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The Glorious Gospel A Sermon
Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 21, 1858, by the REV. C. H. Spurgeon at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." 1 Timothy 1:15 .
I SUPPOSE that the message delivered by God's servants to the people must always be called "the burden of the Lord." When the old prophets came forth from their Master, they had such dooms, and threatenings, and lamentations, and woe to preach, that their countenances were wan with sorrow, and their hearts heavy within them. They usually commenced their discourses by announcing, "The burden of the Lord, the burden of the Lord." But now, our message is no heavy one. No threatening and no thunders compose the theme of the gospel minister. All is mercy; love is the sum and substance of our gospel love undeserved; love to the very chief of sinners. But it is still a burden to us. So far as the matter of our preaching is concerned, it is our joy and our delight to preach it; but if others feel as I feel now, they will all acknowledge it to be a hard matter to preach the gospel. For now I am sore vexed, and my heart is troubled, not concerning what I have to preach, but how I shall preach it. What if so good a message should fail because of so ill an ambassador? What if my hearers should reject this saying which is worthy of all acceptation, because I may announce it with lack of earnestness? Surely surely such a supposition is enough to draw the tears to the eyes of any man! But may God in his mercy prevent a consummation so fearfully to be dreaded; and, however I may now preach, may this Word of God commend itself to every man's conscience; and may many of you now gathered together, who have never as yet find to Jesus for refuge, by the simple preaching of the Word, now be persuaded to come in, that you may taste and see that the Lord is good. We shall have two heads: first there is the text; then there is a double commendation appended to the text "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation." 1. There is first of all, the Saviour. And in explaining the Christian religion, this is where we must begin. The person of the Saviour is the foundation-stone of our hope. Upon that person depends the usefulness of our gospel. Should someone arise and preach a Saviour, who was man, he would be unworthy of our hopes, and the salvation preached would be inadequate to what we need. Should another preach salvation by an angel, our sins are so heavy that an angelic atonement would have been insufficient; and therefore his gospel totters to the ground. I repeat it, upon the person of the Saviour rests the whole of the salvation. If he be not able, if he be not commissioned to perform the work, then indeed, the work itself is worthless to us, and falls short of its design. But, men and brethren, when we preach the gospel, we need not stop and stammer. We have to show you this day such a Saviour that earth and heaven could not show his fellow. He is one so loving, so great, so mighty, and so well adapted to all our needs, that it is evident enough that he was prepared of old to meet our deepest wants. We know that Jesus Christ who came into the world to save sinners was God; and that long before his descent to this lower world, he was adored by angels as the Son of the Highest. When we preach the Saviour to you, we tell you that although Jesus Christ was the Son of man, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, yet was he eternally the Son of God, and hath in himself all the attributes which constitute perfect Godhead. What more of a Saviour can any man want than God? Is not he who made the heavens able to purge the soul? If he of old stretched the curtains of the skies, and made the earth, that man should dwell upon it, is he not able to rescue a sinner from the destruction that is to come? When we tell you he is God, we have at once declared his omnipotence and his infinity; and when these two things work together, what can be impossible? Let God undertake a work, it cannot meet with failure. Let him enter into an enterprise, and it is sure of its accomplishment. Since, then, Christ Jesus the man was also Christ Jesus the God, in announcing the Saviour, we have the fullest confidence that we are offering you something that is worthy of all acceptation. Pause here, my soul, and read this o'er again: He is the anointed Saviour. God the Father from before all worlds anointed Christ to the office of a Saviour of men; and, therefore, when I behold my Redeemer coming from heaven to redeem man from sin, I note that he does not come unsent, or uncommissioned. He has his Father's authority to back him in his work. Hence, there are two immutable things whereon our soul may rest, there is the person of Christ, divine in itself; there is the anointing from on high, giving to him the stamp of a commission received from Jehovah his Father. O sinner, what greater Saviour dost thou want than he whom God anointed? What more canst thou require than the eternal Son of God to be thy ransom, and the anointing of the Father to be the ratification of the treaty? 2. Now. the second point is the sinner. If we had never heard this passage before, or any of similar import, I can suppose that the most breathless silence would reign over this place if for the first time I should commence to read them in your hearing, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save " I know how you would thrust foreward your heads. I know how you would put your hand against your ear, and look as if you would hear with the eye as well as with the ear, to know for whom the Saviour died. Every heart would say, whom did he come to save? And if we had never heard the message before, how would our hearts palpitate with fear lest the character described should be one unto which it would be impossible for us to attain! Oh, how pleasant it is to hear again that one word which describes the character of those Christ came to save: "He came into the world to save sinners." Monarch, there is here no distinction; princes, he hath not singled you out to be the objects of his love; but beggars and the poor shall taste his grace. Ye learned men, ye masters of Israel, Christ does not say he came specially to save you; the unlearned and illiterate peasant is equally welcome to his grace. Jew, with all thy pedigree of honor, thou art not justified more than the Gentile. Men of Britain, with all your civilization and your freedom, Christ does not say he came to save you: he names not you as the distinguishing class who are the objects of his love no, and ye that have good works, and reckon yourselves saints among men, he doth not distinguish you either. The one simple title, large and broad as humanity itself, is simply this; "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Now, mark, we are to understand this in a general sense when we read it,¨~ viz.¨~, that all whom Jesus came to save are sinners. but if any man asks, may I infer from this that I am saved; we must then put another question to him. To begin then, with the general sense: "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." The men whom Christ came to save were by nature sinners, nothing less and nothing more than sinners. I have often said that Christ came into the world to save awakened sinners. It is quite true; so he did. But those sinners were not awakened sinners when he came to save them they were nothing but "sinners dead in trespasses and sins" when he came to them. It is a common notion that we are to preach that Christ died to save what are called sensible sinners. Now that is true, but they were not sensible sinners when Christ died to save them. He makes them sensible or feeling sinners as the effect of his death. Those he died for are described, without any adjective to diminish the breadth of it, as being sinners, and simply sinners, without any badge of merit or mark of goodness which could distinguish them above their fellows. Sinners! Now, the term includes some of all kinds of sinners. There are some men whose sins appear but little. Trained up religiously, and educated in a moral way, they do not dash into the deeps of sin; they are content to coast along the shores of vice they do not launch out into the depths. Now, Christ hath died for such as these, for many of these have been brought to know and love him. Let no man think, because he is a less sinner than others, that therefore there is less hope for him. Strange it is that some have often thought that. "If I had been a blasphemer," says one, "or injurious, I could have had more hope; though I know I have sinned greatly in my own eyes yet so little have I erred in the eye of the world, that I can scarcely think myself included." Oh, say not so. It says, "Sinners." If thou canst put thyself in that catalogue, whether it be at the top or at the bottom, thou art still within it; and the truth still holds good that those Jesus came to save were originally sinners, and thou being such, thou hast no reason to believe that thou art shut out. Again, Christ died to save sinners of an opposite sort. We have some men whom we dare not describe; it would be a shame to speak of the things which are done by them in private. There have been men who have invented vices of which the devil himself was ignorant until they invented them. There have been men so bestial that the very dog was a more honorable creature than they. We have heard of beings whose crimes have been more diabolical, more detestable, than any action ascribed even to the devil himself. Yet my text does not shut out these. Have we not met with blasphemers so profane that they could not speak without an oath? Blasphemy, which at first was something terrible to them, has now become so common that they would curse themselves before they said their prayers, and swear when they were singing God's praises. It has come to be part of their meat and drink, a thing so natural to them that the very sinfulness of it does not shock them, they so continually do it. As for God's laws, they delight to know them for the mere sake of breaking them. Tell them of a new vice and you will please them. They have become like that Roman emperor whose parasites could never please him better than by inventing some new crime men who have gone head over ears in the Stygian gulf of hellish sin men, who not content with fouling their feet while walking through the mire have lifted up the trap-door with which we seal down depravity, and have dived into the very kennel rebelling in the very filth of human iniquity. But there is nothing in my text which can exclude even these. Many of these shall yet be washed in the Saviour's blood, and be made partakers of the Saviour's love. But I said, and I must return to it if any-one wishes to make a particular application of the text to his own case it is necessary he should read this text in another way. Every man in this place must not infer that Christ came to save him. Those whom Christ came to save were sinners; but Christ will not save all sinners. There are some sinners who undoubtedly will be lost, because they reject Christ. They despise him; they will not repent; they choose their own self-righteousness; they do not turn to Christ, they will have none of his ways and none of his love. For such sinners, there is no promise of mercy, for there remains no other way of salvation. Despise Christ, and you despise your own mercy. Turn away from him, and you have proved that in his blood there is no efficacy for you. Despise him, and die doing so, die without giving your soul into his hands, and you have given a most awful proof that though the blood of Christ was mighty, yet never was it applied to you, never was it sprinkled on your hearts to the taking away of your sins. If, then, I want to know did Christ so die for me that I may now believe in him, and feel myself to be a saved man, I must answer this question; Do I feel to-day that I am a sinner? Not, do I say so, as a compliment, but do I feel it? In my inmost soul is that a truth printed in great capitals of burning fire I am a sinner? Then, if it be so, Christ died for me. I am included in his special purpose. The covenant of grace includes my name in the ancient roll of eternal election. there my person is recorded, and I shall, without a doubt, be saved, if now, feeling myself to be a sinner, I cast myself upon that simple truth, believing it and trusting in it to be my sheet anchor in every time of trouble Come, man and brother, are you not prepared to trust in him. Are not many of you able to say that you feel yourself sinners? Oh, I beseech you, whoever you are, believe this great truth which is worthy of all acceptation Christ Jesus came to save you, I know your doubts, I know your fears, for I have suffered them myself; and the only way whereby I can keep my hopes alive is just this: I am brought every day to the cross; I believe that to my dying hour I shall never have any hope but this
"Nothing in my hands I bring; Simply to thy cross I cling."
And my only reason at this hour for believing Jesus Christ is my Redeemer is just this: I know that I am a sinner: this I feel, and over this I mourn; and though I mourn it much, when Satan tells me that I cannot be the Lord's, I draw from my very mourning the comfortable inference, that inasmuch as he has made me feel I am lost, he would not have done this if he had not intended to save me; and inasmuch as he has given me to see that I belong to that great class of characters whom he came to save, I infer from that, beyond a doubt, that he will save me. Oh, can you do the same, ye sin stricken, weary, sad, and disappointed souls, to whom the world has become an empty thing? Ye weary spirits who have gone your round of pleasure, now exhausted with satiety, or even with disease, are longing to be rid of it oh, ye spirits that are looking for something better than this mad world can ever give you here, I preach to you the blessed Gospel of the blessed God: Jesus Christ the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; dead and buried, and raised again the third day to save you even you, for he came into the world to save sinners. Now, I think I have announced the truth of the text. Certainly, no man can misunderstand me unless he does so intentionally: "Christ Jesus came to save sinners." 1. First, "it is a faithful saying;" that is a commendation to the doubter. Oh, the devil, as soon as he finds men under the sound of the word of God, slips along through the crowd, and he whispers in one heart, "Don't believe it!" and in another, "Laugh at it!" and in another, "Away with it!" And when he finds a person for whom the message was intended one who feels himself a sinner, he is generally doubly in earnest, that he may not believe it at all. I know what Satan said to you, poor friend, over there. He said, "Don't believe it it's too good to be true." Let me answer the devil by God's own words: "This is a faithful saying." It is good, and it is as true as it is good. It is too good to be true if God had not himself said it; but, inasmuch as he said it, it is not too good to be true. I will tell thee why thou thickest it to too good to be true, it is because thou measurest God's corn by thine own bushel. Please to remember, that his ways are not as thy ways, nor his thoughts as thy thoughts; for as the heavens are high above the earth, so are his ways high above thy ways, and his thoughts above thy thoughts. Why, thou thinkest that if any man had offended thee, thou couldst not have forgiven him. Ay, but God is not a man: he can forgive where thou canst not; and where thou wouldst take thy brother by the throat, God would forgive him seventy times seven. Thou dost not know Jesus, or else thou wouldest believe him. We think that we are honoring God when we think great thoughts of our sin. Let us recollect, that while we ought to think very greatly of our own sin, we dishonor God if we think our sin greater than his grace. God's grace is infinitely greater than the greatest of our crimes. There is but one exception that he has ever made, and a penitent cannot be included in that. I beseech you, therefore, get better thoughts of him. Think how good he is, and how great he is; and when you know this to be a true saying, I hope you will thrust Satan away from you, and not think it too good to be true I know what he will say to you next; "Well, if it is true, it is not true to you: it is true to all the world, but not to you. Christ died to save sinners; it is true you are a sinner, but you are not included in it." Tell the devil he is a liar to his face. There is no way of answering him except by straightforward language. We do not believe in the individuality of the existence of the devil, as Martin Luther did. When the devil came to him, he served him as he did other impostors; he turned him out of doors, with a good hard saying. Tell him on the authority of Christ himself, that he is a liar. Christ says, he came to save sinners; the devil says he did not. He says, virtually, he did not, for he declares that he did not come to save you, and you feel that you are a sinner. Tell him he is a liar, and send him about his business. At any rate, never put his testimony in comparison with that of Christ. He looks today on thee from Calvary's cross with those same dear tearful eyes that once wept over Jerusalem. He looks on thee my brother, my sister, and says through these lips of mine, "I came into the world to save sinners." Sinner! wilt thou not believe on him, and trust thy soul in his hands? Wilt thou not say, "Sweet Lord Jesus, thou shalt be our confidence henceforth! 'For thee all other hopes I resign, thou art, thou ever shalt be mine.' " Come, poor timid one, I must endeavor to re-assure you, by repeating again this text: "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." It is a true saying, I cannot have you reject it You say you cannot believe it. Let me ask you, "Do you not believe the Bible?" "Yes," you say, "every word of it." Then, this is one word of it "Jesus came into the world to save sinners." I charge thee by thy honesty as thou sayest, "I believe the Bible," believe this. There it stands. Dost thou believe Jesus Christ? Come, answer me Dost thou think he lieth? Would a God of Truth stoop to deceit? "No," thou sayest, "whatever God says, I believe." It is God that says it to thee, then, in his own book. He died to save sinners.-Come, once again. Dost thou not believe facts? Did not Jesus Christ rise from the dead? Does not that prove his gospel to be authentic? If, then, the gospel be authentic, the whole of what Christ declares to be the gospel must be true. I charge thee, as thou believest his resurrection, believe that he died for sinners, and cast thyself upon this truth. Once again. Wilt thou deny the testimony of all the saints in heaven and of all the saints on earth? Ask every one of them, and they will tell you this is true he died to save sinners. I, as one of the least of his servants, must bear my testimony. When Jesus came to save me, I protest he found nothing good in me. I know of a surety, that there was nothing in me to recommend me to Christ; and if he loved me, he loved me because he would do so; for there was nothing loveable, nothing that he could desire in me. What I am, I am by his grace; he made me what I am. But a sinner he found me at first, and his own sovereign love was the only reason for his choice. Ask all the people of God, and they will all say the same. 2. And, now, to close. The second commendation of the text is to the careless and to the anxious too To the careless one this text is worthy of all acceptation. Oh, man, thou scornest it. I saw thee curl thy lip in derision. The story was badly told, and therefore thou didst scorn it. Thou saidst in thine heart, "What is that to me? If this be what the man preaches, I care not to hear it: if this be the gospel it is nothing." Ah, sir, it is something, though thou knowest it not. It is worthy of thy acceptation: the thing I have preached, however poor the way in which it is preached, is well worthy of thy attention I care not what orator may lecture to you, he can never have a subject greater than mine. Damosthenes himself, might stand here, or Cicero, his later compeer, they could never have a weightier subject. Though a child should tell you of it, the subject might well excuse him, for it is so important. Man it is not your house that is in danger, it is not your body only, it is your soul I beseech you, by eternity, by its dreadful terrors, by the horrors of hell, by that fearful word, "Eternity Eternity," I beseech thee as a man, thy brother, one who loves thee, and who would fain snatch thee from the burning, I beseech thee do not despise thine own mercies; for this is worthy of thee, man, worthy of all thy attention, and worthy of thy heartiest acceptation. Art thou wise? This is more worthy than thy wisdom. Art thou rich? This is worthier than all thy wealth. Art thou famous? This is worthier than all thy honor. Art thou princely? This is worthier than thine ancestry, or than all thy goodly heritage. The thing I preach is the worthiest thing under heaven, because it will last thee when an things else fade away. It will stand by thee when thou hast to stand alone. In the hour of death it will plead for thee when thou hast to answer the summons of justice at God's bar. And it shall be thine eternal consolation through never ending ages. It is worthy of thy acceptation. I must let you go now; but my spirit feels as if it would linger here. Strange it should be that many men should not care for their own souls, when your minister this day cares for you. What matters it to me whether men be lost or saved? Shall I be any the better for your salvation? Assuredly there is little gain there. And yet I feel more for you, many of you, than you feel for yourselves. Oh, strange hardening of the heart, that a man should not care for his men salvation, that he should, without a thought, reject the most precious truth. Stay, sinner stay, ere thou turnest from thine own mercy stay, once more perhaps this shall be thy last warning, or worse, it may be the last warning thou shalt ever feel. Thou feelest it now. Oh I beseech thee quench not the Spirit. Go not forth from this place to talk with idle gossip on thy way home. Go not forth to forget what manner of man thou art. But hasten to thy home; seek thy chamber; shut to the door; fall on thy face by thy bedside; confess thy sin; cry unto Jesus, tell him thou art a wretch undone without his sovereign grace, tell him thou has heard this morning that he came to save sinners, and that the thought of such a love as that hath made thee lay down the weapons of thy rebellion, and that thou art desirous to be his. There on thy face plead with him, and say unto him, "Lord save me, or I perish." "The Lord bless you all for Jesus' sake. Amen.
A Great Gospel for Great Sinners
A Sermon Intended for reading on Lord's-Day, May 3rd, 1885, Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON, At the Newington, On June 2nd, 1884,
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Timothy 1:15-17 .
WHEN Paul wrote this ever-memorable text, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," he placed it in connection with himself. I would have you carefully notice the context. Twelfth verse: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." You see, the apostle had spoken of himself, and then it was that the Holy Spirit put it into his mind to write of the glorious salvation of which he was so notable a subject. Truly it was a seasonable and suggestive connection in which to place this glorious gospel text. What he preached to others was to be seen in himself. Paul went to heaven years ago, but his evidence is not vitiated by that fact; for a truthful statement is not affected by the lapse of time. If a statement was made yesterday, it is just as truthful as if you were hearing it to-day; and if it were made, as this was, eighteen hundred years ago, yet, if true then (and nobody disputed it in Paul's day), it is true now. The facts recorded in the gospels are as much facts now as ever, and they ought to have the same influence upon our minds as they had upon the minds of the apostles. At this moment the statement that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners has Paul still at the back of it. "He being dead yet speaketh." Oh, you who are burdened with your sins, I want you to see Saul of Tarsus before you at this moment, and to hear him say, with penitent voice, in your presence, "The Lord Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Doubt not the statement, for the man is the evidence of it. He who saved Paul can save you: yea, he is willing now to display his power upon you. Be not disobedient to the heavenly message. The run of thought at this time will be, first, concerning those who are the chief of sinners secondly, we will enquire why God has saved them; and thirdly, what they say when they are saved. Some are the chief of sinners in the same way as the apostle Paul, for they have persecuted the church of God. Paul, who was then called Saul, had given his vote against Stephen; and when Stephen was stoned, he kept the clothes of them that murdered him. He felt that blood lying upon his soul long afterward, and he bemoaned it. Would not you, if you had been a helper at the murder of some child of God, feel that you were among the chief of sinners? If you had been willingly and willfully, maliciously and eagerly, a helper in putting a man of God like Stephen to death, you would write yourself down as a sinner of crimson dye? Why, I think that I should say, "God may forgive me, but I will never forgive myself." It would seem such a horrid crime to lie upon one's soul. Yet this was merely a beginning. Saul was like a leopard, who, having once tasted blood, must always have his tongue in it. His very breath was threatening, and his delight was slaughter. He harassed the people of God: he made great havoc of the saints: he compelled them, he says, to blaspheme: he had them beaten in the synagogues, driven from city to city, and even put to death. This must have remained upon his heart as a dark memory, even after the Lord Jesus Christ had fully forgiven him. When he knew, as Paul did know, that he was a justified man through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, yet he must always have felt a smiting at his heart to think that these innocent lambs had been worried by him; that for no other reason but that they were lovers of the Crucified, he had panted for their blood. This matter of deadly persecution placed Saul head and shoulders above other sinners. This was the top-stone of the pyramid of his sin, "because I persecuted the church of Christ." I thank God that there is no man here who has that particular form of sin upon his conscience in having actually put to death or joined in the slaughter of any child of God. The laws of our country have happily prevented your being stained with that foul offense, and I bless the Lord that it is so. Yet if there should be such among those who are hearing these words, or among those who shall one day read them, I must confess that they are, indeed, numbered among the chief of sinners, and I pray God to grant that they may obtain mercy as Saul did. I have no doubt that there may be some of that kind here; and, if there are, I can only pray that the story of Saul of Tarsus may be repeated in them by boundless grace. May they even yet come to preach the gospel which now they despise. It is no new thing for the priest to be converted to Christ. It is no new thing for the opposer to become the advocate, and to be all the better and more powerful a pleader because of the mischief which he formerly did. Oh that the Lord would turn his foes into friends! God send it! For Christ's sake may he send it now! Now, dear friends, there are other chiefs among sinners who do not go in for these grosser sins at all. Let me mention them, for in this line I shall have to place myself and many of you. Those are among the chief of sinners who have sinned against great light, and against the influences of holy instruction, and gracious example. Children of godly parents, who have been brought up and instructed in the fear of God from their youth, are among the chief of sinners if they turn aside from the way of life. When they transgress, there is a heavy weight about their fault, which is not to be found in the common sin of the children of the slums, or the arabs of the gutter. The offspring of the degraded know no better, poor souls, and hence their transgressions are sins of ignorance; but those who do know better, when they transgress, transgress with an emphasis. Their sin is as a talent of lead; and it shall hang about their necks like a millstone. I remember how this came home to my heart when I was convinced of my sin. I had not engaged in any of the grosser vices, but then I had not been tempted to them, but had been carefully guarded from vicious influences. But I lamented that I had been disobedient to my parents, proud in spirit, forgetful of God's commands: I knew better knew better from the very first, and this put me in my own estimation among the chief of sinners. It had cost me much to do evil, for I had sinned against the clearest light. Especially is this the case when the possession of knowledge is accompanied by much tenderness of conscience. There are some of you unconverted people, who, when you do wrong, feel that you have done wrong, and feel it keenly too, even though no one rebukes you for it. You cannot be unjust, or hasty in temper, or faulty in speech, or break the Sabbath, or do anything that is forbidden, without your conscience troubling you. You know what it is to go to bed and lie awake in misery, after some questionable amusement, or after having spoken too frivolously. Yours is a tender conscience; do not violate it, or you will be doubly guilty. When God puts the bit into your mouth, if you try to get it between your teeth, and it does not check you at all, you must mind what you are at, for you may be left to dash onward to destruction. "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." It puts men among the chief of sinners when against light and against conscience they deliberately choose the way of evil, and leave the commandments of the Lord. Yet if you be this day the chief of sinners, do not despair, nor turn away in sullen anger; for we are going to say to you at this hour, in the name of the merciful God, that his Son, Jesus Christ, has come into the world to save sinners, even the very chief. Especially must I rank him among the chief of sinners who has preached falsehood, who has denied the deity of Christ who has undermined the inspiration of Scripture who has struggled against the faith, fought against the atonement, and done evil even as he could in the scattering of scepticism. He must take his place among the ringleaders in diabolical mischief: he is a master destroyer, a chosen apostle of the prince of darkness. Oh, that he might be brought by sovereign grace to be among the foremost teachers of that faith which hitherto he has destroyed! I think that we should do well as Christian people if we prayed more for any who make themselves notorious by their infidelity. If we talked less bitterly against them, and prayed more sweetly for them, good would come of it. Of political argument against atheists we have had enough, let us carry the case into a higher court, and plead with God about them. If we use the grand artillery of heaven by importunate prayer, we should be using much better weapons than are commonly employed. God help us to pray for all false teachers that they may be converted to God, and so display the omnipotence of his love. II. Now, secondly, WHY ARE THE CHIEF OF SINNERS SO OFTEN SAVED? The Lord Jesus Christ, when he went into heaven, took with him one of the chief of sinners as a companion: the dying thief entered Paradise the self-same day as our Lord. After our Lord Jesus had gone to heaven, so far as I know, he never did save more than one person by his own immediate instrumentality; and that one person was this very apostle Paul, who has given us our text. To him our Lord spake personally from heaven, saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" To him he revealed himself by the way, and called him to be his apostle, even to this man who truthfully called himself the chief of sinners. It is wonderful to think that it should be so: but grace delights in dealing with great and glaring sin, and putting away the crying crimes of great offenders. Why does he do it? The apostle says, in the sixteenth verse, "For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering." What, is that his reason for saving a sinner? It is that he may show in that sinner his long-suffering, revealing his patience and forgiveness. In a great sinner like Paul he shows all his long-suffering, not little grains of it, nor portions of it, but all his longsuffering. Is Jesus Christ willing to show forth all his long-suffering? Does he delight to unveil all his love? Yes; for remember that he calls his mercy his riches: "he is rich in mercy." I do not find that he calls his power his riches, but he calls his grace his riches, "in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." Oh, dear friends, the Lord, who is rich in mercy, seeks a treasury in which to put his riches; he wants a casket for the sacred jewellery of his love; and these atrocious criminals, these great offenders, these who think themselves black as hell, these are the very men in whom there is space for his rare jewels of goodness. Where sin has abounded there is elbow-room for the infinite mercy of the living God. Ought you not to be encouraged, if you feel yourself greatly guilty, that God delights to show forth all his patience by saving great sinners? Will you not at once seek that all long-suffering may be shown in your case? Believe on the Lord Jesus, and it shall be so. Then God can save me. I came to that conclusion a year ago, and putting it to the test, I found it true. Dear fellow sinners, come to the same conclusion! Who are you? No, I do not ask you to tell me. I do not want to know. God knows. But I want you to come to this conclusion, "If Paul is a specimen of saved ones, then why should not I be saved? If Paul had been unique, a production quite by himself, then we might justly have doubted as to ourselves; but since he is a pattern, we may all hope to see the Lord's long-suffering repeated in ourselves." Nowadays, by the Parcels' Post, people are sending you patterns of all sorts of things, and many articles are bought according to sample. When you buy from a pattern you expect the goods to be like the pattern. So God sends us Paul as a pattern of his great mercy to great sinners. He thus says, in effect, "That is the kind of thing I do. I take this rough, bad material of the chief of sinners, and I renew it, and show forth all my mercy in it. This is what I am prepared to do with you." Poor soul, will you not accept the mercy of God? Enter into this salvation business with the Lord, that you, too, like the apostle, being a sinner, may become like him in obtaining the glorious salvation which is in Christ Jesus, who came into the world to save sinners. I am talking very plainly and simply to you; but if you love your own souls you will be all the better pleased to listen. I do not want to amuse you, but to see you saved. Do, I pray you, bend your minds to this subject, and learn that there is good hope for the worst of you if you will cry unto the Lord. "But I belong to such a wicked family," cries one. Oh, yes; and many have been saved who belonged to the most depraved and degraded of families. They have entered into relationship with Christ, and their own base condition has been swallowed up in his glory. The children of criminals when converted belong to the family of God. "To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." III. I must close by dwelling a moment on the third head, which is this WHAT THE CHIEF OF SINNERS SAY WHEN THEY ARE SAVED. What they say is recorded in the text. It reads like a hymn: "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." See, the first word is "Now." As soon as ever they are saved they begin praising the Lord. They cannot endure to put off glorifying God. Some one might whisper to them, "You will praise God when you get to heaven." "No," replies the gracious soul, "I am going to praise him now. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, be glory for ever and ever." Grateful love cannot be restrained, it is like fire in the bones. Our heart would break for love if it could not find a means of expressing itself at once. Notice what titles Paul here heaps together. First, he calls the Lord Jesus Christ a King. "Now unto the King eternal." Or apply it to God the Ever-Blessed, in his sacred unity, if you will: he calls the Lord King, for he would give him the loftiest name, and pay him the lowliest homage. He calls him a King, for he had found him so; for it is a king that distributes life and death, a king that pardons rebels, a king that reigns and rules over men. Jesus was all this to Paul, and much more, and so he must needs give him the royal title: he cannot speak of him as less than majestic. If Jesus is not King to all the world, at least he is King to the man whose sins have been forgiven him. "Now," says he, "unto the King eternal be honor and glory for ever and ever." Then he calls him the King immortal. He is the King that ever lives by his own power, and is therefore able to give life to dead souls. Blessed be the name of the Savior that he died for sinners, but equally blessed be his name that he ever liveth to make intercession for sinners, and is therefore able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him. The quickened, raised-up spirit cries aloud, "Glory be unto the King immortal, for he has made me immortal by the touch of his life-giving hand!" Because he lives, we shall live also. Our life is hidden in him, and throughout eternity we shall reign with him. "Now, now, now, now, now, now, now," that is the word for every saved soul. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, be endless glory. Do you not respond to the call by immediate praise? Do you not say, "Awake up my glory! Awake, psaltery and harp"? Oh, for a seraph's coal to touch these stammering lips! As a sinner saved by my Lord and King, I would fain pour out my life in a continual stream of praise to my redeeming Lord. To him be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. Unto him be glory on earth and glory in heaven, honor from all of us poor imperfect beings, and glory from us when he shall have made us perfectly meet to behold his face. Come, lift up your hearts, ye saved ones! Begin at once the songs which shall never cease. The saints shall never have done singing, for they remember that they were sinners. Come, poor sinner, out of the depths extol him who descended into the depths for you! Chief of sinners, adore him who is to you the Chief among ten thousand, and the Altogether Lovely! You black sinners, who have gone to the very brink of damnation by your abominable sins, rise to the utmost heights of enthusiastic joy in Jesus your Lord! Put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and all manner of sin and of blasphemy shall be forgiven unto you; and at the receipt of such a pardon you shall burst out into new-made doxologies to God your Savior. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." O ye guiltiest of the guilty, the apostle Paul speaks to you, and stands before you as the bearer of God's white flag of mercy. Surrender to the King eternal, and there is pardon for you, and deliverance from the wrath to come. Thirty-five years Paul lived in sin. Twenty years after that, when he was older than I am, he wrote these words, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." Is there not some thirty-five years' old fellow here to-night who had better turn over a new leaf? Is there not some woman here of that age who has had more than enough of sin? Is it not time that you turned unto the Lord and found a new and better life? Turn them, Lord: turn them, and they shall be turned! Make them live and they shall live unto thee, world without end. Amen and Amen.
Portion of Scripture read before Sermon Acts 9:1-31 .
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29