A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, August 28, 1870, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 6/11/2011*6/11/2011
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible inheritance and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
1. The people whom Peter addressed were in great need of comfort. They were strangers, strangers scattered far from home; they had in consequence to suffer various trials, and therefore needed plenty of consolation. Such is our position in a spiritual sense, we, too, are strangers and foreigners; we are pilgrims and sojourners below, and our citizenship is in heaven; we also require the word of comfort, for while our banishment lasts, we look for tribulations. The people whom Peter addressed were God’s chosen, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” and one sure result of divine election is the world’s enmity. “If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” So you too, my brethren, chosen out from among men, to be the particular people of God, must expect to be partakers of the cross, for the servant is not greater than his Lord; since they persecuted him they will also persecute you. Therefore to you, as to those of old by Peter, the word of consolation is sent today. The apostle also addressed the sanctified. Through the Holy Spirit they had been sanctified and set apart; they had been brought to the “obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.” They were a people who had “purified their souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit”; and rest assured no man can do this without encountering fiery trials. He who swims with the stream shall find all things go easily with him until he reaches the cataract of destruction; but he who stems the torrent must expect to buck many a raging billow; and therefore to such the strong consolations of the gospel are necessary.
2. We speak then this morning to the same characters as those addressed by Peter, even to you who “are not of the world,” but “strangers”; to you who are “chosen by God,” and therefore the object of the enmity of man; to you who maintain the separated life of true holiness, and are therefore opposed by the profane; you have need of comfort, and in the Word, and by the Holy Spirit, your need is more than met.
3. Our apostle cheers these troubled hearts by stirring them up to a song of praise. I might almost entitle these three verses a New Testament Psalm. They are stanzas of a majestic song. You have here a delightful hymn; it scarcely needs to be turned into verse; it is in itself essentially poetry. Now, my brethren, to lead the mind to praise God is one of the surest ways of lifting it up from depression. The wild beasts of anxiety and discontent which surround our camp in the wilderness, will be driven away by the fire of our gratitude and the song of our praise. When the Psalm recounts with joyous gratitude the mercies which God has given us, it supplants distress by thankfulness, even as the fir tree and the myrtle take the place of the thorn and the brier where the gospel works its wonders. In these three verses we have a string of pearls, a necklace of diamonds, a chest of jewels; indeed, the comparisons are poor, we have something far better than all the riches of the earth can ever typify. You have here the inheritance of the chosen of God; your inheritance, beloved, your own particular portion, if you belong to Christ, today. We shall conduct you through this mine of treasure, and ask you to dwell upon each individual blessing, that your souls may be comforted, and that you, lifting up your hearts in blessing, and praising the God of all grace, may forget your cares and sorrows, and find a young heaven begun below, a paradise blooming amid the desert.
4. There are seven choice things in the text, a perfect number of perfect things. One might see more than seven, but these will exhaust all our time. Therefore we shall speak briefly upon each one.
5. I. First, I see in the text as the source of all the rest, ABUNDANT MERCY. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope.”
No other attribute could have helped us had mercy refused. As we
are by nature, justice condemns us, holiness frowns upon us, power
crushes us, truth confirms the threatening of the law, and wrath
fulfils it. It is from the mercy of our God that all our hopes begin.
Mercy is needed for the miserable, and yet more for the sinful.
Misery and sin are fully united in the human race, and mercy here
performs her noblest deeds. My brethren, God has bestowed his mercy
on us, and we must thankfully acknowledge that in our case his mercy
has been abundant mercy. We were defiled with abundant sin, and
only the multitude of his lovingkindnesses could have put those sins
away. We were infected with an abundance of evil, and only
overflowing mercy can ever cure us of all our natural disease, and
make us fit for heaven. We have received abundant grace up until now,
we have made great withdrawals from the treasury of God, and of his
fulness we have all received grace for grace. Where sin has abounded,
grace has much more abounded. Will you, my fellow debtor, stand still
for awhile and contemplate the abundant mercy of our blessed God? A
deep and broad river is before you. Track it to its fountain head;
see it welling up in the covenant of grace, in the eternal purposes
of infinite wisdom. The secret source is no small spring, no mere
bubbling fount, it is a very Geyser, leaping aloft in fulness of
power; the springs of the sea are not comparable with it. Not even an
angel could fathom the springs of eternal love or measure the depths
of infinite grace. Follow now the stream; see it in all its course.
See how it widens and deepens, how at the foot of the cross it
expands into a measureless river! See how the filthy come and wash;
see how each polluted one comes up milk white from the washing!
Notice how the dead are brought to be bathed in this sacred stream,
and see how they live the moment that they touch its wave; notice how
the sick are laid upon the bank, and if only the spray of the river
falls upon them they are made whole! See how on either bank rich
verdure clothes the land! Wherever this stream comes all is life and
happiness. Observe along the banks the many trees whose leaves never
wither, and whose fruits in season are always brought to maturity;
these all draw their life from this flood, and drink from this river
of God, which is full of water. Do not fail with gladsome eye to note
the thousand barques of fairest sail which scud along the mighty
river with colours flying, each vessel laden with joy. Behold how
happily they are borne along by the current of mercy to the ocean of
infinite felicity! Now we reach the mighty main of mercy, dare you
attempt with wings of faith to fly over that glassy sea? No shore
gives boundary to that great deep, no voice proclaims its length and
breadth, but from its lowest depths and all along its unruffled bosom
I hear a voice which says, “Herein is love.” “Touching the Almighty,
we cannot find him out,” but this we know, that his love towards his
elect surpasses all conception, even —
Imagination’s utmost stretch
In wonder dies away.
7. Turn to the words of the text for a moment, for there is great suggestiveness in them. It is God’s great mercy that is spoken of here. “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy.” Everything in God is on a grand scale. Great power — he shakes the world; great wisdom — he balances the clouds. His mercy is commensurate with his other attributes, it is Godlike mercy! Infinite mercy! You must measure his Godhead before you shall compute his mercy. My soul, think for awhile, you drank out of this exceedingly great and wide sea, and it is all yours to drink from for ever. Well may it be called “abundant,” if it is infinite. It will always be abundant, for all that can be drawn from it will be only as the drop of a bucket to the sea itself. The mercy which deals with us, is not man’s mercy, but God’s mercy, and therefore boundless mercy.
8. But notice again, it is the mercy of the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is the mercy of God in Christ. God’s mercy is always special, but his mercy in Christ is especially special. I do not know how else to describe it. His mercy in nature is bright, his mercy in providence is conspicuous, but his mercy in his dear Son, his mercy in the incarnate God, his mercy through the perfect sacrifice, this is mercy’s best wine kept to the last, mercy’s “fat things full of marrow.” When I see Jesus descending from heaven to earth, Jesus bleeding, Jesus paying all the debts of his people, I can well understand that the mercy of God in Christ must be abundant mercy.
9. Notice carefully another word, it is the mercy of “the Father.” You have read this last week, I dare say, and felt sickened as you read, the fearful stories of the wounded and their sufferings on the battlefield. (a) You have read also descriptions of how the wounded when they are brought into the various German towns, are met by their compatriots, who rejoice in their victories, but at the same time lament for the valiant men who are maimed for life. You stand on the platform of the railway station, a stranger, and you see a fine young man with an arm shot away, looking sickly and pale from pain and hardships, and you pity him. I know you pity him from your heart, but an elderly man rushes before you, it is the father, and as he looks upon his son, whom he sent to the war so manly, so strong, so full of health and vigour, now reduced to the mere ghost of what he was, he pities as a stranger cannot. His innermost heart is moved with compassion for his son. The mercy of the Lord to us is not the mercy of a stranger to a stranger, but the mercy of a Father towards his own dear children. Such mercy has the Lord had on me, and I weep for joy as I tell of it. “Just as a father has compassion on his children,” so he had compassion on me. I know if he had not loved me he could not have treated me so tenderly. Such compassion, such mercy has he had on you; and he is still the same. Do you not rejoice to think that you participate in abundant mercy, divine mercy, the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, a father’s mercy, the mercy of our God and Father?
10. Oh reach to the height of the text, one more step will do it; the Father who is so tender to us, is also the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”; and therefore such a Father as can be found nowhere else. The Father of him who is the perfect and the ever blessed, is also your Father; and all his mercy belongs to you. Let us congratulate each other, my brethren in the faith; let us shake off all thoughts of our poverty and all tremblings because of our trials; we are rich and abound, for heaven’s “abundant mercy” belongs to us. “Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.”
11. II. The next great blessing in the text is that of INCORRUPTIBLE LIFE.
12. Notice that, oh believer. “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to his abundant mercy, has begotten us again to a living hope.” One of the first displays of divine mercy which we experience is being begotten again. Our first birth gave us the image of the first Adam — “earthly”; our second birth, and that alone, gives us the image of the second Adam, which is “heavenly.” To be begotten once may be a curse: to be begotten again is everlastingly and assuredly a blessing. To be born once may be a subject for eternal bewailing: to be born a second time will be the theme of a joyful and unending song. My brethren, saints “begotten again to a living hope” in the hour of their regeneration, when they are “born again from above.” Have we been so born? If we have, we enjoy a blessing far exceeding anything which the natural man can dream of. The Holy Spirit comes upon the chosen in the appointed hour and creates in them a new heart and a right spirit; in a supernatural manner a new principle is implanted, a new life is created within the soul. Just as assuredly as our first birth gives us being from our former nothingness, our new life brings us from utter death into the world of spirit, and into newness of life. We are born anew by the “incorruptible seed which lives and abides for ever.” Not the imagined regeneration of those who impute to a mere ceremony, invented by men, a change which is altogether of God’s own doing; not an imaginary charm worked by incantations and aspergings over an unconscious babe; but a real creation, a true life, not fictitious, but actual and operative, and one which is found to reveal itself in righteousness and true holiness. You shall know this new life by the faith and the repentance which always come with it wherever God himself is pleased to work it. The new life of a Christian is divine in its origin — God has begotten us. The new life comes not from man, it is worked by the operation of the Holy Spirit. As certainly as God spoke, and it was done, in the creation of the world, so he speaks in the heart of man, and it is done, and the new creature is born. The new life in us, since it has a divine origin, has also a divine nature. You are made partakers of the divine nature. The life of a Christian is the life of God — God dwells in him. The Holy Spirit himself enters the believer and abides in him, and makes him a living man. Hence, from its divine nature, the inner life of the believer can by no possibility ever be destroyed. You must first destroy the Godhead before you can quench the spark of the eternal flame that burns within the believer’s bosom. Has not the apostle told us it is a “living and incorruptible seed which lives and abides for ever?” What a great mystery is this, but at the same time what a blessing! To be born again, to be born from above, to be born by the power of God into a discernment of spiritual truths, to hear spiritual voices, to see spiritual sights, and to be worshippers in spirit and in truth of God, who is a Spirit. May God grant that if we have never known this we still may, before we leave here, be created anew in Christ Jesus.
13. Observe, dear brethren, to be begotten again is a very marvellous thing. Suppose a man is born into this world, as is too frequently the case, with a predisposition to some sad hereditary disease. There he is, filled with disease, and medicine cannot eject the unwelcome tenant from his body. Suppose that man’s body could be altogether newly born, and he could receive a new body pure from all taint, it would be a great mercy. But, oh my brethren, it does not approach to regeneration, because our supposition only deals with the body, while the new birth renews the soul, and even implants a higher nature. Regeneration overcomes not a mere physical disease, not an infliction in the flesh, but the natural depravity of the heart, the deadly disorder of the soul. We are born again, and by that means we are delivered from the power of corruption; the new nature having no depravity in it, nor tendency to sin, “it cannot sin because it is born by God.” The moment the heavenly life is implanted it begins to war with the old nature, and continues to struggle violently with it: there is a deadly enmity between the two; the new nature will never be reconciled to the old, or the old one to the new, but the new will conquer and overcome the evil. You have smiled at the pleasant fiction of old men being ground young again in a mill, but that marvel would be nothing compared with this, for the old man made young would still be the same man, and placed in the same circumstances, would develop into the same character; but here is the old man crucified and a new man created in the divine image! Who can estimate the privilege of receiving a heaven born nature, which, however weak and feeble it may be at the first, is everliving, and by the power of God, will gain the ultimate victory? Let us then rejoice and be glad! We may be very poor today, but we are born from above. We may be much afflicted, but what of that if we are the twice born sons of heaven! We may be despised and rejected, but the heavenly light has shone upon our eyes. We have been regenerated, we have “passed from death to life”; here is ceaseless cause for gratitude and joy, and if we rightly consider it we may forget our griefs.
14. III. A third blessing, strictly connected with this new life, is A LIVING HOPE. “He has begotten us again to a living hope.”
15. Could a man live without hope? Men manage to survive the worst condition of distress when they are encouraged by a hope, but is not suicide the natural result of the death of hope? Yes, we must have a hope, and the Christian is not left without one. He has “a living hope,” that is to say, first, he has a hope within him, real, true, and operative. Some men’s hopes of heaven are not “living hopes,” for they never stir them to action. They live as if they were going to hell, and yet they coolly talk about hoping that all will be well with them at the last! A Christian’s hope purifies him, arouses him to diligence, makes him seek after what he expects to obtain. A student at the University hoping to gain a prize uses his best endeavours, burns the midnight oil, strains all his faculties so that he may reach the mark which will ensure his passing the exams. Even so the Christian with a living hope devotes himself to obtaining the blessings which God has promised in his word. The Lord has begotten us to a “living hope,” that is to say, to a vigorous, active, operating hope.
16. It is a “living hope” in another sense, namely, that it cheers and enlivens. The swimmer who is ready to sink, if he sees a boat nearing him, plucks up courage and swims with all his strength, because now he expects that his swimming will save him. The Christian amid the waves and billows of adversity retains his hope, a glorious hope of future bliss, and therefore he strikes out like a man towards the heavenly shore. Our hope buoys up the soul, keeps the head above water, inspires confidence, and sustains courage.
17. It is also called a “living hope,” because it is imperishable. Other hopes fade like withering flowers. The hopes of the rich, the boasts of the proud, all these will die out as a candle when it flickers in the socket. The hope of the greatest monarch has been crushed before our eyes; he set up the standard of victory too soon, and has seen it trailed in the mire. There is no unwaning hope beneath the changeful moon: the only imperishable hope is what climbs above the stars, and fixes itself upon the throne of God and the person of Jesus Christ.
18. The hope which God has given to his truly quickened people is a living hope, however, mainly because it deals with life. Brethren, it may be Christ will come while we are still living, and then we shall not die but shall be outfitted for heaven by a change. However, it is probable that we may have to depart out of this world to the Father by the usual course of nature, and in expecting to do so let us not look at death as a gloomy matter, as though it could at all jeopardise our welfare or ultimately injure us. No, my brethren, we have a living hope, a lively hope. Charles Borromeo, the famous bishop of Milan, ordered a painter who was about to draw a skeleton with a scythe over a sepulchre, to substitute for it the golden key of Paradise. Truly this is a most fitting emblem for a believer’s tomb, for what is death except the key of heaven to the Christian. We notice frequently over cemetery gates, as an emblematic device, a torch turned over ready to be quenched. Ah, my brethren, it is not so, the torch of our life burns all the better, and blazes all the brighter for the change of death. The breaking of the pitcher which now surrounds the lamp and conceals the glory, will permit our inner life to reveal its lofty nature, and before long even the pitcher shall be so remodelled as to become an aid to that light; its present breaking is only preparatory to its future refashioning. It is a blessed thought that the part of us which must most sadly feel the mortal stroke is secured beyond all fear from permanent destruction. We know that this very body, though it moulders into dust, shall live again; these weeping eyes shall have all tears wiped from them; these hands which grasp today the sword of a conflict shall wave the palm branch of triumph. My brethren, it was not just that one body should fight and another body would be crowned, that one body should labour and another body have the reward. The same identical body shall rise from the dead at the Lord’s coming, marvellously changed, strangely developed as the seed develops into the mature flower, but still the same, in very deed the very same; this very body shall be resplendent with glory, even the same which now bears sickness and pain. This is our living hope, that death has no dominion over any part of our manhood. There is a separation for awhile between the soul and the body, it is only for awhile; there is for the flesh a temporary slumbering in the tomb, it is only a slumber, and the waking shall be in the likeness of Christ. As for the soul, it shall be for ever with the Lord, waiting for the latter day and the coming of Christ, when the body itself shall be raised from corruption into the likeness of the glory of him who is the first begotten from the dead.
19. So, then, I have brought you up from the abundant mercy to the new life, and onward, to the living hope.
20. IV. We cannot tarry, but must notice, in the fourth place, another delightful possession which ought effectually to chase away from all of us the glooms of this life, and that is A RISEN SAVIOUR. “He has begotten us again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
21. Our best friend is not dead, our great patron and helper, our omnipotent Saviour, is not lying in the tomb today. He lives, he lives for ever. No sound of greater gladness can be heard in the Christian church than this: “The Lord is risen, the Lord is risen indeed!” Now, brethren, observe the connection between a risen Saviour and our living hope. Jesus Christ died, not in appearance, but in reality; in proof of which, his heart was pierced by the soldier’s spear. He was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, truly a corpse. Not a spark of life remained. The only difference between his dead body and the dead body of any other was that still the preserving power hovered over him, and just as his body had been defiled by no sin, so his flesh could not see corruption, as it would have done had it been the body of a sinful man. Then, at the end of the appointed time, the same Saviour who was laid in the tomb rose from the dead, not in secrecy, but before the Roman guards who watched the sepulchre. They fled in terror. He met his disciples — sometimes one by one, sometimes two at a time; on other occasions, five hundred at once saw him, credible witnesses, people who had no reason for forging a falsehood, people who so believed that they saw him that many of them died the most painful deaths for their belief. He rose, not in fantasy and figure, but in reality; for one of the witnesses put his finger into the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into his side; and in the presence of his assembled disciples, the risen one ate a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb. He really and literally rose from the dead — the very same Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, and afterwards ascended into heaven. That fact is as well proved as any fact in human history. There never, perhaps, was any incident of human history more fully verified than the rising of Jesus of Nazareth from the tomb. Now, notice well the comfort which arises from this fact, since it proves that we possess a living advocate, mediator and high priest, who has passed into the heavens. Moreover, since all believers, being partakers of the incorruptible life of God are one with Jesus Christ, what happens to him virtually happens to them. They died in his death, they live in his life, they reign in his glory. Just as in Adam all die who were in Adam, so in Christ shall all be made alive who are in Christ: the two Adams head up their classes; whatever happens to either of the Adams, happens to those represented by him. So, then, the resurrection of Jesus is virtually my resurrection. If he were dead still, then I might fear, indeed know, that I, dying, should die; but he, having died, arose again in due season and lives; therefore I, dying, shall also rise and live, for as Jesus is so must I be. If I have within me the new life, I have the same life in me that is in Christ, and the same thing happens to me as happens to Christ; if his life dies, mine, being the same, dies also; but, since he has said, “Because I live, you shall live also,” my life is secure. Here, then, is the top and bottom of the Christian’s hope: “We are begotten again into a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Since we see him alive, we rejoice that he lives, because he lives for us, and we live in him.
22. Let me give you an illustration. When Joseph was in Egypt, he was highly exalted and placed upon the throne. Now, while his brothers did not know him, they were grievously afraid to go down into Egypt: they thought him to be an Egyptian, a haughty ruler of the land, and that he treated them roughly; but when once they and their father were persuaded that Joseph their brother was alive and on the throne, then they cheerfully joined with the old man when he said, “Joseph my son is still alive; I will go and see him before I die.” Now, into the unknown land our Elder Brother has gone — where is he and what is he? Why, he is King of the country; he sits on a throne. Oh brethren, with what comfort do we now go down into that Egypt! With what consolation will we enter the unknown country, which some think to be shrouded in darkness, but which, now that Jesus reigns on its throne, is full of light for us. Or take another example. When the children of Israel went through the Jordan, they were told that the Jordan would divide before them, but they were still more fully assured when the priests went forward with the ark; for as soon as the feet of the priests touched the edge of the river, the waters began to divide. As they saw their priests march through the bed of the stream, and come up on the other side, all doubts about the security of the passage must have vanished at once, for the priests were the representatives of the people before God, and where they passed safely all Israel might go. See then, my brethren, the “Great High Priest of our profession” has led the vanguard, the ark of the eternal covenant has gone before, death is dried up, so that we can say, “Oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory?” And you and I may with perfect confidence, full of a living hope, march onwards into the glory land, for Jesus Christ has safely passed the flood, and even so shall we. Here, then, is a reason for joy. We will not fear the present, we will not dread the future; for Christ is risen indeed, and our living hope is fixed on him.
23. So we have set before you four out of the seven precious things.
24. V. The fifth is exceedingly rich, but we can only give a word where many sermons would not exhaust — AN INCORRUPTIBLE INHERITANCE — “an incorruptible inheritance, and undefiled, and that does not fade away.”
25. God has been pleased in his abundant mercy to prepare for his people an inheritance. He has made them sons, and if children, then heirs. He has given them a new life, and if a new life, then there must be possessions and a place suitable for that new life. A heavenly nature requires a heavenly inheritance, heavenly born children must have a heavenly portion.
26. Now I shall only ask you to notice that the inheritance which God has prepared for us has a fourfold description appended to it. First, concerning its substance — it is “incorruptible.” The substance of everything earthly by degrees passes away. Even solid granite will erode and crumble. The substance of things seen, I may say in paradox, is devoid of substance. Empires have grown great, but the inward corruption within their constitution has at length dissolved them. Dynasties have been wrecked, and thrones have tottered by internal corruption, but the inheritance of the saints of God has nothing within it that can make it perish. For ever and for ever shall the blissful portion of the sanctified be theirs. Heaven, and its streets, are all said to be of precious stones and pure gold, because they are imperishable.
27. Next, for purity — it is “undefiled.” Earthly inheritances are often defiled in the getting. Some men have grown rich by fraud, by violence, by oppression of the poor. How many an inheritance is polluted all over with the slime of the serpent! and he who inherits the goods of such a one inherits with it a curse, for God will surely avenge injustice and wrong doing, even to the third generation. But our inheritance is undefiled, for it was won by the obedience, the perfection, and sufferings of Jesus. No thought of wrong was used in the getting of the portion of the Well Beloved of God. An inheritance may be defiled after it is possessed, but heaven never shall be. Satan shall never enter there, nor sin of any kind pass through the gate of pearl. Oh brethren, what a joy this is! Defilement is on everything in this fallen world. We cannot purge ourselves completely, earthly things all bring a measure of defilement with them; but up there our portion shall not be stained with sin, we shall be perfect, and all around us it is perfect too.
And then it is added for its beauty, “it does not fade away.” The
substance of a thing might endure after its beauty was gone, but in
heaven there shall be no declining in the beauty of anything
celestial. Milton sings of the amaranth, which he describes as
blossoming at the foot of the tree of life in the garden of Eden. It
was a flower of perpetual sweetness, whose beauty never faded; but he
Soon for man’s offence
To heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows
And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life,
And where the river of bliss through midst of heaven
Rolls o’er Elysian flowers her amber stream;
With these, that never fade, the spirits elect
Bind their resplendent locks, enwreath’d with beams.
The amaranthine inheritance is yours. The garden of Paradise shall never cease to bloom, and the wreath of victory shall never wither on your brows. Oh, what joy is this for you! Your inheritance is for substance incorruptible, for purity undefiled, for beauty unfading.
29. And then for possession, it is secure — “reserved in heaven for you.” How I delight to dwell upon the thought that heaven is not to be scrambled for, that the portion of each saint in glory is given to him by lot even as was Canaan of old to Judah, to Reuben, of Manasseh, and the like. There is a place in heaven for me which not one of you could fill. There is a harp which no fingers can strike except mine, and a crown which no brow can wear except this. And so with each of you — you shall have your own, your own appointed inheritance. He has begotten each one of you again, you are as truly begotten as any other believer, you have the same hope, and you shall as surely stand in your lot at the end of the days. Oh clap your hands, you righteous, shout for joy. Scanty is your portion here and hard your lot, it may be, but the undefiled inheritance will more than make amends. Therefore, lift up your hearts today, and do not let your hands hang down.
30. VI. Time fails us, therefore we must mention the sixth blessing at once, it is INVIOLABLE SECURITY.
The inheritance is kept for you, and you are kept for the
inheritance. The word is a military one, it indicates a city
garrisoned and defended. Think of a besieged city — Strasbourg, if you
wish — that is an emblem of your condition in this world. The enemy
pour in their shot, they keep up the fire day and night, and set the
city ablaze, and even thus Satan bombards us with temptations, and
beleaguers us with all the hosts of hell. Our great enemy has
determined to raze the citadel of our faith even to the ground, his
great guns are drawn up around our bastions, his sappers and miners
are busy with our bulwarks. Even now it may be his shells are tearing
our hearts, and his shot is setting our nature ablaze. Herein is our
confidence, our great Captain has walled us around, he has appointed
salvation for walls and bulwarks. We are safe, though all the demons
of hell surround us, for we are garrisoned by omnipotence. Each
believer is kept by that same power which “bears the earth’s huge
pillars up,” and sustains the arches of heaven. Jerusalem, you are
besieged, but you may laugh your enemy to scorn, he shall never break
through your ramparts.
Munitions of stupendous rock
Our dwelling place shall be,
There shall our soul without a shock
Our vanquish’d foemen see.
32. Our enemies shall assemble, but when they perceive that God is known in our palaces for a refuge, they shall be troubled and flee away; fear shall take hold upon them there, and pain as of a woman in travail. Every believer is kept by the power of God, but the power of God does not produce in us sloth but faith. We are commanded to watch, that is what we are to do, but we are told both to watch and pray, because our watching is not enough; we need God’s watching also, and we are to pray for it. Faith is the subordinate captain of the city. God’s power protects it — “the King is in the midst of her”; but faith is the high constable of the tower, it is he who goes on the walls, arms the guards, strengthens the bastions, and brings help out of the sanctuary. While the sword of the Lord and of Gideon is at work, the Midianites cannot prevail.
This keeping, observe, my brethren, for I must leave the point,
this keeping is complete and continuous, it will never end until
we shall need keeping no longer. We shall be kept “to salvation ready
to be revealed in the last time.” I believe this means that we shall
not only be kept until our souls reach heaven, but we shall be kept
until the advent. You say, “Why is that necessary?” I reply, only
half of our manhood goes to heaven at death, the other part, namely,
our body, waits below until the resurrection. Yet our dust is
precious in God’s sight, and therefore it is watched over until the
day of Christ’s appearing, for that is the appointed hour for the
redemption of the body.
Sweet truth to me, I shall arise,
And with these eyes, my Saviour see.
Wherever my dust may be scattered, though to the four winds of heaven it is scattered, though it passes through every conceivable change and combination, yet each atom of my dust shall hear the sound of the archangel’s trump, or if not each earthly particle of this my body, yet each essential constituent shall hear the voice of God, and bone to bone each bone shall come, and the body shall rise intact and perfect, for it is kept by the power of God to the salvation ready to be revealed. Oh my brethren, what a glorious thing it is to know that the salvation God has given us in Christ, is a perfect salvation of our complete manhood! There shall not a hair of your head perish; you shall go into the furnace, you shall walk amid the glowing coals of death, but you shall come out with not a smell of fire passed upon you. At the Lord’s appearing you shall be none the worse for the fall of Adam, you shall be none the worse for your own transgressions, you shall be none the worse for all the scars of battle, you shall be none the worse for dying, you shall be in heaven as bright as God himself could have made you if you had never fallen, and never sinned. Do I exaggerate? No, truly, for it is written, “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” We shall wake up in his likeness. Oh, the glory of complete victory over Satan’s arts, and Satan’s strength! He shall be defeated all along the line; he shall gain nothing by all his attacks upon our God, and upon us, but we in the image of Jesus shall laugh at the complete defeat of evil, and glorify God and the Lamb for ever.
34. VII. I have reserved the best for the last. Out of the seven treasures of the Christian the last comprehends all, is better than all, though what I have already spoken is everything — it is A BLESSED GOD.
35. We left this to the last, though it comes first: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is joy to have heaven, it is joy to possess a new life to fit me for heaven, but the greatest of all is to have my God, my own Saviour’s God, my Father, my own Saviour’s Father, to be all my own. God himself has said, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” He has not given you earth and heaven only, though that would be much, he has given you the heaven of heaven — himself. Herod spoke of giving the “half of his kingdom”; but the Lord has not given you the half of his kingdom, nor even all of his kingdom only, but the blessed God has in covenant signed over to you his own self. Will this not make you rejoice? I think you may go out with those who make merry and rejoice before God with a joy that knows no bound: “Sing to God, sing praise! sing, to God, sing praises!” “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.”
36. Brethren, the practical point is, show your gratitude and your joy by blessing God. You can bless him with your voices. Sing more than you do. Singing is heaven’s work, practise it here. At your work, do if you can, quietly raise a hymn and bless the Lord. But oh! keep the fire on the altar of your hearts always burning. Praise him, bless him. His mercy endures for ever, so let your praises endure. Bless him also with your substance. He is a blessed God. Do not give him mere words, they are only air, and tongues are only clay. Give him the best you have. In the old superstitious times the churches used to be adorned with the rarest pearls and jewels, with treasures of gold and silver, for men then gave mines of wealth to what they believed to be the service of God. Shall the true faith have less operative power upon us? Shall the “living hope” make us do less for God than the mere dead hope of the followers of Rome? No, let us be generous at all times, and consider it our joy to sacrifice to our God. Let us give him our efforts, our time, our talents. Bless the Lord this afternoon, you Sunday School teachers. Teach those dear children under a sense of your own obligations to God. You who go from house to house this afternoon, you who will preach in the streets, and lift up your voices in the corners of the thoroughfares, preach as those who are begotten to a living hope by the abundant mercy of God. Preacher, live more intensely and ardently than you have ever done. Deacons, serve the church more thoroughly than you have done as yet. Elders, give your whole souls to the care of Christ’s flock, whom he has redeemed with his blood. Each one of you workers for Jesus Christ do not work for him in an ordinary way, as men do for a master whose pay is no larger than he can be compelled to make it, but work with heart, and soul, and strength for him who loved you to the death, and poured out his soul to redeem you from going down into hell. So prove that the divine nature is truly in you, and that you possess the “living hope” implanted by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
May the Lord bless you all, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon — 1 Peter 1]
(a) Battle of Gravelotte: This was the largest battle during the Franco-Prussian War. It was fought about six miles (10 km) west of Metz, Lorraine, France where on the previous day, having intercepted the French army’s retreat to the west at the Battle of Mars-La-Tour, the Prussians were now closing in to complete the destruction of the French forces. The casualties were horrible, especially for the attacking Prussian forces. A grand total of 20,163 German troops were killed, wounded or missing in action during the August 18, 1870 battle. The French losses were 7,855 killed and wounded along with 4,420 prisoners of war (half of them were wounded) for a total of 12,275. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Prussian_War"