3255. The Pearl of Patience

by Charles H. Spurgeon on June 7, 2021
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No. 3255-57:289. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Afternoon, In January, 1880, By C. H. Spurgeon, In His Sitting-Room At Mentone.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, June 22, 1911.

You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end intended by the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate, and of tender mercy. {Jas 5:11}

 

For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1845, “Pitifulness of the Lord the Comfort of the Afflicted, The” 1846}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3255, “Pearl of Patience, The” 3257}

 

1. We need to be reminded of what we have heard, for we are far too ready to forget. We are also so slow to consider and meditate on what we have heard that it is profitable to have our memories refreshed. At this time we are called on to remember that we have heard of the patience of Job. We have, however, I trust, gone beyond mere hearing, for we have also seen in the story of Job what it was intended to set vividly before our mind’s eye. “You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end intended by the Lord.” The Roman Catholic priest professes to make men hear the voice of the gospel by seeing, but the scriptural way is to make men see the truth by hearing. Faith, which is the soul’s sight, comes by hearing. The intent of the preaching of the gospel to the ear is “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” Inward sight is the result of all fruitful hearing.

2. Now, what is to be seen in the Scriptures is somewhat deeper, and calls for more thought than what is merely heard. “You have heard of the patience of Job,” — an interesting history, which a child may understand; but it needs divine teaching to see to the bottom of that narrative, to discover the pearl which lies in its depths. It can only be said of enlightened disciples, “You have seen the end intended by the Lord; that the Lord is very compassionate, and of tender mercy.” At the same time, what is seen is also more precious to the heart, and more bountifully enriches the soul than anything which is only heard. I consider it a great enrichment of our mind to have heard of the patience of Job, it comforts and strengthen us in our endurance; but it is an infinitely better thing to have seen the end intended by the Lord, and to have perceived the undeviating tenderness and compassion which are displayed even in his most severe chastisements. This is indeed a choice vein of silver, since he who has dug in it is far richer than the more superficial person, who has only heard of the patience of Job, and so has only gathered surface truth. “The patience of Job,” as we hear of it, is like the shell of some rare nut from the Spice Islands, full of fragrance; but “the end intended by the Lord,” when we come to see it, is like the kernel, which is rich beyond expression with a fulness of aromatic essence.

3. Note well the reason why the text reminds us of what we have heard and seen. When we are called to the exercise of any great virtue, we need to call in all the helps which the Holy Spirit has bestowed on us. All our wealth of hearing and seeing we shall have need to spend in our heavenly warfare. We shall be forced very often to gird up the loins of our mind by the memory of examples of which we have heard, such as that of Job, and then to buckle up that belt, and brace it tightly with what we have. The patience of Job shall gird us, and that “end intended by the Lord” which we have seen shall be the fastening of the belt. We shall need it all before our work is done. In the present case, the virtue we are called to exercise is that of patience; and therefore, to help us to do it, we are reminded of the things that we have heard and seen, because it is a grace as difficult as it is necessary, and as hard to come by as it is precious when it is gained.

4. The text is preceded by a triple exhortation to patience. In the seventh verse we read, “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”; and again, “Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receives the early and latter rain. Be also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws near.” Further on, in the tenth verse, we read, “Take my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and patience.” Are we thrice exhorted to patience? Is it not clear that we have even now much need of it? Most of us are deficient in this excellent grace, and because of this we have missed most privileges, and have wasted many opportunities in which we might have honoured God, might have commended religion, and might have been greatly profited in our own souls. Affliction has been the fire which would have removed our dross, but impatience has robbed the mental metal of the flux of submission which would have secured its proper purification. It is unprofitable, dishonourable, weakening; it has never brought us gain, and never will.

5. I suppose we are three times exhorted to patience because we shall need it much in the future. Between here and heaven we have no guarantee that the road will be easy, or that the sea will be glassy. We have no promise that we shall be kept, like flowers in a conservatory, from the breath of frost, or that, like fair queens, we shall be veiled from the heat of the sun.

6. The voice of wisdom says, “Be patient, be patient, be patient; you may need a threefold measure of it; be ready for the trial.” I suppose, also, that we are over and over again exhorted to be patient, because it is so high an attainment. It is no child’s play to be dumb as the sheep before her shearers, and to lie still while the shears are taking away all that warmed and comforted us. The mute Christian under the afflicting rod is no every-day personage. We kick out like oxen which feel the goad for the first time; most of us are for years like a young bull unaccustomed to the yoke. “Be patient, be patient, be patient,” is the lesson to be repeated to our hearts many times, even as we have to teach children over and over again the very same words, until they know them by heart. It is the Holy Spirit, always patient under our provocations, who calls us to be “patient.” It is Jesus, the unmurmuring sacrifice, who charges us to “be patient.” It is the longsuffering Father who tells us to “be patient.” Oh you who are soon to be in heaven, be patient for yet a little while, and your reward shall be revealed!

7. On these two things we will indulge a brief meditation. Firstly, we are told to be patient, and it is not an unheard-of virtue: “You have heard of the patience of Job”; and, secondly, we are told to be patient, and it is not an unreasonable virtue, for you “have seen the end intended by the Lord; that the Lord is very compassionate, and of tender mercy.”

8. I. IT IS NOT AN UNHEARD OF VIRTUE TO BE PATIENT: “You have heard of the patience of Job.”

9. Observe well that the patience of Job was the patience of a man like ourselves, imperfect and full of infirmity; for, as one has well remarked, we have heard of the impatience of Job as well as of his patience. I am glad the divine biographer was so impartial, for had not Job been somewhat impatient, we might have thought his patience to be altogether incomparable, and above the reach of ordinary men. The traces of imperfection which we see in Job prove all the more powerfully that grace can make grand examples out of common constitutions, and that keen feelings of indignation under injustice need not prevent a man’s becoming a model of patience. I am thankful that I know that Job spoke somewhat bitterly, and proved himself a man, for now I know that it was a man like myself who said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” It was a man of flesh and blood, such as mine, who said, “Shall we receive good from the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Yes, it was a man with a nature like mine who said, “Though he kills me, yet I will trust in him.” You have heard of the patience of your Lord and Master, and tried to copy it, and half despaired; but now you have heard of the patience of his servant Job, and knowing as Job did that your Redeemer lives, you should be encouraged to emulate him in obedient submission to the will of the Lord.

10. “You have heard of the patience of Job,” that is, the patience of a greatly tried man. That is a very trite yet necessary remark: Job could not have exhibited patience if he had not endured trial; and he could not have displayed a patience whose fame rings down the ages, until we have heard of it, if he had not known extraordinary affliction.

11. Reflect, then, that it was the patience of a man who was tried in his estate. All his wealth was taken! Two or three servants were left, — left only to bring him bad news, each one saying, “I only am escaped alone to tell you.” His flocks and his herds were gone, the house in which his children had met was a wreck, and the princely man of Uz sat on a dunghill, and there was not one so humble as to do him reverence. You have heard of the patience of Job in loss and poverty; have you not seen that, if all estates should fail, God is still your portion?

12. Job was caused to suffer sharp family troubles. All his children were snatched away without a warning, dying at a festival, where, without being culpably wrong, men are usually unguarded, and in a sense unready, for the spirit is in déshabille. His children died suddenly, and there was a grievous mystery about it, for a strange wind from the wilderness struck the four corners of the house, and overthrew it in an instant; and such an occurrence must have connected itself in Job’s mind either with the judgment of God or with Satanic influence, — a connection full of the most painful thoughts and surmises. The death of his dear ones was not a common or a desirable one, and yet all of them had been taken. Not a son or daughter was left to him. All gone! All gone! He sits among the ashes a childless man. “You have heard of the patience of Job.” Oh, to have patience under bereavements, patience even when the insatiate archer multiplies his arrows!

13. Then, and I speak here most to myself, “You have heard of the patience of Job” under personal affliction. It is well said by one who knew mankind cruelly well, that “we bear the afflictions of other people very easily”; but when it touches our bone and our flesh, trial assumes an earnest form, and we have need of unusual patience. Such bitter pain as Job must have suffered, none of us have probably known to anything like the same degree: and yet we have had weary nights and dreary days. Each limb has claimed a prominence in anguish, and each nerve has become a road for armies of pains to march over. We know what it is to feel thankful tears in our eyes merely for having been turned over in bed. Job, however, far excels us. “You have heard of the patience of Job,” and you know how he did not sin when from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot he was covered with irritating boils.

14. In addition to all this, Job bore what is perhaps the worst form of trial, namely, mental distress. The conduct of his wife must have grieved him much when she tempted him to “curse God, and die.” However she meant it, or however her words may be translated, she evidently spoke like a foolish woman when her husband needed wise consolation. And then those “miserable comforters,” how they crowned the edifice of his misery! Cold-blooded mortals sneer at sentimental grievances, but I speak from my heart when I affirm that griefs which break no bones and do not take a groat {a} from our store may yet be among the sharpest whips of sorrow. When the iron enters into the soul, we know the very soul of suffering. See how Job’s friends fretted him with arguments, and worried him with accusations. They rubbed salt into his wounds, they cast dust into his eyes, their tender mercies were cruel, though well-intentioned. Woe to the man who in his midnight hour is hooted at by such owls; yet the hero of patience did not sin. “You have heard of the patience of Job.”

15. Job’s was in all respects a most real trouble, he was no mere dyspeptic, {b} no hysterical inventor of imaginary evil; his were not imaginary losses nor minor calamities. He had not lost one child out of a numerous family, nor a few thousand pounds out of a vast fortune, but he was brought to sad bereavement, abject poverty, and terrible torment of body and mind; but despite it all, “You have heard of the patience of Job,” and heard more of his patience than of his afflictions. What a mercy to have heard of such a man, and to know that one of our own race passed through the seven-times-heated furnace, and yet was not consumed!

16. The patience of Job was the patience of a man who endured up to the very end. No break-down occurred; at every stage he triumphed, and to the utmost point he was victorious. Traces of weakness are revealed, but they are grandly overlaid by evidences of gracious power. What a marvellous man was he with all those aches and pains, still bearing witness to his God, “But he knows the way that I take: when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” He reasons well even in the heat of his passionate zeal for his character; he reasons bravely too, and handles the points of his adversaries like a trained logician. He holds his integrity firmly, and will not let it go; and best of all, he cries, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day on the earth: and though after my skin is destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” Oh, glorious challenge of a dying man to his immortal Kinsman!

17. The enemy could not triumph over Job; he threw him on a dunghill, and it became his throne, more glorious than the ivory throne of Solomon. The boils and blains with which the adversary covered the patriarch were more honour to him than a warrior’s gilded armour. Never was the arch-fiend more thoroughly worsted than by the afflicted patriarch; and instead of pitying the sufferer, my pity curdles into contempt for that fallen spirit who must there have gnawed his own heart, and drunk deep draughts of gall and wormwood as he saw himself foiled at all points by one who had been put into his power, and even by one of the feeble race of man. Surely, in this he experienced a foretaste of the bruising threatened at Eden’s gate as to be given him by this woman’s seed. Yes, Job endured to the end, and hence he stands as a pillar in the house of the Lord. Can we not endure to the end too? What does hinder grace from glorifying itself in us?

18. We may once more say that the patience of Job is the virtue of one who has become a great power for good by it. “You have heard of the patience of Job”; yes, and all the ages have heard of the patience of Job, and heaven has heard of the patience of Job, and hell has heard of it too; and not without results in each of the three worlds. Among men, the patience of Job is a great moral and spiritual force. This morning, when musing on it, I felt ashamed and humbled, as thousands have done before me. I asked myself, “What do I know of patience when I compare myself with Job?” and I felt that I was as unlike the great patriarch as I well could be. I remember a minister who had been somewhat angered by certain of his people, and therefore preached from the text, “And Aaron held his peace.” It was remarked that the preacher’s likeness to Aaron reached no further than the fact that Aaron held his peace, and the preacher did not. May we not penitently confess that our likeness to Job is much of the same order: he was patient, and we are not? Yet, as I thought of the patience of Job, it caused me to hope. If Job was patient under trial and affliction, why should I not be patient too? He was only a man; what was accomplished in one man may be done in another. He had God to help him, and so have I; he could fall back on the living Redeemer, so can I; and why should I not? Why should I not attain to patience as well as the man of Uz? It made me feel happy to believe in human capacity to endure the will of God, the Holy Spirit instructing and upholding. Play the man, beloved friend! Do not be cast down! What God has done for one he can do for another. If the man is the same, and if the great God is the same, and be sure he is, we too may attain to patience in our limited circle; our patience may be heard of among those who prize the fruits of the Spirit.

19. II. I will not detain you, lest I weary you, except just to say, in the second place, IT IS NOT AN UNREASONABLE VIRTUE TO BE PATIENT, for, according to our text, there is great love and tenderness in it, “You have seen the end intended by the Lord; that the Lord is very compassionate, and of tender mercy.”

20. We must have seen, in Job’s story, if we have regarded it properly, that the Lord was in it all. It is not a narrative in which the devil is the sole actor, the great Lord of all is evidently present. It was he who challenged Satan to consider Job, and then questioned him concerning the result. Less seen than the evil one, the Lord was nevertheless present at every act of the drama. God was not away while his servant suffered; in fact, if there was any place where the thoughts of God were centred more than anywhere else in providence at that time, it was the place where the perfect and upright man was bearing the brunt of the storm.

21. The Lord was ruling too. He was not present as a mere spectator, but still as master of the situation. He had not handed over the reins to Satan; far from it, for every step that the enemy took was only by express permission from the throne. He allowed him to strip his servant, but he set the limit, “Only on him do not put out your hand.” When to complete the test the enemy was permitted to plague his body, the Lord added, “But save his life.” The ruling hand is always in control. The dog of hell is allowed to snap and snarl, but his chain is not removed, and the collar of omnipotent restraint is on him. Come, dear friends, you who are in trouble, remember that God is in your sorrow, ruling it to its desired end, and checking it so that it should go no further than according to his will; as you neither have suffered, nor in the future will suffer, any more than an infinite love permits.

22. Moreover, the Lord was blessing Job by all his tribulation. Untold blessings were coming to the grand old man while he seemed to be loosing everything. It was not simply that he obtained a double portion at the end; but, all along, every part of the testing process accomplished his highest good. Now we have seen the end intended by the Lord, and that end is unmixed goodness. The Lord was standing by every moment to stop the refining process when it had come to the proper point, so that no more of it should happen than was really beneficial, and at the same time no less than should secure his gracious purpose. True mercy is bound at times to seem untender, for it might be a great and lifelong evil for the surgeon to stop the knife before its work was done: the Lord was wisely tender and tenderly wise with Job, and even in his case the severe affliction was not allowed to proceed a single degree beyond the required point of intensity.

23. And when we come to look all through Job’s life, we see that the Lord in mercy brought him out of it all with unspeakable advantage. He who tested with one hand supported with the other. Whatever Satan’s purpose might be in tempting the patriarch, God had a purpose which covered and circumvented that of the destroyer, and that purpose was served all along the line, from the first loss which happened among the oxen to the last taunt of his three accusers. It was never a question in the heights of heaven concerning the ultimate outcome. Eternal mercy was expending its irresistible energy, and Job was made to bear up through the trial, and to rise from it a wiser and a better man.

24. Such is the case with all afflicted saints. We may well be patient under our trials, for the Lord sends them; he is ruling in all their circumstances, he is blessing us by them, he is waiting to end them, and he is pledged to bring us through. Shall we not gladly submit to the Father of our spirits? Is this not our deepest wish, “Your will be done?” Shall we quarrel with what blesses us? Shall we repine when the end of the trouble is so near and so blessed? No; we see that the Lord is very compassionate and of tender mercy, and therefore we will be patient.

25. Beloved, let us accept future sorrow with joy, for it is divine love which will add to our years whatever sorrowful seasons may yet come to us. Job’s life might have ended in the first period without the trial; but if the patriarch, with perfect knowledge of all things, could have had his choice, would he not have chosen to endure the trial for the sake of all the blessing which came from it? We should never have heard of the patience of Job if he had continued in his prosperity; and that first part of his life would have made a very poor commonplace history as compared with what we now find in the pages of Scripture. Camels, sheep, servants, and children make up a picture of wealth, but we can see this any day; the rare sight is the patience, it is this which raises Job to his true glory. God was dealing well with his faithful servant, and even rewarding his uprightness, when he counted him worthy to be tested. The Lord was taking the best and kindest way to bless and honour one who was a perfect and an upright man, one who feared God, and shunned evil.

26. It was compassionate of the Lord to permit sharp trial to happen to Job for his good; there was more tender mercy in subjecting him to it than there would have been in screening him from it. False compassion would have permitted the good man to die in his nest, but true compassion put a thorn into it, and made him mount aloft as the eagle. It was great mercy, after all, which took him out of the state in which he washed his steps with butter, and cast him into the mire, for by this he was weaned from the world, and made to look all the more eagerly for a better portion.

27. No doubt, in Job’s character, the Lord saw certain failings which we cannot see, which he desired to remove, and perhaps he also noted some touches of grace which needed to be supplied; and divine love undertook to complete his perfect character. Perhaps his prosperity had sunned him until he had grown somewhat hard in tone and sharp in judgment, and therefore the Lord would soften down and mellow his gracious spirit. The things lacking were no common virtues, for in these he was perfect, but certain rich and rare tints of the higher life; and these could not be imparted by any other means than severe suffering. Nothing more could really be done for Job but by this special agency, for doubling the number of his camels and sheep would only enlarge his cares, since he had enough already; of children, too, he had a sufficient family, and of all earthly things abundance; but to give him twice the grace, twice the experience, twice the knowledge of God, perhaps twice the tenderness of character he had ever possessed before, was a mode of enrichment which the tender and compassionate Lord adopted out of the greatness of his wisdom and favour. Only by this could Job be made doubly rich in the rarest of all treasures, and the All-Merciful adopted that method.

28. Examining the matter from another point of view, it may appear that Job was tried in order that he might be better able to bear the extraordinary prosperity which the Lord had resolved to pour on him. That double portion might have been too much for the patriarch if he had not been lifted into a higher state. If abundance is hard to bear, superabundance is even worse; and, therefore, to those he loves, the Lord gives more grace.

29. Job by his trials and patience received not only double grace, and double wealth, but double honour from God. He had stood very high in the peerage of the excellent as a perfect and an upright man before his trial, but now he is advanced to the very highest rank of spiritual nobility. Even our children call him “the most patient man under pains and suffering.” He rose from the knighthood of sincere goodness to the peerage of heroic endurance. At first, he had the honour of behaving admirably amid wealth and ease, but he was in the end elevated to sit among those who glorify God in the fires. Benevolence, justice, and truth shone as bright stars in the sky of his heavenly character, but now the moon of patience silvers everything, and lights up the scene with a superior beauty. Perhaps the Lord may love some of us so specially that he intends to bestow on us the dignity of endurance, he will make us knights, not of the golden fleece, but of the iron cross. Only great compassion and tender mercy could plan such a lot for our unworthy selves!

30. Once more, Job by his trials and the grace of God was lifted up into the highest position of usefulness. He was useful before his trial as few men of wealth and influence have been, but now his life possesses an enduring fruitfulness which blesses multitudes every day. Even we who are here this afternoon “have heard of the patience of Job.” All the ages have this man for their teacher. Brothers and sisters, we do not know who will be blessed by our pains, by our bereavements, by our crosses, if we have patience under them. This is especially the case with God’s ministers, if he plans to make much of them: their path to usefulness is up the craggy mountain’s side. If we are to comfort God’s afflicted people, we must first be afflicted ourselves. Tribulation will make our wheat fit to be bread for saints. Adversity is the best book in our library, printed in black letters, but grandly illuminated. Job makes a glorious comforter and preacher of patience, but no one turns either to Bildad, Zophar, or Eliphaz, who were “miserable comforters” because they had never been miserable. You, dear sisters, whom God will make daughters of consolation to your families, must in your measure pass through a scholarship of suffering too; a sword must pass through your own hearts if you are to be highly-favoured and blessed among women. Yet, let us all remember that affliction will not bless us if it is impatiently borne; if we kick at the goad, it will hurt us, but it will not act as a fitting stimulus. If we rebel against God’s providences, we may turn his medicines into poisons, and increase our grief by refusing to endure them. Be patient, be patient, be patient, and the dark cloud shall drop a sparkling shower. “You have heard of the patience of Job”: imitate it. “You have seen the end intended by the Lord”: rejoice in it. “He is very compassionate, and of tender mercy”: yield yourselves to him. Divine Spirit, plant in us the sweet flower of patience, for our patient Saviour’s sake! Amen.


{a} Groat: The English groat coined in 1351-2 was made equal to four pence. Taken as the type of a very small sum. Obs. OED.
{b} Dyspeptic. Fig. Showing depression of spirits like that of a person suffering from dyspepsia; morbidly despondent or gloomy. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ro 8} {c}

This precious chapter reminds us of the description of the land of Havilah, “where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good.”

1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are to Christ Jesus, {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1917, “In Christ No Condemnation” 1918}

There is no condemnation for them; that is gone, and gone for ever. Not only is part of it removed, but all of it is gone: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This is their legal status before God, — in Christ Jesus, without condemnation; and this is their character: — 

1. Who do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Their daily conduct is according to their new spiritual nature, and according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and not according to their fleshly nature, and the guidance of self and Satan.

2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

“It cannot rule me any longer; and it cannot condemn me now. I am free from it, for I am now under the new and higher ‘law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.’”

3, 4. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: so that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 699, “Sin Condemned and Executed by Christ Jesus” 690} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2228, “The Law’s Failure and Fulfilment” 2229}

If there are any men in the world who do keep the law of God, they are the very people who do not hope to be saved by the keeping of it, for they have by faith found righteousness in Christ, and now by love and gratitude are put under the power of the law of the spiritual life in Christ, and they live, by God’s grace, so that they reveal the holiness of the law in their lives.

5. For those who are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh;

They care for nothing else: they are satisfied as long as their appetites are gratified. They are of this world, and the things of this world fill them to the brim.

5. But those who are after the Spirit (do mind) the things of the Spirit.

Spiritual joys, spiritual hopes, spiritual pursuits, — these only belong to those who are spiritual.

6. For to be carnally minded — 

To be fleshly minded — 

6. Is death;

That is what it comes to, for the flesh comes to death at last; and, after death, it goes to corruption. If we live in that carnal way, this will be the end of our living: “death.”

6. But to be spiritually-minded is life and peace.

For the spirit will never die, and the spirit has within it what will bring it perfect peace.

7, 8. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Those who have never been born again, so as to be “in the Spirit,” are still just as they were born “in the flesh,” so they cannot please God. Do what they may, there is an essential impurity about their nature so that they cannot be well pleasing to God. We must be born again, we must become spiritual by the new birth which is created by the Holy Spirit, or else it is impossible for us to please God. Oh you who are trying your best to please God apart from the new birth, and apart from Christ, see how this iron bar is put across your path: “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Go then to him, and ask him to give you his Spirit, so that you may be spiritual, and no longer carnal.

9. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not one of his.

It does not matter what he calls himself; he may be a preacher, he may be a bishop; but if he does not have the Spirit of Christ, “he is not one of his”; and if he has the Spirit of Christ, though he may be the most obscure person on earth, he belongs to Christ.

10. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin;

The grace of God has not changed that body; it still remains earth, dust, worms’ meat, and it must die unless Christ should come, and transform it by his coming. “The body is dead because of sin”; and hence come those aches and pains, that heaviness, that weariness, that decay, those infirmities of age which we experience as long as we bear about with us this body of death.

10. But the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

There is a living power within us which triumphs over this dying, decaying body. So we rejoice notwithstanding all our afflictions, trials, and depressions.

11. But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit who dwells in you.

There is to be an emancipation even for this poor flesh, a translation and a glory for it yet in Christ.

12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 96, “The Christian — a Debtor” 91}

Certainly not, for we owe the flesh nothing. It keeps us down and hampers us, it is a hindrance to us, but we certainly owe it nothing; so let us not be subservient to it, let us not consult or even consider it, and especially let us never come under its fatal bondage.

13. For if you live after the flesh, you shall die:

It is a dying thing, and “you shall die” if you live according to its dying manner.

13. But if you through the Spirit — 

That living, immortal power — 

13, 14. Do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God: {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1220, “The Leading of the Spirit, the Secret Sign of the Sons of God” 1211}

Oh, high dignity and blessed privilege! As soon as we ever get away from the dominion of the flesh, and come to be led by the Spirit of God, and so become spiritual men, we have the evidence that we are the sons of God, for “God is a Spirit,” so his sons must be spiritual.

15. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;

We did have it once, and it did us some good for the time being; when we were under the law, we felt ourselves to be in slavery, and that made us go to Christ for liberty.

16. But you have received the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry, “Abba, Father!”

Oh, blessed, blessed state of heart to feel that now we are born into the family of God, and that the choice word which no slave might ever pronounce may now be pronounced by us, “Abba!” It is a child’s word, such as a little child utters when he first opens his mouth to speak, and it runs the same both backwards and forwards, — AB-BA. Oh to have a childlike spirit that, in whatever state of heart I am, I may still be able to say, in the accents even of spiritual infancy, “Abba, Father!”

16. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 339, “The Sons of God” 329} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 402, “The Joint-Heirs and Their Divine Portion” 393} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2961, “Heirs of God” 2962}

What better testimony can we have than that of these two witnesses, first of our own spirit, and then of the Holy Spirit himself, “that we are the children of God?” Note that this is not spoken concerning everyone. The doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God is a doctrine of the flesh, and not of the Spirit; it is not taught anywhere in God’s Word. This is a Fatherhood which relates only to those who are spiritual; we are born into it by the new birth, and brought into it by an act of grace in adoption. “Beloved, now we are the sons of God,” this is a special privilege that belongs only to those who are spiritual.

17, 18. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 339, “The Sons of God” 329} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 402, “The Joint-Heirs and Their Divine Portion” 393} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2961, “Heirs of God” 2962}

Do we suffer now? Then let us wait for something better that is yet to come. Yes, we do suffer, and in this we are in accord with the whole creation of God, for the whole creation is just now, as it were, enduring birth-pangs. There is something better coming; but, meanwhile, it is troubled and perplexed, moaning and groaning.

19-22. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the revealing of the son of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.

See how it often weeps in the superabundant rain that seems like a minor deluge. Note how, at times, creation’s very bowels seem to be tossed and torn with pain and agony by volcanoes and earthquakes. Mark the tempests, tornadoes, hurricanes, and all kinds of ills that sweep over the globe, leaving devastation in their track; and the globe itself is wrapped in swaddling-bands of mist, and does not shine out like its sister stars in its pristine brightness and splendour. The animal creation, too, wears the yoke of bondage. How unnecessarily heavy have men often made that yoke!

23. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 788, “Creation’s Groans and the Saints’ Sighs” 779}

That is what we are waiting for: “the redemption of our body”; and we shall not wait in vain for it, for Christ is the Saviour of our body as well as of our soul, and the day shall come when even our bodies shall be free from pain, weakness, weariness, sin, and death. Happy day! We may well look forward to it with the loftiest anticipations.

24, 25. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we wait for it with patience. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1616, “Saved in Hope” 1616}

This is our present position, — patiently waiting for “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” — patiently waiting for “the revealing of the sons of God,” for “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.”

26. Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

There is much in this chapter about groaning, and that is only natural, for it so largely concerns our present imperfect state; but, eventually, there will be — 

 

    No groans to mingle with the songs

    Which warble from immortal tongues.

 

27. And he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

This explains what to many is the mystery of prayer. The Holy Spirit, being himself God, knows the secret purposes of the divine will, and therefore moves the saints to pray in accordance with that will, and makes their supplications effective through his own prevailing intercession.

28. And we know — 

Paul, like John, was no Agnostic; he did not even say, “We think, we imagine, we suppose.” No; “we know” — 

28. That all things work together for good — 

We must not stop there, otherwise the statement will not be true, for all things do not work together for good to all men, but only — 

28. To those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 159, “The True Christian’s Blessedness” 152}

How are we to know who they are who are the called according to God’s eternal purpose? The previous clause informs us, for both relate to the same individuals; “those who love God” are “those who are the saved according to his purpose.” We cannot peer into the pages of the Lamb’s book of life, yet we can tell by this simple test whether our names are recorded there, — do we truly love the Lord? If so, all things are working for our present and eternal good, — all things visible and invisible, all things friendly and unfriendly, all things in providence and grace.

29. For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 355, “Portraits of Christ” 345} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1043, “Glorious Predestination” 1034}

What an eternal honour for all believers, — that they might be among the “many brethren” of Christ, God’s firstborn and well-beloved Son! Here too we see the purpose of God’s foreknowledge and predestination, that we should be “conformed to the image of his Son.”

30. Moreover whom he predestinated, those he also called: and whom he called, those he also justified: and whom he justified, those he also glorified. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 241, “Predestination and Calling” 234} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 627, “Justification and Glory” 618}

You see that these great declarations relate to the same people right through the whole series: “Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated; … whom he predestinated, those he also called, … those he also justified, … those he also glorified.” There is not a single link missing from the eternal purpose and foreknowledge of God to the everlasting glory in which the saints’ bliss shall be consummated. The practical questions for each one of us to answer are just these, — have I been “called” by grace out of nature’s darkness into God’s marvellous light? Have I been “justified” by faith, and do I have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ? Then, being called and justified, I may rest assured that I have been predestinated, and that in due time I shall be glorified.

 

   There, where my blessed Jesus reigns,

      In heaven’s unmeasured space,

   I’ll spend a long eternity

      In pleasure and in praise.

 

31, 32. What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also give us all things?

After having given us his own Son, what is there that he can withhold from us if it is for our real good? No, he has already virtually given us all things in giving him to us.

33, 34. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is it who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 256, “The Believer’s Challenge” 249} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2240, “A Challenge and a Shield” 2241}

Well might the apostle ring out these confident challenges to heaven, and earth, and hell. Since it is God who justifies, who can bring any charge against his elect? Who can condemn those for whom Christ died, for whom he has risen, and for whom he is now making intercession at the right hand of God?

35-37. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” Indeed in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 751, “More than Conquerors” 742}

“All these things” have only made the saints cling all the more closely to their Lord, instead of separating them from him. Their persecutors thought they were triumphing over them, but it was the martyrs who were the victors all the while.

38, 39. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2492, “Paul’s Persuasion” 2493}

Paul had good reason for being persuaded that there was no separation for those for whom there was no condemnation; may we be among them by God’s grace! Amen.


{c} The exposition for verses Romans 8:23-39 was originally published with sermon No. 3263 for lack of room to proclaim* it with this sermon to which it properly belongs. Editor.

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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