2898. The Search-Warrant

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The Search-Warrant

No. 2898-50:409. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, During The Winter Of 1861-2, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, August 25, 1904.

But there are some of you who do not believe. {Joh 6:64}

1. Are there indeed? Yes; he who searches the hearts says so. Then it is high time for us to enquire, “What is it to believe in Christ? What is it to believe to the saving of the soul?” It is not merely to consider the gospel to be true. It is not simply to endorse the doctrine that Christ is God. Those who hold a sound creed may be destitute of precious faith, and those who are able to defend the divinity of Christ with admirable scholarship may, nevertheless, be without God in the world. To believe in Christ includes much more than a religious profession. It is to believe the gospel so as to forsake all other beliefs for the possession of its blessed hope; it is to imbibe the spirit of the Word while you accept the letter of its pure teaching; or, in other words, it is to come to Jesus, and to prove, in your own souls, his power to save.

2. Just as the faith of Abraham led him to leave his kindred, and his father’s house, under the guardian care of Jehovah, so saving faith leads a man to leave his self-sufficiency, with all the carnal pursuits and ambitions that encircled, like a farmstead, his natural and primitive abode, and to go out, led by Jesus Christ, not knowing where he goes. Just as faith led the prostitute Rahab to anticipate the doom of Jericho, to hang the scarlet line in her window, and then to rest securely in her house, though the town walls, on which it was built, were shaking, so, by faith, the sinner comes to the blood of sprinkling, hangs the promise of redemption in the window of his soul, and though he feels himself to be, naturally, no better than others, yet he rests secure because that scarlet line is there, and he is safe. Or, to use another metaphor, just as the Hebrew householder slew the lamb, dipped the bunch of hyssop in its blood, sprinkled it on the lintel and the two side-posts of his house, and then calmly ate the Passover supper, though he knew that the destroying angel was flying through the land of Egypt, and though, perhaps, he could even hear the shrieks of the dying and the wailing of the bereaved, yet he remained quietly in his house, knowing that, though he might be the guiltiest of men, the blood secured his safety according to the promise of God.

3. To believe in Jesus, then, is to trust for our soul’s salvation in what Jesus has done for us, to prove what he is doing in us, and to rely entirely on his promise to save us even to the end. It is to drop from the giddy elevation where we stand on the rotten timbers of self-righteousness, and to fall into the omnipotent arms of him who stands ready to receive us; it is to tear off the rags of our own spinning, so that we may be clothed with the righteousness which is from heaven. Faith is the opposite of sight. It is to believe that we are saved when sin tells us that we are lost. It is to believe that Christ has cleansed us when we still feel defilement within. It is to believe that we shall see his face in glory when clouds and darkness enshroud our path, and doubts and fears distress our heart. This is the faith which saves the soul.

4. We are not saved by faith itself as a meritorious work. There is no merit in believing in God; and even if there were, it could not save us, since salvation by merit has been once and for all solemnly excluded. Nor does faith save us as an efficient cause. Faith is the channel of salvation, not the fountain and source of it. Hence faith, though it saves, never boasts. He who boasts does not have faith; and he who has faith can say, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When the poor man, who was bitten by the fiery serpent, looked to the bronze serpent on the pole, it was his eye that saved him; yet it was not the merit of looking, nor was it his eye that was the efficient cause of his cure; but all the glory of it was to be given to God who had ordained that the bronze serpent should be the means of healing for all who looked at it. So, faith is the eye with which we look to Christ, yet it has neither merit nor efficacy in itself; all the merit and efficacy lie in the precious blood of him to whom we look.

5. Again, faith is an empty hand; yes, it is the filthy hand of the leprous sinner, and Christ puts his mercy into that black hand. Is there any merit in the hand? God forbid! Is there any efficacy to save in the hand? Oh, no, my brethren; the hand which gives must have the glory, not the hand which takes. He who bestows the blessing must have the honour for it, not the faith by which we receive the blessing from him.

6. Now, having thus spoken on what faith is, and having tried to show you its particular position in the work of salvation, I am solemnly reminded, by our text, that “there are some of you who do not believe.” The context shows that these words were spoken by Christ, to his disciples. They were gathered around him, and he was addressing them; some of them had murmured because what he said to them was too “hard” for them to receive, and the Lord Jesus, being able to read their hearts, could say to them, “There are some of you who do not believe”; and the inspired Evangelist adds, “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray him.” I am going to speak, first, about those whose unbelief is secret; and, secondly, about those who are known to us to be unbelievers.

7. I. First, THERE ARE SOME WHOSE UNBELIEF IS SECRET, it is known only to Christ.

8. If you had looked at those disciples of Christ, you would have judged that they had received the gift of eternal life, you would have said, “God forbid that I should condemn any of those men who have come out from an ungodly generation, and have professed to be followers of the Prophet of Nazareth!” Although it would be wrong for us to judge our fellow creatures, Jesus judged his disciples, and judged them correctly, for he can penetrate even to the heart, he can discern the secret thoughts, and intents, and motives of all men, and the day is coming when he will finally judge the whole race of mankind. His eye even now pierces through the hypocrite’s disguise, but his hand shall tear it away when he shall say to those who cry to him, “Lord! Lord!” — “Truly I say to you, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity.’ ” We do not know the hollowness of their pretence, but Christ knows all about it; and if the Holy Spirit shall help us, we may be enabled to show it to them. Oh, that it may be so, even now, that they may stand with their souls revealed, and their consciences convicted, and that they may now seek for faith, since they do not have it!

9. What reason for alarm and for heart-searching there is here, for it is to be feared that, even in the ministry, there are some who do not have faith? Indeed, brethren, there have been, in all ages, men who have worn the robes of God’s ambassadors, but who themselves have not been at peace with him. It is a solemn and dreadful fact that there have been men who have broken the bread at the Lord’s table, and who have been leaders in God’s Israel, yet who, notwithstanding that, have had neither part nor lot in the matter. Brethren in the ministry, and young men, who occasionally go out to preach the Word, and who are hoping, eventually, to have a settled pastorate, let us ask ourselves this question, — Is it not possible that we, although preachers of the Word, may yet be without faith? Are we seeking to teach to others what we ourselves have not learned? Are we only like scaffolds, used in the building of Christ’s Church, yet not ourselves part of the spiritual structure; or like Noah’s labourers, who helped to build the ark, yet were themselves drowned by the great deluge? Are we like Elijah’s ravens, which brought him bread and meat, yet themselves remained unclean birds of evil omen? Let us seriously question ourselves like this, for God has sometimes done good works by bad men; yet this has not saved the men themselves, even as it was with Judas, who worked miracles as the other disciples did, and preached as they did, yet who, nevertheless, was “a son of perdition,” who went to “his own place” among the lost.

10. Further, is it not possible that there are some, in the other offices of the church, who do not have faith? Men and brethren, let me speak to you who are the fathers in Israel. Though only young myself, yet, as God’s servant, delivering his message, I speak to you with authority. Is it not possible that you may serve tables, as deacons of the church, and yet that you yourself may be an intruder at Christ’s table? You may be an elder and an overseer of others, and yet have to say, “They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but I have not kept my own vineyard.” It is solemn work to be made a watcher over the souls of men; but what must be our position if, after watching over others, our own soul should still be in the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity? “I speak as to wise men; judge what I say.” Office-bearing and the choice of the church cannot guarantee your salvation.

11. And since this is true of some ministers, and of some church officers, it may be true of others who are engaged in various works of piety. I thank God that we have here many Sunday School teachers, tract distributors, street preachers; — in fact, I hope that there are very few people, in this church, who are not regularly engaged in doing good in one way or another. If there are, among them, any who do not believe, I am happy to say that I do not know them; yet it is possible, dear friend, that you are teaching a Sunday School class, although yourself needing to become as a little child before you can enter the kingdom of heaven? May you not be distributing messages of mercy to others, in the streets, or from door to door, and yet be yourself in need of that mercy? If that is your sad case, you are like a man with a leprous hand dealing out medicine to the sick. Take care, Christian workers, that, in this day of activity, when there is so much to do, you do not neglect the personal act of faith which unites your soul to Christ. See to this vital and all-important matter. Make clean the outside of the cup and platter, as far as you can, but see that the inside is not full of hypocrisy. However active you are in the Lord’s service, I pray that your exclusive self-examination may be as earnest as your expansive zeal. May you be as much concerned to be yourselves saved as to proclaim salvation to others!

12. Now I speak to the church members in general. I thank God that he is adding to this church every day. Sometimes, I hear a whisper, from one side, that those of us, whose business it is to examine candidates for church fellowship, are too severe in our judgment of them; and, on the other side, there are some who say that we are not searching enough. Brethren, it is enough for me, and my fellow labourers in Christ, when we can say that, with singleness of spirit, and not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, we have sought to serve God in this matter. I do truly believe that, for the most part, what we have bound on earth has been bound in heaven, and what we have loosed on earth has been loosed in heaven. At any rate, this I can say, if we have erred in any case, it has been neither by favour nor by prejudice; but we have sought, after lifting up our hearts to heaven, to give a righteous judgment in every case. Yet, with all the care that may be exercised, there is not, beneath the canopy of heaven, a single church that is perfect. Some of you, who are now here, are members of this church, and some are members of other churches, yet it is almost certain that “there are some of you who do not believe.” I do not profess to be able to separate the tares from the wheat, but Jesus can do it, he knows those among you who have no faith. You may talk about faith, and yet not really have it yourselves. You may have a great gift in prayer, and yet not have faith. You may be an acceptable preacher, and yet not have faith. You may walk uprightly before your fellow men, and yet not have faith. You may be a generous subscriber to every holy work, and yet not have faith. How nearly a man may be a Christian, and yet be lost, after all! The counterfeit may be made to look so like the genuine that men may look at it again, and again, and again, and yet may pronounce the real to be counterfeit, and the false to be genuine. May the Lord grant that, if there are, in this congregation, any who have a name to live, and yet are dead, they may be aroused to a sense of their true condition before God before it is too late, and that Christ may give them life! Brethren, I do not know that, at the present moment, I have any doubt of my own personal interest in Christ; yet I do know that it is a very solemn thing to be too sure, and that it is a damnable thing to be presumptuous concerning such a matter. There will be times, with all of us, when it will do us good to sit down, and seriously ask, “Are these things so, or are they not?” Let us dig down to the very foundations of our faith, and see what it is on which we are building for eternity. There will be times when all our past experience will be blown to shreds, like the sail of the mariner in a great gale. There will be times when our strongest evidence will snap like a mast broken by the fury of the storm. There will be times when all our comforts and joys will go like hen-coops washed overboard from a labouring ship. Oh, what a blessed thing it is, at such a time as that, to cast our great bower-anchor {a} into the sea, and calmly to sing, —

    In every high and stormy gale,
    My anchor holds within the veil.

When anyone can say, —

    His oath, his covenant, and his blood,
    Support me in the sinking flood; —

he may feel that he is everlastingly secure, and that Jesus is indeed his Saviour. May the Holy Spirit enable you to judge, — for we cannot, — whether you have this saving faith or not!

13. II. Now, in the second place, I am to speak about THOSE WHO ARE KNOWN TO US AS UNBELIEVERS.

14. First, there is a very pleasing class of people here, who say, “We have no faith, but we are very anxious to have it.” I bless God for you, dear friends, and I wish that we had thousands like you. You feel your need of Christ, you long to be saved, you hate sin, you hate self-righteousness; yet you have no faith. There are certain questions that each of you often ask us. First, “May I believe in Christ?” I answer, — Of course you may, because Christ tells you to do so and what he tells you to do, you may do. “But am I fit to believe in him?” No fitness is required. “But am I the person who may believe in Jesus?” There is no special person indicated, for the gospel runs like this, and it is to be preached to every creature under heaven, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” Concerning the question whether you may believe in Jesus, whoever you are, I say, — Yes, certainly; come and welcome, for Christ has said, “Whoever wills, let him take the water of life freely.” Your next question probably is, “Can I believe?” I do not know, but I should think that you can. I will ask you a few questions, — Can you believe that Christ is God? “Yes.” Can you believe anything that God says? “Yes.” You can believe, then, for Christ said it, — and Christ is God, — that he came to seek and to save those who are lost, and you know that you are lost. God says, through his servant, the apostle Paul, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”; and you know that you are a sinner, therefore he came into the world to save you. You can believe that, surely. I know many people, who say that they cannot believe, when in truth they can, yet they do not know that they can. How is it, then, that there are still so many who do not believe?

15. The chief reason is because they will not believe; they are too proud, they love their own righteousness too much, they think themselves too wise to submit to the righteousness of Christ. But you say, “Can I believe in Jesus?” I say rather, — Can you? I ask you the question. You who are black as hell, can you believe that Christ can save you? “Yes, sir,” you say, “I can believe that.” Can you believe that he is willing to save you, — good and gracious Christ that he is, — hanging on the cross, and inviting you trust him? “Oh, sir!” you say, “I cannot help believing that.” Well, then, you have proved that you can believe, for you have done it already. I used to think that believing in Christ was some mysterious thing, and I could not figure out what it was; but when I heard that it was just this, “Look to me, and be saved,” I found that the only reason why it was so hard was that it was so easy. If it had been a more difficult matter, then my proud spirit would have tried to accomplish it; but being so easy, my proud spirit would not do it. You remember why Naaman could not wash in the Jordan, as the prophet told him to do; it was because he would not, his proud spirit would not let him. “I thought,” he said; — that was where the mischief lay, for what right had he to think? “I thought, he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean?” That is why he could not wash in the Jordan, because he would not, but persisted in asking questions, wanting to be wiser than God.

16. Oh tried heart, you may believe, and I think I may say that you can believe! God is true; you know that, and it cannot be hard to believe when you know that. Christ is able to save; you know he is, so it cannot be difficult to believe in him. Christ is willing to save; you know he is; then, is it hard for you to believe in him? So I say that you can believe. May God bless you, and make you willing to believe; for, if he makes you willing, he will be sure to show you that you are able to believe.

17. The next class, without faith, is not one over which we can rejoice so much as over those who are anxious to have faith; I mean, the despairing ones. There are some souls that feel their sin to be very heavy. They have the gospel faithfully preached to them; but they are so proud that they will have it that Christ is not willing to save them, so they will not go to him. There is such a thing as proud humility, when a person feels a kind of self-conception of being base. “No,” he says, “I cannot take the medicine, I am too sick.” Now, that man is as much a suicide, spiritually, as though he took poison, or stabbed himself to death. God says that he is able to save you, but you say that he is not; you are lying in the very teeth of his promise, and charging him with falsehood. The apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him; yet you, in effect, say, “No, he is not.” Why, you are imitating Satan, setting up your wisdom in the place of God’s, instead of accepting God’s Word as true.

18. I know that, when I first heard that Christ could save such a sinner as I was, I thought the news was too good to be true; but the Holy Spirit led me to trust in him, and then I proved that it was true. If you are a poor miserable beggar, and some good man here should say to you, “Come home with me, and I will give you a good job; indeed, more, I will take you into my home, and you shall be my son and heir”; you would say, “Well, I can hardly believe it, but I will go and see if it is true.” I hope you will say to God, who has promised you far more than that, “Lord, I am as black a sinner as there is outside of hell; but if you will, you can make me clean. Lord, do it; I give myself to you.” And if, poor despairing soul, you can say, “It is God with whom I have to deal, and he can do anything; it is a dying Saviour with whom I have to deal, and he must be willing to forgive; it, is the risen Redeemer of whom I have to think, he can speak peace to my soul, and he will do so”; — if you can trust yourself with him like this, you will honour God, and you yourself will be saved.

19. But there is a larger class still, in perhaps greater danger; I mean, the careless and thoughtless. How many of you have come in here out of a curiosity which may never bring you here again? For you, death is a dream, heaven a fiction, and hell a bugbear. You know that the Word of God is true, yet you never trouble yourself about its warnings and threatenings. You say, “Let us eat, and drink, and enjoy ourselves”; but as for your immortal soul, you have left that to take care of itself as the ostrich leaves its eggs in the wilderness. Permit me, for a minute or two, to show you that I care for your soul even if you do not care for it yourself. You who are indifferent to your spiritual welfare, remember that you belong to the most hopeless class under heaven. The profane are frequently converted, but the indifferent not so often. I have noticed that those, who get into the habit of going first to one place of worship, and then to another, are very rarely saved; yet that is not because they oppose the truth. No; if they would do that, there might be some hope concerning them. When you are at home, take up a flint and an india-rubber ball of the same size; then take a hammer, and strike both of them with it. Every time you strike the ball, you make an impression on it, but it quickly returns to its original shape. When you hit the flint with the hammer, you may produce no impression for a time; but, eventually, after one of your blows, it is split to pieces. Many of you are like that india-rubber ball. Under the preaching of the gospel, you are interested, moved, affected, but the impression is never very deep, and you soon return to your original form. You are shallow with regard to heavenly things, we cannot get at your conscience, we cannot reach your heart, — oh that we could!

20. Please remember, however, that there is a time coming when death will preach far more effectively to you than I can. I remember a narrative of a young woman, a fair and lovely lady, whose mother was very proud of her. She had introduced her into all the fashionable circles of the city. Her dresses were always becoming, but also expensive, and even extravagant. She lived only to go to one party and another, and to one amusement and another. Her mother had not observed — for mothers do not like to notice such things, — that there had been a great paleness on her daughter’s cheeks. A rapid decline set in, and, at last, to the mother’s terror and the daughter’s dismay, the doctor thought it his duty to say that it was impossible that she could live for many more weeks. Neither mother nor daughter had ever cared for ministers; religion would have stood in the way of their chosen pursuits, so they avoided it, but now the minister was sent for. He was an earnest, faithful servant of Christ; so, instead of striving to bolster her up with false hopes, he began to talk of death, and judgment, and eternity, and the wrath of God. The young woman deeply felt the force and the truth of his words, and said to her mother, “I cannot think what you have been doing with me. You have led me to believe that those fine dresses, and those parties and amusements, were all I had to live for; why did you not tell me I must die? Why did you not tell me to prepare for eternity? Oh my mother, oh that you had told me that I must soon leave this world, and enter the eternal state!” She begged them to bring out her last fineries, and she said, “Mother, I feel it is too late now, for I shall die; but hang those things up, and look at them, and never bring up another child as you have brought me up; and as for yourself, I charge you to think how soon you, too, must die.”

21. So I say to all careless ones here, — Think of the grave to which you must come, sooner or later; think of your last hours, and of the only true preparation for them. While it is true of you now that you have no faith, may it not be true for very long; but may you, even now, seek and find faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! For, remember that, not to believe in Christ is to be already exposed to the wrath of God. Not to believe in Christ is to be without salvation, and already under condemnation. There are many who do not know what it is to have a present salvation; but I bless God that there are also many who do know what a present salvation is. Do you know what it is? Not long ago, I was asked this question, “Is it possible for a man to be saved now?” Possible? Possible? If it is not possible for him to be saved now, it is not possible for him to be saved at all; but the apostle Paul assures us that “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”; and no man should give sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, until he feels and knows that this present salvation is really his. Oh, what peace it gives to know that you are now forgiven, now blessed, now saved! Oh, how sweet it is to be able to say that God is my Father, that I am his child, and that he will keep me in perfect safety, and bring me to be for ever where he is! Oh, the delights of this present salvation! It is better than a king’s throne; it is better than a prince’s riches. Present salvation, — it is heaven on earth; it is the foretaste of the peace of immortality. Heaven on earth can only be known by those who are saved, and who know that they are saved. May that be your case and mine, beloved! Christ’s own words are, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be damned.” May God bless us all with the true belief which is eternal life for all who possess it, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

{a} Bower-Anchor: The name of two anchors, the best-bower, and small-bower, carried at the bows of a vessel; also the cable attached to such an anchor. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Lu 12:1-32}

The teaching of our Lord, in this chapter, has very much to do with Christianity in connection with this present life, and its cares and troubles. God has nowhere promised us exemption from affliction and trial. Indeed, it has been said, with much truth, that the Old Testament promise was one of prosperity, but that the New Testament promise is one of tribulation. You may rest assured that, if it had been best for us to be immediately taken away to heaven when we were converted, the Lord would have done it, and that, since he has not done so, there are wise reasons why he keeps his people here for a while. The gold must go through the fire before it has its place in the king’s crown, and the wheat must be exposed to the winnowing fan before it can be taken into the heavenly garner.

1. In the meantime, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trampled one another, he began to say to his disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy, however, of a kind that was calculated to spread, like leaven. If you know that a man is a hypocrite, you do not feel inclined to imitate him; but the Pharisees were such well-made hypocrites, — such excellent counterfeits, — that many people were tempted to imitate them. Our Lord teaches us, however, that it is no use being a hypocrite, —

2. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hidden, that shall not be known.

For many a day, the hypocrite’s true character may not be discovered; but there is a day coming that will reveal all secrets; and woe to the man whose sin is laid bare in that day!

3. Therefore whatever you have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and what you have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed on the house-tops.

It would be good if we all lived in such a way that we should not be ashamed to have everything we did placarded on the very sky. I have heard of one who said that he would like to have a window in his heart, so that everyone might see what was going on. I think that, if I had such a window in my heart, I should like to have shutters on it; and I question whether any man really could wish to have his heart open to the gaze of all mankind. But, at least, let our lives be such that we should not be ashamed for the universal eye to be fixed on them. If you are ashamed to have any one of your actions known, be ashamed to do it. If you would be ashamed to hear again what you were about to say, do not say it. Check your tongue; be cautious and careful. Always live as one who believed in God’s omniscience. While one of the ancient orators was speaking, on one occasion, all his hearers went away with the exception of Plato; but he continued to speak as eloquently as ever, for he said that Plato was a sufficient audience for any man. So, if there is no eye but the eye of God looking at you, be just as careful as if you were on the street, surrounded by your fellow creatures; indeed, be more careful because you are in the presence of your Creator.

4, 5. And I say to you my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, who after he has killed has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear him.

And how brave we shall be if we fear God! It is well put in that psalm which we sometimes sing, —

    Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
       Have nothing else to fear.

This great filial fear will chase out all the little, base, cowardly fears, for he who, in the scriptural sense, fears God, can never be a coward in dealing with men.

6, 7. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear: you are of more value than many sparrows.

God does not forget the sparrows, but he regards you with far greater interest and care, for he counts the very hairs of your head. He not only knows that there is such a person as you, but he knows the minutest details of your life and being. It is always a great comfort to remember that our Heavenly Father knows us. A dying man, who had been for many years a believer, had a minister at his bedside who said to him, “Do you not know Jesus?” “Yes, sir,” he replied, “I do, but the basis of my comfort is that he knows me.” And, surely, there is a great force in that truth. Your Heavenly Father knows you so completely that he has counted the hairs of your head: “Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

8, 9. Also I say to you, whoever shall confess me before men, the Son of man shall also confess him before the angels of God: but he who denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

What courage this ought to give us! In company where the very name of Christ is kicked around like a football, — where everything is respected except true religion, — it is not always an easy thing to come forward, and say, “I also am his disciple.” But if you will do this, you have Christ’s pledge that he will acknowledge you before the angels of God. If you do not do so, but practically deny him by a shameful silence, you may reasonably expect that he also will deny you before the angels.

10. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven.

This is one of the very difficult texts of Holy Scripture. We are told, in 1Jo 5:16, that “there is a sin to death,” and I would have you very wary of ever daring to trifle with the Spirit of God, since sin against him is guarded with such special warnings. The flaming sword of divine vengeance seems to hang before the very name of the Holy Spirit; so, whatever you do, never disparage his royal dignity, or blaspheme him in heart or by lip.

11. And when they bring you to the synagogues, and to magistrates, and powers, —

That is to say, the persecutors, — “when they bring you there, to be tried for your lives, as many have been in past ages, and some still are,” —

11, 12. Take no thought concerning how or what thing you shall answer, or what you shall say: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say.”

I have often been amazed and delighted with the remarkable answers which were given to bishops and priests by poor humble men and women who were on trial for their lives. Perhaps you remember that Anne Askew was asked, in order to entangle her in her speech, “What would become of a mouse if it ate the bread of the holy sacrament?” She said that was too deep a question for a poor woman like her to answer, and she begged the learned bishop on the bench to tell her what would become of the mouse; to which his lordship answered that it would be damned. Now, what reply could be given to that but the one Anne Askew gave, “Alas, poor mouse!” I do not know that anything better could have been said; and, on other occasions, there have been answers which have been deeply theological, and there have been some which have been wisely evasive and, also some full of weight, and others full of grace and truth, for the Holy Spirit has helped his saints, in time of persecution, to answer well those who have accused them.

13-17. And one of the company said to him, “Master, speak to my brother, so that he divides the inheritance with me.” And he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” And he said to them, “Take heed, beware of covetousness: for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses.” And he spoke a parable to them, saying, “The ground of a certain rich man produced plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, because I have no room to store my crops?’

There were empty cupboards in the houses of the poor, and there were hungry children to be filled; so this man need not have lacked room where he could store his crops.

18-20. And he said, ‘I do this will: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there I will bestow all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry."’ But God said to him, ‘You fool, —

Which was the last thing he thought about, he imagined that he was a very wise man: “But God said to him, ‘You fool,’ ” —

20, 21. Tonight your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God.”

Here our Saviour shows us the frail nature of the tenure on which we hold all earthly goods, and how it is not worth while to make these the chief things of our life; for, while they may leave us, we are quite sure, eventually, to have to leave them.

22. And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I say to you, take no thought —

No undue, anxious thought, for such is the meaning of the word used here: “Take no thought” —

22-30. For your life, what you shall eat; neither for the body, what you shall put on. The life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn, and God feeds them: how much better are you than the birds? And which of you with taking thought can add to his height one cubit? If you then are not able to do that thing which is least, why do you take thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they do not toil, they do not spin, and yet I say to you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, oh you of little faith? And do not seek what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, neither be of doubtful mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you have need of these things.

So that, with the knowledge of his guarantees to you that you shall always have enough, what need have you to be careworn and anxious? I have often looked at birds in a cage, and thought of the happiness and carefreeness of heart which they seem to exhibit; and yet, if you were to forget to give them water, or if you were to fail to give them seed, how soon they would die! Perhaps the little creature does not have enough to last it more than one day, but it goes on singing its tune, and leaves all anxiety about tomorrow to those whose business it is to care for it. You would be ashamed to let your bird starve; and will your Heavenly Father let you, who are not his birds, but his children, starve? Oh, no! “Your Father knows that you have need of these things.”

31, 32. But rather seek the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

He does not give you all that you would like to have, but he is going “to give you the kingdom.” He gives the lesser gifts to others, but he is saving up the kingdom for you. Luther once said, “All the empires of the earth are only so much meal for God’s swine; but the treasure is for his children. They may have less meal, but they shall have the eternal kingdom.” Oh, how blessed are we if, by faith, we know that this is true concerning us: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!”

“The Sword and the Trowel” for September will contain a Communion Address by C. H. Spurgeon, and also one of his Addresses to the students of the Pastors’ College; a Poem by Pastor Thomas Spurgeon, and also the substance of one of his week-night Sermons; a portrait and sketch of Pastor Frank Thompson, of Greenwich; another of Pastor J. W. Ewing’s Talks with our Young People on Free Church Principles; also Articles by Dr. Cuyler, Pastors H. T. Spufford and F. A. Jackson, “Lawley,” Mr. John A. Stooke, and other writers; and other interesting matter. (Passmore and Alabaster, price 3d.)

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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