2873. Who Loves Christ Most?

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Who Loves Christ Most?

No. 2873-50:109. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, February 3, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, March 3, 1904.

“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.” And he said to him, “You have correctly judged.” {Lu 7:41-43}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2768, “Debtors and Debtors” 2769}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2873, “Who Loves Christ Most?” 2874}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3015, “Two Debtors, The” 3016}
   Exposition on Lu 7:18-50 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2876, “Christ’s Crowning Glory” 2877 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 7:24-50 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2484, “Very Friend You Need, The” 2485 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 7:36-48 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3550, “Earnest Entreaty, An” 3552 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Lu 7:36-50 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3015, “Two Debtors, The” 3016 @@ "Exposition"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Lu 7:42"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Lu 7:43"}

1. When we begin the Christian life, it is very natural that we should say to ourselves, “We do not wish to be second-rate Christians, or ordinary Christians, — much less to prove like the Laodicean professors, neither cold nor hot, or, like those of whom the apostle John wrote, ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us.’ ” I like to see the holy ambition of the young convert, who desires to produce much fruit for the glory of God, — to love Christ much, and reveal that love by every possible act of devotion to him. Truly, my dear friends, you need not be as your fathers have been, for we have often provoked the Lord, and have many times done what we ought not to have done. There is plenty of room for improvement on the past generation, and we would earnestly urge those of you who are beginning the heavenly race to run faster than we have run, — to keep your eye more steadfastly fixed on the goal, and to continue more resolutely in the right way than we have done. We do not desire that you should imitate our mistakes, or that you should fall into our backslidings. We wish that yours might be the highest conceivable form of Christian life; and we know that, if it is to be so, there must be in you intense love for Christ.

2. My object, at this time, is to give some directions which, perhaps, the Spirit of God will bless, especially to beginners, so that they may be taught to love Christ much, and reveal that love as this woman did. It may be that some of us, who have been for years on the right road, may also get stirred up to greater zeal and devotion for our Lord. Possibly, we may hear our Master saying to us, as he said to the angel of the church of Ephesus, “I have this against you, because you have left your first love.” If his Spirit shall make our love to burn more vehemently, we may be able to start anew, and in a better way, in the work and service of our Lord. This would be “a consummation devoutly to be wished for.”

3. With this purpose in view, I shall begin by speaking on the fact that we must all be saved in the same way. Whatever our desires may be to outrun others in the Christian race, we must begin by being saved in exactly the same way as others are. Then, secondly, I shall try to show that it will help to increase our love if we have a deep sense of our own sinfulness; and then, thirdly, provided we have this deep sense of sin, and, as a result, possess a burning love for Christ, this will lead us to show our love very much as this woman did.

4. I. First, then, whatever our desires may be to serve our Master to the utmost, — to be in the front rank of his servants, — yet WE MUST BEGIN WHERE OTHERS BEGIN.

5. There is the same door of entrance for us as what was opened to the very chief of sinners; for there is no difference between one sinner and another in the sight of God, as far as the plan of salvation is concerned. There may be many differences in other matters but, in the matter of salvation, there is nothing which places one man in a different position from another, or which allows him to be saved in any other way than the one way which God has laid down for a sinner’s salvation.

6. You notice, in the parable before us, that both the parties were in debt:“ the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty”; but they were both in debt. So, if some men have plunged into the grossest vice, and defiled themselves, and polluted their lives, they are certainly in debt five hundred pence; but if others have been kept from overt acts of transgression, yet, since their hearts have gone astray from God, and since, with their desires, and with their lips, and in many respects even in their actions, they have broken his holy law, they also are in debt; fifty pence, it may be; but, still, they are in debt. There is not one man among us, who can stand before the Most High, and say to him, “I owe nothing to your justice, for I have never infringed your righteous laws.” Any man who should say that would be a liar, and the truth would not be in him. If we say that we have no sin, or that we have not sinned, we lie in the face of the living God, and in the teeth of our own conscience, too. So, we are all in debt, even if the amount differs in each case.

7. We also learn from the parable that, although both the parties were in debt, neither of them had anything with which to settle the liability: “they had nothing to pay.” One only owed fifty pence; but, then, he did not have the fifty pence; no, he did not even have one penny out of the fifty required to meet the amount. The other debtor owed five hundred pence, and his plight was just the same, for he had nothing to pay. It sometimes happens that the man, who owes the most, has the most to pay, but it is not so here. He has nothing to pay. And, sometimes, the man, who owes only very little, may be the one who has something with which to settle his obligations. He has turned his affairs around at just the right time; and though he is insolvent, yet he can almost settle the debt. But it is not so here. He has nothing to pay. Neither of them could produce so much as a single penny, and that is your case and mine, dear brethren; we have nothing to pay. All that we have, or ever shall have, is due to God already. If there were any assets, they would not belong to us; and there is nothing in reserve, — nothing that we can look for, that will drop in, towards the close of life, with which all our old scores can be wiped out. Under the law, there is nothing for us but debt, debt, debt; and even if we had the power to pay our old debts, new ones would soon swallow up all our capital. But we have nothing with which to settle our old debts. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself”; is still God’s daily demand on us; and if we were able to meet it, it would not in any way make up for the deficiencies of the years that have gone by. Here, we all stand on an equality; we are all in debt, and not one of us has anything with which to pay that debt.

8. And here is the glory of God’s mercy in dealing with sinners who believe in Jesus. In the parable of the two debtors, we are told that the creditor freely forgave them both. He did not say to either of them: “I will give so much time, and you shall pay me so much a week until you pay it off.” Oh, no! he forgave them both, wiped the score out altogether. He did not ask anything from them, for he knew that they had nothing; but he forgave them, says the text, frankly; that is, freely. He did not forgive one of them because his debt was a misfortune, which he could not avoid; but he frankly forgave them both. He did not look for any worthiness in either of them, or expect anything from either of them; but, as an act of pure gratuitous favour, because he delighted to show kindness to his poor debtors, he said, “There, go home, both of you; I shall never ask you for the amount of your debts again. I have crossed it off my book, though I have received nothing whatever from you.”

9. Now, this is just what the Lord, in his infinite mercy, does for all poor sinners who come and trust his Son. He gives them a receipt in full, for there is One who has paid the debt for them. All glory be to his name, it has been paid in full; but, as far as we are concerned, the Lord does not give us pardon because of our tears, or prayers, or repentances, or even because of any merit in our believings, for our very believings are marred by unbelief, but he forgives us freely. And he does not forgive us because he thinks that, in the future, we shall improve on the past. Oh no; we are his workmanship when we do improve, and it is he who must have the credit for our improvement. But he forgives us freely, “according to the riches of his grace,” passing by iniquity, transgression, and sin, and not remembering the wickedness of his people, “because he delights in mercy.”

10. Here, then, we are all on the same level; and if any young Christian thinks that be starts with an advantage over others, he makes a great mistake; and he had better go back, and start where all pilgrims to Zion must start, — at that wicket-gate which John Bunyan describes, or, better still, at that cross where Christian lost his load, and from where he went on his way rejoicing. You must come down from that high horse, young man; your birthright is not worth a farthing to you, your church-going and your chapel-going are not worth a single penny to you; you must trust in Christ just as a prostitute or as a thief must. It is true that you have been moral, and I thank God for it. It is true that you have been preserved from contamination with an ungodly world, and I thank God for it. But, still, in the matter of the soul’s salvation, “no other foundation can anyone lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ is the way of salvation for the most immoral, and for the most moral, too. You and I, dear friend, must go together to the Lord Jesus, and see in him the full atonement made, and the utmost ransom paid, and then we must accept, as poor bankrupt sinners, the free gift of a full discharge through the sovereign mercy of God whom we have offended.

11. It is absolutely essential for us to begin here; for, if we do not start our Christian life properly, we shall never make progress in it. If there is a mistake in the first layer of bricks laid, or if the foundation is not well dug out, or if things are done improperly at the beginning, there are sure to be all kinds of mischief in the rest of the building. Therefore, I charge you, begin by coming to Christ, as naked sinners needing to be clothed. Do not come to him in the filthy rags of your self-righteousness, seeking to have a piece of his spotless robe of righteousness tacked on, for that can never be. If you think of passing your counterfeit coin with Christ’s pure gold, you are making a fatal mistake. I charge you to begin as lost, ruined, and condemned sinners, for that is what you really are; coming to Christ like that, and trusting in him, you shall be saved, you shall be adopted into the divine family, you shall be sanctified in Christ Jesus, and, in due time, you shall be glorified through him, and through him alone.

12. II. Now, secondly, I want to show you how our lives may become more intense than the lives of many other professing Christians are through our love being more fervent than theirs is. In order to attain that goal, WE MUST HAVE A DEEP SENSE OF OUR OWN SIN. “Which of them will love him most?” “I suppose he, to whom he forgave most.”

13. I can imagine someone saying, “I was never, in very deed, so great a sinner as some have been; must I, therefore, love Christ less than those who have been greater sinners than I have? Will this morality of mine, — in which I do not trust for a moment, and concerning which I do not speak boastingly, — will this put me at a disadvantage in comparison with others? Shall I never attain to such love as that woman had who was a sinner?” Listen, my friend. Suppose that the man, who owed five hundred pence, only thought that he owed fifty. He would not love the creditor, who forgave him, any better than the one who really did owe the fifty pence, would he? It was not the amount forgiven, as you will readily see, which was the reason for the greater or lesser love; but it was the consciousness of the amount, — the realization of its greatness, which would be the reason for the greater love. I do not doubt that there are some very great sinners, who have been forgiven, who yet do not love Christ much, and, on the other hand, there are some who, in the judgment of men, and, perhaps, in the judgment of God, are nothing like such great sinners, who, nevertheless, love Christ more, the reason being that these greater sinners never had such a deep sense of the enormity of sin as these, comparatively speaking, lesser sinners have had. The question turns, you see, not so much on the actual amount of debt, as on the consciousness of the magnitude of that debt, — not so much, in the matter of love, on the indebtedness, as on the sense of that indebtedness; so that you, who have been kept in the ways of morality, before you were converted, may rightly place yourselves among the greatest debtors, and, perhaps, may love Christ even more than some others do, who have actually been grosser offenders, but who have never been awakened to such a full sense of their sinfulness as you have had; and, consequently, do not think themselves to be the greatest debtors to God. It is, dear friends, a deep sense of our sinfulness, coupled with the perfect consciousness of our forgiveness, that will work in us intense love for Christ.

14. Let me further say that anyone, who has been forgiven very great open sin, ought certainly to have the greatest and strongest motive for love for Christ. You cannot always tell how love comes into the heart. I do not deny the duty of love, but love does not come merely as a duty. You love your mother, or you love your wife, and it is your duty to do so; but you could not be made to love either of them simply by being told that it was a duty. You do it because of the natural impulse within your heart which moves you to love. In the same way, love for our Heavenly Father, and love for Christ is, no doubt, a duty; but it is much more than a mere matter of duty. That is a cold sphere for love to live in; and she soon gets away from the polar regions of duty to the more tropical climate of the garden of Gethsemane and the place called Calvary. She loves because she cannot help loving, — because she must love. The gratitude within her heart is so great, that she cannot help loving the Lord who has done so much for her.

15. I hope that is the case with any of you who were once drunkards, or who had lost your character, or who had sinned against God in an open way, and even dared, perhaps, to blaspheme his holy name. As you think that over, oh, how your heart ought to burn with love for your Lord! You remember how Paul writes concerning adulterers, and drunkards, and all kinds of grossly sinful people, and then says, “Such were some of you, but you are washed.” This should bring tears to the eyes of all whom it concerns: “But you are washed”; — you are singing your Saviour’s praises, though, once, a profane or licentious song would have suited you better; you are now bowing your knees in prayer, though, once, those knees never knew what it was to make an obeisance before the Most High; you are loving him now with all your heart, though, once, you saw no beauty in him that you should desire him. Brothers and sisters, I will not say that you ought to love Christ much; rather I will say that I feel sure that you do. If you understand what he has done for you, you cannot help loving him much; and I trust that, in the outpouring and revealing of love, yours will be a life as vigorously good as once it was shamefully bad, — a life as full of the fire of heaven as once it was full of the fire of hell, — a life as much above the common life of men as once it was below what the life of men really ought to be. May God grant that it may be so with you!

16. Now I will address myself to those who thank God, — without any of the Pharisaic spirit, — but very humbly thank God that they were not allowed to run into the same excess of riot as others, but were brought to a knowledge of the Saviour early. I say to you, dear friends, that you also may be among those who love Christ much, if you have a very deep sense of sin A venerable servant of God, whom most of you know and respect, has made a remark which I fully endorse. He says that he has noticed that the deepest convictions of sin do not come, as a rule, to men of coarse life, but to those who have been of upright moral character. My own observation has taught me that, very often, drunkards, and other people who have lived openly evil lives, when they are converted, are brought suddenly to Christ, and made to rejoice in him; while some of us, who were kept from such sins as they have committed, have had a far greater sense of horror and terror inflicted on us than they have ever experienced. I have many times found that the deepest sense of sin has been felt where the actual sin has been the least. There are, no doubt, exceptions to this rule; but I believe it is the rule; and the explanation is, that the ungodly man, by a long life of sin, has so seared his conscience that, even when the Spirit of God comes to him, he does not have that delicate, acute sense of sin which another man has, who, by God’s grace, has never been permitted to blunt the edge of his conscience.

17. I will tell you another thing. I believe that, in many Christians, the sense of sin is much stronger ten years after they have been saved than it is at the time of their conversion. There is not any despair mixed with it, and the fear of punishment has gone; but a sense of horror at the terrible guilt of sin will sometimes come over a Christian who is far advanced in the divine life; indeed, the further he is advanced in the divine life, the more horror will take hold of him whenever he sees sin, even in others, and still more in himself. Some glib professors talk about having gotten out of the seventh chapter of Romans; I hope they will grow in grace until they get into the seventh chapter of Romans! It seems to me as if they were in the first chapter of Romans, so they have a long way to travel before they will get into the seventh chapter of Romans. The nearer you get to perfection, the more horrified you feel because of the sin that still remains in you; and the more horror you feel over your sin, the more intense will be your gratitude for the bleeding Saviour who has put that sin away; and, as a result, the more intense will be your love for him.

18. I charge you, Christian people, if you want your piety to be increased, never to blunt your sensitivity to sin. Do not begin to look at sin in any light which takes away any of it blackness. The devil himself is not as bad as sin is, for it is sin that made the devil. Satan was a holy angel until sin came into him, but sin itself was never anything else but sin, — a horrible thing, and it never will be anything else but sin, look at it in whatever way you may. Some have spoken of sin as being merely a failure, or a slight slip. May God keep you, beloved, from ever using such language as that! Sin, in a child of God, is a damnable thing, — as damnable as it is most atrociously wicked; and if it were not for the grace of God, which takes it away, the brightest saint would soon be banished from God’s presence. Sin is always an evil thing, but in a child of God it is a worse thing than in worldlings, for he sins against greater light and knowledge than they possess.

19. Brothers and sisters in Christ, if you desire to cultivate, as I trust you do, the feeling that you owed your Lord five hundred pence, which he has freely forgiven you, you must often think of the spirituality of the law of God. We think, at first, that the ten commandments only mean what we see on the surface; and if we have not broken them, we feel happy; or if we have broken them, then we feel some conviction of sin; but the longer we live, and the more the Spirit of God deals with us, the more we discover that the law contains the condemnation of every evil thought, and temperament, and imagination. Think, for example, when we come to discover, in connection with the command, “You shall not kill,” that he who is angry with his brother without a cause is a murderer. Who among us has completely escaped that sin? Do angry thoughts never arise in our heart? Ah, then we begin to discover that we have broken that command, and that, in this sense, we are murderers; and we find that there are more men, who have broken that law, than have been put to death by their fellow men. It is just the same with each of the commandments. I need not go into their details; but may the Spirit of God make you often go into the details, until you look into your own life, and are horrified, and you say, “Why, where we imagined we saw righteousness, we see ourselves altogether condemned before the all-seeing eye of God.”

20. If you would have a sense of sin, in the next place, endeavour more and more to appreciate the excellency of God. Oh you holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts, when I think of some of your creatures, and compare myself with them, self-conceit may set my mind at ease; but when I look up to you, and remember that the heavens are not clean in your sight, and that you charge your angels with folly, I feel afraid to come into your presence. In the visions of the night, when we have thought about the purity and spirituality of God, our hair has been ready to stand on end as we have realized how far we are from such perfection as his, and we have been ready to cry, with Job, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” If the Holy Spirit will teach you to feel like that, then you will love Jesus Christ for having had pity on you, and provided a way by which all your sinfulness could be taken away.

21. Another blessed sharpener of our sense of sin is a consciousness of sin’s tendency, — knowing what sin really is, and what it would do if it could have its way without those blessed checks which omnipotence imposed on it. What would sin do, if it could? What did it do when God gave it liberty? It took God himself, and accused him, brought him before its judgment bar; and there, the sinner dared to sit and judge his God, — yes, and to condemn his God, and even to kill his God. This is what sin always does whenever it can. “The fool” — that is, the ungodly man, — has said in his heart, “There is no God.” He means, “No God for me; I do not want any God. If I could have my own way, there should not be any God.” And every offence against God’s law is a wish, on our part, to be greater than God, — to have our way instead of God having his way; — in a word, to push God off his throne so that we might sit there in his place. Oh sin, I can only hate you, now that I see you red with the blood of the Son of God! I can only abhor you now that I see that you would let hell loose into this world if you could do so. A Christian cannot help hating sin in proportion as he loves God who has forgiven him all his trespasses.

22. One thing which has often made me feel great tenderness of soul is a sense of the divine love. If you ever offend a person, and that person, instead of being in the slightest degree angry, lets a tear fall, but says nothing; and if you hear afterwards that he has been laying himself out for your good, and that the very thing, about which you were angry, was really intended to be a blessing to you, oh, you feel as if you could never forgive yourself! To do a wrong thing, is bad at any time; but to do a wrong to the One who is so good and so kind as God is, — oh, have you not often said to yourself, “How could I have done this? I was one of God’s chosen people; he loved me before the foundation of the world, though I did not know it. Christ wrote my name on his hands, and on his heart, and shed his blood to redeem me; yet I did not know it. I even ridiculed his name; yet, all the while, he had prepared a place in heaven for me, and he had made up his mind that he would save me, that his grace should seek me. I did not know anything about it, and I went on in the frivolity and foolishness of my heart against him.” This thought makes sin appear extremely sinful, as being committed against a God who is all goodness, and altogether love and mercy; and so we feel ourselves to be indebted five hundred pence, and not merely fifty.

23. Above all, dear friends, I know of nothing that can make us more sensitive about our guilt, and conscious of it, than the realization of what Jesus Christ is to us. I think this poor woman was helped to weep by the sight of his feet. They had not been pierced then; but I know that it helps us to weep in penitence when we can see his dear, his blessed feet that were pierced for our sins, and look at his hands, and remember his words, “These are the wounds that I received in the house of my friends”; and then look into his side, and see that the gash goes right into his heart; and, all the while, understand that each of our sins became a nail, and unbelief the spear, to pierce his hands, and feet, and side. That wonderful love of Jesus Christ for us has never changed, it has never been repressed by our ingratitude, or made to cease even by our forgetfulness of him. He loved us even to the death; and, after death, he has still continued to love us. He loves us so that he cannot be content even in heaven until he gets us there with him. Being himself there as our Head, he is determined to bring all his members there. Just look at Jesus Christ for a minute, and then look at sin. Oh, what a loathsome thing, what a monster, it then appears to be! I am sure, dear friends, if you are beginning to think little of sin, it must be because you have been thinking little of Jesus Christ. You cannot have met your best Friend recently, or else you would never parley with his enemy. Oh beloved, lie in Christ’s bosom, where all the sweetest perfumes are, rest your head on his breast, where the myrrh, and aloes, and cassia are to be found; and you will never crave the leeks and garlic of Egypt! After having been with him, and eaten the heavenly manna, you would not be able to eat the dust and ashes of this foul world. So, in proportion as you get near to Jesus, you will hate sin, and you will love him, who bore your sin, and carried it all away, so that you might be free from it for ever.

24. There are many other topics I might mention so as to sharpen your sense of sin; but I pray the ever-blessed Spirit to keep your mind and heart sensitive towards sin, for be sure of this, — that you can never exaggerate your own guiltiness in God’s sight. When you have the lowest notion of yourself, you are getting the nearest to the truth; when you feel your sin to be extremely sinful, you still do not even know how sinful it is; for —

    “God only knows the love of God,” —

and God only knows the sinfulness of man. Perhaps, if any man among us could see his sin as it really is, he would go mad. I am persuaded that, sometimes, God spares men, who have been great sinners, the horrible revelations which he gives to others, because they could not bear them. If they ever did see themselves as they are, they might be driven to despair. So he sometimes leads them by easier ways than he does some others, and so he gives to others the opportunity of putting themselves down among the five hundred pence debtors, and to love him most because, after all, they are conscious of having had the most forgiven.

25. III. My time has fled, so I must only say very briefly, in the third place, that IF WE GET A BURNING LOVE FOR JESUS CHRIST, IT WILL BE GOOD FOR US TO SHOW IT AS THIS WOMAN DID. How shall we do it?

26. First, by desiring to be near him. This woman, in her desire to be near Christ, came right up to his feet. Augustine admires the gracious audacity of this woman. She had been very bold when she was a sinner; her shamefacedness was gone when she was a sinner, and it was also gone when she was a saint. May we, too, love Christ so much that we cannot be content to live at a distance from him, but may we be among those who follow the Lamb wherever he goes, and stay close beside him!

27. The next point in her for us to imitate is the boldness of her confession. Some of Christ’s disciples came to him by night, but this woman came to him by day. They dared not approach him when anyone saw them, but she did not care who saw her. I wish that you, who love Jesus much, were as bold as she was in the acknowledgment of your faith. Come out, and confess Christ, saying, “I have had much forgiven; therefore, I will tell the whole world of what the Lord has done for me.”

28. Then, next, this woman had deep humility; for, bold as she was, she rendered the lowliest service that she could to Christ. May you be such willing slaves to him that washing his feet will be the work in which you delight! If I may only wash his feet, — help his poor people, — look after a few infants in the Sunday School, — do any little thing for him, — if I can only have some smiles from him, though they are only such as come to menials, I will be glad to get them.

29. Then, imitate this woman’s penitence. She bathed his feet with her tears; so show him how deep and true is your repentance. It is good not to make a show of repentance to men, except by your actions; but let your whole life, and your innermost soul, make a show of it before Christ. Wash his feet with your tears; with your contrition, refresh him.

30. After washing his feet with her tears, this woman wiped them with the hairs of her head. Imitate her self-denying service. Show your love for Jesus in some special way. I do not know what particular form your service may take; but let it be some loving, tender, self-denying work for your dear Lord and Saviour. Make a perfect consecration of yourself to him, as this woman did; may the Holy Spirit help you to do so! But you will never do it unless you have a deep sense of sin; so, brothers and sisters in Christ, I come back to that point, because that is the chief thought I want to leave in your mind. Feel sin to be a bitter and hideous thing, and feel yourself to be a great sinner. You will never pray so well as when you have a tear in your eye. You will never serve God so well as when you have been standing in the tax collector’s place, and saying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” I am persuaded that we, ministers, do not preach with effect if we preach as if we were wonderful saints looking down on you, poor sinners. Oh, no! When we ourselves are tender in spirit God helps us to be tender towards the humble and contrite among our hearers; out of our hearts, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit, comes power that helps others to be humble and contrite before God. We are nothing to boast about, so let us never boast. Though we are accepted in the Beloved, and perfect in Christ Jesus, forgiven, saved for ever, (blessed be his name!), yet this is no reason for us to lift ourselves up, but to lift Christ up. It is a reason for gratitude, but not for conceit; so we will feel that we have had much forgiven, and will love him much who has freely forgiven us all our trespasses. May he help us to do so, and his shall be the praise for ever and ever! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 116}

In this Psalm, David tells us his experience with regard to God and with regard to men.

1. I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.

Answered prayer is a good reason for loving God. David was in his right senses; and he was, by no means, a fool; yet he declared that God had answered his prayer, and, therefore, he loved him. And this is not only David’s experience, but there are thousands of us who can say that God has heard our prayers, and therefore we love him. How can we help doing so?

2. Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

If a beggar in the street were to say to us, “Because you have relieved me once, I will beg from you as long as I live,” we should not be pleased to hear him say that, but God loves to hear us say that to him. He wishes us to resolve that, because we have been successful in prayer once, we will call on him as long as we live.

Now David explains the circumstances which led him to pray: —

3. The sorrows of death encompassed me, —

“I seemed to be shut in, — surrounded by a circle of difficulties and terrors: ‘The sorrows of death encompassed me,’ ” —

3. And the pains of hell have taken hold on me:

They seemed to seize him as a lion seizes his prey.

3, 4. I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD; oh LORD, I beseech you, deliver my soul.

His prayer was a very short one, but very much to the point. Words do not make prayer; they often burden it, and prevent it from flying.

    “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire”; —

and David, in a few earnest words, expressed that desire: “Oh Lord, I beseech you, deliver my soul.”

5. Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful.

All who have ever tried him have proved him to be so, — merciful to forgive our sin, — merciful to help us in the time of trouble, — merciful to strengthen us in the performance of our duty: “Our God is merciful.”

6. The LORD preserves the simple:

Those who are of a single mind, — who have no double meanings and concealed motives, — those who know their own ignorance and weakness, and who, therefore, dare not trust in themselves.

6. I was brought low, and he helped me.

David could speak for himself, and he did so without the slightest hesitation. Can you, dear friends after making a test of God’s love and grace, say of him, “I was brought low, and he helped me?” If you can, then bear this testimony to his praise and glory.

7. Return to your rest, oh my soul; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

Man’s soul is like the dove that Noah sent out from the ark. It flew over the wide waste of waters, seeking rest, but finding none, so, at last, with weary wing, it made its way back to the ark; and, soul, you will never rest until you come back to your Creator and Redeemer. You may fly to the pleasures and follies of this world but they can furnish no real rest for you; if you would rest, you must come back to your God.

8, 9. For you have delivered my soul from death, my eye from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

“Let my fellow creatures think what they wish about me, I will not care about their judgments, I will only think of God.” This is the highest noblest, happiest kind of living, — to “walk before the Lord.” Why, there are some men who dare not even call their souls their own! They are afraid of their next-door neighbours, or of some important relative who sets the fashion for them; but the man who walks before the Lord will think only of the verdict of the Most High, and will care nothing about what men will say.

10, 11. I believed, therefore I have spoken: “I was greatly afflicted”: I said in my haste, “All men are liars.”

He felt that he could not trust them. He had come into such trouble that men would be deceivers even against their own will; for, even when they would have helped him, he found that they could not. He had looked up to them as worthy of his confidence, and had found that they failed him, therefore he said that, so far as reliance on them was concerned, “All men are liars.” Well, what then?

12. What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits towards me?

“Though men have failed me, the Lord has not. If friends all prove to be false, he is still true. ‘What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me?’ ”

13-15. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

It does not matter where they die, — in the dungeons of the Inquisition, or on the sick-bed of poverty and obscurity, — God is always with them. The death-bed of a saint is one of the places where God often makes his glory to be best seen. From the lips of dying men and women some of us have heard strange sayings, sweeter than any that ever fell from poet’s tongue or pen. We have heard words which it was almost unlawful for a man to utter, except only for those who were in the very suburbs of heaven, — almost in glory, — even while they spoke with us on earth.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Will yours be a saintly death, dear friend, or will it, on the other hand, be a death of gloom and sorrow? May God grant that you may die the death of his people because you have lived the life of his people!

16. Oh LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, and the son of your handmaid: you have released my bonds.

How pleased David was to be God’s servant! Yet he says, “You have released my bonds.” To serve God, is to be free; we are never truly free until we bow our willing necks to the yoke of the Most High. Then we break every chain, and snap every fetter. He is the free man whom our God makes free, and all are slaves besides.

17-19. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of you, oh Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Praise To The Redeemer” 411}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Give Me Christ” 606}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — The Life Look” 538}

Jesus Christ, His Praise
411 — Praise To The Redeemer
1 To him that loved the souls of men,
   And wash’d us in his blood,
   To royal honours raised our head,
   And made us priests to God;
2 To him let every tongue be praise,
   And every heart be love!
   All grateful honours paid on earth,
   And nobler songs above!
3 Behold, on flying clouds he comes!
   His saints shall bless the day;
   While they that pierced him sadly mourn
   In anguish and dismay.
4 Thou art the First, and thou the Last;
   Time centres all in thee,
   The Almighty God, who was, and is,
   And evermore shall be.
                     Isaac Watts, 1709:
                     Scripture Songs, 1751.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
606 — Give Me Christ <7s.>
1 Gracious Lord, incline thine ear,
   My requests vouchsafe to hear;
   Hear my never ceasing cry;
   Give me Christ, or else I die.
2 Wealth and honour I disdain,
   Earthly comforts all are vain;
   These can never satisfy,
   Give me Christ, or else I die.
3 Lord, deny me what thou wilt,
   Only ease me of my guilt;
   Suppliant at thy feet I lie,
   Give me Christ, or else I die.
4 All unholy, all unclean,
   I am nothing else but sin;
   On thy mercy I rely,
   Give me Christ, or else I die.
5 Thou dost freely save the lost!
   Only in thy grace I trust:
   With my earnest suit comply;
   Give me Christ, or else I die.
6 Thou hast promised to forgive
   All who in thy Son believe;
   Lord, I know thou canst not lie;
   Give me Christ, or else I die.
7 Father, dost thou seem to frown?
   I take shelter in thy Son!
   Jesus, to thy arms I fly,
   Save me, Lord, or else I die.
               William Hammond, 1745.

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

Spurgeon Sermons

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

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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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