2574. “Persecuted, But Not Forsaken.”

by on

No. 2574-44:277. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, March 8, 1883, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, June 12, 1898.

Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say: many a time they have afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me. The ploughers ploughed on my back: they made their furrows long. The LORD is righteous: he has cut asunder the cords of the wicked. Let them all be confounded and turned back who hate Zion. Let them be as the grass on the house-tops, which withers before it grows up: with which the mower does not fill his hand; nor he who binds sheaves his bosom. Neither do those who go by say, “The blessing of the LORD be on you: we bless you in the name of the LORD.” {Ps 129}

1. You see, dear friends, the Psalm speaks of two kinds of people; there is Israel, and there are those who hate Zion. The first three verses are dedicated to God’s people; the last five speak of those who are not God’s people, but are their haters. From the very first, there have been two seeds in the world. The first man who was born, — Cain, was of the seed of the serpent; but the second was, by the grace of God, of the seed of the woman; and so early, when those two boys had only just developed into manhood, he who was born by grace served his God, and brought a lamb as his sacrifice, but he who was born after the flesh — the firstborn of man, — became his brother’s murderer. So, in the very first household that ever existed, there was a sharp line of demarcation between the man of faith and the man of sense, — the man who lived for God and the man who lived according to his own passions. Always and everywhere since that day there have been the same two characters; and, albeit there is a large number of people about whom you or I may not be able to give any decision, for they seem as if they stood between the two, yet in the sight of God there is a line, narrow, but most sure, which separates the living from the dead, — the believing from the unbelieving, — the men who fear God from those who do not fear him; and still, right down the ages, that word that was spoken to the serpent in the Garden of Eden stands true: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.” There are the believing people of God, — his own elect, brought out from among men, and there is the world that lies in the wicked one. To one of these two classes we all belong; there really are no neutrals, it is not possible that there should be. There is no borderland between life and death; a man is either alive by the quickening of the Spirit, or he remains dead in trespasses and sins.

2. I am going to speak of each of these two classes who are mentioned in my text; so, first, let us notice the description given of God’s own people. The first three verses of the Psalm may be summed up like this, — Israel persecuted, but not forsaken. When I have spoken on that theme, I shall hope to say something about the wicked flourishing, but perishing. Those two words — flourishing, perishing, — describe the condition of those who hate Zion, and who hate the children of Zion. Before I plunge into the text, however, let me give you a few sentences by way of introduction.

3. The life of the Lord Jesus Christ is the picture of the life of his people. “Just as he was,” says Paul, “so we are also in this world.” This is so remarkably true that, in the Psalms, we sometimes can hardly tell whether the writer is describing himself or the Lord Jesus; because, as is the Head, so are the members, and there is a growing likeness which is often spoken of in Scripture as if these two were one, as indeed, in the highest sense, they are. If you read this Psalm carefully, you can see Christ in it. Jesus could truly say: “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.” Herod sought the young child’s life to destroy it; Satan seemed to stir hell itself to seek the destruction of the infant Jesus. “The ploughers ploughed on my back: they made their furrows long.” How true was that of our divine Master. When he was in his agony in the garden, the furrows were plainly visible. When he was brought before Herod, and before Pilate, and was scourged until he was covered with wounds, and when he died, and they took down that blessed but mangled body, how deep were the furrows! Now the sufferings of Christ, of which I spoke to you last Sunday night, {See Spurgeon_Sermons “Unparalleled Suffering” 2574} are in their measure repeated in his people; we are made to have fellowship with him in his sufferings. Shall the disciple be above his Master? Shall the servant be above his Lord? If they have persecuted him, they will also persecute us. He tells us to look for such treatment as this. Do not, therefore, expect rest where Christ had none, or look to wear a crown of gold where Christ wore a crown of thorns.

4. My next observation is, that the history of God’s people, Israel, is also in type a history of his Church. Truly, the sins of Israel are far too often repeated in believers; but the woes and griefs of Israel, and their deliverance out of them, are the means of comfort for many of God’s saints. See how the Israelites were afflicted from their youth, when they were only a little nation, and went down into Egypt. How hard they had to work in the brick-kilns! With what enmity did Pharaoh look at them! How cruelly and craftily he sought to accomplish the destruction of the nation by drowning the male children in the Nile! Every way he used his wit and his power, if possible to destroy the chosen people; but the Lord preserved his own. Then, in the day of Israel’s youth, when she went into the wilderness, she was afflicted. “I remember you,” says God, “the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” But in the wilderness she had her trials; and when she came to the promised land, her trials only began again. She was scarcely delivered from the Canaanites before she fell prey to the Philistines; and the Philistines were hardly overcome before we hear of the Syrians, the Edomites, the Moabites, and then of the Assyrians and the Babylonians who at last carried away captive the people of God. That nation, Israel, to this day may say, “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth: but they have not prevailed against me.”

5. Now one more remark; I have already reminded you that Christ’s life is the picture of his people’s life, and that the history of Israel is the picture of his Church; now notice how true it is that the Church, from her very outset, has always been afflicted; first by Herod, when he sought to kill the apostles, and murdered James; next afflicted by the Jews, and driven from city to city; then afflicted by Saul of Tarsus, who breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the Church of Christ from her youth. Then the great pagan persecution broke out; your knowledge of history, I suppose, tells you how the emperors of Rome used their entire force to crush the Christian Church, yet they did not prevail against her. When the Roman emperors had done their worst, and done it in vain, the Church of Christ was turned into a church established by patronage, and from that moment became a prostitute, and so grew into the apostate Church of Rome. Then the Pope, with all his might, sought to crush out the Church of God. Read the stories of the Albigenses in the South of France, and the Waldenses in the valleys of Piedmont. Read the history of the Lollards in England, and of the saints of God in any country which you please to choose. They were torn asunder; they were made to rot in prison; they were tortured on the rack; they were put to death in all kinds of ways; in our own country, especially, by being burned to death at the stake. Yet the enemies of Zion have not prevailed against her. No, Rome, you shall never triumph; and even now, though today our clergy preach your doctrines, and wear your garments, yet you shall not prevail against the Church of God, for he shall surely come, even he who has delivered in days gone by, and shall work deliverance for his Israel once again.

6. So I have spoken to you of Christ, of Israel, and of the Church. Now I come to deal with the subject as it relates to yourselves. As it was with the Church at large, as it was with Israel, as it was with our Lord Jesus, so expect it to be with you. As I go through this Psalm with you, and dwell on it, you can apply it to yourself, my dear tried and persecuted friend.

7. I. In the first three verses of the Psalm, we have a description of ISRAEL PERSECUTED, BUT NOT FORSAKEN.

8. First notice, concerning Israel’s affliction, where it came from: “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth.” Who was it who afflicted Israel? The text says, “they.” And why is the word “they” used? Because, to enter into details, would rather obscure the sense than impress anything on the memory. “They.” Why, it meant, in the case of the nation of Israel, Egyptians, Amalekites, Hivites, Hittites, Jebusites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians; — it would be such a long list, so the psalmist just says, “they.” Who are the people who have afflicted you: my dear friend? The Scripture leaves room for you to add the names if you care to put them in; but perhaps it will be wiser for you to forget all the names, and simply to leave it as it is here: “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth.”

9. I hardly like to think of who they are who, in many cases, have afflicted God’s true servants; but it is still true that “a man’s foes shall be those of his own household.” A woman is just brought to Christ, and her greatest trouble comes from him whom she loves best of all living mortals; her husband becomes her terror. When a child has been brought to the Saviour, it is sad that his worst fears should arise concerning the treatment he will receive from his father or his mother; but it has often been so. We do not put the names in; we can pray for the persecutors all the better if we leave it as “they” A newly-converted Christian man goes out into business; does he find friends there? Sometimes, God is very tender and compassionate, and casts the lot of his young children in among the gracious; but there are others who have a hard time of it, for they have to earn their bread in the midst of the ungodly, and Christ seems to say to them, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves”; and these wolves are always seeking to destroy the lambs, if possible. Is it not an exceptional thing in providence that, though the wolves might have eaten all the lambs up long ago, yet there are a great many more sheep in the world now than there are wolves; and in this country, you know, there is not a wolf left, they have all died out. They could take care of themselves and fight, yet they have all gone. The sheep could not defend themselves, yet here they are in flocks. God takes care of the weak and the feeble; and in that very fact of natural history he seems to say to his people, “ ‘Do not fear, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it. ‘The meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.’ ” Outside, in the world, the Christian man frequently meets those who would rejoice to see him falter, who try to make faults where there are none, and exaggerate little mistakes into great crimes. Wherever he goes, he has to travel with his sword drawn; he finds an adversary behind every bush. He is a pilgrim through the midst of Vanity Fair whom the traders there cannot understand. In his case, that ancient word is again fulfilled: “My inheritance is to me as a speckled bird, the birds all around are against her.” Such a man can truly say, “Many a time they have afflicted me.”

10. But, next, let us ask, how does this persecution come? The Psalm says, “Many a time”; that means, very often. So then, you who are faithful to God must expect that you will frequently be assailed by the foe. I know some of God’s saints who feel almost frightened when people speak well of them; they begin to say, “What have we been doing wrong? Would these people commend us if we had been serving our Master faithfully?” There is another side to that truth, for, “when a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him”; but, between the two, it is not always easy to tell which is the right course. This we know, that we are not to expect to find favour where Christ found no favour. If they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, we must expect that they will have bad names for us. If they imputed evil motives to him, they will impute evil motives to us. If they even said of him that he was a drunken man and a wine-bibber, we must not be astonished if sometimes things of which we have never heard, or things that we abhor, should be laid to our charge. Therefore, arm yourselves also with the same mind as Christ had, who endured such opposition from sinners against himself many, many times.

11. The Psalm tells us that these attacks of the ungodly were a real affliction to the people of God: “Many a time they have afflicted me. …… Many a time have they afflicted me.” It is written twice over to show how trying it was. The brine made poor Israel’s wounds to smart; she was really hurt, and she felt it. I have sometimes met a person who has said, “I do not care what people say about me.” I am not sure whether that feeling is right, or wrong; sometimes it may be an indifference which is pitiable, at other times it may be a courage which is admirable. But this I do know, that the saints of God have found slander to be a very piercing thing; it has gone right to their heart, the iron has entered into their soul. Hence the Saviour said to his disciples, “Do not let your heart be troubled,” for trouble sometimes gets to the heart. Affliction that does not really afflict is no affliction. But here they felt it; they groaned under it; the ploughers made deep furrows, not mere surface ones, but they cut down deep into the very spirit, into the very soul of Israel; and we must not wonder if, sometimes, for Christ’s sake, we have to meet this kind of trial. Possibly, some Christian sitting here is saying, “I do not know much about that kind of affliction.” Well, be very thankful if you do not, but be ready for it, be prepared for it. There are some of us who had a hard time of it in years gone by; there was not any name in the catalogue of contempt which some of us have not been made to bear; and now, perhaps, we have smoother times; but we stand quite ready to go into the burning fiery furnace again if it must be so, for this is a part of the portion of God’s servants: “Many a time they have afflicted me. …… Many a time they have afflicted me.”

12. But notice, while we are speaking of how affliction came to Israel, that it came to her in her youth. What a coward Satan is! He always tries to attack God’s children most fiercely when they are young. Fight one of your own size, sir! But that he is afraid to do. When the child of God gets well matured, and by experience knows how to flee to his God, Satan will often leave him quietly alone. You know the story in the Revelation of how, when the woman delivered a man-child, the dragon sought to destroy the child at once; and he was therefore caught up to God, and to his throne. No sooner did the devil see Christ, as he rose dripping from the waters of baptism, than he determined to assail him with his fierce temptations, and, if possible, destroy him before he began his ministry; but that young Christ, freshly anointed by the Spirit, was more than a match for him. Many a time since then the adversary has met God’s people in their youth, when as yet they were feeble: when they were inexperienced in war, just as David in his youth had to fight the lion and the bear, and afterwards to meet the giant. Oh, it was grand for that ruddy youth to be able to say to Saul, “Your servant killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” It may be so with you who are young in grace; do not be astonished if you meet your fiercest attacks in the morning of your days; but have courage, and say to yourself, “I was told that it would probably be so; I am not taken by surprise, I was warned about it as I read the Psalm, ‘Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say: many a time they have afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me.’ ”

13. Notice, again, that the Psalm goes on to describe this persecution of Israel under the imagery of ploughers ploughing her back. It is a kind of duplicate metaphor. It is just as the scourger, when he takes his dreadful lash, and brings it down with all his might on the bare back of his victim, makes a deep gash where the whip falls; and it is also like the furrow that is cut by a plough, only it is not made in dead clods, it is right in the quivering flesh. The scourge falls again, and there is another mark; again you can hear the dreadful crack of the whip of wire as it falls, and cuts deeper and deeper into that poor sensitive bleeding back. Now Israel says it was just so with her, and you know that it was so, for she seemed to be all but destroyed many times; that little nation was hacked to pieces, Zion was ploughed as a field. So it is with some of God’s people; as it was also with their Master, and as it has been with the entire Church of Christ. The whip has come down mercilessly again and again and again, — forty stripes except none, — for Satan will never stint his blows. He will vex God’s people again and again and again; and if he could, he would utterly destroy them. Such often have been the lives of God’s saints, — the very best and truest of them, — such are their lives now. It is not so with all of us, but it has been so with many; may the Lord help his suffering people! In patience may they possess their souls! As I remind you of what some of our brothers and sisters in Christ are just now suffering, please remember those who are in bonds as bound with them, and those who are in trouble, knowing that you yourselves also are still in the body.

14. This, then, is the description of what God’s people have often had to suffer. The ploughers have made their furrows long; they have left no headlands, they have ploughed the back again and again, and scourged it with the cruel lash.

15. But now what is the reason for all this persecution? There are two reasons; and the first is, the hatred of the serpent and his seed. There are two things that are inconceivable in length and breadth. The first is, the love of God for his people, which is altogether without limit; and the next is, the hatred of the devil, which is and must be finite, for he is only a creature; but, still, it is as great as it possibly can be. We have no idea with what determined vehemence Satan hates those who belong to Christ; he will do anything he can in the hope of destroying one of them; he goes about, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. That, beloved, is why you have so many persecutions from those who are the faithful children of Satan; they are from their father the devil, and they will continue to do his works; and one of those works is, persecuting those who are the children of God.

16. Still, there is a higher reason for the persecution of the saints. The second reason is, because God permits it. Why does he permit it? Well, very often for your safety. “For our safety?” you ask. “For our safety?” Yes, the Church of God has often been preserved by persecution; she was never purer, she was never holier, she was never truer, and she never lived nearer to God and more like her Saviour, than when she was persecuted. I venture to say of the Church of Scotland that she was never grander than in the Covenanting times, when they met among the glens, and up in the solitary places, and sat on the heather watching lest Claverhouse’s dragoons {a} should be near. I think, of later years, she was never nobler than in Disruption times, {b} and I believe she will never again be so good and great unless she is persecuted.

17. Often, we do not prosper in spiritual things, in times of ease, as we ought to do. Sometimes, the best friend of the sheep is the dog; and when the shepherd lets him loose, he fetches back the wanderers; and if there are any animals that ought not to be with the flock, the dog gets in among them, and makes the separation between his master’s sheep and other people’s. We owe a great deal to persecuting dogs. I knew a young man, who used to steal in here on Thursday nights, and who would come into the prayer meetings, and pray very sweetly and very earnestly; but he had no comfort in his home, for he had a father who could not endure his religion, and was very bitter against him. His father died, and the son inherited the property; he is never here now, he has no love for God, as far as I can judge, he has grown cold, and has turned aside; but, as long as he was ever persecuted, he certainly did seem to be one of the most earnest men I ever knew. I believe that it has often been so, for silken days do not suit Christ’s soldiers; but in the battle they will glory when their Master is with them. So you see how persecution is sometimes for our safety.

18. Next, it is for our trial and testing, to separate the precious from the vile. We are put into the sieve, and Satan sifts us. He likes that task; but what a fool he is to do the sifting for Christ! It is good work when it is done; and Satan, in persecuting the saints, is simply a scullion in Christ’s kitchen, cleansing his pots and pans; they never are so bright as when he scours them, and it is a scouring with a vengeance. Yet, in that way, he separates, or God through him separates, between the precious and the vile. The Lord sometimes allows persecution to break out on his people so that they may know more about themselves; and oh, how we fail when we come to times of persecution! I have heard of one who, when he was condemned to die for the faith, got out of bed in the night, and held his finger over the candle to see whether he could burn. Poor soul, he felt that he could not endure that pain; but yet he said, “I truly believe that, when I come to the stake, the agony which I cannot endure in my finger now I shall bear in my whole body, for then I shall be suffering God’s will. Now, when I hold my finger in the candle, I am only suffering for my own curiosity, and I get no support and strength.” And it was so. In Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the story is told of a poor woman who was taken with the pains of travail when in prison condemned to die; and when she cried out, her enemies said to her, “If you cannot bear this which is only natural, what will you do when you come to burn?” The woman answered, “Now, I am only suffering the curse that came on the race through sin, and I feel it to be bitter; but, when I am burning at the stake, I shall be suffering for Christ’s sake, and I shall feel it to be sweet.” And it was noticed how bravely — to quote a strange phrase, — she played the man; indeed, she played the woman for Christ, and suffered well for him without tear or cry. Ah yes! when God is with his people, he helps them wonderfully; but what a test it is for them, and how they are driven at such times to prove their own weakness! How it tries their faith, and proves of what stuff it is made, and how it makes them feel trembling and weak where they thought they were steadfast and strong!

19. I find that my time has nearly gone, yet I am not halfway through my subject. I must just mention the blessings which come to the tried children of God through their troubles. I so enjoy the reading of that part of the Psalm where it says, “But they have not prevailed against me.” You see a troop of horsemen riding into the very midst of the battle, and you lose sight of them for a moment amid the dust and smoke; but out of the middle of that cloud you hear the brave captain’s cry, “They have not prevailed against me.” You see that little band advancing into an even more crowded host, all glaring on them like wolves. Surely they will be cut to pieces now; but in the very centre of the struggling mass you see the banner still waving, and again comes the cry, “They have not prevailed against me.” That is, in brief, the story of the Church of Christ, and that shall be the story of every man who puts his trust in God; he shall have to say, at the close of every trouble, — indeed, and even in the midst of it, — “They have not prevailed against me.”

20. What is the reason why the enemy cannot prevail against the saints of God? Read the next verse: “The Lord is righteous.” If he were to forsake his people, and they were to perish, he would not be righteous; but he will not forget our work of faith and labour of love, nor will he leave us to fall in the evil day. “The Lord is righteous”; that is to say, he will take the right side, he will defend those who fight for the right and for the truth. He will prove himself strong on the behalf of those who put their trust in him. “The Lord is righteous”; and therefore he will strike his adversaries on the cheek-bone; he will not let them go on for ever in their pride and cruelty. They get the upper hand for a while, and they strike his saints; but “the Lord is righteous,” and he will speedily avenge his own elect who cry day and night to him. He may delay the overthrow of his people’s foes; but he will in the end take their part, and display his almighty power. For the present, he is patient; he bears long with the ungodly; but he will not always do so. The fact that “the Lord is righteous,” is the pledge that the wicked shall not prevail over his saints.

21. Then notice the next sentence: “He has cut asunder the cords of the wicked.” Literally, it should run like this: “He has cut the traces of the wicked.” They are ploughing, you see; and, in the East, the oxen are fastened to the plough by a long cord. What does God do in the middle of their ploughing? There are the young bulls, and there is the plough; but God has cut the harness; and how wonderfully he has sometimes cut the harness of the persecutors of his people! Look at the way he did this for our poor hunted brethren in Piedmont. Every one of them was likely to be crushed; and, apparently, there was no one to protect them. The Duke of Savoy, whose subjects they were, had given them up to be destroyed. The next country was France, and the King of France was a Roman Catholic, and was as eager for their destruction as was the Duke. But, one day, Oliver Cromwell sent for the French ambassador, and said to him, “Tell your master to order the Duke of Savoy to stop persecuting my brethren in Piedmont, or he shall hear from me about the matter.” “Sir,” said the ambassador, “they are not the subjects of the King of France; he has nothing to do with them. The Duke of Savoy is an independent prince; we cannot interfere with him.” “I do not care about that,” replied Cromwell; “I will hold your king accountable if he does not stop the Duke of Savoy from persecuting the Piedmontese.” And they knew that “Old Noll” meant what he said; so, somehow, the King of France managed to interfere with that precious independent prince, and told him that he had better cease his persecutions, for if he did not, Oliver Cromwell would take up the quarrel. Indeed, and when the Pope himself had persecuted some English sailors at Rome, Cromwell wrote and said that he did not know whether “his holiness” would like to hear the thunder of his guns at Rome, but he very soon would do so unless he ceased his cruelties. Cromwell was the defender of those who feared God; and it was most providential that such a man should have come into power just when he was needed for the protection of the persecuted. God always knows how to save his people; what he has done in the past, he can do again now. He can cut the traces of those who are ploughing, and there will be no more deep furrows. How frequently he has done it! How often has he put out his hand, and said to the wicked, “Stop!” and they have had to stop, and there has been an end of their persecution! Cry mightily, then, you who are tried, cry mightily to the Lord to deliver you. Dearly beloved, “do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘"Vengeance is mine; I will repay," says the Lord.’ ” Therefore, leave your persecutors in his hands. Be like the anvil; there have been a great many generations of hammers that have come and have gone, but the old anvil still stands in the smithy. Be just like that; let your persecutors hammer away, but stand steadfast by your God, and by your faith, and may his blessed Spirit keep you so even to the end!

22. The latter half of the sermon must come, if the Lord wills, on another Thursday night. May God’s blessing be with you! Oh, happy are those who are God’s people! Blessed are those who are in the furnace; blessed are those who are tried and troubled; has not he, whose lips can never lie, pronounced them blessed? “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be very glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Therefore, consider yourselves gladdened and honoured when you are counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake.

{a} Claverhouse’s dragoons: On June 1, 1679 a large conventicle, or outdoor religious service, was held at Loudoun Hill. The service was organized by the outlawed Covenanters, but was well attended. John Graham of Claverhouse, recently appointed to suppress the religious rebels, heard about the conventicle and headed to the area. His attempt to break up the gathering led to a skirmish known as the Battle of Drumclog, in which Claverhouse’s dragoons were humiliatingly routed. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudoun_Hill" {b} The Disruption of 1843 was a schism within the established Church of Scotland, in which 450 evangelical ministers of the Church broke away, over the issue of the Church’s relationship with the State, to form the Free Church of Scotland. It came at the end of a bitter conflict within the established Church, and had huge effects not only within the Church, but also on Scottish civic life. See Explorer "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disruption_of_1843"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ga 4:1-5:1}

4:1-5. Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he is lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent out his Son, made of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Like little children, the Jewish believers were under the law. They observed this ceremony and that, just as children, even though they may be heirs to vast estates, yet, while they are in their minority, are under tutors and governors. But now in Christ we have come of age, and we are finished with those school-books and that tutorship, and we have received the adoption of sons. Now, we have joy and peace in believing; we have begun to enter into our possession; we have the pledge of it already, and eventually we shall receive the fulness of the inheritance of the saints in light.

6. And because you are sons, God has sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father.”

While the Jewish believers, like children, were under the law, they did not have such direct access to the Father as we have. They could not enter into such close fellowship with God as we now can. We who are the sons of God, really born into his family, feel within us something that makes us call God, “Father,” not only in prayer, saying, “Our Father, who is in heaven”; but, inwardly, when we are not in the attitude of prayer, our hearts keep on crying, “Father, Father.” The Jew may say, “Abba,” and the word is very sweet; but we cry, “Father,” and it means the same thing.

7. Therefore you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

All God’s sons are, in a certain sense, his servants; but there is a sense in which servants are not sons. We, therefore, are not like those servants who have no relationship to their master, and no share in his possessions; but we are sons. Whatever service we render, we are still sons, and we have a share in all that our Father has; we are heirs, “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Are you living up to your privileges, brethren? Are any of us fully understanding what this heirship means? Do we not often live as if we were only servants toiling for hire? Do we not tremble at God as if we were his slaves rather than his sons? Let us remember that we are God’s sons, his heirs; and let us come close to him, let us take possession of the blessed inheritance which he has provided for us.

8-11. However then, when you did not know God, you did service to those who by nature are not gods. But now, after you have known God, or rather are known by God, why do you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed on you labour in vain.

Among the heathen, there were various “lucky” and “unlucky” days; sacred days, and days in which they indulged in sensual excess. They had even “holy” months and “unholy” months. Now, all that kind of thing is done away with in the case of a Christian: he is set free from such weak and beggarly superstitions. Among the Jews, there were certain sacred festivals, times that were more notable than other times; but they also were done away with in Christ. We observe the Christian Sabbath; but beyond that, to the true believer, there should be no special observance of days, and months, and years. All that is a return to “the weak and beggarly elements” from which Christ has delivered him. That bondage is all ended now; but there are some who still “observe days, and months, and times, and years”; and Paul says to them, “I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed on you labour in vain.” Every day is holy, every year is holy, to a holy man; and every place is holy, too, to the man who brings a holy heart into it.

12. Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as you are: you have not injured me at all.

“Be perfectly at home with me, for I am so with you. Though you Galatians have treated me very badly, yet you have not really injured me, and I freely overlook your bad manners towards me.”

13-15. You know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh you did not despise, nor rejected, but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where then is the blessedness you spoke of? For I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.

The apostle remembers how they received him at first, his gospel was to them like life from the dead; and though he was full of infirmities, — perhaps had weak eyes, — perhaps had a stammering tongue, — perhaps was at that time very much depressed in spirit, — yet, he says, “You received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. You loved me so much that, if it had been possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.”

16. Am I therefore become your enemy, became I tell you the truth?

There come times, with all God’s servants, when certain people proclaim something fresh and new in doctrine; and then the old messenger of God, who was blessed to them, comes to be despised. I have lived long enough to see dozens of very fine fancies started, but they have all come to nothing; I daresay I shall see a dozen more, and they will all come to nothing. But here I stand; I am not led astray either by novelties of excitement or novelties of doctrine. The things which I preached at the first, I still preach, and so I shall continue, as God shall help me. But I know, in some little measure, what the apostle meant when he said, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”

17-20. They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they would exclude you, so that you might be zealous for them. But it is always good to be zealous in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ is formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my tone; for I stand in doubt of you.

The point of doubt was, that they had been led astray by legal teachers; they had been made to believe that, after all, there was something in outward ceremonies, something in the works of the law, and so they had come under bondage again. So the apostle says, —

21-23. Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; —

By Abraham’s own strength; —

24. But he of the freewoman was by promise.

Born when Abraham and his wife were past age, — born by the power of God’s Spirit, according to promise.

24. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants: the one from the Mount Sinai, which engenders bondage, which is Hagar.

It is the strength of the flesh which leads to bondage.

25, 26. For this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to the Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But the Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

That is, of all of us who believe in Christ Jesus. We are born of the free woman, not of the bondwoman; not born of the covenant of works, and in the strength of the creature; but born of the covenant of grace, in the power of God, according to promise.

27, 28. For it is written, “Rejoice, you barren who do not bear; break out and cry, you who do not travail: for the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”

If we are God’s children, it is not by our own strength, or by the strength of the flesh, in any measure or degree; but it is by the grace of God, and the promise of God, that we are what we are.

29, 30. But as then he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say?

Make a compromise, and be friends? Let Isaac and Ishmael live in the same house, and lie in the same bed? No!

30, 31. “Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

5:1. Stand firm therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

May God grant us grace to keep to grace! May God grant us faith enough to live by faith, even to the end, as the free-born children of God, for his name’s sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 18” 18}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Support in Affliction — Affliction Leading To Glory” 752}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — Be Of Good Courage” 685}

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 18 (Version 1)
1 Oh God, my strength and fortitude,
   Of force I must love thee;
   Thou art my castle and defence
   In my necessity.
2 My God, my rock, in whom I trust,
   The worker of my wealth;
   My refuge, buckler, and my shield,
   The Horn of all my health.
3 In my distress I sought my God,
   I sought Jehovah’s face;
   My cry before him came; he heard
   Out of his holy place.
4 The Lord descended from above,
   And bow’d the heavens most high,
   And underneath his feet he cast
   The darkness of the sky.
5 On cherub and on cherubim
   Full royally he rode,
   And on the wings of mighty winds
   Came flying all abroad.
6 And so deliver’d he my soul:
   Who is a rock but he?
   He liveth — Blessed be my Rock!
   My God exalted be!
                  Thomas Sternhold, 1562.
Psalm 18 (Version 2)
1 No change of times shall ever shock
   My firm affection, Lord, to thee;
   For thou hast always been my rock,
   A fortress and defence to me.
2 Thou my deliv’rer art, my God,
   My trust is in thy mighty power;
   Thou art my shield from foes abroad,
   At home my safeguard and my tower.
3 Let the eternal Lord be praised,
   The rock on whose defence I rest;
   O’er highest heavens his name be raised,
   Who me with his salvation blest.
4 Therefore to celebrate his fame
   My grateful voice to heav’n I’ll raise;
   And nations, strangers to his name,
   Shall thus be taught to sing his praise.
                        Tate and Brady, 1696.
Psalm 18 (Version 3)
1 Just are thy ways, and true thy Word,
   Great Rock of my secure abode:
   Who is a God beside the Lord?
   Or where’s a refuge like our God?
2 ‘Tis he that girds me with his might,
   Gives me his holy sword to wield:
   And while with sin and hell I fight,
   Spreads his salvation for my shield.
3 He lives, (and blessed be my Rock!)
   The God of my salvation lives;
   The dark designs of hell are broke;
   Sweet is the peace my Father gives.
4 Before the scoffers of the age,
   I will exalt my Father’s name;
   Nor tremble at their mighty rage,
   But meet reproach, and bear the shame.
5 To David and his royal seed
   Thy grace for ever shall extend:
   Thy love to saints, in Christ their head,
   Knows not a limit, nor an end.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

The Christian, Privileges, Support in Affliction
752 — Affliction Leading To Glory
1 Often the clouds of deepest woe
      So sweet a message bear,
   Dark though they seem, ’twere hard to find
      A frown of anger there.
2 It needs our hearts be wean’d from earth,
      It needs that we be driven,
   By loss of every earthly stay,
      To seek our joys in heaven.
3 For we must follow in the path
      Our Lord and Saviour run;
   We must not find a resting place
      Where he we love had none.
                        Caroline Fry, 1826?

The Christian, Courage and Confidence
685 — Be Of Good Courage
1 Your harps, ye trembling saints,
      Down from the willows take:
   Loud to the praise of love divine,
      Bid every string awake.
2 Though in a foreign land,
      We are not far from home;
   And nearer to our house above
      We every moment come.
3 His grace will to the end
      Stronger and brighter shine;
   Nor present things, nor things to come,
      Shall quench the spark divine.
4 The people of his choice,
      He will not cast away;
   Yet do not always here expect
      On Tabor’s mount to stay.
5 When we in darkness walk,
      Nor feel the heavenly flame;
   Then is the time to trust our God,
      And rest upon his name.
6 Soon shall our doubts and fears
      Subside at his control;
   His loving kindness shall break through
      The midnight of the soul.
7 Wait till the shadows flee;
      Wait thy appointed hour,
   Wait till the Bridegroom of thy soul
      Reveals his sovereign power.
8 Tarry his leisure then,
      Although he seem to stay,
   A moment’s intercourse with him
      Thy grief will overpay.
9 Blest is the man, oh God,
      That stays himself on thee,
   Who waits for thy salvation, Lord,
      Shall thy salvation see.
                  Augustus M. Toplady, 1772.

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.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390