Click here to get started today!
The Way to God
March 27th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6 .
There are many men in this world, who so far from coming to God, are going as far as they can from him. Nothing would delight such men so much as to be clean rid of his presence, and to be entirely escaped from the bounds of his dominions. They would be content to make their bed in hell, if they could thus find a satisfactory answer to the question, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" Their hearts are at enmity with God; they hate his words and his ways. They know that God is angry with them; and they in return are angry with God. There is another class, who are but very little in advance of these. It cannot be said of them, with the same emphatic meaning, that they actually hate God, but nevertheless they run from him. Perhaps they would indignantly repel a charge of abhorring God, but nevertheless, it is true of them, that they live in utter disregard of him. They say in their hearts "No God." God is not in all their thoughts. They may have sublime thoughts of nature, but few yearnings after him who made nature. They think much of time, and sense, and of the things that are below; but as to eternity and its substantial realities, the things that are unseen and everlasting, these they scarce can think upon. "Beware, ye that forget God," for your state is no better than the state of those I first described. "The wicked shall be turned into hell." those who hate God shall feel his torment, but so shall their companions, for thus runs the text, "The wicked shall be cast into hell with all the nations that forget God." It is not needful that you should hate God; that you should go to war with him in order to destroy yourself; the simple neglect of him is enough to ruin you. Thus has the apostle put it, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" Ye need not fly upon the thick bosses of Jehovah's buckler, ye need not rush upon the point of his glittering spear. Stand still and do nothing; regard him not; shut your eyes to his existence, and engross yourself with the grovelling toys of earth, and ye have as surely destroyed yourselves, as if ye had defied him to his face. Neglect of God is the open gate of damnation. To forget God is to ensure a portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. There is to be found, however, upon the face of the earth a third class of men, who would not like to be classed among the enemies of God and who can truly say that they are not utterly indifferent with regard to his favor. They would prefer to be numbered with those who are seeking God. Their desire is to go to their Father. They may not as yet, perhaps, be brought to that only way at coming which he has ordained, but still their profession is that they desire to worship God, and to come before him with thanksgiving, and show themselves glad in him. It is to this very character, one that has so much that is hopeful in it, that I shall address myself particularly this morning; but indeed, to every one in this assembly, would I desire to preach the great truth of the text. No man desire he never so earnestly, labor he never so diligently no man cometh unto the Father, but by Jesus Christ. When Adam was perfect in the garden of Eden, God walked with him in the cool of the day. God and man held the most intimate and affectionate intercourse with one another. Man was a happy creature, God was a condescending Creator, and the two met together and held sweet converse and communion. But from the moment when Adam touched the forbidden fruit, the way from God to man became blocked up, the bridge was broken down, a great gulph was fixed, so that if it had not been for the divine plan of grace, we could not have ascended to God, neither could God in justice come down to us. Happily, however, the everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure, had provided for this great catastrophe. Christ Jesus the Mediator had in old eternity been ordained to become the medium of access between man and God. If you want a figure of him, remember the memorable dream of Jacob. He laid him down in a solitary place, and he dreamed a dream, which had in it something more substantial than anything he had seen with his eyes wide open. He saw a ladder, the foot whereof rested upon earth, and the top thereof reached to heaven itself. Upon this ladder he saw angels ascending and descending. Now this ladder was Christ. Christ in his humanity rested upon the earth, he is bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. In his divinity he reaches to the highest heaven, for he is very God of very God. When our prayers ascend on high they must tread the staves of this ladder, and when God's blessings descend to us, the rounds of this marvellous ladder must be the means of their descent. Never has a prayer ascended to God save through Jesus Christ. Never has a blessing come down to man save through the same Divine Mediator. There is now a highway, a way of holiness wherein the redeemed can walk to God, and God can come to us. The king's highway,
"The way the holy prophets went The road that leads from banishment."
Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life. Let us think for a moment of Jesus Christ as the way to God. The reason why man cannot come to God as he did in the garden is, that God is the same, but man is changed. God is as affectionate and as condescending as ever, but man is unholy and impure. Now, God is as pure as he is affectionate, while God is love it is just as true that God is infinitely just and holy. His holy eyes cannot endure iniquity. If, then, a sinful creature could obtain access to God, if a rebellious creature could come into the immediate presence of the Most High, the effect must be disastrous in the extreme, for it would be a necessity of God's nature that he must utterly devour the creature in which he sees sin to be. Come into the presence of God, O sinner, and thou mightest as well march into a consuming fire. As Nebuchadnezzar's furnace burned the men who came to throw in the three holy children so must God, the consuming fire, burn and destroy us, even if we approach him with our prayers and thanksgivings, were it not for the interposition of Jesus Christ the Mediator. I say, this is a necessity of his nature. God is necessarily just, and justice cannot endure a sin. God is necessarily pure and holy: he might sooner cease to be God than cease to be pure. Now, the approach of impurity to him he must repel. Though no laws can bind him, yet the law of his nature never can be broken. His nature is, "I will by no means clear the guilty." He is slow to anger, he is great in power, and he is ready to forgive, but so long as guilt lies unforgiven he is also ready to punish, nay, he must punish or else cease to be. Consequently, no man can come to God as a sinner, unless he comes to him to be utterly destroyed, and that without remedy. You do not wish so to come to God. Happy is it, then, that we are enabled to tell to all our fellow-creatures of a way whereby we can come with joy and gladness to the Father, through Jesus Christ. Now, this morning I shall have to divide my subject into three or four heads, and notice. I. Some men have a desire to come to God in worship, but there are many who desire to come to him the wrong way. You will sometimes meet with men who say, "Well, I do not go up to a church or chapel it is all ridiculous. I do not read the Bible; I have no faith in Christ; but I spend my Sunday in the open air in that glorious temple which God has built. How divinely can I worship him there, while 'the lark, singing, up to heaven's gate ascends;' while every flower tells me of him whose breath perfumes it, and whose pencil paints; while all the cattle on a thousand hills are lowing forth his his; praise feel that in his temple doth everyone speak of his glory. What need for me to go and hear what you call the gospel, to join in the united song of praise, or bend my knee in prayer? I worship the god of nature," says such a man, "not the God of revelation, but the god of nature." To this man we reply in the words of our text. Your thanksgiving and your praise are unacceptable to the God you worship, for that God has declared that no man cometh to him except through his Son, Jesus Christ. If then, you reject the way of access, and persist in bringing your prayers and your thanksgivings to him in a way which he does not acknowledge, remember, this shalt thou have as the answer to thy prayers and thy thanksgivings; thou shalt lie down in sorrow when God shall come to judge thee at the last great day. The true Christian can "go from nature up to natures God," because he has come from nature's God down to nature. No man can climb the steeps, and "go from nature up to nature's God," unless he has first descended. God must take thee up into the mount where he dwells, first, and then thou canst come down, as Moses did from the top of Sinai; but, until he hath caught thee up thither, thy weary feet shall be exhausted, and thy strength decay, ere thou canst reach the God of nature through his works. Not my friend, you may be very sincere, as you imagine, in all your prayers and thanksgivings offered to the unpropitiated God of nature, in your garden, or in the fields, but, sincere though they be, they miss the mark; they are not shot from a bow which is strong enough to carry them to their desired target. They miss the mark, I say, and they shall fall back on thine own head to thy injury, but they shall not reach the throne of God. But I observe here, that those men who talk about natural religion, as far as I know them, have no religion at all. I have noticed that the people who say, "I can worship God without attending any religious service, or believing in Jesus," do not really do so. I have sometimes had an opportunity on a Sunday of seeing many worshippers of the god of nature come down the lane where I reside. They consist, for the most part, of men who carry cages with them in which to catch birds on the common. There is another very respectable confraternity of men, who go to a boxing-place somewhere about there, where they spend their day in the bowling alley, and divers pugilistic encounters. These might adopt the cry of our genteel sinners, "We don't want to go into a church or chapel: we spend our Sunday in the worship of the god of nature." And very fine worship it is. I mostly find that those people who worship the "god of nature" worship the god of fallen nature that is, the devil: not the God of the glorious nature which is spread about us in the roaring sea, the rolling flood and the blooming meads no, for the most part, the men who talk like that, know in their own conscience, that the god they worship, is their belly, their own lusts; and they glory in their shame. Don't believe all the nonsense that you hear from the Sunday league and all that, when they talk about worshipping the god of nature. Do they do it? Follow any of them into their privacy, and see whether any of this fine devotion of theirs, has any existence whatever, and I think you will discover at once, that they are greater hypocrites than the men they call hypocrites. But again, is it not rather a suspicious circumstance, that these men who are so much ahead of us, that they worship the god of nature prefer the company, according to their own confession, of sheep, and bullocks and horses, and skylarks, to the presence of the saints of God? It looks rather suspicious, when a man finds more congenial company in a sheepfold than he does in an assembly of intelligent beings. It looks as if his own mind were brutish, when he can never get his spirit wound up into devotion till he gets into the midst of brutes. For my part, I feel more able to worship God in the great congregation, in the assembly of the saints, than anywhere else: "In the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem; praise ye the Lord!" I know that all his works praise him. It is my joy to feel, that the changing seasons are but the varied God: that spring speaks of his tenderness and love, summer of his majesty, autumn of his bounty, and winter of his awful power: but still I know, that in his sanctuary I behold his glory yet more fully, and there I discover him to my heart's solace and delight. The true Christian can worship God in nature; but a man who has not learnt to worship God in his house, I am quite sure has not learnt to worship God anywhere. Natural religion is just a lie; men may say much about it, but it does not exist. Trace these Pharasaic members of the synagogue of Satan to their homes, and you will find that they make this natural religion an excuse for religion. It is an utter impossibility for any man to come to God in worship, save through Jesus Christ. See, then, how my text shuts out of all acceptance with God all those who do not receive Christ to be the Son of God, the Mediator. Men sometimes say, "All are right; whether they are Jews or Gentiles, whatever they may be, they are all right." Now, be it understood once for all, that the religion of Christ gives no heed to such a fancy. It claims for itself alone the solitary throne in the kingdom of religious truth. It uses no chains and racks to obtain an unwilling profession of its faith; but the unbeliever is not flattered with promises of security, but, rather, he is threatened with a doom dreadful beyond all thought. There is not, in this book of God, one single sentence which could lead me to believe that there is a way to God for the Mahomedan, for the Jew, or for any one who does not come to him through Jesus Christ. The religion of Christ is exclusive in this. It declares, that other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, Jesus Christ. It declares that no man can come to God except through Jesus. All the charity of which some men talk is deceitful and valueless. We can have no hope for those who receive not Christ. We pity them, we love them, we pray for them, we plead for them that they may be brought to this; but we dare not deceive them, we dare not tell them that God will hear their prayers, if they will not come to him through Jesus Christ. No, we will be as tolerant as Jesus was, but Jesus himself said, ''He that believeth not must be damned," and whatever thou mayest be, Unitarian, Socinian, infidel, deist, theist, or what-not, however sincere thy prayers, God abhors and hates them if thou dost not offer them through Jesus Christ, the one way between the sinner and God. II. Other men there are who, conselous that they cannot come to God as perfect beings in the crazy of worship, desire to approach him in the way of penitence. But mark, even in the way of penitence, no man can come to God except through Jesus Christ. Those tears in thine eyes, when Jesus the sun of righteousness shines on them, are as diamonds in the esteem of the God of mercy; but even thy tears, and sighs, and groans, cannot prevail with the heart of God, unless they be mingled with a humble faith in Jesus Christ his only Son. In vain thou weepest till thine eyes are red to blindness; in vain thou groanest till thy ribs burst with thine expanding heart of agony, in vain thou kneelest till thy knees are stiff with prayer: God hears thee not, he accepts thee not, until thou makest mention of Jesus the crucified, his Son, the Saviour of mankind. Oh! it is mournful to see how men try to approach God in any way but through Jesus Christ. You have the Romish church putting men to penance, in order that they may so come to God. It was but one day this week I went into a Romish cathedral, and there, to my disgust and horror, I saw poor women on their knees, going entirely round the cathedral having as a penance to pray before a whole set of pictures that were exhibited upon the walls. Well, I thought, if this be acceptable to their God, I am sure it would not be to mine. To give these poor women the rheumatism, or something worse, in order that God might be pleased with them, is the most extraordinary way of going to work that I know of. What a God must theirs be, that is pleased with poor souls when they torture themselves. Behold the monk if he would gratify his god, he must not wash himself; for their god is a god of filth, and according to their own confession, cleanliness is not acceptable to him. Again, he must fast their god is a god of starvation; it is quite clear he is not our God, for he is a God of bounty. The poor monk must flog himself: he must flagellate his poor back till the blood runs down in streams, their god delights in the blood of his creatures, evidently and nothing pleases him so much, according to their own confession, as for his creatures to torture themselves. Happily however, their god has nothing whatever to do with our God. Their god is an old Romish pagan demon that was cursed of old and is cursed now; but our God is a God who takes delight in the happiness of his creatures, who, if there be any merit anywhere, would sooner see it in our happiness than in our sorrow, although, mark you, there is no merit in either. When we come to God in penitence we must bring but one oblation, for there is but one way of offering acceptable penitence to God, and that is through Jesus Christ our Lord. We will imagine there is a man over yonder who is feeling that he has been guilty, but he desires to be forgiven. "Oh!" says he, "I know I am guilty; I feel that I deserve God's wrath. Well, I will promise I will never be drunk again; I will not swear make a resolution that I will be better." Ah! friend; ah! friend! you will never come to God in penitence that way. O man, that way that way of works is a way of death. The very first time thou puttest thy foot on it I can hear the low mutterings of the thunder-curse: "Cursed is every man that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." Go on with thy resolves; try to carry them out; thou shalt find that this road of thine will grow more difficult every day. The more thou dost the more thou wilt have to do; when thou hast climbed a hill, thou wilt see a mountain beyond, when thou hast forded a stream, thou wilt see a sea before thee, and no means of crossing it. The way to heaven through good works would be a very hard one, even if it were a possible one. Conscience is like the horse-leech it always cries, "Give, give, give." Conscience is never satisfied with the best works that we can do; it always wants more. But ah, I remind thee, man, that if thou goest on in that way of works, and seekest to be forgiven through it, thy destruction is as sure as if thou didst run in the way of sin. Mark thee, man, the Jews of old would not accept the righteousness of Christ, and they went about to establish their own righteousness, and would not submit themselves to the righteousness of Christ, and hence they perished, and that without mercy. And so shall you. O turn from that way! God will not receive thee in it; turn from it! then. If you were perfect, and had never broken God's law at all, then might you be saved by the law; but one sin breaks the law to shivers, and thou canst not mend the breach. Thou art lost if thou standest on the footing of works. Come away! then, come away! come to the cross of Christ! There is no way to heaven but by Jesus Christ; come! both from thy works and thy sins; look to him and live; look to him and see thy sins forgiven; look to him, and behold thy penitence accepted, and a gracious answer given. III. There are other men who feel, "Well, we know Jesus must forgive our sins, it is through his sufferings that I must be pardoned; but," say they, "we desire now to be acceptable to God all the days of our life; we will therefore endeavor to come to God in a way in which he shall accept us." Many there are that light upon a way like this, "We will be very scrupulous," say they, "in all our transactions, exact in our dealings with men, and bountiful in our liberality to God; in this way shall we be accepted. Christ," say they, "shall be trusted to take away our sins but we will have the clothing of ourselves with a robe of righteousness; we will let Christ wash us, and wash our works too, if he pleases; but at least we will be the manufacturers of our own virtues and excellencies. God shall accept us through what we do; Jesus shall make up the deficiency he shall darn a hole or two that may occur in the garment, but nevertheless we will stick to the old cloth throughout and though we do hear that our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, yet we will have them washed, and wear them over again, rags though they be." Now, mark, my hearers, as when we come to God first we must bring nothing with us but the blood of Christ, so when we come to him afterwards, we must still bring nothing but the same offering. A guilty sinner, when he approaches God's throne, can never be pardoned, except by pleading the blood once shed by Christ, and the highest saint, the most eminent believer, can no more be accepted by God than the meanest sinner, unless he still pleads the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. The Arminian, despite his denial of it, has in his own mind, a notion that his acceptance with God in some measure depends upon his own actions. Although many Arminian divines say, that they do not believe this, yet they must nevertheless believe it; it lies at the very root and basis of their fallen doctrine. They do believe, that let the Christian fall into sin, God will cast him out of his family, and I say it follows as a necessary influence, that the acceptance of a Christian must on that theory, depend on good works; so that in coming to God he comes through his own good behavior, and not through what Jesus did. Now, mark, this is an egregious falsehood, and as damnable an error as if I were to preach that salvation was entirely by works. There is no part of the Christian's experience in which a Christian can deal with God otherwise than through Christ. At the beginning it is all through Christ; in the middle it is all through Christ; and in the end it must be the same. If it were possible for thee, my brother, to be clean rid of sin, yet thou couldest not come to God except through Christ. When thy faith shall grow into assurance, when the follies of thy life shall all be expunged, when thy character shall be saintly, when thy heart shall be perfectly sanctifed, even then the means of access and the mode of acceptance of thy soul before God will remain unalterable and unchanged. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, the path for the sinner and the way for the saint. No road to God even for the holiest man no road to God's acceptance, but through Jesus, and through Jesus only. Do we not each of us in ourselves at times an aptness to come to God in some other way than through Jesus Christ? "Now you have preached well," says Satan; "you have been successful in such-and-such a labor. Ah!" says the devil, "how liberal you have been in such-and-such a cause. Now go to God in prayer." And we go, and we pray with such assurance; we think we are sure to be heard. But perhaps without our knowing it, there is lurking at the bottom of our excellent fluency in prayer an evil thought that surely God will hear us, for we have been so diligent, and liberal. And on the other hand, when we have been committing sin, when conscience chides us, then we go to the throne, and we are half afraid, because we say God will not hear us. Is not that still pride? Why, were we ever better than we are now? Were we not always, and are we not now, as bad as ever we can be? In ourselves is there anything that can commend us to God? Is not the very fact that when in our good state we come boldly, and when in our low state we come timidly, proof that there is lurking in us a secret suspicion that we are to come to God by something that is in us? Oh! if we could but learn this truth and stand to it, that our acceptance with God depends upon nothing that we do or can do, nothing that we can think, or feel, or be, but depends wholly and entirely and solely upon what Jesus is, and what he has done, and what he has suffered, let us once get that thought and it is in the text we shall then be able, by the divine assistance of the Holy Spirit, to come to God at all times with boldness, knowing that we were so coming through Christ, and therefore we might always come boldly to the throne of grace. Have I here to-day? I am sure I have some timid soul that is afraid to come to God through Christ? Ah! my dear brother, I know thy fear, and I can pity thee; but I know thy fear, and I can blame thee too. What! art thou afraid to come to God through Christ, and dost thou want some one to speak to Christ for thee? Oh! foolish heart! You do need a Mediator in coming to God, but you do not need any in coming to Christ. Go to him just as you are, without making yourself any better; go straight away, rags, and sin, and leprosy, and blotches, and sores, and all, straight away to him. Do not be afraid that the Father will reject you if you come alone through him. Let me lead you my poor timid brother to this way. Come with me. Do you see yon cross? Do you mark that glorious man dying on it in agonies that cannot be described? Do you not think that those sufferings are enough to expiate the wrath of God? Why, hear him! Will you not believe what he says? "It is finished!" he cries ere he gives up the ghost. Now, if Jesus thought it finished, do you not think it so? If he himself thought that he had done enough, is not that enough for you that is enough for him? Come boldly, for Jesus smiles upon you. His blood is dropping; his heart is still flowing with the blood and water. Come! none ever were cast out; shalt thou be the first? Those arms that are nailed to the cross are wide open, as if they would show thee that they can receive the biggest of sinners. Those feet that are nailed to the cross are fastened there as if they meant to stop there, and wait to be gracious to thee. O see you his pierced side, it seems as if it said to thee, "My heart is not hard to reach. See there is a straight road to it opened by the Roman spear. Come, breathe thy sighs into my heart, and I will hear and answer." Come, soul! Come to this way. How safe it is, for o'er it hangs the banner of Jehovah's love; and on the ground is the bloodmark of the Saviour's footsteps. This gory pathway to the throne of God, I now entreat thee to enter. Jesus made it; Jesus smoothed it; Jesus dyed it with his blood. The stain ran; all along a purple clue. to guide thee through the labyrinths of all thy doubts and fears. Come, come away poor soul! Come put thy trust alone in Jesus, and then, thou need'st not come to God the Father with trembling and with dismay. God help thee, timid one, God help thee. Thou hast no need to despond: Jesus saith he will cast out none that come to him by faith. IV. I shall not keep you much longer, but I must now observe, that there are others who desire to come to God in communion. You will meet every now and then with a devout man who has but very imperfect notions of the gospel, and who, nevertheless, has a kind of reverence for the living God. He is an astronomer, and he will tell you that an undevout astronomer is mad; he says, that while his eyes look through the telescope glass upon the wondrous worlds that float in ether, he communes with God, marvels at his power, and admires his matchless benevolence and skill. The geologist, too, will tell you, that when digging into the deep foundations of the world and bringing out those old inhabitants, who in days of yore stalked through gigantic forests, he feels he can talk with God the Eternal One; that those grey hairs of an ancient world remind him of the Ancient of days, and the bones of a buried generation, all remind him of the Eternal One, who was before all things, and by whom all things consist. Now, these men are sincere; but do not imagine for an instant that their devotion is acceptable, or that their communion is true and real, unless in this they tincture and savor their communion with the knowledge, that Jesus Christ is the only way of access to God. Oh, soul, if thou wouldest walk with God, as Adam did in Eden, and it is quite possible; it thou wouldest walk with him as Enoch did, and that is quite possible, too; if thou wouldest see him face to face, and talk to him as a man would talk with his friend, remember thou must be set in the cleft of the rock Christ Jesus, or else thou canst not do it. Once let a man stand in that cleft and see Jesus' blood, then he can commune with God in nature readily enough. Standing at the foot of the mountain he may see that hill like a wedge piercing the ebon darkness, and his soul may climb the summit and enter into the invisible; he may look upon that awful summit as upon an ambassador sent from earth to heaven; and his spirit may seem to rise on the mountain top, until it appears to grasp the hand of the Almighty One. But mark, the steep summit of fellowship cannot be climbed, except Jesus Christ lend himself to be the sacred ladder, and gives strength to the weary footsteps of our faith. He is the way to God; he is the truth to guide us; be is the life to enable us to run in the road. Without Christ there is no way to communion, no truth in communion, and no life in our pretended fellowship. Christian, take heed that thou never triest to commune with God except through Jesus Christ. Never try to commune with him even through the Holy Spirit, if thou forgettest Christ. The Holy Spirit acts the communion; but still Christ is the medium through which it flows. The Holy Spirit runs through Christ as through a channel. As water from the conduit runs through the pipe, so fellowship must run through Jesus Christ. There can be no coming of God to us, and no going of our soul to God, except through the highway of communion, Jesus Christ, the man and yet the God. V. And lastly, to conclude: Who is there among us who does not desire to come to God in heaven? Lives there a man with soul so dead that he has no pantings for another and a better world? Is there a heart so seared that it never longs to be at rest an eye so blind that it never looks into the hereafter, and a soul so stolid that it never leaps with exulting spirit, in the prospect of a world of joy and happiness? The wild untutored savage of the woods looks to another world, and when some beloved one is buried, he lights a fire upon the grave, to light the spirit through the dreary shades of death, that it may find its way to paradise; and then he sits upon the grave, when the fire is quenched, and days of the spirit that is gone, and hopes for it that it has gone to the kingdom of the blessed, to the land of the hereafter. Never is he content, unless he hopes that the spirit of his beloved one is gone to a better land. And shall it be imagined that any of us who are living in a Christian country are shutting our eyes to the future, and never think of looking beyond the grave there are many here nay, all of us are longing for another and a better world. O world of woe, what wert thou, if thou wert not a stepping-stone to a world of bliss? O land of graves and shrouds, of pick-axe and of spade, what wert thou if we did not dive through thee into the land of light? O vale of tears, what wert thou, if it were not that thou art the pathway to the mountain of transfiguration? O valley of Baca, filled with tears of sorrow, till the pools thereof are overflowing! what wert thou, if thou didst not lead to the tabernacles of our God, the peaceful sanctuary in which we hope to dwell? But there is no way to heaven, whatever our hopes may be, but through Christ. O spirit of man, there is no way to the gates of pearl but through the bleeding side of Jesus. These are the gates of paradise these bleeding wounds. If thou wouldst find thy way to God's bright throne, find first thy way to Jesus' shameful cross; if thou wouldst know the way to happiness, tread in that path of misery which Jesus trod. What! attempt another way? Man, art thou mad enough to think that thou canst rend the posts, and bars, and gates of heaven from their perpetual places, and force thy way by thy created strength? The arm of God shall dash thee down to the nethermost pit. Or dost thou think to purchase with thy riches and thy gold a foothold in paradise? Fool! what is thy gold where streets are made of it, and where the gates are solid pearl where the foundations are of jasper, and the walls whereof are precious gems? And dost thou think to get there by thy merits? Ah! fool that thou art, by pride fell the angels, and by thy pride thou fallest. In thy talking of merit thou confessest that thou art Lucifer himself incarnate. Away with thee! Heaven is not for such as thou art. But dost thou say, "I will leave my wealth after I have gone. I will build an hospital, or feed the poor." Then let men pay thee. Thou hast wrought for thy nation, let them pay the debt; let them rear the stony pillar, and set thy effigy upon the top thereof. If thou hast wrought for thy country, let thy country pay thee what they owe to thee. But God, what does he owe to thee? Thou hast forgotten him, thou hast despised his Son, thou hast rejected his gospel. Be thou warrior, statesman, patriot let men pay thee; God owes thee nothing, and all thou canst do will not bribe him to admit thee to his palace, if thou comest not in the right way through Jesus Christ, who lived and died, and is alive for evermore, and hath the keys of heaven at his girdle. Come, now, ye that have nothing to bring, come to Christ this morning, ye perishing, ye guilty, and ye lost. God a ambassador stands before you, and as though Christ did woo you, he pleads with you to come to Jesus now. Ye that are under conviction of sin, and want salvation, believe on him now. In thine heart poor sinner, say
"Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me, And that thou bidd'st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come."
The invitation is freely given, the proclamation is openly made. My God is not a God of hatred and of anger; he is a God of love. He bids you who are thirsty, who are longing to see his face, he bids you now come; and he tells you, and he confirms the same with an oath "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Come now! "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." O Spirit of God! draw sinners to Christ! O glorious One! do thou be pleased now to draw them to the Father, through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The Personality of the Holy Spirit
January 21, 1855 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
© Copyright 2002 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.
Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION © 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio Cassette or CD:
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” [John 14:16-17 ]
You will be surprised to hear me announce that I do not intend this morning to say anything about the Holy Spirit as the Comforter. I plan to reserve that for a special sermon this evening. In this discourse I will endeavor to explain and emphasize certain other doctrines, which I believe are clearly taught in this text, and which I hope God the Holy Spirit may make profitable to our souls. Old John Newton once said, that there were some books which he could not read they were good and sound enough; but, he said, “they are penny books you have to take in so much quantity before you have any value; there are other books of silver, and others of gold; but I have one book that is a book of bank notes; and every page is a bank-note of immense value.” It is the same way with this text: I have a bank-note of so large a sum that I can not begin to express all of its meaning this morning. I would have to keep you for several hours before I could unfold to you the entire worth of this precious promise one of the last which Christ gave to his people. I invite your attention to this passage because we will find in it some instruction on four points:
1. First, concerning the personality of the Holy Spirit.
2. Secondly, concerning the united agency of the glorious three persons of the Trinity in the work of our salvation. 3. Thirdly we will find something to establish the doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the souls of all believers.
4. Fourthly, we will examine the reason why the carnal mind rejects the Holy Spirit. I. First of all, we will discuss the personality of the Holy Spirit.
We are so accustomed to talk about the influence of the Holy Spirit and his sacred operations and graces, that we are apt to forget that the Holy Spirit is truly and actually a person that he is an actual life an existence; or, as we Trinitarians usually say, one person in the essence of the Godhead. But I am afraid that, though we don’t know it, we have acquired the habit of regarding the Holy Spirit as an divine emanation flowing from the Father and the Son, but not as being actually a person himself. I know it is not easy to carry around in our mind the idea of the Holy Spirit as a person. I can think of the Father as a person, because his actions are such that I can understand. I see him hang the world in space; I observe him wrapping the newly created ocean in darkness; I know it is he who formed the drops of hail, who determined the number of the stars and calls them each by name. I can conceive of Him as a person, because I see his actions.
I can comprehend Jesus, the Son of Man, as a real person, because he is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It takes no great stretch of my imagination to picture the babe in Bethlehem, or to behold the “Man of sorrows acquainted with grief,” [KJV] or the king of martyrs, as he was persecuted in Pilate's hall, or nailed to the cross for our sins. Nor do I find it difficult at times to realize the person of my Jesus sitting on his throne in heaven; or clothed with clouds and wearing the crown of all creation, calling the earth to judgment, and summoning us to hear our final sentence. But when I come to deal with the Holy Spirit, his actions are so mysterious, his activities are so secret, his works are so removed from everything that is familiar to our mind and body, that I cannot easily grasp the idea of him being a person; but he is a person. God the Holy Spirit is not an influence, not an emanation, not a stream of something flowing from the Father; but he is as much an actual person as either God the Son, or God the Father. I will attempt this morning to establish a little of the doctrine, and to show you the truth of it - that God the Holy Spirit is actually a person. 1. The first proof that the Holy Spirit is a real person is gathered from the waters of holy baptism.
Let me take you down, as I have taken others, into the baptismal waters where believers publicly confess the name of the Lord Jesus, and you will hear me pronounce the solemn words, “I baptize you in the name,” note, I said, “in the name,” not names - “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Every one who is baptized according to the true form laid down in Scripture, must believe in the Trinity: otherwise his baptism is a farce and a lie, and he himself is found to be a deceiver and a hypocrite before God. Just as the Father is mentioned, and just as the Son is mentioned, so also is the Holy Spirit mentioned; and all three are summed up as being a Trinity in unity, because it does not say, the “names,” but the “name” the glorious name, the Jehovah name, “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Let me remind you that the same thing occurs each time you are dismissed from this service. In pronouncing the solemn closing benediction of 2 Corinthians 13:14 , we invoke on your behalf, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all;” and thus, according to the inspired words of the Apostle Paul, we make an obvious distinction between the persons of the Trinity, showing that we believe the Father to be a person, the Son to be a person, and the Holy Spirit to be a person. Were there no other proofs in Scripture, I think these would be sufficient for every sensible man and woman. They would easily see that if the Holy Spirit were no more than a mere influence, he would not be mentioned in conjunction with the Father and the Son, whom we all confess to be actual and individual persons. 2. The second proof that the Holy Spirit is a real person is the fact that the Holy Spirit has actually made different appearances on the earth.
The Holy Spirit has manifested himself to man: he has put on a form, so that, while he has not been actually seen by mortal men, yet in his veiled appearance he was seen by the eyes of all those present. Let’s go to the river Jordon. Do you see Jesus Christ our Savior? There is the river, with its sloped banks and its Willow trees weeping at its side. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, descends into the stream, and the holy Baptist, John, plunges him into the waves. The doors of heaven are opened; a miraculous appearance presents itself; a bright light shines from the sky, brighter than the sun in all its grandeur, and down in a flood of glory descends something which you recognize to be a dove. It rests on Jesus - it sits on his sacred head, and just as the old artists painted a halo around the head of Jesus, in the same way the Holy Spirit shed a brilliance around the face of him who came to fulfill all righteousness, and therefore commenced with the ordinance of baptism. The Holy Spirit was seen as a dove, to mark his purity and his gentleness, and he came down like a dove from heaven to show that it is from heaven alone that he descends. Nor is this the only time when the Holy Spirit has been manifest in a visible shape.
You see that company of disciples gathered together in an upper room; they are waiting for some promised blessing, and in time it will come. Listen! there is a sound as of a mighty rushing wind; it fills the whole house where they are sitting; and astonished, they look around them, wondering what will come next. Soon a bright light appears, shining upon the heads of each Apostle: tongues of fire came to rest on each one of them. What were these marvelous appearances of wind and flame but a display of the personhood of the Holy Spirit? I say the fact of an appearance manifests that he must be a person. An influence could not appear - an attribute could not appear: we cannot see attributes - we cannot see influences. The Holy Spirit must, then, have been a person; since he was seen by earthly eyes, and was recognizable by the human mind.
3. The third proof that the Holy Spirit is a real person is from the fact, that personal qualities are, in Scripture, ascribed to the Holy Spirit.
First, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as having understanding.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we read, “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ - but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” [1 Corinthians 2:9-11 ]. Here you see an understanding - a power of knowledge is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Now, if there are any persons here whose minds are of so absurd a character that they would ascribe one attribute to another, and would speak of a mere influence having understanding, then I give up all argument. But I believe every rational person will admit, that when anything is spoken of as having an understanding, it must be an existence - it must, in fact, be a person.
Second, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as having a will.
In the 12th chapter, 11th verse of the same Epistle, you will find a will ascribed to the Holy Spirit. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” So it is clear that the Spirit has a will. He does not come from God the Father simply at God the Father's will, but he has a will of his own, which is always in keeping with the will of the infinite Jehovah, but is, nevertheless, distinct and separate; therefore, I say he is a person.
Third, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as having power.
In another text, power is ascribed to the Holy Spirit, and power is a thing which can only be ascribed to an existence. In Romans 15:13 , it is written, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I need not insist on it, because it is self-evident, that wherever you find understanding, will, and power, you must also find an existence; it cannot be a mere attribute, it cannot be a metaphor, it cannot be a personified influence; but it must be a person. But I have a proof which, perhaps, will be more telling on you than any other.
Fourth, the Holy Spirit is credited with acts and deeds; therefore, he must be a person.
You read in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, that the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the deep, when it was as yet formless and empty. This world was once a mass of chaotic matter, there was no order; it was like the valley of darkness and of the shadow of death. God the Holy Spirit spread his wings over it; he sowed the seeds of life in it; the germs from which all creatures sprang to life were implanted by him; he infused the earth so that it became capable of life. Now, it must have been a person who brought order out of confusion: it must have been an existence who hovered over this world and made it what it now is.
But don’t we read in Scripture even more about the Holy Spirit?
Fifth, the Holy Spirit is credited with influencing and moving men to write and speak the Word of God; therefore, he must be a person.
Yes, we are told that “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” [2 Peter 1:21 ]. When Moses penned the Pentateuch, the Holy Spirit moved his hand; when David wrote the Psalms, and plucked sweet music on his harp, it was the Holy Spirit that gave his fingers their sanctified motion; when Solomon dropped from his lips the words of the proverbs of wisdom, or when he sang his Song of Solomon, it was the Holy Spirit who gave him words of knowledge and hymns of rapture. Tell me what fire was that which touched the lips of the eloquent Isaiah? What hand was that which came on Daniel? What power was that which made Jeremiah so mournful in his grief? or what was that which winged Ezekiel and made him like an eagle, soar into elevated mysteries, and see the mighty unknown beyond our reach? Who was it that made Amos the herdsman, a prophet? Who taught the rugged Haggai to pronounce his thundering sentences? Who kindled the burning eloquence of Nahum? Who caused Malachi to close up the book with a curse? Who was it in each of these cases, except the Holy Spirit? And isn’t it obvious that it must have been a person who spoke in and through these ancient witnesses? We must believe it. We cannot avoid believing it, when we read that “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” And when has the Holy Spirit ceased having an influence on men? We find that still he deals with his ministers and with all his saints. Turn to the Book of Acts, and you will find that the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” [Acts 13:2 ]. I never heard of an “attribute” saying such a thing. The Holy Spirit said to Peter, “Go to the Centurion…and do not call anything impure that God has made clean” [Acts 10:1 , Acts 11:9 ]. Another example is when the Holy Spirit suddenly took Philip away, after he had baptized the Eunuch, and carried him to another place. And again, when the Holy Spirit said to Paul; “You shall not enter Bithynia, but go to Troas” [Acts 16:7-8 ]. And we know that the Holy Spirit was lied to by Ananias and Sapphira, when it was said, “…you have lied to the Holy Spirit” [Acts 5:3 ]. Again, that power which we, who are called to preach, feel every day that wondrous stimulus which makes our lips so potent that power which gives us far-reaching thoughts that influence which I sometimes strangely feel, which, if it does not give me poetry and eloquence, gives me a strength I never felt before, and lifts me above my fellowman that majesty with which he clothes his ministers, until in the midst of the battle they cry out, “Yes, Lord Jesus!” That power which gives us strength over men, and causes them to sit and listen as if their ears were chained, as if they were spellbound by the power of some magician's wand that power must come from a person; it must come from the Holy Spirit. Sixth, the Holy Spirit is credited with regenerating the soul; therefore, he must be a person.
Is it not said in Scripture, and don’t we feel it, dear friends, that it is the Holy Spirit who regenerates the soul? It is the Holy Spirit who makes us come spiritually alive: “You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” [Ephesians 2:1 , NKJV]. It is the Holy Spirit who imparts the first germ of life, convincing us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. And isn’t it the Holy Spirit, who, after that flame is kindled, still fans it with the breath of his mouth and keeps it alive? Its author is its preserver. Oh! Can’t it be said that it is the Holy Spirit who strives in the souls of men and women; that it is the Holy Spirit who brings them into the sweet place that is called Calvary - can we say that he does all these things, and yet is not a person? It may be said, but it must be said by fools; for he never can be a wise man who can consider these things being done by any other than a glorious person - a divine existence. Allow me to give you one more proof, and I will be done. Certain feelings are ascribed to the Holy Spirit, which can only be understood upon the supposition that he is actually a person.
In the 4th chapter of Ephesians, verse 30 (Ephesians 4:30 ), it is said that the Holy Spirit can be grieved: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” In Isaiah 63:10 , it is said that the Holy Spirit can be grieved: “They rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.” In Acts 7:51 , you read that the Holy Spirit can be resisted: “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” And in the 5th chapter, verse 9 (Acts 5:9 ), of the same book, you will find that the Holy Spirit may be tested. We are informed that Peter said to Ananias and Sapphira, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Now, these things could not be emotions which might be ascribed to a quality or an emanation; they must be understood to relate to a person; an influence could not be grieved, it must be a person who can be grieved, tested, or resisted. And now, brothers and sisters, I think I have fully established the point of the personality of the Holy Spirit; allow me now, most earnestly, to impress upon you the absolute necessity of being sound on the doctrine of the Trinity.
I knew a man, he is now a good minister of Jesus Christ, and I believe he was before he turned his eyes to heresy - he began to doubt the glorious divinity of our blessed Lord, and for years he preached the heretical doctrine, until one day he happened to hear a very eccentric old minister preaching from the text, “There the LORD will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them. Your rigging hangs loose: The mast is not held secure, the sail is not spread.” [Isaiah 33:21 , Isaiah 33:23 ] “Now,” said the old minister, “you give up the Trinity, and your riggings hang loose, you cannot secure your masts. Once you give up the doctrine of the Trinity, then your riggings are completely gone; your mast, which ought to be a support to your vessel, is a rickety one, and shakes.” A gospel without the Trinity! it is a pyramid built upside down. A gospel without the Trinity! it is a rope of sand that cannot hold together. A gospel without the Trinity! then, clearly, Satan can overturn it. But give me a gospel with the Trinity, and all the power of hell cannot prevail against it; no man can any more overthrow it than a bubble could split a rock, or a feather break a mountain in two. Gain an understanding of the Trinity, and you have discovered the heart of all divinity. Understand that the three distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one, then all things will appear clear. This is the golden key to the secrets of nature and he who understands this, will soon understand as much as mortals can ever know. II. Now for our second point - the united agency of the three persons in the work of our salvation.
Look at the text, and you will find all the three persons mentioned. “I” - that is the Son “will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor.” There are the three persons mentioned, all of them doing something for our salvation. “I will ask,” says the Son. “I will send,” says the Father. “I will provide comfort and counsel,” says the Holy Spirit.
Now, let us, for a few moments, discuss this wondrous theme - the unity of the Three Persons of the Trinity with regard to the great purpose of the salvation of the elect.
When God first made man, he said, “Let us make man,” not let me , but, “Let us make man in our own image.” They said to each other, “Let us together become the creator of man.” So, when in eternity, they said, “Let us save man:” it was not the Father who said, “Let me save man, “but the three persons as one said, with one consensus, “Let us save man.” It is to me a source of sweet comfort to think that it is not one person of the Trinity that is engaged in my salvation; it is not simply one person of the Godhead who vows that he will redeem me; but it is the glorious Trinity, and the three declare, together, “ We will save man.” Now, observe here, that each Person of the Trinity is spoken of as performing a separate function.
“I will pray,” says the Son; that is intercession. “I will send,” says the Father; that is the giving of the gift. “I will comfort,” says the Holy Spirit; that is supernatural influence. Oh! if it were possible for us to see the Three Persons of the Godhead, we would behold one of them standing before the throne, with outstretched hands, crying day and night, “O, Lord, how long?” We would see one dressed with Urim and Thummim, precious stones, on which are written the twelve names of the tribes of Israel; we would see him, crying to his Father, “Do not forget your promises, do not forget your covenant;” we would hear him make mention of our sorrows, and tell of our griefs, on our behalf, for he is our intercessor. And if we could see the Father, we would not see him a listless and idle spectator of the intercession of the Son, but we would see him with attentive ear listening to every word of Jesus, and granting every petition. Where is the Holy Spirit during all of this? Is he lying idle? O no; he is floating over the earth, and when he sees a weary soul, he says, “Come to Jesus, he will give you rest;” when he beholds an eye filled with tears, he wipes away the tears, and commands the mourner to look for comfort in the cross; when he sees the storm-tossed believer, he takes control of his soul and speaks words of comfort; he helps the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds; and, ever on his mission of mercy, he flies around the world, being everywhere at once.
Look, how the three persons work together. Don’t just say, “I am grateful to the Son” which you should be, but be sure to remember that God the Son no more saves you than God the Father. Don’t think that God the Father is a great tyrant, and that God the Son had to die to make him merciful. The death of Jesus was not to make the Father love his people. Oh, no. One loves as much as the other; the three are united in the great purpose of rescuing the elect from damnation. But you must notice another thing in my text, which will show the blessed unity of the three persons the promises made between the members of the Trinity to each other.
The Son says, “I will pray the Father.” “Very well,” the disciples may have said, “we can trust you for that.” “And he will send you.” You see, here the Son reveals that there is a covenant between him and the Father. “He will send you another Comforter.” There is a covenant on behalf of the Holy Spirit too. “And he will live with you forever.” One person of the Trinity speaks for the other, and how could they, if there were any disagreement between them? If one wished to save, and the other did not, then they could not promise on one another's behalf. But whatever the Son says, the Father listens to; whatever the Father promises, the Holy Spirit works; and, whatever the Holy Spirit injects into the soul, that God the Father fulfils. So, the three together mutually promise on one another's behalf. There is a covenant drawn up with three signatures at the bottom - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By three unchangeable persons the Christian is secured beyond the reach of death and hell. A Trinity of securities, because there is a Trinity of God. III, Our third point, this morning, is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers.
Now, beloved, these first two things have been matters of pure doctrine; this is the subject of experience. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a subject so profound, and involved with the inner man, that no soul will be able to truly comprehend what I say, unless it has been taught of God.
I have heard of an old minister, who told someone at Cambridge college, that he understood a language that he never learned in all of his life. “I have not,” he said, “even a smattering of Greek, and I know no Latin, but thank God, I can talk the language of Canaan, and that is more than you can.” So, beloved, I will now have to talk a little of the language of Canaan. If you cannot understand me, I am afraid it is because you are not a true Israelite; you are not a child of God, nor an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. We are told in the text, that Jesus would send the Comforter, who would dwell with the saints, and be in them forever. Old Ignatius, the martyr, used to call himself the Godbearer, “because,” he said, “I bear within me the Holy Spirit.” And truly every Christian is a Godbearer. “Don't you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God's [Holy] Spirit lives in you?” [1 Corinthians 3:16 ] A man or woman is not a Christian who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit; they may talk well, they may understand theology, and be sound Calvinists; they will be a finely dressed child of nature, but not the living child. They may have a profound intellect, a gigantic soul, a comprehensive mind, and a lofty imagination, that they may dive into all the secrets of nature, and know the path which the eagle's eye has never seen, and go into depths where man has never been, but they will not be a Christian with all this knowledge, they will not be children of God unless they understand what it is to have the Holy Spirit living within them forever. Some people call this fanaticism, and they say, “You are a Quaker; why not follow George Fox?” Well, we wouldn’t mind that much: we would follow any one who followed the Holy Spirit, even George, with all his eccentricities. I don’t doubt that in many cases, he was actually inspired by the Holy Spirit; and whenever I find a man in whom there rests the Spirit of God, the spirit within me leaps to hear the spirit within him, and we feel that we are one. The Spirit of God in one Christian soul recognizes the Spirit in another. I remember talking with a good man, as I believe he was, who was insisting that it was impossible for us to know whether we had the Holy Spirit within us or not. I would like for him to be here this morning, because I would read this verse to him, John 14:17 , which speaks of the Holy Spirit, “But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” Ah! you think you cannot tell whether you have the Holy Spirit or not. Can I tell whether I am alive or not? If I were touched by electricity, could I tell whether I was or not? I suppose I could; the shock would be strong enough to make me know where I stood. So, if I have God within me - if I have Deity living within my body - if I have God the Holy Spirit resting in my heart, and making a temple of my body, do you think I will know it?
Call it fanaticism if you will, but I trust that there are some of us who know what it is to be always, or normally, under the influence of the Holy Spirit - always in one sense, normally in another. When we have difficulties, we ask for the direction of the Holy Spirit. When we do not understand a portion of Holy Scripture, we ask God the Holy Spirit to illumine us. When we are depressed, the Holy Spirit comforts us. You can’t tell what the wondrous power of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is; how it pulls back the hand of the saint when he would touch the forbidden thing; how it prompts him to make a covenant with his eyes; how it binds his feet, lest they should walk down a slippery path; how it restrains his heart, and keeps him from temptation. O you, who know nothing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, don’t despise it. O don’t despise the Holy Spirit, for it is the unpardonable sin. “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” [Matthew 12:32 ] So says the Word of God. Therefore tremble, lest in anything you despise the influences of the Holy Spirit. But before closing this point, there is one little word that pleases me very much, that is the word “forever.”
You knew I wouldn’t miss that; you were certain I couldn’t let it go without observation. “Be with you forever.” I wish I could get an Arminian here to finish my sermon. I think I see him taking that word “forever.” He would say, “for - forever;” he would have to stammer and stutter; for he could never get it out all at once. He might stand here for a while and finally he would have to say, “The translation is wrong.” And I suppose the poor man would have to prove that the original manuscript was wrong too. Ah! but blessed be God we can read it - “He will be with you forever.” Once I am given the Holy Spirit, I will never lose him until “forever” has run out; until eternity has spun itself out of existence, which is impossible. IV. Now we have to close up with a brief remark on the reason why the world rejects the Holy Spirit.
It is said, “The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” [John 14:17 ] You know what is sometimes meant by “the world” - those whom God in his wondrous sovereignty passed over when he chose his people: the non-elect ones; those passed over in God's wondrous election - not reprobates who were condemned to damnation by some awful decree; but those passed over by God, when he chose his elect. These cannot receive the Spirit. Again, it means all those in a carnal state who are not able to procure for themselves this divine influence; and, thus it is true, “The world cannot accept him.” The unregenerate world of sinners despises the Holy Spirit, “because it does not see him.”
Yes, I believe this is the great secret why many laugh at the idea of the existence of the Holy Spirit - because they cannot see him. You tell the one who is absorbed by worldly pursuits and pleasures, “I have the Holy Spirit living within me.” He says, “I can’t see it.” He wants it to be something tangible - something he can recognize with his senses. Have you ever heard the argument used by the good old Christian against an unsaved doctor? The doctor said there was no soul, and asked, “Did you ever see a soul?” “No,” said the Christian. “Did you ever hear a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever smell a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever taste a soul?” “No.” “Did you ever feel a soul?” “Yes,” said the man - “I feel I have one within me.” “Well,” said the doctor, “there are four senses against one; you only have one on your side.” “Very well,” said the Christian, “Did you ever see a pain?” “No, said the doctor.” “Did you ever hear a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever smell a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever taste a pain?” “No.” “Did you ever feel a pain?” “Yes.” “And that is quite enough, I suppose, to prove there is a pain?” “Yes.” So the people of this world say, “There is no Holy Spirit,” because they cannot see it. But we feel it. You say that is fanaticism, and that we never have felt it. Suppose you tell me that honey is bitter, I reply, “No, I am sure you can’t have tasted it; taste it and try.” So it is with the Holy Spirit; if you ever felt his influence, you would no longer say there is no Holy Spirit, because you cannot see it.
Aren’t there many things, even in nature, which we cannot see? Did you ever see the wind? No; but you know there is wind, when you see the hurricane tossing the waves about, and tearing down the homes of men; or when, in the soft evening breeze, it kisses the flowers, and makes dew-drops hang in pearly coronets around the rose. Did you ever see electricity? No; but you know there is such a thing, for it travels along the wires for thousands of miles, and carries our messages; though you can’t see the thing itself, you know there is such a thing. So you must believe there is a Holy Spirit working in us, both to will and to do, even though it is beyond our senses. But the last reason why the unregenerate world of sinners laugh at the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, is, because they don’t know him.
If they knew him by heartfelt experience and if they recognized his activity in the soul; if they had ever been touched by him; if they had been made to tremble under a sense of sin; if they had had their hearts melted, they would never have doubted the existence of the Holy Spirit. And now, beloved, it says, “He lives with you, and will be in you.” We will close up with that sweet remembrance - the Holy Spirit lives in all believers and will be with them. One word of comment and advice to the saints of God, and to sinners, and I will be done.
Saints of the Lord! you have this morning heard that God the Holy Spirit is a person; you have had it proved to your souls. What follows from this? Why, it follows how serious you should be in prayer to the Holy Spirit, as well as for the Holy Spirit.
Let me say that this is an inference that you should lift up your prayers to the Holy Spirit: that you should cry earnestly to him; for he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
See this mass of people here this morning. Who can convert it? See this crowd? Who is to make my influence permeate through it? You know this place now has a mighty influence, and, God blessing us, it will have an influence not only upon this city, but upon the country at large; for we now employ the press as well as the pulpit; and certainly, I should say, before the close of the year, more than two hundred thousand of my writings and sermons will be scattered through the land - words uttered by my lips, or written by my pen. But how can this influence be rendered for good? How will God's glory be promoted by it? Only by incessant prayer for the Holy Spirit; by constantly calling down the influence of the Holy Spirit upon us; we want him to rest upon every page that is printed, and upon every word that is uttered. Let us then be doubly serious in pleading with the Holy Spirit, that he would come and own our labors; that as a result the whole church at large may be revived, and not just ourselves, but the whole world share in the benefit. Then, to the unsaved, I have this one closing word to say. Always be careful how you speak of the Holy Spirit.
I don’t know what the unpardonable sin is, and I don’t think any man understands it; but it is something like this: “He that speaks a word against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” I don’t know what that means; but tread very carefully! There is danger; there is a pit which our ignorance has covered by sand; tread very carefully! you may fall into the pit before the next hour. If there is any strife in your heart today, perhaps you will go to the pub and forget it. Perhaps there is some voice speaking in your soul, and you will ignore it. I am not telling you that you will be resisting the Holy Spirit, and committing the unpardonable sin; but it is somewhere there. Be very careful.
O, there is no crime on earth so wicked as the crime against the Holy Spirit! You may blaspheme the Father, and you will be damned for it, unless you repent; you may blaspheme the Son, and hell will be your judgment, unless you are forgiven; but blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and the Lord says: “There will be no forgiveness, either in this age or in the age to come.” [Matthew 12:32 ]
I cannot tell you what it is; I don’t profess to understand it; but there it is. It is the danger signal; stop! man, stop! If you have despised the Holy Spirit - if you have laughed at his revelations, and scorned what Christians call his influence, I beg you to stop! This morning seriously deliberate. Perhaps some of you have actually committed the unpardonable sin; stop! Let fear stop you; sit down. Don’t drive on so rashly as you have done, Jehu! O slacken your reins! You who are such a wicked sinner - you who have uttered such harsh words against the Trinity, stop! Ah! it makes us all stop. It makes us all draw back, and say, “Have I done such a thing?” Let us think of this; and let us not at any time stifle either with the words or the acts of God the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Life In Christ; Sharing Christ's Life
Life In Christ
January 1, 1871
C. H. SPURGEON
"Because I live, ye shall live also."-John 14:19
This world saw our Lord Jesus for a very little time, but now it seeth him no
more. It only saw him with the outward eye and after a carnal sort, so that
when the clouds received him and concealed him from bodily vision, this
spiritually blind world lost sight of him altogether. Here and there,
however, among the crowds of the sightless there were a few chosen men who
had received spiritual sight; Christ had been light to them, he had opened
their blind eyes, and they had seen him as the world had not seen him. In a
high and full sense they could say, "We have seen the Lord," for they had in
some degree perceived his Godhead, discerned his mission, and learned his
spiritual presence of its object, those persons who had seen Jesus
spiritually, saw him after he had gone out of the world unto the Father. We
who have the same sight still see him. Read carefully the words of the verse
before us: "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see
me." It is a distinguishing mark of a true follower of Jesus that he sees his
Lord and Master when he is not to be seen by the bodily eye; he sees him
intelligently and spiritually; he knows his Lord, discerns his character,
apprehends him by faith, gazes upon him with admiration as our first sight of
Christ brought us into spiritual life, for we looked unto him and were saved,
so it is by the continuance of this spiritual sight of Christ that our
spiritual life is consciously maintained. We lived by looking, we live still
by looking. Faith is still the medium by which life comes to us from the
life-giving Lord. It is not only upon the first day of the Christian's life
that he must needs look to Jesus only, but every day of that life, even until
the last, his motto must be, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of
our faith." The world sees him no more, for it never saw him aright; but ye
have seen him and lived, and now, through continuing still to see him, you
remain in life. Let us ever remember the intimate connection between faith
and spiritual life. Faith is the life-look. we must never think that we live
by works, by feelings, or by ceremonies. "The just shall live by faith." We
dare not preach to the ungodly sinner a way of obtaining life by the works of
the law, neither dare we hold up to the most advanced believer a way of
sustaining life by legal means. We should in such a case expect to hear the
apostle's expostulation, "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are
ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Our glorifying is that our life is not
dependent on ourselves, but is safe in our Lord, as saith the apostle, "I am
crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in
me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son
of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Because he lives, we live,
and shall live for ever. God grant that our eye may ever be clear towards
Jesus, our life. May we have no confidence but in our Redeemer; may our eyes
be fixed upon him, that no other object may in any measure or degree shut out
our view of him as our all in all.
The text contains in it very much of weighty truth, far more than we shall be
able to bring forth from it this morning. First, we see in it a life;
secondly, that life preserved; and thirdly, the reason for the preservation
of that life: "Because I live, ye shall live also."
I. First, we have LIFE here spoken of.
We must not confound this with existence. It were indeed to reduce a very
rich text to a poverty-stricken sentence if we read it, "Because I exist, ye
shall exist also." We could not say of such a use of words that the water of
ordinary speech was turned to wine, but rather that the wine was turned to
water. Before the disciples believed in Jesus they existed, and altogether
apart from him as their spiritual life their existence would have been
continued; it was something far other and higher than immortal existence
which our Lord was here dealing with.
Life, what is it? We know practically, but we cannot tell in words. We know
it, however, to be a mystery of different degrees. As all flesh is not the
same flesh, so all life is not the same life. There is the life of the
vegetable, the cedar of Lebanon, the hyssop on the wall. There is a
considerable advance when we come to animal life-the eagle or the ox. Animal
life moves in quite a different world from that in which the plant vegetates-
sensation, appetite, instinct, are things to which plants are dead, though
they may possess some imitation of them, for one life mimics another. Animal
life rises far above the experience and apprehension of the flower of the
field. Then there is mental life, which we all of us possess, which
introduces us into quite another realm from that which is inhabited by the
mere beast. To judge, to foresee, to imagine, to invent, to perform moral
acts, are not these new functions which the ox hath not? Now, let it be clear
to you, that far above mental life there is another form of life of which the
mere carnal man can form no more idea than the plant of the animal, or the
animal of the poet. The carnal mind knoweth not spiritual things, because it
has no spiritual capacities. As the beast cannot comprehend the pursuits of
the philosopher, so the man who is but a natural man cannot comprehend the
experience of the spiritually minded. Thus saith the Scripture: "The natural
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness
unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no
man." There is in believers a life which is not to be found in other men-
nobler, diviner for education cannot raise the natural man into it, neither
can refinement reach it; for at its best, "that which is born of the flesh is
flesh," and to all must the humbling truth be spoken, "Ye must be born
It is to be remarked concerning our life in Christ, that it is the removal of
the penalty which fell upon our race for Adam's sin. "In the day that thou
eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," was the Lord's threatening to our
first parent, who was the representative of the race. He did eat of the
fruit, and since God is true, and his word never fails, we may be sure of
this, that in that selfsame day Adam died. It is true that he did not cease
to exist, but that is quite another thing from dying. The threatening was not
that he should ultimately die, but "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt
surely die;" and it is beyond all doubt that the Lord kept his word to the
letter. If the first threatening was not carried out we might take liberty to
trifle with all others. Rest assured, then, that the threat was on the spot
fulfilled. The spiritual life departed from Adam; he was no longer at one
with God, no more able to live and breathe in the same sphere as the Lord. He
fell from his first estate; he had need if he should enter into spiritual
life to be born again, even as you and I must be. As he hides himself from
his Maker, and uttersvain excuses before his God, you see that he is dead to
the life of God, dead in trespasses and sins. We also, being heirs of wrath
even as others, are through the fall dead, dead in trespasses and sins; and
if ever we are to possess spiritual life, it must be said of us, "And you
hath he quickened." We must be as "those that are alive from the dead." The
world is the valley of dry bones, and grace raises the chosen into newness of
life. The fall brought universal death, in the deep spiritual sense of that
word, over all mankind; and Jesus delivers us from the consequences of the
fall by implanting in us a spiritual life. By no other means can this death
be removed: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that
believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on
him." The work of regeneration, in which the new life is implanted,
effectually restores the ruin of the fall, for we are born again, "not of
corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and
abideth for ever." But you remind me that still sin remains in us after we
have received the divine life. I know it does, and it is called "the body of
this death;" and this it is which rages within, between the power of the
death in the first Adam, and the power of the life in the second Adam; but
the heavenly life will ultimately overcome the deadly energy of sin. Even to-
day our inner life groans after deliverance, but with its groan of "O
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" it
mingles the thankful song, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
This life is of a purely spiritual kind. We find analogies and resemblances
of it in the common mental life, but they are only analogies, the spiritual
life is far and high above the carnal life, and altogether out of sight of
the fleshly mind. Scarce are there words in which it can be described. To
know this life you must have it; it must pulsate within your own bosom, for
no explanations of others can tell you what this life is; it is one of the
secrets of the Lord. It would not be possible for us with the greatest skill
to communicate to a horse any conception of what imagination is; neither
could we by the most diligent use of words, communicate to carnal minds what
it is to be joined unto the Lord so as to be one spirit. One thing we know of
it, namely, that the spiritual life is intimately connected with the
indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul. When he comes we are "born again
from above," "born of the Spirit." While he works in us mightily our life is
active and powerful if he withdraws his active operations our new life
becomes faint and sickly. Christ is our life, but he works in us through his
Holy Spirit, who dwelleth in us evermore.
Further, we know that this life very much consists in union with God. "For to
be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
law of God, neither again can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot
please God." Death as to the body consists in the body being separated from
the soul; the death of the soul lies mainly in the soul's being separated
form its God. For the soul to be in union with God is the soul's highest
life; in his presence it unfolds itself like an opening flower; away from him
it pines, and loses all its beauty and excellence, till it is as a thing
destroyed. Let the soul obey God, let it be holy, pure, gracious, then is it
happy, an truly living; but a soul saundered from God is a soul blasted,
killed, destroyed; it exists in a dreadful death; all its true peace,
dignity, and glory, are gone; it is a hideous ruin, the mere corpse of
manhood. The new life brings us near to God, makes us think of him, makes us
love him, and ultimately makes us like him. My brethren, it is in proportion
as you get near to God that you enter into the full enjoyment of life-that
life which Jesus Christ gives you, and which Jesus Christ preserves in you.
"In his favour is life." Psalms 30:5 . "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of
life." Proverbs 14:27 . To turn to God is "repentance unto life." To forget God
is for a man to be "dead whilst he liveth." To believe the witness of God is
to possess the faith which overcometh the world. "He that believeth on the
Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made
him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And
this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is
in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of
God hath not life."
This life within the soul bears fruit on earth in righteousness and true
holiness. It blooms with sweetest of flowers of fellowship with God below,
and it is made perfect in the presence of God in heaven. The life of
glorified spirits above is but the life of justified men here below; it is
the same life, only it is delivered from encumbrances, and has come to the
fullness of its strength. The life of heaven is in every believer even now.
The moment a sinner believes in Jesus he receives from God that selfsame life
which shall look down serenely upon the conflagration of earth, and the
passing away of those lower skies. Blessed is that man who hath everlasting
life, who is made a partaker of the divine nature, who is born again from
above, who is born of God by a seed which remaineth in him, for he is the man
upon whom the second death hath no power, who shall enjoy life eternal when
the wicked go away into everlasting punishment.
Thus much concerning this life. We have now to ask each of you whether you
have received it. Have you been born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God? Was there a time with you when you
passed from death unto life, or are you abiding in death? Have you the
witness in yourself that you have been operated upon by a divinely spiritual
power? Is there something in you which was not once there, not a faculty
developed by education, but a life implanted by God himself? Do you feel an
inward craving unknown to carnal minds, a longing desire which this world
could neither excite nor gratify? Is there a strange sighing for a land as
yet unseen, of which it is a native, and for which it yearns? Do you walk
among the sons of men as a being of another race, not of the world, even as
Christ was not of the world? Can you say, with the favoured apostle, "We know
that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may
know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus
Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." Oh! then, thank God for
this, and thank God yet more that you have an infallible guarantee for this,
and thank God yet more that you have an infallible guarantee that your life
shall be continued and perfected, for so saith the text, "Because I live, ye
shall live also."
II. Our second head treats of LIFE PRESERVED. "Because I life, ye shall live
also." There stands the promise, " Ye shall live also. This heavenly life of
yours which ye have received shall be preserved to you.
Concerning this sentence, let me draw your attention, first of all, to its
fullness: "Ye shall live." I think I see in that much more than lies upon the
surface. Whatever is meant by living shall be ours. All the degree of life
which is secured in the covenant of grace, believers shall have. Moreover,
all your new nature shall live, shall thoroughly live, shall eternally live.
By this word it is secured that the eternal life implanted at regeneration
shall never die out. As our Lord said so shall it be. "Whosoever drinketh of
the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I
shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting
life." We may not view this precious word as referring to all the essential
spiritual graces which make up the new man? Not even, in part, shall the new
man die. "Ye shall live," applies to all the parts of our new-born nature. If
there be any believer here who has not lived to the full extent he might have
done, let him lay hold upon this promise; and seeing that it secures the
preservation of all his new nature, let him have courage to seek a higher
degree of health. "I am come," saith Christ, "that ye might have life, and
have it more abundantly." There is no reason, Christian, why your love to
Jesus should not become flaming, ardent, conquering; for it lives, and ever
must live. As to your faith, it also has immortal vitality in it, and even
though it be just now weak, and staggering, lift up the hands that hang down
and confirm the feeble knees, for your faith shall not die out. Here in your
Lord's promise the abiding nature of the vital faculties of your spirit is
guaranteed. There is no stint in the fullness of Christian life. Beneath the
skies I would labour to attain it, but herein is my joy , that it shall be
most surely mine, for this word is faithful and true. As surely as I have
this day eternal life by reason of faith in Christ Jesus, so surely shall I
reach its fullness when Christ who is my life shall appear. Even here on
earth I have the permit to seek for the fullest development of this life; nay
I have a precept in this promise bidding me to seek after it. "Ye shall
live," means that the new life shall not be destroyed-no, not as to any of
its essentials. All the members of the spiritual man shall be safe; we may
say of it as of the Lord himself, "Not a bone of him shall be broken." The
shield of Christ's own life covers all the faculties of our spiritual nature.
We shall not enter into life halt or maimed; but he will present us faultless
before the presence of his glory, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such
thing, much less nay dead limbs or decayed faculties. It is a grand promise,
and covers the spiritual nature as with the wings of God, so that we may
apply to it the words of David, in the ninety-first Psalm: "Surely he shall
deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the
terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence
that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A
thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it
shall not come nigh thee."
The text secures that the death-penalty of the law shall never fall upon
believers. The quickened man shall never fall back into the old death from
which he has escaped; He shall not be numbered with the dead, and condemned
either in this life or the next. Never shall the spiritually living become
dead again in sin. As Jesus being raised form the dead dieth no more, death
hath no more dominion over him; even so sin shall not have dominion over us
again. Once, through the offense of one, death reigned in us; but now having
received abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, we shall reign
in life by one, Christ Jesus. Romans 5:17 . "For if, when we were enemies, we
were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled,
we shall be saved by his life." Romans 5:10 .
We are united to Christ this day by bands of spiritual life which neither
things present nor things to come can separate. Our union to Jesus is
eternal. It may be assailed; but it shall never be destroyed. The old body of
this death may for awhile prevail, and like Herod it may seek the young
child's life, but it cannot die. Who shall condemn to death that which is not
under the law? Who shall slay that which abides under the shadow of the
Almighty? Even as sin reigned unto death, even so must grace reign unto
eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Remark carefully the continuance insisted upon in this verse. Continuance is
indeed the main element of this promise-"Ye shall live." It means certainly
that during our abode in this body we shall live. We shall not be again
reduced to our death-state during our sojourn here. Ten thousand attempts
will be made to bring us under dominion to the law of sin and death, but this
one word baffles all. Your soul may be so assailed that it shall seem as if
you could not keep your hold on Christ, but Christ shall keep his hold on
you. The incorruptible seed may be crushed, bruised, buried, but the life
within it shall not extinguished, it shall yet arise. "Ye shall live." When
ye see all around you ten thousand elements of death, think ye believers, how
grand is this word, "Ye shall live." No falling from grace for you, no being
cast out of the covenant, no being driven from the Father's house and left to
perish. "Ye shall live."
Nor is this all, for when the natural death comes, which indeed to us is no
longer death, our inner life shall suffer no hurt whatsoever; it will not
even be suspended for a moment. It is not a thing which can be touched by
death. The shafts of the last enemy can have no more effect upon the
spiritual, than a javelin upon a cloud. Even in the very crisis, when the
soul is separated from the body, no damage shall be done to the spiritual
nature. And in the awful future, when the judgment comes, when the thrones
are set, and the multitudes are gathered, and to the right the righteous, and
to the left the wicked, let what may of terror and of horror come frothy, the
begotten of God shall live. Onward through eternity, whatever may be the
changes which yet are to be disclosed, nothing shall affect our God-given
life. Like the life of God himself-eternal, and ever-blessed, it shall
continue. Should all things else be swept away, the righteous must live on; I
mean not merely that they shall exist, but they shall live in all the
fullness of that far-reaching, much-comprehending word "life." Bearing the
nature of God as far as the creature can participate in it, the begotten from
the dead shall prove the sureness of the promise, "Ye shall live."
Let me further call to your notice that the fact here stated is univeral, in
application to all spiritual life. The promise is, "Ye shall live," that is
to say, every child of God shall live. Every one who sees Christ, as the
world sees him not, is living and shall live. I can understand such a
promised given to eminent saints who live near to God, but my soul would
prostrate herself before the throne in reverent loving wonder when she hears
this word spoken to the very least and meanest of the saints, "Ye shall
live." Thou art not exempted, thou whose faith is but as a smoking flax, thou
shalt live. The Lord bestows security upon the least of his people as well as
upon the greatest. It is plain that the reason given for the preservation of
the new life is as applicable to one saint as another. If it had been said,
"Because your faith is strong, ye shall live" then weak faith would have
perished; but when it is written, "Because I live," the argument is as
powerful in the one case as in the other. Take it home to thyself, my
brother, however heavy thy heart, or dim thy bone, Jesus lives, and you shall
Remark yet again that this text is exceeding broad. Mark its breadth and see
how it meets everything to the contrary, and overturns all the hopes of the
adversary. "Ye shall live." Then the inbred corruption which rides within us
shall not stifle the new creature. Chained as the spirit seem to be to the
loathsome and corrupt body of this death, it shall live in spite of its
hideous companionship. Though besetting sins may be as arrows, and fleshly
lusts like drawn swords, yet grace shall not be slain. Neither the fever of
hasty passion, nor the palsy of timorousness, nor the leprosy of
covetousness, nor any other disease of sin, shall so break forth in the old
nature as to destroy the new. Nor shall outward circumstances overthrow the
inner life. "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in
all thy ways." They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy
foot against a stone. If providence should cast you into a godless family,
where you dwell as in a sepulcher, and the air you breathe is laden with the
miasma of death, yet shall you live. Evil example shall not poison your
spirit, you shall drink this deadly thing and it shall not hurt you, you
shall be kept from giving way to evil. You shall not be decoyed by fair
temptation, you shall not be cowed by fierce persecution: mightier is he that
is in you than he which is in the world. Satan will attack you, and his
weapons are deadly, but you shall foil him at all points. To you is it given
to tread upon the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon shall you
trample under foot. If God should allow you for awhile to be sorely tried, as
he did his servant Job, and if the devil should have all the world to help
him in his attempt to destroy your spiritual life, yet even on the dunghill
of poverty, and in the wretchedness of sickness, your spirit shall still
maintain its holy life, and you shall prove it so by blessing and magnifying
God, notwithstanding all. We little dream what may be reserved for us; we may
have to climb steeps of prosperity, slippery and dangerous, but we shall
live; we may be called to sink into the dark waters of adversity, all God's
waves and billows may go over us, but we shall live. WE may traverse
persilent swamps of error, or burning dewerts of unbelief, but the divine
life shall live amid the domains of death. Let the future be bright or black,
we need not wish to turn the page; that which we prize best, namely, our
spiritual life, is hid with Christ in God, beyond the reach of harm, and we
shall live. If old age shall be our portion, and our crown shall be delayed
till we have fought a long and weary battle, yet nevertheless we shall live;
or if sudden death should cut short the time of our trial here, yet we shall
have lived in the fullness of that word.
III. Our third point is, THE REASON FOR THE SECURITY OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE.
The reason assigned is this, "Because I live, ye shall live also." Christ has
life essentially as God. Christ, as man, having fulfilled his life-work,
having offered full atonement for human sin, dieth no more, death hath no
more dominion over him. His life is communicated to us, and becomes the
guarantee to us that we shall live also.
Observe, first, that this is the sole reason of the believer's spiritual
life. "Because I live, ye shall live also." The means by which the soul is
pardoned is found in the precious blood of Jesus; the cause of its obtaining
spiritual life at first is found in Christ's finished work; and the only
reason why the Christian continues still to live after he is quickened, lies
in Jesus Christ, who liveth and was dead and is alive for evermore. When I
first come to Christ, I know I must find all in him, for I feel I have
nothing of my own; but all my life long I am to acknowledge the same absolute
dependence; I am still to look for everything to him. " I am the vine, ye are
the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth
much fruit: for without me, yet can do nothing." the temptation is after we
have looked to Jesus and found life there, to fancy that in future time we
are to sustain ourselves in spiritual existence by some means within
ourselves, or by supplies extra and apart from Christ. But it must not be so;
all for the future as well as all for the past is wrapped up in the person
and the work of the Lord Jesus. Because he died, ye are pardoned; because he
lives, ye live; all your life still lies in him who is the way, the truth,
and the life. Does not the Christian's life depend upon his prayerfulness?
Could he be a Christian if he ceased to pray? We reply, the Christian's
spiritual health depends upon his prayerfulness, but that prayerfulness
depends on something else. The reason why the hands of the clock move may be
found first in a certain wheel which operates upon them, but if you go to the
primary cause of all, you reach the main-spring, or the weight, which is the
source of all the motion. Many secondary causes tend to sustain spiritual
life; but the primary cause, the first and foremost, is because Jesus Christ
lives. "All my fresh springs are in thee." While Jesus lives, he sends the
Spirit; the Spirit being sent, we pray; our payer becomes the evidence of our
spiritual life. "But are not good works essential to the maintenance of the
spiritual life?" Certainly, if there be no good works, we have no evidence of
spiritual life. In its season the tree must bring forth its fruit and its
leaves; if there be no outward sign we suspect that there is no motion of the
sap within. Still, to the tree the fruit is not the cause of life, but the
result of it, and to the life of the Christian, good works bear the same
relationship, they are its outgrowth, not its root. If then my spiritual life
is low, what am I to look to? I am not to look to my prayers, I am not to
find comfort in my works. I may from these discover how declining I am; but
if I want my life to be renovated, I must fly to the fountain of my life,
even Jesus, for there, and there only, shall I find restoration. Do let us
recollect this, that we are not saved because of anything that we are, or
anything that we do; and that we do not remain saved because of anything we
are or can be. A man is saved because Christ died for him he continues saved
because Christ lives for him. The sole reason why the spiritual life abides
is because Jesus lives. This is to get upon a rock, above the fogs which
cover all things down below. If my life rests on something within me, then
to-day I live, and to-morrow I die; but if my spiritual life rests in Christ,
then in my darkest frames-ay, and when sin has most raged against my spirit-
still I live in the ever-living One, whose life never changes.
Secondly, it is a sufficient cause for my life. "Because I live, ye shall
live also." It must be enough to make believers live that Christ lives; for
first, Christ's life is a proof that his work has accomplished the absolution
of his people from their sins. He would have been in the tomb to this hour
had he not made a complete satisfaction for their sins, but his rising again
from the dead is the testimony of God that he has accepted the atonement of
his dear Son; his resurrection is our full acquittal. Then if the living
Christ be our acquittal, how can God condemn us to die for sins which he has
by the fact of Christ's resurrection declared to be for ever blotted out? If
Jesus lives, how can we die? Shall there be two deaths for one sin, the death
of Christ and the death of those for whom he died? God forbid that there
should be any such injustice with the Most High. The very fact that Jesus
lives, proves that our sin has been atoned for, that we are absolved, and
therefore cannot die.
Jesus is the representative of those for whom he is the federal head. Shall
the representative live, and yet those represented die? How shall the living
represent the dead? But in his life I see my own life, for as Levi was in the
loins of Abraham, so is every saint in the loins of Christ, and the life of
Christ is representatively the life of all his people.
Moreover, he is the surety for his people, under bonds and pledges to bring
his redeemed safely home. His own declaration is, "I give unto my sheep
eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out
of my hands." Will he break his covenant bonds? Shall his suretyship be cast
to the winds? It cannot be. The fact that if any of his people for whom he
died, to whom he has given spiritual life, should after all die, Christ would
be disappointed of his intent, which supposition involves the grossest
blasphemy. What so many shall he have for his reward? The purchase-price
shall not be given in vain; a redemption so marvelous as that which he has
presented upon the tree, shall never in any degree become a failure. His
life, which proves his labour to be over, guarantees to people. Know ye not,
my brethren, that if one of those to whom Christ has given spiritual life
should after all fall from it and die, it would argue either that he had a
want of power to keep them, or a want of will to do so. Shall we conceive him
to be devoid of power? Then how he is mighty God? Is he devoid of will to
keep his people- is that conceivable? Cast out the traitorous thought! He
must be as willing as he is able, and as able as he is willing. While he was
in this world, he kept his people; having loved his own, he loved them to the
end; he is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever," he will not suffer one
of these little ones to perish.
Recollect, and this perhaps will cheer you most of all, that all who have
spiritual life are one with Christ Jesus. Jesus is the head of the mystical
body, they are the members. Suppose one of the members of the mystical body
of Christ should die, then from that moment, with reverence be it spoken,
Christ is not a complete Christ. What were the head without the body? A most
ghastly sight. What were the head with only a part of the members? Certainly
not perfect. There must be every member present to make a complete body.
Therefore we gather that you, brother, though you think yourself the meanest
part of the body, are nevertheless, essential to its perfection; and you,
sister, though you fancy yourself to be one of the uncomely portions of the
body, yet you must be there, or else the body cannot be perfect, and Christ
cannot be a complete Christ. From him, the head, the life streams into all
the members and while that head lives as a perfect head of a perfect body,
all members must live also. As we have often said, as long as a man's head is
above water you cannot drown his limbs; as long as our head is above the
reach of spiritual death we also are the same-no weapons can hurt, no poison
can destroy, not all hell's fires could burn, nor all earth's floods could
drown, the spiritual life within us: it must be safe because it is
indissolubly one with Jesus Christ the Lord. What comfort, then, lies in
this, the sole but sufficient reason for the eternal maintenance of the new-
born life within us, is this, "Because I live, ye shall live also."
And be it remembered, that this reason is an abiding reason-"Because I live,
ye shall live also"-a reason which has as much force at one time as another.
From causes variable the effects are variable; but remaining causes produce
permanent effects. Now Jesus always lives. Yesterday, dear brother you were
exalted in fellowship with him, and stood upon the mountain top; then your
heart was glad, and your spirit rejoiced, and you could say, "I live in
Christ." To-day darkness has intervened, you do not feel the motions of the
inner life as you did yesterday, but do not therefore conclude that the life
is not there. What is to be your sign; what is to be the rainbow of the
covenant to you? Why, that Jesus lives. Do you doubt that he lives? You dare
not. You trust him, doubt not then that you live, for your life is as sure as
his. Believe also that you shall live, for that also is as sure as the fact
that he lives. God gave to Noah, a token that he would not destroy the earth-
it was the rainbow: but then the rainbow is not often seen; there are
peculiar circumstances before the bow is placed in the cloud. You, brother,
you have a token of God's covenant given you in the text which can always be
seen, neither sun nor shower are needful to its appearance. The living Christ
is the token that you live too. God gave to David the token of the sun and
the moon; he said if the ordinances of day and night should be changed, then
would he cast off the seed of David. But there are times when neither sun nor
moon appear, but your token is plain when these are hidden. Christ at all
times lives. When you are lowest, when you cannot pray, when you can hardly
groan, when you do not seem to have spiritual life enough even to heave a
desire, still if you cling to Jesus this life is as surely in you as there is
life in Christ himself at the right hand of the Father.
And lastly, it is a most instructive cause. It instructs us in many ways: let
us hint at three. It instructs us to admire the condescension of Christ. Look
at the two pronouns, "ye" and "I"; shall they ever come into contact? yes,
here they stand in close connection with each other. "I"-the I AM the
Infinite; "ye" the creatures of an hour; yet I, the Infinite, come into union
with you, the finite; I the Eternal, take up you the fleeting, and I make you
live because I live. What? Is there such a bond between me and Christ? Is
there such a link between his life and mine? Blessed be his name! Adored be
his infinite condescension!
It demands of us next abundance of gratitude. Apart from Christ we are dead
in trespasses and sins; look at the depth of our degradation! But in Christ
we live, live with his own life. Look at the height of our exaltation, and
let our thankfulness be proportioned to this infinity of mercy. Measure if
you can from the lowest hell to the highest heaven, and so great let your
thankfulness be to him who has lifted you from death to life.
Let the last lesson be see the all-importance of close communion with Jesus.
Union with Christ makes you live; keep up your enjoyment of that union, that
you may clearly perceive and enjoy your life. Begin this year with the
prayer, "Nearer to thee, my Lord, nearer to thee." Think much of the
spiritual life and less of this poor carnal life, which will be soon be over.
Go to the source of life for an increase of spiritual life. Go to Jesus.
Think of him more than you have done, pray to him more; use his name more
believingly in your supplications. Serve him better, and seek to grow up into
his likeness in all things. Make an advance this year. Life is a growing
thing. Your life only grows by getting nearer to Christ; therefore, get under
the beams of the Sun of the Righteousness. Time brings you nearer to him, you
will soon be where he is in heaven; let grace bring you nearer also. You
taste more of his love as fresh mercies come, give him more of your love,
more of your fellowship. Abide in him, and may his word abide in you
henceforth and for ever, and all shall be to his glory. Amen.
Sharing Christ's Life
December 1st, 1867 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also." John 14:19 .
This was, and is, the mark of the true believer, that he see Jesus. When Jesus was here among men, the world saw him in a certain sense, but yet in truth it did not see him at all. The world's eye saw the outside of Christ the flesh of the man Christ, but the true Christ the ungodly eye could not discern. They could not perceive those wonderful attributes of character, those delightful graces and charms, which made up the true spiritual Christ. They saw but the husk, and not the kernel; they saw the quartz of the golden nugget, but not the pure gold which that quartz contained. They saw but the external man; the real, spiritual Christ they could not see. But unto as many as God had chosen, Christ manifested himself as he did not unto the world. There were some to whom he said, "The world seeth me not, but ye see me." Some there were whose eyes were anointed with the heavenly eye-salve, so that they saw in the "the man Christ Jesus," the God, the glorious Saviour, the King of kings, the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. The blind world said of him that he was a root out of a dry ground, and when they saw him there was no beauty in him that they should desire him; he was despised and rejected of men. But these men saw him as God over all blessed for ever, descending to tabernacle among men, and to take upon himself man's imperfect nature, that so he might redeem him from all iniquity and save him. Now, to this hour, this is the mark of the true Christian: this is to be of the elect: this is the very badge and symbol of the faithful they see Jesus. They look beyond the clouds. Other men see the cloud and the darkness, and they wist not what it is; but these men with more than eagle eye pierce through the clouds of mere sensual impressions, and they see the glory that was always his, even the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Beloved, have you ever seen Jesus with the eye of faith? Have you ever perceived the glory of his person, and the beauty of his character? Have you so perceived Jesus as to trust in him? Have you been so enamoured of him as to have yielded yourselves to be his servants for ever? Do you take up his cross? Do you avow yourselves to be his followers, come what may? If so, then are ye saved; but if ye see not Christ with your spirit, neither do ye know him, nor shall ye enjoy a portion with him. Blessed be God, there is this to be said, that he who has once seen Christ shall always see him. The eye may sometimes gather dimness, but the light shall yet return. Where Christ hath opened a blind eye, blindness comes not back again. He take the cataract totally away. He does not give a transient gleam of spiritual sight, and then permit the soul to go back into the darkness of its grave; but the sight which he gives is the sight of things eternal, a sight which shall strengthen and grow until at the last, when death shall take away every barrier which parts us from the unseen world, we shall know even as we are know, and see even as we are seen. To see Jesus! 'Tis heaven begun! And heaven consummated is but to see Jesus, no longer through a glass darkly, but face to face still it is to see Jesus, to behold the King in his beauty. This, I say, is the sum and substance of life eternal, and it is true life here below. And now our Lord, speaking to those who had seen him, seen him truly and in spiritual recognition, talks to them concerning life. Sometimes it is ours to speak to you of death, not necessarily with gloom, for it is to the Christian illuminated with rays of heavenly light; but here and now we desire to speak of life, the best and divinest life; we will forget the raven with its dusky wing, and see only the tender, gentle dove, bearing for each one of us the olive-branch of peace and victory. We shall speak of life life of the highest possible degree: not the life which gladdens our eyes in the sunlight when we behold the flowers of the field opening their cups: this is vegetable life. Nor the life of the young lambs as they frisk, and caper, and dance for very gladness in the spring sunbeams. This is but animal life. Nor even the life that enables men to think and speak upon common themes of interest, and perform the ordinary duties of their different calling: this is but mental and social life. We reach to something higher still spiritual life, life in Christ Jesus; a life twice created; a life which is grafted, and is an advance upon the first life which we have when we are born, surpassing far the life of the flesh, because that shall by-and-bye expire; but this is a life which springs from incorruptible seed, and which liveth and abideth for ever. The text, in talking to us about life, gives us, first the assurance that Jesus lives; it the promises us that his people shall live; and it clearly states that there is a link of connection between the two things that because Jesus lives, his people shall live also. First, then: I. JESUS LIVES. He always lived. There never was a time when he was not. "Before the hills were brought forth I was there," saith he. The eternal Wisdom of God is from everlasting. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God. The same was in the beginning with God." The life, however, which we think is intended in the text, is not his divine life, his life as Deity, but his life as man, his life as Mediator between God and man. In that life he lives. We needed not to be assured of his divine life: but seeing that, as a Mediator he died, it was necessary to assure us that as a Mediator he descended into the tomb; it is well for us to be assured that as a Mediator he rose again from his grave, and now lives at the right hand of the Father, no more to bleed and die. Jesus Christ at this time lives in his proper manhood. He lives as to his soul: his human soul is as it was on earth. He lives as to his human body. He is a man before the throne; and I have no doubt that he wears the symbol, of course, mightily glorified, of his sufferings.
"Looks like a Lamb that had been slain. And wears his priesthood still."
That very Christ, who did once as a babe lie upon his mother's breast, and who afterwards trod the waves of Gennesaret: who, after his resurrection, ate apiece of broiled fish and of honeycomb that very Christ is now before the eternal throne. In very soul and body the man Christ Jesus is there. He lives. He lives a real life. We are so very apt to mystify and becloud everything, and to suppose that Christ lives by his influence only, or lives by his Spirit. Brethren, he lives, the very man that died, as surely as he bled upon the tree, and in his own proper person, from five actual wounds poured out the warm life-torrents of his heart, so surely does he actually live at this present moment in the midst of unnumbered hearts that sound his praise the delightful object of the vision of the myriads of spirits who continually adore him. He actually lives; he really and truly lives, as he lived here below. He lives, also, actively not in some wondrous sleep of quiet and sacred repose. He is as busy now as he was when here. He proposed to himself when he went away a certain work. "I go to prepare a place for you," said he. He is preparing that place for us still. He intercedes, also, daily for his people. Oh! if your faith is strong enough, even now you can see him distinctly standing before the throne of God, pleading his glorious merits. I think I see him now as clearly as ever the Jews saw Aaron when he stood with his breast-plate on before the mercy-seat, for remember, the Jew never did see Aaron at all there, for the curtain was dropped, and Aaron was within the veil, and therefore, the Jew could only see him in his fancy. But I say I see him as clearly as that, for I see my Lord, not by fancy, but by faith. There, where the veil is rent, so that he is not hidden from my soul's gaze. I see him with my name and yours upon his breast, pleading before God. Why, gaze awhile and you may think you see him now. Just as the Jew saw Aaron, waving the censer, standing between the living and the dead, and staying the plague, even so is Christ standing at this hour between the living and the dead, and so moving the whole Deity to spare the guilty yet a little longer, whilst he makes intercession for them that they may live. And then comes his higher intercession for them that they may live. And then comes his higher intercession for his elect, of whom he says, "I pray for them; I pray not for the world." He lives, then, an actual life, of which you and I reap the daily fruits. Not a life of slumber and stillness, but an active, busy life, by which he continually dispenses gifts to us. For this reason it is well to remind you, that, therefore, Jesus can only lives as a man in one place. When we speak of Christ being found in every assembly of his people, we understand that of his presence in his Godhead and by his Holy Spirit, who rules on earth in this dispensation of the Spirit. But the man Christ can be but in one place, and he is now at the right hand of the Majesty on high. It is absurd, it is horrible both to faith and to reason, to say the Christ's body is eaten, and that his blood is drunk in tens of thousands of places wherever priests choose to offer what they call "the mass." A "mass" of profanity, indeed, it is! Our Lord Jesus Christ, as to his real, positive, corporeal presence, is not here. As to his flesh and his blood, he is not, and cannot be, here. He will be here one day, when he shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the trump of the archangel and the voice of God, but in his real person, he is now where his saints are before the throne, whence by-and-bye he will descend. Meanwhile, his spiritual presence is our joy and our gladness, but his corporeal presence a doctrine which our faith grasps and lays hold of his corporeal presence is before the throne of God, and there he lives in proper flesh and blood as the Son of Man. Brethren and sisters, listen to a brief sketch of the biography of Christ's life in glory. When the holy women and godly men wrapped him in spices, and laid him in the tomb, Jesus was dead. There for parts of three days and nights he tarried. He saw no corruption, but yet he was in the place of corruption. No worm could assail that holy thing which no sin had tainted, and yet he laid in the place where death seemed sovereign. A while he slept, and the Church mourned, but blessed was the day when, at the first rosy dawn of the light, the Saviour rose. Then could he say, "I live." His body, instinct with life, rose from its slumber, and began at once to put off the grave-clothes. He unwound the winding-sheets and the fine white linen, and laid them carefully down, and left them there, for you and me, that we might have our bed well sheeted when we come to lie in it at the last. As for the napkin, he unwound it, and laid it by itself, as though that were for us who are living, to wipe our eyes when our dear ones are taken away, since we have no cause to sorrow as they do who have no hope. And when this was done, an angel rolled away the stone, and forth came the Saviour glorious, no doubt, but so much like other men that Mary "supposed him to have been the gardener," so that there could have been no very supernatural splendour surrounding his person. He revealed himself to many of his disciples sometimes to as many as five hundred at once. He ate with them; he drank with them; he was a man among men with them, till, when forty days had passed, he gathered them all at Olivet, the mountain from which he had so often addressed them, and took his final leave. While he was blessing them, his hands outstretched in benediction, a cloud received him out of their sight. And since then he hath sat down at the right hand of God, expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. He is tarrying there yet a little while longer. When the fulness of time shall come if I may go on with his biography he will come again. "This same Jesus," said the angels, "which is taken up from you heaven, shall so come in a like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." He will, therefore, come in proper person a second time, without a sin offering, unto salvation. Then will he gather his saints together who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. Then shall they reign with him. Then shall the earth be covered with his glory. All nations shall bow before him, and all people shall call him blessed. And then shall come the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, and God shall be all in all. But Christ shall still live, for he hath received a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, without beginning of days, or end of years a priest for ever. When suns and moons shall grow dim with age, and the round world shall all dissolve, like the morning hoar-frost, and time shall be rolled up like a vesture, and all the ages shall have been trodden out like sparks beneath the foot of the Eternal God, then shall Jesus Christ live on still, world without end. Thus have we spoken concerning Christ as living. But now, in the next place: II. LIFE IS PROMISED TO CHRIST'S PEOPLE. This does not mean their natural existence. That they have received from Adam, and, through their sin, it has become a curse to them, rather than a blessing. Should they remain unpardoned, the fact of continued existence will become to them the dreadful of calamities, since it must be an existence in God's holy abhorrence of sin for ever; driven from every glimpse or hope of forgiveness. The life which comes to us through Christ is of this sort I trust you know it in your own hearts it is life spiritual, given to us in regeneration. When the Holy Spirit quickens a dead soul, that dead soul then receives the life of Christ. No man is alive unto God spiritually, except through Christ. Because Christ lives, we live. When a dead soul gets into living contact with the living Saviour by the power of the Spirit, then it is that spiritual life begins. The very first evidence of spiritual life is trusting in Jesus, which shows that s the first symptom is alliance to Christ, the cause of the life must be somewhere here, namely, union with Christ. One of the very first outward signs is prayer prayer to Christ, and that, again, rises from the fact that Christ gives us of his life, and then that life goes back again to him. Brethren, if you seek the life of other souls, and desire to see them brought to God, preach Christ to them. Do you not see, "Because I live, ye shall live"? Then no sinner ever will live spiritually apart from Christ. Though you and I cannot quicken them, yet we can preach the gospel to them, and faith cometh by hearing, and where faith is, there life is. It is no use trying to raise the dead by preaching the law to them. That is only covering them up fairly with a lie in their right hand; but preach of dying love and of rising power, to tell of pardons bought with blood, and to declare that Christ died a substitute for sinners this is the hopeful way of bringing life to the dead. IT is by such instrumentality that souls are brought to life eternal. Because Christ is alive, his elect in due time receive spiritual life by the power of the Holy Spirit, and, although once they were dead in sin, they begin to live unto righteousness. Further, this spiritual life is preserved in us by Christ still living. "Because I continue to live, ye shall continue to live also." The text clearly means that: it bears that paraphrase. Oh! dear friends! when we once get spiritual life into us, what a thousand enemies there are who try to put it out! Many and many a time has it seemed to go hard with my soul as to whether I really had a spark of life within my spirit. Temptation after temptation have I endured until it appeared as if I must yield my hold on Christ and give up my hope. There has been conflict upon conflict, and struggle upon struggle, until at last the enemy has got his foot upon the neck, and my whole being has trembled, and had it not been for Christ's promise, "Because I live, ye shall live also," it might have gone harder with me, and I might have despaired, and given up all hope, and laid down to die. The assurance, then, that the spiritual life of the Christian must be maintained because Christ lives, was the only power to get me the victory. Let it teach us, then, this practical lesson. Whenever our spiritual life is very weak, and we want it to grow stronger, let us get to the living Christ for the supply of his strength. When you feel you are ready to die spiritually, go to the Saviour for revived life. The text is like a hand that points us to the storehouse. You who are in the desert, there is a secret spring under your feet, and you know not where it is; this is the mysterious finger which points you to the spot. Contemplate Christ; believe in Christ; draw yourselves by faith nearer and nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and so shall your life receive a divine impetus which it has not known for many a day. "Because I live, ye shall live also." And further, brethren, we get from Christ an educated life. Any man may be spiritually alive, and yet he may not know much about the higher life. There is in spiritual life a scale of degree. One man is just alive unto God; another man may bee vigorous; another may be rapturously consecrated. I hope you and I will anxiously desire to get the highest form of spiritual life that is known. We do not wish to beggars in the kingdom of Christ, but, if we can, to take our place in the House of Peers, to be princes through Jesus Christ. We need not be poor; Christ is willing to enrich us. We are not straitened in him; we are straitened in ourselves. Now, Christ gives the promise, "Because I live," saith he, "the highest life, far above all principalities and powers, ye shall live also this higher life with me." You may have it; you may obtain it, but brethren, if you want to get it, never go to Moses for it; never go to yourselves for it. Do not seek to school yourselves by rules, and regulations, and resolutions, or by a morbid asceticism, such as some men delight in; but go the living Saviour, and in the living liberty which you will enjoy in communion with him , your soul will take unto itself wings, and mount into a clearer atmosphere: your spirit will be braced to a higher degree of robust devotion: you will draw nearer to heaven, because you have got nearer to Christ, who is the Lord of heaven. "Because I live, ye shall have life: ye shall have that life continued, and ye shall have that life yet more abundantly: I am come, not only that ye may have life, but more abundantly." There are your Master's words; plead them before your Master's throne. And now, brethren, we will go a little further. We will suppose that you are well acquainted with these forms of life, and now there comes a jerk, as it were. You are travelling along the iron road of th railway, and there comes a sudden jerk, and you stop. What is it? It is the thought of death. Well, but Jesus tells us here that that is of no consequence. It is an item in the great world of life that to you who are in him is scarcely worth consideration, because the text over-rides that, and swallows it up, as it is written "death is swallowed up in victory": it is made as though it did not exist. "Because I live, ye shall live also." Your continued life of happiness, of holiness, of spirituality, of consecration, and of obedience which, indeed is your only life worth having is guaranteed to you in the text. Death cannot interfere with it, not even by the space of a single second nay,. I tell you not even by the space of the ticking of a clock. What, a Christian die? "Because I live, ye shall live also," is never suspended. There is not time for it to be suspended in. Do you know what death really is? Does it take long to die? I have heard of men who have been said to be weeks in dying. Not so; they were weeks living; the dying occupied no space; that was done at once, and immediately. And so with the believer. To him death is so slight a jerk that he still keeps on upon the same line. He still lives, only there is this difference, that it is as though the railway had hitherto been running through a tunnel, and he now comes out of it into the open plain. His life below was the train in the tunnel, but when he dies, as we call it, there is a jerk, and then it comes right out of the tunnel into the fair, open, champaign country of heaven, where all is clear and bright, where all the birds are singing, and the darkness is over, and the mist and fogs are gone, and his soul is for ever blessed. "Because I live a life that cannot be suspended," Christ seems to say, "ye shall live also." At the bottom of every man's heart there is, I suppose, a fear of ceasing to be. Some infidels seem to find comfort in the thought of being annihilated, but that thought is, perhaps, the most abhorrent that ever crossed the human mind. There is a something which makes us hope we are, and shrink with loathing from the idea of being annihilated. Now, at that point comes in our text, and it says, "What! Annihilated! You who believe in Jesus cannot be: you shall live also, live with that higher life which you have received a life of beauty, a life of excellence, of holiness, and of God-likeness: that new life implanted within you shall never be suspended." Nay, never by the space of a single tick, for "Because I live, ye shall live also." Further, brethren, our text is such a wide on that we have a hold of the fact that we are to continue to live as to our spirits and our souls. The text beneath its sheltering wings, like a hen gathering her brood, gathers many precious truths, and the next one is that this very body of ours is to live, too. It must take its time for that. It must abide in the earth, whereon it has dwelt. It is so decreed that there it should lie, unless Christ should come before that time. But concerning this very body, there is no decree of annihilation. It will smoulder away. It may be taken up by the spade of the careless sexton, and scattered to the winds of heaven may all the atoms of the body be. But there is a life-germ within it which no human power can destroy, and over which the divine eye perpetually watches; and when that mysterious and long-expects sound of the angelic trump shall ring o'er land and sea, through heaven and earth, and the graves shall all be opened, then shall my soul find my body yet again fashioned after a more beautiful form; more fit for the spirit than aforetime; more elastic; altogether free from weakness; no longer such as shall be subject to pain, to sickness, to accident, to decay, to ultimate corruption; but a spiritual body, raised in power, in glory, and in immortality; not raised in the likeness of the first Adam in the garden, but in the likeness of the second Adam in the everlasting Paradise of God. Courage, my eyes, courage! Ye shall be closed for a while, but ye shall not be so for ever, for ye, even ye, shall strike the strings of those celestial harps that pour forth his praise. Courage, all ye members of my body, which have been sanctified to be members of Christ, and made to be parts of the Holy Spirit's temple! Ye shall all take your part in the grand triumphal entry of Christ, when he shall descend to take possession of his kingdom. "Though worms destroy this body yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall behold for myself, and not another." So go to thy bed in the earth, poor body, and sleep there awhile. Bathe thyself like her who bathed herself in spices to make herself ready for the King, so go and get thyself prepared to meet thy Lord. Put off thy word-day dress, and put on thy Sabbath garments, thy bridal array, and then shalt thou come to the King and see him in his beauty, and crown him with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the days of his espousals. Yea, because he lives in the body which he bore, his body shall live again, also. And so, beloved, the text amounts to this, that in body and soul, the Christian shall be immortal, like his Master. When our reign on earth whether it shall last a thousand years, or a thousand ages (we know not what the Word of God intends) but when that glorified state on earth, which I do most assuredly believe in, shall be over, and it shall be said:
"Now Jehovah's banner's furled, Sheathed his sword because 'tis done";
when the drama of the mediatorial reign shall all be closed, and we shall dwell under the immediate sovereignty of God once again, then, beloved, every believer shall be with Christ, eternally glorified, for here stand the irrevocable decree and the divine mandate of creation's Lord, who is also the redeeming Lamb, "Because I live, ye shall live also." Reel, ye pillars of earth! Be shaken, ye arches of the starry heavens! Pass away, O Time, and you ye rolling worlds, dissolve into your native nothingness! But the believer must live on, because Jesus lives, and until the Lord's Christ can bow his head, till he who hath immortality can expire, till God himself can cease to be, no soul that believed in Jesus can lose the life incorruptible which God's own Spirit hath put within it. I want to sing, brethren, rather than to talk with you. These are words and thoughts fit for some ancient bard, or for the spirit of some inspired prophet sent from heaven. I do but lisp where even seraphs might find their loudest songs fail in the them. Let your hearts mount! Let your souls exult! Let your spirits be glad! Do you
"Long for evening to undress, That you may rest with God,"
and enter into his heaven? Long for the evening of death, when your toil shall be over, and the hour of your bliss shall have come. I shall have no time, I fear, for the third and last point, and, therefore, must only give a few hints of what I would have said. III. THIS LIFE IS LINKED WITH CHRIST'S LIFE. Immortal, all glorious, promised to true believers, it is bound up with the life of our immortal Lord. Why is this? First, because Christ leads a justified life. I scarcely know how to express my meaning. You understand that so long as Jesus was here he lay under the charge of our sins. Whilst he was in the world, his Father had made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all. But when he died, his death discharged all the liabilities of his elect. The handwriting of ordinances that was against us was then taken away. When he went to Calvary as our Surety, the sins of all his people were his debts: he had taken them upon himself. But when he rose from the dead in the garden that first Easter morning he had no debts of ours: he had no longer any substitutional engagement or liability. All the debts which he had taken upon himself as our Redeemer he had fully and completely discharged. No officer can arrest a man for debt who has none, and Christ now lives, therefore, as a justified person. And,. brethren, no officer of justice can arrest any of the people for whom Christ paid their debts. How, then, shall death have any dominion over those whose debts are all discharged? How shall they be laid in prison for whom Christ was laid in prison? How shall they suffer death, which is the penalty of sin, for whom Christ has already suffered all the penalties which just ice could have demanded? Because he lives the life of one who has discharged the debts of his people, they must, in justice, live. Secondly, Christ lives a representative life . He is no longer Christ for himself. As the Member of Parliament represents a town, so Jesus Christ represents all the people who are in him, and as long as he lives they live. He is their Covenant Head. As long as Adam stands, his race shall stand; when Adam falls, the human race falls. While, therefore, Christ lives, the Christly ones, who are in him, live through his representation. In the next place, Christ lives a perfect life. Perhaps you do no see how this is a link between his living and your living, but it is, because we are a part of Christ. According to the Word of Scripture, every believer is a member of Christ's body. Now, a man who lives perfectly has not lost his finger, of his arm, or his hand. A man may be alive with many of his limbs taken away, but you can scarcely call him a perfect-living man. But I cannot imagine a maimed Christ. I have never been able to conceive in my soul, of Christ lacking any of his members. Such a thing was never seen on earth. The barbarous cruelty of the Jews could not effect that, and, by the Providence of God, Pilate's officers were not permitted to cause such a thing. "Not a bone of him shall be broken," was the ancient prophecy. They brake the legs of the first and second thief, but when they came to the matchless Lord they saw he was already dead, so they brake not his legs. Even in his earthly body, which was the type of his spiritual body, he must suffer no maiming injury. Therefore, my brethren, because Christ lives as a perfect Christ, everyone that is one with him must live also. Then, fourthly, Christ lives a blessed life a life of perfect blessedness, and, therefore, we must live also. "Why?" say you. Why, look you: there is a mother here. She is alive: she is in good health, but she is not perfectly happy, for she is a Rachel weeping for her children, and will not be comforted, because they are not. Time will heal her wounds, it is true: for the most affectionate heart cannot be always mourning; but our Lord Jesus Christ in that infinitely affectionate heart of his would not only mourn over one of his children if lost, but he would mourn for ever over it. I cannot conceive of Christ being happy and losing one of his dear children. I cannot conceive Christ to be personally blessed, and yet on of the members of his own person cast into the "outer darkness." Because he lives in perfect happiness, I conceive that all who are dear to him will be round about him. It shall not be said that he lost one of them, nor shall one of the family be missing, but:
"All the chosen seed Shall meet around the throne, To bless the conduct of his grace, And make his wonders known."
And, lastly, Christ leads a triumphant life, and, therefore, ye shall live also. You say again, "How is that?" Why, brethren, the triumph of Christ concerns us. This is the triumph of Christ, "Of all those whom thou hast given me, I have lost none" Now, suppose there to be heard a whisper from the infernal pit, "aha! Aha! Thou liest! There is one here whom the Father gave thee, but who thou didst lose" why, Christ would never be able to speak again by way of triumph! He could never boast any more. Then might he put down his crown. If it were but to happen in that one case, at any rate, the enemy would have got the advantage over him, and he would hot have been the Conqueror all along the line. But, glory be to God! he who trod the winepress with none for his assistant, came forth out of the crimson conflict, having smitten all his foes, and won a complete victory. There shall not be in the whole campaign a single point over which Satan shall be able to boast. Christ has brought many sons to glory as the Captain of their salvation, and never yet has he failed, and he never shall in any point, neither the least nor the greatest, neither the strongest nor the weakest. This is essential, dear friends. It is essential to the acclamations of heaven, that every soul that believes in Jesus should live for ever. It is essential to the everlasting harmony and to the joy of Christ throughout Eternity, that all who trust in him should be preserved and kept safe, even until the end. Therefore, says the text, "Because I live, ye shall live also." So I leave this truth with you, only praying that those who have no part in this matter may seek Christ at this very time, and be led by the Spirit to cry mightily to him, and his promise is, "They that seek me early shall find me." Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found, call ye upon him whilst he is near." God bless you, for Christ's sake. Amen.
Christ Manifesting Himself to His People
June 10, 1855 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" John 14:22 .
What a blessed Master Jesus Christ was! How familiar did he allow his disciples to make themselves with him! Though he was the Lord of life and glory, the great and mighty one, as well as the man of Nazareth, yet see how he talks with his poor disciples, the fishermen, just as if he had been one of the same class and order with themselves! He was none of your dignitaries who pride themselves on that dignity none of those ecclesiastics who love to carry much of formality about them, and to walk above other men, as if they were not indeed their fellows; but he talks to his disciples just as a father would to his children even more kindly than a master might to his pupils. He lets them put the simplest questions to him, and instead of rebuking them for their familiarity, he condescends to answer everything they please to ask him. Philip uttered a sentence which one would think no sensible man, who had been so long time with Jesus, ever could have troubled him with. He said, "Show us the Father and it suffices us." A stupid idea! As if Jesus Christ could shew the Father; that is to say, could shew God to Philip! And Jesus kindly answered "Hast thou been so long time with me, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." And now comes Judas (not Iscariot); and he puts also a very simple and easy question one he needed not to have asked; but Jesus Christ, instead of rebuking him, simply passes on to another subject, and forbears most wisely to answer the enquiry, because he would teach him more by silence than he could do by an explanation. We must also notice here how very particular the Holy Ghost is that a good man should not be confounded with a bad one. He says, "Judas, not Iscariot." There were two of the name of Judas; the one who betrayed our Lord, and the other who wrote the epistle of Jude, who should properly have been called Judas. Some of us, in reading the name Judas, might have said, "Ah! it was that traitor Judas Iscariot that asked the question." But the Holy Spirit would not allow this mistake to be made. This again should teach us, that it is not an idle wish for us to desire that our name should be handed down to posterity. We ought all to wish to have an unblemished character; we ought to desire to have that promise fulfilled, "The memory of the just is blessed." I would not wish my name to be mistaken for that of some criminal who was hanged. I would not wish to have my name written even by mistake in the calendar of infamy. However much I may now be misrepresented, it will one day be known that I have honestly striven for the glory of my Master; and God will say, "Judas, not Iscariot." The man was no deceiver after all. But we will now forsake Judas altogether, and proceed to look at our text. It contains two things: first, an important fact; secondly, an interesting enquiry. "Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" Here is a fact, and an enquiry concerning it. I. First, then, here is A GREAT FACT: that Jesus Christ does reveal himself to his people, but he does not unto the world. The fact is implied in the question; and even if Scripture did not declare it to be the truth, there are many of us who have a Scripture written in our hearts the Bible of experience which teaches us that it is true. Ask Christian men whether they have not had manifestations of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in a peculiar and wonderful manner, such as they never felt when they were in their unregenerate state. Turn to the biographies of eminent saints, and you will find there instances recorded in which Jesus has been pleased, in a very special manner to speak to their souls, to unfold the wonders of his person, and let them discern the matchless glories of his office; yea, so have their souls been steeped in happiness that they have thought themselves to be in heaven, whereas they were not there though they were well nigh on the threshold of it for when Jesus manifests himself to his people, it is a young heaven on earth, it is a paradise in embryo, it is the beginning of the bliss of the glorified; yea, and it shall be the consummation of that bliss, when Jesus Christ shall perfectly unveil himself to the admiring eyes of all his people and they shall be like him, and shall see him as he his. We are about to talk somewhat this morning, then, concerning that special manifestation which Jesus Christ vouchsafes to his people, and to his people only. We will make four observations here. We will observe, first, something concerning the favored persons "unto us," "not unto the world." Secondly, concerning special seasons "How is it that thou wilt?" He was not doing it just then; but "thou wilt." There are special seasons. Thirdly, some remarks concerning the wonderful display "Thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, as thou dost not unto the world." Then, fourthly, we shall dwell a little upon the effects which this manifestation will produce upon our souls. 1. First, then, who are the favored people to whom Jesus Christ manifests himself? "How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" It appears from the text that the persons to whom Jesus Christ shews himself in this wonderful manner do not belong to the world. Who, then, are these people? I am sure it would be difficult for you or me to discover them; I shall, therefore, this morning employ a fiction, and shall bid some spirit from an unknown world point out these distinguished individuals. O spirit! I give thee an errand. There are a certain number of people in this world who are not of it: go thou, search them out, and come thou back and tell me what thou hast found. We give the spirit time, he flies round the world, and he returns. "I have seen," says he, "a multitude of men; they are all pursuing one common path, with one object I have seen them trampling on each other in the fury of their hot pursuit; have seen them hurrying after something which each one desired for himself; but in the midst of the throng I saw a few marching in an opposite direction, who with much elbowing and strong opposition were going exactly contrary to the stream. I saw written on the foreheads of those who were proceeding with the crowd, the word 'Self;' but I marked those who were proceeding in the other direction, and behold, they had inscribed upon their brows, 'Christ;' and as I listened to them frequently in their soliloquies I heard them say, 'For us to live is Christ, for us to die is gain.' I marked these men, I saw them constantly pursuing their way in the teeth of all defiance, going against every opposition; I wondered where they were going; and I saw that before them was a wicket-gate, and on it the words; 'Mercy for the chief of sinners.' I saw them enter there; I marked them as they ran along the walls of salvation, and tracking them along to their destination, I saw them at last fold their arms in death, shut their eyes with tranquility; while I heard angels sing their requiem, and a voice shouted, 'Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.' Surely these must be the persons who are not of the world." Thou hast spoken rightly, O spirit; these are the individuals. What didst thou see of them, O spirit? Did they assemble and congregate together; or did they mix with the rest of humanity? "Why," saith he, "I noticed that once in the week they crowded to a certain place they called the House of God; I heard their song of praise; I saw them bend their knee in reverence, not only in that house, but in private; I witnessed their groanings, their strugglings, and their agonies, I knew that they were men of prayer, and men that loved God. I saw them gather in secret assemblies, to tell what the Lord had done for their souls; I marked that they would not be found with the wicked. I saw some houses that they would not enter. At the corner of the street there stood a house, well lighted up with many a lamp; and there were on its front some mystic cabalistic signs, the marks of woe and ill-doings. I saw the wicked there, reeling to and fro; I observed them in their drunkenness. But I marked how the Christian man put up his hand before his eyes, and passed by that place. I saw too another haunt of hell, where there were enacted scenes that eye should not have beheld where shouts of revelry and mirth, but not songs of holiness, were heard. I looked round that theater, and I discerned not a single one of these blessed persons; they would not run in the ways of the wicked, nor sit in the seat of the scorner, nor stand in the council of the unrighteous. I marked that like 'birds of a feather they would flock together' that they found their mates, and there they went that they built their nest in the same tree, and would make their habitation beneath the self-same roof." "Yea," saith the spirit, "I heard one of them exclaim, 'He that telleth lies shall not abide in my sight.' I saw him drive the liar from his house, and bid the profligate depart from him. I marked them; they were a select and separate people and I said, surely these are the men of whom it is written, 'They shall dwell alone, they shall not be numbered among the people.'" Well, spirit, rightly hast thou described them. I wonder how many there are here; the men to whom God will reveal himself, and not to the world. They are men who are not worldly in principle, in action, in conversation, in desires, in object, or in end. These are the persons. Do not tell me anything about universal grace, or universal manifestations, while I have the power I will proclaim free grace to peculiar characters, as long as I find it written, "Thou wilt manifest thyself to us, but not to the world." Our next remark is concerning special seasons. These highly favored men do not always see Jesus Christ alike. They do not always dive in the sunshine of his countenance. There are special times when God is pleased to reveal himself to his people. And these seasons are generally of two kinds: times of duty, and times of trial. I never found a lazy or indifferent Christian have a manifestation of Jesus Christ; I never heard one who gave himself wholly to business talk much of spiritual manifestations. No, poor soul; he had got religion enough to save him, but not enough to make him realize the spiritual and special blessings of a Christian. Those who do but little for Christ, Christ does but little for them in the way of special favors. Those who sit down, fold their arms, eat, drink, and are satisfied, are not the men who enter into the secret chamber of the Most High, and enjoy the presence of the Almighty. The men who are the most zealous for their Master discern the most of his lovingkindness, and enjoy the richest blessings from the Lord. Ask a Christian when he is the happiest, he will say, when he works the most. I know I am. I have not tried rest yet, and no doubt I shall find it anything but rest when I have it. When I pass a day without preaching my Master's name I feel that I have not done what I ought to have done, and I do not rest satisfied till I am within the four boards of a pulpit again. When we work the hardest we feel grace the most plentiful, when we dig the deepest we get the sweetest water. He who toils the most has his bread the most sweetened; and depend upon it, drops of sweat are blessed things to make dry bread go down. We shall always have mere happiness the more we labor for Christ. As for Issachar, who is a strong ass, crouching down between two burdens the man who is doing little the promise is, "A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back." The man who is idle must have chastisement; but he who serves his God may rejoice, for God will treat him with dainties; he will give him his portion mixed with honey; he will say, "I have taken thy bread and dipped it in my own dish; take it, and eat it, for thou art one who works in my own vineyard." It will be in seasons of duty; or, as I have said, in seasons of trial for you must not suppose when a Christian is laid aside from duty that he is doing nothing. Do not imagine that the time of your sickness has been lost to you. You were not only profiting yourselves, but actually serving God by your suffering, if you bore it patiently. Don't you know the text "We fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ, for his body's sake, which is the church." Christ's mystical body you are aware is made up of the head and all the members. The head had a certain amount to suffer that is all finished; but the body has a measured portion to endure also; and the more you suffer so much the less suffering there is for somebody else. There is a certain quantum of trial which the whole church has to sustain before it gets to heaven; for as Jesus Christ was afflicted, even so the whole of his people must have fellowship with his sufferings. There is a cup that is full of mixture, and the righteous must drink it; we must all have a sip thereof; but if one of us can take a deep draught, and do it patiently, there is so much the less for our fellows. Let us not complain, then; for it is in the time of trouble we see most of Jesus. Before Israel fought Amalek, God gave them water from the rock, and sent them manna from heaven; and before Jacob met Esau, the angel of God wrestled with him at the brook Jabbok, and hosts of angels met him at Mahanaim. Previous to trial you may generally expect a season of joy; and when that season of joy is over, you may say, "We must expect some danger now, for we have received too much delight." But when the trial comes, then expect to have delight with it; for our troubles are generally proportioned to our joys, and our joys are usually proportioned to our troubles. The more bitter the vessel of grief, the sweeter the cup of consolation; the heavier weight of trial here, the brighter the crown of glory hereafter. In fact, the same word in Hebrew signifies "weight "and "glory." A weight of trouble is a glory to a Christian, for it is an honour to him; and glory is a weight, for it often bows him down, and makes him die low at his Master's feet. I appeal to my brothers and sisters, and ask them when it is they have seen most of Jesus when they have been walking in the garden of delights, or when the bitter medicine has been in their mouth. Have you not had better visions of Jesus, when you have been racked with pain, than when you have been elevated by prosperity? When the barn has been full, the oil vat has been bursting, and the wine has been running over, it is often then that the sanctuary of God has been forsaken and the cabinet of God's loving-kindness is nearly disregarded. But when the fig-tree does not blossom, and when there are no herds in the stalls, then it is that God often comes nearest to his children, and most reveals himself to them. 2. The next thought is, the wondrous display itself. Jesus Christ manifest himself. There are many manifestations of God to his children, but this is the most precious of all. Some manifestations we never wish to have again. We do not want to have that discovery which we had of our sinfulness, when first we were awakened: we will leave it to God, but we will never pray for it. But here is a manifestation we should like to have every day. "I will manifest myself to him." He does this in different ways. I have had for a long while a manifestation of his sufferings in Gethsemane; I have been for months musing on his agonies; I think I have even eaten the bitter herbs that grow there, and drank of that black brook Kedron. I have sometimes gone up stairs alone, to put myself in the very posture Jesus Christ was in and I thought I could sympathize with him in his sufferings. Methought; saw the sweat of blood falling down to the ground; I had so sweet a view of my Savior in his agonies, I hope that one day I may be able to accompany him still further, and see him on Calvary, and hear his death-shriek "Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani?" Some of you, I know, have seen Jesus with the eye of faith quite as plainly as if you had seen him with your natural eyes. You could see your Savior hanging on the cross. You thought you saw the very crown of thorns on his head, and the drops of blood streaming down his face; you heard his cry; you saw his bleeding side; you beheld the nails, and before long you could have gone and pulled them out, and wrapped him up in linen and spices, and carried his body, and washed it with tears and anointed it with precious ointment. At other times you have had a manifestation of Christ in his gifts. You have seen that mighty sacrifice he offered, the pile smoking up to heaven, and all your sins burnt up with it; you have seen clearly the justifying righteousness he has put upon you; and as you have looked at yourselves you have said
"Strangely, my soul, art thou arrayed. By the great sacred Three; In sweetest harmony of praise. Let all my powers agree."
There are times when you have felt much joy at the exaltation of Jesus Christ, as displayed in his gifts. Then, again, you will see him in his triumph, with one foot upon Satan, and the other upon death. You will be able to behold him, marching up the sky, with all the glittering hosts behind him; and in due time you will have a manifestation of him to your soul, as sitting on his Father's throne until his enemies are made his footstool. And faith will sometimes so outsoar the wings of time, that we can bring futurity to the present, and see that great and pompous appearance, when on the great white throne the king shall sit and grasp his scepter, and when his saints before him shall shout his praise. If I were to go much farther, I should be accused of fanaticism, and so it may be; but yet I will believe and must believe that there are seasons when the Christian lives next door to heaven. If I have not gone within an inch of the pearly gates I am not here; if I have not sometimes snuffed the incense from the censers of the glorified and heard the music of their harps, I think I am not a living man. There have been seasons of ecstatic joy, when I have climbed the highest mountains, and I have caught some sweet whisper from the throne. Have you had such manifestations? I will not condemn you if you have not: but I believe most Christians have them, and if they are much in duty and much in suffering they will have them. It is not given to all to have that portion, but to some it is, and such men know what religion means. I was reading a short time ago of a Mr. Tennant. He was about to preach one evening, and thought he would take a walk. As he was walking in a wood he felt so overpoweringly the presence of Christ, and such a manifestation of him, that he knelt down, and they could not discover him at the hour when he was to have preached. He continued there for hours, insensible as to whether he was in the body or out of the body; and when they waked him he looked like a man who had been with Jesus, and whose face shone. He never should forget, he said, to his dying day, that season of communion, when positively, though he could not see Christ, Christ was there, holding fellowship with him, heart against heart, in the sweetest manner. A wondrous display it must have been. You must know something of it, if not much; otherwise you have not gone far on your spiritual course. God teach you more, and lead you deeper! "Then shall ye know, when ye follow on to know the Lord." 4. Then what will be the natural effects of this spiritual manifestation? The first effect will be humility. If a man says, "I have had such and such spiritual communications, I am a great man;" he has never had any communications at all; for "God has respect unto the humble, but the proud he knoweth afar off." He does not want to come near them to know them, and will never give them any visits of love. It will give a man happiness; for he must be happy who lives near to God. Again: it will give a man holiness. A man who has not holiness has never had this manifestation. Some men profess a great deal; but do not believe any man unless you see that his deeds answer to what he says. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked." He will not bestow his favors upon the wicked; for while he wild not cast away a perfect man, neither will he respect an evil doer. Thus there will three effects of nearness to Jesus, all beginning with the letter h humility, happiness, and holiness. May God give them to us! II. Now for the second point: AN INTERESTING INQUIRY. Judas said, How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" How was this inquiry suggested, and how was it answered. First, it was suggested by ignorance. Poor Judas thought "How can Jesus manifest himself to us, and not to the world? Why, if he comes down again, the world will see him as well as we do. How can he do it? Suppose he appears in a chariot of fire, or descends in a cloudy pillar: if we see him, the world must see him too." So, poor thing, he very ignorantly said, "How can it be, Lord?" Perhaps, too, the question was put by reason of his great kindness. "Ah! Lord", said he, "how can it be that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?" He was slightly an Arminian; he wanted it all to be given to everybody; and he said, "How is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world? "O Lord!" said he, "I wish it were for everybody. I wish it were: my benevolence bids me wish it." Ah! my beloved, we never need be more benevolent than God is. Some say, "If all sinners were saved it would glorify God more." Certainly God knows better than we do how many sinners will glorify him, and we had better leave the number to him, and not get meddling with what we have no business with. It says in Scripture, "Fools will be meddling;" and fools they are who go meddling with what is no concern of theirs. But however this was, Judas said, "Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" Perhaps, again, it was love to his Master that made him put the question. "O Lord, I thought thou wouldst come and be king over all the world; and now it appears that thou art only to be king over some." He wished Christ's dominion might be universal; he wanted to see every heart the Savior's throne, he desired every one to bow to him, and a very just and laudable wish it was; and so he asked Christ, "How can it be, Lord, that thou wilt not conquer all?" Jesus never answered the question. It was right to ask it; but we shall never get the solution of it till we get up yonder; perhaps not there. Yet again: perhaps the question was proposed by admiration. "Oh!" he said, "how is it that thou wilt manifest to us, and not unto the world?" Why, he might have said of himself, "What am I? What is my brother Peter here? Nothing but a fisherman. What is John? Nothing but a fisherman. And as for Matthew, he was a publican, and cheated hundreds. And Zaccheus, how many widows' houses did he devour! And yet 'thou sayest thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world.' There stands Mary the sinner: what did she do, that thou shouldst manifest thyself to her? And there is Mary Magdalene: she had seven devils. 'Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world.' Is not this a question we have often had to ask of our own souls?
"Pause, my soul, adore and wonder; Ask, O why such love to me?"
And the only answer we could give was,
"Grace hath put me in the number Of the Savior's family."
Come to me and ask me, "Sir, why am I a Christian? Why does God love me?" I must reply "Because he does love you." "But why does he love me?" The only answer I can give you again is, "because he would love you." For it is written, "He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. Surely we might admiringly stand here and say, "Lord, why, Lord, why dost thou manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" "Yes," but some would say, "because ye are better than the world; that is the reason." A fine lot better by nature, certainly! Better than the world by nature? Why, some of us were rather worse. There are some of you here who indulged once in every form of vice; who would blush to stand up here, and tell the sins you have committed. But God has manifested himself to you as he does not unto the world. Surely we shall have a perpetual cause of wonder in the doings of sovereign grace. But what is the answer? Why does Christ manifest himself to some as he does not unto the world? The question was not answered; for it was unanswerable. Our Lord went on to say "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." He did not tell him why he would manifest himself unto them, and not unto the world. I have often been asked this question myself; "You say God manifests himself to some, and not to others can you tell me why?" Well, Jesus Christ did not, and I cannot be expected to do it, any more than he did. But I will ask you whether you have any objection to it. Is it no enough that he should do so? He has declared that has he "power over the clay, to make of the same lump one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour;" and if any one finds fault he saith, "Who art thou, O man? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?" What man shall ask of his father, "Why hast thou begotten me?" "Am I not God, and can I not do what I will with my own?" "But," says the objector, "is it not unjust for God to manifest himself to one and not to the other?" God replies: "Dost thou charge me with injustice? In what respect? Do I owe thee anything? Bring the bill and I will pay it. Do I owe you grace? Then grace would not be grace; it would be a debt. If I owe you grace, you shall have it." "But why should my brother have it? He is equally as bad as I." "Surely," replies the king, "I may give as I please." Thou hast two beggars at thy door: hast thou not a right to turn one away, and give the other something? And can I not do as I will with my own? "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and to whom I will I give it." "Well," says the objector, "suppose I ask and plead for it, shall I not have it? "Yes, thou shalt," says God, for so the promise runs "Every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." "But I cannot have it unless it is written that I shall have it." "Yes, but if thou askest, it is written that thou shalt ask; and the means are as much ordained as the end; thou couldst not ask unless I inclined thee; and now do not talk to me of injustice. I ask you to find the passage in my word where I ever promised to give grace to every one. Vile wretch! hast thou not rebelled against me? Thy doom is to be sent to hell for ever. Dost thou not deserve it?" "Yes." "Then who art thou that darest to accuse me of injustice? If I have fifty men on a scaffold to be hanged, have I not a right to pardon which I will, and give the punishment to all the rest? Wilt thou not yield to it?" "No," says the objector, "I will never yield to it." "Then, my friend expect not salvation till thou dost." Is there a man here who kicks against divine sovereignty? It is a testing doctrine; and if he does not receive it, it shows that his pride is not out of him. If we do but preach divine sovereignty, some will say, "That man is an Antinomian and a hyper. "We disdain your slander, and remind you that the accusation might more properly be made against yourself. It is you that are the Antinomian, in rebelling against divine sovereignty. But a man who receives the doctrine of sovereignty will go to the throne, saying,
"Perhaps he will admit my plea, Perhaps will hear my prayer: But if I perish I will pray, And perish only there."
And now, what say you to this, my friends? I know what some would say. They would cry, "Nonsense" we believe religion is a thing very good to keep people in order; but as to these manifestations and these ecstacies, we do not believe in them." Very well, beloved, I have just proved the truth of what the text says. He does not manifest himself unto the world; and you have proved yourself that you are one of the world, because you have not any manifestations. But there are some Christians here who say, "We do not know much about these manifestations." No, I know you do not. The church has been getting for the last few years into a lean, starved state; God has sent very few preachers who would preach up these special things, and the church has been getting lower and lower; and what would become of us I cannot tell, if there were not saved a little salt, which God has scattered over the putrefying mass. Some of us have been living on low ground, when we might have been standing on high places; We have been tarrying in the valley of Baca, when we might as well have been living on the top of Carmel. I would not choose to dwell in a valley, if I might build my house on the delectable mountains. O Christian! up this morning! Let thy feet be shod with light once more; trip lightly across the plain of trouble; get to the side of Calvary; ascend to the very summit; and from Calvary I tell thee, thou canst see across the plain as far as heaven itself if thou canst but get to Pisgah's top, thou shalt sing,
"Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood Stand dressed in living green."
And your spirit shall become like the chariots of Amminadab. Seek, my brethren such spiritual manifestations, if you have never experienced them; and if ye have been privileged to enjoy them, seek more of them; for what is there can so certainly make life happy, and so fit you for the sky, as these revelations of Jesus Christ? Oh! ye who despise what we enjoy, from the depths of my soul I pity you. Take heed, lest the first revelation you have of Christ be, when he shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on his enemies; for if he is not revealed in mercy, he will be in justice. God give you grace to see him on Calvary before you see him on Sinai, to behold him as the Savior of sinners before you see him as the judge of quick and dead. God bless you, and lead you to back these manifestations constantly! Amen.
The Comforter; The Teaching of the Holy Ghost
January 21, 1855
C. H. SPURGEON
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom
the Father will send in my name, he shall teach
you all things and bring all things to your
remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto
you."- John 14:26 .
Good old Simeon called Jesus the consolation of Israel;
and so he was. Before his actual appearance, his name
was the day-star; cheering the darkness, and prophetic
of the rising sun. To him they looked with the same
hope which cheers the nightly watcher, when from the
lonely castle-top he sees the fairest of the stars, and
hails her as the usher of the morn. When he was on
earth, he must have been the consolation of all those
who were privileged to be his companions. We can
imagine how readily the disciples would run to Christ
to tell him of their griefs, and how sweetly, with that
matchless intonation of his voice, he would speak to
them, and bid their fears be gone. Like children, they
would consider him as their Father; and to him every
want, every groan, every sorrow, every agony, would at
once be carried; and he, like a wise physician, had a
balm for every wound; he had mingled a cordial for
their every care; and readily did he dispense some
mighty remedy to allay all the fever of their troubles.
Oh! it must have been sweet to have lived with Christ.
Surely, sorrows were then but joys in masks, because
they gave an opportunity to go to Jesus to have them
removed. Oh! would to God, some of us may say, that we
could have lain our weary heads upon the bosom of
Jesus, and that our birth had been in that happy era,
when we might have heard his kind voice, and seen his
kind look, when he said, "Let the weary ones come unto
But now he was about to die. Great prophecies were to
be fulfilled; and great purposes were to be answered;
therefore, Jesus must go. It behoved him to suffer,
that he might be made a propitiation for our sins. It
behoved him to slumber in the dust awhile, that he
might perfume the chamber of the grave to make it-
"No more a charnel house to fence
The relics of lost innocence."
It behoved him to have a resurrection, that we, who
shall one day be the dead in Christ, might rise first,
and in glorious bodies stand upon earth. And if behoved
him that he should ascend up on high, that he might
lead captivity captive; that he might chain the fiends
of hell; that he might lash them to his chariot-wheels,
and drag them up high heaven's hill, to make them feel
a second overthrow from his right arm, when he should
dash them from the pinnacles of heaven down to the
deeper depths beneath. "It is right I should go away
from you," said Jesus, "for if I go not away, the
Comforter will not come." Jesus must go. Weep, ye
disciples; Jesus must be gone. Mourn, ye poor ones, who
are to be left without a Comforter. But hear how kindly
Jesus speaks: "I will not leave you comfortless, I will
pray the Father, and he shall send you another
Comforter, who shall be with you, and shall dwell in
you forever." He would not leave those few poor sheep
alone in the wilderness; he would not desert his
children, and leave them fatherless. Albeit that he had
a mighty mission which did fill his heart and hand;
albeit he had so much to perform, that we might have
thought that even his gigantic intellect would be
overburdened; albeit he had so much to suffer, that we
might suppose his whole soul to be concentrated upon
the thought of the sufferings to be endured. Yet it was
not so; before he left, he gave soothing words of
comfort; like the good Samaritan, he poured in oil and
wine, and we see what he promised: "I will send you
another Comforter-one who shall be just what I have
been, yea, even more; who shall console you in your
sorrows, remove your doubts, comfort you in your
afflictions, and stand as my vicar on earth, to do that
which I would have done had I tarried with you."
Before I discourse of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter,
I must make one or two remarks on the different
translations of the word rendered "Comforter." The
Rhenish translation, which you are aware is adopted by
Roman Catholics, has left the word untranslated, and
gives it "Paraclete." "But the Paraclete, which is the
Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he
shall teach you all things." This is the original Greek
word, and it has some other meanings besides
"Comforter." Sometimes it means the monitor or
instructor: "I will send you another monitor, another
teacher." Frequently it means "Advocate;" but the most
common meaning of the word is that which we have here:
"I will send you another Comforter." However, we cannot
pass over those other two interpretations without
saying something upon them.
"I will send you another teacher." Jesus Christ had
been the official teacher of his saints whilst on
earth. They called no man Rabbi except Christ. They sat
at no men's feet to learn their doctrines; but they had
them direct from the lips of him who "spake as never
man spake." "And now," says he, "when I am gone, where
shall you find the great infallible teacher? Shall I
set you up a pope at Rome, to whom you shall go, and
who shall be your infallible oracle? Shall I give you
the councils of the church to be held to decide all
knotty points?" Christ said no such thing. "I am the
infallible paraclete, or teacher, and when I am gone, I
will send you another teacher, and he shall be the
person who is to explain Scripture; he shall be the
authoritative oracle of God, who shall make all dark
things light, who shall unravel mysteries, who shall
untwist all knots of revelation, and shall make you
understand what you could not discover, had it not been
for his influence." And, beloved, no man ever learns
anything aright, unless he is taught of the Spirit. You
may learn election, and you may know it so that you
shall be damned by it, if you are not taught of the
Holy Ghost; for I have known some who have learned
election to their soul's destruction; they have learned
it so that they said they were of the elect, whereas,
they had no marks, no evidences, and no works of the
Holy Ghost in their souls. There is a way of learning
truth in Satan's college, and holding it in
licentiousness; but if so, it shall be to your souls as
poison to your veins and prove your everlasting ruin.
No man can know Jesus Christ unless he is taught of
God. There is no doctrine of the Bible which can be
safely, thoroughly, and truly learned, except by the
agency of the one authoritative teacher. Ah! tell me
not of systems of divinity; tell me not of schemes of
theology; tell me not of infallible commentators, or
most learned and most arrogant doctors; but tell me of
the Great Teacher, who shall instruct us, the sons of
God, and shall make us wise to understand all things.
He is the Teacher; it matters not what this man or that
man says; I rest on no man's boasting authority, nor
will you. Ye are not to be carried away with the
craftiness of men, nor sleight of words; this is the
authoritative oracle-the Holy Ghost resting in the
hearts of his children.
The other translation is advocate. Have you ever
thought how the Holy Ghost can be said to be an
advocate? You know Jesus Christ is called the
wonderful, the counsellor, the mighty God; but how can
the Holy Ghost be said to be an advocate? I suppose it
is thus; he is an advocate on earth to plead against
the enemies of the cross. How was it that Paul could so
ably plead before Felix and Agrippa? How was it that
the Apostles stood unawed before the magistrates, and
confessed their Lord? How has it come to pass, that in
all times God's ministers have been made fearless as
lions, and their brows have been firmer than brass;
their hearts sterner than steel, and their words like
the language of God? Why, it was simply for this
reason; that it was not the man who pleaded, but it was
God the Holy Ghost pleading through him. Have you never
seen an earnest minister, with hands uplifted and eyes
dropping tears, pleading with the sons of men? Have you
never admired that portrait from the hand of old John
Bunyan?-a grave person with eyes lifted up to heaven,
the best of books in his hand, the law of truth written
on his lips, the world behind his back, standing as if
he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold hanging over
his head. Who gave that minister so blessed a manner,
and such goodly matter? Whence came his skill? Did he
acquire it in the college? Did he learn it in the
seminary? Ah, no. He learned it of the God of Jacob; he
learned it of the Holy Ghost; for the Holy Ghost is the
great counsellor who teaches us how to advocate his
But, beside this, the Holy Ghost is the advocate in
men's hearts. Ah! I have known men reject a doctrine
until the Holy Ghost began to illuminate them. We, who
are the advocates of the truth, are often very poor
pleaders; we spoil our cause by the words we use; but
it is a mercy that the brief is in the hand of a
special pleader, who will advocate successfully, and
overcome the sinner's opposition. Did you ever know him
fail once? Brethren, I speak to your souls; has not God
in old times convinced you of sin? Did not the Holy
Ghost come and prove that you were guilty, although no
minister could ever get you out of your self-
righteousness? Did he not advocate Christ's
righteousness? Did he not stand and tell you that your
works were filthy rags? And when you had well-nigh
still refused to listen to his voice, did he not fetch
hell's drum and make it sound about your ears; bidding
you look through the vista of future years, and see the
throne set, and the books open, and the sword
brandished, and hell burning, and fiends howling, and
the damned shrieking forever? And did he not convince
you of the judgment to come? He is a mighty advocate
when he pleads in the soul-of sin, of righteousness,
and of the judgment to come. Blessed advocate! Plead in
my heart; plead with my conscience. When I sin, make
conscience bold to tell me of it; when I err, make
conscience speak at once; and when I turn aside to
crooked ways, then advocate the cause of righteousness,
and bid me sit down in confusion, knowing by guiltiness
in the sight of God.
But there is yet another sense in which the Holy Ghost
advocates, and that is, he advocates our cause with
Jesus Christ, with groanings that cannot be uttered. O
my soul! thou art ready to burst within me. O my heart!
thou art swelled with grief. The hot tide of my emotion
would well-nigh overflood the channels of my veins. I
long to speak, but the very desire chains my tongue. I
wish to pray, but the fervency of my felling curbs my
language. There is a groaning within that cannot be
uttered. Do you know who can utter that groaning? who
can understand it, and who can put it into heavenly
language, and utter it in a celestial tongue, so that
Christ can hear it? O yes; it is God the Holy spirit;
he advocates our cause with Christ, and then Christ
advocates it with his Father. He is the advocate who
maketh intercession for us, with groanings that cannot
Having thus explained the Spirit's office as a teacher
and advocate, we now come to the translation of our
version-the Comforter; and here I shall have three
divisions: first, the comforter; secondly, the comfort;
and thirdly, the comforted.
I. First, then, the COMFORTER. Briefly let me run over
in my mind, and in your minds too, the characteristics
of this glorious Comforter. Let me tell you some of the
attributes of his comfort, so that you may understand
how well adapted he is to your case.
And first, we will remark, that God the Holy Ghost is a
very loving Comforter. I am in distress, and I want
consolation. Some passer-by hears of my sorrow, and he
steps within, sits down, and essays to cheer me; he
speaks soothing words, but he loves me not; he is a
stranger; he knows me not at all; he has only come in
to try his skill. And what is the consequence? His
words run o'er me like oil upon a slab of marble-they
are like the pattering rain upon the rock; they do not
break my grief; it stands unmoved as adamant, because
he has no love for me. But let some one who loves me
dear as his own life, come and plead with me, then
truly his words are music; they taste like honey; he
knows the password of the doors of my heart, and my ear
is attentive to every word; I catch the intonation of
each syllable as it falls, for it is like the harmony
of the harps of heaven. Oh! there is a voice in love,
it speaks a language which is its own; it has an idiom
and a brogue which none can mimic; wisdom cannot
imitate it; oratory cannot attain unto it; it is love
alone which can reach the mourning heart; love is the
only handkerchief which can wipe the mourner's tears
away. And is not the Holy Ghost a loving comforter?
Dost thou know, O saint, how much the Holy Spirit loves
thee? Canst thou measure the love of the Spirit? Dost
thou know how great is the affection of his soul
towards thee? Go measure heaven with thy span; go weigh
the mountains in the scales; go take the ocean's water,
and tell each drop; go count the sand upon the sea's
wide shore; and when thou hast accomplished this, thou
canst tell how much he loveth thee. He has loved thee
long, he has loved thee well, he loved thee ever, and
he still shall love thee; surely he is the person to
comfort thee, because he loves. Admit him, then, to
your heart, O Christian, that he may comfort you in
But next, he is a faithful Comforter. Love sometimes
proveth unfaithful. "Oh! sharper than a serpent's
tooth" is an unfaithful friend! Oh! far more bitter
than the gall of bitterness, to have a friend turn from
me in my distress! Oh! woe of woes, to have one who
loves me in my prosperity, forsake me in the dark day
of my trouble. Sad indeed; but such is not God's
Spirit. He ever loves, and loves even to the end-a
faithful Comforter. Child of God, you are in trouble. A
little while ago, you found him a sweet and loving
Comforter; you obtained relief from him when others
were but broken cisterns; he sheltered you in his
bosom, and carried you in his arms. Oh, wherefore dost
thou distrust him now? Away with thy fears; for he is a
faithful Comforter. "Ah!, but," thou sayest, "I fear I
shall be sick, and shall be deprived of his
ordinances." Nevertheless he shall visit thee on thy
sick bed, and sit by thy side, to give thee
consolation. "Ah! but I have distresses greater than
you can conceive of; wave upon wave rolleth over me;
deep calleth unto deep, at the noise of the Eternal's
waterspouts." Nevertheless, he will be faithful to his
promise. "Ah! but I have sinned." So thou hast, but sin
cannot sever thee from his love; he loves thee still.
Think not, O poor downcast child of God, because the
scars of thine old sins have marred thy beauty, that he
loves thee less because of that blemish. O no! He loved
thee when he foreknew thy sin; he loved thee with the
knowledge of what the aggregate of thy wickedness would
be; and he does not love thee less now. Come to him in
all boldness of faith; tell him thou hast grieved him,
and he will forget thy wandering, and will receive thee
again; the kisses of his love shall be bestowed upon
thee, and the arms of his grace shall embrace thee. He
is faithful; trust him, he will never deceive you;
trust him, he will never leave you.
Again, he is an unwearied Comforter. I have sometimes
tried to comfort persons, and have been tired. You, now
and then, meet with a case of a nervous person. You
ask, "What is your trouble?" You are told; and you
essay, if possible, to remove it; but while you are
preparing your artillery to battle the trouble, you
find that it has shifted its quarters, and is occupying
quite a different position. You change your argument
and begin again; but lo, it is again gone, and you are
bewildered. You feel like Hurcules, cutting off the
evergrowing heads of the Hydra, and you give up your
task in despair. You meet with persons whom it is
impossible to comfort, reminding one of the man who
locked himself up in fetters, and threw the key away,
so that nobody could unlock him. I have found some in
the fetters of despair. "O, I am the man," say they,
"that has seen affliction; pity me, pity me, O, my
friends;" and the more you try to comfort such people,
the worse they get; and, therefore, out of all heart,
we leave them to wander alone among the tombs of their
former joys. But the Holy Ghost is never out of heart
with those whom he wishes to comfort. He attempts to
comfort us, and we run away from the sweet cordial; he
gives us some sweet draught to cure us, and we will not
drink it; he gives some wondrous potion to charm away
all our troubles, and we put it away from us. Still be
pursues us; and though we say that we will not be
comforted, he says we shall be, and when he has said,
he does it; he is not to be wearied by all our sins,
nor by all our murmurings.
And oh, how wise a Comforter is the Holy Ghost. Job had
comforters, and I think he spoke the truth when he
said, "Miserable comforters are ye all." But I dare say
they esteemed themselves wise; and when the young man
Elihu rose to speak, they thought he had a world of
impudence. Were they not "grave and reverend
seigniors?" Did not they comprehend his grief and
sorrow? If they could not comfort him, who could? But
they did not find out the cause. They thought he was
not really a child of God, that he was self-righteous,
and they gave him the wrong physic. It is a bad case
when the doctor mistakes a disease and gives a wrong
prescription, and so perhaps kills the patient.
Sometimes, when we go and visit people, we mistake
their disease; we want to comfort them on this point,
whereas they do not require any such comfort at all,
and they would be better left alone, than spoiled by
such unwise comforters as we are. But oh, how wise the
Holy Spirit is! He takes the soul, lays it on the
table, and dissects it in a moment; he finds out the
root of the matter, he sees where the complaint is, and
then he applies the knife where something is required
to be taken away, or puts a plaster where the sore is;
and he never mistakes. O how wise is the blessed Holy
Ghost; from ever comforter I turn, and leave them all,
for thou art he who alone givest the wisest
Then mark, how safe a Comforter the Holy Ghost is. All
comfort is not safe, mark that. There is a young man
over there very melancholy. You know how he became so.
He stepped into the house of God and heard a powerful
preacher, and the word was blessed, and convinced him
of sin. When he went home, his father and the rest
found there was something different about him, "Oh,"
they said, "John is mad, he is crazy;" and what said
his mother? "Send him into the country for a week; let
him go to the ball or the theatre." John, did you find
any comfort there? "Ah no; they made me worse, for
while I was there I thought hell might open and swallow
me up." Did you find any relief in the gayeties of the
world? "No," say you, "I thought it was idle waste of
time." Alas! this is miserable comfort, but it is the
comfort of the worldling; and, when a Christian gets
into distress, how many will recommend him this remedy
and the other. "Go and hear Mr. So-and-so preach;"
"have a few friends at you house;" "Read such-and-such
a consoling volume;" and very likely it is the most
unsafe advice in the world. The devil will sometimes
come to men's souls as a false comforter; and he will
say to the soul, "What need is there to make all this
ado about repentance? you are no worse than other
people;" and he will try to make the soul believe, that
what is presumption, is the real assurance of the Holy
Ghost; thus he deceives many by false comfort. Ah!
there have been many, like infants, destroyed by
elixirs, given to lull them to sleep; many have been
ruined by the cry of "peace, peace," when there is no
peace; hearing gentle things, when they ought to be
stirred to the quick. Cleopatra's asp was brought in a
basket of flowers; and men's ruin often lurks in fair
and sweet speeches. But the Holy Ghost's comfort is
safe, and you may rest on it. Let him speak the word,
and there is a reality about it; let him give the cup
of consolation, and you may drink it to the bottom; for
in its depths there are no dregs, nothing to intoxicate
or ruin, it is all safe.
Moreover, the Holy Ghost is an active Comforter; he
does not comfort by words, but by deeds. Some comfort
by, "Be ye warmed, and be ye filled, giving nothing."
But the Holy Ghost gives, he intercedes with Jesus; he
gives us promises, he gives us grace, and so he
comforts us. Mark again, he is always a successful
Comforter; he never attempts what he cannot accomplish.
Then, to close up, he is an ever-present Comforter, so
that you never have to send for him. Your God is always
near you; and when you need comfort in your distress,
behold the word is nigh thee; it is in thy mouth, and
in thy heart. He is an ever-present help in time of
trouble. I wish I had time to expand these thoughts,
but I cannot.
II. The second thing is the COMFORT. Now there are some
persons who make a great mistake about the influence of
the Holy Spirit. A foolish man, who had a fancy to
preach in a certain pulpit, though in truth he was
quite incapable of the duty, called upon the minister,
and assured him solemnly, that it had been revealed to
him by the Holy Ghost that he was to preach in his
pulpit. "Very well," said the minister, "I suppose I
must not doubt your assertion, but as it has not been
revealed to me that I am to let you preach, you must go
your way, until it is." I have heard many fanatical
persons say the Holy Spirit revealed this and that to
them. Now, that is very generally revealed nonsense.
The Holy Ghost does not reveal anything fresh now. He
brings old things to our remembrance. "He shall teach
you all things, and bring all things to your
remembrance, whatsoever I have told you." The canon of
revelation is closed, there is no more to be added; God
does not give a fresh revelation, but he rivets the old
one. When it has been forgotten, and laid in the dusty
chamber of our memory, he fetches it out and cleans the
picture, but does not paint a new one. There are no new
doctrines, but the old ones are often revived. It is
not, I say, by any new revelation that the Spirit
comforts. He does so by telling us old things over
again; he brings a fresh lamp to manifest the treasures
hidden in Scripture; he unlocks the strong chests in
which the truth has long lain, and he points to secret
chamber filled with untold riches; but he coins no
more, for enough is done. Believer! there is enough in
the Bible for thee to live upon forever. If thou
shouldst outnumber the years of Methuselah, there would
be no need for a fresh revelation; if thou shouldst
live till Christ should come upon the earth, there
would be no need for the addition of a single word; if
thou shouldst go down as deep as Jonah, or even descend
as David said he did into the belly of hell, still
there would be enough in the Bible to comfort thee
without a supplementary sentence. But Christ says, "He
shall take of mine, and show it unto you." Now, let me
just tell you briefly what it is the Holy Ghost tells
Ah! does he not whisper to the heart, "Saint, be of
good cheer; there is one who died for thee; look to
Calvary, behold his wounds, see the torrent gushing
from his side-there is thy purchaser, and thou art
secure. He loves thee with an everlasting love, and
this chastisement is meant for thy good; each stroke is
working thy healing; by the blueness of the wound thy
soul is made better." "Whom he loveth he chasteneth,
and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Doubt not
his grace, because of thy tribulation; but believe that
he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble, as in
times of happiness. And then, moreover, he says, "What
is all thy suffering compared with that of thy Lord's?
or what, when weighed in the scales of Jesus' agonies,
is all thy distress? And especially at times does the
Holy Ghost take back the veil of heaven, and lets the
soul behold the glory of the upperworld! Then it is
that the saint can say, "O thou art a Comforter to me!"
"Let cares like a wild deluge come,
And storms of sorrow fall;
May I but safely reach my home,
My God, my heaven, my all."
Some of you could follow, were I to tell of
manifestations of heaven. You, too, have left sun,
moon, and stars at your feet, while, in you flight,
outstripping the tardy lightning, you have seemed to
enter the gates of pearl, and tread the golden streets,
borne aloft on wings of the Spirit. But here we must
not trust ourselves; lest, lost in reverie, we forget
III. And now, thirdly, who are the comforted persons? I
like, you know, at the end of my sermon to cry out,
"Divide! divide!" There are two parties here-some who
are comforted, and others who are the comfortless
ones-some who have received the consolations of the
Holy Ghost, and some who have not. Now let us try and
sift you, and see which is the chaff and which is the
wheat; and may God grant that some of the chaff may,
this night, be transformed into his wheat!
You may say, "How am I to know whether I am a recipient
of the comfort of the Holy Ghost?" You may know it by
one rule. If you have received one blessing from God,
you will receive all other blessings too. Let me
explain myself. If I could come here as an auctioneer,
and sell the gospel off in lots, I should dispose of it
all. If I could say, here is justification through the
blood of Christ-free; giving away, gratis; many a one
would say, "I will have justification; give it to me; I
wish to be justified; I wish to be pardoned." Suppose I
took sanctification, the giving up of all sin, a
thorough change of heart, leaving off drunkenness and
swearing; many would say, "I don't want that; I should
like to go to heaven, but I do not want that holiness;
I should like to be saved at last, but I should like to
have my drink still; I should like to enter glory, but
then I must have an oath or two on the road." Nay, but,
sinner, if thou hast one blessing, thou shalt have all.
God will never divide the gospel. He will not give
justification to that man, and sanctification to
another-pardon to one, and holiness to another. No, it
all goes together. Whom he call, them he justifies;
whom he justifies, them he sanctifies; and whom he
sanctifies, them he also glorifies. Oh; if I could lay
down nothing but the comforts of the gospel, ye would
fly to them as flies do to honey. When ye come to be
ill, ye send for the clergyman. Ah! you all want your
minister then to come and give you consoling words.
But, if he be an honest man, he will not give some of
you a particle of consolation. He will not commence
pouring oil, when the knife would be better. I want to
make a man feel his sins before I dare tell him
anything about Christ. I want to probe into his soul
and make him feel that he is lost before I tell him
anything about the purchased blessing. It is the ruin
of many to tell them, "Now just believe on Christ, and
that is all you have to do." If, instead of dying, they
get better, they rise up white-washed hypocrites-that
is all. I have heard of a city missionary who kept a
record of two thousand persons who were supposed to be
on their death-bed, but recovered, and whom he should
have put down as converted persons had they died; and
how many do you think lived a Christian life afterwards
out of the two thousand? Not two. Positively he could
only find one who was found to live afterwards in the
fear of God. Is it not horrible that when men and women
come to die, they should cry, "Comfort, comfort?" and
that hence their friends conclude that they are
children of God, while, after all, they have no right
to consolation, but are intruders upon the enclosed
grounds of the blessed God. O God, may these people
ever be kept from having comfort when they have no
right to it! Have you the other blessings? Have you had
the conviction of sin? Have you ever felt your guilt
before God? Have your souls been humbled at Jesus'
feet? And have you been made to look to Calvary alone
for your refuge? If not, you have no right to
consolation. Do not take an atom of it. The Spirit is a
convincer before he is a Comforter; and you must have
the other operations of the Holy Spirit, before you can
derive anything from this.
And now I have done. You have heard what this babbler
hath said once more. What has it been? Something about
the Comforter. But let me ask you, before you go, what
do you know about the Comforter? Each one of you,
before descending the steps of this chapel, let this
solemn question thrill through your souls-What do you
know of the Comforter? O! poor souls, if ye know not
the Comforter, I will tell you what you shall know-You
shall know the Judge! If ye know not the Comforter on
earth, ye shall know the Condemner in the next world,
who shall cry, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting
fire in hell." Well might Whitefield call out, "O
earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!" If ye
were to live here forever, ye might slight the gospel;
if ye had a lease of your lives, ye might despise the
Comforter. But, sirs, ye must die. Since last we met
together, probably some have gone to their long last
home; and ere we meet again in this sanctuary, some
here will be amongst the glorified above, or amongst
the damned below. Which will it be? Let you soul
answer. If to-night you fell down dead in your pews, or
where you are standing in the gallery, where would you
be? in heaven or in hell? Ah! deceive not yourselves;
let conscience have its perfect work; and if in the
sight of God, you are obliged to say, "I tremble and
fear lest my portion should be with unbelievers,"
listen one moment, and then I have done with thee. "He
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he
that believeth not shall be damned." Weary sinner,
hellish sinner, thou who art the devil's castaway,
reprobate, profligate, harlot, robber, thief,
adulterer, fornicator, drunkard, swearer, Sabbath-
breaker-list! I speak to thee as well as to the rest. I
exempt no man. God hath said there is no exemption
here. "Whosoever believeth on the name of Jesus Christ
shall be saved." Sin is no barrier; thy guilt is no
obstacle. Whosoever-though he were as black as Satan,
though he were filthy as a fiend-whosoever this night
believes, shall have every sin forgiven, shall have
every crime effaced; shall have ever iniquity blotted
out; shall be saved in the Lord Jesus Christ, and shall
stand in heaven safe and secure. That is the glorious
gospel. God apply it to your hearts, and give you faith
"We have listened to the preacher-
Truth by him has now been shown;
But we want a GREATER TEACHER,
From the everlasting throne;
Is the work of God alone."
The Teaching of the Holy Ghost
May 13, 1860 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, Whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:26 .
There are many choice gifts comprehended in the Covenant of Grace, but the first and richest of them are these twain the gift of Jesus Christ for us and the gift of the Holy Ghost to us. The first of these I trust we are not likely to undervalue. We delight to hear of that "unspeakable gift" the Son of God, who bare our sine, and carried our sorrows, and endured our punishment in his own body on the tree. There is something so tangible in the cross, the nails, the vinegar, the spear, that we are not able to forget the Master, especially when so often we enjoy the delightful privilege of assembling round his table, and breaking bread in remembrance of him. But the second great gift, by no means inferior to the first the gift of the Holy Spirit to us is so spiritual and we are so carnal, is so mysterious and we are so material, that we are very apt to forget its value, ay, and even to forget the gift altogether. And yet, my brethren, let us ever remember that Christ on the cross is of no value to us apart from the Holy Spirit in us. In vain that blood is flowing, unless the finger of the Spirit applies the blood to our conscience; in vain is that garment of righteousness wrought out, a garment without seam, woven from the top throughout, unless the Holy Spirit wraps it around us, and arrays us in its costly folds. The river of the water of life cannot quench our thirst till the Spirit presents the goblet and lifts it to our lip. All the things that are in the paradise of God itself could never be blissful to us so long as we are dead souls, and dead souls we are until that heavenly wind comes from the four corners of the earth and breathes upon us slain, that we may live. We do not hesitate to say, that we owe as much to God the Holy Ghost as we do to God the Son. Indeed, it were a high sin and misdemeanor to attempt to put one person of the Divine Trinity before another. Thou, O Father, art the source of all grace, all love and mercy towards us. Thou, O Son, art the channel of thy Father's mercy, and without thee thy Father's love could never flow to us. And thou, O Spirit thou art he who enables us to receive that divine virtue which flows from the fountainhead, the Father, through Christ the channel, and by thy means enters into our spirit, and there abides and brings forth its glorious fruit. Magnify, then, the Spirit, ye who are partakers of it; "praise, laud, and love his name always, for it is seemly so to do." My work this morning is to set forth the work of the Holy Spirit, not as a Comforter, or as a Quickener, or as a Sanctifier, but principally as a Teacher, although we shall have to touch upon these other points in passing. The Holy Ghost is the great Teacher of the Father's children. The Father begets us by his own will through the word of truth. Jesus Christ takes us into union with himself, so that we become in a second sense the children of God. Then God the Holy Spirit breathes into us the "spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Having given us that spirit of adoption, he trains us, becomes our great Educator, cleanses away our ignorance, and reveals one truth after another, until at last we comprehend with all saints what are the heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths, and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and then the Spirit introduces the educated ones to the general assembly and church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven. Concerning this Teacher, these three things first, what he teaches; secondly, his methods of teaching; and thirdly, the nature and characteristics of that teaching. I. First, then, WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES US. And here indeed we have a wide field spread before us, for he teaches to God's people all that they do that is acceptable to the Father, and all that they know that is profitable to themselves. 1. I say that he teaches them all that they do. Now, there are some things which you and I can do naturally, when we are but children without any teaching. Who ever taught a child to cry? It is natural to it. The first sign of its life is its shrill feeble cry of pain. Ever afterwards you need never send it to school to teach it to utter the cry of its grief, the well known expression of its little sorrows. Ah, my brethren, but you and I as spiritual infants, had to be taught to cry; for we could not even cry of ourselves, till we had received "the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abbe, Father." There are cryings and groanings which cannot be uttered in words and speech, simple as this language of the new nature seems to be. But even these feeblest groanings, sighings, cryings, tears, are marks of education. We must be taught to do this, or else we are not sufficient to do even these little things in and of ourselves. Children, as we know, have to be taught to speak, and it is by degrees that they-are able to pronounce first the shorter, and afterwards the longer words. We, too, are taught to speak. We have none of us learned, as yet, the whole vocabulary of Canaan. I trust we are able to say some of the words; but we shall never be able to pronounce them all till we come into that land where we shall see Christ, and "shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." The sayings of the saints, when they are good and true, are the teachings of the Spirit. Marked ye not that passage "No man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost?" He may say as much in dead words, but the spirit's saying, the saying of the soul, he can never attain to, except as he is taught by the Holy Ghost. Those first words which we ever used as Christians "God be merciful to me a sinner," were taught us by the Holy Spirit; and that song which we shall sing before the throne "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever," shall but be the ripe fruit of that same tree of knowledge of good and evil, which the Holy Spirit hath planted in the soil of our hearts. Further, as we are taught to cry, and taught to speak by the Holy Spirit, so are all God's people taught to walk and act by Him. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." We may take the best heed to our life, but we shah stumble or go astray unless he who first set us in the path shall guide us in it. "I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms." "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." To stray is natural; to keep the path of right is spiritual. To err is human; to be holy is divine. To fall is the natural effect of evil; but to stand is the glorious effect of the Holy Spirit working in us, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure. There was never yet a heavenly thought, never yet a hallowed deed, never yet a consecrated act acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, which was not worked in us by the Holy Ghost. Thou hast worked all our works in us. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Now as it is with the simple deeds of the Christian, his crying, his speaking, his walking, his acting-all these are teachings of the Holy Ghost so is it with the higher efforts of his nature. The preaching of the gospel, when it be done aright, is only accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. That sermon which is based upon human genius is worthless, that sermon which has been obtained through human knowledge, and which has no other force in it than the force of logic or of oratory, is spent in vain. God worketh not by such tools as these. He cleanseth not spirits by the water from broken cisterns, neither doth he save souls by thoughts which come from men's brains, apart from the divine influence which goeth with them. We might have all the learning of the sages of Greece, nay, better still, all the knowledge of the twelve apostles put together, and then we might have the tongue of a seraph, and the eyes and heart of a Savior, but apart from the Spirit of the living God, our preaching would yet be vain, and our hearers and ourselves would still abide in our sins. To preach aright can only be accomplished of the Holy Spirit. There may be a thing called preaching that is of human energy, but God's ministers are taught of the Holy One; and when their word is blessed, either to saint or sinner, the blessing cometh not of them, but of the Holy Ghost, and unto Him be all the glory, for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. So is it with sacred song. Whose are the wings with which I mount towards the skies in sacred harmony and joy? They are thy wings, O Holy Dove! Whose is the fire with which my spirit flames at times of hallowed consecration? Thine is the flame, O fiery Spirit! thine. Whose is the tongue of fire which rested on the apostolic lip? Thine was that cleft tongue, thou Holy One of Israel! Whose is that dew which falls upon the withered blade, and makes it smile and fire? Thine are those holy drops thou Dew of God; thou aft that womb of the morning from whence these beauties of holiness proceed. Thou hast worked an in us, and unto thee would we give well-deserved thanks. So, then, all the doings of the Christian, both the little and the major doings, are all the teachings of the Holy Ghost. 2. But now, farther; all that the believer truly know that is profitable to himself is taught him by the Holy Spirit. We may learn very much from the Word of God morally and mentally, but the Christian philosopher understands that there is a distinction between soul and spirit; that the mere natural soul or intellect of man may instruct itself well enough out of the Word of God, but that spiritual things are only to be spiritually discerned, and that until that third, higher principle the spirit is infused into us in regeneration, we have not even the capability or the possibility of knowing spiritual things. Now it is this third, higher principle, of which the apostle speaks when he speaks of "body, soul, and spirit." Mental philosophers declare there is no such thing as the third part spirit. They can find a body and a soul, but no spirit. They are quite right there is no such thing in natural men. That third principle the spirit is an infusion of the Holy Ghost at regeneration, and is not to be detected by mental philosophy; it is altogether a subtler thing; a thing too rare, too heavenly, to be described by Dugald Stewart, or Reid, or Brown, or any of those mighty men who could dissect the mind, but who could not understand the spirit Now, the Spirit of God first gives us a spirit, and then afterwards educates that spirit; and all that that spirit knows is taught it by the Holy Ghost. Perhaps the first thing that we learn is sin: he reproves us of sin. No man knows the exceeding sinfulness of sin, but by the Holy Ghost. You may punish a man, you may tell him of the wrath of God, and of hen, but you cannot make him know what an evil and a bitter thing sin is till the Holy Ghost hath taught it to him. 'Tis an awful lesson indeed to learn, and when the Holy Spirit makes us sit down upon the stool of penitence, and begins to drill this great truth into us, that sin is damnation in the bud, that sin is hell in the germ: then when we begin to perceive it, we cry out, "Now I know how vile I am, my soul abhorreth itself in dust and ashes." No man, I repeat it, will ever know the sinfulness of sin by argument, by punishment, by moral discipline, or by any means apart from the education of the Holy Ghost. It is a truth beyond the reach of human intellect to know how base a thing sin is. The spirit alone, engrafted and given by the Holy Spirit, that spirit alone can learn the lesson, and only the Holy Ghost can teach it. The next lesson the Spirit teaches us, is the total ruin, depravity, and helplessness of self. Men pretend to know this by nature, but they do not know it; they can only speak the words of experience as parrots speak like men. But to know myself utterly lost and ruined; to know myself so lost, "that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing," is a knowledge so distasteful, so hateful, so abominable to the carnal intellect, that man would not learn it if he could, and if he hath learnt it, it is a clear proof that God the Holy Spirit has made him willing to see the truth, and willing to receive it. When we sometimes hear great preachers telling us that there is something grand left in man yet, that when Adam fell he might have broken his little finger, but did not ruin himself entirely, that man is a grand being, in fact a noble creature and that we are all wrong in telling men they are depraved, and thundering out the law of God at them am I astonished that they should speak thus? Nay, my brethren, it is the language of the carnal mind the whole world over, and in every age. No wonder that a man is eloquent upon this point, every man needs to be eloquent when he has to defend a lie. No wonder that glorious sentences have been uttered, and flowery periods poured forth from a cornucopia of eloquence upon this subject. A man need exhaust all logic and all rhetoric to defend a-falsehood; and it is not a wonder that he seeks to do it, for man believes himself to be rich, and increased in goods, and to have need of nothing, till the Holy Ghost teaches him that he is naked, and poor, and miserable. These lessons being learned, the Spirit proceeds to teach us further the nature and character of God. God is to be heard in every wind, and seen in every cloud, but not all of God. God's goodness, and God's omnipotence, the world clearly manifesteth to us in the works of creation, but where do I read of his grace, where do I read of his mercy, or of his justice? There are lines which I cannot read in creation. Those must have ears indeed who can hear the notes of mercy or of grace whispering in the evening gale. No, brethren, these parts of God's attributes are only revealed to us in this precious Book, and there they are so revealed that we cannot know them until the Spirit opens our eyes to perceive them. To know the inflexibility of Divine justice, and to see how God exacts punishment for every jot and little of sin, and yet to know that that full-justice does not eclipse his equally full-mercy, but that the two move around each other, without for a single instant coming into contact, or conflict, or casting the slighest shallow one or the other; to see how God is just and yet the justifier of the ungodly, and so to know God that my spirit loves his nature, appreciates his attributes, and desires to be like him this is a knowledge which astronomy cannot teach, which all the researches of the sciences can never give to us. We must be taught God, if we ever learn of him we must be taught God, by God the Holy Ghost. Oh that we may learn this lesson well, that we may be able to sing of his faithfulness, of his covenant love, of his immutability, of his boundless mercy, of his inflexible justice, that we may be able to talk to one another concerning that incomprehensible One, and may see him even as a man seeth his friend; and may come to walk with him as Enoch did all the days of our life I This, indeed, must be an education given to us by the Holy Ghost. But not to tarry on these points, though they are prolific of thought, let us observe that the Holy Spirit specially teaches to us Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Ghost who manifests the Savior to us in the glory of his person; the complex character of his manhood and of his deity; it is he who tells us of the love of his heart, of the power of his arm, of the clearness of his eye, the preciousness of his blood, and of the prevalence of his plea. To know that Christ is my Redeemer, is to know more than Plato could have taught me. To know that I am a member of his body, of his flesh and of his bones; that my name is on his breast, and engraver on the palms of his hands, is to know more than the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge could teach to all their scholars, learn they never so well. Not at the feet of Gamaliel did Paul learn to say-"He loved me, and gave himself for me." Not in the midst of the Rabbis, or at the feet of the members of the Sanhedrim, did Paul learn to cry "Those things which I counted gain, I now count loss for Christ's sake." "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." No, this must have been taught as he himself confesseth "not of flesh and blood, but of the Holy Ghost." I need only hint that it is also the Spirit who teaches us our adoption. Indeed, an the privileges of the new covenant, beginning from regeneration, running through redemption, justification pardon, sanctification, adoption, preservation, continual safety, even unto au abundant enhance into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all is the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and especially that last point, for "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." He leads us into the truth of joys to come, carries our spirit upwards, and gives us
"That inward calm within the breast, The surest pledge of glorious rest, Which for the Church of God remains, The end of cares, the end of pains."
II. And now I come to the second point, which was this THE METHODS BY WHICH THE HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES GOD'S CHILDREN THESE PRECIOUS THINGS. Here we must remark that we know nothing of the precise way of operation, because the Spirit is mysterious; we know not whence he cometh nor whither he goeth. But still let us describe what we can perceive. And first, in teaching God's people, one of the first things the Spirit does is to excite interest in their minds. I frequently find that when men are being educated for the ministry, the hardest thing is to set them going. They are like bats on the ground; if once a bat gets on the earth he cannot fly until he creeps to the top of a stone and gets a little above the earth, and then he gets wing and can fly well enough. So there are many who have not got their energies aroused, they have talent but it is asleep, and we want a kind of railway-whistle to blow in their ears to make them start up and rub away the film from their eyes so that they may see. Now it is just so with men, when the Spirit of God begins to teach them. He excites their interest in the things which he wishes them to learn he shows them that these things here a personal bearing upon their soul's present and eternal welfare. He so brings precious truth home, that what the man thought was utterly indifferent yesterday, he now begins to esteem inestimably precious "Oh!" said he, "theology I of what use can it be to me?" But now the knowledge of Christ and him crucified has become to him the most desirable and excellent of all the sciences. The Holy Spirit awakens his interest. That done, he gives to the man a teachable spirit. There be men who will not learn. They profess that they want to know, but you never found the right way of teaching them. Teach them by little and little, and they easy "Do you think I am a child?" Tell them a great deal at once, and they say "You have not the power to make me comprehend!" will I have been competed sometimes to say to a man, when I have been trying to make him understand, and he has said "I cannot understand you," "Well, sir, I am thankful it is not my duty to give you an understanding if you have none." Now, the Holy Spirit makes a man willing to learn in any shape. The disciple sits down at the feet of Christ; and let Christ speak as he may, and teach him as he will, whether with the rod, or with a smile, he is quite willing to learn. Distasteful the lessons are, but the regenerated pupil loves to learn best the very things he once hated. Cutting to his pride the doctrines of the gospel each one of them may be, but for this very reason he loves them; for he cries, "Lord, humble me; Lord, bring me down; teach me those things that will make me cover my head with dust and ashes; show me my nothingness; teach me my emptiness; reveal to me my filthiness." So that the Holy Spirit thus proceeds with his work awaking interest, and enkindling a teachable spirit. This done, the Holy Ghost in the next place sets truth in a clear light, How bard it is sometimes to state a fact which you perfectly understand yourself, in such a way that another man may see it. It is like the telescope; there are many persons who are disappointed with a telescope, because whenever they walk into an observatory and put their eye to the glass, expecting to see the rings of Saturn, and the belts of Jupiter, they have said, "I can see nothing at all; a piece of glass, and a grain or two of dust is all I can see!" "But," says the astronomer, when he comes, "I can see Saturn in all her glory." Why cannot you? Because the focus does not suit the stranger's eye. By a little skill, the focus can be altered so that the observer may be able to see what he could not see before. So is it with language; it is a sort of telescope by which I enable another to see my thoughts, but I cannot always give him the right focus. Now the Holy Spirit always gives the right focus to every truth. He sheds a light so strong and forcible upon the Word, that the spirit says. "Now I see it, now I understand it." For even here, in this precious Book, there are words which I have looked at a hundred times, but I could not understand them, till at some favored hour, the key-word seemed as if it leaped up from the midst of the verse and said to me, "Look at the verse in my light," and at once I perceived not always from a word in the verse itself, but sometimes in the context I perceived the meaning which I could not see before. This, too, is a part of the Spirit's training to steed a light upon truth. But the Spirit not only enlightens the truth, but he enlightens the understanding. 'Tis marvellous, too, how the Holy Ghost does teach men who seemed as if they never could learn. I would not wish to say anything which my brother might be grieved at; but I do know some brethren, I won't say they are here today, but they are not out of the place come brethren whose opinion I would not take in anything worldly on any account. If h were anything to do with pounds, shillings, and pence anything where human judgment was concerned, I should not consult them; but those men have a deeper,. truer, and more experimental knowledge of the Word of God, than many who preach it, because the Holy Spirit never tried to teach them grammar, and never meant to. teach-them business never wanted to teach them astronomy, but he has taught them the Word of God, and they understand it. Other teachers have labored to beat the elements. of science into them but without success, for they are as thick and addled in they brains as they can well be; but the Holy Spirit teas taught them the Word of God, and. they are clear enough there. I come in close contact with some young men. When. we are taking our lessens for illustration out of the sciences, they seem to be all profound, and when I ask them a question to see if they have understood; they are lost; but, mark you, when we come to read: a chapter out of some old Puritanic book come to theology those brethren give-me the smartest and sharpest answers of the whole class. When we once some to deal with things experimental and controversial, I find those men are able to double up their opponents, and vanquish them at once, because they are deeply read in the Word of God. The Spirit has taught them the things of Christ, but he has not taught them anything else. I have perceived, also, that when the Spirit of God: has enlarged the understanding to receive the Bible truth that understanding becomes more capable receiving other truth. I heard, some time ago, from a brother minister, when we were comparing notes, the story of a man who had been the dullest creature that was known. He was not more than one grade above an idiot, but when he was converted to God, one of the first things he wanted to do, was to read the Bible. They had a long, long teak to teach him a verse, but he would learn it, he would master it. He stuck at it as hard as ever he could, till he was able to read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." That man was by-and-bye asked to engage in prayer. At first he hardly put a sentence together. By-and-bye he arrived at a considerable degree of fluency, because he would do it. He would not stand still, he said, in the prayer-meeting, and not have a word to say for his Master. He began to read his Bible much, and to pray with a great deal of profit and acceptableness to those that heard, and after awhile, he actuary began to speak in the villages, and became sometime after an honored and acceptable pastor of one of our Baptist Churches. Had it not been for the Spirit of God first expanding the understanding to receive religious truth, that understanding might have been cramped, and fettered, and fast bolted to this very day, and the man might have been ever after an idiot, and so have gone down to his grave, while now he stands up to tell to sinners round, in burning language, the story of the cross of Christ. The Spirit teaches us by enlightening the understanding. Lest I weary you, let me hurry on through the other points. He teaches us also by refreshing the memory. "He shall bring all things to your remembrance." He puts all those old treasures into the ark of our soul, and when the time comes, he opens it, and brings out these precious things in right good order, and shows them to us again and again. He refreshes the memory, and when this is done, he does better, he teaches us the Word, by making us feel its effect, and that, after all, is the best way of learning. You may try to teach a child the meaning of the term "sweetness;" but words will not avail, give him some honey and he win never forget it. You might seek to tell him of the glorious mountains, and the Alps, that pierce the clouds and send their snows peaks, like white-robed ambassadors up to the courts of heaven: take him there, let him see them, and he will never forget them. You might seek to paint to him the grandeur of the American continent, with its hills, and lakes, and rivers, such as the world saw not before: let him go and view it, and he will know more of the land than he could know by all your teaching, when he site at home. So the Holy Spirit does not only tell us of Christ's love; he sheds it abroad in the heart. He does not merely tell us of the sweetness of pardon; but he gives us a sense of no condemnation, and then we know an about it, better than we could have done by any teaching of words and thoughts. He takes us into the banqueting house and waves the banner of love over us. He bids us visit the garden of nets, and makes us lie among the lilies. He gives us that bundle of camphire, even our beloved, and bids us place it all night betwixt our breasts. He takes us to the cross of Christ, and he bids us put our finger into the print of the nails, and our hands into his side, and tells us not come "faithless, but believing," and so in the highest and most effectual manner he teacheth us to profit. III. But now I shall come to my third point, although I feel so if I wished my subject were somewhat less comprehensive, but indeed it is a fault which does not often happen to have too much rather than too little to speak of, except when we come upon a topic where God is to be glorified, and here indeed our tongue must be like the pen of a ready writer, when we speak of the things that we have made touching the king. I am now to speak to you about the CHARACTERISTICS AND NATURE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT'S TEACHING. And first I would remark that the Holy Ghost teaches sovereignty. He teaches whom he pleases. He takes the fool and makes him know the wonders of the dying love of Christ, to bring aspiring wisdom low and make the pride of man humble and abase itself. And as the Spirit teaches whom he wills, so he teaches when he wills. He has his own hours of instruction, and he will not be limited and bound by us. And then again he teaches as he wills same by affliction, some by. communion; some he teaches by the Word read, some by the Word spoken, some by neither, but directly by his own agency. And so also the Holy Spirit is a sovereign in that he teaches in whatever degree he pleases. He will make one man learn much, while another comprehends but little. Some Christiana wear their beards early they come to a rapid and high degree of maturity, and that on a sudden, while others creep but slowly to the goal, sad are very long in reaching it. Some Christians in early years understand more than others whose hairs have turned grey. The Holy Ghost is a sovereign. He doe not have all his pupils in one class, and them all the same lesson by simultaneous instruction; but each man is in a separate class, each man learning a separate lesson. Some beginning at the end of the book, some at the beginning, and some in the middle some learning one doctrine and some another, some going backwards and some forwards. The Holy Spirit teacheth sovereignly, and giveth to every man according as he wills, but then, wherever he teaches at all, he teaches effectually. He never failed to make us learn yet. No scholar was ever turned out of the Spirit's school incorrigible. He teaches all his children, not some of them "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children," the last sentence being a proof that they have been effectually taught. Never once did the Spirit bring home the truth to the heart and yet that heart fail to receive it. He hath modes of touching the secret springs of life, and putting the truth into the very core of the being. He casts his healing mixtures into the fountain itself, and not into the streams. We instruct the ear, and the ear is far removed from the heart; he teaches the heart itself, and therefore his every word falleth upon good soil, and bringeth forth good and abundant fruit he teaches effectually. Dear brother, do you feel yourself to be a great fool sometimes? Your great Schoolmaster will make a good scholar of you yet. He will so teach you, that you shall be able to enter the kingdom of heaven knowing as much as the brightest saints. Teaching thus sovereignly and effectually, I may add, he teaches infallibly. We teach you errors through want of caution, sometimes through over zeal, and again through the weakness of our own mind. In the greatest preacher or teacher that ever lived there was some degree of error, and hence our hearers should always bring what we say to the law and the testimony; but the Holy Ghost never teaches error, if thou hast learned anything by the Spirit of God, it is pure, unadulterated, undiluted truth. Put thyself daily under his teaching, and thou shalt never learn a word amiss, nor a thought awry, but become infallibly taught, well taught in the whole truth as it is in Jesus. Further, where the Spirit thus teaches infallibly he teaches continually. Whom once he teaches, he never leaves till he has completed their education. On, and on, and on, however dull the scholar, however frail the memory, however vitiated the mind, he still continues with his gracious work, till he has trained us up and made us "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Nor does he leave us till he has taught us completely; for as our text says, "He shall teach you all things." There is not a truth so high that it shall not yet be mastered, nor a doctrine so hard that it shall not yet be received. High up, high up, tower the heights of the hill of knowledge, but there, when there, thy feet shall stand. Weary may be the way and weak thy knees, but up thither thou shalt climb, and one day with thy forehead bathed in the sunlight of heaven, thy soul shall stand and look down on tempests, mists, and all earth's clouds and smoke, and see the Master face to face, and be like him, and know him as he is. This is the joy of the Christian, that he shall be completely taught, and that the Holy Spirit will never give him up till; he has taught him all truth. I fear, however, that this morning I weary you. Such a theme as this will not be likely to be suitable to all minds. As I have already said, the spiritual mind alone receiveth spiritual things, and the doctrine of the Spirit's agency will never be very interesting to those who are entire strangers to it. I could not make another man understand the force of an electric shock unless he has felt it. It would not be likely at all that he would believe in those secret energies which move the world, unless he had some means of testing for himself. And those of you that never felt the Spirit's energy, are as much strangers to it as a stone would be. You are out of your element when you hear of the Spirit. You know nothing of his divine power; you have never been taught of him, and therefore how should you be careful to know what truths he teaches? I close, therefore, with this sorrowful reflection. Alas, alas, a thousand times alas, that there should be so many who know not their danger, who feel not their load, and in whose heart the light of the Holy Ghost hath never shone! Is it your case my dear hearer, this morning? I do not ask you whether you have been ever educated in the school of learning; that you may be, and you may have taken your degree and been first-class in honors, but you may still be as the wild ass's colt that knows nothing about these things. Religion, and the truth of it, is not to be learnt by the head. Years of reading, hours of assiduous study, will never make a man a Christian. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." Oh! art thou destitute of the Spirit of the living God? For oh! I charge thee to remember this my hearer: if in thy soul mysterious and supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit has never been shed abroad, thou art an utter stranger to all the things of God. The promises are not thine; heaven is not thine, thou art on thy road to the land of the dead, to the region of the corpse, where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched. Oh that the Spirit of God may rest upon you now! Bethink you, you are absolutely dependent upon his influence. You are in God's hand today to be saved or to be lost not in your own hands, but in his. You are dead in sins; unless he quickens you, you must remain so. The moth beneath your finger is not more absolutely at your mercy than you are now at the mercy of God. Let him but will to leave you as you are, and you are lost; but oh! if mercy speaks and says, "Let that man live," you are saved. I would that you could feel the weight of this tremendous doctrine of sovereignty. It is like the hammer of Thor, it may shake your heart however stout it be, and make your rocky soul tremble to its base.
"Life, death, and hell, and worlds unknown, Hang on his firm decree."
Your destiny hangs there now; and will you rebel against the God in whose hand your sours eternal fate now rests? Will you lift the puny hand of your rebellion against him who alone can quicken you without whose gracious energy you are dead, and must be destroyed? Will you go this day and sin against light and against knowledge t Will you go to day and reject mercy which is proclaimed to you in Christ Jesus? If so, no fool was ever so mad as you are, to reject him without whom you are dead, and lost, and ruined. O that instead thereof there may be the sweet whisper of the Spirit saying, "Obey the divine command, believe on Christ and live I" Hear thou the voice of Jehovah, who cries, "This is the commandment, that ye believe in Jesus Christ whom he hath sent?" Thus obedient, God saith within himself, "I have set my love upon him, therefore will I deliver him. I will set him on high because he hath known my name;" and you shall yet live to sing in heaven of that sovereignty which, when your soul trembled in the balances, decided for your salvation, and gave you light and joy unspeakable. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on Calvary's cross, "and whosoever believeth on him shall be saved." "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." Believe that record truer cast down your weapons; yield to the sovereignly of the Holy Ghost; and he shall assuredly prove to you that, in that very yielding, there was a proof that he had loved you; for he made you yield; he made you willing to bow before him in the day of his power. May the Holy Spirit now rest on the word I have spoken, for Jesu's sake!
Spiritual Peace; The Best of Masters
The Best of Masters
April 10th, 1859 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Peace I leave with you; my peace l give unto you; not as the world giveth, I give unto you." John 14:27 .
The Gospel of John is peculiarly the history of Jesus, the Son of God. Matthew deals with Jesus as the Prince of the house of David; Mark treats of him as the Servant of servants; and Luke views him as the Son of Man; but John, with eagle eye, looks beyond all the clouds of his humanity, and seeing the clear shining of his divinity, writes of him especially as the Son of God, the Word, that in the beginning was with God and was God. It seems but right, then, that since Jesus came from heaven, he should sometimes put both himself and his cause, in contrast with that which is of the earth, earthy. You will find through several chapters wherein our Saviour is addressing his disciples, he continually contrasts himself, his gifts, and his love, with those of the world. He came from heaven that he might fight and wrestle with an evil and a wicked world; that he might rescue his people from it; that he might cleanse the world, and, at last, might present the earth itself to himself, to be the new heaven and the new earth, wherein righteousness should dwell. I say, it seems but right, that in a gospel which particularly views Christ as of heavenly origin, and as very God of very God, that there should frequently be a contrast between Christ and the world, between the kingdom which is from heaven, and the kingdoms of this earth. Now, our text presents us with one contrast between Christ and the world: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you." He gives after a diviner fashion than the world can ever give, even when its hand is most laden with its gifts. Now, I shall take my text this morning, and endeavor to talk of it thus first, viewing it with regard to the peace which Christ gives: he does not give peace as the world gives it. Secondly, I shall take a larger view of the subject, and look upon all the gifts of Christ, and say that, "not as the world giveth, doth he bestow his mercies on us;" and then close with a practical inference from the whole subject. I. First of all, IN THE MATTER OF PEACE, Christ gives us peace, but not as the world gives it. For, in the first place, the world gives peace in a complimentary style. It was usual among the Orientals, for the wayfarer to say to the person whom he met, "Peace be to you;" and generally, when a house was entered, the benediction of peace was bestowed by every person who stepped across the threshold. These were often but vain and empty expressions of compliment. Those very utterances might proceed from the lips of an enemy. "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords." It is the same with the world at this day. Everyone salutes us in writing with a "Dear sir," or a "My dear sir," and concludes "Yours very truly," and "Yours sincerely." We call all "friends," and if we meet but casually we express the utmost anxiety with regard to one another's health, and we carefully enquire after each other's families; when perhaps we shall no sooner have passed by the person than we shall forget his existence, and certainly shall entertain no anxious thoughts with regard to his welfare, nor any loving remembrance of him. The world gives very largely when it gives compliments. Oh, what blessings would descend upon all our heads, if the blessings uttered could be blessings bestowed. Even when the "Good bye" is given, which translated means, "God be with you" if that could be but true, and if God could be with us, in answer to that prayer, so little understood, how rich might we be! But alas! the way of the world is, "Be thou warmed and be thou filled;" but it hath not that which should warm, nor that which should fill. It is a world of words; high-sounding, empty, all-deceiving words. Now, not so, does Christ give. If he says "Peace be with you," his benediction is most true and full of sweet sincerity. He left his own peace in heaven, that he might give the peace which he enjoyed with his Father, to us in this world of sorrow, for thus he puts it, "My peace I give unto you." Christ, when he blesses, blesses not in word only, but in deed. The lips of truth cannot promise more than the hands of love will surely give. He gives not in compliment. Furthermore, even when the world's wishes of peace are sincere, what are they but mere wishes. If I am met by my most sincere friend, and he wishes to give a benediction, he cannot bestow one. 'Tis God's to bless his people with peace. We may bless with the wish but not with the deed. It may be our desire that every mercy should cluster round the head of our friend that his pillow should be smooth, that his path should be easy, that his heart should be happy, that his end may be peace; but we must leave it with God to fulfill our prayers. If our power were equal to our will, how richly would we bless our friends with the priceless jewel of peace. But Christ says, "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." His wishes for us shall be accomplished, and he himself shall work them out. Does he wish for us that we may be sanctified? Lo! he will sanctify us, and present us without spot, or wrinkle, or any such things. Is it his will that we should be with him where he is? It shall be done, and we shall behold his glory and we shall share in it. There was ne'er a wish in Christ's heart with regard to his people that merely ended in a wish. The wish is but the bow string; the blessing is the arrow shot from it. Christ hath not an empty bow, but his quiver is filled with arrows, and every time he wisheth, he fitteth a blessing on the string and sendeth it to us. Oh rest assured that not, as the world giveth, with the empty wish, the deceitful brook, the empty well doth Christ give to us, but he gives a fullness and a reality in all that he bestows. Yet, furthermore, I may remark that, with regard to peace, the world gives only peace in prospect. There is not a man alive who is not hoping for better times; even boys believe that better times are coming times of rest and peace. The man who is just beginning in business expects that he shall take his rest and be much at ease, when he shall have succeeded in establishing a connection; or if he finds that, as business increases, cares multiply, he hopes that, in a little time, the whole matter will become more steady, and that by the employment of honest persons, much of the care may be taken from him. And that time comes; but he finds that, even then, there are fresh cares which have arisen as the others have died out. He then looks forward to the time when, in his green old age, he shall retire to some country retreat, and there spend the rest of his days in peace. For the most part that is but a vision, and grey age in its retirement hath its troubles still; still, when men grow old, trouble is as young as ever, and man finds just as much to prick and wound in the thorns of earth as when for the first time he trod its soil. We are all intending and beginning to be peaceful; we are all going to be happy by-and-bye. We have all made up our minds that soon we will have done with desiring more, and then we will make our rest. This is the miraculous mistake of man, that he is always beginning to live; but he never does live; he always intends to be satisfied, but he never is; he always means to sit down in content, but that period never arrives. He has always something to vex him, but still hopes the day shall come when he shall be vexed no more. Now, not as the world giveth gives Christ to us. The world puts before us a mirage in the desert. We see before us what we fancy to be springs of water, and spreading palm trees; and we rush forward, but it is not there. It is only a few rods ahead, and on we go, full wearily and foot-sore, and now it is a little further on; still we hurry on, but as we progress the vision flies before us, but we never reach it. Not thus doth Christ bless. He gives, and gives now; he gives in present foretaste, and will give assuredly in the world which is to come. Yes, even now, the true Christian can say he has peace in Christ. Oh! there are some of us who know what it is to be so content and happy when our thoughts are exercised upon our standing in Christ, that we could say we have not a wish beyond; we could sit still for ever, and rest in him. Verily, we can testify that they who have believed do enter into rest. We have seen the billows roar, we have marked the storm gathering, we have seen the black clouds big with tempest, gathering over-head; and we have been enabled to defy all these things, and to find rest in Christ, notwithstanding. Nay, and when the clouds have emptied out their horrors, when the lightnings have scathed the brow of darkness, and the thunder has rolled, tremendous, through the sky, we have known what it is, even then, to rest in the bosom of Christ, as a babe upon the breast of its mother. We have had a quiet and a perfect rest while the world has been in arms abroad. Christ gives a real peace, not a something that we have to hunt after for to-morrow, but a thing that we have now. And the true believer can say that, when he is enabled to see himself in Christ, he has all he wants; he can rest on beds of spices, feed among the lillies of satisfaction, and neither ask nor wish for anything beyond. "Peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth. give I unto you." Yet again, I remark once more, that all the peace which the world ever did give to any man, was a delusion. I know some who possess the world's peace; I would to God that peace were broken. Some of you are content with yourselves; you are good enough you say, or, if not good enough, 'tis easy to amend. You fold your arms, and you say, "Why make myself miserable about religion? Why trouble myself about the interests of another world?" Ah man! I would to God thou couldst be made wretched that thou couldst be made miserable, for mark, me, thy sleep is the sleep of death. It is one of the devil's great devices for destroying souls, to satisfy men to give them the drug of indifference, the laudanum of procrastination, and so to stultify and stupify them, that they go on from day to day, careless and reckless, till in hell they lift up their eyes. Why, if you are concerned about your souls there is hope for you; the way to peace lies through distress. You must first be agitated before you can be pacified. But, if you now say, "peace, peace," I tell you there is no peace; and if you now say, "be quiet, be still, hush!" I warn you, that all the quiet of which you boast is the hush before the hurricane, when the world seems as if it stood still in terror, when the birds droop their wings upon the trees, and cease their notes, when the very lion hides himself in the thicket, and when he roars no more, but is still, waiting for the rushing wings of tempest. Here is a picture of your vaunted peace! Your calm is but a prelude of an eternal storm. The sunshine of to-day is but the index of the awful shower of to-morrow, a shower of red rain of vengeance, and of hail mingled with fire. Oh, the peace the world gives is delusive. They that rest there, rest upon a bed of death; but the peace which Christ gives is no delusion. When the Christian can sit down and say "I have nothing to fear. I have nothing to trouble me nothing to tremble at, neither for this world, nor for the next," he is not saying one word more than he has good ground for saying; nay he is not going so far as he might go. He may say
"Now let earth's old pillars shake, And all the wheels of nature break, My stedfast soul shall fear no more, Than solid rocks when billows roar."
That peace has no pretense in it. It is not bombast; it is a reality, Profound though it be, it is not one whit more profound than it is warranted to be. The believer rests upon a solid rock, and all the waves of trouble can never make that rock give way, or shake the foundation of his peace. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." II. Now having touched upon the first point, I come to the second IN THE MATTER OF GIVING. Take a broad view of it. In whatever the world gives, Christ does not give after the same fashion. In the first place, the world gives scantily. Even the world's best friends have had cause to complain of its scurvy treatment. In reading the biographies of mighty men whom the world honors, you will be soon convinced that the world is a most ungrateful friend. If you should devote your whole life to serve the world, and make it happy, think not the world would ever return you so much as a dolt. Robert Burns is an instance of the world's fine gratitude. There was the world's poet, he sung the roaring tankards foaming; he sang the loves of women and the joys of lust, the world admires him, but what did the world do for him? He might drag along his whole life in almost poverty. When the time comes for Robert Burns to be honored, (which was all too late for a buried man,) how did they honor him? He had poor relatives; look to the subscription list, and see how magnificent the donations they received! They honored him with libations of whiskey which they drank themselves; that was all they would give him. The devotion of the Scotch drunkards to their poet is a devotion to their drunkenness, not to him. Doubtless there are many true-hearted men who bewail the sinner as much as they admire the genius, but the mass like him none worse for his faults. However, if it had been ordained and decreed that every drunkard who honored Burns should go without his whiskey for a week, there was not a dozen of them would have done it not half a dozen. Their honor to him was a honor to themselves; it was an opportunity for drunkenness, at least in thousands of instances. As I stood by his monument some little time ago, I saw around it a most dismal, dingy set out of withered flowers and I thought "Ah, this is his honor! O, Burns! how hast thou spent thy life to have a withered wreath for the world's payment of a life of mighty genius and a flood of marvellous song!" Yes, when the world pays best she pays nothing, and when she pays least, she pays her flatterers with scorn; she rewards their services with neglect and poverty. Many a statesman might I quote who has spent his life in the world's service, and at first the world said "Go on, go on," and he was clapped everywhere; he was doing something to serve his time; but he made a little mistake, a mistake perhaps, which will prove not to have been a mistake at all when the books of history shall be read with a clearer eye. "Down with him," says the world, "we will have nothing more to do with him." All he may have done before went for nothing; one mistake, one flaw in his political career "Down with him, cast him to the dogs, we will have nought to do with him again." Ah, the world pays scantily indeed! What will it do for those it loves the best! When it has done all it can, the last resource of the world is to give a man a title (and what is that)? And then to give him a tall pillar and set him up there to bear all weathers, to be pitilessly exposed to every storm; and there he stands for fools to gaze at, one of the world's great ones paid in stone; it is true the world has paid that out of its own heart, for that is what the world's heart is made of. The world pays scantily; but did you ever hear a Christian who complained thus of his Master? "No," will he say "when I serve Christ, I feel that my work is my wages; that labor for Christ is its own reward. He gives me joy on earth, with a fullness of bliss hereafter." Oh! Christ is a good paymaster. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life." He that serves Christ may get but little gold and silver such as this world calls precious, but he gets a gold and a silver that shall ne'er be melted in the last refining fire, that shall glitter among the precious things of immortality throughout eternity. The world pays niggardly and scantily, but not so Christ. Again, if you will serve the world, and you wish to have gifts from it, the world will pay you half-heartedly. Now by the world, I mean the religious world quite as much as any other part of it; I mean the whole world, religious, political, good, bad, and indifferent the whole lot of them. If you serve the world it will pay you half-heartedly. Let a man spend himself for his fellow-creatures' interests, what will he get for it? Some will praise him, some will abuse him. The men that escape without abuse in this world, are the men who do nothing at all. He who is most valiant and useful, must expect to be most reprobated and abhorred. Those men who are borne upon the waves of popular applause are not the men whose worth is true; real philanthropists must swim against the stream. The whole list of the world's benefactors is an army of martyrs. All along, the path of the good is marked with blood and fire. The world does not pay the men that serve it really, except with ingratitude. I say, to come back, even when the world does pay, it pays half-heartedly. Did you ever know a man yet, concerning whom the world's mind was one? I never heard of any. "Oh," says one, "So-and-so is one of the best men of his times." Go down the next street, and you will hear it said, "He is the biggest vagabond living." Go to one, and you will hear him say, "I never heard a man of such genius as that is." "Oh," says another, "mere twaddle." "There is such a newspaper," says one, "how ably it defends the rights of the people." "Oh," says another, "mere democracy; seeking to pull down everything that is constitutional and proper." The world never made up its mind about any man yet. There is not a soul living concerning whom the world is unanimous. But when Christ gives anything, he always gives with all his heart. He does not say to his people, "There, I give you this, but still I have half-a-mind to keep it back." No, Christ gives his heart to all his people. There is no double-mindedness in Jesus. If we are enabled by free grace to serve him and to love him, we may rest quite sure that in the rich reward which his grace shall give us, his whole heart shall go with every blessing. When Christ blesses the poor needy soul, he does not give with one hand, and smite with the other; but he gives him mercies with both his hands both full; and he asks the sinner simply to receive all that he is willing to give. Then again, whenever the world gives anything, it gives mostly to those who do not want it. I remember once, when a lad, having a dog, which I very much prized and some man in the street asked me to give him the dog; I thought it was pretty impudent, and I said as much. A gentlemen, however, to whom I told it, said, "Now suppose the Duke of So-and-so," who was a great man in the neighborhood "asked you for the dog, would you give it him?" I said, "I think I would." He said, "Then you are just like all the world; you would give to those who do not want." Who in the whole of this congregation would object to give anything to the Queen? Not a soul of us, and yet, perhaps, there is no person in the world who so little needs our gifts. We can always give to those who do not require anything; for we feel that there is some little honor conferred upon us an honor bestowed by the reception. Now, look at Jesus. When he gives to his friends, he gets no honor from them: the honor is in his own free heart that should lead him to give to such poor necessitous worms. Great men have gone to Christ with mere professions, and they have asked him to be good to them, but then they have at the same time declared, that they had a righteousness of their own, and did not want much of him; and he has sent them about their business, and given them nothing. He said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." But whenever poor, lost sinners have gone to Christ, he has never turned one of them away never. He has given all they could possibly want, and infinitely more than they thought they could ever expect. Might not Jesus say to us, when we ask him for the blessings of his grace, "You are impudent in daring to ask." But instead of that, he loves to be asked, and he freely and richly gives "Not as the world giveth;" for he gives to those who need it most. Again, there is another view of the world's gifts. The world giveth to its friends, Any man will help his own friends. If we help not our own relatives and friends then are we worse than heathen men and publicans. But the world generally confines its good wishes and blessings to its class, and kith, and kin. It cannot think of giving blessings to its enemies. Did you ever hear yet of the world's blessing an enemy? Never. It gives its benefactions to its friends, and but very scantily even to them. But Christ gives his benefactions to his enemies. "Not as the world giveth" he may truly say. The world says, "I must see whether you deserve it; I must see that your case is a good one." It enquires, and enquires, and enquires again; but Christ only sees that our case is a bad one, and then he gives. He wants not a good case but a bad case. He knows our necessity, and, once discovering our necessity, not all our sin can stop the hand of his bounty. Oh, if Jesus should call to mind some of the hard speeches we have uttered about him, he would never bless us surely, if it were not that his ways are far above our ways. Why, remember man, it is not long ago since you cursed him since you laughed at his people despised his ministers, and could spit upon his Bible. Jesus has cast all that behind his back, and loved you notwithstanding. Would the world have done that? Let a man get up and rail at his fellows, will they forgive, and, after forgiving, will they begin to bless? Will they die for their enemies? Oh, no! such a thing never entered into the heart of manhood. But Christ blesses rebels, traitors, enemies to his cross. He brings them to know his love, and taste of his eternal mercies. A thousand remarks seem to start up and I scarcely know which to choose. "Not as the world giveth give I unto you." The world always gives with a sparing motive. The most of us are compelled to economy, if we give anything away to a poor man we generally hope that he will not come again. If we give him half-a-crown it is very often as we say to get rid of him. If we bestow a little charity it is in the hope that we shall not see his face just by-and-bye, for really we do not like the same men continually begging at our door when the world is so full of beggars. Did you ever hear of a man who gave a beggar something to encourage him to keep on begging of him? I must confess I never did such a thing, and am not likely to begin. But that is just what Christ does. When he gives us a little grace, his motive is to make us ask for more; and when he gives us more grace it is given with the very motive, to make us come and ask again. He gives us silver blessings to induce us to ask for golden mercies; and when we have golden favors, those same mercies are given on purpose to lead us to pray more earnestly, and open our mouth wider that we may receive more. What a strange giver Christ is! what a strange friend, that he gives on purpose to make us beg more! The more you ask of Christ, the more you can ask; the more you have got, the more you will want; the more you know him, the more you will desire to know him; the more grace you receive, the more grace you will pant after; and when you are full of grace, you will never be content till you get full of glory. Christ's way of giving is, "Of his fullness have we received, and grace for grace" grace to make us pant for more grace; grace to make us long after something higher, something fuller and richer still. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." Again; when the world gives anything it is almost always with a selfish motive. The Christian man gives, not hoping to receive again; but the world lends that it may borrow; it gives that it may receive. There are many men whose whole lives are a looking after self. They would not like to be told so; but even their benefactions to a hospital, or to a charity, are merely given because the name should be in the list. We know that too many persons would not think of relieving private want unless they thought there was a merit in it, and so thought it would stand good for them at last. They would infinitely prefer to do their good in the lumps. I know, at this day, a man that I believe would give twenty pounds, fifty pounds, or a hundred pounds to a charity, but who would let his own relatives starve rather than give them anything, because it would never be known, no one would talk about it. The world's motive for bestowing a blessing is in order that some rich fruit may flow from it. If the world rewards a warrior, its ostensible reason is that other soldiers may fight bravely. If it rewards some great artist, it is to encourage the profession, that is, to help themselves, by getting others to amuse them, as well as this man has done. There is always an ulterior object in the world's generosity. Not so in Christ's; when he gives us mercies, he has nothing whatever to get from us. It is our delight to live to him; but our living to him cannot increase his glory he is God over all, blessed for ever. He gives us more than he can ever receive. And though we with grateful hearts desire to live to him, that very gratitude is first his gift. The well of love is filled out of the spring of God, otherwise it had been the grave of mercies, and not a fountain of praise. Now, what more shall I say? I seem to have brought out the most prominent point of the worlds giving, but let me add one more. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." All that the world gives, it only bestows for a season, it must go back again. Thou hast riches, man, as the reward of thy toils. What shalt thou be the better for them in a few short months? Thy broad acres, thy leagues of land shall dwindle into a short six feet of clay. Thy mansion, what shall it shrivel into, but into a small coffin, over which shall be scratched a little earth to hide thy putrid dust, and save the world a nuisance? The world will have all back of thee. Naked thou didst come into it, and it will take care thou shalt take nothing out of it, for naked shalt thou go out of it again. Oh, man, thou hast accumulated knowledge until thou hast become a walking cyclopaedia, but what shalt thou take with thee? What difference shall there be between thy hollow skull and that of the meanest peasant, when some wanton sexton, in some future year, shall take it up, or split it with his spade? What shalt thou be the better for all those big thoughts that have stretched thy skull, and all those marvellous conceptions that have made it ache so much, that thou couldst scarcely carry it upon thy shoulders? Thou wilt go back again to thy fellow earth, and the worm shall eat thee, and the philosopher shall taste no sweeter to his tooth than did the peasant; And, then, whether thou be prince or king, or whether thou be a poor, ignorant man, the worms shall make no distinction. Thou shall still rot still be consumed; noisome gases and a handful of dust shall be thy whole residuum. What then can the world give? If it tried it could not give thee anything that would last; it cannot give thee anything better than air. It can give thee nothing that can pass into eternity with thee. What though it follow thee with the trumpet of fame? That trumpet cannot be heard half-way across the Jordan. If all the men in the world clapped their hands in thy praise, not one angel, even on the very borders of the celestial world would observe the tumult of applause. The world can give thee nothing that thou canst carry with thee. Thou art at the best a pack-horse, that shall carry its burden till it ends its journey, and then it must lie down and die. Thou dost but carry a burden on thy back, and verily, death shall unload thee ere thou art suffered to enter another world. How different is Christ in his gifts! What he gives he gives for ever. When he bestows mercies they are lasting things; no shadows does he give, but real substance no fancies, but eternal realities does he bestow. Oh, men of this world, when your gold is melted when your diamonds have dissolved in gas when your estates have gone when your hopes are lost, and when your goods are destroyed, then shall the people of God begin to know their riches; then shall they shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." III. Now this brings me to one PRACTICAL REFLECTION, OR RATHER EXHORTATION TO GOD'S PEOPLE. If this be true, my hearer, I beseech thee serve not the world; serve none but Christ, for he is the best master; serve him with all thy might, because he so richly hath given and so richly will give. I would not serve the world for the best empire in it. A king once said he wished all his subjects could be kings for a day, for "they would soon discover," he said, "that the art of governing is not so easy as they think, and that a crown is not so soft a thing to wear as they imagine." No, the world may abuse us if it likes; if it abuse us we are not very sad thereat, because the world is not our master, and as long as our own Master is satisfied we care not for a stranger. If any one should walk into your garden, and say to your gardener, "I do not like the arrangement of these beds; I do not like those flowers; you are evidently a careless man;" he would say, "Well, my master has been round this morning; he did not say much, but I saw a smile of satisfaction on his face, therefore, what is that to you? it is no business of yours. I am not your servant; I do not serve you." Now, the world is a bad paymaster to those that obey and serve it. Let every Christian make up his mind that he will have nothing to do with serving the world. If the world scorns and frowns, let him say, "It is no business of yours; you are not my master; I do not serve you. If it amuses you to abuse me go on; it will not hurt me." There is even in the mind of Christians at times too much of a tendency to time-serving. We are all so apt to think that we really must bow to public opinion, to this, that, and the other. Oh! you will never be happy until the Holy Ghost has brought you to this, that you will fear God, and that you will fear no one else that you will serve God with undivided heart. I go further: I would not even serve the church if I must have it for a master. I can serve God, I can serve Christ; for Christ is a blessed master; but I would not advise any of you to make the church your master. Wherever the church is we are all bound to serve the brethren, to serve the church of Christ as we are bound to assist in a common cause, but think not that even the dictum of the church is to be your judge. Imagine not that even its praise is that which you are to seek. You are to seek the praise of Christ. His church may do wrong, his ministers may mistake, but Christ himself can never be in error. Serve Christ this is the practical exhortation from the whole subject. My dear friends, you that love Christ, and have been chosen by him from before the foundation of the world, who have been bought with his blood, have been washed, and pardoned, and forgiven, if Christ gives to you, not as the world gives then I beseech you serve Christ better than worldlings serve the world. Oh, it is astonishing what men have done to serve the world. They have rushed to the cannon's mouth, and given their life to be food for powder, and they have thought they were well rewarded with a little praise. Men, too, have sweated at the furnace; they have spent their livings, have starved their families, to invent some luxuries for the tables of the rich. Men have undergone unheard of labors, toils that positively appal you to read of, merely to become eminent in their profession, to be first in the rank of artisans among which they were numbered. When the world has a gulf to fill, it never lacks a Curtis to leap into it, but Christ often sees his cause left and deserted by reason of the coldness of his friends. There is many a battle wherein the warriors of Christ turn their backs, though armed and carrying bows. I was thinking yesterday, and the thought struck me forcibly, that one thousand eight hundred years ago, or a little more, there were a few men met in an upper chamber met for worship about four hundred of them. They met, and they prayed, and they preached, and there was a divine fire kindled in their bosoms; and in a few years, they had preached the gospel in every language under heaven, and the mass of the world became professedly Christians. Now here is a room, not with four hundred persons, but oftentimes filled with thousands, and yet, does the religion of Christ progress as it should do? No. If there were but a little, but a hundredth part of the zeal of Christ's disciples that there was in olden times, before another year rolls round, there would be missionaries in every town; the gospel would be preached in every village of India, and China, and every other nation accessible to the foot of the missionary. As it is we are an idle generation, a tribe of dwarfs has succeeded to a race of giants, and now Christ's cause creeps where it once ran, and only runs where once it was wont to fly as with wings of lightning. Oh, that God would make bare his arm! And if ever he does, the first sign of it will be that the church will begin to serve Christ more zealously. Some will give their blood to die in the preaching of the Word. Others will pour their wealth into coffers of the church and every living soul, numbered in the family of Christ, will spend itself and be spent for its Master's honor. "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." O Jesus, not as the world's followers give, do we desire to give to thee. They give their lives but once, we would "die daily;" they give much of their talent, we would give all. Take our heart, and seal it, make it as thine own, that we may live to thine honor, and die in thine arms, and sit upon thy throne with thee for ever and ever.
February 19, 1860 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. John 14:27 .
Our Lord was now about to die, to depart from this world. and to ascend to his Father; he therefore makes his will; and this is the blessed legacy which he leaves to the faithful--"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you."
We may rest well assured that this testament of our Lord Jesus Christ is valid. You have here his own signature; it is signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of the eleven apostles, who are faithful and true witnesses. 'Tis true a testament is not in force while the testator liveth, but Jesus Christ has died once for all; and now none can dispute his legacy. The will is in force, because the testator has died. It may, however, sometimes happen that a testator's wishes in a will may be disregarded; and he, powerless beneath the sod, is quite unable to rise and demand that his last will should be carried out. But our Lord Jesus Christ who died, and therefore made his will valid, rose again, and now he lives to see every stipulation of it carried out; and this blessed codicil, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you," is sure to all the blood-bought seed. Peace is theirs, and must be theirs, because he died and put the will in force, and lives to see the will fulfilled.
The donation, the blessed legacy which our Lord has here left, is his peace. This might be considered as being peace with all the creatures. God has made a league of peace between his people and the whole universe. For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee." "All things work together for good to them that love God." Providence that was once estranged, and seemed to work counter to our welfare, has now become at peace with us. The wheels revolve in happy order, and bear us blessings as often as they turn. The words of our Lord may also refer to the peace which exists among the people of God toward one another. There is a peace of God which reigns in our hearts through Jesus Christ, by which we are bound in closest ties of unity and concord to every other child of God whom we may meet with in our pilgrimage here below. Leaving, however, these two sorts of peace, which I believe to be comprehended in the legacy, let us proceed to consider two kinds of peace, which in our experience resolve themselves into one, and which are surely the richest part of this benediction. Our Saviour here means peace with God, and peace with our own conscience. There is first, peace with God, for he "hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ;" he hath put away the wall which separated us from Jehovah, and now there is "peace on earth" and "goodwill toward men." When sin is put away, God has no cause of warfare against his creature: Christ has put our sins away. and therefore there is a virtual substantial peace established between God and our souls. This, however, might exist without our clearly understanding and rejoicing in it. Christ has therefore left us peace in the conscience. Peace with God is the treaty; peace in the conscience is the publication of it. Peace with God is the fountain, and peace with conscience is the crystal stream which issues from it. There is a peace decreed in the court of divine justice in heaven; and then there follows as a necessary consequence, as soon as the news is known, a peace in the minor court of human judgment, wherein conscience sits upon the throne to judge us according to our works.
The legacy, then, of Christ is a twofold peace: a peace of friendship, of agreement, of love, of everlasting union between the elect and God. It is next a peace of sweet enjoyment, of quiet rest of the understanding and the conscience. When there are no winds above, there will be no tempests below. When heaven is serene, earth is quiet. Conscience reflects the complacency of God. ..Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom also we have received the atonement."
I propose this morning, if God the Holy Spirit shall graciously assist, to speak of this peace thus:--first, its secret ground-work; then its noble nature; thirdly, its blessed effects; fourthly, its interruptions and means of maintenance; and then I shall close by some words of solemn Gaming to those of you who have never enjoyed peace with God, and consequently never have had true peace with yourselves.
I. First, then, THE PEACE WHICH A TRUE CHRISTIAN ENJOYS WITH GOD AND HIS CONSCIENCE HAS A SOLID GROUNDWORK TO REST UPON. It is not built upon a pleasing fiction of his imagination, a delusive dream of his ignorance; but it is built on facts, on positive truths, on essential verities; it is founded upon a rock, and though the rains descend, and the winds blow, and the floods beat upon that house, it shall not fall, because its foundation is secure. When a man hath faith in the blood of Christ there is but little wonder that he hath peace, for indeed he is fully warranted in enjoying the most profound calm which mortal heart can know. For thus he reasons with himself:--God hath said, "He that believeth is justified from all things;" and, moreover, that "he that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved." Now, my faith is unfeignedly fixed in the great substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, therefore I am now justified from all things, and stand accepted in Christ as a believer. The necessary consequence of that is, that he possesses peace of mind. If God has punished Christ in my stead, he will not punish me again. "Being once purged I have no more conscience of sin." Under the Jewish ceremonial, mention was made of sin every year; the atoning lamb must be slaughtered a thousand times, but "this man, having made one atonement for sins, for ever sat down at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens." How, I ask, can that man tremble who believes himself forgiven? It were strange indeed if his faith did not breathe a holy calm into his bosom.
Again, the child of God receives his peace from another golden pipe, for a sense of pardon has been shed abroad in his soul. He not only believes his forgiveness from the testimony of God, but he has a sense of pardon. Do any of you know what this is? It is something more than a belief in Christ; it is the cream of faith, the full ripe fruit of believing, it is a high and special privilege which God gives after faith. If I have not that sense of pardon I am still bound to believe, and then, believing, I shall by and by advance to the seeing of that which I believed and hoped for. The Holy Spirit sometimes sheds abroad in the believer a consciousness that he is forgiven. By mysterious agency he fills the soul with the light of glory. If all the false witnesses on earth should rise up and tell the man at that time that God is not reconciled to him, and that his sins remain unforgiven, he would be able to laugh them to scam; for, saith he, The love of God is shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirits He feels that he is reconciled to God. He has come from faith up to enjoyment, and every power of his soul feels the divine dew as it gently distils from heaven. The understanding feels it, it is enlightened; the will feels it, it is subjected to the will of God; the heart feels it, it is fired with holy love; the hope feels it, for it looks forward to the day when the whole man shall be made like its covenant head Jesus Christ. Every flower in the garden of humanity feels the sweet south wind of the Spirit. as it blows upon it, and causes the sweet spices to send forth their perfume. What wonder, then, that man has peace with God when the Holy Ghost becomes a royal tenant of the heart, with all his glorious train of blessings? Ah! poor tried soul, what peace and joy unspeakable would reign in your soul if you did but believe on Christ? "Yes," say you, "but I want God to manifest to me that I am forgiven." Poor soul, he will not do that at once; he bids you believe Christ first, and then he will make manifest to you the pardon of your sin. It is by faith we are saved, not by enjoyment; but when I believe Christ, and take him at his word, even when my feelings seem to contradict my faith, then, as a gracious reward, he will honour my faith by giving me to feel that which I once believed when I did not feel it.
The believer also enjoys, in favoured seasons, such an intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ, that he cannot but be at peace. Oh! there are sweet words which Christ whispers in the ears of his people, and there are love-visits which he pays to them, which a man would not believe even though it should be told unto him. Ye must know for yourselves what it is to have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. There is such a thing as Christ manifesting himself to us as he does not unto the world. All black and frightful thoughts are banished. "l am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine." This is the one all-absorbing feeling of the spirit. And what wonder is it, that the believer has peace when Christ thus dwells in his heart, and reigns there without a rival, so that he knows no man, save Jesus only. It were a miracle of miracles if we did not have peace; and the strangest thing in Christian experience is that our peace is not more continued, and the only explanation of our misery is, that our communion is broken, that our fellowship is marred, else would our peace be like a river, and our righteousness like the waves of the sea.
That venerable man of God, Joseph irons, who but a little while ago ascended to our Father in heaven, says, 'What wonder that a Christian man has peace when he carries the title-- deeds of heaven in his bosom!" This is another solid groundwork of confidence. We know that heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, and the Christian can sometimes cry with the apostles, "Thanks be unto the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.' Feeling that God has given him the meetness, he discovers that this preparation is a warrant for the hope that he shad enter into the dwelling-place of the glorified. He can list his eye above, and say, "Yon bright world is mine, my entailed inheritance; life keeps me from it, but death shall bring me to it; my sins cannot destroy the heaven-written indentures; heaven is mine; Satan himself cannot shut me out of it. I must, I shall be where Jesus is, for after him my spirit longs, and to him my soul is knit." Oh, brethren, it is not a marvel when all is blest within, and all is calm above, that justified men possess "a peace with God which passeth all understanding."
You will perhaps be saying, well, but the Christian has troubles like other men--losses in business, deaths in his family, and sickness of body! Yes, but he has another groundwork for his peace-- an assurance of the faithfulness and covenant fidelity of his God and Father. He believes that God is a faithful God--that whom he hath loved he will not cast away. .All the dark providences to him are but blessings in disguise. When his cup is bitter, he believes it is mixed by love, and it must all end well, for God secures the ultimate result. Therefore, come foul, come fair, come all weathers, his soul shelters itself beneath the twin wings of the faithfulness and power of his Covenant God. The sanctified spirit is so resigned to his Father% will that he will not murmur. To him, as Madame Guyon was wont to say,-- "It is equal whether love ordain his life or death, appoint him weal or woe." He is content to take just what his Father sends him, knowing that his Father understands him better than he understands himself He gives up the helm of his ship to the hand of a gracious God; and he, himself, is enabled to fall asleep softly in the cabin; he believes that his Captain hath power over winds and waves; and when he sometimes feels his ship rocking in the storm, he cries with Herbert--
"Though winds and waves assault my keel, He Both preserve it; he Both steer, Even when the bark seems most to reel. Storms--are the triumph of his art; Sure he may hide his face, but not his heart."
No wonder, then, that he has peace, when he can feel this, and knows that he who hath begun the good work, has both the will and the power to perfect it, unto the day of Christ.
II. Having hurriedly unveiled the secret groundwork of the Christian's peace, we must dwell for a few minutes upon ITS NOBLE CHARACTER.
The peace of other men is ignoble and base. Their peace is born in the purlieus of sin. Self-conceit and ignorance are its parents. The man knows not what he is, and therefore thinks himself to be something--when he is nothing. He says--"I am rich and increased in goods," while he is naked, and poor, and miserable. Not such is the birth of the Christian's peace. That is born of the Spirit. It is a peace which God the Father gives, for he is the God of all peace; it is a peace which Jesus Christ bought, for he has made peace with his blood, and he is our peace; and it is a peace which the Holy Spirit works--he is its author and its founder in the soul.
Our peace then, is God's own child, and God-like is its character. His Spirit is its sire, and it is like its Father. It is "my peace," saith Christ! not man's peace; but the unruffled, calm, the profound peace of the Eternal Son of God. Oh, if we had but this one thing within our bosoms, this divine peace, a Christian were a glorious thing indeed; and even now kings and mighty men of this world are as nothing when once compared with the Christian; for he wears a jewel in his bosom which all the world could not buy, a jewel fashioned from old eternity and ordained by sovereign grace to be the high boon, the right royal inheritance of the chosen sons of God.
This peace, then, is divine in its origin; and it is also divine in its nourishment. It is a peace which the world cannot give; and it cannot contribute towards its maintenance. The daintiest morsels that ever carnal sense fed upon, would be bitter to the mouth of this sweet peace. Ye may bring your much fine corn, your sweet wine, and your flowing oil, your dainties tempt us not, for this peace feeds upon angels' food, and it cannot relish any food that grows on earth. If you should give a Christian ten times as much riches as he has, you would not cause him ten times as much peace; but probably, ten times more distress; you might magnify him in honour, or strengthen him with health, yet, neither would his honour or his health contribute to his peace; for that peace flows from a divine source; and there are no tributary streams from the hills of earth to feed that divine current; the stream flows from the throne of God, and by God alone is it sustained.
It is, then, a peace divinely born and divinely nourished. And let me again remark, it is a peace that lives above circumstances. The world has tried hard to put an end to the Christian's peace, and it has never been able to accomplish it. I remember, in my early childhood, having heard an old man utter in prayer, a saying which stuck by me-- "O Lord, give unto thy servants that peace which the world can neither give nor take away." Ah! the whole might of our enemies cannot take it away. Poverty cannot destroy it; the Christian in his rags can have peace with God. Sickness cannot mar it; lying on his bed, the saint is joyful in the midst of the fires. Persecution cannot ruin it, for persecution cannot separate the believer from Christ, and while he is one with Christ his soul is full of peace. "Put your hand here," said the martyr to his executioner, when he was led to the stake, "put your hand here, and now put your hand on your own heart, and feel which beats the hardest, and which is the most troubled." Strangely was the executioner struck with awe, when he found the Christian man as calm as though he were going to a wedding feast, while he himself was all agitation at having to perform so desperate a deed. Oh, world! we defy thee to rob us of our peace. We did not get it of thee, and thou canst not rend it from us. It is set as a seal upon our arm; it is strong as death and invincible as the grave. Thy stream, O Jordan, cannot drown it, black and deep though thy depths may be; in the midst of thy tremendous billows our soul is confident, and resteth still on him that loved us, and gave himself for us. Frequently have I had to remark, that Christians placed in the most unfavourable circumstances are, as a rule, better Christians than those who are placed in propitious positions. In the midst of a very large church of persons in all ranks, with the condition of most of whom I am as thoroughly conversant as man can well be, I have observed that the women who come from houses where they have ungodly husbands, and trying children--that the young people who come from workshops where they are opposed and laughed at--that the people who come from the depths of poverty, from the dens and kens of our city, are the brightest jewels that are set in the crown of the church. It seems as if God would defeat nature--not only make the hyssop grow on the wall, but make the cedar grow there too--he finds his brightest pearls in the darkest waters, and bring up his most precious jewels from the filthiest dung hills.
"Wonders of grace to God belong, Repeat his mercies in your song."
And this I have found too, that often the more disturbed a Christian man is, the purer is his peace; the heavier the rolling swell of his griefs and sorrows , the more still, and calm, and profound is the peace that reigns within his heart. So then, it is peace divinely born, divinely nourished, and one which is quite above the influence of this poor whirling world.
Further, I must remark briefly upon the nature of this peace, that it is profound and real. "The peace of God," saith an apostle, "that passeth all understanding." This peace not only fills all the senses to the brim, till every power is satiated with delight, but the understanding which can take in the whole world, and understand many things which are not within the range of vision, even the understanding cannot take in the length and the breadth of this peace. And not only will the understanding fail to compass it, but all understanding is outdone. When our judgment hath exerted itself to the utmost, it cannot comprehend the heights and depths of this profound peace. Have you ever imagined what must be the stillness of the caverns in the depth of the seas, a thousand fathoms beneath the bosom of the floods, where the mariners' bones lie undisturbed, where pearls are born, and corals that never see the light, where the long lost gold and silver of the merchants lie sprinkled on the sandy floor--down in the rock caves, and the silent palaces of darkness where waves dash not, and the intruding foot of the diver hath never trodden? So clear, so calm is the peace of God, the placid rest of the assured believer. Or lift up your eyes to the stars. Have you never dreamed a sweet dream of the quietude of those noiseless orbs? Let us mount beyond the realm of noise and riot, let us tread the noiseless highway of the silent orbs. The thunders are far below us, the confused tumult of the crowd defiles not the sanctity of this wondrous quiet. See how the stars sleep on their golden couches, or only open their bright eyes to keep watch upon that stormless sea of ether, and guard the solemn boundaries of the reign of peace. Such is the peace and calm that reigns in the Christian's bosom. "Sweet calm," one calls it; "perfect peace," David styles it; another one calls it "great peace.""Great peace have all they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them." Last year--I tell you now a secret of my heart--I had one text which thrust itself upon my recollection many times a day. I dreamed of it when I slept; when I slept; when I awoke it went with me, and I verified it, and rejoiced in it: "His soul shall dwell at ease." It is my promise now. There is such ease--quite consistent with labour, with agony for the souls of men, with an earnest desire for yet greater attainments in divine life; there is such an ease--it is not to be gained by all the appliances of luxury, by all the aggrandizement of wealth--an ease in which "not a wave of trouble rolls across the peaceful breast," but all is calm, and all is clear, and all is joy and love. May we evermore dwell in that serene atmosphere, and never lose our hold of this peace.
Lest there should be any of you who do not understand what I have said, I will try and say it over again briefly in an example. Do you see that man? He has been taken up before a cruel tribunal; he is condemned to die. The hour draws nigh: he is taken to prison, and placed there with two soldiers to guard him, and four quartenions of soldiers outside the door. The night comes on: he lies down, but in how uncomfortable a position! Chained between two soldiers! He lies down and he falls asleep--not the sleep of the guilty criminal, whose very sense of dread makes his eyelids heavy; but a calm sleep which is given by God, and which ends in an angelic vision, by which he is delivered. Peter sleeps, when the death sentence is above his head, and the sword is ready to penetrate his soul. See you another picture? There are Paul and Silas yonder: they have been preaching, and their feet are thrust in the stocks for it. They will die on the morrow; but in the midnight they sing praises unto God, and the prisoners hear them. One would have thought in such a loathsome dungeon as that, they would have groaned and moaned all night long, or that at best they might have slept; but no, they sang praises to God, and the prisoners heard them. There is the peace--the calm, the quietude of the heir of heaven. I might give you another picture--of our ancient Nonconformists, in the days of that most persecuting Queen Elizabeth. She cast into prison among very many others, two of our forefathers, of the name of Greenwood and Barrow. They were caused to lie in that loathsome stinking dungeon--the Clink Prison--shut in one huge room with maniacs, murderers, felons, and the like, compelled to listen to their frightful conversation. One day there came a warrant, that thy must die. The two men were led out, and tied to the cart, and were about to be taken away to death; but they were no sooner outside the gate than a messenger rode up. The Queen had sent a reprieve. They were taken back; calmly and quietly they returned to their prison; and the next day they were taken to Newgate, and, just as suddenly, there came a second messenger, to say they must be taken away to Tybum to die. They were again tied to the cart; they ascended the scaffold; the ropes were put round their necks, and they were allowed to stand in that position and address the assembled multitude, and bear witness to the liberty of Christ's church, and to the right of private judgment among men. They concluded their speech, and a second time that wretched Queen sent them a reprieve, and they were taken back a second time to the dungeon, and there they lay in Newgate, but only for few days more, and then a third time they were taken out, and this time they were hanged in reality; but they went as cheerfully to the scaffold on each occasion as men go to their beds, and seemed as joyous, as though they were going to a crown, rather than to a halter. Such specimens all the churches of Christ can show. Wherever there has been a true Christian, the world has tried its best to put out his peace; but it is a peace that never can be quenched--it will live on, what halter about its neck, with the hot pincers tearing away its flesh, with the sword in its very bones; it will live, till, mounting from the burning bush of earth, this bird of paradise shall wear its glittering plumage in the midst of the garden of paradise.
III. Having detained you longer on this point than I thought I should do, I hasten to the third point, THE EFFECTS OF THIS DIVINE PEACE.
The blessed effects of this divine peace are, first of all, joy . You will notice that the words "joy," and "peace" are continually put together; for joy without peace were an unhallowed and an unhappy joy--the crackling of thorns under a pot, unsound, mere flames of joy, but not the red glowing coals of bliss. Now, divine peace gives joy to the Christian; and such joy! Have you ever seen the first gleam of joy when it has come into the eye of the penitent? It has been my happy lot to pray with many a convinced sinner, to witness the deep agony of spirit, and deeply to sympathise with the poor creature in his trouble for sin. I have prayed and have exhorted to faith, and I have seen that flash of joy at last the hopeful word was spoken, "I do believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart." Oh! that look of joy! It is as if the gates of heaven had been opened for a moment, and some flash of glory had blazed upon the eye and had been reflected therefrom. I remember my own joy, when I first had peace with God. I thought I could dance all the way home. I could understand what John Bunyan said, when he declared he wanted to tell the crows on the ploughed land all about it. He was too full to hold, he felt he must tell some one. Oh! there was joy in the household that day, when all heard that the eldest son had found a Saviour and knew himself to be forgiven--bliss compared with which all earth's joys are less than nothing and vanity. As the counterfeit to the real coin, so are the base joys of earth to the real joy which springs from peace with God. Young man! Young woman! if you could have a bliss such as you never knew before, you must be reconciled to God through the blood of Christ; for till then, real joy and lasting pleasure you can never know.
The first effect of this peace, then, is joy. Then follows another-- love. He that is at peace with God through the blood of Christ is constrained to love him that died for him. "Precious Jesus!" he cries, "help me to serve thee! Take me as I am, and make me fit for something. Use me in thy cause; send me to the farthest part of the green earth, if thou wilt, to tell to sinners the way of salvation; I will cheerfully go, for my peace fans the flame of love, that all that I am and all I have shall be, must be, for ever thine."
Then next, there comes an anxiety after holiness. He that is at peace with God does not wish to go into sin; for he is careful lest he should lose that peace. He is like a woman that has escaped from a burning house; he is afraid of every candle afterwards, lest he should come again into the like danger. He walks humbly with his God. Constrained by grace, this sweet fruit of the Spirit, peace, leads him to endeavour to keep all the commandments of God, and to serve his Lord with all his might.
Then again, this peace will help us to bear affliction. Paul describes it as a shoe. As he says, "Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." It enables us to tread on the sharpest flints of sorrow, yea, on adders, and on serpents also; it gives us power to walk over the briars of this world, and our feet are not wounded; we tread the fires, and we are not burned. This divine shoe of peace makes us walk without weariness, and run without fainting. I can do all things when my soul is at peace with God. There are no sufferings that shall move my soul to pain, no terrors that shall blanch my cheek, there are no wounds that shall compel me to an ignominious fear when my spirit is at peace with God. It makes a man a giant--swells the dwarf to a Goliath size. He becomes mightiest of the mighty; and while the weaklings creep about this little earth, bowed down to the very dust, he strides it like a Colossus. God has made him great and mighty, because he has filled his soul with peace, and with overflowing joy.
More might I tell you of the blessed effects of this peace; but I shall be content, after I have simply noticed that this peace gives boldness at the throne, and access to a Father's mercy-seat. We feel we are reconciled, and therefore we stand no longer at a distance, but we come up to him, even to his knees; we spread our wants before him, plead our cause, and rest satisfied of success, because there is no enmity in our Father's heart to us, and none in ours to him. We are one with God, and he is one with us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
IV. And now I have a practical duty to perform, and with this I shall close, after having said a few words to those who know nothing of this peace. The practical remarks I have to make are upon the subject of INTERRUPTIONS OF PEACE.
All Christians have a right to perfect peace, but they have not all the possession of it. There are times when gloomy doubts prevail, and we fear to say that God is ours. We lose a consciousness of pardon, and we grope in the noonday as in the night. How is this? I think these interruptions may be owing to one of four causes.
Sometimes they are due to the ferocious temptations of Satan. There are periods when with unexampled cruelty Satan assaults the children of God. It is not to be expected that they will maintain perfect peace while they are fighting with Apollyon. When poor Christian was wounded in his head, and in his hands, and in his feet, no wonder that he did groan exceedingly, and as Bunyan hath it, "I never saw him all the while give so much as one pleasant look, till he perceived he had wounded Apollyon with his two-edged sword; then, indeed, he did smile, and look upward; but it was the dreadfullest fight that ever I saw." Mark, there is no such thing as a disturbance of the reality of the peace between God and the soul; for God is always at peace with those who are reconciled to him by Christ; but there is a disturbance of the enjoyment of that peace, and that is often effected by the howlings of that great dog of hell. He comes against us with all his might, with his mouth open ready to swallow us up quick, and were it not for divine mercy he would do so. It is but little marvel that sometimes our peace is affected, when Satan is fierce in his temptations.
At another time a want of peace may arise from ignorance. I do not wonder that a man who believes Arminian doctrine, for instance, has little peace. There is nothing in the doctrine to give him any. It is a bone without marrow; it is a religion that seems to me to be cold, sapless, marrowless, fruitless--bitter and not sweet. There is nothing about it but the whip of the law; there are no grand certainties-- no glorious facts of covenant love, of discriminating grace, of Almighty faithfulness, and suretyship engagements. I will never quarrel with the man that can live on such stones and scorpions as conditional election, haphazard redemption, questionable perseverance, and unavailing regeneration. There may be some, I suppose, who can live on this dry meat. If they can live on it, be it so; but I believe many of our doubts and fears arise from doctrinal ignorance. You have not, perhaps, a clear view of that covenant made between the Father and his glorious Son, Jesus Christ; you do not know how to spell the word "gospel" without mixing up the word "law" in it. Perhaps you have not learned fully to look out of self to Christ for everything. You do not know how to distinguish between sanctification, which varies, and justification, which is permanent. Many believers have not come to discern between the work of the Spirit and the work of the Son; and what marvel, if ye are ignorant, that ye sometimes lack peace? Learn more of that precious Book, and your peace shall be more continual.
Then again, this peace is usually marred by sin. God hides his face behind the clouds of dust which his own flock make as they travel along the road of this world. We sin, and then we sorrow for it. God still loves his child, even when he sins; but he will not let the child know it. That child's name is in the family register; but the Father clasps up the book, and will not let him read it till he thoroughly repents again, and comes back once more to Jesus Christ. If you can have peace, and yet live in sin, mark this, you are unrenewed. If you can live in iniquity, and yet have peace in your conscience, your conscience is seared and dead. But the Christian man, when he sins, begins to smart; if not the very moment he falls, it is not long before his Father's rod is on his back, and he begins to cry,
"Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and his Word?"
Once more: our peace may be interrupted also by unbelief. Indeed, this is the sharpest knife of the four, and will most readily cut the golden thread of our enjoyments.
And now, if ye would maintain unbroken peace, take advice from God's minister this morning, young though he be in years. Take advice, which he can warrant to be good, for it is Scriptural. If ye would keep your peace continual and unbroken, look always to the sacrifice of Christ; never permit your eye to turn to anything but Jesus. When thou repentest, my hearer, still keep thine eye on the cross; when thou labourest, labour in the strength of the Crucified One. Everything thou doest, whether it be self-examination, fasting, meditation, or prayer, do all under the shadow of Jesus' cross; or otherwise, live as thou wilt, thy peace will be but a sorry thing; thou shalt be full of disquiet and of sore trouble. Live near the cross and your peace shall be continual.
Another piece of advice. Walk humbly with your God. Peace is a jewel; God puts it on your finger; be proud of it, and he will take it off again, Peace is a noble garment; boast of your dress, and God will take it away from you. Remember the hole of the pit whence you were digged, and the quarry of nature whence you were hewn; and when you have the bright crown of peace on your head, remember your black feet; nay, even when that crown is there, cover it and our face still with those two wings, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. In this way shall your peace be maintained.
And again, walk in holiness, avoid every appearance of evil. "Be not conformed to this world." Stand up for truth and rectitude. Suffer not the maxims of men to sway your judgment. Seek the Holy Spirit that you may live like Christ, and live near to Christ, and your peace shall not be interrupted.
As for those of you who have never had peace with God, I can entertain but one sentiment towards you, namely, that of pity. Poor souls! poor souls! poor souls! that never knew the peace which Jesus Christ gives to his people. And my pity is all the more needed, because you do not pity yourselves. Ah! souls, the day is coming when that God to whom you are now an enemy, shall stare you in the face.
You must see him; and he is "a consuming fire." You must look into that blazing furnace, and sink, and despair, and die. Die, did I say? Worse than that. You must be cast into the pit of damnation, where dying were a boon that can never be granted. Oh! may God give you peace through his Son! If you are now convinced of sin, the exhortation is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." Just as thou art, thou art bidden to put thy trust in him that did die upon the tree; and if thou doest this, thy sins shall all be forgiven now, and thou shalt have peace with God; and, ere long, thou shalt know it in thine own conscience and rejoice. Oh! seek this peace and pursue it; and above all, seek the Peace-maker, Christ Jesus, and you shall be saved. God bless you for Jesus' sake. Amen.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 14". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11