The first thing recorded of Abraham after he had entered the land of Canaan is the Lord’s appearing unto him and his building an altar

Arthur Pink

III.

The first thing recorded of Abraham after he had actually entered the land of Canaan is the Lord’s appearing unto him and his building an altar: “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord” (Gen. 12:6, 7). There are several details here which claim our attention.

1. Abraham did not settle down and enter into possession of the land, but “passed through it,” as Acts 7:5 tells us: “And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set foot on.”

2. The presence there of “the Canaanite”—to challenge and contest the possession of it. So it is with the believer: the flesh, the devil, and the world unite in opposing his present enjoyment of the inheritance unto which he has been begotten; while hosts of wicked spirits in the heavenlies wrestle with those who are partakers of the heavenly calling (Eph. 6:12).

3. “The Lord appeared unto Abram.” He had done so originally as the “God of glory,” when He revealed Himself to the patriarch in Chaldea. There is no intimation of Abraham receiving any further revelation from God during his delay at Haran; but now that God’s call had been fully obeyed, he was favored with a fresh manifestation of Him.

And now Abraham’s obedience is rewarded. At the beginning the Lord had said, “Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1); now He declared, “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (v. 7). This brings before us a most important principle in the ways of God, which has often been lost sight of by men who only stress one side of the truth. That principle is that divine grace never sets aside the requirements of divine righteousness. God never shows mercy at the expense of His holiness.

God is “light” as well as “love,” and each of these divine perfections is exemplified in all His dealings with His people. Moreover, in the exercise of His sovereignty God never enforces the responsibility of the creature; and unless we keep both of these steadily in view, we not only become lopsided, but lapse into real error. The grace of God must not be magnified to the beclouding of His righteousness, nor His sovereignty pressed to the exclusion of human accountability. The balance can only be preserved by our faithfully adhering to Scripture. If we single out favorite verses and ignore those which are unpalatable to the flesh, we are guilty of handling the Word of God deceitfully, and fall under the condemnation of “according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Mal. 2:9). The principles of law and gospel are not contradictory, but supplementary, and neither can be dispensed with except to our irreparable loss.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Four-The Abrahamic Covenant

Let me close up by telling you what I have heard of some poor woman

CharlesSpurgeonLet me close up by telling you what I have heard of some poor woman, who was converted and brought to life, just by passing down a street, and hearing a child, sitting at a door, singing-

I am nothing at all

But Jesus Christ is all in all.”

That is a blessed song; go home and sing it; and he who can rightly apprehend those little words, who can feel himself vanity without Jesus, but that he has all things in Christ, is not only far from the kingdom of heaven, but he is there in faith, and shall be there in fruition, when be shall wake up in God’s likeness.

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Hope of Future Bliss, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Evening, May 20, 1855; at Exeter Hall.

Infant baptism injures the credit of religion because it is really in itself irrational

CHAPTER 16

INFANT BAPTISM IS AN EVIL BECAUSE IT INJURES

THE CREDIT OF RELIGION WITH REFLECTING

MEN OF THE WORLD

It is irrational; it is without authority; it throws suspicion upon all religion; its purposes are sectarian.

THE honor of religion is dear to every true Christian. To cherish and to love it, is both his duty, and his interest. He can never see it tarnished, but with deep pain. The gospel is consistent both with itself, and with reason. It is to be proposed to men of the world. Their salvation depends upon their believing, embracing, and obeying it. They are not always ignorant of its truths. The utmost care should be exercised that they be not repelled from its teachings. They are capable of reasoning on religious subjects. What you attempt to teach them must correspond with the divine word. Otherwise Christianity will, in their minds, be discredited, and your approaches will be resisted. To honor the cause of Christ, therefore, and to gain men to truth and salvation, such must be your faith, and your practice, that none may be able to point to them, and say, this is irrational; this is without authority; this is suspicious in its character; this is a sectarian device. You must be above reproach. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” But infant baptism does not honor, it inevitably injures the credit of religion, with intelligent reflecting men of the world.

1. It does so, in the first place, because it is really in itself irrational.

You bring forward a child to be sprinkled. An intelligent man will naturally inquire your reasons. He asks for the rationale of the practice. Do you tell him that thereby it is cleansed from original sin; or that it receives all the benefits of the death of Christ; or that it is regenerated, and fitted for heaven? He solicits your proofs. You can give him none that deserve the name. With his Bible in his hand, and his eyes open to behold the objects around him, does he believe your teaching? It is impossible. He does not. He cannot. He may not answer you. He may believe you honest, and sincere. But he does not assent. The baptism of a little infant! What sense or reason is there in it? He perceives none. There is none. It commemorates nothing, It signifies nothing. What good does it accomplish? None for the child; none for the parents; none for the church; none for religion; none for the world; none in any respect whatever. What reasonable man can believe that the child, or any other human being, is the better for it, either in this life, or in the next? It in reality confers no privileges, or advantages, temporal, or spiritual. It is, in truth, utterly irrational, and in the estimation of intelligent, thinking, unprejudiced worldly men, must detract painfully from the credit of religion

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 16- Infant Baptism is an Evil because it injures the credit of religion with reflecting men of the world

GIANTS AND DWARFS

IT is needful, whenever any holy enterprise-is commenced, that it should be early watered by the helpful Spirit of God. Nothing beginneth well unless it beginneth in God. It cannot take root, it cannot spring up in hopefulness, except the Holy Spirit shall descend upon it; it will wither like the grass upon the housetops if the celestial dew of the morning fall not early upon it. The like grace is equally needful after years of growth; there is urgent need of the latter rain, the shower of revival, in which the old work shall be freshened, and the first verdure shall be restored; for without this latter rain, the period of harvest, which is the end aimed at, will be disappointing.

The same is true in connection with any sphere of labor in which any individual may happen to be engaged. I will trust that every believer has found something to do for him Lord and Master. In commencing any Christian work, novelty greatly assists enthusiasm, and it is very natural that under first impulses the beginner should achieve an easy success. The difficulty of the Christian is very seldom the commencement of the work; the true labor lies in the perseverance which alone can win the victory. Christians who have now been for years occupied with a service which the Holy Ghost laid upon them, I would remind of the early rain of their youthful labors, the moisture of which still lingereth on their memories, although it has been succeeded by long years of drought. Be encouraged; a latter rain is yet possible. Seek it. That ye need it so much is a cause for sorrow, but if you really feel your need of it, be glad that the Lord worketh in you such sacred desires. If you did not feel a need for more grace, it would be a reason for alarm; but to be conscious that all that God did by you in the past has not qualified you to do anything without Him now, to feel that you lean entirely upon His strength now as much as ever, is to be in a condition in which it shall be right and proper for God to bless you abundantly. Wait upon Him, then, for the latter rain; ask that if He has given you a little of blessing in past years, He would return and give you ten times as much now, even now; so that, at the last, if you have sown in tears, you may come again rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. Alas; the danger of every Christian worker is that of falling into routine and self-sufficiency. We are most apt to do what we have been accustomed to do, and to do it half asleep. One of the hardest tasks in all the world is to keep the Christian awake on the Enchanted Ground. The tendencies of this present time, and of all times, are soporific. The life, the power of our public services and private devotion speedily evaporates; we pray as in a dream, and praise and preach like somnambulists. May God be pleased to stir us up to awaken and quicken us, by sending us the latter rain to refresh his weary heritage.

We have in this age but few giants in grace who rise head and shoulders above the common height, men to lead us on in deeds of heroism and efforts of unstaggering faith. After all, the work of the Christian Church, though it must be done by all, often owes its being done to single individuals of remarkable grace. In this degenerate time we are very much as Israel was in the days of the Judges, for there are raised up among us leaders who judge Israel, and are the terror of her foes. Oh, if the Church had in her midst a race of heroes; if our missionary operations could be attended with the holy chivalry which marked the Church in the early days; if we could have back apostles and martyrs, or even such as Carey and Judson, what wonders would be wrought! We have fallen upon a race of dwarfs, and are content, to a great extent, to have it so.

There was once in London a club of small men, whose qualification for membership lay in their not exceeding five feet in height; these dwarfs held, or pretended to hold, the opinion that they were nearer the perfection of manhood than others, for they argued that primeval men had been far more gigantic than the present race, and consequently the way of progress was to grow less and less, and that the human race as it perfected itself would become as diminutive as themselves. Such a club of Christians might be established in London, and without any difficulty might attain to an enormously numerous membership; for the notion is common that our dwarfish Christianity is after all the standard, and many even imagine that nobler Christians are enthusiasts, fanatical, and hot-blooded; while we are cool because we are wise, and indifferent, because intelligent. We must get rid of all this nonsense. The fact is, the most of us are vastly inferior to the early Christians, who, as I take it, were persecuted because they were thoroughly Christians, and we are not persecuted because we hardly are Christians at all. They were so earnest in the propagation of the Redeemer’s kingdom, that they became the nuisance of the age in which they lived. They would not let errors alone. They had not conceived the opinion that they were to hold the truth, and leave other people to hold error without trying to intrude their opinions upon them, but they preached Christ Jesus right and left, and delivered their testimony against every sin.

They denounced the idols, and cried out against superstition, until the world, fearful of being turned upside down, demanded of them, “Is that what you mean? Then we will burn you, lock you up in prison, and exterminate you.” To which the Church replied, “We will accept the challenge, and will not depart from our resolve to conquer the world for Christ.” At last the fire in the Christian Church burned out the persecution of an ungodly world. But we are so gentle and quiet, we do not use strong language about other people’s opinions; but let men go to hell out of charity to them. We are not at all fanatical, and for all we do to disturb him, the old manslayer has a very comfortable time of it. We would not wish to save any sinner who does not particularly wish to be saved. We shall be pleased to say a word to them in a mild way, but we do not speak with tears streaming down our cheeks, groaning and agonizing with God for them; neither would we thrust our opinions upon them, though we know they are being lost for want of the knowledge of Christ crucified. May God send the latter rain to His Church, to me, and to you, and may we begin to bestir ourselves, and seek after the highest form of earnestness for the kingdom of King Jesus. May the days come in which we shall no longer have to complain that we sow much and reap little, but may we receive a hundredfold reward, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Very feebly, but still with the most earnest intentions, I have endeavored to excite in you an ambition after a higher lifts, and the setting up of a higher standard. Seek to love your Master more; pray to be filled with His Spirit. Do not be mere tradespeople who are Christianized, but be Christians everywhere; not plated goods, but solid metal. Be ye servants of Jesus Christ, whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do. Serve Him with both your hands, and all your heart. Get your manhood strung to the utmost tension, and throw its whole force into your Redeemer’s service. Live while you live. Drivel not away your existence upon baser ends, but count the glory of Christ to be the only object worthy of your manhood’s strength, the spread of the truth the only pursuit worthy of your mental powers. Spend and be spent in your Master’s service.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Counsel for Christian Workers, ‘Giants and Dwarfs’

The Wednesday Word: Christ Jesus … the Revelation

Because Christ died and rose again, we have grace abounding towards us each day. (2 Corinthians 9:8). Unfortunately, we don’t always remember that this is the case. Indeed, we often forget the abounding grace which is ours each day.

One way this demonstrates itself is that many who claim to be believers spend their lives jumping from one new Christian fad to the next. They seem to be ever looking for some new and better experience. They pay lip service to our great Substitute, but when it comes to centering their lives on Him and His objective gospel, they say they must have something more.

Apparently, the person of Christ and His cross are not ‘deep’ enough. The gospel is for beginners, they say, and now they must go on to maturity. Thus, they reject that Christ Himself is the very wisdom and power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24). Patronizingly they sneer at the fulfillment and unfolding of the eternal purposes of God in Christ. (Ephesians 3:11).

But the truth is, Christ Jesus is entirely amazing. If we ever caught a glimpse of His glory we would be totally awestricken. Indeed, as believers, our growth in grace comes through beholding His glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18). Also, the more we know of the glory of His person, work and offices, the more we will be totally satisfied with the gospel provision which God has made for us in Him.

It always strikes me as odd that so many professing believers make so little of Jesus. After all, He is the revelation of the eternal God and it is only as we know Him that we can know God. Job 22:21 tells us, “Acquaint thyself now with him and be at peace.” But how do we acquaint ourselves with God apart from Christ? It’s impossible! Christ the man is the revelation of God. (John 14:9). What an opportunity we have to, therefore, meditate much on God in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures!

If we look closely enough, we will discover that the attributes of God can be discovered in the Lord Jesus. He is the one mediator between both God and man. Indeed, the revelation of God comes through Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5).

Christ is the Door. (John 10:9). Doors either let people in or keep people out. When Christ claims to be the door, one of the things He is stating is that the knowledge of God comes to us exclusively through Him. He is the full and final revelation of God.

Christ Jesus is the amazing revelation.

He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him. (John 14:10).

He that has seen Him has seen the Father. (John 14:9, John 1:18).

He is “God manifest in flesh.” (1 Timothy 3:16).

His name is “Emmanuel,” God with us. (Matthew 1:23),

He is the “Saviour.” (2 Timothy 1:10).

He is the “Christ.” (Matthew 1:16).

He is the anointed One, filled with the Spirit without measure. (Jn 3:34).

He is “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).

He is the one who lovingly took our damnation. (Romans 8:1).

He is this same one Who is with us. (Matthew 1:23);

Above us. (Psalm 57:11).

Beneath us. (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Before us. (Isaiah 52:12).

Within us. (1Colossians 1:29)

He is all around us. (Psalm 125:2).

He is “the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person.” (Hebrews 1:3).

As we learn to focus on Him and His glory, we will discover how to not focus on ourselves. It is then that we will be fully satisfied with the gospel blessings of abounding grace and life that come through Him alone.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

I have showed you both what the will of God is, and what to suffer according to it

And thus, in a word or two, I have finished the first two parts of the text, and showed you what there is in Peter’s counsel and advice; and showed you also, to whom his advice is given: in which last, as you see, I have showed you both what the will of God is, and what to suffer according to it. And particularly, I have, in a few words, handled this last, to show you that our sufferings are ordered and disposed by him, that you might always, when you come into trouble for his name, not stagger nor be at a loss, but be stayed, composed, and settled in your minds, and say, “The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14). I will also say unto you this by the way, that the will of God doth greatly work, even to order and dispose of the spirits of Christians, in order to willingness, disposedness, readiness, and resignation of ourselves to the mind of God. For with respect to this were those words last recited spoken. Paul saw that he had a call to go up to Jerusalem, there to bear his testimony for Christ and his gospel; but those unto whom he made know his purpose entreated him, with much earnestness, not to go up thither, for that, as they believed, it would endanger his life. But he answereth, What, mean ye to weep, and to break my heart? for I am ready, not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, says Luke, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”

John Bunyan- Seasonable Counsel or Advise to Sufferers

And why did the Lord suffer the “flesh” in Abraham to mar his obedience?

Arthur PinkAbraham’s obedience to the divine command was both partial and tardy. God had bidden him to leave his own country, separate from his kindred, and “come into the land” which He would show him (Acts 7:3). His failure is recorded in Genesis 11:31: “And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.” He left Chaldea; but instead of leaving behind his kindred, his father and nephew accompanied him. This was the more excuseless because Isaiah 51:2 expressly declares that God had called Abraham “alone.” It is significant to note that the word “Terah” means “delay,” and such his presence occasioned Abraham, for instead of entering the land of Canaan at once, he stopped short at Haran, and there he remained for five years until Terah died (Gen. 11:32; 12:4, 5).

And why did the Lord suffer the “flesh” in Abraham to mar his obedience? To indicate to his spiritual children that absolute perfection of character and conduct is not attainable in this life. We do not call attention to this fact so as to encourage loose living or to lower the exalted standard at which we must ever aim, but to cheer those who are discouraged because their honest and ardent efforts after godliness so often fall below that standard. Again; there is only One who has walked this earth in perfect obedience to God in thought and word and deed, and that not occasionally, but constantly and uninterruptedly; and He must “have the pre-eminence in all things.” Therefore God will not suffer Christ’s glory to be reduced by fashioning others to honor Him as He did. Finally, God’s permitting the flesh to exist and be active in Abraham further magnified the divine grace, by making it still further manifest that it was through no excellency in him that he had been called.

Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Haran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land” (Acts 7:4). Though God had suffered the flesh in Abraham to mar his obedience, yet He would not allow it to completely triumph. Divine grace is not only magnified by the unworthiness of its object, but it is glorified in triumphing over the flesh and producing what is contrary thereto. The hindrance to Abraham’s obedience was removed, and now we see him actually entering the place to which God had called him.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Part Four-The Abrahamic Covenant

But never, I hope, shall I cease preaching, without telling you what to do to be saved

SpurgeonBut never, I hope, shall I cease preaching, without telling you what to do to be saved. This morning I preached to the ungodly, to the worst of sinners, and many wept-I hope many hearts melted-while I spoke of the great mercy of God. I have not spoken of that to-night. We must take a different line sometimes; led, I trust, by God’s Spirit. But oh! Ye that are thirsty, and heavy laden, and lost and ruined, mercy speaks yet once again to you! Here is the way of salvation. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” “And what is it to believe?” says one; “is it to say I know Christ died for me?” No, that is not to believe, it is part of it, but it is not all. Every Arminian believes that; and every man in the world believes it who holds that doctrine, since he conceives that Christ died for every man.

Consequently that is not faith. But faith is this: to cast yourself on Christ. As the negro said, most curiously, when asked what he did to be saved; “Massa,” said he, “I fling myself down on Jesus, and dere I lay; I fling myself flat on de promise, and dere I lay.” And to every penitent sinner Jesus says, “I am able to save to the uttermost;” throw thyself flat on the promise, and say, “Then, Lord, thou art able to save me.” God says, “Come now, let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow, and though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.” Cast thyself on him, and thou shalt be saved. “Ah!” says one, “I am afraid I am not one of God’s people; I cannot read my name in the book of life.” A very good thing you can’t, for if the Bible had every body’s name in it, it would be a pretty large book; and if your name is John Smith and you saw that name in the Bible, if you do not believe God’s promise now, you would be sure to believe that it was some other John Smith. Suppose the Emperor of Russia should issue a decree to all the Polish refugees to return to their own country; you see a Polish refugee looking at the great placards hanging on the wall he looks with pleasure, and says, “Well, I shall go back to my country.” But some one says to him, “It does not say Walewski.” “Yes, “he would reply, “but it says Polish refugees: Polish is my Christian name, and refugee my surname, and that is me.” And so, though it does not say your name in the Scriptures, it says lost sinner.

Sinner is your Christian name, and lost is your surname; therefore, why not come? It says, “lost sinner;”-is not that enough? “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.” “Yes, but,” another one says, “I am afraid I am not elect.’ Oh! Dear souls, do not trouble yourselves about that. If you believe in Christ you are elect. Whoever puts himself on the mercy of Jesus is elect; for he would never do it if he had not been elect. Whoever comes to Christ, and looks for mercy through his blood, is elect, and he shall see that he is elect afterwards; but do not expect to read election till you have read repentance. Election is a college to which you little ones will not go till you have been to the school of repentance. Do not begin to read your book backwards, and say Amen before you have said your paternoster.

Begin with “Our Father,” and then you will go on to “thine is the kingdom the power and the glory;” but begin with “the kingdom,” and you will have hard work to go back to “Our Father.” We must begin with faith. We must begin with-

Nothing in my hands I bring.”

As God made the world out of nothing, he always makes his Christians out of nothing; and he who has nothing at all to-night, shall find grace and mercy, if he will come for it.

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Hope of Future Bliss, A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Evening, May 20, 1855; at Exeter Hall.

How does infant baptism prevent men from embracing the fundamental doctrines of the gospel?

Is it asked, How does infant baptism prevent men from embracing the fundamental doctrines of the gospel? Preach as they are revealed in the word of God, the doctrines of universal and total depravity, the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, justification by faith, and other doctrines of this class, and press them upon those who have been taught to believe the baptismal doctrines of the Standards. They will gaze in your face with a look of self-confident incredulity. If they answer you at all, it will be in language like this: “We believe that children are born in the church, and covenant of grace, or that their original sin was washed away in baptism. In either case, they are consequently holy. We are all, therefore, originally pure. No one can be holy and depraved at the same time. Those, at least, who are baptized in childhood are not depraved. We were baptized in childhood. Your doctrine of depravity we do not believe!” But the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, they surely will not deny! You see before you a company of men “without God, and without hope in the world.” You affectionately warn them that, if they would be saved, they “must be born again”, “born of the Holy Ghost.” Do they believe your message? They have studied their catechisms too well. We, they answer, were baptized in our infancy, and in that ordinance we were then, and there, “born again of water, and of the Holy Ghost.” Why do you tell us, who have been long ago “born again of the Holy Ghost,” that we must yet be born again of the Holy Ghost? Are people twice born again? They pronounce your teaching nonsense! They profess that they believe in the regenerating efficacy of the Holy Spirit, but they confine it to the medium of baptism! They adhere to the catechisms. In the form in which the doctrine is revealed in the Bible, they do not believe it. And regarding justification by faith, what are their impressions? They are confident that in their baptism, in infancy, they “were cleansed from the defilements of original sin,” and had “conferred upon them all the benefits of the death of Christ.” They must then, have been accepted of God, and of course, justified! Men are justified but once. They have no idea that they are again to be justified. Infant baptism has encased them all in a covering of steel. You cannot approach them. They are impervious to truth! Why, say they to their Pedobaptist teachers, what do you mean? We were brought up in the church. We have never forfeited our birthright. “We are not sinners of the gentiles.” “We are Abraham’s seed,” “the children of the covenant.” They are confirmed in sin and deception! Infant baptism has been their ruin. These, alas! are no fancy pictures. They are realities which are daily occurring all around us. These deceived men boldly tell you that if you taught them the truth concerning baptism, you now teach them falsely; and if you now teach them the truth, you then taught them falsely! What can you answer them? Their declaration is true. You have betrayed them! You cannot justify yourself. Infant baptism has closed their hearts against the gospel.

Thus does infant baptism destroy the power of the church to combat error, and prove itself a most lamentable evil. By adopting it she takes away her own purity, and places herself in a position in which she can do nothing effectually, either to reform herself, or to remove the errors of her sister churches. This is shown conclusively, by the history and results of the Reformation; by the present attitude of Lutheranism, Episcopacy, and Calvinism; by the inconsistencies of even evangelical Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians; and by the influence of the rite upon the minds of unrenewed men. Such a church ceases necessarily, to be an effective instrumentality for the destruction of sin among men. She cannot teach the nations the gospel. She cannot enlighten the world. She cannot subdue the hearts of men to the reign of truth. She can never bring a rebellious universe under the dominion of Messiah. She has lost forever, the locks of her strength.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 15- Infant Baptism is an Evil because it enfeebles the power of the Church to combat error

WORKERS WHO ARE SUCCESSFUL

HOW is it likely,” says one, “that we can hope to make an impression upon the present age? What means have we but the simple gospel of Jesus Christ?” We are certainly not among the wealthy, and we count not amongst us the great ones of the land. Our membership has always been, and still is, among the poor. How shall we expect to tell upon so huge a city as this, or to exert any influence upon so great a country; and, above all, how shall we make any impress upon the population of the whole globe? We are weak, but we are not weaker than the first disciples of Christ. Neither were they learned, nor were they the wealthy of the earth: fishermen, the most of them, by no means men of cultivated ability — their tramp was that of a legion that went forth to conquer as well as to fight.

Wherever they went and wielded the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, their enemies were put to confusion. It is true they died in the conflict. Some of them were slain by the sword, and others of them were rent in sunder by wild beasts; but in all these things they were more than conquerors through Him that loved them. The primitive Church did tell upon its age, and left a seed behind which the whole earth could not destroy; and so shall we by God’s grace if we are equally set upon it, equally filled with the divine life, equally resolved by any means and by all means to spread abroad the savor of Jesus Christ’s name; our weakness shall be our strength, for God shall make it to be the platform upon which the omnipotence of His grace shall be displayed. Keep together, keep close to Christ; close up your ranks. Heed the battle cry; hold fast the faith; quit yourselves like men in the conflict, and the gates of hall shall not prevail against you. Only may the King Himself lead us onward to the fray, and we shall not fear the result.

If we pant to see the Word of God increase, multitudes added to the disciples, and a great company of those who are least likely to be saved brought in, there must be an adequate instrumentality. Nothing can avail without the operation of the Holy Spirit and the smile from heaven. Paul planteth, Apollos watereth, and God giveth the increase. We must never begin our catalogue of outward means without referring to that blessed and mysterious potentate who abides in the Church, and without whom nothing is good, nothing efficient, nothing successful.

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly dove,

With all Thy quickening powers.”

This should be our first prayer whenever we attempt to serve God, for if not, we begin with pride, and can little hope to succeed by prowess. If we go the warfare at our own charges we must not marvel if we return stained with defeat. O Spirit of the living God, if it were not for Thy power we could not make the attempt, but when we rely upon Thee we go forward in confidence.

I have been struck lately, in looking through the history of the Reformation and of the times; before the Reformation, with the remarkable downrightness of the testimony of the early preachers, If you look at the life of Farren you find him not preaching about the gospel, but preaching the gospel. So it was with John Calvin. He is looked upon now, of course, as a theologian only, but he was really one of the greatest of gospel preachers. When Calvin opened the Book and took a text, you might be sure that he was about to preach “Through grace are ye saved, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” And it was the same with Luther. Luther’s preaching was just the ringing of a big bell, the note of which was always, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and live! It is not of works, lest any man should boast, but by faith are ye saved, and by faith alone.” They spake this, and they spake it again; neither did they couch the doctrine in difficult words, but they labored with all their might, so to speak, that the plowman at the plow-tail should understand, and that the fish-wife should comprehend the truth. They did not aim at lofty periods and flowing eloquence; of rhetoric they had a most contemptible opinion, but they just dashed right on with this one truth, “He that believeth hath everlasting life;” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” If we are to see the Church of God really restored to her pristine glory, we must have back this plain, simple, gospel preaching. I do believe that the hiding of the cross beneath the veil of fine language and learned dissertation is half the cause of the spiritual destitution of our country. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

We must have not only plain preaching but plain teaching. Sunday-school teachers must teach this same gospel. A certain denomination has made the confession that after having had their schoolrooms crowded with children, they do not know that any of those children have afterwards come to be attendants at the places of worship. Miserable confession! Miserable teachers must they be! And have we not known teachers who believed in the doctrines of grace, and they would have fought earnestly for them, but in the schoolroom they have twaddled to the little children in this kind of way — “Be good boys and girls; keep the Sabbath; do not buy sweets on a Sunday; mind your fathers and your mothers; be good, and you will go to heaven!” — which is not true, and is not the gospel; for the same gospel is for little children as for grown-up men — not “Do this and live,” which is after the law that was given by Moses, but “Believe and live,” which is according to the grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ. Teachers must inculcate the gospel if they are to see the salvation of their classes; the gospel, the whole gospel, and nothing but the gospel, for without this no great thing will be done.

And if we would see the gospel spread abroad in London as once it did in Geneva, as once, under John Knox, it died in Scotland, as it did in Luther’s day throughout Germany, we must have much holy living to back it all up. After we have done the sermon, people say, “How about the people that attend there? What about the church-members, are they upright? Are they such people as you can trust? What about their homes? Do they make good husbands? Are they good servants? Are they kind masters?” People will be sure to inquire this, and if the report of our character be bad, it is all over with our testimony. The doctor may advertise, but if the patients are not cured, he is not likely to establish himself as being well skilled in his art; and the preacher may preach, but if his people do not love the gospel, they kick down with their feet what he builds up with his hands.

Yet all this would not suffice unless we add individual personal exertion. According to Christ’s law, every Christian is to be a minister in his own sphere; every member of the Church is to be active in spreading the faith which was delivered not to the ministers, but delivered to the saints, to every one of them, that they might maintain it and spread it according to the gift which the Spirit has given them.

Shall I venture a parable? A certain band of men, like knights, had been exceedingly victorious in all their conflicts. They were men of valor and of indomitable courage; they had carried everything before them, and subdued province after province for their king. But on a sudden they said in the council-chamber, “We have at our head a most valiant warrior, one whose arm is stout enough to smite down fifty of his adversaries; would it not be better if, with a few such as he to go out to the fight, the mere men-at-arms who make up the ordinary ranks, were to stop at home? We should be much more at our ease; our horses would not so often be covered with foam, nor our armor be bruised in returning from the fray, and no doubt great things would be done.” Now, the foremost champions, with fear and trembling, undertook the task and went to the conflict, and they fought well, no one could doubt it; to the best of their ability they unhorsed their foe and they did great exploits. But still, from the very hour in which that scheme was planned and carried out, no city was taken, no province was conquered, and they met together and said, “How is this? Our former prestige is forgotten; our ranks are broken; our pennons are trailed in the dust; what is the cause of it?” When out spoke the champion, and said, “Of course it is so! How did you think that some twelve or fifteen of us could do the work of all the thousands? When you all went to the fight, and every man took his share, we dashed upon the foe like an avalanche, and crushed him beneath our tramp; but now that you stay at home and put us, but a handful, to do all the work, how can you expect that great things should be done?” So each man resolved to put on his helmet and his armor once again, and go to the battle, and so victory returned. We must not spare a single one, neither man nor woman, old nor young, rich nor poor, but you must each fight for the Lord Jesus according to your ability, and that His kingdom may come, and that His will may be done upon earth even as it is in heaven.

Charles H. Spurgeon – Words of Counsel for Christian Workers, ‘Workers Who Are Successful’