2214. Barriers Broken Down

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No. 2214-37:385. A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, July 26, 1891.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. {Ro 10:3}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1899, “Zealous, but Wrong” 1900}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2214, “Barriers Broken Down” 2215}
   Exposition on Isa 42:1-17 43:18-25 Ro 10:1-19 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3441, “God’s Memorial of His People” 3443 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ro 10:1-15 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2988, “Great Pardon for Great Sin” 2989 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ro 10:1-20 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3522, “Christ a Sanctuary” 3524 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ro 10 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2327, “Whole Machinery of Salvation, The” 2328 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ro 10 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2752, “Door, The” 2753 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ro 10 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2932, “False Justification and True” 2933 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ro 10 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3051, “Lessons from a Dovecot” 3052 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ro 10 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3229, “Royal Saviour, The” 3230 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ro 9:1-5 Ro 10 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3397, “Timely Expostulation, A” 3399 @@ "Exposition"}

1. You who have your Bibles open, kindly follow me from the first verse of the chapter. It begins, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” If you really desire that men should be saved, pray for them. It is an empty wish, a mere formality, if you do not turn it into prayer. Every loving desire for any man or woman should, by the believer, be taken before God in prayer. We cannot expect that God will save men unless his people pray for it. There must be travail before the birth, and there must be travail in prayer with God before we can expect that many will be born again into the church of God. Oh, for more prayer! Let us cry to God in secret, and in the family, and in all our assemblies, that God would save the sons of men.

2. But prayer, if it is sincere, is always attended with effort. Hence the apostle begins to teach as well as to pray. He prays that Israel might be saved, and then he explains the difficulties in the way, and tries to remove them. You pray, dear friend, do you? But you never speak to the individual for whom you pray. Is your prayer sincere? I will not question it. But your prayer has hardly reached that pitch of passionate earnestness which will secure an answer; for if you were in downright earnest, you would go to the person for whom you pray, and explain the way of salvation. You want your boy to be a scholar. Then you send him to school. You want your girl to learn a certain trade. You put her into an apprenticeship, do you not? In the things of common life, what you desire you use means to obtain. Oh, that in all our churches we might feel that while effort without prayer is presumption, and prayer without effort is hypocrisy, the holy blending of prayer and labour will produce, for certain, a grand result!

3. If we labour for souls, we must not be content unless souls are really saved; for the apostle says, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal for God.” Well, does that not satisfy you, Paul? They are zealous for God. They are red-hot. “No,” he says, “not unless it is in the right way. They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” We feel very thankful when we see tears stream down the cheek; but, you know, people cry at the theatre, and there is not much in it. Pray God it may not end in a shower of tears; but that the heart may bleed as well as the eyes weep. It may happen that we have induced our hearers to give up some outward sins. So far, so good. But it is written, “You must be born again”; and if this vital change is not experienced, all outward reformation will land them short of heaven. Beloved, the apostle’s love for souls led him to pray, and led him to labour; but it led him to be very concerned that no one should stop short of real living faith in Christ, and justification by his blood and righteousness. When we are in the throes of a revival, and we think men are turning to Christ, let us be happy, and let us not throw any cold water on anyone; but let us see that it is really the work of grace in the hearts of our hearers. Let us take care that the ploughshare goes down deep. Some soil needs even cross-ploughing and scarifying. {a} Let us do the work thoroughly; for it is only those who are really converted who will stand. We do not want a lot of people who will run in at one door of the church, and out at the other; but we want saving work; and our prayer should be, “Lord, quicken the people into divine life, by divine truth, through the divine Spirit!”

4. Now observe, that the apostle, being so earnest about souls, endeavours to be especially clear about the doctrine of justification by faith. If we want men to be truly converted, we must set before them the plan of salvation very clearly and distinctly. I meet hundreds of people who have had some kind of work on their hearts, but they tell me that they walk in a mist. They have not quite understood it. They felt that they were on the rock, but they were not quite sure what the rock really was. It is a good thing that our zeal for God should be according to knowledge, so that we know what we believe, and why we believe it; and know that we are saved, and how we are saved, and why we are saved; for if there is a mistake here, it may be fatal. Martin Luther, who, as we all know, continually preached the doctrine of justification by faith, said one day, that he felt half inclined to take the Bible, and bang it over the people’s heads; for they seemed as if they would not get a hold of the doctrine that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and by that alone. I suspect that knocking people’s heads about with the Bible would not accomplish any very great result; but that was Martin Luther’s way of putting it. Keep hammering away on that nail: “Believe, believe, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Well, now, that was the particular battleground of Luther’s day, so that he said, “The doctrine of justification by faith is the article of a standing or a falling church.” If a church holds and preaches that, it is a church of Christ, notwithstanding many blunders. But, whatever it may preach, if it does not preach that, it is to be questioned whether it is not a fallen church, a church that has lost its true position.

5. The fight today is the same as in Luther’s day. The words have changed, and men make other pretences; but the fight all along the line is still this — Are we saved by our own merits, or by the merits of another? Are we righteous through what we do, or are we righteous through what Christ has done. Is sin put away by tears and repentances, or is sin washed away by the precious blood of Christ, and by that alone? Beloved, I trust that our pulpit will never give an uncertain sound on this matter.

6. In our discourse we shall endeavour to show you that, while there are two righteousnesses, our own righteousness and the righteousness of God, there will always be, as there has always been, a conflict between the two. Men will choose their own righteousness, and they will not submit themselves to the righteousness of God.

7. You who are fellow workers for Christ will be especially interested in this text; for it presents three difficulties in the way of a man’s salvation. The first is, ignorance: “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness.” The next is, self-will: “And going about to establish their own righteousness.” And the third is, flat rebellion: “Have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.”

8. I. Well, now, our first difficulty is with IGNORANCE.

9. “Ignorance is the mother of devotion,” according to the Church of Rome. “Ignorance is the mother of error,” according to the word of God. We love the spread of knowledge, although there is a knowledge which it would be better not to know, just as there is a philosophy that is nothing but vain deceit, and not true wisdom. What we want our fellow men to possess, is spiritual knowledge. We especially desire that they may have, first and chiefly, knowledge with regard to God’s righteousness; for the difficulty is, that men do not know what that righteousness is which God requires.

10. Do you want to be saved by your own righteousness? Do you know what kind of righteousness it must be? To be accepted, it must be perfect. That is to say, if you have committed only one sin, you have stained your character in the sight of God, and your hope of perfect righteousness is gone. God’s law requires obedience, from the first moment that the creature understands that law, as long as that creature ever lives. Note what it requires of you: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind.” Have you done that? “And your neighbour as yourself.” Have you done that? Why, there is not one of us who has done it. If we had kept the law of God completely, from the first command to the last, from the first day until now; even that would not save us; for, if there were to be one sinful word or deed during the rest of life, it would spoil the whole thing, and God could not accept our righteousness.

11. When a man commits one sin, he is guilty of disobeying all the commands of God; for “he who offends in one point is guilty of all.” Here is a chain containing twenty links. If I break one of them I have broken the chain. True, there are nineteen perfect links; but if number twenty is snapped, down goes the cage over the mouth of the mine, and the miners are killed. Suppose that I should be required to produce a perfect vase of alabaster, or clear crystal, as a present to the Queen. But my maidservant has chipped it just a little. What is to be done? I may possibly find someone to use some patent cement, and fasten the little pieces in their places; but when all is done, it is still chipped; it is not perfect; and if it must be perfect before royalty can accept it, I must get another vase, for this one will not do.

12. Now, dear friend, while I am talking to you about a chip here and a chip there in your life, I am sure you must be saying, “Do not talk like that, sir. Why, some of us have not only gotten chipped, but we are smashed right up. And as for broken links; why, we have fairly melted the chain; there is not a link left. We have nothing, absolutely nothing, that we can bring before God.” I am glad to hear it. If you are lost, you are the very ones Christ came to save; and if you have no righteousness of your own, you have gotten to the halfway house of salvation. When you strip a man, you are partly on the way to clothing him. When a man is changing his old clothes for better, he must get the old ones off first. Oh, how glad I am to meet a real sinner! There are many sham sinners around. I saw, one day, in Italy, a fellow sticking out his arm, with an awful sore, and he begged from me. As I suspected that he had manufactured that sore with a little sulphuric acid, or by some such process, I did not feel the least pity for him. We have lots of people who come confessing their sins: “Oh, yes, we are sinners; we are sinners.” They do not mean it: they are only sham sinners. A real sinner, one who feels his guilt, is a “sacred thing,” as Hart says; “the Holy Spirit has made him so.” He is an empty vessel that God is going to fill. He is a broken heart that God is going to make anew. But here is our trouble; that the majority of people are not aware how perfect, how complete, any righteousness must be, before God can accept it.

13. The next difficulty is, that men do not know that God has provided a righteousness for all believers. For every soul born of Adam, who will believe in Christ, there is a perfect righteousness; not ours, but God’s. God came here in human form, not bound to be obedient; but “being found in the form as a man, he became obedient”; obedient to his own law, and fulfilled every jot and tittle of it. He was “obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” And his obedience is ours, if we believe. God looks at us as if we had done what his Son has done. Christ died, and rose again; and God regards us as having died in him, and considers that we are risen with him, and now live in him. Our righteousness is the righteousness of another, even of the Son of God — a perfect righteousness, a divine righteousness, an everlasting righteousness. In the book of Daniel it is written that Messiah, the Prince, should “finish the transgression, make an end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness.” He was “made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

14. Alas! how many there are who do not know that God justifies the ungodly; that sinners can be regarded as just, through what Christ has done and suffered; and that, believing in the precious Christ whom God has presented to be a propitiation, the vilest are fair to look upon in God’s esteem, and the far-off ones are made near by the blood of Christ! Oh, I wish that men knew it! I have sometimes thought that if they only knew it, if they only really heard the gospel; they must believe it. You who preach Christ in the streets, go on preaching him. I saw a man preaching, the other day, with no creature except one dog to listen to him, and I really thought that he might as well have gone home. But I read a story yesterday which I know to be true, and it showed me that I was making a mistake. There was a woman who for years had been in such dreadful despair that she would not even hear the gospel. She came to be very ill, and she said to one who called on her, “You sent a man to preach under my window three months ago, and I got a blessing.” “No,” the friend said, “I never sent anyone to preach under your window.” “Oh,” she said, “I think you did, for he came and preached, and my maid said that there was no one listening to him. I did not want to hear him; and since he made so much noise, my maid shut the window, and I lay down in bed; but the man shouted so, that I was obliged to hear him; and I thank God I did, for I heard the gospel, and I found Christ. Did you not send him?” “No,” said the good man, “I did not.” “Well,” she said, “then God did. There was no one in the street listening to him; but I heard the gospel, and I got out of my despair, and I found the Saviour, and I am prepared to die.” Fire away, brethren! You do not know where your shot will strike; but “there’s a billet for every bullet.” I believe that there is some soul whom God intends to bless whenever we preach the gospel, depending on his grace. But the majority of mankind are ignorant of the righteousness which God requires, and ignorant of the righteousness which God has provided.

15. Many are ignorant concerning how they are to receive this righteousness. “If there is such a righteousness,” they say, “how are we to get it?” The current notion is, “I must pray so much; I must weep so much; I must feel so much.” Ah! this is the common ignorance, whereas men should know that —

   “There is life for a look at the Crucified One.”

“Why, everyone preaches this,” says someone. I know they do, but people do not understand it, although you keep on preaching it; for until God the Holy Spirit makes men to know the meaning of what you say, they will only nod their heads, and pass on. Though I heard the gospel from my childhood, and was brought up upon the very knee of piety, I did not understand what I must do to be saved until I heard that text preached from — “Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” I do not believe that my ignorance was the fault of the preacher. It was certainly not the fault of my father, or my mother, and not the fault of the Bible, which I had read through again and again; but it was the fault of these dim eyes, that I could not see. Go on! go on! you preachers of the Word. Spread abroad the knowledge of this great fact, that “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.”

16. The worst of this terrible ignorance is, that the majority of mankind do not know HIM who is our righteousness. Who is the Righteousness of God? Who is the Blessed One? God’s only-begotten Son; God, the Word made flesh; born at Bethlehem, nurtured in the carpenter’s shop, toiling here below, and wearing his life away for the souls of men; extending his arms upon the cross, giving his side to be pierced, his soul to be breathed out, his body to be laid in the tomb, so that men might be saved. Oh Jesus! in your wounds is our salvation; but men do not know it. Oh Jesus! your death is the death of sin, your life is our life to God; but men do not know it. Alas! alas! men still go on in their blindness and ignorance; the Lord of life is still despised and rejected by men, and still his servants cry, “Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”

17. You see our great difficulty is human ignorance — ignorance, dear friends, even of the facts of the truth. You do not know how near to this place, in the very midst and heart of London, there are tens of thousands who do not know the name of Christ. You think it incredible; but I know that it is so. There are multitudes who have never read a chapter in the Word of God since they went to Sunday School as children, and they never darken the threshold of God’s house. There are streets, in neighbourhoods not far from here, where, if one man goes to a place of worship, he is singled out by all his neighbours as a strange character. Let me turn aside for a moment, and ask you how in this city of London are we to get the gospel to the working man — to a great number of them? How does it get to some of them? How? Oh, little Mary sings it on father’s knee on Sunday night. He has not been out to a place of worship; but his little girl has been to the Sunday School; or his son Jack has been to the mission, and comes home, and tells his father what the preacher said. He will listen to his own children when he will listen to no one else. The way to increase the number of those who are not ignorant, is for us so to see the things of Christ, that others who have never seen them may have from us an intimation of what we have seen. Oh, it must be very painful to a blind man for another to say to him, “Now I am looking over a delightful landscape. Away there I can see a beautiful body of water, and beyond the hills I see the sea. There is a ship going along.” “Oh,” the man says, “I wish I had eyes so that I could see, too!” The Holy Spirit makes us see, that, as we tell the story, we may set others longing to see also. I think I reminded you once before, that when the prodigal came back, his father said, “Bring out the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.” But, you will notice, he never fed him. The father does not say anything about that. He says, “Bring here the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry.” Well, it is the servants and all the rest of the household who are to eat. There is nothing said about killing the fatted calf for the prodigal. No, no; you see he had lost his appetite, and others must begin to eat first; and then, when they began to eat, he was sure to join in with them. There is no better way of creating an appetite than seeing other people eating. Let us enjoy the things of Christ so much that poor sinners’ mouths will water, and they will begin to ask, “What is your Beloved more than any other beloved? What is this righteousness of which you speak. What is this wonderful thing?” We have need to relate what we know; for ignorance, even of the simple facts of the gospel, is extremely common.

18. Others are in great ignorance as to the excellence of the gospel. They do not know the peace, the joy, the rest it brings.

   His worth if all the nations knew,
   Sure the whole world would love him too.

But they think that it is all mere talk; a something all very well for parsons, and for a few other people, to get a hold of; but nothing for the working man, nothing for the man of business, nothing for your noble gentleman who has his heaven at Newmarket, and his bliss at Epsom. {b} Ah, dear friends! I wish they knew the pearl of great price, the incomparable value of salvation by blood; for then they would consider the highest glory of this present world as unworthy to be compared with the least delight of the kingdom of God.

19. With many this ignorance is wilful. No one is so blind as the man who does not want to see; no one so deaf as the man who does not wish to hear. Many are like the hogs in harvest — very deaf when they are told to get out of the grain field. And so, when sinners run riot in their sins, they are very deaf indeed when they are told to leave them, and flee to Christ for refuge. Some of you, perhaps, do not want to know too much. When you come to that part of the Bible that begins to touch your conscience, you say, “Shut that up.” You will go on somewhere else. You do not want to know. Wilful ignorance will bring terrible damnation. If there is salvation, and you do not want to know it, then you deserve to be cast away.

20. There are some who are ignorant despairingly; and I do pity them, poor souls! They sigh and cry, “Oh, I cannot be saved, I am so guilty. My heart is so hard!” The devil tells men, first, that they can be saved any day they like; so they may put it off. Then, immediately afterwards, he says, “Salvation is not for such as you. You never had enough sense of sin. You never will have enough faith. God will never save you.” Ah, my dear friend, I wish I could make you understand, that whoever comes to Christ he will in no wise cast out; for he himself has said, “He who believes in me has” — has now — “everlasting life.” He shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck him out of Christ’s hands. Some of us will give Christ great glory when we get to heaven. I think that some people will meet us at the gate, and say, “What! and have you gotten here?” I should not wonder if it was some elder brother. That elder brother was a good fellow. He was a real child, and he was always with his father, and all his father had was his. Yet he was surprised to see the prodigal come home after wasting his father’s living. Ah, but it is those who cost the Lord so much in whom his infinite grace will be displayed! They will glorify him most. Oh you despairing ones, if you must faint, faint away on to the bosom of Christ! Swoon away into the arms of the almighty Saviour, and then it will be good to have swooned, and you will find in him your strength.

21. II. There is another thing that stands in our way that is worse than ignorance, and that is, SELF-WILL.

22. Men, ignorant of God’s righteousness, are said to be “going about to establish their own righteousness”; in other words, to set up the poor idol of their own righteousness. Man sees God’s righteousness, and, instead of accepting it, he says, “I think I could match that. I will set up my own righteousness.” There is a treasure of gold, and the man says, “No, I will not have that. I think that I could make a sovereign at home out of a bit of bronze.” Fool that he is! How shall he mimic God? If I were at heaven’s wide-open gate, and a voice should say, “Enter freely,” and I replied, “No, I think I prefer the Surrey hills, or a place down by the seaside,” what a fool I should be! but, even then, not so great a fool as when forsaking the righteousness of God, I want to set up my own. A human thing at best, how shall that match the divine righteousness? An imperfect thing at best, how shall I compare that with the perfect righteousness of Christ? A fading, floating thing, always apt to be damaged by the next moment’s temptation, how can I be so foolish? A ridiculous thing, an ignominious thing, a filthy thing. Paul said that his righteousness, which was of the law, was “blameless”; and yet he considered it dung so that he might win Christ — dung, the most filthy thing. Here, scavenger, take it away! Do any of you have any righteousness of your own? I do not believe that even the dustman would take it. He would say, “No, the carts are not for carting away man’s righteousness; we have no place bad enough to dump it into.” Dump it into the bottomless pit: indeed, even there they do not have any righteousness; for they know their true condition. Human righteousness is a great lie: it is filthy rags. Away with it from off the face of the earth!

23. What do men try to do? In what vain efforts are they spending their time and strength? According to the text, they go about “to establish their own righteousness.” I think you will better understand it, if I read it, “They go about to set up their own righteousness.” You see it is a dead thing. “See here,” they say; “we will make it stand.” If I had a corpse here — I am glad that I do not — well, I set it up, and it tumbles down. Nevertheless, I will put its legs out a little wider, and see whether it will stand. Down it goes! Now I will prop it up. Surely, I can make this dead thing stand. But, no: it has a tendency to fall, and down it goes! Have I not seen a sinner try to set up the corpse of his own righteousness, and make it stand? At last he has been obliged to say what the fool said in the old classic, “It needs something inside”; and so it does: for until there is life within, it will not stand. Even so, our righteousness has no true vitality, no life within, and it will not stand.

24. Or, to use another illustration: it is like a man trying to patch up an old house. You find such in country villages; a place which no one has ever repaired for fifty years. I do not know if there is any landlord; but if there is, he would like to forget that he has such property. The main beam is nearly cracked through. The lath and plaster have gone long ago, and the birds go in and out the best parlour whenever they like; and the whole thing is tumbling down. A man buys it, and he says, “Now, you know, it is a pity to pull this house down; I think I will repair it.” So he puts in a beam there, just under the roof; and he puts a strut here, and another timber there; and, by the time he has spent as much as would have built a house, he has got a very handsome ruin left, and nothing more. I think it was Charles the First who used to swear, “God mend me.” Someone said it would be an easier job to make a new one of him; and I believe it. When men say, “God mend me,” they had better say, “God make me new.” So, as for your righteousness; if you have a lot of it, and it is very good; if you have been christened, or baptized, if you like, and confirmed, and have always gone to your place of worship, and are so good that you wonder you can live in such a wicked world as this; if you have all that righteousness, the best thing to do with it is, to get rid of it; for it will ruin your soul. But this is what men do, — they try “to set up” their own righteousness.

25. And then the text says that they “go about” to do this: “Going about to establish their own righteousness.” That is to say, they set about it with great zeal. Some of you who know the Lord can remember how you thought you would do it. Why, at first, when you started as a young man, you were never going to do any wrong. You were going to have a perfect righteousness of your own. You had an ugly temper, however, and it broke out indeed. “Well,” you said, “I shall never do that again.” You came down to breakfast, and you were as bad-tempered as ever; so you said, “Never mind, I will set it up now. I shall be a teetotaller. That will be a grand thing.” So it was; but, somehow or other, down tumbled your righteousness again! Then you went to a place of worship. You said, “I will always be there.” You began to think that you would grow into a saint; but you did not. Down tumbled your righteousness! Over it went; and you, all the while, tried zealously to set it up. “Going about” implies great earnestness: when a man says, “I am going about a thing,” he means that he is going to take his coat off — going to work in his shirtsleeves. He is going to toil at it for many hours. I remember how I set to work in my shirtsleeves to make a righteousness of my own; and I did very nicely indeed while it was dark. But when a little light from the cross broke in, I began to see the filthiness of it. And you, my friend, think yourself very beautiful when you cannot see yourself. But let the mirror be held before you, you would begin to see the spots of filth that defile the very best of your righteousness. Ah me! how foul the righteousness of men is; and yet they go about to set up their own righteousness.

26. To “go about” to establish a righteousness means, in the next place, that men have varied ways of doing it. Shall I tell you what I frequently encounter? I have talked with a person, and said, “Can you trust in your own works?” “Oh, no, sir, I can never do that.” “Well, can you come to Christ, and take the righteousness of God?” “Well, sir, no; I do not feel enough my own emptiness.” Look! This man is going to bring his own emptiness to help him. He actually thinks that, if he does not have any righteousness, his own emptiness is good for something; and, if he can get to feel that, he will come and bring his feelings of emptiness to commend him to Christ. Did you ever hear of such a thing? You go to him, and you say, “My dear man, salvation is not on account of your feelings.” Each time you drive him out of his refuge of lies, he hurries back to the old ground again — something of himself. Suppose there is a ship out at sea, and the people on board feel that they are safe. One of them says, “I know that we shall not drift far out of our course.” “Why?” “Because we have such a big anchor on board.” You say, “Ah! he is a cockney. He must be a fool who believes in an anchor on board.” Why, it is no good to anyone! When you “let go” of the anchor, and lose sight of it, and the anchor gets an unseen grip down below, then it is good for something; but while the anchor is on board, it is only so much dead weight for the ship. You want to have your anchor on board, do you not? You do not like it to “enter into what is within the veil”: that is too mysterious. You want to feel something, to have something of your own. Oh pride! Oh self-will! God will have salvation to be all by grace, and man will have it by debt. God gives the promise of his grace, and man puts his penny down to pay for it. Men’s pennies and God’s promises do not go together very well to buy heaven. He says, like a king, “You may have it for nothing”; and we say, “Lord, we think we could make up a little something to buy it.” Well, then, you will never have it. His terms are free, rich, sovereign grace; a sinner, with nothing, receiving everything from God. He may have it. He may have it now. No one can say no to him. But he stands chaffering, trying to pay his penny, as if God kept a shop. Has God come down to stand in your market, and cry to you, “Here, bring your gold and your silver to purchase my favour?” You do not know who he is, for all things are his. If he were hungry, he would not tell you, for the cattle on a thousand hills belong to him. Will you have salvation freely? If so, take it freely. But if you will buy it, you and God can never agree.

27. Let me just close this point about human will, by saying that the efforts of men for their own salvation are deadly efforts. God will save them one way, and they want to be saved another. God says, “There is medicine. Take it; drink it.” Man says, “No, I will grow my own drugs in my own garden, and I will compound my own medicine”; and he goes and takes his own dose. And can he ever get well in such a way as that? God says, “I will forgive.” Man says, “I will try and deserve to be forgiven”; as if that could be possible. I have heard that the Romanists say that venial {c} sins are a kind of sins that deserve to be forgiven. What kind of sin must that be? Yet some men seem to think that, somehow or other, they can deserve to be forgiven. That would not be forgiveness at all. Come, come, you vilest of the vile, you lost and utterly undone! Come, come, you who have no righteousness, or the spirit of a shade of a shadow of a pretence of any! Come as you are. There is everything you need in Christ. Come and have him, and you shall not be refused; but reject his terms, and salvation can never be yours.

28. III. Now, very briefly, I want to speak upon the third difficulty, which is a gross evil, namely, FLAT REBELLION.

29. Observe my text, dear friend, if you forget everything else. I say, remember what the Lord says: “They have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” This is a strange word. “Have not submitted themselves.” Do you not wonder that such a word is used? Here is a criminal who will not submit to be pardoned. Here is a sick man who will not submit to be made well. Here is a man with a broken leg who will not submit to have it healed. Here is a poor beggar in the street who will not submit to be made into a gentleman. Why, the word seems quite out of place, does it not? It shows you the monstrous absurdity of self-righteousness, that men will not submit themselves to what is the greatest blessing that heaven itself can bestow. It is a matter of submission.

30. While it is a strange word, it is a very searching word. Is it so, that, the reason why I am not saved is that I will not submit? Do I stick out? Do I have an iron sinew in my neck? Am I such a self-willed fool that I will not submit before my Maker — will not yield even to have salvation for nothing? Am I so proud that I scorn to be a pauper before God? That is just it. That is the reason why many do not have peace. If they were bankrupts, if they were cleaned right out, they would have perfect rest of soul; but still they stand up, and, in their self-righteousness, fight against God.

31. It is a very true word. I am sure that there is many a sinner who has nothing to be proud of, and yet he is as proud as Lucifer. Why, there are prostitutes who are proud of their own righteousness. There are drunkards proud of their own righteousness. I do not know where they get it from; but they are proud of it. I have heard say that a dustman can be as proud as my Lord Mayor. And so the vilest sinner can be proud of his own righteousness. “Why,” you say, “he has nothing to be proud of.” Nor do you: I mean you good, moral people, you who never do anything wrong, as you think. You do not have any more righteousness than he has, if it comes really to be measured, and tested by the Word of God. Still, it is so: the worse the man, the harder he is to bow before the righteousness of God.

32. It is a very suggestive word. “They have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” They will not admit that God is King. They quarrel with his sovereignty. How can the rebel be forgiven when he begins to question whether the king is king? When he begins to deny the rights of the magistrate to condemn him, how can he be pardoned? You must yield, my friend. Submit to the fact that God is God, or else you will not submit to God’s righteousness. Man thinks that God is hard, austere, demanding too much; and while God puts before him everything for nothing, yet he still says that the price is too high. It is his heart that is too high, his proud looks that need bringing down. Oh, that God would bring them down! The man will not submit to the power of God. He will not yield himself up to God to work with him, and in him, and for him. He wants to do it all himself; and then, if he got to heaven, he would throw his cap up, and want to share the glory. But it will not do. It is all of grace from first to last; and the sinner must consent that it shall be so, or else the gate of heaven will never give him admittance.

33. Lastly, it is a very cheering word. “They have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” “And is that all that I have to do — to submit myself? Is that all?” you say. There is a feather in the cap of your pride. Take it out. You have a weapon of rebellion by your side. Throw it down. Just submit yourself there, with folded hands, with the rope around your neck. Say, “Lord, if my soul is sent to hell, I deserve it. I submit, and I plead for mercy. I plead the precious blood. I not only submit to take that plea, but I delight to take it. I am happy to believe that —

   Thou hast promised to forgive
   All who on thy Son believe.
   Lord, I know thou canst not lie:
   Give me Christ, or else I die.”

34. Beloved friend, may the Holy Spirit lead you to submit! You have been kicking and struggling; now submit. You have been despairing, and talking about its being presumptuous to believe. Submit. Give all that up. No more of your talk! Come to faith! When a man submits to God, that man has gotten the victory. When God is King, you are safe. When you take Christ to be everything, and you are nothing, then neither death nor hell shall ever separate you from the heart of God. When you are not your own, you are Christ’s; but as long as you are dependent on self, you do not know the Lord, and you cannot know him.

35. May God bless this simple testimony to each and all, and to his name be praise! Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ro 9]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — Christ And His Righteousness” 554}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Received by Faith — The Only Plea” 556}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — The Life Look” 538}


{a} Scarify: To break up or loosen (ground) with a scarifier. OED.
{b} Epsom: … The eponymous racecourse at its edge holds The Derby at the start of summer which has become the generic name for a major annual competition across many sports in English-speaking countries. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epsom"
{c} Venial: Worthy or admitting of pardon, forgiveness, or remission; not grave or heinous; pardonable, light. OED

It is very difficult to know what report to give, week by week, concerning Mr. Spurgeon’s illness. Before last week’s sermon had reached country readers, he had apparently become much worse, and the gravest apprehensions were entertained. Then came an improvement, which made everyone full of thanksgiving; and this again was followed by a return of the terrible delirium which has been such a trying portion of the present illness. One thing we can say, Mr. Spurgeon is in the Lord’s hands; and he will do with him what is right.

When friends read that there is an abatement of the most serious symptoms, let them not slacken their supplications, but “continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” On the other hand, if all hope of recovery appears to be gone, let them still plead with the Lord, if it is his gracious will, to raise up his dear servant, and strengthen him for future service.

Gospel, Received by Faith
554 — Christ And His Righteousness
1 No more, my God, I boast no more
   Of all the duties I have done;
   I quit the hopes I held before,
   To trust the merits of thy Son.
2 Now for the love I bear his name,
   What was my gain I count my loss;
   My former pride I call my shame,
   And nail my glory to his cross.
3 Yes, and I must and will esteem
   All things but loss for Jesus’ sake:
   Oh may my soul be found in him,
   And of his righteousness partake!
4 The best obedience of my hands
   Dares not appear before thy throne:
   But faith can answer thy demands,
   By pleading what my Lord has done.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.


Gospel, Received by Faith
556 — The Only Plea
1 Jesus, the sinner’s Friend, to thee,
   Lost and undone, for aid I flee;
   Weary of earth, myself, and sin,
   Open thine arms and take me in.
2 Pity and heal my sin sick soul;
   ‘Tis thou alone canst make me whole;
   Fallen, till in me thine image shine,
   And lost I am, till thou art mine.
3 At last I own it cannot be
   That I should fit myself for thee:
   Here, then, to thee I all resign;
   Thine is the work, and only thine.
4 What shall I say thy grace to move?
   Lord, I am sin, but thou art love:
   I give up every plea beside,
   Lord, I am lost — but thou hast died!
                        Charles Wesley, 1739.


Gospel, Stated
538 — The Life Look
1 There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
      There is life at this moment for thee;
   Then look, sinner — look unto him, and be saved —
      Unto him who was nail’d to the tree.
2 It is not thy tears of repentance or prayers,
      But the blood that atones for the soul:
   On him, then, who shed it, believing at once
      Thy weight of iniquities roll.
3 His anguish of soul on the cross hast thou seen?
      His cry of distress hast thou heard?
   Then why, if the terrors of wrath he endured,
      Should pardon to thee be deferr’d?
4 We are heal’d by his stripes; — wouldest thou add to the word?
      And he is our righteousness made:
   The best robe of heaven he bids thee put on:
      Oh! couldest thou be better array’d?
5 Then doubt not thy welcome, since God has declared,
      There remaineth no more to be done;
   That once in the end of the world he appear’d,
      And completed the work he began.
6 But take, with rejoicing, from Jesus at once
      The life everlasting he gives:
   And know, with assurance, thou never canst die,
      Since Jesus, thy righteousness, lives.
7 There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
      There is life at this moment for thee:
   Then look, sinner — look into him and be saved,
      And know thyself spotless as he.
                  Amelia Matilda Hull, 1860.

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).

Terms of Use

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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