1677. A Great Mistake And The Way To Rectify It

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No. 1677-28:481. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, September 3, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

Because you say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”; and do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel you to buy from me gold tried in the fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, so that you may see. {Re 3:17,18}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1185, “Earnest Warning About Lukewarmness, An” 1176}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1677, “Great Mistake and the Way to Rectify It, A” 1678}
   {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Re 3:18"}

1. These words were spoken, not to the outside world, but to the church of Laodicea. They relate to people who were in a church state, who had been baptized on confession of their faith in Christ, and who were thought to be in a fine spiritual condition. They had an exceptionally high opinion of themselves, and probably considered that of all the seven churches in Asia they were the first in power and influence. The words before us are as sharp as they are true, and they demand the earnest attention of all professors of our holy faith, for they were addressed to people like ourselves and moreover we have the special note of attention — “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Here the axe is laid to the root, not of the oaks in the forest or the pines on the mountain side, but to the root of the trees in the vineyard, and the choice trees in the garden of the Lord. By this the Lord showed his love for the true ones in Laodicea, according as he says, “As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.” While reading the text I feel forced to cry, “Oh my threshing, and the grain of my floor!” Truly the flail must first be used upon the heap that is gathered in the garner. It is all in vain to preach to the outside world unless matters are true and right within. The kingdom cannot come nor the Lord’s banner be lifted high if the soldiers of his own army prove false and turn back in the day of battle. The time is come when judgment must begin at the house of God. The word to the slaughtermen in Ezekiel was, “Begin at my sanctuary.” The stout heart of the king of Assyria will not be punished until the Lord has performed his whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem. Behold, the Lord himself comes to deal with his church; for his fire is in Zion, and his furnace is in Jerusalem. “His fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor.” As for those who are outside, God will judge them in his own time: but now by his blessed Spirit, he speaks to those of us who are inside the church, and make profession of his name.

2. The solemn words which make up our text were also spoken by the Lord Jesus under a most special title: “These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness”; {Re 3:14} as much as to say that, though the Laodicean professors were false, mistaken, and deluded, he who now addressed them by his servant John was true and faithful. He is the Amen, the Verily, Verily of God; he does not judge according to the outward appearance, but looks at the heart according to truth. He is “the faithful and true witness,” who does not flatter, nor keep back any of the terrible truth; but speaks out what he sees with his eyes of fire, and warns men of their condition with all sincerity. Instead of crying peace, peace, where there is no peace, and letting them be like Moab at ease from their youth, and settled upon their lees because they were not emptied from vessel to vessel, he stirs them up so that the sediment of their falsehood may be seen and their evil case is revealed. Oh for grace to hear this word at this time as from the Lord Jesus, and as from him under the weighty character of a faithful and true witness, speaking as the Amen of God.

3. It seems to me that my text accounts for the lukewarmness of the Laodiceans. They were lukewarm because they imagined themselves rich when they were poor. Two conditions will help us to escape lukewarmness. The one is to be really rich in grace; for those who have much grace will not be lukewarm. Grace is like a fire in the soul, and he who has much of it, so as to become an advanced Christian, can only have a heart boiling with earnestness. The other way is to have very little grace, but to be painfully aware of it, to be deeply conscious of soul-poverty, to sigh and cry because you are not what you should be. There is no lukewarmness in a strong desire caused by a bitter sense of need. The poor man, poor in spirit, conscious of his imperfections and failures, is never a lukewarm man, but with sighs and cries coming out of a heart that is all on fire with a desire to escape out of such a sad condition, he besieges the throne of God so that he may obtain more grace. These Laodicean people were unhappily in such a state that you could not get at them. They were not so poor that they knew they were poor, and therefore when the poverty-stricken were addressed, they said, “These things are not for us: we are increased in goods.” They were blind, but they thought they saw; they were naked, and yet they prided themselves in their princely apparel, and hence it was hard to reach them. Had they even been outwardly worse, had they publicly sinned, had they defiled their garments with overt transgression, then the Spirit might have pointed out the blot and convinced them then and there; but what was to be done when the mischief was hidden and internal? Had they been utterly cold and frost-bitten, then he might have thawed them into living warmth; but such was their puffed-up notion of themselves that one could not convince them of sin, or awaken them to any sense of fear, and it seemed likely that after all the Lord must spue them out of his mouth as things he could not endure. How far this may be true of any one of us may God in his infinite mercy help us to judge each one for himself. Whether it is true or not, it will not matter concerning the usefulness of the discourse if God the Holy Spirit will bless it to our souls in his own way.

4. Two things in the text call for our notice. The first is their saying: “You say, ‘I am rich’ ”; and the second is Christ’s counsel: “I counsel you to buy gold from me tried in the fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, so that you may see.”

5. I. First, let us think of the church in Laodicea and listen to THEIR SAYING; it may prevent us from reaching such a height of pride as to speak as they did.

6. The spirit of self-congratulation expressed itself in a manner strikingly unanimous. If all the members did not say so in words, yet, as a whole, they were so self-satisfied, that the great Amen spoke of them as one person, “Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Doubtless a few wept and sighed before God, but they were so few that they did not mar the apparent unanimity of the church in its conscious self-respect, nor divide the united utterance of its public boasting. “You say, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods.’ ” It would seem that their minister was of the same opinion. Good easy man, he felt that his church was in a splendid state, for the Spirit of God here speaks to the “angel of the church,” who is, no doubt, the minister of the church, and he says to him, “You say, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods.’ ” The self-complacent man had probably gathered together a wealthy congregation, wealthy as compared with the general run of the people of God, who were usually the poorest of the poor. Among these were people of considerable talent, and as a body they were intellectual and educated. They were so rich in all kinds of endowments that they had “need of nothing.” Perhaps they hardly needed a minister at all, but were each able to become his own teacher, and so the timid man was quiet and smooth-tongued for fear they should dispense with him. They might perhaps prefer an open meeting, and then what would become of him? The proverb says, “Like priest, like people” and under the preacher’s lukewarm addresses the church became lukewarm too. They were so rich in gifts that they did not need to economize, and send out their brethren to preach one by one. They could afford to let a dozen attempt to do what one could have done a great deal better. They had grown to be such a leading church that other churches looked up to them. They were noted and famous all over the country. A member of the church of Laodicea was recognised at once as a remarkable person, so that wherever he went the people would ask him to get up and speak; for coming down from Laodicea, that famous church which had “need of nothing,” surely he could not open his mouth without precious things dropping from it; for was he not one of those who were “rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing?” It was a first-class church, and their prudent and kind minister thought so too, and he took occasion often to say as much. When he spoke to the good people of Philadelphia, at their anniversary service, he told them that he hoped they would do their best although they had very a little strength, and could not expect to equal his people who were so much richer and so much better educated. Of course, all churches could not be so strong as Laodicea; it was not likely that everywhere, in those little places, they could gather congregations such as he was proud to look on every Lord’s day in the Tabernacle at Laodicea. It was the general, unanimous feeling, from the minister down to the most recent convert, that they were a most wonderful church. They were heartily at one in having a high estimate of themselves, and this helped to keep them together, and stirred them to attempt great things.

7. This saying of theirs was extremely boastful, for it divides itself into three parts. They were “rich,” that was their present state: and “increased with goods,” — that is they could look back upon years of great prosperity and progress in their past history; and at that present time, if they were not absolutely perfect, they were getting close to the edge of it, for they had “need of nothing”; they did not know of anything which the church lacked; they had the best deacons, the best elders, the best members, always ready to do anything and everything that was proposed to them. They were rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing. The present was all right, the past was eminently satisfactory, and they had reached a point of all but absolute perfection, for they needed nothing, and when people have need of nothing they can go no further; they have ascended to the highest point; their sun has reached its zenith; their path has been like the path of the just which shines more and more to the perfect day.

8. Truly I do not know that they could have opened their mouths any wider. They gave out about as fine a piece of brag as one is likely to find in any ancient record. Here is a church which is a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden; is it not a candle that gives light to all who are in the house? and the candle needs no snuffing, it is burning at its very best. Think of a church which has need of nothing!

9. Now, notice once more that they were sincere in this boasting. When they said it they were not consciously boasting, for the text says, “And you do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” They did not know the truth. They were not hypocrites: when they spoke like this with such self-conscious complacency they really thought it was so, and their minister thought so too. The angel of the church thought that it was an angelic church. There was no insincerity in what they said: in fact, I dare say they said to themselves, “We really speak below what we might say. We are a wonderful people! What we do could hardly be put into print or thoroughly described in words. Our existence is an extraordinary fact.” They did not know the real truth of the matter, but they sincerely believed the flattering tale which their ignorance told them. How readily do we believe a lie when it fosters in us a high opinion of ourselves.

10. But now see what their actual state was: they were altogether mistaken. Their mistake was founded upon ignorance: — “You do not know.” These intelligent people, these wealthy people, these instructed people did not know themselves, and that is the grossest kind of ignorance. A man may know all about Africa, and the sources of the Nile and the Congo, and yet he may not know what is going on in certain regions of the home department. He is ignorant indeed who does not know his own condition in reference to the most weighty matters. In our church there are many members who know shamefully little about it; they go in and out among us, and they do not have enough concern about the church to make its spiritual state a matter of enquiry. I grieve to say that there are members who, I fear, do not know their own spiritual state, who take it for granted that everything is sound, and say, “No doubt it is all correct.” If their conscience is touched, and they are troubled, they call it unbelief; though it is quite another thing, and may be praised as godly fear. If they are driven into a corner by conviction, they say, “I must not get into this state; I must hope for the best.” They make the best of everything, and shut their eyes to all storm-signals. These Laodicean people were mistaken through ignorance; they had not searched, they had judged the surface of the matter, and never looked below the top-soil; but “the faithful and true witness” makes them see the naked truth.

11. He says, “You do not know that you are wretched”: that is to say, they were in a sad and undesirable state; there was nothing about those who could please God, and nothing about those who would have pleased themselves if they had seen things in a true light. “You are wretched.” Oh, what a change from the distorting reflection of self-flattery to the clear mirror of truth! How these men who had need of nothing are shown up when Christ begins to describe them! They seem to need everything.

12. The next word, “miserable,” conveys the same idea to us in the English, but the original had better, perhaps, have been translated “pitiable.” There was nothing about them to admire, but everything to pity; for everything that seemed to be good was really false; everything that was apparently useful was a mere matter of display. As Jesus Christ looked at Laodicea he said of the church, “Pitiable! Pitiable!” He does not use fine expressions towards this respectable church, this church with so much wealth and so much strength, does he? He does not flatter it, for he says of it, first, “Wretched!” and then “Pitiable!”

13. Then he goes on to say, “Poor!” — poor in the choice things in which they thought they were rich; they thought they had so much grace, but he says they have extremely little, and calls them “poor.” Oh, but they had such riches of faith! “No,” he says, “poor!” Oh, but they had such abundance of energy. “No,” he says, “that is only a pretence. They are poor.” He searches the members through, and looks into their hearts, where their precious things are stored up, and he says of them all, “Poor.” There is a sense in which the Lord cries, “Blessed are you poor,” but these were poor in quite another sense. Think of it! Here are a people who were “rich and increased with goods, and had need of nothing,” and yet the verdict of the Saviour is, “They are poor!”

14. And then he goes on to say they are “blind.” Blind? Why, they had among them men of the greatest possible discernment, who could see as far into a millstone as any people: they were able to split hairs over points of doctrine, and they had discernment of spirits, so they thought, and could tell who was and who was not sincere; but Jesus Christ says, — they have no discernment, they are “blind.” They are not merely short-sighted and weak in the eyes, but altogether blind. And notice, this is no exaggeration: it is not a harsh speech meant to sting them into repentance, but the “Amen, the faithful and true witness” says this calmly and deliberately, and says it about that admirable church of Laodicea concerning which we heard so much when we began our discourse; they were poor and blind.

15. And now he adds that they were “naked.” No, surely, not that! Will the Saviour say as much us that? Yes, he says so. They are not dressed in the righteousness of Christ: they are dressed in their own cobwebs of conceit; and therefore they are naked. They are not resting upon Christ, but relying on their own strength and wealth, and therefore he says they are “naked.” Yes, these same people who “have need of nothing,” yet have need of a rag with which to cover the shame of their nakedness. They are “naked” before God. Had a storm come upon them suddenly they would have found it out. We are such poor creatures that we need to be covered from the sun and from the wind, from the wet and from the drought, from the cold and from the heat. Such is our weakness that we have need of garments against all outward surroundings; and so it was with these Laodiceans; not only for the common decency of their appearance did they need to be robed in the righteousness of Christ, but they needed the most ordinary kind of covering. Though they did not know it, they were open to have been scattered and destroyed as a church had anything happened out of the common way. Oh, this mistake! May the Lord of truth prevent us from making it about ourselves individually, and prevent every church from making such a mistake about itself, and being unanimous in it.

16. These professors were poor and proud: they were conceited, and therefore they were not likely to be converted. They thought they were making progress, but they were going backward; and because they did not know their true condition it was hard work to help them. You remember the Tay Bridge disaster. {a} There is no doubt whatever that the bridge was not suitable for its task, its ordinary strain was all it could bear; but no one thought so. Undoubtedly the engineers thought it would stand any test to which it might be put, and therefore there was no attention given to it to make it any stronger and to provide against sudden disaster; and consequently when an especially fierce storm was arose one night it swept it all away. That is just the picture of many a church and many a man, because he is thought to be so pious, and the church is thought to be so correct and vigorous, therefore no attempt is made for improvement, no special prayer, no cries to heaven, no repentance because of backsliding, and so when there comes an unusual pressure, a night of terrible temptation, the whole fabric falls in ruin. How much better is the condition of the man who feels that he is weak, and therefore goes to the strong for strength! I know a railway bridge at this moment which is showing signs of danger; there are cracks in the brickwork and other mischiefs: in all probability it would soon have come down if left alone: but it has been noticed by the railway people, and they are as busy as possible trying to repair it and prevent an accident. Is this not much better than a delusive belief that all is safe? If there is a crack in the substantial part of your religious structure, what a mercy to see it! If the supporting pillars begin to give way, what a blessing to perceive the fact! “Oh,” one says, “you make us feel uneasy.” Yes, it is often a great blessing to be uneasy, and I pray the Holy Spirit to confer that blessing upon you. It is infinitely better to be uneasy and to get right than to be perfectly serene and all the while to be wrong. How many a house is built upon sand, and only waits until the floods shall come and the winds shall beat upon it, and then the whole fair fabric will vanish like a vision of the night: will it not be good to let the occupant know his peril? I think so.

17. Now I leave this saying: may we never use it ourselves. We have looked underneath the surface, and we have seen the mud which lies at the bottom of what seemed a glassy pool.

18. II. Now we come to think of OUR LORD’S BLESSED COUNSEL. “I counsel you to buy from me gold tried in the fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, so that you may see.”

19. I call your attention first to the amazing grace which is displayed here. Ask a school teacher what kind of pupil is most objectionable, and I think he will reply that he cannot stand a youth who knows so much already that he will learn nothing correctly. It is very hard to deal with the conceited. We can instruct people who are conscious of ignorance and willing to learn, but those who “have need of nothing,” what can you teach them? They are up to the mark in all points: they are models: they can teach you, and therefore what can you say to them? But here our blessed Lord seems to single out this puffed-up church, though pride is always obnoxious to him, and he draws near to it and begins to speak to it in love. He does not use a peremptory tone, but in words of great affection he tenders his advice. He does not say, “I command you,” but “I counsel you.” It is tantamount to that other blessed text, “Come now, and let us reason together.” He puts it so softly, as if he said, “I offer a little kindly advice to you: will you listen to me? I might speak in harsher tones: I might condemn, I might command; but instead of that I stoop to you, and counsel you. See whether my counsel is not good. Am I not the Wonderful, the Counsellor? Is not the wisdom of God in me? Therefore I am come to speak to you,” says Christ, “and counsel you.”

20. Notice how he begins — “I counsel you to buy.” Is that not very good advice indeed? Just now he said that they were “wretched” and “poor.” How can they buy? Surely it suggests to us at once those blessed free grace terms which are only to be found in the market of divine love: “Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” The merchants of Vanity Fair have great difficulty to bring people up to their price, but the Lord Jesus Christ’s difficulty is to bring people down to his, and so he begins by counselling the poor to come and buy on such terms as this: “Without money and without price.” But why is it called buying? If you have nothing to give, why does he not say, “Come and take it?” No, it is buying, because God would have us make a business of it. If any of you have backslidden, and yet dream that you have not declined; if there creeps over you now the cold thought that perhaps it is so; then rouse yourselves and make a business of recovery. Come to Christ and buy; not merely act the beggar’s part, but come and act the purchaser’s part, with thoughtfulness, with desire, with judgment. Come now, and give an estimate; do as you would if you were buying a valuable article. Estimate the value of Christ and see how richly he is worth having. In a purchase, there is consent on both sides: the one consents to sell, and the other to receive by purchase; hence the word “buy” is used, for God does not force the gifts of his grace upon any man, but he first teaches him his need for those gifts, and then he tells him come and buy, though it is without price, by exercising thought, making an estimate, having a strong desire, being willing to give anything if he had anything to give, and then taking the blessing with joyful willingness. Christ gives them counsel to buy.

21. But next, what does he say? “I counsel you to buy from me.” Ah, they had been dealing with each other: they had been haggling and bartering among themselves. One brother had brought this talent and another brother another talent, and they had grown rich, as they thought, by a mutual commerce. “Now,” says Christ, “compare yourselves with yourselves no longer: give up seeking from man, and buy from me.” It is the very foundation of grace, — to be willing to buy from Christ. Do you have a religion which you received from me? It is not worth a cent. Do you possess a religion which you received from your mother, and father, and Sunday School teacher, and neighbours, and friends? It is worthless. All true grace must be bought from Christ on free grace terms: “I counsel you to buy from me.” Do you not know that Jesus is a great monopolist? No one else has anything to sell of this kind. The articles he speaks of are entire monopolies in his hands: no one else can sell you the gold tried by fire, or white clothing so that you may be clothed, or eyesalve that you may see; but the whole stock of grace is vested in the person and offices of Jesus Christ, and therefore he says, “I counsel you to buy from me.” Do you wear a spiritual vesture which you bought elsewhere? Do you use an eyesalve which you purchased from another physician? Do you hoard up gold which you procured from some pretended goldsmith? Throw the imaginary valuables away; for there is no genuine article in the market except what comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, and from him alone. “I counsel you to buy from me.” Oh, that every Christian here would lay hold upon this advice, and say, “I will go and buy from Christ again.” Have I been living on past experience? Have I been living on a profession which I have maintained these last twenty years? I will do so no longer: I will buy from Jesus anew: I will get my manna fresh from heaven: I will seek all my provision day by day from the person of my blessed Lord and Master, for he counsels me to buy from him.

22. Now see the goods which he describes. “I counsel you to buy from me” — what? Everything. It is true that only three needs of these people are mentioned here, but they are inclusive of all needs. First, the Lord says, “Buy gold.” The man who can buy gold has bought everything, for money answers all things. He who has gold has the medium with which he can procure whatever he needs. In Christ there is a fulness of all good things, and in the gold of his grace there is an adaptation for every need. You cannot have a need, nor even think of a need which is a real one, but the grace of God, which is like fine gold, will be sure to meet it. Your free will, your unaided efforts, your wisdom, your knowledge, your strength, — all this you can get something for in such and such a market; but in God’s market there is no accepted currency except this precious gold, and if you get the gold of grace, then you can get whatever your soul needs. “I counsel you,” he says “to buy gold from me.”

23. Then next he brings out rich and rare clothing; perfect coverings, such as really clothe a man so that the shame of his nakedness will never appear. I like that expression. It is very plain, but what suggestions there are in it! for our sin is our shame, and it is good that the Lord has found a complete covering for it. Sin brought nakedness upon us, and shame is the result; but he who has Christ has lost both sin and shame, for the blood of Jesus removes guilt from the soul and terror from the conscience. Man was naked, and is still naked apart from Christ, but in Christ he is covered, and has become fair before the Lord. Even those eyes of God which see everything cannot see what does not exist, and God has said of his people’s iniquities, “They shall not be.” God has cast the sins of his people behind his back, therefore he cannot see them. “ ‘If they are searched for, they shall not be found; yes, they shall not be,’ says the Lord”; and if they shall not “be” or exist, then they are gone from his sight. What a covering this must be. What a purchase this is for a man to buy white clothing from Christ! Imputed and inherent righteousness make up the double garment of righteousness, worked for us by the Lord Jesus, and in us by the Holy Spirit. This is a fair garment in which to stand among men, and it will suit us to appear at the judgment seat of God. Jesus says, “I counsel you, buy this from me” no one else has this sacred apparel to sell. The fig leaves of earth are a mockery, and the cobwebs of conceit are soon blown aside, but the covering which adorns and comforts is with Christ alone, whose name is “The Lord our righteousness.”

24. Next our Lord recommends them to buy an eyesalve from him. That is a very curious recommendation, is it not? For they were blind; and can an eyesalve give blind men eyes? Many salves are useful for eyes when they are weak or inflamed, but what salve is of any good for a blind man? He says they are blind, and yet recommends them to buy eyesalve from him. Strange counsel! But there is no presenting of gospel principles by human similes without endowing the emblems with something above nature. We must strain what is human to present what is divine. Oh you who have no heavenly discernment, who have no eyes upon which the light might fall, Christ Jesus counsels you to come and buy from him the true collyrium, that ancient salve of high renown, or something still more marvellous, which will open your eyes so that you shall see what is invisible, and shall behold the face of God. This is glorious. No other physician has such eyesalve. No one else can pretend to have it. The Saviour has the whole stock of this sovereign remedy; he is its sole dispenser, no one can make its equal: go then to him who sells, and buy for yourselves.

25. The counsel of the Lord is not only that we buy from him everything, but that we buy the best of everything from him. Laodicea had made the mistake of buying second-rate articles, which turned out to be good-for-nothing. Our Lord says, “I counsel you to buy gold from me.” Gold is the most precious metal, but he would have them buy the best of it, “gold tried in the fire,” gold that has just passed through the assay and has the mint stamp upon it; gold that will endure all further tests, having survived that of fire. Oh brothers and sisters, our wisdom is to buy what we buy from Christ, for from him comes grace which will endure to the end. I have recently been looking through some of the sufferings of the Waldenses for Christ, and the sad spectacle has produced a most painful effect on my mind, but I trust also a beneficial one. When I read of the horrible cruelties done to them by the Papists, and of the firmness of feeble women and children, as well as men, I asked myself, “Could I endure such torments?” I did not dare believe that I could, for they suffered agonies which scarcely even the demons of hell could have invented. Suppose that you and I should possess a kind of grace which would not endure such tests, will it be the right kind of grace? If we are never dragged at the heels of horses, or set up as targets, or dismembered, or burned at a slow fire, yet we ought to have that same kind of grace which made these gracious ones more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. It is true we may never have to suffer martyrdom, but a man must be prepared to give up house, and lands, and wife, and children, yes, and his own life also, sooner than forsake Christ. Look at the saints in the first days, the young, brave church of Christ, when the world sought to stamp out our holy faith. They defied the world, and Pliny writes to Trajan to know what to do, for the Christians come crowding to the judgment seat to affirm their faith. Instead of shunning the conflict they seemed to court it; knowing that to affirm themselves to be Christians was a speedy death, yet they were eager to do it: knowing that unutterable torments awaited them, they offered themselves willingly to bear anything for their dear Saviour. Could we act in this way, do you think? Yes, if we have bought the true “gold tried in the fire,” but not otherwise. Is our gold of this kind? Do not begin talking about how you could endure martyrdom: how do you endure the ordinary trials of life? In those lesser pains that come upon your body — are you patient? Those little disquietudes in the domestic circle — do you keep your temper over them? Those words that sometimes drop carelessly, not meant to be unkind, but which grate on your feelings, — can you forgive them for Christ’s sake, and think no more of them? If not, what kind of gold is this which cannot bear the touch of the acid? Such metal would hardly do to lie on the hob, {b} much less to be put into the flame: if it begins to melt in such mild heat it would utterly vanish in the furnace. Oh to have gold which has been tested in the centre of the flame, such as God himself will accept in the last great day, when he shall come to separate between the precious and the vile. Christ counsels us to buy the best, and we can only get it by buying it from him, “without money and without price.”

26. Remember the clothing too, for that is from the best; our Lord calls it “white clothing.” That is a pure colour, a holy colour, a royal colour. We put on the Lord Jesus as our joy, our glory, our righteousness. To walk with him in white is real honour, and sure acceptance: it marks us out as victors through him who has loved us. This robe is the true wedding dress, a holiday robe, and yet a serviceable garment arraying a man from head to foot. Are you wearing it? Is your sin hidden? Does it not at times appear? Does it not come before your own conscience? “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, then we have confidence towards God, but if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” Do you have this covering so that you will not be afraid to die in it, nor afraid to stand before the blazing judgment seat in it? Are you sure, certain, positive that your sin is put away in Christ Jesus? This is what you need, and you must not be content with less. If you must take risks do it with your estates, do it with your lives, but never leave your soul affairs to be a matter of chance. Make sure work for eternity. A man likes to be quite positive about the title-deeds if he buys a farm; but what is that? If I wish for heaven, I want to be sure that I have it; sure that I have Christ who is the glory of it; sure that I am pardoned and renewed, which is my fitness for it. One single note of question upon that matter will banish all peace and joy out of your heart. May God grant us grace to buy the white clothing through which nothing of sin can be seen, for all guilt is gone.

27. And as for the eyesalve, it is the best possible one, for Jesus says, “Anoint your eyes with eyesalve so that you may see.” Eyesalve that can make a blind man see stands in the front rank of all the medicines that can ever be sold. Oh, for grace to get it, so that we may see and know spiritual things. Can you say, “One thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see?” Are you the pure in heart who see God? Is God with you wherever you are? Can you see your own sin and hate it? Can you see the power of Christ’s blood and delight to be washed in it? Can you see the spiritual kingdom, or do you only see the things of your trade and business, the things which blind worldlings can perceive? Oh God, give us real sight so that we may see heaven and delight in it, see hell and flee the sin that will bring us there, so that we may see Christ and rejoice in him for evermore. He counsels us to do this.

28. So I must come to a close by noticing that all this is the counsel of Christ, and the counsel of Christ to a people that were proud and self-conceited. He gave those this counsel who thought they needed none. Does this not reveal infinite grace, that he should come to such and sit down by them and say, “Come now, put your case into my hand; it is a very bad one, and I advise you to come to me for help?” Oh, how tenderly would I try to speak this morning in imitation of the soft tones of Jesus. Oh you who have thought of yourself other than the truth, I do not counsel you to despair. At the sight of the truth I do not counsel you to say, “I will give it all up; there is no hope.” “No,” Christ says, “be advised; take counsel; I counsel you to come to me now and get in very truth all what you only had in your imagination. All things are ready for you. You do not have to search for the gold and dig it up from the mine: here it is: come and buy it.” “Lord, I do not have a penny to buy it with.” That does not matter; buy it without money and without price. These are the easy terms of the gracious Saviour. Believe, and be rich. When Satan tells me, or conscience tells me, that I am not a Christian, that I am not saved, then I find it wise to say, “I will begin now. If I have made a mistake, if I have been presumptuous, if I have not truly believed, then I will believe at once, and lay hold upon Jesus at this good hour.”

29. I recommend to you who are not puffed up to take Christ’s counsel, for when he counsels these proud ones to come I am sure his advice is good for you too. It is always wise to get gold when you can buy it for nothing. I warrant you if the Bank of England put up a notification that they would sell any quantity of pure bullion for nothing tomorrow morning, our Stock Exchange men, instead of turning into Capel Court, would take the other side of the street, and dispose at once of the Bank’s surplus. There is a ready market for pure gold at this extraordinary minimum. Come, then, and accept the gold of free grace. It is sure to be useful; therefore come along, you who love Christ, and you who are afraid you do not love him. Come along, all of you: come and buy this “gold tried in the fire.” You have never made a better investment in all your lives. May the good Master sweetly lead you to do so.

30. But what a rebuke this is to all boasting. The Lord does not say to us, “You have been very foolish in talking about your riches,” but he convicts us by saying, “I counsel you to buy gold.” He does not say, “You are stupid to boast about your clothing,” but he convicts us by saying, “Buy clothing.” He does not condemn us for pretending to be able to see when we are blind, but he cries, “Anoint your eyes with eyesalve.” Is this not a sweet way of making us feel our error? Perhaps you would turn away from a stern rebuke, but you cannot turn from love. Come now, members of this church and members of no church, come, buy these three precious things, “without money and without price.” You cannot take better counsel than that of the Son of God; therefore, do as he tells you, and buy at once.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Re 3]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Adoration of God — Praise Our God, All Ye His Servants” 178}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement — Walking With God” 620}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Desires After Holiness — Longing To Love Christ” 646}
{See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3564, “Publications” 3566 @@ "Twelve Striking Sermons"}

{a} Tay Bridge Disaster: This is a poem written in 1880 by the Scottish poet William McGonagall, who has been widely acclaimed as the worst poet in British history. The poem recounts the events of the evening of December 28, 1879, when, during a severe gale, the Tay Rail Bridge at Dundee collapsed as a train was passing over it with the loss of all on board (now thought to be 75 people, not 90 as stated in the poem). The foundations of the bridge were not removed and are alongside the existing newer bridge. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tay_Bridge_Disaster"
{b} Hob: In its simplest form it appears to have been a boss or mass of clay behind the fire, the “back of the chimney” or “grate”; afterwards, the brick or stone back and sides of a grate; now, usually, the iron-plated sides of a small grate, on which things may be set to warm. OED.

God the Father, Adoration of God
178 — Praise Our God, All Ye His Servants
1 How shall I praise thee, oh my God?
   How to thy throne draw nigh?
   I, in the dust, and thou array’d
   In might and majesty.
2 Praise him, ye gladdening smiles of morn;
   Praise him, oh silent night;
   Tell forth his glory all the earth;
   Praise him, ye stars of light!
3 Praise him, ye stormy winds, that rise
   Obedient to his word!
   Mountains, and hills, and fruitful trees,
   Join ye, and praise the Lord!
4 Praise him, ye heavenly hosts, for ye
   With purer lips, can sing — 
   Glory and honour, praise and power
   To him, the Eternal King!
5 Praise him, ye saints! who here rejoice
   To do his heavenly will;
   The incense of whose prayers ascends
   Upon his altar still.
6 Praise him, all works of his that own
   His Spirit’s blest control!
   Oh Lord my God, how great art thou!
   Bless thou the Lord, my soul!
                        Anna Shipton, 1855.

The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement
620 — Walking With God
1 Oh for a closer walk with God,
      A calm and heavenly frame;
   A light to shine upon the road
      That leads me to the Lamb!
2 Where is the blessedness I knew
      When first I saw the Lord?
   Where is the soul refreshing view
      Of Jesus and his word?
3 What peaceful hours I then enjoy’d!
      How sweet their memory still!
   But now I find an aching void
      The world can never fill.
4 Return, oh holy Dove! return,
      Sweet messenger of rest!
   I hate the sins that made thee mourn,
      And drove thee from my breast.
5 The dearest idol I have known,
      Whate’er that idol be,
   Help me to tear it from they throne,
      And worship only thee.
6 So shall my walk be close with God,
      Calm and serene my frame;
   So purer light shall mark the road
      That leads me to the Lamb.
                        William Cowper, 1779.

The Christian, Desires After Holiness
646 — Longing To Love Christ
1 I thirst, thou wounded Lamb of God,
   To wash me in thy cleansing blood;
   To dwell within thy wounds: then pain
   Is sweet, and life or death is gain.
2 Take my poor heart, and let it be
   For ever closed to all but thee!
   Seal thou my breast, and let me wear
   That pledge of love for ever there.
3 How blest are they who still abide
   Close shelter’d in thy bleeding side!
   Who life and strength from thence derive,
   And by thee move, and in thee live.
4 What are our works but sin and death,
   Till thou thy quickening Spirit breathe?
   Thou givest the power thy grace to move:
   Oh wondrous grace! Oh boundless love!
5 How can it be, thou heavenly King,
   That thou shouldest us to glory bring?
   Make slaves the partners of thy throne,
   Deck’d with a never fading crown.
6 Hence our hearts melt, our eyes o’erflow;
   Our words are lost; nor will we know,
   Nor will we think of aught beside,
   “My Lord, my Love, is crucified.”
7 Ah, Lord! enlarge our scanty thought,
   To know the wonders thou hast wrought;
   Unloose our stammering tongues, to tell
   Thy love immense, unsearchable.
8 First born of many brethren thou!
   To thee, lo! all our souls we bow:
   To thee, our hearts and hands we give;
   Thine may we die; thine may we live.
            Count Zinzendorf, Anna and
            John Nitschmann, 1737;
               tr. by John Wesley, 1740.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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