3161. Positivism

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No. 3161-55:433. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, In The Year 1875, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, September 9, 1909.

We know…And we know…And we know. {1Jo 5:18-20}

For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2396, “Eternal Life!” 2397}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3161, “Positivism” 3162}

   Exposition on 1Jo 5 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2759, “Pleasures of Piety, The” 2760 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on 1Jo 5 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3071, “Idolatry Condemned” 3072 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on 1Jo 5 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3252, “By Water and Blood” 3254 @@ "Exposition"}

1. It is remarkable how throughout the entire epistle of John he continually uses the word “know.” It has quite refreshed me to read through the epistle carefully, and to observe how, as the clock strikes the same note again and again, John seems to have kept to this monotone, “We know, we know, we know.” In this age, when it is fashionable not to know anything, when the professedly learned would hold us in a state of perpetual doubt, and our great poet tells us that there is more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds, and everyone seems to be bewitched with what is called “modern thought,” it is quite cheering to one’s ear, and delightful to one’s heart, to hear the bell strike out again and again, “We know, we know, we know.” After all, there is something certain somewhere, some grip for our anchor, some foundation to build our eternal hopes on—something that can be trusted, something besides cloud and will-o’-the wisp. “We know, we know, we know.” Take your pencils and read through this first epistle of John, and underline the word “know,” and you will feel the force of our remark. Look at the second chapter, “By this we do know that we know him.” “He who says I know him.” “By this we know who we are in him.” In the thirteenth verse we read, “Because you have known him.” “I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.” “We have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things.” “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.” And so in the third chapter, verse after verse. “The world does not know us, because it did not know him.” “We know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” The fifth verse—“You know that he was revealed to take away our sin.” And so it is, on, on, on, all through the chapter—“we know,” “you know,” and “they know.”

2. And why is this? It seems to me, first, that John had the echo of his Masters words ringing in his ears. He laid his head on his Master’s bosom, and caught his Master’s spirit; yes, more, his Master’s thoughts; yes, more, his Master’s very words. Continually as you read John’s first epistle you are reminded of passages in his gospel. The epistle seems to be the essential extract of this gospel. John, the beloved of Jesus, reproduces his Master more fully than any other apostle. Listen to the Master’s words in the fourteenth chapter of John, fourth verse: “‘I go to prepare a place for you. And where I go you know, and the way you know.’ Thomas says to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you go, and how can we know the way?’” (Seventh verse)—“If you had known me, you should have known my Father also; and from henceforth you know him and have seen him.” Hear how the know rings out! Again, attend to our Lord’s prayer in the seventeenth chapter of John—“Now they have known that all things whatever you has given to me are from you.” “They have known surely that I came from you.” “Oh righteous Father, the world has not known you: but I have known you, and these have known that you have sent me.” The words of Jesus had so fastened on John’s mind, and had so deeply impressed his heart, that when his soul wanted words it used those that had rooted themselves so firmly among the most happy memories of his life. I attribute the preponderance of the word “know,” which constitutes itself an idiom in the epistle, to the fact that the expressions of the Master had been treasured up by the servant.

3. Furthermore, John is one in whom we see very little of mental conflict. Thomas had brain in excess of heart, and hence he had his doubts, and exclaimed, “Unless I put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Eventually he became a grand believer, and indeed a very leader in true doctrine, for he was the first that ever inferred the deity of Christ from his wounds when, looking at the scars, he said, “My Lord and my God.” John was too intimate with Christ to doubt, and he had too much heart to be a questioner, too much of earnest, intense, loving life to be subject to those diseases which spring from preponderance of intellect over affection. His soul was, like his Lord’s, on fire with divine love, and it burned up the chaff of doubt too rapidly for it even to have seemed to be there. It had only to be scattered over the flame to vanish at once. It is very beautiful to notice how positive John is in his writing. I like the beginning of his epistle, it is so different from the wavering talk which we hear nowadays. He begins like this—“What was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on (that is, intensely gazed on) and our hands have handled of the word of life; what we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Is this not true “positivism”? Where will you find it if you do not find it here? Speak of dogmatism! Here is dogmatic teaching indeed. He does not hesitate, or fear, or doubt for one moment. His evidence is too sure, and his conviction too firm; and hence it is that he rings out that bell so clearly, “We know, we know, we know.”

4. The full assurance, expressed by the word “know” arises from the fact that perfect love always casts out hesitancy and doubt, which are a form of fear, and, as John tells us, “Perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment.” Love cannot endure a doubt. If love is crossed with doubt it becomes jealousy, and that is cruel as the grave. A man had better meet a wolf in the depth of winter, or a bear robbed of her whelps, than a man in his jealousy, for his fury burns like coals of juniper, which have a most vehement flame. Love must have certainty. Those whom we dearly love must be beyond suspicion concerning their reciprocal affection. As for a doubt whether there is a Christ, or whether he is the Son of God, or whether he loved us and gave himself for us, this may be indulged in by those who do not love; but where love is supreme it sits in state like God on the cherubim, and the Dagon of doubt falls down and is broken in pieces. If the church of the present age loved Jesus better she would speak much more confidently about him, and in doing so she would speak more like the oracles of God: but where the dampness of lukewarm affection settles down, the cold chill of doubt is sure to follow; and it is in these wintry nights of declining love for Jesus that the frost of unbelief binds up the rivers of spiritual life. May the Lord quicken the love of his church, and as soon as that is done, her sons will say, as John did, “We know, and we know, and we know,” and the grand old positive spirit of Luther and of Calvin, blazing with the enthusiasm which came with Whitfield and Wesley, will come back to the church, and God will bless the world by it.

5. I am about to speak on the forms of Christian knowledge. “We know”…“and we know”…“and we know.”

6. Here I note, first, that Christians have this knowledge in seven different forms, of which the one draws on the other, like golden links of a precious chain.

7. I. And, first, we know, that is to say, we have INSTRUCTION; and in this we are saved from ignorance.

8. The Christian is not ignorant of the gospel and its great primary truths, but he knows them, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and by searching the Word. We frequently have the use of the term in this epistle. I will give two examples. The twentieth verse of the fifth chapter: “We know that the Son of God is come, and that he has given us an understanding, that we may know him who is true.” We know the fact of incarnation, and the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ, for by the Scriptures we have been informed of this. In the sixteenth verse of the fourth chapter we have another example: “We have known and believed the love that God has for us.” We know the love of God, for it is revealed, and we accept the witness of the Spirit concerning it.

9. We know the great facts of the gospel, and this is a great blessing. Myriads of our fellow creatures are unaware of the first principles of the faith, scarcely knowing that there is a God, and altogether ignorant of the wonderful plan of redemption by the blood of Jesus. Even in this (so-called) Christian country there is much ignorance about these things. I wish that Christian people would more frequently question others about what they know about Christ. No book is less read, in proportion to its circulation, than the Bible, and certainly no book is less understood. With all the preaching we have—and some of it is very excellent—everywhere is a great ignorance of the rudimentary truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. One is surprised to find that the language which is used in the pulpit is not understood at all by the majority of the people. They do not know where the preacher is: he is somewhere up in the clouds, they learn nothing from his big words. They suppose it is all right, and very good, and they listen to it; but as far as instruction is concerned many a preacher might almost as well speak in Syriac. “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound.” It is a happy thing to know that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come in the flesh, that he took upon himself the sins of his people, that he bore the wrath of God on their behalf, that by believing in him men are justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses. It is a blessed thing to know that “in him we have redemption through his blood,” and sanctification and eternal life. It is a blessed thing to know the Holy Spirit; to know that he converts the soul, and comforts, and illuminates, and guides, and sanctifies; it is good to know something of the future life; to know the doctrine of election, the doctrine of effectual calling, and the doctrine of the eternal security of the saints. There are many who have not discovered these truths; and if we have done so, it is not a thing to boast about, but a matter to be very thankful for. I am afraid the Bible is so common that we are not duly grateful for it; and the preaching of the gospel has become so normal a thing for us that we are not sufficiently mindful of the high privilege conferred on anyone who is permitted to hear it. Be glad, dear friends, that so far as instruction in the gospel is concerned we are not left in the dark, but we can say, thanks be to God, we know, for we have been taught, some of us from our youth up; we know, for we have searched the Scriptures; we know, for we have listened to a gospel ministry; we know, for we have weighed, and judged, and studied these things for ourselves.

10. II. There is a far higher knowledge than this, which I shall speak of secondly. By knowing is frequently meant APPREHENDING and understanding.

11. This kind of knowledge is opposed to a mere hearing of doctrine and facts without understanding their inner meaning. That is, a man may know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he died, but he may not understand the great truth of substitution, and the why and wherefore that Jesus died. Now, I do not say that any very deep understanding of the truth is necessary for salvation, but I do say that it is an inestimable privilege to be able to go deep into these things, and to know not merely the facts but the reason behind the facts, and the teaching of the facts. A nut is very good, but I prefer to crack the shell, and get the kernel. It is delightful to read the Word, but to meditate on it and understand it is the great matter. In instruction we are like the cow when cropping the grass, but apprehension is like the same creature ruminating: when she lies down and chews the cud, it is then that the real nourishment is gained. John uses the word “know” in that sense in the second clause of the twentieth verse of our text: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding that we may know.” That is, he has taught us what is meant by his coming. From our very childhood we knew that Jesus came in the flesh, but perhaps it is only a little while ago that we understood how

   He bore, that we might never bear,

   His Father’s righteous ire,—

and how he stands as our representative before the throne of God at this moment. We know the doctrine of imputed righteousness as a matter of fact, but, perhaps, we have not even now entered into the full sense of our acceptance in the Beloved. I urge on everyone who knows the truth to pray daily for a deeper understanding of its innermost meaning, so that he may know the marrow and fatness of the covenant, may dig into the mines of revelation, and bring up those masses of gold which surface readers never discover. The Scriptures do not at once yield up all their wealth even to a student. He must dig and dig, and dig and dig again. Jerome used to say, “I adore the plenitude of Holy Scripture”; and well he might, for there is a mighty fulness in it. I think it was Henry Martin who, when he had to translate the Bible into Persian, said that he never knew the Word so well as when he had to go over every syllable of it. You remember Uncle Tom spelling “L-e-t let, n-o-t not, y-o-u-r your, h-e-a-r-t-s hearts be troubled,” and so on, and how he said that every letter of it was sweet. After you have thought over a verse for hours you feel persuaded that you have found out its full teaching; perhaps you have looked to learned authors and noticed the correct text, and many good thoughts on it, and yet further on a new meaning springs up; and perhaps weeks later, when that text has been sitting under your tongue, like a sweet morsel, you all of sudden say, “I never saw this before. Here is something fresh and even more wonderful. Now I know the innermost sense of this delightful Scripture.”

12. How I wish that all Christians in this sense knew, so that they could say “We know, we know, we know.” We ought not merely to assert our belief in an orthodox creed, but we should know the meaning of it. We should not merely confess that such and such are our doctrinal sentiments; but we should go into truths like bees into the cups of the flowers, and find out where their honey lies. Oh that we could all feel that we have gone into the secret caves of revelation, the Spirit of God holding a flaming torch and leading us into all truth! Oh that we might all see the innumerable sparkles of those precious gems which glitter in the deep places where the lion’s whelp has not trodden, far down where only the Spirit of God can lead, and where only an eye that has been touched with heavenly eyesalve can see! Oh, for a church made up of people who understand, and therefore know!

13. III. We know by instruction, and we know by apprehension; but there is a sweeter sense than this. We know, in a third sense, by PERSONAL ACQUAINTANCE.

14. You will find that meaning in such passages as the second chapter, at the thirteenth and fourteenth verses—“I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.” Our text is another example. “We know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding that we may know him.” I will not quote all the texts; there are many of that kind. So we know the Lord himself. A friend comes to you and he says, “Do you know such a person?” You say first, “I know there is such a person”—that is instruction. Being further asked, “But, do you know him?” you answer, “Well, I know that he was a fine tall man, a soldier in the infantry, and that he went to the Crimea.” That is a kind of knowing him by apprehension, but does not fully answer the question, “Do you know him?” You say, “Well, I cannot say that I know him, for if I were to see him I could not recognise him, I have never even spoken to him.” To be acquainted with a man is a higher order of knowledge than the former, and in that sense believers know God, and know Jesus Christ, and know the Holy Spirit. They are acquainted with God. “No man has seen God at any time,” but we have spoken to him, and he has spoken to us. We have not heard his voice with these ears, but we are sure that we have heard him in our hearts. Our spirits know his voice. We have sometimes been bowed down with terror as he has spoken, and brought us under the spirit of bondage, but now we know the sound of his voice as a spirit of love, and we respond to it, crying, “Abba, Father.” We know the voice of Jesus. We are like the sheep who will not follow a stranger, “for they do not know the voice of strangers”; but we know Jesus, and when he speaks to our souls we answer to his call. We not only know his voice, but we know him. We have come into personal contact with the Christ of God, not in mere imagination, but in fact. As surely as we live, the eternal God in Jesus Christ has looked on us and has touched us—no, more, has performed a miracle on us, and has made us new creatures, “begotten us again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” I do not speak of all of you. I speak only of those of whom it is true that they do know the Lord. The Lord Jesus has become our familiar acquaintance. We tell him all our griefs. There is not a trouble that we do not carry to him, not a sorrow that we do not pour into his bosom; and he, on the other hand, reveals his heart to us, for “the secret of the Lord is with those who fear him.”

15. True believers, especially full-grown believers, when they are advanced in the divine life, know the Lord Jesus Christ as they know their friends, yes, as they know their very selves. They speak with him as a man speaks with his friend; they even know him as they cannot know their friends, for they have received him into themselves, and they have become one with him. They have eaten his flesh and drunk his blood, and he is in them, and they in him—an intimate knowledge excelling all other knowledge beneath the sun. Though they do not profess to know all that is to be known about Christ, for there is a love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and there are heights and depths beyond all mortal knowledge, yet they do know him, and their daily aspiration is to know him more and more fully.

16. See, then, that just as apprehension surpasses instruction, so acquaintance rises far beyond apprehension. May you and I know with this third knowledge, and live in the sweet enjoyment of it all our days.

17. IV. Out of this rises a fourth degree of knowledge, namely, that of CERTAINTY as opposed to scepticism.

18. When we are under instruction doubts may arise; when we apprehend and understand doubts may still trouble us; but when we come to be acquainted with Jesus, they are less likely to haunt us. Out of fellowship with Jesus springs the higher state of absolute certainty concerning divine things. John himself was very certain. I read to you the beginning of his epistle just now, and you saw how confident he was; and we find him writing all through his epistle with equal strength and force of assurance. He says in the third chapter, the fifth verse, “You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin.” And in the twenty-fourth verse, “And by this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.” In the fifth chapter read verse nineteen: “We know that we are of God”; and few as he felt that his brethren were, and the whole world engaged on the other side, in the spirit of Athanasius he cries, “The whole world lies in the wicked one.” He allows no force to the evidence even of a contradicting world, because one man residing in the truth has more weight in his witness than millions under the power of the father of lies. Now brethren, this is a blessed state to get into—that of certainty. I am utterly amazed at hearing it continually asserted that the thoughtful public teacher must make great allowances for “the spirit of the age, which is one of earnest scepticism.” I do not believe it. The spirit of the age is that of thoughtlessness and trifling. But what have I or any other Christian man to do with the spirit of the age? The spirit which is in us by which we ought to speak is the Spirit of God, and not the spirit of the age. In what spirit are Christian ministers to speak? The spirit of the first century, while the first century lasts, I suppose; the spirit of the second century when the second century comes in; and so from age to age the spirit of the Christian is to alter. Can it be so? You remember when they condemned Leighton because he did not speak according to the times, he replied, “If all of you are speaking for the times, let one poor brother speak for eternity.” Was he not correct? Surely the spirit of the truth never changes, for truth is immutable. Surely the Spirit of God never alters, for he is divine. Do we have one medicine for one age, and another medicine for another? Does it run like this—“Go into all the world and adapt the gospel to every century?” I do not find it written like that. Our standing orders are, Preach the gospel, the gospel, the same gospel, to every creature, thoughtful or thoughtless, philosophical or ignorant, civilized or uncivilized. Semper idem {always the same} is the motto which the gospel may write above her temples. There let it stand. She cannot alter. For her to alter would be death to truth and treason to Christ. Though we do not believe, and though the age grows doubting, he remains faithful; he cannot deny himself. Ah, brethren, if you are not certain about these things, may God grant that you may be certain. Oh, to be uncertain whether the Saviour loved me and gave himself for me, it would be as death to my soul! Some find delight in pulling down, as far as they can, the eternal pillars of the temple; but to see a sacrilegious hand laid on the least of them is painful in the extreme. There hangs my hope on that bloody tree, where the incarnate God offered up expiation for my sin; if you can disprove the doctrine of atonement, my comfort is gone, I care no more to live, there remains nothing for me. Therefore my soul is driven back by sheer necessity to fundamental truths, and cannot be content until she casts away the rubbish of human opinion, and gets down to the rock—against the sheer granite of eternal verities which God has spoken, which are “yea” and “amen” in Christ Jesus. Brethren, labour after this. Do not let it be for you a question whether there is such a thing as regeneration; it cannot be a question if you yourself are regenerate. It will not be a question whether there is such a thing as justification, if you are justified. You cannot doubt concerning sanctification, if you are yourself consciously sanctified, any more than angels in heaven will doubt whether there is a heaven while living there and enjoying its glory. May we get up to this fourth point, which is that of absolute certainty as opposed to scepticism.

19. V. But now, fifthly, there is a knowledge of another kind, very useful in these days, namely, that of DISCERNMENT as opposed to a readiness to receive erroneous teaching.

20. That meaning was intended by John. Read in the second chapter, beginning at the eighteenth verse:—“Little children, it is the last time: and since you have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists, by which we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out so that it might be revealed that they were not all of us. But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know all things.” He does not mean that the saints know everything, but they judge, they discern, they know truth from error. When doctrine presents itself to you, you know whether it is from Christ or from antichrist, and act accordingly. You are able to judge, to discern, and to distinguish. In the fourth chapter you have it again, at the second verse:—“By this we know the Spirit of God (or discern the Spirit of God). Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is from God.” “By this,” he says in the sixth verse, “we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” We know which is which, even as our Lord says—“They will not follow a stranger, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” And again, “I know my sheep, and am known of mine.” There is a spirit of discernment, and it is much needed nowadays. It comes to us in the following way: Instruction, apprehension, acquaintance, certainty,—these bring discernment to detect the false from the true. It too is to my mind very delightful, to see how the least instructed Christian, who does not know his Lord and love him, is not to be led astray. Mere professors like to hear a man who can speak fluently; and if he will use very pretty phrases and talk about cataracts, and the rippling rills, and the skies, and the clouds, and heaven knows what besides of mimic poetry, they extol the orator mightily. The child of God does not think so, for he has another way of judging. He says when he hears such rhetoric, “There was nothing for me.” “What do you mean? There were plenty of flowers.” “I cannot eat flowers,” he says. He judges whether he was fed or not, and he knows what he can eat. No one teaches sheep what is good for food and what is not; they know by instinct. I do not suppose they could preach a sermon on healthy herbs and unhealthy plants, but they know by some means, and so do believers. They could not write it down; they could not compose an essay on discernment: but they know what they can feed on, and they know what they cannot feed on, and they have very accurate tests within them. “Ah,” says the believer, “that will not do for me. There is no Christ in it. I cannot get anything out of it.” They listen to some humble preacher who loves Jesus Christ and lifts him high, and they say, “Ah, well. He puts his h’s in the wrong places, and his grammar is deficient; but we were blessed, for when he exalted our Master and preached of him our very hearts danced within us for joy.” I have felt just that way myself: I have sat and cried as if my heart would break to hear Jesus Christ spoken of by a plain working man, but have felt indignant when I have listened to a learned thinker confusing the minds of the simple by words worth nothing at all. Yesterday I was in a certain place, where needing refreshment, it was pressed on me to purchase something, which was said to be very good to eat; and as far as I could figure out when I ate it, it was nothing beaten up and blown out to a great size, and a little sugar powdered over it; and it reminded me of the sermons that I have read, in which there was nothing whatever, only it was blown up extensively, developed into a great size, and a little sugar of rhetoric put into it! Hungry souls cannot feed on wind. They will not have it. They very soon go away. Of course the fine fashionable people, the empty professors, who look for words only, say, “Oh, you must not be uncharitable. We cannot expect doctrine in every sermon,” and so on. So, like the wild donkeys, they sniff up the wind and are satisfied with it; but not so the people of God, they feel that time is too short, and eternity too long, and hell too terrible, and heaven too precious, to have their Sundays frittered away by pretty little essays which have as much connection with Mohammedanism as with the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are plenty of such preachers around, and abundance of gentlemen who will pat them on the back and say, “These are highly intellectual brethren, and are fit to occupy large spheres.” Our business is to preach Jesus Christ, and if we cannot preach him, let us take up tailoring, or ploughing, or cobbling, or some other honest way of earning one’s livelihood. To preach anything else but Christ crucified, is to betray our Lord and Master, and most assuredly to bring on ourselves shame and condemnation in the last great day of account. May we have, dear brethren, given to us the spirit of discrimination so that we may know the precious from the vile, for if we do so as preachers we shall be as God’s mouth; and may we as hearers have the same discrimination, so that we may always be able to receive what is from God, and to reject at once with solemn determination what is according to the spirit of the world and not according to Jesus Christ.

21. VI. I pass on from that form of knowledge to another, which is this; by knowledge in this epistle is frequently meant ASSURANCE in opposition to anxiety.

22. That is the frequent use of the term here, as in the second chapter, the third to the eighth verse:—“By this we do know that we know him if we keep his commandments. He who says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: by this we know that we are in him.” Then in the fourteenth verse of the third chapter:—“We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.” In the twenty-fourth verse—“By this we know that he resides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.” Far too seldom do Christians reach this point. They should do so; and they should come up the ladder by the steps I have described; but many seem to think that it is almost necessary for them always to say most timorously, “I hope I am in Christ. I trust I am saved.” They dare not say, “I know that I am in him, and that his Spirit is in me.” Now, if they have never reached this rung of the ladder, God forbid we should condemn them, for some of God’s children remain trembling and doubting for many a day; yet they should not be content to be there. It ought to be the desire and aim of every one of us to know whether we are saved or not, because it is not a question that we can afford to leave in doubt. Any person here who has invested his money in any commercial enterprise, who should have it hinted to him this evening when he reaches home that it is an unsound concern, would not be at all likely to be quiet until he had discovered whether it was so or not; and therefore our souls’ eternal interests, which are far more important, cannot be allowed to remain in suspense. As soon as the question is ever raised a sensible man will be unsatisfied until it is settled. “Can it be settled?” someone says. “Can it be?” Oh, brethren, believe me, many of us do know our calling and election. Why? Because God has given us infallible signs. He says, “Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ has everlasting life.” We do believe in him; we trust him with all our hearts, and God has said that we are saved and have everlasting life. Shall we doubt God? Then “we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” If we feel a hearty love for God’s people, inspiration tells us that we have passed from death to life. Shall we doubt it? No, we will believe it. “Well,” one says, “that seems to me to be presumption.” Do you think so? Suppose you promise your children tonight that you will take them out tomorrow morning, and one of them says to you, “Well, father, I hope you will.” There is no joy in his countenance,—why? Because he says he does not think you will; he is afraid it would be presumption to believe you. Do you not think it is presumption in him to doubt you? Look at that other little one. You say, “Jane, I shall take you out tomorrow.” She claps her hands with delight; the thoughts of doubting you never enters her little head. Is she presumptuous? What, presumptuous to believe her father! Surely, it never can be presumption to believe God! To doubt God and to think highly of yourself—that is presumption; but to trust God and to believe his word, is there any presumption in that? “Ah,” one says, “but if I knew for a certainty that I was saved I am afraid that I should grow careless.” Why so? Full assurance is the very thing that makes men watchful. They feel it such a great joy to be beloved by God that they are afraid of doing anything to grieve him. The man who does not know whether he has any money or not is not likely to be very watchful over the box which may, perhaps, contain something, or may not; but if he knows that he has a treasure there, he will take good care that no one shall rob him of it. Brethren, if we were slaves, under the spirit of bondage, and had to be whipped to do what was right by the fear of being sent to hell, that would be one thing; but the children of God are not slaves, they are sons; and because God’s everlasting love for his own dear children can never turn into hate, do they therefore disobey their heavenly Father? God forbid! Assurance is the mainspring of holiness in a Christian.

23. VII. The last word is this. There is another knowledge, namely, the knowledge of UNSTAGGERING FAITH, which knows a thing which is not AS YET.

24. You have an example in the second verse of the third chapter. “Beloved, now we are the sons of God; and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Why, oh great apostle, did you not say, “We hope that when he shall appear?” No, no, he did not hope it at all: he knew it: he was sure of it. But do we not generally say, “We trust that when Christ shall appear it will be so”? So far true; but oh, it is better when faith considers the things that are not as though they were. A man will take a thousand pound cheque from his neighbour, and say, “I have the money.” “My dear sir, you do not. You only have a piece of paper.” “Ah,” he says, “but it has a good name on it. It is as good as gold.” Surely the promise of a God who cannot lie is as good as the fulfilment!

25. I bless God that for some little time instead of worrying myself about a thousand things which concern this Church, and the College, and the Orphanage, and the Colportage,—whenever I have any kind of trouble it has been my sweet privilege to breathe a prayer to God and leave all my anxieties at his feet. I do the best I can to keep things right, and then I leave them with the Lord. If the works are not his work, then let them go to pieces. If they are, then he will attend to them. I am an instrument in his hands, and as such I do the little I can do, and leave the rest to him. It is wonderful how smoothly things go when we trust them with the Lord. Your fidgeting and worrying do all the mischief. Something gets between the wheels, and they will not work, and I will tell you what that something is. It is your own finger, and when you feel such a squeeze that you cannot bear it, it is a lesson to you. Take your finger out, and leave it alone. The best way to deal with a great trouble is to pray to God about it, and then put it on the shelf, and never take it down any more. Some of you have come here on a week-night with a heavy burden. All the time the preaching is going on, and the praying, and singing, you have lost your load, or have not felt it, but just as you get outside, you say, “I have left my burden inside! Let me go and pick it up again”; and you feel it on your mind as heavily as ever. Beloved, this is not the way to trust God. The way to trust him is to cast your care on him altogether. “All things work together for good for those who love God.” Be sure that when you pass through the rivers they shall not overflow you, and through the fires, they shall not burn you. Be sure that as your days so shall your strength be. Be sure that God will bring you through, for he will deliver his people out of all troubles, and give them a guaranteed admittance into his eternal kingdom and glory. We should speak with certainty. Of troubles and trials and deliverance from them, and of all the future we should say, as our text has it, “We know, and we know, and we know.” That is how Paul spoke. “We know that all things work together for good.” He did not say he thought it, and he hoped it, but “we know.” “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” and by its assuring power “we know, and we know, and we know.”

26. Now, dear reader, if you are unconverted, what do you know? If you do not know the Lord, what do you know? Nothing that is of any use to you spiritually, by any true knowledge. Oh that God might make you know this,—that you are lost by nature, and unless forgiven, you will be lost for ever and ever, and when you know that, I pray the Lord by his Spirit to make you know that there is a Saviour, and that he is able to save to the uttermost: and then may he make you know in the fullest sense that he loved you and gave himself for you. So may you know him, and be found in him when he comes in the clouds of heaven. Amen.

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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