2221. The First Last, And The Last First

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No. 2221-37:469. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, March 12, 1891, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, September 13, 1891.

But many who are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. {Mt 19:30}

So the last shall be first, and the first last. {Mt 20:16}

1. We must be saved if we would serve the Lord. We cannot serve God in an unsaved condition. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” It is vain for them to attempt service while they are still at enmity against God. The Lord does not want enemies to wait on him, nor slaves to grace his throne. We must be saved first; and salvation is all of grace. “By grace you are saved through faith.” After we are saved, and as the result of salvation, we serve. Saved — we serve. He who is saved becomes a child of God, and then he renders a childlike service in his Father’s house. That service is also all of grace. He does not serve under the law of the old commandment, “This do, and you shall live” for he is not under the law, but under grace. Therefore, sin shall not have dominion over him, but grace shall have dominion over him; and he shall seek to serve the Lord and please him all the days of his life. When we are saved, we must never forget that we are saved so that we may serve; made free from sin, so that we may become servants to God. David says, “Oh Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, and the son of your handmaid: you have released my bonds.” Because our bonds are released, we are under new bonds, bonds of love, which bind us to the service of the Most High.

2. Now, when we come to be servants, we must not forget that we are saved men and women; for if we begin to imagine that, while we serve, we are working to win life by our merits, we shall get on legal ground; and a child of God on legal ground is going back, he is departing from his true standing before God. Still remember, “You are not under the law, but under grace.” But if you begin to forget your indebtedness to your Saviour, not only for eternal life, but for everything you are, and have, and do, you will be like the Galatians, who began in the Spirit, but tried to be made perfect by the flesh. You will be like the young man, whose question we have just read: “What do I still lack?” You will be like Peter, who puts in a kind of claim for reward: “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed you; therefore what we shall have?” You will be like the men who had worked in the vineyard from early morning, and who murmured because the penny was given to those who had only worked for a single hour. Christ will not have his servants under bondage to a legal spirit. Wherever he finds it, he strikes it on the head; for both the service and the reward are all of grace. The service itself is given to us from God, and God rewards the service which he himself has given. We might almost speak of this as an eccentricity of grace. God gives us good works, and then rewards us for the works which he himself has given. So all is of grace from first to last, and must never be viewed with a legal eye. I want on this occasion to conduct you into this subject.

3. I dare say that you have heard sermons from this text, but probably not preached from it in its context. I like to take the text as it stands, and get from it a bit of exposition for my own heart, which I may pass on to you; for, remember, although the text without its context may be true, yet it is not the truth which God intended to teach us there, and it becomes us to look about us to see what comes before the text, and what comes after, in order that we may catch the exact meaning of the Holy Spirit in giving the words.

4. I. I shall begin by dwelling upon this remark: IN THE SERVICE OF OUR LORD FREE GRACE IS REVEALED. It may not strike you as being on the surface of the text, but it lies on the very surface of the entire context: in the service of our Lord free grace is revealed. Think that over.

5. It must be so, in the first place, because, although it is rewarded, all our service is already due to God. Under the law we are bound to love the Lord with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength. There can be nothing beyond that. All that we can do we are already bound to do, under the law. Works of supererogation {a} must be impossible, since the law comprehends all holiness, and condemns every form of sin. When we have done all, we are unprofitable servants, we have done no more than it was our duty to do. Hence, brethren, if there is a service to which we are called, and for which a reward is promised, it must be a service of grace. It cannot be any other. Under the gospel, the same thing is true; all that we can do is already due. “You are not your own; for you are bought with a price.” There is no faculty, there is no capacity, there is no possibility of your nature which is not redeemed, and which does not belong to Christ by virtue of the ransom price which he has paid for it. You will gladly and gratefully acknowledge the obligation to do all that lies in you, for him who loved you, and bought you with his precious blood.

   Could my zeal no respite know,
   Could my tears for ever flow;

surely they are all due to my Lord already in repentance and gratitude. All the zeal of missionaries, all the patience of martyrs, all the faith of confessors, all the holiness of godly men, is Christ’s by right, and therefore there can be no reward for them, since that they are already his due. If there is a service for which a reward is given to us, it is a service granted to us by grace, so that we may receive grace by it.

6. But, next, there is this reflection — all our service is in itself unacceptable. When all comes to all, it is still, in and of itself, a thing so lowly and poor, so imperfect and defiled, that it could not claim any reward. Job was made to feel this in the day of his humiliation. He said “If I say, ‘I am perfect,’ it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet I would not know my soul: I would despise my life.” If it were possible for us to stand before God in any merit of our own, we feel so certain that we have come short of the glory of God, and that in many things we have offended, that we would tear off our righteousness from us, and throw it away as filthy rags, even the best of it. “I count all things but loss,” says Paul, “so that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but what is through the faith of Christ; the righteousness which is from God by faith.” If then we are so conscious of our failures, and shortcomings, and transgressions, and if we have to cry for mercy even on our holy things, and to confess sin in them, how can we suppose that any reward that may be given can be otherwise than by grace, since the whole service itself must be by grace?

7. Think again. The ability to serve God is the gift of God’s grace. I refer not only to mental ability; but to the capacity which men of wealth have to help the cause of God by their generous gifts. It is God who gives the power to get wealth, as it is he who gives the brain to think, and the mouth to speak. “What do you have that you did not receive?” If any here present are serving God with gifts and graces, I am sure that they must admit that those were given to them. They did not win them themselves. Or, if some of them are acquirements, yet the power to acquire was given to them by him from whom comes every good gift and every perfect gift. So the ability to serve God is the gift of grace.

8. Beloved, the call to serve God in any special way is also by grace. If we are called to the ministry, remember how Paul puts it: “To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” If our kings put on their coins “Dei gratiā” — kings, by the grace of God — well, well, let them say so; but we can put it on our lives. “Sunday School teachers, by the grace of God.” “Street preachers, by the grace of God.” “Students in the College, by the grace of God.” “Preachers of the gospel, by the grace of God.” It is God who calls us to our individual sacred employments. Our ordination, if it is an ordination at all, is from that great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, who went up into a mountain, and called to him whom he wished, and made them to be his first messengers. Before he left them, he gave them that great commission which is still binding upon all his followers, “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” It is by grace that we are put into any sphere of service; and what a grace it is to be permitted to do anything for him! We are not worthy to untie his shoe latchets; we are not even worthy to carry his shoes. Though it is a menial’s work, it is a monarch’s work to do anything for Christ. Blessed be his name, if he will let me be anywhere in his service, though it were only as a scullion in the kitchen! The kitchen is in the palace, and Christ’s kitchen-maids are maids of honour. He who serves God, reigns. To serve him on earth is to be glorified. To serve him in heaven will be a part of our endless glory. Surely this, then, is by grace.

9. Still further, every opportunity for serving God is a gift of grace. I am sure that when I have been shut out from the pulpit by sickness, I have thought it to be a great grace from God to be permitted to creep into the pulpit once more. When one’s hand has been unable to hold a pen, we consider it a grace to be able to write again some loving words that may be blessed to men. I think that it is God’s grace that puts people in your way to whom you may speak privately. It is God’s grace that brings those children to the Sunday School to you, so that you may teach them. If we were wide awake, we should see, all day long, opportunities for usefulness, and we should be saying, “Blessed be God who puts me by providence where I can be of some little service to him, and produce some fruit to his praise!” It is all by grace; these providential openings, and the spirit and the power to avail ourselves of them, come as gifts from God.

10. Another thing I know: when you have the call to a work, and the opportunity, still it is a gift of grace to be in a right state of mind to do your Lord’s service. Do you never feel sluggish and dull? Would you not always be so if his Spirit did not quicken you? Are you not sometimes frost-bitten, so that your soul seems like a great iceberg? Would the waters ever flow unless the Spirit came with melting power? Do you not thank God, dear brother, that you have had gracious occasions in which the Lord has made you like Naphtali, “a hind let loose?” When you have spoken goodly words, from whom has the unction come from? Where did the power come from? You have spoken: ah, that is a poor thing! But God has spoken through you: ah, that is a grand thing! Is that not entirely the work of grace? Every tear of sympathy that the preacher sheds when he is wooing men to Christ, every heart-throb and all the anguish of his soul when he would gladly compel them to come in, the whole bearing and carriage of a grace-taught minister or teacher — all this is by grace, and to God must be the glory for it. It is not under law that we are working; for law provides no strength, no tone, no savour. It is grace that makes us work; for it gives us the strength with which to work. “God has spoken once; twice I have heard this, that power belongs to God. Also to you, oh Lord, belongs mercy: for you render to every man according to his work.” You give him strength proportioned to his need, and the guidance necessary because of the difficulties of his task. Here is grace. Is it not so?

11. You will be sure to join with me in the next point without a single demur: success in holy service is entirely from the Lord. If we were so wicked as to attribute to ourselves the sowing, and to ourselves the watering, apart from grace, yet we dare not attribute to ourselves the increase. “I have planted,” said Paul; “Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” Would a single persuasion of ours prevail with man’s hard heart if the Holy Spirit did not convict him of sin, and make him repent? Would the preaching of the gospel in our poor way ever enlighten a single eye if Jesus Christ were not seen in his own light? Could we comfort the broken-hearted, could we proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, if the Spirit of God were not upon us? Why, if we did make the proclamation, would it not fall flat to the ground apart from the work of God, who does all things through us and by us? We are labourers together with him. We lift our hand, and God lifts his. We speak, and he speaks. We would gladly lay hold of men’s hearts, and he does lay hold upon them. We would weep them to Christ, and he brings them weeping to Christ, and gives them eternal life. Blessed be his name! After many years of prophesying in his name, dare any of us say that we have made the dry bones to live? After having long given the invitation, do we say that we have persuaded one to come to the wedding feast apart from the Lord’s divine working? Do we take any of the glory for a saved soul to ourselves? It would be treason; it would be blasphemy. We dare not commit such a sin. Our work, if it succeeds at all, if it is worth calling good work, is all by grace.

12. And if, my dear friends, any of you are called to suffer for Christ’s sake, the honour of suffering is a special gift. If you have been reviled, if you have lost your job, if you have suffered those moderate martyrdoms which are possible in a free country like this, then “To you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake.” “Rejoice, and be extremely glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” But take no credit for yourself. You are elevated to the peerage of suffering: it is your King who brought you there. You have his gracious permission to pass through great tribulation: that would be nothing to you, if you had not washed your robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. You owe your patience, your courage, your steadfastness, all to the Spirit of God. You had long since been carried away by the fear of man, which brings a snare; you would have long since been a traitor to the truth, and to your Lord, if he had left you. It is your duty to be faithful. When you are faithful, it is not in yourself that you are so. He works all our works in us, and he must have the praise for them. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Work it out to the very full. Be thorough with it. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do his good pleasure.” “Be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” God will reward you; but your steadfastness, your diligence, your patience, all these are the work of the grace of God, and you know it. If you, indeed, possess them, you ascribe them all to him.

13. Now, then, we have established this, I think, beyond all contradiction, among spiritual men — that in the service of the Lord free grace is magnified.

14. II. So we take another step, and we say, as our second point, HENCE THE LORD HAS HIS OWN WAY OF MEASURING WHAT WE DO.

15. You see that in the case of these people who had toiled in the vineyard; their master measured their work in his own way. He did not go by the regular method of so much an hour; but, inasmuch as it was all of grace, this great householder made the reward to be after his own measure, a penny for one hour and a penny for twelve hours. He made the last equal to the first. So it shall be: “The last shall be first, and the first last.” This is because we are dealing here, not with a legal paymaster, but with a God of grace, who measures our service, which itself is all by grace, by his own measurement, and not by ours.

16. He will reward every worker, but not as we judge. He will do no man any injustice, even in the omnipotence of his grace. He will be able to say to every worker, “Friend, I do you no wrong.” He will do no wrong to any one of his servants, whoever they may be; rest assured of that; but still he will reply, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own?” and he will reward his workers in his own royal yet gracious way.

17. So, then, he will not reward us as according to the time spent, or surface covered. Some may be Christians for thirty or forty years, and may never be among the first. It is not the length of your service, good as that is, that will be God’s gain. There may be some who shall come to Christ and go home to heaven in a single year, and yet shall bring great honour to their Master. It is not the length of time in which you are engaged in the Lord’s service. Neither is it the space that is apparently covered. Some seem to do a great deal, skimming over a wide surface; but it is not how the Master measures it: neither by the hour, nor yet by the acre. That might be a legal way of measurement, but his gracious way of measurement is not so.

18. And he will not measure out the reward according to our ability, whether it is mental ability, ability of wealth, or ability of opportunity; for some of us might come in for a large share, and others might come in for a very little, if this were the rule. But this is not the way the Master measures. If to one man he gives the gift of speech, to another the great gift of diving deeply into the meaning of his word, and to another experience, and so on, yet the reward to the people holding these various gifts will not be in proportion to the gifts they have, but according to quite another rule.

19. The reward will not be according to the judgment of men. A brother has served God in his way, and his brethren think much of him, and appoint him to an office. He is a deacon, or an elder, or, perhaps, he becomes a pastor. It is a high reward to be allowed to increase our opportunities of usefulness; but we shall not at last be rewarded according to the height of office. That is not the standard in this kingdom where Christ rules.

20. Above all, no man shall be measured by his own judgment; otherwise I know some friends who would have a very grand reward. They are free from sin; they are perfect, they say: their Master knows, if they do not, whether that is true or not. Another says, “I have done this, and I have done that.” But it is not what you say that you have done, that will gauge your Master’s reward to you. There are some who speak very loudly of what they have accomplished. I do not think that their brethren, for the most part, think any more of them for thinking so much of themselves. I believe that those who have lower opinions of their own capacity and usefulness are much more honoured in the presence of the saints of God. No, our self-judgment, our tall talk, our loud profession, and so forth, will not be the measure with which we shall be rewarded; otherwise those who said, “We have borne the burden and heat of the day,” would have had twopence, at least, if not threepence, or, perhaps, even a shilling, in proportion to those poor creatures, whom the master made equal to them, though they had only come in at the eleventh hour.

21. Our reward will not be according to the impression made among men. We may have made our mark upon our age, and neighbourhood, and surroundings. Some men’s names will go down to posterity; others have no fame at all. It will be found by some men that their lives are written and emblazoned everywhere. Others will live in the little circle of their family, but not beyond that narrow range. But God will not measure like that. The godly housewife, with four or five children trained for God in her cottage, may be counted by God among the first; and the able speaker, in his pulpit, who has thousands hanging on his lips, may be counted by God among the last. God has his own ways of measuring up men’s works.

22. But let me add that we shall not be rewarded even according to our success. To some men success is meted out in large measure; that success which really is not their own, but is the fruit of other men’s labours. A man preaches the gospel with many tears for years, and sees little fruit. He dies: another man, of earnest spirit, follows him, and gathers in the old man’s sheaves. The former man planted; the other man entered into his labours. To whom shall the reward be given? The success is not due to him who seems to have achieved it. You remember the old Roman Catholic legend, which contains a great truth. There was a brother who preached very mightily, and who had won many souls to Christ, and it was revealed to him one night, in a dream, that in heaven he would have no reward for all that he had done. He asked to whom the reward would go; and an angel told him that it would go to an old man who used to sit on the pulpit stairs, and pray for him. Well, it may be so, though it is more likely that both would share their Master’s praise. We shall not be rewarded, however, simply according to our apparent success.

23. Neither shall we be put down as one of the last because of failure. God intends that some men shall never succeed, according to the rule of success that pertains among men; for he sent even his servant Isaiah to go and make the people’s hearts hard, and their ears dull of hearing; and he sent Jeremiah to weep over a nation to whom his tears brought no repentance and no reformation. He may send you, like Noah, to preach for one hundred and twenty years, and never get a soul beside your own family into the ark. But if you are faithful, that is well pleasing in his sight. Here lies the good pleasure of God. I do not suppose that it will happen that you are to do all the ploughing and all the sowing, and there should never be an armful of sheaves for you in all your life; though, if it should be like this, and you shall have been at the last found faithful to the commission that your God has given to you, truly, I say to you, you shall have your reward; but the reward is not measured out according to man’s rule of success.

24. Let me tell you what I think is a rule with God. It is a many-sided kind of rule. Some men stand first because of their strong desire. Oh, they would have saved the people if they could; they would have persuaded men to be Christians if they could; they would have laid down their lives to do it. They preached their very hearts out in their desire for their hearers’ salvation. Their souls ran over at their lips while they talked with men. God knows their desires, and he takes the will for the deed, and “so the last shall be first.”

25. God also measures proportions. The brother never had more than one talent, but he did as much with it as some with ten; yet it did not seem to come to much in his eye. He was always mourning because he was so little. He thought that he was like one of those coral insects at the bottom of the sea, just making a little bit of coral which never came above the waves; but it was part of a great whole that would afterwards rise into a fairy island of the sea. Our Lord will measure, not according to what a man does not have, but according to what a man has.

26. And here is one who has little to commend him except his spirit. He waits on God. He is very gracious. He trembles at God’s word. He speaks with his whole heart very reverently, very tenderly, desiring always to be silent if God would have him silent, and only to speak when God would move him to speak. His delight is to do the Lord’s will, and nothing but the Lord’s will, and he is quite content to be nothing. Indeed, he cries for that —

   Oh to be nothing, nothing,
   Only to lie at his feet.

Now, God may put that man among the first; whereas the self-contained man, who does work for God sincerely, may, nevertheless, have to go into the back rank, and be among the last.

27. Here is one, again, who, whatever he does, does it with thoroughness. He does not attempt many things, but he does one thing. It is all that he can do, and he throws his whole soul into it, and works at it like some Eastern artist working at a cameo for a prince. All his life is put into that little bit of a thing; and, it may be, that our great King will count him first; while another who did much in a slovenly, slurring style, and was thought to have done a great deal, will have all his work rejected, for it is not up to the Prince’s standard, and he will not adorn his palace with it.

28. I think, dear friends, that God will measure our work very much by our thought of him in it. If we did it all to him; if we did it all for him; if he was always in our mind in the doing of it; and we did not think of our friends, nor of our own reputation, God would be more likely to honour us, for he will put those who think much of him among the first, and others among the last. “Those who honour me,” says the Lord, “I will honour.”

29. And especially, again, if all that we do is baptized with love. Why, see that woman who brought her alabaster box, and broke it, and poured the precious ointment of spikenard upon Christ’s head! She is placed among the first, and Christ makes honourable mention of her wherever the gospel is preached. Some that did much have to go among the last; for they did not have such love as she had.

30. Some work for God with great faith; and the Lord loves to see us working in faith. To do a great deal of work with a great deal of unbelief, is to do very little after all; for if a prayer that is unbelieving does not prosper, preaching or teaching that is unbelieving is not likely to do so. Put faith into your work, and, may be, you will be among the first.

31. I am sure that God measures much of our work according to the prayer we expend over it. Oh, yes, it was a fine sermon! You could tell how the preacher had worked at it; you could see how he had polished up that phrase, and how he had cut that sentence into dice pieces to make it tell; but you could also see that he had never prayed over it. A sermon that is prayed over is worth ten thousand that are merely prepared, or copied, or that spring out of a man’s mind without being created by the Holy Spirit in his heart. Oh, to pray down the sermon, and then to pray up the sermon, and pray it all over, resting on God alone!

32. God will often look upon our work in giving, not according to how much we give, but I think that the Lord’s rule is to take notice of how much we have left. That woman who gave all her living, gave more than all the rich men gave, because she had nothing left. It was only two mites that make a farthing; but then it was all her living and so she goes into the front rank. My lord has given a thousand pounds, and we are very much obliged to him. He must go into the back rank, for all that; for he has so much left.

33. And then, it may be, that they will take the first place who did not get any reward for what they did. Our Lord tells us that when we are making a feast we should call in the blind, and the halt, and the lame. Why? “For,” he says, “they cannot repay you.” He speaks of the Pharisees again, and says, “Truly I say to you, they have their reward.” You will not be paid twice. If you have done something for Christ — for example, defended the faith — and you are denounced for it, and slandered for it, very well, you have not had your pay for it. There remains the reward for unrewarded services. It is a grand thing when, by the grace of God, you have something standing in God’s book, not by law, but by grace. You helped a poor man, and he was not grateful. Oh, be so thankful that he was not grateful, because, if he had been grateful, you would have had your reward, may be! When those you relieve are very kind afterwards, and speak well of you, and do you some good service in return, it is very nice; of course it is. Well, but you are paid. But those who have done good and suffered for it; who, for the best thing that they did have had the worst return; who have rendered kindness, and have only received unkindness as the result; it may be that the Lord will say of them, “These were last, but they shall be first”; whereas many who stood first in men’s esteem, and in the gratitude they received, will have to go last.

34. III. Now, my time almost fails me, but you must bear with me on my third point; for here is the practical part of free grace in our service. Hence, WE HAVE INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING OUR SPIRIT AS WORKERS. If the work is all by grace, and if God has a way of measuring up that work, which is not at all according to the law, but by his own grace; then there are two things to be observed. First, do not be proud; secondly, do not be discouraged.

35. Do not be proud, for many who are first shall be last. Suppose, my dear friend, that you really are first, and are doing a great deal for God, will you be proud? Why, you are only a greater debtor. You owe all the more to that grace, which has enabled you to be of some service in the kingdom of your Lord. Lie low at your Lord’s feet, and be very humble.

36. Next, remember that though you may think that you are first, you may, even now, be among the last. Your assessment of your service may not be the divine assessment at all. You may think that you are “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”; and, in God’s opinion, you may be “Wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Your work may be like very big trusses of hay, and loads of straw, and stacks of stubble; and yet, when God comes to test it, it may be all burned down to a handful of ashes; whereas the friend, of whom you think so little, may only have built a small portion, but he has built it of gold, and silver, and precious stones.

37. Let us also remember that, even if it is true that we are among the first, we may, if we get proud of it, find ourselves among the last. Oh, how some of God’s greatest servants have been shrivelled up when they began to swell with pride and vanity! God blessed them as long as they were feeble, and weak, and leaned on his strength; but when they were strong, and relied on themselves, there came a dreadful failure.

38. There is one thing which is absolutely certain. If you are among the first, you will count yourself to be among the last. He who is best thinks himself worst. What a description Paul gives of himself in the seventh chapter of Romans! “Oh,” one says, “I heard a person say that Paul was not a converted man when he wrote that!” Let me tell you that he had been in the third heaven when he wrote that bit of deep experience. He had so much likeness to his Lord that he excelled every other man then living, except, perhaps, John; and if it had not been for his extraordinary holiness he would never have been able to pen those tremendous groanings when he says, “Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The man who thinks that he is holy has never seen the holy God. If he had — if he had ever beheld him, he would say with Job, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” The superlative perfection of the Lord God, and the absolutely perfect example of our Lord Jesus Christ, are such that if a man has ever had communion with these, he shrinks into nothing in his own esteem. He who is really first is always the man who is willing to be accounted last. Paul, though he is not a whit behind any of the apostles, yet calls himself less than the least of all saints, and describes himself as having been the chief of sinners. Ah, beloved! a low idea of self is one of the labels with which God marks the best of his possessions; therefore, do not be proud.

39. In the next place, do not be discouraged. If you feel that you are last, God’s measure is not yours. Though you may think that you are last, he may not think so at all. Though you say, “I am not worthy to be an apostle,” yet he may think you worth putting into the apostleship. God’s idea of your worthiness and your own may greatly differ; and his estimate is the true one.

40. Besides, suppose that you are last, yet “he gives more grace.” Christ has come, not only that we may have life, but that we may have it “more abundantly.” Do not be content with what you have. “Covet earnestly the best gifts.” Covet still more the best graces. God is able to do for us “extremely abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Go in for great things. Has not the Lord said, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” I spoke to a man of God this morning, and I told him how God had graciously enabled me to draw near to him in prayer, and of the glorious way he had granted my requests. My friend said, “Yes, and he has made your mouth bigger than it used to be.” Is it not so? The faculty of believing prayer grows by being used. The more you ask, the more you may ask; and the more you have asked, the more you will ask. The capacity to receive is increased by receiving. May God grant that it may be so with us if we are last!

41. Remember, too, that if you really are among the least useful, yet a right spirit may compensate for your poverty, and make your little service very precious. If you cannot get a wide sphere, do not desire it. A young minister said to an old one, “Ah, sir! I preach only to about one hundred people. I wish that I could get where I could gather a thousand.” His friend answered, “Young man, a hundred people are quite enough for you to be accountable for; and if you faithfully discharge your duty to their souls, you have quite enough to do.” Wish for a larger sphere if you are capable of filling it; but remember that the best preparation for greater usefulness is to be faithful in your present position.

42. My last word to God’s children is this: what does it matter, after all, whether we are first or whether we are last? Do not let us dwell too much upon it, for we all share the honour given to each. When we are converted, we become members of Christ’s living body; and as we grow in grace, and get the true spirit that permeates that body, we shall say, when any member of it is honoured, “This is honour for us.” If any brother shall be greatly honoured by God, I feel honoured in his honour. If God shall bless your brother, and make him ten times more useful than you are, then you see that he is blessing you — not only blessing him, but you. If my hand has something in it, my foot does not say, “Oh, I do not have it!” No, for if my hand has it, my foot has it; it belongs to my entire body. If my mouth alone eats, yet it does not eat for my mouth alone; but it eats for my brain, my hand, my backbone, for every part of me. So, when you get to feel your oneness with Christ, and your oneness with his people, your only thought will be, “Let God be glorified; let him be magnified. It does not matter whether I am first or last.” You will stand up and say, “That brother, who was converted only a week or two ago, got his penny, and I am glad of it.” Here is another, who has done very poor work; but you will thank God that he has got his penny. He is one of the family. It all comes from the same hand, and it will all come home to the same house. We are something like men in a great shop, where there are different people serving. One young man has a counter where ladies come, and he serves them, and he takes in a lot of money in the day; another counter man, at the back, sells goods that take a great deal of trouble to dispose of, and upon which there is only a trifling profit. Does the master praise the men of the shop according to the quantity of money each takes? The one who is put in the back place, and sells poor goods, is just as diligent and just as worthy in his master’s sight as the others. Suppose that they are all members of one family, when they meet at night, one will say, “I took so much.” Another will say, “I took ten times as much as that”; but they are all glad, because it all goes into the firm; it is all a part of the same concern. Go then, dear brothers and sisters, and work away for Christ, and do not envy each other, but all be glad to be permitted, in this work of grace, to take any part or any portion for your Lord.

43. One more thing, and I have finished. I have only been talking to God’s people all this while, because you who are not saved cannot serve him. What a miserable position yours is! You are out of the pale of service. God will receive nothing from you until you come to Christ. The only way to bring sacrifice is to bring it through the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Unless you are converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”; much less shall you be accepted as servants there. I beseech you, by the thought of the grace of which I have been speaking, not to rest until you can say that Christ has saved you, made you a partaker of his grace, and sent you out into his royal service. May the Lord bless you! Amen.

[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mt 19:16-20:16]
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Holy Anxiety — ‘Lovest Thou Me?’ ” 639}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Dedication To God — Jesus, I Am Thine!” 663}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Work of Grace as a Whole — All Due To Grace” 235}


{a} Supererogation: R. C. Theology. The performance of good works beyond what God commands or requires, which are held to constitute a store of merit which the Church may dispense to others to make up for their deficiencies. OED.

There can be very little variety in the notes published week by week concerning Mr. Spurgeon’s illness. His condition varies from day to day, and almost from hour to hour; and yet, as week follows week, he remains practically the same. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” This long waiting is very wearisome to the one who suffers, and also to those who watch by him; but the Lord will not permit the suffering or the watching to continue one moment longer than is necessary for the accomplishment of his purposes of love and mercy. Prayer and patience must therefore continue to have their perfect work until they give place, in the Lord’s good time, to praise and thanksgiving. Prayer has been so graciously heard and answered in the preservation of the life dear to so many, that we cannot do otherwise than continue our supplications. (After the above was written on Tuesday, Mr. Spurgeon was carried downstairs, and wheeled into the garden for half-an-hour: this may prove to be the turning-point towards his recovery. May God grant it!)

The Christian, Holy Anxiety
639 — “Lovest Thou Me?”
1 Do not I love thee, oh my Lord?
      Behold my heart and see;
   And turn each odious idol out
      That dares to rival thee.
2 Do not I love thee from my soul?
      Then let me nothing love:
   Dead be my heart to every joy,
      when Jesus cannot move.
3 Is not thy name melodious still
      To mine attentive ear?
   Doth not each pulse with pleasure bound,
      My Saviour’s voice to hear?
4 Hast thou a lamb in all thy flock
      I would disdain to feed?
   Hast thou a foe, before whose face
      I fear thy cause to plead?
5 Would not my ardent spirit vie
      With angels round the throne,
   To execute thy sacred will,
      And make thy glory known?
6 Would not my heart pour forth its blood
      In honour of thy name,
   And challenge the cold hand of death
      To damp the immortal flame?
7 Thou know’st I love thee, dearest Lord;
      But oh, I long to soar
   Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
      And learn to love thee more.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.


The Christian, Dedication To God
663 — Jesus, I Am Thine! <7s.>
1 Jesus, spotless Lamb of God,
   Thou hast bought me with thy blood,
   I would value nought beside
   Jesus — Jesus crucified.
2 I am thine, and thine alone,
   This I gladly, fully own;
   And, in all my works and ways,
   Only now would seek thy praise.
3 Help me to confess thy name,
   Bear with joy thy cross and shame,
   Only seek to follow thee,
   Though reproach my portion be.
4 When thou shalt in glory come,
   And I reach my heavenly home,
   Louder still my lips shall own
   I am thine, and thine alone.
                  James George Deck, 1837.


The Work of Grace as a Whole
235 — All Due To Grace
1 All that I was, my sin, my guilt,
   My death, was all mine own;
   All that I am, I owe to thee,
   My gracious God alone.
2 The evil of my former state
   Was mine, and only mine;
   The good in which I now rejoice
   Is thine, and only thine.
3 The darkness of my former state,
   The bondage — all was mine;
   The light of life in which I walk,
   The liberty — is thine.
4 Thy grace that made me feel my sin
   It taught me to believe;
   Then, in believing, peace I found,
   And now I live, I live.
5 All that I am, e’en here on earth,
   All that I hope to be,
   When Jesus comes and glory dawns,
   I owe it, Lord, to thee.
                     Horatius Bonar, 1856.

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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