1962. The Friend Of God

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No. 1962-33:265. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Morning, May 8, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

You, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. {Isa 41:8}

And he was called the Friend of God. {Jas 2:23}

1. Abraham was called the Friend of God because he was so. The title only declares a fact. The Father of the faithful was beyond all men “the Friend of God,” and the head of that chosen race of believers whom Jesus calls his friends. The name is rightly given. We read that “whatever Adam called every living creature, that was its name”; and much more may we be sure that whatever name the Spirit of God has given to any man, that is his proper and right name.

2. James says not only that this was Abraham’s name, but that he was called by it. The name does not occur in his life as given in the book of Genesis, and it has been questioned whether it occurs anywhere else in Holy Scripture; for many have preferred to translate the word in Isaiah, and in 2Ch 20:7, as “lover,” or “beloved,” rather than “friend.” However this may be, it is quite certain that among the Jewish people Abraham was frequently spoken of as “the Friend of God.” At this present moment, among the Arabs and other Mohammedans, the name of Abraham is not often mentioned, but they speak of him as Khalil Allah, or the “Friend of God,” or more briefly as El Khalil, “the Friend.” Those tribes who boast of their descent from him through Ishmael, or through the sons of Keturah, greatly reverence the patriarch, and are accustomed to speak of him under the name which the Holy Spirit here ascribes to him. It is a noble title, not to be equalled by all the names of greatness which have been bestowed by princes, even if they should all meet in one. Patents of nobility are mere vanity when laid side by side with this transcendent honour.

3. I think I hear you say, “Yes, it was indeed a high degree to which Abraham reached: so high that we cannot attain to it. It would be idle for us to dream of being considered the friends of God.” My brethren, I entreat you, do not think so. We also may be called friends of God; and the object of this morning’s discourse will be to arouse in you the desire to know this matchless friendship. Let me read to you the words of our blessed Lord in the fifteenth chapter of John: “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. Henceforth I do not call you servants; for the servant does not know what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” It is, then, within reach: Jesus himself invites us to live and act, and be his friends. Surely, none of us will neglect any gracious attainment which lies within the realm of the possible. None of us will be content with a scanty measure of grace, when we may have life more abundantly. I trust you are not so foolish as to say, “If I may only get to heaven by the skin of my teeth, I shall not care about what I am on the road.” This would be wicked talk; and if you speak like this, I am afraid you will never get to heaven at all. He who is being prepared for glory is always hungry after the largest measure of grace. He who is born by God desires his Father’s love while he is still a child, and has no idea of waiting for it until he comes of age, and enters into his estate. Let me have as much of heaven, even now, as I can have. Yes, let me now be the friend of God. The other day there landed on the shores of France a boatful of people sodden with rain and salt water; they had lost all their luggage, and had nothing except the clothes on their back: they were glad, indeed, to have been saved from a wreck. It was good that they landed at all; but when it is my lot again to cross to France, I trust I shall put my foot on shore in a better plight than that. I would prefer to cross the Channel in comfort, and land with pleasure. There is all this difference between being “saved so as by fire,” and having “an abundant entrance ministered to us” into the kingdom. Let us enjoy heaven on the road to heaven. Why not? Instead of being fished up as castaways, stranded on the shores of mercy, let us take our passage on board the well-appointed Liner of Free Grace; let us, if possible, go in the first cabin, enjoying all the comforts of the way, and having fellowship with the great Captain of our Salvation. Why should we think it enough to be mere stowaways? I would stir you up, dear friends, at this time to aspire after the best gifts. Grow in grace. Increase in love for God, and in nearness of access to him, so that the Lord may at this good hour stoop down to us as our great Friend, and then lift us up to be known as his friends.

4. I have many things to say to you this morning, and, therefore, I must speak upon each one with great brevity: I am half afraid that I may be driven to a brevity which will render me a little obscure. I ask you first to notice the title to be marvelled at: “Friend of God.” When we have meditated and marvelled, I shall then speak to you under a second point — the title vindicated — it was a fit and proper title for Abraham, and we can see it to be so. Thirdly, I shall speak of the title sought after. May we all win it and wear it! After all this, I shall conclude with a few words upon the title used for practical purposes. May the Holy Spirit help me graciously at this hour!

5. I. First, may we be divinely instructed while we look at the name, “Friend of God,” and regard it as A TITLE TO BE MARVELLED AT.

6. Admire and adore the condescending God who speaks like this concerning a man like ourselves, and calls him his friend. The heavens are not pure in his sight, and he charged his angels with folly, and yet he takes a man and sets him apart to be his friend. What is man, oh Lord, that you are mindful of him? or the Son of Man, that you visit him? Who among our sinful race can be worthy of the friendship of Jehovah? Only his grace can make it possible for any man to walk with God in high companionship.

7. In this case the august Friend displays his pure love, since he has nothing to gain. Surely God does not need friends. You and I need friendship: we cannot always lead a self-contained and solitary life; we are refreshed by the companionship, sympathy and advice of a like-minded comrade. We are very foolish if we commit ourselves to a host of acquaintances; but we are wise if we have found a faithful friend, and know how to make use of him. Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life: many spirits might have failed beneath the bitterness of trial if they had not found a friend. No such necessity can be supposed of the all-sufficient God.

8. We know how sweet it is to mingle the current of our life with that of some choice bosom friend. Can God have a friend? Can he also find it in his heart to unbosom himself to another? Can the secret of Jehovah be with a frail creature? Does the Holy One desire to commune outside of himself? It cannot be that he is solitary: he is within himself a whole, not only of unity, but of tri-personality — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — and herein is fellowship enough. Yet, behold, in infinite condescension the Lord stoops to seek the acquaintance of his own creature, the love of a man, the friendship of Abraham. I dare not go so far in speech as my thoughts would lead me: it is certainly a great marvel that the Creator of the heavens and the earth should look to Ur of the Chaldees for a man, and should separate him for himself, and tutor and train him until he made him his friend — an honour which even the cherubim and seraphim have never reached.

9. Friendship cannot be all one sided. In this particular case it is intended that we should know that while God was Abraham’s friend, this was not all; but Abraham was God’s friend. He received and returned the friendship of God. From one point of view Abraham was always the object of God’s pity and mercy; but by his grace the Lord lifted him also into another condition, in which he became the object of the Lord’s satisfaction and delight. God gave Abraham his heart, and Abraham gave God his heart. They were knit together in love. To use expressive scriptural words, the soul of Abraham was bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord his God. Not only did the Lord speak to Abraham as he did to Moses, “face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend,” but he continually treated him as his friend, and communed with him as such.

   Stupendous grace of the Most High!
      What hath the Lord on worms bestow’d,
   Call’d to the council of the sky,
      And number’d with the friends of God!

10. Friendship creates a measure of equality between the people concerned. I do not say that absolute equality is at all necessary for friendship, for a great king may have a firm friend in one of the least of his subjects; but the tendency is towards an equalizing of the two friends: the one comes down gladly, and the other rises up in sympathy. Friendship fosters fellowship, and this bridges over the dividing gulf. There can be no idea of equality between God the Lord, and man the servant; indeed, it is only as we see our true relationship as servants that we can be friends. Did not Jesus say, “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you?” We must keep our place, or we shall not be friends. Yet see how the Lord comes down to Abraham, and communes with him at his table; while he lifts up Abraham to his own state, so that he sees the things of God, yes, even sees with gladness the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we say of two men that they are friends, we put them down in the same list; but what condescension on the Lord’s part to be on terms of friendship with a man! Again I say, no nobility is comparable to this. Parmenion was a great general, but all his fame in that direction is forgotten in the fact that he was known as the friend of Alexander. He had a great love for Alexander as a man, whereas others only cared for him as a conqueror and a monarch; and Alexander, perceiving this, placed great reliance upon Parmenion. Abraham loved God for God’s sake, and followed him fully, and so the Lord made him his confidant, and found pleasure in revealing himself to him, and entrusting his sacred oracles to him. Oh Lord, how excellent is your lovingkindness, that you should make a man your friend!

11. I want you also to notice the exceptional excellence of Abraham. How could he have been God’s friend had not grace worked wonderfully in him? A man is known through his friends: you cannot help judging a person by his companions. Was it not a great venture for God to call any man his friend? for we are led to judge the character of God by the character of the man whom he selects to be his friend. Yes, and, though a man with like passions with us, and subject to weaknesses which the Holy Spirit has not hesitated to record, yet Abraham was an exceptionally admirable character. The Spirit of God produced in him a deep sincerity, a firm principle, and a noble bearing. Although a plain man, dwelling in tents, the Father of the Faithful is always a very royal personage. A calm dignity surrounds him, and the sons of Heth and the kings of Egypt feel its power. His character is well-balanced. He is what is commonly called an all-round man. He walks before God, and is perfect in his generation, so that God is not ashamed to be called his God. I might almost say of Abraham’s general life that, like the Lord, he was light, and in him was no darkness at all; of course I only use the expression in the sense intended by our Saviour, when he spoke of the whole body being full of light, “having no dark part.” {Lu 11:36} Father Abraham is a man fit to be the head of the believing family. His quiet son Isaac is like a valley, above which his father rises like an Alp, in the greater strength of his character. He is equally superior to his notable grandson Jacob, great personality as Jacob is. There is a fuss, and worry, and worldly craft about Jacob, which somewhat beclouds his undoubtedly great faith; but this you do not see in Abraham: he moves majestically along his course, shining like the sun in mid-heaven, before whom even clouds are made into chariots of glory. I do not say that Abraham was worthy to be called the Friend of God in the sense of merit; but I do say that the grace of God had made him fit to be a partaker of fellowship with the God of light. While he was justified by his faith, the Lord’s calling him just was also justified by his works. James asks, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac, his son, upon the altar?” Indeed he was, by this great deed of obedience, proved to be in a right state before God. His justification was justified. God was just, even in a legal sense, in declaring such a man to be righteous; for he evidently was righteous. Oh that the sanctifying Spirit may prove in us the truth of our faith by the holiness of our works!

12. Follow me while I note some of the points in which this divine friendship showed itself. The Lord often visited Abraham. Friends are sure to visit each other. We read, “The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision”; “The Lord appeared to Abram”; and again, “The Lord appeared to him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent-door, in the heat of the day.” Three mysterious personages came to Abraham, and he entertained them in his tent under the tree, and provided for them a banquet, and he himself waited at the table. Was he not honoured above all men to entertain God himself? The Lord sojourned with the patriarch as in a strange land, and heard the prayers and praises of his servant day by day. On the other hand, Abraham was prompt to build an altar to the Lord; and besides this he had his chosen place for private communion with God; for we read, “Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord.” Often the great Lord and his trustful servant drew near to each other.

13. As a result of these visits of friendship paid to Abraham, secrets were disclosed. The Lord informed Abraham concerning his intentions about the Canaanites, who were ultimately to be destroyed; but their iniquity was not yet full. He revealed to him the birth of Isaac, and his intention that the covenant blessing should run in the line of the child born according to promise; and when he had determined to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord said to himself, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” I suppose it is only a gloss; but Philo quotes this text as from the Septuagint, and puts it like this: “Shall I hide this thing from Abraham my Friend?” The present copies of the Septuagint say, “Abraham my servant,” but the other reading is a very natural one. It was a special proof of divine friendship, that the Lord would not execute judgment until he had heard what the patriarch might say about it. Abraham, on his part, had no secrets, but laid bare his heart to the inspection of his divine Friend. Visits were received, and secrets were made known, and so friendship grew.

14. More than that, compacts were entered into. On certain grand occasions we read: “The Lord made a covenant with Abram.” Once with solemn sacrifice a light passed between the divided portions of the victims. At another time it is written that God swore by himself, saying, “Surely, blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” The two friends grasped hands, and pledged their trust. Here was a faithful God and faithful Abraham bound in an immovable covenant. God trusted Abraham, for he said, “I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.” And Abraham knew his God, and trusted him without suspicion, and thus there was firm friendship between them.

15. This friendship resulted in the bestowal of innumerable benefits. The life of Abraham was rich with mercies. We read, “And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.” Friends bless their friends, or at least wish they could do so. Abraham’s Almighty Friend denied him no good thing. Abraham was rich, but his riches were blest: we may say of him, “The gold of that land was good.” He was exceptionally favoured in all things to which he set his hand. Jacob, comparing himself with his grandfather, said: “Few and evil are the days of your servant”; and his life was certainly acted out upon a far lower level than that of the first of the three great fathers of the chosen seed. The Lord is a friend who can never know a limit in blessing his friends. Having loved his own he loves them to the end. To Abraham through the grace of his divine Friend difficulties were blessings, trials were blessings, and the sharpest test of all was the most ennobling blessing.

16. Since Abraham was God’s friend, God accepted his pleadings, and was moved by his influence. Friends always have an ear for friends. When Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom, the Lord patiently listened to his renewed pleadings. How instructive is that story of the patriarch’s pleading for Sodom! How humbly he speaks! — “I have taken upon me to speak to the Lord, even I who am only dust and ashes.” Yet how boldly he pleads! for he ventures to say, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The strain of his pleading is worthy of special note. It was not an intercession for Sodom so much as an expostulation with God — friend with friend. If we were pleading for London we should naturally appeal to God’s mercy; but Abraham takes the bolder course of pleading the divine justice. In fact, his plea is not only for Sodom, but for God himself: “Far be it from you to do according to this manner, to kill the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, far be it from you.” As much as if he were more earnest to prevent the name of God from being dishonoured by what might look like an injustice, than he was even for the saving of the guilty people. This was a bold stroke. He pleaded rather as a friend of God than as a friend of Sodom, and the Lord recognised to the full the force of his friendly appeal. Lot was rescued, and Zoar was spared, in answer to that prayer; just as Ishmael had been endowed with earthly blessings in response to the pleading, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” and just as the household of Abimelech had been healed in answer to Abraham’s supplication.

17. There was also between these friends a mutual love and delight. Abraham rejoiced in Jehovah! He was his shield, and his very great reward, and the Lord himself delighted to commune with Abraham. The serenity of the patriarch’s life was caused by his constant joy in God. I cannot now enter into this choice subject for lack of time.

18. Observe, however, that this friendship was maintained with great constancy. The Lord never forsook Abraham: even when the patriarch erred, the Lord remembered and rescued him. He did not cast him off in his old age. Until he was laid in the cave of Machpelah God was his God, indeed, and he is his God to this day; for did he not proclaim himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob? Abraham lives, and God is still his God. Constancy is also seen on the human side of this renowned friendship: Abraham did not turn aside to worship any false God, neither did the Lord turn away from the man of his choice.

19. More than that, the Lord kept his friendship to Abraham by favouring his posterity. That is what our first text tells us. The Lord called Israel, even rebellious Israel, “The seed of Abraham my friend.” You know how David sought out the seed of Jonathan, and did them good for Jonathan’s sake; even so the Lord loves believers who are the seed of believing Abraham; and still he seeks out the children of Abraham his friend to do them good. In the latter days he shall save the literal Israel: the natural branches of the olive, which for a while have been broken off, shall be grafted in again. God has not forgotten his friendship to their father Abraham, and therefore he will return in love to Abraham’s seed, and be their God again.

20. So I have glanced at sufficient facts to cause this title of “The Friend of God” to be marvelled at. You have all admired the friendship of Damon and Pythias; {a} behold here a greater marvel — the friendship of the Lord God with Abraham, a friendship in which Abraham gave more than his own life in proof of his fidelity, and the Great God still surpassed him in faithfulness.

21. II. And now let us notice THE TITLE VINDICATED. Abraham was the Friend of God in a truthful sense. There was great propriety and fulness of meaning in the name as applied to him.

22. First, Abraham’s trust in God was implicit. To show what I mean, I will bring before you the patriarch Job. Now Job was a grand believer: under some aspects he has “attained to the first three”; but yet Job had a controversy with God, and found it hard to think that the Lord dealt justly with him. He was able, despite all questions, to say, “Though he kills me, yet I will trust in him”; but he was much tossed about and tumbled up and down in his soul, and those three friends of his suggested no end of doubts. Their philosophy worried him; and Job was not so fully established in the doctrine of divine sovereignty as he might have been. Abraham had no such controversy: “he did not stagger.” David, too, was sometimes plagued with unbelief, so that he almost came to infidel conclusions. He was perplexed to know how it was that the wicked prospered while he himself was chastened every morning. He descended into the mists of the valley; but Abraham habitually walked the hill-tops. Bathing his forehead in the sunlight of Jehovah’s love he dwelt beyond all questions and doubts. Oh happy man, to know no scepticisms, but heroically to believe! There is a blessed ignorance which my soul covets. To know is not always gain. Fool that I am, I have too often eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I wish that I could forget all that has ever been told to me which suggests a doubt of my great Lord and his faithful word. I will forget, if I can, all the thoughts of man, for they are vain: I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Abraham possessed that higher knowledge which treads unbelief beneath its feet as unworthy even to be argued down. He was a perfect child towards God, and therefore a complete man. Unless you are converted and become as little children you shall in no wise enter into friendship with God; for this is God’s chief requirement in his friends: that they shall entertain no doubts about him, but unquestioningly believe him. Abraham “did not stagger at the promise through unbelief,” for he knew that what the Lord had promised he was able also to perform.

23. Next, there was joined to this implicit trust a practical confidence as for the accomplishment of everything that God had promised. He went childless for many a day, and the temptation came to him, and, for a moment prevailed with him, that he must use human means to fulfil the divine promise; but even then he did not doubt that the promise would be fulfilled. His great mistake showed plainly that he believed the promise would be fulfilled: the fault lay in his interference with the divine method of fulfilment. When he was commanded to kill his son he never doubted that God would keep his promise: he thought that God was able to raise up Isaac from the dead, from which also he received him in a figure. Faith is to credit contradictions, and to believe impossibilities, when Jehovah’s word is to the forefront. If you and I can do this, then we can enter into friendship with God, but not otherwise; for doubt is the death of friendship. If the Lord brings a man near to himself, it is absolutely necessary that, at the very least, there should be perfect confidence on the man’s part. “He who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” If you think God can lie, you cannot be his friend: you are separating your interest from the Lord’s interest, and committing a breach of friendship, when you doubt. Between man and man, confidence may be unduly placed, but towards God you may carry it to the utmost, and know no hesitancy. Believe without limit, and then you shall enjoy fellowship with the Lord.

24. Next to this, Abraham’s obedience to God was unquestioning. Whatever God told him to do, he did it promptly and thoroughly. When the Lord said to him, “Get out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you,” he went out, not knowing where he was going. And when the Lord told him to go to the unknown mount, and offer up his son for a burnt offering, he rose up early in the morning, and through three days of severe travail he journeyed to the place where his faith must be tested. When both moral and parental instincts might have held him back, he went onward, feeling that it was not his to question when once the command was clear. Jehovah’s will to him was law. Not everyone even yet has learned that it is God who is the author of all law, and that it is his will which makes a certain course to be right, and the contrary of it to be wrong. He was God’s servant and yet his friend; therefore he obeyed as seeing him who is invisible, and trusting him whom he could not understand.

25. Abraham’s desire for God’s glory was uppermost at all times. He did not do what others would have done, because he feared the Lord. I think that Abraham comes out grandly when he had pursued the kings who had plundered the cities of the plain. He overcame them, and recovered all their spoils. When Melchizedek met him as the priest of the Most High God, Abraham at once gave him tithes of all; but when the king of Sodom proposed that Abraham should keep all plunder that he had taken, and only restore to him the people who had been captured, it was grand of Abraham not to touch a particle of the prey, but to say, “I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet; I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ ” He did not want that a petty princeling, or indeed anyone, should boast of enriching Abraham: he trusted solely in his God, and though he had a perfect right to have taken the spoils of war which were his by capture, yet he would not touch them lest the name of his God should be in the least dishonoured.

26. Abraham’s communion with God was constant. Oh happy man, who dwelt on high while men were grovelling at his feet! What bliss he knew in those morning communings with God! What peace he felt all day long in the tent and in the plain, since he walked before the Lord, and was perfect towards him! Whether with the Bedouin or with his own servants, you see the man of God rather than the sheik, and the friend of God rather than the prince. Oh, that you and I may be cleansed to such a pure, holy, and noble life that we, too, may be accurately called the Friends of God!

27. III. Thirdly, dear friends, you will have patience with me while I stir you up to regard this name as THE TITLE TO BE SOUGHT AFTER. Oh, that we may get to ourselves this good degree, this diploma, as “Friend of God!”

28. Do you wish to be a friend of God? Well, then, first you must be fully reconciled to him. Of course you cannot remain his enemy and be his friend — that is clear enough. If you are pardoned through the sacrifice of Jesus; if you are justified by his righteousness; if you are regenerated by his Spirit, you are no longer God’s enemy; yet that will not entitle you to be called the friend of God. It will entitle you to call God your friend, and your helper; but you must go further than that, if you would be his friend. Love must be created in your heart; gratitude must foster attachment, and attachment must cause delight. You must rejoice in the Lord, and maintain close communion with him.

29. To be friends, we must exercise a mutual choice: the God who has chosen you must be chosen by you. Most deliberately, heartily, resolutely, undividedly, you must choose God to be your God and your friend. Beloved, there can be no friendship between you and God without your own full consent, nor without your ardent desire. What do you say to this? If sin is pardoned, all basis of enmity is gone; but now grace must come in to reign through righteousness to eternal life, and bring you into a condition of tender love and fervent desire towards the Lord our God.

30. But you have not gone far enough yet. If we are to be the friends of God, there must be a conformity of heart, and will, and intention, and character to God. Can two walk together unless they are agreed? Will God accept as his friend one who despises holiness, who is careless in obedience, who has no interest in the purposes of divine love, no delight in the gospel of Christ? Beloved, the Holy Spirit must make us like God, or else we cannot be friends of God. We must love Jesus the Son, or we cannot love the Father. We cannot rise to the standard of friends of God if self is our ruling force; God is not selfish, and he is not the friend of the selfish. Unless we love what God loves, and hate what God hates, we cannot be his friends. Our lives must, in the main, run in parallel lines with the life of the gracious, holy, and loving God, or else we shall be walking contrary to him, and he will walk contrary to us.

31. If we have gotten as far as that, then the next thing will surely follow — there must be a continual communion. The friend of God must not spend a day without God, and he must undertake no work apart from his God. Oh, to live with God, and in God, and for God, and like God! You cannot be a friend of God if your communion with him is occasional, fitful, distant, broken. If you only think of him on Sabbaths or at sacraments, you cannot be his friend. Friends love each other’s company: the friend of God must remain in God, and walk with God; and then he shall dwell at ease. What do you say to this? Has the grace of God made your feet like hinds’ feet to stand on such high places? He can do it. Let us seek after the blessing.

32. Brethren, if we are to be the friends of God, we must be copartners with him. He gives over to us all that he has; and friendship with God will necessitate that we give to him all that we have. It has been well said that if God is ours we cannot be poor, because God has all, and we have all in having God. On the other hand, the cause of God should not be poor if we can make it rich, and his work should never be in straits if we can find supplies. If we are indeed the Lord’s friends we consider his cause our cause, his work our work, and we throw all that we have into a Joint Stock Bank with the Great All-in-all.

33. Friendship, if it exists, will foster mutual delight. I cannot explain to you the joy that God has in his people — we shall know that eventually; but he calls his church his Hephzibah and he says, “my delight is in her.” I believe our Lord takes infinite delight in a soul which he has newly created, and which he has fashioned after his own likeness. He was glad to see man at the first, and yet afterwards it repented him that he had made man; but the Lord is always glad to see the newly created man, and he never repents that he has made him upon the face of the earth. The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him. I am sure if we are God’s friends our greatest joy is to draw near to God, even to God our very great joy. I have sometimes wished that I had nothing else to do except to dwell with God in prayer, praise, and preaching. If it were not for the thousand worries and cares which come to me in connection with the lesser matters which arise out of the weaknesses of his church and people, what a happy life mine would be! Indeed, I do not complain, but I only mean that holy service in constant fellowship with God is heaven below. Alas! one has to come down from the mount of the transfiguration and meet the lunatic child and the quarrelsome Scribes at the bottom of the hill. Our delight is in God. “Yes, he is my own God.” He is my all in all. Whatever comes from him is perfumed with myrrh and aloes and cassia. Even his very threatenings ring like music in the ears of those who love him. We will take delight in everything he does. We come at length to love even the rod which he wields, the blows of such a faithful friend are infinitely better than the kisses of our deceitful enemy. The cross which Jesus lays upon us is a light burden, because we delight in him. The God of love has our love, and he has become the light of our delight. He rejoices over us with singing, and we rejoice before him with the voice of melody.

34. But, brothers and sisters, I do not mean to go any further, for we must not tell the secrets of love in the open streets. I see a curtain; a veil shrouding the holy of holies. I dare not lift that veil. Into the most holy place ordinary worshippers cannot come; neither can they look inside it until the Lord anoints their eyes and purges their spirits. Oh Lord, reveal yourself to the half-opened eyes of your people. Within that curtain there are choice revelations, and secret witnesses, and ravishments of supreme delight of which I must not speak, because I feel towards these things as Paul felt concerning what he saw and heard in Paradise: he said it would be unlawful for a man to utter them. Beloved, may you know these special joys by personal experience, even as he did who is called “Friend of God!”

35. IV. I am finished when I have said a word or two upon the last point, which is THE TITLE TO BE UTILIZED for practical purposes. The practical purposes are just these.

36. First, here is a great encouragement for the people of God. See what possibilities lie before you. The other Lord’s day morning I tried to say something about the future possibilities of saints, since he who was faithful with his pound was made a ruler over ten cities. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1960, “The Servants and the Pounds” 1961} It does not yet appear what we shall be: we have not even the beginning of an idea of what we shall be in the next world if we are found faithful to our Master here, nor what the glory will be that shall transfigure us in the day of the coming of Christ, and during the thousand years of his glorious reign on the earth. But I want you now to notice the prize of your high calling in this life. You may become the friends of God, and may be so obviously in league with him that men may call you the friends of God. How few attain to this! Do you know one such person? Let your eye travel over all the Christian people you know, and tell me how many might be called the friends of God. I know one such man; {b} I will not mention his name. I fear he may not be long on earth, for he is well stricken in age. He is a man who has trusted God, walked with God, and been faithful to God, and has as a result been greatly honoured by God to carry on a vast work of usefulness. I wish I might grow to be like him; but I feel a mere babe in his presence. He is a rare man. Why are there not more such? Because God’s arm is shortened? No, but because our iniquities hide him from us. We might be, and we ought to be, such men and women that those who know us at home and in business would discover us to be the friends of Jesus. I would like as a preacher to have it said of me that I maintained the glory of my Lord, and defended the doctrines of his cross, and was the friend of the old gospel while others were gadding after novelties. In some form or other we should aspire after this heavenly friendship. See the possibility that lies within your reach — make it a reality at once.

37. Next, here is a solemn thought for those who would be friends of God. A man’s friend must show himself friendly, and behave with tender care for his friend. A little word from a friend will pain you much more than a fierce slander from an enemy. Remember how David said, “It was not an enemy; then I could have borne it: but it was you, a man my equal, my acquaintance.” {Ps 55:12} “The Lord your God is a jealous God”; and if he brings any of us so near to him as to be his friends, then his jealousy burns like coals of juniper that have a most vehement flame. He will save you, brother, despite a thousand imperfections; but he will not call you his friend unless you are extremely careful to please him in all things. Shall we draw back from the honour because of the responsibility? No, we delight in the responsibility: we thirst to be well-pleasing to God. Though our God is a consuming fire, we aspire to dwell in him. To our new nature this fire is its element. Even now we pray that it may refine us, and consume all our dross and tin. We would gladly be baptized with the baptism of fire. We wish nothing to be spared which ought to be consumed, or which can be consumed. We accept friendship with God on his own terms. I tremble while I speak. We are willing to bear anything which will make us one with God. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of judgment and the Spirit of burning: do you know what you ask for when you pray to be filled with him? I trust you will reply, “Whatever it may be, I desire to feel that heavenly influence which can make me for ever the friend of God.”

[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Jas 2:14-26 Joh 15:9-17]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Predestinating Grace — Electing Love Acknowledged” 220}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — Go Up, My Heart” 770}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — The Strength Of Christ’s Love” 811}


{a} Damon and Pythias: Around the fourth century BC, Pythias and his friend Damon, both followers of the philosopher Pythagoras, travelled to Syracuse. Pythias was accused of plotting against the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius I. As punishment for this crime, Pythias was sentenced to death. Accepting his sentence, Pythias asked to be allowed to return home one last time, to settle his affairs and bid his family farewell. Not wanting to be taken for a fool, Dionysius refused, believing that once released, Pythias would flee and never return. Pythias called for Damon and asked him to take his place while he went. Dionysius agreed, on the condition that, should Pythias not return when promised, Damon would be put to death in his place. Damon agreed, and Pythias was released. Dionysius was convinced that Pythias would never return, and as the day Pythias promised to return came and went, Dionysius prepared to execute Damon. But just as the executioner was about to kill Damon, Pythias returned. Apologizing to his friend for his delay, Pythias told of how pirates had captured his ship on the passage back to Syracuse and thrown him overboard. Dionysius listened to Pythias as he described how he swam to shore and made his way back to Syracuse as quickly as possible, arriving just in the nick of time to save his friend. Dionysius was so taken with the friends’ trust and loyalty, that he freed both Damon and Pythias, and kept them on as counsel to his court. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damon_and_Pythias"
{b} Likely a reference to Mr. George Müller, (September 27, 1805-March 10 1898), who was almost 82 when this sermon was preached. Editor.

The Sword And The Trowel. Edited by C. H. Spurgeon.
Contents for May, 1887.
What we aim at in the Pastors’ College. By C. H. Spurgeon.
Sunken Boats.
Don Quixote in Religion.
Two Dangers: a little Talk to my People. By C. H. Spurgeon.
Wit and Humour in Puritan Times.
A Shepherd with a Whip.
Professor Bruce.
Tract Distributors at Swansea.
The Doctrine taught in Iona.
Keep out of Debt.
John Stanger, of Bessels Green.
Notices of Books.
Notes.
Pastors’ College.
Stockwell Orphanage.
Colportage Association.
Society of Evangelists.

Price 3d. Post-free, 4 Stamps.
Passmore & Alabaster, 4 Paternoster Buildings; and all Booksellers.


God the Father, Acts, Predestinating Grace
220 — Electing Love Acknowledged <7.6.>
1 ‘Tis not that I did choose thee,
   For, Lord, that could not be,
   This heart would still refuse thee,
   But thou hast chosen me:
   Thou from the sin that stained me:
   Wash’d me and set me free,
   And to this end ordain’d me,
   That I should live to thee.
2 ‘Twas sovereign mercy call’d me,
   And taught my opening mind;
   The world had else enthrall’d me,
   To heavenly glories blind.
   My heart owns none above thee;
   For thy rich grace I thirst;
   This knowing, if I love thee,
   Thou must have loved me first.
                     Josiah Conder, 1856.


The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
770 — Go Up, My Heart <6s.>
1 Go up, go up, my heart,
   Dwell with thy God above;
   For here thou canst not rest,
   Nor here give out thy love.
2 Go up, go up, my heart,
   Be not a trifler here:
   Ascend above the clouds,
   Dwell in a higher sphere.
3 Let not thy love flow out
   To things so soil’d and dim;
   Go up to heaven and God,
   Take up thy love to him.
4 Waste not thy precious stores
   On creature-love below;
   To God that wealth belongs,
   On him that wealth bestow.
               Horatius Bonar, 1856.


The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
811 — The Strength Of Christ’s Love
1 Oh let my name engraven stand,
   My Jesus, on thy heart and hand:
   Seal me upon thine arm, and wear
   That pledge of love for ever there.
2 Stronger than death thy love is known,
   Which floods of wrath could never drown;
   And hell and earth in vain combine
   To quench a fire so much divine.
3 But I am jealous of my heart,
   Lest it should once from thee depart;
   Then let thy name be well impress’d
   As fair signet on my breast.
4 Till thou hast brought me to thy home,
   Where fears and doubts can never come
   Thy countenance let me often see,
   And often thou shalt hear from me.
5 Come, my Beloved, haste away,
   Cut short the hours of thy delay:
   Fly like a youthful hart or roe
   Over the hills where spices grow.
                           Isaac Watts, 1709.

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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