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

Prayer – Part 2

In this second installment of Pink’s book Gleanings From Paul:  A Study of the Prayers of the Apostle, Pink takes us to Paul’s prayer in the first chapter of Romans.  I have read Romans multiple times but never really considered this a prayer, but after reading the following I do believe it is.  What I found amazing, and again I have read Romans multiple times in just the last year, is Paul’s calling out to “My God.”  As Pink brings out, there is a sense of Paul’s certainty in God, in his intimacy with God.  I have overlooked that many times in my life. 

Well, what I really mean to say is that I seem to easily forget how intimately we can have fellowship with God.  How many times have I started to pray and in my mind, God is just some impersonal being “out there” that I am praying too.  That is a sad indictment against me and I realize that I have to repent and make a concerted effort to realize that the God I am praying too is “My God” just like He was Paul’s “God.”  In Zechariah 1:3 God declares, “Return to me that I may return to you,” (NASB).  That is a very emphatic statement, and one that we would do well to remember and to practice.  If we turn to God in repentence for our sins, it’s as if He cannot help but come near and cleanse us, soothe us and comfort us.

Gleanings From Paul

 1. Prayer and Praise

 Romans 1:8-12

As For Paul’s Prayers we shall not take them up in their chronological order but according as they are found in his epistles in our present-day Bible. The Thessalonian epistles were written before the Roman letter, but as the book of Romans, because of its theme and importance, rightly comes first, we shall begin with Paul’s prayers recorded therein. Opinion is divided as to whether the verses before us chronicle a particular prayer actually offered by Paul at that time, or whether he is here informing them how he was wont to remember them at the throne of grace. It appears to us the distinction is such a fine one that it makes little practical difference which view be adopted. Personally we incline to the former concept. This epistle was taken down by an amanuensis (Rom. 16:22), and as the apostle dictated the words “to all that be in Rome, beloved of God” (Rom. 1:7), his heart was immediately drawn out in thanksgiving that some of God’s elect were to be found even in the capital of the Roman Empire, yea, in “Caesar’s household” (Phil. 4:22).

Paul’s Affection for the Saints at Rome

The position of Paul was somewhat delicate, as he was a stranger to the saints at Rome. No doubt they had often heard of him——at first as a dangerous person. When assured of his conversion, and learning that he was an apostle to the Gentiles, they probably wondered why he had not visited them, especially when he had been as near Rome as Corinth. So he made known his deep personal interest in them. They were continually upon his heart and in all his prayers. How his “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all” (Rom. l:8a) would draw out their affections to the writer of this epistle! How it would move them to read with warmer interest what he had sent to them! Nothing more Continue reading

Surrounded by Insanity

This weekend I listened to Tim Conway teach from Hebrews 11:6 which reads as follows: 

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

While my wife and I listened to the sermon, I commented that the very first sermon I ever preached over 30 years ago was from this passage.  I look back on that now and cannot believe how badly I mangled the text.  Isn’t God gracious? 

I’ve heard it said over the years that the 3 laws of real estate are “Location, Location, Location.”  If you get the right location, you end up with a valuable piece of real estate.  Similar, but much more important, are what I call the 3 laws of the Bible, “Context, Context, Context!”  My mangling of the text 30 years ago was mainly due to the fact that I took the text out of the context it is in.  Now, my sermon didn’t go down the road of what is called the “Prosperity Gospel” that was so prevalent in the early 1980’s, because even then, I knew something was wrong with that, but it was not what it should have been.

Look back in verse 4 and you will read that:

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”

Men have been giving offerings since the fall in the garden.  Some have been accepted of God, most have not and the question is why.  Let’s go back to Genesis 4 where we read:

Cain-AbleSo it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
  Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is too great to bear! Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” So the LORD said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD appointed a sign for Cain, so that no one finding him would slay him.
  Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

According to this narrative, Cain and Able brought their offerings “at the appointed time:  Abel brought ‘fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock’, for he was a shepherd, and Cain, who was an agriculturist, brought ‘some of the fruits of the soil’.  While each offering was appropriate to their respective vocations, the biblical text states that ‘The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor’”.[1]   John Calvin, in his commentary on Genesis 4 says:  “God is said to have respect unto the man to whom he vouchsafes his favor. We must, however, notice the order here observed by Moses; for he does not simply state that the worship which Abel had paid was pleasing to God, but he begins with the person of the offerer; by which he signifies, that God will regard no works with favor except those the doer of which is already previously accepted and approved by him. And no wonder; for man sees things which are apparent, but God looks into the heart, (1 Samuel 16:7) therefore, he estimates works no otherwise than as they proceed from the fountain of the heart. Whence also it happens, that he not only rejects but abhors the sacrifices of the wicked, however splendid they may appear in the eyes of men. For if he, who is polluted in his soul, by his mere touch contaminates, with his own impurities, things otherwise pure and clean, how can that but be impure which proceeds from himself?” So what was it that caused God to look on in favor of Able and disfavor of Cain?  While I have heard time and again that the reason was because Cain didn’t bring an animal sacrifice, scripture does not explicitly state that.  If we turn back to Hebrews 11 and look at the context, I think we could come to a different conclusion.

Hebrews 11:6b states: “for he who comes to God must believe that He is.”  According to F. F. Bruce, “Belief in the invisible spiritual order involves, first and foremost, belief in him who is ‘King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God’ (1 Tim 1:17); and belief in God carries with it necessarily belief in his word.  It is not belief in the existence of a God that is meant, but belief in the existence of the God who once declared his will to the fathers through the prophets and in these last days has spoken in his Son.” Basically, we have to have a correct view of God.  This is where Cain failed.  He, just like many today, invented God in his own image, which is why his offering was rejected.

What is amazing is that Cain had a discourse with God.  He actually talked with God.  But Cain did not believe what God had revealed Himself to be.  Paul makes this same indictment in Romans 1:18-31.  God’s wrath is revealed to man because men suppress the truth of God’s righteousness.  God’s righteousness is evident because God made it evident!  But because man refuses to see God as He is, Paul says 3 times that “God gave them over.” 

Abraham SacrificeIn Hebrews 11:8, we start reading about Abraham and his faith.  Think about it for a moment; God told Abraham to take his son, his only son, the son who was to be the heir of Abraham that would be a blessing to the nations, and sacrifice him.  The next day, according to Genesis 22:3, Abraham set off to obey the command of the Lord.  As Abraham and Isaac walked alone up Mount Moriah, Isaac asked where the offering was and Abraham said, by faith, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.”  Abraham, even with all his faults and sins, had a proper perspective of who God is and that God is faithful to what He had revealed about himself.  Even to the point of believing that God would resurrect Isaac if need be to fulfill His promise to Abraham.

I say all of this to say that our perspective of God needs to be faithful and true to what God has revealed about Himself in His Word.  If we major on just one attribute to the detriment of all that are revealed in Scripture, we will have a flawed view of God.  There are those that say God is a God of love, and He is.  But love requires justice.  There are those who say that God is a God of blessings, and again, He is.  But He is also a God who is ruthless in His desire to be glorified and honored and He will strip everything away if that is what needs to be done so that one might acknowledge Him properly. Nebuchadnezzar, learned this by spending 7 years living like a beast of the field only to finally acknowledge and bless the “Most High” (Dan 4:34-35).

God is sovereign and He will share his glory with no other.  We who call upon his name must realize this and the implications that come along with it.  We must study the attributes of God!  We must acknowledge that at times the attributes of God are not easy to accept and cause us to chafe.  But, to ignore them is to our peril.  So many times we think ignorance is bliss and sometimes that is true.  But when it comes to eternity, ignorance will lead you straight into hell.  God has revealed himself to man and for man to remain willfully ignorant is insanity, which, by definition, is what most people in this world are.


[1] O’Brien, P. T. The Letter To The Hebrews. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010. 403. Print.

A special thanks goes out to Pastor Kent Harding of Sovereign Grace Reformed Church for graciously proofing this for me!

Daily Roundup

God’s Amazing Grace Part 2– Charles Quarles looks at the theology behind John Newton’s hymn.

Ligonier’s $5 Friday Sale – Ligonier has a lot of good deals today, one is Steve Larson’s book The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards.  I have read this book and it is very good.  Head on over and check out the deals.

The Man Behind the Curtain – A 22 minute sermon from Charles Roberts from Acts 13:13-33.  This is the Apostle Paul’s first sermon and no less than 16 times, Paul shows the sovereignty of God in history.

Fellowship and Conversation – An article on small group fellowship by Mike Riccardi.

How to Respond to a Complement After a Sermon – Brian Croft offers some more advice to Pastors.  If you are a Pastor, this is a site you should check out frequently as Pastor Croft offers some really good insight.

More Important Than Knowing God – Is there anything in this life more important than knowing God?  Yes there is!

Quote:  Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.  – C H Spurgeon