of faith in God is real obedience, since it shows itself by its works.

Next, faith produces a far-seeing obedience. Note this. “Abraham,  when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance.” How great a company would obey God if they were paid for it on the spot! They have “respect unto the recompense of the reward,”  but they must have it in the palm of their hand. With them—“A bird in hand is better far than two which in the bushes are.” They are told that there is Heaven to be had and they answer that if Heaven were to be had here, as an immediate freehold, they might look after it, but they cannot afford to wait. To inherit a country after this life is over is too like a fairy tale for their practical minds! Many there are who enquire, “Will religion pay? Is there anything to be made out of it? Shall I have to shut up my shop on Sundays? Must I alter my mode of dealing, and curtail my profits?” When they have totaled up the cost and have taken all things into consideration, they come to the conclusion that obedience to God is a luxury which they can dispense with—at  least until near the end of life! Those who practice the obedience of faith look for the reward  hereafter and set the greatest  store by it. To their faith, alone, the profit is exceedingly great. To take up the cross will be to carry a burden, but it will also be to find rest. They know the words, “No cross, no crown,” and they recognize the Truth of God that if there is no obedience here, there will be no reward hereafter! This needs a faith that has eyes which can see afar off—across the black torrent of death—and within the veil which parts us from the unseen. A man will not obey God unless he has learned to endure “as seeing Him who is invisible.”

Yet, remember that the obedience which comes of true faith is often bound to be altogether unreckoning and implicit, for it is written, “He went out, not knowing where he went.” God bade Abraham journey and he moved his camp at once. Into the unknown land he made his way. Through  fertile regions,  or across a wilderness—among friends, or through  the midst of foes, he pursued his journey—he  did not know where his way would take him, but he knew that the Lord had bid him go. Even bad men will obey God when they think fit—but  good men will obey when they know not what to think of it. It is not ours to judge the Lord’s command, but to follow it. I am weary with hearing men say, “Yes, we know that such a course would be right, but then the consequences might be painful—good  men would be grieved, the cause would be weakened—and we ourselves should get into a world of trouble and put our hands into a hornet’s nest.” There is not much need to preach caution nowadays—those who would run any risk for the Truth of God’s sake are few enough. Consciences, tender about the Lord’s honor,  have not been produced for the last few years in any great number.  Prudent  consideration  of consequences is superabundant, but the spirit which obeys—and dares all things for Christ’s sake—where is it?

The Abrahams of today will not go out from their kindred! They will put up with anything sooner than risk their livelihoods! If they do go out, they must know where they are going and how much is to be picked up in the new country. I am not pronouncing any judgment upon their conduct, I am merely pointing  out the fact. Our Puritan  forefathers thought little of property or liberty when these stood in the way of conscience—they defied exile and danger sooner than give up a grain of the Truth of God! But their descendants prefer peace and worldly amusements—and pride themselves on “culture”  rather  than on heroic faith. The modern Believer must have no mysteries, but must have everything planed down to a scientific standard.  Abraham “went out, not knowing where he went,” but the moderns must have every information with regard to the way—and then they will not go! If they obey at all, it is because their own superior judgments incline that way, but to go forth, not knowing where they go, and to go at all hazards, is not to their minds at all. They are so highly “cultured” that they prefer to be original and map out their own way.

Brothers and Sisters, having once discerned the voice of God, obey without question! If you have to stand alone and nobody will befriend you, stand alone and God will befriend you! If you should get the evil words of those you value most, bear it. What, after all, are evil words, or good words, as compared with the keeping of a clear conscience by walking in the way of the Lord? The line of the Truth of God is narrow as a razor’s edge—and  he needs to wear the golden sandals of the peace of God who shall keep to such a line! Through Divine Grace may we, like Abraham, walk with our hand in the hand of the Lord,  even where we cannot  see our way!

The obedience which faith produces must be continuous.  Having commenced the separated  life, Abraham  continued  to dwell in tents and sojourn in the land which was far from the place of his birth.  His whole life may be thus summed up— “By faith Abraham obeyed.” He believed and, therefore, walked before the Lord in a perfect way. He even offered up his son, Isaac. “Abraham’s mistake,” was it? Alas for those who dare to talk in that fashion! “By faith he obeyed,” and to the end of his life he was never an original speculator, or inventor of ways for self-will, but a submissive servant of that great Lord who deigned to call him, “Friend.” May it be said of everyone here that by faith he obeyed! Do not cultivate doubt or you will soon cultivate disobedience. Set this up as your standard and, from now on, be this the epitome of your life— “By faith he obeyed.”

III. Just a moment or two upon the third point. Let us consider THE SORT OF LIFE WHICH WILL COME OF THIS FAITH AND OBEDIENCE.

It will be, in the first place, life without that great risk which otherwise holds us in peril. A man runs a great risk when he steers himself. Rocks or no rocks, the peril lies in the helmsman. The Believer is no longer the helmsman of his own vessel—he has taken a Pilot on board.  To believe in God and to do His bidding is a great escape from the hazards of personal weakness and folly. If we do as God commands and do not seem to succeed, it is no fault of ours. Failure, itself, would be success so long as we did not fail to obey! If we passed through  life unrecognized, or were only acknowledged by a sneer from the worldly-wise—and if this were regarded as a failure—it  could be borne with joy so long as we knew that we had kept our faith towards God and our obedience to Him! Providence  is God’s business, obedience is ours. What comes out of our life’s course must remain with the Lord—to  obey is our sole concern. What harvest will come of our sowing, we must leave with the Lord of the Harvest, but we, ourselves, must look to the basket and the seed—and scatter our handfuls in the furrows without fail. We can win, “Well done, good and faithful servant”—to  be a successful servant is not in our power, and we shall not be held responsible for it. Our greatest risk is over when we obey. God makes faith and obedience the way of safety.

In the next place, we shall enjoy a life free from its heaviest cares. If we were in the midst of the forest with Stanley, in the center of Africa, our pressing care would be to find our way out. But when we have nothing  to do but to obey, our road is mapped out for us! Jesus says, “Follow Me,” and this makes our way plain and lifts from our shoulders a load of cares. To choose our course by policy is a way of thorns—to  obey is as the King’s Highway. Policy has to tack about, to return upon its own courses and, often, to miss the port after all. But faith, like a steam vessel, steers straight for the harbor’s mouth and leaves a bright track of obedience behind her as she forges ahead. When our only care is to obey, a thousand other cares take their flight. If we sin in order to succeed, we have sown the seeds of care and sorrow—and the reaping will be a grievous one. If we will forsake the path and try shortcuts,  we shall have to do a deal of wading through mire and slough—we shall bespatter ourselves from head to foot—we shall be wearied to find our way and all because we could not trust God and obey His bidding.

Obedience may appear difficult and it may bring with it sacrifice, but, after all, it is the nearest and the best road. Her ways are, in the long run, ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. He who, through  the Holy Spirit,  is always believingly obedient, has chosen the good part. He it is who can sing—

“I have no cares, O blessed Lord,
For all my cares are Thine.
I live in triumph, too, for You
Have made Your triumphs mine.”

Or, to change the verse, he is like Bunyan’s shepherd boy in the Valley of Humiliation,  for that lowland is part of the great Plain of Obedience! And he can also sing—

“He that is down, need fear no fall,
He that is low, no pride.
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his Guide.”

Although he may not reach the heights of ambition, nor stand upon the giddy crags of presumption, yet he shall know superior joys. He has hit upon the happiest mode of living under Heaven—a mode of life akin to the perfect life above! He shall dwell in God’s house and be still praising Him.

The way of obedience is a life of the highest honor. Obedience is the glory of a human life—the glory which our Lord has given to His chosen, even His own Glory. “He learned obedience.” He never struck out an original course, but He always did the things which pleased the Father.  Be this our glory! By faith we yield our intelligence to the highest Intelligence—we are led, guided, directed—and  we follow where our Lord has gone. To us who believe, He is honor. To a soldier it is the greatest honor to have accomplished his sovereign’s command. He does not debase his manhood who subjects it to honorable  command. No, he is even exalted by obeying in the day of danger. It is no dishonor to have it said—

“Theirs not to reason why;
Theirs but to dare and die.”

The bravest and the most honored of men are those who implicitly obey the command of the King of Kings. Among His children, they are best who best know their Father’s mind and yield to it the happiest obedience. Should we have any other ambition, within the walls of our Father’s house, than to be perfectly obedient children before Him and implicitly trustful towards Him?

And, Brothers  and Sisters, this is a kind of life which will bring communion with God. God often hides His face behind the clouds of dust which His children make by their self-will. If we transgress against Him, we shall soon be in trouble. But a holy walk—the  walk described by my text as faith working obedience—is Heaven beneath the stars! God comes down to walk with men who obey. If they walk with Him, He walks with them. The Lord can only have fellowship with His servants as they obey. Obedience is Heaven in us and it is the preface of our being in Heaven! Obedient faith is the way to eternal life—no, it is eternal life revealing itself!

The obedience of faith creates a form of life which may be safely copied. As parents,  we wish so to live that our children may copy us to their lasting profit. Teachers should aspire to be what they would have their  classes to be. If you go to school to the obedience of faith, you will be good teachers. Children usually exaggerate their models, but there will be no fear of their going too far in faith, or in obedience to the Lord! I like to hear a man say, when his father has gone, “My dear father was a man that feared God. And I would gladly follow him. When I was a boy, I thought him rather stiff and Puritanical, but now I see he had a good reason for it all. I feel much the same, myself, and, with God’s help, would do nothing of which God would not approve.”

The bringing  up of families is a very great matter. This is too much neglected, nowadays, and yet it is the most profitable of all holy service and the hope of the future. Great men, in the best sense, are bred in holy households. Godfearing example at home is the most fruitful of religious agencies. I knew a little humble Dissenting Chapel of the strictest sect of our religion. There was no culture in the ministry, but the people were strong Believers. Five or six families, attending that despised ministry, learned to believe what they believed and to live upon it. It was by no means a liberal creed which they received, but what they held operated on their lives. Five or six families came out of that place and became substantial  in wealth and generous in liberality.

These all sprang from plain, humble men, who knew their Bibles and believed the Doctrines of Grace. They learned to fear God and to trust in Him—and to rest in the old faith—and even in worldly things they prospered. Their descendants of the third generation are not, all of them, of their way of thinking, but they have risen through God’s blessing on their grandfathers.  These men were fed on substantial meat and they became sturdy old fellows, able to cope with the world and fight their way. I would to God that we had more men today who would maintain the Truth of God at all hazards. Alas, the rubbery backbone is common among Dissenters—and they take to politics, the new philosophy and, therefore, we are losing the force of our testimony—and are, I fear, decreasing in numbers, too. The Lord give us back those whose examples can be safely copied in all things, even though they are decried as being “rigid”  or “too precise!” We serve a jealous God and a holy Savior—therefore let us mind that we do not grieve His Spirit and cause Him to withdraw from us.

Lastly, faith working obedience is a kind of life which needs great Grace. Every careless professor will not live in this fashion. It will need watchfulness, prayer and nearness to God to maintain the faith which obeys in everything. Beloved, “He gives more Grace.” The Lord will enable us to add to our faith all the virtues. Whenever you fail in any respect in your lives, do not sit down and question the goodness of God and the power of the Holy Spirit—that  is not the way to increase the stream of obedience, but to diminish the source of it. Believe more, instead of less. Try, by God’s Grace, to believe more in the pardon of sin, more in the renovation  by the Holy Spirit, more in the Everlasting Covenant, more in the Love that had no beginning  and will never, never cease. Your hope does not lie in rushing into the darkness of doubt, but in repentantly returning  into the still clearer light of a steadier faith. May you be helped to do so and may we, all of us, and the whole multitude of the Lord’s redeemed, by faith go on to obey our Lord in all things!

I leave this word with you. Remember, “By faith Abraham obeyed.” Have faith in God and then obey, obey, obey, and keep on obeying until the Lord shall call you Home! Obey on earth and then you will have learned to obey in Heaven. Obedience is the rehearsal of eternal bliss! Practice by obedience now the song which you will sing forever in glory. God grant His Grace to us! Amen.

Spurgeon Thursday

 MEN BEWITCHED

NO. 1546

 DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth,

before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently

set forth, crucified among you? Galatians 3:1.

 Spurgeon Pen & InkWITH very great enthusiasm the Galatians received the Gospel when Paul preached it to them. They seem to have been a very warm-hearted but fickle people and Paul found to his great grief that while he was away from them, certain false teachers came in and turned them aside from the Gospel which he had delivered to them. He spoke out very plainly about the matter. In this verse he uses very strong terms, while he says to them—“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?” I do not know that any such witchery has fallen upon any of you, but I do know that, being men, we are all subject to the same dangers and I know, also, that there is a witchery in the very air at this time so that many are to be found throughout the Churches of this land to whom these words might be justly spoken.

We can only hope to escape this evil which Paul so severely condemns by the use of right cautionary means. It is only, in fact, as the Holy Spirit shall keep us that we shall be preserved from the fascinations of error and kept true to the grand old Gospel of the blessed God. At this time I shall very briefly speak, in the first place, upon the subtle danger which is hinted at here—“Who has bewitched you?” Secondly, at more length I shall speak upon the blessed preservative—there is no way of being kept from this witchery like having Christ Jesus, evidently crucified, set forth among us. And, thirdly, a few words, in closing, upon the supreme folly of any who, having tried this Divine preservative, nevertheless become bewitched by error.

I. First, then, let us think of THE SUBTLE DANGER which is always around us. It was hard work to preach the Gospel, at first, among the heathen. Men had to lay down their lives to do it. They had to propound new things which the heathen mind did not readily receive. But, by the power of the Spirit of God, converts were made and Churches were formed. And now came another difficulty. Even those that were converted, or appeared to be so, became suddenly, as it were, bewitched with error of one kind or another, just as in families children are suddenly taken ill with certain complaints which seem incidental to childhood. If parents had never heard of such things before, they would be astonished! They would suppose that they must lose their children when such unaccountable diseases suddenly appeared in them and yet they survive.

In the family of Christ certain epidemics break out at times. We cannot tell why they come when they do and, at first, perhaps, we are puzzled and perplexed to think that such diseases should come at all. But they do come and, therefore, it is well to be on our guard against them. Paul calls it being bewitched because these people fell into strange error—error which had no argument to back it—error surprising and startling. He seems to say, “I cannot make it out. I cannot understand how you should be thus misled.” In Paul’s day the error was Continue reading

Spurgeon Thursday

SALVATION BY WORKS, A CRIMINAL DOCTRINE

NO. 1534

DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, APRIL 18, 1880,

BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

I do not frustrate the Grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21.

Youthful Charles Spurgeon THE idea of salvation by the merit of our own works is exceedingly insinuating. It matters not how often it is refuted, it asserts itself again and again and when it gains the least foothold it soon makes great advances. Hence Paul, who was determined to show it no quarter, opposed everything which bore its likeness. He was determined not to permit the thin end of the wedge to be introduced into the Church, for well he knew that willing hands would soon be driving it home! Therefore when Peter sided with the Judaizing party and seemed to favor those who demanded that the Gentiles should be circumcised, our brave Apostle withstood him to his face. He always fought for salvation by Grace through faith and contended strenuously against all thought of righteousness by obedience to the precepts of the ceremonial or the moral Law.

No one could be more explicit than he upon the doctrine that we are not justified or saved by works in any degree, but solely by the Grace of God. His trumpet gave forth no uncertain sound, but gave forth the clear note—“By Grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Grace meant Grace with Paul and he could not endure any tampering with the matter, or any frittering away of its meaning. So fascinating is the doctrine of legal righteousness that the only way to deal with it is Paul’s way—stamp it out! Cry war to the knife against it! Never yield to it! And remember the Apostle’s firmness and how stoutly he held his ground—“To whom,” he says, “we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour.”

The error of salvation by works is exceedingly plausible. You will constantly hear it stated as a self-evident truth and vindicated on account of its supposed practical usefulness, while the Gospel doctrine of Salvation by Faith is railed at and accused of evil consequences. It is affirmed that if we preach salvation by good works we shall encourage virtue—and so it might seem in theory—but history proves, by many instances, that as a matter of fact where such doctrine has been preached virtue has become singularly uncommon and that in proportion as the merit of works has been cried up, morality has gone down!

On the other hand, where Justification by Faith has been preached, conversions have followed and purity of life has been produced even in the worst of men. Those who lead godly and gracious lives are ready to confess that the cause of their zeal for holiness lies in their faith in Christ Jesus. Where will you meet with a devout and upright man who glories in his own works? Self-righteousness is natural to our fallen humanity and, therefore, it is the essence of all false religions. Be they what they may, they all agree in seeking salvation by our own deeds. He who worships his idols will torture his body, will fast, will perform long pilgrimages and do or endure anything in order to merit salvation! The Roman Catholic church holds up continually before the eyes of its votaries the prize to be earned by self-denial, by penance, by prayers, by sacraments or by some other performances of man. Go where you may, the natural religion of fallen man is salvation by his own merits.

An old Divine has well said every man is born a heretic upon this point and he naturally gravitates towards this heresy in one form or another. Self-salvation, either by his personal worthiness, by his repentance or by his resolves is a hope ingrained in human nature and very hard to remove. This foolishness is bound up in the heart of every child Continue reading

Spurgeon Thursday

The sermon I have chosen to share, I’m afraid, would more than likely get the Prince of Preachers booted out from behind the pulpit of most churches today.  I hear many people talk about Spurgeon and the fact that he was a great preacher, but then I hear their doctrine, and have to think to myself, they only say that Spurgeon was a great preacher based on reputation, not because they read his sermons and know what he taught.  For if they did happen to read just 15 or 20 of Spurgeons sermons, and there are over 3000 to choose from, I think they would find that their own views of Doctrine are vastly different that what Spurgeon believed.  I love to read Spurgeons sermons and I think he was a tremendous preacher and theologian.  I don’t believe this because of his reputation for packing out a church Sunday after Sunday, I believe this because his sermons make me angry; they cut me; they make me take a look at the absolute sovereignty of God.  Hebrews 2:9-10 –

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.  For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

God, was for a short time during His incarnation, made a little lower than the angels, but as the verse above states, ALL things flow from Him and ALL things belong to Him.  That, my friend, is a sovereignty that none of use can claim.  Until we learn that God is sovereign in all things, and that is a process that will continue until we are perfected in glory, our theology, our doctrine, our beliefs are beneath what they should be.

So, with that, I share the following:

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

NOS. 41, 42

A SERMON DELIVERED  ON SABBATH MORNING, SEPTEMBER 2, 1855,

BY THE REV. C H. SPURGEON,

AT NEW PARK STREET CHAPEL, SOUTHWARK.

 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through  sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto He called you by our Gospel, to the obtaining  of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14.

spurgeon 2IF there were no other text in the Sacred Word except this one, I think we would  all be bound to receive and acknowledge the truthfulness of the great and glorious Doctrine of God’s ancient choice of His family. But there seems to be an inveterate prejudice in the human mind against this Doctrine—and  although  most other Doctrines will be received by professing Christians,  some with caution, others with pleasure—this one seems to be most frequently disregarded and discarded! In many of our pulpits it would be reckoned a high sin and treason to preach a sermon upon Election because they could not make it what they call a, “practical”  discourse! I believe they have erred from the Truth of God. Whatever God has revealed, He has revealed for a purpose. There is nothing in Scripture which may not, under the influence of God’s Spirit, be turned into a practical discourse—“for all Scripture is given by Inspiration of God and is profitable”  for some purpose of spiritual  usefulness. It is true, it may not be turned into a free will discourse—that  we know right well—but it can be turned into a practical Free Grace discourse. And Free Grace practice is the best practice when the true Doctrines of God’s Immutable Love are brought to bear upon the hearts of saints and sinners! Now I trust, this morning,  some of you who are startled at the very sound of this word will say, “I will give it a fair hearing. I will lay aside my prejudices. I will hear what this man has to say.” Do not shut your ears and say at once, “It is high Doctrine.” Who has authorized you to call it high or low? Why should you oppose yourself to God’s Doctrine? Remember what became of the children who found fault with God’s Prophet and exclaimed, “Go up, you bald-head! Go up, you bald-head!” Say nothing  against God’s Doctrines, lest haply some evil beast should come out of the forest and devour you, also! There are other woes beside the open judgment of Heaven—take  heed that these fall not on your head. Lay aside your prejudices—listen calmly, listen dispassionately—hear what Scripture says! And when you receive the Truth, if God should be pleased to reveal and manifest it to your souls, do not be ashamed to confess it! To confess you were wrong, yesterday, is only to acknowledge that you are a little wiser today. Instead of being a reflection on yourself, it is an honor to your judgment and shows that you are improving in the knowledge of the Truth of God! Do not be ashamed to learn and to cast aside your old doctrines and views. But take up that which you may more plainly see to be in the Word of God. And if you do not see it to be here in the Bible—whatever I may say, or whatever authorities I may plead—I  beseech you, as you love your souls, reject it! And if from this pulpit you ever hear things contrary to this Sacred Word, remember that the Bible must be first—and  God’s minister must lie underneath it!

We must not stand on the Bible to preach—we must preach with the Bible above our heads. After all we have preached, we are well aware that the mountain of Truth is higher than our eyes can discern—clouds  and darkness are round about its summit and we cannot discern its topmost pinnacle. Yet we will try to preach it as well as we can. But since we are mortal and liable to err, exercise your judgment—“Try  the spirits, whether they are of God”—and  if on mature reflection on your bended knees, you are led to disregard Election—a thing which I consider to be utterly impossible—then forsake it! Do not hear it preached,  but believe and confess whatever  you see to be God’s Word. I can say no more than that by way of introduction.

Now, first. I shall speak a little concerning the truthfulness of this Doctrine—“God  has from the beginning chosen you to salvation.” Secondly, I shall try to prove that this Election is absolute“He has from the beginning chosen you to salvation,” not for sanctification, but, “through  sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Thirdly, this Election is eternal because the text says, “God has from the Continue reading

Spurgeon Thursday

First off, let me apologize for not posting Spurgeon on a regular basis lately.  My work schedule has been extremely rough for the past month, but hopefully that is past and this feature of my blog will get back on track.  Now, on to the feature…

LACKING MOISTURE

NO. 2845

A SERMON

PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 1903.

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 20, 1888.

And some fell upon a rock, and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.” Luke 8:6.

spurgeon5IN this parable of the sower, there is great discrimination of character, not only between those who bring forth fruit and those who bring forth none, but also between those who bring forth fruit in different degrees—not only between the fruitful and the fruitless—but  also between various forms of fruitlessness. The reasons are given, not in bulk, but in detail—why this failed, and that failed, and the other failed. All this points to discrimination in hearing. When there is discrimination  in the preacher, as there should always be, there should be an equal discrimination  in the hearer, and each one should try to take to himself that special part of the Word which is intended for him.

The true preacher, especially our great Lord and Master, resembles a portrait  painted by a real artist which always looks at you, no matter where you are in the room—to the right, or to the left of it, its eyes seem to be fixed upon you. So does our Lord, whenever He preaches, look at us. May He look at us in that way just now and may we catch His eyes as He gazes upon us—and  may the preacher also seem to be looking straight at you, because you are on the watch for that particular part of the Truth  which especially concerns you! If there is anything hopeful and cheering in the sermon, may it come to you who are mourning and doubtful! If there is anything awakening, may it come to those of you who happen to be tinged with self-confidence!

Coming to our text, I think it suggests to us three observations.  First,  let us note well that there is a reception of the Word of God which fails to be effectual. Secondly, we shall enquire why it fails in these cases. And, thirdly, we shall consider how this failure is to be avoided.

I. First,  THERE IS A SOWING THAT COMES TO NOTHING. There is even a reception of the Seed into the soil which disappoints the sower.

This failure was not because the Seed was bad. It was the same Seed which, in the good soil, produced thirty,  sixty, or a hundredfold. You know that, sometimes, when we do not succeed in impressing our hearers, we condemn ourselves, perhaps very justly. If men are not saved, the preacher must not put the blame upon Divine Sovereignty—he must blame himself. He must also ask himself, “Have I really preached the Truth?  Have I preached it in a right spirit? Have I preached different Truths in due proportion?  Have I given the most weight to that which is of primary importance and have I put that which is secondary in its proper position?” We poor sowers often chastise ourselves for our failures, or, if we do not, we ought to do so—otherwise  we shall never improve. God help us to preach better, to love men’s souls more and to be more earnest in seeking to bring them to Christ! I mean this wish for myself and for all of you who love the Lord.

But there was no fault to be found with the Seed that fell on the rock, although it did not result in a harvest. The Seed was good, thoroughly good. The sower got it from his Master and his Master’s granary contains no Seed which will not grow. True preachers can say with the Apostle Peter, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables.” We have preached to you the Word of God, so that whenever we put our head upon our pillow, we can truly say that we have not preached what we thought,  or what we imagined, but we have declared what we believe to be revealed in this blessed Book of God. That is the Good Seed that we sow and if it does not grow in you, it is not the fault of the Seed, it is your own fault. There is something about you that hinders it. Will you think of that, dear Hearer, if you are unconverted?

But, in the next place, the failure was not from lack of receptiveness. Those hearers who are like the Seed sown on the rock, do receive the Seed. We are expressly told that by our Lord, Himself—“They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy.” We have hearers who take in all we say, perhaps too readily. They hear indiscriminately. There are some hearers who are like a sponge—they suck up all—good,  bad and indifferent. If they hear of a clever, oratorical preacher, they speedily run after him. What he preaches, or whether he preaches with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven, is not a matter about which they enquire. They have not much depth of earth, but what little earth there is takes in the Seed. There is not enough depth of earth for the Seed to really bear fruit, yet they do, in some sort of fashion, receive it. I am not going to pile up indiscriminate censure upon this receptiveness. It is a briar upon which a rose may grow but, still, it is a briar until it is properly grafted. Receptiveness may easily be carried too far and men may even ruin themselves by being too ready to receive what they hear—not  by being too ready to rightly receive the real Word of Truth, but by receiving it in the wrong fashion. Do they disbelieve what you say? No, they are not earnest enough to do that! Do they doubt what you preach? No, they have not gone so far aside as that. Do they argue against the Gospel? Oh, no—they have not fallen into that form of depravity! They take in what they hear. They do not do much with it. There is not Grace enough in their heart, after they have nominally received the Word, to cause it to grow. There is a lack somewhere—not a lack of receptiveness, but a lack in another direction.

The failure, also, was not caused through  lack of heat. There was a hard rock with a little soil upon it, just enough to take in the Seed. That rock needed to be broken up, ground to powder and made into good soil, but as it was not broken up—when the sun shone, the rock refracted and reflected all the heat and gave great warmth to the soil in which the seed was lying—so that it grew very fast, for it was in a kind of hothouse. We have many hearers who, if enthusiasm could save them, would have been saved long ago. On Sundays they are very soon warmed up, and there is so little of them that the heat of the sun soon penetrates to their rocky nature. The heat is refracted and straightway they are all in a blaze. I know them, they are very nice people to preach to. How excited they grow! They are ready enough to shout, “Hallelujah!” They speedily receive the Word, but there is no depth about them, so they do not retain it. They will do anything that we want them to do. They are not only enthusiastic, but they soon grow fanatical. I am not blaming them for this. If there were something  else to go with it, it would be a good thing.

The gardener or florist likes a good bottom heat to make his plants grow rapidly, but if it is all heat—if it is a dry heat and nothing else, very soon they are scorched to death. The little moisture that was in them at first, makes them grow rapidly, but when that is exhausted, they are soon withered. I do not deny that it is quite a pleasure to meet with a warm-hearted man. We have plenty of people about who are either cold or only lukewarm. If they give you their hand, you feel as if you had laid hold of a fish, it is so cold. We like to meet with hearers who respond to our appeals with kindly friendliness and who, when the Word is brought  before them, display a warmth of feeling towards it. These are very hopeful people. I cannot say more about them. Their name is Hopeful, but they do not always grow into Faithful.  They give us great encouragement,  but, alas, they often cause us great discouragement.

Then, again, this failure was not caused through  lack of joy, for we are told by our Savior that they received the Word with joy. Oh, they are so happy! They feel that they are saved and they are full of joy! And the main reason why they believe that they are saved is that they are so happy. Well, there is something in being joyful. I do not like to see people who seem to have a religion that disagrees with them. True religion does, indeed, make us glad. But then, my dear Friends, if your only evidence of the possession of Grace is that you are so happy, you may be unhappy tomorrow—and what will be your state then? Our human nature is so constructed and our body has so much influence upon our mind and soul, that we can soon become very low in spirit and scarcely know why we are in such a condition! That joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, I cheerfully acknowledge, but there are many joys that are not fruits of the Spirit at all, for they are earth-born and carnal. And there is often a so-called religious joy which is the fruit of carnal excitement and supposed conversion—not the result of a real saving knowledge of God.

Perhaps if these people had received the Word with sorrow—if  they had received it with a broken heart and a contrite spirit—if  they had received it tremblingly, in the very depth of their souls. If they had gone home to cry to God in secret prayer instead of rejoicing in open exultation, there might have been evidences in them of a deeper, surer, truer  and more abiding work. These people had joy and plenty of it. I am not saying anything against their joy—it was not the point in which they failed. They failed somewhere else, as I shall try to show you presently.

And, once more, they did not fail from lack of eagerness and speed in receiving the Truth.  They received it at once and the Seed sprang up at once. Just because they had no depth of earth, it sprang up all the faster. The Seed that fell upon the shallow soil covering the rock grew quickly—it sprang up because of the very absence of the element that was necessary to bring it to perfection! I believe in instantaneous  conversion. I believe that the new birth must be instantaneous, that there is a moment in which a man is dead and another moment in which he is alive and that, just as there is a certain instant in which a child is born, so there is an instant in which we become the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. But there is also a supposed conversion which is undone as quickly as it is done. There are to be found, in some churches, men who have grown wonderfully fast. They were drunks a fortnight ago and they are taking the lead among experienced Christians today! Well, it may rightly be so. God acts according to His own Sovereign will and He can work such wonders of Grace and miracles of mercy. But it may turn out that a thing that grows very fast does so because it will not stand fast and will not last long. We have to deal with so many who are always procrastinating  and putting off and, therefore, it seems a good fault when men are hasty about these things—it  is a blessed fault, if a fault at all! Yet it did so happen that while these people were excellent in that direction, they failed in another, and failed in a fatal way, of which I have now to speak.

II. That brings me to ENQUIRE WHY THESE PEOPLE MADE SUCH A SAD FAILURE?

The seed that fell on the trodden  path,  while they were lost to the farmer, did feed the birds, at any rate. But these on the rock did not. They quickly sprang up, and were soon withered and good for nothing. They promised much, but it came to nothing at all. And, in this way, some of those who appear to be the most hopeful, may cause us most grief by being our greatest disappointments.

Now why was this? Luke tells us, and no other Evangelist tells us, that it was because they “lacked moisture.”

Does not this mean, first of all, that they lacked the influences of the Divine Spirit? When we speak of spiritual dew, we refer to the operation of the Holy Spirit. When we talk of the river of the Water of Life, we mean those sacred things which come streaming down to us from the Throne of God through the working  of the Spirit of God. These people lacked that moisture. They were converted, so far as they were converted at all, through  the eloquence of the preacher— and a man who is converted by eloquence, can be unconverted by eloquence! Or they were converted by the zeal and earnestness of Christian  people. But if you were converted by one man, another  man can unconvert you. All that is of man is sure to be unraveled as all the spinning and the weaving of earthly machinery can be pulled to pieces. But the work of God’s Grace endures forever. Have you, my dear Hearer, felt the power of the Holy Spirit first withering you up? “The grass withers, the flower fades because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon it.” Has He ever dried up, in you, all that was of yourself and turned the verdant meadow into a barren wilderness? It must be so with you at first—there  is no sure work which does not begin with emptying and pulling down. Was the Spirit of God ever so worked in you as a spirit of bondage, shutting you up in prison under the Law, fixing your hands in handcuffs and your feet in fetters, putting  you in the stocks and leaving you there? If you have never known anything about that experience, I am afraid you have, up to now, “lacked moisture.”

Then, when the Spirit of God comes to a soul that is thus broken down, He reveals Christ as a Savior for that sinner, a full Savior for the empty sinner! And oh, how sweetly does the soul rejoice as it perceives the suitability,  fullness and freeness of Christ—and looks to Jesus and trusts Him! Have you ever felt that sacred moisture which softens the heart so that it sweetly yields to Christ, that moisture which refreshes the heart and makes it bloom again with a holy hopefulness and delight in Christ? O my dear Hearers, what we say about the Holy Spirit is no mere talk—it is a matter of fact! “You must be born-again,”  born from above! You must be partakers of the Spirit of God, or else all your religion, however beautiful it may appear to be, will wither when the sun has risen with burning heat.

Now, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, you find that everything goes ill with you when you lack moisture. One of our Brothers  sometimes says to me, after a service, “Oh, Sir, there will be good done today, for there was dew about!” I know what he means and hope you also do. You have a little flower at home which you keep in the window, a geranium, or perhaps a fuchsia. You set great store by it because of its associations. But perhaps you have been out for a week and when you come back it looks so drooping that it seems as if it must die—and you soon discovered the reason why. It was quite dry—“it  lacked moisture.” You gave it some water and it soon began to revive. These plants are kept alive by moisture. But when they lack moisture, the more the sun shines upon them, or the warmer the room is, the worse it is for them. They need moisture and so do we, poor plants that we are. We need the Holy Spirit and if the Lord does not water us daily from the living springs on the hilltops of Glory, we shall certainly die! So take heed, Brothers and Sisters, that you do not lack the moisture of the Holy Spirit’s gracious influence.

Why did these people lack it? There was moisture in the air. It is evident that the other Seed which brought forth thirty, sixty, or a hundred-fold,  had moisture. Yet this, which was in the same air as the other,  “lacked moisture.”  There were morning dews and there were mists and rains, yet these Seeds on the rock “lacked moisture.”  The reason was that there was a lack of power to retain the moisture in the soil. When it came down, it ran off again, or speedily evaporated because there was a rock and only a very little earth on the top of it to hold the moisture, and all that came there soon disappeared.  There are many persons who seem to be like this rocky soil—they  have no receptiveness for the Divine Spirit—they seem to manage to do without Him.

Now let me warn you of certain things that indicate a lack of moisture. The first is Doctrine without  feeling. You believe the Bible Doctrine concerning Christ. I am glad that you do, but dry Doctrine, without the bedewing influence of the Spirit of God, is just a granite rock out of which you will get nothing whatever. You say that you believe the Doctrine of Human Depravity, but have you ever really felt it and mourned over it? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Redemption,  but have you ever proved the power of the precious blood of Jesus? Have you ever been melted at the sight of the Cross? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Effectual Calling, but have you been effectually called by Grace? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Regeneration,  but have you been born-again?  If not, you lack moisture. I have known some Brothers and Sisters who have been so “sound” that they have been nothing but sound. “Sixteen ounces to the pound,” they said they were. I thought that they were 17 ounces to the pound and that the last bad ounce spoilt the other sixteen! You may be wonderfully orthodox  and yet be lost! That hard pan of rock must be broken up and ground to powder, that the moisture may get to the Seed. Of what use is Doctrine without  feeling?

It is equally worthless where there is experience without  humiliation.  I mean that some talk about having felt this, and having felt that—and  they boast of it. Some of them have even thought that they have become perfect—and  they glory in it. Well, they lack moisture! As soon as you get side by side with them, you feel a need of something, you do not quite know what it is. It is dry experience. Perhaps it is boiling hot, but it is very dry. There is no bowing before the Lord in a humble confession of unworthiness. There is no understanding  of what it is to feel the sentence of death in our- selves, that we should loathe ourselves, as condemned criminals ought to do. I pray the Lord to save us from an experience, however perfect it seems, which is not moist, which has not a living tenderness worked into it by the power of the Spirit of God. Avoid, then, experience without  humiliation.

Also shun practice without heart-love. I have known some Brothers and Sisters who have been most exact and precise in all their conduct. I have thought  that they scarcely ever sinned and I have not wondered that they did not because there did not seem to be enough juice in them to sin. They did not appear to have any human nature in them. They were just like dry pieces of leather—never  excited, never getting  into a bad temper—they have not seemed to have any temper, either bad or good. They never say a word too hastily. They always measure things out very exactly, yet a lack of love is a fatal lack. I knew one whom I greatly esteemed as a minister of the Word for many years. I esteemed him for his regularity of conduct. I believe that he got up to the tick of the clock, that he had family prayer to the tick of the clock and that he did everything in the same methodical manner. I remarked to him once, “There are many people, round about your Chapel, who are living in the depths of sin. Do you ever get any of them into your place of worship?” “No,” he replied, “I do not want to get them in.” I asked, “Why?” “Well,” he answered, “they are mostly harlots and thieves. What could I do with such people?”

Then I saw that it was possible to be regular, precise and good up to a certain point, and yet to have no moisture. And as the moisture was not there, of course no thief or harlot would go to hear him—he was too dry for them. It is an awful thing to have a Pharisaic practice—perfect when looked at by the casual eye, yet without  the life and light of love—and, therefore, lacking moisture.

Beware, dear Friends, of a belief that never had any repentance connected with it, for that is another way in which the lack of moisture is manifested. There are some people who are willing to believe a great deal, but you never hear of them groaning  because of sin, or confessing it with a broken heart in true humility before God. To trust in repentance without faith would be ruinous to the soul—but to have a kind of faith without repentance, would also be ruinous. If faith never has tears in its eyes, it is a dead faith. He who has never wept because of his sin, has never really had his sin washed away. If your heart has never been broken on account of sin, I will not believe that it was ever broken from sin. And if your heart is not broken from your sin, you are still at a distance from your God and you will never see His face with acceptance.

Beware, also, of a confidence that is never associated with self-diffidence. Yes, my dear Sir, speak as boldly as you will, be as brave as you may for your Master, but, at the same time, be very lowly in spirit.  Let your own weakness be seen, as well as your Master’s strength. While you glory in Christ’s merits, confess your own sinfulness and admit that in yourself, you are nothing.  We can never have too much confidence in God, but, unless it is associated with deep self- distrust, it will lack moisture and it will never produce any real harvest unto God.

Beware, also, of action without spirituality.  We have many people of that kind. They are very active in serving God in one way and another. Would that all were—if it were in a right spirit! They are busy from morning to night, but there is no prayer and no dependence upon God mingled with their efforts—that will not do. That is all wasted activity. However busy we may be, we shall effect nothing  unless we receive from the Holy Spirit  all the power with which we work and are dependent upon Him for the success of every word  we say. Beware of having  so much to do that you really do nothing at all because you do not wait upon God for the power to do it right.

Then there is another dry thing, namely, zeal without communion with God. Zeal for extending the Kingdom of Christ, zeal for spreading the denomination, zeal for the advance of a particular  sect, zeal that is intolerant,  probably, but, all the while, no careful walking according to God’s Word, no observing what God would have us to be zealous about, no humbling of ourselves in the Presence of the great Lord of all, and no bathing of ourselves in the river of the Water of Life by fellowship with God.

Thus I might keep on showing you various ways in which people may have a great deal that is very good, yet it will all come to nothing  because they lack moisture. But the seed cannot assimilate the dry earth until it is mixed with water and held in solution, and spiritual life can only be fed by Truth held in solution by the Holy Spirit. When He softens and prepares us, then our roots and rootlets  take up the true nutriment  and we grow.

In the case of the seed upon the rocky ground,  there was, also, a deficiency of sensitive vitality. The seed grew for a time, and then became dry—and  are there not multitudes of people, in our Churches now, who are just like that? They are as dry as old hay, they have withered away. We cannot turn them out, but, oh, that we could turn life into them! Oh, that the Water of Life might flow all about them, so that they might live and bring forth fruit unto God!

I have said enough, if God shall bless it, to set many people searching their hearts to see whether  this sacred moisture is there.

III. Now, to close, we are to CONSIDER HOW THE EVIL IS TO BE AVOIDED.

Well, first, let us one and all cry to God to break up the rock. Rock, rock, rock, will you never break? We may scat- ter the Seed upon you, but nothing  will come of it till that rock is broken. The great steam-plow needs to be driven right through  men’s hearts till they are torn in sunder and the old rock of nature is ground to powder, made soft and turned into good soil. Dear Friend, do pray to God to make sure work of you. As far as you are concerned, the one thing you have to do is to believe in Christ Jesus, that you may be saved. But a part of the process of your salvation is the taking out of you the heart of stone and the giving to you of a heart of flesh. There is no true growing unless this takes place.

The next thing is, look well to spirituality. This moisture was a very subtle thing. Men might easily overlook that dampness in the atmosphere and in the soil which was all-essential. Who can tell you what unction is? Yet a sermon with- out unction is a poor, worthless thing. There is a certain secret something which distinguishes a true Christian from a worldling or a mere professor—see that you have it. Do not be content with the Creed, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, or anything  else that is visible, but say, “Lord,  give me the moisture that I need. Give me that secret something without which I shall be lacking the very thing which I most need.” You cannot see your soul. You cannot  fully tell what it is. Yet you know that it is a something that keeps your body alive and when that something is gone, the body becomes dead—so is all religion dead until it receives the life which comes from the moisture that so many lack.

That leads me further to say, look to the Holy Spirit. Be very tender towards the Holy Spirit. We preach Christ to you, as we are commanded to do, but we do not want you ever to forget the blessed Spirit, without whom nothing saving can ever be worked in you! You cannot make yourself to be born-again. Even the faith that saves is the work of the Spirit of God, if it is the faith of God’s elect. Be zealous and tender, therefore, and walk carefully in reference to the Spirit of God lest you grieve Him.

Then I would say, next, try to avoid all dry heat. Do not work yourself up into a frenzy and think that there is any- thing saving in it. The heat of excitement may be necessary, just as dust flies from the wheels of a chariot when it moves swiftly, but, as the dust does not help the chariot, but is a nuisance to those who are riding in it, so is it with excitement. It does not help the true movement and it is a nuisance to those who are living near to God.

Lastly,  be constantly looking for that Divine mystery of secret vitality  which is called in the text, “moisture.” I commend to you this prayer, “Lord,  give me this blessed moisture. Saturate  me through  and through  with the heavenly dew, the Divine rain, that I may grow and bring forth fruit to the Glory of Your holy name.” God bless you, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

Charles Spurgeon and Courage in the Pulpit

One of the greatest challenges that faces every pastor is the courage to stay true to his convictions. This is especially true when those convictions, though deeply and clearly rooted in Scripture, are out of step with popular opinion or the prevailing desires of influential church members. I am sure that I am not the only pastor who has been threatened by church leaders with being “fired” if I insisted on teaching and preaching the plain meaning of certain passages of Scripture. Even more common is the subtle pressure that pastors often feel to compromise their convictions for the sake of peace. I have long ago lost count of the number of pastors I know who have suffered serious consequences simply for preaching expository sermons and calling for congregational holiness that is commensurate with the gospel.

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