2872. The Lord’s Supper

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The Lord’s Supper

No. 2872-50:97. A Sermon Delivered On A Lord’s Day Evening In The Autumn Of 1861, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, February 25, 1904.

For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you show the Lord’s death until he comes. {1Co 11:26}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2307, “Greatest Exhibition of the Age, The” 2308}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2595, “What the Lord’s Supper Sees and Says” 2596}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2638, “Right Observance of the Lord’s Supper, The” 2639}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2872, “Lord’s Supper, The” 2873}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2942, “Object of the Lord’s Supper, The” 2943}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3151, “Lord’s Supper, Simple But Sublime, The” 3152}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3338, “Witness of the Lord’s Supper, The” 3340}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3501, “Feast of the Lord, The” 3503}
   Exposition on 1Co 11:17-34 Lu 22:14-24 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2638, “Right Observance of the Lord’s Supper, The” 2639 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mt 26:17-30 1Co 11:18-34 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2865, “Fencing the Table” 2866 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mt 26:17-30 1Co 11:20-34 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2595, “What the Lord’s Supper Sees and Says” 2596 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mt 26:17-39 1Co 11:20-34 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2699, “Examination Before Communion” 2700 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Mt 26:26-30 1Co 11:20-34 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2268, “Question for Communicants, A” 2269 @@ "Exposition"}

1. This solemn ordinance has been instituted and perpetuated to commemorate the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, but there is no ordinance to commemorate his life. One reason for this is, because his death implies his life; when you commemorate his death, you testify that he lived. Another reason is, that the Christian’s life, better than any ordinance, is the proof that Christ lived, and the testimony to this world how he lived. A Christian man should act so that worldlings would be constrained to ask, “By what power, by what energy, is he motivated to live in a style so superior to that of his fellows?” The answer he should always be prepared to give is something like this, “I live like this because Christ so lived, and it is no more I who live, but Christ who lives in me. The love of Christ constrains me, so that I am sweetly and blessedly compelled to live, not for myself, but for him who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The proof that Christ came into the world should be, that his followers are holy. Let their character be blameless and harmless, their conduct so devoted, and so full of self-sacrifice that it shall be a constant memorial of that Redeemer whose name they profess; — if the mind of Christ is in his people, it will make them so far superior to other men that it must be inferred that some superior energy is in them, and that superior energy is none than the love of Christ.

2. They should also live so that, if anyone asks them how Christ lived, they may be able to say, — not in words, for that might encourage pride, but in effect, — “He lived as I live.” It has been well said that ungodly men do not read the Bible, but they read it as it is translated into the lives of Christians. The actions of believers are, to the worldling, the means of judging what our religion really is. Men of the world do not sit down, and study our creeds; but they deal with us in the common business of life, and if we act dishonestly, they judge that our creed is wrong, and that our religion is not true. They do not wade through our Bodies of Divinity to balance our arguments, and test their value by the rules of logic; they have a shorter and more practical test than that. If our religion makes us upright in our conduct towards others, and constrains us to fear God in all that we do, then they pronounce our religion to be good; but if, on the contrary, we profess that we believe in Christ, and yet exhibit a foul and degenerate behaviour, they at once conclude that our religion is a thing of naught. Brethren, I repeat it, that Christ did not institute a memorial of his life because he would have you be the living memorials of himself. He has not left us any ordinance in which his acts, his words, his thoughts can be set out before the eyes of men in visible signs; he has done better than that, for he has made you to be his signs and ordinances. “You are my witnesses,” says the Lord. If the Spirit of God is in you, you are the testifiers, to the world, of the holiness and the purity of the character of your Lord.

3. Our text tells us that the Lord’s supper was instituted by Christ as a memorial of his death. I am going to speak, first, concerning what the ordinance is a memorial of, — Christ’s death; then, to point out how the ordinance itself shows the Lord’s death until he comes; and then, thirdly, to show how we, in this ordinance, rather than the ordinance itself, — that we, in the ordinance, show the Lord’s death until he comes.

4. Allow me to observe, however, that the retrospect gives us only one aspect of this ordinance, for it also distinctly holds out a very blessed prospect. We are taught, as often as we celebrate it, to look for our Lord’s second coming. Our text contains a very strong and a very lively anticipation of his second advent, and of his personal advent, too. Many people say that Christ is certainly coming again, but that he is coming spiritually. This way of putting the matter seems to me to be a subterfuge. A man, who is here already, cannot be said to be expected to come; and it is certain that Christ is, at this moment, spiritually present with his people. His own declaration is, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” He is never absent, spiritually, from his Church; he still walks among the golden lampstands. I cannot see, therefore, how it can be consistent with the ordinary meaning of language to say that he is to come spiritually.

5. My brother you believe that Christ is to come spiritually. Suppose that is true, what will be the result? Why, the gospel will be better preached, more sinners will be converted, and may I not also add that the ordinances will be better observed? Do you think that, if Christ should come spiritually into this world, as you say he will, this ordinance would be taken away? “No,” I think I hear you say; “certainly not. If Christ shall come spiritually, believers will be more attentive to his commands than they ever have been; they will be even more strictly obedient to his word and will.” Just so, but my text says they are to show his death “until he comes.” That seems to me to infer that, when he comes, the ordinance will be no longer observed. When he is here in person, I can see adequate reasons why the memorial of his first advent should be dispensed with; but if his second advent is not an absolute reality, I can see neither scriptural nor logical reasons why this ordinance should cease to be observed at his spiritual coming, whatever that expression may mean.

6. It is good for us always to be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” There are some, who say that Dr. Watts did not believe this doctrine, but he has expressed it most triumphantly in his paraphrase of Scripture where he writes, —

       Nor doth it yet appear
       How great we must be made;
    But when we see our Saviour here,
       We shall be like our Head.
       A hope so much divine
       May trials well endure,
    May purge our souls from sense and sin,
       As Christ the Lord is pure.

7. I. First, I have to try to show you WHAT THE LORD’S SUPPER COMMEMORATES; it commemorates “the Lord’s death.”

8. There is no ordinance to commemorate his birth. The Roman Catholic Church invented a feast day, and called it Christ-mass, and other churches have imitated the custom; but there is no ordinance, delivered to us by the Lord Jesus, or his apostles, to commemorate his nativity. Nor do I find, in the Scriptures, any record of an ordinance to commemorate his circumcision, or his first preaching, or his riding in triumph into Jerusalem, or even any ordinance to commemorate his ascension into glory. We generally regard the keeping of the first day of the week as a commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, and of his appearance to his disciples, when he showed them his pierced hands, and feet, and side; but even that can scarcely be called an ordinance. So, of all that Christ did or suffered there is no ordinance required of us except what relates to his death. Now, why is this?

9. It is, first, because it was for his death that Christ was most despised; therefore, let him be most honoured for his death. It was the cross of Christ that was his shame; it was to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; and it is here that the enemies of Christ always begin their attacks. They deny his divinity because he died; they doubt his power to save for the very reason which we are able to trust in it — because he died. Usually, the battle against Christ and his Church rages most fiercely around his cross; his adversaries, led by the great master spirit of evil, all seem to say, “Fight neither with small nor great, except only with that great doctrine of the atonement, for that is as a king in the hosts of Israel.” Those who preach the accursed crusade against Christ have, for their watchword and rallying cry, “Against his cross! Against his cross!” Therefore it is, most blessed Master, that you have provided this ordinance to be, as it were, a shield for your own cross; so that, if every minister should cease to preach your atoning death, the silent bread and the voiceless wine should, louder than a thousand thunders, tell the world that Jesus died, and that, through his broken body, and his poured-out blood, sinners alone receive eternal life.

10. Christ’s death, too, is chosen for special celebration because it is the most important part of all that he did or suffered. We would not depreciate his life, his baptism, his work, or his resurrection, but his death is the centre of everything. All the doctrines of the gospel revolve around Christ’s death as the planets revolve around the sun. Take away the sun from the solar system, and you have dislocated everything; all the stupendous wheels must cease to move. Remove your cross, oh Christ, and the keystone of the arch of truth is gone! Take away your death, oh Jesus and it is death to everything that you have taught, for everything that you teach derives life from the fact that you have died! Oh my dear brethren, whatever errors may creep into the Church, they will be important only as they mar the lustre of the cross! I think it is the bounden duty of every Christian to be ready to die for the truth. You know that our forefathers readily gave their lives for the defence of believers’ baptism. Still, not in the least depreciating believers’ baptism, I say that, if it is worth while for one to die for that, it is worth while for tens of thousands to die, in one tremendous hecatomb, {a} in defence of the fact that Jesus died. Since this is the chief point of the adversaries’ attack, so we must always regard it as the most important bastion of defence. Here, Christian, turn your eyes the most frequently; here let your thoughts dwell the most intensely; here lies the source of all your hopes, here you shall find the well-spring of all your joys. It is most important, then, that Christ has given to his death so solemn and yet so simple a memorial.

11. I think the Master also appointed this ordinance because his death is, after all, the most comforting thing in the whole gospel system. Where do you go, you of the weeping eye, when your heart is breaking, — where do you go for comfort but to the place where there was no comfort, — namely, to the cross of the dying Saviour? Where do you go, poor breaking heart, when the woes of this life swell and gather until your soul is almost bursting, — where do you go but to that place where misery reached its climax? It is strange that the masterpiece of misery is also the masterpiece of comfort. The darkest place in the whole world is still the source of all our light. The dying of the Saviour gives us life; his wounds heal us; his agonies bring us peace; his tortures yield us ease. The good Shepherd knew that, if his sheep desired to have green pastures, they would find them at the cross, so he appointed this ordinance to bring them there. He well understood that, if they would lie down beside the still waters, they must come to that place where the blood flowed from his blessed brow, and hands and feet, and side. You have said with the spouse, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” and he does it in this ordinance. You have sometimes asked him to bring you into his banqueting house, and that his banner over you might be love; but that banner has never floated from any mast but the cross, and therefore he has brought you there. You have asked that you may sit under his shadow with great delight, and that his fruit may be sweet to your taste. This is his fruit, — his broken body, and his shed blood, — so he brings you here. You have said, “I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its boughs.” Your Lord knows that you cannot do this unless you view his cross as that palm tree, springing up in a desert land, and bearing all kinds of delightful fruits. You will need no further arguments, brethren, to convince you of the wisdom and tenderness of Christ in bequeathing to you this most comforting ordinance so that his death may be held in perpetual memory.

12. II. Now I go on, in the second place, to show you HOW THE BREAD AND WINE, IN THIS ORDINANCE, COMMEMORATES THE DEATH OF CHRIST.

13. You can hardly fail to notice how the ordinance is adapted universally to keep in memory the fact it commemorates. You remember what happened to the woman who looked back after she came out of Sodom. The Lord would have us “Remember Lot’s wife,” so he turned her into a pillar of salt; but that memorial is only to be seen by those who pass that particular place. Now, suppose that the Master had said to his disciples: “Erect for me a bronze column; let it be in the form of a cross, and write on it that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried”; it would not have appealed to our observation anything like so forcibly as this ordinance, which is not restricted to any time or place. This memorial has been seen in the darkness of the catacombs of Rome, where only a tiny taper afforded light to the worshipping assembly. This memorial has been seen among the heather on the Scottish hill-side where the lightning flash sent its kindly beam to the minister as he read the Sacred Word. This memorial is seen, today, in the far-off isles of the sea. From North to South, from East to West, this is the standing memorial of him who died. Better than storied urn, or animated bust, or marble rare, or metals precious, or jewels unrivalled for their worth, is this blessed memorial, because it can be seen everywhere, in every land.

14. This is also an admirable memorial since it is perpetual. Monuments of bronze wear out; the tooth of Time devours the rugged granite itself. Though you build, for a king, a monument like the pyramids of Egypt, yet his name shall be forgotten, and even Pharaoh may lack a wise man to decipher the inscriptions on his tomb, and recount the story of his mighty acts. It is not so with this blessed ordinance; it can never wear away, it is always new. I may say to it, “Oh sacred Eucharist, you have the dew of your youth!” This memorial is as fresh, more than almost two millennia after its institution, as it was when, in the upper room, the disciples first celebrated it in anticipation of their Master’s approaching death. So, when centuries have followed centuries, and Time himself shall have become bald, and his scythe shall have lost its edge; — when that sun shall have grown dim with age, and the moon shall be pale with fading weakness; — even then this ordinance shall be as fresh and a new as ever. It is perpetual, because the commandment of our King cannot be repealed; it is never to be set aside until the need of testimony shall have passed away, until Christ himself shall come to reign among men.

15. And, oh, what a simple memorial this is! Priest of Rome, go to your sacristy, and put on your millinery, — your red, your blue, your silver, your scarlet, {b} and your fair white linen; — play the prostitute, for such you are, before the eyes of men in all your garish fineries; prove yourself to be the true descendant of her of Babylon by the gaudiness of your apparel! But know, oh priest, that we need none of your enchantments for the right observance of this ordinance! You sons of toil, you can come here with your garments still covered with the dust of your labour. What do we need to fulfil to the letter our dear Master’s own injunctions? Only a piece of bread and a cup of wine? Oh, how shamefully have men mimicked this ordinance! How have they invented strange devices to make that appear wonderful which was wonderful enough in itself; because, like everything sublime, it was simple, and majestic in its own simplicity!

16. This simple ordinance has sometimes made me smile at the useless artifices of the foes of Christ. I have smiled at the thought that our Master has given us a memorial so simple that we can observe it even when our adversaries are most opposed to us. I have broken the memorial bread, and sipped the wine, in Venice, beneath the Austrian sway, where, to have held a public Protestant service would have involved imprisonment; but how could they have stopped us? There were four of us in our own inn; might we not do there as we pleased? No one knew why we wanted a small piece of bread, and a cup of wine; and we four sat around the table, and I affirm that it was as much the Lord’s supper as it is when thousands of us assemble here to keep the sacred feast. If we were in Rome itself, in a room at the Vatican, though the Pope himself were in the next room, we might observe this blessed ordinance and he would never know that we had done so unless we chose to tell him. How could he deny us bread? That would be scant hospitality. And how could he deny us wine? And having bread and wine, we need no altar, and we need no priest. Wherever two or three Christians are met together, there they may celebrate the supper of their Lord. It is as valid without a minister as with one, and just as really the Lord’s supper though there is no ordained presbyter or learned Doctor of Divinity to preside at the table. Blessed memorial of the death of Jesus, they cannot put an end to you! We can laugh to scorn all the priests and the soldiers of Rome. If we had built a memorial pillar, they might have pulled it down. The sons of Moab might have plugged up our wells, and cast down our towers; but who can destroy this simple ordinance? Persecution would no more avail to put an end to the Lord’s supper than would the swords of Pharaoh’s soldiers have availed to put an end to the plague of flies. The craft or skill of man can never put an end to the simple memorial of bread and wine; all that he can do is to parody or pervert it.

17. I think, too, that this is a very blessed memorial. The broken bread commemorates the broken body of our Lord; and the wine, being separate from the bread, shows how his blood flowed from his body. The sign itself most touchingly commemorates the refreshing qualities of the blood which flowed from his head, and hands, and feet, and side. The point I want to emphasize is that Christ has instituted a memorial of his death which requires, to carry it out, Christian hearts, and, therefore, hearts full of love for him and faith in him. If you wish your name to be remembered, you may say, “It is my desire that men should keep my birthday.” So they may; and, in a hundred years’ time, the memory of the fact of your birth will have dwindled down into a mere fable. How many institutions we still have, the origin of which we do not know! But suppose you could have an institution kept up only by those who love you, and suppose, in addition, that you had the power always to preserve in the world some hearts that would love you, what a blessed memorial that would be! In coming to the table of our Lord, we do not meet as a company of men who have no regard for Christ, no constraining love to kindle our passions to a flame. Why, his very name makes our hearts leap for joy!

    Sweeter sounds than music knows
    Charm me in Emmanuel’s name.

His death is, to us, the most delightful topic of meditation. We do not come to the table of our Lord as the slaves of Pharaoh were flogged to build the pyramids; but we come cheerfully, joyfully, delighted to remember him, feeling it to be less a duty than a privilege, and far more a pleasure than merely a service. This supper is, virtually, the outward and visible sign of ten thousand times ten thousand broken hearts that have been bound up, tearful eyes that have been made to flash with holy joy, aching consciences that have been eased, and hearts that could sooner cease to beat than cease to love; so it is, indeed, a blessed and choice memorial of our Saviour’s death, which can never be forgotten by his loved ones.

18. III. Now I come to my last point, and that is, perhaps, the most practical, — HOW YOU AND I ARE TO SHOW OUR REDEEMER’S DEATH IN THIS SUPPER.

19. Some people are very particular about the way in which the Lord’s supper is administered; but, as long as everything is done decently, and in order, I think that should be enough for us. I was staying, once, with a gentleman, — a Dissenter, — who had become more than a little formal. He was telling me that he had done a great deal of good in his parish, and, among other excellent things, he recounted one, with an air of enthusiasm which made me laugh. He said, “When I came here, these people used to bring the wine for the sacrament in a black bottle; and, since I am sure that I could not celebrate the Lord’s supper if the wine came from a black bottle, I have provided something better.” I thought it would have been a great deal better if he had asked the people whether they had brought black hearts; for a black bottle does not mean very much, but a heart that is not right in the sight of God is the thing that needs to be taken away. If you and I have our hearts right, we need not care how simple the mode is in which the ordinance is administered.

20. But, now, what are you and I to do in observing this ordinance? We are to show the Lord’s death. Then, if we are to show it, we must show it to someone. To whom? Why, first, to ourselves. My soul, do not be content unless, in that bread, you do discern the Lord’s body for yourself. Do not eat and drink, as the apostle says, “unworthily, not discerning the Lord’s body.” Take heed, oh my soul, that you are not satisfied with eating the bread unless, by faith, you believe that the body of Christ was offered up for you; — unless your faith can so participate in the merit of that sacrifice that the eating of the bread becomes for you a living picture of your participation in the results of Christ’s death! Take care, also that the wine represents his blood to you. Brethren, these symbols are only as the veil before the holy of holies; you must look beyond the symbols to what is within the veil; or else, of what use are the signs to you? The bread is nothing, the wine is nothing; what the bread represents is everything, feed on that; what the wine portrays is everything, see to it that you are a partaker of that.

21. What multitudes of professors are quite content with the outward sign! I fear that the Lord’s supper, through being so grossly misused, has deceived many. See how eagerly they send for a clergyman when they lie dying! Men, who have scarcely ever entered a church or chapel in all their lives, — men, who do not fear God, and have no saving interest in the death of Christ, — desire to have this bread in their mouths at the last. Let them know that, dying impenitent, this bread shall be a swift witness against them. Not being born by God, and having no right whatever to this ordinance, they ate and drank unworthily, and so ate and drank condemnation to themselves. If any of you have imagined that this ordinance can save your souls, let me correct that error at once; it may ruin them, but it cannot save them. You must get right away to Christ, right away from this ordinance. It is not as unrenewed sinners, but as saints, as Christ’s disciples, as his saved ones, that you are to partake of this feast. You must come to Christ first, as a sinner, just as you are. I have read, or heard, sermons which proved that the minister was not at all clear which was Christ, — the bread on the communion table or the Saviour on the cross. There is a sermon on this text: “Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”; in which the preacher invites his hearers to come to the Lord’s table. That is the very worst place they could come. They must first come to Christ; and then, after they have found acceptance in him, they may come to his table. But they must not be invited to his table until they have come to him, and trusted in his atoning sacrifice. The Lord’s supper is a curse, not a blessing, to unbelievers; so let none of us think of feeding on Christ in the sign until we have Christ in reality in our hearts.

22. Next, we are to show Christ’s death to others. Some of you will be spectators while the rest of us are observing this ordinance. As we shall, in one great host, break bread together, we shall say to you, “Each one of us believes that Jesus died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; we have put our confidence in his death as making reconciliation for us before God; we personally affirm our own vital faith in him; and we declare to you, whatever may be your judgment concerning him, that he is all our salvation and our desire.” The very poorest among the communicants will be a preacher. When you, dear friend, take the bread and the wine, you will preach a sermon. I believe that the word used here has in it, in the Greek, the idea of preaching. You will say, by partaking of this ordinance, “I believe in Jesus Christ, in his broken body, and his poured-out blood.” I hope that will be an appeal to the consciences of you who will be looking on at the ordinance, asking you whether you also believe in Christ; and though the appeal will be a silent one, please answer “Yes” or “No” to it. As you see us partake of the bread and the wine, think that you hear a voice coming up from the communion table, and saying to each one of you, “Soul, soul, when will you, too, believe in Jesus? When will you cast yourself on him, so that he may be your All-in-all?”

23. Nor, by this ordinance, do we show Christ’s death only to ourselves and to others, but also to God himself. We do, as it were, plead the merit of Christ’s broken body and shed blood every time we observe this ordinance. We bring before God, — not a sacrifice, as though the one offering needed to be repeated, — but a memorial of the finished and perfect sacrifice, which was once and for all offered for the sins of men. Brethren, it is a solemn thing to think that, every time we come to the communion table, we bring before the Eternal Father the memorial of the death of his only-begotten and well-beloved Son.

24. We bring that memorial, too, before the holy angels hovering, as they undoubtedly are, over every Christian assembly. We say to each of them, “He who was ‘seen by angels’ is our hope; tell the glad news through all the golden streets that the death of Christ is still remembered in this lower world. Speed on your swift wings to heaven, and let it be known in your glorious dwelling-place that there are men and women, saved by the precious blood of Jesus, meeting to commemorate his death.”

25. And, brethren, in this ordinance we show Christ’s death even to the demons in hell. There is nothing which they fear so much as the death of Christ. The breaking of the bread and the pouring out of the wine are like the flaunting of a victorious banner in the face of the beaten foe. It is the flashing before the eyes of Satan of the sword that struck him in the days of old, and that will make him tremble again even now. Earth and heaven and hell are gathered around us as we meet at the table of our Lord, and we poor puny men become a spectacle to the three worlds. We are said to be men wondered about, but how much more wonderful is what is visibly commemorated in this ordinance, — the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ!

26. Oh my brothers and sisters in Christ, please see to it that you now show his death to your own conscience. Does it accuse you? Then, show it the wounds of Christ, and it shall be well with you. Does the law condemn you? Show it your bleeding Master, and it will at once absolve you. Show Christ’s death to your unbelief; and, surely, it will vanish away. Show Christ’s death to your heart; and, surely it must melt with love for him. Show Christ’s death to the weeping eyes of your repentance, and the tears shall be wiped away, and you shall see your pardon bought with blood. Show Christ’s death to the weak, Leah-like eyes of your faith, and it shall strengthen them until they shall see even the hidden mystery, and discern the substance which, by mortal eyes, cannot be seen. Show Christ’s death to your wretched and miserable spirit, that has been troubled and burdened with the cares of this world; and it must leap for joy, and cast all its burdens away. Show the death of Christ to your old sins, which have been coming back to you today; and it will drive them all away. Show Christ’s death, in fact, to the eyes of your heart, the eyes of your emotions, the eyes of all your powers of body and soul; and so you shall be like him who said, “I shall see him,” though you shall not need to add, as he did, “but not now”; you may say, “I shall behold him,” but you will not need to spoil it by adding, as Balaam did, “but not near,” for Christ shall bring you into his banqueting house, and his banner over you shall be love. Sinner, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and remember that he said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Saint, come to the table of your Lord, and feast on the emblems of his dying love, remembering that blessed are those who believe in him, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told to them by the Lord.

{a} Hecatomb: A great public sacrifice (properly of a hundred oxen) among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and hence extended to the religious sacrifices of other nations; a large number of animals offered or set apart for a sacrifice. OED. {b} Sacristy: The repository in a church in which are kept the vestments, the sacred vessels and other valuable property. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ro 8:18-39}

18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Paul made “the sufferings of this present time” into a matter of simple arithmetic and careful reckoning. He added them all up, and saw what the total was, he seemed to be about to state a proportional sum, but he gave it up, and said that the sufferings were “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.” Did they stand as one to a thousand? No, otherwise they would have been worthy to be compared. Did they stand as one to ten thousand, — or one to a million, — or one to a billion? If so, they would still have been worthy to be compared; but Paul saw that there was no proportion whatever between them. The sufferings seemed to be only as a single drop, and the glory to be as a boundless ocean.

“Not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” That glory is not yet fully revealed; it is revealed to us, but not yet in us. What, then, shall we do in the meantime? Why, wait with patience, and bear our appointed burden until the time comes for us to be relieved of it; — wait, however, with hope, — wait, too, as we must, quietly enduring the pains and pangs which precede so glorious a birth. In this respect, we are not alone, as the apostle goes on to say, —

19-22. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.

We live in a world that is under a curse, — a world that was made subject to bondage through human sin. What is the meaning of this cold? What is the meaning of these fogs? What is the meaning of the general mourning and sighing of the air all through the winter? What is the meaning of the disturbances, and convulsions, and catastrophes that we hear about from everywhere? It is the creation groaning, travailing, waiting, — waiting until there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, because the former things shall have passed away.

23. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body.

Our soul has been delivered from the curse. The redemption of the soul is complete, but not yet that of the body. That must suffer pain and weariness, and even descend into the tomb, but its day of revealing shall surely come. At the appearing of our Lord from heaven, then the body itself shall be delivered, and the whole creation shall also be delivered. So we wait in a travailing condition; and we may well be content to wait, for these pangs within us and around us foreshadow the glorious birth for which we may wait in hope.

24, 25. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he still hope for it? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we wait for it with patience.

This is our attitude and our condition now, — waiting for the glory which is to be revealed in us, and accepting the sorrow which is appointed to us as an introduction to the joy which is to come to us mysteriously through it. But while we are waiting, we are not without present comfort.

26. Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

You must, I am sure, as children of God, often have felt that Spirit within you groaning in prayer what you could not express. How often have you risen from your knees feeling the utter inadequacy of words to express the desires of your heart! And you have felt that you had greater desires than you have been able to interpret. There have been mighty pangs within you indicating the presence of this wrestling Spirit.

27. And he who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit,

When you do not know your own mind, God knows the mind of the Spirit, and that is the very essence of prayer. He “knows what is the mind of the Spirit,” —

27. Because he makes intercession for (or, in) the saints according to the will of God.

Whatever the spirit of God prompts us to pray for, is according to the mind of God, for it is not possible that the Holy Spirit should ever be otherwise than in perfect accord with the Divine Father. The eternal decrees, if we could read them, would convey to us the same truth as the impulses of the Spirit in our heart. And this is the true exploration of prayer, — that what God intends to do, his Spirit leads his people to ask him to do; and so there is no conflict between the eternal predestination of God and the earnest entreaties of his people. They are, in fact, the outcome of that very predestination.

28-30. And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he predestinates, those he also called: and whom he called, those he also justified: and whom he justified, those he also glorified.

These great truths must never be separated. Any one of these things being true of us, it is most certain that the rest are also true. Now, my dear brother, you cannot read God’s foreknowledge, neither can you enter into the secrets of predestination; but you can tell whether you are called, or not; you can know whether you are justified by faith, or not; and if you get hold of those links, you have gotten a grip on that endless chain which is firmly fastened to the granite rock of eternity past, and which is also fastened to the rock of the glorious eternity which is yet to be revealed.

31-33. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? God who justifies?

For so we think it ought to be read. That is another question. Can God lay anything to our charge after having justified us? Will he contradict himself?

34. Who is he who condemns?

There is only One who can, for there is only one Judge, and that Judge is Jesus. So, the apostle puts it again in the form of a question, — shall he condemn us?

34. It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Shall he condemn us? It is altogether impossible.

35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

What a long list of troubles! They seem to make up a Jeremiah’s roll of sorrow. Can they separate us from the love of Christ? They have all been tried; have they ever succeeded?

36. As it is written, “For your sake we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

But did they succeed in separating saints from the love of Christ even in the days of martyrdom?

37-39. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“Therefore, comfort each other with these words.”

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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