1742. Spiritual Knowledge And Its Practical Results

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No. 1742-29:529. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, September 30, 1883, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; so that you might walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. {Col 1:9,10}

1. For the church that was at Colosse Paul gave hearty thanks to God for many most important blessings, especially for their faith, their love, and their hope. It would be a very useful exercise for our hearts if we would often give thanks to God for the gifts and graces, which we find in our Christian brethren. I am afraid we are more inclined to see their faults, and to suppose that we deplore them, than we are to discern the work of the Holy Spirit in them, and from the bottom of our hearts to give thanks to God for them. Paul felt encouraged by what he saw in the Colossian believers to pray to God to enrich them even further. It should be our desire that our best brethren should be better, and that those who are most like Jesus should be still more completely conformed to his image. We cannot more wisely show our love for our friends than by first acknowledging the grace which is in them, and then by praying that God may give them more. Paul, as with an eagle eye, surveyed the church at Colosse, which he loved so well, and he noted that it was somewhat lacking in knowledge. The Colossian brotherhood differed considerably from the church at Corinth which abounded in talent and was enriched with all knowledge. The Colossians had fewer gifted brethren among them who could act as teachers, and, though this was no fault of theirs, it impoverished them in the matter of knowledge, and since Paul would not have them come short in any desirable attainment, he therefore prayed for them that they might be filled with knowledge in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. If you read this epistle through, you will observe that Paul frequently alludes to knowledge and wisdom. To the point in which he judged the church to be deficient he turned his prayerful attention. He would not have them ignorant. He knew that spiritual ignorance is the constant source of error, instability, and sorrow; and therefore he desired that they might be soundly taught in the things of God. Not that they were destitute of saving knowledge already, for he says in the sixth verse that they “knew the grace of God in truth,” and that they had produced fruits appropriate for salvation; but saving knowledge, though it is the most essential attainment, is not the only knowledge which a Christian should seek after. He longs to be useful as well as to be safe. Being himself delivered out of darkness he strives to bring others into the marvellous light of grace. Paul would have his brethren thoroughly furnished for sacred service, knowing the will of the Lord themselves, and able to teach others. He desired for them that they might possess comforting knowledge, strengthening knowledge, edifying knowledge, sanctifying knowledge, directing knowledge; so that they might be ready for all the trials, duties, and labours of life.

2. Upon this subject I am led to make four observations, and to enlarge upon each of them. May the Holy Spirit by this discourse build us up in the knowledge of God.

3. I. My first subject is THE GREAT VALUE OF INTERCESSORY PRAYER; for as soon as Paul felt his heart burning with love for the saints at Colosse, and had heard of the work of the Spirit among them, he began to show his love by lifting up his heart in prayer for them. He did for them what he knew would bless them.

4. Notice, that intercessory prayer is a very important part of the work of Christians for each other. We are not sent into the world to live for ourselves, but we are members of one body, and each member is expected to contribute to the health and the comfort of the whole. It is true we cannot all preach, but we can all pray; we cannot all distribute alms from our substance, but we can all offer prayer from our hearts. In temporal things we may not be able to enrich the church for lack of substance; but if we fail to bless the church by our prayers it will be for lack of grace. Whatever you fail in, dearly beloved, — and I pray that you may in nothing come short, — yet do not fail in prayer for all the saints, so that every blessing may abound towards them.

5. Intercessory prayer is to be esteemed as an invaluable proof of love, and as the creator of more love. The man who will truly pray for me will certainly forgive me readily if I offend him; he will relieve me if I am in necessity; and he will be prepared to assist me if I am engaged in a service too hard for me. Give us your earnest prayers, and we know that we live in your hearts. How sweet it is to be permitted to reveal our love for each other like this! When our hand is palsied we can still pray; when our eye grows dim we can see to pray; when by sickness we are altogether laid aside we can still pray; and when we find cases in which we are unable to help, and yet are moved with sympathy for a brother, our sympathy can always find one open channel, for we can pray, and by prayer call in the aid of one whose help is effective. Therefore, by your love for your Lord, and for all those who are in him, I beseech you to abound in intercessory prayer, as the apostle did.

6. Intercessory prayer, again, is most valuable, because it is an infallible means of obtaining the blessings, which we desire for our friends. It is not in vain that we ask, for it is written, “Everyone who asks receives.” It is not in vain that we intercede for others, for the Lord delights to answer such petitions. The unselfish devotion which pleads as eagerly for others as for itself is so pleasing to the Lord that he places great honour upon it. If we desire any blessing for our friends our best course is to pray: even if we would have them to be filled with knowledge in all wisdom our safest course is to pray that it may be so. Of course, we must not forget to instruct them and to aid them in their own studies as far as lies in our power, for every honest prayer supposes the use of all proper means; but the instruction which we offer will be of no use unless we first bring down the blessing of God upon it, so that by it our friends may be made willing to learn, and may receive the truth not as the word of man, but as from the Lord himself. Nothing except spiritual teaching will nourish spiritual life. The Holy Spirit must teach divine truth to the heart, or it will never be truly known. Whatever you wisely desire for your friend go about to get it for him, but hurry first to the throne of grace. If you would have your friend converted, if you would have him strengthened, if you would have him taught by God, if you would have him quickened to a nobler life, and elevated to a higher consecration, do him this great service — take his case before the Lord in prayer; and in so doing you have gone the wisest way to work to enrich him.

7. Notice, brethren, for I am keeping closely to my text, so that such intercessory prayer will be all the more valuable if it is our immediate resort. The apostle says, “Since the day we heard it, we do not cease to pray for you.” He began to pray at once. Whenever you perceive the work of the Spirit in any heart, pray at once, so that the holy change may proceed with power. Whenever you discover any lack in a brother begin on the day you hear about it to pray that his lack may be supplied. There should be no delaying of prayer. “He gives twice who gives quickly” is a human proverb, but I believe that when we pray speedily we shall often find that God in answering quickly gives us a double blessing. Usually he shall win worldly riches who is the most diligent in the pursuit of them, and assuredly he shall be richest towards God who is most diligent in supplication. Do not linger a minute, hurry to the mercy seat. Now is the accepted time; the Lord waits to be gracious to you. The Lord indicates to you what your prayer shall be by the news which you have just heard about your friend; therefore, bring his case at once before the throne of grace. Divine providence has brought the necessary subject for prayer under your notice; therefore, begin to pray about it today.

8. Our prayers will be all the more valuable if they are incessant as well as immediate. “We do not cease,” said Paul, “to pray for you since the day we heard it.” “Oh,” one says, “was Paul always praying for the Colossians from the day he heard of their welfare? It may have been months and years; did he never cease to pray?” I answer, he was always praying for them in the sense which he explains: he adds, “and to desire.” Now, desire is the essence of prayer; in fact, desire is the kernel of prayer, and the vocal expressions which we call by the name of prayer are often only its shell; inward desire is the life, the heart, the reality of prayer. Though you cannot always be speaking in prayer, you can always be desiring in prayer. The miser is always desiring riches, though he is not always talking about his gold and silver; and the man who loves his fellow men, and desires their profit, is really always praying for their benefit, though he is not always lifting up his voice in supplication. “Since the day we heard it,” says Paul, “we do not cease to pray for you.” The act of prayer is blessed, the habit of prayer is more blessed, but the spirit of prayer is the most blessed of all; and it is this that we can continue for months and years. The act of prayer must, from force of circumstances, be sometimes stopped; but the habit of prayer should be fixed and unvarying; and the spirit of prayer, which is fervent desire, should be perpetual and abiding. We can hardly believe the value to the church and to the world of that intercessory prayer which does not cease day nor night, but without fail ascends before the Lord from the whole company of the faithful, as the incense ascended from the altar.

9. Dear friends, our intercessory prayer will be all the more precious if it is an intense expression to God. I suppose that by the use of the word “desire” here, the apostle not only explains how he continued to pray, but in what manner he prayed — with “desire.” Remember how our Lord puts it — “with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” I wish we could always say “with desire I have desired in prayer. I did not repeat a merely complimentary benediction upon my friends, but I pleaded for them as for my life; I persisted with God; I offered an earnest, inwrought prayer, which rose from the depths of my heart to the heights of heaven, and obtained an audience with God.” Fervency is a great essential for victorious prayer. May God grant us to be persistent, for then we shall be invincible.

10. One more observation, and I have finished with this. Intercessory prayer is increased in value when it is not from one person alone, but is offered in intimate union with other saints. Paul says, “We also,” not “I only,” but “We also, since the day we heard it, do not cease.” If two of you agree as touching anything concerning the kingdom, you have the blessing secured to you by a special promise from God. Remember how Abraham prayed for the cities of the plain, but did not succeed until Lot also added his supplication for Zoar. Then the little city was spared. I compare Abraham’s intercession to a ton weight of prayer, and poor Lot’s I can hardly consider to have been more than half an ounce, but still that half ounce turned the scale. So here is Paul, and with him is youthful Timothy, who, compared with Paul, is insignificant; yet Paul’s prayer is all the more effective because Timothy’s prayer is joined with it. Our Lord sent out his servants by two and two, and it is good when they come back to him in prayer two and two. I commend to you, brothers and sisters, the habit of frequent prayer together. When a Christian friend drops in, his visit will perhaps end in mere talk unless you secure its spiritual profit by at least a few minutes spent in united prayer. I frequently during the day, when a friend comes in upon the Master’s business, say, “Let us pray before you go,” and I always find the request is welcomed. Such prayers do not take much time, and if they did, it might be well spent; but such united supplications oil the wheels of life’s heavy wagon, and cause it to move with less of that creaking which we too often hear. “I alone” is certainly a good word in prayer; but “we also” is a better one. Let us link hands and intercede for our brethren and the whole church of God.

11. So I have explained the excellencies which increase the value of intercessory prayer. Use this heavenly art much. It is effective for ten thousand purposes. It turns every way to bless the church. Brethren, pray for us, pray for all saints, pray for all sinners, and by so doing you will be the benefactors of your age.

12. II. Our second observation from the text is this — we learn here THE PRECIOUSNESS OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE; for all this earnest, ceaseless prayer is offered for this purpose, “That you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Here let us speak of the usefulness and blessedness of that spiritual knowledge for which the apostle and his friend cried incessantly to the Lord.

13. First, consider the men for whom this knowledge is desired. They are saints and faithful brethren, of whom we read that they “knew the grace of God in truth,” and were “producing fruit” for God. For those who know the Lord already we must not cease to pray. They are not beyond the need of our prayers while they are in this life. We may pray for those who know nothing about the Lord, so that he would open their blind eyes; but even those who have been taught by God already are in need of our supplications so that they may learn even more. We have great encouragement to pray that they may be filled with all knowledge, since the Lord has already done so much for them. We dare not say in this case that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, for a little knowledge of the things of God may suffice to save the soul; but more knowledge is a most desirable thing for those who have that little knowledge. Therefore pray for them. Do not let your prayers plead only and altogether for the unconverted, but entreat for our young converts so that they may be further edified. It will be a bad day when we are so engaged in seeking lost sheep that we forget the lambs. It would be very mischievous for us to neglect our work at home in order to carry on warfare with the adversary abroad. No, let us cry to God daily in prayer that the stones recently quarried may be built up upon the one foundation, and embedded in the walls of the church of God to eternal glory. We desire life for the dead, health for the living, and maturity for the healthy. Let us pray for the deeper instruction of our younger brethren.

14. Concerning this desirable knowledge, what is the quantity? We desire for them “that they may be filled with the knowledge of his will.” “Filled” — this is grand scholarship, to have the mind, and heart, and our entire manhood filled with knowledge. Paul would not have a believer ignorant on any point: he would have him filled with knowledge, for when a bushel measure is full of wheat there is no room for chaff. True knowledge excludes error. The men who go after false doctrine are usually those who know little of the word of God; being untaught they are unstable, ready to be blown around with every wind of doctrine. It you leave empty places in your minds not stored with holy teaching, they will be an invitation to the devil to enter in and dwell there. Fill up the soul, and so shut out the enemy. Paul desired the Colossian saints to be filled — filled up to the brim with the knowledge of God’s will. Brethren, we would have you know all that you can know about God’s truth. Rome flourishes by man’s ignorance, but the New Jerusalem rejoices in light. No knowledge of the revealed will of God can ever do you any harm if it is sanctified. Do not be afraid of what they call “high doctrines,” or the “deep things of God.” They tell us that those things are secrets, and therefore we ought not to pry into them. If they are secrets, there is no fear that anyone can pry into them; but the truths revealed in the word are no longer secrets, since they are revealed to us by the Spirit of God, and as far as they are revealed it should be our desire to understand them, in order to be filled with the knowledge of them.

15. Let us try to know divine truth more and more intimately. You know a man, for you pass him in the streets with a nod; you know another man far better, for you live in the same house with him; you know him best of all when you have shared his trouble, partaken in his joy, and have, in fact, had fellowship with him by blending your two lives in one common stream of friendship. When you learn a spiritual truth endeavour to know it out-and-out; to know its foundation and structure; to know it by the application of the Spirit to your own soul so that you are filled with it. You may have knowledge in the brain, but it may not run into your spirit, so as to penetrate, and permeate, and saturate your spirit, until you are filled with it. Oh, to get the gospel into one’s entire nature, and to be like the water-pots of Cana, filled up to the brim! Lord, fill your poor children with the knowledge of your will!

16. This makes me notice what the matter of this knowledge is; “filled with the knowledge of his will.” What is that? It means the revealed will of God. Paul would have the Colossians know what the Lord has revealed, as far as human mind could grasp it, whether it were doctrine, precept, experience, or prophecy. How good it is to know the perceptive will of God. Our prayer should daily be, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” Lord, teach me what is sin, and what is righteousness, so that I may discern things which are excellent. Whereas there are questions in the church of God itself upon what the will of the Lord is, Lord help me not to care to know what is the will of this learned doctor, or what is the will of a certain assembly, but what is the Lord’s will. “To the law and to the testimony,” this is our touchstone. Our desire is to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s will so as to do it without fail. We especially would know the will of God, as it constitutes the gospel; for Jesus says, “This is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, may have everlasting life.” Oh, to know his will in that respect most clearly, in order to proclaim it everywhere, so that men may know the way of life, and may be led into it by our word! Once more we read: “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” {1Th 4:3} Oh, to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s will until you know what sanctification means, and exhibit it in your daily life! It is yours to teach men what God means by holiness. Your mission is not fulfilled, and the will of God is not accomplished unless you are sanctified. We need to be filled with this.

17. Know anything, know everything that is worth knowing. “That the soul is without knowledge is not good.” Never attempt to run side by side with the agnostic whose boast it is that he knows nothing; but let it be your delight to know all that can be learned out of the Book of the Lord, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Concentrate your faculties upon the will of God. Here dive into the depths and climb up to the heights, and be afraid of nothing; ask the Holy Spirit to saturate you with truth, as Gideon’s fleece was wet with the dew of heaven, as the golden pot was filled with manna, or as Jordan is filled in the time of harvest, when it overflows all its banks.

18. Still we are not finished, for we must now notice the manner as well as the substance of this knowledge: “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Wisdom is better than knowledge, for wisdom is knowledge properly used. Knowledge may find room for folly, but wisdom casts it out. Knowledge may be the horse, but wisdom is the driver. When a man has knowledge it is like the grain which is laid in the barn; but wisdom is the fine flour prepared for food. We want Christian people not only to know, but to use what they know. Happy is he who knows what to do at the right time! Many people are very knowing half-an-hour after it is too late; but to be filled with wisdom is to be able at once to apply knowledge properly in difficult cases. Wisdom enables you to bring your knowledge to bear practically upon life, to differentiate between the precious and the vile, to deal with your fellow Christians in their various conditions, and to deal with sinners and those who are outside. You need wisdom so as to conduct your affairs so that nothing there shall scandalize the weak, or bring dishonour upon the name of Christ; for mere knowledge will not suffice for this. Knowledge is the blade, wisdom is the full kernel in the ear. Knowledge is the cloth, but wisdom is the garment. Knowledge is the timber, but wisdom has built her house. May all our knowledge be sanctified by grace and attended with the guidance of the Spirit so that we may become wise to know what the will of the Lord is.

19. “All wisdom,” says the apostle — many-handed wisdom, wisdom of all kinds, wisdom that will serve you in the shop, wisdom that will be useful in the office, wisdom that will aid the church of God, and wisdom that will guide you if you are cast among the vilest of mankind. May you “be filled with knowledge in all wisdom.”

20. But that wisdom which operates outside must be attended by a spiritual understanding which is powerful inside. I hardly know how to explain this: it is an inward knowledge of truth, the knowledge of the inward parts of things. It is a spiritual discernment, taste, experience, and reception of truth, by which the soul feeds on, and takes it into herself. We know many men who know much but understand nothing. They accept implicitly what they are taught, but they have never considered it, weighed it, estimated it, found out the roots of it, or seen the heart of it. Oh, to have in the church men full of spiritual understanding! These can say that they have tasted and handled the good word of life, and have proved and tested the truth as it is in Jesus. You know how it was with the sacrifices of old: a man who was poor brought turtle-doves or pigeons, and of these we read of each bird, “The priest shall split it at its wings, but shall not divide it in two”: but a man who was rich in Israel brought a young bull or a sheep, and this offering was not only split down the middle, but further divided, and the fat and the “inwards” are mentioned in detail. The poorer sacrifice represents the offering of the uninstructed; they have never properly divided the word of God, and do not know its fulness of meaning; but the man who is rich in grace is comparable to him who brought his young bull; for he can enter into detail and see the secret meanings of the Word. There is a depth which lies under, and he who is taught by the Lord shall find it. “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him; and he will show them his covenant”; and blessed are those who are taught by the Lord so as to read the mystery of his grace!

21. Here, then, is a grand petition for us. To go back to our first point, let our intercessory prayers go up for all our brethren. Lord, teach them your word. Let them know your book from cover to cover, and let the revealed truths in it enter into them until they are filled to the brim: then grant them the skill to use in daily life the knowledge which your Spirit has imparted, and may they more and more in their innermost souls be guided into all truth, so that they may comprehend with all saints what are the heights, and depths, and know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.

22. III. Now, thirdly, let us see in the text a lesson concerning THE PRACTICAL RESULT OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE. Paul prays for his friends “that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; so that you might walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him.” See, see the drift of his prayer — “that you may walk.” Not that you might talk, not that you might sit down and meditate, and enjoy yourselves, but “that you might walk.” He strives for practical results.

23. He desires that the saints may be instructed so that they may walk according to the best model. By walking worthy of the Lord Jesus we do not understand in any sense that he expected them to possess such worthiness as to deserve to walk with the Lord; but he would have them live in a manner that should be in accordance with their communion with Christ. You would not have a man walk with Christ through the streets today clothed in motley garments, or loathsome with filth: would you? No, if a man is a leper, Christ will heal him before he will walk with him. Do not let a disciple walk so as to bring disgrace upon his Lord! When you walk with a king, you should be yourself royal in gait; when you commune with a prince you should not act like a clown. Dear friends, may you know so much about Jesus that your lives shall become Christ-like, fit to be put side by side with the character of Jesus, worthy of your perfect Lord. This is a high standard, is it not? It is always better to have a high standard than a low one, for you will never go beyond what you set up as your model. If you get a low standard you will fall below even that. It is an old proverb, “He who aims at the moon will shoot higher than he who aims at a bush.” It is good to have no lower standard than the desire to live over again the life of the Lord Jesus — a life of tenderness, a life of self-sacrifice, a life of generosity, a life of love, a life of honesty, a life of holy service, a life of close communion with God. Mix all virtues in due proportion, and that is the life of Jesus towards which you must press forward with all your heart.

24. Next, the apostle would have us obtain knowledge in order that we may so live as to be pleasing to our best friend — “worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him.” Is that not beautiful? To live in order to please God in all respects! Some live to please themselves, and some to please their neighbours, and some to please their wives, and some to please their children, and some live as if they wished to please the devil; but our business is to please him in all things whose servants we are. Without faith it is impossible to please him; so away with unbelief! Without holiness no man shall see him, much less please him; therefore let us follow after holiness, and may the Lord work it in us. “Fully pleasing him” — so that we may please God from the moment we rise in the morning to the time when we lie down, indeed, and please him even when we are asleep: that we may eat and drink so as to please him; that we may speak and think so as to please him; that we may go or stay so as to please him; that we may rejoice or suffer so as to please him — “walking worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him.” Oh, blessed man, whose life is pleasing to God in all respects! The apostle Paul desires that we may be filled with knowledge for this very purpose. If I do not know the will of God how can I do the will of God? At least, how can there be anything pleasing to God which is ignorantly done without an intent to do his will? I fear that many children of God grieve their heavenly Father much through sins of ignorance — an ignorance in which they ought not to remain a single day. Be it clearly understood that sins of ignorance are truly sins. They do not have about them the venom and the aggravation which are found in sins against light and knowledge, but still they are sins; for the measure of our duty is not our light, but the law of God itself. If a man pleads that he follows his conscience, yet this will not excuse his wrong-doing if his conscience is an unenlightened conscience, and he is content to keep it in the dark. You are to obey the will of the Lord: that will is the standard of the sanctuary. Our conscience is often like a deficient weight, and deceives us; be it ours to gather a clear knowledge of the word, so that we may prove what is that perfect and acceptable will of God. The law makes no allowance for errors committed through false weights; when a man says, “I thought my weights and measures were all right,” he is not excused by it. The law deals with facts, not with men’s imaginations; the weights must actually be correct, or the penalty is exacted; so it is with conscience, it ought to be instructed in the knowledge of the divine will, and if it is not so, its faultiness affords no justification for evil. Hence the absolute necessity of knowledge in order for true holiness. May God grant us grace to know his will, and then to obey it “fully pleasing him.”

25. Look at the text again — “That you might walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, being fruitful.” Paul would have us producing the best fruit. Without knowledge we cannot be fruitful; at least in the points of which we are ignorant we must fail to produce fruit. Therefore he would have us to be very well taught, so that we may abundantly produce fruit for God’s glory. He says, “fruitful in every good work”; and this means much. He desires us to be as full of good works as we can hold. Some are hindered in this because they do not know how to go about holy service. How can a man be fruitful as a preacher if he does not know what to preach? True, he may preach the elementary doctrine of the cross, but even that he will be apt to present in a blundering manner. For certain, a man cannot teach what he does not know. The zealous, but untaught man, would be much more fruitful if he had a clearer understanding of divine things. In daily life, if in knowledge you are ignorant concerning the things of God, you will be ready to become the prey of any false teacher who may happen to pick you up. In hundreds of ways ignorance will make you run risks, lose opportunities for usefulness, and fall into dangerous mistakes. Knowledge is food for the true heart, and strengthens it for the Lord’s work. Oh, to have knowledge placed like good soil around the roots of the soul, to fertilize the mind, so that the clusters of usefulness may be as large as those of Eshcol: beautiful, plentiful, sweet, and full. May our Lord, the King of Israel, to whom the vineyard belongs, receive an abundant reward for all his labour for the vines which he has planted.

26. There is another note in this verse, which I ask you to notice. Paul would have them cultivate a comprehensive variety of the best things. He says — “Fruitful in every good work.” Here is room and range enough — “in every good work.” Do you have the ability to preach the gospel? Preach it! Does a little child need comforting? Comfort him! Can you stand up and vindicate a glorious truth before thousands? Do it! Does a poor saint need a bit of dinner from your table? Send it to her. Let works of obedience, testimony, zeal, charity, piety, and philanthropy all be found in your life. Do not select big things as your special line, but glorify the Lord also in the little things — “fruitful in every good work.” You never saw in nature a tree which yielded all kinds of fruit, and you never will. I have seen a tree so grafted that it produced four kinds of fruit at one time, but I remarked that it was a poor business in reference to two of the varieties; for one of the grafts, more natural than the others to the parent stem, drew off most of the sap, and flourished well, but robbed the other branches. The second kind of fruit managed to live pretty fairly, but not so well as it would have done on its own stem. As for the third and fourth, they were mere attempts at fruit of the smallest size. This tree was shown to me as a great curiosity; it is not likely that practical gardeners will be encouraged by the experiment. But what would you think of a tree upon which you saw grapes, and figs, and olives, and apples, and all other good fruits growing at one time? This is the emblem of what instructed believers will become: they will produce all kinds of goodness and graciousness to the honour of their heavenly Father. I have no doubt that you will naturally abound most in certain good works for which you have the greatest capacity, but still nothing ought to come amiss to you. In the great house of the church we need servants who will not be simply cooks or housemaids, but general servants, maids of all kinds of work, prepared to do anything and everything. I have known people in household employment in England who would not do a turn beyond their special work to save their masters’ lives: these are a kind of servants of whom the fewer the better. In India this is carried to a ridiculous extreme. The Hindu water-bearer will not sweep the house, nor light a fire, nor brush your clothes — he will fetch water, and nothing else: you must, therefore, have a servant for each separate thing, and then each man will do his own little bit, but he will not go an inch beyond. When we enter into Christ’s church we should come prepared to wash the saints’ feet, or bear their burdens, or bind up their wounds, or fight their foes, or act as steward, or shepherd, or nurse. It has been well said that if two angels in heaven were summoned to serve the Lord, and there were two works to be done, an empire to be ruled, or a crossing to be swept, neither angel would choose concerning which should be appointed to him, but would gladly accept the will of the Lord. Let us be equally prepared for anything, for everything by which fruit can be produced for the Well-Beloved.

27. Why is it that some are not fruitful in this comprehensive way? Because they are not filled with knowledge in all wisdom. When a man says, “You ask me to do the lowest work! Do you not know that I am a man of remarkable ability who should have higher work to do?” I venture to assert that he is an ignorant man. Self-assertion is ignorance on horseback. You have probably read of a certain renowned corporal in the American service a century ago. A general as he rode along saw a body of men endeavouring to lift a timber. They were short-handed, and the work lagged, but their famous corporal stood by ordering them about at a magnificent rate. The general passed and said, “Why do you not lend them a hand and put your shoulder to it?” “Why, sir,” said the great little officer, “how can you think of such a thing? Do you know who I am? I am a corporal!” The general got off his horse, pulled off his coat, and helped to move the timber, and by his judicious help the soldiers achieved their task. Then he turned to the high and mighty gentleman and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you need a man to do such work as this you can send for me: I am General Washington.” Just so the Lord Jesus Christ if he were here would gladly do a thousand things which his poor little servants are too great to touch. I know you, dear brother, you are too experienced, too old, too learned to help in the Sunday School! I know you are too respectable to give away a tract! Please get out of such ignorant ways of thinking, and ask to be useful in all possible ways. If you have done a little, do much; if you have done much, do more; and when you have done more, ask for grace to proceed to the highest possible degree of usefulness for your Lord.

28. IV. And now, fourthly, notice THE REFLEX ACTION OF HOLINESS UPON KNOWLEDGE. We have only a few moments left; let my few words sink into your hearts. “Fruitful in every good work” — what then? “increasing in the knowledge of God.”

29. Look at that. It seems, then, that holiness is the road to knowledge. God has made it so. If any man will do his will he shall know about the doctrine. If you read and study, and cannot figure out the meaning of Scripture, get up and do something, and it may be, in the doing of it, you shall discover the secret. Holiness of heart shall increase the illumination of your mind.

30. Will you kindly observe that this knowledge rises in tone? for Paul first prayed that they “might be filled with the knowledge of God’s will”; but now he implores for them an increase in the knowledge of God himself. Oh, blessed growth, first to know the law, and then to know the Lawgiver! first to know the precept, and then to know the mouth from which it comes! This is the height of knowledge, to see Christ and know the Father, and learn how to say from the heart, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

31. I would call your willing attention to another thought. The apostle, if he is to be judged according to his outward language, often utters impossible things, and yet his every sentence is not only full of deep meaning, but is strictly correct. Notice his language here: in the ninth verse he says, “that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will.” Can anything go beyond this? The vessel is filled right up to the brim, what more can it hold? Yet the apostle says, “increasing in the knowledge of God.” What can that mean? If the mind is full to the brim, how can it receive more? If the man is full of knowledge, how can his knowledge increase? Can there be any increase after that? I propose to you the riddle. Here is its answer: Make the vessel larger, and then there can be an increase. This solution for the difficulty requires no great wit to discover it. So that Paul plainly teaches us here that, if we have so increased in knowledge as to be full, he would have us increased in capacity to know even more; he would have our manhood enlarged, our powers of reception increased, so that we might grow from being children to be young men, and from young men to be fathers, and so may be filled — filled, always filled with all the fulness of God! May the Lord grant to us to perceive with humility, that if we are already full of knowledge, we can still advance, for we “have not yet attained.” Let no man think that he can go no further. “There is,” says Augustine, “a certain perfection according to the measure of this life, and it belongs to that perfection that such a perfect man should know that he is not yet perfect.” To that I heartily subscribe. There is a certain fulness to be found in this life according to the measure of a man, and it belongs to that fulness that the man should know that he can still increase in knowledge. Holy Bernard says “he is not good at all who does not desire to be better.” I also subscribe to that saying. Some might become good if they were not puffed up with the delusion of their own perfection. Others are somewhat commendable, but will never grow because they judge themselves to be full-grown already. I would have you filled, and yet have room for more: filled with all knowledge, filled with all holiness, filled with the indwelling Spirit, filled with God, and yet increasing in knowledge, in holiness, in likeness to God, and in all good things always for his glory. May the Lord add his blessing for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Col 1]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Adoration of God — Praise Our God, All Ye His Servants” 178}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Desires After Holiness — Holiness And Grace” 648}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Desires After Holiness — Longing To Love Christ” 646}


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, Desires After Holiness
648 — Holiness And Grace
1 So let our lips and lives express
   The holy gospel we profess;
   So let our works and virtues shine,
   To prove the doctrine all divine.
2 Thus shall we best proclaim abroad
   The honours of our Saviour God,
   When his salvation reigns within,
   And grace subdues the power of sin.
3 Our flesh and sense must be denied,
   Passion and envy, lust and pride;
   While justice, temperance, truth, and love,
   Our inward piety approve.
4 The gospel bears our spirits up,
   While we expect that blessed hope,
   The bright appearance of the Lord;
   And faith stands leaning on his word.
                     Isaac Watts, 1709, a.


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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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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