2929. A Challenge And War Charge

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A Challenge And War Charge

No. 2929-51:157. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, July 13, 1862, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, March 30, 1905.

Oh Death, where is your sting? Oh Grave, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. {1Co 15:55-58}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 23, “Thoughts on the Last Battle” 23}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2929, “Challenge and War Charge, A” 2930}
   Exposition on 1Co 15 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2940, “He Must Reign” 2941 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 1Co 15 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 66,67, “Resurrection of the Dead, The” 63 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Re 7:9-17 1Co 15:1-28,50-58 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2659, “Fallen Asleep” 2660 @@ "Exposition"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "1Co 15:57"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "1Co 15:58"}

1. There is little fear that the minister of this flock should forget that man is mortal. Where men are gathered in such numbers, we not only believe in mortality, we see it. We hear the funeral knell, like the striking of the clock, habitually. The mower always has work in this pasture; every week the great gleaner has some ears of grain to gather in this harvest field; and every time we assemble in this house we have to remember that some who were with us when we met before have crossed the flood and entered into their rest. We cannot forget this.

2. But, my dear friends, there is a danger lest you should forget it. Not being able to take a glimpse over so large a company as this, if your children have been spared to you, if your house has been unvisited by death for this last nineteen or twenty years, you may be apt to think that you have immunity given to you, that you will never come to the grave, that death may arrest others, but that you sit alone in some privileged security and shall see no sorrow, that the arrows may fly and strike on the right hand and on the left, but that you walk invulnerable among the dead. It is good, therefore, in order to cool the hot blood of our youth, and to stir the dull blood of our age, that we should often make a journey to the tomb and reflect on death, judgment, resurrection, and eternity. In these busy times, when men have so much to do in order to live, it may be of much service to them to think how certainly they must die. It is very wise to talk with our last hours. The shroud, the grave, the mattock, may teach us more about true wisdom than all the learned heads that ever pondered vain philosophy, or all the lips that ever uttered earth-born science.

3. Now, I intend tonight, as God the Holy Spirit shall enable me, to address my text first to believers in Christ, and then briefly to warn those who are as yet not included in that happy number. I must leave your conscience to judge to which class you belong. I fondly hope that no one will be so perverse as to take encouragement that does not belong to him, but that every man will be wise enough and honest enough with his own heart to take just that truth which fits his own case, and lay it home to his conscience and to his heart.

4. I. First of all, THE MESSAGE TO BELIEVERS. We take this text, not with the hope of exploring it, but with the thought of skimming the surface with the swallow, rather than diving into its depths like leviathan.

5. There are three things on the surface: — A brief but unparalleled challenge given to two dreadful and invincible foes — “Oh Death, where is your sting? Oh Grave, where is your victory?”; a glorious paean {a} of splendid triumph — “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory”; and a war charge addressed by a great commander to his soldiers — “Brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

6. There is here, first, a double challenge:“ Oh Death, where is your sting?” Death, you skeleton monarch, where is your sting? Fleshless rider on the pale horse, we ask you, where is your sting? With a horrible and ghastly smile, he answers us, “My sting! You only have to open your eyes and see it, and before long I shall make your flesh quiver with it, when I send it in even to your very soul. Where is my sting! Is it no sting to you to know that you must leave everything you call dear on the earth, that your estates must be left behind you, and your broad acres must be all renounced. Is it nothing to you that your houses and your lands, your merriments and your enjoyments, your feastings and your riotings, must be forsaken; that the hearth as everything that is congenial in the family, friendship and the communion of generous hearts, and everything that makes glad the eye or cheers the ear must be left behind you? For your eye, when filmed by my finger, no more the landscape, the rugged mountain, or the plain. For your ear, when I have sealed it in eternal silence, no more the voice of those who make merry, no more the music or the choral hymn; you shall be deaf for ever when I cast you into the grave. Is it no sting to you to leave the enjoyments of the house of God? For you no more the communion of the body and blood of Christ, for you no more the glad seasons when the tribes come up to the house of the Lord with willing footsteps to keep holy day and magnify him who has loved them and given himself for them. Is it no sting to remember that soon you must gaze, for the last time, on the cheek which is now so fair in your sight; that soon you must take the last fond gaze of her who is the partner of your life, that you must leave everything, taking nothing with you, returning to the earth naked as you came from your mother’s womb, stripped, bereft of everything, a penniless beggar, going back to the vile dust from where you sprang — is there no sting in this?”

7. “Where is my sting! Ask the grey-headed,” the monster says, “whether they already do not feel the pangs of it. Their eyes grow weak, the strong pillars of the house of man begin to fail, the breath comes heavily, the hair is blanched; the grasshopper has become a burden, and the grinders cease because they are few. Ask me where is my sting! Even the young can feel it, for, if they think at all, they know that every breath they draw is only a step towards the tomb, and that their pulses,

    Like muffled drums, are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.”

8. “Where is my sting!” says Death. “Look at the widow in whose heart my sting is rankling now. The beloved of her soul has departed, and she is left to mourn like a turtledove without her mate. Ask the fatherless where is the sting of death as they are driven into the street, received by the cold hand of public charity, scarcely housed and fed. Where is my sting! Ask the weeping child as he looks down into the coffin on the dead face of the mother who once toiled and laboured for him, who once cherished and loved him, but who has now gone to the place appointed for all living. Aha! Aha!” he says, “where is my sting! You have all felt it in the departure of your best-beloved ones, when you most wished to have them. The State has felt it. I struck the fellow to the crowned head and laid him low; I struck again, and took away the statesman when he had returned from a distant empire laden with the spoils of many years’ experience. I have with my sting taken away the rich and the mighty, the beautiful and the lovely, the learned, the pious, the good, the benevolent; I have taken them away just when the world needed them the most, until I made good men say, ‘The righteous perish and the godly man ceases from the earth.’ Ask me where is my sting!” he cries, and onward drives his white horse of terror and dashes from us in disdain.

9. Indeed, Death! but we still defy you, and though you have vented your spleen like this, we cry to you again “Have at you, {b} Death! Have at you! You have no sting, for all your boast. To believers you are a stingless locust now. Wait for a while until we hear the other tyrant, your powerful confederate.”

10. “Oh Grave, where is your victory?” From its hollow depth the Grave replies, “Ask me where is my victory! Why, oh foolish son of Adam, do you not ask where my victory is not? From Machpelah to Gethsemane I have had my splendid triumphs. Onward, from the first age even until now, I have proved to men that I am victor. Where are my triumphs! Open the soil on which your fair world rests, and see if every vault is not filled with a putrid mass of rotten mortality. Could you bring up your fellows from the grave, and pile them above the sod, there would be so many dead that there would not be room for the living. Yes, heap them up, heap them up until they make a pyramid higher than the Egyptian Pharaoh ever erected; pile them up and they will surpass the heights of the Alps and greet the morning star with their dread heights of rottenness!”

11. “Where is my victory? Ask every howling tempest as it drives the ship like a cockle-shell before it, ask every sunken rock and reef and ice-bound shore. Where is my victory! Ask the battle-field of yesterday, all gory with blood shed by a brother’s hand, where sons of Anglo-Saxon mothers lie on the plains of their own country, slain by their own brother’s hand! Where is my victory! From Waterloo go back to Trafalgar; stretch your wings and fly to ancient times, to Salamis and Marathon, or even farther back; speak of all that Sennacherib did, and the mighty host that went before him, when he struck the loins of kings and slew hecatombs {c} of their subjects in an hour.”

12. “Where is my victory! Every spot of ground feels it, every age testifies to it. Its signs are everywhere. Look at that lovely nook, where birds are singing and sweet flowers are germinating from the ever-green sod. You will say, ‘Death has never been here.’ But what do those mounds covered with the brown bramble mean? I have been here, and here I keep my place. Look over there where the white stones stand up like the very teeth of death, and see how I have devoured my thousands. From that busy city they bring them out by scores each day and lay them in the tomb, and yet you ask me where is my victory! Why, every one of you are captives of my perpetual triumphing; you are marching on, every one of you, downwards to my jaws. Go wherever you may, you are always coming down to my doors, I shall soon shut my gates on you, every one of you. Strong and healthy men, men of brawny arm, men of massive intellect, men whose limbs do not totter though you bear mighty burdens, one of these days I shall receive you, helpless as little children, and you shall lie in your white grave-clothes, in your wooden coffin, and I shall then prove to you and to the world where my victory is.”

13. Even as we tremblingly listen, the Grave shuts its yawning mouth and everything is still except where the voice of faith, looking down on the dry bones and believing that they shall yet live, cries, “Despite your arrogance, you braggart, your boastings are as hollow as yourself. Where is your victory? We will prove you impotent yet, oh desperate Grave! You have no triumphs. Our Lord, Jehovah’s Christ, the Resurrection — he has broken open your portals, and made a wide passage through your territories for all believers to the Land of Promise. Even though —

    An angel’s arm can’t snatch me from the grave,
    Legions of angels can’t confine me there.”

14. Turn now, oh believer, and sing a paean of triumph. “The sting of death is sin.” Through Jesus Christ that is forgiven. “The strength of sin is the law.” Through Christ Jesus that has ceased to thunder, for it has been fulfilled and has become our friend. Therefore, “thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Prepare then the voice of joyful thanksgiving; make ready your triumphal hymn. Death, we now triumph over you; you have spoken, but now we will speak and answer you to your face. Death has no sting for a believer. Once death was the penalty of sin; sin being forgiven, the penalty ceases, and Christians do not die now as a punishment for their sin, but they die so that they may be prepared to live. They are unclothed so that they may be clothed with that house which is from heaven. They leave the tenement of clay so that they may inherit the eternal mansion.

15. There is no sting left in you, oh Death, in yourself. As for all you can tell us of aches and pains and groans, we know that all these things work together for our good. As for what you tell us of your gloom and of your horror, we believe in nothing that you say; for, if Christ is with us, we will walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil.

16. Just as you have lost your sting in yourself, oh Death, so you have also lost your sting concerning all that we lose by you. You tell us that we lose the sights of earth, but, skeleton king, we gain the sights of heaven. What are the landscapes of this dusky world compared with the azure skies, the lakes of crystal, and the plains of everlasting green in the land of light and glory? What are the cities of this world — the giant cities of the West, the fairy cities of the East, — what are they all compared with Jerusalem, the golden city, the pearly-gated, the city whose walls are jasper, whose very paving stones are laid with fair colours? Lose by losing earth! Surely in gaining heaven the loss is all forgotten! You say our ears are closed; it is not so; they are opened to hear the seraph’s hymn and to listen to the music of the cherubim, majestic, sublime, and beautiful. You say we leave behind us wealth and wit and friends. Fool that you are, it is wealth we gain, and all is dross we leave behind; and as for friends, we have as many — yes, and many more — and they are better too than those we leave on earth. We have beloved ones who have crossed the flood, and at their head we have One who is better to us than a million friends, the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely. As for all that you can take away, take it, and welcome, since the joy which shall be revealed in us is a very great and eternal weight of glory. This far surpasses the light affliction of losing all that earth can give.

17. Death, we tell you again that your sting is taken away concerning the friends we have lost. The widow, weeping, tells you that she does not feel your sting, for her husband is in heaven, and she is following him as speedily as time can carry her. The mother tells you, Death, that through grace you have no sting in her thoughts concerning her infants. She rejoices to know that at her breast there once nursed immortal spirits that now behold the Saviour’s face; and we say to you, Death, concerning all beloved ones who have gone, that we do not sorrow over them, and would not

          Break their placid sleep,
    Nor lure them from their home above.

We devoutly thank the Father of spirits, who has safely housed them beyond fear of damage and brought them to the desired haven where no rough wind or tempestuous wave shall ever rock their keel again. “Blessed,” we say, as we repeat the voice from heaven, “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord”; and that voice from heaven responds again, in articulate tones, “ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.’ ”

    Thus brighter hopes, that are not dreams,
       Their light around the spirit shed;
    And heaven itself breaks out in gleams
       Of glory round the dying bed.

Death, you have no sting — your pains are undone. Even though your face is pale, your shadow dark, as you flit across the room! Even though frail nature shrinks and shudders at your arrow. Kind Jesus, help us — we cling to you, and all our spirit bravely cries, in calm defiance, living faith, and holy rapture — “Oh Death, where is your sting? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!”

18. As for the grave, dear brothers and sisters, let us answer its foul-mouthed boastings. We tell the grave that it has no victory in itself. It is true we shall sleep in it but we sleep as victors; we hear the shout of triumph, and we lie down as warriors taking their rest, not as vanquished ones. Christ has made the tomb, which was once a prison, a resting-place for the bodies of his saints; he has made the tomb his royal closet, where he invites his beloved to lay aside the dusky garments of their work-days until they shall be cleansed and made fit to be the garments of his everlasting holy days in heaven. Oh Grave, when you encompass our bodies you are yourself defeated — you are our servant; do not call us your slaves; we conquer even before we come to nestle in your bosom. Oh Grave, we have lost nothing but what we committed to your keeping when we placed the slumbering forms of friends we dearly loved to lodge within your arms. Their remains are there, but they are in heaven; their corruption is there, but the pledge of their resurrection is on high, and what lives in deathless immortality is above. There they lie, for flesh and blood have sin; there let them lie, for flesh and blood must be purified; but they shall live, and we tell you, Grave, that when the trumpet sounds you must give our friends back to us, ten times more dear than they were when with hollow sound of “Dust to dust and ashes to ashes” we laid them in your cold embrace. You have no victory, it is only a temporary triumph; you must give back your prey. Talk of corruption; what is it except the fuller’s bath where the body lies until it is made of purest white? Speak of cold vaults, darkness, and dampness; what are all these but fit accompaniments of the process in which the corruption shall become incorruption and the mortal immortality? We smile at all your horrors, we greet you rather as the place where we shall take repose for a while than as the dungeon of our souls’ imprisonment. Oh Death, where is your sting? Oh Grave, where is your victory?

19. I wish I could speak of these matters tonight in language such as Christmas Evans would have used in his glowing moments. This is a very glowing theme, that might make a dumb man speak, and might summon the ears of the deaf to listen. Christ has vanquished death by dying. He has disrobed the grave of its triumphal garments by wearing its grave-clothes himself. He consecrated the sepulchre by slumbering in its dark recess. Death is now the destroying angel no more, the tomb no more a cemetery. Behold, just as Samson carried the gates of Gaza to the top of Hebron, doors, posts, bars, and all, so Christ has carried the gates of death to the top of heaven’s hill, posts, and bars, and all, and all the legions of hell cannot bring back the trophies which our Samson has torn away. Bound himself once with cords by his own brethren, he snapped them as though they were green withs, and in heaps on heaps he has laid his enemies dead at his feet; sin, and death, and hell, all are vanquished by the Man who once was bound, but who now binds captivity and leads it captive. Sing to him, you spirits that are redeemed before the throne; lift up your hallelujahs, clap your wings, sweep your harps and say, “All hail! you vanquisher of death, you destroyer of the grave!” Let the echo reverberate to the lowest depths of hell, and let the fiends bite their fire-tormented tongues and gnash their teeth in vain, while that song is echoed in notes like these, “Oh Death, where is your sting? Oh Grave, where is your victory?”

20. Listen now! Oh, listen! heed the war charge of our Great Captain. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Alas for the embattled hosts of God’s elect, if you, oh Death! sealed the dispatch from the gory field of battle, and you, oh Grave! hollowed out the niche where the warrior should receive in holy pennant his honourable due! “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

21. It would be a troublesome and a toilsome thing, in truth, to be steadfast if there were no reward. Christian men and women, this word of admonition is given to you. Inasmuch as you shall not die but live, inasmuch as you are the heirs of immortality and life, Christ tells you today be steadfast. Be steadfast in your doctrine. Hold the truth, and especially the solemn truth of resurrection; hold it firmly, as with an iron grip. Be steadfast in holiness, let nothing move you; stand for the right. Remember, if the earth reels, your hand is on the stars, and therefore you need not lose your hold. Be steadfast in your profession; do not blush, do not hide your candle under a bushel. The glory that is to be revealed will make good amends for you for all the shame and abuse that the reproach of Christ may bring on you. Be steadfast in everything that is a matter of faith to you — steadfast in your firm belief of Christ’s redemption of your souls — steadfast in the full conviction that you are the adopted children of your heavenly Father — steadfast in your continual perseverance in sanctification, that you may be prepared for the embrace of your Lord. Be steadfast like mountains that never move, like the hidden pillars of granite on which, though eye has never seen, this large globe rests; like those underlying rocks which bear up all the deep soil, be everlastingly steadfast.

22. Temptation will come; “be unmoveable.” Like cedars rocked in the storm, but never uprooted; like lighthouses against which the huge waves dash, and over which the mountains of foam will leap, be bright in testimony, but never stirred in steadfastness. Like some peak that glitters in the sun, and immediately is struck by lightning, yet still stands looking up to the next storm and defying the next blow, so “be unmovable.” Just as the anvil is to the stroke of the hammer, so bear persecution, affliction, temptation, let none of these things move you, neither consider your life dear to you. Immortality! be that your watchword, as you stand in your ranks while the shot is flying, and the foe is advancing. When you are told not to advance, but to stand still — “having done all to stand” — be this your reflection, “your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Immortality shall make amends for all your pain and suffering here. Resurrection shall restore all you seem to lose in the fray.

23. Be “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Be working here, and there, at home and abroad; in the morning, when the first ruddy streak paints the brow of the young dawn, at noonday, when the hot sun pours out its lavish floods of light, in the evening, when the birds are going to their rest, and at midnight, if there is a fallen sister who at no other hour can be reached. “In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand.” With a heart for any strife, be first, and foremost in every conflict; dash in at every skirmish, and be in your rank at every decisive struggle. Do not hide your face from shame and spitting, do not turn back from labour or from scorn; “in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” on earth, but that bread which you eat in heaven, so gloriously won by the grace of God, shall be all the sweeter for the sweat that was lavished on it. “Always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

24. But I hear some of you say, “For what purpose is all this strain?” “Ah!” one young man says, “I have been steadfast and unmoveable, and I have lost my job. Instead of being prospered by it, I have suffered loss.” Well, there is another and a better land; your wrongs shall be righted there. Think of the rest which remains for the people of God. “Ah!” says a mother, “but I trained up my little child, and she just began to gladden my heart with her first prayer, and then she died.” Refrain your eyes from weeping, for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord; she lives a better life than she could have lived with you. I, too, may ask, “For what purpose?” I may say that I see many brought to Christ, and what becomes of them? — they die. In the college, out of our small numbers, two men we trained for the ministry have fallen asleep in Christ — one while yet a student, and the other when he had only departed from us for a few months. Well, but what of all this? They live: we trained them for the skies, and made them choristers for eternity.

25. Our work is not lost; we must be steadfast, always abounding in God’s work while here. It seems to me that this is the purpose for which the Sunday School teacher, the mother, the father, the minister should always be working. What does the farmer look for? Is he content when he sees the grain turning yellow to say, “How straight it stands! What a good harvest there is!” No, no, he never considers that he has his harvest until they shout the “Harvest Home.” So we should think our work is never rewarded to the full until souls, saved through our means, get to heaven, and until we get there to meet them there. I see some dear brethren here who I have no doubt look for many souls to meet them at the gates of Paradise, and I can cast my eye over a sister here and there in this Church who, highly honoured by God, will have young spirits to meet them at heaven’s gate and greet them joyfully as mothers in Israel. Happy, happy we, who, when we wing our way to heaven, shall hear a band behind us, and when we turn our heads, wondering who they are, shall hear each say, “You brought me to Christ; you taught me his blessed name; you rescued me from sin and vice; you have led me along the golden shining path to heaven, and here I am, to share your bliss for ever.” Brethren, there is another and a better land; “therefore be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

26. II. We will pause for a minute, and then use our text for a very short time indeed for the other part of the congregation, uttering A WARNING TO UNBELIEVERS.

27. Where are they? Where shall I point my finger? Where shall I present my gaze? They are present everywhere, in almost every pew. In these aisles and in the pews we have men and women who do not love Christ, who have not passed from death to life. Strangers, indeed, and those who hear us every Sabbath day too, to our pain and grief are here — hundreds, hundreds, hundreds who are still enemies to God, and in the gall of bitterness.

28. Hear me, then, hear me! For you death has a sting. It will sting you in death; it will plague you on your pillow; it will make you toss your aching head; it will make your heart palpitate with a huge unutterable dread. You shall feel the sting, and your friends shall see that you feel it by those dread expressions of awful gloom which shall come over you on the bed of death. And there will be a sting after death, a sting the moment you are dead. Summoned before your God, you shall hear your sentence, and there will be a sting in judgment. When the body shall rise from the grave, then there will be a sting for ever and for ever, in the second death — for ever and for ever. Is there any man here who can measure eternity? Who can tell its everlasting years? Yet all the while there shall be a sting in death, and such a sting, and such a terror, and such a misery, and such a torment, as only they can know who have begun to feel it, and even they do not know it, for it is still for ever and for ever, when twice ten million years have gone — for ever and for ever still!

29. There is a sting in Death for you, and over you the Grave will get the victory, for the Grave shall devour you. When you wake up from it again it shall not be to newness of life, it shall not be in the image of the second Adam, but in the image of the first, and perhaps in the image of the first Adam in all the decay and loathsomeness into which death brought him. I do not know in what form the wicked dead shall rise; it may be they shall even in their bodies be the objects of everlasting contempt, devoured by the worm that never dies, so that their very flesh will give evidence of it. Oh my hearers, if these things are true, it is time that we woke up, it is time that saints woke up to try and bring you to Christ; it is high time that you also woke up out of slumber. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hand of the living God,” “for our God is a consuming fire.” Are you ready to meet God? Are you ready for judgment? Can you confront the Judge? Who among you can dwell with everlasting burnings, or abide with the devouring flames? Do you shudder? Do you say, “Great God save us from our sin?” The path is easy, the path is open; God does not wish the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn to him and live. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Trust Jesus now and you are saved at once. Death has lost its sting in that moment, and the Grave its victory. We said this morning in our simple discourse, “Repent and believe the gospel.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 460, “Faith and Repentance Inseparable” 451} This is the sum of the gospel, to repent and to know Christ. Oh, that the Spirit of God may lead every one in this assembly to do so at this very hour, and then you can walk over your graves without a fear, and descend into them without dread, for you shall come up out of them with triumph, you shall ascend to heaven with glory, and so shall you be for ever with the Lord. May the Lord add his own blessing for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

{a} Paean: A song of praise or thanksgiving; a shout or song of triumph, joy, or exaltation. OED. {b} Have at you! An exclamation indicating that one is about to strike the person addressed, typically with a sword or other hand-held weapon. See Explorer "https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/have_at_you" {c} Hecatomb: A great public sacrifice (properly of a hundred oxen) among the ancient Greeks and Romans, and hence extended to the religious sacrifices of other nations; a large number of animals offered or set apart for a sacrifice. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {2Th 3}

1. Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified, even as it is with you:

A most important request. What can the ministers of the gospel do, if their people cease to pray for them? Even if their own prayers are heard, as they will be, and a measure of blessing is given, yet it will be only a scant measure, compared with what it would be if all the saints united in their intercessions. Whenever we see the word of God very mighty in one place it ought to encourage us to pray that it may be the same in another place, for it is the same word and the hearts of all men are alike. The same spirit can give the same blessing in every place. Hence Paul says, “Pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified, even as it is with you.” Now, if any of you in your church are enjoying rich prosperity, pray for others, that they may have the same. And, if you are without it, take courage from any church which you see prospering, and ask the Lord to do the same things for you. Very likely if we prayed more for ministers they would be more blessed to us. There is many a man who cannot “hear” his minister and the reason may be that God never hears him pray for his minister.

2. And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men do not have faith.

I really do not know which is the worst to put up with — an unreasonable man or a wicked man. A wicked man may do you all kinds of mischief, but you soon know him. But an unreasonable man — you do not know where to find him, and he can attack you from all kinds of places. Alas! there are some very unreasonable Christians, — very good in some points, but very stupid; and a stupid man may set a village ablaze quite as easily as a wicked man. The stupid man’s accident may be as dangerous as another man’s intention. Pray also “that we may be delivered from wicked and unreasonable men, for all men do not have faith,” and all men do not have sense, I may also add.

3. But the Lord is faithful,

That is the mercy. Whether men are fools or knaves, the Lord is faithful.

3. Who shall establish you, and keep you from evil.

We are taught to pray for this grace. We are told here that we shall have it. Since God is faithful he will keep us from evil.

4. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you both do and will do the things which we command you.

Our obedience to apostolic ordinances should be of the present and of the future. It should be fixed in our souls. What the Lord has commanded in his church by his apostles should be carefully regarded by us.

5. And the Lord direct your heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

The two things go together. When we love God, we long for the glory and the appearing of his Son. The most loving spirits in the world have had most an eye to that glorious coming. Note Enoch who walked with God and prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes.” Note Daniel, “a man greatly beloved,” and a seer who looked into the future and saw the Ancient of Days. Notice also John who leaned his head on Jesus’ bosom, we may say of him that he spoke more of the second coming than all the rest of the apostles. When the heart gets right away from earth and is set on God, then it is that we begin to long for the revealing of the Lord from heaven.

6. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks disorderly, and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

Paul had been to Thessalonica, and had given oral teaching, and now he commits to writing what he had spoken; but he tells them to take care not to associate with those who wilfully broke the ordinances of the church which he had taught them. There are some brethren with whom it is bad for us to associate, lest they do us harm, and it is bad for them that we associate with them, lest we seem to assist them in their evil deeds. This is especially so in the case of brethren of the class that he is about to describe — mischief-makers, troublers, people who can always tell you the gossip of a congregation, who can tear a neighbour’s character to pieces, who are able to perceive spots on the sun; people who delight in parading the fault of God’s own children, and are never so happy as when they are making others unhappy by what they have to peddle. These are the kind of people to whom you should give a wide berth.

7-9. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us: for we did not behave ourselves disorderly among you, neither did we eat any man’s bread for nothing; but worked with labour and travail night and day, so that we might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we do not have power, but to make ourselves an example to you to follow us.

The apostle had a right to be supported by those among whom he laboured. He always insists on that right; but for their good, knowing the tendency of that age, he himself renounced that right; and he is indignant that there should be others who did nothing whatever concerning Christian ministry, but who availed themselves of the charity of the church at Thessalonica so as to be able to live on it without work.

10. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this that if anyone would not work, neither should he eat.

A very capital rule, indeed. There are some so very spiritually-minded that to soil their hands is also to soil their conscience. They are afraid of hard work. They think it is unspiritual; whereas there is nothing in the world, next to the grace of God, that is more likely to keep men out of mischief than having plenty to do.

11. For we hear that there are some who walk among you disorderly, not working at all, but are busybodies.

Not doing their own business, and therefore putting their noses into everyone else’s business. If they had minded their own affairs, they would have left other people alone. There are such people alive now. We must not be surprised if we meet them since they were alive in the apostle’s days; if they troubled him it must be no wonder if they trouble us.

12. Now those who are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

The best bread and the sweetest, is our own. We are to work for it. We are to work with quietness. I suppose to some that is very hard work, but they must labour for it, for quietness is a Christian grace, it is indeed a high Christian attainment.

13-15. But you, brethren, do not be weary in well doing. And if any man does not obey our word by this epistle, note that man and have no company with him, so that he may be ashamed. Yet do not consider him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

This kind of Christian discipline ought to be still carried out, in reference not only to this one case of busybodies, but to all other cases. When a church grows large, there can be no efficient discipline from one man, or from all his officers with him. There must be the discipline of the whole church towards itself, each Christian, according to his measure of grace, seeking the good of the whole; for while every man must bear his own burden, yet is it said, “Bear each other’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The careful desire to promote the Christian welfare of all our fellow members is a very different thing from being busybodies. We must have equal desire not in any way to interfere where we should not.

16. Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.

What a sweet benediction! And how he heaps the words together, as if peace was one of the greatest blessings a church could have. Indeed, dear brethren it is essential for all other blessings. I am quite certain that we never should have enjoyed here the long years of perpetual prosperity which we have had, if it had not pleased the Lord to keep us always in peace. So may we be for many years to come! May no root of bitterness ever spring up to trouble us, but may this text be fulfilled, — “Now the Lord of peace give you peace always by all means.”

16, 17. The Lord be with you all. The greeting of Paul with my own hand, which is the sign in every epistle: so I write.

I suppose he always wrote a part of each epistle. Probably through the failure of his eyesight he was unable to write all of it with his own hand, but employed some one of his brethren to be his scribe. But, in order that everyone might know the epistle to be genuine, there was always a little of Paul’s writing, sometimes in large script, as when he says to one church, “You see how large a letter I have written to you with my own hand.”

18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

So with great courtesy and a comprehensive prayer he finishes his letter.

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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