2653. The Head And The Body

by on

No. 2653-45:601. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, August 6, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 2/7/2016*2/7/2016

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, December 17, 1899.

The head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. {Eph 4:15,16}

1. If I had to preach, fully and accurately, on all that is taught in this text, I should certainly need to deliver a series of sermons, say five or six at the least. There is such a wonderful depth of meaning in these inspired words that I might keep on expounding them, and all the while be as one who takes water out of the sea, always wondering why there is so much more left than he can possibly draw from. One writer says that the sense of this passage is as “knit” as the joints of which it speaks, and that remark is a very true one, for here we have thought compressed as by hydraulic pressure; there is any quantity of it packed into the smallest possible space.

2. Our translation of the words here used by the apostle is not in every point absolutely accurate; I wonder whether one could be made that would be so. We would need a paraphrase rather than an exact rendering of the original, for such is the fulness of meaning here that no one translation into our poor tongue could really convey all that the Holy Spirit intended to teach by the Greek words; they seem to totter and tremble beneath the burden of the massive thought they are meant to carry. I am, therefore, only going to preach a plain, simple sermon on the passage as it appears in our Authorized Version, which, though it is not strictly and literally correct in this case, is at any rate quite according to the analogy of the faith, and can be abundantly supported by other passages of Scripture of similar subject matter.

3. Turning to the text, we find that the apostle was very anxious that the saints at Ephesus should be knit together, like the different parts of one body. Unity is not an easy thing to attain. Have you found it so in your own family? In many large families, and even in small ones also, there are sometimes most unfortunate jars and disagreements; and it is a happy household indeed that is entirely joined together as one body. Look at the world in general, in its various corporations, and societies, and associations, and see what disunion and discord are revealed everywhere. Half the newspapers are occupied with reports of the squabbles in the different vestries, or in the big vestry that meets in the House of Commons, or the other one that assembles in the House of Lords. I suppose we should scarcely be men if we always agreed on all points; certainly, there is plenty of division among us. We seem to remember the Tower of Babel, and the dispersion, for our tongues are still confounded, and we misunderstand each other, and what is more criminal, we often misrepresent each other; and we are all too apt to forget our Lord’s words, “It must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comes!” Paul was most anxious to have the Ephesian church thoroughly knit together, and the chapter from which our text is taken is all about unity, and how to maintain it. With his manacled hands, the prisoner of the Lord writes to beseech them to be truly one, — to walk worthy of the vocation by which they were all called by the one Spirit of God. He entreats them, with all lowliness, and meekness, and longsuffering, to bear and to forbear with each other in love. He most touchingly and tenderly pleads his own imprisonment as an argument with them to endeavour “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” “By the memory of my bonds,” he seems to say, “put yourselves into the blessed bonds of brotherly love”; and then he adds, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Both in the inward creed and its outward confession they were all one, they were not divided on these points; so he beseeches them to be divided in nothing, especially since he was able to assure them that they had one God and Father, above all, through all, and in all, and one Christ, the Saviour of all. When he reminded them that he who ascended up on high is the same Jesus who descended first into the lower parts of the earth, I think he intended to remind them of the continuity of the work of Christ, and that it was the same Christ who both descended and ascended. There was no change in the Worker; for the one work was accomplished by the one Person, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Why, then, should we split up, and divide, and hold a hundred opinions as if Christ were divided? Paul tells us that, when he ascended on high, he gave all kinds of officers that were necessary for his Church, — apostles, prophets, evangelists, and so on, — all for this purpose, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” It is this that the apostle strove for, that the saints should be one in Christ Jesus; and then, remembering that one very frequent cause of division is the instability of many minds, he urged them to “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried away with every wind of doctrine”; but that they might know what they believed, and not be driven away from it with every puff of wind, — that they might not be defrauded and deceived by the sleight of men, by deception, by conjurers, who spirit the truth away, as so many religious tricksters are continually doing nowadays, establishing lies and overthrowing the truth by their magical deception. Paul seems to allude to the casting of dice when he speaks of “the sleight of men”; and I am afraid that there are many people whose religion comes to them according to what they call “luck.” They happened to be born on a certain street, and their parents attended a particular place of worship, so they believed what was taught there; but if the dice had fallen in some other way, they might have been Mohammedans, or Mormons, or Roman Catholics, or God knows what, for they do not have any solid reasons for believing what they are supposed to believe; they hold it, as it were, by a kind of chance, and they are quite ready to let it go again if “chance” should so arrange. The apostle beseeches us to guard against this evil, and to hold firm the faith, to be established in it, and to know why we believe it, so that, “speaking the truth in love,” we may grow up in all things into Christ, who is the one and only Head of the Church, and to whom every living member is vitally joined. Every man, who is indeed saved, is a part of Christ’s mystical body; and he is to develop in harmony with the growth of the entire body, until he and every other one joined with him in the living structure shall attain to the stature of a perfect man, the whole Church with its Head, Christ Jesus, becoming God’s mystical, “perfect man” to be glorified for ever and ever.

4. You see, dear friends, that, even when I am only trying to introduce this great subject to you, I am overwhelmed with the vastness of it. There is a mint of meaning, there are masses of uncoined bullion in the heavenly treasury to which the apostle brings us here. It is impossible for me to present all the spiritual wealth which is revealed here; but I shall endeavour to point out four things which are brought to our notice in the text; first, our union to Christ the Head; secondly, our individuality: “every joint” — “every part”; thirdly, our relationship to each other: “joined together” — “what every joint supplies”; and, lastly, our compact unity in the one Church of Jesus Christ:“ causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

5. I. First, then, beloved, I have to speak to you concerning OUR UNION TO CHRIST. We cannot do better than begin with this great truth, that Christ is the Head of his Church.

6. Hence, we learn, first, that union with Christ is essential for the life of his Church. Men sometimes lose a foot, or a leg, or an arm, or an eye, or an ear. It is very remarkable how a man may continue to exist after he has lost several of his limbs, but he cannot live if his head is taken away. Cut that off, and the decapitated body is dead in an instant. So, brothers and sisters, the Church of God lives because Christ lives, and its life is entirely derived from him. If there were no Christ, there would be no Church; and if there is, anywhere, a body of professors without vital union to Christ, they are not a church. They may have the name of a church, but they are assuredly dead. The Spirit of God flows through Christ into all of his true Church, permeating every part of his wonderful mystical body; but the Spirit of God is first on the Head, and in the Head, and then from him the gracious unction of the Holy One descends to the entire body. Ask yourselves, dear friends, whether you are joined to Christ. Do you belong to that Church which is really one in Christ, — the true Catholic and Apostolic Church, — by Catholic, of course, I mean universal, the one and only Church of the living God? All who are in Christ belong to his Church, but those who are outside of Christ are outside the pale of his Church; and if there is a church that is not in him, it is not Christ’s Church at all. So you see that union with Christ is essential for the life of his Church.

7. Next, union with Christ is essential to the growth of his Church. Christ’s Church must grow. We, as a church, must seek continually to increase; a living church is not like the building in which it meets; the material structure may never be enlarged, but if the church is a living one, it keeps on growing. The true Church of Christ in the world is always advancing and multiplying; as the apostle says, in our text, it “causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” But, beloved, there is no edification except what comes from Christ. He is the Church’s true Teacher. He is the great Master-Builder, and it is by him that the whole spiritual building is fitly joined together. We try to preach that truth which is the nutriment of men’s souls; but it does not nourish them because it comes from us, it only nourishes them as it comes from Christ. If you want to grow in grace, you must get from Christ all that is necessary for your growth. Do not think that Christ begins the great work, and then leaves you to finish it. Oh, no! He makes us alive, and he keeps us alive. He strengthens and develops the life that he has given; all its force and power must come from him. Need I remind you of this truth? Yes; for I find it necessary to remind myself, and therefore I judge that I must also stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. Not a step heavenward, not in the least likeness to God, not to the smallest degree of holiness can you proceed apart from Jesus Christ your Head; never forget this fact simple though it is.

8. Further, union to Christ our Head is also essential to our perfection. Will a time ever come when a saint will be perfect in himself apart from Christ? Never, for we are only perfect in Christ Jesus; or, as the apostle puts it, “You are complete in him.” Shall I ever get to be so holy that I can stand before God without my Mediator? Shall I ever have a spiritual beauty of my own which shall render the imputed righteousness of Christ unnecessary for me? Never; for, even in our highest estate in heaven, we shall still need to have our vital union with Christ perpetually maintained. He is the Head of the Church triumphant as well as of the Church militant; he will be for ever the Head of the Church made perfect as surely as he is the Head of his poor, weak, feeble, but ever-growing Church on earth.

9. Remember one more point, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and that is, that union to Christ the Head is essential to every member of his Church, — not only is it essential to the body as a whole, but to every member of that body in detail. It is no use for my little finger to have unity with my hand and my arm if that arm is not united to my body, and my body is not united to my head; so each believer must be personally joined to Christ. Whether he is only comparable to a little finger, or is like the strong bone of the leg, he must equally be joined to the Head; the smallest member of the mystical body of Christ cannot live apart from the Head, nor can the largest member; all equally, both great and small, beautiful and uncomely, revealed or concealed, must draw their life from Christ the Head. You must do so, my brother or my sister in Jesus, and so must I; let us keep this great truth always in memory. A church that is only united in itself, but not united to Christ, is no living church at all. You may attain to the unity of the frost-bound earth, in which men and women are frozen together with the cold proprieties of aristocracy, but it is not the unity of life. Or you may get the union of mere worldly enthusiasm, in which men are fused together like molten metal; but the fire, if it is not from God, though it creates a certain kind of unity, does not create that living union which God designs and accomplishes. The one all-important question for each of us is, “Do I love the Lord Jesus Christ?” If so, there is between my soul and my Saviour a living, loving, lasting union; and if we all love him, then Christ loves all of us, and we are living in Christ, and Christ is living in us, and this is that marvellous miracle of union between the divine and the human which, when men see it, they are astonished by it. They cannot see the union itself, but they can behold its effects, as our Lord said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other.” This was Christ’s prayer for us, for in that great intercessory supplication of his, he pleaded first for his immediate followers, and then he added, “Neither do I pray for these alone, but for those also who shall believe in me through their word; that they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

10. That is the first point in the text, and a very essential one, our union to Christ the Head.

11. II. From that I want to lead you, beloved, as best I can, to the consideration of the second point, which is, OUR INDIVIDUALITY.

12. The apostle speaks of “every joint” and “every part.” We are many as well as one, and it is a great pity when men and women merge their individuality in the community of which they form a part. Remember, dear friends, that you, by yourselves, are not the church, and you must not always keep on saying “we” if you are not doing anything at all in connection with it. You are yourself, and you must look at yourself as a distinct individual, and your first care, in the sight of God, must be concerning yourself. The body is made up of many bones, sinews, muscles, veins, arteries, and so on, and each one has its special place and function; and each of you has a particular position and office in the corporate body which is called by the name of the church.

13. Think of your individuality, and think of it like this. See that you are really united to the body. It does not matter how beautiful a member may be if it is not in the body, for it is not where it ought to be, and it is not where it will be of any use. There is an eye, which has just been taken from a dead body; it lies on the operating table, what will you give for it? It is worth nothing, and it must be put out of sight, for it is of no use. There is a finely-formed ankle, but it is useless apart from the rest of the body. How beautiful that leg is! Yes; but, since it is not joined onto a body, you must bury it out of sight. Now notice particularly what I am going to say, and if any of you are wicked enough to misrepresent my words, the responsibility will be on your own head. This is what I say, — No one can possibly have spiritual life unless he is joined to the Church. “Oh!” says someone, “Mr. Spurgeon said that people had no spiritual life unless they were members of his church.” He did not say anything of the kind, and he never thought anything of the kind. “But he means that they must be members of the Baptist church.” He does not mean anything of the kind! “Oh, but he means that they must be members of some visible church!” Well, we should have to talk a little while about that matter; but I did not say that, and I did not mean it. I believe that every Christian ought to be joined to some visible church; that is his plain duty, according to the Scriptures. God’s people are not dogs, otherwise they might go around one by one; but they are sheep, and therefore they should be in flocks. If I meet a man, all by himself, snapping at everyone, — I may be called uncharitable, but, I should hardly think that he was a sheep, I should be afraid that he was a dog. But when I see a man who consorts with his fellow men, feeds with them, takes delight in their company, and with them draws near to the Great Shepherd of souls, I say to myself, “I think he must be one of the sheep, for that is the way in which that animal always acts.” So, beloved, you should go in flocks or companies; that is to say, you should be joined to some Christian church.

14. But I was speaking just now of the Church. There is a church which is the Church of Christ. I do not see it, but it is visible to him who bought it with his precious blood. The members of that Church are scattered up and down throughout all the world; some are in this church, some are in other churches; but Christ is causing that Church to grow up for himself from the girlhood state, in which she now is, until she shall come to the measure of the perfect stature of what God designs her to be when she is ready to become “the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” This Church, chosen before all worlds, redeemed on the cross, quickened, and formed, and called out by degrees by the Holy Spirit, and united to Christ, is the one of which you and I must be members, or else we shall be lost for ever. See to it, then, dear friends, that you are vitally joined to Christ’s Church, and especially that you are united to him who is its Head.

15. Next, we must be careful to find and keep our true position in that body. I call your attention to a point which may not seem to be as important as it really is. A body owes its beauty, comfort, healthfulness, happiness, perhaps its very life, to the position of the different members of which it is composed. Any book on anatomy will teach you that this is the case. There is no other place where our eyes could be except just where God has fixed them. Try whether you can find another position where your eyes could be so suited for their work as where they now are. Our feet, with which we walk, are the best members to walk with, and they are put in the proper place for that purpose. Suppose they were attached to our shoulders, and we had to walk with them, I do not know how we should manage it. And if our hands were where our feet now are, it would be extremely awkward and difficult for us to use them. We should indeed be monstrosities rather than men if any part of us should be moved from its present position. When men write tales about mythical beings, they describe hideous creatures whose heads are under their arms, or like the fabled Cyclops, with one eye in the middle of his forehead; but Christ’s Church is not a monstrosity. Watch that you do not act as though you thought that she was.

16. Try, dear friends, to be in the body of Christ what you were meant to be. I have known some men who were very eager to preach; they have had wonderful gifts of dispersion, but no power to gather or hold a congregation together. They have fomented a quarrel within a month, and split up the church into fragments in order to purge it from some imagined evil; and they have purged it until there is no one left in it. They think that it is the wickedness of men which makes hearers unwilling to listen to them, whereas it is only their own folly. They, who might have been useful as ears, listening to someone else, are altogether useless as a tongue. Do not get out of your position, brother, if you are already in it; but if not, get into your right place as soon as you can, and do there what the Lord would have you do. Some people have a very great gift of finding fault with other people; but I do not know any place that God has arranged in the body for that particular faculty. It is a kind of disease; or, rather, an evil spirit which needs to be cast out. If you, who are afflicted like this, would try to do something yourselves, you would perhaps discover that, while it is extremely easy to complain about others, it is more difficult to do your own work in such a way that people cannot justly find fault with you. Dear friends, seek to have every joint and every part in their right place. Let every ligament and tendon of the body be just where it should be. If we were to put the doors of our houses where the windows now are, and to put the shingles where the foundation-stones are, we should have very odd houses; and you will not find a true church of Christ unless every part of it is in its right place according to God’s order and arrangement.

17. A third thing about our individuality is that every part of the body should be careful concerning its own health. If I happen to be only like a little finger in the body of the Church, it is a great pity that I should be ill, for the whole body will be affected. If my little finger is full of some evil complaint, it may cause great inconvenience to my whole system. Did you ever have a whitlow {a} on your hand, and yet the rest of your body did not know that anything was the matter? Instead of that being the case, your finger has been of greater consequence to you than all the other parts of your body when it has once begun to smart, and to be full of pain, and to swell and fester. Now, you little members, you can do any quantity of mischief if you like. It is possible for a Christian to have so little grace, and so much sin, that he may cause pain to the entire Church of God, for people will point to the most obscure of you if you do wrong, and they will say, “That is one of the people who goes to the Tabernacle; and no doubt they are all alike.” It is very unjust to say that we are all like the worst person we have among us. If we have one especially godly and gracious member, the world never says, “They are all like him.” No, no; they say, “Ah! he is quite an exception. If they were all like him, then we would go there, too.” But they take as their standard and test the most sickly and unhealthy in the whole flock. Therefore, please, dear members of this church, ask God to make each one of you healthy in spiritual things. Do not think you are of no importance; never belittle yourself by saying, “It does not matter whether I pray, or whether I live near to God.” It does matter, brethren, for it may give some of us the greatest pain if we see you behaving unworthily or living inconsistently with your profession. Therefore, let your individuality lead you to see, first, that you are in the Church; next, that you are in your right position in the Church; and, then, that you are a healthy member of the Church, which is Christ’s body.

18. And, once more, be careful concerning your growth for the sake of the whole body. “Oh!” you say, “I do not know that I want to grow; I have believed in Christ, and I am saved, and that is enough for me.” But, my dear friend, you must grow because the whole Church of Christ is to grow. Suppose that, when I was a lad, one of the bones of my arm had persisted in not growing. If all the rest of the body had been properly developed, what would happen if that particular bone did not grow? Why! I should have a short arm. Suppose that one of the bones of your leg had said to itself, “I am in the body, and that is enough for me; I do not intend to grow any more.” You would have had to go hopping through the world, with one short leg, all your lifelong, and that would have been a very uncomfortable thing for you, and you would probably have had great pain as well as inconvenience. So, if one Christian in the Church does not grow, he will give trouble to others, for the next brother to him is growing, and it makes matters very awkward when some advance and others do not. I should like to have a church composed of only effective soldiers; I suppose that I never shall have that. Usually, we have a certain number of lame folk among us; we cannot leave them behind, yet they cannot fight in our ranks. We cannot do as Gideon did with his followers, send the faint-hearted ones home. No; they will stay with us, and their inefficiency reduces a certain number of those who would be good for fighting, for they are so sick that they need someone to wait on them, and perhaps a third part of the church has to be employed in carrying the stretchers, and attending to the invalids. Then, when the battle begins to get hot, and we need all our regiments to the front, there are a certain number of soldiers who cannot stand fire, and they turn their backs, and so bring shame on the church. I wish it were not so; yet so it often is, because all are not of one heart and one soul, and there is not the living unity that there ought to be, for then all would grow at the same rate, and the body, growing harmoniously, would be strong and beautiful, and in the day of conflict it would be able to vanquish the foe. Look, then, to this matter, each one of you. Laggards, come on! You who have been slothful, quicken your pace! You who have been sick and weary, may God restore and refresh you, so that the whole body may be healthy and vigorous. So much, then, about our union to Christ, and our individuality.

19. III. Now for a few words about OUR RELATIONSHIP TO EACH OTHER.

20. The apostle says a good deal here about joints: “What every joint supplies.” That expression conveys the idea of relationship, and teaches us that we are, in our desire and spirit, to be outfitted to work with others. This bone is so wisely constructed, at this end, that it fits into the next one, and so both work together. Our joints are very wonderful things; this wrist joint is, perhaps, the most wonderful piece of mechanism in the world, the bones fit into each other so beautifully, and work together so harmoniously. I know some brethren, who would make splendid men if all the rest of the people were dead, for they are very loving and amiable to themselves. They would be just the kind of folk to become hermits; shut them up in a cave, with a bucket of water and a loaf of bread, and all their virtues would shine out. They have taken the motto which our Scottish friends link with the thistle, and which I might freely translate, “No one shall touch me without catching it.” Whoever comes near them, they are always on their guard. They are sure that person means them no good, so they repel his advances at once. When we get such people as that into a Christian church, it is very awkward for the rest of the members. It is as if we had bones in our body without any joints to them; they grate against each other, and constantly wear each other away when they come into contact. Now, dear friend, if you are in a church, try to make yourself a bearable person as far as you ever can. Keep your own peculiarities, if they are worth retaining, yet do not obtrude them so as to make yourself obnoxious; and do not let everyone, or even anyone, if you can help it, be obnoxious to you. Perhaps you have some bone joints outside of you; if so, then pray God to make those joints fit into the persons who happen to be near you. In this wondrously complex body of Christ, we need to be jointed all over, so that we may, in our various relationships, be to others just what Christ would have us to be.

21. Next, notice that the apostle says that there is something “which every joint supplies.” So there is. Every joint supplies joint-oil; and if there were not any, it might be very awkward for the rest of the system. In the Church of Christ, which is his body, we need the joint-oil of love. If you are travelling by railway, you will see, when an express train pulls up, that a man goes around, and puts fresh grease into the box to keep the wheels from seizing up. What a wonderful machine our body is, for it puts the grease into its own box, and keeps all the joints right without friction by supplying them with its own oil! There are some brethren, with whom I come in contact, who expect me to find all the joint-oil for them, and even then, they are often very trying, yet I must not lose my temper, or be at all harsh with them. Well, I can supply the oil for my own joints, but you must put the oil into yours, or else we cannot work well together. Perhaps someone says that there is no love in the church. Quite right, brother, you mean that there is none in you; your bone has no joint-oil. But if you had your own measure of holy, hearty love for your brother, I believe that you would find that some oil would exude out of him, for there are none of the bones of Christ’s body that are quite dry. There is some oil in them all, although you may not know how to get at it. And some bodies, that are called odd, are considered so because perhaps they are better than we are; and if we could get at them in the right way, we should find them to be full of love, and we should rejoice that we ever knew them. Let every joint, therefore, take care to supply its joint-oil when it comes into contact with the next bone.

22. In this way, we should aid the knitting together of the body. That is the expression in our text: “knit together by what every joint supplies.” When all the bones work well together, they greatly assist the knitting together of the body; for the muscles, and tendons, and so forth, bind it all together. The bones of the body are its strength, and knit it together, and so strengthen certain other parts of the system that are soft, and would give way if left to themselves. So, in every church, when there is bad doctrine preached, there are certain pieces of flesh that seem to give way under the heretical touch. Indeed, but you who are like the sturdy, stiff old bones that do not give way, you must just stand firm and steadfast in the faith whatever is preached. Stand firm by the truth under all opposition, for so you will knit together and stabilize the entire church. I pray that we may always have, in this Christian community, a number of godly men and women who know what they do know, so that, when the younger kind are a little perplexed, they may go to them, and say, “Tell us, dear brothers and sisters, are we right or wrong on these matters?” And they will say, “We have tasted and handled the good old doctrines of grace, and we are afraid that you will go quite off the rails if you accept these new notions. Therefore, cling to the truth which you have received.” That is the way that the church is made strong, by all the joints ministering the oil which holds it together, or helps to the harmonious working of all, the bones being themselves confirmed while strengthening others.

23. Beside that, let every member offer his own services to the church. Let each one be doing what he or she can. No one minister, no twenty ministers, no elders, if there were a hundred, no deacons, if there were a thousand, could ever fulfil all the ministries of the church. God has given apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and so forth, to bring the bread of life to us. That is the outward feeding of the flock; but, then, each living person must take the food into himself, the church must edify itself. There must go on, within the church, the proper processes of digestion, and assimilation of the truth of God, the reception of and yielding to the Spirit of God by which the church is built up by itself, as well as by all the external influences which God has prepared for its strengthening and increase.

24. IV. Now I must close, for our time has gone, by only a few sentences concerning OUR COMPACT UNITY AS A CHURCH.

25. The Church of God should be one, but not piled into one heap. It should be one in Christ Jesus by a living union. May I ask each one of you whether it is so? Is the life of God in you, dear brother, dear sister? If it is, and you feel that it is the same life which is in the other members, then you have a unity of the most indestructible kind, one which never can be broken. This union must be a growing union. We ought so to grow continually as to love each other better, and bear with each other more and more. It is often my prayer for this church, when I am anxiously thinking of the great work here, that nothing may ever arise to divide us in spirit and in love for each other. It is, to my mind, a standing miracle that, all these years, we have been bound together in the unity of the Spirit and in the bonds of peace. But, for the years that are yet to come, shall we quarrel with each other? Shall there be a root of bitterness to spring up and trouble us? I see no trace or sign of it at present; but before it does appear, I beseech you, by the years in which we have worked together, by the blessings we have been made to see, by the benefits which God has given to thousands of souls by this church, let us not tear this garment of Christ, let us not do anything, in any way, by which our union may be marred; but let us be “knit together by what every joint supplies.” I may be speaking to some friends who are a little out of sorts with a brother. Go and settle the difficulty at once. Resolve, in your heart, that you will settle it tonight if possible. If you have any disagreements, if there is any coldness at all between you, before you come to this table, bury it all. Get closer to Christ, and then get closer to each other, and may our blessed Lord, when he comes, find us all one in him! We ask it, for his dear name’s sake. Amen.

{a} Whitlow: A suppurative inflammatory sore or swelling in a finger or thumb, usually in the terminal joint. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {1Pe 1:1-12}

1, 2. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, be multiplied.

How sweetly the apostle is obeying his Master’s command, “When you are converted, strengthen your brethren.” This is the same Peter who once began to sink beneath the waves, yet now he is helping others to stand. This is the very Peter who denied his Master, but he begins his Epistle by acknowledging himself to be “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” What wonders the Lord Jesus had accomplished for Peter by his grace! It is no marvel, therefore, that he should say to others, “Grace to you, and peace, be multiplied.”

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

And, truly, this is a blessing, beyond all comparison or imagination, that we have been begotten again by the Divine Father to a “living” hope, for that is a better rendering than “lively.” Our first birth brought us into sin and sorrow, but our second birth brings us into purity and joy. We were born to die; now we are born never to die, “begotten again” to a life that shall remain in us for evermore, a life which shall even penetrate these mortal bodies, and make them immortal, “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

4, 5. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Rejoice, my brethren, in the glorious inheritance which is prepared for you, unstained, uncorrupted, perfectly pure, and therefore to last for ever, because the elements which produce decay are not in it. It is without sin, and therefore it shall be without end. What a mercy it is to be “kept by the power of God!” See, heaven is kept for us, and we are kept for heaven; heaven is prepared for us, and we are prepared for heaven. There is a double action of God’s grace working in us like this, and working for us, to eternal bliss.

6. In which you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if needs be, you are in heaviness through various temptations:

Or, “trials.” Some people cannot comprehend how a man can greatly rejoice, and yet be in heaviness at the same time; but there are many things, in a Christian’s experience, that cannot be understood except by those who experience them; and even they find many a mystery which can only be expressed by a paradox. There are some who think that God’s people should never be heavy in spirit; but the apostle says, “Now for a season, if needs be, you are in heaviness.” He does not say, “If needs be, you are in various trials”; but, “If needs be, you are in heaviness through various trials,” for the “needs-be” is as much for the depressed spirit as for the trials themselves.

7, 8. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it is tried with fire, might be found to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with unspeakable joy and full of glory:

And does not the joy agree well with its object? Paul said, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift”; and Peter, speaking of the same Saviour, says, “In whom, though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with unspeakable joy and full of glory.”

9-11. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ who was in them signified, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

Do you wonder if, sometimes, you find a truth in the Bible which you cannot quite comprehend? You ought not to marvel, for even the prophets, who prophesied of the grace which has come to us, did not always fully understand their own messages. I am sure that their inspiration was verbal, because the inspired men frequently did not themselves know the meaning of what they were moved to write.

12. To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to us they ministered the things, which are now reported to you by those who have preached the gospel to you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

See the kind of preaching that we should all desire to hear, and that all God’s ministers should strive for: “those who have preached the gospel to you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven.” Nothing but a gospel full of the energy of the Holy Spirit, and set on fire by him, can accomplish the eternal purposes of God; but this is the kind of preaching that will live, and that will also make men live. May God send it to every church and congregation throughout the world! Amen.

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