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The Holy Ghost The Great Teacher
November 18, 1855 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Howbeit when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come." John 16:13 .
This generation hath gradually, and almost imperceptibly, become to a great extent a godless generation. One of the diseases of the present generation of mankind, is their secret but deep-seated godlessness, by which they have so far departed from the knowledge of God. Science has discovered to us second causes; and hence, many have too much forgotten the first Great Cause, the Author of all: they have been able so far to pry into secrets, that the great axiom of the existence of a God, has been too much neglected. Even among professing Christians, while there is a great amount of religion, there is too little godliness: there is much external formalism, but too little inward acknowledgment of God, too little living on God, living with God, and relying upon God. Hence arises the sad fact that when you enter many of our places of worship you will certainly hear the name of God mentioned; but except in the benediction, you would scarcely know there was a Trinity. In many places dedicated to Jehovah the name of Jesus is too often kept in the background; the Holy Spirit is almost entirely neglected; and very little is said concerning his sacred influence. Even religious men have become to a large degree godless in this age. We sadly require more preaching regarding God; more preaching of those things which look not so much at the creature to be saved, as at God the Great One to be extolled. My firm conviction is, that in proportion as we have more regard for the sacred godhead, the wondrous Trinity in Unity, shall we see a greater display of God's power, and a more glorious manifestation of his might in our churches. May God send us a Christ-exalting, Spirit-loving ministry men who shall proclaim God the Holy Ghost in all his offices and shall extol God the Savior as the author and finisher of our faith, not neglecting that Great God, the Father of his people, who, before all worlds, elected us in Christ his Son, justified us through his righteousness, and will inevitably preserve us and gather us together in one, in the consummation of all things at the last great day. Our text has regard to God the Holy Spirit; of Him we shall speak and Him only, if His sweet influence shall rest upon us. The disciples had been instructed by Christ concerning certain elementary doctrines but Jesus did not teach his disciples more than what we should call the A B C of religion. He gives his reasons for this in the 12th verse (John 16:12 ): "I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now." His disciples were not possessors of the Spirit. They had the Spirit so far as the work of conversion was concerned, but not as to the matters of bright illumination, profound instruction, prophecy, and inspiration. He says, "I am now about to depart, and when I go from you I will send the Comforter unto you. Ye cannot bear these things now howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth.'' The same promise that he made to his apostles, stands good to all his children; and in reviewing it, we shall take it as our portion and heritage, and shall not consider ourselves intruders upon the manor of the apostles, or upon their exclusive rights and prerogatives; for we conceive that Jesus says even to us, "When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth." Dwelling exclusively upon our text, we have five things. First of all, here is an attainment mentioned a knowledge of all truth; secondly, here is a difficulty suggested which is, that we need guidance into all truth; thirdly, here is a person provided "when he, the Spirit shall come, he shall guide you into all truth; "fourthly, here is a manner hinted at "he shall guide you into all truth;" fifthly here is a sign given as to the working of the Spirit we may know whether he works, by his "guiding us into all truth," into all of one thing; not truths, but truth. I. Here is AN ATTAINMENT MENTIONED, which is a knowledge of all truth. We know that some conceive doctrinal knowledge to be of very little importance, and of no practical use. We do not think so. We believe the science of Christ crucified and a judgment of the teachings of Scripture to be exceedingly valuable; we think it is right, that the Christian ministry should not only be arousing but instructing; not merely awakening, but enlightening: that it should appeal not only to the passions but to the understanding. We are far from thinking doctrinal knowledge to be of secondary importance; we believe it to be one of the first things in the Christian life, to know the truth, and then to practice it. We scarcely need this morning tell you how desirable it is for us to be well taught in things of the kingdom. First of all, nature itself, (when it has been sanctified by grace,) gives us a strong desire to know all truth. The natural man separateth himself and intermeddleth with all knowledge. God has put an instinct in him by which he is rendered unsatisfied if he cannot probe mystery to its bottom; he can never be content until he can unriddle secrets. What we call curiosity is something given us of God impelling us to search into the knowledge of natural things; that curiosity, sanctified by the Spirit, is also brought to bear in matters of heavenly science and celestial wisdom. "Bless the Lord," said David, "O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name!" If there is a curiosity within us, it ought to be employed and developed in a search after truth. "All that is within me," sanctified by the Spirit should he developed, And, verily, the Christian man feels an intense longing to bury his ignorance and receive wisdom. If he, when in his natural estate panted for terrestrial knowledge, how much more ardent is the wish to unravel, if possible, the sacred mysteries of God's Word! A true Christian is always intently reading and searching the Scripture that he may be able to certify himself as to its main and cardinal truths. I do not think much of that man who does not wish to understand doctrines; I cannot conceive him to be in a right position when he thinks it is no matter whether he believes a lie or truth, whether he is heretic or orthodox, whether he received the Word of God as it is written, or as it is diluted and misconstrued by man. God's Word will ever be to a Christian a source of great anxiety; a sacred instinct within will lead him to pry into it; he will seek to understand it. Oh! there are some who forget this, men who purposely abstain from mentioning what are called high doctrines, because they think if they should mention high doctrines they would be dangerous; so they keep them back. Foolish men! they do not know anything of human nature; for if they did understand a grain's worth of humanity, they would know that the hiding of these things impels men to search them out. From the fact that they do not mention them, they drive men to places where these and these only, are preached. They say, "If I preach election, and predestination and these dark things, people will all go straight away, and become Antinomians." I am not so sure if they were to be called Antinomians it would hurt them much; but hear me, oh, ye ministers that conceal these truths, that is the way to make them Antinomians, by silencing these doctrines. Curiosity is strong; if you tell them they must not pluck the truth, they will be sure to do it; but if you give it to them as you find it in God's Word, they will not seek to "wrest" it. Enlightened men will have the truth, and if they see election in Scripture they will say, " it is there, and I will find it out. If I cannot get it in one place, I will get it in another." The true Christian has an inward longing and anxiety after it; he is hungry and thirsty after the word of righteousness, and he must and will feed on this bread of heaven, or at all hazards he will leave the husks which unsound divines would offer him. Not only is this attainment to be desired because nature teaches us so, but a knowledge of all truth is very essential for our comfort. I do believe that many persons have been distressed half their lives from the fact that they had not clear views of truth. Many poor souls, for instance, under conviction, abide three or four times as long in sorrow of mind as they would require to do if they had some one to instruct them in the great matter of justification. So there are believers who are often troubling themselves about falling away; but if they knew in their soul the great consolation that we are kept by the grace of God through faith unto salvation, they would be no more troubled about it. So have I found some distressed about the unpardonable sin; but if God instructs us in that doctrine, and shows us that no conscience that is really awakened ever can commit that sin, but that when it is committed God gives us up to a scared conscience, so that we never fear or tremble afterwards, all that distress would be alleviated. Depend on this, the more you know of God's truth all things else being equal the more comfortable you will be as a Christian. Nothing can give a greater light on your path than a clear understanding of divine things. It is a mingle-mangled gospel too commonly preached, which causes the downcast faces of Christians. Give me the congregation whose faces are bright with joy, let their eyes glisten at the sound of the gospel, then will I believe that it is God's own words they are receiving. Instead thereof you will often see melancholy congregations whose visages are not much different from the bitter countenance of poor creatures swallowing medicine, because the word spoken terrifies them by its legality, instead of comforting them by its grace. We love a cheerful gospel, and we think "all the truth" will tend to comfort the Christian. "Comfort again?" says another, "always comfort." Ah, but there is another reason why we prize truth, because we believe that a true knowledge of all the truth will keep us very much out of danger. No doctrine is so calculated to preserve a man from sin as the doctrine of the grace of God. Those who have called it a licentious doctrine did not know anything at all about it. Poor ignorant things, they little knew that their own vile stuff was the most licentious doctrine under heaven. If they knew the grace of God in truth, they would soon see that there was no preservative from lying like a knowledge that we are elect of God from the foundation of the world. There is nothing like a belief in my eternal perseverance, and the immutability of my Father's affection, which can keep me near to him from a motive of simple gratitude. Nothing makes a man so virtuous as belief of truth. A lying doctrine will soon beget a lying practice. A man cannot have an erroneous belief without by-and-bye having an erroneous life. I believe the one thing naturally begets the other. Keep near God's truth; keep near his word; keep the head right, and especially keep your heart right with regard to truth, and your feet will not go far astray. Again, I hold also that this attainment to the knowledge of all truth is very desirable for the usefulness which it will give us in the world at large. We should not be selfish: we should always consider whether a thing will be beneficial to others. A knowledge of all truth will make us very serviceable in this world. We shall be skillful physicians who know how to take the poor distressed soul aside, to put the finger on his eye, and take the scale off for him, that heaven's light may comfort him. There will be no character, however perplexing may be its peculiar phase, but we shall be able to speak to it and comfort it. He who holds the truth, is usually the most useful man. As a good Presbyterian brother said to me the other day: "I know God has blessed you exceedingly in gathering in souls, but it is an extraordinary fact that nearly all the men I know with scarcely an exception who have been made useful in gathering in souls, have held the great doctrines of the grace of God." Almost every man whom God has blessed to the building up of the church in prosperity, and around whom the people have rallied, has been a man who has held firmly free grace from first to last, through the finished salvation of Christ. Do not you think you need have errors in your doctrine to make you useful. We have some who preach Calvinism all the first part of the sermon, and finish up with Arminianism, because they think that will make them useful. Useful nonsense! That is all it is. A man if he cannot be useful with the truth, cannot be useful with an error. There is enough in the pure doctrine of God, without introducing heresies to preach to sinners. As far as I know, I never felt hampered or cramped in addressing the ungodly in my life. I can speak with as much fervency, and yet not in the same style as those who hold the contrary views of God's truth. Those who hold God's word, never need add something untrue in speaking to men. The sturdy truth of God touches every chord in every man's heart. If we can, by God's grace, put our hand inside man's heart, we want nothing but that whole truth to move him thoroughly, and to stir him up. There is nothing like the real truth and the whole truth, to make a man useful. II. Now, again, here is a DIFFICULTY SUGGESTED, and that is that we require a guide to conduct us into all truth. The difficulty is that truth is not so easy to discover. There is no man born in this world by nature who has the truth in his heart. There is no creature that ever was fashioned, since the fall, who has a knowledge of truth innate and natural. It has been disputed by many philosophers whether there are such things as innate ideas at all; but is of no use disputing as to whether there are any innate ideas of truth. There are none such. There are ideas of everything that is wrong and evil; but in us that is our flesh there dwelleth no good thing, we are born in sin, and shapened in iniquity; in sin did our mother conceive us. There is nothing in us good, and no tendency to righteousness. Then since we are not born with the truth, we have the task of searching for it. If we are to be blest by being eminently useful as Christian men, we must be well instructed in matters of revelation; but here is the difficulty that we cannot follow without a guide the winding paths of truth. Why this?
First, because of the very great intricacy of truth itself. Truth itself is no easy thing to discover. Those who fancy they know everything and constantly dogmatise with the spirit of "We are the men, and wisdom will die with us," of course see no difficulties whatever in the system they hold; but I believe, the most earnest student of Scripture will find things in the Bible which puzzle him; however earnestly he reads it, he will see some mysteries too deep for him to understand. He will cry out "Truth! I cannot find thee; I know not where thou art, thou art beyond me; I cannot fully view thee." Truth is a path so narrow that two can scarce walk together in it; we usually tread the narrow way in single file, two men can seldom walk arm in arm in the truth. We believe the same truth in the main but we cannot walk together in the path, it is too narrow. The way of truth is very difficult. If you step an inch aside on the right you are in a dangerous error, and if you swerve a little to the left you are equally in the mire. On the one hand there is a huge precipice, and on the other a deep morass; and unless you keep to the true line, to the breadth of a hair, you will go astray. Truth is a narrow path indeed. It is a path the eagle's eye hath not seen, and a depth the diver hath not visited. It is like the veins of metal in a mine, it is often of excessive thinness, and moreover it runneth not in one continued layer. Lose it once, and you may dig for miles and not discover it again; the eye must watch perpetually the direction of the lode. Grains of truth are like the grains of gold in the rivers of Australia they must be shaken by the hand of patience, and washed in the stream of honesty, or the fine gold will be mingled with sand. Truth is often mingled with error, and it is hard to distinguish it; but we bless God it is said, "When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth." Another reason why we need a guide is, the invidiousness of error. It busily steals upon us, and, if I may so describe our position, we are often like we were on Thursday night in that tremendous fog. Most of us were feeling for ourselves, and wondering where on earth we were. We could scarcely see an inch before us. We came to a place where there were three turnings. We thought we knew the old spot. There was the lamp-post, and now we must take a sharp turn to the left; but not so. We ought to have gone a little to the right. We have been so often to the same place, that we think we know every flag-stone and there's our friend's shop over the way. It is dark, but we think we must be quite right, and all the while we are quite wrong, and find ourselves half-a-mile out of the way. So it is with matters of truth. We think, surely this is the right path; and the voice of the evil one whispers, "that is the way, walk ye in it." You do so, and you find to your great dismay, that instead of the path of truth, you have been walking in the paths of unrighteousness and erroneous doctrines. The way of life is a labyrinth; the grassiest paths and the most bewitching, are the farthest away from right; the most enticing, are those which are garnished with wrested truths I believe there is not a counterfeit coin in the world so much like a genuine one, as some errors are like the truth. One is base metal, the other is true gold; still in externals they differ very little. We also need a guide, because we are so prone to go astray. Why, if the path of heaven were as straight as Bunyan pictures it, with no turning to the right hand or left and no doubt it is, we are so prone to go astray, that we should go to the right hand to the Mountains of Destruction, or to the left in the dark Wood of Desolation. David says, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep." That means very often: for if a sheep is put into a field twenty times, if it does not get out twenty-one times, it will be because it cannot; because the place is hurdled up, and it cannot find a hole in the hedge. If grace did not guide a man, he would go astray, though there were hand-posts all the way to heaven. Let it be written, "Miklat, Miklat, the way to refuge," he would turn aside, and the avenger of blood would overtake him, if some guide did not, like the angels in Sodom, put his hand on his shoulders, and cry, "Escape, escape, for thy life! look not behind thee; stay not in all the plain." These, then, are the reasons why we need a guide. III. In the third place, here is A PERSON PROVIDED. This is none other than God, and this God is none other than a person. This person is "he, the Spirit," the "Spirit of truth;" not an influence or an emanation, but actually a person. "when the Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth." Now, we wish you to look at this guide to consider how adapted he is to us. In the first place, he is infallible; he knows everything and cannot lead us astray. If I pin my sleeve to another man's coat, he may lead me part of the way rightly, but by-and-bye he will go wrong himself, and I shall be led astray with him; but if I give myself to the Holy Ghost and ask his guidance, there is no fear of my wandering. Again, we rejoice in this Spirit because he is ever-present. We fall into a difficulty sometimes; we say, "Oh, if I could take this to my minister, he would explain it; but I live so far off, and am not able to see him." That perplexes us, and we turn the text round and round and cannot make anything out of it. We look at the commentators. We take down pious Thomas Scott, and, as usual he says nothing about it if it be a dark passage. Then we go to holy Matthew Henry, and if it is an easy Scripture, he is sure to explain it; but if it is a text hard to be understood, it is likely enough, of course, left in his own gloom; and even Dr. Gill himself, the most consistent of commentators, when he comes to a hard passage, manifestly avoids it in some degree. But when we have no commentator or minister, we have still the Holy Spirit; and let me tell you a little secret: whenever you cannot understand a text, open your Bible, bend your knee, and pray over that text; and if it does not split into atoms and open itself, try again. If prayer does not explain it, it is one of the things God did not intend you to know, and you may be content to be ignorant of it. Prayer is the key that openeth the cabinets of mystery. Prayer and faith are sacred picklocks that can open secrets, and obtain great treasures. There is no college for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for he is an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the knee, and he is at our side, the great expositor of truth. But there is one thing about the suitability of this guide which is remarkable. I do not know whether it has struck you the Holy Spirit can "guide us into a truth." Now, man can guide us to a truth, but it is only the Holy Spirit who can "guide us into a truth." "When he, the Spirit of truth, shall come, he shall guide you into " mark that word "all truth." Now, for instance, it is a long while before you can lead some people to election; but when you have made them see its correctness, you have not led them "into" it. You may show them that it is plainly stated in Scripture, but they will turn away and hate it. You take them to another great truth, but they have been brought up in a different fashion, and though they cannot answer your arguments, they say, "The man is right, perhaps," and they whisper but so low that conscience itself cannot hear "but it is so contrary to my prejudices, that I cannot receive it." After you have led them to the truth, and they see it is true, how hard it is to lead them into it! There are many of my hearers who are brought to the truth of their depravity, but they are not brought into it, and made to feel it. Some of you are brought to know the truth that God keeps us from day to day; but you rarely get into it, so as to live in continual dependence upon God the Holy Ghost, and draw fresh supplies from him. The thing is to get inside it. A Christian should do with truth as a snail does with his shell live inside it, as well as carry it on his back, and bear it perpetually about with him. The Holy Ghost, it is said, shall lead us into all truth. You may be brought to a chamber where there is an abundance of gold and silver, but you will be no richer unless you effect an entrance. It is the Spirit's work to unbar the two leaved gates, and bring us into a truth, so that we may get inside it, and, as dear old Rowland Hill said, "Not only hold the truth, but have the truth hold us." IV. Fourthly, here is; METHOD SUGGESTED: "He shall guide you into all truth." Now I must have an illustration. I must compare truth to some cave or grotto that you have heard of, with wondrous stalactites hanging from the roof, and others starting from the floor; a cavern, glittering with spar and abounding in marvels. Before entering the cavern you inquire for a guide, who comes with his lighted flambeau. He conducts you down to a considerable depth, and you find yourself in the midst of the cave. He leads you through different chambers. Here he points to a little stream rushing from amid the rocks, and indicates its rise and progress; there he points to some peculiar rock and tells you its name; then takes you into a large natural hall, tells you how many persons once feasted in it; and so on. Truth is a grand series of caverns, it is our glory to have so great and wise a conductor. Imagine that we are coming to the darkness of it. He is a light shining in the midst of us to guide us; and by the light he shows us wondrous things. In three ways the Holy Ghost teaches us: by suggestion, direction, and illumination. First, he guides us into all truth by suggesting it. There are thoughts that dwell in our minds that were not born there, but which were exotics brought from heaven and put there by the spirit. It is not a fancy that angels whisper into our ears, and that devils do the same: both good and evil spirits hold converse with men; and some of us have known it. We have had strange thoughts which were not the offspring of our souls, but which came from angelic visitants; and direct temptations and evil insinuations have we had which were not brewed in our own souls, but which came from the pestilential cauldron of hell. So the Spirit doth speak in men's ears, sometimes in the darkness of the night. In ages gone by he spoke in dreams and visions, but now he speaketh by his Word. Have you not at times had unaccountably in the middle of your business a thought concerning God and heavenly things, and could not tell whence it came? Have you not been reading or studying the Scripture, but a text came across your mind, and you could not help it; though you even put it down it was like cork in water, and would swim up again to the top of your mind. Well, that good thought was put there by the Spirit; he often guides his people into all truth by suggesting, just as the guide in the grotto does with his flambeau. He does not say a word, perhaps, but he walks into a passage himself, and you follow him, so the Spirit suggests a thought, and your heart follows it up. Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. I remember sitting one day in the house of God and hearing a sermon as dry as possible, and as worthless as all such sermons are, when a thought struck my mind how came I to be converted? I prayed, thought I. Then I thought how came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? Why I did read them, and what led me to that? And then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of all, and that he was the author of faith; and then the whole doctrine opened up to me, from which I have not departed. But sometimes he leads us by direction. The guide points and says "There, gentlemen, go along that particular path, that is the way." So the Spirit gives a direction and tendency to our thoughts; not suggesting a new one but letting a particular thought when it starts take such-and-such a direction; not so much putting a boat on the stream as steering it when it is there. When our thoughts are considering sacred things he leads us into a more excellent channel from that in which we started. Time after time have you commenced a meditation on a certain doctrine and, unaccountably, you were gradually led away into another, and you saw how one doctrine leaned on another, as is the case with the stones in the arch of a bridge, all hanging on the keystone of Jesus Christ crucified. You were brought to see these things not by a new idea suggested, but by direction given to your thoughts. But perhaps the best way in which the Holy Ghost leads us into all truth is by illumination. He illuminates the Bible. Now, have any of you an illuminated Bible at home? "No," says one, "I have a morocco Bible; I have a Polyglot Bible; I have a marginal reference Bible." Ah! that is all very well but have you an illuminated Bible? "Yes, I have a large family Bible with pictures in it." There is a picture of John the Baptist baptizing Christ by pouring water on his head and many other nonsensical things; but that is not what I mean: have you an illuminated Bible? "Yes, I have a Bible with splendid engravings in it." Yes; I know you may have; but have you an illuminated Bible? "I don't understand what you mean by an illuminated Bible." Well, it is the Christian man who has an illuminated Bible. He does not buy it illuminated originally, but when he reads it
"A glory gilds the sacred page, Majestic like the sun Which gives a light to every age, It gives, but burrows none."
There is nothing like reading an illuminated Bible, beloved. You may read to all eternity, and never learn anything by it, unless it is illuminated by the Spirit; and then the words shine forth like stars. The book seems made of gold leaf; every single letter glitters like a diamond. Oh, it is a blessed thing to read an illuminated Bible lit up by the radiance of the Holy Ghost. Hast thou read the Bible and studied it, my brother, and yet have thine eyes been unenlightened? Go and say, "O Lord gild the Bible for me. I want an expounded Bible. Illuminate it; shine upon it; for I cannot read it to profit, unless thou enlightenest me." Blind men may read the Bible with their fingers, but blind souls cannot. We want a light to read the Bible by, there is no reading it in the dark. Thus the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, by suggesting ideas, by directing our thoughts, and by illuminating the Scriptures when we read them. V. The last thing is AN EVIDENCE. The question arises, How may I know whether I am enlightened by the Spirit's influence, and led into all truth? First, you may know the Spirit's influence by its unity he guides us into all truth: secondly, by its universality he guides us into all truth. First, if you are judging a minister, whether he has the Holy Ghost in him or not, you may know him in the first place, by the constant unity of his testimony. A man cannot be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, who preaches yea and nay. The Spirit never says one thing at one time and another thing at another time. There are indeed many good men who say both yea and nay, but still their contrary testimonies are not both from God the Spirit, for God the Spirit cannot witness to black and white, to a falsehood and truth. It has been always held as a first principle, that truth is one thing; but some persons say, "I find one thing in one part of the Bible and another thing in another and though it contradicts itself I must believe it." All quite right, brother, if it did contradict itself; but the fault is not in the wood but in the carpenter. Many carpenters do not understand dovetailing, so there are many preachers who do not understand dove-tailing. It is very nice work, and it is not easily learnt, it takes some apprenticeship to make all doctrines square together. Some preachers preach very good Calvinism for half-an-hour, and the next quarter-of-an hour Arminianism. If they are Calvinists, let them stick to it; if they are Arminians, let them stick to it, let their preaching be all of a piece. Don't let them pile up things only to kick them all down again; let us have one thing woven from the top throughout, and let us not rend it. How did Solomon know the true mother of the child. "Cut it in halves," said he. The woman who was not the mother, did not care so long as the other did not get the whole, and she consented. "Ah," said the true mother, "give her the living child. Let her have it, rather than cut it in halves "So the true child of God would say "I give it up, let my opponent conquer; I do not went to have the truth cut in halves. I would rather be all wrong, than have the word altered to my taste. "We do not want to have a divided Bible. No, we claim the whole living child or none at all. We may rest assured of this, that until we get rid of our linsey-wolsey doctrine, and cease to sow mingled seed, we shall not have a blessing. An enlightened mind cannot believe a gospel which denies itself; it must be one thing or the other. One thing cannot contradict another, and yet it and its opposite be equally true. You may know the Spirit's influence then, by the unity of its testimony. And you may know it by its universality. The true child of God will not be led into some truth but into all truth. When first he starts he will not know half the truth, he will believe it but not understand it; he will have the germ of it but not the sum total in all its breadth and length. There is nothing like learning by experience. A man cannot set up for a theologian in a week. Certain doctrines take years to develop themselves. Like the aloe that taketh a hundred years to be dressed, there be some truths that must lie long in the heart before they really come out and make themselves appear so that we can speak of them as that we do know; and testify of that which we have seen. The Spirit will gradually lead us into all truth. For instance if it be true that Jesus Christ is to reign upon the earth personally for a thousand years, as I am inclined to believe it is, if I be under the Spirit, that will be more and more opened to me, until I with confidence declare it. Some men begin very timidly. A man says, at first, "I know we are justified by faith, and have peace with God, but so many have cried out against eternal justification, that I am afraid of it." But he is gradually enlightened, and led to see that in the same hour when all his debts were paid, a full discharge was given; that in the moment when its sin was cancelled, every elect soul was justified in God's mind, though they were not; justified in their own minds till afterwards. The Spirit shall lead you into all truth. Now, what are the practical inferences from this great doctrine? The first is with reference to the Christian who is afraid of his own ignorance. How many are there who are just enlightened and have tasted of heavenly things, who are afraid they are too ignorant to be saved! Beloved, God the Holy Spirit can teach any one, however illiterate, however uninstructed. I have known some men who were almost idiots before conversion, but they afterwards had their faculties wonderfully developed. Some time ago there was a man who was so ignorant that he could not read, and he never spoke anything like grammar in his life, unless by mistake; and moreover, he was considered to be what the people in his neighborhood called "daft." But when he was converted, the first thing he did was to pray He stammered out a few words, and in a little time his powers of speaking began to develop themselves. Then he thought he would like to read the Scriptures, and after long, long months of labor, he learned to read; and what was the next thing? He thought he could preach; and he did preach a little in his own homely way, in his house. Then he thought "I must read a few more books." And so his mind expanded, until, I believe he is at the present day, a useful minister, settled in a country village, laboring for God. It needs but little intellect to be taught of God. If you feel your ignorance do not despair. Go to the Spirit the great Teacher and ask his sacred influence, and it shall come to pass that he "shall guide you into all truth." Another inference is this whenever any of our brethren do not understand the truth let us take a hint as to the best way of dealing with them. Do not let us controvert with them. I have heard many controversies, but never heard of any good from one of them. We have had controversies with certain men called Secularists, and very strong arguments have been brought against them; but I believe that the day of judgment shall declare that a very small amount of good was ever done by contending with these men. Better let them alone, where no fuel is the fire goeth out; and he that debateth with them puts wood upon the fire. So with regard to Baptism. It is of no avail to quarrel with our Paedo-baptist friends. If we simply pray for them that the God of truth may lead them to see the true doctrine, they will come to it far more easily than by discussions. Few men are taught by controversy, for
"A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."
Pray for them that the Spirit of truth may lead them "into all truth." Do not be angry with your brother, but pray for him; cry, "Lord! open thou his eyes that he may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Lastly, we speak to some of you who know nothing about the Spirit of truth, nor about the truth itself. It may be that some of you are saying, "We care not much which of you are right, we are happily indifferent to it." Ah! but, poor sinner, if thou knewest the gift of God, and who it was that spake the truth, thou wouldst not say, "I care not for it;" if thou didst know how essential the truth is to thy salvation, thou wouldst not talk so; if thou didst know that the truth of God is that thou art a worthless sinner, but if thou believest, then God from all eternity, apart from all thy merits, loved thee, and bought thee with the Redeemer's blood, and justified thee in the forum of heaven, and will by-and-bye justify thee in the forum of thy conscience through the Holy Ghost by faith; if thou didst know that there is a heaven for thee beyond the chance of a failure, a crown for thee, the lustre of which can never be dimmed; then thou wouldst say, "Indeed the truth is precious to my soul!" Why, my ungodly hearers, these men of error want to take away the truth, which alone can save you, the only gospel that can deliver you from hell; they deny the great truths of free-grace, those fundamental doctrines which alone can snatch a sinner from hell; and even though you do not feel interest in them now, I still would say, you ought to desire to see them promoted. May God give you to know the truth in your hearts! May the Spirit "guide you into all truth!" For if you do not know the truth here, recollect there will be a sorrowful learning of it in the dark chambers of the pit, where the only light shall be the flames of hell! May you here know the truth! And the truth shall make you free: and if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed, for he says, "I am the way, the truth, the life." Believe on Jesus thou chief of sinners; trust his love and mercy, and thou art saved, for God the Spirit giveth faith and eternal life.
The Holy Spirit's Chief Office and "Honey in the Mouth!"
The Holy Spirit's Chief Office
July 26th, 1888 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you" John 16:14-15 .
It is the CHIEF office of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ. He does many things, but this is what he aims at in all of them, to glorify Christ. Brethren, what the Holy Ghost does must be right for us to imitate: therefore, let us endeavour to glorify Christ. To what higher ends can we "devote ourselves, than to something to which God the Holy Ghost devotes himself? Be this, then, your emotional prayer, "Blessed Spirit, help me ever to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ!" Observe, that the Gold Ghost glorifies Christ by showing to us the things of Christ. It is a great marvel that there should be any glory given to Christ by showing him to such poor creatures as we are. What! To make us see Christ, does that glorify him? For our weak eyes to behold him, for our trembling hearts to know him, and to love him, does this glorify him? It is even so, for the Holy Ghost chooses this as his principal way of glorifying the Lord Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ, not to show them to angels, not to write them in letters of fire across the brow of night, but to show them unto us. Within the little temple of a sanctified heart, Christ is praised, not so much by what we do, or think, as by what we see. This puts great value upon meditation, upon the study of God's word, and upon silent thought under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, for Jesus says, "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Here is a gospel word at the very outset of our sermon. Poor sinner, conscious of your sin, it is possible for Christ to be glorified by him being shown unto you. If you look to him, if you see him to be a suitable Saviour, an all-sufficient Saviour, if your mind's eye takes him in, if he is effectually shown to you by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby glorified. Sinner as you are, unworthy apparently to become the arena of Christ's glory, yet shall you be a temple in which the King's glory shall be revealed, and you poor heart, like a mirror, shall reflect his grace.
"Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove, With all thy quickening powers;"
and show Christ to the sinner, that Christ may be glorified in the sinner's salvation! If that great work of grace is really done at the beginning of the sermon, I shall not mind even if I never finish it. God the Holy Ghost will have wrought more without me than I could possibly have wrought myself, and to the Triune Jehovah shall be all the praise. Oh, that the name of Christ may be glorified in every one of you! Has the Holy Spirit shown you Christ, the Sin-bearer, the one sacrifice for sin, exalted on high, to give repentance and remission? If so, then the Holy Spirit has glorified Christ, even in you. Now proceeding to examine the text a little in detail, my first observation upon it is this, the Holy Spirit is our Lord's Glorifier: "He shall glorify me." Secondly, Christ's own things are his best glory: "He shall glorify me: for he shall shew it unto you;" and, thirdly, Christ's glory is his Father's glory: "all things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." I. To begin, then, the HOLY SPIRIT IS OUR LORD'S GLORIFIER. I want you to keep this truth in your mind, and never to forget it; that which does not glorify Christ is not of the Holy Spirit, and that which is of the Holy Spirit invariably glorifies our Lord Jesus Christ. First, then, have an eye to this truth in all comforts. If a comfort which you think you need, and which appears to you to be very sweet, does not glorify Christ, look very suspiciously upon it. If, in conversing with an apparently religious man, he prates about truth which he says is comforting, but which does not honour Christ, do not you have anything to do with it. It is a poisonous sweet; it may charm you for a moment, but it will ruin your soul for ever if you partake of it. But blessed are those comforts which smell of Christ, those consolations in which there is a fragrance of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the King's palace, the comfort drawn from his person, from his work, from his blood, from his resurrection, from his glory, the comfort directly fetched from that sacred spot where he trod the wine-press alone. This is wine of which you may drink, and forget your misery, and be unhappy no more; but always look with great suspicion upon any comfort offered to you, either as a sinner or a saint, which does not come distinctly from Christ. Say, "I will not be comforted till Jesus comforts me. I will refuse to lay aside my despondency until he removes my sin. I will not go to Mr. Civility, or Mr. Legality, for the unloading of my burden; no hands shall ever life the load of conscious sin from off my heart but those that were nailed to the cross, when Jesus himself bore my sins in his own body on the tree." Please carry this truth with you wherever you go, as a kind of spiritual litmus paper, by which you may test everything that is presented to you as a cordial or comfort. If it does not glorify Christ, let it not console or please you. In the next place, have an eye to this truth in all ministries. There are many ministries in the world, and they are very diverse from one another; but this truth will enable you to judge which is right out of them all. That ministry which makes much of Christ, is of the Holy Spirit; and that ministry which decries him, ignores him, or puts him in the background in any degree, is not of the Spirit of God. Any doctrine which magnifies man, but not man's Redeemer, any doctrine which denies the depth of the Fall, and consequently derogates from the greatness of salvation, any doctrine which makes sinless, and therefore makes Christ's work less, away with it, away with it. This shall be you infallible test as to whether it is of the Holy Ghost or not, for Jesus says, "He shall glorify me." IT WERE BETTER TO SPEAK FIVE WORDS TO the GLORY OF CHRIST, THAN TO BE the greatest orator who ever lived, and to neglect or dishonour the Lord Jesus Christ. We, my brethren, who are preachers of the Word, have but a short time to live; let us dedicate all that time to the glorious work of magnifying Christ. Longfellow says, in his Psalm of Life, that "Art is long," but longer still is the great art of lifting up the Crucified before the eyes of the sin-bitten sons of men. Let us keep to that one employment. If we have but this one string upon which we can play, we may discourse such music on it as would ravish angels, and will save men; therefore, again I say, let us keep to that alone. Coronet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music are for Nebuchadnezzar's golden image; but as for our God, our one harp is Christ Jesus. We will touch every string of that wondrous instrument, even though it be with trembling fingers, and marvellous shall be the music we shall evoke from it. All ministries, therefore, must be subjected to this test; if they do not glorify Christ, they are not of the Holy Ghost. We should also have an eye to this truth in all religious movements, and judge them by this standard. If they are of the Holy Spirit, they glorify Christ. There are great movements in the world every now and then; we are inclined to look upon them hopefully, for any stir is better than stagnation; but, by-and-by we begin to fear, with a holy jealousy, what their effects will be. How shall we judge them? To what test shall we put them? Always to this test. Does this movement glorify Christ? Is Christ preached? Then therein I do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. Are men pointed to Christ? Then this is the ministry of salvation. Is he preached as first and last? Are men bidden to be justified by faith in him, and then to follow him, and copy his divine example? It is well. I do not believe that any man ever lifted up the cross of Christ in a hurtful way. If it be but the cross that is seen, it is the sight of the cross, not of the hands that lift it, that will bring salvation. Some modern movements are heralded with great noise, and some come quietly; but if they glorify Christ, it is well. But dear friends, if it is some new theory that is propounded, if it is some old error revived, if it is something very glittering and fascinating, and for a while it bears the multitudes away, think nothing of it; unless it glorifies Christ it is not for you and me. "Aliquid Christi," as one of the old fathers said, "Anything of Christ," and I love it; but nothing of Christ, or something against Christ, then it may be very fine and flowery, and it may be very fascinating and charming, highly poetical, and in consonance with the spirit of the age; but we say of it, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity where there is no Christ." Where he is uplifted, there is all that is wanted for the salvation of a guilty race. Judge every movement, then, not by those who adhere to it, nor by those who admire and praise it, but by this word of our Lord, "He shall glorify me." The Spirit of God is not in it if it does not glorify Christ. Once again, brethren, I pray you, eye this truth when you are under a sense of great weakness, physical, mental, or spiritual. You have finished preaching a sermon, you have completed a round with your tracts, or you have ended your Sunday-School work for another Sabbath. You say to yourself, "I fear that I have done very poorly." You groan as you go to your bed because you think that you have not glorified Christ. It is as well that you should groan if that is the case. I will not forbid it, but I will relieve the bitterness of your distress by reminding you that it is the Holy Ghost who is to glorify Christ: "He shall glorify me." If I preach, and the Holy Spirit is with me, Christ will be glorified; but if I were able to speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, but without the power of the Holy Ghost, Christ would not be glorified. Sometimes, our weakness may even help to make way for the greater display of the might of God. If so, we may glory in infirmity, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. It is not merely we who speak, but the Spirit of the Lord, who speaketh by us. There is a sound of abundance of rain outside the Tabernacle; would God that there were also the sound of abundance of rain within our hearts! May the Holy Spirit come at this moment, and come at all times whenever his servants are trying to glorify Christ, and himself do what must always be his own work! How can you and I glorify anybody, much less glorify him who is infinetly glorious? But the Holy Ghost, being himself the glorious God, can glorify the glorious Christ. It is a work worthy of God; and it shows us, when we think of it, the absolute need of our crying to the Holy Spirit that he would take us in his hand, and use us as a workman uses his hammer. What can a hammer do without the hand that grasps it, and what can we do without the Spirit of God? I will make only one more observation upon this first point. If the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ, I beg you to have an eye to this truth amid all oppositions, controversies, and contentions. If we alone had the task of glorifying Christ, we might be beaten; but as the Holy Spirit is the Glorifier of Christ, his glory is in very safe hands. "Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" The Holy Spirit is still to the front; the eternal purpose of God to set his King upon the throne, and to make Jesus Christ reign for ever and ever, must be fulfilled, for the Holy Ghost has undertaken to see it accomplished. Amidst the surging tumults of the battle, the result of the conflict is never in doubt for a moment. It may seem as though the fate of Christ's cause hung in a balance, and that the scales were in equilibrium; but it is not so. The glory of Christ never wanes; it must increase from day to day, as it is made known in the hearts of men by the Holy Spirit; and the day shall come when Christ's praise shall go up from all human tongues. To him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, lift up the hands that hang down, and confirm the feeble knees. If you have failed to glorify Christ by your speech as you would, there is Another who has done it, and who will still do it, according to Christ's words, "He shall glorify me." My text seems to be a silver bell, ringing sweet comfort into the dispirited worker's ear. "He shall glorify me." That is the first point, the Holy Spirit is our Lord's Glorifier. Keep that truth before your mind's eye under all circumstances. II. Now, secondly, CHRIST'S OWN THINGS ARE HIS BEST GLORY. When the Holy Spirit wants to glorify Christ, what does he do? He does not go abroad for anything, he comes to Christ himself for that which will be for Christ's own glory: "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." There can be no glory added to Christ; it must be his own glory, which he has already, which is made more apparent to the hearts of God's chosen by the Holy Spirit. First of all, Christ needs no new inventions to glorify him. "We have struck out a new line of things," says one. Have you? "We have found out something very wonderful." I dare say you have; but Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, wants none of your inventions, or discoveries, or additions to his truth. A plain Christ is ever the loveliest Christ. Dress him up, and you have deformed him and defamed him. Bring him out just as he is, the Christ of God, nothing else but Christ, unless you bring in his cross, for we preach Christ crucified; indeed, you cannot have the Christ without the cross; but preach Christ crucified, and you have given him all the glory that he wants. The Holy Ghost does not reveal in these last times any fresh ordinances, or any novel doctrines, or any new evolutions; but he simply brings to mind the things which Christ himself spoke, he brings Christ's own things to us, and in that way glorifies him. Think for a minute of Christ's person as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. What can more glorify him than for us to see his person, very God of very God, and yet as truly man? What a wondrous being, as human as ourselves, but as divine as God! Was there ever another like to him? Never. Think of his incarnation, his birth at Bethlehem. There was greater glory among the oxen in the stall than ever was seen where those born in marble halls were swathed in purple and fine linen. Was there ever another babe like Christ? Never. I wonder not that the wise men fell down to worship him. Look at his life, the standing wonder of all ages. Men, who have not worshipped him, have admired him. His life is incomparable, unique; there is nothing like it in all the history of mankind. Imagination has never been able to invent anything approximating to the perfect beauty of the life of Jesus Christ. Think of his death. There have been may heroic and martyr deaths; but there is not one that can be set side by side with Christ's death. He did not pay the debt of natures as others do; and yet he paid our nature's debt. He did not die because he must; he died because he would. The only "must" that came upon him was a necessity of all-conquering love. The cross of Christ is the greatest wonder of fact or of fiction; fiction invents many marvellous things, but nothing than can be looked at for a moment in comparison with the cross of Christ. Think of our Lord's resurrection. If this be one of the things that are taken, and shown to you by the Holy Spirit, it will fill you with holy delight. I am sure that I could go into that sepulchre, where John and Peter went, and spend a lifetime in revencing him who broke down that barriers of the tomb, and made it a passage-way to heaven. Instead of being a dungeon and a cul-de-sac, into which all men seem to go, but could ever come out, Christ has, by his resurrection, made a tunnel right through the grave. Jesus, by dying, has killed death for all believers. Then think of his ascension . But why need I take you over all these scenes with which you are blessedly familiar? What a wondrous fact that, when the cloud received him out of the disciple's sight, the angels came to convoy him to his heavenly home!
"They brought his chariot from above, To bear him to his throne; Clapp'd their triumphant wings, and cried, 'The glorious work is done.'"
Think of him now, at his Father's right hand, adored of all the heavenly host; and then let your mind fly forward to the glory of his Second Advent, the final judgment with its terrible terrors, the millennium with its indescribable bliss, and the heaven of heavens, with its endless and unparalled splendour. If these things are shown to you by the Holy Spirit, the beatific vision will indeed glorify Christ, and you will sit down, and sing with the blessed Virgin, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Thus, you see that the things which glorify Christ are all in Christ; the Holy Spirit fetches nothing from abroad, but he takes of the things of Christ; and shows them unto us. The glory of kings lies in their silver and their gold, their silk and their gems; but the glory of Christ lies in himself. If we want to glorify a man, we bring him presents; if we wish to glorify Christ; we must accept presents from him. Thus we take the cup of salvation, calling upon the name of the Lord, and in so doing we glorify Christ. Notice, next that these things of Christ's are too bright for us to see till the Spirit shows them to us. We cannot see them because of their excessive glory, until the Holy Spirt, tenderly reveals them to us, until he takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to us. What does this mean? Does it not mean, first, that he enlightens our understandings? It is wonderful how the Holy Spirit can take a fool, and make him know the wonders of Christ's dying love; and he does make him know it very quickly when he begins to teach him. Some of us have been very slow learners, yet the Holy Spirit has been able to teach something even to us. He opens the Scriptures, and he also opens our minds; and when there are these two openings together, what a wonderful opening it is! It becomes like a new revelation; the first is the revelation of the letter, which we have in the Book; the second is the revelation of the Spirit, which we get in our own spirit. O my dear friend, if the Holy Ghost has ever enlightened your understanding, you know what it is for him to show the things of Christ to you! But next, he does this by a work upon the whole soul. I mean this. When the Holy Ghost convinces us of sin, we become fitted to see Christ, and so the blessed Spirit shows Christ to us. When we are conscious of our feebleness, then we see Christ's strength; and thus the Holy Ghost shows him to us. Often, the operations of the Spirit of God may seem not to be directly the showing of Christ to us, but as they prepare us for seeing him, they are a part of the work. The Holy Ghost sometimes shows Christ to us by his power of vivifying the truth. I do not know whether I can quite tell you what I mean; but I have sometimes seen a truth differently from what I have ever seen it before. I knew it long ago, I owned it as part of the divine revelation; but now I realize it, grip it, grasp it, or what is better, it seems to get a grip of me, and hold me in its mighty hands. Have you not sometimes been overjoyed with a promise which never seemed anything to you before? Or a doctrine, which you believed, but never fully appreciated, has suddenly become to you a gem of the first water, a very Koh-I-Noor, or, "Mountain of Light." The Holy Spirit has a way of focussing light, and when it falls in this special way upon a certain point, then the truth is revealed to us. He shall take of the things of Christ, and show them unto you. Have you never felt ready to jump for joy, ready to start from your seat, ready to sit up in your bed at night, and sing praises to God through the overpowering influence of some grand old truth which has seemed to be all at once quite new to you? The Holy Spirit also shows to us the things of Christ in our experience. As we journey on in life, we pass up hill and down dale, through bright sunlight and through dark shadows, and in each of these conditions we learn a little more of Christ, a little more of his grace, a little more of his glory, a little more of his sin-bearing, a little more of his glorious righteousness. Blessed is the life which is just one long lesson upon the glory of Christ; and I think that is what every Christian life should be. "Every dark and bending line" in our experience should meet in the centre of Christ's glory, and should lead us nearer and nearer to the power of enjoying the bliss at his right hand for ever and ever. Thus the Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to us, and so glorifies Christ. Beloved, the practical lesson for us to learn is this, let us try to abide under the influence of the Holy Spirit. To than end, let us think very reverently of him. Some never think of him at all. How many sermons there are without even an allusion to him! Shame on the preachers of such discourses! If any hearers come without praying for the Holy Spirit, shame on such hearers! We know and we confess that he is everything to our spiritual life; then why do we not remember him with greater love, and worship him with greater honour, and think of him continually with greater reverence? Beware of committing the sin against the Holy Ghost. If any of you feel any gentle touches of his power when you are hearing a sermon, beware lest you harden your heart against it. Whenever the sacred fire comes as but a spark, quench not the Holy Spirit, but pray that the spark may become a flame. And you, Christian people, do cry to him that you may not read your Bibles without his light. Do not pray without being helped by the Spirit; above all, may you never preach without the Holy Spirit! It seems a pity when a man asks to be guided of the Spirit in his preaching, and then pulls out a manuscript, and reads it. The Holy Sprit may bless what he reads; but he cannot very well guide him when he has tied himself down to what he has written. And it will be the same with the speaker if he only repeats what he has learnt, and leaves no room for the Spirit to give him a new thought, a fresh revelation of Christ; how can he hope for the divine blessing under such circumstances? Oh, it were better for us to sit still until some of us were moved by the Spirit to get up and speak, than for us to prescribe the methods by which he should speak to us, and even to write down the very words we mean to utter! What room is there for the Spirit's operations then?
"Come Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,"
I cannot help breaking out into that prayer, "Blessed Spirit, abide with us, take of the things of Christ, and show them to us, that so Christ may be glorified." III. I am only going to speak a minute or two on the last point. It is a very deep one, much too deep for me. I am unable to take you into the depths of my text, I will not pretend to do so; I believe that there are meanings here which probably we shall never understand till we get to heaven. "What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter." But this is the point, CHRIST'S GLORY IS HIS FAtheR'S GLORY: "All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore I said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." First, Christ has all that the Father has. Do think that. No more man dares to say, "All things that the Father hath are mine." All the Godhead is in Christ; not only all the attributes of it, but the essence of it. The Nicene Creed well puts it, and it is not too strong in the expression: "Light of Light, very God of very God," for Christ has all that the Father has. When we come to Christ, we come to omnipotent omnipresent omniscience; we come to almighty immutability; we come, in fact, to the eternal Godhead. The Father has all things, and all power is given unto Christ in heaven and on earth, so that he has all that the Father has. And further, the Father is glorified in Christ's glory. Never let us fall into the false notion that, if we magnify Christ, we are depreciating the Father. If any lips have ever spoken concerning the Christ of God so as to depreciate the God of Christ, let those lips be covered with shame. We never did preach Christ up as merciful, and the Father as only just, or Christ as moving the Father to be gracious. That is a slander which has been cast upon us, but there is not an atom of truth in it. We have known and believed what Christ himself said, "I and My Father are one." The more glorious Christ is, the more glorious the Father is; and when men, professedly Christians, begin to cast off Christ, they cast off God the Father to a large extent. Irreverence to the Son of God soon becomes irreverence to God the Father himself. But dear friends, we delight to honour Christ, and we will continue to do so. Even when we stand in the heaven of heavens, before the burning throne of the infinite Jehovah, we will sing praises unto him and unto the Lamb, putting the two evermore in that divine conjunction in which they are always to be found. Thus, you see, Christ has all that the Father has, and when he is glorified, the Father also is glorified. Next, the Holy Spirit must lead us to see this, and I am sure that he will. If we give ourselves up to his teaching, we shall fall into no errors. It will be a great mystery, but we shall know enough, so that it will never trouble us. If you sit down and try to study the mystery of the Eternal, well, I believe that the longer you look, the more you will be like persons who look into the sea from a great height, until they grow dizzy, and are ready to fall and to be drowned. Believe what the Spirit teaches you, and adore your Divine Teacher; then shall his instruction become easy to you. I believe that, as we grow older, we come to worship God as Abraham did, as Jehovah, the great I AM. Jesus does not fade into the background; but the glorious Godhead seems to become more and more apparent to us. Our Lord's word to his disciples, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me." And as we come to full confidence in the glorious Lord, the God of nature, and of providence, and of redemption, and of heaven, the Holy Spirit gives us to know more of the glories of Christ. I have talked with you as well as I could upon this sublime theme, and if I did not know that the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ, I should go home miserable, for I have not been able to glorify my Lord as I would; but I know that the Holy Spirit can take what I have said out of my very heart, and can put it into your hearts, and he can add to it whatever I have omitted. Go ye who love the Lord, and glorify him. Try to do it by your lips and by your lives. Go ye, and preach him, preach more of him, and preach him up higher and higher, and higher. The old lady, of whom I have heard, made a mistake in what she said, yet there was a truth behind her blunder. She had been to a little Baptist chapel, where a high Calvinist preached, and on coming away she said that she liked "High Calvary" preachers best. So do I. Give me a "High Calvary" preacher, one who will make Calvary the highest of all the mountains. I suppose it was not a hill at all, but only a mound; still, let us lift it higher and higher, and say to all other hills, "Why leap ye, ye high hills? This is the hill which God desires to dwell in; year, the Lord will dwell in it forever." The crucified Christ is wiser than all the wisdom of the world. The cross of Christ has more novelty in it than all the fresh things of the earth. O believers and preachers of the gospel, glorify Christ! May the Holy Ghost help you to do so!
And you, poor sinners, who think that you cannot glorify Christ at all, come and trust him,
"Come naked, come filthy, come just as you are,"
and believe that he will receive you; for that will glorify him. Believe, even now, O sinner at death's door, that Christ can make thee live; for thy faith will glorify him! Look up out of the awful depths of hell into which conscience has cast thee, and believe that he can pluck thee out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set thy feet upon a rock; for thy trust will glorify him! It is in the power of the sinner to give Christ the greatest glory, if the Holy Spirit enables him to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thou mayest come, thou who art more leprous, more diseased, more corrupt, than any other; and if thou lookest to him, and he saves thee, oh, then thou wilt praise him! You will be of the mind of the one I have spoken of many times, who said to me, "Sir, you say that Christ can save me. Well, if he does, he shall never hear the last of it." No, and he never will hear the last of it. Blessed Jesus,
"I will love thee in life, I will love thee in death, And praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath; And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'Tis now.
"In mansion of glory and endless delight, I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright; I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now."
We will do nothing else but praise Christ, and glorify him, if he will but save us from sin. God grant that it may be so with every one of us, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
"Honey in the Mouth!"
April 24th, 1891 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you." John 16:14-15 .
Beloved friends, here you have the Trinity, and there is no salvation apart from the Trinity. it must be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. "All things that the Father hath are mine", saith Christ, and the Father hath all things. They were always his; they are still his; they always will be his; and they cannot become ours till they change ownership, till Christ can say, "All things that the Father hath are mine"; for it is by virtue of the representative character of Christ standing as the surety of the covenant that the "all things" of the Father are passed over to the Son, that they might be passed over to us. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and of his fullness have all we received." But yet we are so dull that, though the conduit-pipe is laid on to the great fountain, we cannot get at it. We are lame; we cannot reach thereto; and in comes the third Person of the divine unity, even the Holy Spirit, and he receives of the things of Christ, and then delivers them over to us. So we do actually receive, through Jesus Christ, by the Spirit, what is in the Father. Ralph Erskine, in his preface to a sermon upon the fifteenth verse, has a notable piece. He speaks of grace as honey honey for the cheering of the saints, for the sweetening of their mouths and hearts; but he says that in the Father "the honey is in the flower, which is at such a distance from us that we could never extract it." In the Son "the honey is in the comb, prepared for us in our Immanuel, God-Man, Redeemer, the Word that was made flesh, saying, 'All things that the Father hath are mine; and mine for your use and behoof': it is in the comb. But then, next, we have honey in the mouth; the Spirit taking all things, and making application thereof, by showing them unto us, and making us to eat and drink with Christ, and share of these 'all things'; yea, not only eat the honey, but the honeycomb with the honey; not only his benefits, but himself." It is a very beautiful division of the subject. Honey in the flower in God, as in mystery; really there. There never will be any more honey than there is in the flower. There it is. But how shall you and I get at it? We have not wisdom to extract the sweetness. We are not as the bees that are able to find it out. It is bee-honey, but not man-honey. Yet you see in Christ it becomes the honey in the honeycomb, and hence he is sweet to our taste as honey dropping from the comb. Sometimes we are so faint that we cannot reach out a hand to grasp that honeycomb; and, alas! there was a time when our palates were so depraved that we preferred bitter things, and thought them sweet. But now the Holy Ghost has come, we have got the honey in the mouth, and the taste that enjoys it; yea, we have now so long enjoyed it, that the honey of grace has entered into our constitution, and we have become sweet unto God; his sweetness having been conveyed by this strange method unto us. Beloved friends, I scarcely need say to you, do keep the existence of the Trinity prominent in your ministry. Remember, you cannot pray without the Trinity. If the full work of salvation requires a Trinity, so does that very breath by which we live. You cannot draw near to the Father except through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. There is a trinity in nature undoubtedly. There certainly constantly turns up the need of a Trinity in the realm of grace; and when we get to heaven we shall understand, perhaps, more fully what is meant by the Trinity in unity. But if that is a thing never to be understood, we shall at least apprehend it more lovingly; and we shall rejoice more completely as the three tones of our music shall rise up in perfect harmony unto Him who is one and indivisible, and yet is three, for ever blessed, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God. Now for the point which I am to open up to you this morning; though I cannot do it, but he must do it. We must sit here, and have the text acted out upon ourselves. "He shall glorify me. He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." May it be so just now! First, what the Holy Spirit does: "He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Secondly, what the Holy Spirit aims at and really effects: "He shall glorify me." And then, thirdly, how in doing both these things he is the Comforter. It is the Comforter that does this; and we shall find our richest, surest comfort in this work of the Holy Spirit, who shall take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us. I. First, WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT DOES. It is clear, beloved friends, that the Holy Spirit deals with the things of Christ. As our brother, Archibald Brown, said, when expounding the chapter just now, he does not aim at any originality. He deals with the things of Christ. All things that Christ had heard from his Father he made known to us. He kept to them. And now the Spirit takes of the things of Christ, and of nothing else. Do not let us strain at anything new. The Holy Ghost could deal with anything in heaven above, or in the earth beneath the story of the ages past, the story of the ages to come, the inward secrets of the earth, the evolution of all things, if there be an evolution. He could do it all. Like the Master, he could handle any topic he chose; but he confines himself to the things of Christ, and therein finds unutterable liberty and boundless freedom. Do you think, dear friend, that you can be wiser than the Holy Spirit? And if his choice must be a wise one, will yours be a wise one if you begin to take of the things of something or somebody else? You will have the Holy Spirit near you when you are receiving of the things of Christ; but, as the Holy Spirit is said never to receive anything else, when you are handling other things on the Sabbath-day, you will be handling them alone; and the pulpit is a dreary solitude, even in the midst of a crowd, if the Holy Ghost is not with you there. You may, if you please, excogitate a theology out of your own vast brain; but the Holy Ghost is not with you there. And, mark you! there are some of us that are resolved to tarry with the things of Christ, and keep on dealing with them as far as he enables us to do so; and we feel that we are in such blessed company with the divine Spirit, that we do not envy you that wider range of thought, if you prefer it. The Holy Spirit still exists, and works, and teaches in the church; but we have a test by which to know whether what people claim to be revelation is revelation or not: "He shall receive of mine." The Holy Ghost will never go farther than the cross, and the coming of the Lord. He will go no farther than that which concerns Christ. "He shall receive of mine." When, therefore, anybody whispers in my ear that there has been revealed to him this or that, which I do not find in the teaching of Christ and his apostles, I tell him that we must be taught by the Holy Spirit. His one vocation is to deal with the things of Christ. If we do not remember this, we may be carried away by vagaries, as many have been. Those who will have to do with other things, let them; but as for us, we shall be satisfied to confine our thoughts and our teaching within these limitless limits: "He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." I like to think of the Holy Spirit handling such things. They seem so worthy of him. Now has he got among the hills. Now is his mighty mind among the infinities when he has to deal with Christ, for Christ is the Infinite veiled in the finite. Why, he seems something more than infinite when he gets into the finite; and the Christ of Bethlehem is less to be understood than the Christ of the Father's bosom. He seems, if it were possible, to have out-infinited the infinite, and the Spirit of God has themes here worthy of his vast nature. When you have been the whole Sunday morning whittling away a text to the small end of nothing, what have you done? A king spent a day in trying to make a portrait on a cherry-stone a king, who was ruling empires; and here is a minister, who professes to have been called of the Holy Ghost to the employ of taking of the things of Christ, who spent a whole morning with precious souls, who were dying while he spoke to them, in handling a theme concerning which it did not signify the turn of a hair whether it was so or not. Oh, imitate the Holy Spirit! If you profess to have him dwelling in you, be moved by him. Let it be said of you in your measure, as of the Holy Ghost without measure, "He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." But, next, what does the Holy Ghost do? Why, he deals with feeble men, yea, he dwells with us poor creatures. I can understand the Holy Ghost taking the things of Christ, and rejoicing therein; but the marvel is, that he should glorify Christ by coming and showing these things to us. And yet, brethren, it is among us that Christ is to get his glory. Our eyes must see him. An unseen Christ is little glorious; and the things of Christ unknown, the things of Christ untasted and unloved seem to have lost their brilliance to a high degree. The Holy Spirit, therefore, feeling that to show a sinner the salvation of Christ glorifies him, spends his time, and has been spending these centuries, in taking of the things of Christ, and showing them to us. Ah! it is a great condescension on his part to show them to us; but it is a miracle, too. If it were reported that suddenly stones had life, and hills had eyes, and trees had ears, it would be a strange thing; but for us who were dead and blind and deaf in an awful sense for the spiritual is more emphatic than the natural for us to be so far gone, and for the Holy Ghost to be able to show the things of Christ to us, is to his honor. But he does do it. He comes from heaven to dwell with us. Let us honor and bless his name. I never could make up my mind which to admire most as an act of condescension; the incarnation of Christ, or the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. The incarnation of Christ is marvellous that he should dwell in human nature; but, observe, the Holy Ghost dwells in human nature in its sinfulness; not in perfect human nature, but in imperfect human nature; and he continues to dwell, not in one body, which was fashioned strangely for himself, and was pure and without taint; but he dwells in our body. Know ye not that they are the temples of the Holy Ghost, which were defiled by nature, and in which a measure of defilement still remains, despite his indwelling? And this he has done these multitudes of years, not in one instance, nor in thousands of instances only, but in a number that no man can number. He continues still to come into contact with sinful humanity. Not to the angels, nor to the seraphim, nor to the cherubim, nor to the host who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, does he show the things of Christ; but he shall show them unto us. I suppose that it means this, that he takes of the words of our Lord those which he spoke personally, and by his apostles. Let us never allow anybody to divide between the word of the apostles and the word of Christ. Our Savior has joined them together. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." And if any begin rejecting the apostolic word, they will be outside the number for whom Christ prays; they shut themselves out by that very fact. I wish that they would solemnly recollect that the word of the apostles is the word of Christ. He tarried not long enough, after he had risen from the dead, to give us a further exposition of his mind and will; and he could not have given it before his death, because it would have been unsuitable. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." After the descent of the Holy Ghost, the disciples were prepared to receive that which Christ spoke by his servants Paul and Peter, and James and John. Certain doctrines which we are sometimes taunted about as being not revealed by Christ, but by his apostles, were all revealed by Christ, every one of them. They can all be found in his teaching; but they are very much in the parabolic form. It is after he has gone up into glory, and has prepared a people by his Spirit to understand the truth more fully, that he sends his apostles, and says, "Go forth, and open up to those whom I have chosen out of the world the meaning of all I said." The meaning is all there, just as all the New Testament is in the Old; and sometimes I have thought that, instead of the Old being less inspired than the New, it is more inspired. Things are packed away more tightly in the Old Testament than in the New, if possible. There are worlds of meaning in one pregnant line in the Old Testament; and in Christ's words it is just so. He is the Old Testament to which the Epistles come in as a kind of New Testament; but they are all one and indivisible; they cannot be separated. Well, now, the words of the Lord Jesus, and the words of his apostles, are to be expounded to us by the Holy Spirit. We shall never get at the center of their meaning apart from his teaching. We shall never get at their meaning at all, if we begin disputing about the words, saying, "Now, I cannot accept the words." If you will not have the shell, you will never have the chick. It is impossible. "The words are not inspired," they say. Here is a man in the witness-box, and he has sworn to speak the truth, and he says that he has done so; and now he is cross-examined, and he says, "Now, I have spoken the truth, but I do not stand by my words." The cross-examining lawyer has got hold of a certain statement of his. The witness says, "Oh, I do not swear to the words, you know." The question is asked, "What, then, do you swear to? There is nothing else. We do not know anything about your meaning. All that you have sworn to must be your words." But what the fellow means is this, that he is a liar; he is a perjurer. Well, I say no more than common-sense would suggest to you if you were sitting in a court. Now, if a man says, "I have spoken the truth, but still I do not swear to the words;" what is there left? If we have no inspiration in the words, we have got an impalpable inspiration that oozes away between your fingers, and leaves nothing behind. Well, take the words, and never dispute over them. Still, into their soul-fullness of meaning you cannot come until the Holy Ghost shall lead you into them. They that wrote them for you did not fully understand what they wrote in many instances. There were some of them who enquired and searched diligently to know what manner of things those were whereof the Holy Ghost had spoken to them, and of which he had made them speak. And you to whom the words come will have to do the same. You must go and say, "Great Master, we thank thee for the Book with all our hearts; and we thank thee for putting the Book into words; but now, good Master, we will not cavil over the letter, as did the Jews and the rabbis and the scribes of old, and so miss thy meaning. Open wide the door of the words, that we may enter into the secret closet of the meaning; and teach us this, we pray thee. Thou hast the key. Lead us in." Dear friends, whenever you want to understand a text of Scripture, try to read the original. Consult anybody who has studied what the original means; but remember that the quickest way into a text is praying in the Holy Ghost. Pray the chapter over. I do not hesitate to say that, if a chapter is read upon one's knees, looking up at every word to him that gave it, the meaning will come to you with infinitely more light than by any other method of studying it. "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." He shall re-deliver the Master's message to you in the fullness of its meaning. But I do not think that is all that the text means. "He shall receive of mine." In the next verse the Lord goes on to say, "All things that the Father hath are mine." I do think that it means, therefore, that the Holy Spirit will show us the things of Christ. Here is a text for us "The things of Christ." Christ speaks as if he had not any things just then which were specially his own, for he had not died then; he had not risen then; he was not pleading then as the great Intercessor in heaven: all that was to come. But still, he says, "Even now all things that the Father hath are mine: all his attributes, all his glory, all his rest, all his happiness, all his blessedness. All that is mine, and the Holy Ghost shall show that to you." But I might almost read my text in another light, for he has died, and risen, and gone on high, and lo, he cometh. His chariots are on the way. Now, there are certain things which the Father hath, and which Jesus Christ hath, which are truly the things of Christ, emphatically the things of Christ; and my prayer is, that you and I, preachers of the gospel, might have this text fulfilled in us: "He shall take of mine my things and shall show them unto you." Suppose, dear brethren, that we are going to preach the word again, and the Holy Spirit shows to us our Master in his Godhead. Oh, how we will preach him as divine how surely he can bless our congregation! How certainly he must be able to subdue all things unto himself, seeing that he is very God of very God! It is equally sweet to see him as man. Oh, to have the Spirit's view of Christ's manhood! distinctly to recognize that he is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh, and that in his infinite tenderness he will compassionate me, and deal with my poor people, and with the troubled consciences that are round me; that I have still to go to them, and tell them of One who is touched with the feeling of their infirmities, having been tempted in all points like as they still are! Oh, my brothers, if we once, nay, if every time before we preach, we get a view of Christ in his divine and human natures, and come down fresh from that vision to speak about him, what glorious preaching it would be for our people! It is a glorious thing to get a view of the offices of Christ by the Holy Spirit; but especially of his office as a Savior. I have often said to him, "You must save my people. It is no business of mine. I never set up in that line, or put over my door that I was a saviour; but thou hast been apprenticed to this trade. Thou hast learned it by experience, and thou dost claim it as thine own honor. Thou art exalted on high to be a Prince and a Savior. Do thine own work, my Lord." I took this text, and used it with sinners the other Sunday night, and I know that God blessed it when I said to them, "May the Holy Ghost show you that Christ is a Savior! A physician does not expect you to make any apologies when you call upon him because you are ill, for he is a physician, and he wants you in order that he may prove his skill; so Christ is a Savior, and you need not apologize for going to him; because he cannot be a Savior if there is not somebody to be saved." The fact is, Christ cannot get hold of us anywhere except by our sin. The point of contact between the sick one and the physician is the disease. Our sin is the point of contact between us and Christ. Oh, that the Spirit of God would take of Christ's divine offices, especially that of a Savior, and show them unto us! Did the Holy Ghost ever show to you these thing of Christ, namely, his covenant engagements? When he struck hands with the Father, it was that he would bring many sons unto glory; that of those whom the Father gave him he would lose none, but that they should be saved; for he is under bonds to his Father to bring his elect home. When the sheep have to pass again under the hand of him that telleth them, they will go under the rod one by one, each one having the blood-mark; and he will never rest till the number in the heavenly fold shall tally with the number in the book. So I believe and it has seemed delightful to me to have this shown to me when I have gone to preach. It is a dull, dreary, wet, foggy morning. There are only a few present. Yes; but they are picked people, whom God hath ordained to be there, and there will be the right number there. I shall preach, and there will be some saved. We do not go at a peradventure; but, guided by the blessed Spirit of God, we go with a living certainty, knowing that God has a people that Christ is bound to bring home, and bring them home he will; and while he shall see of the travail of his soul, his Father shall delight in every one of them. If you get a clear view of that, it will give you backbone and make you strong. "He shall take of mine, and shall show you my covenant engagements, and when you see them you shall be comforted." But, beloved, the Holy Ghost favors you by taking what is peculiarly Christ's, namely, his love, and showing that to you. We have seen it, seen it sometimes more vividly than at other times. But if the full blaze of the Holy Spirit were to be concentrated upon the love of Christ, and our eyesight enlarged to its utmost capacity, it would be such a vision that heaven could not excel it. We should sit with our Bible before us in our study, and feel, "Well now, here is a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell. Such a man is caught up into the third heaven." Oh, to see the love of Christ in the light of the Holy Ghost! When it is so revealed to us, it is not merely the surface which we see, but the love of Christ itself. You know that you never saw anything yet, strictly speaking. You only see the appearance of the thing the light reflected by it; that is all you see. But the Holy Ghost shows us the naked truth, the essence of the love of Christ; and what that essence is that love without beginning, without change, without limit, without end; and that love set upon his people simply from motives within himself, and from no motive ab extra what that must be, what tongue can tell? Oh, it is a ravishing sight! I think that if there could be one sight more wonderful than the love of Christ, it would be the blood of Christ.
"Much we talk of Jesu's blood, But how little's understood."
It is the climax of God. I do not know of anything more divine. It seems to me as if all the eternal purposes worked up to the blood of the cross, and then worked from the blood of the cross towards the sublime consummation of all things. Oh, to think that he should become man! God has made spirit, pure spirit, embodied spirit; and then materialism; and somehow, as if he would take all up into one, the Godhead links himself with the material, and he wears dust about him even as we wear it; and taking it all up, he then goes, and, in that fashion, redeems his people from all the evil of their soul, their spirit, and their body, by the pouring out of a life which, while it was human, was so in connection with the divine, that we speak correctly of "the blood of God." Turn to the twentieth chapter of the Acts, and read how the apostle Paul puts it: "Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." I believe that Dr. Watts is not wrong when he says "God that loved and died." It is an incorrect accuracy, a strictly absolute accuracy of incorrectness. So it must be ever when the finite talks of the Infinite. It was a wonderful sacrifice that could absolutely obliterate, annihilate, and extinguish sin, and all the traces that could possibly remain of it; for "He hath finished the transgression, made an end of sins, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness." Ah, dear friends! you have seen this, have you not? but you have to see more of it yet; and when we get to heaven, we shall then know what that blood means, and with what vigor shall we sing, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood"! Will anybody be there to say, "Is not that the religion of the shambles?" as they blasphemously call it. Ah, my friends! they will find themselves where they will wish they had believed "the religion of the shambles"; and I think that it will burn like coals of juniper into the soul of any man that has ever dared to talk like that, that he did despite unto the blood of God, and so, by his own wilful deeds, will be cast away for ever. May the Holy Spirit show unto you Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha! and then, may it please him to give you a sight of what our Lord is now doing! Oh, how it would cheer you up at any time when you were depressed, only to see him standing and pleading for you! Do you not think that if your wife is ill, and your child is sick, and there is scant food in the cupboard; if you were to go out at the back door, and you saw him with the breastplate on, and all the stones glittering, and your name there, and him pleading for you, you would go in and say, "There, wife, it is all right. He is praying for us"? Oh, it would be a comfort if the Holy Ghost showed you a pleading Christ! And then, to think that he is reigning as well as pleading. He, is at the right hand of God, even the Father, who hath put all things under his feet. And he waits till the last enemy shall lie there. Now, you are not afraid, are you, of those who have been snubbing you and opposing you? Remember, he hath said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Next, and best of all, may the Holy Spirit give you a clear view of his coming. This is our most brilliant hope: "Lo, he cometh!" The more the adversary waxes bold, and the less of faith there is, and when zeal seems almost extinct, these are the tokens of his coming. The Lord always said so; and that he would not come unless there was a falling away first; and so the darker the night grows, and the fiercer the storm becomes, the better will we remember that he of the lake of Galilee came to them upon the waves in the night when the storm was wildest. Oh, what will his enemies say when he comes? When they behold the nail-prints of the Glorified, and the Man with the thorn Crown when they see him really come they that have despised his word, and his ever-blessed blood, how will they flee before that face of injured love! And we, on the contrary, through his infinite mercy, will say, "This is what the Holy Ghost showed us; and now we behold it literally. We thank him for the foresights which he gave us of the beatific vision." I have not done on the first head yet, because there is one point which I want you to recollect. When the Holy Ghost takes of the things of Christ, and shows them to us, he has a purpose in so doing. You will not laugh, I hope, when I remind you of what the little boys sometimes do at school with one another. I have seen a boy take out of his pocket an apple, and say to his schoolmate, "Do you see that apple?" "Yes," says the other. "Then, you may see me eat it," says he. But the Holy Ghost is no Tantalus, taking of the things of Christ, and holding them up to mock us. No: he says, "Do you see these things? If you can see them, you may have them." Did not Christ himself say, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth"? Looking gives you a claim; and if you can see him, he is yours. It is with you, with regard to the Spirit showing you things, as it was with Jacob. You know Jacob lay down, and went to sleep, and the Lord said to him, "The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it." Now, wherever you go, throughout the whole of Scripture, if you can find a place where you can lie down, that is yours. If you can sleep on a promise, that promise is yours. "Lift up now thine eyes," said God to Abraham, "and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it." The Lord increase our holy vision of delighted faith; for there is nothing you see but you may also enjoy; all that is in Christ is there for you. II. Now, secondly, WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT AIMS AT, AND WHAT HE REALLY ACCOMPLISHES. "He shall glorify me." Ah, brothers! the Holy Ghost never comes to glorify us, or to glorify a denomination, or, I think, even to glorify a systematic arrangement of doctrines. He comes to glorify Christ. If we want to be in accord with him, we must preach in order to glorify Christ. May we never have this thought, "I will put that bit in; it will tell well. The friends will feel that oratory is not quite extinct, that Demosthenes lives again in this village." No, no. I should say, brother, though it is a very delightful piece, strike that out ruthlessly; because if you have had a thought of that kind about it, you had better not put yourself in the way of temptation by using it. "Yes, that is a magnificent sentence! I do not know where I met with it, or whether it is my own. I am afraid that most of our friends will not understand it; but then it will give them an impression that they have a deep thinker in their pulpit." Well then, it may be very admirable, and, further, it might be a very right thing to give them that precious piece; but if you have that thought about it, strike it out. Strike it out ruthlessly. Say, "No, no, no! If it is not distinctly my aim to glorify Christ, I am not in accord with the aim of the Holy Ghost, and I cannot expect his help. We shall not be pulling the same way, and therefore I will have nothing of which I cannot say that I am saying it simply, sincerely, and only that I may glorify Christ." How, then, does the Holy Spirit glorify Christ? It is very beautiful to think that he glorifies Christ by showing Christ's things. If you wanted to do honor to a man, you would perhaps take him a present to decorate his house. But here, if you want to glorify Christ, you must go and take the things out of Christ's house, "the things of Christ." Whenever we have to praise God, what do we do? We simply say what he is. "Thou art this, and thou art that." There is no other praise. We cannot fetch anything from elsewhere, and bring it to God; but the praises of God are simply the facts about himself. If you want to praise the Lord Jesus Christ, tell the people about him. Take of the things of Christ, and show them to the people, and you will glorify Christ. Alas! I know what you will do. You will weave words together, and you will form and fashion them, in a marvelous manner, till you have produced a charming piece of literature. When you have carefully done that, put it in the fire under the oven, and let it burn. Possibly you may help to bake some bread with it. Brethren, it is better for us to tell what Christ is, than to invent ten thousand fine words of praise in reference to him. "He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Again, I think that the blessed Spirit glorifies Christ by showing us the things of Christ as Christ's. Oh, to be pardoned! Yes, it is a great thing; but to find that pardon in his wounds, that is a greater thing! Oh, to get peace! Yes, but to find that peace in the blood of his cross! Brethren, have the blood-mark very visibly on all your mercies. They are all marked with the blood of the cross; but sometimes we think so much of the sweetness of the bread, or of the coolness of the waters, that we forget whence these came, and how they came, and then they lack their choicest flavour. That it came from Christ is the best thing about the best thing that ever came from Christ. That he saves me is, somehow, better than my being saved. It is a blessed thing to go to heaven; but I do not know that it is not a better thing to be in Christ, and so, as the result of it, to get into heaven. It is himself, and that which comes of himself, that becomes best of all, because it comes of himself. So the Holy Ghost shall glorify Christ by making us see that these things of Christ are indeed of Christ, and completely of Christ, and still are in connection with Christ; and we only enjoy them because we are in connection with Christ. Then it is said in the text, "He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you?" Yes, it does glorify Christ for the Holy Spirit to show Christ to us. How often I have wished that men of great minds might be converted! I have wished that we could have a few Miltons, and such like men, to sing of the love of Christ; a few mighty men, who teach politics, and the like, to consecrate their talents to the preaching of the gospel. Why is it not so? Well, because the Holy Ghost does not seem to think that that would be the way to glorify Christ supremely; and he prefers, as a better way, to take us common-place sort of persons, and to take the things of Christ, and to show them to us. He does glorify Christ; and blessed be his name that ever my blear eyes should look upon his infinite loveliness; that ever such a wretch as I, who can understand everything but what I ought to understand, should be made to comprehend the heights and depths, and to know, with all saints, the love of Christ, that passeth knowledge. You see, in a school, that clever boy. Well, it is not much for the master to have made a scholar of him. But here is one who shines as a scholar, and his mother says that he was the greatest dolt in the family. All his schoolfellows say, "Why, he was our butt! He seemed to have no brains; but our master, somehow, got some brain into him, and made him know something which he appeared, at one time, incapable of knowing." Somehow, it does seem to be as if our very folly, and impotence, and spiritual death if the Holy Ghost shows to us the things of Christ will go towards the increase of that great glorifying of Christ at which the Holy Spirit aims. Then, beloved brethren, since it is for the honor of Christ for his things to be shown to men, he will show them to us, that we may go and show them to other people. This we cannot do, except as he is with us to make the others to see; but he will be with us while we tell forth what he has taught us; and so the Holy Ghost will really be showing to others while he is showing to us. A secondary influence will flow from this service, for we shall be helped to use the right means to make others see the things of Christ. III. Our time is almost gone; but in the third place I must just point out to you HOW HE IS IN BOTH OF THESE THINGS OUR COMFORTER. He is so, firstly, for this reason that there is no comfort in the world like a sight of Christ. He shows to us the things of Christ. Oh, brethren, if you are poor, and if the Holy Ghost shows you that Christ had not where to lay his head, what a sight for you! And if you are sick, and if the Holy Ghost shows you what sufferings Christ endured, what comfort comes to you! If you are made to see the things of Christ, each thing according to the condition which you are in, how speedily you are delivered out of your sorrow! And then, if the Holy Ghost glorifies Christ, that is the cure for every kind of sorrow. He is the Comforter. I may have told you before, but I cannot help telling you again, that many years ago, after the terrible accident in the Surrey Gardens, I had to go away into the country, and keep quite still. The very sight of the Bible made me cry. I could only keep alone in the garden; and I was heavy and sad, for people had been killed in the accident; and there I was, half dead myself; and I remember how I got back my comfort, and I preached on the Sabbath after I recovered. I had been walking round the garden, and I was standing under a tree. If it is there now, I should know it; and I remember these words: "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior." "Oh", I thought to myself, "I am only a common soldier. If I die in a ditch, I do not care. The king is honored. He wins the victory;" and I was like those French soldiers in the old times, who loved the emperor; and you know how, when they were dying, if he rode by, the wounded man would raise himself up on his elbow, and cry once more, "Vive l'Empereur!" for the emperor was graven on his heart. And so, I am sure, it is with every one of you, my comrades, in this holy war. If our Lord and King is exalted, then let other things go which way they like: if he is exalted, never mind what becomes of us. We are a set of pigmies; it is all right if he is exalted. God's truth is safe, we are perfectly willing to be forgotten, derided, slandered, or anything else that men please. The cause is safe, and the King is on the throne. Hallelujah! Blessed be his name! Amen.
From Sorrow to Joy
by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. John 16:20
Our Lord was very honest with His followers when any enlisted beneath His banner. He did not profess that they would find an easy service if they took Him to be their leader. Over and over again He stopped some young enthusiastic spirits by bidding them count the cost; and, when some said they would follow Him whithersoever He might go, He reminded them that though the foxes had holes and the birds of the air had nests, yet He had not where to lay His head. He never duped any man. He told all the truth to them, and He could honestly say to them, " If it were not so, I would have told you. " He kept back nothing which it was needful for them to know in enlisting under His name.
I. God's people will have sorrow.
In this verse He reminds His people that they will have sorrow. Let no Christian forget that. Be he old or young, sorrow is an appointed portion for all mankind. And there is a sorrow which is the especial benediction of the saints. They shall have that sorrow if none others do.
Oh, young spirit, you have just found a Savior, and your heart is very glad. Be glad whilst you may, but expect not that the sun will always shine. Reckon for days of rain and days of frost and days of tempest, for come they will, and I tell you of them now lest when they come they should be strange to you and overwhelm you with confusion.
And oh, child of God, you have for many years been prospering; you have walked in the light of God’s countenance, and the Lord has made a hedge about you and all that you have, till you have prospered in the land like the Patriarch of Uz. Remember that evil days will come even to you as they did to Job, and expect them, for " in the world ye shall have tribulation. " This part of the inheritance of children, namely, the rod, will be quite sure to fall to your portion if you be one of the sacred family.
Our Savior, in the verse before us, not only tells His disciples that they will have sorrow, but He warns them that sometimes they would have a peculiar sorrow. When the world was rejoicing they would be sorrowing.
" The world shall rejoice ," saith He, " but ye shall weep and lament. " Now this is sometimes hard for flesh and blood. We cannot read this riddle God’s people sighing and God’s enemies laughing a saint on the dunghill with dogs licking his sores and a sinner clothed in scarlet and faring sumptuously every day a child of God sighing and groaning, chastened every morning, and an heir of hell making the world ring with his merriment! Can these things be so? Yes, they are so, and we must expect them so to be; and if we read this riddle by the eye of faith, we shall understand it. Yet we shall see God working even in these mysterious circumstances, and dealing out the best to the best after all, and giving still the worst to the worst in the long run.
Now, our Lord, in order to sustain His servants under the ill news of sorrow and of special sorrow, gave them two thoughts. The first He put into three words " a little while. " And here is a whole mint of golden consolation here " a little while. " When things are only temporary, we put up with them. If we are traveling, and we come to an uncomfortable inn, we are off to-morrow, and therefore we make no great noise about it.
A painful operation has to be performed, but, when the surgeon tells us it will only occupy a second or two, we submit to it. " A little while " it takes off the edge of sorrow. If it be but a minute, and then afterwards there shall be never-ending blessing coming out of it, oh, then we glory in the tribulation, and count it not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. Afflicted child of God, I commend to you those three words, " a little while ." I beseech you to roll them under your tongue as a sweet morsel when your mouth is filled with the wormwood of sorrow. " A little while ," and after that little while is over then it shall be " for ever with the Lord ."
The other reflection which He gave them for their comfort is that which is furnished by our text, " Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. " May God the Spirit give us comfort while we think over these words.
And first, brethren, this language was strictly true with regard to the remarkable sorrow which was then coming upon them when our Lord spake. You know the chapter. The Lord had been telling them of His death. They had been sitting around the table, and He had revealed to them the fact that He was about to be delivered into the hands of wicked men and be crucified, and that this would make them weep and lament; but concerning this He says, " Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. " We have also another sorrow coming out of that, namely, the sorrow that our risen Lord has gone away from us, has risen from Olive and left His Church a widow; yet that sorrow, too, is turned into joy. Let us speak, then, about those two things.
You will soon see before you, brethren, a sacred feast. We are preparing to-night to come around the table on which we have the bread and wine which celebrate our Savior’s death. Now, it is a very pleasing thought that to celebrate the death of Christ we have not an ordinance that is full of sorrow. There is no rubric which tells us that we are to come clothed in mourning, that we are to come together as to a funeral, that dirges are to be sung, that violet colors, or such as represent sorrow are to be used. On the contrary, the ordinance which commemorates and shows the death of Christ is one of joy, if properly used. We come around a table, and sit there at our ease and eat and drink, for the death which was so sorrowful is turned into joy, and the memorial of it is meant to set it forth not as it was on the sorrowful side, but as it is to us on the joyful side. Our sorrow is in the symbol turned into joy.
Now, let us think of the sorrow of Christ’s death a moment. It was great sorrow to see Him suffer, sorrow unspeakable to see Him die. You mothers who love your sons, what a sword would have gone through your hearts if it had been your son who was nailed to the tree ! Ye brothers who love your brothers, what pangs would have rent your spirit if he had been your brother who was hanging there. We would, if it had been possible, have spared Him the thirst, have spared Him the shame and spittle; we would have spared Him the nails and spared Him the crown of thorns. We can never think of His sufferings without smiting upon our breast with grief and saying
Alas! my sins, my cruel sins, His chief tormentors were. And as we look on His sufferings we ask :-Oh, why should man offend, And make the Lord his Savior die?
Bitter ought to be our regret that ever we should have wandered from the path of right and made it necessary that our wanderings should be laid upon the Shepherd’s head. Woe, woe, woe unspeakable, that the elect of God should thus have multiplied their transgressions and have compelled their Savior to be smitten even to death for their sakes!
We sorrow, too, from another thought that in the death of Christ, sin for a time appeared to get the mastery over goodness. There He was, the perfect Man, upon the cross, I seem to feel as if Satan, the old serpent, had bitten the heel of truth and poisoned it. I begin to tremble for truth and righteousness when I see thus the pure and perfect One laid low in the dust, but all these three sorrows put together, for His sufferings, for our sins and for the temporary triumph of evil, are at once turned into joy when we know that now the Savior has finished the atoning work, that He is accepted of His Father, that He has crushed the old dragon’s head, that He has given to sin and death and hell a total defeat.
Brethren, there is nothing to sorrow for when we look at the cross now, for Jesus is again alive; He has glory about Him that He had not, and could not have had, if He had not stooped to conquer and bowed His head to death. The man Christ Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father exalted far above principalities and powers, and every name that is named. He sees of the travail of His soul, and He is satisfied, and instead of mournful dirges we say, " Bring forth Miriam’s timbrel yet again, and let us sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously! The horse and his rider hath He cast into the sea. All the host of His enemies hath He drowned in the Red Sea of His atoning blood. "
Moreover, brethren, we are gainers now. It is true our sin crucified Him, but our sin is gone. The last act of sin was sin’s own destruction. It pulled down the house upon itself like Samson, and there it died. Our sin is put away by the death of Christ. He has " finished transgression, and made an end of sin. " And as for truth and righteousness, they are gainers, too. Now, on the cross the crisis of the great battle comes. Now is the prince of this world cast out. Now do righteousness and holiness and truth win the day, and that for ever. Glory be unto God, we come to the memorial of the death of Christ as to a festival. Our sorrow is turned into joy.
And as to our Lord’s going away from us into heaven, it does at first sight wear a very sorrowful aspect. We should be glad if He should occupy that chair to-night and say, " Take, eat; this is My body. " Oh, what a happy crowd would you all be who love Him, if He stood in this pulpit to-night and showed you His hands and His feet. We would stand at the posts of His doors by the week together to get a sight of Him. If He had His throne in Jerusalem this day, what pilgrimages would we make if we might but come anywhere near His blessed person, and might kiss the very dust He trod upon! For what a precious Lord was He! Oh, in our times of sorrowing, if we could but once see His face. those dear lustrous eyes that seem to say, "I know your sorrows, for I have felt the same," that blessed countenance that would speak consolation, though it said not a word, and would say to every mourner, " I will help thee. I have borne thy burden of old " would not it be a joy to see Him? Surely I should be glad enough to cease my ministry, and you might be glad enough, however useful you might be, to give up your work as the stars hide their diminished heads when the sun rises.
II. But, brethren, there is no cause for sorrow.
I am talking idly for the moment now, for our sorrow is turned into joy. It is a great gain to us not to have the Savior here. And see ye how it is? He said, " If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you ." Now, it is a nobler thing to have the Spirit of God dwelling in us than it would be to have Jesus Christ dwelling upon earth. For, as I have hinted, if He were on earth we could not all get at Him; He could only be in one place at a time, and how would the poor be able to get where He is? And if He perambulated all the world yet in the natural order of things, it is only now and then He could come to one place, and so some of us would have to be pining all our lives to see Him. But now the Holy Ghost is here. The Holy Ghost is wherever believers are. " Know ye not that He dwelleth in us for ever? " And whereas we see nothing, this is all the better for us. A life of sight is for babes; a living by feeling is for poor puny infants, but the life of faith is for men in Christ Jesus, and ennobles us by taking away anything that is to be seen and giving us to walk after the unseen. " Though we have known Christ after the flesh ," says the apostle, " yet now after the flesh know we Him no more. " We have not Christ among us after the flesh, and we are glad of it, for now our faith is exercised and God loves faith, and faith makes men into true men in the sight of God, and ennobles them and makes them friends of God. For who was " the friend of God " like Abraham, who believed God? Faith, then, being so much more for our good than the most delightful sight, we have reason to thank God that Jesus is gone and that the Spirit is given.
Besides, beloved, Christ can serve our turn better where He is than He could here, What is He doing for us yonder in the unseen land? Why, know ye not He has gone to take possession for us gone ahead that He may say, " This heaven belongs to My people; I am come here as their legal representative. " The moment that He put that pierced foot of His upon the golden streets He said, " These streets belong to all whom I have redeemed with My blood, to all whom My Father gave Me, and they shall possess this, for lo ! I take possession of it. " And inasmuch as there was something to do to make heaven fit for us I do not know what it was what a joy it is to hear Him say, "I go to prepare a place for you. " Why, brethren, heaven was not fit for us any more than we were fit for heaven till He went there, and He is getting it ready, so that when we come home we shall find our house furnished and all prepared.
When God made Adam, He did not make Adam first and suspend him in the air till he made Eden for him to live in, but He made the garden, fitted it for Him, and then He made the man and put him in it. And so our great Lord is gone to make heaven fit for us, and He will come again and take us unto Himself that where He is we may be also. Now for this cause we are glad that He is not here. We comfort one another with these words, and we see how true was this promise of His, " Your sorrow shall be turned into joy ." Sorrow at His death, sorrow at His departing out of the world these two sorrows are now" turned into joy. "
We pause awhile and change the subject. I see before me still the preparation for the feast for the supper, and therefore let me remind you that in coming to that table we experience a transmutation of spiritual emotions with regard to Him. I will show you what I mean. Some time ago, the Lord made us hungry and thirsty after righteousness. We could not any longer be satisfied with the world. We came to feel ourselves miserable. Our heart was pining for something. We had once been quite content with present joys, but, on a sudden, we were dissatisfied and felt a craving we had never felt before. Are you not glad of it, because when you come to the table here you see that there is bread to eat and wine to drink, emblems of the body and the blood of Christ? Do you know, when I sit down at a good table, what I feel thankful for? Two things, if I have got them.
First, for what is on the table; but, secondly, for an appetite. For a feast is a poor thing without an appetite. So, see you, the hunger and thirst which God has given us after Christ are turned into joy when we come to see Christ, for now we say, "How glad I am, how thankful I am that I could no longer remain content ! How happy am I that God gave me a distaste for all the joys of the world, for now I am the man that can enjoy a crucified Savior. Now I can eat His flesh, which is meat indeed, and drink His blood, which is drink indeed !"
Well, at the same time when we felt our hunger we had another sorrow, namely, that hungry as we were, we had not a crust in the house: we could not satisfy our own hunger, do what we would. We went about the world to try and find something to satisfy our need, but we could find nothing whatever. The husks that contended the swine would not content us. We wanted something more. I know at that time I had not a pennyworth of merits, though I had a mass of sins. I tried to pray, but my prayers could no more fill my soul than wind could. I tried to be diligent in hearing the word and doing good, but there is nothing to stay a hungry soul in all that we can do. But now to-day, to-day in the sight of that table and remembering this bread and wine, to picture Christ crucified the food of the soul, I am glad that I had not got anything to eat, because now I was driven to feed on Christ. Oh, what a blessed thing is an empty cupboard when it brings a soul to the Savior ! Our sorrow is turned into joy, and we call it a blessed famishing, a blessed emptiness, when we can have the emptiness and famishing removed by feeding upon an all-sufficient Savior.
So, you see again, our sorrow is turned into joy. And on the table of fellowship to-night we see the wine-cup, and while it represents to us our Savior as our refreshment, it also reminds us that we were once foul and needed to be washed in His blood. Now, it was a great sorrow to feel ourselves foul; it was a horror to discover that we were soiled from head to foot with scarlet sins. But, for my part, now that I have washed in the fountain filled with blood, I have forgotten my sorrow about sin. It is turned into joy. Oh, the blessedness of being made clean in Christ Jesus !
Why, I think if I had been Adam, and had never sinned, I should always have had some little fear that perhaps I had come short somewhere if I had to depend on my own merits, even if I hoped I was perfect. Now, sinner that I am, I entertain no fears, for I know Christ’s righteousness is perfect; I know His death cleanseth from all sin; and so the sorrow about sin is turned into joy in the sense of perfect pardon and complete righteousness which belong to us through the precious blood of our dear Lord and Savior. Oh, when you come to the’ table, my dear brethren and sisters, lay aside all your griefs, whatever they may have been. Feel that if you must bring them with you they are transformed and transmuted on the road; for your sorrow since you have believed on Jesus is turned into joy.
III. Your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
Now, for a moment or two, let me remind you that this truth will hold good of all believers’ sorrows. Your sorrow shall be turned into joy. It shall be good of some of them to-day. God will make your present sorrows to be turned into joys. Do I address one person to-night who has been persecuted for Christ’s sake? Do I speak with one young person whose parents treat her ill because she follows Jesus? Brother, sister, your sorrow is turned into joy, even now, for, if ye be persecuted for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye. Not, happy shall ye be, but happy are ye. Even now ye have a great honor put upon you: you are counted worthy not only to believe on the Lord Jesus but to suffer for His sake, At the thought of Him, then, that sorrow is turned into joy.
Perhaps I address some who are under very severe afflictions. Beloved brother, if the Lord shall reveal Himself in your afflictions, you will be very sorry to be rid of them; you will feel that they are even now turned into joy. Constantly, in reading Rutherford’s letters you meet with the expression of his wonder that his enemies should be so kind to him as they were. He speaks in a sort of holy sarcasm. They banished him, sent him away from where he was wont to preach the Gospel, but he said, "I find my Lord lives here and they have sent me into His arms. They would not let me preach," he says, "and now my Lord doth make up for my dumb Sabbaths, for, whereas I may not speak, He speaks to me and cheers my soul," and it seems from his letters that, the more his enemies persecuted him, the more deep, the more high his joy became.
I, too, know such a thing as that, that pain can come upon you and grace can come with the pain, so that you feel thankful for it. I have heard saints of God say that they have had great losses, but that the love of God has flowed into their soul so that their losses they have reckoned to be their gains. We have heard of one that said, "Let me go back to my bed again; let me go to my pain again, for I had so much of Christ there that I would fain rather be always sick than lose the sickness and lose the love of my Lord."
Yes, beloved, He can, at this moment, turn your sorrows into joys. If you have a great lump of sorrow, you will have a great lump of joy, for He turns it all into joy. One touch of His finger can turn the granite stones into gold; bring them to His feet; ask Him to do it, and you shall be rich in joy to-night. Well, if it is not done at once, it will be done ere long. It sometimes takes a little time for a sorrow to turn into a joy. It is rather an odd figure of Cowper’s, but it is a true one: The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower.
It takes a little time for our bitters to bloom out into sweetness, but they will. If you are praying for your dear child, praying for his conversion but do not see it, yet pray on, for your sorrow will be turned into joy. If you are in great trouble about your husband, or your brother, or your friend, whose conversion you are seeking, strive on still, for it will come. One day you shall have the joy of your heart, and your sorrow shall be turned into joy. And that trial you are laboring under just now don’t faint under it; wait a little. It is a rough wind, but it is blowing you towards the port. It is a rough wave, but it is washing you on to the rock. It is not to-day that you will see it, nor to-morrow; but afterwards, and by-and-bye it will bring forth the comfortable fruits of righteousness, and you will rejoice.
And, mark you, if never in this world, yet in the blessed country " on the hither side of Jordan " your sorrow shall be turned into joy. It will be among the delights of heaven, I do not doubt, to look back on the sorrows of life and to see how they ministered to our meekness for the better land.
There we shall make songs out of our sighs and music out of our mournings; only let us wait and be patient. The people of the world have the laughter to-day and we have the sighing; they shall have the sighing by-and- bye and we shall have the laughter.
God is like a certain great man who had in his house two sets of cups. Those cups were for his friends, and these were for his enemies; but they might take which they would. He knew his friends were wise; his enemies were fools. Now, these cups which were for his foes were very sweet; they sparkled on the brim; they flashed. The wine was red, and it moved itself aright. But they were warned that whosoever drank these cups would find that the dregs were full of death. And his foes came in and drank and drank and laughed, and said the good man of the house loved them best, for he had given them the sweetest wines. But on the other table stood the cups that were ready for his friends, and his friends were wise, and they went to them, and the cups were very bitter very bitter! Ah, how they set their teeth on edge and filled their mouths with wormwood ! But they knew that these were health-cups that would purge them of all disease and fill their frames with a vitality and force which magic could not give; and therefore these friends of his drank the cups with joy and thankfulness, for they knew that he had prepared them in love; and while they heard his enemies laughing at them they bore the laughter with composure, for they knew what the end would be.
To-day the saints and the sinners in the world are like two armies on the eve of battle, You go through yonder tents. On the left side you will hear the sound of revelry; you shall see them enjoying the dance. Full bowls they quaff, merrily. Say they, "We go forth to battle and to victory to-morrow.!"
That is the camp of sin and of the enemy. Here you see the other camp; and the soldiers there make not merry. They are men of sober stuff. They have a solid joy within them, for they expect to win to-morrow; but they boast not. Each man is looking well to his buckler, seeing that his harness is complete and his sword well-sharpened; and you will hear at intervals the prayer, the cry to God, "Make strong our arms, and send us like thunderbolts upon our foes." Now, by to-morrow’s eve, I wot, ye shall know what has become of them, for you gay and haughty cavaliers, with all their mirth, shall strew the field, and their carcasses shall be given to the dogs and to the fowls of heaven. But you suppliant hosts there, though they be reviled as Puritans, shall dash through the hosts of their foes and shall lead their captivity captive.
In which camp would you wish to be? I have taken my choice, and I pray my brethren to take theirs, and may the Spirit of God rule their choice that they may take the bitter cups that are full of health and that they may go with the sober prayerful camp whose song of victory shall turn their sorrows into joys.
Brethren, if the saints’ sorrows are turned into joys, what are their joys? If their bitters are sweet, how sweet are their sweets ! And if the finger of Christ touching the things of life can make them sweet, how sweet must Christ Himself be! If He turns the water into wine, how rich must He be!
And if He turns on earth our sorrows into joy, what can the joys be where there are no sorrows, but where the joys are unalloyed and undiluted and last on for ever! Blessed sorrows, blessed joys! Who would not be a believer when even his sorrows shall be turned into joys ?
IV. But lastly, this little text is a Gospel.
I think it: is a Gospel for all my hearers to-night. Your sorrows shall be turned into joys. Whosoever among you shall come to-night to those dear feet that were pierced by the nails, and will come and trust in Jesus Christ to save him, shall have his sorrow turned into joy. Are you sorrowing for sin? It shall be pardoned, and in a moment joy shall fill your spirit. Do you sorrow because you are afraid you are not one of the elect? Come and trust in Jesus, and you shall make your election sure, and the doctrine that was so horrible to you shall be full of consolation. Are you mourning because you are unfit to come?
Come with all your unfitness, and you shall thank God that you were saved from making a fitness and were enabled to come as a sinner to Christ. Do you mourn because you have a hard heart? Come and trust Jesus, and He will give you a heart of flesh and you shall bless His name that you were another instance of His Almighty power to change the hearts of men.
I would to-night that you would try my Lord and Master. I have known Him now more than two and twenty years. Two and twenty years ago, last Friday, I avowed my faith in Him in baptism, and I would not give Him a good character if He did not deserve it. I would not lie even for Him, I trust. But, oh, there was never such a Lord as He is! Sorrow He told us we should have, and we have had it, but He has always turned it into joy, and up to this moment I can say of Him, if I had to die like a dog and there were no hereafter, I would prefer to be a Christian; and if there were no joy about religion but the present joy which it gives to a believing heart, let me have it beyond all the joys of wealth, or fame, or honor. There is none like Christ. I would that some of you would come and take Him.
May His Spirit guide you and may you to-night become His disciples, and your sorrow shall be turned into joy .. The Lord grant it for His name’s sake. Amen.
Pray, Always Pray November 3, 1878
by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
“In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” [John 16:26-27 ]
This revised manuscript with English updates is copyrighted © 2000 by Tony Capoccia. All rights reserved.
The present time, in which we live, is highly favored, and ought to be highly valued. Let us never envy the patriarchs their communion with God, when sometimes he spoke personally into their ears, or visibly revealed himself to them. Blessed are our eyes, for they see, and our ears, for they hear the things which kings and prophets waited for in vain. That which was denied to them has been revealed to us; and we are, therefore, very privileged. Though John the Baptist, living on the very verge of the gospel dispensation, was the greatest mere man who had been born of a woman, yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he; and we are now living in that kingdom of heaven, although there is, at present, much to mar the glory of the reign of Christ on earth. Be grateful, therefore, O you sons of men who are also sons of God, be grateful that you live in this truly golden age, for, with all its sorrows, and all its shortcomings, it is an age of great mercy and of high privilege!
I venture even to set the present period above that brave age in which Jesus lived here among men. We are very apt to look on that time as being the sunniest era which the Church of the Living God ever enjoyed; yet it was not so. The dispensation of the Holy Spirit is of a higher order than the dispensation of the humiliated and suffering Savior. That was the day of the Church’s childhood, when her Lord instructed her by picture’s, and taught her letters, but kept back many of the greater and deeper truths because she was not able to bear them then. Now, the Holy Spirit has been given to lead us into all truth, and he takes the things of Christ, and shows them to us. It was only the twilight of the gospel dispensation, or only its dawning hour when our Lord was here. True, he is the Sun [Sun] of righteousness, but his disciples only saw a little of his glory, for their eyes were only slightly opened, and they had less light from him than we have, even though the blessedness of his physical personal presence is denied to us. At that time, there was much backwardness in prayer even among the apostles of Christ. Just before our text, we read that Christ said to them, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.”
We read of our Master praying, and we know that the cold mountains, and the midnight air often witnessed the fervor of his prayer, but we read very little about the prayers of the disciples. They once did get as far as to say, “Lord, teach us to pray;” but they seemed to know very little about the power of prayer.
Now, the Lord has not only taught us to pray, but he has also given us the Holy Spirit to help us in our weaknesses, and to make intercession for us with groans that words cannot express. In many other respects, we are far more blessed than any of the highly-favored twelve who remained with Christ, or the privileged seventy who were sent out by him to teach, and to preach, and to heal the sick. It is a blessed period in which we live, and I want you, who are believers in Christ, to prize your privileges. If you have been lamenting your lot, I want you to know that your birth could scarcely have been at a more favorable period, and that, to be living in the time when the Spirit of God has been given, and his sacred influences are exercising their power in the Church, is a high honor which God has given to you.
I am led to make these remarks because our text begins with the words “In that day,” which is the present period, the time when Christ has returned to his Father’s right hand after his terrible death on Calvary, the period when we are no longer full of sorrow because he died, but our sorrow is turned into joy on his account, and on our own, too. It is “In that day” that the blessings I am going to speak of are given to us, so that we are even now enjoying them, or ought to be doing so.
Taking the text as referring to the period of time in which we now live, I notice, first, the believer’s daily exercise: “In that day you will ask in my name.” Secondly, we have the believer’s privileged position: “I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” Then, thirdly, I will practically try to suggest what should be the believer’s natural conclusion from the blessed truth, which is here revealed to us.
I. First, then, let us notice THE BELIEVER’S DAILY EXERCISE. It is, to ask, and to continue asking: “In that day you will ask in my name.”
It is a very simple matter to ask; but how gracious it is, on the part of God, to add to such a simple thing as asking the promise of giving! He did not say, “Desire the blessing,” but “Ask for it.” He does not say, “Purchase it,” but “Ask for it;” nor “Labor until you finally obtain it by your own efforts,” but “Ask for it.” Brothers and Sisters, if heaven is to be had for the asking, and if all that is needed to bring us to heaven is to be had for the asking, who would not ask? Whatever else a believer may fail to do, he must never fail to ask.
If we have never asked God for anything at all, we may be quite sure that we were never converted. A prayerless soul must be a Christless soul; but if we are really in Christ, we must have practiced the sacred art of asking, and we ought to continually ask. If there is any difficulty in our minds, let us ask, for the Holy Spirit can solve it. If there is any needs in our homes, let us ask, for our Heavenly Father can supply it. If there is any weakness in our spiritual nature, let us ask, for God can strengthen us. If there is any longing desire of our soul, which even leads to great sorrow of spirit, let us ask, for our desire can be granted if it is a right one, and our sorrow can be removed. To ask my brethren, is very simple; and let the Lord’s name be praised that, usually, the best asking is that which is the most simple.
To ask anything of God does not require that you must use a set form of words. The children in your family do not read a formal, written request to you when they want any favor from you; they state their need in childish language, you understand them, and grant their request if it is a right and proper one, and compliance with it is within your power. Act in just the same way with your God. We are often far too careful about picking and choosing the phrases that we use in prayer. Do you think that God is pleased with a display of rhetoric, or that he takes notice of your elocution when you come to the throne of grace? It may suit a teacher of English composition to criticize your sentences, but God thinks much more of your desires than of the words in which they are expressed. It may be natural for a scholar to consider the accuracy of your terms, but God especially notes the sincerity of your soul. There is no other place where the heart should be so free as before the mercy-seat. There, you can talk out your very soul, for that is the best prayer that you can present. Do not ask for what some tell you that you should ask for, but for that which you feel the need of, that which the Holy Spirit has made you to hunger and to thirst for; you ask for that.
Always ask; your whole life should be spent in asking. When the morning breaks, ask for the mercy needed during the day; and when the day has closed its eyelids, and you go to your bed, ask for the protection and rest that you need during the night. Ask when your voice can be heard only by your God in secret, and ask when your tongue may not be able to move, but only your spirit whispers into the ear of God. Never hesitate to ask because of the greatness of the blessing you desire. The Lord is a great God though you are so little, and he delights to give great things to those who ask him. And don’t be reluctant to ask because of your unworthiness. You can never have any worthiness of your own; therefore, if a sense of unworthiness would prevent you from praying right now, then it might always hinder you from praying; yet the Lord commands you to pray, so it must be right for you to pray. Ask when you have fought for something, and cannot win it; ask when you have toiled for it, and cannot gain it, ask and you will have it. Come before your God in all the rags of your sinfulness and conscious unworthiness, and ask, for that is all you have to do. “Ask, and you will receive,” is the message that shines out, with heavenly radiance, over the mercy-seat. Read it, and obey it; open your mouth wide, for God will fill it.
Our Lord told his disciples that, in addition to asking, they were to ask in his name: “In that day you will ask in my name.”
That is the most delightful way of asking. We often say, at the end of our petition, “Lord, grant it, for Jesus sake,” and that is a very proper plea. It means, “Because of what Jesus did, won’t you deal well with me? I have done nothing that can ensure a favorable answer to my supplication, but won’t you give it because Jesus deserves it? O Lord, listen to me, for his sake!” That is a good way to pray, but it is a still better way if you can use the name of Christ, and ask in his name.
You know what you do at a store, when another persons asks you to go there, and purchase items in his name, and charge them to his account. Or suppose that you have authorized your servant to go to a certain store, and you have said to the owner, “Whatever he comes for in my name, let him have it.” Perhaps he has no money of his own; possibly, he is a very poor person; but, armed with your authority, he can get from that storeowner as much as you could get if you were to go there yourself. So, Jesus says to us, “Use my name when you are speaking to my Father.” “And how far may I go in using that name?” As far as Christ himself can go; whatever power there is about the name of Jesus, whatever influence it has in his Father’s heart, that power and that influence we are permitted to exercise in prayer. My Lord, I used to ask you to do certain things for your Son’s sake; but now I come with a still stronger plea, for, he has commanded me to use his name, and to ask that you will do for me even as you would do for him. My Father, if you can refuse your Firstborn, then you can refuse me; and if I am asking for something that he would not ask for, then please ignore my plea, for I desire to make this the test of my prayer, both for its extent and for its acceptance. If Christ would refused to pray for it, then so do I; and if that which I ask for seems to be a blessing to me, but would not have seemed to be a blessing to him, then I say, “Not as I will, but as you will,” so that I may still be able to use his name. No person in his right mind would use another person’s name improperly; and if you are asking of God something for yourself merely with a selfish motive, you must not defile that blessed name of his by linking it with such a prayer as that. But, using his name properly, you have great liberty, and a high privilege, in being permitted to come and pray, not only for the sake of Jesus, but also in the name of Jesus.
Our text tells us that this asking in the name of Christ is to be the constant exercise of Christians “in that day.”
What is that day according to the context, it is, the time of persecution: “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” At such a time as that, Christians are sure to pray. Today, in England, we do not have one-tenth of the prayer that used to go up in the dark days of Queen Mary. Ah, beloved! when brothers and sisters are in prison for the faith-when they are likely to be laid on the rack-when the little church has to be called together because the pastor is to be burned at the stake in the morning, and the young people all want to be up early to stand around, and to cheer him with their weeping eyes if they cannot do anything more for him, and when the youngsters come home, and their fathers ask them why they went there, they say they went to learn the way if they should have to die in the same manner themselves-ah! then, prayer is a reality. And when they gather together in out-of-the-way corners and in lonely caverns, when they dare not raise their voices lest the watchers should hear them, and take them to prison-yet, in solemn undertones, they cry to the Lord, it is real prayer then, it is that powerful and effective prayer of righteous men. It is then that the Church of the Living God really does pray. If any of you are, in your little way, subject to persecution, be sure to pray, for our Savior said, “In that day you will ask in my name.” Let that persecution be a sort of reminder to you of your duty and privilege. If you have been at all slack in prayer, and somebody persecutes you because of Christ, say, “Now is the time for me to pray more earnestly than ever, for Jesus said, especially at the time of persecution, ‘In that day you will ask in my name.’”
If you read further on in the chapter, you will find that “that day” is when the Spirit of God has instructed the followers of Christ. He said, “In that day you will no longer ask me anything.” That is, “You will ask me no questions, for the Spirit of God will instruct you. “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” Now, the more light and understanding a man gets from heaven, the more he will pray. If there is any so-called light that makes a man lax in prayer, that light is darkness. Some time ago, when there were a great many people around who professed to be perfect, I heard of one who had grown so conceited that she said her mind was so conformed to the will of God that there was no need for her to pray because her mind and God’s mind were so perfectly one and the same. Yes; and when a person imagines that he is so good that he doesn’t need to pray, he had better begin by crying out, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I daresay you have heard of those people who climb so high up the ladder that they fall down the other side; and that is exactly what people do when they begin to carry any truth to extravagance, and push a point beyond its legitimate issues. That which makes you cease to pray is of the devil, so say to him, “Get behind me, Satan!” The very suggestion that you can do without prayer must have come from below, it cannot have come from above. The more the Spirit of God teaches a Christian the things of God, the more it makes him ask in the name of Jesus Christ.
Once again, that day is a day of great joy: “your grief will turn to joy.... In that day you will ask in my name.”
Perhaps someone says, “But times of grief are good times for prayer, are they not?” I grant you that they are; but, oh! when grief is turned to joy, and doubt gives way to faith, and hope herself becomes eclipsed by a measure of delightful fulfillment, then is the time to pray. When your heart is ready to dance, and your mouth is full of sweetness, then draw near to God in prayer. When he has given you the most, then ask all the more from him. Suppose this is a good day for you, a day of good news; then seize such a good opportunity to pray. There is a high tide in your affairs just now; then take advantage of the flood, that it may lead you on to spiritual wealth, and wash you up high, and near to your God. O beloved, if ever in your lives you pray, let it be especially when the Lord reveals himself so graciously to you that your heart is glad, and your glory rejoices! Let that be a day of asking in the name of Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, I wish I could speak even more impressively on this most delightful theme; for, if there is one point, more than others, that touches the very vitals of Christian existence, it is this prayerfulness-this asking of God and receiving from him in answer to our earnest believing supplication. Is prayer a reality with you, dear friends, or is it a mere mockery? Is it a sort of religious rite that you feel bound to perform, or has it become as essential to your spiritual being as breathing is to your natural being? Is it now to you a matter of habit that you should pray? Is it as natural for you to ask your Father who is in heaven as it is for your little children to ask you who are their fathers on earth? I feel that it must be so with me; not merely praying because I should, but because I love the sacred exercise; not praying at a certain hour because it is the set time for prayer, but praying because I want to pray, praying because I must pray. A man scarcely needs to be reminded that he must breathe. It is essential to his very life that he should breathe, and it is essential to our spiritual life that we should pray. I never thought it necessary to prepare a sermon to exhort you to eat, neither should it to be necessary to exhort Christians to pray. It should be to you an instinct of your new nature, as natural to your spiritual being as a good appetite is to a man in health. There should be a holy hunger and thirst to pray, and the soul never prays so well as when it is reminded, not by the hour of the day or night, but by its real needs; and when it goes to its place of private prayer, not because it thinks it should, but because it feels that it must, and is delighted at the privilege of having communion with its God.
My object, in the second part of my sermon, will be to stir you up to such a feeling as that, so I will say no more on this first portion of my theme, the believer’s daily exercise: “In that day you will ask in my name.”
II. Well now, secondly, we have THE BELIEVER’S PRIVILEGED POSITION with regard to praying.
Believers ought to be abundant in prayer because, first, they have the holy Spirit to prompt them.
Is that in the text? Yes; or, at least, it is implied in the text, for Jesus says, “In that day you will ask.” But how could he affirm so positively that we would ask unless he intended to send his Spirit to lead us to ask? The promise is itself a guarantee that he will see it fulfilled. So we have the Holy Spirit to prompt us to pray; and not merely to prompt us to pray, but to tell us what we should pray, “We do not know what we ought to pray for” until he teaches us. Someone perhaps might ask, “Why do you pray, when everything is ordained by divine decree?” It is true that everything is ordained, and it is for that very reason that we do pray. The Spirit of God leads us to desire exactly what God has decreed, and though we cannot open and read the book of his decrees, the Holy Spirit can read that book, so he guides us to pray in accordance with its secret records, and he also makes intercession for us “according to the will 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;” and what the Spirit of God knows to be the mind of God, he also makes to be our mind, and thus we also pray “according to the will of God.” A true prayer is the echo of the eternal purpose. We say that “coming events cast their shadows before them;” and our prayers are the shadows before God’s mercies. Who would not pray when prayer becomes to him a consecrated mystery in which one Person of the Sacred Trinity operates on his mind, and excites his desires? It ought to lead us to be much in prayer because our prayers are prompted by the Holy Spirit.
“Pray, always pray; the Holy Spirit pleads, within you all your daily and hourly needs.”
Next, we ought to be much in prayer because we have the high honor of being allowed to use the name of Christ in our prayers: “In that day you will ask in my name.”
If a king were to entrust us with his royal seal, or if that king had the power to make money as fast as he willed it simply by his signature, and he allowed us the use of that signature, I don’t think many of us would remain poor. If he would only give us that privilege, we would be sure to make a considerable sum of money before we returned his seal and signature. But our Lord Jesus does, as it were, take off the signet ring from his finger, and he says to his servants, “Ask in my name;” and, therefore, we write checks on the infinity of God. There is no limit put to our requests except this, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Oh, how this ought to encourage us to pray! Will we allow such a golden opportunity as this to pass by unused? O believers, with the Holy Spirit to tell you what to ask for, and the Lord Jesus to endorse your asking, will you not pray without ceasing?
But, beyond all this, there is the great encouragement to constant prayer which we derive from the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ is continually making intercession for us. Our poor prayers are blotted, and blurred, and stained with sin, but our great high Priest sprinkles them with his own most precious blood, and so purifies them, and then, with his own dear hand, he lays them before the mercy-seat, and for his sake they are sure to be accepted. “if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One;” and he is always pleading for us. So, as we have a Divine Intercessor, who never forgets to present our prayers before his Father’s throne of grace, how boldly ought we to come to the mercy-seat, and what large things we ought to ask of God in Christ’s name!
Our text, however, seems to suggest to me that our Lord Jesus wished to prevent his disciples from making a mistake concerning his intercession; so, on this occasion, he said, “I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.” There was no need that he should say that just then, for he had said it a great many times already, so he did not need to repeat it. But, at that time, he seemed as if he meant to say, “I don’t want you to exaggerate even my intercession at my Father’s expense. I will intercede for you, but you must not imagine that I do so because my Father is unwilling to hear you when you come to him in my name. You must not get into your minds the strange idea that, by my pleading, I will make my Father willing to bless you, for, the Father himself loves you.”
This brings us to a very precious point, which is, that we should be greatly encouraged to pray, not only because the Spirit prompts us, and the Son intercedes for us, but because the Father himself loves us.
Oh, how we ought to pray now that we have the ear, no, more than that, the very heart of the King! To have such a Teacher as the Holy Spirit, and such an Advocate as our Lord Jesus Christ, ought to be a great encouragement to us; but to have the heart of the King himself, is best of all: “The Father himself loves you.” You know, dear brothers and sisters, that shallow thinkers often make mistakes concerning the Father and the Son in relation to the atonement. They think that the atonement of Christ was necessary to make the Father love his people, whereas the truth is, that the Father, because he loved his people, gave his one and only Son to make atonement for them. God was always love, as truly love as the Son was and is; we must make no mistake about that matter. So, concerning Christ’s intercession, there is a tendency, in certain quarters, to fall into the error of supposing that the Father is difficult to please, and that Jesus must pacify him before he will grant our requests. It is not true, “for the Father himself loves you.” I think that, when a sinner is coming to God, he had better first fix his eye wholly upon Jesus the Mediator; but as for those of us who have believed in Jesus, we are forgiven, we are in a totally different position from that in which the unbeliever stands. We have had our sins forgiven, and we may come directly to the Father himself, of course, always coming through the Mediator, yet all the while rejoicing in his gracious assurance, “The Father himself loves you.”
“Pray, always pray, though weary, faint, and alone, Prayer nestles by the Father’s sheltering throne.”
The text says that the Father loves us because we have loved Jesus, and have believed that he came from the Father. Don’t make the mistake of imagining that the love of God to us is caused by our love to Christ. Oh, no! “We love him because he first loved us.”
The first love of God is a love of benevolence, a love of compassion, a love towards the unworthy and the undeserving. God, out of love, forgives us, and saves us; but there is another love, besides that, which we must never forget. When he has brought us to love his dear Son, when he has brought us to trust in him because we believe that he came from the Father, then the Father has a love of contentment and delight toward us. You can easily see the difference between the two kinds of love, for it is often illustrated in human history. A man finds a poor child in the street, and he takes pity on it, and carries it into his house, and clothes it, and cares for it. That is one kind of love, the love of benevolence; but suppose that child should develop into a beautiful boy, or a lovely girl, who, with charming manners, works their way into the very heart of the one who was so kind to it in earlier days, then there springs up a second kind of love. The man says, “I loved that child when I picked it up, a bundle of rags, and filth, and misery; but look at its loveliness now. See how this little one takes to the rest of the family, see how grateful it is, how it loves me; I cannot help loving it more than I did at first.” That is another kind of love altogether, and the Lord has just such a love as that, only of an infinitely higher kind, toward all who trust and love his Son.
You know that the Father loves Jesus Christ so much that, when he sees that you also love him, he loves you all the more for that reason. He had unbounded confidence in Christ when he sent him into the world; and when he sees that you also have confidence in him, he loves you, too, for you two are agreed on that matter. Nothing binds people together so much as a common love to the same object. If there is some one person who is dear to both, there is at once a tie between the two. How often a husband’s heart is held firmly by the wife because, between the two, there is a little one who is dear to both of them! Perhaps, in some foolish fit of anger, they might have left one another, but their child is the bond that holds them together. And between us and our God, in a sense infinitely above my poor comparison, there is a wonderful union because he confides in Jesus, and we confide in him too. The Father loves Jesus, and we love him too; and now, because of this, our Savior says to us, “The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”
I cannot explain this marvelous mystery, but I want you, you who know that you do, in fact, love Christ, and believe that he came from God, just to open your hearts, and try to take in this sublime truth, “The Father himself loves you.” Not “pities you”; not “promises to help you”; not “considers you”; but, “the Father himself loves you.” It is no use attempting to explain what love is; you must feel it if you would realize what it is. You didn’t doubt your mother’s words when you were little, and she took you in her arms, and said, “I love you.” You believed her, you rested in her love and you returned it as much as you could. So the great God of the Universe says to you “I love you because you love my Son. There are many faults and failings in you, but you love my Son, so I love you.” Didn’t you just say, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” You said that to the Lord Jesus; and, because it is true, the Father himself loves you.
I remember when one of the sweet passages in the Song of Solomon came home to my heart with absolutely ravishing power, it seemed to carry me right out of myself, it was that verse in which the Heavenly Bridegroom says to his spouse, “All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” That is what the Father says to his people when he sees them in Christ. When he perceives that they love Christ, he says that “his delight is in her.”
“The Father himself loves you.” This little sentence is not so much a theme for preaching as for quiet meditation. You need to get alone into your bedroom, and to sit down, and just ring that silver bell again, and again, and again, “the Father himself loves you.” Loves me? Why should he love me? How can he love me? Yet Jesus knows; and, as he says it is true, then so it is, glory be to his holy name!
III. I have only a little time left to speak of THE BELIEVER’S NATURAL CONCLUSION, which he is to draw from these words of Christ.
First, He says, “If all this is true, then, what power I have! What power I have, at the mercy-seat, with the Spirit to prompt me, Christ to plead for me, and the Father himself smiling at me as I come, and saying to me, ‘Come and welcome, for I love you; no one can be more welcome than you are. Come, my child, ask what you will, and it will be done to you.’” But, beloved, have you ever really believed that you have this power? Haven’t you asked and hoped when you ought to have asked and believed? Haven’t you asked as if there was just a bare possibility that you might be heard! Haven’t you prayed thin king to yourself that your many pleadings and your abundant tears might move the hard heart of God? Hasn’t your supplication often been presented on some such theory as that! If so, I hope that, in the future, you will be able to rise to the believer’s true position, and say, “I am God’s child, and he loves me; and coming to him, through Jesus Christ his Son, and moved by his Holy Spirit, I will ask of him whatever I need, for I know that I will receive that which I have asked of him in the name of Jesus, and for his sake.”
If you ever realize that you have that power, (and I earnestly hope that you will), then be sure that you use it. Use it for your children, use it for all your relatives, use it for those in church, who sit near you, and are unconverted. Pick them out, and pray for them by name, and do not be content until you hear that they are saved. May I also ask you to use this power in prayer on my behalf? I will be so rich if you, who have power with God, will pray for me. My preaching will be poverty-stricken if you cease to pray for me. You who can pray, I beg you to plead with God for his Church, for his truth, for his cause on the earth. These are dark days, but you can bring on a spiritual summertime if you know how to pray the powerful and effective prayer of a righteous man. Truth seems for a while to be suffering defeat, and the battle becomes hotter and fiercer; but the banner of victory will soon float in the breeze if you know how to pray properly. The praying army is the conquering army. Bring to the front the men and women who can pray, and the devil will tremble and flee, for he clearly knows that those who are mighty with God are mightier even than he is. The history of the future depends very largely on the prayers of the present. If you and other believers restrain prayer, you may help to bring on long, dark, chilly winters for the Church of the Living and Holy God; but if you and they are aroused to go up, as Elijah went to Mount Carmel, and if, with your face between your knees, you cry mightily to the Lord God of Israel, surely, as the Lord lives, you will see the skies covered with clouds, and there will be “a sound of an abundance of rain.” I speak reverently, yet truthfully, when I say that the keys of heaven swing on the belt of the man who knows how to pray. I do not mean commonplace praying, such as some practice, but such prayer as I have been speaking of, prompted by the Spirit of God, first purified and then presented by the Savior, and offered by a man who knows that the Father himself loves him.
I am awestruck when I think of the tremendous power of which prayer is capable. It is not omnipotent, yet it commands omnipotence. It is not omniscient, yet prayer is like the very eye of God. He who can truly pray has first read the heart of God, and then spoken out what is there. Prayer overcomes the Eternal; what more can I say of it? When Israel sinned against the Lord, Moses pleaded for the guilty nation even after God had said to him, “Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make of you a great nation;” and the prevailing prayer won the day, for “then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” May God teach you, who are loved of the Father because you love the Son, to pray such a prayer as Moses did!
In an especially careful manner, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we ought to mention the answers to prayer which we have received. It would not be prudent, proper, or even possible, to mention all of them; for there are love passages in prayer between Christ and the heart, which never must be told, unless it is in very special company, and on rare occasions. Some of our conversations with the Lord Jesus are too sacred, too spiritual, too heavenly, ever to be spoken of this side the pearly gates; but the bulk of the Lord’s replies to our petitions are such that they may be written in the skies, that every eye might read them. Make sure that you do not hide these gracious facts by your ingratitude. Imitate David, who tells us in the fifth verse of Psalms 118:5 , “In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free.”
Yes, and do not only declare how God answers prayer, but tell of the power of faith in all the ways in which it moves you. Sit down in your living room, and tell your children what faith in God has done in your life, so that they may tell their children, and to the generations yet to follow, that all men may know that all things are possible to him that believes. Tell of the fulfillment of promises to faith, deliverance from trouble through faith, and the enjoyment of supreme happiness through faith. Declare it throughout your neighborhoods that “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in Kings.” Ring out clearly such words as these: “Trust in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” Tell everybody why you know that it is true, for you have turned to friends in the time of trouble, and they have given you the cold shoulder. You have even been foolish enough to hope for help from great men, who had it in their power to aid you; but they have looked down on you with disdain, and wondered how you dared to ask such assistance from men of their high standing. Let all men know that the majesty of heaven has never in this way ignored your humble appeals. From the throne of the Highest there has never come a harsh reply, or a contemptuous rejection of your lowly position. No; the Lord has been better to you than even your hope expected or your faith believed. God has answered you richly, helped you efficiently, gladdened you abundantly, and filled your spirit with a sweet contentment. Truly, God is good to his people. It is no vain thing to wait upon the Lord. The path of faith is the path of strength and safety.
How unhappy are the lives of some here today, who never pray! It matters little what other power you possess; if you have no power with God, you are powerless. To those who never pray, or who insult God with an empty form of prayer in which there is no heart, there will come a day when they will pray. As surely as they live and die as they now are, they will pray; but their prayers then will not be answered. The rich man in hell prayed for a drop of water to cool his burning tongue, but his request was denied, for it was too late to pray then, yet he might have had the Water of life to drink had he prayed while he was on the earth. It is in hell that prayer, of a sort, abounds, but the answer to such petitions is, “since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you.” Ask now, I beg you, for God will hear you if you call on him now; but “once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door,” then no amount knocking “In that day” will cause him to open it up again. No pleadings, moanings, groanings, cryings, wailings will have an effect, for prayer will have had its day, and justice, with drawn sword, will stand before the mercy-seat, barring the way to it forever.
May the Lord bring everyone of you to believe in Jesus, and to fervently love him with a pure heart, before it is too late, for his dear name sake! Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 16". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29