A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/27/2012
Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. [Ga 5:24]
1. From several quarters we have heard recently intensely earnest objections to the matter and tenor of the preaching of the evangelists from America, who have been working among us. Of course, their teaching as well as our own is open to honest judgment, and they, we feel sure, would rather court than shun investigation of the most searching kind. Criticisms upon their style of speaking and singing, and so on, are so unimportant, that no one has any need to answer them, “Wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” It is a waste of time to discuss mere matters of taste, for no men however excellent can please everyone, or even become equally adapted to all constitutions and conditions: therefore we may let such remarks pass without further observation. But upon the matter of doctrine very much has been said, and said also with a good deal of temper not always of the best. What has been affirmed by a certain class of public writers comes to this, if you boil it down — that it cannot really do any good to tell men that simply by believing in Jesus Christ they will be saved, and that it may do people very serious injury if we lead them to imagine that they have undergone a process called conversion, and are now safe for life. We are told by these gentlemen, who ought to know, for they speak very positively, that the doctrine of immediate salvation through faith in Christ Jesus is a very dangerous one, that it will certainly lead to the deterioration of the public morality, since men will not be likely to value the practical virtues when faith is lifted up to so very lofty a position. If it were so it would be a grievous fault, and woe to those who led men into it. That it is not the fact we are sure; but meanwhile let us survey the field of battle.
2. Will you please notice that this is no quarrel between these gentlemen and our friends Messrs. Moody and Sankey alone. It is a quarrel between these objectors and all of us who preach the gospel; for, differing as we do in the style of preaching it, we are all ready to set our seal to the clearest possible statement that men are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and saved the moment they believe. We all hold and teach that there is such a thing as conversion, and that when men are converted they become different men than they were before, and a new life begins which will culminate in eternal glory. We are not so dastardly as to allow our friends to stand alone in the front of the battle, to be looked upon as peculiar people, holding strange notions from which the rest of us dissent. As far as salvation through faith in the atoning blood is concerned, they preach nothing but what we have preached all our lives; they preach nothing but what has the general consent of Protestant Christendom. Let that be known to all, and let the archers shoot at us all equally.
3. Then, further, if this is the point of objection, we should like those who raise it to know that they do not raise it against us merely, and these friends who are more prominent, but against the Protestant faith which these very same gentlemen most probably profess to glory in. The Protestant faith in a nutshell lies in this very same justification by faith which they hoot at. It was the discovery that men are saved by faith in Jesus Christ which first stirred up Luther. That was the ray of light which fell upon his dark heart, and by the power of which he came into the liberty of the gospel. This is the hammer by which popery was broken in the old time, and this is the sword with which it still is to be struck — the very “Sword of the Lord and of Gideon.” Jesus is the all sufficient Saviour, and “He who believes in him is not condemned.” Luther used, in fact, to say — and we endorse it — that this matter of justification by faith is the article by which a church must stand or fall. That so called church which does not hold this doctrine is not a church of Christ, and it is a church of Christ that does hold it, notwithstanding many mistakes into which it may have fallen. The contest lies really between the Popish doctrine of merit and the Protestant doctrine of grace, and no man who calls himself a Protestant can logically dispute the question with us and our friends.
4. We shall go somewhat further than this. The objection is not against Messrs. Moody and Sankey, but against all evangelical ministers; not against them only, but against our common protestantism; and yet more, it is against the inspired word of God; for if this book teaches anything under heaven, it certainly teaches that men are saved by faith in our Lord Jesus. Read the Epistle to the Galatians, and your judgment may be very perverse, but you cannot, by any common wresting of words, expel that doctrine from the Epistle. It was written on purpose to state that truth plainly, and defend it fully. Neither can you get rid of that doctrine from the entire New Testament. You shall find it not merely seasoning all the epistles, but positively saturating them, until, as you take chapter by chapter, you may wring out of them, as out of Gideon’s fleece, this one truth, that justification before God is by faith, and not by the works of the law. So that the objection is against the Bible; and let those who shoot their arrows understand that they fight against the Eternal Spirit of God and the witness which he has borne by his prophets and apostles. Deny inspiration, and you have ground to stand on; but while you believe the Bible you must believe in justification by faith.
5. But now let us look this matter in the face. Is it true or not that people who believe in Jesus Christ do become worse than they were before? We are not backward to answer the enquiry, and we stand in a point of observation which supplies us with abundant data to go on. We solemnly affirm that men who believe in Jesus become purer, holier, and better. At the same time I confess that there has been a good deal of injudicious and misleading talk at times by uninstructed advocates of free grace. I fear, moreover, that many people think that they believe in Jesus Christ, but do nothing of the kind. We do not defend rash statements, or deny the existence of weak minded followers; but we ask to be heard and considered. Some people say, “You tell these people that they will be saved upon their believing in Christ.” Exactly so. “But will you kindly tell me what you mean by being saved, sir?” I will, with great pleasure. We do not mean that these people will go to heaven when they die, irrespective of character: but, when we say that if they believe in Jesus they will be saved, we mean that they will be saved from living as they used to live — saved from being what they now are, saved from licentiousness, dishonesty, drunkenness, selfishness, and any other sin they may have lived in. The thing can readily be put to the test, if it can be shown that those who have believed in the Lord Jesus have been saved from living in sin, no rational man ought to entertain any objection to the preaching of such a salvation. Salvation from wrongdoing is the very thing which every moralist should commend and not censure, and that is the salvation which we preach. I am afraid that some imagine that they have only to believe something or other, and they will go to heaven when they die, and that they have only to feel a certain singular emotion, and it is all right within them. Now, if any of you have fallen into that error, may God in his mercy lead you out of it, for it is not every faith that saves, but only the faith of God’s elect. It is not any kind of emotion that changes the heart, but the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a small matter to go into an enquiry room and say, “I believe”; such an affirmation as that proves nothing at all, it may even be false. It will be proved by this, — if you have really believed in Jesus Christ you will become from that time on a different man from what you were. There will be a change in your heart and soul, in your conduct and your conversation; and, seeing you changed like this, those who have been honest objectors will very speedily stop their objections, for they will be in the condition of those who saw the man who was healed standing with Peter and John; and therefore they could say nothing against them. The world demands facts, and we must supply them. It is of no use to extol our medicine by words, we must point to cures. Your change of life will be the grandest argument for the gospel, if that life shall show the meaning of my text, — “Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.”
6. Let us discuss this text in an apologetic manner, hoping to overcome prejudice, if God permits.
7. I. Notice, first of all, that THE RECEPTION OF JESUS CHRIST BY FAITH IS, IN ITSELF AN AFFIRMATION THAT WE HAVE CRUCIFIED THE FLESH WITH ITS AFFECTIONS AND LUSTS. If faith is such an affirmation, why do you say that it is not connected with holy living?
Let me show that this is the case. Faith is the accepting of Jesus
Christ. In what respects? Well, principally as a substitute. He is
the Son of God, and I am a guilty sinner. I deserve to die: the Son
of God stands in my place and suffers for me, and when I believe in
him I accept him as standing for me. To believe in Jesus was very
beautifully illustrated in the old ceremony of the law, when the
person bringing a sacrifice laid his hands upon the head of the young
bull or the lamb, and by this accepted the victim as standing in his
place, so that the victim’s sufferings should be instead of his
sufferings. Now, our faith accepts Jesus Christ as standing in our
place. The very pith and marrow of faith’s confidence lies in this —
He bore, that I might never bear,
His Father’s righteous ire.
Christ for me, Christ in my place and stead.
9. Now, try to catch the following thought. — When you believe, you accept Christ as standing instead of you, and profess that what he did he did for you; but what did Christ do upon the tree? He was crucified and died. Follow the thought, and notice well that by faith you regard yourself as dead with him — crucified with him. You have not really grasped what faith means unless you have grasped this. With him you suffered the wrath of God, for he suffered in your place: you are now in him — crucified with him, dead with him, buried with him, risen with him, and gone into the glory with him — because he represents you, and your faith has accepted the representation. Do you see, then, that you, in the moment when you believed in Christ, registered a declaration that you were henceforth dead to sin. Who shall say that our gospel teaches men to live in sin, when the faith which is essential for salvation involves an affirmation of death to it? The convert begins with agreeing to be regarded as dead with Christ to sin: have we not here the foundation stone of holiness?
10. Observe also that, if he follows the command of Christ, the very first step which a Christian takes after he has accepted the position taken up by the Lord Jesus on his behalf is another affirmation more public than the first, namely, his baptism.
11. By faith he has accepted Christ as dead, instead of him, and he regards himself as having died in Christ. Now, every dead man ought to be buried, sooner or later; and so, when we come forward and confess Christ, we are “buried with him in baptism to death, that just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also might rise to newness of life.” Though baptism does not avail anything as a ceremony, having no power or efficacy in and of itself, yet as a sign and symbol it teaches us that true believers are dead and buried with Christ. So, you see, the two ways in which, according to the gospel, we actually and really give ourselves to Christ, are by faith and baptism. “He who believes, and is baptised, shall be saved.” Now, the essence of faith is to accept Christ as representing me in his death: and the essence of baptism is to be buried with Christ because I am dead with him. Thus at the very doorstep of the Christian religion, in its first inward act and its first outward symbol, you get the thought that believers are henceforth to be separated from sin and purified in life. He who truly believes, and knows what it is to be really buried with Christ, has begun — indeed, he has, in a certain sense, accomplished completely — what the text describes as the crucifixion of the flesh with its affections and lusts. For, dear friends, let it never be forgotten that the grand object for which we lay hold on Christ is the death of sin. Who among us has believed in Christ so that he might escape the pangs of hell? Oh, brother, you only have a very poor idea of what Jesus Christ has come into the world to do: he is proclaimed to be a Saviour who “shall save his people from their sins.” This is the object of his mission. True, he comes to give pardon, but he never gives pardon without giving repentance with it; he comes to justify, but he does not justify without also sanctifying. He has come to deliver us, not from you, oh death, alone! nor from you, oh hell, alone! but from you, oh sin, the mother of death, the progenitor of hell! The Redeemer lays his axe at the root of all the mischief, by killing sin, and so, as far as we are concerned, he puts an end to death and hell. Glory be to God for this! Now, it does seem to me that if the very beginning of the Christian faith is so obviously connected with death to sin, they do us grievous injustice who suppose that in preaching faith in Jesus Christ we ignore the moralities or the virtues, or that we think little of sin and vice. We do not, but we proclaim the only method by which moral evil can be put to death and swept away. The reception of Christ is an affirmation of the crucifixion of the flesh with its affections and lusts. What more can the purest moralist propose? What more could he affirm himself?
12. II. But secondly, AS A MATTER OF FACT, THE RECEPTION OF CHRIST IS ATTENDED WITH THE CRUCIFIXION OF SIN.
13. I shall now state my own experience when I believed in Jesus; and while I am doing so I rejoice to remember that there are hundreds, if not thousands in this place who have experienced the same, and millions in this world, and millions more in heaven, who know the truth of what I declare. When I believed that Jesus was the Christ, and rested my soul in him, I felt in my heart from that moment an intense hatred for sin of every kind. I had loved sin before, some sins particularly, but those sins became from that moment the most obnoxious to me, and, although the propensity to do them was still there, yet the love for them was completely gone; and when I at any time transgressed I felt an inward grief and horror at myself for doing the things which previously I had allowed and even enjoyed. My relish for sin was gone. The things I once loved I abhorred, and blushed to think of.
Then I began to search for my sins. I see now a parallel between my
experience in reference to sin, and the details of the crucifixion of
Christ. They sent Judas into the garden to search for our great
Substitute, and just in that way I began to search for sin, even for
what lay concealed amid the thick darkness of my soul I was ignorant,
and did not know sin to be sin, for it was night in my soul; but,
being stirred up to destroy the evil, my repenting spirit borrowed
lanterns, and torches, and went out as against a thief. I searched
the garden of my heart through and through, with an intense ardour to
find every sin; and I brought God to help me, saying, “Search me, oh
God, and test me, and know my ways”; nor did I cease until I had
discovered my secret transgressions. This inward search is one of my
most constant occupations; I patrol my nature through and through to
try and arrest these felons, these abhorred sins, so that they may be
crucified with Christ. Oh you in whom iniquity lurks under the cover
of your spiritual ignorance, arouse yourself to a strict scrutiny of
your nature, and no longer endure that your hearts should be the
lurking places of evil. I remember when I found my sin. When I found
it I seized it, and I dragged it off to the judgment seat. Ah, my
brethren, you know when that occurred to you, and how stern was the
judgment which conscience pronounced. I sat in judgment on myself. I
took my sin to one court, and to another. I looked at it as before
men, and trembled to think that my bad example might have ruined
other men’s souls: I looked at my sin as before God, and I abhorred
myself in dust and ashes. My sin was as red as crimson in his sight
and in mine also. I judged my sin, and I condemned it — condemned it as
a felon to a felon’s death. I heard a voice within me which,
Pilate-like, pleaded for it — “I will chastise him and let him go; let
it be put to shame a little; do not let the wrong deed be done quite
so often; let the lust be curbed and kept under.” But, ah, my soul
said, “Let it be crucified! Let it be crucified!” and nothing could
shake my heart from this intent, that I would kill all the murderers
of Christ if possible, and not let one of them escape for my soul
hated them with a deadly hatred, and would gladly nail them all to
the tree. I remember, too, how I began to see the shame of sin. Just
as my Lord was spit upon, and mocked, and despitefully used, so my
soul began to pour contempt upon all the pride of sin, to scorn its
promises of pleasure, and to accuse it of a thousand crimes. It had
deceived me, it had led me into ruin, it had almost destroyed me, and
I despised it, and poured contempt upon its briberies, and all it
offered of sweetness and of pleasure. Oh sin, how shameful a thing
did you appear to be! I saw all that is base, mean, and contemptible
concentrated in you. My heart scourged sin by repentance, struck it
with rebukes, and buffeted it with self-denials. Then it was made a
reproach and a scorn. But this did not suffice — sin must die. My heart
mourned for what sin had done, and I was resolved to avenge my Lord’s
death upon myself. Thus my soul sang out her resolve —
Oh, how I hate those lusts of mine
That crucified my God;
Those sins that pierced and nail’d his flesh
Fast to the fatal wood!
Yes, my Redeemer, they shall die;
My heart has so decreed:
Nor will I spare the guilty things
That made my Saviour bleed.
Then I led out my sins to the place of crucifixion. They would gladly have escaped, but the power of God prevented them, and like a guard of soldiers, conducted them to the gibbet of mortification. The hand of the Lord was present, and his all revealing Spirit stripped my sin as Christ was stripped; setting it before my eyes, even my secret sin in the light of his countenance. Oh, what a spectacle it was as I gazed upon it! I had looked before upon its dainty apparel, and the colours with which it had gaudily dressed itself, to make it look as fair as Jezebel when she painted her face: but now I saw its nakedness and horror, and I was almost ready to despair; but my spirit bore me up, for I knew that I was forgiven, and I said “Christ Jesus has pardoned me, for I have believed in him; and I will put the flesh to death, by crucifying it on his cross.” I remember driving in the nails, and how the flesh struggled to maintain its liberty. One, two, three, four, the nails went in, and fastened the accursed thing to the wood with Christ, so that it could neither run nor rule; and now, glory be to God, though my sin is not dead, it is crucified, and must eventually die. It hangs up there; I can see it bleeding out its life. Sometimes it struggles to get down, and tries to wrench away the nails, for it would gladly go after vanity; but the sacred nails hold it too firmly, it is in the grasp of death, and it cannot escape. Alas, it dies a lingering death, attended with much pain and struggling: still it dies, and soon its heart shall be pierced through with the spear of the love of Christ, and it shall utterly expire. Then our immortal nature shall no more be burdened with the body of this death, but, pure and spotless, it shall rise and behold the face of God for ever.
15. Now, I am not talking allegorically of things which ought to be experienced, but as a matter of fact remain mere ideas. I am describing in metaphor what happens in reality; for every man who believes in Jesus immediately bestirs himself to get rid of sin; and you may know whether he has believed in Jesus Christ or not by seeing whether there is a change in his motives, feelings, life, and conduct. Do you say that you doubt this? You may doubt what you like, but facts speak for themselves. There will come before me, I dare say, before this week is over, as there have almost every week of my life, men who have been slaves to intoxication made sober at once by believing in Jesus Christ; women, once lost to virtue, who have become pure and chaste by believing in Jesus; men who were fond of all manner of evil pleasures, who have turned instantly from them, and have continued to resist all temptation, because they are new creatures in Christ Jesus. The phenomenon of conversion is exceptional, but the effect of conversion is still more exceptional; and it is not a thing done in a corner, it can be seen every day. If it were merely an excitement in which men felt a distress of mind, and then eventually thought they were at peace, and became happy because they were self-satisfied, I should not see any particular good in it; but if it is true that regeneration changes men’s tastes and affections, that it finally changes them radically, making them altogether new creatures; if it is so, I say, then may God send us thousands of conversions! And we are quite sure that this is so, for we see it perpetually.
16. III. Thirdly, we go a step further, and say that THE RECEPTION OF JESUS CHRIST INTO THE HEART BY SIMPLE FAITH IS CALCULATED TO CRUCIFY THE FLESH.
17. When a man believes in Jesus the first point that helps him to crucify the flesh is that he has seen the evil of sin, inasmuch as he has seen Jesus, his Lord, die because of it. Men think that sin is nothing; but what will sin do? What will it not do? The virus of sin, what will it poison? Indeed, what will it not poison? Its influence has been baleful upon the largest conceivable scale. Sin has flooded the world with blood and tears through red handed war; sin has covered the world with oppression, and so has crushed the manhood of many, and broken the hearts of myriads; sin instigated and fostered slavery, and tyranny, and priestcraft, and rebellion, and slander, and persecution; sin has been at the bottom of all human sorrows; but the crowning culminating point of sin’s villainy occurred when God himself came down to earth in human form — pure, perfect, intent on an errand of love — came to work miracles of mercy, and redemption. Then sinful man could never rest until he had crucified his incarnate God. They coined a word when the Parliamentary party executed the king in England, and called the king’s destroyers “regicides,” and now we must make a word to describe sin: sin is a deicide. Every sinner, if he could, would kill God, for he says in his heart, “No God.” He means he wishes there were none. He would be glad indeed if he could learn for certain that there was no God. In fact, that is the bugbear of his life, that there is a God, and a just God, who will bring him into judgment. His secret wish is that there were no religion and no God, for he might then live as he pleased.
Now, when a man is made to see that sin in its essence is the
murderer of Emmanuel, God with us, his heart being renewed, he hates
sin from that very moment. “No,” he says, “I cannot continue in such
evil. If that is the true meaning of every offence against the law of
God — that it would put God himself out of his own world if it could — I
cannot bear it.” His spirit recoils with horror, as he feels —
My sins have pulled the vengeance down
Upon his guiltless head:
Break, break, my heart, oh burst mine eyes!
And let my sorrows bleed.
Strike, mighty grace my flinty soul,
Till melting waters flow,
And deep repentance drown mine eyes
In undissembled woe.
19. Then the believer has also seen in the death of Christ an amazing example of the great grace of God; for if sin is an attempt to murder God — and it is all that — then how wonderful it is that the creatures who committed this sin were not destroyed at once. How remarkable that God should consider it worth his while to devise a plan for their restoration; and yet he did, with matchless skill, contrive a way which involved the giving up of his only begotten and well beloved Son. Though this was an expense unequalled, yet he did not withdraw from it. He “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him might not perish, but have everlasting life”: and this for a race of men who were the enemies of their good and gracious God. “Henceforth,” says the believer in Christ, “I can have nothing to do with sin, since it does despite to so gracious a God. Oh, you accursed sin, to drive your dagger at the heart of him who was all grace and mercy! This makes sin to be exceedingly sinful.”
20. Further, the believer has had a view of the justice of God. He sees that God hates sin intensely, for when his only begotten Son took sin upon himself, God would not spare even him. That sin was not his own, in him was no sin, but when he voluntarily took it upon himself, and was made a curse for us, the Judge of all the earth did not spare him. Down from his armoury of vengeance he took his thunderbolts and hurled them at his Son, for his Son stood in the sinner’s place. There was no mercy for the sinner’s substitute. He had to cry as no one ever cried before or since, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Torrents of woe rushed through his spirit; the condemnation of sin overwhelmed him; all God’s waves and billows went over him.
21. Now, when a man sees this wonderful fact he can no longer think lightly of transgression. He trembles before the thrice holy Jehovah, and cries secretly in his heart, “How can I sin if this is God’s opinion of it? If in his justice he struck it so unsparingly, even when it was only laid by imputation upon his Son, how will he strike it when its actual guilt lies on me? Oh God deliver me from it.”
The believer has also had one more sight which, perhaps, more
effectively than any other changes his view of sin. He has seen the
amazing love of Jesus. Did you ever see it, my hearer? If you have
seen it you will never love sin again. Oh think, that he who was
master of all heaven’s majesty came down to be the victim of all
man’s misery! He came to Bethlehem, and lived among us, offering
thirty years and more of toilsome obedience to his Father’s will; and
at the close he reached the crisis of his griefs, the crowning sorrow
of his incarnation — his bloody sweat and death agony. That was a
solemn Passover which he ate with his disciples, with Calvary in full
view. Then he arose and went to Gethsemane.
Gethsemane, the olive press,
(And why so called let Christians guess,)
Fit name, fit place, where vengeance strove,
And griped and grappled hard with love.
’Twas there the Lord of life appeared,
And sighed, and groaned, and prayed, and feared;
Bore all incarnate God could bear,
With strength enough, and none to spare.
Behold how he loved us! He was taken to Pilate’s hall, and there was
scourged — scourged with those awful Roman whips weighted with little
bullets of lead, and made of the intertwisted sinews of oxen, into
which they also inserted small slivers of bone, so that every blow as
it fell tore off the flesh. Our beloved Lord had to suffer this again
and again, being scourged often as that verse seems to intimate which
says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised
for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.” Yet he loved us, loved us
still. Many waters could not quench his love, neither could the
floods drown it. When they nailed him to the tree, he still loved us.
When, every bone being dislocated, he cried in sad soliloquy, “I am
poured out like water, all my bones are out of joint,” he still loved
us. When the dogs encompassed him and the bulls of Bashan surrounded
him, he still loved us. When the dread faintness came upon him until
he was brought into the dust of death, and his heart melted like wax
in the midst of his body, he still loved us. When God forsook him,
and the sun was blotted out, and midnight darkness covered the
midday, and a more dense midnight veiled his spirit — a darkness like
that of Egypt, which might be felt, he still loved us. Until he had
drunk the last dregs of the unutterably bitter cup, he still loved
us. And when the light shone on his face, and he could say, “It is
finished,” that light shone on a face that still loved us. Now, every
man to whom it has been given to believe in Jesus, and to know his
love, says, “How can I offend him? How can I grieve him?
There are actions in this life which I might otherwise indulge in,
but I dare not now, for I fear to vex my Lord.” And if you say “Do
not dare, are you afraid of him?” the answer will be, “I am not
slavishly afraid, for I can never go into hell.” What am I afraid of,
then? I am afraid of that dear face, on which I see the gutterings of
tears which he once shed for me. I am afraid of that dear brow which
wore the thorn crown for me; I cannot rebel against such kindness,
his bleeding love enchains me. How can I do so great a wickedness as
to put my dying Lord to shame? Do you not feel this, my beloved
brother? If you have ever trusted the Lord Jesus, you crouch at his
feet, and kiss the prints of his nails, for very love; and if he
would use you as a footstool, if it would raise him any higher, you
would consider it the highest honour of your life. Indeed, if he
asked you to go to prison and to death for him, and would say it
himself, and put his pierced hand on you, you would go there as
cheerfully as angels fly to heaven. If he asked you to die for him,
though the flesh is weak, your spirit would be willing; indeed, and
the flesh would be made strong enough, too, if Jesus only looked upon
you, for he can with a glance cast out selfishness and cowardice, and
everything that keeps us back from being whole burnt offerings to
him. Is it not so?
Speak of morality! Thou bleeding Lamb
The best morality is love to thee!
When we once are filled with love for you, oh Jesus, sin becomes the dragon against which we wage a lifelong warfare; holiness becomes our noblest aspiration, and we seek after it with all our heart and soul and strength. If candid minds will only honestly consider the religion of Jesus Christ, they will see that Christian men must hate sin if they are sincere in their faith. I might go further into that, but I will not.
23. IV. The last thing of all is this. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WITH THE GOSPEL, AND WHERE HE IS HOLINESS MUST BE PROMOTED.
24. Let it never be forgotten that — while the reception of Jesus Christ by simple faith is an affirmation of death to sin, and brings with it an experience of hating sin, and is calculated to do so — there in one thing more. If, dear friends, in any work of revival, or ordinary ministry, there was nothing more than you could see or hear, I think that many criticisms and complaints might be, at least, rational, but they are not so now; for one grand fact makes them for ever unreasonable. Wherever Jesus Christ is preached, there is present One sublime in rank and high in degree. You will not suppose that I am speaking of any earthly potentate. No, I am speaking of the Holy Spirit — the ever blessed Spirit of God. There is never a gospel sermon preached by an earnest heart without the Holy Spirit being there, taking from the things of Christ and revealing them to men. When a man turns his eye to Jesus, and simply trusts him — for we adhere to that as being the vital matter — there is accompanying that act — indeed, I must correct myself, there is as the cause of that act — a miraculous, supernatural power which in an instant changes a man, as completely as if it flung him back into nothingness and brought him out into new life. If this is so, then believing in Christ is something very marvellous. Now, if you will turn to the third chapter of John’s gospel, and also to his Epistles, you will see that faith is always linked with regeneration, or the new birth, which new birth is the work of the Spirit of God. That same third chapter of John which tells us, “You must be born again,” goes on to say, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Wherever there is faith in Jesus Christ a miracle of purification has been accomplished in the heart. Deny this and you deny the testimony of the Scriptures, which say plainly, that “whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” “And whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who is begotten by God keeps himself, and that wicked one does not touch him.” Why do you doubt, for we who are personal examples can assure you that it has been so in our case? I do not mean that myself and one or two others affirm this, but the witnesses may be found by the hundreds and thousands, and they all agree in asserting that the power of the Holy Spirit has changed the current of their desires, and made them love the things which are holy, and just, and true. Therefore, sirs, whether you believe it or not, you must be so kind as to understand one thing from us very decidedly, namely, that if to preach salvation through faith is vile we purpose to be even more vile. Surely you cannot blame us for acting as we do if our standpoint is correct. If the preaching of the cross, though it is for those who perish foolishness, is for those who believe in Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God, we shall not give up preaching Christ for you. If it is true that men are made new creatures — that, while others are talking about morals, our gospel plants and produces them — we shall not give up work for talk, nor the efficient agency of the gospel for the inventions of philosophy.
25. To the front, my brethren, with the cross, more and more; in your schools and in your pulpits present Christ crucified as the sinner’s only hope more and more plainly. Invite the sinner to look to Jesus! Look and live! The gospel is the great promoter of social order, the great reclaimer of the waifs and strays of society, the elevator of the human race; this doctrine of free pardon and gracious renewal, freely given to the most worthless upon their believing in Jesus, is the hope of mankind. There is no balm in Gilead, and never was; but this is the balm of Calvary, for there is the true medicine, and Jesus Christ is the infallible Physician. Only try it, sinners! Only try it! Look to Jesus, and the passions which you cannot otherwise overcome shall yield to his cleansing power. Believe in Jesus, and the follies which cling to you, and crush you as the snakes engirdled Laocoön [a] and his sons, you shall be able to untwist. Yes, they shall die at the glance of Jesus, and shall fall off from you. Believe in Jesus, and you have the spring of excellency, the bath of purity, the source of virtue, the destruction of evil, the bud of perfection.
May God grant us still to prove the power of the Lord Jesus in ourselves,
and to proclaim his power to all around us.
Happy if, with our latest breath,
We may but gasp his name;
Preach him to all, and cry in death
Behold, behold, the Lamb!
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ga 5]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death — ‘They Crucified Him’ ” 278]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Resurrection and Ascension — Sing, Oh Heavens” 317]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Extol The Son Of God” 432]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Extra Non-Tabernacle Hymns — Safe In The Arms Of Jesus” 1063]
[a] Laocoön: The name of a legendary Trojan priest who, with his two sons, was crushed to death by two sea serpents (Virgil Aeneid II. 40-56, 199-231), used allusively, esp. with reference to statues representing him and his sons in their death struggle. TOED.
Jesus Christ, Sufferings and Death
278 — “They Crucified Him”
1 Oh come and mourn with me awhile;
Oh come ye to the Saviour’s side;
Oh come together, let us mourn:
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
2 Have we no tears to shed for him,
While soldiers scoff and Jews deride?
Ah! look how patiently he hangs;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
3 How fast his hands and feet are nail’d
His throat with parching thirst is dried;
His failing eyes are dimm’d with blood;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
4 Come let us stand beneath the cross;
So may the blood from out his side
Fall gently on us drop by drop;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.
5 A broken heart, a fount of tears
Ask, and thy will not be denied;
Lord Jesus, may we love and weep,
Since thou for us art crucified.
Frederick William Faber, 1849, a.
Jesus Christ, Resurrection and Ascension
317 — Sing, Oh Heavens <7s.>
1 Sing, Oh heavens! Oh earth, rejoice!
Angel harp, and human voice,
Round him, as he rises, raise
Your ascending Saviour’s praise.
2 Bruised is the serpent’s head,
Hell is vanquish’d, death is dead
And to Christ gone up on high,
Captive is captivity.
3 All his work and warfare done
He into his heaven is gone,
And beside his Father’s throne,
Now is pleading for his own:
4 Asking gifts for sinful men,
That he may come down again,
And, the fallen to restore,
In them dwell for evermore.
5 Sing, Oh heavens! Oh earth, rejoice!
Angel harp, and human voice,
Round him, in his glory, raise
Your ascended Saviour’s praise.
John S. B. Monsell, 1863.
Jesus Christ, His Praise
432 — Extol The Son Of God
1 The Son of God! the Lord of Life!
How wondrous are his ways!
Oh for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise!
2 How passing strange, to leave the seat
Of heaven’s eternal throne,
And hosts of glittering seraphim,
For guilty man alone!
3 And did he bow his sacred head,
And die a death of shame?
Let men and angels magnify
And bless his holy name!
4 Oh let us live in peace and love,
And cast away our pride,
And crucify our sins afresh,
And he was crucified!
5 He rose again; then let us rise
From sin, and Christ adore,
And dwell in peace with all mankind,
And tempt the Lord no more:
6 The Son of God! the Lord of Life!
How wondrous are his ways!
Oh for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise!
George Mogridge, 1851.
Extra Non-Tabernacle Hymns
Safe In The Arms Of Jesus
1 Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast;
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Hark! ’tis the voice of angels
Borne in a song to me,
Over the fields of glory,
Over the jasper sea.
2 Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations;
Sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow,
Free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials,
Only a few more tears!
3 Jesus, my heart’s dear Refuge,
Jesus has died for me;
Firm on the Rock of Ages
Ever my trust shall be.
Here let me wait with patience,
Wait till the night is o’er;
Wait till I see the morning
Break on the golden shore.
Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast;
There by His love o’ershaded,
Sweetly my soul shall rest.
Frances J. Crosby, 1868