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Trials and afflictions will prove whether or not you are of this world

December 8, 2014 1 comment

Spurgeon 1II. But now for treating this text EXPERIMENTALLY.

Do we, dearly beloved, feel this truth? Has it ever been laid to our souls, so that we can feel it is ours? “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Have we ever felt that we are not of the world? Perhaps there is a believer sitting in a pew to-night, who says, “Well, sir, I can’t say that I feel as if I was not of the world, for I have just come from my shop, and worldliness is still hanging about me.” Another says, “I have been in trouble and my mind is very much harassed — I can’t feel that I am different from the world; I am afraid that I am of the world.” But, beloved, we must not judge ourselves rashly, because just at this moment we discern not the spot of God’s children. Let me tell you, there are always certain testing moments when you can tell of what kind of stuff a man is made. Two men are walking, part of the way their road lies side by side. How do you tell which man is going to the right, and which to the left? Why, when they come to the turning point. Now, to-night is not a turning point, for you are sitting with worldly people here, but at other times we may distinguish.

Let me tell you one or two turning points, when every Christian will feel that he is not of the world. One is, when he gets into very deep trouble. I do believe and protest, that we never feel so unearthly as when we get plunged down into trouble. Ah! when some creature comfort hath been swept away, when some precious blessing hath withered in our sight, like the fair lily, snapped at the stalk; when some mercy has been withered, like Jonah’s gourd in the night — then it is that the Christian feels, “I am not of the world.” His cloak is torn from him, and the cold wind whistles almost through him; and then he says, “I am a stranger in the world, as all my fathers were. Lord, thou hast been my dwelling-place in all generations.” You have had at times deep sorrows. Thank God for them! They are testing moments. When the furnace is hot, it is then that the gold is tried best. Have you felt at such a time that you were not of the world? Or, have you rather sat down, and said, ‘Oh! I do not deserve this trouble?” Did you break under it? Did you bow down before it and let it crush you while you cursed your Maker? Or did your spirit, even under its load, still lift itself unto him, like a man all dislocated on the battle-field, whose limbs are cut away, but who still lifts himself up as best he can, and looks over the field to see if there be a friend approaching. Did you do so? Or did you lie down in desperation and despair? If you did that, methinks you are no Christian; but if there was a rising up, it was a testing moment, and it proved that you were “not of the world,” because you could master affliction; because you could tread it under foot, and say —

“When all created streams are dry,
His goodness is the same;
With this I well am satisfied,
And glory in his name.”

 

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Character of Christ’s People-Delivered on Sabbath Morning, November 22, 1855

All of Grace—Confirmation

Chapter Seventeen

Confirmation

I WANT YOU TO NOTICE the security which Paul confidently expected for all the saints. He says — “Who shall confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the kind of confirmation which is above all things to be desired. You see it supposes that the persons are right, and it proposes to confirm them in the right. It would be an awful thing to confirm a man in ways of sin and error. Think of a confirmed drunkard, or a confirmed thief, or a confirmed liar. It would be a deplorable thing for a man to be confirmed in unbelief and ungodliness. Divine confirmation can only be enjoyed by those to whom the grace of God has been already manifested. It is the work of the Holy Ghost. He who gives faith strengthens and establishes it: He who kindles love in us preserves it and increases its flame. What He makes us to know by His first teaching, the good Spirit causes us to know with greater clearness and certainty by still further instruction. Holy acts are confirmed till they become habits, and holy feelings are confirmed till they become abiding conditions. Experience and practice confirm our beliefs and our resolutions. Both our joys and our sorrows, our successes and our failures, are sanctified to the selfsame end: even as the tree is helped to root itself both by the soft showers and the rough winds. The mind is instructed, and in its growing knowledge it gathers reasons for persevering in the good way: the heart is comforted, and so it is made to cling more closely to the consoling truth. The grip grows tighter, and the tread grows firmer, and the man himself becomes more solid and substantial.

This is not a merely natural growth, but is as distinct a work of the Spirit as conversion. The Lord will surely give it to those who are relying upon Him for eternal life. By His inward working He will deliver us from being “unstable as water,” and cause us to be rooted and grounded. It is a part of the method by which He saves us — this building us up into Christ Jesus and causing us to abide in Him. Dear reader, you may daily look for this; and you shall not be disappointed. He whom you trust will make you to be as a tree planted by the rivers of waters, so preserved that even your leaf shall not wither.

What a strength to a church is a confirmed Christian! He is a comfort to the sorrowful, and a help to the weak. Would you not like to be such? Confirmed believers are pillars in the house of our God. These are not carried away by every wind of doctrine, nor overthrown by sudden temptation. They are a great stay to others, and act as anchors in the time of church trouble. You who are beginning the holy life hardly dare to hope that you will become like them. But you need not fear; the good Lord will work in you as well as in them. One of these days you who are now a “babe” in Christ shall be a “father” in the church. Hope for this great thing; but hope for it as a gift of grace, and not as the wages of work, or as the product of your own energy.

The inspired apostle Paul speaks of these people as to be confirmed unto the end. He expected the grace of God to preserve them personally to the end of their lives, or till the Lord Jesus should come. Indeed, he expected that the whole church of God in every place and in all time would be kept to the end of the dispensation, till the Lord Jesus as the Bridegroom should come to celebrate the wedding-feast with his perfected Bride. All who are in Christ will be confirmed in Him till that illustrious day. Has He not said, “Because I live ye shall live also”? He also said, “I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” He that hath begun a good work in you will confirm it unto the day of Christ. The work of grace in the soul is not a superficial reformation; the life implanted as the new birth comes of a living and incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever; and the promises of God made to believers are not of a transient character, but involve for their fulfillment the believer’s holding on his way till he comes to endless glory. We are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation. “The righteous shall hold on his way.” Not as the result of our own merit or strength, but as a gift of free and undeserved favor those who believe are “preserved in Christ Jesus.” Of the sheep of His fold Jesus will lose none; no member of His Body shall die; no gem of His treasure shall be missing in the day when He makes up His jewels. Dear reader, the salvation which is received by faith is not a thing of months and years; for our Lord Jesus hath “obtained eternal salvation for us,” and that which is eternal cannot come to an end.

Paul also declares his expectation that the Corinthian saints would be “Confirmed to the end blameless.” This blamelessness is a precious part of our keeping. To be kept holy is better than merely to be kept safe. It is a dreadful thing when you see religious people blundering out of one dishonor into another; they have not believed in the power of our Lord to make them blameless. The lives of some professing Christians are a series of stumbles; they are never quite down, and yet they are seldom on their feet. This is not a fit thing for a believer; he is invited to walk with God, and by faith he can attain to steady perseverance in holiness; and he ought to do so. The Lord is able, not only to save us from hell, but to keep us from falling. We need not yield to temptation. Is it not written, “Sin shall not have dominion over you?” The Lord is able to keep the feet of His saints; and He will do it if we will trust Him to do so. We need not defile our garments, we may by His grace keep them unspotted from the world; we are bound to do this, “for without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”

The apostle prophesied for these believers, that which he would have us seek after — that we may be preserved, blameless unto the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The revised version has “unreproveable,” instead of “blameless.” Possibly a better rendering would be “unimpeachable.” God grant that in that last great day we may stand free from all charge, that none in the whole universe may dare to challenge our claim to be the redeemed of the Lord. We have sins and infirmities to mourn over, but these are not the kind of faults which would prove us to be out of Christ; we shall be clear of hypocrisy, deceit, hatred, and delight in sin; for these things would be fatal charges. Despite our failings, the Holy Spirit can work in us a character spotless before men; so that, like Daniel, we shall furnish no occasion for accusing tongues, except in the matter of our religion. Multitudes of godly men and women have exhibited lives so transparent, so consistent throughout, that none could gainsay them. The Lord will be able to say of many a believer, as he did of Job, when Satan stood before Him, “Hast thou considered my servant, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?” This is what my reader must look for at the Lord’s hands. This is the triumph of the saints — to continue to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, maintaining our integrity as before the living God. May we never turn aside into crooked ways, and give cause to the adversary to blaspheme. Of the true believer it is written, “He keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” May it be so written concerning us!

Friend just beginning in the divine life, the Lord can give you an irreproachable character. Even though in your past life you may have gone far into sin, the Lord can altogether deliver you from the power of former habits, and make you an example of virtue. He can not only make you moral, but He can make you abhor every false way and follow after all that is saintly. Do not doubt it. The chief of sinners need not be a whit behind the purest of the saints. Believe for this, and according to your faith shall it be unto you. Oh, what a joy it will be to be found blameless in the day of judgment! We sing not amiss, when we join in that charming hymn:

 

Bold shall I stand in that great day,

For who aught to my charge shall lay;

While through Thy blood absolved I am,

From sin’s tremendous curse and shame?

 

What bliss it will be to enjoy that dauntless courage, when heaven and earth shall flee away from the face of the Judge of all! This bliss shall be the portion of everyone who looks alone to the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and in that sacred might wages continual war with all sin.

Charles H. Spurgeon—All of Grace

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Christians Should be Settled

The second proposition is, that the way for Christians to be settled is to be well grounded. ‘If ye continue grounded and settled.’ The Greek word for grounded is a metaphor which alludes to a building that has the foundation well laid. So Christians should be grounded in the essential points of religion, and have their foundation well laid.

Thomas Watson ‘A Body of Divinity’ (A Preliminary Discourse to Catechizing)

 

Concerning Those not Settled in the Faith

Such as are not settled in the faith can never suffer for it. Skeptics in religion hardly ever prove martyrs. They that are not settled hang in suspense; when they think of the joys of heaven they will espouse the gospel, but when they think of persecution they desert it.

Thomas Watson

Concerning those who are not settled in the Faith

It is the duty of Christians to be settled in the doctrine of faith. It is the apostle’s prayer, I Pet 5:50, ’The God of all grace establish, strengthen, settle you.’ That is, that they might not be meteors in the air, but fixed stars. The apostle Jude speaks of ‘wandering stars, in verse 13. They are called wandering stars, because, as Aristotle says, ‘They do leap up and down, and wander into several parts of the heaven; and being but dry exhalations, not made of that pure celestial matter as the fixed stars are, they often fall to the earth.’ Now, such as are not settled in religion, will, at one time or other, prove wandering stars; they will lose their former steadfastness, and wander from one opinion to another.

Thomas Watson “Body of Divinity-Chapter 1- A Preliminary Discourse to Catechising