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Men by nature are spiritually dead

But, besides being legally dead, we are also spiritually dead. For not only did the sentence pass in the book but it passed in the heart; it entered the conscience; it operated on the soul, on the Judgment, on the imagination, and on everything. “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” was not only fulfilled by the sentence recorded, but by something which took place in Adam. Just as, in a certain moment, when this body shall die, the blood stops, the pulse ceases, the breath no longer comes from the lungs, so in the day that Adam did eat that fruit his soul died; his imagination lost its mighty power to climb into celestial things and see heaven his will lost its power always to choose that which is good, his judgment lost all ability to judge between right and wrong decidedly and infallibly, though something was retained in conscience, his memory became tainted, liable to hold evil things, and let righteous things glide away; every power of him ceased as to its moral vitality. Goodness was the vitality of his powers-that departed. Virtue, holiness, integrity, these were the life of man; but when these departed man became dead; and now, every man, so far as spiritual things are concerned, is “dead in trespasses and sins,” spiritually. Nor is the soul less dead in a carnal man, than the body is when committed to the grave, it is actually and positively dead-not by a metaphor, for Paul speaketh not in metaphor when he affirms, “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” But my hearers, again, I would I could preach to your hearts concerning this subject. It was bad enough when I described death as having been recorded; but now I speak of it as having actually taken place in your hearts. Ye are not what ye once were; ye are not what ye were in Adam, not what ye were created. Man was made pure and holy. Ye are not the perfect creatures of which some boast; ye are altogether fallen, ye have gone out of the way, ye have become corrupt and filthy. Oh! listen not to the siren song of those who tell you of your moral dignity, and your mighty elevation in matters of salvation. You are not perfect; that great word, “ruin,” is written on your heart; and death is stamped upon your spirit. Do not conceive. O moral man that thou wilt be able to stand before God in thy morality, for thou art nothing but a carcase embalmed in legality, a corpse arrayed in some fine robes, but still corrupt in God’s sight. And think not, O thou possessor of natural religion! that thou mayest by thine own might and power make thyself acceptable to God. Why, man! thou art dead! and thou mayest array the dead as gloriously as thou pleasest, but still it would be a solemn mockery. There lieth queen Cleopatra-put the crown upon her head, deck her in royal robes, let her sit in state; but what a cold chill runs through you when you pass by her. She is fair now, even in her death-but how horrible it is to stand by the side even of a dead queen, celebrated for her majestic beauty! So you may be glorious in your beauty, hair, and amiable, and lovely, you put the crown of honesty upon your head, and wear about you all the garments of uprightness, but unless God has quickened thee, O man! unless the Spirit has had dealings with thy soul, thou art in God’s sight as obnoxious as the chilly corpse is to thyself: Thou wouldst not choose to live with a corpse sitting at thy table; nor doth God love that thou shouldst be in his sight. He is angry with thee every day, for thou art in sin -thou art in death. Oh! believe this, take it to thy soul, appropriate it, for it is most true that thou art dead, spiritually as well as legally.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Freewill- A Slave,” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, December 2, 1855

Men by nature are legally dead

I. First, then, our text implies THAT MEN BY NATURE ARE DEAD. NO being needs to go after life if he has life in himself. The text speaks very strongly when it says, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life,” though it saith it not in words, yet it doth in effect affirm that men need a life more than they have themselves. My hearers, we are all dead unless we have been begotten unto a lively hope. First, we are all of us, by nature, legally dead:-”In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die the death,” said God to Adam; and though Adam did not die in that moment naturally, he died legally; that is to say death was recorded against him. As soon as, at the Old Bailey, the judge puts on the black cap and pronounces the sentence, the man is reckoned to be dead at law. Though perhaps a month may intervene before he is brought on the scaffold to endure the sentence of the law, yet the law looks upon him as a dead man. It is impossible for him to transact anything. He cannot inherit, he cannot bequeath; he is nothing-he is a dead man. The country considers him not as being alive in it at all. There is an election-he is not asked for his vote because he is considered as dead. He is shut up in his condemned cell, and he is dead. Ah! and ye ungodly sinners who have never had life in Christ, ye are alive this morning, by reprieve, but do ye know that ye are legally dead; that God considers you as such, that in the day when your father Adam touched the fruit, and when you yourselves did sin, God, the Eternal Judge, put on the black cap and condemned you? You talk mightily of your own standing, and goodness, and morality:-where is it? Scripture saith, ye are “condemned already.” Ye are not to wait to be condemned at the judgment-day-that will be the execution of the sentence:- “ye are condemned already.” In the moment ye sinned; your names were all written in the black book of justice; every one was then sentenced by God to death, unless he found a substitute, in the person of Christ, for his sins. What would you think if you were to go into the Old Bailey, and see the condemned culprit sitting in his cell, laughing and merry? You would say, “The man is a fool, for he is condemned, and is to be executed, yet how merry he is.” Ah! and how foolish is the worldly man, who, while sentence is recorded against him, lives in merriment and mirth! Do you think the sentence of God is of no effect? Thinkest thou that thy sin which is written with an iron pen on the rocks for ever hath no horrors in it? God hath said thou art condemned already. If thou wouldst but feel this, it would mingle bitters in thy sweet cups of joy; thy dances would be stopped, thy laughter quenched in sighing, if thou wouldst recollect that thou art condemned already. We ought all to weep, if we lay this to our souls: that by nature we have no life in God’s sight; we are actually positively condemned, death is recorded against us, and we are considered in ourselves now, in God’s sight, as much dead as if we were actually cast into hell; we are condemned here by sin, we do not yet suffer the penalty of it, but it is written against us, and we are legally dead, nor can we find life unless we find legal life in the person of Christ, of which more by-and-bye.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Freewill- A Slave,” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, December 2, 1855

A Text of the Arminian

“And ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” -John 5:40.

THIS is one of the great guns of the Arminians, mounted upon the top of their walls, and often discharged with terrible noise against the poor Christians called Calvinists. I intend to spike the gun this morning, or, rather, to turn it on the enemy, for it was never theirs; it was never cast at their foundry at all, but was intended to teach the very opposite doctrine to that which they assert. Usually, when the text is taken, the divisions are:- First, that man has a will. Secondly, that he is entirely free. Thirdly, that men must make themselves willing to come to Christ, otherwise they will not be saved. Now, we shall have no such divisions; but we will endeavor to take a more calm look at the text, and not, because there happen to be the words; will,” or “will not” in it, run away with the conclusion that it teaches the doctrine of free-will. It has already been proved beyond all controversy that free-will is nonsense. Freedom cannot belong to will any more than ponderability can belong to electricity. They are altogether different things. Free agency we may believe in, but free-will is simply ridiculous. The will is well known by all to be directed by the understanding, to be moved by motives, to be guided by other parts of the soul, and to be a secondary thing. Philosophy and religion both discard at once the very thought of free-will; and I will go as far as Martin Luther, in that strong assertion of his, where he says, “If any man doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least, to the free-will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.” It may seem a harsh sentiment, but he who in his soul believes that man does of his own free-will turn to God, cannot have been taught of God, for that is one of the first principles taught us when God begins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that he gives both; that he is “Alpha and Omega “in the salvation of men.

Our four points, this morning, shall be,-First, that every man is dead, because it says, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” Secondly, that there is life in Jesus Christ-”Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” Thirdly, that there is life in Christ Jesus for every one that comes for it-”Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;” implying that all who go will have life; and fourthly, the gist of the text lies here, that no man by nature ever will come to Christ, for the text says, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” So far from asserting that men of their own wills ever do such a thing, it boldly and flatly denies it, and says, “Ye WILL NOT come unto me that ye might have life.” Why, beloved, I am almost ready to exclaim, Have all free-willers no knowledge that they dare to run in the teeth of inspiration? Have all those that deny the doctrine of grace no sense? Have they so departed from God that they wrest this to prove free-will; whereas the text says, “Ye WILL NOT come unto me that ye might have life.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Freewill- A Slave,” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, December 2, 1855

The Wednesday Word: Abounding, Astounding Grace!

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24

When we are said to be justified, it doesn’t mean we have been made righteous, it means we have been declared righteous. Even though we are sinners, the all-holy and righteous God has given us righteous standing before Him. This is astonishing! The very righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ is reckoned to us, and it is in this imputed righteousness alone that we are safe to approach the all-holy One.

We are justified and according to our text, FREELY so. To be freely justified means not only are we acquitted, but also this verdict of acquittal is not because of any reason in us. It is free. Lenski, the Lutheran commentator, calls this aspect of salvation pure, abounding, astounding grace.

The legally binding verdict of the all-knowing Judge is that we are not guilty. It is worth pausing and thinking about that. What a profound truth… May it liberate our hearts and free us from condemnation!

Zinzendorf said it well;

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;

For who aught to my charge shall lay?

Fully absolved through these I am

From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

When from the dust of death I rise

To claim my mansion in the skies,

Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,

Jesus has lived, and died, for me.”

We are justified freely by grace. It has often been said that justification can be summed up with the phrase, “Just as if I’d never sinned.” It does indeed mean that, but it means much more. It means, “Just as if I had lived the same life as Jesus lived!” When we are justified, we have the very life of Christ imputed to us. When justified, we are much more than pardoned. When a person is pardoned, their punishment is remitted, but the grounds for their condemnation are not removed. This is far from Justification.

Sometimes, I am accused of making too much of the distinction of the basis of Justification being righteousness imputed to us and not infused into us. “It’s all semantics,” my critics say, “You are too technical.” This kind of comment, however, puts me in memory of the story of the man who sought some advice from a governmental agency about using a particular chemical in his business. The agency wrote back, but the letter was couched in such technical language that he couldn’t understand it. So he assumed it was alright to use the chemical and he wrote back thanking the agency for informing him and that he would go ahead and use it. When the department saw his letter, they, realizing what had happened, wrote back immediately and said just these simple words, “Don’t use that chemical, it will rust the heck out of your pipes.”

The man got the message!

Likewise, we need to be clear on the message that Gospel Justification has nothing to do with righteousness being infused into us. Great spiritual harm has come when people are not clear that we have been acquitted, not because of any reason in us but because salvation has been accomplished outside of us, in history, by Grace Alone.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

All lovers of the truth should plead for all those who preach the Gospel, that they may be “sufficient for these things.”

Having said thus much, I may draw the inference-to close up-which is: if the gospel is “a savor of life unto life,” and if the minister’s work be solemn work, how well it becomes all lovers of the truth to plead for all those who preach it, that they may be “sufficient for these things.” To lose my Prayerbook, as I have often told you, is the worst thing that can happen to me. To have no one to pray for me would place me in a dreadful condition. “Perhaps,” says a good poet, “the day when the world shall perish, will be the day unwhitened by a prayer;” and, perhaps, the day when a minister turned aside from truth, was the day when his people left off to pray for him, and when there was not a single voice supplicating grace on his behalf. I am sure it must be so with me. Give me the numerous hosts of men whom it has been my pride and glory to see in my place before I came to this hall; give me those praying people, who on the Monday evening met in such a multitude to pray to God for a blessing, and we will overcome hell itself, in spite of all that may oppose us. All our perils are nothing, so long as we have prayer. But increase my congregation; give me the polite and the noble,-give me influence and understanding,-and I should fail to do anything without a praying church. My people! shall I ever lose your prayers? Will ye ever cease your supplications? Our toils are nearly ended in this great place, and happy shall we be to return to our much-loved sanctuary. Will ye then ever cease to pray? I fear ye have not uttered so many prayers this morning as ye should have done; I fear there has not been so much earnest devotion as might have been poured forth. For my own part, I have not felt the wondrous power I sometimes experience. I will not lay it at your doors; but never let it be said, “Those people, once so fervent, have become cold!” Let not Laodiecanism get into Southwark; let us leave it here in the West end, if it is to be anywhere; let us not carry it with us. Let us “strive together for the faith once delivered unto the saints:” and knowing in what a sad position the standard bearer stands, I beseech you rally round him; for it will be ill with the army,

“If the standard bearer fall, as fall full well he may.

For never saw I promise yet, of such a deadly fray.”

Stand up my friends; grasp the banner yourselves, and maintain it erect until the day shall come, when standing on the last conquered castle of hell’s domains, we shall raise the shout, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!” Till that time, fight on.

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel- A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855

To Preach the Gospel is High and Solemn Work

III. But yet, in the last place, TO PREACH THE GOSPEL IS HIGH AND SOLEMN WORK. The ministry has been very often degraded into a trade. In these days men are taken and made into ministers who would have made good captains at sea, who could have waited well at the counter, but who were never intended for the pulpit. They are selected by man, they are crammed with literature, they are educated up to a certain point, they are turned out ready dressed; and persons call them ministers. I wish them all God-speed, every one of them, for as good Joseph Irons used to say, “God be with many of them if it be only to make them hold their tongues.” Manmade ministers are of no use in this world, and the sooner we get rid of them the better. Their way is this: they prepare their manuscripts very carefully, then read it on the Sunday most sweetly in sotto voce, and so the people go away pleased. But that is not God’s way of preaching. If so, I am sufficient to preach forever, I can buy manuscript sermons for a shilling, that is to say, provided they have been preached fifty times before, but if I use them for the first time the price is a guinea, or more. But that is not the way. Preaching God’s word is not what some seem to think, mere child’s play-a mere business or trade to be taken up by any one. A man ought to feel first that he has a solemn call to it, next, he ought to know that be really possesses the Spirit of God, and that when he speaks there is an influence Upon him that enables him to speak as God would have him, otherwise out of the pulpit he should go directly; he has no right to be there, even if the living is his own property. He has not been called to preach God’s truth, and unto him God says, “What hast thou to do, to declare my statutes?”

But you say “What is there difficult about preaching God’s gospel?” Well it must be somewhat hard for Paul said, “Who is sufficient for these things?” And first I will tell you, it is difficult because it is so hard as not to be warped by your own prejudices in preaching the word. You want to say a stern thing, and your heart says, “Master! in so doing thou wilt condemn thyself;” then the temptation is not to say it. Another trial is, you are afraid of displeasing the rich in your congregations. Your think, “If I say suchand-such a thing, so-and-so will be offended; such an one does not approve of that doctrine; I had better leave it out.” Or perhaps you will happen to win the applause of the multitude, and you must not say anything that will displease them, for if they cry, “Hosanna “to day, they will cry, “Crucify, crucify,” to-morrow. All these things work on a minister’s heart. He is a man like yourselves; and he feels it. Then comes again the sharp knife of criticism, and the arrows of those who hate him and hate his Lord; and he cannot help feeling it sometimes. He may put on his armor, and cry, “I care not for your malice,” but there were seasons when the archers sorely grieved even Joseph. Then be stands in another danger, lest he should come out and defend himself; for he is a great fool whoever tries to do it. He who lets his detractors alone, and like the eagle cares not for the chattering of the sparrows, or like the lion will not turn aside to rend the snarling jackal-he is the man, and he shall be honored. But the danger is, we want to set ourselves right. And oh! who is sufficient to steer clear from these rocks of danger? “Who is sufficient,” my brethren, “for these things?”-To stand up, and to proclaim, Sabbath after Sabbath, and weekday after week day, “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel- A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855

The Minister is not Responsible for his Success

II. But our second remark was, that THE MINISTER IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS SUCCESS. He is responsible for what he preaches; he is accountable for his life and actions; but he is not responsible for other people. If I do but preach God’s word, if there never were a soul saved, the King would say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” If I do but tell my message, if none should listen to it, he would say, “Thou hast fought the good fight: receive thy crown.” You hear the words of the text: “We are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, as well in them that perish, as in them that are saved.” This will appear, if I just tell you what a gospel minister is called in the Bible. Sometimes he is called an ambassador. Now, for what is an ambassador responsible? He goes to a country as a plenipotentiary; he carries terms of peace to the conference: he uses all his talents for his master; he tries to show that the war is inimical to the prosperity of the different countries; he endeavors to bring about peace; but the other kings haughtily refuse it. When he comes home does his master say, “Why did not you make peace?” “Why, my Lord,” he would say, “I told them the terms; but they said nothing.” “Well, then,” he will say “thou hast done thy duty; I am not to condemn thee if the war continues.” Again: the minister of the gospel is called a fisherman. Now a fisherman is not responsible for the quantity of fish he catches, but for the way he fishes. That is a mercy for some ministers, I am sure, for they have neither caught fish, nor even attracted any round their nets. They have been spending all their life fishing with most elegant silk lines, and gold and silver hooks; they always use nicely polished phrases; but the fish will not bite for all that, whereas we of a rougher order have put the hook into the jaws of hundreds. However, if we cast the gospel net in the right place, even if we catch none, the Master will find no fault with us. He will say, “Fisherman! didst thou labor? Didst thou throw the net into the sea in the time of storms?” “Yes, my Lord, I did.” “What hast thou caught?” “Only one or two.” “Well, I could have sent thee a shoal, if it so pleased me; it is not thy fault. I give in my sovereignty where I please, or withhold when I: choose; but as for thee, thou hast well labored, therefore there is thy reward.” Sometimes the minister is called a sower. Now, no farmer expects a sower to be responsible for the harvest; all he is responsible for is, does he sow the seed? and does he sow the right seed? If he scatters it on good soil, then he is happy; but if it falls by the way-side, and the fowls of the air devour it, who shall blame the sower? Could he help it? Nay, he did his duty; he scattered the seed broad-cast, and there he left it. Who is to blame? Certainly not the sower. So, beloved, if a minister comes to heaven with but one sheaf on his shoulder, his Master will say “O reaper! once a sower! where didst thou gather thy sheaf?” “My Lord, I sowed upon the rock, and it would not grow, only one seed on a chance Sabbath-morning was blown a little awry by the wind, and it fell on a prepared heart; and this is my one sheaf.” “Hallelujah!” the angelic choirs resound, “one sheaf from a rock is more honor to God than a thousand sheaves from a good soil; therefore let him take his seat as near the throne as yon man, who, stooping beneath his many sheaves, comes from some fertile land, bringing his sheaves with him.” I believe that if there are degrees in glory, they will not be in proportion to success, but in proportion to the earnestness of our endeavors. If we mean right, and if with all our heart we strive to do the right thing as ministers if we never see any effect, still shall we receive the crown. But how much more happy is the man who shall have it in heaven said to him, “He shines for ever, because he was wise, and won many souls unto righteousness.” It is always my greatest joy to believe that if I should enter heaven, I shall in future days see heaven’s gates open, and in shall fly a cherub, who, looking me in the face, will smilingly pass along to God’s throne, and there bow down before him; and when he has paid his homage and his adoration, he may fly to me, and though unknown, shall clasp my hand; and if there were tears in heaven surely I should weep, and he would say, “Brother, from thy lips I heard the word; thy voice first admonished me of my sin, here I am, and thou the instrument of my salvation.” And as the gates open one after another, still will they come in, souls ransomed, souls ransomed; and for each one of these a star-for each one of these another gem in the diadem of glory-for each one of them another honor, and another note in the song of praise. Blessed be that man that shall die in the Lord, and his works shall follow him; for thus saith the Spirit.

What will become of some good Christians now in Exeter Hall, if crowns in heaven are measured in value by the souls that are saved? Some of you will have a crown in heaven without a single star in it. I read a little while ago, a piece upon the starless crown in heaven-a man in heaven with a crown without a star! Not one saved by him! He will sit in heaven as happy as he can be, for sovereign mercy saved him; but oh! to be in heaven without a single star! Mother! what sayest thou to be in heaven without one of thy children to deck thy brow with a star? Minister! what wouldst thou say to be a polished preacher, and yet have no star? Writer! will it well become thee to have written even as gloriously as Milton, if thou shouldst be found in heaven without a star? I am afraid we pay too little regard to this. Men will sit down and write huge folios and tomes, that they may have them put in libraries for ever, and have their names handed down by fame! but how few are looking to win stars for ever in heaven! Toil on, child of God, toil on; for if thou wishest to serve God, thy bread cast upon the waters shall he found after many days. If thou sendest in the feet of the ox or the ass, thou shalt reap a glorious harvest in that day when he comes to gather in his elect. The minister is not responsible for his success.

Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel- A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855