A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, January 29, 1871, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 7/6/2011*7/6/2011
For our citizenship is in heaven; from where we also look for the
Saviour; the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, so
that it may be fashioned like his glorious body, according to the
working by which he is able even to subdue all things to
himself. (Philippians 3:20,21)
For other sermons on this text:
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Php 3:20")
(See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Php 3:21")
1. I should mislead you if I called these verses my text, for I intend only to lay stress upon the closing expression, and I read the two verses because they are required for its explanation. It would require several discourses to expound everything in so rich a passage as this.
2. Beloved, how intimately is our entire life interwoven with the life of Christ! His first coming has been to us salvation, and we are delivered from the wrath of God through him. We still live because he lives, and never is our life more joyous than when we look most steadily at him. The completion of our salvation in the deliverance of our body from the bondage of corruption, in the raising of our dust to a glorious immortality, that also is wrapped up with the personal resurrection and quickening power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as his first advent has been our salvation from sin, so his second advent shall be our salvation from the grave. He is in heaven, but, as the apostle says, “We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, so that it may be fashioned like his glorious body.” We have nothing, we are nothing, apart from him. The past, the present, and the future are only bright as he shines upon them. Every consolation, every hope, every enjoyment we possess, we have received and still retain because of our connection with Jesus Christ our Lord. Apart from him we are naked, and poor, and miserable. I desire to impress upon your minds, and especially upon my own, the need for our abiding in him. As zealous labourers for the glory of God I am particularly anxious that you may maintain daily communion with Jesus, for just as it is with our covenant blessings, so it is with our work of faith and labour of love, everything depends upon him. All our fruit is found in Jesus. Remember his own words, “Without me you can do nothing.” Our power to work comes completely from his power. If we work effectually it must always be according to the effectual working of his power in us and through us. Brethren, I pray that our eyes may be steadfastly turned to our Master at this season when our special services are about to commence. Confessing our dependence upon him, and resorting to him in renewed confidence, we shall proceed to our labour with redoubled strength. May we remember where our great strength lies, and look to him and him alone, away from our own weakness and our own strength too — finding all in him in our work for others as we have found all in him in the matter of the salvation of our own souls. When the multitudes were fed, the disciples distributed the bread, but the central source of that divine provision was the Master’s own hand. He blessed, he broke, he gave to the disciples, and then the disciples to the multitude. It was also significant concerning one of the last scenes of our Lord’s meeting with his disciples before he was taken up. They had been fishing all the night, but they had taken nothing; it was only when he came that they cast the net on the right side of the ship, and then the net was filled with a great multitude of fishes. It must always be so; where he is souls are taken by the fishermen, but nowhere else. Not the preaching of his servants alone, not the gospel by itself alone, but his presence with his servants is the secret of success. “The Lord working with them,” his co-operating presence in the gospel, this is what makes it “the power of God to salvation.” Lift up your eyes then, my brethren, join with us for the spread of the Redeemer’s kingdom, to the Saviour, the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of our salvation, through whom and by whom all things shall be done to the honour of God, but without whom the most ardent desires, and the most energetic efforts must most certainly fail. I have selected this text with no less an intention than this — that by it every eye may be turned to the omnipotent Saviour before we enter upon the hallowed engagements which await us.
3. In the text notice, first of all, the marvel to be performed by our Lord at his coming; and then gather from it, in the second place, helps to the consideration of the power which is now at this time proceeding from him and treasured in him; and then, thirdly, contemplate the work which we desire to see accomplished, and which we believe will be accomplished on the basis of the power residing in our Lord.
4. I. First, we have to ask you to CONSIDER BELIEVINGLY THE MARVEL WHICH IS TO BE PERFORMED BY OUR LORD AT HIS COMING.
5. When he shall come a second time he will change our vile body and fashion it like his glorious body. What a marvellous change! How great the transformation! How high the ascent! Our body in its present state is called in our translation a “vile body,” but if we translate the Greek more literally it is much more expressive, for there we find this corporeal frame called “the body of our humiliation.” Not “this humble body,” that is hardly the meaning, but the body in which our humiliation is revealed and enclosed. Our Lord will transform this body of our humiliation until it is like his own. Here do not read by itself “his glorious body,” for that is not the most literal translation, but “the body of his glory”; the body in which he enjoys and reveals his glory. Our Saviour had a body here in humiliation; that body was like ours in all respects except that it could see no corruption, for it was undefiled with sin; that body in which our Lord wept, and sweat great drops of blood, and yielded up his spirit, was the body of his humiliation. He rose again from the dead, and he rose in the same body which ascended up into heaven, but he concealed its glory to a very great extent, otherwise he would have been too bright to be seen by mortal eyes. Only when he passed the cloud, and was received out of sight, did the full glory of his body shine forth to ravish the eyes of angels and of glorified spirits. It was then that his countenance became like the sun shining in its strength. Now, beloved, whatever the body of Jesus may be in his glory, our present body which is now in its humiliation is to be conformed to it; Jesus is the standard of man in glory. “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Here we dwell in this body of our humiliation, but it shall undergo a change, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Then shall we come into our glory, and our body being made suitable for the glory state, shall be appropriately called the body of glory. We need not curiously pry into the details of the change, nor attempt to define all the differences between the two states of our body; for “it does not yet appear what we shall be,” and we may be content to leave much to be made known to us hereafter. Yet though we see through a glass darkly, we nevertheless do see something, and would not shut our eyes to that little. We do not know yet as we are known, but we do know in part, and that partial knowledge is precious. The gates have been ajar at times, and men have looked for awhile, and beheld and wondered. Three times, at least, human eyes have seen something of the body of glory. The face of Moses, when he came down from the mount, shone so that those who gathered around him could not look at it, and he had to cover it with a veil. In that lustrous face of the man who had been forty days in high communion with God, you see some gleams of the brightness of glorified manhood. Our Lord made an even clearer revelation of the glorious body when he was transfigured in the presence of the three disciples. When his clothes became bright and glistering, whiter than any fuller could make them, and he himself was all aglow with glory, his disciples saw and marvelled. The face of Stephen is a third window as it were through which we may look at the glory to be revealed, for even his enemies as they gazed upon the martyr in his confession of Christ, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel. Those three transient gleams of the morning light may serve as tokens to us to help us to form some faint idea of what the body of the glory of Christ and the body of our own glory will be.
6. Turning to that marvellous passage in the Corinthians, where the veil seems to be more uplifted than it ever had been before or since, we learn a few details worthy to be mentioned. The body while here below is corruptible, subject to decay; it gradually becomes weak through old age, at last it yields to the blows of death, falls into the ground, and becomes food for worms. But the new body shall be incorruptible, it shall not be subject to any process of disease, decay, or decline, and it shall never, through the lapse of ages, yield to the force of death. It shall be the immortal companion for the immortal spirit. There are no graves in heaven, no death knell ever saddened the New Jerusalem. The body here is weak, the apostle says “it is sown in weakness”; it is subject to all kinds of infirmities in life, and in death loses all strength. It is weak to perform our own will, weaker still to perform the heavenly will; it is weak to do and weak to suffer: but it is to be “raised in power, all infirmity being completely removed.” How far this power will be physical and how far spiritual we need not speculate; where the material ends and the spiritual begins we need not define; we shall be as the angels, and we have found no difficulty in believing that these pure spirits “excel in strength,” nor in understanding Peter when he says that angels are “greater in power and might.” Our body shall be “raised in power.”
7. Here, too, the body is a natural or soulish body — a body fit for the soul, for the lowest faculties of our mental nature; but according to the apostle in the Corinthians, it is to be raised a spiritual body, adapted to the noblest portion of our nature, suitable to be the dwelling place and the instrument of our newly born grace given life. This body at present is no assistance to the spirit of prayer or praise; it rather hinders than helps us in spiritual exercises. Often the spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak. We sleep when we ought to watch, and faint when we should pursue. Even its joys as well as its sorrows tend to distract devotion: but when this body shall be transformed, it shall be a body suitable for the highest aspirations of our perfected and glorified humanity — a spiritual body like the body of the glory of Christ. Here the body is sinful, its members have been instruments of unrighteousness. It is true that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; but, alas! there are traces about it of the time when it was a den of thieves. The spots and wrinkles of sin are not yet removed. Its materialism is not yet so refined as to be an assistance to the spirit; it gravitates downwards, and it has a bias from the truth; but it awaits the last change, and then it shall be perfectly sinless, as alabaster white and pure, upon which the stain of sin never came; like the newly driven snow, immaculately chaste. “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
8. Being sinless, the body when it shall be raised again shall be painless. Who shall count the number of our pains while in this present house of clay? Truly we who are in this tabernacle do groan. Does it not sometimes appear to the children of sickness as if this body were fashioned with a view to suffering; as if all its nerves, sinews, veins, pulses, vessels, and valves, were parts of an intricate instrument upon which every note of the entire gamut of pain might be produced? Patience, you who linger in this shattered tenement, a house not made with hands awaits you. Up there no sorrow and sighing are encountered; the chastising rod shall fall no longer when the faultiness is altogether removed. Just as the new body will be without pain, so it will be superior to weariness. The glorified body will not yield to faintness, nor fail through languor. Is it not implied that the spiritual body does not need to sleep, when we read that they serve God day and night in his temple? In a word, the bodies of the saints, like the body of Christ, will be perfect; there shall be nothing lacking and nothing faulty. If saints die in the feebleness of age they shall not rise like that; or if they have lost a sense or a limb or are halt or maimed, they shall not be so in heaven, for concerning body and soul “they are without fault before the throne of God.” “We shall be like him,” is true of all the saints, and hence no one will be otherwise than fair, and beautiful, and perfect. The righteous shall be like Christ, of whom it is still true that not a bone of him shall be broken, so not a part of our body after its change shall be bruised, battered, or otherwise than perfect.
9. Put it all together, brethren, and what a stretch it is from this vile body to the glorious body which shall be! yet when Christ comes this miracle of miracles shall be performed in the twinkling of an eye. Heap up epithets descriptive of the vileness of this body, think of it in all its weakness, infirmity, sin, and liability to death; then admire our Lord’s body in all its holiness, happiness, purity, perfection, and immortality; and know assuredly that, at Christ’s coming, this change shall take place upon every one of the elect of God. All believers shall undergo this marvellous transformation in a moment. Behold and wonder! Imagine that the change should occur to you now. What a display of power! My imagination is not able to give you a picture of the transformation; but those who will be alive and remain at the coming of the Son of God will undergo it, and so enter glory without death. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality,” and therefore the bodies of living believers shall in the twinkling of an eye pass from the one state into the other; they shall be transformed from the vile to the glorious, from the state of humiliation into the state of glory, by the power of the coming Saviour.
10. The miracle is amazing, if you view it as occurring to those who shall be alive when Christ comes. Reflect, however, that a very large number of the saints when the Lord shall appear a second time will already be in their graves. Some of these will have been buried long enough to have become corrupt. If you could remove the mould and break open the coffin lid, what would you find but foulness and putrefaction? But those rotting relics are the body of the saint’s humiliation, and that very body is to be transformed into the likeness of Christ’s glorious body. Admire the miracle as you survey the mighty change! Look down into the loathsome tomb, and, if you can endure it, gaze upon the putrid mass; this, even this, is to be transformed into Christ’s likeness. What a work is this! And what a Saviour is he who shall achieve it! Go a little further. Many of those whom Christ will raise will have been buried so long that all trace of them will have disappeared; they will have melted back into the common dust of earth, so that if their bones were searched for not a vestige of them could be found, nor could the keenest searcher after human remains detect a single particle. They have slept in quiet through long ages in their lonely graves, until they have become absorbed into the soil as part and parcel of mother earth. No, there is not a bone, nor a piece of a bone left; their bodies are as much one with earth as the drop of rain which fell upon the wave is one with the sea: yet they shall be raised. The trumpet call shall summon them back from the dust with which they have mingled, and dust to dust, bone to bone, the anatomy shall be rebuilt and then refashioned. Does your wonder grow? Does not your faith accept with joy the marvel, and yet feel it to be a marvel none the less?
11. Son of man, I will lead you into an inner room still more full of wonder. There are many thousands of God’s people to whom a quiet slumber in the grave was denied; they were cut off by martyrdom, were sawn asunder, or thrown to the dogs. Tens of thousands of the precious bodies of the saints have perished by fire, their limbs have been blown in clouds of smoke to the four winds of heaven, and even the handful of ashes which remained at the foot of the stake their relentless persecutors have thrown into rivers to be carried to the ocean, and divided to every shore. Some of the children of the resurrection were devoured by wild beasts in the Roman amphitheatres or left a prey to kites and ravens on the gibbet. In all kinds of ways have the saints’ bodies been hacked and hewn, and, as a consequence, the particles of those bodies have no doubt been absorbed into various vegetable growths, and having been eaten by animals have mingled with the flesh of beasts; but what of that? “What of that?” you say, how can these bodies be refashioned? By what possibility can the very same bodies be raised again? I answer it needs a miracle to make any of these dry bones live, and a miracle being granted, impossibility vanishes. He who formed each atom from nothing can gather each particle again from confusion. The omniscient Lord of providence tracks each molecule of matter, and knows its position and history as a shepherd knows his sheep; and if it is needful to constitute the identity of the body, to regather every atom, he can do it. It may not, however, be needful at all, and I do not assert that it will be, for there may be a true identity without the same material; even as my body is the same as that in which I lived twenty years ago, and yet in all probability there is not a grain of the same matter in it. God is able then to cause that the same body which on earth we wear in our humiliation, which we call a vile body, shall be fashioned like Christ’s body. No difficulties, however stern, that can be suggested from science or physical law, shall for a single instant stand in the way of the accomplishment of this transformation by Christ the King. What marvels rise before me! indeed, it needs faith, and we thank God we have it. The resurrection of Christ has for ever settled in our minds, beyond all controversy, the resurrection of all who are in him; “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also who sleep in Jesus God will bring with him.” Still it is a marvel of marvels, a miracle which needs the fulness of the deity. Of whom except God, very God of very God, could it be said that he shall change our bodies, and make them like his glorious body?
12. I know how feebly I have spoken upon this sublime subject, but I am not altogether regretful of that, for I do not wish to fix your thoughts on my words for a single moment; I only desire your minds to grasp and grapple with the great thought of the power of Christ, by which he shall raise and change the bodies of the saints.
13. II. We will now pass on. Here is the point we aim at. Consider, in the second place, that THIS POWER WHICH IS TO RAISE THE DEAD IS RESIDENT IN CHRIST AT THIS MOMENT.
14. So says the text, “according to the working by which he is able to subdue all things to himself.” It is not some new power which Christ will assume for himself in the latter days and then for the first time display, but the power which will raise the dead is the same power which is in him at this moment, which is going out from him at this instant in the midst of his church and among the sons of men. I call your attention to this, and invite you to follow the track of the text.
15. First notice that all the power by which the last transformation will be performed is ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ now as the Saviour. “We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus.” When Christ raises the dead it will be as a Saviour, and it is precisely in that capacity that we need the exercise of his power at this moment. Fix this, my brethren, in your hearts; we are seeking the salvation of men, and we are not seeking a hopeless thing, for Jesus Christ is able as a Saviour, to subdue all things to himself; so the text expressly tells us. It does not merely say that as a raiser of the dead he is able to subdue all things, but as the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. His titles are expressly given, he is portrayed to us as the Lord, the Saviour, the Anointed, and in that capacity is said to be able to subdue all things to himself. Happy tidings for us! My brethren, how large may our prayers be for the conversion of the sons of men, how great our expectations, how confident our efforts! Nothing is too hard for our Lord Jesus Christ; nothing in the way of saving work is beyond his power. If as a Saviour he wakes the dead in the years to come, he can quicken the spiritually dead even now. These crowds of dead souls around us in this area and in these galleries, he can awaken by his quickening voice and living Spirit. The resurrection is to be according to the working of his mighty power, and that same energy is in operation now. In its fulness the power dwells in him, let us stir him up, let us cry to him mightily, and give him no rest until he exerts that very same power now. Do not think, my brethren, that this would be extraordinary and unusual. Your own conversion, if you have truly been raised from your spiritual death, was by the same power that we desire to see exerted upon others. Your own regeneration was indeed as remarkable an example of divine power as the resurrection itself shall be. Indeed, and I venture to say it, your spiritual life this very day or any day you choose to mention, is in itself a display of the same working which shall transform this vile body into its glorious condition. The power of the resurrection is being exerted today, it is pulsing through the quickened portion of this audience, it is heaving with life in each heart that beats with love to God, it is preserving the life courses in the souls of all the spiritual, so that they do not go back to their former death in sin. The power which will perform the resurrection will be wonderful, but it will be no new thing. It is to be seen everywhere in operation in the church of God at this very moment by those who have eyes to see it; and herein I join with the apostle in his prayer “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he performed in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in what is to come: and has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:17-23)
16. Notice next that the terms of our text imply that opposition may be expected to this power, but that all resistance will be overcome. That word “subdue” supposes a force to be conquered and brought into subjection. “He is able even to subdue all things to himself.” Herein is a great wonder! There will be no opposition to the resurrection. The trumpet sound shall bring the dead from their graves, and no particle shall disobey the summons; but to spiritual resurrection there is resistance — resistance which only omnipotence can vanquish. In the conversion of sinners natural depravity is an opposing force; for men are entrenched in their sins, and do not love the things of God, neither will they listen to the voice of mercy. My brethren, to remove all our fears concerning our Lord’s ability to save, the word used here is, “He is able,” not only to raise all things from the dead, but “to subdue all things to himself.” Here again I would ask you take the encouragement the text presents to you. If there is opposition to the gospel, he is able to subdue it. If in one man there is a prejudice, if in another man the heart is darkened with error, if one man hates the very name of Jesus, if another is so wedded to his sins that he cannot part from them, if opposition has assumed in some a very determined character, does not the text handle every case? “He is able to subdue all things,” to conquer them, to break down the barriers that interpose to prevent the display of his power, and to make those very barriers the means of displaying that power all the more gloriously. “He is able even to subdue all things.” Oh take this to the mercy seat, you who will be seeking the souls of men this month! Take it to him and plead this word of the Holy Spirit in simple, childlike faith. When there is a difficulty you cannot overcome, take it to him, for he is “able to subdue.”
17. Notice next, that the language of our text includes all supposable cases. He is able to “subdue all things to himself,” not here and there one, but “all things.” Brethren, there is no man in this world so fallen, debased, depraved, and wilfully wicked, that Jesus cannot save him — not even among those who live beyond the reach of ordinary ministry. He can bring the heathen to the gospel, or the gospel to them. The wheels of providence can be so arranged that salvation shall be brought to the outcasts; even war, famine, and plague, may become messengers for Christ, for he, too, rides upon the wings of the wind. There lived quite a few years ago in Perugia, in Italy, a man of the loosest morals and the worst conceivable disposition. He had given up all religion, he loathed God, and had arrived at such a desperate state of mind that he had conceived an affection for the devil, and endeavoured to worship the evil one. Imagining Satan to be the image and embodiment of all rebellion, free thinking, and lawlessness, he deified him in his own mind, and desired nothing better than to be a devil himself. On one occasion, when a Protestant missionary had been in Perugia preaching, a priest happened to say in this man’s hearing, that there were Protestants in Perugia, the city was being defiled by heretics. “And who do you think Protestants are?” he said. “They are men who have renounced Christ and worship the devil.” This was a gross and outrageous lie but it accomplished another purpose than the priest intended. The man hearing this, thought, “Oh, then, I will go and meet with them, for I am much of their mind”; and away he went to the Protestant meeting, in the hope of finding an assembly who propagated lawlessness and worshipped the devil. He heard the gospel there and was saved. Behold in this and in ten thousand cases equally remarkable, the ability of our Lord to subdue all things to himself. How can any man whom God ordains to save escape from that eternal love which is as omnipresent as the deity itself? “He is able to subdue all things to himself.” If his sword cannot reach the distant ones his arrows can, and even at this hour they are sharp in his enemy’s hearts. No boastful Goliath can stand before our David; although the weapon which he uses today is only a stone from the brook, yet the Philistine shall be subdued. If there should be in this place a Deist, an Atheist, a Romanist, or even a lover of the devil, if he is only a man, still mercy can come to him. Jesus Christ is able to subdue him to himself. None have gone too far, and none are too hardened. While the Christ lives in heaven we need never despair of any who are still in this mortal life — “He is able to subdue all things to himself.”
18. You will observe, in the text that nothing is said concerning the unfitness of the means. My fears often are lest souls should not be saved by our instrumentality because of faultiness in us; we fear lest we should not be prayerful enough or energetic or earnest enough; or that it should be said, “He could not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” But the text seems to obliterate man altogether — “he is able to subdue all things to himself” — that is to say, Jesus does it, Jesus can do it, will do it all. By the feeblest means he can work mightily, can take hold of us, unfit as we are for service, and make us fit, can grasp us in our folly and teach us wisdom, take us in our weakness and make us strong. My brethren, if we had to find resources for ourselves, and to rely upon ourselves, our enterprise might well be renounced, but since he is able, we will cast the burden of this work on him, and go to him in believing prayer, asking him to work mightily through us to the praise of his glory, for “He is able even to subdue all things to himself.”
19. Notice that the ability is said in the text to be present with the Saviour now. I have already pointed that out to you, but I refer to it again. The resurrection is a matter of the future, but the working which shall accomplish the resurrection is a matter of the present. “According to the working by which he IS able even to subdue all things to himself,” Jesus is as strong now as he ever will be, for he does not change. At this moment he is as able to convert souls as at the period of the brightest revival, or at Pentecost itself. There are no ebbs and flows with Christ’s power. Omnipotence is in the hand that once was pierced, permanently remaining there. Oh, if we could only arouse it; if we could only bring the Captain of the host into the field again, to fight for his church, to work by his servants! What marvels should we see, for he is able. We are not constrained in him, we are constrained in ourselves if constrained at all.
20. Once more, for your comfort may it be remembered that the fact of there having been, as it were, a considerable time in which few have been converted to Christ, is no proof that his power is slackening; for it is well known to you that very few have as yet been raised from the dead, only here and there one like Lazarus and the young man at the gates of Nain, but you do not therefore doubt the Lord’s power to raise the dead. Though he tarries we do not distrust his power to fulfil his promise in due time. Now the power which is restrained, as it were, so that it does not work the resurrection yet, is the same which may have been restrained in the Christian church for awhile, but which will be as surely exerted before long in conversion as it will be in the end of time to accomplish the resurrection. Let us cry to our Lord, for he has only to will it and thousands of sinners will be saved; let us lift up our hearts to him who has only to speak the word and whole nations shall be born to him. The resurrection will not be a work occupying centuries, it will be accomplished at once; and so it may be in this house of prayer, and throughout London, and throughout the world, Christ will do a great and speedy work to the amazement of all beholders. He will send forth the rod of his strength out of Zion, and rule in the midst of his enemies. He will unmask his batteries, he will spring his mines, he will advance his outworks, he will subdue the city of his adversaries, and ride victoriously through the Bozrah of his foes. Who shall restrain his hand? Who shall say to him, “What are you doing?”
21. I wish we had time to work out the parallel which our text suggests, between the resurrection and the subduing of all things. The resurrection will be performed by the divine power, and the subduing of sinners is a precisely similar example of salvation. All men are dead in sin, but he can raise them. Many of them are corrupt with vice, but he can transform them. Some of them are, as it were, lost to all hope, like the dead body scattered to the winds, desperate cases for whom even pity seems to waste her sighs; but he who raises the dead of all kinds, with a word can raise sinners of all kinds by the very same power. And just as the dead when raised are made like Christ, so the wicked when converted are made like Jesus too. Brilliant examples of virtue shall be found in those who were terrible examples of vice; the most depraved and dissolute shall become the most devout and earnest. From the vile body to the glorified body, what a leap, and from the sinner damnable in lust to the saint bright with the radiance of sanctity, what a change! The leap seems very far, but omnipotence can bridge the chasm. The Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ is able to do it; he is able to do it in ten thousand thousand cases, able to do it at this very moment. My anxious desire is to engrave this one thought upon your hearts, my brothers and sisters, yes, to write it on the palms of those hands with which you are about to serve the Lord, learn it and do not forget it — almighty power lies with Jesus to achieve the purpose upon which our heart is set, namely, the conversion of many to himself.
22. III. I said I would ask you to consider, in the third place, THE WORK WHICH WE DESIRE TO SEE ACCOMPLISHED. I will not detain you however, with that consideration further than this.
23. Brethren, we long to see the Saviour subduing souls to himself. Not to our way of thinking, not to our church, not to the honour of our powers of persuasion, but “to himself.” “He is able even to subdue all things to himself.” Oh sinner, how I wish you were subdued to Jesus, to kiss those dear feet that were nailed for you, to love in life him who loved you to the death. Ah! soul, it would be a blessed subjection for you. Never a subject of an earthly monarch would be so happy in his king as you would be. God is our witness, we who preach the gospel, we do not want to subdue you to ourselves, as though we would rule you and be lords over your spirits. It is to Jesus, to Jesus only that we would have you subdued. Oh that you desired this subjection, it would be liberty, and peace, and joy for you!
24. Notice that this subjection is eminently to be desired, since it consists in transformation. Catch the thought of the text. He transforms the vile body into his glorious body, and this is a part of the subjection of all things to himself. But do you call that subjection? Is it not a subjection to be longed after with an insatiable desire, to be so subdued to Christ that I, a poor, vile sinner, may become like him, holy, harmless, undefiled? This is the subjection that we wish for you, oh unconverted ones. We trust we have felt it ourselves, we pray you may feel it too. He is able to give it to you. Ask it from him at once. Now breathe the prayer, now believe that the Saviour can work the transformation even in you, in you at this very moment. And, oh my brethren in the faith, have faith for sinners now. While they are pleading plead for them that this subjection which is an uplifting, this conquering which is a liberating, may be accomplished in them.
25. For, remember again, that to be subjected to Christ is, according to our text, to be prepared for heaven. He will change our vile body and make it like the body of his glory. The body of the glory is a body prepared for glory, a body which participates in glory. The Lord Jesus can make you, sinner, though now prepared for hell, prepared for heaven, prepared for glory, and breathe into you now an anticipation of that glory, in the joy and peace of mind which his pardon will bring to you. It must be a very sad thing to be a soldier under any circumstances; to have to cut and hack and kill and subdue, even in a righteous cause, is cruel work; but to be a soldier of King Jesus is an honour and a joy. The service of Jesus is a grand service. Brethren, we have been earnestly seeking to capture some hearts that are here present, to capture them for Jesus. It has been a long and weary siege up until this hour. We have summoned them to surrender, and opened fire upon them with the gospel, but as yet in vain. I have tried to throw a few live shells into the very heart of their city, in the form of warning and threatening and exhortation. I know there have been explosions in the hearts of some of you, which have done your sins some damage, killed some of the little ones that would have grown up to greater iniquity. You have been carefully blockaded by providence and grace. Your hearts have found no provision for joy in sin, no helps to peace in unrighteousness. How I wish I could starve you out until you would yield to my Lord, the crown Prince, who again today demands that you yield to him. It is dreadful to compel a city to open its gates unwillingly to let an enemy come in; for however gentle the enemy may be his face is an unwelcome sight to the vanquished. But oh! how I wish I could burst open the gates of a sinner’s heart today, for the Prince Emmanuel to come in. He who is at your gates is not an alien monarch, he is your rightful prince, he is your friend and lover. It will not be a strange face that you will see, when Jesus comes to reign in you. When the King in his beauty wins your soul, you will think yourselves a thousand fools that you did not receive him before. Instead of fearing that he will ransack your soul, you will open all its doors and invite him to search each room. You will cry, “Take it all, you blessed monarch, it shall be most mine when it is yours. Take it all, and reign and rule.” I propound terms of capitulation to you, oh sinner. They are only these: yield up yourself to Christ, give up your works and ways, both good and bad, and trust in him to save you, and be his servant henceforth and for ever. While I so invite you, I trust he will speak through me to you and win you to himself. I shall not plead in vain, the word shall not fall to the ground. I fall back upon the delightful consolation of our text, “He is able to subdue all things to himself.” May he prove his power this morning. Amen and Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Philippians 3]
(See Spurgeon_Sermons “Publications” 3566 @@ "Treasury Of David — Volume 2")