2904. The Plumb-line

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The Plumb-line

No. 2904-50:481. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, August 27, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, October 6, 1904.

So he showed me: and, behold, the Lord stood on a wall made by a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the LORD said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb-line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold, I will set a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more.” {Am 7:7,8}

1. God usually speaks by men according to their natural capacity. Amos was a herdsman. He was not a man of noble and priestly rank, like Ezekiel, nor a man of gigantic intellect and mighty eloquence, like Isaiah. He was a simple herdsman, and therefore God did not cause him to see the visions of Isaiah, or dazzle his mind with the wonderful revelations that were given to Ezekiel. God’s rule is, “Every man in his own order”; and if we depart from that, we get out of place ourselves, and we are apt to try to make others do what they are not able to do, and then blame them when they fail to accomplish what they should never have attempted. God always uses his servants in the best possible way, and as they ought to be used; so, when the herdsman Amos had a vision, he simply saw a piece of string with a plumb of lead at the bottom of it, — a plumb-line, — a thing which he could easily understand. There was a mystery about the vision, but the vision itself was not mysterious. It was a very simple emblem indeed, exactly suited to the mind of Amos, just as the visions of Ezekiel and Isaiah were adapted to the more poetic minds of men of another class. You and I, dear brethren, may be very thankful if God should use us as he did Amos; and, if he does, we must not be aping the Isaiahs and Ezekials. If we see a plumb-line, let us preach about a plumb-line; and if God should ever enable us to understand the visions of Zechariah or Ezekiel, then let us preach about them. Let every preacher or teacher testify according to the measure of light and grace that God has given him; then we shall do well. Amos can see a plumb-line, and he sees it well; and when he has seen it, he tells what he has seen, and leaves God to set his seal on his testimony.

2. Now, on this occasion, we have nothing before us but this plumb-line, but there is a great deal to be learned from it. The first thing is this, the plumb-line is used in construction; secondly, the plumb-line is used for testing what is built; and, thirdly, it appears from the text that the plumb-line is used in the work of destruction, for the tearing down of what is not found to be straight.

3. I. First, THE PLUMB-LINE IS USED IN CONSTRUCTION.

4. We are told, in the text, that “the Lord stood on a wall made by a plumb-line,” that is to say, a wall which had been constructed with the help of a plumb-line; and, therefore, he tested it with what was supposed to have been used in its construction, which was a fair and proper thing to do. If the wall only professed to be built without a plumb-line, then it might be hard to test it with the plumb-line; but since it was a wall which professed to have been constructed according to the rules of the builder’s trade, it was fair and reasonable that it should be tested by the plumb-line.

5. First, then, dear friends, a plumb-line is used in building when it is done as it ought to be; and I remind you that God always uses it in his building. Everything that God builds is built plumb, and straight, and square, and fair. You see that rule at work in nature; there is nothing out of proportion there. Those who understand these things, and look deeply into them, will tell you that the very form and size of the earth have a connection with the blooming of a flower, or the hanging of a dewdrop on a blade of grass; and that, if the sun were larger or smaller than it is, or if the material of which the earth is formed were more dense, or different in any degree from what it is, then everything, from the most magnificent down to the most minute, would be thrown out of sync. Someone of old used to say that God is the great Arithmetician, — the great Master of geometry; and so he is. He never makes any mistakes in his calculations; there is not anything in the world that he has made in a careless manner. The mixing of the component parts of the air we breathe is managed with consummate skill; and if you could resolve a drop of water into its original elements, you would be struck by the wisdom with which God has adapted the proportions of each particle so as to make a liquid which man can drink. Everything is done by order and rule, as in the changes of the various seasons, the movements of the heavenly bodies, and the arrangements of divine providence. God always has the plumb-line in his hand. He never begins to build, as a careless workman would, what might turn out to be right, or might turn out to be wrong; but he makes sure work of all that he does.

6. In spiritual matters, it is very obvious that, whenever God is dealing with souls, he always uses the plumb-line. In beginning with us, he finds that the very foundation of our nature is out of the perpendicular; and, therefore, he does not attempt to build on it, but begins his operations by digging it out. The first work of divine grace in the soul is to pull down all that nature has built up. God says, “I cannot use these stones in my building. This man has been behaving himself admirably in some respects, and he thinks that he is building up a temple to my honour and glory with his own natural virtues, his own good works, and other things of a similar character. But all this must be dug out.” The man has taken a great deal of pains in putting it together, but it must all come out, and there must be a great hole left; the man must feel himself emptied, and abased, and humbled in the sight of God; for, if God is to be everything to the man, then he himself must be nothing; and if Christ is to be his Saviour, he must be a complete Saviour, from beginning to end. So, the foundation of human merit must be cleared right out, and flung away, for God could not build squarely on it. With such a foundation as that, the plumb-line would never mark a perpendicular wall.

7. After all human merit has been flung out, the Lord begins his gracious work by laying the foundation-stone of a simple faith in Jesus Christ, and that faith, though simple, is very real. When a man professes to convert his fellow man, he only gives him a fictitious faith which is of no value to him; but when God saves a sinner, he gives him real faith. There may be little knowledge of the truth, but the little that the man knows is truth; and faith, though it is only like a grain of mustard seed, if it is of the right kind, is better than that faith which is as big as a mountain, yet all of the wrong kind, which will not stand in the time of testing. But the faith, which the Holy Spirit gives, is the faith of God’s elect, the real faith which will endure even the tests which God applies to it.

8. Side by side with that faith, God puts true repentance. When a man attempts to convert his fellow man, he gives him a sham repentance, or perhaps he tells him that there is no need of any repentance at all. Certain preachers have been telling us, recently, that it is a very easy matter to obtain salvation, and that there is no need of repentance; or if repentance is needed, it is merely a change of mind. That is not the doctrine that our forefathers used to preach, nor the doctrine that we have believed. That faith, which is not accompanied by repentance, will have to be repented of; so, whenever God builds, he builds repentance fair and square with faith. These two things go together; the man just as much regrets and grieves over the past as he sees that past obliterated by the precious blood of Jesus. He just as much hates all his sin as he believes that his sin has been all put away.

9. The Lord never builds anything falsely in any man, or teaches him to think that to be true which is not true; but he builds with facts, with substantial verities, with true grace, and with a real and lasting work in the soul. When the Lord builds in a man, he builds with the plumb-line in the sense of always building up what is towards holiness. Have any of you fallen into sin, rest assured that God did not build you in that way. Have sinful desires and lustings after evil been aroused within you by any doctrine to which you have listened? Then, you may be sure that it was not of God. “By their fruits you shall know them,” is an infallible test of doctrines as well as of disciples; and if any of you have embraced any form of doctrine which hinders you from being watchful, prayerful, careful, and anxious to avoid sin, you have embraced error, and not truth, for all God’s building tends towards holiness, towards carefulness, towards a gracious walk to the praise and glory of God. When the Lord builds a man up, he makes him conscientious, makes him jealous of himself, makes him detect the very shadow of sin, so that, before the sin itself overcomes him, he holds up his all-covering shield of faith, so that he may be preserved from its deadly assaults. You may always know God’s building because it is pure building, clean building; but if anyone builds you up in such a way that you can talk of sin as a trifle, and think that you may indulge in it, at least in a measure, with impunity, that is certainly not God’s building.

10. And, blessed be his name, when our souls are really given up into the Lord’s hands, he will continue to build in us until he has built us up to perfection. There will come a day when sin, which now makes its nest in this mortal body of ours, shall find this body dissolving and crumbling back to the earth of which it was made; and then our emancipated spirits, delivered from the last taint and trace of sin, — free from even the tendency to evil, — shall soar away to be with Christ, which is far better, and to wait for the trumpet of the resurrection, when the body itself shall also be delivered from corruption, for the grave is a refining pot; and, at the coming of Christ, our body shall be pure and white, like the garments of a bride arrayed to meet her bridegroom, and the soul, reunited with the body, shall have triumphed over every sin. This is the way that God builds. He does not build us up so that we can go to heaven with our sin still working in us. He does not build us up to be temples for him to dwell in, and let the devil also dwell in us. Antinomian {a} building is not according to the manner of God’s building; but God builds up surely, solidly, truthfully, sincerely, and until we have reached that state of perfection which makes us fit for heaven.

11. Now, beloved, since God uses the plumb-line in his building like this, I gather that we also should use the plumb-line in our building. First, with regard to the building up of our own soul, I would urge on myself first, and then on you next, the constant use of the plumb-line. It is very easy to seek after speed, but to neglect to ensure certainty. There is such a thing as being in a dreadful hurry to do what should never be done, or else be done in a very different way. We see some people, who become Christians in about two minutes; and I am devoutly thankful when that is really the case. We see some others become full-grown Christians in about two days, and instructors of others in the course of a week; and, very speedily, they attain to such vast dimensions that there is no ordinary church that is big enough to hold them. That is very quick work; that is the way that mushrooms grow, but it is not the way that oaks grow. I urge you all to remember that, often, the proverb “the more haste, the less speed,” is true in spiritual things as well as in temporal. My dear brother, if you only grow an inch in the course of ten laborious years, yet that growth is real, it is better than appearing to grow six feet in an hour, when that would only be disease puffing you up, and blowing you out. Frequently, the soul needs to use the plumb-line to see whether what is built so very quickly is really built perpendicularly, or whether it does not lean this way or that. As the work goes on, we should frequently stop, and say to ourselves, “Now, is this right? Is this real? Is this true?” Many a time, if we did that, we should have to fall on our knees, and cry, “Oh Lord, deliver me from exalting myself above measure, and thinking myself to be rich and increased with goods, when, all the while, I am wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

12. I would like you young men who are here to use the plumb-line when you begin your spiritual life-building. I mean this; your father and mother are members of a certain church, but do not, therefore, go and join that church without a thorough investigation of the principles on which it is founded. Use the plumb-line to see whether it is all straight and square. Test all the doctrines that are taught, and do not embrace what is popular, but what is biblical. Then, test with the plumb-line the ordinances of the church; do not submit to them simply because other people do so, but use the plumb-line of Scripture to test them all. You know that, as a body, we are not afraid that you will ever read your Bible too much. We, as Baptists, have no objection to your bringing everything that is taught to the test of the Bible, for we know that we should be the gainers if you were to do that; but, instead of using the plumb-line of the Bible, many people have a newly-invented test, — the Book of Common Prayer, or Minutes of the Conference, or something else equally valueless. Now, whatever respect I have for books of that kind, I prize my Bible infinitely above them all, and above all the volumes of decrees of popes, and councils, and conferences put together. I should not like to feel that I had been building, and building, and building, and building, and yet that there had been a radical error in the whole structure, for I had begun with a mistake, and I had been building myself up, not in the most holy faith of the apostles, but in the most mischievous error of my own notions. Please apply the Bible plumb-line continually to all your beliefs, and views, and practices.

13. But, even before you do that, use the gospel plumb-line to see whether you really were ever born again, for our Lord Jesus said to Nicodemus, “unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Test yourselves concerning whether you have really believed in Jesus Christ, for “without faith it is impossible to please God”; and if you have believed in him, take care that, while you think you are getting more faith, more love, more patience, more of every grace, you keep the plumb-line going; otherwise, you may get a great deal into the structure that you will have to take out again, and you will get the building out of perpendicular, and the whole thing may come down with a crash.

14. And this plumb-line is also to be used on all work that is done on behalf of other people. There is much teaching which has been given with a pure motive, but which, nevertheless, cannot endure this test. There are some little sects, still existing on the face of the earth, that were formed with much labour by their originators; but they are evidently not gold, or silver, or precious stones, for they are passing away with the lapse of time. I would like, as a minister of the gospel, to do for God what will endure the supreme test of the day of judgment. I would not like to build up a great church here, and then, when I was dead and gone, for it to be scattered to the four winds, and to learn in heaven that I had been mistaken except concerning the matter of my own salvation; and that, consequently, while some good was done, there was bad done as well. No; we must constantly use the plumb-line, so that what we build may be perpendicular, and may stand the test of the ages, and the test of God’s great judgment seat. See to it, sirs, you who are diligent, that you are diligent in spreading truth, and not error. See to it, you who count up your many converts, that they are real converts, and not the mere fruit of excitement. See to it, you who plod on from day to day so industriously seeking to save souls, that they are really saved, and truly brought to Christ; for, if not, your work will be in vain. Churches that are built in a hurry will come down in a hurry; wood, hay, and stubble, that look all right in the building, will look terrible in the burning, when the day of the trial by fire shall come.

15. So that is our first point, that the plumb-line is to be used in the construction of the building.

16. II. Secondly, THE PLUMB-LINE IS TO BE USED FOR TESTING THE BUILDING WHEN IT IS BUILT.

17. Do not let us judge either ourselves or each other simply by the eye. I have frequently thought that a building was out of the perpendicular when it was not; and I have sometimes thought it was perpendicular when it really was not so. The human eye is readily deceived, but the plumb-line is not; it drops straight down, and at once shows whether the wall is upright or not. We must continually use the plumb-line of God’s Word on ourselves. Here is a wall that needs to be tested, — the wall of self-righteousness. This man thinks he is all right. He never did anything very wrong. Moreover, he is religious in his way. He says that he has kept the law from his youth up. That is a fine piece of wall, is it not? — with some very handsome stones inlaid in it with fair colours. You are very proud of it, my dear friend; but if I put the Bible plumb-line to your life, you will be astonished to find how much out of the perpendicular it is. The plumb-line is according to this standard, “If any man will be saved by his own works, he must keep the law of the Lord perfectly; for he, who is guilty of the breach of any one of God’s commandments, has broken the whole law: ‘therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in his sight.’ ” That condemns your wall, does it not? — because you have not at all times kept the whole law in the fulness of the meaning which Christ gave to it. If you are to be saved by works, there must not be a single flaw in the whole wall of your life. If there is, it is not in the perpendicular.

18. Here is another wall, built by a man who says that he is doing his best, and trusting in Christ to make up for his deficiencies. Well, my dear friend, your wall is sadly out of the perpendicular, because there is a text which says, “Christ is all”; and I know that the Lord Jesus Christ will never be willing to be put side by side with such a poor creature as you are, to be jointly used with yourself for your soul’s salvation. Remember that, in the gospel plan, it is not Christ and Co.; it must be all Christ, or no Christ at all. So, if you are depending partly on self, and partly on him, my plumb-line shows that your wall is out of the perpendicular, and that it will have to come down.

19. Another man is depending on rites and ceremonies. Now, there are some very strong texts in Scripture concerning that matter. Here is one: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” Will you come before God bringing the blood of beasts or costly offerings? Has he not told you that, to come before him with a broken and a contrite heart, and, especially, to come to him through the merit of the one great sacrifice offered by his Son, is the only acceptable way of approaching him? The most gorgeous ceremonies in the whole world cannot save a single soul. That wall is out of the perpendicular, and must come down.

20. Here is another man, who says, “I am, as often as I can be, a hearer of the Word.” I am glad that you are; but if you are only a hearer, and not a doer of the Word, your wall is out of the perpendicular; for, if it is good to hear what is right, it is even better to do it; and your condemnation will be all the more terrible if you have known what you ought to do, and yet have not done it. There are many of you, who come here, and who have been coming for a long time, who, I hope, will be led to do much more than simply come to hear; for I trust that you will be led, by the Holy Spirit, to lay hold on eternal life. If not, your wall will not endure the test of the Bible plumb-line, which plainly shows that you are quite out of the perpendicular.

21. There are many other leaning walls, besides those I have mentioned, but I cannot take time to test them now. I would, however, most earnestly urge you all to remember that, if you do not test yourself by the plumb-line of God’s Word, if you are God’s servant, you will be tried and tested. Have you never known what it is to be laid aside, on a bed of sickness, and to have everything about you tested! In times of acute pain, I have had every piece of what I thought to be gold and silver put into the fire, piece by piece, by the Master himself, until he has put it all in. Thank God, some of it has been proved to be gold; and has come out all the brighter for the testing; but, oh, how much of it has proved to be alloy, or even worthless dross! You can have a great deal of patience when you do not have any pain; and you can have a great deal of joy in the Lord when you have joy in your worldly prosperity; and you can have any quantity of it when you have no troubles to test its reality. But the real faith is what will endure the trial by fire. The real patience is what will bear intense agony without a murmur of complaint. The Lord will test and try you, my brother, sooner or later, if you are his. He will be sure to use the plumb-line, so you had better use it yourself. It may save you much anxiety in the future if you stop now to question yourself, and to enquire whether these things are real and true to you or not.

22. And remember, once more, that God will use the plumb-line, at the last great day, to test everything. How many of us could hear, without a tremor, the intimation that God had summoned us to appear before his judgment bar? Oh my brothers and sisters, if the great scales of divine justice were swinging from this ceiling now, and the Judge of all said to you, “Step in, and let me see what your weight is,” is there anyone of us who could solemnly and sincerely rise, and say, “Lord, I am ready for the weighing?” Yes; I trust that many could say, each one for himself or herself, “There is not anything good in me, but my hope is fixed on Christ alone; and though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I want to be, nor what I shall be, yet ‘by the grace of God I am what I am.’ My profession of being a Christian is not a lie, it is not a pretence, it is not a piece of religious masquerade; it is true, great God; it is true.” My brother, my sister, if you can say that, you may step into the scales without any fear, for the contrite and believing heart can endure being weighed. But you will have to go into the scales whether you are ready or not. Your building will all have to be tested and tried. Some of you have built fine mansions, and towers, and palaces; but the plumb-line will be applied to them all, and it is God himself who will use the plumb-line in every case. No counterfeit will be allowed to enter the pearly gates, nor anything that defiles, or works abomination, or makes a lie. At the last great day, no one shall pass from beneath the eye of the Judge of all without due examination. He will not allow even one of the guilty to escape, nor condemn any one of those who have been absolved for Christ’s sake. It will be a right, and just judgment that will be given in that day; but there will be judgment.

23. III. My last point is this, THE PLUMB-LINE IS USED IN THE WORK OF DESTRUCTION.

24. When a city wall was to be battered down, the general would sometimes say, “This wall is to be taken down to this point,” and then the plumb-line was hung down to mark how far they were to go with the work of destruction. So they marked out that part which might be spared, and what must be destroyed.

25. Now, in the work of destruction, God always uses the plumb-line, and he goes about that work very slowly. He shows that he does not like it. When the Lord is going to save a sinner, he has wings on his feet; but when he is going to destroy a sinner, he goes with leaden footsteps, waiting, and warning many times, and while he waits and warns, sighing, and crying, “How shall I give you up?” He even goes so far as to use an oath, saying, “ ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.’ ” God never brings men to judgment, as the infamous Judge Jeffreys {b} did, in a great haste. He would hurry them off to the gallows, with indecent speed; but, at the last great day, there will be a solemn and stately pomp about the whole dread assize, — the sounding of the trumpet, the bursting of the graves, the setting up of the great white throne, the opening of the books, and the majestic appearance of him from whose face heaven and earth will flee away. And when the judgment begins, it will not be without due order, nor will it be without keen perception of all differences. There will hang the infallible plumb-line. What is perpendicular will be declared to be perpendicular, and what leans will be shown tottering to its fall; for, before the Judge’s eye, and before the eyes of the assembled universe, shall hang a plumb-line, with these words above it, “He who is filthy, let him be filthy still; … and he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

26. The whole judgment shall be according to the plumb-line. Not a soul, in that great day, will be sent to hell who does not deserve to go there. If there is any man, who can plead that it would be unjust to condemn him, — if he can truthfully prove that he has been obedient up to the measure of his light, — if he can prove that justice is on his side, — God will not do an unjust turn to him, or to any other man. Those awful gates, that grind on their iron hinges, never yet opened to receive a soul damned unjustly. It would be impossible, in the very nature of things, for such a thing to happen. If any man could truly say, “This is unjust,” he would have taken away the sting of hell, for this is the essence and the soul of hell, “I am wrong, and can never get right. I am wrong, and do not want to get right; I am so wrong that I love the wrong, and make evil to be my good, and good to be my evil. I hate God, for it is impossible, while I am in such a state as this, that I can be otherwise than unhappy; and this is the greatest hell that can happen to a man, — not to love God, and not to love right.” That is the flame of hell, the worm that gnaws for ever, — that being out of sync with God, — that being out of harmony with the Most High for ever. I think that there needs to be no fiercer hell than that. So, the final judgment will be according to the plumb-line, so that no one will be condemned unjustly. You talk to me about the fate of the heathen who have never heard the gospel, and I reply, “I know very little about them; but I know that God is just, so I leave them in his hands, knowing that the Judge of all the earth will do right.” There will not be one pang, for a soul in hell, more than that soul deserves, — not a single spasm of despair, or a sinking in hopelessness, that is imposed by the arbitrary will of God. It will be a terrible reaping for them, when they reap sheaves of fire; but they will only reap what they have sown. There will be an awful pouring out of divine vengeance on the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction; but no one will be able to say that the judgment is unjust. The lost will themselves feel that they only have to eat as they baked, and to drink as they brewed. It will all be just for them; and this is what will make the teeth of the serpent of hell, and the flame of its fire, — that it is all just, — that if I were myself judge, I must condemn myself to what I have to suffer. Think of that, and escape from the wrath to come.

27. And just as that plumb-line hangs there, in that great day of account, so there will be differences made between some lost men and other lost men. All hell is not the same hell, any more than all flesh is the same flesh. That man knew his Lord’s will, and did not do it; lay on the lashes to the full that the law allows. That other man did not obey his Lord’s will; but then, he did not know it, so he shall be beaten with few stripes. Few will be too many for anyone to bear; so do not run the risk of them. But, oh, the many stripes, what will they be. There are the lost who perished in Sodom and Gomorrah, — those filthy beings whose sins we dare not think of. There they are, and there is the hell they suffer. There hangs the plumb-line; and, by his unerring justice, God awards their doom. But what will he award to you, and you, and you, who have heard the gospel simply and plainly preached, and yet have rejected Christ? You will have to go lower down in hell than the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, for God’s plumb-line tells us that sin against light is the worst of sin, and that the wilful rejection of the atoning blood flowing from the loving Saviour’s wounds, is the climax of all iniquity. That is how the plumb-line will work. And when you come up, you rich man, who have spent your money in sin, — and when you come up, you poor man, who worked so hard, — there shall be a difference between the one of you and the other, — between the seducer, whom the world allows to enter into her drawing-room, and the poor girl whom he led astray; for, though both are guilty, God will make a difference, not as men make it here, but quite the other way. The man of talent, and of rank, and of position, who frittered away his whole existence in the life of a butterfly, — there will be a difference between his sentence and that of the obscure, uneducated individual, who did sin, but not as he did who had the greater gifts. To put one talent in a napkin, brings its due punishment; but to bury or misuse ten talents, shall bring a tenfold doom; for that plumb-line will hang, and by the rules of infinite justice everything shall be determined.

28. “This is dreadful talk,” some of you may be saying. It is; it is; and it is a dreadful business altogether for the lost, — that being driven from God’s presence when you die, — hearing him say, “Depart, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” You do not like to hear about this, and I do not like to preach about it; only I must do so, lest you come to that place of torment because I failed to warn you. Then you might say, in your despair, “Oh cursed preacher! Oh unfaithful minister! You tried to tickle our ears with pleasant things, but you left out all allusions to the wrath to come. You toned down the truth, you softened it, and now we are ruined for ever through your wicked desire to please our foolish ears.” Oh sirs, you will never be able truthfully to say that, for I implore you to escape from that awful future. Run no risk of it. I think every one of you would like to have his house insured against fire, and to know that, as far as proper title-deeds go, whatever you own is held on a good tenure. Then, I implore you, make sure work for eternity by laying hold on Christ Jesus. Yield yourself up to him, so that he may make you right where you are wrong, put you in gear with God, and set you running parallel with the will of the Most High; so that he, indeed, may build you up on the perpendicular, on the solid foundation of his eternal merits by faith, through the power of the ever-blessed Spirit, — that you may be so built that, when God himself holds the plumb-line, it may hang straight down, and he will be able to say, “It is all right.” Happy will you be if you hear his verdict, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful in a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

29. May God grant this mercy to every one of you, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

{a} Antinomian: One who maintains that the moral law is not binding on Christians, under the “law of grace.” spec. One of a sect which appeared in Germany in 1535, alleged to hold this opinion. OED. {b} George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem, PC (May 15, 1645-April 18, 1689), also known as “The Hanging Judge, ” was a Welsh judge. He became notable during the reign of King James II, rising to the position of Lord Chancellor (and serving as Lord High Steward in certain instances). His conduct as a judge was to enforce royal policy, resulting in a historical reputation for severity and bias. See Explorer "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Jeffreys,_1st_Baron_Jeffreys"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {1Co 3}

1. And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.

Their spiritual part had not grown strong, their old carnal nature still had the preponderance, as Paul was obliged to address what was the bigger half of them.

2. I have fed you with milk,

That is a blessing.

2. And not with solid food:

That is not a blessing. It is a great privilege to be fed even with the simple doctrines of grace, with the milk of the gospel; but it is a higher blessing to have such a spiritual constitution as to be able to eat the solid food of the Word.

2, 3. For so far you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able. For you are still carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal, and walk as men?

As ordinary, unregenerate men.

4. For while one says, “I am of Paul”; and another, “I am of Apollos”; are you not carnal?

Is this not just how common, ordinary men would do? Where is your spiritual-mindedness if you act like this?

5. Who then is Paul?

Notice, it is Paul himself who asks this question. He puts his own name here in order to show that he does not despise Apollos any more than he despises himself.

5-9. Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he who plants anything, neither he who waters; but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: you are God’s husbandry.

You are God’s tilled ground.

Then the apostle works out the same thought under another metaphor turning from agriculture to architecture.

9, 10. You are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.

Paul began the churches; he was the first preacher of the gospel in Corinth, and also in other places; and other preachers followed in his footsteps. When a man lays a good foundation, he always feels anxious that those who come after him should build in the same substantial manner as he has begun. It is a great grief to a man if he sees that, after he has laid a foundation of truth, someone else follows, and builds up an error on top of it. Alas, men still do that sometimes.

10-15. But let every man take heed how he builds on it. For other foundation can no man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be revealed: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man’s work to determine what kind it is. If any man’s work remains which he has built on it, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

If he is a good man, he builds for God; though he may build mistakenly, and say much that he ought not to have said. He shall escape, as a man flees out of a burning house, but all his work is gone. What a dreadful thing that would be, at the end of life, to get into heaven, but to have seen that all your life’s work had been a failure; to have been building a great deal, but to see it all burned; or to know, as you die, that because it was not God’s truth, it would all be burned!

16, 17. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, —

For so it should run, —

17. God shall destroy him;

If any man should pull down what Paul built for God, if any man shall pull down what any faithful minister of Christ has built before him, “God shall destroy him”;

17, 18. For the temple of God is holy, whose temple you are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, so that he may be wise.

For that kind of folly is the door-step of true wisdom.

19. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

Everything that calls itself philosophy, and talks about its culture, and so on, is foolishness with God, just as much today as it was among the Greeks.

19. For it is written, “He takes the wise in their own craftiness.”

They call themselves wise, but they shall all be taken in their own craftiness.

20, 21. And again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” Therefore let no man glory in men.

Men are poor things to glory in.

22, 23. For all things are your’s, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are your’s; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

Glory be to his holy name!

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 103” 103}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Rest In Jesus” 614}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Holy Anxiety — ‘Search Me, Oh Lord!’ ” 641}


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 103 (Version 1)
1 My soul, repeat his praise,
      Whose mercies are so great;
   Whose anger is so slow to rise,
      So ready to abate.
2 God will not always chide;
      And when his strokes are felt,
   His strokes are fewer than our crimes,
      And lighter than our guilt.
3 High as the heavens are raised
      Above the ground we tread,
   So far the riches of his grace
      Our highest thought exceed.
4 His power subdues our sins;
      And his forgiving love,
   Far as the east is from the west,
      Doth all our guilt remove.
5 The pity of the Lord,
      To those that fear his name,
   Far as the east is from the west,
      He knows our feeble frame.
6 He knows we but dust,
      Scatter’d with every breath;
   His anger, like a rising wind,
      Can send us swift to death.
7 Our days are as the grass,
      Or like the morning flower;
   If one sharp blast sweep o’er the field,
      It withers in an hour.
8 But thy compassions, Lord,
      To endless years endure;
   And children’s children ever find,
      Thy words of promise sure.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 103 (Version 2)
1 Oh bless the Lord, my soul!
      Let all within me join,
   And aid my tongue to bless his name,
      Whose favours are divine.
2 Oh, bless the Lord, my soul,
      Nor let his mercies lie
   Forgotten in unthankfulness,
      And without praises die.
3 ‘Tis he forgives thy sins;
      ‘Tis he relieves thy pain;
   ‘Tis he that heals thy sicknesses,
      And makes thee young again.
4 He crowns thy life with love,
      When ransom’d from the grave;
   He that redeem’d my soul from hell
      Hath sovereign power to save.
5 He fills the poor with good,
      He gives the sufferers rest;
   The Lord hath judgments for the proud,
      And justice for the oppress’d
6 His wondrous works and ways
      He made by Moses known;
   But sent the world his truth and grace
      By his beloved Son.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 103 (Version 3) <8.7.4.>
1 Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
   To his feet thy tribute bring!
   Ransom’d, heal’d, restored, forgiven,
   Who like me his praise should sing!
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise the everlasting King!
2 Praise him for his grace and favour
   To our fathers in distress!
   Praise him still the same as ever,
   Slow to chide and swift to bless!
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him
   Glorious in his faithfulness!
3 Father-like he tends and spares us,
   Well our feeble frame he knows;
   In his hands he gently bears us,
   Rescues us from all our foes.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Widely as his mercy flows.
4 Frail as summer’s flower we flourish;
   Blows the wind, and it is gone;
   But while mortals rise and perish,
   God endures unchanging on.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise the High Eternal One.
5 Angels, help us to adore him;
   Ye behold him face to face;
   Sun and moon bow down before him,
   Dwellers all in time and space.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise with us the God of grace!
                     Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.


The Christian, Contrite Cries
614 — Rest In Jesus
1 Oh may I never rest
      Till I find rest in thee,
   Till of my pardon here possess’d
      I feel thy love to me!
2 Turn not thy face away,
      Thy look can made me clean;
   Me in thy wedding robes array,
      And cover all my sin.
3 Tell me, my God, for whom
      Thy precious blood was shed;
   For sinners? Lord, as such I come,
      For such the Saviour bled.
4 Then raise a fallen wretch,
      Display thy grace in me;
   I am not our of mercy’s reach,
      Nor too far gone for thee.
                  Augustus M. Toplady, 1759.


The Christian, Holy Anxiety
641 — “Search Me, Oh Lord!”
1 Searcher of hearts, before they face.
      I all my soul display:
   And, conscious of its innate arts,
      Entreat thy strict survey.
2 If, lurking in its inmost folds,
      I any sin conceal,
   Oh let a ray of light divine
      That secret guile reveal.
3 If tinctured with that odious gall
      Unknowing I remain,
   Let grace, like a pure silver stream,
      Wash out the accursed stain.
4 If in these fatal fetters bound,
      A wretched slave I lie,
   Smite off my chains, and wake my soul
      To light and liberty.
5 To humble penitence and prayer
      Be gentle pity given;
   Speak ample pardon to my heart,
      And seal its claim to heaven.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.

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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