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Bringing Sinners to the Savior
August 22 nd 1880 by C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted © 2000 by Tony Capoccia. All rights reserved. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.
“A man in the crowd answered, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.’ ‘O unbelieving generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.’ So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.” [Mark 9:17-20 ]
I do not intend to speak much on the whole of this text as to use the latter part of it as a sort of motto for an appeal to Christian people to be diligent in the service of their Lord. If we wish to do good to our fellowman, the best thing that we can do for them is to bring them to the Lord Jesus Christ. At the feet of Jesus we ourselves obtained salvation if we are saved; we never had any true peace of heart until we came to Christ, and we never would have had any if we had remained apart from him. The great Physician, who healed the sickness of our soul, was Christ Jesus the Lord; and if we are to be the means of blessing to men and women, we must recommend to them the Physician whom we have proved to be so very useful to ourselves. They cannot be blessed, any more than we could be, until they are brought to Jesus.
When any of us desires to be of service to others, it is good for us to learn the best way of setting about our task; for if we do not know how to go to work, all our sincerity may be expended on that which is useless; but when we understand how to approach our task, and concentrate all our powers on wise and proper efforts, then are we likely to succeed.
To my mind, the first thing that we have to strive after, in the name of God, and by the help of the Holy Spirit, is to bring men and women to Jesus Christ; and God forbid that we should ever lift even a finger to point them anywhere else for salvation. Each true believer, as well as every Christian minister, should say, -
“‘Tis all my business here below To cry, ‘Behold the Lamb!’”
We are to point sinners to Jesus - all the while looking at him ourselves, and praying that they also may look to him, and live.
I think I hardly need to remind you that every Christian is obligated to give himself to the blessed work of bringing sinners to the Savior. Common love for humanity should lead us to attempt this task. Is it necessary for me to tell you to love your fellowmen, and seek their good? Why, even they who have no Christianity are often very generous, and humane, and kind. Some persons whose religious opinions are full of error, have, nevertheless, manifested great tenderness and sympathy towards the sick, and the suffering, and the poor; and they have set a noble example of what others might do for the needy. Much more, then, must the followers of the loving Christ, have tender, sympathetic hearts, and anxiously desire to do the most they can for their fellowmen. I shall take it for granted, my dear friends, that you, who are members of this church, or of any other true Christian church, are desirous to be the means of blessing to those who are around you, and that you also believe that the surest way to bless them is to bring them to Christ.
I. So, coming to our text, I begin by noting that PARENTS ARE THE FIRST PERSONS WHO SHOULD LABOR TO BRING THEIR CHILDREN TO CHRIST.
In the 17th verse, we read that the demonically possessed youth was, in a sense, brought to Christ by his father .
“Teacher,” said the father, “I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.” He had a vague idea how to set to work, for when the Lord Jesus was away on the mountain of Transfiguration, he brought his son to the disciples. They could not cast out the demon, yet it was a right thing, on the part of the father, to bring his child to them; it showed a loving spirit, and a desire to see him cured. I am afraid there are some fathers, who even call themselves Christians, who have not yet done as much for their sons and daughters as that father did for his boy, for they have not asked for the sympathy and help of Christian people on behalf of their own children. I am utterly ashamed of some who profess to be Christians who say that they really must leave that matter to their children. I have heard of one man who said that he did not like to prejudice his boy, so he would not say anything to him about religion. The devil, however, was quite willing to prejudice the lad, so very early in life he learned to swear, although his father had a foolish and wicked objection to teaching him to pray. If you ever feel it incumbent upon you not to prejudice a piece of ground by sowing good seed in it, you may rest assured that the weeds will not imitate your impartiality, but they will take possession of the land in a very sad and shocking manner. Where the plow does not go, and the seed is not sown, the weeds are quite sure to multiply; and if children are left untutored and untrained, all sorts of evils will spring up in their hearts and lives.
If a parent, who professes to be a Christian, has not even put his children under godly instruction, what shall I say of him? He must be a Christian watered down to a very low point, or beaten out to extreme thinness. There must be very little, if any, grace left in such a man as that. We have known wealthy Christian men send their boys to school where the whole influence was altogether against Christianity, or else utterly neutral. Girls have sometimes been sent abroad, to learn a foreign language in the midst of those who are steeped in gross error; and it does not seem to have occurred to the parents that they ought first to have cared about the souls of their daughters. Oh, dear friends! are such people as these worthy to be called Christians at all; or do they merely wear the Christian label on the outside without having the grace of God in their hearts? Dear brother or sister, if you feel that you are not able to speak to your own children about their souls, as you wish you could, then follow the example of this man, and bring your dear ones to the disciples, that they may see what they can do for them in the Master’s name. Still, remember that there was a mistake in this father’s action, because, at first, he made the disciples the last stop of his journey instead of merely coming to them en route to Christ. We may make Christian men the way by which we try to get to Christ; but to stop at them, and not to bring the children to Christ himself, will be fatal to all our desire for the salvation of their souls.
This man did not see his child cured by the disciples, yet he persevered after his first failure. “Teacher,” he said, “I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech... I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” In effect, he said, “They have failed, so I have brought him to you.” So, if the Sunday-school teacher has not been able to lead your daughter to Christ - if the instruction in that Bible-class, to which she has gone for years, has not been the means of her conversion - if your son after having had the best Christian training, remains unsaved, then go right away to the great Master in your earnest prayers, and so bring your dear children to Christ.
I am not a believer in the theory that some hold - that children do not grow up in the fear of God if they have been trained in it. It is true that there have been many ministers’ sons who have been ungodly young men, I have had very sad proof of that fact; yet I fear that some of those ministers may have neglected their own families while they were preaching to others. It is very easy for a man - especially if his wife does not help him to train their children - very easy for him to neglect the affairs of his own family while he is continually busy about the work of the church; and thus they are not trained up in the way they should go. I wish that this evil was not so common as it is; but I do know that some have grown up ungodly because there was not suitable attention paid to them. The vineyard at home was neglected while other people’s vineyards were being kept.
If you have no family prayer, and your children do not grow up to be Christians, how can you expect that they will? If there is no altar in the house, is it right to call it God’s house at all? Wherever Abraham pitched his tent, he built an altar too; and that is the custom of all those who live near to God, they sanctify their dwellings with daily prayer and praise; but if that practice is neglected, and the father keeps his religion in the background, and does not let it be seen at home, then I am not surprised if his boys and girls grow up to say that there is nothing in it. It is a sad thing when children can say, “Father made a profession of being a Christian, but his life was not consistent with it. Mother also professed to be a Christian, but we never heard her speak of Christ. She never prayed with us, or, in our hearing, for us.” Where no influence is used, it is not probable that there can be any result.
I told you, the other night, of a dear brother who said, after I had exhorted the congregation to select somebody to pray for, that he had prayed for one person for twenty years, and that he is not converted yet. So I said to him, “Have you spoken to your friend personally about his soul? Have you made it your business to go down to his house, and tell him that you are concerned about him?” “No,” he replied, “I cannot say that I have done so.” “Well, then,” I asked, “do you expect God to hear prayers of that kind? Suppose I were to pray that there might be a good harvest in a particular field, and yet, for twenty years, I did not sow any corn there; the probability is that, when I did sow some, I would get my prayers answered, and gather in the harvest.” If we pray for anything, God expects us to use the proper means of obtaining it; and if we neglect the means, we have no right to expect him to believe in the sincerity of our prayer. If a father and mother pray for their children, but never pray with them, or speak to them personally about the welfare of their souls, then they must not wonder if they are not brought to Christ.
II. But, secondly, although parents should be the first persons to bring their children to Christ, WE MAY, EACH ONE OF US, HELP IN THIS BLESSED WORK.
Our text says, “They brought him;” that is, the disciples helped the father to bring this poor demon-possessed child to Jesus. In seeking to bring sinners to the Savior, we shall find that some are brought to him by almost unconscious influenc e.
I believe that, where a man is full of the grace of God, he is like a object that is charged with electricity; if he possesses true holiness, he will give some of it to others almost without knowing that he is doing so. I have met with many singular instances of that indirect way of doing good. Some three or four months ago, there was a working man, whose wife, being suddenly taken ill, needed a certain Christian woman to come and help her. The husband went to her house to try to find her. It was on Sunday evening, so she was where she ought to been at that time, at a church not many miles from here. The man knew that he must get this good woman to go to his wife, so he went to the church, and since he could not easily get to her, he waited for a few minutes, and listened to the preacher. He was interested in what he heard, so he went to that church again the next Sunday morning. Before long, he was brought to know the Lord, and now he has joined the church, and through his sincere and dedicated efforts is a great help to the minister. Well, now, if that good woman had not been a Christian, she might not have been in that church. If she had not been a regular attendant of the means of grace, she would not have been there, and the man would not have had to go to the place where he found a blessing to his soul.
I know of another case that may seem equally strange. A man and his wife recently moved to a certain street where nobody, to their knowledge, attended any place of worship. It is dreadful to think that, in London, you may go into street after street where a person, who goes to church, is quite an exception to the general rule; it is sad that it should be this way, but so it is. These two people regularly went to a place of worship, and it so happened there was living on the same street a man who, when he resided in the country, was a regular attendant to the means of grace; and, as these people went by his window, Sunday after Sunday, although they did not know him, and never said a word to him, and were even quite unconscious of their influence over him, they were preaching to him by their action, for it rebuked him, and he said to himself, “What would my mother think if she knew how I spend my Sundays? There are two good people, who are just like my father and mother at home, who, about this time, are going to church.” He got dressed for the evening service, found his way to the church, and soon became a Christian.
When you are doing anything that is right, you cannot know how much blessing you are scattering. Any man or woman, a master or a servant, may be used by God in bringing others to Jesus, simply by a happy, cheerful, kind, gentle behavior. You may not have the opportunity of saying much for Christ; perhaps it might not be proper in your position that you should do so; but those around you watch you, they note your friendly spirit, and they begin to like you. They observe your consideration for others, and they admire it; then they see your cheerfulness, and they wonder what is the secret of it. Possibly, you are ill, and someone comes to visit you; you are very patient, you even sing in the midst of your pain. Persons who see and hear you, and who note how you bear it all, say to themselves, “There is something within these people that we do not understand;” and thus you exercise an influence over them although you may have said very little to them. The fact that you are a Christian is one of the most practical and powerful means of bringing others to inquire what this religion is which elevates, sweetens, softens, and yet strengthens, and makes people to be clearly like their Father in heaven.
I remember hearing Mr. Jay, tell the story of a good girl, a servant, who attended his little independent evangelical church. Her master and mistress were very strict High Church-people, and when they found out that Jane went to the little independent church, they talked to her very roughly, and said that she must stop going there. She answered very gently, that she must go where her soul was being fed, and she could not meet their wishes in that matter, though she was willing to do so in everything else. “Very well, Jane,” they replied; “then you must take a month’s notice, for we cannot have any of these horrible “Evangelicals” living with us.” That evening, as the lady and gentleman sat talking together, one of them said, “She is really a good girl, don’t you think we are treating her very badly? Suppose she were to insist that we should go to her church with her, we would say that it was very wrong for her to dictate to us, so is it not wrong for us to try to dictate to her?” “She took it so gently, too,” said the other; “we would not have stood it as well as she did. Suppose we go and see what this Mr. Jay is like whom she goes to hear; for if he is a good man, she may as well go to that little independent church as to the “established church.” They went; and, in telling the story, Mr. Jay said, “they have continued to come and hear Mr. Jay up to the present time.” So, you see, that the servant had, by her consistent Christian character, brought her master and mistress around to her way of thinking, although they could not coerce her to theirs; and you can judge what influence you also may exert over others if you have the grace of God abounding in you. May God fill us full of it, that we may be the means of bringing many sinners to the Savior! Yet we must not be content with unconscious influence.
In many instances, much good has been done in bringing souls to Christ by casual seed-sowing.
Eternity alone will disclose the good results that have sometimes followed from the utterance of one short word. I trace all the light I have upon a certain subject to a remark made by the teacher in a school where I was many years ago; he was teaching geography, and he let drop a sentence, which I remember it to this very day, and it had an influence upon my whole career and character. I also remember a few gracious words that were spoken to me by a godly old woman, who used to talk to me about the power of divine grace. I rejoiced to get a grip of the grand old Calvinistic doctrine of election, very much through half a dozen sentences that fell from the lips of that poor, humble, Christian woman, whom it was my great happiness to help, in later years, when she was in poverty. I felt that I owed so much to her that I must do anything I could to comfort her. You will often prove that, as George Herbert says, -
“A verse may find him who a sermon flys right by,” -
and that a short sentence may strike and stick where a long sermon may completely fall flat. Give away a tract whenever you can; better still, give a little book that will not be torn up, one that has a cover on it, for you will probably see it on the table when you call again. Speak a word for the Master whenever it is possible; and offer a short prayer at every convenient opportunity. I think we should make it a rule, whenever we hear a foul or blasphemous word spoken, - (and, sadly! we constantly do so,) - always to pray for the person who utters it. Perhaps then the devil might find it expedient not to stir up people to swear, if he knew that it excited Christians to pray. Try it, at all events, and see whether it may not have a subtle power to stop the profanity, which is so terribly on the increase.
Over and above all this indirect witnessing, there ought to be direct effort, made by all Christians, for the conversion of those around them .
People should see what they could do by personally addressing other people. I have heard of one, an utter stranger to religion, who was brought to Christ through a gentleman tapping him on the shoulder, and saying to him, “Well, my brother, how does your soul prosper today?” The one, to whom he spoke, turned around, having never heard such a question before, and the other, as he saw his face, exclaimed, “I beg a thousand pardons; I thought you were my old friend So-and-so, who has been in the habit of putting that question to me.” It was a mistake, but it was a very blessed mistake, for the Spirit of God used it to the awakening of a conscience that was lying dormant; an honest conscience, which only needed to be aroused by some such startling question as that.
Dear friends, try to speak personally to some friends about their immortal souls. I know that it is not easy work for some of you to break the ice, and make a beginning in such service; but I can assure you that you will do it better and better the more often you attempt it.
Beside that, bring people to the means of grace definitely with a view to their conversion. Help me all you can in trying to preach to the people. Get any, in whom you are concerned, to come to church. A young man, who later became a most useful minister of Christ, had been entirely careless about divine things until a neighbor said to him, “I have reserved seat at the church where Mr. Spurgeon preaches; if you will come with me, you can use my seat.” The friend, who made that kind suggestion, stood, through all the service, where he could see the young man, and he was earnestly praying for him the whole time. The result of lending his seat, on that one occasion, was that the young man was brought to the Savior; he was soon a Sunday-school teacher, and, afterwards, as I told you, he became a most useful minister. Are there not more of you who might try that plan? I know that some of you have done this; then do it over and over again. Deny yourself of a Christian privilege for the sake of bringing others where the Lord will be likely to meet with them, especially if you back up the preacher’s word with your continual prayer on behalf of those whom you have brought to listen to his message.
Then, if you really want to bring souls to Christ, remember that there are the young to be taught. Just now, all our Sunday-schools are suffering for lack of teachers. O you, who would desire to receive rewards in heaven, seek them among the little ones! It is a happy task, however difficult it may be, so give yourselves to it with your whole heart and soul. Others of you, if you do not feel called to take a class of children, might sometimes speak words of warning to the grosser sinners with whom you come into contact, and words of encouragement to those who are seeking the Savior. There is many a poor sinner, floundering in the quagmire of despondency, who only wants someone to come and point out to him where the stepping-stones are, or to lend him a hand lest he should altogether sink under his crushing burden of guilt.
This I know, dear Christian friends; if you are not trying to bring sinners to the Savior, you are missing the chief purpose of your being, and you are also missing the most joyous work that can ever occupy your attention. Oh, if you bring a soul to Jesus, the joy of it is unspeakable! I have just remembered, at this moment, a little cottage in the country, in which lived the first person of whom I heard that I had been the means of bringing her to Jesus. I had only been a preacher for a short time, and I wanted some assurance to my effectiveness; and when the deacon of the little church of which I was the minister said to me, “There was a poor woman under great conviction, the other Sunday night; and I believe she has found the Savior,” I quickly left to visit her. Those of you who have had a similar experience can imagine the joy I had in hearing her tell the story. She went home to heaven years ago, perhaps the first of those who have gone to heaven, whom God has called by my ministry; but I was so glad, so happy, so delighted with my first convert that I say to you, “Please seek the same joy, if you yourself know the Lord.” So that is my second point, that all of us, who are, believers in Christ, may bring others to him.
III. My third observation is, that THERE ARE SOME OCCASIONS THAT NEED UNITED EFFORT.
God, the Holy Spirit, of course does the whole work in the conversion of a soul, but he works by instrumentalities; and there are some desperate cases in which he does not work on a soul through one instrument alone, but he moves a number of persons to act together to that end. Our text says, “They brought him.” This poor youth was foaming at the mouth and gnashing with his teeth, and tearing himself just as you have seen persons do in an epileptic fit, so that it took several persons to hold him; together they grabbed him, and, with one desperate, united effort, they brought him to the feet of Jesus, and Jesus cast out the evil spirit, and healed the poor sufferer.
In this way, people and minister may unite in bringing sinners to the Savior .
There may be some persons, who come here, who will never be converted until you and I join in seeking their salvation. Somebody must preach, but other people must pray; and if a group of you should be praying about any one person in the congregation, I believe that it will not be long before that desperate sinner is delivered. The devil himself shall be defeated by the united prayers of many believers, especially if they are those mighty prayers of which our Savior spoke when he said, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Yes, these type of conversions will take place when the praying souls hunger for the salvation of the suffering one, and in united prayer cry to God to effect it. We have had much happy union in Christian work, let us have more of it; say to one another, “While the pastor preaches, we will pray; no, more than that, we will continually remember him in our prayers, for we know that he needs them, and prizes them.” That is quite true, dear friends; for it is no small thing to minister, every Sunday, to this great company of people, and then, through the printed page, to address tens of thousands of readers, even to the utmost ends of the earth. Yes, I do indeed need your prayers and your help; give them to me, for then we may be sure that “they” - that is, all of us together, - shall bring many to Jesus.
Another form of cooperation is when there is a soul that has been prayed for, but no answer has come, so you call a few praying people to meet in your house, and you tell them the details of the case, and make a point of praying specially for that person. I have known instances in which brethren have collected a number of Christian friends, who, perhaps, never before met in one place; but they pledged themselves to pray about one particular case; and their united prayers have, with God’s blessing, accomplished what previously seemed to be impossible. It has been truly said that, if you have a very hard object, you can cut it with something harder; and if any heart is especially hard, God can use the hard, strong, persistent intensity of other mighty, passionate souls to pray the blessing of eternal life into that stubborn, rebellious heart. I would like to hear more frequently of friends banding themselves together, and meeting in their private houses to pray about somebody or other, making the person about whom they are interested the subject of special supplication; that would be the way to bring him to Jesus.
Then, add to that prayer, distinct united effort . Perhaps, if one friend should speak to that person, he may resent it. Then, if another should address him, he may receive it coolly. But when another speaks to him, he may begin to listen a little more attentively; and the next one may be able to put the key into the keyhole, and be the means, in the hand of God, of opening the closed door of that man’s heart. If God moves us to join in united effort for any soul, I do not believe that we shall often find it to be a failure. At any rate, if a man or woman will go down to hell, I would like that we would make it very difficult for them to get there; if they will not turn to Christ, I would that we were resolved that it should not be for lack of being prayed for, or for lack of being earnestly pleaded with. We will be innocent of their blood; we will shake off the very dust of our feet against those who are determine to remain unrepentant; and resolve that, to the utmost of our capacity, Christ will be lifted up, so that, if men and women reject him at all, they shall willfully reject him.
Oh, that my words might stir up all of you who profess to be Christians! We have nearly six thousand members in our church. Oh, if all were alive to God, and serious and intense in his service, - “all doing it, and always doing it,” - what would be impossible with God the Holy Spirit blessing our labors? But, sadly! there are many people here, like the camp-followers of an army, who do not fight when the battle comes on. Those who do the fighting are often hampered by these other people; and, sometimes, they almost feel as if they wanted to clear the ground of such loiterers and hinderers; but, instead of doing that, I beg all of you, dear friends, to wake up, and see what you can do for the Christ who has done so much for you. Let us all ask to be aroused again, and to be thoroughly stirred up in the service of the Savior. God grant that this great city and the surrounding areas may be permeated and saturated with your earnest endeavors to bring sinners to the Savior! The Lord bless you, for Christ’s sake! Amen.
Where the "If" Lies
October 14, 1883 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 9:23 .
I believe that our own Authorized Version conveys to the mind of the reader the sense intended by the Evangelist; it is, however, exceedingly probable that in exact words the Revised Version is nearer to the original. It runs thus "And Jesus said unto him, If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth." Our own Version better expresses the sense to the general reader, and the main object of a translation is to give the meaning. The father of the lunatic child had said to our Lord, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us;" and our divine Master virtually replies, "If thou canst lies not with me, but with thee. It is not if I can, but if thou canst." Thus you see the word "believe" is implied if not actually expressed. Jesus would certainly go as far as ever the man's faith could go; but as the rule of the kingdom is, "According to thy faith, so be it unto thee," the man's unbelief would hamper the Lord in his working. If the suppliant could be rid of unbelief, Jesus would get rid of the devil from his child. The difficulty of casting out the demon lay mainly in the want of faith in the father. Let it, then, be understood as the teaching of this text, that the difficulties in the way of souls that would be saved do not lie with Jesus Christ, but with themselves. They need never ask the question, "Can Jesus forgive?" or "Can he renew?" there is a prior question Canst thou believe that he can forgive, and that he can renew? If God's grace enables thee to say, "I can and do believe that Jesus can work in me according to the full measure of my need," then all difficulty has vanished. Thy faith is the shadow of the coming blessing, the token of the Lord's favor towards thee. When thy faith believes in Christ's omnipotence, he is omnipotent to thee, for "all things are possible to him that believeth." I long at this time to get at some here who cannot get at Christ. I would to God that by his Spirit I may deal with their difficulties, so as to remove them once for all, so that they may come just as they are, and put their trust in Jesus, and find eternal life this day. I. The first subject we shall speak about is the vital question WHAT IS BELIEVING?
After all these hundreds of years of gospel preaching, is this question necessary? I believe it is so necessary that, if faith were explained in every sermon, it would not be too often spoken of. It is a good rule that every tract ought to contain the gospel; and it ought to be put in the plainest way, for still, despite all the gospel teaching which is around us, nothing is so little known or so little understood as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am also bound to admit that many explanations of faith are all explanation, but tend to make the subject darker than it was before; and I am fearful lest my own explanation should be of the like order. Certainly, I will do my best to avoid such a catastrophe, for I will speak very plainly. Let us take the man before us as an example, and from him let us see what faith is. This man evidently believed that Jesus was a healer, for he says, " I brought my son unto thee." He would not have brought his son to Jesus if he had not felt some measure of confidence in him. It is a good beginning of faith to know that if I am saved it must be through Jesus Christ alone; it is well to he aware that the salvation of the soul must come from the work of Jesus, and from no one else, since no other name is given among men whereby we must be saved. This man had also some slight faith in Christ's willingness to help him. It may not have been very strong, but still it was there, or else he would not have laid the stress of his prayer upon the Lord's power; he did not say "if thou wilt thou canst," but "if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Looking up into that blessed face so full of singular tenderness, the man felt that he might say, "Have compassion on us." From some persons we could not ask compassion or fellow-feeling, because they do not appear to have any; they wear a harsh look, and a chill air surrounds them; but the Savior was not so; the man felt that Jesus was full of compassion his suit was that this compassion would show itself to him and his son. It is a good beginning to saving faith if thou believest that Jesus is witting to save thee. I trust that many of you have advanced as far as this. What is it really and savingly to believe in Jesus? The suppliant father had not yet reached that point of faith which would secure the miracle more was needed; what was it? He needed to believe in Christ's power in reference to his own case. The point in which his faith failed was our Lord's power as to the special case now before him, for he said "If thou canst do anything." Before you condemn the anxious father for his doubt, let me remind you that his son was in a very evil plight, and our Lord had just caused him to remember and review the sad features of the case. The father had sorrowfully dilated upon the fact that "wheresoever the spirit taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away;" and then he had further told the Lord that the youth had suffered thus ever since he was a child; and he had gone still more into detail, saying, "Ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him." After that painful detail he added his pitiful "If thou canst." Do you wonder at it? Jesus seems to tell him, "If thou canst believe in the teeth of all this, then thou shalt see the salvation of God." It is very easy to say, "I believe" when you have no sense of your sin, and no consciousness of your danger. It is the easiest thing in the world to say, "Yes, Christ can save me," when you do not really believe that you need saving. Faith, where there is no present sense of need, is but the image of faith, and not the grace, which saves the soul. This is the question: can you, my dear hearer, at this moment trust Jesus to save you, though you feel that you are full of sin? Can you say, "Lord, I am possessed with the spirit of evil: I am under bondage to him, and have been so since I was a child? I have been driven to one sin and so cast into the fire, and then I have been hurled into the opposite sin, and so thrown into the water: I have been rent with passion, and torn with evil desires; I have sinned against light and knowledge, I have sinned against love and mercy; I have sinned in thought, and word, and deed; I have sinned grievously and continually, and yet I believe that thou canst pardon me, and that thou canst make me a new creature. Wicked as I am, I believe that thou canst drive sin from the throne of my heart and cause me to love thee and to serve thee all my days." If thou canst believe in Jesus after this fashion he will save thee, yea he has saved thee. If thou, as an undeserving sinner, canst so honor the mercy of God as to believe that through Christ Jesus he can blot out thy sin, it shall be done unto thee: only remember that this confidence must not come unto thee because of thy forgetfulness of thy sin, but whilst thou art conscious of it and humbled on its account. If I persuade myself that I am merely a sinner in name, then I shall only find Jesus to be a Savior in name. If I am not such a sinner as to deny that I am a sinner, but pay the Lord the compliment of saying, "Oh, yes, I am a sinner; we are all sinners," then 1 am a sham sinner, and I shall become a sham believer, and the true Savior will have nothing to do with me. Jesus came to save that which is really and truly lost. The downright sinner, who dares not deny his guilt, is the object of the Lord's saving search. In the teeth of thy conscious guilt, canst thou believe that Jesus can wash thee and renew thee? Then thou hast one main element of the faith which saves. Yet, mark you, if this man could by any possibility have believed in Christ's power to save his son and yet had refused to bring him to Jesus for healing, he would have missed one of the essentials of true faith. For, hark. If thou wouldst get to the very heart and bowels of faith, thou hast it here: it is to trust the Lord. Trust! trust! that is the word. To believe that Christ is able to save thee is an essential, but to put thyself into his hands that he may save thee, is the saving act. Believe Christ's word to be true; then appropriate that word unto thyself as spoken to thee: believe that it is true to thee, and rest in the truth of it that is saving faith. To see Christ as such a Savior as thou needest, able and willing to save thee, is a right good sight, but thou must also take this Savior to be thine. Say heartily, "Into that hand which was nailed to the cross I commit my guilty soul, hoping and believing that Jesus will forgive all my trespasses, and cause me to love all that is true and holy henceforth and for ever."
"Thou canst, thou wilt (I dare not doubt), The indwelling demons chase I trust thy power to cast them out, I trust thy pardoning grace."
He that trusts in Jesus is saved. I said not, "he shall be saved," but he is saved. "He that believeth in him hath everlasting life." "He that believeth in him is justified from all things, from which he could not be justified by the law of Moses." Will you please to notice about this man's faith that it was not perfect faith. Though it obtained for him the healing of his son, it "as weak faith, and for its weakness he was blamable; but the faultiness of his faith was not the destruction of his faith. A feeble faith can receive a mighty Savior, even as a beggar with a palsied hand can receive a golden gilt. An heir to an estate has as good a title to. it when he is a child as he will have when he is grown up, and even so little faith possesses the inheritance, though as yet it be a babe. The anxious father had to cry, "Lord, help my unbelief," but that unbelief, confessed and lamented, did not shut him out of the blessing. The unbelief which lingers around our faith is a thing to be got rid of by the help of Christ, but still it will not destroy the virtue of the faith which we possess. So, dear friend, if thy faith in Jesus Christ amounts to this, that thou believest him able to save, and thou dost therefore trust him, thou art a saved man, even though thou mayest he staggered with a host of fears, and troubled with a multitude of sins. Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace; for that faith of thine shall grow from a mustard-seed into a far-spreading tree. I would that thou couldst take Jesus up into thine arms as Simeon did, for then wouldst thou say with full assurance, "Mine eyes have seen thy salvation." But if thou canst nut do so much as that, at least stretch out thy finger and touch the hem of the Lord's garment; for if thou dost but touch his clothes thou shalt be magic whole. The faintest contact with the ever-blessed Christ will open up a way by which saving power will flow out of him into thee. Oh, how blessed it is to think that God hath ordained this plain way of faith for poor sinners! It is of faith that it might be of grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the chosen seed. This faith in the Lord Jesus ought to be to each one of us the easiest thing in all the world. If we were what we ought to be it would never occur to us to doubt our Lord Jesus; and our shameful unbelief of him is the most conclusive evidence of our need of him, for we must have become grievously wrong in heart to be forced to admit that we find it difficult to believe in Jesus. What an insult to him! What a crime on our part Remember the whole story of grace and blush for your wicked unbelief. God, the ever-blessed, whom we. had offended sent his dear Son to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and he dwelt here among us as our brother, friend, and helper. In the fullness of the he took upon himself our sin and sorrow, and went up to the cross with the awful load of our guilt. Though still the well-beloved Son of the Father, he suffered even unto death in the room and stead of his people, and God's record concerning him is that he has set him forth as the propitiation for sin. God has accepted his atonement will not sinners accept it? This is the Savior; God has ordained him such: will not the sinner agree that Jesus should save him? If not, why not? If we were not fallen to the uttermost degree of depravity we should cry out with delight, "Lord, we believe. Blessed be the dear name of Jesus, our Substitute, we can and do trust him. We are quite sure if the Lord God has made Jesus to be his salvation to the ends of the earth he must be a perfect salvation; therefore we accept him with joy and delight." But this is the curse of our nature, the inmate vice of our hearts, that we cannot believe our God, thus making him a liar. Oh, the horror of suspecting his truth whom angels adore with veiled faces! Oh, the daring presumption of questioning the promise of a faithful God! It is horrible, horrible, horrible to he last degree to mistrust the Almighty Father, to doubt his bleeding Son! There ought to be no room for an "if" when we know that in the Lord Jesus all fullness dwells. I am not at this moment speaking to those who reject the word of God, and deny the Deity of Christ: I can understand their position, and deal with them another time; but I am now speaking to you who accept this Bible as Gods word, and unquestioningly believe that Jesus Christ is divine: to you I say that your refusal to put your trust in him is without excuse; at least, I cannot find an excuse for you. Remember those telling words of the Lord Jesus "if I tell you the truth, why do you not believe me?" If you believe Jesus to be the Son of God and the Savior of men, why do you not trust your own soul with him? Why not at this moment confide in him whom you admit to be worthy of your trust. II. I have tried thus to explain the nature of faith. I will now, in the second place deal with the startling question, HOW IS IT THAT FAITH CAN BE DIFFICULT?
It certainly is difficult to seine. It cannot he so in itself; yet many in trouble of heart find it to be so, and those that labor to bring them to Christ, find themselves sore put to it. Why, first, it is difficult to get the very idea of faith into some men's minds not only difficult for them to believe, but even to know what it is to believe. I have met with persons who have attended a place of worship regularly twenty or thirty years, and yet they have never made the discovery that faith is a childlike trust in Jesus. I, as a lad, was taught this blessed secret by the Spirit of God; but it was at the first a great wonder to me that I should have attended evangelical ministries for years, and yet should not have known what was meant by believing in Christ. That simple truth broke in upon my mind like a new revelation. I had read the Bible; there was no part of it with which I was not acquainted, and yet even from that blessed book I had not learned what believing in Christ meant. Is not this singular? It is remarkable, and yet it is a general fact. We try by illustrations, by anecdotes, by parables, to drill the notion of faith into men; but we cannot even get it unto their heads, much less into their hearts. Martin Luther complained that he thought he must take the Bible and bang it about his hearers' heads because he could not get them to see its clear teaching as to justification by faith. This idea of believing is alien to men's minds, and it can only dwell there by forcing its way against the tendency of human nature. Again, I say, that this is a sad proof of human depravity, since in itself it is no difficult idea: it is the simplest thought that can be uttered or accepted. Trust thou thy salvation with Christ, and Christ will save thee, is a lesson, which a babe may learn. Still, the unregenerate do not think so: they muddle it all up, and stick to their belief that faith is something to be felt, or seem, or done, or suffered. To trust their God, to rely upon the atonement of his Son this is not to their mind, and so their foolish heart is darkened, and they cannot see the way which lies straight before them. When we get that thought into our hearers' heads, then there comes the next difficulty, to make them believe that faith can save them. It seems so difficult to believe this because the way is so easy. They say What! am I, after thirty, forty, fifty years of sin, to be delivered from all the punishment of my transgressions by simply trusting to the Lord Jesus Christ? If you were to tell them that they must go to a desert and hive there as hermits on berries and cold water for the rest of their natural lives, they would believe the message. If they were bidden to scourge themselves with whips of wire, they could expect some good result from such suffering, but not from mere believing. If they were to hook at the idea of propitiating God by their personal suffering, it would soon become impossible of belief; yet for a time they incline to it rather than to the doctrine of salvation by trust in the great Substitute. Hideous imaginings, despairings, and dreads are also looked upon hopefully by many; they hope that by deep feelings they may arrive at forgiveness, and may force their way to heaven by the gates of hell; but to trust Christ, and to believe the promise of God, is a thing too simple for them; they fear that safety is not to be found so soon! Ah! poor soul, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then when he saith to thee, "Believe and live?" I wish you would change your opinion as to what faith really is, for it is by no means so insignificant a matter as you suppose. Simple as it is there lies within it great excellence and value. Faith in God is the divinest exercise of the mind. To believe in God and his Christ is to be reconciled to God and restored from enmity. We are in unison of heart with those we trust. To believe your God is to worship him: the essence of worship is faith. For a poor sinner to trust the Lord gives him more honor than the cherubin can bring him with their loftiest notes of praise. In the teeth of all my sin and sinfulness, with a thorough sense of my guilt, I believe that the blood of Jesus has saved me is not this true praise? To confess scarlet sins, and yet to say, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow," gives unto the Lord great glory for his mercy and his power. Yet the doctrine of "Believe and live" startles poor sinners because it is too easy. When they get over the idea of its extreme ease, they say to themselves, "This news is certainty too good to be true. Do I really understand you, sir, that if I trust the Lord Jesus now I am at once delivered from sin and am made a new creature in Christ?" Yes, you understand my teaching if that is the sense you find in my words. Yet you say it is too good to be true. Do you not see how poorly you think of your God? I know that pardoning grace is infinitely above your deservings or thoughts; but then does not the Lord say of himself, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts?" Grace may be too good for you to expect, but it is not too good for God to bestow. Oh that you would think better of God than you have done, and say of his amazing grace, "It is just like him!" Sing with me these words
"Who is a pardoning God like thee? Or who hath grace so rich and free?"
Salvation pitched in such a key as this, given freely to whosoever believeth in Jesus! Why, that is like the Lord, and we will accept it as having the divine stamp and impress upon it. He forgives like a God, and this does not stagger our faith, but confirms it. Then, again, men are astounded by the rapidity justification. Shall fifty years sinning be forgiven in a moment? Shall an instant's believing end the guilty past, and commence a holy future? It is even so; in one instant a man begins a course of believing which introduces him into a new world. What is strange about this? Is it not God's way to do wonders in a short time? he took but a week to fit up the earth for man; nay, six days sufficed, and on the seventh he rested. To make the light in which we rejoice, only needed for the Lord to say, "Let there be light." In the case before us our Lord only said to the demon, "I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him," and the deed was done. If we had all time at our disposal, we could not work such wonders, but to God there are no limits as to length or brevity of time. A thousand years are to him as one day, and one day as a thousand years. He speaks, and it is done. Think of it salvation in a moment! The moment a sinner believes he hives unto God, and his trespasses are forgiven. Oh sinner! why shouldest thou doubt it? Yet we cannot get the conscience-stricken one to believe it. If we lead our friends out of this difficulty, they plunge into another. They cannot be satisfied with the word of God atone as the ground for their faith. Why do I believe that I am saved? I know that I am saved because the word of God says, "He that believeth in him both everlasting life;" and I do believe in Jesus, and therefore I have everlasting life. "But," saith one, "if I had that word applied to me with power, then I could and would believe it." Just so; but until then you refuse to believe the promise of God, and treat him as a liar! God must, needs give you some pledge or bond beyond his promise, because his word is not good enough for you, though you admit that even with a good man his word is his bond. You cannot trust your God. "Oh, but if I had a dream." Just so. You would have more faith in a silly dream, perhaps caused by indigestion, than you have in the solemn word and written promise of God. "Oh, sir, but if an angel were to speak to me, I could believe." Just so; and if God does not choose to send the angels, what then? Then he is not to be believed, but treated as a liar. What is this but saying "Lord, thou shalt bow to my whims, or else I will not believe a word thou sayest?" Is it come to this? Dare you demand signs of God? Then let me ask you Is this Book God's word? Say "No," and I can understand your conduct; but if you believe, as I know you do, that this is the very word of God, how dare you disbelieve? If all the angels in heaven were to march by me in a file, and assure me that God would keep his word, I should say, "I did not require you to tell me that, for the Lord never fails to be as good as his word." God is so true that the witness of angels would be a superfluity. If my father were to make a statement, I certainly should not call in his servant to confirm it. If this book be dictated by the Holy Spirit, it is ours to believe it without demanding confirmations or applications. Let us say, "That word is true, for God hath said it. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners: I am a sinner, and I trust him to save me. Inasmuch as the word says, 'To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name;' I do believe on his name, and therefore I have the power and privilege to become a child of God, and a child of God I am. God says so: that is enough for me." We cannot get men to see that the word of the Lord is surer than all signs and wonders they want something in addition. If we compel them to own that the word of God is the only and sufficient basis of faith, they straightway begin to took at their own believing as if it were the Savior. They cry, "My faith is so weak; my faith is so variable; my faith is so shaken," and so forth. It is as if those who were bidden to look to the brazen serpent had, instead thereof, tried to see their own eyes. Here is a child thirsty, and there is a flowing fountain; you give the child a cup that it may drink of the water. The child does not go to the fountain, but is so pleased with its empty cup that it tries to satisfy its thirst out of it. What a foolish child! Or suppose it should refuse to go to the fountain because the cup was of earthenware, or of tin, would not that be a strange way for a thirsty child to act? A child needs the cup to drink out of, but it cannot drink out of an empty cup. Faith is the cup, but Christ is the fountain. Faith is a secondary thing compared with Christ. We must have faith to be as the finger with which we touch the hem of the Master's garment, but the finger does not work the cure. Shall I refuse to touch because perhaps I have not washed my finger clean, or it has no gold ring upon it; or there are traces of rheumatism upon it? To attach so much Importance to the finger as to refuse to touch Christ's garment with it would be insanity. Do net mind your finger: touch the garment's hem. Sinner, get you to Christ somehow, anyhow; for if you get to him you will live. It is not, after all, the greatness nor the perfection of your faith, it is his greatness and his perfection, which is to be depended on. Then the next trial is, that we cannot get troubled sinners to see the difference between their faith and its fruits. "I would believe in Christ," says one, "if I were as holy as So-and-So, who is a believer, but then you see I am a sinner." Now mark, dear friend, that the person of whom you speak in that fashion does not think himself to be one particle more deserving than you are. If you talk to that good man he will tell you that whatever holiness you can see in him is the work of grace, and that at the first he came to Jesus just as you must come, that is, as a sinner. Faith produces holiness; but when we come to Jesus, at the first we come as unholy persons, and as such he receives us. Suppose that I have a number of bulbs which I am told will produce most remarkable flowers; if I believe the statement I shall take care to have them properly planted. The gardeners are beginning to put such things into pots, that they may have hyacinths and other fair flowers in the winter and early spring. Suppose that I resolve not to plant my bulbs, because I use my own eyesight, and come to the conclusion that as I cannot see a hyacinth or even the beginnings of one in any of the bulbs, therefore there can be no use in planting them. Why, everyone would tell me that in this matter I must go by faith, and plant my hyacinth in order that I may in due time see it bloom. "That bulb will yield a beautiful blue flower," says one. I answer that it is a brown, dried-up sort of onion, and that I shall throw it on the dunghill, for I can see no bud or flower in it. What a simpleton I should be if I talked so! Though I cannot see it, yet there is, closely compacted and quietly hidden away within that bulb, a slumbering thing of beauty which will wake up at the call of spring. Even so, if thou believest in Christ, there is a holy life packed away within thy faith, and it will gradually develop itself. Even within a feeble faith there are the elements of ultimate perfection. If thou dost truly trust Christ, thy preparation for glory has begun. As the king was hidden in the oak so is Christ hidden in true faith. Do not, however, expect to see all this at the first: look to the root now and the growth will follow. You are not to come to Christ because you are healed, but to get healing; your faith must be a sinner's faith before it can be a saint's faith. Trust Christ while yet you are foul, lost, and undone, and he will wash, save, and restore you. Still we find the awakened ones clinging to the idea that they must be something or feel something before they may trust Jesus. We cannot get them to see that the whole of their salvation lies in Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ alone. We cannot wean them from some sort of reliance upon their own feelings, or weepings, or prayers, or Bible-readings, or some other form of working. Why, they will even look to their own faith rather than to Jesus Christ alone. Know ye not that our Lord has offered a full atonement for sin, and brought in a perfect righteousness for his people? His propitiation is to be accepted as full and complete, and his righteousness we are to wear as our own. Our whole trust must go to the perfect work of our Lord, it must not even rest on our faith. To trust in our own trusting would be absurd. A wounded man has healing ointment given him and a piece of linen with which to bind on the ointment; now, if he were to wrap the linen around the wound and leave out the healing agent, he could not expect a cure. Faith is the linen whereon the ointment of Christ is spread, and we must not put it out of its due place and order, or we shall be making it a rival to Christ. Oh, that I could clear up some of the difficulties with which men surround themselves, so that they would consent to look out of themselves to Jesus only! III. We must now speak to the last point. Oh, you that are seeking rest, dwell upon each word as it is now lovingly delivered to you. WHAT IS IT THAT CAN MAKE FAITH EASY?
The Holy Spirit alone can do that; but he does so by bringing certain truths to remembrance. Faith is rendered easy to a man by the Holy Spirit when, first of all, he sees clearly the infallible certainty of the sacred record; and this is the record that God gave concerning his Son, that he that believeth in him hath everlasting life. Is this Bible true or not? I believe in every letter of it: I accept it as God's word in the most unreserved sense, and so do you to whom I now speak. Well, if that be so, then it remains no longer difficult to believe what is plainly taught in this book. If God hath spoken then questions are ended. It may be a hard saying, it may be a dark saying; it may seem to be too good to be true; but what of that? Do we dare to question the Lord? He is not a man that he should he, nor the Son of man that he should repent. He has said that whosoever believeth in Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life; and if we have so believed, eternal life is ours. The next thing that the Spirit of God helps us to see is the applicability of that record to ourselves: that is to say, we read, " Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners," and we conclude that as we are just such, we may look to him to save us. We read, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." We labor and are heavy laden, and therefore we come, and he gives us rest. We read that "in due time Christ died for the ungodly"; and knowing that we are ungodly, we yet take heart and come to him who justifies the guilty through his righteousness. We read again, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." We feel that to will is present with us, and therefore we freely take the living water. We read once more, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" and as we are creatures, we conclude that the gospel has something to say to us. On one or other of these accounts we see that the gospel is directed to us, and so we receive it. It is better for us that the promise should be directed to us in terms of character than that it should mention our actual names. Is your name John Brown? "Well, if the gospel came in a letter to you, directed to John Brown, what might you not say if you were tempted to doubt? You would think to yourself that there are many more John Browns besides yourself, and therefore the message might not be for you. If it was directed to your address, you might then fear that another John Brown once lived at that house, before you were horn, and so you would fear to appropriate the message lest it should prove to be out of date. Even supposing that your name was there, and the address, and the date, you might be mistrustful enough to fancy that there was a mistake, or that some other person of your name had used your address for the day. If you mean to ride on the back of unbelief any fancy will do for a saddle. But when the promise comes "to him that believeth in Jesus," there can be no question that it is ours if we believe. We read, "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins;" is it not clear that if we have confessed our sins, mercy is ours? It is a blessed thing for us when the Spirit of God leads us to see that the gospel is free to all who are made willing to receive it. Another thing that makes faith easy is when the Spirit of God shows us the glory of Christ's person. Our Savior is truly God, and this fact helps us to believe in him. It strikes me that the poor anxious father may have been much helped to believe in our Lord by that peculiar majesty which shone about him through his having just come down from the mount of transfiguration. It was a very hard case which exercised the poor man's mind, and therefore our Lord appeared to him with an unusual splendor a splendor of which we read "when they saw him they were amazed." A sight of our Savior's face helped the trembler to cry, "Lord, I believe." Oh, if the Spirit of God will lead you to read the Scriptures till you get a clear idea of the Godhead and perfect manhood of the Lord Jesus, you will feel that everything is possible with an Almighty Savior. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Our Lord is gone up unto his glory, and he is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him. Oh, could you but grasp the idea that he who asks your trust is the Son of the Highest, who has all power in heaven and in earth, you could not, you would not withhold your confidence! As for myself, knowing beyond all doubt my Lord's divinity it seems easy enough to rely upon him. I have told you before what John Hyatt said on his dying bed, when his deacons said, "Mr. Hyatt, can you trust your soul with Christ now?" "One soul!" said he, "I could trust a million souls with him if I had them." Even so could I trust the Lord Jesus not only with my soul, but with all the destinies of earth and heaven, time and eternity. Every child of God may safely say that. I could trust Jesus with all the souls that ever lived or shall live, if they were all mine. Surely, he is able to keep that which we have committed to him. Another great help to faith is to perceive the completeness of the divine work and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. He took our sin upon himself, and in his own body on the tree was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Only let your eyes behold the Son of God suffering the death-agony for guilty man, and you must believe in his power to redeem. I have thought that if men had been more sinful than they are, and if they were a million times as numerous as they are, and if every star that studs the midnight sky were a world, and all crowded full of sinners, yet the sacrifice of God himself must from the glory of his nature be such a vindication of the law that it might well suffice as a reason for forgiving a rebel universe! Shall the infinitely holy suffer for the guilty? Shall the Eternal take upon himself humanity, and bow his head to death? Then the sacrifice must possess such boundless efficacy that none may fear that it will fall short of their need. No limit can be set to the power, which lies in the divine expiation. My God, I see that thou hast given thine own Son to die, and surely in his precious blood there is more than sufficient reason for my faith in thee. If that does not lead you to believe perhaps the Spirit of God will go to work in another way. Some have been helped to believe in Jesus by the sight of others converted, justified and made happy. When someone like yourself is saved you take courage. "I have been a thief," says one.
"The dying thief rejoiced to see That fountain in his day And there may you, though vile as he, Wash all your sins away."
"I have been an adulterer," saith one. Alas! so was David, but he said, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." "I have been a murderer," sobs a third. So was Manasseh, who shed innocent blood very much. "But I have been a persecutor and a blasphemer." So was Saul of Tarsus, yet he obtained mercy. "But I seem to have far more of the devil in me than anybody else." So had Mary Magdalene, out of whom Christ cast seven devils. You think you are a sinner all by yourself, but there have been others like you, and the door through which others have passed into mercy is open for you. If I had been a little rabbit in the day when Noah brought the living creatures into the ark, I do not think I should have been troubled about whether there was room for me to enter the ark; but if I had been so timid I should have forgotten all my fears when I saw the elephant come up and his mate with him, and had seen them go tramping through the doer. Then I should have known assuredly that there was room for me. Oh, you who have been kept moral and upright, and therefore are not outwardly great sinners, surely you may enter where the chief of sinners have found ready admission. The salvation of others is often a sweet encouragement to sinners to trust in Christ. Lastly, I will tell you one thing, which will make you trust him, and that is, desperation as to all other hopes. It is a singular thing that despair is often the mother of faith, but the mother dies when the child is horn. We were many of us led to believe in Jesus because we had nothing else to trust in. When we are driven to the last extremity, then it is we come to Jesus, and take him to be our all in all. A boy was awakened in a house, which had taken fire. He could be seen from the street, poor child, and his danger was great indeed, He rushed to the window: his father stood below and called to him to drop into his arms; but it was a long way down, and the child was afraid. He clung to the window, but dared not drop. Do you know what made him let go his hold and fall into his father's arms? There came a burst of fire out of the window and scorched him and then he dropped directly. I wish that some of you would get just such a touch of the fires of despair as to compel you to say:
"I can but perish if I go; I am resolved to try, For if I stay away I know I must for ever die."
Years ago one of our students was greatly emaciated with what seemed to be consumption. He had heard of a certain medicine, which was said to be useful in such cases, but he had no faith in it. When he was growing worse and worse I said, "Brother, you are at death's door; try that man's stuff. There may he something in it. At any rate, nothing else does you any good." He took the medicine through sheer despair, of all other prescriptions, and God blessed it to him so that he is alive at this day. He would never have tried the remedy if he had not felt that there was no other hope. Even so, it will he well for you to be driven into a coiner as to year soul's estate, that you may believe in Christ Jesus and say within his disciples in old time, "To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." Here is a closing verse for you to sing at home by yourself
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On Christ's kind arms I fall He is my strength and righteousness, My Jesus and my all."
The Secret of Failure
February 25, 1886 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Matthew 17:19-21 .
"And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Mark 9:28-29 .
I put these two texts together for this reason. Those of you who are acquainted with the Revised Version know that the 21st verse in the 17th chapter of Matthew is left out. There seems to be little doubt that it was inserted in certain copies by persons who thought that it ought to be there because it was in Mark's narrative. It is put in the margin of the Revised Version, but it is left out of the text. It is, therefore, very satisfactory to find that the omission from Matthew's account makes no real difference, because we have the words in the 29th verse of the 9th of Mark, "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Only there is this fact to be noticed, in the Revised Version this verse runs, according to Mark, "This kind can come out by nothing, save by prayer." Whether the fasting was originally there, or not, I cannot tell; but putting together the two accounts in Matthew and Mark, we believe we have a full and true report of what the Master did actually say on this occasion. I. Observe then, dear friends, at the outset, without any further preface, that WE MAY BE THE SERVANTS OF GOD, AND YET WE MAY BE OCCASIONALLY DEFEATED. Those nine disciples, who remained at the foot of the mountain when the Savior took the other three to behold his transfiguration, had each of them a true commission from the Lord Jesus Christ. They were nine of his chosen apostles. He had elected them in his own good pleasure, and there was no doubt about their being really called to the apostleship. They were not only elected, but they were also qualified, for on former occasions they had healed the sick, they had cast out devils, and they had preached the Word of Christ with great power. Upon them rested miraculous influences, and they were able to do great wonders in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and they were not only qualified to do this, but they had actually performed many marvels of healing. When they went forth, girded with divine power, they healed the sick, and cast out devils everywhere; yet on this occasion you perceive that they were completely baffled and beaten. A poor father had brought to them his epileptic son, who was also possessed with an evil spirit; and they could neither cast out the evil spirit nor heal the epileptic boy. They came, as it were, to a great difficulty which quite nonplussed them; and the scoffing scribes were there, ready enough to take advantage of them, and to say in scorn and contempt, "You cannot cure this child, for the power you have received from your Master is limited. He can do some strange things, but even he cannot do all things. Perhaps he has lost his former power, and now, at last, a kind of devil has appeared that he cannot master. You see, you are mistaken in following him; your faith has been fixed upon an impostor, and you had better give it up." Oh, how ready the evil spirit ever is to suggest dark thoughts if we cannot always be successful in our work of faith and labor of love! I believe that it was for this very reason that our Lord gave us this record of the defeat of the nine apostles in order to let us feel that it is not so great a wonder if, sometimes, we have to come back and say, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" It is no new thing that we should be made a laughingstock to the enemies of the cross of Christ because we cannot even do what we have formerly done, and are beaten in the very field where aforetime we have achieved great and notable victories for our Master. Brethren, why do you think that the Lord allows his servants to be beaten at all? Well, of course, the chief reason in this case was and of that we will speak presently, because God gives the victory to faith, and if we will not believe, neither shall we be established. If we fall, as those disciples probably had fallen, into an unspiritual frame of mind and a low state of grace, our commission will not be worth much, our former qualifications will be of little value, and all successes we have had in earlier days will not take away the effect of present failures. We shall be like Samson, who went out and shook himself as he had done aforetime; but the Spirit of God had departed from him; and the Philistines soon overcame him, those very Philistines whom, if his Lord had still been with him, he would have smitten hip and thigh with great slaughter. If we are to do the Lord's work, and to do it successfully, we must have faith in him, we must look beyond ourselves, we must look beyond our commission, we must look beyond our personal qualifications, we must look beyond our former successes, we must look for a present anointing by the Holy Spirit, and by faith we must hang upon the living God from day to day. Apart from that, however, which we will dwell upon directly, I think our Lord intends that we should often have something fresh come across our path to keep us from getting into ruts. It is a very bad thing for anyone when even the Christian life gets to be merely mechanical; you know what state of things that is, you may have come here to this service just as a matter of course, almost without thinking what you were doing. I have known many persons, in the public worship of God, sing simply because the time far singing has come; and they frequently prove that they are singing only in a mechanical fashion, for they sit down before the hymn has come to an end, showing that they are not sufficiently interested to find out how it closes. So we may kneel apparently in prayer, and not really be praying, for the mind is gadding to and fro. The minister also can get into a way of preaching that is almost like a parrot repeating by rote what it has been taught to say. This will not do, brothers and sisters. The Lord will not have us always moving in ruts, so he does what men do sometimes in our roads when they put great blocks of timber to turn travelers off from one side of the road an to the other. In that way, this lunatic child was put right in the disciples' road, so that they should not go on sleepily doing the same work without heart and without thought. This strange case wakes them up; they have something to deal with now that is very different from that they have had before, it is not a common fever, or even an ordinary case of Satanic possession, but it is a dreadful demoniac who is now before them, foaming, and raging, and wallowing in their presence, and altogether beyond their power to heal. This wakes them up; and the Lord permits us sometimes to have trouble in the church, or a shock in the family, that we may wake right up, and not go on mechanically with no spiritual life in us. Next, it was to make the disciples see the infinite superiority of their Master. Had he been there, there would have beep no devil that would have nonplussed him. Whatever needed to be accomplished, he spoke, and it was done. The soft utterance of his voice, the gentle uplifting of his hand, nay,-the very glance of his eye, or the willing in his mind, was sufficient to work his marvellous cures. But the disciples had to come to him, and say, "We could not do it; we could not cast him out." No, and it is the same still; He cannot, but he can; wherefore, let us worship before the omnipotent Christ, to whom nothing is difficult, much less impossible. Then they were driven to wish for more of his company. They were made to see that they could not do without him. Soldiers, without their ever-victorious Captain, driven before the enemy, they now felt that their strength must lie in him, and that they must keep close to him, and entreat him not to leave them again. This experience also drove them to him in prayer. They now want their Master, and they begin to cry to him. "Why could not we cast him out?" was now their humiliating confession and enquiry; and there was, within the heart of their question, this earnest prayer, "O Master, help us to cast out devils again! Take not thy Spirit from us, but renew in us our former strength, and give us even more." I am sure that anything that makes us often came back to our Lord must be a blessing to us. It is very humiliating to have so long preached in vain; to have gone to that village so many times and yet to see no conversions; to visit that lodging-house so often, and apparently to have made no impression upon the careless inmates, or to have gone into that dark garret, and told out the story of the cross, only to find that the hearer is just as dark, and, possibly, just as brutal as ever. It seems as if our hearts must break, when we are really in earnest, yet we cannot achieve the blessed purpose that we feel sure must be dear to the Savior's own heart; but it may be that our non-success has much of divine instruction in it, and it may be the preface and preparation for future success that shall greatly honor the Lord Jesus Christ. This was a part of the training of the twelve. They were at college now, with Christ as their Tutor. They were being prepared for those grand days, when they should do even greater things than he had done, because he had gone back again to his Father, and had received still greater power, and had given it to them. "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth." It is good for you, young brethren in college, when you go to your first pastorate, to get battered about, to have all manner of troubles, to go through fire and through water. It will make men of you; you will be all the grander and the better servants of God in after years, when your own weakness shall have driven you back upon the divine strength, and you shall have learned to trust, not in man, much less in yourself, but to cast yourself confidently on God. II. The next thing to be learned from this narrative is that, when Christ's servants do get baffled, they should make haste to their Master, and ask him this question, which his disciples put to him, "Why could not we cast him out?" That is to be our second division. WHEN WE ARE BAFFLED, THERE MUST BE A CAUSE, and it is well for us to try and find it out. We must go to the Master, and ask, "Why could not we cast him out?" This enquiry, if it leads up to a correct answer, is evidently a very wise one, for every man ought to try to know all he can about himself. If I am successful, why is it that I succeed? Let me know the secret, that I may put the crown on the right head. If I do not succeed, let me know the reason why, that I may at any rate try to remove any impediment, if it be an impediment of my own making. If I am a vessel that is not fit for the Master's use, let me know why I as not fit, that I may, as much as lieth in me, prepare myself for the great Master's service. I know that, if I am fit to be used, he is sure to use me; and if he does not use me, it will most probably be because there is some unfitness in me. Try to know, brethren and sisters, why you get baffled in holy service, for it will be wise to know. Probably, it may tend very greatly to your humiliation. It may make you go, with tears in your eyes, to the mercy-seat. You may not yet know all that is in your own heart; there may be a something, which to you seems to be a very trifling affair, which is grieving your God, and weakening your spiritual power. It may seem to you to be a little thing, but in that little thing may lie the eggs of so much mischief that God will not tolerate it, and he will not bless you until you are altogether clear of it. It will be wise and right, therefore, even though it be to your sorrow and regret, that you should find the answer to the question, "Why could not we cast him out?" For, whatever may be the reason of your failure, it may be cured. In all probability, it is not a great matter, certainly not an insuperable difficulty to the Lord. By the grace of God, this hindrance may be taken away from you, and no longer be allowed to rob you of your power. Search it out, then; look with both your eyes, and search with the brightest light that you can borrow, that you may find out everything that restrains the Spirit of God, and injures your own usefulness. I would at the present time earnestly put into the mouths of a great many people this question, "Why could not we cast him out?" Let the Church of God get to the windows of her sanctuaries, and look out, and say, "Why do not these thousands of people come to hear the gospel that we preach?" There is all the harlotry in our streets; why has not the Church of God swept that away? The vilest sin is rampant, sin of which we dare not speak, it is so vile; how is it that we cannot cast this out? And all this social discord, this complaining and confusion, this aiming at the disruption of everything; what have we been at that all this unrest has come? Why could we not cast these vile forces out? Then, perhaps, in your family there is a son, and you cannot bring him even to respect religion. It is not so very long ago since you nursed him on your knee; you did not think then that he would live to be an opponent of the Christ in whom your soul delights. There are in your family certain evils that you pray against, and yet they remain there. Father, you are responsible for your family, and you cannot get rid of your responsibility. Mother, much responsibility for your children's characters must lie with you; if they are not what you would have them to be, oh, ask the question, "Why could not we cast the evils out of them?" That question each teacher may ask concerning his class, and each worker concerning his sphere of labor. I ask it concerning my hearers, when I remember some of them who have made a profession of religion, and then have foully fallen, and others who have backslidden into coldness or lukewarmness, and many who, after years of preaching, remain just the same as ever. What devil is this that has got into them? Why cannot we cast him out? I will tell you another time when you may well ask this question; it is, when you realize the evil that is within your own heart. There are certain sins there that have cost you much pain, and they are not cast out yet. In your life, they have no rightful place; in your heart of heart, they have no welcome place, for you desire your heart to be clean before God. Still, those sins do come. Perhaps, in your case, a hasty temper is the demon that takes possession of you; or possibly you have a spirit tending to despondency. I do not know what your particular sins are, but do you not sometimes ask the question, "Why could not we cast them out?" We have got rid of some sins, "bag and baggage;" they never torment us now. It is long since we had a temptation to certain forms of sin, we sent them adrift in the name of the Lord; but there are certain others of these Diabolonians that hide away in dens and caves and corners, and we cannot rout them out. Why could not we cast them out? It is a question that may be asked from so many quarters and so many points, and it ought to be pressed home. I have put it to you; but let each one's own conscience get alone with Christ, and ask him; "Why am I baffled and defeated? Why cannot I cast this evil out?" III. Now, in the third place, consider OUR LORD'S ANSWER, upon which I cannot dwell very long, because our time is short. The first answer that the Lord Jesus gave to his disciples was, "Because of your unbelief." He told them that their failure was due to their want of faith. He did not say, "Because of the devil, and his peculiar character, and the strength of his entrenchment within the poor sufferer's nature;" but he said, "Because of your unbelief." They might have said, and it would have been true, "This demon has been long in possession." The father said that the affliction came upon him when he was a child. You know that it is not easy to turn out a devil that has lived in any place, say, for twenty years; he says, "I have been in possession three, seven, twenty-one years, and I am not going. Does not even the law of the land give me a right to remain after I have held undisputed possession so long? I am not going; and especially, I am not going for anything you say or do!" So, the long duration of a sin makes it all the more difficult matter to deal with it. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." It is a difficult thing to cast out evils of long standing; still, if we have faith, there will be no difficulty in overcoming even those sins that have held possession of the sinner for a great length of time. Moreover, in this case, there was the strength of this devil as well as the length of his possession. He took this poor child, and threw him into the fire or into the water, and hurled him to and fro at his cruel and wicked pleasure. He did this even before the disciples' eyes. Yes, but if they had had faith, they would have understood that, though Satan is strong, Christ is far stronger. The devil is mighty, but God is almighty. If the disciples had only believed, they might have overcome the demon by the power of Christ. In addition to the length and the strength of this possession, there was a tremendous fury shown by this evil spirit. The child was not simply vexed as in ordinary cases of epilepsy, but he was tremendously tossed and torn; and I think there was in this case a feature of sullenness also, it was apparently so, at any rate, for it was a dumb spirit. The child could not or did not speak; whatever happened to him, he was still silent. When people can speak of their troubles of soul, when they can tell you their grief of heart, and ask your prayers, you can get on with them. But here was one who could not speak, yet there was the devil rending and tearing him. It was a horrible case, yet the failure did not lie in the child; it lay mainly, as the Savior put it, in the disciples' want of faith: "Why could not we cast him out?" "Because of your unbelief." You see, the want of faith breaks the connection between us sad Christ. We are like the telegraphic wire, which can convey the message as long as the electricity can travel along it; but if you break the connection, it is useless. Faith is our connection with Christ; break the connection, and then what can we do? It is by faith that God works in us and through us; but if unbelief comes in, we are unfit for him to work with us. Would you have God to bless the man who will not believe in him? Would you have God to set his seal to the works of the unbelieving? That cannot be. The first condition of success in any work for God must be hearty faith in the God for whom we are working. "Trust me," says he, "and I will do anything for you." If we distrust him, what can happen to us but what happened to the children of Israel whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? Now, you know that even the body of a child of God is precious in his sight; for there is faith in him, and he is precious in the sight of the Lord; but as for those who have no faith, Paul calls their bodies carcases! "Whose carcasses fell in the wilderness." If you have no faith in God why, what are you? Like brute beasts-"carcases." But faith gives God somewhat of his due; it trusts him, and God says, "I will never let you trust me beyond what I will do for you. If you trust me, I will be as good as your faith." Would you have him change a condition which is so natural, so proper, so beneficial for ourselves? O brethren, we shall do great things when God gives us more faith! Looking now upon the condition of our times, and upon the work allotted to each one of us, I feel that what we want is more faith. Never mind how firmly fixed are the mountains of iniquity; they must move if faith be strong. Never mind how deep have gone the root of the sycamore tree; it shall be plucked up by its roots, if faith be strong. O brethren, we do not half believe! Drive the sword in up to the hilt. Believe in God to the uttermost; dare and venture, and yet find no daring and no venturing in it, as you simply trust your God as a child trusts his father. Many of us must feel, brethren, that we have often failed because of our unbelief. I must not dwell longer on that point because I want you to notice that the Savior added that, in some cases, faith must rise to prayer, and must manifest itself mainly by prayer, or else it will do nothing. I am afraid that these disciples were so satisfied with their commission, and their qualifications, and with what they had already done, that they proceeded to work upon this epileptic child without prayer. The Savior says, "This kind this sort of devil this peculiarly furious kind of demon will not go out by the exercise of ordinary faith. It must be faith that rises into prayer." You will frequently meet with persons to whom you desire to be blessed, but you never will be blessed to them till first of all you pray for them; and it may be that you will have to pray long and earnestly, and that the praying will have to rise to wrestling, and the wrestling may have to be continued all night, as in the case of Jacob, and you may have to go to God as often as the importunate widow went to the unjust judge. It may be that there are cases in which God will not yield to your faith until your faith works in prayer; and then, when prayer has wrought to its utmost, you shall get the blessing. I think that I can understand some of God's reasons for acting thus. First, he wants to make us see the greatness of the mercy, so he occupies our thoughts with the greatness of the distress that needs to be relieved, and with this impossibility of that distress being relieved except by his own power and Godhead. That experience does us good, dear friends, does it not? It makes us feel that the mercy, when it does come, will be remarkably precious to us. The Lord intends also to excite our desires, and that, likewise, does us good. To be all aglow with holy desires is, in itself, a healthy exercise. Then the Lord means to create in us unity of action. One brother finds that he cannot get on alone, so he will call in another to help him in prayer; and much holy united supplication will be called forth by the very desperateness of the case which cannot be met by simple faith, or even by the prayer of one. Let us always seek the united prayers of many brethren and sisters. You remember that man who was carried by four, and let down from the roof into Christ's presence. Oh, I wish that, in your houses, brethren, you met frequently, in two's and three's, for united prayer! I should like to hear of little bands formed of Christian men and women, who pledged themselves to pray, four at a time, for somebody possessed by a devil of the kind that will not go out by ordinary means, and must be ejected by four of you. Get together, and say to yourselves, "We will not rest until this soul, and that soul, shall have the devil cast out, and shall sit, clothed, and in their right mind, at Jesus Christ's feet." "This kind" these certain kinds of devils are not to be driven out, except by special, importunate, continued, united prayer. They can be cast out if you only believe and pray; there is never a devil but will have to go, if you have faith enough and prayer enough to drive him out. But then my text says, "By prayer and fasting." Our Lord Jesus Christ never made much of fasting. He very seldom spoke about it; and when the Pharisees exaggerated it, he generally put them off by telling them that the time had not come for his disciples to fast, because the Bridegroom was still with them, and while he was with them their days were to be days of joy. But, still, Holy Scripture does speak of fasting, in certain cases it advises fasting, and there were godly men and godly women, such as Anna, the prophetess, who "served God with fastings and prayer night and day." I do not mean to spiritualize this away. I believe, literally, that some of you would be a great deal the better if you did occasionally have a whole day of fasting and prayer. There is a lightness that comes over the frame, especially of bulky people like myself; we begin to feel ourselves quite light and ethereal. I remember one day of fasting and prayer, in which I realized to myself, spiritually, the meaning of a Popish picture, which I have sometimes seen, of a saint floating in the air. Well, that, of course, was impossible; and I do not suppose that, when the picture was painted, it was believed in its literal sense; but there is a lightness, an elevation of the spirit above the flesh, that will come over you after some hours of waiting upon God in fasting and prayer. I can advise brethren sometimes to try it; it will be good for their health, and it certainly will not harm them. If we only ate about half what is ordinarily eaten, we should probably all of us be in better health; and if, occasionally, we put ourselves on short commons, not because there is any virtue in that, but in order to get our brains more clear, and to help our hearts to rest more fully upon the Savior, we should find that prayer and fasting have great power. But I will take the fasting in another sense, for I believe that this also is what is meant by our Lord Jesus. Suppose that we have such cases as these to pray for, a church full of discord, a nation or an individual full of sin. We might say to one another, "We will appoint such-and-such a time for prayer." Fast or not, according as your body would be the better or the worse for it. To some, it would be mischievous and injurious to fast; but say to yourselves, "We are going to take a whole day to ourselves. Two or three of us have agreed to devote an evening, or a whole night if it is a hard case, and we are going to meet together for no purpose but just to pray about that one matter; and if that does not do, we will meet again." I have often heard of instances in which persons, who knew that they were thus made specially the object of some remarkable occasions of prayer, have been impressed by the fact, or, if not by the fact, yet the outcome of that special, particular, marked season of prayer has been that, before long, they have been brought to Christ. There is a kind of devil that will not go out by ordinary prayer, there must be added to that pleading something by which our zeal shall be yet further increased; there must be "prayer and fasting." I think also that I may spiritualize this expression now, and say that, when your mind gets into such a condition that you begin to sorrow over a lost soul, when you realize the meaning of that agonizing cry of Jeremiah, "Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!" it is then that the devil will have to go. When your soul is clothed in sackcloth and ashes, and you go mourning, without the light of the sun, saying, "I could die rather than that soul should die; I could wish myself accursed rather than that soul were accursed; I put myself in the dust before God, even in the dust of self-abasement on account of that soul, that I may win it to Christ," then that sort of devil will have to go out. Starving him out by starving yourself, and making your own spirit wretched and miserable for the poor sinner's sane, you will make that devil find the person untenable any longer as a lodging-place. Permit me to say just one thing more. I believe that the devil of drunkenness will not go out of some men, unless some of you Christian people, who pray for them, and talk with them, will practice fasting in the matter of total abstinence. I do mean this, not that it is wrong for you to take what you do take, but that there are some souls that you cannot win unless you say to them, "For your sakes we are going to give up what might be lawful to us, that we may save you from the public-house and all its temptations. Come, Jack, I intend to take the pledge; I never was drunk, and probably never shall be, but I will sign the pledge for your sake." There are some devils that will not go out till you act like that; and, brothers, we ought to do anything that may result in the saving of a soul. We ought to deny ourselves anything of which we can deny ourselves, if it be necessary to bring one single person to the cross of Christ. Let us see to it that we are quite clear in this matter, for there are still many devils that will not go out without prayer and fasting. Well then, say, "I will not fast to please the devil, or to please other people; but I will fast to spite the devil, and to get him out of that man. I will fast from anything so that I may but bring him to the feet of Jesus, that he may be saved." We who love the Lord are, I trust, all agreed on that matter, that no cost on our part should be spared to win a soul from the dominion of Satan, and bring him into the glorious liberty of the children of God. O you who are not saved, see how concerned we are about you! It seems nothing to you to lose your souls, but it seems everything to us, and it was everything to Christ. You would not suffer even a little self-denial that you might be saved; yet Christ died so highly did he value the souls of sinners, rather than that you should perish. Oh, may that love of his make you begin to love yourselves so as to trust him, and love him, and find in him eternal life! God bless you, for Christ's sake! Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Mark 9". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11